Sunday, December 29, 2013

Watch Your Step

We started tackling one of the last remaining big jobs in the house this weekend - refinishing the steps from the first floor to the second floor.  These were in place when we bought the house, although they previously led to a glorified attic rather than a proper second floor.  And although it was nice to have a fixed staircase already in place, they definitely needed some work to match the rest of the now-renovated house.  So, we started by pulling off the old treads, which will be replaced with bamboo treads when we're done, and sanding down and cleaning up the backboards in order to paint them white.  We also added construction adhesive and some additional nails to make sure the stairs don't squeak when it's finished.  When it's done, we'll have white trim and stair backs and new bamboo treads.  It should be a big improvement - but in the meantime, we have to be careful walking up and down!

Old stairs - not looking too good
Pulling off the old treads
Almost all off...

First coat of paint

Second coat - looking better

Careful on the stairs - lots of room to fall in!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Trimming and Decorating the Garage

Some people spend the holiday season trimming a tree and decorating the house...we spent the last couple of weeks and holiday break working on our garage!  It was time well spent, though, as in just a few weekends, we insulated and drywalled the first floor of the garage, have one coat of mud and tape on about half the garage, and reinstalled all of our shelves and storage again.  The heaters have been working really well too - they easily raise the temperature by about 20 degrees in an hour or two, which makes a big difference when it's as cold as it's been outside.  Back to indoor projects next but we'll enjoy using the garage for the rest of the winter!

In progress - stairwell door installed, most drywall up, still very disorganized!

First coat of mud and tape

Large wall shelf and overhead shelves reinstalled - finally some organization!

Some contractors bags ready for next garbage pick-up but otherwise cleaned up

Overhead shelves, full of spare materials out of the way!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Drywall and Decorations

We're back to work after a holiday break and moving forward on finishing the garage.  We decided to insulate, drywall, and heat the garage.  By fire code, we had to drywall two of the walls due to the garage's location on our property so, since we were required to undertake a certain amount of work already, it seemed to make sense to go ahead and drywall the whole thing and install two baseboard heaters to combat the usual cold of a detached garage.  We don't expect to ever set the thermostat very high but it should be helpful for getting our cars a bit warmer in the morning than they otherwise would be.  Of course, in order to have our cars warm and toasty, we have to finish the work first!  But we've made good progress so far, getting two walls and half of the ceiling finished and it was a great excuse to buy a new home improvement toy - a drywall lift.  This one has come in very handy and is quite fun to use too.  A couple more weekends and our garage should be fully completed.  We also took some time to do a little seasonal decorating since this is the first time in a couple of years that we've had enough finished space to get a Christmas tree.  Quite an improvement from last year's Christmas construction zone!

Insulated ceiling and walls, ready for drywall

One wall nearly done

Breaking in the drywall lift

Works great!

Ready for the holidays

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Ready for guests

This week we are having a house full of guests for Thanksgiving so we spent some time cleaning up and doing a little decorating. The stairwell, basement bath, and fireplace mantle are basically all that's left to finish so we broke out some of the pictures and things that have been moved around from closet to closet over the last couple of years during construction. A few things I was surprised made it through the construction without getting lost or damaged. In particular there was a little box of window curtain hardware that I'm surprised a) that I knew where it was and b) that it still had everything in it.

I like going back to see what we were doing last year and what the house looked like. Last November we were working on laying the pavers for the driveway and finishing up the garage. It looks like in December is when the first floor walls were torn down and we started reconstructing it to how it is today. Walking around and looking at everything somewhat decorated brings a smile to our faces. Such a huge difference in a year! I still remember how it looked and we lived with it for so long these new spaces still seem a little strange, but they're a much welcomed change. In less than a year we finished 2.5 bathrooms and reconfigured a living room and two bedrooms into a larger living room, a mud room, and a new den/flex space... well almost finished, but close enough.

Before living room.
After living room (mantle and fireplace surround still to come).
Before view looking towards doorway to kitchen.
After view towards kitchen with enlarged doorway. 
View looking towards living room fireplace.

View towards front door and mudroom sliding door. Living room has been enlarged by about 3 feet. Right by the new exterior door used to be a small coat closet.  
Small sitting area by the kitchen. This used to be our tiny dining room. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Another weekend, another room finished

The mudroom is officially checked off the list. After not having much space to keep organized the last few years it is really great to be able to have an entire room for all of our coats/bags/shoes/etc. We also cleaned up the den and finished off the den bathroom. I forgot to take pics of those, though. I'll try to post some later this week. The living room is mostly cleaned out so we're about to have most of the house completely finished and decorated. Crazy how fast some of the rooms come together. The basement bath and the staircase still need some attention, but we may move our focus to the garage next. We plan to insulate and put up drywall that we need for our fire separation. Plus I want to get it heated so our cars aren't frozen in the mornings.

Don't remember if we ever posted a pic of our new front door. Now with trim and paint.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Getting closer

Most of the big projects are complete. The stairwell and fireplace surround are pretty much it for big projects on the to so list. What we have plenty of are small projects. Like painting. Any given weekend we seem to be painting or procrastinating on painting that needs done. The mudroom got a fresh coat of semi gloss white as did the barn doors. I also set the basement vanity and installed the lights in there. It would be helpful to have everything finished at once to be more efficient when it comes time to paint, but this works better for us since we do all of the work. There's not much in terms of pics other than a few progress shots. 

We also said goodbye to our beloved Bobcat. It was a sad day on Sunday... but we did sell it for more than we paid so that helped console us a bit. Hopefully we will buy a bigger and better one next project! 

Bye Bobcat! You will be missed!

Monday, October 21, 2013

How to Build a Custom DIY Sliding Barn Door

This weekend we tackled another big project in our quest to finish up this house. It took us most of the weekend to finish, but we now have functioning sliding barn doors for the mud room and den/flex space. The process was fairly straight forward, but a little time consuming. We used sheets of 1/2" veneer plywood as the base and tacked on the trim in a pattern to somewhat match our other doors in the house. We tried buying these doors from Jeld-Wen to completely match our existing doors in the house, but the largest they come in is 36" and we needed 39" for the mudroom and 49" for the den/flex space. Our ceilings are just over 8' high so a normal 4x8 sheet of plywood worked for us. We also used baseboard trim for our stiles/rails as it was wider than anything else we could find and also the thickness was just right at 9/16". This did require using our table saw to rip off the milled edge to give us two squared edges.

- 1/2" veneer 4'x8' plywood
- 6" floor trim (ripped to cut off the milled edge)
- wood glue
- 1 1/4" plus 3/4" 18 gauge nails
- Track hardware from We used the 290 style tracks since our doors were definitely going to be under 400lbs. I highly recommend this site for tracks and hardware as they are very reasonably priced and have fast/cheap shipping.
- band-aids (for when you shoot a nail through your finger)

- air nailer
- chop saw/miter saw
- table saw
- circular saw with guide for ripping 8' sheets of plywood (or a very steady hand)

We pre-primed and sanded our veneer plywood to make it easier to finish paint. Cut to size, ready for trim.

Figuring out the layout of the trim. 

Close up of the trim we used after we ripped off the decorative part.

We need an extra inch on the sides plus I wanted to get rid of the plywood edge so we added a 1/2 filler strip.

First stile trim added - glued and nailed.

Fitting in the rails - glued and nailed again. I tried to get as tight a fit as possible so plan to trim each piece carefully multiple times if necessary.

Coming along.

First side done! The angle was a pain. I used an angle finder and then used a scrap piece to find the perfect fit.

Back side of the den door. I wanted the door to slide over the existing baseboard trim so I left a 5 1/2" gap at the bottom.

Back side done with the added gap for the baseboard trim. 

Working on the smaller mudroom door. 

Side one of mudroom door complete. 

Backside of mudroom door with the same 5 1/2" gap for the baseboard trim. 

Dry fitting doors before putting on hardware. Almost a perfect fit!

Adding sliding hardware. 

Mudroom door installed.

Close up of the gap I left to slide by the existing base trim. 

Den door installed and sliding.

Both doors installed and closed. All that's left is some sanding and finish paint.