Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Basement Slider

Remember last fall when we discovered the leak in the powder room while installing a slider door in our basement?  Well that epic scope creep put the basement on hold.  Back to our regular intended project.  Swapping out a rotted door and window with a 10' slider.  The view from the inside before:


The view from the outside before.  The original owners had a greenhouse on that brick slab so the window and door looked into the greenhouse.  That has since been removed and an awful slab, rotted window and a rotted door remained.


Our eventual (it could be years) plan is to install a small kitchen just inside the slider, accessible from the pool.  The pool is full sun so when we entertain the food sits in the hot sun.  This kitchen will be a place to keep food/drinks cool and act as some badly needed pool storage.  Something like this:


Sean removed the window and door along with the row of block beneath the window.  In this picture the pool is open and the leaves haven't even turned yet, that's how long ago we did this.


It literally looked like a bomb went off with all that rubble.  I'd love to say that pile of rubble isn't still sitting there but then I'd be lying. 


This was Piper's first major construction project with us.  He was unsure about the noise but stuck by our sides the entire time.


Only one animal was harmed in the installation of this door.  2 adults, 3 kids and a dog tried to chase this little guy out for a couple days.  He may still be living in our basement.  Eh, what's one more creature?


In!  Ah.  So...much...light!!!




Next up is a huge, gigantic, massive back yard project that we are NOT DIY'ing!!!!  I'll fill you in next time.
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Monday, February 1, 2016

Foyer Complete

After wrestling 3 boys into and out of snow suits a dozen times a day for the past few days thanks to the Bizzard of 2016 it became even more apparent that I needed better storage just inside the door.  Balaclavas always demand ninja stances.


A reminder of what we were starting with.  A very dark entrance with zero storage, an ugly baseboard heater and an uglier floor.


Voila! Solving 3 out of 4 problems isn't bad (the floor remains).


Eventually we'd like to add a shelf up top to hold baskets.  

Remember that mirror from our powder room?  Well I decided to place it adjacent to the door to reflect the light into the dark foyer.  Mission accomplished.  I added 2 sets of hooks.  The upper to hold hats, the dog's leash, etc. and the lower to hold the boys' coats, sweatshirts, etc. with enough headroom for my tall husband.


Baskets and bins below to hold mittens, hats, etc. in the winter and baseball gloves and sunscreen in the summer.



I can't figure out the wall color.  It has been 3 different colors in 8 years and I've tried countless samples.  It is currently Benjamin Moore Edgecomb Gray which works in basically every scenario except this one.  It is reading pretty green.  Its ok for now.

I think I "need" to paint the interior side of the front door.  I love a black front door but I'm wondering if painting it a lighter color may also help lighten up the space?  What do you think?  Also I think I eventually "need" to cover that ugly floor with a sisal carpet tile.  Agree?



So that's a wrap for now.  Maybe some tweaks down the line.  It already provides some much needed interest and storage to a previously unused space.
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Thursday, January 28, 2016

Floating Bench

Last time I mentioned that I liked the idea of a floating bench or ledge to maintain some visual real estate.  I love all of these:

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So step one in my project was to figure out the bench situation.

Then why am I showing you a picture of my kitchen when we moved in?  See that butcher block counter top on the island?  We saved that and it has been sitting in our basement for the past 8 years.


Sean and I ripped a piece down to the size we needed to fit the area.


I dry fit the wood into place using my porch garden stools.  Good fit and height.



There was some leftover crayon, stickers, etc. from the prior owners so I sanded everything smooth using an orbital sander.

Then my 5 year old and I conditioned, stained and poly'ed the wood.  I used 4 coats of poly because I imagine that bench is going to see a lot of use.


I used Minwax Special Walnut.  I wanted a brown color without hiding the grain.


Once we finished staining and poly'ing we had to figure out how to mount it.  It is a solid 1.5" thick which means the bench is probably 80 lbs.  Figuring out to mount a piece that heavy (that also has to hold a person) and be floating was challenging.  While not a perfect solution we decided to mount them using these brackets (affiliate) which hold 1,000 lbs:

2 brackets were mounted into the studs.  My stud installing them into the studs.


You can see they are a little visible but once boots, baskets, etc. are placed under the bench they really do disappear.  


Side note, how ugly is that floor?  It is sitting in 2" of concrete so while we've pulled most of it out of the house this small section remains.   For as ugly as it is, it really does hold up well against the snow and salt.  Does anyone know if I can tile right over it?  It is about 1/2" lower than the hardwood that meets it and is in solid condition.



Now that the floating bench is complete, time to move on to the wall storage above it!


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Monday, January 25, 2016

Foyer

Mudrooms are the things my dreams are made of.  I've thought long and hard about how I could create one but based on the way my house is configured it is impossible.  We're being overrun with kid coats, sweatshirts, hats, gloves, sporting equipment, etc.  While we can't have a mudroom there are still some spaces that could be put to better use.

Enter the foyer.  I really didn't take any before pics - sorry.  This is the best I could find on my hard drive.  See that itty bitty 16" deep space just inside the front door?  That's what I decided could work a little harder.


I want to turn that 16" narrow span next to the front door into storage area.  These are my inspiration:

I like the floating console table to keep the space visually open.  That would be key for my narrow space.  Don't even get me started on all that natural light.

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Hooks and a bench and best of all it looks like they're hiding a baseboard heater just like we have.  But come on.  Look at that staging.  A basket of wildflowers and a few scarves?  Show me a basket of baseball gloves and a few jock straps and I'll show you reality.

BHG.com
So cute.  I'll have to remember this for summer pool storage this summer.

marthastewart.com
So the goal is to transform the unused foyer into a more interesting space with better storage.  Oh and I don't want to spend a lot.  Famous last words.

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Thursday, January 14, 2016

2015 Year In Review

It was a relatively slow renovation year for us.  Only a few big projects.  I'm hopeful that our renovations are slowing down.  Who am I kidding - we're just saving our pennies to tackle the outside.  This post will be a quick walk down memory lane.  One of the rooms in this post was renovated twice this year.  

First up was the powder room.  What started the year with bold stripes...




Then what was going to be a fresh paint job...





Then to properly bookend the year we were forced to gut our newly redecorated powder room and turn this gross floor...


...into this beauty!




I know I still haven't shown you the family room.  I need to figure out the walls.  Hopefully in the next couple weeks.

2016 is gearing up to be the year of the outdoor space.  Hopefully we can make some decisions and share something soon!
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Tuesday, January 5, 2016

New Year's Resolutions

I lay awake at night worrying over everything and anything.  I'm pretty sure that everyone with a uterus does.  Everything from, "did I remember to lock the kids' windows," to "will my kid turn into a heroin addict because I didn't read Good Night Moon 6 times to him tonight like he asked?"  One such worry is keeping my kids safe, including house fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.

My New Year's resolution last year was to rethink the detectors in my house.  I was really down to the wire but I just made it. Disclaimer: I am not a fire professional so do not take any of this as what you should be doing at your house - just sharing some things I've learned/annoyed my husband with for the past year.  Call your local fire department - I've found they're really open to helping.  

We all know we're supposed to change the batteries every year but did you know you're supposed to replace the actual detectors themselves every 7-10 years?  I did not and ours are due to be replaced.  Good timing.

Step 1 was figuring out what kind of detector to get.  There are two different detector features to alarm you based on the type of fire.  Ionization detectors are sensitive to fast burning, flaming fires  whereas photo-electric detectors are sensitive to slow-burning, smoldering fires.  Throw in the possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning and it is enough to make me want to move out and live in a tent in the woods.  Then I'd worry about coyotes.  After I pulled my head out of the sand I decided to upgrade from our standard smoke alarms to combination detectors.  

Step 2 is placement.  Our house was built in the 60's and detector placement guidelines has changed a lot.  When we moved in there was one on each floor.  That's it.  It is recommended now that there is a smoke detector in each bedroom and on each floor of the house as well as a carbon monoxide alarm on each floor.

Here's what I ended up going with.  A First Alert Smoke & Fire Alarm (affiliate link) for each bedroom (excluding the master - I'll get to that later):




2 Kidde combination Smoke/Carbon Monoxide Alarms (affiliate link) for the main living floor and one for the 2nd floor hallway outside the bedrooms:

Most sources advise against placing a smoke detector near a furnace as it can set off a lot of false alarms, but the furnace room is also a major culprit of carbon monoxide leaks.  My local fireman recommended I only use a plug-in carbon monoxide alarm in the furnace room.  The reason for the plug-in alarm is that the outlet is lower to the ground which is key because carbon monoxide is heavier than air so while smoke rises, carbon monoxide sinks.  So a First Alert Carbon Monoxide Plug-In Alarm (affiliate link) was placed there:


Another recommended location is in the basement.  Our laundry room is in our basement just outside the furnace room and because dryer fires are some of the most common causes of house fires that was the location that made the most sense.  Ignore the crazy yellow - this is the only room in the house I haven't repainted from the prior owners yet.



Wait, what is that beautiful thing you ask?



Glad you asked.  It is a Nest Protect (affiliate link).  A super-smart wireless smoke/CO2 detector that:
  • Sounds an alarm to all of the Nest Protect units connected to it (over Wi-Fi).
  • Sends alerts to your phone (in addition to the traditional beeping alarm).
  • It will do a nightly check before you go to bed to ensure the batteries will be strong enough to make it through the night (no more 3 AM chirping). 
  • Turns off your furnace if you have a Nest Thermostat (we do) if it detects carbon monoxide
  • If you have forced air and it detects fire it will shut down the fan in your heater so it doesn't  literally fan the flames.
  • Some other features that are nice to have but not reasons I'd spend the $$ on these units include: a nightlight as it senses movement beneath it as well as an additional sensor to tell your Nest Thermostat whether you're away from home so it can lower the heat.
That's some serious George Jetson technology.

We put a 2nd unit in the master bedroom so that if there is a problem in our high risk area basement the alarm would be sounded in our room so we could react quickly:

Why didn't we just put the Nest detectors everywhere instead of just in the basement and master bedroom?  Well they're a small fortune and because we don't have gas appliances I believe our major risks to carbon monoxide leaks are only through our furnace and fireplace.

2014 resolution - check!


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Monday, December 21, 2015

DIY Canvas Frame

I built a frame.  All by myself.  Power tools and all.  I don't need a man (finger snaps).  Scratch that, yes I do.


I have this print that I bought on Overstock.com.  I really like it but it looked unfinished.


So I searched for a frame but because it is 2" thick and an odd size I couldn't find one for less than $100.  The art was really cheap (and I'm really cheap about some things) so I wasn't interested in paying that.  It is 4 pieces of wood - how hard could it be?  Off to Home Depot I went and picked up these oak craft boards (2" x 1/2").  $20.  I'm sure I could have figured out a way to pay less but I had about 10 minutes before I had to get the kids off the bus so I was in a hurry and grabbed the first thing that worked.  I could have butted the corners and it would have looked fine but I mitered the corners.


Then I conditioned the wood.  Don't skip this step - it is super important to help the wood accept the stain.  I've been using this same can of pre-stain for about 8 years and as long a it doesn't dry out I'll have it for the rest of my life.  Then I stained it using Minwax dark walnut that I've used on every project I've stained in this house.  Wear gloves.  I didn't and my fingers are still brown.


After letting the wood conditioner sink in for 15 minutes I applied one coat of stain and got the color I was after.  If you want to go darker you can continue to add layers.  If you want to go lighter you can wipe off the stain quickly after you apply it.  And yes that is a silk shantung drape I'm using as a drop cloth.  As the most interesting man in the world says, "I don't always DIY canvas frames but when I do I use silk drop cloths."


Then I assembled the frame by applying a bead of gorilla glue (just a dab will do ya or it'll ooze out the sides) and then clamping to dry for about an hour.


Just for added security I added a staple to the corners.


Then add a screw from the inside of the canvas frame to the finished frame itself.


My goal of coordinating the mirror frame to the art was achieved. 


Not perfect but the $20 price tag was way better.



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