Utility Room

We have an awesome laundry room. It’s huge, has a great sink, and tons of storage.

Laundry Room

Plus this nifty light.

Clothespin Light

But it also has exposed utility-ness. Everywhere. PS: that dryer works perfectly… and it’s 35 years old.

Washer Dryer Wall

Our goal is to make it look less utility cave, and more like this ridiculously beautiful room. Minus 90% of the budget that I’m sure this thing involved.

Luckily for the budget, we already purchased tile for this room and the basement bathroom, and the cabinets and sink will work just fine.

Priority #1 is to cover this wall. We’re going to frame it out about 4 inches and install drywall. That will make Things 1 and 3 flush with the wall (less wire art, yay). Plus, things 5-8 and thing 9 will be hidden. Thing 4 is getting removed; it’s an incorrectly installed inlet for a backup generator.

Wall of Things

Even after bumping the wall out 4 inches, Thing # 2 (The water pressure regulator) will stick out 4 or 5 inches. The water main shut-off requires access, so it will have a door. We’re planning to build the wall out a total of 12 inches there. It will be as wide as the counter.

Currently, a mess of pipes are hidden behind the washer and dryer Those pipes are priority #2 in operation cover-up.

The pipes are alive

Here’s a sketch from Floorplanner with our goal.

3D Sketch

In front of the pipe shenanigans, we will frame in a front-loading washer & dryer with a counter on top. We’ll put built-in storage ( possibly just two Ikea shelves) on the wall behind them. That will both cover the pipe explosion and give us more storage.

Luckily, we have a 4 ft bi-fold closet doors upstairs that we can use to block that lovely view into the utility closet.Cave of Darkness

Then I get to paint. Any room that I get the brown out of feels like victory 🙂

We already have the tile, the cabinets, and the bi-fold door. Here’s the rest of the budget:

2×4 Expedit Shelves for Built-in (2) 180
Counter tops 130
New cabinet pulls 50
Framing & drywall materials: 50
Paint 30
False cabinet for W/D 30
Plumbing/dryer vent/electrical 25
Overage 55
Total  $  550

It’s official: The garage is the prettiest room in our house.

Garage Finished

Here’s Cinderella before her beauty makeover in July.

Current Work Bench

We removed the creepy upside-down insulation, doubled the lighting, swapped out the exterior door, painted the ceiling and walls, installed baseboards, and used a Rustoleam Floor Coating on the old stained concrete. We also installed flashing between the garage and 2nd floor (try leaking now, silly garage).


You can see detail of all that mess in Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.

Since then, we got to do all the fun stuff. First, Michael built a long, narrow workbench with scrap wood and a 2×10 top.

Workbench pt 1

Workbench Done

Then it was storage time. Michael found a rolling drawer tool cabinet for $140 on Craigslist  and we built everything else out of scrap wood. The cabinet isn’t super special, but since I’m an Industrial Engineer and a big nerd, we made everything as visible and easy to grab as possible, like storing the bit-cases open (no more opening a drawer and then still needing to open a case.)

Lean Drawer

All the original pegboards were moved to above the bench, with room for large things and scrap wood under.

Peg Board

A $15 kit from Lowe’s kept the brooms off the floor.

Off the floor!

Michael turned this into a table-saw stand. He also made a stand for his miter saw.

Only MichaelThe shelves that used to crowd the side of the garage walls were painted and moved to the back wall.

The Back Wall

The stands for the table and miter saws have handy-dandy storage (cause Michael’s awesome, and also OCD.) We spent about $15 on each for the casters, but everything else is scrap wood.

Storage yay

We swapped parking spots so that we could store things on the far wall. The shelf on the far right was original, but the plywood storage is new (and very needed). The plywood is resting on two $3 hooks from Lowe’s and roped to the wall.Side Wall

There are shelves behind the canvas drop cloth. Those shelves are hidden to protect things from sawdust and also because, well, who would want to look at all that mess?
Hidey Shelves

We spent $60 on the floor epoxy, another $60 on paint, about $40 on lighting, $30 on baseboards, and $50 on hooks and misc. storage. Less than $250 later it looks significantly better than the cave it was before 🙂

Cave of Darkness

We have a dining room table! Woot  🙂
Table with Chairs
It started out looking like so:Our Table!

We used the free furniture plan from Ana-White which was based on the $1000 table from Pottery Barn.

We followed the plan almost as-is. The frame went together very quickly. She's got Legs Table Frame

The only modification we made was on the very edge of the frame. The plan called for a 2×2 screwed in through the end-grain… but I didn’t want to even imagine someone sitting on the end of the table if that’s all there was to it. So we used a notched 2×8.Modified End Support

Emma supervised throughout the project 😀Emma always helps

To cover all the fastener holes, we made wood putty out of sawdust (we had plenty), some Elmer’s glue, and the stain that we used for the table. It worked excellently.Homemade wood putty

We  sanded the table surface to death, hoping to get it as seamless as possible. It is not perfect, but it’ll definitely do.Sanding

We pretreated the wood to get a smoother finish, and then used a rag to apply three coats of Minwax ‘Early American’ stain.First coat of stain First coat done!

The first coat turned out terrible. It was very, very blotchy on the Apsen top. The frame and legs were pine, and they turned out great, but the aspen was terrible.Very blotchy finish

The finish improved after the  second and third coats. We finished with three coats of semi-gloss polyurethane.

Second Coat

In the end, the table top finish looks okay. The table overall looks awesome, and I’m very glad we did it. We spent $175, which got us the lumber and iron pipe from Lowe’s, square washers from McMaster-Carr (Part No. 91128a140) and the polyurethane to finish the table.Our new table

For the chairs, we grabbed 6 Anna Slipcover Chairs with linen slipcovers from World Market. We abused a 25% off coupon, and got them for $107 per chair.

When we last talked about the deck, it looked like this:

We left the wood banded together, and we tarped it right after it was rained on. That ended up working very well to reduce shrinking/weird warps. The bad news is that the wood was incredibly heavy, and in some cases even slimy. Blegh.

We have been working on the deck for several months, and we’ve had a lot of progress. I’m sharing pictures, but I’m not going into a lot of detail about how we completed this job, mainly because we do not feel comfortable teaching or showing anyone else how to do this 🙂

Emma helped whenever possible, true to form. Her especial talent during this job was dropping her toys into the footer holes.

Since those last few photos, we’ve finished installing the tin roof and started work on the electrical. We still have the deck railing, stairs, and staining process left to complete. Maybe we’ll finish in late November…just in time to enjoy the fire inside 😀

Non-Existent Gray

Non-existent Gray: That’s the color I want to paint the exterior siding. Evidently. Currently it’s this tan color.

I’ve been trying to choose a new paint color for our siding. The original plan was to replace the siding with Hardie Board, but our siding is in excellent shape, and vertical siding flatters the wide, squat lines of the facade. Plus, Hardie Board is not nearly as free as our current siding. To be fair, there are some damaged portions, but they are all within a few inches of the ground. This led us to Plan B: Install Hardie Trim around the base of our existing siding, and then paint.
My master plan was to paint our siding a dark gray, one of those colors that prompts arguments; is it slate? Is it a really dark blue? Is it Superman? I used the outstanding tool Color Visualizer by Sherwin Williams to mock-up exterior paint colors. Unfortunately that dark slate color does not exist. If it does, it sure doesn’t match our brick. These are my current favorites:

  1. Software
  2. Earl Gray
  3. Mineral Deposit

Why am I choosing paint colors, you may ask. Well, it isn’t because we’re about to paint 🙂 Right now we’re plugging away on the deck. I really hope we can replace the asphalt shingles before winter hits (why are they brown?!), and then we’ll work inside. Painting the siding won’t come until next year, but it is something I’m definitely looking forward to. It’ll make the house seem more ours, and less the home of someone inexplicably fond of dirt colors.

We’re substantially changing the outside of our house this year. This includes adding a roof to our deck, replacing all the exterior doors, replacing the windows, painting the siding, replacing shingles, repairing concrete, and landscaping. We’re working on all of those things at once (to a point). I’m only price-comparing shingles right now and still just researching concrete repair options, but they’re all cooking along.

The window project;

We’re replacing all but one of our windows (The tiny middle window in the picture below will be centered and re-sized to match the other two). Replacing the windows is one of my favorite projects, because once I picked them out and ordered them, my work was done.

A three person crew from Hullco came out to install 10 of our 11 windows. They showed up at 10 and left at 4; and all of those windows are 100% done. It’s nice having something started and finished in the same day!

Here’s the front facade after:

Someday it will look like this:

Here’s the difference from the inside:




Once Hullco was done, we waited two days and Window World replaced the behemoth in the living room.

It took them less than two hours, and voila;

Holy cow, Batman; something got finished in 4 days and didn’t leave a mess.

Well, we do still have to replace that front window… and install an egress window in the basement… but we’re done for now!

There has been more deck progress! We talked about it here, but that was just to say the deck was partially gone. (Thanks Jimmy)

Here it is more gone.

Check out the giant cave that the previous owners’ dogs left. This is now our tornado shelter.

After removing the deck, we still had a lovely 7 inch thick pad of concrete. Michael stubborned his way through a section of it with a sledge hammer (stubborning is a verb that Michael is adept at; it takes qualifications).

And then decided that a jack hammer (called demolition hammer by all the rental places) would work a few months more quickly.

We got a 4 hour rental for a 70 pound demo hammer from Home Depot for $56 after tax. They had hammers as small as 11 pounds, but those are not intended for 7 inch slabs.

It took Michael an hour to go from this…

To this:

That’s the same amount of time it took for him to sledgehammer off the first section. PS: If it sounds like Michael did all of the work… that would be because he did 😀

In other news…

We also got the deck lumber order. It was entertaining/terrifying to watch the forklift navigate over the fence, budge forward 3 inches, and then duck under the power lines.

Tada! Our Deck:

The wood is still banded together, and we tarped it right after it got rained on. We’re hoping to delay as much shrinking until after installation as possible.

Our next steps are to clear the site, shorten the ledger board, and dig and pour the footers. Then it’s deck party time 🙂