Posts Tagged ‘DIY’

Outdoor shenanigans

We aren’t making much progress on the basement, but we have gotten some outdoor tasks done.

The first project was digging a giant hole for the egress window.3 feet

Emma helped by continuously dropping her toys into the giant pit.     narrow

The excavation went well, all things considered. We abused some 5 gallon buckets, and eventually started using this pulley system.pully systemIt ended up 4 feet by 101″ wide (8.5 feet) and about 7 feet sizeWe used a 72″ gray Rockwell elite egress window from Summit Contractor Supply. It was $952. That’s about $400 less than most retailers, but it was still not cheap. The good news is it will last as long as the house. Plus it looked adorably like a covered wagon before install.

wagonMounting the well was very easy,  just 12 concrete wedge anchors into the block wall.bolting

We leveled and repaired the erosion on the back of the house with the leftover dirt piles. It ended up about a foot deep for a good 50 square foot area. Michael is a champion mover of dirt.


After creating the giant hole, we marked the window rough opening, custom ordered the casement window, and now we’re waiting for the window to arrive.

Well, by waiting I mean pouring concrete slabs and working on the deck 🙂



Progressing right along 🙂


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We dumped our furniture into the Master bedroom over two years ago, and it hasn’t moved since. We also never hung our pictures 🙂Original Layout

The only thing that bothered me with the layout was the reading chair. There was no where to put my drink, a blanket, Emma’s chew toy when she won’t stop giving it to me, nothing. Plus it’s right next to the bathroom.


And so: Kapow, new layout.


Now I can put my drink on the dresser while reading, and there’s even a table to use  for charging phones (no more windowsill, yay).


I like it.P1050504

We still had the giant blank wall above the bed, though. P1050503We decided to flagrantly steal this blogger’s idea and create a headboard out of 1 by 6s.

We trimmed, sanded, and stained 4 poplar 1x6s with Miniwax Early American stain. Instead of the original blogger’s Command strips, we decided to use a router and a keyhole bit to save about $15. P1050519

Since we didn’t use the Command strips, we had to place all 8 keyholes perfectly,hit studs perfectly, and mount the screws perfectly. As you can guess, it was finicky. I would go with the Command strips next time 🙂 $48 of poplar later, we had this:


My favorite change is moving the bed, we actually notice the view much more now.P1050542

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Our basement is officially gutted.

We’re finishing this floor before we start on the kitchen and the bedrooms upstairs. This way, we can escape the remodel disaster zones and maintain slightly more sanity.

Here is the current layout:

basement layout current

And the intended layout:

New Basement Layout

We’re making some large changes, but we have our reasons 🙂

Reasons 1 & 2: Bedroom-caves

The two rooms down here are pretty useless. They need an egress window to be a legal bedroom.

Bedroom of Cave-ness

The plan is to combine the two rooms into one legal bedroom with a gigantic storage closet. Since we’re turning an upstairs bedroom into the master bath, this will keep our bedroom count at 4.

Reason 3: Terrible bathroom

As we talked about in this post, the bathroom has a terrible layout. Actually, the only thing I like about it is the adorably ugly sink.

Mini Sink

We’ll be removing the space-eating linen closet, and redoing the resulting 7.5 by 8 foot bathroom.

Reason 4: Utility looking room

We’ve introduced this project, also.

Utility Room

We’ll be covering the pipes and wires when possible, and upgrading the floor.

Reason 5: Wandering layout

The basement is currently split with this short hallway.Maze of Doors We’ll be opening the wall up to make the basement feel less cramped and reduce the likelihood of someone getting lost in the maze.

Reason 6: It isn’t pretty

Spider Room

Brick linoleum and paneling is not my idea of a good time.

We started demo in the laundry room. Then we scratched our heads a bit about whether we were starting on the laundry room, the bathroom, or the entire basement. The only thing we used on this floor was our 35 year old dryer and it’s slightly younger pal. We decided to gut the whole floor, and hook the new washer and dryer up in their sad little concrete room full of pipes. At this point, that laundry room is frightful looking.Somehow, it looks worse

After making a mess with the laundry room, we realized that step 1 should have been removing all of our stuff. Whoops 🙂 A ton of it is being sold or donated, and we moved everything else upstairs into a spare bedroom. Just emptying out our junk took most of one day. Note to self: have less stuff .

Then we removed bits of the building 🙂  We listed the paneling, carpet, media cabinet and interior doors on Craigslist for free, and it was gone in a weekend. Someone actually paid us $50 for the carpet… even though it was free.

Less basement

Electrical outlets and plumbing fixtures were donated, and we knocked down the hallway wall and  linen closet. The only trash was the carpet pad, some linoleum, broken trim, and the shower.

Voila! Empty(ish) floor.

Empty Basement

After Demo came Discover. The best thing was this linoleum hiding coyly under the bathroom floor.Beatiful vintage find

I think I may keep it.

We also found 29 mice skeletons in one wall. That’s not an exaggeration; we counted. They had a lizard buddy hanging out too.

The less fun discoveries include water :{ Water seeps between the floor & concrete block in the laundry room.  That seam is easily fixed, but both corners of the basement  have seepage through the wall. Shucks

The adhesive on the floor looks like a puddle in that pic, but only the concrete bricks are damp. Coincidentally, that’s exactly where the gutters drain to. Our plan is to improve the gutter drainage, which should fix it. We’ll waterproof the interior corners as a back-up.

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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

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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 2Part 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

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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.

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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 😀

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