Thursday, August 16, 2018

Hallway Renovation

Seven steps up from the main level and you're in the hallway that connects to three upstairs bedrooms and a guest bathroom. All of which were completed before the hallway took shape. They had to be. The paint, the floors, the trim, the electric, the was all connected in one way or another.  There were efficiencies to be had by combining some of the jobs together and completing the hallway piecemeal.

Have you ever heard of a whole house fan. We had one. It didn't work. I'm not sure how it ever worked. Here's the gist. You open the main level windows and the fan pulls air from outside through the house and exhausts it into the attic where it presumably exits via the roof ridge vent. If you want a dusty house, this is how you get a dusty house. I took this monster out and loved every second of it.

There were three main goals for the hallway. Lighting, lighting, lighting. The original fixture housed a single bulb that was woefully inadequate for the space. Cable lights to the rescue. They fill the void with light without flooding it. They create all the right kinds of shadows that make the room feel bigger than it really is. That was a welcome and unintended consequence of the install.

I'm not entirely sure why I put chair rail in the hallway and did a two tone paint job but I did and we love it. Here's a top tip with molding of any kind. Buy all you need plus 10%. If you have to get more a month or even a couple weeks later, the profiles are often a hair off. The store probably received another shipment, and for some reason, the suppliers can change and there is no standard.  I was short about six inches after a miss-cut and had to scour the area for a section that would fit. That was not fun.

Most of the top level has crown molding but I had to think for a bit about how I was going to apply it to the hallway because of how the walls transition into the stairs. I think the above picture is a decent solution. This is a detail I hardly notice but appreciate it when I do.

Friday, August 03, 2018

Utility Room Renovation

Our utility room was pretty beat up. We didn't take people down there. It's on the lower level at the rear of the house and was generally avoided. It would have been nice to tackle this room first but there were too many issues with the design to justify beginning the project until many of those questions were answered. Leaving the room unfinished for a while worked out in our favor though. Having a climate controlled space that you don't mind getting a little nicked up can be very useful. Many things were painted, cut, nailed, and glued down there during the hot and cold months.

Pretty much everything down there was replaced. I started by replacing the exterior door and window. A run of the mill steal door at one of the big box stores can be very reasonable. You pay a little more for the glass but it hardly breaks the budget. The exterior of the house at the door opening is brick and the door would be inset which means that there would be no wiggle room for the attached trim if it ran a little big at the factory. It couldn't have fit more perfectly. It brings a smile to my face every time I walk through it. The window fit just as well but I had to get a little creative. My regular outlets didn't stock a replacement window with the rough opening that I needed so I bought a "new construction" window that was a little smaller but had nailing flanges. Again, the exterior of the house at the window opening was brick and the window would be inset. There was one continuous flange around the outside of the window so I cut the corners effectively making four flaps. I used masonry screws to attach wooden stops to the inside of the brick and cinder block rough opening where I wanted the window to sit. Using a heat gun, I softened up up the flanges so they would easily bend and slid the window in from the outside. When the flanges cooled, they locked the window in place. They also provided a good caulking surface. Result!

I bought a paint sprayer a while back anticipating that I was going to paint the exterior of the house. I didn't consider spraying any of the inside until it came to resurfacing the cinder block walls of this room. I wasn't looking forward to rolling the paint in this room because of all the exposed pipe and uneven surfaces. Spraying would take care of all of this but prep is crucial. I spent a couple nights taping up everything. The floor wasn't down yet so I wasn't terrible worried about over-spray but I ended up brown-papering the ground anyway. I am a huge fan of the sprayer now. It was a lot easier than I thought it was going to be. I'm actually looking forward to spraying the outside of the house now.

I was back and forth a lot over what flooring to put down. I ended up going with the $1 per square foot cheep self adhesive vinyl stuff you buy at Home Depot. I know a lot of people aren't fans but I think it turned out great. Clean up is easy, it's super affordable and it's a breeze to put down. I'll go high dollar in our livable spaces but willing to save a few bucks where I can. It's been months and I haven't had an issue with it. I'm happy.

We rounded off the renovation with a new stainless bench, utility sink and a sweet washer and dryer from Samsung. Gotta thank my neighbor Pete for suggesting the stacked corner install. Love it. Although I did have to change the plumbing a little to make that work. Working with PEX made that easy though. That stuff is the real winner here.