About That Entertainment Center….

I wasn’t planning on using the entertainment center.  I’d forgotten it existed.  I’m not sure it is an entertainment center, as it also has a matching, rather large chest of drawers that goes with it, so it’s got to be for a bedroom.  Anyway, I’d planned on building nearly everything inside, and have lots of spare wood and plywood to do so, but honestly, I don’t think my building skills are up to it.  Sure, the build itself is solid.  I’ve been told many times that I over-engineer things.  But my detail work can be…sketchy?  Hehe, yeah, sketchy.  I believe with practice and some hands-on tutorials from a more experienced builder, I’d be able to put together creditable cabinets and whatnot, but not now.  I priced out cabinets and they are rather expensive, and heavy, and the sizes are mostly not right for the space.   So, what to do?

Look around here is what to do.  I thought about scavenging bits and pieces from this house, but I didn’t want to damage it. Plus there’s still that whole having to “build stuff” thing.  As I wandered from room to room, assessing what was available, I stumbled upon this oak wood set.  Ah-ha!  As it is modular, it seemed a perfect solution.  Without further hesitation, I started grabbing parts.

The only thing that took a lot of time was figuring out the placement of the upright attachment boards.  They had to be placed just right to set the hooks on the back of the shelves and cabinets properly, as well as being as close to the studs as possible for strength.  My spacial skills are apparently not too bad, as no mistakes were made.  So attach those boards securely to the walls, hook in the various bits, and done.  Well, except that after an experimental drive, several of the shelves fell down!  So, back to the hardware store for metal brackets to permanently attach everything.  Cheap and effective.

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Modular oak shelving pieces. See those metal rods sticking out from various bits? They stick into each other and the uprights.

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Shelving, cabinets and desk all hook onto uprights before I added the little metal brackets.

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I have a desk under the window! 🙂  The toilet will go between the desk and the kitchen cabinet.  The cabinet in this picture is pulled out and there’s actually quite a bit more room than shows.

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Re-purposed solid (even the back is wood!) EXPENSIVEquarter-sawn oak entertainment set from my aunt and uncle. Heavy, yes, but solid and, FREE.

As for the two matching white cabinets I really like and wanted to use, they turned out to be way too heavy to hang.  Sadly, I won’t be using the longer one at all (which was going to hold most of my kitchenware), but the squarish one got some legs and a top, and is now firmly screwed to the walls.  To build the top, I had to glue and clamp two pinewood panels together and then cut them down to get something large enough.  The cabinet is now a good place for heavy cast iron and random largish stuff.

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Painted legs to transform the hanging cabinet into a floor cabinet.

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Strong wood braces made from random 1/2″ plywood pieces added to the bottom of the white cabinet, and a thing to screw the legs into.

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Revamped upper cabinet. Painting the cabinet white, but I might try the tangerine color for fun. 🙂 The door is nearly ready to install, and it’s been painted a matching green.  I think I’m going to paint the bit of pink on the side wall above the counter top white.

Taking the place of the longer cabinet is a bunch of roll-out closet baskets.  Light, strong, semi-attractive… works for me!

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Drawer racks installed. The baskets are in the house being filled and sorted.

The lower kitchen cabinet was the real bear.  I couldn’t push it back against the wall, because of the front fuel line sticking out of the floor and wall.  Solution?  Either build a shelf behind it to cover the huge (8″) gap, or cut a hole in the back/bottom of the cabinet. No more building!!! 😦  So, my son came over and cut a hold for me, as cutting holes into furniture was something I couldn’t bring myself to do.  My anxiety over it was ridiculously overwhelming.  Even though I’d added strong supports to the underside of the cabinet after bringing it home, I had visions of the whole thing collapsing in on itself.

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Meet Richard from one of the local big box stores where I bought the cabinet. He helped me clamp in the support pieces I added to the bottom of the cabinet. Nice guy, right?

Yeah, that didn’t happen, and now the cabinet is against the wall and out of the way.  Thanks very much, dear boy!

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I can’t do anything about the metal bars, but was able to work around this fuel line.

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See how far the cabinet has to stick out? NOT GOOD. Oh, and in the background you can see the beginnings of insulating and covering the loft front area. OH!  And you can see the linoleum all laid down and looking pretty on the loft floor.

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Problem solved.

I did, however, cut the counter top to size, and cut out the sink hole, by myself.  So easy!  I still have the hand pump marine faucet to cut a hole for, but now I’m not worried about being capable of doing that.  My new saw blade for finish work has really impressed me.

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Look at that clean edge from my new finishing saw blade. So proud.

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And now the hold for the sink….

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BOOM. It still sticks out an inch due to the metal bars, but I can live with that.

So that’s the cabinet roundup.  I thought it might be interesting for people to get a sort of spacial sense of how I fit into this incredibly tight space.  I’m 5’5″, and the ceiling is 7′ high.

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I can easily reach and remove the top drawers to access the contents, but the ceiling doesn’t feel too low.  Yep, that’s me in glasses!

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And here I’m standing right by the bed loft area. The reflective ceiling really helps to add light. The camera I’ve been using is on my Kindle Fire, and has no flash. All the pictures pretty much reflect the actual light inside. You can also see the baskets I’ve found to store things on the shelves, and the cool closet curtains. I still need to find baskets to fit the upper shelves.

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Wow, 2 Months?

I didn’t realize it’s been so long since I last updated my progress.  Once again, there’s a boat-load of pictures of stuff that’s been “finished”.   It will take me a bit of time to gather together a semi-coherent description of everything, so please bear with me. 🙂

Um, I’ll put a couple up to show where things were at least recently, and then I have to go back to work.

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Re-purposed quarter-sawn oak entertainment set from my aunt and uncle. Heavy, yes, but solid and FREE.

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Very cheap and light oak-veneered kitchen cabinet. Super flimsy, so I hope it will hold up to the abuse….

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Finished the curtains, and I love love love being able to use this fabric! Been holding on to it for years. :p The closet curtains are actually shower curtains that look like beech (birch?) trees.

Hope you all are enjoying the last bit of summer!

Bad Juju

I know it’s 7 years bad luck when you break a mirror, but what’s the penalty for breaking a window?  Dammit.

So!  Change in plans.  After the shock and horror wore off (could have been minutes, could have been hours ~ time stopped. JK)  I went in search of the new-fangled plastic, double-paned windows I’d purchased for the original TH.  Confronted with using either huge 3′ by 5′ suckers or more reasonable but smaller than I’d wanted windows, I went with a 31″ by 21″.  Now, here’s the thing:  I’d already cut the rough opening in the wall and flashed it, not to mention having to redo the framing.  Nooooo…..

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Rough Opening ready for the large wood window. Yes, that’s copper sheeting.  I was going to put that on all the window openings for a bit of style 🙂

Patching went ok, but now the back of the building doesn’t look nearly as good.  The patch is really obvious right now, and I don’t know if all the caulking and painting necessary will change that.  Plus, water entry is now more of a risk.  Such a bummer!  At least restructuring the framing went quickly.

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Restructured and patched Rough Opening w/o the copper sheeting, as it won’t show in this type of window install.

The upside of this huge change in plans?  Installation was a breeze, and I immediately had an opening window complete with screen.  That was cool. 🙂

Then the snowball effect kicked in.

As I stood there looking out my new window (yay) I contemplated the other two windows that were going in next to it.  No way.  Two old-fashioned (but cool) wood windows inches from a modern plastic window?  Nope.  I looked at the stack of double-paned choices and compared them to the framing already in place.  Nope again.  I just didn’t want to do it.  The single, smaller window surprised me with the amount of light it let in, so right there I decided one was enough.  This decision opened up changing the interior layout I’d planned on, so I spent the night obsessively redrawing plans.  Because of course.  And that wasn’t all, as now that I wasn’t using wood windows in the rear, I got really hesitant to use them in the front…and after checking to make sure double-paned plastic framed windows can safely be installed at an angle I’m going to do that.  So much less light, so much reduction in views.  A hell of a lot easier installation, so little risk of more breakage.

So a lot of changes, a bit of heartbreak, and much work later, here’s what things look like now:

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Framed, flashed and installed.

Before I go, here’s the latest pictures of Leo hanging out in the new place:

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Leo barely fits through the door opening, but likes to look out.

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Leo on the ladder outside. Doesn’t he know not to stand on the top???

 

I’m still working hard on the walls, and painting.  Stay tuned!

Wall Experiment

I mentioned the other day ripping plywood into boards for the walls, and I thought I’d show some examples of what other people have accomplished using this idea.  The links will take you to their actual website to give proper credit.  Check em out, as there are some great-looking floors!

At Centsational Girl

A darker version at AllQuietOntheMidwesternFront

From DataCouch

And TruthsofaBlessedLife

Finally, DIYDork with a complete how-to

I’m once again using the cheapest plywood I can find.  The shop calls it “Utility” grade and it has a lot of flaws, which I think adds to the visual interest and a rustic feeling which echoes the exterior. The cost is less than $13 a sheet.  I’m starting with the kitchen wall section in order to hang the upper cabinet there right away. I’ll need to paint it before hanging the cabinet, but even with unfinished roughness going on, I like how it’s progressing.  Here’s what’s up so far:

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Slits in the insulation netting let me push the sagging wool up while attaching the planks.

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This section on the left is from old plywood I’ve had laying around all winter, which resulted in a darker color. Too dark for my taste, so it’ll get a pickled treatment or a full-on paint job. You can also see the scratch coat of white paint on the ceiling.

Even though the skylight window is really dirty and still needs the sealant trimmed back, I thought I’d post a couple pictures of how it’s ending up.  Here goes:

 

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The skylight well is looking much more finished, and seems to be waterproof. I admit to holding my breath and wanting to knock on wood while typing this

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Looking closely you can see the dripping nature of using EPDM on a vertical surface (not recommended by manufacturer)

The weather stripping applied to the skylight base and the door itself do seem to be keeping the weather out as it should, especially with the addition of the hasps when pulled tight and locked down.  There still hasn’t been a true rainstorm yet to test it, but it will come.  Hold good thoughts for me, ok folks?

Due to an unexpected and much-appreciated donation from a follower here, I was able to go out yesterday and buy close to enough plywood to finish the interior.  I’m about to go out and tackle that project today.

This house is taking shape.  The boost to my morale and feelings of preparedness is amazing!  The fear of being kicked out of my “safe place” is waning the more that gets done.  Leo is continuing to keep me company while I work, even through noisy sawing, drilling, and the occasional curse.  His latest hangout is on the bags of wool.  You can’t tell from the picture, but he starting purring when he noticed me snapping pics. 🙂

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Soft wool bed is the coziest place for a snooze.

One more thing.  Knowing that people are cheering me on from all over the world is an amazing thing.  It’s uplifting.  I appreciate you all, and encourage you to also tackle something new and intimidating.  It’s super empowering.

Be well o/

 

A Door Makes It A House

First of all, I want to make it clear that my door isn’t the best.  It’s a bit wonky, and I have to tug on it to close it.  There are some gaps that I’d prefer not be there.  It’s kinda beat up and scarred.  But, it’s on, it closes and locks, and it’s mine.  I made it happen.  In a year full of not-great things, this is something good.

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Applying weatherstripping to the door

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Exterior door trim

With some helpful ideas from a friend, I hid the siding mistakes today.  I had just enough cedar trim left to do it so I guess it was meant to be.  My friend suggested it be painted, but I don’t want to take the time right now.  Hey, it’s cedar, so it can wait, right?  So now the only thing left on the exterior that really needs to be addressed is the portion under the door.  I’m letting ideas marinate and will finish that part when a good idea shows up.  For now, it looks funky but eh, ok.

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Using cut-down cedar trim to hide siding mistakes

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Closeup of unpainted cedar trim

The skylight is nearly complete enough for now, as well.  I went with white EPDM sealant for the corners and edges instead of trim, and I think that was the right choice.  That stuff is MESSY!  By far the goopiest, stickiest, glueiest glop I’ve used yet….and my hands were (and still are) covered by the time I was finished.  I really hope I can sand it smooth/er as I wasn’t able to make a nice bead with it.  It blends so well with the white paint that it isn’t too obvious, so I’m not letting that bother me.  One clasp is on, and I’m going to get another for the other end to ensure a tight seal against wind and rain.  No pictures because the window panes are still filthy.  So much light comes in from just that window!  I love it.

Tomorrow I’m going to start working on the interior again, starting with the ceiling.  The seams in the plywood should be easy to fill with putty, and then it’s getting a white paint job for now.  I definitely think a super-glossy color is in it’s future.  Once the ceiling has a decent paint job, the upper kitchen cabinet is going up.  I’m not sure what will come after that ~ perhaps the walls.  Sitting there looking at them this evening, I decided to fake-plank the walls with painted plywood strips.  I’ve seen that done on floors to a really attractive effect, and I see no reason why it won’t look just as interesting on walls.  It’s a quick and cheap solution, and I already have spare plywood I can use.  The wool is finally settling so I can’t let it stay up with just netting to hold it in place, dang it.

Leo is again in the habit of coming in and hanging out with me while I work.  I love that he is so comfortable in the space, and that he climbs the ladder to come inside.  It’s very cute and gives me another reason to smile. 🙂

It Feels Like Forever

Since I last posted.  But, well, the Beast has been in the shop all this time, so except for a little painting on the windows and door trim, I haven’t been able to do anything.  It was frustrating!  But I got it back a couple days ago with a clean bill of health and at the low low cost of $88.  The shop didn’t charge me any labor!  They checked out the whole truck, and said it was in amazingly great shape. 🙂  The fuel tank got emptied and a pump related to it was replaced, they replaced the broken hood hinge, made the “check engine temp” light go off, replaced the vacuum belt that makes the brakes work properly, and looked at EVERYTHING.  I’m so happy!  I’m so relieved!

The first thing I did (besides go do some much-needed grocery shopping) was to give the door a few more coats of paint.  I want to completely finish that before putting on the doorknob.  As I know now the door is working properly even after several weather changes, I felt confident enough to seal it with Reflectix tape before stuffing the gaps with more wool, in preparation for putting up the exterior door trim.  By the end of day tomorrow, hopefully the door will be completely finished.  It feels like a huge step forward.  I sat in the doorway this evening, looking up at the old, beat-up but freshly painted door and frame and just…felt good about things.

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Taping the gap with Reflectix tape.

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Leo came in and hung out with me today. 🙂

The Beast is Sick and Pretty(er)

There’s no feeling like your brakes going out while driving!  So the Beast is in the shop again, hopefully with a not-too-expensive repair in his future.  My loan was just paid off, too!  At least that means I can take a new one if needed.

Now that Spring is officially here, along with wonderfully warm and dry weather, I’ve been able to get some major work done.  The skylight is in!  To line the well, I pulled out a few sheets of bead board I purchased at the Restore.  After a coat of paint, they look good and reflect light into the house interior nicely.  I still have to put up corner trim, which will hide the small gaps at the corners and to disguise the weird angle of one of the corners.  The skylight itself still needs some paint, and a latch to hold it shut, but even loose most of the rain is staying out.  I found a leak under one corner, and when the truck is back home I’ll check to see if my weatherizing did the trick to fix it.  If not…well, that means the leak is coming from the roof most likely, and that won’t be fixed until I get the liquid rubber applied.  That should be the last thing needed to complete the roof.  It will be great to have that whole project complete!

Interior of skylight well (please ignore the filthy windows)

Interior of skylight well (please ignore the filthy windows)

I spent the entire day yesterday putting in the door.  I’d recommend if you don’t want a hassle, and have more money to spend, to buy a new, pre-hung door.  Making lots of reclaimed pieces play nice together takes a tremendous amount of effort and time.  The Quick Hangers did make it easier.  Not easy, just easier.  Once again, I find that seemingly simple tasks are made harder because of my lack of height/upper body strength.  I do think that if I had experience, that would make up in large part for my weaknesses, but the three combined caused a lot of staggering around with an unwieldy door and casing.  Also once again, after a lot of do-overs, I was able to get the thing together and functioning.   This is the most important lesson:  be willing to tear things apart and start over if necessary.  Trying to work around a problem makes more problems, and usually takes more time than simply starting over with a troublesome issue.

Danced with the door and casing for hours before getting it all hung properly

Danced with the door and casing for hours before getting it all hung properly

Finally got the door to hang properly in the casing. Mortising the hinges was the easiest part

Finally got the door to hang properly in the casing. Mortising the hinges was the easiest part

Using the Quick Hangers helped me a lot in hanging the casing straight.

Using the Quick Hangers helped me a lot in hanging the casing straight.

Another example of that important lesson cropped up in my skylight.  The trim wasn’t laying flat, and initially instead of fixing it, I tried to quickly slap some weather-stripping on just to keep forecasted rain out.  Unsuccessfully.  Once I pulled off the offending trim and shimmed (then sealed) it properly, I had a nice flat surface to work with, and a much better looking skylight.  It took less than a half-hour to do the entire fix, a very good trade-off.

The house is now light gray instead of green, a welcome update. 🙂  The neutral color contrasts well with the red of the truck.  After dropping off the Beast at the shop earlier today, I started painting the door trim in a dark gray, which I think looks great with the lighter gray structure.  I’m still playing around with color combinations in my head, but for now the windows and door will remain white.  I’m hoping the classic and understated colors will offset the somewhat janky nature of the build, lol.  I’m putting a lot of faith into the power of a good paint job!

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New light gray outside. Pretty!