A Learning Opportunity I Didn’t Ask For

I can’t believe I don’t have a picture of what the wall looked like before I started this unplanned project, sorry.  My father was in town for some family graduations; his first time back to the house since move-in week.  He stayed in the guest bedroom and 8 days in he decided the exposed brick wall, only about 18″ wide was unnecessary and that I should drywall over it as I did in the kitchen.  He wasn’t wrong.  I’ve thought the same at times, but for me it would be a project to tackle AFTER everything outstanding was done.  Last Sunday it was moved to top of list.

I stopped at Lowe’s after church and got a great sales clerk who cut the drywall down to the width I needed, which would be the only way I’d be able to get it home in my PT Cruiser.  Like in the kitchen, I nailed one piece to the brick wall and a second piece on top of it.  That entire wall was about 36″ wide and the side that had drywall came away from the brick about 1″, but not consistently.  The top was wider and I had to use some thin strips of wood as shims to make the new drywall meet the existing wall.  I really thought my father was going to do the project, since he made it an issue, but that did not turn out to be the case.  I got both pieces hung, taped, and mud with just verbal instructions from the sidelines.  Fortunately I had plenty of plaster and tape left from the drywall crews to use.

I had appointments out Monday and Tuesday and my father was leaving Wednesday.  I just assumed he would get me to at least paint stage, but that proved to not be the case.  I had entered the “learning opportunity” zone.  I questioned how I would ever be able to create a level and smooth surface after the first coat, but he said I’d be applying three and it would work out.   Tuesday I applied the second coat, trying my best to remember what the young man had done on the kitchen patch, which resulted in minimal sanding and dust.  My father let me know that I did not come out far enough from the 1st coat in order to feather appropriately.  He showed me the technique for applying pressure to one side of the trowel.  He left Wednesday and I felt I had a hot mess I’d never be able to get right.  A full wall is much different from the small patch projects I had been doing.

I put on the third coat (below left) and then decided to sand as I could see grooves in the dried plaster from where I applied too much pressure to one side.  I was also using a 6″ trowel, probably too small for project.  Flashback to the drywall crew that left my house in a hot mess.  Mudding drywall is definitely an art.  The young man that did the kitchen barely left a thimble worth of dust for twice the size space.  I could easily fill a gallon paint bucket.  Since I could feel humps in the wall, I decided to apply a fourth coat of mud (below right).  I knew I’d have more sanding, but at that point I actually felt good about the end product.  The wall was flat and majority smooth.

I wanted to tackle the 1st floor bathroom closet door and start staining the built-in for the Memorial holiday weekend, so I was bound and determined to get this wall redo done on Saturday.  Once I got the big piles of dust up, I vacuumed the wall to get the remaining residue up and then applied Drywall Primer; fortunately I had about a 1/2 gallon left.  Following that I painted the ceiling and then put the first coat on of color on the wall.  Unfortunately, with the color I did not have enough paint, so I was forced to purchase another gallon of Passive from Sherwin Williams.  10:41 pm I put a wrap on the project minus the whole house mopping I’ll need to do to clean up the dust tracks from my Crocs.

The wall turned out as good as the “professional” drywall crew I hired, so glad I had the “learning opportunity”, but I have no interest in honing that craft.  I don’t like any aspects of drywall.  Next up in that room is changing the orientation of the bed.  My father had better ideas for that too.  More drywall work involved, but at least it will be small patches in my wheelhouse.  I’ll need help from my electrician, Mr. McGhee, to run the TV and Internet lines to the opposite wall.

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As Seen In My Mind’s Eye

I love it when a vision comes to fruition exactly as I saw it in my mind.  I completed the 1st floor bathroom medicine cabinet project, a project that began with a vision when I walked past a $15 salvage cabinet door at Building Value over a year ago.  The original cabinet was missing the door and shelves, paint was peeling off, I thought it was trash, so it was pitched when we demoed down to the studs.  About a month after demo I saw #NicoleCurtis from Rehab Addict restore a cabinet in similar shape and I kicked myself from throwing mine away.  So what was I going to do with the approx. 25″ x 25″ framed out square in my bathroom wall.

20171119_210039.jpgI was looking for doors when I saw a pair of what was once  glass cabinet doors on a built-in.  Building Valu really didn’t want to sell just one, but I talked them into it.  Instantly, I had the plan in my mind.  The cabinet door would be the mirror mounted to barn door track that would slide open to reveal shelves of the medicine cabinet.  I saw the ending, now I just had to get there.

The door had the old school wavy glass in it, which I removed and gave to Architectural Art Glass when they installed my restored stain glass window.  The first thing I had to do was trim the door down.  Hard to tell from picture since I didn’t capture the entire door, but I could tell from where the rollers were inset in the wood the door ran vertical (it’s not a perfect square) instead of horizontal.  Due to space limits I needed to go horizontal, so the thicker side had to be cut down to make all sides uniform.  I didn’t own a table saw and had never heard of WavePool at that time so my former neighbor cut it down for me.  It sat for several months after that first step.

The tile work was finished, I had started taking my shop classes, so now was the time to focus on the medicine cabinet again.  Next step was filling the back of the opening, which was the drywall from the guest bedroom.  I took a thin piece of MDF board I had leftover from the kitchen remodel project I did, covered it with the motivational peel and stick paper I used on the closet shelves, and used construction adhesive to attach it to the drywall.

I purchased melamine shelf components from Home Depot to create my kitchen and 1st floor bath linen closet shelves.  I had a lot of scraps left that I knew would be great pieces to create the frame of the cabinet.  I only needed an approx 4″ width, so I knew I’d need to drill holes on one side for the pegs that would hold the shelf.  The drill press at the Wood Shop made quick work of that.  With the holes drilled I returned home and ripped the four pieces I needed to create the frame.  I bought iron on laminate for the exposed edges and proceeded to nail the four pieces together.  I don’t have pictures of the finished frame as I managed to shoot about a 1/4″ of a nail into my left flipping finger knuckle.  I took a break from the project again until the swelling went down.

The inside frame was not going to be enough.  The opening still look unfinished, so the next step was trimming it out.  For that I took the new pine I had bought for the built-in, but didn’t use and took it to the Wood Shop and planed it down until it was only about a 1/4″ thick.  I then mitered the ends, prime painted it, and nailed it to the box frame.  I filled in the nail holes and then painted it Incredible White to match the walls.  Big thanks to Scotti at the Wood Shop for giving me a quick tutorial on how to measure appropriately to maintain the 1/4″ reveal I wanted around the frame.

Now back to that cabinet door.  First step was getting the original finish off it.  For that I used the Wood Shop’s belt sander.  I then drilled the holes for the barn door hardware and primed it.  I thought I had bought the Tricorn Black (another color from the 2017 HGTV Urban Oasis Giveaway), but I hadn’t so I gave it extra time to dry and turned my focus on the barn door track.  Months prior I had purchased a Smart Standard 5ft mini barn door kit from Amazon without measuring or really knowing how these things worked.  Well it turns out the length of your rail should be twice the length of your door.  I should have ordered a 6 ft length kit, but too much time had passed and I figured it would be close, but workable.

The bigger problem I had was my kit was for hanging a door on furniture.  The holes were pre-drilled and not spaced to hit wall studs, which I needed to do.  I decided to 20190504_134801.jpgsearch Google for tracks that weren’t pre-drilled and I found one on Signature Hardware.  That one track was the same price as the entire kit, but I decided to get it as it also allowed me purchase a slightly longer length.  I measured for the studs and took the track to the Wood Shop to use their drill press to make the holes.

Hanging the track gave me fits.  I used my trusty Walabot (love that gadget) to find the studs and even tested the location.  One would assume a stud would run top to bottom.  The two locations above the opening did not, which I did not discover until I went to drill in the 4″ lag bolts I bought (I didn’t use the bolts that came with the Smart Standard kit as they would not have been long enough).

Turned out I did not give myself enough clearance for the door to roll without hitting the light fixture, so I had to lower the rail.  After patching the four holes I made, I moved it down 1″ and the stud was gone.  I patched again lowered it a bit more.  Once hung I grabbed the primed door to try it out.  The vision was coming to light until I realized the rail stoppers from the kit would not fit on the new rail, it was wider.  I needed to figure out something to stop the mirror from rolling off the end.  The track had two holes covered with plastic plugs that were made for the powder coat process.  I removed one plug, which was in a perfect location and used a leftover spacer from the TV wall mount unit I bought.  Perfect solution.

It was down hill from that point.  I applied two coats of the black paint, let it dry a couple of days and installed the door pull I found on Build.com.  I then took the frame to another local small business in my hood, Southern Ohio Glass, who cut me three glass shelves and filled the frame with a beveled mirror.  It was absolutely beautiful and 100% what I envisioned when I walked past the door over a year ago in the salvage store.

The only glitch I had to fix was the door swung because like the stoppers, the door guides that came with the kit would work with my application.  Back to Google where I searched for door guides and I found on Amazon exactly what I was looking for, a small wall mount barn door guide.  I found the stud, mounted the guide, really showed off, by adding a rubber stopper on the side of door that will hit the wall and with that what was in my mind’s eye was a reality.  My guest bathroom decor is a tribute to all the people in my life that shared their positive spirits and words of encouragement on my journey to restore this very special house.  This is my coolest upcycle/salvage project to date!  All the leftover barn door kit parts will be put to use on my future master bed beverage station.

 

 

Moving Small Mountains, Literally

Mother nature has shown her wet side over the past several weeks.  I’ve wanted to take advantage of her free water after re-seeding the front yard, but needed to till the area in order to loosen the dirt and change the grade first.  Since tilling super wet soil would be next to impossible, I’ve been waiting for a rain free weekend, which has not been forthcoming.  Wednesday marked three straight days of sunny dry weather with rain returning the next day, so this was the day I decided to rent a rear-tine tiller and knock this project off my list.

It’s hard to tell from the featured image, but the area was like a rolling hill.  When the lead line was replaced last year Cincinnati Water Works dug up most of the area and did me a favor by removing the sidewalk to nowhere that cut across the front (Side Story:  20190509_161510Prior to my purchase, my neighbor decided to widen their driveway by moving their fence about two feet onto my property negating the ability to walk around the side of my house and leaving me a sidewalk to nowhere.)  It lowered the soil at the foundation and left an improper slope.

The easy way to fix that area would be with a small bobcat, but I’ve never worked one of those and a landscape company wanted $500 or more.  Tilling the area to break up the soil allowing me to shovel and move it with a wheel barrel or rake it was something I could 20190508_193617.jpghandle.  It took four men to lift the tiller into my PT Cruiser and all swore it wouldn’t fit.  With ramps I got it out and in by myself.  Out by putting it in neutral and using gravity to let it roll down the ramp; in by driving it up the ramp. Men.

I started in the area around the clump of mature trees I allowed to stay when I was clearing all the other trees from the backyard in anticipation of the garage apartment I plan to build.  I was getting such grief about cutting down so many trees that I decided to leave these, but I removed the rusted chain link fence that was not encompassed by the trees.  I also had to create dirt to fill the tripping hazard trench I created when I dug up all the flower bulbs someone had planted.  The plan is to fill bare areas with grass and then I’ll make small flower beds with mulch to make it look intentional.

I won’t address the backyard or the tree stumps until the garage construction begins.

20190509_123401I had a couple of bare spots that I made worse, intentionally, just so I could have the seed in loose soil.  Then I turned my sights on the primary area.  I called my cousin Zachary to come by the house about 2pm to help me load the unit back in the car (I called him after watching 4 men struggle, I hadn’t used it yet to know in gear 1 it moved slow enough to drive it into the back of my car).  Well at 2 pm I hadn’t made a dent, so thankfully when my aunt brought him over he stayed until his mom got off work and picked him up, about 3 hours

He helped me install most of this small retaining wall (short 8 blocks) I needed to hold the dirt that I wanted to fill in around the downspout connected to the drain (made necessary due to the fence move, I lost the space to create a natural slope).  I’ll probably need a few bags of top soil to fill it in more, but I’ll deal with that when I put the landscaping in.  I got most of the tilling and dirt hauling done with Zachman’s help.

I moved to the backyard and the area around the air unit as I needed to lower the side in front of the unit and I want to get some grass in the area.  Eventually I’ll build a deck off the back door, but until then I’m tired of my dogs tracking in mud.  Dark fell before I could get the seed down.  The worst part of physically taxing projects is being forced to stop before you’re done.  My lower back, arms, and shoulder ached and I knew I’d be stiff the next day, but rain was in the forecast.  I had to suck it up and finish in the morning.

On the wall I needed two half pieces, so I pulled out my trusty grinder and cut as deep as I could on all four sides.  I then put my chisel in the groove and hit it with my small sledge hammer, three whacks before it cracked, clean.

I used a drop spreader to apply the seed, racked it slightly before applying the fertilizer.  I am not going to put down straw.  At the last minute I decided to purchase 6 pieces of sod to place on the curb section.  It was only 3′ x 12′ and my hopes is that by seeing grass my neighbors won’t drive on it when they park in my spot.  I tried seeding that area last summer, but didn’t water it enough it keep it growing.  I had 1 1/2 pieces of sod left so I placed them along the wall to hopefully stop the soil from washing out onto the sidewalk when it rains.  With the change in slope it should happen less, but having instant grass in that area should stop it altogether.

Hopefully in about two weeks I’ll be posting pictures of a yard with grass.  I’m hoping this, along with planting some shrubs on the right side of house will give her a more satisfactory curb appeal, as painting may not happen this year.  Come on rain!

Houston, We’ve Got Air Conditioning

I don’t think I could last all summer, especially on a super humid day, but for the few warm days we’ve had thus far I’ve enjoyed sleeping under my fan.  One of the things I was looking forward to was the cross breeze I’d have due to the number of windows Iin my master suite.  I’ve gotten some of my best sleeps when I was in a place with an open window and cool air blowing in.  Spring allergies kept me limited on the frequencies thus far, but watch out fall.

I didn’t want 80+ temps to catch me off-guard, so with the concrete pad in place, I scheduled the air conditioner unit install.  The crew from Baker, Bauer & Fish completed their HVAC install on Wednesday.  I only have two pictures because I was doing yard work in the front while they worked in the back and basement, but James put in a half-day (left) and Rasheed a full-day with overtime to make sure I had air that day.  I can’t say enough about how pleased I’ve been with Tom Bauer and his staff.  I highly recommend them to anyone needing service on an existing unit or a new unit.  I will definitely use them again on my garage apartment project.