Water Closet Complete

Another room down, small, but complete.  I actually finished the room 4th of July weekend, but I’ve been crazy busy with client work that I haven’t had time to make the post.  My confidence on woodwork projects is growing by leaps and bounds.  My first finish carpenter started this projects last summer.  The door was a salvage door I got from the Cincinnati Reuse Center and it is the only painted door upstairs.  It was in

6545

pretty bad shape and already painted when I bought it for $100.  I had serious size constraints given the water closet was built in a dormer area (that same space originally housed a 4′ tub, toilet and sink, crazy).  It came with its jamb, but had to be flipped for right swing orientation.  He did all that.

I filled holes and cracks with wood putty, but did not strip original paint.  I sanded what was flaky, but allowed it to be my “primer”.  I applied Sherwin Williams Pacer White semi-gloss and the door turned out great.

The challenge I had was closing.  It closed perfectly when originally set in place, but I guess from sitting in basement it swelled and with the additional coats of paint it wasn’t close closing.  I took it off the hinges and used my hand planer to get past the paint and into the wood to reduce the size where it hit the jamb.  Messy, but it did the trick.

My next challenge was installing the strike plate.  I bought my first set of chisels for this project and although I went a little too wide, that project was much easier than I thought. I’ll be hard pressed to hire someone to do it if I need another (which I will).

The idea for the toilet sign came from my mecca to Waco and visit to Magnolia Market at the Silos.  They had similar on their bathroom doors, which they didn’t sell.  I found mine on Amazon and use furniture tacks to attach it to the door.

With the door hung I turned my sights on the floor moulding.  Since it would be painted and I knew I’d need the original to make up for missing pieces in the Master Bed area, I bought all new from Home Depot, primed pine that was close to original, and the shoe moulding came from Menards.  I tackled my couping cuts again.  Thank goodness I could hide my imperfections with paint and caulk.

One coat of paint was all these needed, but I took countless trips up and down two flights of stairs making the cuts.  Well worth it to get another room off the list.  The only thing left in the Master Bath is the shower and tub tile and that gets kicked off on Monday.

Tease for next post.  The Master Bed is one window shy of being complete.20190711_221700

From Pinterest to Reality – Part 2

With the dresser inserted, I was eager to get the trim around it.  I would use the original trim that went around the door, but it would need to be cut down.

The first task was finding it in the mass of bundles.  There are two other short closet storage doors and of course I found the trim for those before finally finding the bundle for that area.  I had labeled them Master Closets 1, 2, and 3.  Honestly at that point I couldn’t remember which was 1 or 3.  2 was easy because it had graffiti on it and my before pictures showed me where it went.

Outside of the graffiti this trim was in really good shape.  Since I found all three bundles I decided to prep and hang them all.  Literally all they needed was cleaning due to all the dust, which I did with a bucket filled with Murphy’s Oil Soap.  I was prepared to do my denatured alcohol/Restore-a-Finish routine, but I only used the alcohol on the outer edges to remove paint and on the top plate of door 2 to remove the graffiti.  I did use the Restore-A-Finish in these areas, but what really brought these pieces back to life was the Howard’s Feed and Wax.

The obstacle on this project was cutting the trim down to fit the dresser and I was nervous about this.  There are no do-over opportunities.  That trim design isn’t made anymore and aged wood with the patina I had can’t be store bought.  I seriously thought about calling Tom Milfeld, but I put on my big girl pants and decided to do a trial run with some scrap wood first.

Forty-five degree miter cuts is rookie level, piece of cake.  Measuring the right length, especially for the last piece is my struggle.  I cut the left side first, followed by the top, which I intentionally made long.  When my first angle met up perfectly I cut the right side of the top and then the right side.  I failed, falling about a half inch too short.

That one practice run gave me the confidence I needed and I proceeded to cut the actually trim, SUCCESS!!!!  But now what to do with the gap at the bottom????

20190621_165531

I had always planned to cover it, which is why adjusting the front legs was crucial in Part 1.  I think I’ll have extra of the original wall trim because I won’t need to reinstall any in the bathroom area, but I wouldn’t know that for awhile, so I decided to go to my favorite salvage store Building Value to see if I’d get lucky and find some wide, old, trim.  I hit the jackpot by finding an old window apron (part that rest under the sill) in the exact color and with an outer moulding that was almost a dead match for mine.  All I needed to do was rip it down to the right height, 6″; right width, “29”; clean with soap water, and rub with the wax.  It fit and blended in like it was always part of the house.

I forgave myself for the poor paint job when I saw the finished product.  As with my mirror project, what I saw in my mind’s eye became a reality.  I am so stoked to find the rest of the trim and get it installed.  While searching for the door trim I did find the trim for the landing at the top of the stairs, so I cleaned it up too; water and wax.

In installing the top of the stairs I discovered once again the difference between drywall and plaster thickness.  The boards needed to align with the stair rail (I think that’s what that part is called), so I made my own shims from some thin pieces I had to build out the ends that needed it.

If all the trim cleans and hangs as easy as these pieces did I’m going to be one happy camper.  I’m hugely motivated to tackle more of this project.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

From Pinterest to Reality – Part 1

Some females have wedding books, saving clippings and photos of ideas to create the perfect wedding.  I had an electronic house book, links and photos to things I’d put in my

first house.  The idea to recess a dresser into the eaves space that was once a short closet was born from this picture I saw on Pinterest.   I was starting with nothing in regards to furniture in my master suite.  I really don’t like a lot of furniture, so this was the perfect solution to utilizing the empty space created when I relocated the door to this closet to my master bath linen closet.

It took several months before I found a salvage dresser that would fit in the dimensions, 20190605_205930but I finally did on Nextdoor.com for $50.  A beautiful, five-drawer dresser with dovetail drawers made by the West Michigan Furniture Co. of Holland, MI.  I couldn’t find any before pics, but it was a beautifully made dresser; solid and heavy.

The first thing I needed to do was trim the overhang from the top and bottom sides.  I’ve had this dresser for at least 9 mos, so I made the cuts with my circular saw before I started working with Tom Milfeld and taking classes at the Wood Shop.  I butchered that dresser.  Some areas I cut in too deep, some not far enough.  It’s a good thing the bulk of the dresser would be recessed in the wall.  I could have let it go, but I filled the gaps with wood filler and sanded down the high areas just to get it ready for paint.

This project was all about salvage, recycle, so I did not purchase the primer paint recommended by the Sherwin Williams sales clerk.  I had over a 1/2 quart of their White Synthetic Shellac Primer left from the fire damaged door I bought, so I used it instead.  He told me that would be over kill and he was right, as I discovered.  I’ve always felt spray painting is the best option for painting furniture.  Rolling/brushing creates too thick of layers if you’re not an expect and I am not.  At the end that’s exactly what I got, but I’m jumping ahead.

Once the primer dried my first, bone head amateur mistake was revealed.  I was in such a rush to get this project done, I did the cardinal sin in sanding.  I started with 80 grit and never went higher, so my surface was rough, especially on the drawers.  In hindsight I should have sanded at that step, but my first inclination was more paint would hide it, NOT.

My walls in my master are Sherwin Williams Indigo Batik, so I purchased a quart of their All Surface Enamel (recommended by the clerk) in that color and he recommended a Mohair Blend roller, which I also bought.  I applied two coats of paint and at that stage absolutely hated that I had ruined such a beautiful dresser.  I called my friend Joan who has a relative that paints furniture all the time.  She uses scrap paint and sands lightly between two coats.

Even though I had three coats on already (primer plus two color) I decided to try the sanding in hopes it would get rid of the rough spots that were still visible.  I only sanded the drawers.  It helped and the fourth coat actually looked pretty good.  So good I decided to drain the end of the quart can of Polycrylic.  I had enough for just one coat, but at this point that dresser had five layers on it, which would come back to bite me.

The craftsmen that build that dresser left zero margin in the drawer openings.  My five 20190609_131153layers were thicker than the original stain, so when I went to test a drawer it would not close all the way.  I intentionally painted the top edge of the drawer, but the bottom lip was just overage, so between the drawer edges and the opening overage I had too much build-up.  I used my new chisel set to scrap the bottom of the drawers.  I was hoping it would create a clean edge and it did.  I thought scraping the bottom would be enough, so the next task was getting the dresser from the basement up to flights to my master.

Earlier in the week I had asked my neighbor if he’d be around on the weekend to help and he was willing, but when the day came I had the epic feeling of not wanting to fail with an audience.  I didn’t know for sure if the dresser was going to fit and I didn’t want witnesses, so I tackled getting it upstairs by myself.  I had the full on Jane Fonda burn working in my already too tight calves when I hit the top landing, but it inserted like a glove.

I tried the drawers again and same outcome, still too much paint, so I bought a paint scraper and scraped the paint from the top of the drawers and top/bottom of the opening.  That did the trick, but it looked awful, so I decided take some dark stain (Minwax brand, but color unknown as I had poured the remnants of several different colors in one can) and stain the top edge of the drawers.  That amazingly did the trick.

The next obstacle were the two front legs.  I had to remove all four legs to trim off the bottom overhang.  I reattached them to their original location.  What I discovered was that my opening wasn’t square and the floor not level.  I had used wood glue with the original screws and I needed to push the front legs back about an inch. I used my draw saw to cut through the glue and mini crowbar to left them off.  Amazingly no damage.

That helped with the bottom alignment, but not the top.  For that I removed the original nail-on sliders and installed adjustable, which would allow me to set the heights on each leg differently.  Turned out I needed the entire dresser to tilt forward, so I made the back legs higher than the front.  I also needed the front right side to be lower than the left, which meant the left rear had to be even higher to stop the dresser from rocking.  Sometimes I amaze myself when my mind can sort through fixes like that.

The last step was replacing the original wood knobs with the Amerock Classic Cabinet Knobs Clear/Golden Champagne I found on Amazon.  They are 8-points, just like my glass door knobs on the first floor and the bases were a perfect match to my other brass accents. 

With that part 1 of the project was complete and I could finally empty the last box and bin in my floor.

20190610_234710

Score, 3 for price of 1

You cannot restore old homes without visiting your local salvage stores.  I’m still looking 20190608_094532.jpgfor two doors (office and basement) in a specific style (Mission, vertical 2-panel), so I make it a point to visit one of 2 stores fairly regularly, Cincinnati ReUse Center and Building Value.  This morning I went to Building Value and scored big time.  Not with doors for my house, but brand new, pre-hung doors for my future garage apartment.

My back door is a 3-panel craftsman styled door I got from Home Depot.  I had decided 20190608_200026that if I couldn’t find a 2-panel I’d buy another 3-panel.  When I saw the exact door at Building Value for $50 I jumped on it.  It only measured 30″ wide, 32″ with the jamb.  I thought that was the opening for the basement door.  It was not, I needed a 32″ wide door.

I could have made it work, but I decided to take a look at my garage plans and low and behold, the door for the bedroom specified a 30″ door.  The plan also calls for a 28″ door for the bathroom and bedroom closet and I knew they had more new doors, so I went back.  Sure enough, they had a 28″ 3-panel and a 28″ 1-panel.  I snatched both of them up.

The 1-panel door is taller than the others, but I figure it’s a closet door, so who would care.  Also, I’m not concerned with it not matching the other 2 because the 1-panel will allow me to hang a mirror on the door giving my future tenant a full-length mirror.  I bought twin size mattress bags to keep them covered and set them on a skid to keep them off the ground, just in case I get water in the basement.  What started as a search for some elusive doors saved me at least $350.

It’s A Wrap – Another Space Complete

20 months in (I can’t believe that) and I now have TWO spaces completed in my house, minus a missing strike plate. My first floor bathroom is complete with accessories and doors. This project has truly been an emotional roller coaster with highs and lows, twist and bends. I was in another low and I got a newsletter email from Chip and Joanna and decided to click through the latest offerings at the Magnolia Silos. I’ve been thinking about placing something in the blank space above the toilet and I found it, a JDH Iron Design sign stating: The World Needs Who You Were Made To Be.

There is one vision for my house that I have not been able to have manifest and even though I know it is out of my control, I can’t help but feel that I’m lacking something that is blocking it from happening. This sign will be a reminder, every time I see it, that perhaps I’m not lacking anything. What made it even better is I got to pick it up in person thanks to a business trip to Houston that started a day early with a quick overnight in Waco. I needed that trip. Three hours, each way, in a rental car with my Yolanda Adams Pandora station blaring; two hours in the most positive place on earth, Magnolia Silos; dinner at the best Mexican restaurant I’ve eaten at, Ninfa’s Mexican Restaurant; and breakfast before heading back at Magnolia Table. Yeah, I’m riding another high. I had the spring menu Lemon Blueberry Pancakes with Lemon Butter (heaven) and pepper bacon (not too peppery) and Pecan coffee (brought a bag home it was so good).

Back to the bathroom. With the mirror project complete, the only thing left were the doors and floor moulding. I got the entry door hung before my father came to visit, but I had not installed the lock. My Dremel tool broke, so I couldn’t get the plates recessed fully (that’s a tweak I can do when I’m bored after the whole house is a wrap), but the lock functions. This door is painted on the inside and stained on the outside. I wanted the locks to match the setting, so I purchased two of the same locks: Dynasty Hardware Round Bed / Bath Privacy Pocket Door Latch Satin Nickel and Dynasty Hardware Round Bed / Bath Privacy Pocket Door Latch Aged Oil Rub Bronze from Amazon. I even took the extra step of splitting the colors on the door jamb by staining the outside half and painting the inside half.

The linen closet door took some effort. It had to be stripped as it was already weighted down with previous layers of paint (I saw yellow, mint green, and two shades of white). I started with the outside, thinking if I got tired of the project I could shortcut the inside. I used CitriStrip Stripping Gel (see Battle of the Strippers post), which I let sit overnight. I had a thick nylon brush with steel bristle on the end that I used to remove the paint from the decorative grooves. I wasn’t sure I had enough stripper for the other side, so I decided to try out my new Ridgid belt sander. It didn’t make a dent as the paint, despite its age, was gummy and it gummed up the sand belt. Fortunately I had just enough stripper to get the majority of the paint removed. Since I didn’t get it all removed I put a coat of Kilz primer on the inside before the actual Sherwin Williams ProClassic in Incredible White. I should have probably primed the outside also, but I just put two coats of the ProClassic.

I bought new hinges from Amazon because the originals were too rusty and added a robe hook that matches the sink and tub faucets, also found on Amazon. The linen closet had a white glass knob on both sides, but the entry door had white on inside and clear on outside. I loved the level of detail by the original builder. Unfortunately I’ve misplaced the strike plate, so the linen door doesn’t catch and close completely. I’m sure it’s around the house somewhere, so I’m not going to rush to buy a new one. I did that with the pocket door hardware and found the original packs in a box marked paperwork about two weeks after they were hung.

The last project was the moulding and this was my first venture into a coping saw cut. I have not installed my vice grip on my work bench yet and coping without something holding your wood is hard. One of my favorite YouTube video people is SeeJaneDrill.com, so I watched her coping video several times to learn what to do. I did the first cut by hand, but did the second one on the scrolling saw at the Wood Shop. Can you tell the difference? Both worked fine and the reality is the corners won’t be seen. I used traditional miter cuts for the shoe molding and painted it black, Tricorn, same as mirror.

The final touch was the addition of a oil diffuser for the left side of the sink. I’ve been looking for awhile and I found the perfect bottle at the Magnolia Silos. It was adorned with a white wax stamp, perfect for my decor. The scent is Linen: Lemon, lime cotton, jasmine, orange flower, lavender, clean musk, and amber.

So with Joanna’s (@JoannaStevensGaines) favorite scents filling my air, that bathroom is a wrap.

Click on links below to see all the post related to the 1st Floor bathroom.  As an amateur (albeit advanced) DIYer and newbie interior designer, I’m pretty proud of what I accomplished on this project:

September 28, 2018 – February 9, 2019

The Rest of the Story

As Seen In My Mind’s Eye

 

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

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.

 

Not The Plan For The Weekend

This weekend was supposed to be simple, no strenuous projects.  Cut the grass, paint, and hang the 1st floor bathroom door.  Well I got the grass cut and after that was 7 hours of what has to be the most physically taxing work I’ve done in months.  I moved into the house with just the heat installed.  It was November, so AC wasn’t a necessity at that time.  My entire yard needs to be graded, but the area were the AC unit is going to be placed was particularly bad.  With every rain water would puddle in that area.  With hot weather approaching, instead of tackling the door, I tackled this area.

First priority was getting the drain pipe for the gutter deeper in the ground.  Last March my cousin Cameron and I ran PVC to connect the relocated downspout from the gutter to the original drain in the ground.  He dug down to the top of the clay pipe and we ran the PVC to it.  Unfortunately as the ground settled that pipe became exposed because we didn’t go deep enough.  We should have dug deep enough to remove the first clay pipe link.  That’s what I did Saturday.

This was one of the days I wish the weather forecast had been wrong.  I got to the original connection and was able to dig down to remove the next section of clay pipe (another 18″) before the rains came.  Digging the trench deeper, adding additional PVC to adjust for the deeper trench, and refilling the hole all occurred during a steady rain.

I was a muddy mess, so I don’t have a lot of pictures.  Before refilling the hole I dumped 4 bags of pea gravel in to help with elevating the dirt line.  I finished the project about 10p.  I was whipped and hungry.  I worked through dinner, but I was bound and determined to not have to deal with mud again the next day.  That tyvek suite has been deposited in the trash.

With the pipe fully covered now I could build the pad for the AC unit.  I have never poured concrete, so another new skill has been added repertoire.  After watching a few YouTube videos and talking with my go to handyman, Tom Milfeld, I decided to take this project on.  LADIES, we can do this.  I don’t know how many times I’ve prepared something in the kitchen that just needed you to add water and stir with no trepidation.  Well concrete is no different.  Just add water and stir.

20190428_130429First step was building a box.  My HVAC company had marked the spot with an orange box, so I’d know the location and size.  I had to go on memory because the rain and my digging project eliminated his markings.  Next step was making sure the box was level.  I made a 4″ thick frame, but in order for the box to be level the side closer to the house had to be elevated with stakes making it almost to 6″ deep.  That just confirmed how bad the pitch towards the house is and why I always got a pool of water in that area.

Quikrete’s website has a concrete calculator, so I would know how many bags to buy.  My box was roughly 40″ x 40″ and at a uniform 4″ depth that would need 7, 80 lb bags.  I bought 9 due to the deeper house side.  I got my wheel barrel out of storage, which became my giant mixing bowl and started mixing one bag at a time.  I ended up using 8.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Even though it was Sunday I asked Tom if I could get just one hour of his time.  He arrived on bag 7 and brought the tool needed to smooth out the top.  For future reference I now know not to mix too loose.  He told me the water will evaporate and seep into the ground eventually, but he had to spend more time smoothing it out.  In a couple of days I’ll remove the wood frame.  I’m still sore and stiff, but my house is now ready to receive the AC unit.  Of course I had to leave a mark in the concrete, so in block letters I placed SGw/S – Sista Girl w/ Skills was here.