Thursday, December 22, 2011

Tore it up

Finally got a day with:
  • No work
  • Puppy at daycare
  • Both of us home
  • Nowhere to be!
So we worked on electrical in the basement - part 1 of the second installment of basement finishing. We actually got just about all of the new wires pulled (= all of the frightening old wiring out!) and just have a couple of last bits to do before flipping the breakers and moving on to other things like insulating!

However, all it looks like is that we ripped the hell out of the place! Especially in the stairway/hall, which involved all closed in old plaster walls, so everything was fishing wire and demolition. Looks worse than when we started, but it will be awesome to have a light in the stairs (it has been treacherous!) and outdoor lights to de-creep the driveway.

More soon - yahoo for vacation time!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Well, hello there!

We've had a hiatus. Not without small jobs getting done - trimming hedges, putting up vent covers, finishing details in the basement (including calling in an expert - the third and hopefully final time we will call for help - to root out the drain in the basement because the new toilet wasn't flushing).

For the past month, we've been totally unable to focus on anything but this guy...

We got a new puppy (7 months, a rescue) named Frankie, and puppies take a lot more time than we remember (it's been a while). He is settling in fantastically and is a great little dog. Today he got pretty worn out with lots of walks and a fundraiser/dog party for the future dog park, so during his nap, we did a few things.

The most awesome thing was installing this new old can opener. We have one of these in the camper - it's a Dazey Senior. After camping with it all summer and then coming in the house to an absolutely horrible new handheld thing that SUCKS, I found another Dazey on ebay and installed it. Super sweet!

Next month - during puppy naps - we will be back in business working on the basement. We have some time over vacation and are looking forward to getting dirty again!

p.s. - the new blogger is taking some getting used to! Nice changes but my photos aren't showing up as cleanly as I'd like. Begging your pardon until I learn...

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Famous Pink Bathroom

I finally saw "The Help" last night - great movie! And the set design was just awesome.

My jaw dropped when I saw Hilly's bathroom - an important part of the plot. (thanks to Vignette Design for posting set photos).

Umm, that's OUR Pepto-pink bathroom, thank you very much! Observe, from our reno photos:
 Note: actual Pepto in basket!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Good news...and bad measuring

Good news: we got the fixed glass panel in for the shower. Phew! We picked up a set of 2 Kohler doors at the ReStore for $35, and one of them became this fixed panel. The other one is extra - in case we broke the first, we had a backup! And now we can sell the other one, having not broken the first. (Anyone want to buy a piece of tempered glass?) The wood is our favorite, hinoki (Port Orford Cedar), the stuff we used in the upstairs bath. It's waterproof (the stuff they make Japanese soaking tubs from) and makes it so you can pretty much use any old piece of glass for a shower wall or door.

A shower curtain will close off the front.

Other good news - I got 2 doors installed - one that closes off the back storage room from the bedroom,

and one that closes off the bedroom from the future living room. Need to finish painting that one (thus, the blue tape).
The not so good news - the damn toilet doesn't fit! We are off to get an offset flange tomorrow and we'll see how that goes. Irritating - but we spaced on measuring. Not that we could help it - the flange is in the concrete and we're not moving it!

Friday, September 16, 2011

And we're done.

Well, almost. Well, with the bedroom, anyways.

August was a blur - we were in Canada, then crazy catching-up-at-work-stuff, then my parents' 50th anniversary party which was a big fiesta and required a good bit of planning/coordination/travel time, then we just had a totally cool vintage trailer rally at Acadia.

In between, we've been squeezing in that big ol' punch list, and the bedroom is 99% done which means we call it done! This weekend I will install the door to the back room, thus making the bedroom not have any sort of view of the creepy back room.

We will also install the shower glass wall (managed to order and received the retaining channel from Wilson Glass in the midst of the chaos). And then the toilet, Ken says we'll do that this weekend too, and then the bathroom is like 95% done! At least it will be 100% functional!


Corner by the bathroom door. A nice resting spot.

CableTV attachments on the bureau - one of the last punch list items.

Bed was in the upstairs guestroom but is so much better here! Haven't yet put the new quilt on - we're still too messy.

Sneak preview below: some bathroom elements are done, like the sink!

And a silly pic - as I was installing a closet bar, I noticed how the bar end support looks like a goofy little guy. Which reminded me of the movie "My Own Private Idaho" (which was great) - "it looks like a f***ed up face". Love(d) River Phoenix.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Supersize punch list?

We snuck off for a two-week camping sojourn through eastern Canada just after that last post. Part work, part fun. Well, all fun - it was a great work meeting. We got back raring to go on the basement, and summer is getting away.

First, we picked up our unusual ceiling covering for the bathroom which had arrived while we were away. We were a bit stumped - what could we use that would be moisture resistant, kind of modern/loft-ish, thin (can't lose headroom!), robust as a shower ceiling (they had used pegboard before. Pegboard, that's right!), and easy to install - oh, and inexpensive. Inexpensive is a key - this is a basement, it was basically a dungeon before so we can't really make it worse, and we are doing this with what little pocket cash we can scare up. So, inspired by the thin, narrow-ribbed corrugated metal they use all over places like Boulder as snazzy house siding, we inquired at the big box and Shazaam! They ordered us a bunch of 1" galvanized roofing like this (different brand, I think) to use as the ceiling sheathing. It cost about $70 for all of it, and they cut it to length (I gave measurements to 1/8" and they did OK), which rocks. We were able to make the rest of the cuts we needed - for light fixtures, etc., with my handy Jig saw. We strapped the joists and got the ceiling installed inside a single day!

There was a good bit of hilarity installing the first one - picture a 2 foot piece of sharp metal, about 7 feet long, that we're trying to fit perfectly around all sorts of obstacles in a space exactly as long as the metal. It's not as flexible as we thought, and we banged up the walls a lot on the first one - but they were a snap to repaint, so no harm. I hope it works, but hey, I think it looks cool. The slight reflectivity helps keep a little sense of height, even though it's a low ceiling. I'm not sure this photo is doing it justice, and the vent fan is not covered here. More later.

Definitely better than what was there before, which was a maze of pipes, wires, etc. Blech.

Then Ken was on a rampage to get the washer and dryer installed, which needed to move in before we could do much else. Good thing too - there was a hose malfunction - which took a half day or engineering to sort out - and water went, um, everywhere. We sat and watched the entire first load run to make sure there wasn't a repeat gusher - all good now.

The cabinet above is a leftover from our kitchen - I totally rebuilt the boxes with surplus-store plywood and repainted the doors and frame. The machines don't match - they were second-hand gifts from family and are in pristine condition, so we're keeping them. Ultimately there will be a curtain in front to camouflage them. (On the punch list).

Ken used this handy washing machine wall box thingy to handily make all the attachments. Neat!

Finally, I've just tonight finished sanding and whitewashing the window surround in the bathroom, a job I was avoiding (the plywood was crappy and needed a lot of work - and we should have sanded BEFORE installing - duh!). Done now and it came out better than I anticipated. Oh, and we tiled the windowsills - seemed to be the only sensible thing since they're just above grade, plus the ReStore gave us a box of earthy brown tile for $3!

And so, we are now at the point of what I am calling the Supersize Punch List. It's not all tiny jobs, but most of them are. Other jobs are pretty much ready to go and shouldn't (famous last words) be too much trouble. Cross your fingers for the rest of the plumbing installs.

This weekend I plan to be the Punchy Queen and get a lot of the irritating trim and touch up work done, and maybe we can wrap this thing up by the end of summer.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Garden success!

We just love it when the garden is our grocery store. Good shopping this week - beans are in full swing!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Design coming together...

The basement is sort of a modern look, and the furniture is going to be all of my mid-century modern collection. I've always loved mid-century, and we've had my pieces stashed all around the house. Now they're going to come together - soon - in the basement.

One thing I didn't already have was a mid-century dresser, so I began looking around a couple of months ago and found this beauty, from the 60s by Bassett. Love the pulls! It was missing one pull and two knobs. Through an odd stroke of luck, I saw a crapped-out dresser on the side of the road that had perfect replacement knobs, and found two coordinating pulls, so it's now all bejeweled again.

I then stumbled upon a matching (slightly different style, but also Bassett) bedside table at the thrift shop, so viola! Instant Bedroom!

Both have been cleaned up and I'll post after pix when we move everything in...soon...Wait, I already said soon. But soon. Really, we'll get there.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Thanks, Mrs. Wheat (wherever you are)

We picked up 5 boxes of octagonal white tiles at the Restore last year, thinking we'd use them in the basement bathroom. They're thick (1/2") and appear handmade. A bunch were broken, but we have just enough for the lower half of the walls.

Each box was carefully marked "Mrs. Wheat's Bath". The image of Mrs. Wheat that immediately popped into my head is a proper little old lady at tea - I think my grandmother knew someone with a name like that - and the "Mrs.", the proper salutation, on each box just seems so perfectly old fashioned. I felt so fancy finally installing it this week.

So I began installing Mrs. Wheat's tile on Friday. After grinding my knee into the floor and thinset a bunch, I was pleased to find these knee pads at a yard sale on Saturday - Saturday's tiling was much more pleasant.

We've been waiting to tile until we got the shower panels in - so we would know where to stop tiling, of course. So, here's the shower, and the beginning of tiling from Friday night.

The shower is a homemade, found objects deal. We found two end walls from a fiberglass shower at the big box store for $17 (for both!). We got a couple of pieces of Hinoki wood - our go-to miracle material - to fill in the edges and make a surface we can screw a glass panel (still to come) and shower curtain rod to. More details once the shower is totally done...

And here's the largest of the three walls that needed tile - I've now got all three walls done, just waiting for the few tiles that need special cuts, etc. We're installing leftover 2x2 off-white tiles from the upstairs bath in the spaces, plus an occasional dark teal accent tile that we specially ordered. Luckily our local tile shop was able to order us a single sheet of them, so it was only $9 for the accents.

Hopefully we'll finish up the rest of the tile shortly - then we can install the toilet and washer-dryer!!! Oh, and more's never-ending, isn't it? Getting so close to functional.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

You've come a long way, tapey

Remember the creepy taped-up skin quilt door? Well, it's re-done. We just need to add hardware.

We planned to frost the glass since it will be a bathroom door; I wanted to leave a little non-frosted frame around the edge. Luckily they make stuff called artist's tape in all different widths, so I didn't have to painstakingly slice masking tape into thinner strips. This was 1/2" tape.

We originally wanted to use that cool vinyl window stuff that looks like frosted glass, but it's kind of ridiculously priced (and this basement is meant to be super-inexpensive), so we're using the spray paint frosted glass stuff, which I happened to find for only $3 at the overstock store in town. Looks pretty good, we think.

During the past couple of weeks, we've really been cruising on the trim and other major parts of the bedroom in the basement - it's now really close to done! Here's what the door looks like leaned in the jamb:

I'm so behind on the blog, we didn't get to tell you about the flall (that's "floor-wall") yet - we made the bottom half of the walls from laminate flooring in a whitewash, bamboo-esque pattern. It was cheaper and quicker than drywall and we think it will be more durable. It was great to install and we like the look - what do you think? (Yes, we know it's not bungalow - we're going modern in the basement).

And here's a corner of the room - just needing paint on the chair rail and some touch up. Note that Ken has finished all the wiring and lighting in this and in the bathroom - it's awesome to have light and power down there again!

And here's the view from the bathroom into the bedroom. We had a piece of granite left over from the upstairs bath, and it just happened to fit perfectly on the half wall.

Tomorrow we hope to start figuring out how to make a shower stall from a random bunch of glass and shower wall panels we've accumulated. Wish us luck!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Putting a silk hat on a pig f***er

#1. Sorry for the title, Mom and others. There's a story, of course.

#2. We have been doing loads of work on the basement, it's just been boring (tales of joint compound = uninteresting blog), or we haven't been writing about it. Catching up now.

#3. This past weekend/week was all about fixing up really crappy stuff. Exhibit A: we finally painted (waterborne epoxy) the back 2 rooms of the basement. A dirty job involving lots of cleaning, scraping, acid-etching, etc. It is not perfect, but it's clean, waterproof, and a nice neutral base. Love it so far! Can't walk on it for a couple of days.

Before, in the bath area. Can't show you the after yet - we can't get to it!

Before...and after (below).

But I digress. What's this thing about a pig f***er? Would you believe, it is the story of our new bathroom vanity.

See, it all began with a bigger vanity top that Susie gave us, a leftover from her remodel. We planned to use it in the bathroom, but even with more space in the reconfigured bathroom, it was just going to stick out too far. So we sent it along to another remodeler looking for a sink, and I found a teeny tiny Corian vanity top at the ReStore for $11.

I had been thinking all along that we would build or repurpose some kind of modernish piece of furniture to serve as the vanity. But, no luck finding one.

Then I saw one I really liked in the pages of This Old House. It was a simple, squarish modern table with shelf below. I suddenly thought: that shape looks awfully familiar. Don't we have a table like that?

See it there, under the TV in the before picture of the basement 'living room'? That's the famed "Pig F***er table". Or at least, that's what we've always called it.

See, the place I work was getting rid of a bunch of old desk-tables many years ago. They had loads of these maple desks from the 1960s (it turns out they are 1963 vintage.

Everyone at work got a table or two - I think they were charging a couple of dollars each. We have one out in the garage as part of a workbench, and have done all sorts of things with this one - work table, painting bench, TV stand, you name it.

Sturdy little buggers - and covered with gum:

and of course, graffiti that tends to express hatred for (a) the course in which one was sitting,

or (b) some unknown enemy, perhaps a mean professor. This latter, we think, was the inspiration for the very expressive "Pig F***er!" scrawled in deep pencil across one of the tables. All the tables were really profane, so it was kind of a big joke that everyone had these horribly rude tables kicking around. So we've always called ours the Pig F***er table. I mean, isn't that just the dirtiest phrase you've heard lately, or what?

That table is now almost completely revamped, sans graffiti, as a new bathroom vanity for the basement. We removed the top, completely disassembled the table and put every piece through the planer (after scraping off literally scores of piece of gum - blech!). Sanding was not going to be an option with profanities this deeply incised.

We then cut down the table top to make a shelf and some aprons, and voila! The vanity is now almost done, just waiting for a couple of more coats of spar varnish. Pig f***er no more! The vanity is actually kind of exactly what I would have picked in a fancy store if we had the cash, but we're thrilled to have re-used an old piece and spent about $2 on it instead!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A Grape Weekend

Well, the weather was too nice to hunker in the basement, so we worked on some outdoor projects.

We came home one day last fall to see our grape arbor - which we had made by weaving and tying saplings about 5 years ago - fallen down in the back yard. We trashily propped it up with a bunch of 2x2s we had hanging around. Last weekend when we started cleaning up for spring, we realized it looked pretty damn sad - so I got some 10 foot rebar and we planned a new arbor (loosely based on one Ken made for a friend).

It's simple and it's meant to show the grapes, not the arbor itself. Here it is after he welded it together in the driveway (although I should say he then welded some little step-feet things that made installation really easy and sturdy):

And here it is with the grapes carefully draped over - after it leafs out and is less brittle, we'll mess with the canes some more. Nonetheless, it is decidedly less ghetto than the mess we've had all winter.

Because it's rebar and and arbor, and both words are just fabulous to say in a Maine accent, we're calling it the "Rebarbor" - phonetically, that's "Re-bah-baah".

And elsewhere in the garden, my rhubarb is in Year 3, which means I can basically pick all I want!

And I have always wanted a Magnolia, and saved up a bit so I could go get one - this is the variety "Elizabeth" (creamy yellow flowers), so we put her in the front corner where the big tree was taken out last year. The corner is a bunch of tilled-up soil because we need to mix it up and re-grade the old tree spot a bit. With any luck, grass will come in soon.

I love this tree! I will post pix when the blooms open up - it looks like they might be getting ready to burst!

Sunday, April 24, 2011


Making real progress, and it's been cheap! Our goal for the cellar is our usual budget of $0, so we've been trying to use minimal materials, free stuff, and cheap used materials. So far, doing OK.

Our latest project has been the ceiling in the basement bedroom. It has a horrible dropped paper tile ceiling - which we immediately removed. And then a zillion nails, screws, staples, etc. Also gone.

The goal was to not reduce the total height of the room any more than necessary, because it's only about 6'6" from the floor to the bottom of the joists anyways. So, we decided not to add a ceiling but to create one by cleaning the joists and whitewashing the underside of the subfloor.

Love that vintage wiring job, eh?

Cleaning: $0. Whitewashing: $0 (we had leftover off-white paint from an upstairs project and just added water!). Beams: we bit the bullet and bought Minwax's water based Polycrylic. First time using it and I loved it. Not for floors, but this is a ceiling, so hey! They also had a rebate this week, so we saved a little dough.

And the 70¢ item - we ended up with these awkward places at the top of the walls, where the joists punch through onto the sill but where there's no wall framing. Kind of little bumpouts. After insulating, we weren't quite sure what to do about them - then - eureka! - we should make it look like another beam! So, off to the local ReStore to get a vintage couple of joists. They gave us a couple of great ones for 70¢ (they are moving - closer to us! - and want to clear inventory). Yesterday we cut them to length, installed, and Polycrylic-ed - and the ceiling is officially done!

Next - walls. Getting there! It's so nice to see a finished surface!