Monday, March 29, 2010

From doorway to shoe rack

So - the long-awaited shoe rack. You might recall that Ken, during demo phase, found an old, covered-up doorway hiding under wallboard on the right wall of our closet. Since our closet is small (by modern standards, but large for an old house), we were thrilled to find about 7" more depth on that wall. We had planned to install some IKEA shoe bins on that wall; they would have stuck out into the closet but would have worked fine.

Instead, Ken had a brainstorm - why not put in a kind of louvered shelf system that could be a recessed shoe rack? Brilliant, says I. And I got to work planning and scrounging wood to build it out.

First, we clad the back wall with cedar planks - they are thin (only about 1/4", so they take up less depth than drywall and they smell pretty too!), inexpensive, and easy to install. Because the studs for the wall of the abutting room were laid flat, we could liquid nails & solid nail the panels right on and not lose much depth. First we ripped out a useless stud that was just a nailer, running down the center of the doorway. If you wanted to, you could simply tear a hole in a wall and leave the studs, and just have 16" wide bays to store shoes.

This was an easy project (for a change!) - simply think of framing a door. Instead of putting solid 5/4 lumber to case the two tall sides (inside the jamb), we cut 45 degree, 3/4" grooves every 10-12" (wider spacing at the bottom for boots). Cutting the angled grooves was the hardest part of the project. We used the dado blade and it was a bit scary on the old Shopsmith.

We then trimmed out the doorway just like every other door in the house - 1-bys for the side trim, and a thicker board (we actually used a scrap old piece of window jamb that came with the house) for the header. Painted it and we were ready for Ken's louvers.

We planned to use some scrap flooring that we had in the garage, but after I goofed cutting the first piece, and then realized that we didn't have enough anyway, I took a trip to the handy-dandy ReStore to find 'anything 1 by'. And House Karma was with me - I found scraps of some Brazilian flooring out front - pre-finished even! - and then scrounged around to find more of it until I had 16 pieces that were 31" long, what I needed.

At home, we simply cut them all to length and popped them in - 2 per shelf, with the beads butting together and with a screw as a stop to keep them spaced off the back wall about 1-1/2". They are not attached, so they can be removed for cleaning or any other thing you might want to remove them for.

And voila - storage for about 30 pair of shoes! We were able to get rid of a horrid back-of-the-door shoe rack and a big box-cubby thing. And I still have more room for shoes - time for a shopping trip!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

We DO have something to wear!

We've had a tough time finding things to wear lately, because our clothes have been crammed in a variety of nooks and hung on backs of doors all over the house (and in bags, and baskets, and on get the picture). Last night, the paint was dry and all the parts were together in the closet - so we were able to move clothes back in! And today I'm wearing a shirt I haven't worn a hundred times over the last few weeks.

A shout-out to Ken, who successfully hung all the new hardware and fittings. It's an irritating job and he tackled it with gusto.

Before, the shrimpy (my) end of the closet:

After (note that, unlike previous - dare I say, lazy - painters, we actually painted all the baseboard and didn't just quit when we got to the part you can't see from the bedroom):

Before, view into the closet from the room (it all looks so grubby now, ick):

And after. Stay tuned to see how the newly-discovered door jamb, now cedar-clad, will become a shoe rack, next weekend...

And the middle part of the closet:

By the way, if you live in the Bangor area and plan to re-do a closet anytime soon, get thee to Marden's - they have a gigantic assortment of ClosetMaid stuff right now (all the fixtures & fittings you see here cost us a whopping $32, which is a total steal). It's all a bit dirty - like it sat in a wet warehouse too long - but it's brand new and cleans up easily. The corner shelf piece was about $10, and normally is $20 or more if not from a salvage store!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Not our own guests anymore

We've been sleeping in the guest room (and making a giant mess of it with our piles of dirty clothes and junk, by the way) while we re-do the master bedroom. We're happy to report that we slept in our own room last night! Yes, the bedroom is done enough to inhabit. Just a hundred punch list jobs and it'll be done-done. Oh, and finishing out the closet so we can get our clothes back in there - I'm getting tired of the 5 shirts I can find.

More & photos later...

Friday, March 12, 2010

Blue-green or green-blue?

Remember all those crazy multi-color names in the crayola box? Our bedroom is now one of them. It's blue-green, for sure - more green than blue. Even though I kept thinking about it as more blue all year.

Anyways, we love the color so far, despite the first-coat second guessing that happens every single time. The finish on these Sherwin Williams colors (eggshell, Harmony paint) turns out like old leather, and it really makes the color work, no matter what crayon you picked.

So - our painting fiesta is almost complete - we primed yesterday and did the ceiling and one coat of color today. One more coat on Sunday (I have a silly meeting all day tomorrow), then trim later next week and we're almost done!

Oh, by the way, we were lying when we said we went on hiatus to work for a couple of days - we actually snuck off to a secret vacation at Sugarloaf and didn't want to tell y'all we were gone. If you came over and stole my blue-green, I'd be pissed. The weather and snow were absolutely PERFECT, by the way. Divine.

Monday, March 8, 2010

That's a wrap

Today's goal was to finish all the JC, sand everything, clean EVERYTHING, and paint the radiator. Oh, but first the disgusting job of 'flossing' the radiator to rid 40 years of dust bunnies and goo. I have a few super-long bottle brushes and a spray bottle of water to do this. It's still a totally nasty job.

Anyways, everything is done for today:

And now, we need to take a couple of days to do work stuff, so we'll be priming the (now perfectly clean!) room then. In the home stretch!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Wonder twin powers, activate!

It's so great to have Ken working with me this week - his break started Saturday and we went all-out on the bedroom project. First, I finished wet sanding all the trim (ugh, but I finished on Sat. as the sun went down), and he stripped a bunch of wallpaper. Most was easy; some not so much. Progress by Sat. night:

And by tonight - all holes fixed and ready for final JC:

As he began wallpaper stripping in the closet, he noticed a shiny skimcoat on one wall, and it was coming off with the paper. Always the inquisitive one, he decided to poke a hole through (luckily it didn't go through the finished wall of the adjacent sitting room) - and he made perhaps the coolest find yet in the house - an old, closed-off doorway.

We knew the upstairs had been reconfigured (evidence: circa 1940s drywall), but weren't sure how. Anyways, it seems that the closet used to pass directly into the study. Regardless of the configuration, this find in the closet gives us about 8 inches (8 inches!) of extra depth on the wall where we were planning some sort of shoe storage. Now, we just have to do a bit of finish carpentry to have a HUGE shoe storage rack.

Shape of: a shoe cabinet! Form of: a cold beer (goodnight).

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Send me dead flowers

I'm back. (Had to run to the office to use a piece of software - screwed up my sanding schedule!)

Anyways, yesterday was pretty productive - I'm about halfway done with wet sanding the master bedroom trim. That's not very visually exciting, so here's something that is.

After cleaning up from trim and having dinner, I was itching to do a little more work. So we went on a wallpaper archaeology expedition. Based on the wallpaper we'd accidentally/on purpose torn off before, we expected 1 layer (the top) that was paper and easy to pull. That's true - for most of the room - 1 layer of cheapo thin-paper, crappy glue stuff right over the plaster. Super easy to get off.

But - in one corner, I had forgotten that the bumped-out wall was old drywall. I should have remembered this from the room next door. This was good and bad news: the good news is that the older 2 layers of paper are super-cool. Here they are:

The big, peony-looking flowers are the oldest, probably from the 40s when we think the second owners did a bunch of work.

The bad (but not terrible) news: These 2 additional layers strip off pretty easily, but it's never easy to do a good job of not gouging the hell out of the old drywall. Oh well, we have to skim coat it anyways to make it look plaster-y. And - drum roll please - this is the last room in which we need to strip wallpaper!!!

Interestingly, based on the green & flowered paper, it seems to us that there may well have been a period in time when EVERY room in the house was this color green. We've found it literally in EVERY room. Also interestingly, it's startlingly close to the color we'll paint the room. We keep finding that the colors we pick eerily match at least one of the oldest/original colors in each room. I think the house is sending us a color vibe...

Back to wet sanding - no more fun expeditions until that tedious task gets done. Oh, except that I'm going to buy paint later today :)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Jessie threw down the gauntlet

Jessie, a long-time reader and first-time commenter, just wrote that our blog is "occasionally hilarious". Hmmm - sounds like it's time for me to get funnier :) By the way, Jessie seems to also be here in the great state of Maine and has her own blog here. Nice kitchen re-do - those before photos were definitely hilarious.

Anyways, today's progress was good so far - I began my most hated task of wet sanding all the trim to prep for paint. As you all know, I'm totally allergic to painting wood trim, but the upstairs rooms originally had painted trim and they look really nice when done.

So, no cool photos to show (things frankly look just the damn same as when I started this morning). So I thought I'd up my hilariousness factor with a brief overview of the Levels of Crappy Work Clothes That are Worn on Staycation.

My day, complete with wardrobe details*:
  1. Wake up, shower (maybe), and on go the PJ pants and probably whatever shirt I was wearing before we went to bed. Coffee, breakfast, email, a bit of catching up on work that can't wait during vacation.
  2. If I think I might be seen outdoors (getting mail, running to garage for supplies), or if I need to feel motivated to do more job-work, on goes something comfy, yet reasonable. This week, it's the old, too-big jeans with holes all in them that I found when cleaning out our room. Total joy! From a distance, no one can see the holes and they're not totally disgusting so I can wear them, for example, to the bank or a hardware store run.
  3. Time to work on our bedroom. On go the crusty, gross, 5 year old fleece pants that won't die, and an equally gross shirt. Key characteristics of said pants: they have pockets (for my Blistex, I'm an addict) and they can be washed in HOT water repeatedly with no damage. Not that any of that washing gets any of the paint or goo off. That fleece is indestructible! On a rare occasion, they can be worn to the corner store for a beer run at the end of a long painting day (though that's what I was wearing last time I ran into Steven King at the store, so not the best idea).
  4. Clean up time - post work, the crusty crappy pants go in a special designated spot on the floor so I can pull them back on the next day for more adventures in gross-ness. Then, shower and back into the moderately crappy outfit (holey jeans) or PJs (if late enough).
* note that ALL Staycation outfits include the wearing of a comfortable, non-steel-reinforced bra. Now that's really a vacation!

The good news: when you keep changing from one fairly icky set of clothes to another a zillion times a day, you don't really have to do laundry very often. And at the end of the project, there's always the option to throw out the gross ones with the last bag of garbage. It's almost time on those fleece pants...

Monday, March 1, 2010

Day 3: Before (denuded)

It's day 3 of my 'break'. That's always in quotes because there's no such thing as a real break for me - I actually have a meeting later today and need to get a document submitted to someone by the morning. Nevertheless, I am indeed sitting around unshowered in front of the Today Show, still finishing my coffee.

And - it's go time in the bedroom!

Ken still has work this week (our 'breaks' are staggered this year, annoyingly), so I'm doing the boring prep work so we can work together and do the fun stuff next week.

Here's the bedroom, with everything out (almost) and ready to go. Ick, it looks worse than we thought. This was the one room in the house deemed livable and not too bad when we moved in. Ready to move it to the "love it!" category...

Closet too (we added all this organization stuff after a frustrated year with the horrible, miniature poles the previous owner had installed. We'll probably keep it, but will think if there's anything more efficient we can do in here).

I also have to give a shout-out to Susie at Bangor Foursquare - during her break, she's doing a project that took us 3 years - her bathroom! After her day 2, she's way kicking our butts. Nice!