Thursday, August 2, 2007

Promised Pictures--Clumsy Home Renovations

OK, here's roughly where I am right now, about two weeks before school starts:

Coming up the stairway, we find the landing effectively blockaded by doors and drywall. You can get a glimpse of the twins' room here, along with one of our woefully overloaded bookshelves. When we're done, there will be built-in bookshelves in literally every room in the house except possibly Kane's bedroom. To the left, the entrance to what used to be another bedroom, and beyond that, the entrance to the master bedroom. That banister is beautiful oak and looks like it was made by a master, but people have painted over it with three different ugly colors over the years. One day we'll have to strip it.

Turning left, we enter the hallway. This was all one room before, but we framed in that "T" shape to divide it into two rooms and a hall. Notice the bare wall is framed with 2x8 lumber; that lets us fit two pocket doors into one wall. By making them overlap, we save a ton of space.

Looking up, you can see the trapdoor attic stairs I just installed. Originally I planned to use decorative tiles like the ones you see around here in old stores. Those are "tin" or copper, but Owens-Corning makes paintable fiber tiles that can be made to look like metal or plaster. Now I'm thinking I probably won't try to do that where the hatch is, but we'll see. What I am doing is shoving sheets of half-inch particle board into the attic while I have the opening; I want to floor the entire attic. There's usable attic over most of the house that's completely empty, while the living space is hopelessly cluttered. The hope here is to concentrate on quality of life improvements over cosmetics for now.

At the end of the hall is the door to what will be Kane's room. You can see the problem--the roofline cuts right across it. I can just about stand up straight in the center of the room. On the other hand, this room has its own stairway down to the dining room with no such issues. We'll leave this doorway, though, so he can have quick access to the bathroom we're building. Besides, if we can pass through, we can leave from the front or back stairs during a fire, for instance.
The bottom line, from Kane's point of view, was that he desperately wanted his own room, and his brother wasn't crazy about separate bedrooms at all--much less getting kicked out of "his" room! Kane proposed that he take the back room as a way of compromising, and it worked. He really is progressing.

Looking to the left, you can peek into little Sean's new room. The light fixture looks odd because the fan blades have been removed so I can paint the trim piece on the fan (plus the ceiling) before I put it all back up--and the light piece is hanging by one screw. That window was a royal pain; the old one was a foot and a half longer, but I'd rather a toddler have a window he can see through but not easily tumble through. The old windows are wood-framed, single paned, and dry-rotted beyond repair, so every time we do a room, we do the windows. The ceiling is pine tongue-and-groove; we'll paint it, but I liked that it's not standard--and that I could install it alone with a stepladder.

And a few steps further in, we come to the new bathroom. This is basically what the nursery looked like a few weeks ago--you can see where I've begun the insulationg process with expanding foam. I LOVE that stuff! This was taken before I installed the pocket door frame for the bathroom; you can see it there. It doesn't look big enough to turn around, but I'm determined that it's going to fit a 36" corner shower comfortably, with a few luxurious touches. The current "bathroom" is one floor down and on the other side of that wall on your right. The new master bath will be below this room, taking up a room the size of the one we originally subdivided to make these three spaces. The current "bathroom" will be totally gutted, the floor replaced with an actual level tile floor with its own floor drain, and the washer and dryer will be in one end of it; the other end will be the office. One cool thing about this (besides the fact that it will free up a tone of kitchen space and hide the laundry area and muffle noise) is that there's just enough room under the roofline for a laundry chute from the upstairs bathroom over and down into the laundry area. I have hope that my dirty clothes will no longer be piled in a corner of my wife's bedroom. Our bedroom is one of the things I hate most right now; my wife deserves a comfortable, romantic bedroom. What she has is cracked plaster, peeling paper, one working outlet, and ruined windows.


MauserMedic said...

I feel for you. My place was built in 1895, and I've had non-stop construction projects since we bought it. It wouldn't be bad if I didn't have to keep taking breaks to earn money at work.

Don Gwinn said...

Yeah, it's not really the work, it's trying to live in the house at the same time that gets you. When we bought the house, we planned to do a slow, thorough renovation and then think about having a baby.

When the boys came along, they were twin 6-year-olds on literally two days' notice (they were two days from going home when we found out they wouldn't be going home.) Plans changed!

SpeakerTweaker said...

Say man, on the construction note:

If you have an open shot to your living room (great room, family room, etc. All different names for essentially the same room. The one where your TV is) and you've ever wanted a really cool surround system, NOW IS THE TIME to run the cabling. It's cheap, and you don't have to install any gear yet. Just a. leave the wires hanging out of a hole (if you'll install soon) or b. put in switch boxes to "hold" the spot for your speakers. Drop me a line if you want more details.

It's nice to not have wires running all over creation.


Matt G said...

Great work, Don. It's coming along nicely.

Do NOT dispair; you're improving your bride's beloved house, and you'll never regret that.


Don Gwinn said...

I complain too much, but this house really was a steal if we can make it work. I got the baby's paint today, which reminds me--it's probably time I go sand some more. Kane's at football practice and Missy has Donovan and the baby at a boy scout event, but I'm on call tonight so I stayed home. Maybe I can get something done.

Speakertweaker, any advice is appreciated. I want to do what you suggest, but I don't really have much of a plan. At one point I was going to run ethernet to most of the rooms, too, but frankly the wireless is awesome and I expect it to get better. I am having to rewire every room, though. Previous owners have tried to "upgrade" the wiring several times, which means I have some neat quaint touches (like pushbutton light switches with copper covers--steampunk, baby!) and some really crazy wiring hiding in the walls. My brother-in-law the electrician says I don't have any firestarters, so for now I wire each circuit I need to use back onto the lead from the rat's nest in the attic or the rat's nest in the basement. But I also run a line from that junction box down to the basement, labeled with the room and circuit. When I've got all the circuits ready, the BIL says we can just switch over to a temporary service, hook up the new breaker box and say goodbye to the tangled rat's nest forever.

SpeakerTweaker said...

Well, if you wanna generate a plan, just let me know. I'll be happy to help out.

Wire's cheap.

Good luck otherwise!