Monday, February 24, 2014

Renovation Update & Organizing the Garage

Renovation Update
Do you remember this post from the summer? Where I boldly laid out my plans for the basement with the estimated completion date at the end of last summer? Sweet sweet optimism. Well, it's not that we forgot about it. We jumped right in. We met with several contractors to get rough estimates, one of which suggested that we meet with an architect to get design plans. So we did that, which took a little while to go back and forth until we had something we all liked. Then he sent his plans to the city to get permits. And then we waited. And then we waited. I revised my completion deadline to the end of the year. And we kept waiting. The penalty for doing any work without a permit is apparently really really huge, so we didn't want to risk it. So we waited.

Now, finally, after waiting several months for our permits to be reviewed-- we have approval! We can finally get started! We have just reached out to three well-reviewed contractors to get estimates for the entire project. Once we get all of those, we are going to whittle them down to something we can afford that gets as much done as possible, but most likely won't complete the whole project.

So, even though there are a couple things in the master bedroom and fireplace room that I really want to finish up, we are switching gears to start prepping for this new big renovation. First up, is organizing the garage.

Garage Project
So, we currently have a large, nasty basement that I use for projects and to store tools. The tools aren't stored in a helpful way, so when I need something, I usually end up taking everything off the shelf to find it, and stuff remains piled on the floor (not ideal). Since we are planning to turn the basement into a rental apartment, we need to move everything out, including all the tools. We can't just throw things in storage somewhere, because we will need to use these tools often, so we need to create a functional workshop in the garage.

starting point: tools & stuff cluttered in the basement
starting point: randomness in garage

Step 1. Clear everything out & sort.
This step was super important to get garage junk out of the way, and to see what all was coming up from the basement. Turns out we had a number of repeats and dried up stuff, so getting it all in one place and sorted out was huge.
everything in the basement gets sorted

garage gets emptied out

empty garage walls for future workbench

Step 2. Build paint shelf.
Once everything was sorted, it was clear we had lots of paint that needed to go somewhere. I ran to the store, and had them cut down five 1x8 boards for me [I have eyes for a new saw, but he isn't mine yet, so this was easier than cutting them myself]. I just nailed them all together. Here's my design- It's pretty basic, but it's the perfect size for paint cans and fits perfectly in the spot.

laying out the lumber

in process-

all done and loaded up with paint (on bricks to protect from potential future water). 

Step 3. Create garden area.
Because all of the tools and supplies are still on the basement floor, the old plastic shelves are empty. So I grabbed them and brought them out to the garage to make a garden area. This isn't super permanent because it feels like it will fall over at any point, but it's useful now. 

paint shelf at the far end, garden stuff nearby. Empty space between for future workbench. 
So, voila! We have an organized garden area and paint shelf. It's progress, but obviously not quite done.  More to come.
Total time: 4 hours
Active time: 4 hours
Total cost: $40 for lumber

Monday, February 17, 2014

Fireplace Room Style

Once we had the chimney repaired, we started using the fireplace quite a bit. It's been really cold, so the crackly warmth is awesome. But it has brought extra attention to the short comings of this room. Mainly, 1) it's still ugly and 2) there's nowhere to sit.  So, it's time to work on this project before the winter ends and we lose the motivation. The vision I have for this room is bright and lively, with lots of blues and greens and sparkle, sort of like this:

  1. White Carrera marble for the hearth and front of the fireplace.
  2. Our blue and white rug.
  3. A comfy chair
  4. Some blue and green accents
  5. A fun colorful pillow
  6. Some sort of storage thing

So- first on my list was getting some color and style in here.

1. I went and got a new indoor plant and put it in a nice pot.

2.  I stole an extra dining chair for some seating and pulled out my watercolors for a doodle in the right color scheme (fear not, i'm not confused as to what my day job should be).

3. I stole the bookcase from upstairs to make a new liquor cabinet/cook book holder. Turns out it perfectly fit the tiny wall. (i'm not showing you what the office looks like now, but it's now on the list for a new bookcase).

 Ok, so we're on our way. The room has a little bit more purpose, and a teensy bit more style. But we still have a ways to go.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Locks and Keys

So we moved into this house slightly more than a year ago. One of the first tasks on the to-do list was to re-key all the doors for several good reasons:
  1. You never know who may still have a key to the house, the old owner, her friends, a realtor, a contractor, etc.
  2. Every door is on its own key, so I literally have 5 keys that I have to carry all the time [I'm not counting three other security gates that also have their own keys. freaking janitor over here.]
  3. Every knob is a different metal and style.
  4. All of the doors require keys to exit the house, creating a serious safety issue in case of fire, and also creating a situation in which I literally locked myself into the entryway and had to call R to come home from work to let me out (that was a fun conversation).
The Problem

I called a few locksmiths, and was quoted a rate of around $800 to replace all the locks. Shockingly, we did not embrace the estimate, and instead forgot about it until now. Since then, I discovered Kwikset's "Smart Key" products. The deal is supposed to be that you can easily replace the knobs, and then magically rekey to whatever key you want, so that all the new locks take the same key.  I've been eyeing it for some time, and finally decided to go for it. I got two new knobs for the two security doors and one for the kitchen door, which should replace three keys with one new one. (Not perfect, but progress). I decided not to rekey our front door, which is thicker than normal. I also didn't mess with our security gates, which will need some other adaptation (we don't want people to be able to just reach through the gate to turn the deadbolt).

Inside of the kitchen door to start-

I had to wait until the weather warmed up a bit- this isn't a great winter project, but I didn't want to wait until spring. Then it was as easy as:

1. Remove the old knobs & prep doors.
This was pretty quick.  There's a bit of a trick to taking off a door knob, and of course, without the instructions for that model, you have to figure it out yourself. This one had tiny screws that I needed a super tiny screwdriver to loosen. Mostly, it was pretty quick and easy. While the knob was off of the kitchen door, I decided to take the opportunity to quickly paint it. The door was painted brown, so it's been on my list to repaint white to brighten things up a bit.

old hardware removed

2. Install the new ones.
The box has instructions that are really easy to follow. The difficult part was that the old knob seemed to be somewhat jerry-rigged into place, so it was easy to get the new one on, but then it didn't quite line up correctly with the door frame or wouldn't quite catch. After just a bit of work, everything fit together.

with a quick coat of paint and the deadbolt on top

the knob attached and working
3. Rekey.
With all three of the new knobs installed, we just took their little magic tool to switch everything over to fit one key. If we need to rekey again in the future for some reason, it'll be really easy to do.

4. Repeat. 
We did the same process on the two security doors (minus the painting). Which resulted in these lovely pictures. (ignore the crappy outside paint. it's on the list).

front door

 back door

kitchen door

kitchen gets less yellow.
I go from five keys to three! Success!
Total time = 2 weeks
Active time = 4 hours
Total cost = $200