Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Big Reveal- Part 3: The Basement Bathroom

So I'm clearly stringing you along. After revealing the upstairs and the rest of the basement apartment, now it's finally time to show you our beautiful baby bathroom. We are so proud of this room, which is almost entirely the product of our work. First, let's have a quick reminder of where we started- with pipes everywhere, cedar planks on the walls, laminate floors, a dinky, nasty corner shower unit, and a generally dark and nasty bathroom. Fun sidenote- the original bathroom had a glass door, because bathrooms are places where glass doors and lots of openness are good ideas.  

a reminder of where we started

So, we demolished everything- taking down several layers of walls and floor and a really thick ceiling. The contractors stepped in and did the framing, rotating the door frame to a different wall and taking care of the termite damage. They also ran new plumbing and electrical through the walls. We picked it back up, built the shower base, added lots of tile, sheetrocked the walls and painted, grouted, and added the trim, fixtures and finishing touches. After all that, here's what it finally looks like:

the view from the newly repositioned bathroom door

in the corner, sits the toilet

across from the toilet, there's a pedestal sink, small medicine cabinet and vanity light

towel rack beside the shower

in the shower...

...there is a lot of beautiful tile

and a fun little accent row

view of the sink from the shower

view of the toilet and new window from the shower

So, after the final scrubbing and last round of paint touchups, we are totally done. Taking a look back, i think this whole project (including the rest of the basement) turned out pretty well. In comparison to where we started, with a dark, nasty basement full of pipes and grossness, this is clearly a lot nicer. It also turned out pretty much like we were planning, light, bright, neutral and open.

the original mood board- pretty similar, right?

I'd say the one thing that really didn't turn out as expected was the degree of doing-it-ourselves vs paying contractors to do the work.  When we first started talking about this project, I imagined that we would do the majority of the work, and just have contractors step in for the difficult parts. Our contractors really weren't interested in that approach, so they ended up doing a lot more than I wanted and we did just most of the work in the bathroom.

Now that everything's finished, I feel like we didn't strike the right balance of work. There are parts of the bathroom that we did that don't look great- namely the sheetrock mudding. In the rest of the basement, there are a lot of little short cuts and sloppy spots like paint drips and leftover grout that they left behind that I could have done better. They did a great job at some of the big stuff (plumbing, electrical, framing, sheetrock), but I think we do a better job at the finishes, which are all little jobs that take patience and diligence that only a picky homeowner has. I think next time, I will leave the big stuff for contractors and insist on doing the finishes ourselves.

But for now,  there are no more contractors or major projects in our future. The last item on our to-do list is to find a tenant, and then we're chilling for a while.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Big Reveal - Part 2: The Basement

Now that the contractors are gone and you've seen the upstairs - let's take a look at the basement.  First, a quick reminder of where we started:

the old front wall- torn up in search of a leak

the corner that became a kitchen (notice the pipes along the ceiling)

everyone's favorite glass-brick bar

the old laundry and once kitchen that become a bedroom

The old, nasty stained carpet came up, and new wood-look tile went down. The tacky and flimsy doors were replaced by new, all-glass ones. The windows were upgraded to ones that can open. Some of the add-on upgrades that we caved on really make the place seem more finished, like moving the pipes into the ceiling and adding a silent minisplit AC and heating unit. There are two big closets, in addition to a laundry closet.

Our one hang up was with the new wall that separates the basement apartment from storage we want to access under the stairs. The wall was up, didn't pass inspections, came down, passed inspections, and then went up again. So now we have access to a lot of extra storage space, as well as a good separator from the tenant. I was worried that the wall would create an awkward, long hallway for the tenant, but it seems fine. And now it all looks like this:

view of the living room and infamous wall from the front

the living room and front door


more kitchen

backsplash and countertops

nook to the side of the pantry- good spot for a little table?

nook to the left of the kitchen - spot for a desk?

one big closet

second closet

the bedroom

bedroom and back door

laundry closet

So, in the end, light, bright and open- just as we were hoping for. Next up, we're going to show you the bathroom!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Big Reveal - Part 1: Upstairs

We have passed our final inspections, and contractors have finally left the house! After over 4 months, we have finally reclaimed our house. We've been doing a lot of cleaning, organizing, and putting things back where they belong, so it's finally time to show you how it all turned out. Prepare yourself for the first of several big reveals. Since you're dying to see the basement, I'm going to start upstairs first.

On the First Floor:
The entryway got a new electrical panel and small wall to cover it. It has now been sheet rocked, but still needs to be painted. The exciting news here is that there is now an outlet, so I can add a lamp to help me open the door when it gets dark. The downside is that the new wall cuts off part of the tile mosaic floor, making it look uneven, so we need to retile. (I'm actually thrilled, because I never liked this tile to start with).

new electrical panel in the entryway

The fireplace room, which held the pantry and numerous boxes, has since been cleaned out and returned to normal. Now that I can see it again, I'm reminded that I want to retile the fireplace.

fireplace room back to normal

The dining room has been a total disaster since this project started, partially due to storing items coming up from the basement and the pantry being emptied out. Then the wall between the dining room and kitchen came down, creating lots of chaos as pipes and cables needed to be relocated. Now, everything is put away and cleaned up. We have a few unfortunate eyesores that we will need to get used to until we save up to renovate the kitchen, but they are still much better than the mess we've gotten used to. So far, the open concept is awesome.

view of the dining room from the kitchen

view of the kitchen from the dining room

Long ago, we had a pantry that was accessible from the kitchen. We emptied it out, closed off that door, and opened a new door into a newly created mudroom. Both spaces have been closed in, insulated and prepped, but this is as far as they go for now. The new back door was installed and one of the old ones came off, opening up this new space to the kitchen. Since it is so close to being a functional half bath, this project might be first on our list to finish up ourselves in the near future. The mudroom is also an easy space to finish up ourselves, since it's just floor and sheetrock (basically).

new temporary pantry in front of the old door to the old pantry

half bath ready for a toilet

half bath ready for a sink

future mudroom and new back door

The back porch used to be accessible by a narrow walkway from the back door. The walkway got closed off when the new half bath was framed in, creating a little isolated porch that can only be reached through the window in the dining room. It finally got cleaned up, but obviously we will want to open the window into a door sometime soon. Breaking through brick is not on my to-do list, so this will be one we hold for the contractors to do.

little patio, only accessible through the dining room window for now.

The back of the house looks awfully different than it used to, with three new windows and siding and no more massive pile of construction debris.

final view of the back of the house

On the Second Floor:
On the spectrum of finished projects, each of the floors of our house got a little less far than the floor below it. The basement went from total disaster to totally finished, the first floor got about halfway done, and the second floor got just a little started. So the results up here aren't as impressive as the other floors, but hopefully you're starting to get an idea of how this will all work in the end.

The closet that R used to use was cleaned out, and its door was relocated to the hallway. With new plumbing and electrical, it became the perfect spot for laundry. Since we will lose access to our basement once a tenant moves in, we had to relocate the laundry anyway. We didn't realize how much better it would be upstairs- no more hauling baskets up and down the stairs. The bad part of this move is that we are now pretty tight on closet space. The next project on our list will be to build a new walk-in master closet, adjacent to the laundry. It is also very high on the must do list. Both the greenroom and the old office are full of junk that has nowhere to go. They will both be hugely improved once the new master closet is built.

the old closet door is closed off- this will be one wall of the new master closet

the fabulous new laundry closet with door opening onto the hallway

green room is full of R's clothes and stuff

office is a total dump

The sleeping porch used to be surrounded on all sides by windows made of strips of glass that were cranked into position. Now, it is closed in, with real windows and siding. The walls are now insulated, so it will be usable space all year long. The plan is to build a new wall, cutting the old porch in half. The half by the bedroom will become a new little office, and the other half will become the shower and tub of our new glorious master bathroom. The plumbing is not yet roughed-in for the new master bath, so it won't be finished until the contractors come back for phase 2. But we can finish the office ourselves, with some floor, sheetrock and paint.

looking to the left - part of the new master bathroom

looking to the right - the new office off the master bedroom

In the Basement:
So I'm going to save the majority of the basement for the next post, but I thought I'd show you our storage space. Just under the stairs, we have lots of room for storing big items. We had trouble with the wall, if you remember, because it wasn't in our original plans so we couldn't get it past inspections. Thankfully, we found a way to put it back up after tearing it down, so that we get access to all this fantastic storage space. 

bright and clean storage in the basement

Next Steps:
So, reading this reveal sounds a lot less like an announcement that major work is finished, and more like the announcement that we have a lot of work to get started. Hm. Neither of us is in a huge hurry to get back to work yet, but it would be great to finish off these smaller projects to dramatically improve the functionality and appearance of our house. I'm really excited about doing work on our house on our own schedule with no contractors or destroyed house to deal with. My goal is to tackle one of these a month until we're done.
  • Retile the entryway
  • Reface the fireplace
  • Finish the half bath
  • Finish the new mudroom
  • Finish the new office
  • Build a master bedroom walk-in closet