July 10, 2013

Remodel Part 1

I've been told that as long as you own a house, that house will never be finished. I've come to realize this is true.

We've been in this house for just over ten years. Of course, when we moved in we made some changes and improvements. 

Smokers lived in this house for over 15 years before us. Cleaning that much tar off of EVERYTHING would turn anyone off of smoking for life. We thought our attic fan grate was that cheap brass finish. Nope. Aluminum....nasty

We cleaned, painted, pulled up carpet, washed hardwood floors, the usual stuff. Our house had three bedrooms, one bathroom, and a spot in the kitchen for a little table. The place was a fine size for a newly married couple. But when I got pregnant with our first child, we realized we needed to start making more room. And so it began. 


Our kitchen/ dining room/ laundry room were all in the same room. I decided it was designed by a guy. We first moved the washer and dryer into the mudroom attached to the back end of the garage. We made a pantry out of the space left by the washer and dryer. 
The pantry after the washer and dryer were out,
before we put real shelves in.

Next, we added more counter space, got rid of the poo brown electric stove and oven that weren't big enough and didn't work completely, replaced them with a gas range my grandma gave me, and painted the cabinets a color I would regret later.

Original kitchen. Electric stove top straight ahead.
Tiny bits of counter top to the left and the right.

Kitchen after some improvements. Old stovetop and oven are gone replaced by a new gas range to the left. Added more cabinets next to the range. Took out old stove vent and replaced it with a shelf. Put microwave where the oven used to be. New counter tops. Where the range is used to be a bare wall. That's where the table used to be.

Basically where we stopped. Unfinished. New counter tops, white cabinets, new knobs and pulls, shelf for microwave, primed backsplash.

I love having all the new counter top space. It makes it much easier to prepare meals. I would in the future, however, like to change the color of the bottom cabinets. I can't seem to keep the white clean. I'm thinking gray. We're also going to finish the backsplash and do something to the floor to get rid of the poo brown vinyl that is now chipping.

Because of all those improvements, we now had a different table that only fit in one spot in the kitchen: right in front of the pantry and the back door. This would become an issue later. Oh, and we didn't actually finish the kitchen. We got it functional.
Emma, entertaining at lunch with friends. See how the table blocks the back door and pantry.


Our bathroom was a remodel of necessity. So much water had gotten onto the floor next to the tub over the years that one could bounce on the soft spot. Jake took Labor Day weekend after Livie was born to redo the whole bathroom....without any help. It's not that he was too proud to ask, it's that he just assumed that everyone would be busy, so he never bothered asking. 

We had to spend a few nights over at my parents because we had no toilet, and for a while, no running water. The floor was rotted all the way to the studs. He had to patch the floor and replace the tub. In order to avoid this happening again, we decided to tile. I think he was up well into the early morning finishing the tile so we could get back home more quickly.
Original bathroom. Plastic blue tiles, globes over bulbs that made them almost impossible to change, boring mirror. 

Blue toilet and tub. Sparkly and speckled countertop. This is AFTER we replaced the aluminum window with a vinyl one.

Getting rid of the blue tile. Notice by the new toilet. The tiles had been falling off for years. Oh, and the air vent is right in front of the toilet. Really annoying for a guy. Jake moves that to under the cabinet.

Unfortunately, we had real tile in the tub/shower area that we weren't able to salvage, and we didn't have the money to replace it with new tile. Oh well, one small loss.

Blue tub gone. Sub floor exposed.

Yeah, that'd be rot

New tub, and overkill on the water proofing

Jake's first ever tile job. Looks good! Much better than cracked and pealing vinyl with a pink and blue pattern.

Jake's start to the artwork for the new bathroom. He even painted the toothbrush holder. Notice the green wall. It was much brighter than I thought it would be. We also see a new countertop and oval sink here.

New light fixtures, framed mirror and window, chair rail above the masonite covering where the old plastic tile used to be, extra switches for new vent/heater/light.

The paint color turned out a bit brighter than I anticipated, but Jake's artwork helps to offset it. This room we actually completely finished. 


Oh the deck. I'm not sure when we started messing with it, but we finally finished it last fall.

The house already had a pretty large and strangely shaped red painted deck when we moved in. But, because we have no gutters to offset the pounding rain, and we didn't realize it needed upkeep, the deck turned to a piece of junk. Almost all the paint came off, and the boards directly under the eaves completely warped.
Benjamin being silly on the slowly dying original deck. That far rail did have a bench on it for a while.

Look! A worm! And Benjamin (red jacket) is sitting in about the same place as he was standing in the other picture. See how big the deck is.

Jake starting to take off part of the deck. There's still plenty more to the right. If my grandpa stood straight up where Jake is in this picture, he would hit his head on the low hanging wires.

No rails. The deck stayed this way for a very long time.

We had some money at one point and were able to replace some of the decking and redo the way the steps went down. But that was all we had money for. We didn't finish the decking, put rails on, or even paint it. It stayed that way for AT LEAST a year, so some of the decking ended up warping again. 

Eventually, we got the money to finish it. We made it smaller to reduce cost, added a gate to keep the dog off and Livie on, put up rails, and painted it. I even got a table, umbrella, and chairs to make it useable. We ate every meal we could out there that fall. We still use it every chance we get.
I'm pretty sure this table is bigger than our kitchen table. This picture was before I bought outside chairs.


We added a few things to the backyard: a fort with a swingset, and a playhouse, neither or which we have yet to finish.
Jake building the fort out of leftover deck pieces 

The playhouse which has since lost its roof and gained a floor made from the fabric of the old trampoline to keep the grass from growing inside.

Garage/Laundry Room/Living Room/Dining Room lets just go with Great Room

This brings me to our current redo...the garage...it's going to take me a long time to stop calling it that. When we moved in, we actually had a garage with a manual garage door. It didn't take long for the door to stop working. I believe it came off track. But because it was manual, we never got used to parking in the garage anyway, so it was no big loss. 

At least a year went by before Jake took the door off and started walling up the hole. We got as far as plywood on the outside. It stayed that way for several years before the city told us we needed to get rid of the ugly. So Jake got things up to code, then added some windows, siding, and an outside outlet, which our house didn't have at all.
Ignore the eaves. That's a job for another day.

At this point, the garage was basically a sunken storage room with a concrete floor. It stayed this way for a long time until recently. 

Last year, Jake had a job that finally got us out of debt and helped us to put money into savings. We now had the money to slowly start working to add the garage as a living part of the house. 

Because we went for song long without the money to work on the room, we had a lot of time to keep revising and improving how we wanted to do it. We had decided that we wanted to raise the entire floor and knock the wall out between the garage and living room to make one great room. But now that we had some money, we decided to just make it into a sunken living room because the lumber would be too expensive to raise the floor. 

We started by getting rid of the door between the garage and kitchen, widening the hole left, installing a wall a/c/ heater unit, getting rid of the guts of the fireplace in the corner if the living room, and building new stairs down to the garage. 

We left the front of the fireplace up to act as a baby gate.

After getting all that done, Jake lost his job. We no longer had the income to mess with the remodel anymore. For a little while, Jake was able to set up a temporary home office in the garage to get some freelance work done. But eventually, he found a new job. Unfortunately, it didn't even pay enough for us to pay bills, so we ended up relying more in the government. The remodel was on hold indefinitely. 

Several months went by. We decided that now, since we couldn't afford to do anything anyway, we might as well wait till we could actually raise the floor and do it right. Then my parents told us they'd gift us the floor! I couldn't believe it! They'd been talking about it for a while, and we really needed the room now that we had five people trying to sit at a four person table crammed into the kitchen, so this was very exciting!

So, for the last several weeks, Jake's been raising the floor in the garage. He's gotten from the front to about the middle then needed to stop to raise the laundry room. Otherwise, the guys would have had to lift the appliances not only OUT the laundry room door, but also UP. So, because he paused on the garage floor, they only had to move the appliances out to the concrete floor in order to mess with the laundry room. 

Washer, dryer, water heater sitting in the garage

I was excited to actually get to help with the laundry room. The other part of the floor I wasn't able to help with. I technically knew what to do, but since I hadn't used the power tools very much, I wasn't very good or very fast at using them. Besides, Jake got the garage floor put together very quickly. 
Laundry room

The laundry room, on the other hand seemed to take forever, mainly because we had to finish the whole room in one weekend. Jake and Philip pulled the appliances out on Friday night, so we were out of hot water for a few days because the water heater's home is the laundry room. 

Jake worked on some electrical most of Saturday, then installed the floor which didn't take long. While I was giving the kids baths at my parents' house, Jake got in the subfloor and backer board for the tile. By the time I got home and put the kids in bed, we were ready to lay the tile. Jake buttered while I laid them. It didn't take us too terribly long. Then Jake had a cold shower, and we went to sleep.
raised and tiled

The next morning, I stayed home from church with Livie because she still had a rash, but Jake took the other two kids with him to church because he had to teach a class. I cleaned thinset off the tile while they were gone. I learned something about tiling: work as cleanly as possible in order to avoid hours of cleanup work later. Blah. 

Later that day, we sheet rocked, taped, mudded, grouted, then put the water heater back in. We decided we'd paint later. Then we took HOT showers and went to bed. Monday, the guys put the washer and dryer back in the room. We figured we could paint another day when we had some time. No big deal. I'm the only one who'll be using the laundry room anyway.

So that's where we are, exhausted from the weekend. Jake's planning on cleaning up the garage a bit so he can find tools and have room to finish the floor later on this week. After that, we'll just buy a few sheets of sheetrock at a time and a bundle of hardwood floor when we can save up the money. It'll happen. We're hoping before Thanksgiving.