Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Pretty as a picture...window!

Today we found more windows trimmed out. The right side in the living room:
Here's one of two in the study: The guest bedroom next to the closet and overlooking the scenic shed:
Justen giving a consultation from his "office":

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Window framing!

Justen worked on the windows today. The front room has a sill!
To the left of the front door:
The kitchen window:
And Justen's basement workshop where all of the chopping gets done:

Monday, January 28, 2008

Grouting and staining

I de-hazed the guest bathroom tile today. We got grout haze remover at Lowe's and it does the trick nicely:
And not that I have a picture of it, but I whipped up a mini-batch of charcoal grout and filled in some spaces in the baseboard grout. It was hard to see when we did it the first time and on closer inspection I noticed we missed about a dozen small spaces so I fixed that. Then it was on to staining the myriad pieces of closet shelving. Here's the tall end of my sweater shelf pre-stain:
My mom was the expert in shelf construction this weekend and we cut out all of the parts. She kept saying, "we won't fasten them together until you have them sanded, stained and poly-urethaned" and I was all, "yeah, right, like that's ever gonna happen!" But I had Monday off and it seemed like a nice little not-so-difficult task. So I set up some tables with 2x4s atop and put minwax red oak stain on all of the pieces (both sides- yes, I was lazy and did not necessarily let them dry more than 1/2 hour before flipping them, but hey, it's closet shelving people!) The shelves to my sweater unit:
The hardwood plywood pieces to Eric's unit (insert your inappropirate comment here):

That big board in the background is awaiting further measurement for cutting and staining.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Grouting the guest bath

I forgot how tedious grouting tile can be. I was reminded yesterday as we tackled the tiny guest bath. Seriously, it's about a five by five square that required grouting and it made me grumpy! The laying of the grout isn't bad. Since we have small grout lines we used unsanded grout and it seems more workable than the sanded stuff, but it also seemed to dry a lot faster. Then there's the cleanup. Ugh. Here's the tile after a couple passes with the sponges...yep, still got grout haze:
Another view:
We're letting the grout set and will return for the remaining streaks tomorrow!

A whirlwind weekend of activity

Two extra pairs of hands certainly made for much lighter work and more progress this weekend thanks to the help of my parents. Although dad would likely argue about the "lighter work" assertion given the obnoxiously heavy things he helped haul. First he and Eric retrieved our future dining room mantle from a neighbors garage (and it is just as heavy as it looks):
Then it took all 4 of us to unload and maneuver the exterior doors we fetched from the custom door shopt. We hauled them from the van to their current resting place in the living room (carefully past the new granite on the island now):
Funny, but it only took 2 guys at the door place to load em up! We made some proress on tiling too. I cut the baseboard tiles for the guest bath and Eric and I mortared them into place:
Mom and I played mosaic with the river rock to put them up the sides of the shower basin:
We got a consult with Travis with Bernon Tile who we may have take over the wall and shower portion of that project. He had some great suggestions for future courses of action whether we use his expertise or not. Mom got a little color on by filling in the white space where we hope to someday build in a China cabinet, but in the meantime thought we may as well have color there:
Dad was a painting maniac, he's an expert at it after all. First he coated the guest bedroom closet with the kilim beige from the living room ceiling (mom gave an assist by washing the filthy shelves to prep them for painting):
Then he steel-wooled and urethaned the back portion of the floor. We chided him for going overboard and he reminded us that it's "his" (and mom's) closet when they come to visit:
At Travis' suggestion we painted all of the raw joint compound spots on the bathroom walls to assist with tile application (the compound absorbs the water from the thinset mortar more quickly than the concrete board and that's BAD). So dad hit the guest (pictured) and master bathrooms:
And for good measure he filled in all of the white space on the walls in the kitchen to give us a finished look until we someday get around to tiling the backsplash:
Mom and I did some serious design work on the upstairs closets. We took the measurements and formulated the plan for the master and linen closets. Then we got most of 2 shelving units constructed and cut. It took all 4 of us to rip the 4'x8' hardwood plywood that we used to create Eric's shelving system and you can tell we created a little dust in the process:
My parents were priceless in their help and advice this weekend. We're going to miss them (even more) when they go back to Cleveland today!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Bringing in reinforcements

Mom and Dad MacDonald came to town Wednesday night and got right to work spiffing the place up on Thursday. Dad spent the better part of the day patching the guest bedroom closet with joint compound. Judging by the way the formerly dust-covered granite was sparkling this afternoon, I'd say my mom has been hard at work wielding the cleaning supplies! She's got some magic potion a carpenter recommended to test on our woodwork. I'll be taking tomorrow off to join in the fun. Justen was here today for a few hours. I think he finished the closet trim. He put the trim in the washer/dryer closet so we can attempt to install those this weekend. We'll cut him some slack as it was his birthday and all today!

More doors, more trim, plumbing too!

Another day of lighter work for us (and none for me). Eric was at the house much of this morning, however, consulting with our plumber about what tasks to begin (and he's got plenty) while he awaits our grout job on the bathoom floors. We had to bring the granite guys back as they missed polishing the two cuts along the stove and we needed just a tad more grinding for the sink to set right. Justen was trimming away. Here's the header to the French doors to the study. They are awaiting the decorative piece just under that top horizontal board:
More farmhouse molding on the second floor in the "den." Justen creatively bridged the gap between the slanted drywall and the to-be-determined floor with a thin slice of molding and ran a painted bit of trim along the brick wall. The heating duct will eventually be boxed in too:
Here's a snippet of baseboard molding in the closet. Justen also covered up a piece of less desirable wood from the old room with trim wood there on the floor on the right under the electrical outlet:
Eric played with carpet squares we'd obtained at the Habitat for Humanity Build-it-Again Center (along with a boatload of hardware: hinges, door stops, knobs, etc. It was a bonanza!) This will be the foundation for the drainage pan for our hall-squatting washer and dryer:
With the foundation set, plumber Bish got the drainage pan installed....maybe we can hook up the washer and dryer this weekend with the help of my folks who are coming in for a visit!
Bish also has lots of drilling to do in our tiles for plumbing pipes. And gas pipes like this hole for our range:
One of my favorite discoveries for the day was the linen closet door at the top of the steps. This is an old cabinet door salvaged from the Celina farmhouse and repurposed here:
Isn't it the cutest thing?! Welcome to our future linen storage. Currently home to bathroom tiling supplies:
And our other "oooh, cool" feature that you have to wait on for a photo of is the little wooden door with the most fabulouse old hardware that Justen put up for our wine cellar" room!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

High accomplishment, low exertion day.

We got granite countertops today! The guys are awesome! They pulled up at 10AM as promised and worked 3 hours to install these babies, including cutting the island right on site! Here they are minus the sink:
Later this afternoon our appliances arrived including the dishwasher and fridge. Here's the sink back in:
The sink and the new dishwasher:
Our shiny new fridge:
I know it seems silly, but it's really fun to get all new appliances! Even if they have to sit awkwardly in your upstairs hallway waiting for installation like our new washer and dryer:
Justen put up the magnificent pocket door header:
And the first course of farmhouse baseboard molding in the master bedroom:
Including the really cool little corner pieces:
We didn't have to do any of it, and that's all we've got for today! We're headed to the "old" house to assemble a sleigh bed for the impending arrival of my parents tomorrow night!

Monday, January 21, 2008

And now onto mortaring those pieces...

We took a mid-day break and returned to mortar in our morning's work. The guest bath looking solid:
We did the master too. Edit: here's the "owed" pics: While we had a fresh batch of mortar going we decided to work on the river rock in the shower too. Here's Eric laying the mortar bed and a snippet of a finished portion:
We definitely improved at this as we went along. The rocks come in perfectly square sheets on mesh backing, but naturally the dimensions don't perfectly match our shower basin. So the trick was to line up the squared sides on the straight edges of the basin, but cut away any one outer row of rocks that would be adjacent to another sheet of rocks (and do this with all sheets). Then you play jigsaw puzzle and fill in the spaces between sheets with individual rocks (that you cut off the mesh) that sort of free-form to fill the space. As you can see below, our very first row has a more noticable square in the center, whereas the middle and front are pretty indistinguishable:

We're contemplating using the rocks up the first course of the mortar bed as well.
Justen was here for a few hours today putting up door crowns. These two nicely frame the guest bath in and out:
Rumor has it that our granite countertops are being installed tomorrow and more appliances arriving too! So we wanted to make sure to get our stove in place (we've only got 1/8" clearance) so that there is no question that it will fit with the installed counters:
We're hoping for some fab photos for you tomorrow!

Q: How long does it take to cut 5 tiles?

A: Four hours. Or when you realize it's 2PM and you've been working on this "simple project" since 10AM...too freaking long! So, what was the source of this long task? If you recall, Eric visited the Tile Shop yesterday for the purpose of having them render our more difficult cuts. Alas, as it turns out, they don't do circular cuts, so we were on our own, albeit with sound advice as dispensed by our trainers. I did some really easy straight cuts first - that slender row you see at the back of this pic:
Then it was on to tackle the more challenging pieces, the 3 pipes and air duct in the above photo. After measuring the first one backwards we managed to get it right, if in 3 horizontal pieces:

But, hey, that one's going to be under a vanity, so don't go peering down there the next time you use our guest bathroom! Eric only cracked one tile today in an attempt to use the hole saw to drill for the copper pipe in this photo. Meanwhile, I used the pro saw to whittle away one of the semi-circles for the toilet (our pro at the Tile Shop did one as an example):

Both Eric and I succeeded on this one:
After losing two tiles to cracking yesterday, Eric refined his method. Slow and steady with constant cooling periods resulted in a perfect circle:

Below is the master's workstation:
(Eric's insert) As some advice to anyone contemplating using a hole-saw on tiles before they are set, I'll explain the process I used referencing the photo below.
First, buy a ceramic hole-saw drill bit (attached to the drill). Then drill a guide in a block of wood (next to the drill). Next, remove the guide-bit in the middle of the hole-saw, as the bit puts too much pressure on one spot and can cause the tile to crack. OK, so put a piece of tape on the front face of the tile and mark the spot you want to drill on the tape. And trust me, double-check your measurement for the hole location. Don't drill from the back side as it can chip, drill top-down. Then, put down some paper-towels or rags on some plywood. Wet the rags/towels so the tile has a nice cool base to rest on. Get a bucket of water (small bucket on top to pour on the tile, larger bucket below to catch run-off) Next, mount the guide-block of wood over the mark on the tile. Secure it to the top of the tile and the tile to the plywood using clamps (you don't want it sliding all over). It's important to do this at counter-height, as you will be pressing down on the tile for quite some time. A bad angle or bending over too far will be very uncomfortable. OK. So you are all set up, the block is clamped to the tile, guide hole centered where you want to drill. Now, pour some water in the guide hole and start drilling. As I cracked 3 tiles when I first tried it, I found the best technique is patience. Put your weight into it but don't push too hard. I drilled for 25 seconds then stopped, submerged the hole saw in cold water and poured cold water onto the tile and let it cool. Even at 25 seconds, the water would get hot enough to steam. Then repeat. About 100 times. It took me 36 minutes to drill through 1 porcelan tile. Now, maybe I was gun shy having cracked 3 tiles, but 36 minutes and success beats 20 minutes of hard drillin' just to end up with a cracked tile. About every 10 minutes I would take the tile off the board and let it cool completely, even refreshing the cool water on the rag/towels under the tile. Then re-assemble the guide block, tile & clamps and return to drilling. (End of Eric's insert).

Once we'd built up our confidence we tackled the master bath. This was critical as we only had one full tile remaining for the toilet piece and one properly sized remnant for the copper pipe patch. Eric drilled the small hole while I cut the large tile into 2 pieces (a big one and a small square in the middle of the hole) and created the curcular cuts:
You'll have to take our word that this turned out perfectly as we didn't get a photo of it!