Kitchen Update

Our plans had been to have a family trip to Europe this summer and renovate the kitchen in 2021. When the craziness of the spring spilled into the summer, we cancelled our tickets to Europe and decided to instead renovate the kitchen.

Susanna and the boys started the demolition in the beginning of July, and then I spent a few weeks updating services and hanging the drywall (with some help from Ben). The boys were stuck at home for the better part of the summer, so we had lots of help during the hard part of the project.

Earlier this month, Susanna spent two weeks finishing the ceiling and walls, from the joint compound, through sanding and finally painting. Then, last weekend, we rented a sander and spent 8+ hours sanding the one hidden gem we found during renovation – a hardwood floor under the linoleum kitchen floor.

The kitchen layout is similar to the old layout, however we did eliminate a window to give us more cabinet space, and moved the fridge. Eventually we will pick up a counter depth fridge to fit with the cabinets. We purchased cabinets from IKEA, and while I don’t really like their furniture, their kitchen cabinets are pretty easy to install and seem to be of reasonable quality. The rail system for hanging the uppers makes lining them up a snap. So no complaints there.

This weekend we hung the cabinets on the wall where the fridge will go. The next week or two will be doing the other two walls and working on trim and other finishing touches. We aren’t too far from having a partially usable kitchen!

First wall of cabinets installed, with a space for the refrigerator. They still need the toe kick installed, and the side panels to match the color, but progress! But the coffee nook is ready for use with a temporary countertop.

Workshop upgrade (new window)

My goal is to replace both windows and the door in the workshop this summer. I have a door in the garage that is ready for me to install and have been looking for windows. I was able to find a used replacement window for the east-facing window, but couldn’t find a used one for the north-facing window. In addition, I had the window a/c unit in the north-facing window. It is a heavy unit, and I haven’t been taking it out in the winter, but that means lots of air leaks around the window.

I decided to permanently install the a/c unit so I could insulate around it properly, and add a smaller window on top of the unit. I picked up a bottom-line replacement window (it is a workshop) and started working before it was too hot outside to work.  The window sill was replaced with a piece of reclaimed decking material. All of the other wood used to frame the window was either reclaimed or pulled from the trash bin.

Window frame with new sill and spacers for the air conditioner.  Reclaimed decking for the sill, and pressure treated lumber reclaimed from the same deck for the spacers.

A/C unit installed. Preparing to install the replacement window.  A piece of reclaimed decking was put on top of the unit to give the window a place to land.

Project completed! Just in time for the heat.  I still have to add insulation around the A/C unit – but good enough for now.

Bathroom Addition (Update)

We have been back to somewhat normal for a few weeks, and have had a second fully functional bathroom for a little over a week (finally). The project isn’t totally done, but I only have smaller things to wrap up (window trim, some electrical, and the bedroom closet).

Here is what the project looks like now:

View of bathroom from bedroom

An unexpected snow day

The forecast called for less than an inch of snow ending early in the morning. Instead we got nearly six inches of snow with the snow ending around noon. School and my work were cancelled. The boys got out in the morning with Izzy to play in the snow and again late in the afternoon to go sledding with the neighbors.

Will and Izzy playing in the snow.

I was able to get some time to work on the bedroom/bathroom project in the afternoon while Izzy napped. We are making progress on the room. New England Performance Insulation (NEPI) installed the spray foam insulation two weeks ago. I have been working on installing the subfloor and framing for the bathroom. Susanna has been working on picking out fixtures and finding a tiling contractor.

Progress on bathroom framing.


Cold weather, books, and more bathroom progress

The cold weather continued through the weekend. We had an unexpected four-day weekend. The cold weather and snow makes it difficult to find energy to get moving in the mornings – perfect weather for sleeping in late and curling up on the couch with a book. A plan that Isabella agrees with.

Sunday morning, staying warm with her books on the couch.

Despite the weather and general lack of motivation, we were able to make progress on the bathroom addition. I was able to get some of the wiring done – the rest requires a climb into the attic, something that I had no desire to do with the temperatures in the teens this weekend. However, I was able to run some new plumbing in the basement and pull out the old copper piping – something that I had been meaning to do for several years. The acidic well water slowly eats away at the copper piping and has caused small leaks over time.

We also completed more of the demolition and I tore up part of the subfloor. I’ll have to replace the subfloor in the corner that we will turn into a bathroom so we can tile the bathroom floor. The next step is to finish pulling out the nails that held up the lath (Susanna has been working on that) and finish the wiring (when I can work in the attic without freezing my fingers off) so that I can get the walls insulated (I’m planning on spray foam insulation). I’ll also need to order new subflooring and tear out the remainder of the hardwood flooring and section of subfloor so I can get started on framing and plumbing.

Digging into the subfloor. The door was salvaged from the existing closet and will be the bathroom door when completed.

February weekend

It has been a slow weekend. Both Ben and I have been fighting a cold since Friday. Neither of us is completely knocked out, but we are certainly not feeling up to a super busy weekend.

The boys and I are working on upgrading the game loft – in preparation for Will’s birthday party in two weeks. Over the past two weeks I built a counter using some oak flooring that I brought back from St. Louis years ago. The party will be a gaming party, so we needed the counter to set up the computers on. We also made a Craigslist gain of four bar stools that are a surprisingly good match.

The new bar/counter in the play loft. The computer monitors need a bit of cleaning.

I still have some work to do before the party. I have to add wiring for the computers and two more overhead lights. In the long run we need to finish insulating the space and finish the walls and floor. But who knows how long that will take to finish…

Izzy, playing with her Mom’s iPhone.

Deconstructing a swimming pool

We had a busy weekend so far. We are catching up on chores – Susanna and Izzy were sick most of the week. And I’ve been falling behind on the small chores. In addition to small chores, we started helping my uncle take down his pool today – we will move the pool to our yard in the spring. We will have to get a new liner, but we should be able to salvage the rest of the equipment and enough decking to complete the project.

Susanna working on cleaning out water from the old swimming pool prior to taking it down.
Susanna working on cleaning out water from the old swimming pool before taking it down.  Looking good in the boots!

In addition to the swimming pool (which too most of today), I was able to replace the well pressure tank on Friday night. The old tank had a leak in the bladder and required constant refilling of the compressed air in the tank.

With a big yard, it is difficult to get WiFi around the whole property. And with a 13-year-old and an 11-year-old (and two adults that also spend way too much time on the Internet) it was time to update the access point. I ordered an access point that I could install on the exterior of the house and had enough signal strength to cover the entire inside of the house. Getting a good access point (EnGenius ENS1750) makes a huge difference in speed and range.  I got the access point attached and the Ethernet cable run before dinner tonight. I do still need to clean up the wiring in the basement, but that will be for tomorrow.

Tomorrow will involve more yard chores and hopefully some workshop time.

Isabella watching Susanna clean the pool. Clearly very exciting!
Isabella watching Susanna clean the pool. Clearly very exciting!

Storm Damage

We have (or rather had) two large hydrangea trees in the front of the house on either side of the old stairs down to the road. The northern of the two trees was in pretty poor shape after some storm damage over the last two years, and the wet snow this weekend finished it. So we are left with one large tree in the front of the house.

It is a bummer – the trees provided some privacy on the front porch (with the house being so close to the road. But on the other side, they are large and block the view of the front of the house. So this is an opportunity to redo the landscaping in the front of the house. Susanna and I like the idea of a shrub/tree on either side of the stairs, but we have to pick one that won’t get large and the roots won’t destroy the wall. Does anyone have any suggestions on trees/shrubs?

The front of the house with the remaining hydrangea tree. It is rather large and may be worth taking down in the spring - depending on what we decide to replace the other tree with.
The front of the house with the remaining hydrangea tree. It is rather large and may be worth taking down in the spring – depending on what we decide to replace the other tree with. You can see the broken tree cut up on the right side of the stairs. We will need to fix (or remove) the handrail going down the stairs and do some repairs to the stairs this summer.

Another view of the front of the house. The house is very close to the road, so it limits what we can plant there.
Another view of the front of the house. The house is very close to the road, so it limits what we can plant there.

Getting ready for Isabella (progress on the nursery)

We have been working on redoing the nursery since Thanksgiving. Today we made a big step. We finished the painting and added the light and switch. Granted, we are still a bit ready for the room to be ready, but at least now Susanna can start decorating it for real (instead of just in her mind). Another bonus is being able to get the furniture stored in the hallway and our bedroom out.

It is nice to get a project finished. Not that it is totally finished, but the part that I was responsible for is done – Susanna had been waiting on me to finish so she could start to decorate. One less project on my list to carry over to the new year.

Tucker enjoying the new room.
Tucker enjoying the new room.

Sunday Morning House Projects

Will replacing the broken toilet seat with a new replacement.
Will replacing the broken toilet seat with a new replacement.

Today is a little wetter and cooler than yesterday – another good day for indoor chores.

The boys and I went to the store this morning to get supplies for house projects. I was planning on focusing on adding outlets to the nursery. The boys decided to work on project to earn a little extra electronic play time today.

Will choose to replace the toilet seat. The old seat had broken, so he picked out a new seat and replaced the old one. Ben decided to add a wireless doorbell to the house. The previous doorbell hasn’t worked in years, so a new wireless bell seemed like a quick simple project to get off the to do list.  Both boys are getting old enough to help around the house without much supervision.

I was able to make some progress on getting outlets added to the nursery. I’ll have some more work to do in the evenings this week, but I’m feeling good about being ready to drywall next weekend.