Starting on the Nursery

Demolition finished on the interior wall in the nursery.
Demolition finished on the interior wall in the nursery.

The past month or so has been crazy busy. Work has been busy. Weekends have been busy. Too busy. I haven’t had much time to catch up on chores or even relax enough – which of course has put me in a bad mood for the past couple of weeks. And me being stressed and grouchy doesn’t help the rest of the house relax.

Finally this weekend I have been able to get a little time to focus on things at home. Susanna and I have been arguing discussing how much renovation we should do in the nursery. We had originally planned on gutting almost the whole room, but that seemed like too big of a project to finish in time. The minimum work was to put drywall up covering the ceiling. I think we finally agreed that we would gut one wall, cover a second wall (where there is no trim to require us to pull off the plaster) and the ceiling, and just repaint the remaining walls. We also will pull out the carpet and put in a new floor.

The boys and I took down the plaster and lath on the interior wall that we are replacing. The plaster on that wall was in pretty bad shape, so it was best to just replace it. It took us about 2-1/2 hours to demolish the wall and clean up the room.

Tomorrow morning I’ll work on moving an outlet on the north wall and adding new outlets to the (now) demolished wall. Over Thanksgiving we will start drywalling the room.  It feels good to make progress.

Will’s Room Move (Finished)

Susanna is fighting a cold today, so we didn’t make it as far as I had hoped (i.e. I didn’t get the bookshelves built). But we made the top goal for the day – we moved Will into his new room. He loves it, and it is a much better fit than his previous room. Hopefully we can make his previous room a good fit for us…

The room this morning before moving Will's belongings in.
The room this morning before moving Will’s belongings in.
The room after we completed it. Susanna wound up doing the majority of the work this afternoon. Will helped put up pictures and posters when he got home today.
The room after we completed it. Susanna wound up doing the majority of the work this afternoon. Will helped put up pictures and posters when he got home today.

 

Getting Started on the Next House Project

This weekend we “broke ground” on the next house project. The end goal of the project is to swap bedrooms with Will and renovate the guest room into a nursery. And since it is inside, it doesn’t actually involve breaking any ground.

The project is really a series of projects and juggling of rooms. It almost asks to be planned out using Microsoft Project. But I won’t. I’ll just think about it.

The first step was to convince Will to move rooms. He agreed in theory when we discussed it this summer, but didn’t seem too excited about it (until tonight). As part of the sell, I agreed to add a light switch to the room and some outlets (and a light to the closet). The goal for this weekend was for me to finish electrical work and for Susanna to clean out the bedroom closet. And we finished ahead of schedule. We finished by dinner last night. I can’t believe we lived in the room for so many years without a light switch and only one outlet. Sometimes I just need the right incentive to get moving on things.

Today we decided to rearrange our bedroom to the layout that Will wants. He wont’ move in this weekend, but he can see what it would look like. Now he can’t wait to move. We even convinced him to get rid of the couch he currently has in his room. He is getting our bed, and it is large enough for Targa to sleep in the bed with him.  I thought it would be difficult to get him to move. It turns out that it will be difficult to get him to wait.

The next step will be to move us into the guest room and Will’s belongings into our room. We will get that done in two weeks. Susanna will move his belongings and I will build bookshelves for his bedroom (they will go in the closet). Once we move him in, the only remaining thing will be to look for a bigger desk for him (eventually).

Once his old room is empty Susanna will paint the room and I will build shelves for the closets. Our plan is to have all that finished by early November, and have our belongings moved into the new bedroom.

Once we finish the room swap, we will gut and refinish the nursery with a goal of being done around Christmas – in plenty of time for Isabella. Anyone interested in helping install drywall?

Why the room swap? Will currently has the largest room in the house – we had the chimney taken out of the room a while ago, so it is now a reasonably useful room. It is also located next to what will be the nursery, so it will be a lot easier if we are near the baby. I also think Will is ready for a room that is a little smaller than his current room. He doesn’t use most of the space in his room, and I think he will be much more comfortable in the new room. And, as of tonight, Will completely agrees.

Finishing up projects

This weekend I (quite contrary to my ADHD desires) didn’t start any major projects and instead worked on finishing up some smaller ones. I know. Crazy. Finish projects and not start any. What fun is that? But it keeps the wife happy, so that is worth something.

Will's bat house hung on the side of the garage above the loft window.
Will’s bat house hung on the side of the garage above the loft window.

The boys and I added two more shelves to the lumber rack. We brought all the lumber up that was stored under the barn (and wasn’t already on the lumber rack under the barn). That allowed me to clean out a little under the workshop and get the trailer pushed all the way back in.

It was amazing to watch Will and Ben work together to bring up the lumber from under the workshop. Or rather, fail to work together, so each had to drag boards individually. But, I guess that is what brothers are for. Of course I didn’t take any pictures of the upgrades/cleaning so you will just have to take my word that I actually did the project. Susanna even helped by labeling the now-somewhat-organized stacks of lumber. In English and Swedish.

Last week Will and his friend, Morgan, painted the two bat houses that they had made with me a couple of weeks ago. Morgan didn’t have any exterior paint at her house, so both bat houses were painted with the green trim paint from our house and barn. Yesterday Will and I decided to hang his bat house. Will even helped me drag out the tall ladder and set it up. The bat house is high up on the south face of the garage (above the chicken coop). Now all we can do is wait and see if we get tenants.

Today I decided to make a quick spice rack. We have been keeping our spices on the bottom shelf of one of the kitchen cabinets next to the stove. It was a pain to find spices – they were a disorganized mess and one had to dig around lifting up bottles to find the desired spices. I had a few pieces of good plywood lying around, and all we needed was some steps in the cabinet to allow us to find the spices in the back. It took about an hour to cut the pieces to size and mill some sapele for the front edge of the rack. I couldn’t find my wood glue to attach the front edging, so I attached the front with a pair of screws. Anyway, the steps will be hidden underneath the spice bottles when it is filled in. The only reason I chose sapele was that I had two smaller pieces in the workshop and I didn’t feel like going out and pulling out something less expensive. And sapele isn’t really that expensive anyway.

And tonight, instead of cleaning up the workshop, I decided to write in my blog and push cleaning off for another day.

Spice rack installed. The back step is 4" deep for larger bottles. The front two are about 2" deep, with about 2" in front of the rack for a final row of bottles.
Spice rack installed. The back step is 4″ deep for larger bottles. The front two are about 2″ deep, with about 2″ in front of the rack for a final row of bottles.
Spice rack complete with spices.
Spice rack complete with spices.

Organizing the Dog Pen (or Reorganizing the Lumber Pile)

The lumber pile/junk storage/dog pen prior to reorganization.
The lumber pile/junk storage/dog pen prior to reorganization.

The last bay of the garage/carriage house is a large, unpaved area. For a long time it just served as an overflow storage area and nesting place for a large group of house sparrows. I had added a gate to the  opening so it doubled as a dog pen (in the summer). In the back of the bay I stacked a nice pile of red oak, hickory and maple to air dry. The wood pile wound up being a nice place for Tucker to sit when he got bored staring out the gate and a real pain in the a$$ when I wanted to get a board that was at the bottom of the pile.

A friend of mine is cutting up a large maple tree into slabs and needs a place to air-dry the wood for a couple of months before turning it over to a kiln. We have lots of room, if I just reorganized our stuff a bit. And I just really needed an excuse to build a lumber rack.

I had picked up boards cut from a single oak tree in Ledyard a couple of years ago, and they have been drying in the pile since then. All the other lumber was older and dry. So I could build a proper lumber rack and not worry about keeping the stickers between the rows of boards. Saturday night I headed to the home center and picked up a bunch of construction lumber to build a storage rack.

The lumber rack with most of the wood from the pile stacked on. I have lots of room for additional shelves (to be added one of these days).
The lumber rack with most of the wood from the pile stacked on. I have lots of room for additional shelves (to be added one of these days).

Sunday I emptied the barn and started building the rack. Of course, I found one of the posts for the barn had rotted, so I had a little project detour to replace that. But it wouldn’t be a good project without a few detours.  I had the rack mostly finished by that afternoon.

Yesterday I added the second row of shelving and stacked the remaining lumber from the pile on the shelf. The boys helped me clean and organize the rest of the space.  The next step will be to double up some of the 2x4s on the supports and add an additional shelf or two to help keep the lumber organized.

Today the boys helped carry up a few boards that didn’t fit on the lumber rack under the workshop and were just stacked down there. Okay, I have two lumber racks. I have a problem. I know. I have too much lumber. Of course, if you have a good deal… I’m always looking for more. I wouldn’t want to run out in the middle of a project.

But of course I have plans for the lumber. Though I’m sure I’ll never get around to it all:

  • Hickory: I have a bunch of heavy 8/4 boards that would make a nice workbench even though hickory is a pain to work with and the beams are heavy and a pain to move around. And I already have a functioning antique workbench. But it seems that making a workbench is sort of rite of passage.
  • Red Oak: I have a matched set of boards from a single tree. I was going to make bedroom furniture from it until Susanna said she likes cherry better than oak. So it will be used to make the boys furniture (and I already made night stands for them from some of it). I also have some random non-matched boards floating around. Red oak is way too common here and is usually used just for firewood (it is like it grows on trees almost).
  • Cherry: I have a bunch of cherry that Susanna and I picked up on a road trip to Western Massachusetts a couple of years ago. The cherry is for furniture for us and the house. Anyway, cherry is nicer to work with than oak.
  • Maple: I have maybe 8 boards left that a friend had gotten cheap on Craigslist before he decided that he had too many hobbies to continue making furniture. It is pretty nice spalted maple. I think the boys are going to claim a couple of boards to make Japanese toolboxes this month.
  • White Oak: A bunch of 8/4 and thicker boards. Okay, I don’t really know what I’m going to do with it. But white oak is strong and rot resistant, so it may go to outdoor projects.
  • Sapele: A few remaining boards from a stack that had gone to smaller projects and trim on the sailboat.
  • Cedar: A bunch of smaller boards that I really have no idea what to do with.
  • Some random other species: Mahogany (though the plank I have isn’t really mine, I just store it and look at it), Yellowheart, Fir, and I’m sure a few more. The boys keep taking the smaller pieces of wood and re-purposing them into swords and leaving the swords outside until they are no longer usable and become firewood and they need to make new swords.

A weekend of house projects

A three-day weekend! Every weekend should be a three-day weekend!

We had time to enjoy a date night on Friday (Comix Comedy Club at Foxwoods), get lots of house projects done, and even relax a little bit in the evenings.

Instead of starting a big project this weekend, we decided to focus on getting smaller projects finished.

I added a better bird waterer to the coop. The ducks had made a mess of the chicken waterers, so I took a piece of PVC gutter and a cheap float valve and made a new water trough for the birds. I plan on improving it in the future to make it easier to clean out, but for now it is an improvement over the old one.

The new duck/chicken water trough.
The new duck/chicken water trough. The trough is fed from a 5-gal bucket in the garage, so I don’t have to go in the cage to refill the water (though I do to clean it out for now).

We also decided to add a shelf and laundry sink to the mud room. Susanna and I worked on the shelf together on Saturday, and I installed the sink today.

Susanna working on the finishing touches of the upper shelf. We plan on adding a lower shelf above the sink later this week.
Susanna working on the finishing touches of the upper shelf. We plan on adding a lower shelf above the sink later this week.
Laundry sink installed. We picked up a kit from Home Depot. It took about an hour to assemble and install.
Laundry sink installed. We picked up a kit from Home Depot. It took about an hour to assemble and install.

I even got time to work on the third toy box for Susanna’s school. The box construction is complete, leaving only a couple of coats of varnish to put on the doors. Hopefully the weather will support delivering it on Thursday evening.

Third toy box nearly complete.
Third toy box nearly complete.

The entire household enjoyed the beautiful spring weather. Perfect for finishing projects, hanging out, or foraging for food (if you are a chicken or duck).

The chickens and ducks enjoying their time out of the coop on a beautiful spring day.
The chickens and ducks enjoying their time out of the coop on a beautiful spring day.

 

 

Improving the chicken/duck run

I’ve lived with the pre-existing chicken run for two years. I liked the ability to let the chickens pick through the compost, but other than that I didn’t really like the run. The door was a little too low and would hit the ground whenever I tried to open it. The run was too low to easily get inside and clean it out – which meant it didn’t get cleaned as often as it should have been. It also got filled with snow this winter, and the chickens were stuck under the coop for at least a month.

I decided that, with the additional mess of ducks, I should upgrade the run this year. To make the project easier, I purchased some lumber and corrugated roofing from Home Depot and started the process of rebuilding the run. I was able to reuse some of the lumber and all of the fencing – which kept costs down.

I got the run mostly finished today. This week I’ll have to clean up the remnants of the old run (perfect for a bonfire) and clean up the fencing. I’ll also have to extend the run to cover a small section of the stream behind the house to keep the ducks entertained. Also on this summer’s project list is to redirect the gutter to dump downhill of the coop and run – hopefully also helping keep the place clean.

I left the compost bin mostly untouched – in two years or so, it will probably need to be rebuilt.

A nearly completed upgraded chicken run. The interior has 6 feet of headroom, so it will be easy for me to get in the run and clean.
A nearly completed upgraded chicken run. The interior has 6 feet of headroom, so it will be easy for me to get in the run and clean.

Remembering the Unfinished Project…

Window sashes hung. Now to install the trim when I'm feeling motivated enough to get the compressor in from the cold.
Window sashes hung. Now to install the trim when I’m feeling motivated enough to get the compressor in from the cold.

I like to jump between projects. It is an ADHD thing. You wouldn’t understand. Okay, depending on who you are, you might understand. Also depending on who you are, you might not understand but have to live with someone who switches projects (sorry about that Susanna).

At least I live with someone who is (for the most part) pretty supportive and who doesn’t have ADHD. Which means that she is pretty good at nagging encouraging me to finish the projects around the house.

On Sunday, Susanna finished painting the remaining two sashes for the mud room. Tonight, I pulled them out of the basement, cleaned up the parting beads, and installed both sashes. I didn’t work on the trim – it was almost bedtime for the boys when I got the windows in, and didn’t want to keep people up with the compressor and finish nailer.

Once the window trim is installed and move the radiator back, the room will be for the most part finished. I have some projects I would like to do on the room in the near term:

– Install a shelf next to the washer and dryer
– Get a larger area rug for the mud room half
– Make and install a charging stations
– Install a sink and cabinet next to the washer and dryer
– Put a shelf/cabinet over the washer/dryer and sink and cover the dryer vent
– Put in cubbies (maybe not so soon).

Drywall, Paint and Floor… The end is (almost) in sight.

Laundry/Mud Room with the walls painted, floor installed and washer and dryer.
Laundry/Mud Room with the walls painted, floor installed and washer and dryer.

We are finally making good progress on the laundry/mud room. And of course, progress means a tired Chuck and Susanna. But it is a good tired.

We had the drywall installed two weeks ago.

Susanna painted the room (Queen Anne Lilac SW021 for the walls – the trim will be Classic Ivory) last weekend. We ordered the pre-finished flooring last weekend as well.

This weekend the two of us spent most of Saturday installing the flooring. Lots of cutting and nailing, but we made it. I finished the last three rows this morning, and stacked the washer and dryer and installed temporary lighting while Susanna painted the back door.

It is finally starting to look like a room. I’m starting to believe that we may have the room done enough for our New Year’s Eve party. I’m planning to install the trim next weekend – it will require making new window sills (or repairing the old ones). Susanna is working hard at finishing the window sashes for that room.

Eventually I’ll put a sink and cabinets next to the dryer and build cubbies/organizers for the mud room portion of the room. But not before next year.

Getting ready to drywall

The laundry/mud room ready for drywall installation.
The laundry/mud room ready for drywall installation.

We are making progress in the mud room/laundry room. Over the weekend we decided that we wanted it to be a single larger room, vice two small rooms. That way we don’t have to decide right now where the division between the laundry room and mud room will be. If in the future we want a wall, we can always add a wall.

I have the insulation in, the wiring and plumbing done, the subfloor installed and the walls cleaned up from old nails and lath. Tomorrow (hopefully) the drywall contractor will show up, and we should have walls done by the weekend. Our next step will be to pick out a hardwood floor and new lights for the space. I’m hoping that the next picture will be of a much closer to completed room.