Thursday, November 24, 2011

Let the Light Shine

Roof windows are awesome!!

Hole in the roof for the window

And I mean AWESOME! And yes, I said "roof window" not skylight! Our window actually opens. It has a crank that opens the window at an angle so we can get light and ventilation in an otherwise very dark bathroom. Here's a pic of it actually installed.

Originally, we had a window that was at the back of the attic. It was the window for the original attic fan. There were a few problems keeping the window there, however.
1. First of all, who wants a bathroom window that starts at your feet and goes to your chest. I guess you could anonymously walk around the bathroom naked without people looking in knowing who you are. They'd just see your body. Not really my thing though.
2. The window looked out onto our neighbor's backyard pool. Something I really don't want it to look out onto. And that kind of goes along with problem #1. Just think about it.
3. And the ultimate problem...that was the only place we could put the shower. Since it's an attic, the ceiling is highest in the middle and slopes downward. Because I have a somewhat tall husband, we have to have the shower in the center of the back bathroom wall.

This left us with an attic bathroom with no natural light. It felt like a cave. Our contractor recommended this Velux roof window and I couldn't be happier. It gives us the privacy we wanted with the natural light and ventilation that we needed. I love it! And, I don't know if you can see from the pictures but it looks onto this beautiful, old hickory tree in our side yard. It's leaves are green in these pictures but I can tell you that now it has these bright yellow leaves. I love having that tree to watch the seasons change. I can't wait to see snow on it's branches in winter.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Roof Window = Awesomeness

We have this awesome contractor. For example, the man knows we're on a tight budget so when he came across all this perfectly good insulation that he was ripping out at another job site, he called us and told us to bring the pick-up truck, haul it off, and it was ours. Saved him a trip to the dump and saved us a few hundred dollars.

We pretty much do everything he says, so when we were looking for a way to get some natural light in the master bathroom and he suggested a roof window, I said yes without even knowing what one is.

A roof window is an awesome invention and is NOT a skylight. It's an actual opening window on the roof. It cranks open at a 45 degree angle and lets in fresh air and tons of natural light to the bathroom. Ours is the Velux brand and looks a little like this one only smaller.

via FutureMinimalist
Here's ours. You can also get a gander at the free insulation we salvaged. Does this make us green? To reuse insulation and get an energy efficient window that will ventilate the bathroom so we don't have to run the fan as much?

Monday, November 21, 2011

On Your Mark, Get Set, DRYWALL!

As promised, here is an update and it just so happens to be about drywall. Did I ever think I would ever be writing about drywall? Um, no.

After the last real post where we ripped out all the walls in the attic, I only felt it appropriate to start there. It didn't take much time for the bare wood to be covered in that glorious stuff they call drywall. I could finally see actual living space starting to form. I may have ideas for what I want something to look like but I really suck at seeing it come together during the process. It's like I can only focus on what it should look like at the end. I get all confused during the middle parts. So you can imagine how excited I was when I could actually see how big rooms were going to be.

I do have to say I was pretty disappointed in the closet space. Our original plan had to be altered due to city codes. (I mean who really needs a door to the bathroom. Why can't you go through a giant closet to get there?) I ended up with a smaller closet that I have to share with Joe. In our current house, we have two master closets and his always has a funky smell coming from it. We've actually never had to share a closet before in our entire relationship. I'm a little worried. Not to mention our new closet is the size of one of our current master closets and mine is packed full. Again, I'm a little worried.

So here's some pictures...

What will be our new sitting room

Looking toward the stairs. You can see our hallway/closet on the left

Future Bedroom with our "Fat Fireman Window"

Future closet (hopefully we can get a handle on the "Joe Funk" before we move in

Bad pic of half of the bathroom. You can kind of see the shower to the left.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

So Much to Do

So, I've been sitting here looking at how long it's been since my last post and trying to figure out where all that time went and why I haven't posted. Truth is, we've actually been working our little tushes off trying to get this house in shape. I've been too exhausted at the end of the day to blog. I've actually stopped looking forward to the weekend and when people at work say TGIF, I actually groan imagining in my head all the tasks waiting for me as soon as that bell rings.

I look at my original list and laugh at myself. I look at that list now and see the hundreds of little projects that got left out. We've learned a lot already and still have a long road ahead of us before this house is where we want it to be. We're not even done with the renovation and we're already planning future projects (brickwork repair, water damage on the front porch, building a garage, ripping out every plant surrounding the house). It just doesn't end. And I know that it's just part of owning an older home. You always hear at least one saw fire up on the weekends in our new neighborhood and we frequently see our new neighbors in Home Depot. Again, just part of living in an older home/neighborhood.

I promise there will be more posts to come. In fact, I promise that I'll be posting one tomorrow night. I've got to get you all caught up.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Going Backwards

When we bought the house it was considered three bedroom, one bathroom, with loft space. We've always thought of that "loft space" as a bedroom since that is how it was always used. Joe's grandparents had five children and three bedrooms was obviously not going to be enough. At some point in the 1950's, Grandad Lyon built stairs in the hallway and a bedroom in the attic space. It is a pretty odd layout but made the most sense for what they needed (a room for two boys). You walk up the stairs and then there are bedrooms on the left and right. It is all open. He also added a lot of built-ins. Built-in desks on either side. Built in closets, cubby holes, and night stands. He added quite a bit of storage with all the built ins. He didn't even use half of the attic space, just enough for what he needed to do.

Here are some pictures. This was right in the middle of clean up/pack up so it is a little messy.

It was good enough for what they needed at the time but it wasn't what we needed. We need a second bathroom. We need a closet that a person can fit inside. We need a place for us. So, we decided that this space would become our Master Suite complete with bedroom, sitting room, walk-in closet, and bathroom. We will be using almost the entire attic space meaning our suite will be the size of the current house!

We are DIYer's at heart but we know when we have no idea how to do something...when a project is just too big for us. This project is huge and we needed a contractor. In the end we decided it would just be easier to just demo the entire space and start over. The walls weren't drywall, they were a type of paneling. The insulation in the walls was typical of the 50's and just not good enough by today's standards. The ceilings were low and featured fluorescent lighting. We all agreed it just needed to go.

So far they have reinforced the current beams and framed out the new walls in the bedroom. We also took down the walls separating the two "bedrooms" to allow for more light and cross-ventilation. We're raising the ceilings to  eight feet in the center.

The next step is to work on the attic space that will become the new bathroom and closet. I didn't take a picture of it for some reason but it pretty much looks just like the above pics just no floor. They have to add cross beams to support the bathroom so that section is taking a little longer.

Things are finally starting to happen!!!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

If You Gotta Go...You Gotta Go in the Backyard

So, now that things are wrapping up in the kitchen, Joe decided to demo the only current bathroom in the house. We're not living in the house currently since we're having trouble selling our other house so I wasn't worried about not having any running water for a few weeks. (We even have to go outside and run the water hose when we want to wash hands.)

Heres an original picture of the bathroom...

I know, I know, why even change. That bathroom is just so glorious in all it's goldenrod glory. It's just so perfect! Well one thing led to another and now it looks like this...

You think maybe Joe got a little carried away with the sledgehammer?

Truthfully, what happened was when we took down all that lovely wallpaper (as with the rest of the house) we found some major problems with the walls.  Unlike the other rooms, however, these walls were beyond repair. There was black mold everywhere. Plaster was falling off where they had nailed things in.

The bathroom had never been waterproofed. There wasn't a shower, only a tub. Someone had decided long ago to just attach a showerhead to the tub faucet and hang in on the wall on a hook. This lasted 40-50 years so it was no suprise when I took off the "cover-all flaws" wallpaper that the walls were so water damaged they were literally falling apart. Some plaster even came down with the wallpaper leaving exposed lathe. As into saving all the plaster walls as I am these walls were just too bad.

You can't see it in the pictures but there are also holes in the subfloor.  When Joe and Kyle took out the tub they said the floor was even a little "squishy". And did I mention there was absolutely NO insulation on that outside wall? None! Guess I know why my electric bill was higher for that house than my current one (and no one even lives there!).

So the plan for this bathroom is...
-new subfloor
-new clawfoot tub
-new toilet
-board and batten
-new medicine cabinet

The only thing we're keeping from this mess is the sink. I like the vintage vibe it gives the room. We're just going to clean it up and put it back in. So much for staying on budget.

BTW...gotta give mad props to Joe and Kyle for getting that old cast iron tub out all by themselves. They got it through the narrow doorway, hallway, through a bedroom, and into the living room/appliance graveyard. Its currently hanging out there along with the bathroom sink, old toilet, old kitchen sink, refrigerator, and stove. It's almost donation time. I hear the ReStore calling our name.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Granite Shmanite

So, as we've been renovating we've been trying to buy from local business owners as much as possible. I know it probably doesn't seem that way with all the Lowes trips we make but when it comes to big purchases we try to stay in town. When it came time to pick out countertops, we went with who the cabinet guys recommended...a local granite place.

Problem, I don't really like granite. Joe thought it was the bee's knees but I wasn't really on board. I tried to bite the bullet, I really did, but after seeing all that (IMO) ugly granite I just couldn't think of looking at that stuff for the next 20+ years. I know, I know...."but everyone wants granite" Well I don't.

So after moping through the granite slabs and taking home samples to throw around. I finally worked up the courage to admit to Joe that I just didn't care for the stuff. So, we started doing our research. We ended up deciding on quartz. I liked that there were more color options available and I wasn't stuck with brown or black. I also liked that they were more heat-resistant and I never have to seal them again...ever!

When we finally decided on quartz, we marched our happy selves to our local granite place and asked to see their quartz samples. They had only sold quartz a few times before so their samples were a bit lacking. In fact, I think they thought I was a little nutso for turning my nose up at their granite. I think I was reminded again at this point that "everyone wants granite" and "are you sure you don't want to look at the granite slabs one more time?" ugh.

They ended up ordering new samples just for little old us. We, of course, picked out the most expensive quartz they had...more expensive than granite. (At this point, I had a nervous smile plastered on my face because I could hear Joe's teeth grinding. One of my "selling points" on quartz was that is was the same price as granite so really what's the difference, right?) In the end, we agreed that the sell our child into slavery $$ quartz was the only way to go.

We left happy. The countertop people think we're a little crazy but that's ok.

The Slab
I drove by it every day on my way to work and waved to it.


Close Up...It really sparkles in the sun...not Edward Cullen sparkles, but sparkles nontheless