A Tiling Tale

It is not a secret that Jeremy’s expertise has made this renovation possible. I am humbled every day by his courage, intelligence and utter skill when it comes to the projects we’ve encountered. From the beginning, however, about the time when I was given the title of “CEO of Aesthetics”, I knew that the finish and detail work would be mine to own. And in the last month, I have been kicked in the keister repeatedly with frustration regarding the detail work.

One of the main reasons I have always wanted to have an old home is to have a vintage bathroom. I love the white subway wall tile and white hexagon floor tile of turn-of-the-century bathrooms, of which I have enjoyed immensely in rentals throughout my eleven years in Cleveland. When I first saw our bathroom here with its disgusting green-patterned melamine walls, completely DIFFERENT green-patterned vinyl floors and the hideous mildew on the ceiling from a lack of a bathroom fan, I knew that this bathroom was screaming to be restored to its rightful turn-of-the-century glory. And finally, it is on its way.

That’s not to say that it has been easy. (When we’re finished, I’ll post a true before-and-after to show the entire process.) The hardest part of the transformation is to tile a room that is not plumb nor square and to get everything visually pleasing. I have had several breakdowns involving the bathroom floor alone because of the level of difficulty involved. The floor slopes, slants, and back again. And that’s nothing compared to what we had to do with the window in the shower.

Below are a few details of that shower window. Below those is a link to our Flickr page where more tiling detail pics are uploaded. As you enjoy them, know that much time, blood, sweat and tears have been shed to get to the photo you’re looking at.

Oh, I’m so not kidding.

An unlevel window frame

 The window in the shower was placed oddly in the original window frame. In order for me to start tiling this, Jeremy had to help me reframe the window. If you can’t notice the angles at the top, let me reassure you – they are way-wonky.

Waterproofing a window

After the window was reframed, I used asphalt felt (normally used in roofing) to waterproof the area around the window. This was attached to the surrounding cement board with construction adhesive.

For further images of how this tiling effort came out, and to see the progress of the floor and walls, head over to the Flickr page here:

A Tiling Tale.

Published in: on August 10, 2008 at 9:34 pm  Leave a Comment  

How we live

I knew that renovating a house would be long, hard work. I did realize this. No, really! I did! But I never knew that on the one year anniversary of being homeowners, we’d be living like we are. In a nutshell, it’s sort of like camping, but indoors. And with plumbing. But just as inconvenient, and just as dirty as camping.

Since April, we have gutted 4 rooms: the current kitchen, the current full bath, and the space that we are turning into the new first floor half bath and butler’s pantry. We had to do so much at once because we had the opportunity for Jeremy’s dad, Dale, to spend two weeks at our house overseeing some of the system work. Without his help, we couldn’t have made such progress finishing the plumbing and electrical in these rooms. So, we had to do a lot at once.

What’s left is a lot of tweaking with these systems and all of the finish work. This is going to take the better part of the summer. In the meantime, I thought I would upload some photos showing how these in-progress rooms look today. When I complain about inconveniences, people say… “Oh, but everything will look gorgeous when you’re done.” Sure, sure, this is true. But seriously. This is how we’re living.

The utility sink, where we brush our teeth, wash our faces, and clean out buckets used to mix grout:

It\'s a bit on the icky side, I realize

Opposite this wall, is our drill charging/coffee making/pantry area:

pay no attention to the alcohol next to the coffeemaker

 And the kitchen, where we make lots of frozen pizza and Lean Pockets:

If you look close, you\'ll see drywall!

 The new bathtub/shower, not yet tiled until some leaks are taken care of:

At least it is clean!

 To the left of the tub, where the new sink and toilet will be:

gutted, but with promise

The beginning of the new half bath, downstairs, which contains the only functional toilet in the house. Oh, and that white thing in the upper right hand corner? It’s a sheet. Which in this case, is also a door.  

the first contender to be finished

And last, but not least, the dining room. (In name only.) Right now, this is our Home Depot satellite office:

Published in: on June 16, 2008 at 9:42 pm  Comments (1)  

A tale of two sisters… or, well, six

When we bought the house last year, we knew that there was some minimal termite damage when looking at the joists in the basement with our home inspector. We didn’t know the extent of the damage, however, until we pulled up the floors in the future half bath.

Hungry little suckers, weren\'t they?






To ensure the safety and longevity of these joists, we had to sister them with new 2″x10″x13’2″ planks. (See post regarding how we brought these home.)

This process took two nights, the first night being a comedy (or tragedy) of errors. The original wood, 120 years old, was hand cut and not as precise as modern lumber. Not to mention the fact that the natural settling of the house ensures that nothing is symmetrical anymore. So, a ballet of fitting, cutting, measuring, refitting, recutting and remeasuring ensued. It took all of three hours, but we got the first one in:

Older sister, meet younger sister











The lighter colored wood is the new, the dark is the old. The following night, the other two were fitted in place (this is looking into the basement from the second floor):

Four of six sisters














Here’s Jeremy finishing the arduous task of nailing in the last nail:

Much harder than it looks

One problem averted, one to go. Next post: Building a header wall to support where we’re removing that previously noted itty bitty support wall.

Published in: on May 7, 2008 at 10:08 pm  Leave a Comment  

Kitchen + Closet = Half Bath + Butler’s Pantry

The first major remodel includes turning a space that was the original kitchen (cabinets and sink were here, oddly the fridge and stove were in an adjoining room) into a much-needed half bath and a butler’s pantry. See original confiuration here: 

Original Kitchen

Obviously, modern standards dictate a bit larger, more functional kitchen. As for the closet, it was a long, awkward storage space that opened into the dining room. Hence, it is better served as a portion of the new half bath. Note: there is only one full bath in the house now, on the second floor, so this first floor half bath is a much needed addition. 

Before demo, here was the view into this space, looking at the wall that divided the original kitchen and the closet: 

Before - original kitchen









Sexy, eh? Above the wood paneling was a dropped ceiling that had a hideous florescent light in it. Behind that was the original wainscoting for the room. After all of that was removed, the lovely plaster beneath: 

plaster under paneling







And under the window: 

under the paneling around the window








It took all of a weekend to strip this room of faux wood paneling, plaster and lathe strips, as well as the interior of the closet as well. The result?

naked space










So, the only thing left is to remove those studs, right? Heh. Not quite. It seems that this itty bitty wall was an itty bitty support wall. Next project: building a header wall against the outside closet wall for added support. That post is next, but in the meantime, here’s what the final configuration will look like: 

Post-remodel plan

Published in: on April 30, 2008 at 9:11 pm  Leave a Comment  

Doing Laundry on the First Floor ROCKS!

Watch Jeremy as he describes his master plumbing efforts to make our laundry room functional. 

Have I mentioned lately how much I love this man? There are three videos following:

[livevideo id=CDEB77691F8542D28C69D73A14E088AF/435026/jeremy-mud-room-1.aspx]
Jeremy – Mud Room #1
[livevideo id=FBAA9C76220645DDBC5393D5ACB41955/435613/jeremy-basement.aspx]
Jeremy – Basement
[livevideo id=1960E6E3E1DA43D794C03A2129296030/435052/jeremy-mud-room-2.aspx]
Jeremy – Mud Room #2
Published in: on November 20, 2007 at 3:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

And the Lord said, “Let there be water…”

…and there was water. And it was good.

 Much has happened over the past two weeks, but the subject of importance for this post is plumbing. As in removing an old sink that was in a very unfunctional location, and moving it to a new, more functional one.

This is exactly what we did last weekend. Quite successfully, I might add. For some, this may not be a feat to jump up and down about. For us, this is the vindication that we can do just about anything in this old house that we want/need/desire to.

 The original kitchen sink (and cabinets and countertop) in the house was in a long hallway; think of a galley kitchen with only one side and no appliances. (The kitchen and stove were in an adjoining room.) This setup made no sense in terms of modern layouts, and one of the first decisions we made was to move the appliances and sink/cabinets to the room that was formerly used as a dining room. There was a downstairs bedroom that we are converting to the future dining room, and the choice of the future kitchen location made sense as it has a large window overlooking the side yard. It is centrally located in the house, and the shape of that room and the placement of the window just made perfect sense for a modern kitchen.

 So, over the past month, Jeremy has wired new 220 outlets for the stove and refrigerator, which were the first components toward building a kitchen. The second: moving the sink.

Original location, before:

 Cabinets, sink and coutertop in hallway location

Original location, after:

A half bath and butler’s pantry will be built in this location.

Old sink drain - plugged and vile smelling

We then had to move the existing cabinets and sink to their new location. The only problem? No existing plumbing.

Before cabinets installed

So, we planned out the sink location, dead center of the double window on the east wall of the old dining room, and drilled holes in the floor for the new water supply lines and drain pipe.

In the basement, we used a pipe cutter to remove about an inch and a half from the main hot and cold copper supply lines right under the new kitchen.

Jeremy using a wheel cutter to cut the pipes

We then attached Tee Joints (the shiny gold fixture above) that seals where we cut the line and has another valve for the new pex supply line that will run upstairs to the sink.

New hot and cold water supply lines

Next came installing the drain pipes for the sink. This involved about 20 feet of PVC pipe, cut and arranged with joints to create a slope of one inch per foot from the bottom of the sink plumbing:

 Sink drain view from the basement

…to the new PVC pipe that leads to the sewer: (note old, stinky, rusted pipe next to it)

New drain next to old

Finally, the puzzle of pipes for under the sink (S-trap, auto vent and faucet supply) were reconstructed from the practice run in the garage to their new home:

New sink plumbing

This whole process took two days. But there are no leaks, everything is level and plumb, and we have a funtional kitchen.

To sum up in pictures, before:

Before cabinets installed

…and after:

Old sink in its new home

Now, I realize this ain’t pretty – especially the makeshift island in the middle. But we are carefully planning out every detail of the layout before the new lighting, cabinets etc. are chosen for the space. The coolest thing about this area, though?

Running water!!

Published in: on August 5, 2007 at 1:10 pm  Leave a Comment