July 31, 2014

How to Install a Dishwasher

Our cabin up North didn't come with a dishwasher.  And really, why would it?  It's just a cabin, right?  So even though we immediately noted that there was a nice, prime location where we could place one, we buried that thought deep down, and tried to ignore it.

But here's the thing you don't realize until you don't have one- dishwashers are amazing!  Seriously they are little magic boxes that wash your dishes for you, why would anyone want to live without one?  After about a year living with this cabin, we realized that a dishwasher might even be more important here than it is in your own home.  Why?  Because at your home it is just you and your family, and your mess is your mess.  But up at the cabin there are three different families sharing the space, and if you don't immediately clean up after yourself, the mess really piles up. So earlier this month when I received a text from my Mom- "I bought a dishwasher", I did my own happy dance. 

The first step was to clear a spot.  As I mentioned, we had a section of a cabinet and a stack of drawers that measured 29" wide, right next to the sink, which accommodates a dishwasher perfectly.  I removed all the drawers and the cabinet drawer, and then used my Dremel tool to cut away the rest of the cabinet and pull it out.

But what's a big empty space without water or electrical?  Not a very good place for a dishwasher.  Lucky for me in this case, the space below our kitchen is a wide open crawl space, so it was easy for me to tap into a very lightly used electrical circuit and sting up a new wire to hot wire directly into the dishwasher. 

 I thought that the plumbing would be really hard, but it was actually a piece of cake, and I believe anyone could do this part of the project on their own.  I found this dishwasher connector kit, with a 4 foot hose that reached right to my location, but you can buy a kit with a longer hose if you have farther to go.

The process was super simple.  First I shut off the hot water by turning that dial on the left.  Then I used a wrench to remove the water line that directly connects up to the faucet.  Then I screwed on the splitter that came in the kit, and tightened it with the wrench.  (It doesn't hurt to buy plumbers tape and wrap your treads with it before you screw it together, just to make a water tight seal.)

Next all I had to do was reconnect the hot water line to the faucet hose, and add the dishwasher hot water hose that was supplied to the other opening.

I just drilled a hole through the cabinet and fed the new dishwasher waterline through, where it could connect directly to the dishwasher.  Piece of cake.  Far easier than getting the new dishwasher into the house by myself was.  I ended up rigging this ramp out of spare boards and pulling it up with an old dolly I found in the garage.

Viola!  Wait... we're not done yet, are we? 

Obviously I have a pretty ugly gap to cover up.  I purchased a 4 foot length of 1x4 oak, which happened to fit the space perfectly, I just had to chop off a few inches of length with my chop saw.  Then I drilled a number of pocket holes into the board so I could connect it to the adjacent cabinet.

Then I rounded up all my pints-of-stain-past and tested stain colors on the wood scrap.  I was worried that I would have to mix a few to get the perfect color, but lucky for me two coats of English Chestnut was a spot-on match.

Once my panel was dry I used the pocket screws to attach it, and I wasn't thrilled.

The color was perfect, but the holes where the hinges used to be really stood out, even when I filled them with stainable wood putty.

It also felt like the dishwasher was crowding the sink, so I changed tactics and moved the board to the right side of the dishwasher.  It was my (Gru voice) "Lightbulb" moment.  The dishwasher looked more centered in the space, and the patched wood really disappeared after another coat of stain.  Looks like it's always been there- no?

That photo is decidedly more enjoyable to look at if you try to imagine that the ugly floors and fake wood counter tops aren't there.  And if you can do that- will you please teach me how?  So it may be "just a cabin," but now it's a cabin with a magic box that washes our dishes for us.  And I couldn't be happier. 

July 29, 2014

Entry Way Decor

We're still really far from the decorate and tweak part of the cabin remodel, but sometimes when the to-do list feels daunting, it's nice to do small projects that improve the space and make you smile.  You may remember that once we installed our new entry door, and placed in the new entry bench I built, there was a space to the right of the bench, behind the door that was feeling pretty bland. 

Not any more.

After a quick trip to Target I found the Lake Home Sweet Home print, which isn't usually my style, but something about it spoke to me and jumped in my cart.  I framed a photo of a beautiful cabin sunset in an extra frame I had on hand, and added Young House Love's skeleton key hooks for the perfect place to corral our keys.

On the other wall I hung this nautical rope mirror, which I think adds nicely to the rustic and laid back character of the place.  It also helps reflect light and makes the space look a bit bigger when you enter. (Not to mention giving you a place to check for food in your teeth before you leave.)

In the photo above the bench is pushed a little too far to the left and is crowding the door a bit.  Unfortunately I can't drive all the way back up north to take another photo, so you're just going to have to give me a pass on this one. :)

Ideally I would have hand made something like the Lake Home sign to look a little more vintage and authentic, but with everything we have going on up there these days, sometimes it's just nice to throw something from clearance in the cart- you know what I mean?

At least Ryder loves it.  Or maybe he loves the squirt guns Grandma got him to play with.  It's hard to tell.

Anyone else do any quick and easy decorating this weekend?  Sometimes I think the little things can nearly make as big of an impact as the major projects.  They take the space from "renovated" to "lived in." 

July 24, 2014

Removing Carpet(s)

From the start, my least favorite room in the cabin was the Woodland Creatures Bedroom.  You may remember this guy.

We spent days and weekends striping all that wallpaper from the wood paneling, sanding, priming and painting the walls.  And we got this beautiful blank pallet. 


 But there was still one more major update we needed to make in this room.  I'll give you a hint.

This nasty, brown shag carpet not only looked bad, but it smelled terrible.  Sort of like smoke, sort of like mildew, and a whole lot like get-the-hell-out-of-our-house.


So this past weekend it was finally time. I cleared out the furniture, I grabbed my tools and I started peeling the carpet in hopes of seeing an old, wood subfloor below.  Maybe if I was lucky, I could even get pretty blue painted panels like we found in the Dining Room.  

Oh no.  Instead we went the other way.  Waaaaay in the other directions.  


Peak a boo.


When I first peeled it back I started laughing immediately.  Of course this room would give us another kick in the shins on the way out.  The Woodland Creatures Room doesn't go down without a fight.  But the more I peeled back, the funnier it became.  I mean, who installs carpet that looks like this?


The worst part of this lazy carpet install is that they attached the carpet tack directly onto of the original avocado surprise, which made it 10 times harder to get my pry bar under the tack strips to get it out of there.


This part was terrible, and I've completed a lot of terrible DIY projects.  But sitting on this stinky, mildewy, decades old shag, attempting to pry out the tack strips, the clang of the pry bar literally ringing in my ears, was terrible. Maybe because it was a beautiful day, or the fact that I thought this little project would be quick and easy, but it was getting the best of me.

And then... well... it got worse.

Can you believe this insanely ugly linoleum that was underneath?  The fuzzy booger rug came complete with an attached pad, which stuck to the linoleum over the decades.  So not only did I have to pry off the tack strips and roll up the carpet, but then I had to scape off what was left of the pad.  

And with that, on our third disgusting flooring option in this room, I called uncle.  We'll clean and disinfect the linoleum, but there's no reason to pull it up.  Our new carpet and carpet pad should fit over this eye sore no problem.  So for now, I leave you with this.  Quite possibly the worst "after" photo I've ever published. 

You're welcome.

July 22, 2014

The New Cabin Deck

Up at the lake progress is going relatively quick, but those of you who are long term readers (thanks!) you'll know that for me, even ahead of schedule isn't quick enough. You may recall that we've been making some major changes to our cabin up north in order to accommodate a third bedroom and build a new door.  Here's a reminder of the before and after plan.

<--Before   After-->
We succeeded in creating the third bedroom and installing the new door as our new entry.  Inside the entry is looking pretty good, thanks to the entryway bench I built

But although I love the new, centered and symmetrical door on the exterior, it still needs a bunch of work.

For the time being, we've stacked some cinder-blocks and big slabs of granite that we found behind the garage and are using them as steps.  Yes, you heard me correctly, our cabin is located near an area of Minnesota that they call Granite City, and granite is so plentiful that you can find it everywhere.  Park benches, little league field concessions counters, and in a pile out behind your garage.  

While these "fancy" steps help us get in and out right now, they are only a temporary solution.  The next big project is to add onto the existing deck, curving around the side of the house and adding an additional set of steps up to our new front door.

So we began the deck project.  The plan was supposed to be simple.  Remove the decking from the top of the existing deck, add the posts and joists for the expansion, and then install new decking over the full new deck. 
But things never go as planned, and when we took up the old deck boards, we found this:


Rotten boards, eaten apart by 1" long, man eating carpenter ants.  
 These joist definitely wouldn't be safe to support our new decking


But what's worse, is that the damage also against the ledger board of the cabin.  Which means those little jerks were eating into our home. 

This, my parent's dog Winnie can confirm, was really bad news. Ruh-roh.

So instead of quickly removing the top, creating the addition and redecking the whole thing, we entered operation tear the whole deck down, eradicate the ants and fix the exterior of the cabin. 

Helloooo project delays. 

But if I'm thinking positively I can say at least we did have this plan and remove the deck.  If we hadn't, the ants may have continued to eat into our cabin until they ruined the foundation.  Now that, that would have been really bad. 

So here's to the terrible DIY discoveries, that could have been much worse.  Cheers friends.

July 15, 2014

Trimming the New Slider

The night after we installed our new slider, there was a monsoon.  Seriously, no sooner did we get in the door, close it and turn off the light for the night that the rain started coming... and coming.  At one point in the middle of the night I was certain that the pounding rain would drive out our new nails and collapse the door inward.  Luckily, when we woke up the next morning, it was still standing.  

We took inspiration for the trim from the simple, mission style trim the Bath Crashers installed on our new windows and doors. 

I started by adding a piece of trim to the top, underside of the door. I was smart this time around and purchased pre-primed wood.  It wasn't much more expensive, and it saved a ton of time.  Time = Money.

Then we trimmed out the top piece above it.  This a a very "in progress" photo before it was completely nailed in.

Then I just did the same thing to the sides, first the inside trim, and then the outside casing.

I was left with a bunch of nail holes and seams, but they are easy to hide with a little painter's caulk.

And after two coats of paint- it looked like it had always been there.  Except now we could actually see out both windows, and I swear it makes the room look bigger.

We weren't done quite yet though, as there was still the issue of the outside.

I'm not going to lie, at this point I was done with the slider project.  Put a fork in me.  But there was no questioning that it had to get done, so I set up shop out on the deck and tried to enjoy the weather while I worked.

For the exterior I bought white, vinyl brick molding, which worked really slick. (I think I'm becoming my father.)

It took me just shy of an hour to make the cuts and get it installed perfectly, mostly because our opening was slightly bigger again, and I had to work a little magic with additional trim to accommodate.

Once the trim was in I sealed the hell out of it with exterior paintable caulk.  

To ensure I kept the cold air and rain out, I had to smooth caulk onto the siding quite a bit, which meant I would get to paint two colors out here, not just one.  WillItEverQuit?

But in the end, after I painted the trim and touched up the siding, I was pretty happy with our results.

All in it took us 2 full days of work, although much of it was done solo while the other parent kept an eye on the kiddos.  It wasn't that hard really, it just got long at the end.  Installing ourselves saved us at least a thousand dollars though, and made this a pretty quick and affordable project.  Plus, now we can actually see outside, and the whole room looks better now that there isn't this big focal point that made the room look old and worn.  Has anyone else ever installed a slider?  We considered changing this up with french doors, but with this being the only exterior window in this room, keeping it open is really important to us. With all the mosquitoes, screens are a must in Minnesota.  In the end we just didn't like the price and options there. All in, I'm happy with how this one turned out.