August 28, 2014

Rebuilding the Deck- Part 3

We're going to have to rename this series "The Longest Deck Build Ever."  If you recall the plan was just to build an addition to our deck, and reface the entire thing so it looked consistent, but instead we had to tear down the old one to save it from prehistoric-sized ants and then rebuild it.  After a few months without the deck, in the most beautiful weather Minnesota can see, we decided that the most important thing was to get the old portion of the deck usable again.  So we hung the ledger board for the expansion, which you can see extending out in the photo below, and then got to work with the new deck boards. 

We used composite decking with hidden under-mount screws.  While it wasn't hard, it was a pretty tedious process of laying in the dirt and screwing on the boards from underneath.  I aligned the boards with a spacer, and occasionally had to pull or push the board to get it into just the right spot before the Hubs screwed it in. 

While we took turns with the "below the deck" job, I seem to only have photos of the Hubs looking tough under the deck.

And me looking pretty lame sitting on top of it.

I did, for the record, assist him with handing down beer occasionally, which is a pretty important part of the project ifIdosaysomyself.

When we were a little over half way complete, the boys woke up from nap to discover that their dance floor had magically reappeared, so we took a dance break to celebrate.  It included a little of this...

And a little of this: 

Which is a perfect representation of my kiddos.  One who loves a stage and is always putting on a performance, and the other that charges head on exuberantly into life.  By the end of the day we happily completed the refacing of the "old deck" and it was amazing.

Sure, the rough ends are uncut, there are no railings and there are no stairs.  But there is space to dance, drink a cup of coffee and grill a burger, and that's all that really matters, right?

It felt like such a major hurdle to get to this stage, I'm going to ignore the fact that this looks like a pretty sorry after photo.  It's going to look amazing when it's all done you guys- you're going to have to trust me on this one.

August 25, 2014

Replacing the Carpet

I've mentioned from the beginning that this cabin reno was all about smart, affordable choices.  We're being really careful with the projects we tackle up here, and perhaps more importantly, with the money we spend.  This is a second home after all, and "just a cabin." (But really you guys, really, it's SOOOO much more than just a cabin!) So although recently we've had a bunch of big, higher end upgrades (New counters! New sink! New floors!) those budget splurges are a rare treat in the grand scheme of this overhaul.

In the category of "More Frugal Projects," is our recent carpet update.  To lay our gorgeous new wood floors throughout the main living space, we removed carpet from the Living Room and Dining Room (because we have children and that carpet under the table didn't stand a chance.) Both of those carpets were new and in great condition, they just didn't work with the space.  So we found them each a new home. 

You may recall that I recently spent hours of my life that I will never get back tearing out the shagtastic carpeting in our back bedroom.  (Labeled Bedroom 2)  You know, when I pulled up the stinky, old brown shag to reveal the jaw droppingly ugly green shag below?

And once I pulled all those layers of shag out, I had this nasty linoleum underneath? 

Well, once we removed this big chunk of new carpet from the Living Room:

We had installers lay it, with a new carpet pad, in Bedroom #2.

Obviously we have a pretty plain blank pallet here, but you guys- that's a success!  Remember when it looked like this?

Whoa!  I can't wait to start decorating this room.  But in the mean time, let's have another look at that beautiful, non-shag, non-moldy, non-stinky "new" carpet.

Our third bedroom got a carpet update too.  As you may recall, this is the new bedroom that we built where the old entryway of the house used to be.  So it sported this fun little splash of linoleum.

With a pretty wicked gold threshold separating the spaces.  (I swear that thing was attached with Super Glue.)

So I tore out the carpet in this room:

And then wrestled with the threshold for a longer period of time than I'd like to admit:

Until I had this nice, level surface:

Then we took the carpet that we removed from the Dining Room, and had it installed in this room, with a new pad.

You'll have to forgive me as this room is hard to photograph.  Obviously the biggest change still coming for this room is the removal of the door, and putting a window in it's place.  Once that's done this room will finally look like a bona fide bedroom. 

Here's a look from that soon-to-be-window back at the bed.  We've got some furniture placement and decor to figure out here.

We had the company that was out installing our new wood floors install the carpet at the same time, which saved money.  All we had to pay for was the new pad and labor.  I'm feeling pretty proud of our little switcher-roo if I do say so myself.  We didn't have to dump more into a landfill, we just reused what we had, and now have two newly carpeted bedrooms to show for it!  This little project is trucking along!

August 20, 2014

New Cabin Wood Floors

 One of the big benefits of our Cabin Up North was the open floor plan.  While other renos need to knock down walls to achieve a big, open living space, we were actually putting new walls up.  But even though our Dining Room, Kitchen and Living Room were all one big connected space, they all sported different flooring. 

The Dining Room boasts a blue painted, weathered wood plank.  While it's fantastic in a shabby-sheek sort of way, it was really damaged and there were major holes and patches into the Kitchen area.
The Kitchen's flooring is by far the best (read: ugliest).  This copper-toned laminate masterpiece can only be made better with peeling corners and cigarette burns.  

The Kitchen transitions into the Living Room with an interesting curved boarder.  The carpet in the Living Room is actually new.  It was replaced before the sellers put the house on the market, but the shape of it really limits the size of the Living Room and crowds an otherwise large space.

Here's another look at that sexy curve.

The plan was to install one consistent flooring throughout all of these spaces to make them flow into each other, and become more functional.  First the Living Room carpet had to go.

And just like the terrible Bedroom carpet removal, we found more, super awesome linoleum underneath.  Plus a carpet pad that had been glued to the floor, which made for a lot of scraping.

So here's the fun part- the floors magically installed themselves!  Okay, that's not true, but that's what it feels like when you hire an installer to put them in for you.  Amazing!

Now you guys know that I love a good DIY project, and it literally pains me to pay money for something I know I can do myself.  But this time around my Mom was calling the shots.  She got a fantastic deal on the flooring, and reasoned that with the savings she could just hire someone to install it.  Since we only have occasional weekends up North, and when we do we've got the whole family trying to live out of this space, she felt like it would be hard for us, and unfair for the kiddos, to live among the construction of floor installation for a weekend or two. 

She's a smart lady, because not only was the main living space a construction zone, but the bedrooms were stuffed with all the furniture that needed to be displaced.  Not ideal to put a baby down for a nap in here.

And that's how it came to pass that my family left the cabin one weekend with 1970's linoleum, and entered the cabin a few weekends later to this:


That may be my favorite entrance ever.  Here's a look at the eating area, still void of chairs and bar stools as we waited to attach anti-scratch pads.

We were working with a bunch of different wood tones in this cabin, the natural pine planks, the dark wood cabinets and furniture, and the natural wood trim.  Finding a floor to make all of these look good was a challenge, but we focused in on a rustic hickory that provided lots of variations in tone.  Over all the floor is light, which brightens up the space, but the variations work with all of our different wood tones in different ways and make them all look intentional. 

The hardwood is also hand-scraped which gives it a worn and lived-in vibe.  Plus it helps us hide any future scrapes and damage that our little home wreckers can create, because it's amazing how much a child can ruin your home.  Seriously.

My little tiled entryway turned out just how we intended, plenty of room for the door to open and lower than the wood floors to protect it from winter boots and puddles.

This area is currently wood-central, with wood on literally the floors, walls and ceiling.   It's a little much now, but once we get a chance to break it up with chairs, curtains and a rug I think it will feel really warm and cabiny.  That is an adjective, don't bother to look it up.  Trust me.

Am I the only one that feels compelled to jump up and lay on these counter tops? Sure, this photo is from before I had a chance to fix the back splash tile in the kitchen, but it's still beautiful even with the lime green party strip.

The kitchen looks magical now that the floors, new quartz counter top and apron sink have come together- as it was always intended.

Obviously there's lots to still do in the Living Room (you can see our plans here, but the idea is to remove the small window and add a fireplace in the center of that wall flanked by built in shelves.)  Once the construction of that space comes together we'll work on a rug, curtains, furniture and artwork.  But I mean COME ON.  How about that progress- eh? 

 Here maybe this will help- my favorite part of reno blogging- the before and afters!



And for those of you asking what the counter looks like with out the curved bump out, here's the before:

And the much more open and passable after:


After a year of hard work, I couldn't be more thrilled about how the cabin looks today.  We have tackled SO MUCH (mostly wallpaper), but to see it slowly coming together as a warm, homey and well loved space is everything I could have hoped for.  Sure, there's still a lot to do.  Some of it is more challenging (I'm talking about you new deck and old entrance), but in other places we're finally getting to the fun part- decorating.  It will all take time and patience (neither of which I have), but we're building this full scale, amazing family heirloom, and the journey is way more important than the destination. 

And this is the part of the journey where I strip down to my socks and underwear and slide Tom Cruise style across our new floors.  Because wouldn't you?

August 18, 2014

Installing an Ikea Domsjo Sink in a 36" Sink Base Cabinet

Early in my cabin kitchen reno planning, I decided that I desperately needed a farmhouse sink in this cabin. A farmhouse sink is not only a stunning focal point, but it manages to say "vintage" and "modern" in the same breath.  What they don't say, I learned, is "affordable." 

After a pretty exhaustive search, I decided that the Ikea Domsjo sink was the only way to go.  At $299 it was half the cost of the next least expensive sink I found, but more than that- it was beautiful.  I love how big it is, and the soap dish style lines across the top.  Paired with the Glittran faucet in rubbed bronze finish, it's the brand new piece that looks like it's always been there.  

This choice did require a bit more ingenuity however, as I had to retro fit my existing 36" sink base to fit it.  While I found tons of articles on the web telling me that this sink can be installed in most 36" sink base cabinets, and this helpful video, I didn't find a lot of step-by-step articles on how to install it.  So here is my attempt to fill the internet void and and provide those of you that want to bring this gorgeous sink to a reno near you, some instructions on how to do so.

Step 1-Install the faucet.  

I always like to install the faucet way before the sink goes into position.  This gives you much more room to maneuver, and avoids cramming your body into tiny spaces and trying to turn a wrench while holding a flashlight with your teeth.  Don't say I didn't warn you. 


Step 2- Get the old stuff out of there.   

Do your last load of dishes and prepare to wash in the bathtub, because you'll have to go sink-less for awhile.  The inside width of your base cabinet needs to be a minimum of 34".

Step 3- Trace a template of the back of your sink.

I tipped our sink onto it's back, and used the cardboard packaging it came in to trace the very unique shape of the back of the sink.  I then cut it out, giving myself 1/4" outside my lines to make sure everything fit.

Step 4- Attach your template to the back of your sink base cabinet and trace.

The edge of your sink (as shown in the skinny edges to the right and left of my template) will sit on top of your countertop.   So it's important here to know the exact height of your countertop, and figure this into your calculations.  In my case, I contacted my installer and confirmed that the final height of my countertops above the base cabinets would be 1 5/8".  So I lined up my template so that the bottom edge of the sink lip was 1 5/8' above the sink base cabinet.

Step 5- Cut out the back of the cabinet.

The back of the cabinet is usually made of a thin plywood or masonite, so I found it pretty easy to follow my template and cut out the back with a Dremel Multimax.  

If you don't mind what the wall looks like inside the cabinet, you can just cut a big rectangle and save yourself the trouble.  I felt like it wasn't much work to do it the more exact way.

Step 6- Measure for where you'll need to cut out the front of your sink base cabinet.

In order for the Domsjo sink to fit, the front of your sink base cabinet must be cut down 7 1/4" from the top of your counter top.  As you remember, my counter tops are 1 5/8" thick.  As you can see in the photo below, I started my measuring tape 1 5/8" above the top of my cabinet to account for the counter top, and made a mark 7 1/4" down.  I did this on both sides.

Step 7- Remove any screws or staples in the way of your cut.

Often sink base cabinets have a series of staples or pocket screws that are holding the face frames together, or the fake drawer front on.  Make sure you take out any that may be in the way of your cut, before you cut.

Step 8- Cut the front of your sink cabinet base.

You'll want to cut flush with the inside of your cabinet base for the maximum width in which to fit your sink, (which must be a minimum of 34".) We could have used a jig saw or Dremel tool here, but we found using a hand saw and some elbow grease (you know, just like the Amish) allowed us the best control and ability to stay flush with the inside of the cabinet base.  We cut down from the top to our 7 1/4" (from the top of the counter) mark, and then over to remove that notch on both sides.

This photo might help explain it a little better.

Or perhaps this one.  The space at the top will accommodate the apron to the sink.  The space at the bottom was left over from the false drawer front of this cabinet. We'll deal with that space in a bit.

Step 9- Test your fit. 

You don't want to wait until your counter top installers get there to realize you cut your cabinet wrong, so it's important to test the fit.  Make sure to accommodate for the height of the counters when you test though.  We did so by cutting a couple of 2x4s (1 1/2" height) and laying them on the edges of the sink base cabinet to simulate the height of the new counter.  It's not exact, as the counter will be 1/8" higher, but it was close enough.

It fits!  And I'm in love already.

Step 10- Cut your counters to accommodate the apron.

You'll need to cut your counters on either side of the sink for it to fit.  If you are using butcher block or laminate you can likely do this on your own.  Since we were having quartz installed, we told the installer about it in advance and they agreed to make these cuts during the install.

Ikea's instructions give you the exact specs of your cut.  They also show you to put a line of caulk on the inside edge of the counter before install.
The dust was flying outside while making these cuts. 

Step 11- Trim under your sink. 

 When retro fitting this sink for a standard cabinet, you may find that there is a gap below the sink where the false drawer used to be. 

We just saved the false drawer and cut it down and used it as a trim piece.  You literally don't notice it unless you're laying on the floor.  And even then I'd have to tell you it's there.

And with that my friends, you finally have an installed Domsjo sink.  And it is beautiful.

Definitely an upgrade from where we started- no?