October 30, 2014

Deck Railings and the Final Deck Reveal

In all my uncontrollable, overly excited celebration about finally finishing the window and door switcheroo, I forgot that I owe you guys an update on the deck.  It's been a long deck building season, and we had our share of obstacles to overcome, (like a flood and man eating ants

but my God it was worth it:

We finished off the railings, first by cutting all our posts to the correct, uniform height, and then attaching 2x4s in between them for stability.

 We placed a second set of 2x4's 4 inches up from the deck floor, low enough to meet code but high enough to shovel snow out under them.  Because you have to think about that stuff in Minnesota.

 Next we used long pieces of our composite decking on top as the railing.

Then one weekend while I stayed at home, my Dad finished off the railing with stainless steel cable. 

Remember when we placed two 2x4s in this corner and I said that I would explain later?  This set up allowed us to string the cable and make the 90 degree angle.

At the ends the cable finishes with fasteners that will allow us to tighten the cord over time if we need to.

 We wanted something a little more substantial at the railings, so my Dad installed these metal poles by drilling the perfect sized holes into two trim boards that he sandwiched onto the top and bottom of the poles, and then attached directly to our 2x4 rails.


I love how we were able to use the spare piece of granite that we found behind the garage as a finish to these steps.

Using cables verses spindles made a huge difference in keeping a beautiful, open view. 

The underside of the deck still left a little to be desired though.  (Code: Will the work ever end?)

The original deck had wall on the bottom which not only helped keep leaves and rubbish out, but served as a nice storage space for things like the dock ladder and extra folding chairs.  We left a few of the original boards up, but had a bunch more we needed to add. Luckily we saved some boards and they fit in pretty seamlessly.

We also rehung the gate and added boards to the side of the steps.

But on the new side of the deck, we had to start from scratch.

It was relatively easy to add 1x6s cut to length.  We used a uniform spacer to make sure the gaps between boards would line up all the way down the length of the deck.


 Let's put a fork in it- this deck build, and stairway to our new entry is finally done!

Of course, we still have a little painting to do.   

We plan to save the paint job for next spring though, (2015: The Year of the Exterior.)  It's not just because we're lazy and tired of this deck that we're waiting, green treated lumber is supposed to age for 1 year before you paint it.  That will also give us time to decide what color to paint it.  
  • The old deck was red, which worked, but would require us to paint (and repaint over the years) that beautiful new natural colored composite decking. 
  • We could paint the whole thing white, but it would get dirty easily and require lots of repainting over the years.
  • We could just paint the railings and side boards white and leave the decking natural.
  • Or for that matter we could sand the red side boards down and just stain the entire thing with a natural color.
  • Or we cold paint the deck a gray color to match the shingles and bring another color to our exterior pallet, sort of like these homes:

I honestly have no idea what to do with it right now, so I'd love to hear your vote for the deck color.  What do you think would compliment the house and make that deck look like a beautiful addition worth months and months of our time this summer?  Because seriously, at this point anything less than "showstopper" is not worth it to me.  Please weight in in the comments below!

October 28, 2014

The Big Window and Door Switcheroo- The Reveal

Finally, finally, against all odds and challenges I can happily say that our little dream of adding a third bedroom to our cabin Up North is complete.  Sure, the working third bedroom has been with us since March, but it started a chain reaction of construction projects that took over 6 months to complete.  When we added a wall to create the third bedroom, we needed to add a new entry door on the side of the house, which meant we needed to extend the deck to the new door so we had stairs to get up into it, which lead to having to rebuild the entire deck.  Then we had to add a portico over the new door and build a coat rack to replace the lost closet. Then we had to remove the old door from the bedroom and replace it with a window, which meant we had to remove the window from the Living Room.  Did you get all that? 

It is done now you guys.  Beautiful and done.  

But let me back up a second and fill in a few last details.  On the morning of Day 4, I grabbed my bucket of red exterior paint and Cheshire Cat grin.   In less than 20 minutes the old Living Room window had completely disappeared.

Looks like it has always been that way, right?

 On the inside, we intentionally didn't spend the time or the money to make this window patch flawless, as we have big plans for this wall.  But I'd say it does the trick for now.

From a distance, our patch is nearly invisible, which will tie me over for a little while until I start itching to build a fireplace surrounded by floor to ceiling shelving... must... restrain... myself...

With the side of the house complete, I moved my painting party up to the new bedroom window/old door.  My Big 'Lil Man (no, not the Hubs) helped.


With the red paint on, the wall was looking fantastic:

But the window trim needed a little love:

Cue the caulk, primer and exterior white trim paint:

Much better:

Two coats later and somehow, magically, just as we planned it, the window looks identical to the others on this side of the cabin, and looks like it has always been there.

Sure, I know what you're going to say.

"There's a big cement sidewalk and stair leading to a window!"

I am aware of this my friends, I'm just choosing not to recognize it right now.  We already decided that 2015 would be the year of the exterior, and we have a few projects planned including tearing out the steps and sidewalk then adding a new one. But right now, I'm only thinking about that beautiful "new" window.

But it looks even prettier from inside.  Check this out:

I love how this small room is flooded with light now from both windows.  It makes it look so much bigger.  I can't wait to start decorating it in our High End Bunk House plan. (Hold me back!) The trim all went back to where it started perfectly.

So one long, beautiful weekend later and I officially have the biggest of the cabin reno monkeys off my back.  Now let's enjoy 4 days of work in a fraction of a second with the before and afters:

The Living Room window removal outside:

And inside:

The Third Bedroom door removal and window install outside:

And inside:

And with that I think we've earned a work free weekend up at the cabin.  Nothing but apple orchards, campfires, card games and a couple of adult beverages.  And maybe some curtain hanging... I can't stop myself.

October 23, 2014

The Big Window and Door Switcheroo- Part 2

On the morning of Day 3, I woke up to this motivation.

A wall desperately begging me to "make me pretty again!"  I wasn't about to get discouraged though, there's a window where a door used to be people!

Since the structural and insulating part was already done, all I had left was to cut and attach new paneling.  This first piece wasn't going down without a fight though, it was shaped like a Tetrus piece and included 2 electrical boxes to cut out.  I owned it. 

For the next part, I used a piece of the old paneling, slightly cut at the top right and moved over about 2 inches to the right of it's original placement (since the window is slightly skinnier than the old door was.)  Then I had to carefully cut a 2" strip of paneling to fill the new gap on the left.  
Too. Much. Thinking. Not. Enough. Coffee.

Gorgeous no?  Nothing a little paint couldn't solve, so I quickly threw on a coat of primer.  This is what progress looks like:

While I was at it we filled the Living Room window hole with a piece of scrap paneling and threw a coat of primer on that.  The plan is to cover this full wall with a fireplace and built ins, so there was no need to professionally cover this hole as it will all get covered eventually, but we didn't want it to be an eyesore in the meantime.

With my paint drying, I headed outdoors to tackle the old window wall first.  Now we may have been throwing windows and doors in and out of this cabin like Taylar Swift goes through boyfriends, but the reality is that our exterior siding makes it really easy.  Our vertical board and batten is simply large sheets of plywood, covered by strips of 1x2s at the seams and studs to cover the nails.  If you have vinyl or aluminum siding, this would be a lot more challenging, as you would need to pull out a bunch of siding and stitch it back in to make it look random and seamless.  In our case though, I just needed one 4'x8' sheet of plywood to cover the hole.  

Unfortunately nothing is ever that easy.  In a perfect world my existing plywood would have been centered over my window like this:

Then I could just rip out the old piece and put up a new one.  Instead, I had two sheets of plywood overlapping my window, like this:

Which means I had to use my circular saw to cut each piece of plywood in half.  I set the depth of my saw so that I was cutting just the plywood and not the stud below it. Luckily the trim piece would cover my seams, so I didn't have to be 100% straight, but it was still a challenge to cut vertical up the wall, balanced on a ladder with sawdust flying.

"Pro" tip- Sunnies double as protective eye gear.
One side down, one more to go.

After both sides were successfully cut, I could nail in my new piece of plywood.

And then place the 1"x2" strips over the seams and studs, carefully measuring with my level to keep it straight.


A little paint and that will look as good as new.  But I couldn't break out the paint just yet, as I had this mess to tackle.

In the category of "Things Can Never Be Easy," I couldn't just use the same trim for the window on this side of the house as the studs on this wall were 2"x6"s and the studs on the other wall were 2"x4"s.  We used some good scrap wood leftover from the old deck to build the new trim (which is why it's a dark red.)

Then I could fit the old brick molding and sill back over it.

At this point it was getting to be the end of a really long day, (which of course included breaks for running into town to get ice cream with the kids, eating, cooking, diapering, playing, raking leaf piles for the kiddos to jump in and crafting.)  I finally got my last piece of plywood, which had to be strategically cut to include 2" panels on either side of the window, by flashlight.

The sun's not the boss of me though.  After I put the kiddos to bed I finished up the work day by adding a couple of coats of paint to the interior paneling.

All in, Day 3 was a super successful day:
  • Install paneling on the interior walls- check!
  • Prime and paint interior paneling- check!
  • Install new board and batten siding over old window- check!
  • Trim out new window exterior- check!
  • Install new board and batten siding around new window- check!
Whew!  Hang with me- the big reveal is next.  Has anyone else tackled this type of project at home?  Has anyone had to weave in new siding?  That seams incredibly hard to me, and I don't envy you.  I have to admit that I'm pretty lucky with this project working with paneling and board and batten.  If I had drywall and vinyl siding, things wouldn't be going quite so easy.