February 24, 2014

The Great Bedroom Window Debate

This April will be coming up on three years living in this house.  THREE YEARS.  It seems like just yesterday we were crossing our fingers for the short sale to to come through.  Then again, when I think about all the projects we've completed in that short time (3 bathrooms, 1 kitchen, 1500 sq ft of wood floors, a new staircase, etc...) it feels like a lifetime.

But there's still one big project that we need to do, that we've been avoiding really, and it's a pretty big one.  


Yes.  You are looking at 3 gaping holes from our Master Bedroom into our Living Room.  No glass, just holes.  Which means no sound privacy, no light block and overall weirdness.  When we first moved in these holes sported some pretty awful planters filled with rocks.

Other than removing the rock boxes however, we have done little to fix this big problem.  I hung some "temporary" curtains that have been up now for nearly two years, which is embarrassing really.  The problem is that we just can't decide what to do.  And we've been using that excuse for years.  So I've decided that the best way to get over this hump is to ask for your help.  I need you guys to tell me the best solution.  Here are your choices:

1. We fill in the holes partially and install modern horizontal windows about 5 feet up.  Something like this.
(Forgive the really bad mock ups.)

  • Leaving these interior windows (that can tilt to open) will allow the air to circulate through the house as originally intended, allowing a place for all that hot air that rises to the peak of the Living Room to escape, making the house more efficient. 
  • Placing windows here will give something interesting on this long skinny wall of our room, and also something interesting on the long, tall wall from the Living Room.  Otherwise both of these walls might feel expansive and bare.
  • These higher windows will let in a lot of light (the Living Room has a craaazy amount of light that floods in) but still provide us with privacy as you'd never be able to see more than our heads.  It would be easy to install blackout shades on them.
  • We can still look out them to keep an eye on our kiddos- which is a strange benefit we've come to love. 

  • These windows will cost a good chunk of change- and is it worth it to pay for windows that don't even go to the outside?  Will future buyers (if we ever sell) want to buy a house with windows from the Master to the Living Room?
So that leads us to choice numero dos.

2. We drywall in the interior windows entirely, and instead knock out windows on the wall with the bed out to the backyard.  Like this:
 Or this:

  • Windows to the outside will allow for light and some great cross ventilation from our slider, bringing in more fresh air to this room.
  • How beautiful would that bed wall be- huh?
  • A lot of money, (at least double the first plan,) as we're talking about transforming 2 full walls. We'd need scaffolding to drywall in the Living Room, and again to put in windows to the backyard.  Remember when Bath Crashers did that before?
  • We'd have two really long blank walls.  The bedroom is long and narrow, so I'm not sure that we could put any furniture against this wall.  And at 20' long, we'd need a pretty good plan to fill it with art, (that would be one massive gallery wall.)  The Living Room wall would raise up two stories to... nothing. Would that look weird? 

So that's where we've been for two years now... stuck.  I can't take it anymore, and we need your opinion.  Would you choose:
  1.  Modern horizontal windows to the Living Room, or  
  2.  Modern vertical or horizontal windows to the backyard? 
Why?  Any other suggestions that I haven't thought of?  Please do me the favor of leaving your comment below and helping us through this two year road block.  I need all the help that I can get!

February 17, 2014

Painting the Third Bedroom

We have paint! 

Perhaps you are not as excited as I am.  Maybe all you can see are those crazy, ugly, retro chairs and you're not appreciating the true beauty that is 2 coats of primer and 2 coats of paint. Maybe I need to remind you of where we started.

Riiight.  Now this third bedroom is starting to look intentional. 

Again, that roll top desk is only temporarily there.  This spring our new front entry will be relocated to where the desk is now, and that brand new wall will host a coat locker type piece I plan to build to hold all our coats.  

The kitchen got some paint too.  I primed everything, and painted the walls.  You can see there is still just primer on the bottom panel of wainscoting.  The next step will be painting all the trim a crisp white and attaching it. 

Not that impressed?  Maybe you've forgotten where we started.
The inside looks pretty good too.  

You can see here a little that we left the cedar wood alone.  I actually love how this color of paint works with the natural wood, and I think this will be a fun element in the room once we get it set up.

Obviously we're in the need for some trim, but I thought it would be much easier to install this already painted, so that's going to have to be a project for another day. 
We still have this ugly little nook to deal with.  I figured that it wasn't worth painting any of this until we take out the door, put in the window and put in new paneling around it this spring.  It's a good reminder of how dark that paneling was.


We'll also have to tear up that linoleum and fix the carpet, but we'll wait until we install wood flooring throughout the open concept space for that.  The plan is to take the carpet that is in the Dining Room now and move it to this bedroom.  Because we're cheap smart like that. 

The only thing I'm discovering about this cabin reno, is that there is only so much you can do in a weekend.  In our home reno I could get done in a week what takes me a month here.  So patience is important, but I'm feeling really good about the progress so far.  I just can't wait until the snow finally melts and we can get to the good stuff! 

February 6, 2014

Poof! Third Bedroom

Last week I gave you a little run down on our big cabin plans.  As a reminder here's what we have:

 And here's the insanity of projects I'm hoping to accomplish:

In typical fashion, I couldn't wait to get started.   Let's get right down to business on Project #1- Build the Third Bedroom.

As you can see above the plan was to build a wall between the Dinning Room and the Den.  The first step for us is to get this wall and new door in.  Later this spring we'll put in the new front door in the Dinning Room/Entryway area, and take the old front door out of this space and replace it with a window.  But for now, with a couple of other exterior doors to this cabin, this room can work as a (albeit awkward) third bedroom. 

I started by making a plan and a pretty insane list of all the items we would need.  An hour round trip to the nearest home improvement store makes good planning a necessity. 

This list is mostly long because of all the electrical items we planned to buy to replace out the old brown/brass/dirty tan ones.
Next we cut our first 2x4 to the length of the room, and cut out the carpet right where we wanted the wall to go, using the 2x4 as a guide.

Hello blue/gray wood floors underneath!
Then we could attach the first, full length stud to the ceiling, and cut another shorter one for the floor (subtracting the width of the door.)  Then it was pretty easy to cut studs to the distance between the floor and ceiling stud, and nail into place on 16" centers.  (Which is a fancy construction term that means the centers of your 2x4s are 16" apart.) You can see in this photo below that we cut a piece of wood to 14.5" (16" minus .75" on each side to get to the center of the stud), which made the measuring much easier.

My Dad and I worked on this project together, and it went pretty quick and surprise free.  I'm going to go out on a limb and say it was a pretty fun time actually.  Just me and my Dad, working with tools together, building a wall.  I know I'll always look back on this space in the cabin and think the awesome time my Dad and I had building it together.  And really, that's what this place is all about for us.  Building memories.  It wasn't long until the wall was up, and the door was going in.

Once the wall was in, I filled in the studs with insulation to help with noise. We bought a pre-cut pack that is meant to fit exactly between 16" centers, and it was magical how easy it was.

You can see in the image above that I also added an outlet on the bedroom side of this wall and a light switch.  I went up to the attic and down into the crawl space to confirm that there is power above and below that we can tap into, but instead of wiring all this right now, I just pushed enough wire up and down into each space to do the work down the road once we pull the permit.  The important part was snaking the wire while the walls were still open.

Then even more magic happened.  Usually, this would be the point in DIY that I would start whining like a baby: Drywall.   (You may remember some of my worst moments here and here.) But I got to thinking... since this whole cabin is already built of paneling, and since we kind of like the cottagey vibe of painted paneling, why not just cover this new wall with paneling?  Genius!

We found these 4x8 panels of "white oak" for just $10 a piece at Menards.  The color isn't important since we plan to paint them anyway.  So in just a few minutes we were nearly there.

Sure, we had to slow down for a moment to apply my pink lip gloss to the edges of the electrical outlet to cut the paneling around those. 


We just pressed the panel back exactly where it needed to go, which left a perfect outline on the back of my panel.  I used my Dremel to cut the hole.
This is the sorriest looking "after" that I have ever seen, but trust me friends, this is going somewhere good.

The roll top desk is temporarily in this space for now.  I plan to build a coat locker to go here in the new entryway.

And please forgive the tight space and bad lighting, but here's a look from inside the new room.

Look at all those different colors of paneling and wood I have to deal with... I can't wait to paint.

Up next: trim and paint.  But for right now I'm going a little dance for the fact that in one weekend we took this property from a two bedroom to a three bedroom.  Holla!