Monday, June 25, 2012

Hallway Bathroom

There was nothing I liked about this bathroom.

The lack of daylight and use of flourescent lighting were remedied by a skylight installed by my friend Rigoberto, who also installed the tile floor. I put in a replacement wood window with frosted glass to finish remedying the lighting. As the window doesn't supply much light as it's by a breezeway, we used the stained glass for decorative purposes. When I moved to Oregon, surplus stain/leaded glass windows were in good supply and replacing the frames was simple. Geri did the painting on the wall.

The vanity was replaced by a DIY cedar sinktop that I finished with a marine polyurethane finish. The Cats have worn the finish down as it's their drinking fountain; since cat's claws over a period of time will wear anything down, it been left as is

See what I mean?

The floating countertop, basin and wall mounted faucet help to solve the limited width of the bathroom. The other solution to the dimensions was to build the cabinet between the studs. Fortunately, most bathroom supplies fit in shallow spaces

As with most of our house, there is still work to be done- the tub and shower area are still- em, suboptimal, but overall we're happy with the space as is. It seems that a prevailing trend in houses is fancy or aspirations-to-fancy bathrooms. Not the case in this old ranch house.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


As I look at the photos of the house when it was in escrow, what was I thinking?

Well, to start,  this room is larger than the house I grew up in as part of a family of four.  The other attractive aspect was a 13 foot ceiling at the peak. But, as did the rest of the house, it needed work-lots of it.  Back in '94, the last thing on my mind was documenting a before and after project. Also, I did not have a wide angle lens, thus, along with the clutter of moving shown, the photos don't do convey the space as well as I'd like; it really wasn't in that bad a condition. Like other portions of the house, renovation were done in stages several years apart.

The first improvements were to get rid of the wallpaper, the drapes and put in two large windows in the south wall.

Here is office area as purchased

The bookshelf area was altered to accomodate a little secretary desk that has been in Geri's family for decades and is in poor condition. The parts that were not needed- front legs and top- are in storage. The lower shelf that it rests on was made from 12 x 2x20ft old growth fir joists that I saved when I demolished the original carport. Those beams were a storage problem for more than 12 years but they eventually made their way back into the house in a very satisfying manner.

The upstairs' original use was as a master suite and for a while it did serve as a bedroom. We rented out this room even after we married as my wife and housemate liked each other.

Here is the room post housemate. At that time I replaced the vinyl and aluminum windows with viny clad wood ones.

Once she moved out we needed that space as "sanity space" while working on other areas of the house. As digital photography evolved, I found myself using chemical printing less and less and traded up on printers as they became higher quality and more cost effective at the larger sizes. The space required for a printer, monitor and supplies resulted in that room becoming a home office/digital darkroom for myself and a sewing/crafts/painting area for Geri- thus it literally became an "Arts and Crafts" room.  Around 2008, the roof for this area needed replacing and I had a crew working on that.

While the construction dumpster was being loaded with the old roof debris we took a hard look at the carpet in this room. It was looking pretty bad and we had already replaced it once. During the past few years, I had developed a scratch for a upgraded TV . As mentioned elsewhere in this series, asthmatics, cats and carpet are not a good combination. Geri and I agreed that if I did the work to put in hardwoods and make the ceiling more interesting, that I could pay myself with a new TV.

So the carpet go put in the dumpster and off we went to Lumber Liquidators.

I was not in the mood for putting in 700 sq feet of 2" wide oak, then sanding and coating said product. Thus we agreed on a floor color and finish had it delivered. After two 16 hour days of pounding solid hardwood planks with a rented compressor, we had no more carpet. As DIY remodelers know, one thing leads to another.  In this case it was replacing floor electric heating units with a heat pump unit. This method was chosen because the upstairs is the only room where we wished we had AC in the summer and I could also use the outside unit to heat my shop. Space heater in the winter + sawdust= pushing my luck. The alternative: numb fingers in the winter + power tools= ditto. I made the faux beams using the above mentioned joists. I hate faux anything but that expanse of drywall ceiling needed some breaking up.

Here is the room post that remodel.

A portion of the bathroom and the walk-in closet were redone during this stage.
The bathroom area had a 70's clunky vanity with a formica top,  carpet in the vanity area and a big glued-on mirror.Here is a partial view.

The shower though was nice sized, with room to sit down comfortably and it was clean; thus I've left it as is as we only need bathrooms to be clean and functional. We replaced the carpets with hardwood, I made the vanity and the mirror frames. Geri and I put the stone veneer to cover the vanity and mirror wall

The walk-in closet is used as a sewing room area.  It presently also serves as a repository for some of Geri's books/school materials. Once we've accomplished our living room alteration to a home library, it will be much less crowded in there.

We then purchased the flat files for storage of digital printing supplies,unframed artwork purchased or made and matte board remnants. The rolling cart used for the cabinet under the PBP poster was purchased from Rejuvenation in Portland at 40 cents on the dollar compared to Restoration Hardware's offering. I had to put in a weekends work of cleaning, degreasing and altering to come up with the finished product. Even with that much "sweat equity", it is still a good time:cost outlay. The other cabinet base was made out of the carport joists.

The cabinet against the West wall was a DIY project to hold a minimalist yet quality audio system. The main music source is a Squezebox Touch- little $300 digital server. It can access a hard drive containing more than a 100 cds in uncompressed format in addition to some MP3 files. It can also access a kazillion internet stations, a number of which stream at 320 kbps which gives a quality close to redbook CD. It also can be linked either wireless or by ethernet to my computer which is 32ft away- other computer audio setups require USB which is not designed to run that length. There is also a serviciable CD player for the times we just want to pop in a CD, but the little server has better sound. The wonders of technology. Another bonus is not having to use iTunes, which has it's merits but very much also its flaws.

As we were spending more time in that room, Geri's longstanding concern that the french door had seen better days and was close to nonfunctional began to register with me.  Also the windows I had used in the first round of rehab were getting on my nerves.  I have always liked the "bank of windows" look and had tried to do that in the sunroom addition- but was deterred by B&S.  A moment of idleness last spring admiring an Audiogon poster's bank o' windows in his "virtual system" resulted in my impulsively taking the drywall off the West wall which meant I had to stop thinking about it and proceed with new french doors and windows. You can only imagine my wife's reaction.

My original plan was to have the windows and french doors installed; after the sticker shock at the bids submitted, I once again was faced with a DIY project. One good thing about looking at "professional" installation, one of the estimators advised- "you need to go to B&S with an alteration to the walls of that extent".  B&S then cheerfully required me to obtain engineered plans to satisfy code for shear forces.

A visit from the engineer found that a portion of the room did not have adequate support- this was the cause for the existing door to have problems functioning.

So, we revisit the "one thing leads to another" rule of renovation. New footing to support the wall, engineered plans with new beams b/w windows that need to go to the rafters, new headers, lots of strapping and since we needed to have a pretty substantial footing for the support, a new driveway once a concrete contractor was involved. One positive about the driveway was that we had lot of neighbors stop to give their appreciation for helping to maintain the appearance of the neighborhood- we replied to be happy to no longer have the worst driveway on the block.

A looming concern was that the delivery of the windows since they were custom to fit the openings specified by the plans s bmitted was taking longer than initially quoted.  I had been hoping for late august and now was looking at late september. Having a west wall completely down in late summer in the PNW is not a good scenario.

Luckily, the windows and plank siding were done when the first autumn rains came. I was able to install the cedar shingle portion working under a tarp hanging from the roof. To finish the interior I replaced the interior entry door and two Ikea bookcases.

Looking at the interior design sites, barn doors are candidates for the F*@k Your Noguchi Table site. That style has usefulness in this room. It helped with the symmetry of the bank of windows and a better support for a heavy interior door. That door was made with- you guessed it- the leftover carport beams and other materials left over from other projects. The other option- a pocket door would have meant drywall removal and wall framing alterations.
Little by little, I'm getting rid of my Ikea bookshelves and cabinets. They were a necessary evil; evil because they are somewhat representative of a lot of what is abhorrent in many of today's products. Superficially attractive and to paraphrase Redd Foxx- beauty may be only skin deep, but ugly's to the particle board core.

The room can be accused of having a Restoration Hardware showroom deja-vu feel.Here's my apology;for the use of 3 RH lighting fixture. The room is the size of a small house- and those 3 lamps by their design can cover a lot of territory without having to be moved. The metal scissor lift table can serve four different functions:

-side table for the little sofa (wife and I can sit there comfortably- we're not super-sized).

-standing height small table or,

-larger table with a tabletop I made for it.

-a extension for either my desk or Geri's worktable.

The items thus keep the furnishings to a minimum and allows for more wall use without the place feeling cluttered.

The living room alteration start is only 3 weeks away now so going over what has already been done has a deadline of sorts if these blogs are going to serve as a prelude to that.