Archive for the 'remodeling' Category

Main Bathroom Idea Board

In an effort to keep you guys informed with the design process I’ll show what I have planned for the main bathroom so far.

The main bathroom is just that. The one everyone uses. We have a ranch style house and there is no powder room on the “public” side of the house (ie. living room, dining room, and kitchen) so this room gets used a lot. In the future when we hopefully have kids this is the bathroom they will use also. So it goes without saying that this room needs to be very tough and low maintenance while still looking good for any guests that are over.

Keeping with the plans for the master bathroom we’re going for a vintage feel in the room. If there are two things that described the many inspiration pictures I had for this room it is: marble and wainscoting. Originally, I wanted basketweave marble tile for the floor. That was vetoed by Flannel Man but we both liked the marble hexagon look. So for the longest time that was the plan along with white subway tile in the shower. Classic and ever so popular right now. Fast forward to a year later (remember this remodel got delayed) and I got real with myself. Marble floors are oh so pretty but how are they going to hold up with all of the major traffic that room gets? We take our shoes off in the house but when you gotta go you gotta go and this is the closest bathroom to the front door so it will be seeing some shoe wear. I can only imagine Flannel Man walking on the marble floors in his work boots! No, I just can’t be worrying about babying that floor to keep it looking like new. Lots of other people have those gorgeous marble floors (good for them!) but they just aren’t practical enough for us.

With real hexagon marble floors out of the picture the next closest thing was solid white porcelain hexagon tile. With a solid white floor we thought maybe some real marble subway tiles on the shower walls would look good. The only problem is that we want to have a shower curtain in this room so if the curtain is closed you’d never see the pricey marble tile. So I started all over and looked for a porcelain tile that looked like marble. I was very skeptical of what these tiles would look like in person. I didn’t want something that looked “in your face fake.” After a lot of searching I think I’ve found the best faux marble tile out there people……drumroll please……it’s American Olean Catarina Coliseum White!

The matte finished floor tiles look a lot like real marble (I’m not going to say it looks exactly like the real thing because it doesn’t) whereas the glossy wall tiles have a darker colored veining and perfect gloss finish that makes them look less like real marble. With this new discovery we’re planning to use the matte marble looking tiles on the floor and on the shower walls. There is no reason you can’t put the floor tile on the wall! The best part is this tile is a fraction of the price, is more durable, and doesn’t need to be sealed like real marble. We’re looking to use the big 18”x18” sizes on the floor to limit the amount of repeated pattern and to hopefully make the room feel bigger. In the shower we’re going to go with 12”x12” tiles because they will be easier to work in a smaller space.


Click to Enlarge

    (1) Kohler Bancroft tub or something with a similar styled front. No boring flat fronts here!

    (2) American Olean Catarina Coliseum White tile in a matte finish on the floor and shower walls.

    (3) Custom built dark wood vanity and linen cabinet with shaker style doors (similar to this style only wider and with drawers).

    (4) White wainscoting made out of exterior composite trim. No worry of warping from humidity or ever needing to re-paint like real wood wainscoting.

    (5) A soft blue/gray/green color similar to this custom blend I had made up for our study.

    (6) Schoolhouse inspired sconces by Hudson Valley. I love the curve these arms make! Most schoolhouse sconces have a right angle bend instead.

    (7) Pivot rectangular mirror. This one is from Pottery Barn but we’re going to be looking for something cheaper. I like the vintage feel this has and that since it will be a kid’s bathroom we can angle the mirror down slightly for them to see in.

    (8) Single hole, double cross handle faucet like this one from Mirabelle. This is a modern spin on an old style. I hoping the single hole is easier to clean around too.

Still to determine:vanity top, sink, shower head and tub spout, toilet, exhaust fan, cabinet hardware, and towel bars/hooks/bath accessories.

Our Biggest Renovation Yet!

I am so giddy with excitement to finally be letting you in on our plans for the next two years. Starting next July we’ll be taking on a major remodel that includes all three bedrooms and two of our bathrooms. Half of our main floor will be torn up while we live in the basement rec room. Our master plan for the house is to remodel all of it but the bathrooms were the best place to start because they were holding this house back. With our main bathroom having goldenrod fixtures and a faux black marble sea shell shaped and our master bathroom having avocado fixtures with gold accents they are a constant reminder that this house was built in the 70’s. And with each bathroom only being 45 sf we wanted to expand them.

Main Bathroom:
4-30-08 120 copy

Master Bathroom:
4-30-08 114

Looking at the layout of our house the most logical way to expand the main bathroom was to remove the wall between the two bathrooms and double the size of the main bathroom. Then the master bathroom will be moved to what is currently part of our bedroom. This will nearly triple the size of our master bath and allow us to have two sinks and a separate shower and tub. Our master bedroom is very large but taking out that much space would leave the room feel pretty small. To gain some sf back we’ll move the wall between the living room and master bedroom 6 ft to the south which will also expand our walk-in closet to a nice size.

(Click for larger version.)

(Click for larger version.)

The only problem is that we have a fireplace on the angled wall. The fireplace is in a poor location because it is right where the main walkway is around our stair railing so you can’t have anything more than one chair in front of it or you’d be blocking traffic. Add to that that last year we found out that the fireplace is inoperable due to a 2×4 in the chimney and we’ve made the decision to remove both the basement and first floor fireplaces and chimneys. The basement fireplace is operable but is huge, ugly, in a poor location (it angles toward the stairwell wall), and we’re not sure we could save it so it is going as well. Otherwise we’d lose a lot of space for the existing chimney to stay which will be in the middle of our closet. Plus, it will free up a lot of space in the basement for unique storage solution I have planned. Everyone thinks we’re crazy to remove two fireplaces because it will decrease our home’s value but my defense is (1) an inoperable fireplace which is in the main living area isn’t adding much if any value, (2) the dated look and awkward placement of the basement fireplace is not what today’s homeowners are looking for, and (3) the new bathrooms and master closet will add more value to the house than the fireplaces ever would.

First Floor Fireplace:
4-30-08 133

Basement Fireplace:
4-30-08 262

**Fireplace Rant**
I have to admit though that I’ve never been a fan of fireplaces. I like that they add a nice focal point to a room but they are so inefficient and drafty it makes my HVAC engineer head spin! You have a huge hole in your house that just dumps your heated air outside people! You wouldn’t leave your front door ajar all winter. Even if you have a damper in your chimney unless it makes a complete seal you’re still letting hot air out. Then you look at how much it costs to run a gas fireplace (about $1/hr) and you’re getting hardly any Btus of heat for your money. Wood fireplaces have cheaper fuel if not free but they take longer to get a fire started and once you have it started you need to be there for a long enough time to enjoy and watch the fire burn out which is not nearly as easy as flipping a switch on and off. Plus they are dirtier and you have to split and store wood. My thoughts were only confirmed when Flannel Man and I moved into our previous apartment that had a gas fireplace. In the year we lived there we never turned it on once. We were meaning around the holidays but that is when our schedules are the busiest so it never happened. I know a lot of other people who are the same way; when they bought their houses the fireplace was a plus and they planned to use it all winter but when it actually comes down to it they don’t use it for more than 4 days a year. If that’s the case they should just stick one of those balloon chimney blockers up there for the majority of the year and just treat the fireplace as decoration.
**Rant Over**


Since we are moving so many walls we also need to move, add, and remove some windows. One of the windows in the living room will need to be removed since it is where we are moving the wall to. Similarly one of the master bedroom windows is where our new master bathroom wall will be so it will need to be removed and instead we’ll have two smaller windows on either side of our bed. Another window will be added to future master bathroom to bring in more light and balance out the space. We’re going to keep the existing 6’x3.5’ window opening on the north wall but we’ll replace the window so it matches the rest. It’s always been a dream of mine to have a bathroom with natural light!

Which brings us to the floor. We want to rip out the stained off white carpet and replace it with hardwood floors. But where do we draw the line to have it start and stop? Originally, we were thinking of just doing the master bedroom since that would be the extent of our remodel. But seeing that we wanted the same floor in the hallway and two bedrooms we decided to include them into the project as well. Plus that makes the hardwood “stopping” line a much smoother transition where the entry peal-and-stick (which will be tile in the future) meets the hallway. We’re also going to be sound-proofing all three bedrooms and installing new trim and interior doors.

We’re looking to do everything ourselves besides major electrical and piping. Our timeline is pretty flexible since we can use the baby blue bathroom in the basement (yes we had every 70’s color in our house!). We’re looking to do demo, windows, the main bathroom, and the floors in the first year. Then we’ll finish up the master bath and closet in the second year.

2010 Accomplishments & 2011 Goals: Big Plans Ahead

With 2010 nearing an end it’s time to look back and see what our goals for this year were:

    • Replace the water softener - Done
    • Replace kitchen faucet - Done
    • Seed lawn where the geothermal system was installed and the new dog yard – Change of plans with the dog yard but we did seed the main yard
    • Landscaping, focus on front & fence flower beds – We did a lot with the front flower beds but the fence flower bed didn’t happen
    • Replace garage window & re-drywall the walls – We need to wait on the garage window until we make a final decision on which windows we’re going to use for the rest of the house but the walls are re-drywalled
    • Install shelving in the garage - Done
    • Build the walk-in gun safe Done and done
    • Paint the living room, dining room, and kitchen – Everything but living room is done
    • Get the basement bathroom working and replace the shower surround – Toilet is now working and we’re in the process of getting the shower working, shower surround is now going to stay
    • Fix the garage floor drainage issues Done and done
    • Refinish the dining room table & chairs, make new table leaves – Not done
    • Reupholster dining room chairs – Not done
    • Determine final house design for the major renovations in 2011, draw house in CAD & sketchup – CAD design done and sketchup model started, but the design won’t ever be final until we get closer to the remodel

Of course we ended up doing a lot more than just that this year but those were our goals.

For the beginning of next year we plan to:

    • Build a potting bench for the garage with a sheet metal top
    • Build an island for a the reloading room
    • Add plants to the sparse front flower beds
    • Create flower beds with brick edging along the fence
    • Dig out the flower bed along the back of the house where the soil is too close to the siding
    • Replace rotten garage window
    • Get the basement shower working because it will be our only bathroom for a while…

Then in July we’ll start our biggest remodel to date! Our goals are to:

    • Remove chimney and both the basement and main floor fireplaces
    • Move wall between living room and the master bedroom (which the fireplace is on)

      o Remove living room window that is in the way
      o Expand master bedroom closet

    • Completely gut and expand both the main bathroom and master bathroom

      o Main bathroom goes from 45 sf to 70 sf
      o Master bathroom goes from 45 sf to 130 sf

    • Fix the uneven floor
    • Install 4 new master bedroom and bathroom windows
    • Soundproof the bedrooms as much as possible
    • Finish main bathroom but only rough in master bathroom (which we plan to finish the following year)
    • Install solid hardwood floors in all three bedrooms and hallway
    • Make new trim, possibly for the whole house?
    • Install new interior doors
    • Move wall between living room and dining room
    • Replace carpet in the living room and dining room

We want to go from this:

To this:

And when we’re done we’ll essential have half of our house finished! So what do you think? Are we crazy for doing this?

Converting Our One Car Garage Back Into A Two Car Garage

Well we’re just finishing up a major garage overhaul but before I can show you the finished product I need to start from the beginning. When we bought the house there was only a one car garage. The house originally had a two car garage but the second owners put up a wall and converted it into a shop.

The one car garage:

The shop side:

Well that is after we thoroughly cleaned it. The previous owners ended up using the space for storage…a lot of storage:


To park their second vehicle (we do live in Wisconsin where parking your car inside in the winter is a huge bonus) they built a two car detached garage that we call a shed to avoid confusion. For the first year I parked in the shed but carrying the groceries across our front yard and shoveling a path on our grass in the winter got old fast. So before our second winter in the house we decided to convert the garage back into a two car garage. I quickly started the search for some high quality garage doors. As I explained previously we wanted a garage door with the highest R-value possible since our dining room is over our garage and we wanted something that was low maintenance but looked good since they are on the side of the house the public sees from the road. But the doors we wanted didn’t come in the odd size we needed (6.5’ x 9’) at least not yet. We had heard a rumor that they might start making them in that size so we ended up pushing back our garage door project until the company started offering the size we needed.


We finally got the call a few months later, “Clopay has started carrying the Dark Oak Gallery garage doors in the 6.5’ x 9’ size you need!” So we ordered them right away and patiently waited until they came in.


Meanwhile we had to figure out how to convert the shop back into a garage without leaving a big hole in our house for an extended period of time. We decided to do everything in one weekend and have the garage door installer come the following Monday. Papa Flannel came over the help and we quickly tore out the wall between the garage and converted shop. It was simply two layers of wood paneling and some 2×4’s that were spaced far apart. In only a few minutes we went from this:

To this:

Sophie had a good time helping getting in our way.


Next we opened up our exterior wall hoping that the framing for the original garage door was still there. Considering the previous owners were lazy enough to leave the original garage door attached to the ceiling and just cut the wood paneling to fit around the tracks we were optimistic that the door opening was still there.

We carefully took out the large 6’x4’ window and started tearing off wood paneling. Luckily, the framing was still there and we just had to deal with siding and brick mold. While Flannel Man and Papa Flannel were working I had the pleasure of taking a 3 hour drive to pick up the PVC door jamb that our local hardware stores only had in 8’ long sections (the openings are each 9’ wide).

By the time I got back they were waiting on me to finish. That night we rigged up a tarp with 2×4 braces in an attempt to close up the opening. Of course it rained that night and we worried we’d wake up to a puddle in our garage but it ended up keeping the garage dry.


The next day the garage door installer came and put in our new doors and openers. Originally, we were going to DIY the garage doors and openers but after calling around on prices we found that the installer was only $100 more per door. Knowing how dangerous the door springs can be and that we’d have to pay to get rid of the waste it was a no brainer to just hire someone.


So in one weekend we went from a one car garage and a fugly shop to a two car garage with beautiful yet energy efficient doors. Better yet these doors and trim can’t rot like the old stuff was:

I know a normal person wouldn’t be excited about garage doors but I’m not a normal person and these are your normal garage doors. Look at these suckers:

Next up we tackle the inside of the garage…

2009 Accomplishments & 2010 Goals

Wow, I can’t believe 2009 is almost over.  It was a very busy year for us.  We accomplished far more this year than we did last year.  If you remember our goals for this year were:

  • Install seamless gutters with Gutter Glove  Done
  • Dig in underground drains for the downspouts  Done
  • Paint and prime the entire house, this includes the ceilings because we have water stains in almost every room  Halfway there
  • Do some basic landscaping, define flower beds and start planting  Done
  • Make a master landscaping plan for the future, from my last calculations we have nearly 20 flower beds/planting areas around the property  I have some basic plans
  • Create a yard for our dog Sophie?, clear out brush and install temporary fencing, we have to wait for spring to see if this is even possible there or if the ground is too marshy  Done
  • Cut the second garage door back in  Done
  • Install two new garage doors and openers  Done
  • Figure out how to fix the draining issues in the garage  Not done and a big problem right now
  • Install a new propane tank  Change of plans
  • Remove the old oil tank  Done
  • Install a new top of the line furnace and condensing unit  We went geothermal instead but done
  • Change the ductwork in the house to be multi-zone  Not possible with a single heat pump
  • Install and program new thermostats  Done
  • Start building the walk-in gun safe  To do in early 2010
  • Interview architects we may want to work with  May be bypassing this step…

On the whole I think we did a good job!  We stuck to our plan for the most part but did decide to go with a geothermal heat pump instead of a traditional split system.  Either way the HVAC system was replaced.  Plus I think that is a big upgrade.  Compared to 2008 we didn’t deviate much from the plan.

Now onto next year.  Our goals for 2010 are:

  • Replace the water softener
  • Replace kitchen faucet
  • Seed lawn where the geothermal system was installed and the new dog yard
  • Landscaping, focus on front & fence flower beds
  • Replace garage window & re-drywall the wall
  • Install shelving in the garage
  • Build the walk-in gun safe
  • Paint the living room, dining room, and kitchen
  • Get the basement bathroom working and replace the shower surround
  • Fix the garage floor drainage issues
  • Refinish the dining room table & chairs, make new table leaves
  • Reupholster chairs
  • Determine final house design for the major renovations in 2011, draw house in CAD & sketchup
  • Save up for big 2011 remodel (new bathrooms here we come!)

What are your 2010 plans?

20 Months of Home Ownership: A Visual Timeline

With the year coming to a close I’ve been spending some time reflecting on what we’ve accomplished since we bought the house a year and eight months ago. It’s been a whirlwind of projects both planned and unplanned. Our initial goals went flying out the window as everything seemed to be breaking. Yes, that is the glory of owning an older home but it really didn’t help that the previous owners didn’t do hardly any maintenance for 10 years! Even though we’re only halfway though painting the interior our house is actually starting to work (dare I say) smoothly. Every single thing in our mechanical room has been replaced except the water softener (which has been broken since we bought the house & we’re planning to replace early next year). No more waking up to cold showers when the water heater broke or wearing four layers of clothing in middle of winter because it’s too expensive to keep the house warmer. Now I just kick back and relax knowing that I can keep the house at 68 degF without having an outrageous heating bill or taking a long shower won’t deplete the house of hot water.

There is only thing I love more than lists and that’s pictures so without further ado here is a visual timeline of everything we’ve done so far:

This is the story of two twenty something newlyweds who are learning to adjust to life in their first house, a 1973 fixer-upper.
DIY Savings


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