The Projects

Volume 10, Issue 45; 09 May 2007; last modified 08 Oct 2010

New bathroom vanity: check. New driveway: check. New roof: check. New French doors in the library: check. New windows in the living room: check. New carpet in the living room: check. New kitchen cabinets: check. New kitchen counter: check. New kitchen sink: check. New kitchen floor: check. Hardwood floors in the dining room and library: check. New paint, more-or-less everywhere: check.

Although our grand plans for home renovation fell through (just a little too expensive when all was said and done), we never gave up on the goals of getting more light into the house and more use out of the spaces we have.

A few months back, Deb cracked the big problem, getting more use out of the spaces we have, with a brilliant plan: my office moved upstairs (where hers had been), her office moved downstairs (where mine had been) and does double duty as the guest bedroom, what had been the library and guest bedroom became the living room, the living room became the dining room, and the dining room (with a new bookcase) became the library/reading area. A sweet plan that never would have occurred to me.

Bathroom vanity

The original fixtures were never very appealing in the guest bathroom (which is also my bathroom), even less so after the new paint.

So I pulled them out and freecycled them.

The wall needed a little patching, and the plumbing took one more trip to the hardware store than I expected, but that's one project down.

New driveway

As a driveway material, trap rock leaves something to be desired. First of all, it's a constant source of dirt and sharp gravel in the kitchen. Given that we're getting new floors, this is problematic. Also, at least in in New England, every winter, the snow plow pushes a layer of it off the driveway and onto the lawn. That means every spring, I struggle to rake big piles of it out of the lawn and re-spread it.

Or rather, I struggled one last time. (Five wheel barrow's full of it!)

We've now replaced it with a thin layer of dead dinosaurs.

I have reservations about the ecological impacts of paving, but evidently not enough to persuade me not to do it. I also have reservations about the size of our new driveway, but there's nothing I can do about that now.

New windows in the living room

When we bought the house, the upstairs was unfinished. What we currently think of as the living room used to be the master bedroom. As such, perhaps the dearth of windows was a feature.

But we always thought it was a bug and set out to have it fixed. Our initial plan was to center the windows on the left and right thirds of the wall.

That great big slab of five (or more) 2x6's that you see on the right side of Bill’s initial rough opening changed those plans. Cutting through a load bearing column seemed…unwise.

Instead, we moved the windows out a little bit. Kind of tight in the corners, perhaps, but not too bad. And the light! The glorious afternoon sunlight!

New roof

It turned out to be a little tricky getting the ridge vent in place (because the timber at the peak of the roof is wider than normal), but the roofers got it in eventually.

I'm hoping the improved ventilation will keep the second floor cooler and let me turn off the temperature controlled fan that we had been using previously to force air through the attic crawlspace.

New French Doors in the library

Now that the former dining room is the library, and we spend a lot of time looking in the direction of the patio, that little slider seemed woefully small.

Nothing that couldn't be fixed by ripping a great big hole in the side of the house!

Actually, beyond the aesthetics that we'll get to in a moment, it's really a good thing we did this. There was a fair bit of water damage concealed under the sliders. Nothing too dramatic, but if it had gone undetected for a few more years…

Now, about the aesthetics:

Ain't that gorgeous!

Inside, there's still some painting and trim detail to work out, but that will wait until after I've rebuilt the kitchen. That's the project I tackle as soon as I return from Prague.

New floors

I'm happy to report that the wood floor is down.

So is the carpet in the living room.

And the linoleum in the kitchen.

Although I can't seem to find a photograph of it, the previous transition from the linoleum to the carpet was on a diagonal line. I always hated it.

Now that's fixed, too.

In other news, the kitchen cabinets are mostly in (you can see them peeking through in the photo above) but one arrived damaged. And most of the painting is done.

Cabinets, counters, and sinks

One of the kitchen cabinets arrived damanged and we've been waiting weeks for a replacement. (My travel schedule and our vacation contributed to the wait, so it's not all their fault.)

It finally arrived on Monday and I got it installed on Tuesday morning. The kitchen is almost done.

Here's another view.

Two things are missing, the tile back-splash behind the counter and the wood panel behind the hanging peninsula cabinets. We have the tile, I just have to work up the courage (and find the time) to attempt the install. I'll put the panel up after we work out what the under-cabinet lighting is going to be. We're thinking we may want to put a little lip on the back of the cabinets so that the lights aren't too visible when we're sitting on the library side.

Almost, almost done.