Monday, September 14, 2015

Reclaimed floors

You guys, I know I'm super late with this update, but... WE HAVE FLOORS!!

My mom joked once she didn't know how we were going to survive the house (I know many couples don't survive major renovations) but we really had made it this far with very little argument or strife, but this was the project that I thought was going to be the make-or-break for us. I thought the reclaimed and not-quite-evenly milled floors were going to be an absolute nightmare to lay and finish, but they really were a breeze! Laying them only took us two weeks, working for two weekends and a few hours each evenings during the week.

First we rented a drum sander just to smooth out the existing floors and give us a nice even subfloor.

Then we could start the floors! We set up the circular saw on the deck, and I was in charge of measuring and cutting the boards, while Ryan was in charge of nailing. 

We sorted the wood into 3" and 4" widths, and stacked them in the kitchen/dining room while we started laying the floors in the living room.

It took us a while to get into a groove, but we still made decent progress for the first day, about 13 rows down on a Saturday.

Sunday we made more good progress, but were definitely glad that we decided to buy a floor nailer rather than rent one, because this was clearly not going to be a weekend project. 

Over the week we kept on moving...


Friday we finally finished the living room, and were only working in the kitchen & dining room, and Ryan was whooped.

By the 2nd Monday, we were 3/4 of the way done, and only had the laundry room to go!

We slowly worked away, and by Saturday were as done as we could be without taking the laundry out, which we were't quite ready to do without just yet. Chuckie's hidey-hole under the stairs was even done!

After the floors were laid, then came the fun part: filling all of the holes. The worm holes are tiny and didn't need filled, but we knew we were going to need to fill all of the original nail holes, otherwise we were leaving traps for dirt, dust, and dog hair, not to mention holes for our very expensive finish to seep through. THIS was where the frustrations began. My parents had built themselves a dining table out of the same wood, and they had purchased Elmer's ebony wood filler from Lowe's. However, when we tried to find the same filler, it was shown on the Lowe's website (as well as Home Depot's) but was not stocked in stores, and not available for purchase online. Not very helpful!

The only reasonably-priced ebony filler I could find on all of the internet was this stuff, made in Australia, and stocked by a company based in North Carolina.

We originally bought this with a squeeze bottle, thinking it would be a suitable applicator for getting the filler in the holes. No way. I filled the bottle and didn't even get a dozen holes filled before I realized this was not going to work, it was way too hard to squeeze the filler out, so we needed another approach. I happened to think how much easier it would be to use a caulking gun, rather than squeezing the tubes by hand, and lo and behold I actually found refillable caulk tubes on Amazon! While it was still difficult, I could make some decent progress working a half hour at a time before my hand got too tired. 

We bought a quart of the filler though, thinking it would be more than enough to do the whole floor. NOPE. We ran out before we finished the kitchen & dining room. And since shipping wasn't free, we played it safe and ordered two more quarts. 

Of course we barely needed to open the 3rd one, as has been the case so far with this house. We always end up JUST needing the extra that we buy. Figures, huh?

We hit a bit of a delay at this point. Memorial Day weekend came and we went camping, and the following month my parents came home from Florida to visit, and then we went back to Florida for a visit with them, so the floors were stagnant for about a month, but we were back at it after vacation! We hauled the laundry outside, and finished the floors and hole filling and got ready to lay the finish. We took a Friday off work and dedicated the weekend to getting the floors finished! We rented a plate sander to knock off any rough spots in the boards and also smooth out the wood filler. We had the sander rented and returned within 4 hours, but unfortunately there was no discount for early returns (I asked). 

Next step was dusting with a damp tack cloth:

Then the sealer:

We did a lot of research on which floor finish we wanted to use. We both loved the natural wood and wanted to keep them as close to original as possible, and we ended up settling on Bona Naturale commercial matte finish with Bonaseal sealer. The finish was advertised as "as close to an untreated look and feel as possible while still providing your floor with a durable surface." The sealer was supposed to be non-darkening, but it did darken the wood by a shade or two (inevitable, I'm sure, with any finish). I won't lie, at this point I HATED the finish. I was pretty depressed about spending so much time and money on these beautiful floors, only to have them turn out completely different than I had envisioned. 

However, Saturday morning we got up and kept moving and laid the first coat of the finish. We purchased the roller that was sold by the Bona retailer, which had plastic guides on the sides and guaranteed an even coat. This product is meant to be installed by professionals, so it was a little nerve wracking to be tackling this ourselves with no other floor finishing experience.

We had purchase 4 gallons of the Naturale finish, per the coverage guidelines. But we actually only needed 1 1/4 gallons for the first coat. But since this is a 2-part system where you add in a hardener, you only have 4 hours to use the product before it goes bad. Luckily, the product only had to dry for 3 hours between coats, so at exactly the 3-hour mark we were back in for the 2nd coat so we weren't wasting the product. We ended up with a whole gallon un-used, which I was able to sell on eBay and recoup at least 75% of what we spent on it, so not a total waste!

In the end, we are THRILLED with the floors. The ultra-matte finish is GORGEOUS. I couldn't have imagined any other finish on these floors, it really lets the wood shine. A bonus is that it's supposedly super easy to sand and re-finish if you have to repair any spots. Bona even sells a Naturale repair kit for that purpose! 

The photos really don't do the floors or the finish justice, they're just SO GOOD. We're in love... 

Sunday, April 19, 2015


I know we've been saying for what seems like forever that we're thisclose to drywall, but it FINALLY happened! Our original plan was to hang the drywall ourselves and hire out the finishing work, but after meeting with the guy we planned to hire we made the decision to buy the drywall and have him do it all.  Best. Decision. Ever. He had it all done in 7 days, start to finish. The first day I came home after work and he had hung all of the drywall for the ceilings, and the second day he had all the walls done. It was so crazy to have it all drag out so long and then have it change so quickly. Of course it took 5 more days for all of the taping and mudding and sanding (and mudding and sanding), but what a difference!
View from the kitchen.
View from the living room.
 The first thing we noticed was how much louder everything was. You don't realize how much your exposed floor boards baffle the sounds, but the first night everything echoed so much! 

We got used to the new acoustics pretty quickly though, and  it was so exciting to finally put paint on the walls! Although that was a challenge in and of itself... After the troubles we had when I chose the paint colors for the bedrooms and bathroom, we decided to try those little samples they sell. And then we got 12 more.

We wanted a light grey for the ceiling, and a medium grey for the walls. The green was a color we already had and wanted to use as an accent wall, and the turquoise is what I had picked out long ago for the base cabinets in the kitchen (and after trying a 2nd option, stuck with the original choice). After several choices we immediately hated, and only one choice we didn't, we tried percentages of the color we did like, which we still hated, and we finally had a winner when I found out the color we liked had another name and I found another paint strip with that color on it. So the colors that won are Benjamin Moore Shoreline (ceilings), Benjamin Moore Ozark Shadows (upper cabinets), Benjamin Moore Ozark Shadows 50% (walls), Sherwin Williams Reflecting Pool (lower cabinets) and Sherwin Williams Agate Green (accent wall).

All paint was mixed with Benjamin Moore paint at the recommendation of a painter friend of ours. Flat on the ceiling, eggshell on the walls. I can't wait to get the floors done (hopefully we'll be starting in a week or so) so we can spend more time downstairs actually looking at those new walls!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

What's the (floor) plan, Stan?

I'm just going to preface this post by giving you my excuse for why this post has taken soooooo long. You'd think the floor plan would have been one of my first posts. Especially since anyone who knows me knows that the first thing I did when we looked at this house was take measurements and draw it out in CAD (as I have done for literally every house/apartment/room I have ever lived in. I know. I'm a geek.) But because of my floor-plan-geekiness, I didn't want to post something until I was happy with how it looked. Which meant no not-to-scale single-line renditions. So I tried to plot it from CAD, but it never looked right. So I then I tried modeling the whole house in SketchUp, which failed. Several times. And then I got mad and said a lot of cuss words while restraining myself from throwing things. And then I quit. For months.

Finally, I tried again. I kept it simple this time so that I could show you guys what we have going on. I'll save my attempts to do a full interior/exterior model for the future. I do want to figure that out eventually so I can mock up the exterior changes we want to make down the line, but for blog purposes, we'll keep it simple for now. So without further ado... the floor plan!

Let's start with the "as purchased" plans:

We've got about 770 square feet on the first floor, and when the 2nd floor is all built out we'll have about 1500 square feet total. So it's not a huge house, but plenty of space for the two of us and the dogs. And as you can see, there are NO closets on the 1st floor. Overall we're severely lacking in storage.

Onward and upward, here are what I am referring to as the "Phase 1" plans:

Here is a break down of the major changes:
  • We tore down the wall between the kitchen and dining room to allow for a slightly larger kitchen (basically the room needed to add a dishwasher)
  • We opened up the wall between the living room and the stairs /office
  • We stole some space from the little nook in the garage to do a built-in closet for first-floor storage
  • We removed the old stairs down to the basement and added a hatch in the floor with a ladder for interior access. (We have external access via the bilco doors at the back of the house so we really didn't need a second basement stairway.)
  • We built the new office wall about 12" into the room from the original wall, which will allow us to expand the bathroom when we redo that space down the line. (I envision an old clawfoot tub in front of the window and a lot more floor space.)
We have some additional things we want to do down the line (phases 2-5 ought to keep us busy for a good number of years), but these are the first things we are trying to accomplish. Someday we would like to tear down the existing garage and build a new semi-detached garage connected to the dining room via an entry/ mudroom. We don't ever use the front porch (everyone who comes over enters through the garage), so it would be nice to have a more inviting "welcome" to visitors than walking through our mess of a garage. Although, admittedly, it will be much easier to navigate once the kitchen cabinets are no longer hogging all the space, haha.

So there it is folks! Long overdue, but better late than never, right!?

Monday, March 31, 2014

Feeling moody

It seems like we've had drywall in our sights for months now, but there seems to be an ever-populating list of things that have to happen before we get there. However, we really ARE nearing drywall time, and it's so exciting!

Since the majority of things that have happened up to this point have fallen 90% under Ryan's areas of expertise, we've found that while I want to help out as much as I can, sometimes things just go faster when I stay out of the way. But once the drywall is in, all bets are off! That's when my skill sets will shine, and so I've been trying to narrow down my vision for all of our spaces. There is so much to figure out, from lighting (which I discussed in this post) to furnishings to paint colors and trim profiles! So I've been trying out "mood boards" which I see other bloggers do quite often for rooms. It really is helping me get a vision for what I want each space to be, and you get a better feeling for the cohesiveness of the space being able to see everything all mushed together.

Starting with the kitchen, I want to do the base cabinets in turquoise with dark concrete counters that wrap the counter down the side of the cabinets at the peninsula. We have already begun buying new appliances in black, and I would like to have a black farmhouse sink to tie it all together. I think the black sink will look better with the dark counters than a white sink would, and it will also disguise any potential dirt & stains. For the backsplash I have my heart set on herringbone carrera marble, and then I want to pull a light grey from that material for the upper cabinets, and do a medium grey on all the walls to tie it all together. I also want to re-use some of the wood we have removed from the house under the counter where the tractor-seat stools will be, which will hide scuff marks from people sitting there better than paint would.

Kitchen by katc10 

In the dining room, we plan on building our own table. I want to do an expanadable herringbone top in black walnut, and Ryan is going to fabricate a base out of steel similar to the one shown. We're also planning to make our own chandelier out of mason jars hung from an old pulley we found at my mom's. We will be doing a wall of built-ins for additional storage with doors the same style as the kitchen cabinets, and I will probably do a Flor area rug so I can customize the size. We haven't decided on a chair style, but I would like to do a fun pop of color on whatever we choose.


In the living room I would like to do an accent wall on the long wall connecting the living room and office, and the other walls will be the same grey as the kitchen and dining room since there aren't a lot of logical places to terminate paint colors. We will add one additional section to our current Ikea sectional sofa, and use pendants in each corner rather than table lamps. I want to keep the entertainment unit clean and simple, and have some fun with turquoise velvet curtains (which will hang in the dining room and office as well for continuity) and a patterned rug.

Living Room

Finally, in the office/laundry room I want to do a full wall of shelving & desk space out of wood & black pipe for a different take on a wall of built-ins. I'd like to find a fun light fixture to add some interest in here, as well as a patterned rug and some pop of color desk chairs, which will double as additional dining seating when we expand the table for larger groups.

Office & Laundry

I'm really happy and excited with the direction this is going, I think it's going to be a perfect mix of industrial farmhouse and colorful modern for Ryan and I. And stay tuned until next time, when I'll (finally) be posting the existing and revised floor plans for your viewing pleasure! Better late than next, amiright??

Monday, February 24, 2014

Light me up, Scotty

As we get closer to dry walling (more on that in another post), I have been trying to think ahead and make decisions about post-drywall things. Mainly, lighting.

I knew what type of lighting I wanted in different locations, but the process of actually finding the lights is another story completely. Thank goodness for Pinterest, which makes it much easier to corral options into one place for comparison. And then once I have narrowed down to 5 options or less, Ryan weighs in on the options.

In the kitchen I knew we were going to have recess lighting as the primary source of light, and then 2 pendants over the bar, and another pendant over the sink. In the the living room we want a ceiling fan, plus two pendants for either end of the sofa (in lieu of table lamps), and some sort of fun but low-profile ceiling fixture for the office/laundry room. The dining room will be getting a DIY chandelier made out of Ball jars, similar to the images below, plus or minus the old machine parts. My parents have an old pulley I would like to use, and we found a source for old-style fabric-wrapped electrical cords. It's a long way down the road to this project, so we're not worrying about the specifics too much just yet.

Perhaps I should back-track and let you in on our "vision" for the home. Ryan and I both agreed when we started the renovation that we want to go for a rustic/industrial/modern vibe. Not too "country" (or at least the version of country our parents would identify with, no offense Mom) but not too modern since it still in an old house, after all.

Our first "real" purchase for the house occurred when we couldn't get my beloved mid-century modern sofa up the stairs to the temporary living room. This was a blessing in disguise as it turned out, because once I thought about it more, that sofa really wasn't all that comfy and I couldn't see us lounging around on it watching TV. So we bought this instead:

The Ikea Kivik sofa, in "Tullinge gray-brown". I liked that it was clean-lined but not too modern, dark enough to now show the dog hair, the fabric looked higher-end than some others, and it sat low to the floor so I didn't have to worry about vacuuming under it. I also liked that for our current living situations we could leave the chaise and sofa separate for now, then combine them when we moved everything downstairs. And of course you can't argue with the price, $899 for almost 11' of sofa. So that was the first purchase, which kind of then sets the tone for the rest of the home.

We also bought hardwood floors. Initially we thought we could re-finish the existing floors, but there were so many areas in need of patching & repair that we didn't think it was going to be feasible, and then Ryan found wormy chestnut flooring listed on Craigslist, and nothing else was an option anymore. The un-excitable man couldn't stop talking about these floors for over a week. I (who had my heart set on black walnut floors) gave in and let him have his floors. We wound up ordering 800 SF in 3-1/4" and 4" widths for a nice mix once it's all down. Here is a little preview. So many nail and worm holes, it's going be so beautiful! It's going to be the biggest pain in the ass ever to install, but it will be beautiful in the end.

So back to lighting. With the sofa & flooring in mind, I began the hunt and found the following options for the living room. Either the clear pendant with the top fan, or the bronze pendant with the bottom fan. 

Truth be told I really did love both options, but I have owned the top fan before, and Ryan and I both agree that while we love the look of the old-style light bulbs, we're not sure they're going to be around for the long haul, and we don't want to make the commitment to a light fixture that requires them (like the clear pendant would). And honestly, I thought the other two options would garner more comments/compliments from friends and family. Plus I really like the pendant being adjustable in height, since it will be taking the place of any table lamps so you can adjust the height as needed for different situations. 

It will also play nicely with the pendants (below, left) we're using over the kitchen bar, which were the first lights we picked when we first started this little renovation of ours. We have entertained others over the course of time, but always keep coming back to this one. And luck for me, I was able to find a coordinating-but-different light for over the sink (below, right). Don't they look lovely together? I can't wait to see them hanging up!

We also chose a very basic minimalist trim for the eight recessed lights that will be in the kitchen, which meant the only remaining question mark was the office light. I would love to have something fun in here, and contemplated this light before Ryan pointed out that even in it's smaller 22" size, people (other people, not me people) would hit their heads on it. So that was out.

These are some flush-mount options that I liked as well but they weren't making me giddy for them. 

These two are currently my top two options (surprisingly Ryan didn't veto the first one with the crystals), and the second one is clean and modern, but still has some interest in the texture. And it's only $40 in an 18" size, so I could potentially install it for now and not cry about it if I decide to replace it with something else later. Right now that's the direction I'm leaning, I could also see that light in the upstairs bedrooms as well when we install ceiling fixtures down the line. 

Anything is better than a boob lightamiright?