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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Drywall Is Done - Now On To The Finish Work!


Sunday night the drywall was finished and we took a quick walk-through. We are amazed how big the apartment looks with the finished walls. It is going to be a very comfortable little space.

He applied a orange peel finish to match the texture on the existing  walls. I'm not crazy about textured walls -- I prefer flat/no texture, but he convinced us that it would look not as polished if we didn't match what was there.

I started priming today and got the bathroom walls and ceiling, the closet inside and out, and the new bedroom wall that faces the bedroom primed. It only took a few hours. The primer recommended by our drywaller (Pittsburgh Paints Speedhide 6.2) went on very easily. I found that I had to be careful about applying too much pressure or working the paint too hard so that the texture didn't rub off. I should be able to finish the lower walls in another day and then Todd can do the tall walls and we can start applying the paint.

We're working with a gray palette. So far I've purchased a light gray and a somewhat darker gray for the bedroom, kitchen, stairway, and living room. The floors in these areas will be a bamboo laminate that is a grayed tan color.  I'm planning on a light to medium grayed blue paint for the bathroom walls to match the mosaic tile we are putting on the floor.

Monday, August 27, 2012

A weekend Driving Other People's Trucks

First thing Saturday morning we got up and headed off to Menard's in Eau Claire to purchase trim and more materials for the stairway.  After sorting through what seemed like hundreds of boards to find the best, or acceptable, ones. We rented a truck to transport our purchases back home. What a great service - for a little over $20 you can rent a small truck on weekends or weeknights for an hour and 15 minutes - workdays you have to be a registered contractor to use the trucks. We delivered our merchandise and returned the truck with 10 minutes to spare. 

By this time we were in dire need of lunch so we stopped at Culver's for a quick meal. Then off we went to the local disposal service to borrow a flatbed dump truck to load up the last of the tear down materials and construction waste. Because we have a narrow driveway lined with large boulders we couldn't use a dumpster, so we piled everything neatly in our parking area and kept it covered with a tarp until we were ready to deal with it.

We filled the truck, covered it with our gigantic tarp just in case it might rain overnight and called it a day. The next morning we got up early again and returned the truck. I followed in the car with flashers on, we used our cell phones like walkie talkies and only lost one large piece of drywall on our way across town.  And yes, we did stop and pick it up. All in all a great success!

Then as a reward for Todd for successfully commandeering two trucks over the weekend we enjoyed a Sunday diversion -- a nice Sunday drive. We picked up his mother and drove to New Richmond and dropped her off at his brother's house so they could take her out to dinner and enjoy his wife's singing gig at the local brew pub. On this particular day in New Richmond, the Parallel 45 Distillery was holding their first Bourbon Release Party and Todd was anxious to go and have a taste. And of course, buy a bottle.

When we got home I assembled the appetizers, Todd made cocktails (with the new bourbon) and we had a lovely Sunday evening dinner on the patio.
Monday, August 20, 2012

Planning the Kitchen

Originally, I was planning on using Ikea cabinets. I had difficulty finding a sink that would work with the 24" sink base I wanted to use. Ikea only makes 24", 30" and 36" bases so I had to start looking for other options.  On one of my forays looking for stuff on Craigslist I saw an ad for a cabinet supplier that sold a decent looking cabinet at a competitive price and had a cabinet that was 27" that would work for the sink.

They sold the cabinets finished or unfinished and we chose to go with the unfinished and save a couple hundred dollars. This meant more work for me but we decided the money saved could go to other costs -- like drywall installation.

We picked out a perfect semi-transparent black stain, much like the brown/black that Ikea uses. One nice thing about the cabinets is that you don't need to buy cover panels for the exposed sides. They are built in such a way that you can just stain and varnish to get a finished look. 

The challenge of designing a kitchen for this apartment is that the wall we are installing the cabinets is on only 7'8" long. I felt strongly that we needed a dishwasher which meant there would be minimal lower cabinets - just the sink base and a stack of drawers. Lucky we found a 24" range and have a 24" refrigerator. In the plan I allowed for an upgrade to a 28" refrigerator in the future. The dishwasher will extend past the wall making a short island area. 

The countertop will be laminate and the angled wall behind will have tract lighting that can be optimized to light the space well.

More Progress

The last few weeks we've been leaving the work to the pros. Plumbing, electrical and now drywall. As soon as the drywall and mudding is done later this week, we start priming, painting, kitchen, hang doors, flooring and finish work. Once all that is finished the plumber and electrician come back to do their finish work.

Drywall started this past weekend and now we can really see how the apartment is going to work. We are especially pleased that the small bathroom has plenty of room and very efficient and that the closet will be spacious yet won't look like it is taking up a lot of space.

I've just completed the finishing of the kitchen cabinets. The semi-transparent black stain that I wanted produced a dark brown. The color is nice and matches the bathroom vanity, but it is not exactly what I had in mind. I'm also working painting the pocket door to the bathroom and the closet bifold. I was freaking out yesterday as I painted the first coat of paint and the color was looking a lot like Vikings purple...that just wouldn't do in Wisconsin. After the second coat it was looking more like the dark gray/blue that I had intended. We'll just have to see what they look like when they go upstairs to the apartment. I may be getting different paint and putting another layer on.

Todd starting to take the stairway apart. We'll be adding new pine treads, risers and  kick plate. A lot of glue/adhesive was used in the construction -- Todd had to cut through the adhesive, pull the nails, and then he drilled in a long drywall screw in to the riser to pull the risers off. He should be able to just use the Wonder Bar to pull up the treads without damaging the stringers too much as only a few finish nails were used to attach them.

At the top of the stairs, looking through the living room and kitchen wall towards the bedroom. There will be a good amount of usable space opposite the kitchen wall for dining, desk or other use.

Looking at the living room area from the top of stairs. Railing will be moved into place after drywall and painting is finished. The area is small (only 7') but should be able to hold a love seat or chairs and TV. 
Closet is 6' and rather spacious.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Plumbing and Electrical Are Roughed In!

We finished all of our prep work and the plumber arrived on Friday afternoon to start the plumbing rough in. He worked a while that afternoon, returning early the next morning working for a few hours before he had to leave to attend a wedding. Sunday morning he finished up and we were ready for the electrician to come do his magic.

On Saturday we were happy to stay out of his way and took the time to clean the house which had been sorely neglected while we worked on the apartment for the past several weeks. Sunday was a wonderful day also as I tended the gardens and  Todd mowed the lawn and made adjustments to the pond. 

The electrician finished his rough in in less than a day. I cleaned up the job site and called the drywall guy to tell him we were ready for him to start. He'll start this weekend and will take a week or more to hang and mud the drywall. We will do the priming and painting. 

During the week I returned items to Menards, Home Depot and Fleet Farm that we decided we weren't going to use or were surplus. I worked on the budget some more and am happy to say it looks like we are on budget. I also started finishing the cabinets and have the staining done and the first two coats of poly applied. Now for a little sanding and a coat or more of poly and they will be ready to install.

Now we have a little time to plan the finish work. Picking the wall colors, door and trim colors, and laminate for the kitchen countertops. We want a modern classic look with neutral tones. I've decided the walls will be a soft gray, white trim,  a nearly black green for the closet and bathroom doors, and baseboard and trim will be white. The bathroom color is still up in the air, the blue and white of the mosaic tile floor have me somewhat stumped but I am leaning towards a blue-gray for the walls that will play off of the white of the fixtures and the floor. Now to find the perfect color.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Great Progress

What an incredibly busy week! I have sat down to write this post three or four times without success. Today I'm determined to finish this posting.

We finished the last of the tear down on a week ago Sunday and the "build" began on Monday. Our builder (Joe) and materials were scheduled to arrive early Monday morning. Below is a video of some of the materials that were loaded upstairs to the apartment. The stairway to the apartment with its corners and angles couldn't accommodate the 10' lumber or sheetrock.

Soon after the the materials arrived we sat down with Joe to discuss priorities and what we hoped to accomplish that day. We talked about how we would drop the ceiling in the bathroom and living room area for the plumbing venting. The vent stack is located in the wall that we tore down that enclosed the stairway. The plumber did not want to relocate the vent on the roof so we had to ensure there was a way to route the pipes from the kitchen and bathroom to it. We also decided to change the orientation of the closet and add a knee wall so that the new baseboard hot water radiators and the electrical outlets wouldn't be too close to each other. 

Plan with modifications
Todd continued cutting away the ceiling as Joe worked on building the bathroom walls. After we got the bathroom walls built we realized there wasn't enough clearance between the toilet and shower for easy access to the washer so we moved the wall another another six inches towards the stairs. Luckily this wasn't a difficult thing to do -- Joe had some experience with this and a special tool (cat's claw) -- and it only took a short amount of time to accomplish.

We finished the framing and were ready for the plumber and electrician by Tuesday afternoon. I contacted them both to let them know we were ready.

Future kitchen

Kitchen area looking towards stairs

Bathroom: shower and washing machine areas