May Updates in July

Well, I think I previously noted that my updates would be more current – and I’m certainly trying. But cleaning out our current house and wading through collections of 40 years in the making has been a real time-suck. But we’ll march on. Where were we? Oh, yes updates!

Back in the master bathroom and it’s time to make some more sawdust. I decided on two sizes of sinks here. I just usually brush my teeth and go – my wife on the other hand, likes a big sink to splash around in. I’ll swap these, as I’m left handed and she is right. (A tip for a long marriage – she is always right).

It’s gotta start somewhere – we prop up a couple sticks and start the process.

A face frame is made to fit the space.

A quick double check of the clearances and we’re good to go.

Outside in the garage, we cut some more sticks. I’ll make double doors on each side.

Once cut to size a rail and stile bit on the router makes the pieces.

Doors assembled and fine trimmed to size.This is clear grade poplar, which is a nice fine-grained wood perfect for painting.

The frame fitted again with drawer dividers added in the center. Measurements are taken for the cabinet boxes.

While I’m working on the vanity – these lights keep reminding me of my purchasing mistakes. I’m out to replace the small chandelier wanna-be and the wall sconces that I’ve complained about in previous posts. I just have to find the right ones to take their place.

For an evening break, I finished up the wall details and paint in the under eave storage areas.

Finishing up the baseboards. The white oil finish on oak floors will probably never be seen in these areas – but you never know when I’m in the dog house, I might just hang out in here.

These two storage areas are accessed from the main pointy closet with the little doors I cut from full sized 6 panel wood doors. Each has power and lights, so I’m ready if I’m banished from the living space.

Meanwhile, I added some old furniture temporarily so I could act like I live here. The floors will need one more coat of finish after the kitchen goes in, so everything has to come out one more time.

But that didn’t stop my wife from dragging Hercules out of storage and putting another orchid on top. He’s an old Victorian carved wood stand purchased many years ago. Now I have to find his round marble top…it’s in here somewhere…[ rustling, clanging, and crunching sounds ]

And in the meantime I’ve dragged this Japanese Butterfly Maple home. It’s a really old one and not too pretty, but it has potential…something else to keep me busy.

See you soon. enjoy the summer!

The Pointy Closet #3 where we are as of today

Here is the final post for the pesky pointy closet. As I write this, I’m still working on this space. The final floors will go in soon on the second floor, so all is ready for this final step. So let’s finish this up, shall we?

We left off from post #2 looking like this. Well, it’s pointy enough, but this is a vintage house built in 1935. Seems like it needs a little more character than just drywall everywhere.

So since I have several rooms with wood on the ceiling and walls, let’s panel the front wall with a little board and batten. We’ll cover the surface with plywood and make it look and feel authentic. OK.

Once the front wall is done, we might as well do the back wall as well….and what the heck…

Let’s just panel the whole room. This will give it a little more of the vintage feel – and will take a couple more weeks to get to this point.

And we just keep covering the wall/ceiling with 1/4″ plywood and rabbeted wood battens. I added a light block to the front wall and a little wall sconce above the window.

In my mocked up design I’m planing to add a shelf along each side over the ‘wings’ that protrude out from the sides of the closet. I contemplated a painted shelf, or some type of wood. I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on the shelves. They’re 10′ long on each side.

So I went to Menard’s and looked through the lumber section for some ideas. I came up with some cedar that I thought would work, but it wasn’t wide enough.

So I went through the whole stack and found 2 pieces of 1X10’s and 2 pieces of 1X6 that were nearly a perfect match. I glued them up and sanded then down and they look pretty good. You can see the seam running down the middle.

A test fit to see if the shelves are the right width. I made these 12″ wide. The closet is not very practical, so we’re going to make it as useful as possible. I thought the shelves would be slightly helpful.

Having the shelves test fit out of the way, we can add a little finish to the sanded shelves. A mixture of boiled linseed oil, varnish and mineral spirits give the grain a little depth before the final finishes go on.

While the shelves are being finished, the board and batten details are added to the lower sections of the closet. We had to make a little do-dad detour around the vent as well.

The finishing is going on. A mixture of 50/50 latex paint and water. This is put on to allow the grain to slightly show through.

A few coats of wipe-on polyurethane and we have the shelves ready to go in. Now we just have to finish the walls.

The white washed walls are finished. The openings on either side of the wing area will get fitted drawers and shelves – something I haven’t made yet.

All of the whitewash is on the ceiling/walls. So now we’re going to add a little color.

And what would be better than a nice coat of Tiffany Blue.

The first coats go on to give the room a little color.

All of the surfaces get a good sanding to 220. This lets some of the grain show through.

This is why I paneled the whole room. The wood panel grain showing through is the vintage feel I was looking for in this pointy little closet.

The high gloss finish on the shelves enhance the grain of the cedar. Also the bottom of the shelves are recessed. I plan on using blocks of cedar that are removable that can be recharged with cedar oil to make this a cedar closet.

As usual, I looked for a long time to find this little light fixture. I thought it had a vintage, almost Scandinavian design. It has a frosted glass shade which I also like. I’m thinking this light will be used as a night light when everything is finished. Also, this blue was antiqued and over-glazed several times to give it a texture of a wall that had been painted many times over the years.

Six foot closet rods are added between the wings for hanging space.

One on either side will give us 12′ of usable hanging space.

8 coats of satin Varathane clear coating is needed to get a uniform sheen, with sanding between coats and finishing out at 400 grit. Does it take time? Yep, but that’s what this art project is all about. I modified the two pendant lights to make them fit the space.

So that brings the pointy closet up to date. I’m waiting for the floor guy to come back and finish installing the floors. And to make this space even more impractical all of the floors on the second floor are white.

Stay tuned, no telling what’s going to happen next.


The Pointy Closet #2

The second chapter of the pointy closet. We have the new 3′ octagonal window in place, so now we can work on widening the room. First we open up the walls and see what we’ve got to work with. This side of the closet is open to the outside. It was insulated but you can see daylight peeking through – we’ll add 18″ on this side.

The other side now opens into the new sun room addition. I’ve moved the wall out 18″ on this side as well and decked the floor.

In my last post I showed you this area under the eaves.

Sparing you the journey of weeks of work, this is the old crawl space area with the brick chimney now. Everything is repaired and an insulated wall has been added. Unfaced fiberglass in the roof rafters are held in place with webbing. Blown in insulation is added behind the knee wall as well.

I’ve enlarged the floor to 8′ 6″ wide and insulated the short walls with fiberglass and foil foamboard insulation.

But the demo demon was just too strong and out comes the chopped off ceiling and side walls. Now I can add some more insulation and some character too.

Removing the drywall allowed me to move the collar ties up to the top. I could do this safely because the new sunroom structure supports this closet wall. Rafters were sistered on the side of the existing roof structure to level the wall surfaces.

The under eave storage areas get a layer of foil faced foam insulation. I am figuring out the door opening areas that will access the storage room. Lots of angles and figuring to do.

Once the walls are insulated, the walls get 5/8″ firecode drywall over the foam board. The ‘wings’ on the side walls will be used to attach closet rods.

A coat of drywall compound and tape is used to seal the drywall. The front wall gets unfaced fiberglass. All electrical is reworked and in place.

A layer of foil faced foam board is added and tape sealed to reduce air infiltration on the front wall.

Drywall is added to the front wall.

Extra drywall gymnastics are used to get the odd angles covered outside the closet entrance.

The closet entrance is taped and surfaced. Still a lot to do out here.

The under eave areas are drywalled and finished. Wiring and ventilation is also in place.

And the other side has a finished out storage area as well.

A pair of 6 panel wood doors are cut to fit the new eave openings.

One day I hope to find some use for the bottom door parts.

The door hinges are set to route the door as well as the casing.

The hinge jig makes a perfect mortise for the hinge.

The hinges are fitted to the casing and the door.

The door casing is installed and fitted.

Each door swings in to the tall wall.

The other side is framed as well for the door. Plywood flooring is added over the existing subfloor. This will have a finished oak floor over the top.

Both doors are installed for both under eave storage areas.

Working on the design of the closet layout. The pendant lights will need mounting blocks and some type of shelving will be used over the closet rod wings.

The closet entrance gets drywalled as well.

The window jamb pieces are cut to size.

The octagonal window jamb is placed in a jig that helps hold the pieces in place while they are glued and nailed.

I built two of these jambs, as the sunroom will also have an identical window.

The casing is also fabricated.

So we are on our way to getting the pointy closet ‘pointy’ again. Stick around somethings bound to change.



The Pointy Closet Post #1

Greetings fellow renovators! Sorry for a late post, still working away on all kinds of things at the MisAdventures project. I’ll introduce a 3 part series on the pointy closet that gave me so much trouble. Three posts? Yep, you’ll see. So let’s start at the beginning of this closet odyssey .

Well, maybe not at the very beginning. This is the earliest photo I could find of my destruction. This is the 2nd floor closet that I’ve already got my destructive little hands on. I can only imaging what my wife was thinking when I started tearing this apart 7 years ago. Yep 7 – and it’s not done yet – but we’re getting close.

We’ll revise this little problem closet several times – you’ll see. Here I quickly framed out the new closet space with a nifty pocket door. I thought I had it all figured out.

It wasn’t long before I had drywall cut and in place, with all those fancy angles. Moving along quickly – what could possibly go wrong?

I cut out the ceiling to remove the surface mount florescent light.

And will a little time and materials, I have a new ceiling with recessed lighting. Almost done – I can see the finish line.

We just need to drywall this end and we’re home free!

I’m so close to getting this closet done! Just a couple more pieces of drywall.

Crap! I knew it couldn’t be that easy. It’s right here – at this very moment in time that I had another ‘what if’ moment. Those are always bad for me. I decided to replace the staircase with a new, safer one. That will mean the walls of the closet will be too close, so here we go! I’m removing all the stuff I just did. There’s a lonely brand new little switch box just dangling there.

This will have to be moved back to allow a landing for the new stair layout. I always use construction screws to build walls – just for this very reason. Simple to unscrew everything and use again.

The new door location is framed in place. We’ll have to ditch the pocket door because we don’t have enough space to retract the door. It’s always something.

We’ll use a 15 pane door with textured glass – just like the 1st floor bathroom door. This will let light in through the closet window.

So I think I’m finally getting everything in place – surely we won’t make any more changes here.

But these little access doors to enter the eave area kinda bugged me. Not quite the fit and finish I like.

They were made to be insulated, as the space under the roof in these areas was not insulated.

And behind that little door it looked like this. This area is unconditioned space,  The white bucket was used to catch water flowing in from the chimney area decking. The chimney had a pipe coming out the side with a piece if tin foil over the hole. Nice. We gotta fix all this.

And this lame little window too. This is a sad little room without any character. I’m feeling the demo demon grabbing hold of me.

Please someone help me. That window will need some attention, so off comes the drywall.

Of course to make this look good inside, we have to make it look good outside too. Here I’ve stripped all of the aluminum siding off the front.

We use a little cardboard mock up to visualize and we settle on a 3′ octagonal window to replace the 2′ original.

So with a little reframing and other gymnastics, we have our 3′ window in place.

And we’re working on the outside as well. This will get a stone veneer in the years to come. Stick with me, we’ll make a few more adjustments to the pointy closet – why, we might even make it pointy again.

Master Bath Reno #4

Greetings fellow renovators – another installment in the never ending Misadventures Saga.If you don’t know by now, I’m a big advocate of designers and architects – someone who can visualize and plan your project. My problem is I get a ‘great’ idea when I’m almost done…such is the life of freestyle design.

For Example:

12 kitchen ceilingIn the last post I showed you my kitchen ceiling -obliterated – Remember?

1 kitchen ceilingIt looked like this before. The front section was drywall, the back section was plaster lathe. Originally there was a wall dividing this space. There was 1/2″ difference in the ceiling surfaces between the two rooms. I spent weeks patching and leveling the surfaces – filling old lighting and fan holes. And then? Why only to tear it all out because the bath floor was too weak for the load I was going to add with the tile floors and cast iron tub. I had decided by now a new sunroom was just the ticket – so that back wall had to go… and all new plumbing was needed – so…

2 kitchen demoHere’s what happened – I’m glad my wife wasn’t here that day. The ceiling was full of blown in insulation, old armor cable wire and tons of debris.

Now, where were we? Oh, upstairs in the master bath – I see changes on the way…

3 first frame showerThe first framing of the shower area – it will go in about the same place but will be a 40″ X 60″ tile shower with 9′ ceiling. A wide vanity space is next to the shower.

4 first frame bathOn the opposite side of the room the area behind the wall was a cold zone that I will insulate and finish for storage. Only to totally reconfigure this area because the sunroom will be constructed adjoining this wall.

5 chimney demoOf course this was the time when I decided to take down the chimney because it will no longer be needed with the high efficiency HVAC system. Details are here.

6 chimney gone This gave me more room for a larger shower. No problem, just a couple of walls will need to be moved, no major new construction. But since this is a hobby, my labor is free.

7 ceiling foamWhile pondering my new design opportunities, I proceeded with the ceiling. 3/4″ foam insulation is added over unfaced fiberglass. The foil side is faced up as a radiant barrier.

8 stair reno While doing that I got the idea to rebuild the staircase which I have elaborated in several posts here.

9 closet wall rebuildSo we push back the wall for the master closet to accommodate the longer staircase.

10 closet door And since the wall won’t allow a pocket door, a door with obscure glass to match the bathroom door is placed.

11 chimney patchWith the chimney gone I’ve got more space! Time to get the doodle pad out and think about the possibilities…




Back in the Closet

Well, we sure get distracted, don’t we? Trying to get this closet wrangled into shape is quite the experience. So, we have the exterior wall, door and window sorted out. We have the exterior sheathing on and wrapped the chimney in a new copper flashing. Sometimes you gotta do a lot to have a place to hang some clothes. 

under-eave-framingHere we are looking at the front eave area to the left of the closet. Originally this area was a ‘cold zone’ with side wall vents to allow the roof area to be vented. I decided to maximize all of the space in this house, so these will be conditioned spaces. You see unfaced fiberglass batts on the exterior wall behind the chimney and on the floor. The new framing will have additional insulation and the styrene vent chutes have been stapled to the bottom of the roof deck. This will allow for vented air from the eaves to the ridge vent.

The ceiling insulation is in and nylon straps are stapled to the roof rafters to keep everything in place. This is unfaced insulation because foil faced insulation board is going over this. You want to be careful not to create a ‘moisture sandwich’ that would trap water and cause all kinds of problems. To the right you can see that the area behind the knee wall has blown in insulation, so everything is fully insulated.

foil-insullationThis is the foil faced insulation with foil side up to act as a radiant barrier. This photo is of the utility area eave that is at the back of the house. The new HVAC unit will go here.

eave-drywallThe drywall is going in. I used 5/8″ Firecode X on the ceiling in all of the eave and closet areas. It’s not required by code, but a little extra fire protection isn’t a bad thing. 

Now let’s take a look at the closet.


Honestly, I just wasn’t feelin’ it. This closet needed something more, design-wise – especially since I added the new 3′ window. You can see that I had already redone the ceiling and put some nifty low voltage halogen cans in there. Ductwork was run and we were ready to go. But it looks like it’s time for some freestylin’ design revisions. I started by moving the walls out at the bottom – you can see the little paint line on the floor to the right. The walls came down from the end of the drywall ceiling to the floor –  a total of 3′ of wasted space, if you ask me. So I added decking and framed it out.

I couldn’t take it anymore.


The clipped off ceiling just didn’t look right. So out with the demo hammer and a few seconds later – you have to do something new, because there’s no turning back. I took down the old drywall and poorly installed insulation. And of course my lights and electrical stuff I had put in previously.


In defense of previous owners, they really couldn’t do what I’m about to do. The clipped ceiling was needed because collar ties were used to tie the roof rafters together. Now, with the reconfiguring of the building and new sunroom, these rafters are supported by new outside walls.The big problem was that the rafters were all over the place. If you placed a straight edge across the rafters they were out by several inches. To remedy that I made a story pole 9′ long to reference the height of the ceiling. The strip of plywood at the top is used to align the sistered rafters – you’ll see.


The strip is set level at 9′ to the floor. The triangles are plywood collar ties to secure the roof rafters together. You can see how far out the original roof rafter is with the sistered new piece in place.


 Vent chutes are put in place and each rafter gets a ‘sister’ to even the wall surface.

closet insullation and drywall

After the new unfaced insulation is installed, 3/4″ foil faced foam insulation is nailed to the new rafter sisters. 5/8 Fire code X drywall is installed. See the little plywood protrusions from the wall? Those are the supports for a closet rod that will line both sides of the closet. I’ve removed my double sconce wiring and fixtures from the end wall and will install a single over the window sconce.

closet end wall

The end wall was also insulated with unfaced fiberglass and topped with 3/4″ foil faced insulation. The ceiling surfaces are now dead flat – which is a good thing because I’ll be installing a beadboard ceiling in here and any wave will show.

I feel so much better now. I’ve always wanted a pointy top closet.

A dream come true.


Closets and Chimneys

Anyone who has done just a smidgen of renovations knows how easy it is to have “project creep” – one thing here leads to something over there – and on it goes. This whole renovation has been one of those – remember this started out to be a simple change of kitchen linoleum – but that was four years ago….


We’re trying to remodel a closet – but, now we’re stuck at the front door?


So, we have the front sheathed and you can see the waterproofing membrane placed against the rim joists before the concrete was poured to keep the wood from rotting.


Now waterproofing is wrapped over the sill and a  polycarbonate sill pan is placed to ensure that everything is protected.


And the front door is popped into place. This is a Plaspro insulated fiberglass door.

So finally maybe we can get back to that second floor closet?


To refresh your memory – this is one of the front eave areas adjacent to the master closet. It was configured as a cold space. The insulated wall to the left was the interior bedroom wall. This area was open to ventilate the roof structure. You see the white bucket? That was used because the roof was rotting from leakage around the chimney. Well, we gotta fix that.


First we’ll address that little pipe with aluminum foil over it. Not sure what that was for, but we’ll lose the tin foil and fix it right.


I cut out the bricks and installed some new ones and mortared them into place. This chimney will only be used for the direct vent fireplace, so it will have it’s own piping running through this space.


It seems it’s hard for me to stay in the closet.

So up on the roof we go and repair that rotting roof deck. I’ve replaced the decking with some pressure treated wood. Look at that fantastic flashing job! Could this be why the deck was rotted? Hummm… When you install the decking around the chimney please leave a space between the wood and bricks. This allows expansion and contraction of the wood and possible rotting issues. The flashing is what keeps the water out – not how tight the deck is to the bricks.


I took some measurements and ordered a 20 oz copper flashing kit on-line from

Copper By Design 

This place does beautiful work and if you follow the link you’ll see why copper flashing should be used.


Here’s the part that’s called a cricket. Because my chimney sits in the middle of the roof, it’s prone to all kinds of water issues – which is what caused my roof deck rot.


Of course that entails some dusty cutting – with my converted circular saw that OSHA would not be too keen to see. The diamond blade cut the mortar between the bricks easily.


Here is the front pan and side roof flashing installed.


And here is the step flashing (The part under the shingles) and the counter flashing mortared into the brick joints. The kit didn’t fit perfectly, and needs some tweaking, mainly because it’s such an odd-shaped chimney. But it’s leak free and will let me get back to that closet project.

All in all, it was a two afternoon project.

Stay tuned.


Master Closet – It’s complicated

After finally getting the major bones of the staircase in place, now we can turn our attention to the master closet on the second floor.

original closet window

This is where we will start. Well, sort of – I had re-insullated the ceiling and put recessed halogen lights up there…but becase we I don’t have a clear plan – this will change. The window is a two foot octagon, and it’s a little weak. I plan to put a stained glass window in here when I’m done, so we need something a little more substantial.

So just pop in a new larger window – no problem.

Of course, it can’t be that easy.

Time to get back outside.

stripping siding front entrance

To put in a new window for the closet, we have to make some adjustments on the other side of said window. Besides we’re gonna put some limestone here. As I strip off the old aluminum siding I see what was there before.

door pediment

Kind of a neat pagoda style door pediment. Very cool – but odd for a house like this. Looking at the structure that held this in the wall I suspect this was removed by 1940.

Too bad I have stone going here. This would have been a pain to recreate – but what fun!

scaffold front entrance

Here’s my technical scaffolding set up for putting up plywood sheathing.

I might add my front yard is looking pretty spiffy! I’m particularly fond of the rusty rebar roll. Looks like I’ve got some mail in the mailbox! Classy!

front view

Why pay an architect big bucks when you can tape up a cardboard cutout. Yep, a three-foot window ought to do the trick.

So now that we know what we’re doing, we can go back inside.


closet window removal

We’ll strip off the drywall and see what we’ve got. Well there was a little insulation and that’s about it. Framing is minimal so we’ll make an upgrade. Piece of cake.

new closet window framing

The framing is in place for the bigger window.

closet window waterproofing

I brought the 1/2″ CDX plywood down past the window opening on the outside and waterproofed the sills with a little protectowrap.

Integrity octagonal window

I used Marvin Integrity windows for the two large octagon windows since they don’t open and will have stained glass in them.

front entrance wall sheathingThen just continue down with the sheathing and house wrap.

 I’ll spare you the session of yucky removal of the soffits and fascia boards. The box ends of the eaves will be reconfigured and clad with Azek, as will all of the trim.

Of course, now we have to deal with this.

original front door

The front door. It’s wood, it’s warped and leaks air and water like a sieve.

OK, you’ve convinced me to replace it.

door opening start

But first we have to make a good home for that new door.

Hey, I thought this was about a master closet?

I told you it’s complicated.

Stay tuned.