OK, Kitchen – I Need A Kitchen. Suggestions?

Now that the floors are in and finished with 2 coats of clear. We need to get on with designing a kitchen for the space. I have a pretty good idea in my mind’s eye. But what looks good upstairs might not work so well in reality. So I’ll lay out my plans and you can all chime in on what, when, how. If you’re a cook, all the better – I need your insight. I’m not the best of cooks, but I do make one mean scratch made Cream Puff. I’ll make you some if I ever get this place done. So let’s get on with it, shall we?

Here’s the space as it sits today. The water supply and drains are in place for the island. The bucket is full of electric for the dishwasher, garbage disposal and receptacles as well as controls for the ceiling speakers.

Now most of you probably draw out your designs or use sketchup or some other fancy visualization 3-D whoop whoop software. But down here in southern Indiana we use a little more primitive technology. OK, work with me now – the door is the refrigerator. Those half sawn doors with the cardboard flap – that’s the stove. Squint real hard – can you see the shiny new kitchen?

OK, maybe not – here’s a reverse angle. The 2 legged table is cabinets with drawers. The white slab of cardboard above is a cabinet for a toaster oven and microwave. An island runs down the middle.

I’m sure by now you can almost smell the bacon frying. The shelf on the left will be lowered a little – to hold cooking oils and salt and pepper stuff I suppose. The right hand shelf  is for plates and bowls so they’re handy when I make my fried baloney sandwiches. A prep sink will be to the right of the stove so I can wash off my food when it falls on the floor.

The range hood has a 8″ duct that goes straight up through the roof. I’m working on adding an automatic make up air system to replace the air in the building when this thing is turned on high. Didn’t think about it until now. Most building codes require a make up air system if the range hood is rated over 400 CFM – I have a KOBE hood that’s rated at 840CFM on high.

And the space between the sunroom and living room is a coffee / wine bar. Humm.. 3 sinks in one room – maybe I should have thought this through a little more. But the plumbing is there and the sinks and faucets are bought. This will have a small sink with a wine refrigerator below on the right. Above are a couple of open glass shelves and the rest is cabinets for pantry items. The thing is – I don’t drink wine or coffee. Maybe I better get a beverage center so I can chill my Diet Coke.

The Drawings

So after I built the mock up I did make some drawings. Look professional? Just a little bit? OK, well you’re right they’re not. I used my trusty Microsoft Publisher from Office 2000 to make the scaled drawings. I guess you’d call that ‘Old School’?

I plan on making the island on two levels. The sink side is 36″ and the lower side is 30″. That’s a standard table height. My wife is only 5’2″ and I thought the lower height would make it easier if she ever decided to cook something. The lower level can also be used as a table with regular height dining chairs if we needed more table space. I thought about exdending the end of the counter so I could get a couple of stools under for a place to eat.

The layout is made so you don’t have to walk through the working spaces to get to other rooms in the house. The back mudroom entrance allows you to go to the sunroom and living room by walking straight ahead, or going to the two offices, bathroom and upstairs by turning left.

So that’s my plan. I’d appreciate all of you creative people’s ideas. Bonus points if you know how to cook.




January Round Up – the good, bad and ugly.

Greetings fellow renovators. I thought I’d drop by and post a quick update on what’s going on at the MisAdventures renovation. There was some good, some bad, some ugly and some plain stupid.

1-feet-upWe’ll start with the ugly – as in my shoes my wife tries to throw away, but I keep fishing them out of the trash. Hey, they’re my lucky shoes, OK? You can see a peek in the Kitchen over my chop saw – but that’s for another post. But I did get the paint on the ceiling and all 22 lights installed in there.

2-top-view-tv-cabBut we’ll focus on that cabinet in the sun room with the retractable screen. Here’s looking down on the plywood top we want to cover with a nice piece of local hardwood. So I made a cardboard template and took it to a local craftsman that has a sawmill.

3-cherry-top-startAnd he popped out a nice Indiana Cherry top, complete with a hinged door for the TV lift. The front is 6/4 1 1/2″) stock, the back part and the hinged lid is 3/4 stock. Great.

4-top-installedNow the stupid part. I needed to get this wood sealed right away  – to keep the twisting to a minimum. No problem – I just grabbed a can of Waterbased clear coat and gave it a good seal coat on all four sides. Done – not so fast, stupid. (That’s me, not you)

5-first-finishYou see, a waterbased finish on cherry is like motor oil on a hot fudge sundae. It might look good from a distance, but you’ll notice something’s not quite right when you get a little closer. The waterbased finish left the cherry looking bleached out and flat.

6-paint-stripperSo we prance right out and get some of this stuff. It works great, and much less toxic than traditional paint strippers.

8-sanding-the-topA couple hours off my life, and we’re back to bare wood. No fun.

9-more-sandingBut no, it doesn’t end there. I laid on a coat of wiping oil made from boiled linseed oil, varnish and mineral spirits – and it looked great! Well, except for all of the scratches my scraper left behind. So this is the second full strip and sanding job. I then made another mess using some fast dry varnish – so another sanding job was needed. I finally ordered some wiping varnish from Rockler called Arm-r-Seal that lots of guys seem to use on YouTube – we’ll see how it comes out when I try my 4th attempt. I’m too old for this stuff.

10-tile-instalSomething did go right in the month of January. I finally got the tiles that I had made installed in the pilasters of the bookcase.

11-tile-detailThe stoneware tiles have a Lupine flower design and were made by Terra Firma tiles. This plant was native to Indiana, but you don’t see them very often here. I plan to have these in the garden outside the sunroom eventually.

12-rh-light-boxNow here’s something that went bad – and then good for a change. I had ordered a pair of Restoration Hardware Library Sconces to go over the windows in the bookcase. I ordered these in 2014 – but they were never checked. So the first of January  I decided to get them out to install. The box said it had a Polished Nickel Double sconce inside.

But I got one of these instead – A table lamp? Well, the package was a different shape than the other one. OK, let’s open the other one.

15-broken-library-lampAnd of course it’s the right one – but broken. Well, that’s just dandy. I have a Restoration Hardware shipment that was sent in 2014 that has one broken light and one table lamp. It is now 2017 – you do the math. But I have a Trade account with them so I sent an email and explained what I did (and didn’t do) and what do you think happened?

16-rh-library-double-sconce-installedThey picked up the original packages and sent replacements within 3 days! No charge! So these are now installed on the bookcases.  Now you know why I have so many RH lights in this house.


Building Sunroom Bookcases part 4

Well, we are still waiting for that TV lift to arrive from back-order so that I can finish the center cabinet. In the meantime we’ll add some more details to make the bookcases a little more attractive.

1 electric boxBut first we have to make them a little less attractive. Cabinet modification. You can see in the background a small ‘pancake’ box used for sconces – only problem is this type of box has a limited box fill. In other words, they won’t work in my situation to meet electrical code. So, I butchered the case and installed an octagonal box.

2 wiringOnce the boxes are in place I can run the wires up and over to the cabinet chases.

3 switch boxDown to the central cabinet with a junction and switch box.

4 plaquesAfter looking around for something decorative to add to the pilasters, I settled on these hand made 4″ X 8″ tiles by Terra Firma  a husband and wife team working in South Carolina. The tiles depict a Lupine flower – a native wildflower that I plan to add to the sunroom garden if I ever get to that point.

12-LupineThis is one of the varieties of Lupine.

5 templateI’m going to inset these into the block atop the pilasters. Since they are hand made and slightly irregular, I made a small template to be just slightly larger than the tile. The template is screwed down and my trusty 3/4″ router bit template is brought out again to make the outside frame for the router base to ride along. Just lay the router bit template against the tile template and build a frame around it.

6 router jig startHere you see version 2 of the router frame – the one in the background was a little too flimsy to get the job done. The router frame is screwed to the plywood and the router base glides along the inside frame.

7 router jig finishedFits pretty good – the inset is 1/2″ deep in 3/4″ poplar. The rounded corners were squared up with a utility knife and wood chisel.

8 placques insetWe made it through this step without breaking a tile – so far so good.

9 blocks mountedNow the blocks can be mounted and the rest of the top trim can be detailed.

10 shevels sandedThe face frames are sanded smooth to the shelf boxes and feathered out to a smooth paint transition.

11 bookcasesSo things are starting to look better – now if that darn TV lift shows up we can finish another project. Stay tuned.



What’s Happening Now – but not by me

Well, I’ve read nearly every renovation blog on WordPress – so a lot of you will see my bright blue gravatar liking your posts – and I really do like them. I’m still fumbling around the house – mostly in a wheelchair, but I have been able to stand up – wobbly, but at least standing. So no fiddling for me – yet.

But I did get to go by the old “Hobby House” and get the following photos to at least show I’m still renovating- even if I’m not the one doing the work.

brick-startHere is the start of the patio. It’s a traditional herringbone pattern lined with a soldier course lining. I put down a 4″ concrete base – why? Because I’m anal about stuff like this – if a weed makes it through this I’ll give up.

patio-detailHere’s the same after the mortar is added. It will be acid washed a few times and then sealed to make it pretty.

patio-stepsThese are the Indiana limestone steps leading from the sunroom. They’re 7′ long and 14″ wide 2 1/2 thick and are crazy heavy.

patioHere is the overview of the patio in relation to the added mudroom and sunroom. The black stuff on the mudroom is a rainscreen. This is where I fell off the ladder – right above that little octagonal window. The rainscreen is used behind the limestone thin veneer that covers this addition.

front-doorThe front porch is also done with the herringbone pattern – with 12″ limestone coping as a border and 5′ limestone steps.

front-straightThe new sidewalk to the front door will also have the herringbone pattern like the patio. We kept the same style of winding sidewalk like the original, only our concrete / mason Shawn Thomas added a little flair at the front. The black is also the rainscreen because the front entrance is clad in natural Indiana limestone as well.

sidewalkEven though the sidewalks are technically the city’s responsibility – I went ahead and replaced the cracked and buckled mess with new ones.

front-looking-leftOne day I’ll get this thing to a point I can start on the pretty stuff – one day…

Stay safe

The Mudroom Build – Fourth in a Series

So we’re marching right a long – things are pretty much going as planned, but of course we don’t live in a perfect world.

At the conclusion of the last post I noted that there was something that just didn’t go right.

It’s that dang in-floor heat mat.

In the bathroom I poured a floor leveler called Liquid Backer Board. This stuff is great for wood or concrete sub-floors. The bathroom floor was a little less than flat, so it worked like a charm. This mudroom floor, however was flat and level – no need to the Backer Board I thought. The Suntouch mat instructions say you can just tile right over it with your thin-set  – just use a plastic trowel and don’t nick the heating wires. No problem.

But there is a problem.

Not with nicking wires but with the voids left by the thin-set and the mesh. The Backer Board is very liquid and when poured over the heating mats it gets into every void and makes a very strong, monolithic surface for the tile. The thin-set, on the other hand has to have some body to it – you can’t tile with soupy mud, so there will be tiny (or not so tiny) voids with the stiff mesh. Perhaps that’s not a problem for many, but the mud room takes a lot of traffic. Along the wall, there are two tiles with hairline cracks where the electrician’s ladder caused a fracture. Also, the lippage (uneven tile surface) is more than I like. Again, it’s difficult to level because of the mesh wanting to suck the tile down in some places and push it up in others.  I’m no tile expert, but I have tiled several rooms and this mudroom floor is the worst I’ve done. Francia says it looks fine. She is so kind sometimes.

Oh, if I could go back – I’d never, never tile over a heat mat without using a pourable liquid leveler. I may tear the whole thing out and do it again before I’m done.

But moving on…

Tiling was finished up to cover the whole floor. I used porcelain tiles here. They were originally meant for the bathroom, but found better ones.

This is the trim details for the basement door and the return air vent. I used a wood vent instead of one of those stamped metal dudes. It’s screwed in with 4 wood plugs in the corners if I ever need to remove it for cleaning. It is a grille design that will match the refrigerator grille. Both will be visible as you enter towards the kitchen.  Obsessed with pre- visualization, don’t you think?

Here is the start of the wainscoting detail by the back door. I used a Plaspro fiberglass door with a composite and aluminum frame to keep the maintenance low. There’s also a sill pan under to keep it watertight.

This is the wainscoting for the step side. In a small room I like to make the wainscoting asymmetrical to the room – not the same all around. So the step wall is taller. The top trim boards are also wider to keep the taller panel to scale. This way when you ascend the stairs to the kitchen the wall has some mass and detail.

Here is the ironing center door trim detail. This is an Iron Away A42 Ironing Center. It is a good design and folds out and swivels.  It also has a place to plug in the iron and store it as well. The placement works out well, as there is plenty of room to go up the stairs with the board out. I like the unit, but the door is veneered MDF. It has a little warp to it and the piano hinge was poor quality. I used some thin trim stock to create the same shaker door design that will be on the cabinet doors. I’ll make another door at a later time. Maybe one with a black or white  board in the top portion

The Maytag washer & dryer. We have a new set at our house now, but they are top loading. Not practical with the layout in this space – since the counters go over these things. Freestyle design has it’s consequences.

Of course I had to make it more difficult. I wanted a side venting dryer – to keep the dryer closer to the back wall. Two appliance stores said it couldn’t be done. “Well the manual shows it can be” nope – “well why is there a vent punch out on the side?” that’s for the models without the steam feature “The dryer has a steam feature?” yep. Here talk to the appliance service company. They gave me the same story – can’t be done.

So get out the tools.

Short story. It can be done.

But be careful what you wish for.

So the sink cabinet I’m building will have to have some fancy doodling to make servicing the dryer possible – there’s no way to remove the dryer once the granite counters go on top. What was I thinking? I would have rather had the vent in the back and sit out a couple more inches. But I’m not taking the dryer apart again.

So I reworked the cabinet so that the bottom side piece could be removed and the front face frame would come off – allowing the dryer with that pesky side vent to slide right out.

Sometimes I just gotta think these things out before I start building.

I’ll never learn.

Stick around. More to come.

A Driveway Project

OK – so I’m still trying to figure out how to tell the story of this renovation in some type of coherent form. You see, I’m not a one room renovator kinda guy. No, as I write this every room is under some kind of renovation. There is no kitchen, the master bath is ready for drywall. The air conditioning for the 1st floor is ripped out. The living room fireplace is prepped for tile and wood mantle and so on & on…

So the projects run together and it’s confusing enough for me to tell this story – I can’t imagine conveying this to you in a orderly fashion. The fact is I’m just beginning this blog in earnest, yet I have been at the renovation for three years. So with the recent discovery of  ‘categories’ on this blog – if I get confusing, just punch the respective topic and it might make a little more sense.

Now, with that disclaimer out of the way – let’s move a driveway!So here’s what we’re left with after the broken driveway is removed. You can see I’m working on windows for the upstairs master-bath at the same time this is going on. The three lower windows in the kitchen area are already in.

So we start here.

I kept part of the existing driveway. I plan to use the two left hand bays of the garage to park our cars eventually. The patch of dirt close to the garage door was originally a grove of bamboo! Yikes! This stuff was growing out of control and was taking over the yard. I have no pictures of this, but it was a 3 year battle to get rid of it. Be very careful when planting bamboo in the ground! Safer with some type of container. This was an epic battle that took a lot of effort to prevail over the bamboo gods. I still look around the yard, fearing another shoot will pop up.

OK, so I didn’t do the concrete work – I really wanted to do this, but my wife wouldn’t let me spring for that nifty little tractor. The contractor will be busy, I’ll find other projects for this dude. He will be happy.

Keeping an eye on the crew to make sure it ends up in the right place. Looks like I placed the drive smack-dab in the middle of that little tree – oh, Lord – I’ll never get to tree heaven this way.

Nothing better than playing in the dirt on a summer day – so idyllic.

I designed this for a turnaround. This way I don’t have to back out on to the street.

So the little tree is no more – It looks like the concrete guy is having a moment of silence for another tree that bites the dust. Actually I had an arborist out to look at that little tree to see if it could be moved. It also had some kind of blight – I’m not having much tree – luck.

So in goes a 12′ wide driveway.

We’ll throw down a little seed and wait for the next project to come along.

And I think I just found my next victim!

Can you say mudroom? But first we have some more concrete work to do – downstairs.

Party’s in the basement and you’re invited!

Let’s Go Outside, Shall We?

OK, we’ve muddled around in the house for long enough – time for some fresh Southern Indiana air. So let’s refresh our memory for the reason I stopped to look at this house in the first place back in 2009.

So it had a certain charm. It was shady and embraced by a big old tree and great landscaping in the other lot of this twin lot space.

So looking back toward the street – I just loved the shade.

The front had some nice plants as well as a nice tree. So I bought this house – yea!

Well, there you go – I thought what a smart little house shopper I was. But there was a problem lurking overhead and below. The beautiful old tree that was beside the drive was 50% over the house – the arborist said it was infected and the roots were compromising the foundation and causing a problem with the basement wall. It was cracking and buckling the driveway and had pretty much made a mess of it.

Gee – I’m so glad I bought this house.

I loved it just the way it was, but it clearly wasn’t safe and only a matter of time before things would be crashing down – or roots would be meeting me in the basement.

I hate this part – hate it.

Down they come. I guess it’s a good thing – lot’s of problems in the tree – with a lot of weakened wood.  And behind that big old oak tree and the crane is another skinny little tree – 60 feet tall and dead. A type of cherry tree. That came out too. The tree guys took that one out nearly whole to take to a sawmill. Oh, and the tree I liked in the front? It was planted way too close to the house as well. So it had to come out too.

Man was I sad.

So here is the front after the trim job. Looks bald and sad.

And the side.

So now I have been thinking – when given lemons – why not make lemonade? So this presents some new opportunities.

Let’s do this!

If I move the driveway – which was messed up by tree roots – over there by that red truck – that would give me some space to add a couple of rooms.

Great! Think of the challenges – the design problems – the hardships – the money.

I’m in.

Come join me on this fiasco –