2015 in review

Well my fellow renovators – 2015 has come to a close and the new year is just a couple of days away. I hope everyone had a great year and that this next one will be the very best yet!

My goal in 2016 is to finally make the Misadventures house our home. I promise new blog posts that have fewer photos of stud walls and foundation framing and more pictures of light fixtures, kitchen cabinets and hardwood floors. It will have taken 7 years to renovate – but then who’s counting?

So I raise a glass and toast to you all – that in the new year our projects will be finished, that  our friends and family will be safe and happy, and that we all realize how fortunate we are. Happy 2016!

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 31,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 11 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

I’m Back! well, sort of…

OK – I’ve had enough of this medically induced vacation from the Misadventures in Remodeling blog. Did you think I would give up? Oh, no I’m too foolish to do a sensible thing like that – nope I’m gonna get this place finished if it kills me. Let me rephrase that (as it almost did kill me) – I will do the best I can as long as the renovation Gods will allow. Five surgeries later I walk like an impaired penguin – and going up a ladder is one half step at a time – I still have one good leg, so why not? It’s been seven months since I have been able to walk into this place – it’s like a time capsule left just the way it was in June of last year.

So let’s get busy!

Let’s start on the ground first, shall we?Mud RoomHere’s the mud room – the washer was pulled out in the middle of the room while I fiddled with getting hoses and other parts for the Floodstop system to prevent water leaks from a failed washing machine hose. Since the shut off valves for the washer and steam dryer are not accessible, I have an additional set of shut off valves in the basement – which is good – but then it’s kind of a pain to go downstairs and shut them off after every use, so I decided to add a Floodstop system.

FloodstopThe system consists of two servo motor valves that close in the event of a water leak.

Servo Valves FloodstopThe motorized valves are connected to the hot & cold supplies. Originally the steam dryer water supply was plumbed under the sink, but that wouldn’t allow leak protection. I had to put a ‘y’ on the cold supply to split the water supply to the dryer.

Floor sensorFloor sensors are placed on the floor under the machines and if they detect water they automatically shut the supply valves.

Floodstop ControlThe control is mounted where you can reset or manually control the valves. Here it’s mounted under my mudroom sink cabinet.

Floodstop sensor wireSince there is a water supply to the steam dryer, I ran a sensor under the dryer too. The cabinet floor will conceal the wires. I thought this would be a pretty safe project, being on the floor – but I ended up hurting my leg and back to the doctor I went.

But a couple of days later it’s ladder time! All with the blessings of my doctors who said “If you can do it – then do it”. OK.

Roll insulationNow back to the sunroom. Ceiling insulation time. I had placed ventilation chutes and one layer of unfaced R19 fiberglass in the rafter bays. I couldn’t  find a thicker r-value insulation in my area so I decided to add another r-13 fiberglass layer – the problem is no one stocks unfaced 23.5″ wide R-13 – so I had to get the faced type.

Removing paper from insullation

Now you have to be very careful not to create a ‘moisture sandwich” (two vapor barriers) within the same space. I had to peel the paper (the vapor barrier) off this second layer because of the foam insulation that will be going over this. Also, I needed to make this layer a little thinner because my rafters are 2X10 and the effective thickness of insulation should be around 8″ thick.

Insullation going upHere you can see the second layer of insulation going in. The straps are used to hold it in place.

Foam board insullationThis is foil-faced 3/4″ foamboard going over the unfaced fiberglass. The foil face goes towards the exterior to act as a radiant barrier. The foamboard acts as the vapor barrier, that’s why the fiberglass paper had to be removed.

That’s it for now – not exciting, nor pretty stuff – but we’ll get there.

Renovation Gods willing.

Painting The Wife

OK, OK, I know this is a renovation blog – but when you just physically can’t keep up with all of you wall moving, closet organizing, and bathroom fixture refreshing maniacs out there – what can I do?

So this is my best effort given the circumstances – but it does involve painting – that’s close enough, no?

When I first got married, I was just a few weeks away from my 50th birthday. Even in my advanced bachelor years, I was fortunate enough to win the heart of my beautiful wife, Francia.

Francia Wedding DayI knew that one of the first things I would do as an art dealer/married man was to commission a portrait of my wife. In my mind, it was the perfect way to combine my love for art, and the love for her.

Being anal about stuff like this I decided the artist and my wife would end up hating me if I micromanaged this project. So my requests for the portrait were that he create it the way he thought best and I wouldn’t see the painting until it was completed. I had a few specific requests, but the rest was up to the artist and Francia.

Chris Thomas

Self Portrait – Chris Thomas

The artist I chose was Chris Thomas an extremely talented professional artist that I have worked with for many years. Although he is nationally known and exhibits throughout the country, he still lives across the river in Henderson, Kentucky. I guess you can live where ever you want when you have that kind of talent.

I requested her portrait to be more like a fine work of art and less like a traditional portrait – no gazing out from the canvas allowed.

I Love You Mona

Mona_LisaThe other elements I asked for were that he incorporate the following into the finished painting: The number ‘6’ – for our wedding day of March 6th.
A full moon – as it was on our honeymoon night.
A Pear shaped box – which was made by an Indianapolis artisan that held our wedding rings.
A white rose – that was in Francia’s wedding bouquet.
A carved table – a possession of Mr. John Streetman III- the past Director of the Evansville Museum. John was gracious enough to be my Best Man, and allow our wedding to be held in his beautiful townhouse.
And some detailed stuff – because he’s really good at that.

Here’s how we painted the wife:

Francia painting photo mockupFirst came the photo mockup – getting the elements together for my requests – I see a book is involved.

Background elementsThen the mockup for other design elements – the table, and pear box are there. See the covered wallpaper in the background?

Francia's painting in preogressChris Thomas with painting in progress. He paints mainly from life, so my poor wife didn’t realize she’d be standing there for so many hours (several sessions).

in-progress-detailIt is amazing to see artists work. I’ve watched him paint before and the color blocks look like this for most of the painting – It’s OK, but you wonder if they’ve lost their touch.

Let’s breakdown the list of requests.

fran-painting-diagramLooks like everything’s on the list – and he threw in a wedding dress too! One thing is he originally left out was the wallpaper design. He’s a really busy painter and he was reluctant to add the wallpaper in the background. But after some persuasion he decided to add the detail.

Francia painting closeupFrancia Finished PaintingBeing in the gallery business, I have hundreds of works of art and antiques, but this by far is my most valuable possession. The memories and symbolism, the connections with the artist and friends, all frozen in time on the surface of linen. It is to me the tangible token of the intangible – of love and friendship. Chris, if you’re reading this – thank you old friend.

Have a safe and wonderful weekend.

Oh, here are a couple of new paintings by Chris Thomas –


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.


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 –

Finishing Up the Bathroom

OK – now we have almost reached our destination! Well, for one room that is. We’ll finish this one off and march right on into the next – and believe me, there is lots more to do.

Also, I added a lot of links in these posts. They aren’t monetized or have any hidden links. (mainly because I don’t have a clue how to do that) I try to show exactly what I purchased the good or bad – and I’ll tell you if I had problems with any product or company.

A place for the tranquilizers

Here the Keller Sconces from Restoration Hardware are fitted. The beveled mirror  from Dulles Glass & Mirror in the Medicine Cabinet door is in place. I used a 1 1/4″ bevel on the mirror to give it an antique feel. To the right is the Honeywell in-floor heat thermostat.  The cabinet knobs are from Home Depot.

Let there be sink.

My challenge in this bathroom was how to keep a little of the vintage feel in the space, yet make it fresh enough to feel current. I went with a Porcher L’Expression Pedestal sink. Sounds fancy, don’t it? I like the towel bar in the front and it’s wide enough of a sink to be useful. This was important, because I couldn’t use a really wide sink due to shower door issues.

For the faucet I decided to go with this Rohl Cisal Classic do-dad. Why is this stuff so expensive? It has those cross handles with Hot & Cold but with a more modern shape. It’s a really nice faucet – for a faucet.

The crazy over produced shower.

OK, this is stupid, I know. This little shower has two 3/4″ water supplies that go to 2 Hansgrohe I Box fixtures. Who needs that? The shower controls are Hansgrohe Metris C Thermo balance. The top for the rainhead and the lower one for the Raindance Wall bar set. Because of the way I made the shower (with that little jog) I had to use a support rod to hold the glass at the top. There is a 12″ panel to the left and the door is hinged off of that – to clear that fancy L’e whatever you call it sink.

Finally a tub – or two

So we finally have a bathtub!

This is bathtub #2 from Signature Hardware. This is a long story, so I’ll keep it brief. That fancy thing at the end of the tub is called a tower drain. I’m not certain why I liked this so much – I thought it was pretty fancy. The problem was that it didn’t play nicely with the tub I got from Signature Hardware. The drain area was too thick on the tub, so the drain wouldn’t fit. So I called Signature Hardware and no problem – we’ll ship you another 285 pound cast iron tub. This company is really great to work with.

More noodling with that drain

So the drain comes with all kinds of hardware. But it just didn’t seem to fit my tub that great. This is the support bracket that has multiple holes to allow for different spacing of the drain. The clamp on the tower could be raised or lowered to tighten the support. It was always wobbly.

So I just took off the offending member and took it to a machine shop and had them make a nifty little stainless steel link – I polished it up and now no more wobblies.

Would I do this again? Nope – no tower drain for me – but all is well and it works – so we’ll just leave it at that. Oh, and the stuff on top – that telephone looking thing is from Vintage Tub – A Deck Mount High Spout Clawfoot Tub Faucet with Handshower and Porcelain Lever Handles. That’s what they call it. I call it a lot of chrome.

These little gems are from Jado – called a new classic robe hook. They seem to complement the other round elements in the room.

Hiding the toilet

You can see the toilet lurking behind the door.

Boldly sitting where no toilet has sat before…

Here we have a Toto Carlyle Skirted One piece Toilet. With a Pottery Barn Mercer train rack overhead. The rack is OK, but the finish is a little substandard. But it works fine for towel storage.

The only thing I reused in this bathroom was the toilet paper holder.

Gotta save money when you can. I gave all the other fixtures away (except for the alcove tub – who had an accident with a sledgehammer.)

Handle it

So originally this house had glass knobs and small oval plates. These are from Rejuvenation. The fluted door knob and the Colonial Revival door plate in polished Chrome. This is a classic thumb turn lock – they have a kit that you can use on a modern door to have this original feature. I didn’t want to put a push button lock after all this… Obsessed? Keep your thoughts to yourself.

Almost ready to go…

So now all I need to do is hook up my new tankless water heater to take a shower -but  it’s still sitting on the basement floor.

So there you have it.

One room down and several rooms to go. While I was building this room I had a great Idea! Lets add a new entrance to the back of the house! Sure – right after I get the basement waterproofed and move the driveway.

Stay tuned fearless warriors – I’ll need your good Karma.