One of the first things I did when we moved in was tear down the old firepit on the back lot of our yard and build a new one. I found a number of people looking to get rid of brick pavers on Craigslist, and I was all too happy to come haul them away. The previous firepit was outlined with broken cinder blocks and filled with trash, because, as my neighbor informed me, the previous owners would "burn anything". I used the ashes and debris to fill in a space behind a small retaining wall I made with the broken cinder blocks. I planted some grass seed and the whole thing is a nice piece of yard decor in the corner of the lot now.
I designed my new firepit and spent the summer and fall having a number of bonfires. The comments I got from everyone, though, was it needed to be bigger! So as soon as Michigan thawed out this year, I got some different pavers out and rebuilt it. It's now bigger, stronger, more powerful. Which one do you like better?
In an attempt to surprise Erica while she was away for the weekend, I decided to tile the entryway, like she had always asked me to. I also needed to do this to get the wood to fill in the floor in the hallway from the bathroom remodel. So while she was away, I measured some tile, got my trusty saw out, cut up the floor, put down some hardibacker board, and went to town. The border is still a contested thing between us. She wants a tile border, while I'd rather frame it in wood. What do you think?
Then, with the wood I pulled up, I was able to finish the floor in the hallway!
With toilet in, the tile done and the drywall mudded and sanded (enough), it was time to put the finishing touches on and install the vanity. I built the vanity myself, which in hindsight I wish I either didn't do or at least used a different kind of wood on. It turned out fine, but I have my regrets about certain aspects of it.
We chose a bright color to make it open and as time went on I finished framing the closet and added a pull out shelf. Erica found a great deal on a mirror that turned out perfect. All in all, it has made the most difference in the house!
...and here's a little before and after...
Having the framing in place, I could finally work on the bathroom itself. Keeping in mind that this was our only bathroom, you can imagine how eager we were to get to the "pull out the old toilet, put in the new one" phase. So tiling was vital! After figuring out a pattern, I got to work tiling and with the drywall done and the bulkhead above the shower removed, it was coming together nicely! Tiling is a great task to learn. It's a cheap and relatively easy way to improve a number of areas in your home. From kitchen back splashes to bathroom floors and showers, it's a great look and can improve the overall value of your home!
With the tile in, I could finish and focus on the plumbing for the vanity. This proved to be more difficult than I originally thought. The problem being old galvanized pipes mixed in with copper. That and the fact that the shut-offs were so old, they didn't completely shut-off anything! So I had to move the drain back as well as the cold/hot pipes and ended up having to replace the shut-off on one in the basement and fix a leaky seal (that I had made). Once it was all in place, it was lined up and working great!
With the demo done, it was time to frame out the new wall. This also involved a good amount of electrical work. Due to the previous owner's shoddy work and the fact that we were moving both an outlet and a switch, I had to re-wire and organize a number of wires and install about six or seven different junction boxes. DO NOT TRY ELECTRICAL WORK UNEXPERIENCED! I have dealt with some stupid and bad situations in the past and thankfully have learned from them. Obviously, shut off power to the area you're working with first (even before demo) to ensure you don't blow up the house or yourself. Then make sure you know your positives and negatives and be ready to kill the power immediately if something is wrong (get a helper!)
Here's some of the electrical I had to fix up
The biggest concern with having only one bathroom in the house is the size of said bathroom. Ours was no picnic. Let's just say that I could scrape my knee on the vanity if I was doing a number two. Subtle, I know. So we had to fix this problem before anything else major in the house. Here's some before pictures.
I drew up a number of plans and went to work. The plan was to knock out the front wall into the guest room and steal about 20" of space. This would involve framing out a new wall, moving some plumbing, drywall everywhere, framing a new bathroom closet, tiling the floor, and adding hardwood to the additional floor that was in the hallway (the corner of the hall would become a right angle instead of a curve). While I have done all of this in some capacity before, there was a lot of learning as we went on. I also learned my wife is a demo machine!
One noted takeaway we got from the demo process is that plaster is the worst! It's heavy, hard as concrete, and if you end up with corners where they use metal mesh to hold it up, good luck with that! If you can hire out the demo and drywall mudding/sanding later, I would highly recommend spending the money and avoiding the pain in the ass!
Over the years, I have inherited a number of furniture pieces from friends and family. Some things, like our coffee table and end table/nightstand (it's been both) have come to nearly every apartment and condo. With the tops being worn and the wood being light and 90's-ish, we needed to do an update without spending $500+ on new furniture. I removed the top of both of the tables and got some 2x4 and 2x6 boards to mimic the Kitchen Island design (see previous post). After some glue, stain, paint and an alarming amount of poly, we had some "brand new" tables! They add more life to the room and have been good ever since*!
So, funny story: When we moved in to our house. The big eyesore in the main room you walk into was the crappy textured ceiling. I didn't care for it, and Erica downright hated it. One night, while sharing some beers with a friend at our Kitchen Island (see previous post), I was pointing out to the ceiling texture and realized that when I pushed on the ceiling, it gave way a little bit. This greatly interested me, so I finished my beer and decided to poke the ceiling with a screwdriver. I knew the house was plaster and not drywall, but this ceiling was not allowing the screwdriver to do anything. I went again stabbing into the ceiling, but this time with the force only a good IPA could produce! Eureka! The screwdriver went in! The ceiling was hollow! And not hollow in a "between the studs" sort of way. It was as if I had stabbed into a heating duct. I widened the hole a bit and stuck my phone up in it to take a picture. Holy shit! This was a dropped ceiling! I pulled down one of the tiles and learned a few things. The main thing is that these are metal tiles with spackle on top of them. No one I have talked to to this day has ever seen this or heard of this before.
With one tile down, the only thing to do is to rip down the rest of it! So I had the morning off the next day and chose to spend a few hours doing just that.
Thank God for scrappers, cause I was able to get rid of the metal tiles and bars the next day, and we were left with the original cove ceilings. Why would anyone cover this up?!? I just have some sanding and painting to do and it'll be done (I have put this task off for over six months. I hate ceilings)
When we bought our new house, the kitchen was extraordinary lacking storage space and counter space. Since a full remodel wasn't in the budget at the time, my beautiful wife went on her favorite app (Pinterest) and found some ideas for a kitchen island. Some of them had plans and layouts, so I bought some lumber, adjusted some dimensions and went to work. It's been a great space saver and prep area ever since. In fact, we're looking to add some counter space and additional cabinets and she's still fighting to keep the island around.