The Bar - The Half Wall
Now, because of some plumbing, I had to get creative on one wall, so I decided to do a half wall. Similar to what you would have in pool halls. A good height to rest your beer at whilst talking amongst the closest of friends. I measured and framed out the wall, as seen in the picture below! Notice how I framed out an access door in front of the main shut off. Additionally, the tall drywall piece next to it on the left is covering the main drain. More on that later. . .
The Bar - Designing and Framing
Usually, if I have a project I want to do, I can see it in my head as completed and I am able to put that down on paper and make it happen. The bar was the first thing I couldn't do that with. I didn't know how I wanted it to look, the angles, the depth, the features, etc. So began the graph paper planning, drawing and idea phase. This eventually led to me utilizing the wall that already existed and coming up with a corner and everything. Additionally, there are a lot of helpful articles online in regards to height and depth. I designed mine a little deeper and a little on the tall side, while still remaining in the realm of normal height bar stools.
Next, I put on the sub-bar. This is a 3/4" plywood that will be what the bar top itself sits on. Depending on how you plan on doing a spill rail and bar rail, you would pick different dimensions on both. The way I did it, I was able to add the bar top , and then add the spill rail afterwards. Once I had the bar top on, I added the walls, pre-stained in the garage. This is one place I wish I would have spent more money. I used a quarter-inch plywood. It stained nicely and I like how it looks, but it really adds to the hollow sound when people's feet hit it. I feel like a 1/2" or 3/4" plywood would have muted that more, considering my stud spacing.
Like I said, I love how the walls turned out, but in addition to the above picture, I wanted to cover up the seams, so I squared some 1x4's and stained them the same. Putting one on each seam and doing a long miter cut to handle the corners, it worked out really well! The angle, by the way, was 33.8 degrees or something like that. It's a preset on most miter saws. Octagon cut and what not. I cut some 2x4 templates of different angles to see how they all fit together before cutting everything else. Here's a picture of the walls with their finished frame pieces.
The Bar - The Damn Ceiling
So, before I got to staining and finishing, I wanted to make sure I didn't have any drywall or painting to do, so as to not mess up my beautiful new bar. The ceiling in this room was half dry wall on one side and nothing on the rest. Exposed basement ceiling. Pretty typical: plumbing, vents, etc. Initially, after researching some ceiling ideas, I settled on a black ceiling. This blends in all the imperfections and plumbing and wires and makes for a seamless looking wall. I drywalled he remaining areas I didn't need access to and got a cheap-o paint sprayer for the rest. I don't recommend being cheap here. Especially with a latex paint. This thing was from Harbor Freight and a huge pain in the ass!
The Bar - The Feature Wall
The Bar - The Finish, the Accessories and the Seating
With everything finally coming together, I was able to begin staining the bar and putting poly on it as well. In addition, I found some great bar accessories on a restaurant auction site and even an old 1930's cash register I was able to restore a little bit. All in all, it's the coolest place in the world! Enjoy the finishing pictures below!
And then it was all done just in time for my birthday, where we comfortably fit 15 family members! A blast was had by all!
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.