Terrific Broth

The life of two scientists, creating a small home, in big mountains

Tag: Utility (Page 2 of 3)

The First Wall Down (with videos!)

Happy Monday, friends and family! I am happy to report that we have knocked down the first wall in the ranch house. I am sure that there will be many more to follow, but this basement wall will forever hold a special place in my heart – this is my first time seeing a wall coming down and it is just so thrilling!

As usual, I tried to document everything with my lens, and it reaaaly annoyed Slav. He hates taking pictures, especially when he has to be in it. So I apologize for not getting many progress photos as I would like to get – we’ve all seen Fargo and you do not want to get on you guy’s nerves in a basement laundry room while he is holding a hammer.

You might remember our utility room from our basement tour, but in case you missed that video, let me take you back to the beginning – this is the utility/bedroom combo we inherited when we moved in:

IMG_6902

We believe that there used to be only one room, based on our neighbors’ floor plans and the floor situation here. Switching out the old washer and dryer further convinced us that the wall between the laundry area and the purple bedroom was built later, likely by the last owner, because the old washer and dryer were too big to get out without removing the furnace.

After we moved in, the purple bedroom quickly became a storage space:

IMG_7112

It has a closet under the stairs, which holds surprisingly good deal of stuff. Any closet in this 1964 ranch is appreciated.

IMG_6911

IMG_6912

We had a solid plan for our basement from the beginning – to convert it into a private guest suite. And the plan is to combine the purple bedroom and the laundry room to make enough room for a kitchen.

This is our current floor plan and you can see the laundry room and the third bedroom above the living room, to the left of the stairs:

Ranch basement_current

And this is what it should look like once we combine the two rooms:

Ranch basement_proposal 1

Although the basement renovation will not come until next year, we are super motivated to knock down this wall already, because our new front-open washer and dryer do not work well in this narrow space on the left.

IMG_8192

We removed part of the door frame during HVAC installation, which made the room look a lot worse:

IMG_9040

So on a bright Sunday morning, when Slav descended to the basement with his music, a hammer, and a pry bar, I knew exactly what’s happening and quickly grabbed my camera and followed him.

The frame was down in two songs:

IMG_9050

After another 20 minutes, the purple dry wall was gone:

IMG_9055

Then the dry wall on the laundry side followed. There was a lot of dust and debris, but the process was quick.

IMG_9061

The framing here is not weight-bearing, and in fact very poorly nailed together. It was easy to take apart:

IMG_9064

So much better! It was instantly brighter and the new utility room is so spacious! I always felt cramped down here, either in the laundry room or in the purple bedroom. Somehow the new room feels bigger than I imagined them together. It changed the entire vibe of the downstairs.

Yay for easy laundry access!

IMG_9070

We are left with some dry wall to patch on the ceiling, but the concrete floor is continuous.

IMG_9074

IMG_9078

Since we are planning to change the water heater soon and putting in a kitchen eventually, we are not going to do any dry wall repair or electrical work for now. What we will do in near future, is to widen the doorway by a foot and a half to the right, so the kitchen and the living room are more connected.

IMG_9154

The purple room has this weird moldy window looking into the living room. I am wondering if this was put in for fire safety concerns. We think it is dorky, but the window itself are too moldy to be saved.

IMG_6908

After the wall was gone, I took a short video of our new utility room:

We decided to get all the storage out so we could map out the potential cabinet space for the future kitchen. So I took everything out of the room including the stuff in the closet:

IMG_9132

After cleaning up, I taped out the potential kitchen layout. Below is option one – this is the corner to your right when you walk in the doorway:

IMG_9138

It gives decent size of counter space for a simple kitchen setup and the closet on the left could be used as a pantry. However, these two walls does not offer any utility lines, including gas, water, and sewer. It makes more economical sense to put the stove and sink where the utility lines are and preferable with a window.

IMG_9149

This wall faces the back of the house, which we could run a vent easily. It does have a shorter wall. One way of adding counter space is to lower the washer and dryer to counter height, so we could run a continuous “L” shape counter top. Luckily, the drawers at the bottom of Merry and Pippin are purely storage. They can be removed to make Merry and Pippin even shorter, to merely 38.5″. Standard kitchen counters are usually 36″ so we think that we could get away with it.

IMG_9143

As of the furnace corner, the 2 feet dry wall behind the trash can will be trimmed down mostly, and the furnace will be concealed with a closet. We plan to replace the big water heater with a tankless one in the next a few month to free some space.

IMG_9140

So, this is the new utility room we are left with after a day of demoing, cleaning, and organizing:

We love how big and bright it became – I found myself visiting this room a lot to daydream a simple, cute, and minimalist kitchen. If you have good ideas for cabinets or small appliance, tell us in the comments below!

Welcome home, Merry and Pippin

Welcome home, Merry and Pippin!

IMG_7556

Yes, I named our new(-ish) washer and dryer. And yes, I know they are giants. But Merry and Pippin reminded a good friend of mine with two dogs named after them and just sounded funny. So say hello to Merry, our new(-ish) washer, and Pippin, our new(-ish) dryer!

I keep calling them “new-ish” because they are not really brand new. We bought them second-hand off Craigslist (more on this later), a few days before we closed on our ranch. At that time, we were told that there would be no washer and dryer left on site, so we rushed to find decent washer and dryers without breaking our bank. But the day when we moved in, look  what we found in the basement:

IMG_6915

Working washer and dryer! The dryer is a front load and has touch panels and special settings for linen and jeans. It was so much fancier that any dryer we have ever used.

IMG_6917

We were initially grateful for the previous owner’s thoughtfulness – it was so convenient to have working washer and dryer when you are moving. If you remember our move in June, we torn out the dirty carpet on the first floor during the first a couple days without unpacking anything. It was such a nasty job that I changed every time during a long break – and these washer and dryer were definitely a strong work horse.

But we soon found out that there was another reason why these units were left behind – they are simply too big to be moved out of the utility room. If you look at our basement floor plan, you will find a dividing wall between the utility/laundry room and the weird third bedroom:

Ranch basement_current

And this is in reality how the wall looked like:

IMG_6902

The utility/laundry room is on the left of the wall, and the weird third bedroom, painted in purple, is on the right side.

Based on the concrete floor and our close neighbors’ floor plan, we believe that there was just one big utility room when the house was built. The dry wall dividing it was put in later. Very likely, the dry wall was put up AFTER the current washer and dryer were wheeled in, which explains how these big units got in here. You can also see the original door frame to the living room and the poorly constructed bedroom door.

Sad door frame without trims

IMG_7114

A hook as a door handle – gotta respect the pure function

IMG_6907

As much as I wanted to believe in the good will of people, I had to say that this wall was probably the determinant why these units were left here. They did provide some convenience initially, but quickly became a headache when we wanted to switch to our new-ish washer and dryer combo.

IMG_6904

Look at this corner and the bump-out from the big furnace – there was no way to take the washer and dryer out. Just when we decided to give up and sell the new-ish washer and dryer, an opportunity presented itself:

IMG_7537

The furnace was out – during HVAC installation! And even better, there were two strong guys on site to help Slav to move the units. These units, especially the washers, were super heavy. Trust me. I tried. Even with the best night of sleep, protein shake in the morning, plus coffee, I could not move any of them even on flat ground. So never mind going  up and down the narrow basement stairs!

With the guys’ help, the dryer and washer were moved out of the laundry room and up to the garage.

IMG_7426

We quickly discovered that there was no dry wal