Terrific Broth

Beijinger in Denver | 北京人在丹佛

Category: Our House (Page 2 of 18)

The Magic of Caulk – Small Upgrade Take III

You’ve heard me say this, sometimes small upgrade can make a big impact to a room. We have done quite a few small upgrades ourselves and we love how they instantly changed our lives (here and here). This time, we tackled our kitchen and bathroom, and our target is the old, dingy caulk.

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Yeah, they were pretty bad. We are disgusted by the look, and more importantly, caulk is supposed to close the seams to seal areas and corners that are susceptible to mildew and mold damage. When they crack and become discontinuous, they can no longer to keep the area around sinks and tubs watertight.

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The part we are mostly worried about is the seam right below the bathroom window. Somehow the window sill was installed wrong with a slope going outwards, so water sits there and we are so worried that the water gets into the wall.

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And the caulk here could no longer prevents water from seeping down into the wall.

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When you think that our master bath is bad, here comes worse.

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These are taken around our kitchen sink:

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And here is how bad it was around the backslash:

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If it was not dingy and moldy, it was missing:

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So when Slav finally got a couple days break from his work, he stripped off all the old caulk and applied a new layer while I was at work.

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Slav even caulked the gap between our counter top and the stove:

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Everything is SO. FRESH.

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The kitchen became 100 times brighter – without changing a light bulb! And the bathroom? With white tiles and fresh caulk, it is like a heaven:

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The window seam now looks like this:

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Slav also ran a line of caulk around the edge of each window, where the glass panels meet the metal trims to seal the cold draft.

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Quite a change, isn’t it? Who would knew that fresh caulk can have such an impact? I have been talking about painting the bathroom walls a lighter color since our moving day. But with white doors and bright new caulk, the blue walls actually look lovely. It is such a easy and quick way to make a big change!

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:

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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:

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

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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:

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

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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.

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

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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:

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

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

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

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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!

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

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

The Roof Project Completed!

Bing!

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Bing!

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Bing bing!

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Bing bing bing!

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Did I hit you hard with these photos yet? How about some before and after photos:

The main house front before:

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And after!

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Garage roof before:

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After!

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The back of the house when we moved in:

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And the back of the house today!

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Our pipes and vents before, badly rusted and leaking:

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And this is how they look today!

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The brown trims we inherited before:

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And what they look like now:

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We chose to paint the trims and soffit with the same bronze color as our gutter, so the gutter can disappear on the fascia. The goal is to have fewer horizontal lines on our one-story ranch house:

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And being the same bronze as our front door, we made the front doors look taller. The goal here is to elongate any vertical lines on the exterior (doors, windows, so our one-story ranch looks less flat:

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A far cry from what we had before:

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This is what the same area look like now:

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The gutter contrasts the bricks handsomely:

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And even better, we have the same new roof put on our shed as well!

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The shed roof came as a nice surprise to us. When we booked the roofers we did not know that their quote includes the shed. It felt like a Christmas in September when they started tearing down the old roof on the shed! Our shed could use a new roof – aside from missing shingles, the plywood sub-roof was rotten:

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The roofers torn it to studs and put in all new plywood and underlayment.

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And here is our new shed roof today:

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We took the opportunity to extend the overhang out from 10″ to 2′, so the firewood stored underneath are better protected from rain and snow:

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We do not have anything stored under the overhang on the other side yet. But it gives us options for more firewood if needed.

The new shed roof conveniently completed the phase II for our shed renovation, which is a lot faster coming that we expected after phase I! I almost forgot how bad it was when we bought the house. This is the real before:

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Wow, right? Look at this lady now:

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As soon as the whole roof work was done, it has been raining cats and dogs for a solid week. The new gutters and our grading around the foundation are doing a great job to direct water away from our foundation. There was not a bit of moisture in any of our new window wells.

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We are sooo glad that we have crossed all the things off our long, “water” to-do list before the fall rolls around. It was a long list and we did lots of hard work ourselves. I cannot help but having it here again, just so I can do my “Shift+Alt+D” once again:

1. Replace the leaky roof and gutter
2. Extend the downspouts
3. Getting rid of the front flower bed
4. Correct the sloping issues of the front and back porch 
5. Seal the foundation cracks
6. Seal all the exterior holes and gaps
7. Grading around the house

Now, let it snow! We are ready for our first winter in Colorado!

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