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

Category: DIY Built Page 1 of 12

Main Floor Bath: Pocket Door Installation

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Happy Spring, everyone! I hope you are enjoying bluer skies and warmer temperature than we do. As you can tell from the pictures, we had quite a few storms in the past weeks.

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Stuck inside we made good progress in the main floor bath. After upgrading the master bath exhaust fan, Slav finalized all the electrical connections and fine toned the rough plumbing. It is important to make absolutely sure that everything are set to the correct height and depth before closing the wall! One of the things Slav did was to raise the toilet drain a bit higher to accommodate the height of the new subfloor, cement board and tiles. Can you imagine a toilet here seeing the bidet power outlet, bidet waterline, and toilet flange together in one picture?

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Now we were (finally) ready for the subfloor!

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Subfloor installation

To install the subfloor, Slav first added supporting structures around the parameter of the room:

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The 2″ x 4″ strips were sistered onto the nearby floor joist with liquid nails and screws. They will be supporting the edge of the new subfloor, and bearing some weight of the tiled wall.

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After double and triple check to make sure everything between the two stories were set correctly and secured properly, Slav installed the new subfloor with liquid nails and screws. It felt so nice to have something solid to walk on again! We have been balancing ourselves on floor joists like acrobats for a couple months… 🙂

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Shower niche framing

One small detail we would like to add to the shower area is a shower niche. Slav modified the framing and installed a tile-ready shower niche casing, centered on the end wall of the shower. It will get tiled over, along with all the surrounding walls:

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Demo the old door

The very last task we needed to complete before closing all the walls, was to install the pocket door. Pocket door is not a necessity, but due to the small size of this bath, we felt that it would improve the traffic flow and was worth the upgrade.

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As you can see from the picture above, the framing was heavy on this wall. There used to be an enclosure for a ventilation pipe we since removed, and a linen closet is located on the other side of the wall.

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The header of the door would also needed to be raised due to the height of the pocket door.

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Slav carefully cut away all the framing that would be in the parameter of the pocket door framing. He left all other framing in place, and managed not to damage the drywall on the closet side.

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Also removed was the starting piece of the wooden floor. This piece on the very edge was full of nail holes from the old carpet and in pretty bad shape. Slav replaced it with a brand new piece of the same flooring, left from last time when we patched the floor in Slav’s office.

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Pocket door framing

For the pocket door installation, we picked up a standard pocket door framing kit:

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Everything needed for framing the pocket door except the door slab itself were included in the kit. This universal kit is designed to work with doors that are 24 inches to 36 inches in width. There are marks already engraved into the framing lumber to indicate where to cut for different door sizes.

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To frame in the pocket door, Slav first built the rough framing:

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Onto which the header of the pocket door framing kit was installed and the split studs was secured:

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This is what the split studs look like! The actual door slab will be inserted in between and nest inside whenever the door is open.

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Our doorway only permits a 24″ door. We splurged for a frosted glass door which comes pre-primed. While Slav was framing the doorway, I painted it with my go-to door and trim paint – Behr‘s ultra pure white:

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Installing pocket door was actually pretty easy. I do not know why I was so intimidated by it! Slav installed the door slab into the track all by himself. And I had to say, it operates like butter!

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So smooth.

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Encouraged by the pocket door installation Slav caught a second wind and installed the drywall before calling it a day. All the sudden, the bathroom looked like a room again!

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Here is it, the bathroom, ready for tiles:

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With brand-new frosted window and door, new subfloor and shower pan, new plumbing and electrical!

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The next step, tiling!

Starting next week, we will be installing and waterproofing the walls, and starting the tile work! It has been a rough a couple months just finalizing the utilities and dealing with additional plumbing issues. But finally, we could move onto tasks that will bring much more substantial changes into the space. So stay tuned, friends! May the fourth be with us!

1. Demolition – removing all the fixtures and wall/floor materials;
2. Assessing the water damage and mold control;
3. Installing new bath window and insulating the exterior wall;
4. Removing the ceiling drywall from the attic, wiring for new recessed lights from the attic;
5. Upgrading wall electrical, including adding outlets and wiring new switches;
6. Installing a new exhaust fan;
7. Installing recessed lights and drywall the bathroom ceiling;
8. Upgrading the sewage pipe for toilet and shower;
9. Purchasing a new toilet, a new bidet, a sink/vanity, and sink and shower fixtures; Upgrading/installing water lines to all the fixture;
10. Upgrade master bath (basement) exhaust fan from above;
11. Installing new subflooring;
12. Pocket door framing and installation;
13. Drywalling around the pocket door to close off the entry wall;
14. Installing water-resistant wall on rest of the room and waterproofing;
15. Tiling and installing a new window stool;
16. Sealing the floor tiles and grout;
17. Finishing/priming/painting entry wall drywall and ceiling;
18. Installing and painting pocket door trims;
19. Installing new glass shower door;
20. Installing toilet/bidet, vanity/sink, shower trim, and vanity mirror/lighting!

Storage Headboard DIY

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Happy Chinese New Year! This year’s zodiac animal is ox, which represents hardworking and progress. Hopefully the whole world will start moving again soon!

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Inside of my own house, the bathroom renovation has been static because Slav’s busy. I did manage to get some small DIY projects done myself and hang some art pieces, but honestly, I miss having a bathroom on the main floor.

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The latest DIY project I completed is a storage headboard for the Murphy bed:

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And now the Murphy bed area looks like this:

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The design concept

I have shown you how we installed the Murphy bed in my retreat room.

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However, the depth of this closet is 25″, a lot deeper than the required depth for the Murphy bed, leaving a significant gap.

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We knew at the time of installation that we needed a headboard to prevent pillows from slipping off the bed. In addition, we’d like to add a shelf above the bed for reading lamp, books and water or the night. Naturally, we decided to DIY this piece so it does not fit the space perfectly, but also can be customized exactly to our liking with the functionality we needed.

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I always wanted to give this wedge bolster pillow a try as a removable headboard. So the plan has always been to build a plywood box that fills the gap and also supports the wedge pillow from the bottom and from the back. This box should also provide internal storage for pillows and linen. Last, we prefer a floating design in order to expose the floor space for future refinish.

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The build

Unlike most of the furniture building, instead of completing the entire storage box in the garage then mounting it to the space, I decided to assemble this floating storage at the spot. This does not only save material, but also add structure integrity to the whole build as well as the closet. It also means that I will be measuring, cutting, and attaching different pieces to the side and back of the closet as I go.

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The first piece I cut was the bottom of the storage box. This board will support the wedge pillow, so I decided to place the bottom board just below the top of the mattress. The width of the closet measures 58″ at this height, and the unit should not be deeper than 14″ so the Murphy bed can open and close normally.

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So I cut a piece that is 14″ x 58″. Before installing it permanently, I popped it up with a stepping stool to the desired height and tested with the wedge pillow. Despite a 4″ gap between the mattress and the front edge of the board, the wedge pillow stayed in place well. This gap is required for the Murphy bed to operate normally.

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Having known that, I started with on the top surface  of the storage box. I wanted the headboard to be hidden from the front view, so I chose to have the top board sitting 16″ above the bottom one, just a dash lower than the top of the wedge pillow.

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The width of the top surface should be less than 12″ to accommodate the thickness of the wedge pillow.

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I cut a 58″ x 10″ plywood piece for the top. Again, before mounting it in place, I popped it up with a planter which happens to be 16″ tall as a trial run.

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Slav was around for this part of the operation and laughed that “your furniture design depends on the objects you had nearby…” Kinda true…But hey, it was the perfect height for the top surface!

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Since the closet already had plywood sides and back, both top and bottom boards can be directly mounted to the side wall panels. Now I only need to make a front panel, which functions as a door for internal storage access, as well as the backing board for the wedge pillow.

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I cut two pieces of plywood boards as the front panel so they are easier to open and close. They are both an inch taller than the top board, so when mounted vertically, they not only cover the whole front edge of the top shelf, but also create a small curb for the top shelf.

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As you can see, the design of the headboard is extremely simple. My goal has always been keeping the headboard construction minimal and completely hidden when the bed is in use, while satisfying all the features we want for the Murphy bed area: storage, back support, and a horizontal shelf.

The installation

With all the pieces cut to size, I edge banded the pieces and cut some scrap wood strips to link the top and bottom boards onto the side walls.

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To mount the front panels/doors, I used hidden hinges to connect the door panels to the top shelf.

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A few L-bracket were mounted on the bottom board as a stop, so the door panels can stay vertical without swinging inward.

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Then I placed the wedge pillow on the bottom board and in front of the doors – now we have the storage headboard for the Murphy bed!

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Just like we planned, You cannot see the headboard when standing in front of the bed.

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The space inside the storage headboard now stores allthe pillows and beddings we have for this bed. When we need to fold the bed up, the top shelf is perfect for storing the wedge pillow. Therefore, everything for making the Murphy bed is stored in the Murphy bed alcove without occupying additional closet space.

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The finishes

I switched the painting above the bed to a set of watercolor art, and added a white lamp and a couple plants:

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The large and cool-colored art toned down all the wood color, making this little alcove a bit lighter and more relaxed.

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And this is how he Murphy bed area look like now!

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This headboard build completed all the DIY build in my retreat room/home office. The best part of the project is that I used exclusively the scrape plywood pieces from the Murphy bed build and the gear closet build, so the only cost for this project is four hidden hinges for $2.75! (We had the plywood edge band, L-bracket and screws in hand.) This is the charm of DIY – functionality, perfect fit, and saving!

Mounting and Hanging Calligraphy Pieces

Chinese painting and calligraphy have been popular art decoration in Chinese household for thousands of years. I brought a couple pieces to the States with me, but never had an opportunity to display them:

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This ink and wash landscape art is the most popular form of Chinese painting. The other piece I own is calligraphy art:

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Chinese painting and calligraphy were drawn on Xuan paper which is soft and fragile. In order to display them, they have to be mounted onto some kind of backing paper first, before being inserted into frames or layered onto silk scrolls.

Dry mounting the calligraphy pieces

There are two ways to mount calligraphy art, wet mount and dry mount. Since I’ve never done either of the two ways before, I chose the dry mount method which looks more foolproof. The dry mount method involves first mounting the art piece onto silicone adhesive paper, then transfer the art to some kind of backing paper. To mount the art pieces onto the silicone adhesive paper, you need an iron, a spray bottle of water, and some thin paper to layer between the iron and the art work. I used a regular clothing iron with parchment paper (for baking).

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You also needed a soft but supportive surface to iron on. Since my art pieces were large, I spread a flat sheet on top of our big coffee table which worked very well.

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I unrolled the silicone adhesive paper, trimmed it a hair narrower and shorter than the art piece, then layered the art work on top of it.

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Then I gently misted the art work with water using the spray bottle. This step is for releasing the tension in the Xuan paper and reduce wrinkles and fold marks. Pay attention to only mist small amount of the water on the art work – the Xuan paper should not be soaking wet. And you do not want to get water on the silicone paper because that will add wrinkle to the final result.

After spraying the Xuan paper wet, I carefully laid the parchment paper on top of the art work, and immediately started ironing. A safe tip is to mist the art work first before even laying it on top of the silicone adhesive paper – and you can always mist the back of the painting instead of the front.

Definitely, definitely do not use the steam function on your iron – it will smear the art and even melt the Xuan paper. Iron the art onto the silicone adhesive paper using low-temp setting (such as silk).

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This particular art piece is nearly 5′ long, so I started ironing from one end, and worked my way up to the other end.

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The silicone adhesive paper is supposed to function as a double sided tape, either to connect the art piece to backing paper for framing, or to connect the art piece directly to a hanging scroll. However, I found that the silicone paper was rigid enough and could serve as alternative backing paper. So I did not use backing paper in this project.

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I used the same method to mount the calligraphy piece. It is smaller so the final result was better:

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Spray, layer, then iron. I worked this piece from the middle out to the sides, so there was no wrinkles at all:

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The dry mount method is fairly straightforward. It only took 15 minutes to get both pieces mounted.

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Framing the calligraphy

To frame the calligraphy I ordered a black frame online. The frame is made with solid wood and acrylic sheet, with a foam board backing. The construction is decent, but a bit too pricy in my opinion. I should have made my own frame with solid wood and glass for much cheaper, but considering the hours involved in DIY frames I decided to go with the easier route.

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I hung the calligraphy piece in my retreat room. I think it pairs well with the hanging plants and bamboo blinds. This piece says “Heaven rewards those who are industrious; The virtuous bear duties onerous”. A more literal translation will be “The Heavens are in motion ceaselessly; The enlightened exert themselves constantly. While the Earth is supportive and natural, Only the virtuous can bear the utmost”.

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Hanging the ink painting

Displaying the ink painting is a bit more difficult. Traditionally, Chinese paintings are displayed on silk-brocaded hanging scrolls with wood rods at the bottom to weight the piece down. However, any hanging scrolls I could found online was too small for this landscape art.

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The simplest way I could think of to display the painting is to add two wooden edges on the top and the bottom of the painting. In this way I can hang the art from the top wooden edge, and the bottom edge can weight down the painting just like the wood rod on the hanging scroll.

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I found a scrape 1″ x 2″ wood piece, cutting it to length to create two wooden edges.

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I shaped the ends of the two wooden edges like arrowheads for a better look.

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To secure the wooden edge onto the painting, I added another piece of scrap wood at the back, so the painting could be sandwiched in between the two wooden pieces.

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To joint the two pieces of wood together, a nail gun was used with the painting in between.

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It looked like this from the front of the painting. We used the same method to create the top edge, then installed mounting hardware on the back of it.

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With a couple pieces of scrap wood and 20 minutes of my time, the simple mounting method is easy and effective.

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The landscape painting was hung in our basement media room, accompanied by a couple large-scale of oil paintings. I think the white empty wall in this room allows large-scale paintings to be the focus of the room.

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The final results

Here are both of the art work in our home! The results from dry mounting and DIY hanging scroll are satisfying. I like the dose of traditional vibe these art injected into my home. Both art work was actually drawn by a good friend of my parents, whom I called uncle growing up. After years keeping his art work in drawers and collecting dust, it feels so nice to finally having them displayed and appreciated.

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What do you think of the results? Do you like traditional Chinese art?

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