Terrific Broth

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

Category: Projects Page 3 of 40

The Utility Room Reno Starts!

Now the dust has settled (literally) in the master suite, Slav and I ask ourselves, “what’s next?” Without hesitation, we both knew it will be the utility room.

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It is time to tiny up

Do not get me wrong, there are quite a few rooms that need attention. But the utility room rise to the top of the list as soon as rest of the basement was finished. After all, it is the last room to remodel in the lower level, and it is connected to the finished media room with a big opening.

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The rough state of the utility room actually prevents us from using the media room as it’s intended. Knowing there will be more drywall dust when we renovate this room, we do not want to furnish the media room just yet.

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Quite frankly, walking downstairs and still seeing bare studs and furnace ducts are getting old. It downplayed all the hard work we’ve done in the rest of the basement. “Curb your enthusiasm” it does.

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Longest in making: the initial demo

Interestingly, this utility room is the longest in making among all spaces. When we moved into the house in the summer of 2017, this space was divided into two rooms, a laundry niche and a bedroom painted purple.

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This bedroom was not up to code at all. And we do not need 5 bedrooms (!) in this house. We started demoing this space shortly after moving in, starting with the HVAC installation to accommodate the new ducting. It was 2.5 years ago!

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Soon after, Slav removed the dividing wall between the laundry niche and the purple bedroom. Finally, doing laundry with washer and dryer doors fully open!

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I immediately started brainstorming what this room could be used for. The first plan came to mind was to add a small kitchenette. You can see my blue tape on the wall indicating a sink cabinet.

We also proceeded to remove the drywall and soffit on the utility wall to expose the plumbing. It made the master bath renovation later a lot easier.

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Just like that, I had the luxury to do laundry in the most spacious utility room I’ve eve had. This utility room measures 12″ x 16″, bigger than any of our bedrooms.

Create an open floorplan

Fast forward to a year ago, before renovating the basement, we removed the drywall between the media room and the utility room to expose the I-beam.

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Then the framing below was gone too.

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As part of the media room finish, the drywall was back up and a new opening was established.

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It already looked a lot better, but we are ready to get it completely polished. If you have lived with renovation, you will likely agree that having a finished space that can be completely closed off from construction zones is essential for one’s sanity. Finishing this utility room will give us a finished basement that is isolated from the main floor, which is just that.

Kitchenette or not, it is a question.

To date, the utility room houses the furnace, the tankless water heater, and the washer and dryer.

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On the other side of the room, a closet hosts the new electrical sub-panel for the basement.

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For the longest time, I was convinced that we should turn this space into a dry kitchen. If you are not familiar with the concept of dry kitchen – it is very common in some culture to have two kitchens, one for washing and cooking, which produces moisture and smoke, and one for serving drinks and snacks, which remains relatively clean and odorless. The latter is called a dry kitchen. Small appliances such as microwave, toaster, and coffee machine can stay in the dry kitchen for easy access, whereas refrigerator and cooktop usually remain in the cook’s kitchen.

These two kitchens are often connected. The cook’s kitchen can usually be closed off with french/pocket doors from the dry kitchen when guests arrive. In our case, I imaged the upstairs kitchen to be where we cook, and the basement kitchen to serve more like a dry bar and place for snacks and pizza for movie/game nights.

With a dry kitchen in mind we started getting quotes. What we quickly learned, is that kitchen is expensive! Even so tiny, quotes we got were somewhere between $20000 to $40000. $20000, for installing a sink, some cabinets and countertop, and tile some backsplash! As you could imagine, we quickly nix the dry kitchen plan.

How we will go about finishing the utility room now?

We decided at last, without a clear vision for the purpose of the space, is to finish the room the simplest way possible. We can always come in with some DIY effort later, but for now, getting this space dust free is the priority. Below are the main steps we plan to take:

1. Demo the remaining purple drywall and drywall in the closet;
2. Replace plumbing needed and move the floor drain;
3. Framing walls, soffit when necessary, and add a pocket door to the closet;
4. Frame a floor-to-ceiling utility closet to conceal the furnace and water heater;
5. Electrical work necessary;
6. Drywall the ceilings and walls;
7. Paint the ceilings and walls;
8. Continue the NuCore flooring from the media room to the utility room;
9. Trims and baseboard – the entire basement;
10. Create a laundry nook with cabinet storage.

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So here they are, our current plan for attack in the utility room. We are still talking to a contractor about his availability, and this project will likely last the rest of the winter. But when it is finished it will be a great relief to us. We have started the plumbing work and I have been putting the progress on IG stories (under the highlight “AllAboutPlumbing”). Check it out, guys!

3 Doors Down

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Long time no see! I am finally getting around to show you what’s going on in the ranch. And I am excited to tell you about our progress.

Since moving into the bedroom we have been just tackling small projects – caulking, paint touch-ups, hanging art, and just settling into our new basement living routine. We like the master suite as much as the day we moved in. The closets function perfectly. The NuCore flooring is holding up to the “dog nail test”. And the glass shower door has survived the first two months of usage (did time fly!). I used to worry that one of us will slip and break the glass panels, but it turns out to be very solid and can take some impact. Let me tell you, living through January without making drywall dust was an absolutely joy.

After the holidays I started feeling like decorating. Hanging a couple pictures here and there, adding art to the bathroom, and bring in a much-needed clock to better get ready in the mornings. You know, the little things. One of the fun projects I did was dressing up the egress window well.

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The window well update

was a perfect Sunday morning project. Slav had been complaining how bare the window well looked, so I grabbed a bunch of faux plants from IKEA without telling him what they were for. Let me tell you, these plants are not cheap! What I got barely covered the front side of the window well, which we see everyday. But the hope is that they last a few years being out of the strong Colorado sun.

One Sunday Slav went skiing, I took the opportunity to setting up all the faux plants as a surprise:

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Much better from this, right?

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I documented the process with Instagram stories, hence the lack of pictures. Still debating if I should add a layer of white rocks to the bottom of the well. But for now, it is a killer upgrade that makes us smile every morning opening the curtains.

 

Installing prehung doors for the media room

The biggest progress we made lately was installing basement doors – 3 out of 4 to be exact. You might have noticed some of them in our last post:

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These two doors are the basement entry door and the bedroom door, we chose solid core doors for their soundproofing properties. We are happy with the JELD-WEN window in the main floor living room, so choosing their doors was a no-brainer. The style is “the Craftsman” in Espresso color.

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The bedroom door was discarded during the renovation, so there was just one opening left.

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We ordered pre-hung door for the opening and it was pretty straight forward to put on. We chose left-hand opening so it opens into the bedroom.

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The doors did not come with knobs or lock. We picked some satin nickel lock from Lowe’s to match the finishes of the hinges:

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We also ordered a pre-hung door for the basement entry. The old jamb was in bad shape and the hinge side had started to separate from the foundation.

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We took the door and the door jamb off, and Slav secured the framing to the concrete wall properly.

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And the new door was on!

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We added the same lock on this door and it looked amazing:

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Much better than the old one. 🙂

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Even Roxie was amazed. 🙂

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Customizing a door for the bath

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While the DIY momentum continued, we installed a bathroom door. Our bathroom has two door opening, one being a pocket door to our bedroom, and one to the media room. These bathroom doors brought bigger challenges. Both of the openings are only 77″ tall, which requires customization. The task is so intimidating that we had been procrastinating as long as we could.

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Until I found this door from a local resale store – it is 76 1/2″ tall, so it fits perfectly under the short doorway. It also sports a big panel of glass which lets in the morning sun from the bathroom into the media room. This door is made with real wood and very steady.

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As you can see, the top of the door opening is already at the height of the ceiling. The space is tight! The doorway was actually a few more inches too wide for the door, so we started by adding a 2″ x 4″ on one side of the doorway framing:

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We decided to narrow the doorway from the toilet side, so we would see less of the toilet from the media room.

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To further narrow the doorway we installed another piece of 1″ board on top of the 2″ x 4″. Then we proceeded to making new door jambs for the glass panel door:

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Besides getting the height right (you want to leave 1/8″ gap on all sides between the door and the jamb), it is important to get the hinges installed at the right spot. Slav used a router to carve into the jamb so hinges could sit flush with the wood.

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We also cut a notch at the bottom of the door jamb to accommodate the height of the tile.

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With all the pieces cut to size, we assembled the door jambs on the floor, then attached the whole assembly and the door to the opening:

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The last step was to add door stops at the proper location. Then…Ta-dah!

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We used matching hardware as those on the pre-hung doors. A narrow strip of drywall will be added to cover the 2″ x 4″ and the  1″ board, then the gap between the new drywall and the door jamb will be covered by trim.

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This is the view from the media room looking into the bath. We may obscure the glass in the future somehow. But for now, we are just happy to finally have a door on the bathroom!

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And finally be able to keep the dogs out of the bedroom – or in.

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Getting one of the bathroom door installed really lifted a lot of weight off our shoulders. I do not know if you are the same, but when I face too grand of a to-do list, I have a hard time taking the first step. Now with only one pocket door to install, it started feeling fun again.

On a separate note – I knew what I’ve been posting lots of in-progress photos. Any successful blogger will wait until they can get the perfect “after” shots, which means  after the drywall and finished trims are all in. But this pretty “after” may take weeks to come in our hands. I figured it is better to update you what we’ve been up to now. Gotta keep it real! After all, this blog is more of a diary of this house to me, even during the slow days. More and more so, I found myself relying on the in-progress pictures I posted before to remember how we did certain steps, or what product we used. In a way, the blog will remember for us what went behind the walls, and the sweat and tears we shed along the way. So, no shame on posting in-progress photos for me!

Now most of the doors are in, we can finally consider door trims. (Pocket doors are trimmed differently so we are not gonna worry about it now.) All of our basement doors are located really close to a neighboring wall, which means we can only install the most narrow trims. Narrow trims = ugly looking. So I would have to figure out something creative. Another thing I would like to do is refinishing the glass panel door with stains matching the color of other basement doors. The color of the prehung doors is labeled as “Espresso”, but it reads lighter and reddish compared to most of the Espresso stains you can find on the market. So there will be some mixing and trials to get the color right.

Here you have it, our slow, but steady progress in the basement. I will work on the stains and trims next. What are you up to?

A Look Back at 2019

Happy new year! Everyone!

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I am back from my holiday break and it was the best ever. Compared to a rather crazy 2019, the last a few weeks of 2019 were so much fun! Slav’s work hosted a cocktail Christmas party where I got to doll up and made new friends. We also got invited to a couple family-style holiday parties filled with warm hearted people and wonderful food. After a low-key Christmas dinner home, I took a trip to my sister’s and celebrated new year with my family. I enjoyed good Chinese food, hiked, tried rock climbing, and spent some valuable time with my nieces. Slav and I skied a couple times together in between, and we both had lots of time home cuddling the dogs.

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It is already a week into 2020, but I have not felt like saying goodbye to 2019 yet – even though it was so out of control for both of us. Our house renovation goal for 2019 was the basement. And basement was all it happened. I honestly did not think it would take a whole year, but between Slav’s new full-time job and an incompetent contractor, we barely made to the deadline before hosting family over Christmas.

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We started poking around in the basement last December (here, here, and here), and very quickly, the idea of a new master suite emerged. To make a master suite we love, we installed an egress window and expanded the bathroom floor plan.

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We had such a good experience with our window comtractor. When Spring comes around, we hired them back to update the windows throughout the main floor. It did not only add value to our house, but also brought comfort, peace, and some much-needed curb appeal.

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We also cut down some half-dead trees along the north fence and planted a few new garden beds:

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The outdoor work took away a good portion of the Spring. Before summer started we came back to the basement, running new plumbing for the bathroom and installing new electrical for the whole basement.

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Slav soundproofed the whole basement before closing up the walls and ceilings. By adding mineral wool insulation in between the floor joints and around the utility room, our basement is now a quiet sleeping space.

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Hanging drywall (here and here), mudding, and skim coating took a while. Drywall is a messy job and we did not enjoy it one bit.

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But everything seemed to be worth it as soon as the paint went on – nothing like a fresh coat of paint that makes a room:

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Slav and I tackled the floor ourselves. The NuCore LVP floor (in driftwood color) is the best decision we made for the basement. We love the color, we love the texture, we love its warmth and comfort. We love everything about this floor.

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At this point we hired more hands to finish the electrical and bathroom plumbing, which allowed me to focus on putting in an IKEA PAX closet system in the new master:

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After the shower door was installed, the bathroom quickly came together:

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We were able to move into our new bedroom when flipping the 2019 calendar to its last page. Till then it had been a whole year since we first put hammer through the old basement walls. It has been a long and stressful process, but I think the end product was exactly what we had hoped for:

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During the last a few weeks of 2019, after moving downstairs, I surprised myself by not doing any renovating work. We still have doors to hang and baseboard to install, but it is also important to rest and enjoy the space we just created, before jumping into the next project too quickly. It is such a good decision to take a break – not only for our back, but also for our minds. Do you agree?

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