Terrific Broth

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

Category: Renovation (Page 2 of 20)

Finally, Painting

IMG_2337

The drywall patch is finally finished! Boy, it ain’t easy. It requires not only fair amount of patience and attention to detail, but also skill and experience. This is Slav’s first time doing drywall. Although being a fast learner with good common sense, he spent weeks conquering the steep learning curve.

IMG_2377

The work has been painfully messy and slow. But now it is over, Slav said that he is confident to do it much faster with better result next time. We have lots of drywall work coming up in the basement which I was thinking about hiring out. But Slav insisted on doing it himself. What a trooper!

IMG_2372

IMG_2380

While Slav was on repeat of mudding and sanding like an energized bunny, I was busy waving paint brushes. The past weekend was devoted to painting all the trims snow white.

The front door interior trim:

IMG_2311

Bedroom door trim:

IMG_2321

Back to back trims in our small hallway:

IMG_2323

And closet trims:

IMG_2332

IMG_2334

All the interior trims around doors and closets got three coats of Behr Ultra Pure White in semi-gloss. I cleaned, patched, and sanded all the trims with 80 and 220-grit sand paper prior to painting. This job gave me the perfect excuse for my dream random orbit sander: the Bosch ROS20VSC. It costs ~$60 and is the perfect sweetener for a tedious job of this size.

IMG_2346

In order to finish painting all the trims, we had to first complete the trim project for Slav’s closet. After reversing the office closet to face the bedroom, we did not put the door jambs and trims back on for weeks.

IMG_1558

Poor guys has to use his closet (left) for a couple months like this:

IMG_1098

With door jamb and header missing, and trims absent:

IMG_1561

IMG_1560

We saved the door jamb, header, and trims when we demo-ed the office closet. So I cleaned, patched, and sanded them:

IMG_1566

IMG_1572

And made they look like new with some paint:

IMG_1573

I nailed the door jamb onto the opening, followed by the header. All parts fit like a glove, indicating that we did an excellent job framing the opening. 🙂

IMG_1592

IMG_1593

IMG_1595

Nailing on the trims completed the look.

IMG_1596

It felt like a big change to go from this:

IMG_1562

To this:

IMG_1598

Three coats of semi-gloss trim paint gave the trims a big face lift.

IMG_2365

Now we just need to paint the inside of the closets before we can put our clothes back!

While painting the trims, I also gave all the wood window stools a few coats of fresh paint. We keep plants in clay pots on them and glossy paint shall protect the wood from moisture.

IMG_2297

The window stools were pretty beaten from years of use:

IMG_2214

But with new paint – they look pretty good!

The living room window stool:

IMG_2304

Office window stool:

IMG_2325

Kitchen window stool:

IMG_2356

The bright white color reflects light and gives the green plants a perfect backdrop.

IMG_2301

Late last year, I painted all the wood doors white with some leftover white paint we had in hand. The paint is in flat finish, which did not stand the test of time on doors. I will be re-painting all the interior doors with the same Semi-gloss white this weekend, which should be a big upgrade.

IMG_2361

It will be above 70-degree this weekend, which means I can work on our beloved back patio again. With some podcast and Spring air, painting is not that big of a pain. Despite being the solo painter in the house, I do not particularly enjoy painting. But painting usually means we are close to the finishing line, so I enjoy being at the painting stage.

I’ve been binging on a podcast called “The history of English” and almost at the end of it. With all five doors, 900 sq ft of ceiling, and three rooms of walls to work on, I need to find something new to get through the month of May. Any recommendations?

Spring, Dry Wall, and Allegies

Spring is finally here in the ranch house. In what seems to be overnight, our crab apple tree put out thousand of flowers:

IMG_2185

The weather is still too cold to plant vegetable gardens, but it is warm enough for perennials:

IMG_2150

IMG_2155

I selected these sweet white flowers for the spot under the crab apple tree, and paired with them with some color:

IMG_2157

We also planted rosemary and lavender around the mailbox.

IMG_2093

The plants might be small, but I trust them to fill in nicely with refreshing aroma and green foliage in a few years:

IMG_2088

Just to remind you, this is the same spot last year when we moved in:

IMG_6456

We removed all the weeds and transplanted roses from the front flower bed.

IMG_6457

And one of these roses survived. Its new leaves just peeked out of the mulch.

IMG_2091

Our indoor plants are also all happy and growing well:

IMG_2112

IMG_2115

IMG_2123

IMG_2012

I am propagating some succulents I brought back from Southern California, hoping to use them as ground cover someday.

IMG_2009

IMG_2105

IMG_2109

Spring also means allergy. And I am hit. Flu-like symptoms kept me down, and drywall work inside does not help either.

IMG_2173

It has been over a month since we hung the drywall. So it is nice to finally get them finished. However, the actual work sucks. It is so slow and messy, and because this is Slav’s first time doing drywall, it is slower and messier. I wish we had hired it out – but with just a few seams no professional will take such a small job.

IMG_2170

IMG_2169

We would have had all the drywall patches finished it by now, but Slav found black stuff in our drywall compound and it turned out to be mold. Yes, the drywall compound we bought from the local Home Depot is contaminated with mold. 🙁 So instead of having the walls ready to paint, we are chipping and sanding everything off (with masks) and restart.

I have to admit, when Slav told me that he had to restart, I lost it. It has been two weeks since the mudding and sanding started, and now we are back to the starting line. To pick myself up in the midst of this conundrum, I started choosing paint colors.

IMG_2127

IMG_2128

The living room and office will stay white, just a brighter white. Our bedroom is more closed off from rest of the space. I am thinking about want to use a subtle pink color here:

IMG_2132

I like the slightly purple/lavender one on the top. We have lots of grey and a blue painting in the bedroom and this color speaks to them. It also looks good in the closet:

IMG_2140

All the trims will go Ultra Pure White. I am 99% sure that we will use SW’s Extra White in all the ceilings and rest of the walls. Now we just need these damn drywall to be finished.

I know there is light at the end of the tunnel. I just need to see it.

Let’s Talk About the Kitchen

Since the day we moved into the ranch, I’ve been thinking about our kitchen.

The past

Ranch House - 7

Ranch House - 6

These shots were taken on inspection day. Decades of grease had soaked through cabinets and walls, and most cabinets were molded and beyond saving. We scrubbed down the walls, bleached all the cabinets, and freshened up the caulking. Any more attempt to improve this kitchen calls for a total overhaul, which we were not ready for.

The present

upload2

This is what our kitchen looks like now. Nine months have passed, and the kitchen remains the last room untouched.  We could have renovated it, but we had zero idea what we wanted. Should we open it up to the living room? Do we want an island? Should we eliminate the upper cabinets? How to improve the backdoor/landing space? What about the windows? We got stuck at… the layout – the very first step for any kitchen renovation.

We have a vague idea what we like and don’t like for a kitchen. We do like the east-facing windows- since we removed the awning outside, the kitchen has lovely morning light and stays bright most of the day. It makes me happy just to walk into the room.

IMG_0830

IMG_0840

My girl loves the morning array here. Isn’t she beautiful?

IMG_0847

However, we do wish to improve the currently layout. With the back entry and garage entry at one corner and the only doorway to the living room at the opposite, we receive too much pass-through traffic to keep it clean.

IMG_6211

This kitchen also seriously lacks prep surface. This little corner between the sink and the stove is all we got.

IMG_1837

A bulky fridge protrudes into the room and made the back entry a lot narrower.

IMG_1818

I also wish that my first view of home is not the side of this white monster.

IMG_1810

Aside from the bulky fridge, we need to address the moldy cabinets, outdated lighting, and wobbling stair rails.

IMG_0708

IMG_0842

IMG_6246

Where we are heading

It becomes clear to us that the kitchen renovation will not happen in 2018. But! There are cheap and creative ways to make this kitchen more user-friendly with the existing cabinets and appliances. For example, we can get rid of the soffit and rise the upper cabinets for more airier feel, or get rid of the upper cabinets all together. We can always play real-life Sims and shift cabinets and appliances around, which should help us to identify a layout that works the best for us. We could also test the concept of open floor plan by partially opening the living room wall.

When I modified our sideboard earlier this month, I rotated it 90 degrees and sat it in front of the wobbly stair rail. This simple change did not save us any floor space, but has made our kitchen feeling much more open. This experience taught us that temporary (and free!) changes – what we call Phase I renovation – can make the heart of our house a more pleasant place to be. And more importantly, real-life trail run helps so much more than just using our imagination.

IMG_0845

Design decision I: free the cooktop

After discussing what we want to change in the kitchen, I hopped on SketchUp to make some preliminary designs. The first thing we would like to address is the location of the cooktop:

IMG_0826

Our current electric stove/oven combo locates on one end of the kitchen. It is not a bad location itself, but with the sink sits so near, and the close proximity between these two makes prepping and cooking a one-man job.

Kitchen view

We would like to separate the prep space and the stove. The plan is to move the stove where the fridge currently sits.

Stove new location

This move can gains more floor space around the stove, so when one of us is washing and cutting the food, the other could move freely around the stove.

Stove new location_

In its new location, the stove will be flanked between the two windows, creating some symmetry in this room. We will also relocate the lower cabinet currently sitting on the left of the stove to its right at its new location. This cabinet holds our oils and spices, and move it with the stove will provide spice storage and a bit more counter space.

Eastern wall plan

Our fridge wall will look from this:

Eastern wall

to this:

Eastern wall plan

Design decision II: conceal the fridge

While the stove location being an easy decision, where to relocate the fridge became a big headache.

IMG_1810

Northern wall

We would like to conceal the fridge as much as possible – at least exclude it from the view from our front door/living room. The new plan is to recess it into the opening created by removing the stove and the lower cabinet.

Northern wall plan

The pantry closet created 33 inch deep cove at the corner, leaving enough depth to hide the bulky fridge from the living room viewpoint. There will be a ~16″ gap between the fridge and the cabinets to the right, which we will try to add a lower shelf to extend the prep space. The old stove wall will look like this:

Fridge new location

Design decision III: Remove the Uppers and the Soffit

Since the fridge is taller than the bottom of the upper cabinets, moving the fridge will require a couple the upper cabinets on the northern wall to be removed.

Picture2

Fortunately, removing these cabinets does not cost us much storage space. Due to the water damage and potential mold,  some cabinets remianed empty since we moved in.

IMG_1832

The decision of removing upper cabinet got our minds spinning about the utility of the soffit. See, the only reason the soffit are here is for the upper cabinets to attach to. We have long known that the soffit was empty – in fact, it was once exposed to the attic and filled with attic insulation. We have since closed it up from the attic above before adding insulation to the attic, so the soffit around the perimeter of the kitchen can be safely removed.

Picture1

Removing the soffit around the kitchen is a bit more involved, since we have to patch the missing drywall and also remove the last piece of upper cabinet. We actually use this upper cabinet for all of our dishes.

IMG_1834

But due to its height and location, I could not reach anything from the far corners of the cabinet without standing on a step stool. So the space we actively use was only 1/2 of the cabinet. We can always pop up some shelving for our daily use of dishes, kind of like in this picure. It will not only create easy access to cups and dishes, but also make unloading our drying rack easier.

So instead of looking like this:

Fridge new location

Our kitchen will look like this:

Northern wall plan with shelves

Design decision IV: more prep surface

So far, the changes add 16″ more counter space for us, which is always welcome. However, with the new location of the stove, we will be moving our drying rack to the left of the sink, which eats up a large portion of current prep space. We are looking forward to adding a piece of uninterrupted counter space, either an island or a peninsula (like this and this).

Esatern wall plan_without wall

The plans is to prop up a table or a cart as our temporary island, just to get a feel for it. However, it can be hard to tell if it works well due to how closed up our kitchen is. As you can see from the layout below, Having an island in the middle of the room will almost definitely obstruct the traffic flow.

IMG_1839

Our resolution is to partially open the drywall on the wall to our living room, just a few studs. This new doorway will create a second pass through from the backdoor to the living room, therefore reserve the space between the counter and the island for just cooking.

The eastern wall plan with new opening

Kitchen layout_with the island

Western wall_with doorways

We will not open this wall completely, because it is weight bearing, and we are not fully committed to the open floor plan yet. But it will allow us to experience the island design with the option of easily building the wall back up again.

Design decision V: letting more light into the living room

Now you got a feel of how the kitchen layout will change, we would like to try one more thing during this phase I trial run – opening up the upper portion of the rest of the kitchen/living room wall. Like I said before, we are not 100% committed to an open kitchen yet, so we plan to keep all the studs intact and only open the portion above the temporary island. Kinda like this:

Eastern wall plan_with wall

It shall bring big changes to the view between kitchen and living, as well as let more light into our dark living room. It will be a big improvement from the current view from the living room:

Kitchen view from the living

Moving forward…

We are planning the demo in April, after finishing the office renovation (only doors left!). We are using this short window of opportunity to refine our plans and to incorporate last minute changes. Tell us what you think! Give a thumb-up if you like our plan, and we are open to any suggestions from you seasoned DIYers. It is exciting for us to think that we will soon say goodbye to this kitchen:

Kitchen plan_current

and welcome this one!

Kitchen layout plan

 

Page 2 of 20

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén