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

Tag: Bedroom Page 1 of 9

The Magic 5%

I cannot say it enough: I am really glad that we decided not to do the kitchen this year, because we were then able to focus on small upgrades we’ve been wanting to do for a while. I am also glad that we hired out the floor refinishing. It was done quickly and nicely without much of our effort. We then directed our energy to the finishing work such as putting up baseboard and trims, plus what I am about to show you today.

Edge banding all the DIY drawers:

I have built drawers three times in this house: the cutlery drawer in the kitchen, the master bedroom nightstands, and these “baseboard drawers” under the built-ins in Slav’s office.

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However, I never got around to finishing the edges of these drawers.

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A couple years later, they are still not finished:

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Oops. I think we got stuck at the 95% zone, which means there is only 5% of the work left, but it will take forever to finish!

Finishing the office library

When we refinished the hardwood floor on the main story, all the baseboard drawers came out. I purposely did not put them back in, but left them in the garage instead. I knew that walking by these drawers everyday would force me to get the edges refinished. You bet, I ordered the edge banding in just two days…

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I also got a Minwax stain marker (in dark walnut color) to color the side of the panels between the bookshelves. I cut these panels from a big back panel for a bookcase, so the edges are raw.

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It did not take long to color the side of the panel with the stain marker:

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Now you can no longer notice the corners where the panels meet the bookshelves.

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I also colored where the panels were pieced together.

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Now it is time to address the drawers! It actually took over a week before the edge banding to come in. By then my motivation of putting these drawers back to where they belong has accumulated so high, that I got to work the very first weekend morning after it arrived.

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Edge banding is really not hard. My only advice is to use a flat file to trim the excess, an old-school way of finishing the edge banding. Here is a video I learned from.

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The finished product, making me wonder why I have waited so long to finish it?

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The corners:

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I rounded some corners a bit to create a worn look. The new edge banding is a bit lighter than the bookshelves, and having the corners a bit worn just feels more natural.

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Now I can call our home library 100% finished!

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Edge banding our nightstands

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As the iron was hot, I continued to edge-band the nightstand in our master bedroom. I made these nightstands from plywood. To be honest, I left the edges exposed on purpose. In my mind, it is how plywood furniture is supposed to look like. But Slav did not dig it, so here we go…

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I kept the top edge in a smooth and nice finish:

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For the sides, again, I created a little “worn”. We can only see these edges from our bed, and I like that it looks more “lived-in” than a sharp and smooth edge.

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Now the man is happy, and I am not upset either. I think both finished and unfinished edges look nice. It just comes down to personal preferences.

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That is, another small upgrade for you, the 5% effort on my DIY drawers. What do you think?

A Small Upgrade: Relocating the Coaxial Cable

Welcome to another small upgrade post! Without major renovation on our plate, we were able to address some small issues around the house. I am talking about old phone port to cover up, drywall cracks, old caulk, loose hinges, sagging boards, etc. Things like these still function, but are annoying to look at. Getting them taken care of is such a tension tamer.

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The safety hazard

One of the most exciting upgrades (we will share more in coming weeks) was moving the coaxial cable over our backyard.

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There were two cables coming into the house from the public utility poles – the electricity wire (high voltage) and the coaxial cable (low voltage). When we bought the house, both wires were installed pretty low to the ground. We raised the electrical wire higher when replacing the electrical panel. But the coaxial cable was still resting about 8 feet high from the ground.

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This cable is a big safety hazard. It spans across the backyard, and we had to always be careful when moving ladders or any tall objects. In winter months, when snow and ice accumulates on it, this cable sits at the height of our neck… We made several requests to the cable company to get it buried, only were told that it would cost us an arm and a leg, and the waiting time would be years long. However, relocating it in the air is free, and home owners are allowed to do it themselves. Well, I guess that settled it!

The game plan

Slav immediately came up with a game plan for moving the wires. All we want to do is to have it not over the lawn, where we walk cross a lot, and potentially raise it higher. Luckily for us, the coaxial cable actually originated from the very corner of our yard. We will not need to mess with this end at all:

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What we would be moving is the end where the cable met the house. The coaxial cable was hooked onto the fascia board above the cable box, which is located in the middle of the house.

 

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Here is the cable box. You can see the overhead cable coming in from the bottom, and making connections with the secondary cable going inside the house.

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The green wire next to the main coaxial cable is a ground wire. It runs into the electrical panel nearby, which might be the reason why the cable box is located where it is. The game plan was to keep everything in the picture intact, including the connecting box, the ground wire and the house coaxial cable. We will simply move the hook and the end of coaxial cable to the very northeast corner of the house, then run it back into the cable box along the house. We would have to extend the wire by a few dozen feet, but Slav was confident that it would not interrupt or slow down our internet.

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Relocating the main coaxial cable

Slav started by unhooking the coaxial cable from the box. Again, we will not move any remaining part, including the connection box, the ground wire, and the coaxial cable going inside the house.

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Then he took the coaxial cable off the wall. It was very easy since the nails holding them down were all loose from years of tension.

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Next, Slav remounted the hook to the northeast corner of the house, and reconnected the house-end of the coaxial cable to it.

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This corner of the house is the closest to where the cable comes from. In fact, this corner of the house is located about the same distance to the property line as where the cable comes from. So. the new path of the coaxial cable now runs almost parallel to the side fence. We are also fortunate that this side of the yard slopes down significantly, so when Slav tightened the cable, it sits much higher in relative to the ground, over 12 feet!

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Our raspberry bush are over 10 feet tall, the the cable is much higher than that.

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Now we can no longer see the cable from our backdoor. It actually runs over the roof of the garden shed and towards the house, almost parallel to the long side of the shed.

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Attaching and extending the coaxial cable

After hooking the cable back on the house, Slav started running the coaxial cable back towards the cable box. Instead of trimming the original cable, he attached the extra length under the soffit.

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And secured them to the wood trims using these coaxial stables. They are in black and less visible against the dark soffit:

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Slav used many staples, every 6″-8″ or so I’d say. It looks like an overkill, but the coaxial cable is rigid and needs these many staples to keep it straight and tightly against the trim.

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When the original cable ran out, Slav added another piece of coaxial cable using special connectors. He bought both the cable and connecters from Home Depot.

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The additional length of coaxial cable was brought into the cable box, terminated using the special connectors, and connected to the house cable:

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You can see the new connector in purple. Yay for having internet again!

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Finishing touches

Slav is the most thorough person when it comes to renovations. After cleaning up, he caulked all the prior nail holes, then brought out the trim paint and coated every single nail heads on the coaxial staples dark.

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The colors of the staples were pretty close to our trim color to begin with, Now with the touch-up paint on the nail heads, we no longer notice the coaxial cable under the soffit at all:

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And we can barely see the coaxial cable in the air either! This photo was taken from the middle of our yard, where the old cable used to be and at its lowest point.

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Instead of this:

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Now we have this:

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No more safety hazard!

 

Back to Work + Basement Trims

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2020 has been intense so far. After staying home for months, I am finally back to work. We did well during the pandemic though. While Slav continued working from home, I accomplished a number of home improvement projects. From organizing the garage and creating more overhead storage to refinishing the bathroom door, from building patio planterstidying up the veggie garden, building a new terrace garden, to automating the drip irrigation, I did not rest a single day! You can see the result of our projects in the recent garden tours here.

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But the biggest ticket item Slav and I checked off during the stay-at-home period, is our basement utility room.

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Installing flooring and the doors in the utility room marked a near completion of our basement renovation, which we started a year and half ago! Now the only task left in the basement was installing trims and baseboards.

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With the momentum we decided to wrap up the basement reno before I had to go back to work. So during the last two weeks of my stay-at-home time, Slav joined me in the basement to work on trims.

We started with installing trims for the three doors we installed back in February. The profile we chose is called “craftsman“, which matches the best the profile of our doors.

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The top trims were pieced together with 1″ x 2″ and 1″ x 6″ boards for a beefy look. The side trims were all 1″x 6″ boards.

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Due to the height of the ceilings, we used simpler profile of trims on the closet doors and the bathroom pocket doors:

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One area that was difficult to address is the space between the two bathroom doors. There was not enough room here for the whole width of 1″x 6″. So we opted for a corner bead.

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We ran both door trims and the corner bead all the way to the floor for a clean look.

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After finishing the door trims, we installed baseboards. The baseboard we chose has a simple profile with tall base and a fat bead on top.

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The 5.5″ height hid all the imperfection on the bottom of drywall, and the 5/8″ thickness covered the 1/4″ gap between the flooring and the drywall well.

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We installed the same baseboard throughout the basement for a cohesive look.

The media room

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The master bedroom

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And the newly finished utility room

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There are a few places where the baseboards end on the face of the door trims. We used a return profile to finish the corner elegantly:

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Similar return profiles, with a different angle, were used to terminate baseboards where they meet the master closets.

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To make sure one pocket door closes tightly onto the wall, Slav installed baseboards up to the door from both side and did nice returns on both ends:

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It might not look like much, but it took us three days to get all the trims and baseboards installed. Following installation, Slav caulked all the nail holes, seams, and gaps, and I painted all the trims, baseboards, and closet doors in the same color of our main floor trims.

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This is the first time I tried this Valspar oil-enriched enamel paint. And it did not disappoint! It is almost self-leveling so there is not much brush marks. I chose satin finish, color matched to Behr ultra Pure White.

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After the paint dried on the doors and baseboards, Slav installed handles and magnet door stoppers to protect the walls. All the hardware are in satin nickel which matches our door hinges.

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After installing the trims and baseboards, I can finally get furniture for the media room! We only purchased a few pieces that are necessary for this room to function, including a new TV stand:

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We put the TV and its stand in between the bedroom door and bath door. They fit perfectly into this spot.

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Slav is on the mission of finding us a couch. At the mean time, the massage chair serves as a comfortable spot to watch TV from:

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The small heater was now moved to the wall between the utility room opening and the bathroom. I like to turn it on just for faux log fire.

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We also got a storage unit for Slav’s vinyl collection:

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I moved all the records and the player down as soon as the storage unit was assembled, and Slav set up the speakers so they can get input from our phones, computers, or the record player.

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I had painted the access panel to the water main to match the walls. Now with the record collection and speakers in front, you can hardly notice the access panel anymore.

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Can you believe that we finally crossed the finish line on this basement renovation? This is particularly significant since today happens to be the three-year anniversary of us moving into this house.

Finally, Charlie can enjoy some peace and quiet in his favorite spot in the house:

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Now when going down the stairs, we know that we would be entering a clean and relaxing space, without any work in sight. What an amazing feeling it is!

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Many thanks to those of you following our basement renovation for such a long time – 18 months to be exact. Thanks for your encouragement and cheers along the way! Now let us hope the pandemic is over soon so we can host movie nights in our new media room again!

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