Tiny house: floors, more painting, el bano and the return of Jeff!

(it feels dumb to keep titling these with build dates, since we are not, strictly, building anymore. I mean, I guess Jeff will be building cabinets, but the build, she is done.)

First off, shout-out to the fine people of the Abrego South GVR hot tub! My mom, a regular at the pool, reports that the denizens of the hot tub read the blog and are always asking her how the “Little House on the Prairie” is going. Hi, guys! It’s going great!

Second off, big thanks to my friends Glen and Suzy, who are big builders and DIYers themselves: they just sent me this awesome little hand-crank weather radio/flashlight/phone charger that looks like the absolute perfect thing to have in a tiny house! a) Excellent for safety! and b) Totally useful for the building phase, as the houselet is not yet hooked up to electricity. Thanks so much, guys!

Now, onto the details! So once again, this is another compressed post, since the individual days haven’t been hugely exciting (read: they have involved a lot of painting of trim. Yawn.)

1) Jeff came back! Yay Jeff! It is so good to have him there, and he swears he’s not lifting anything excessive. Anyway, he came back with a bang by putting up all the rest of the trim
DSC00633…which I then started priming and painting (dooooooom!)
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2) The floor in the loft is all done, and it looks super. Nellie and Widget hung out up there with me and played wrestlemania while I was painting the windowsills, and there are no visible scratches, so my fingers are crossed that it goes will. But so far, I am unexpectedly digging the laminate!

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When the quarter round in the loft gets finished being painted, the loft will be 100% done, making it the first complete space in the house!

3) I bought an itty bitty ceiling fan for my coffered ceiling at Gersons for $39 (on sale even from the marked price, which was already low)
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[Since I have been programmed to hate ceiling fans, overhead lights and especially ceiling fan/overhead light combos by too many hours of Trading Spaces as a youth, I felt woobly about doing this instead of some kind of cool light fixture. But it seems really really practical: among other things, it’s got a reverse setting so I can draw hot air up to the loft when it’s cold out. And it’s teeny, so I hope it will be unobtrusive. Also, I will be on the lookout for a better shade for the light: I am thinking about getting a cool Moravian star glass shade the next time I’m in Mexico and just affixing it with caulk and magic or something like that]

4) Also I bought some lights…
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…and started putting them up!
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The kitchen was a tough call: the ceiling is too low to do a pendant light, and I didn’t have the wiring for sconces. What I ended up doing was getting a flush-mounted flourescent—I know, I know, hear me out–because I decided I wanted to put a Happy Light in there. Happy Lights are full-spectrum lights that contain the qualities of natural light–I’m a touch prone to SAD, and I thought the light would be a really good way to help combat that. This was my mom’s genius idea: she taught for years and years in a bunch of different and occasionally horrible situations, and she once successfully persuaded her principal to put Happy Lights in the windowless room they’d stuck her in (she said it made a huge difference).

5) The bathroom nears completion!
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Floor is cut to size (though not actually attached to the ground, because Certain Kelseys bought the wrong kind of floor adhesive, roundly annoying Certain Jeffs.)
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Third coat of tung oil on the walls, which is really beginning to pay off: it’s very pretty in real life
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Gray ceiling, because…I am not totally sure why? Because I had a test pot of paint and thought the color was pretty, and happened to have run out of white paint? Also, shower hardware installed.
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The little hole below the knob is where I am going to mount this, which is my…
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…dedicated detachable shower head for washing the dogs! The dogs having their own personal (low-set) shower was a big item on my ‘living successfully with 5 animals in a small space’ list (they’re also getting built-in dividers in place of crates, there’s going to be a pull-out dog bed hidden in one of the kickplates below the cabinets in the kitchen, they’re going to have a built-in toy drawer they can open, etc. (the cats also have their own cool stuff)

My sink. I cannot stop staring at my pretty Ikea sink with its cheapo Gerson’s faucet. I LOVE it. I love how the fact that it’s mounted on brackets makes it feel incredibly light, I love the exposed copper pipes, I love everything about it.
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Jeff, predictably, hates it: he really just wanted me to get a nice normal pedestal sink like a normal person, and he is SURE it is going to fall apart once I move the house. I promised him I would take full responsibility if anything happened, and that I would do my best to provide the sink with extra support when I moved it (jack, maybe?) Normally, I would compromise, but in this case I just do not care, because I love that sink.

Toilet! Which is not going in the kitchen, obviously: it was just waiting there to be put in the bathroom.
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According to the box, it is some kind of supertoilet
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And that’s about it! I’m going out of town on an interview for a couple of weeks on Sunday, and while things will be happening, I think there will be a brief hiatus with the tiny house reportage, since I kind of need to be there for that. I cannot wait to see what it looks like when it’s done!

Paint & Stainathon, Time-Compressed

Jeff’s taking it easy this week–as he should!– and as my mom’s jetting off for a b-day trip soon and has a lot on her plate, the large bulk of the work this week has been done solo by yours truly (and of course, Nellie and Widget, General Contractors). Most of the stuff I’ve done has been related to turning things from one color into another, and that does not always make for scintillating reading, so I thought I’d compress all of my projects from the week into one post and show you the before/afters.

Project One: Finish the PaintDone and done! Two coats of Benjamin Moore Atrium White are up on the walls and the ceilings (and the ceiling paint means that I also have two coats of Benjamin Moore Atrium White on all of my clothes, my contacts, my dogs, etc.)

It looks really good. All of my fears about white on white have totally evaporated.
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One minor caveat follows my fondness for this paint: BOY, it is easy to scuff a whole lot of matte white paint! This is something I totally should have thought about before but did not something I definitely gave a lot of serious thought to beforehand, so why don’t you go look at the other pretty pictures while I emergency-buy a whole bunch of AFM Safecoat to slap on everything? I am for sure going to have to do a little touch-up coat, especially after the trim painting/wood staining I’ve been doing (more on that in a sec.)

Completion rate: 90% done. I’ve got to do touch ups, and somehow I totally forgot that I needed to paint the bathroom ceiling (since I’m not painting the bathroom walls), so I’ve got to do that probably tomorrow. Everything else is looking solid, though.

Project Two: Paint the Horrible, Horrible Trim

Note: the trim itself is just fine. I have discovered, however, that I totally hate painting trim: apparently my skills as a painter veer towards “get lots of paint on stuff quickly and efficiently with a roller” and not towards “do anything that requires a modicum of precision”. This is quadruply true of quarter round, which is SO ANNOYING to paint, because it is, as the name implies, ROUNDED. And that means no using the paint pad, no using the mini roller, no using any useful tool beyond a teeny tiny angle brush and a lot lot lot of painter’s tape. This is emphatically not my skill set, which I learned as I was putting a terrible, uneven, drippy layer all over the trim. Thankfully, my mom is totally that kind of detail-y painter that I am not, so she came over yesterday, scraped off all my drippy mistakes and made the trim look gooooooood. (Trim paint, PS, is Benjamin Moore semi-gloss Decorator’s White).

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Completion rate: About 10%, tragically. Mom came really close to finishing everything that was up already when she came over yesterday, but there is a ton of trim that isn’t even up yet (Jeff needs to come down and sit in a chair and tell us where to nail everything up: he precut it all.) See all those raw-looking edges with bits of vapor barrier poking out in the picture above? Yeah, that all needs to be trimmed, and those areas are basically everywhere (+ floor molding all around the house.)

Project Three: Stain the bathroom walls and beams somehow

This has been my favorite project of the week, and the way it worked out is what I would call an excellently happy accident. My working plan was to put some kind of poly or other sealant on the bathroom walls, which I am leaving unpainted (just to have a little change of pace and leave some of the super pretty plywood intact: I’d initially planned to put cedar closet lining all over the bathroom, but the ply accomplishes the same goal aesthetically). I also had planned to do some kind of darker stain on the beams. Well, in the course of looking into how precisely I was going to do that, I came across a couple facts:
a. nearly all wood stains are very drippy, and thus it can be really challenging to use them on an overhead application
b. Wood stains in general are about as chemically and VOC-laden as you can imagine, and even though there are a handful of low-VOC stains, they are a touch obscure and definitely not carried by any of my little town’s three hardware stores.

So anyway, blah blah blah, I eventually found a couple of good products, and looking at their website’s Dealer Locators, I was led to an awesome hippie building store in the teeny, funny little warehousey Tucson arts district. Somehow I did not know about it previously, which was an oversight: they have been there for ten years, and they source all kinds of awesome hippie building material (denim insulation! All manner of expensive-yet-gorgeous recycled countertops! Wall paints made out of milk that you buy in powder form, tint with the addition of various dry clays and then just add water to yourself! Kelsey heaven, is what I’m saying.) Anyway, when I told the lady at the store my stain thoughts, she was like, “Well, we’ve got those, but they are about $40 a quart (!!!!!!) and if you’re doing an entire bathroom…..” She must have seen me going a little green, because she pulled me away to another side of the store and suggested that if she were going to do such a project, she would just use tung oil and forgo stain altogether. Tung oil, it transpires, penetrates just like stain, seals everything very well, is so water resistant that it’s often used as a boat finish and is totally nontoxic (downside: it takes a while to dry, but as I am not actually living in the house, I figured NBD). Plus, big 32 oz bottles were only $16 each. Normally I would have gone home and done some research and then come back, but I was still so dazed by the whole $40/quart stain that I was just like, “Yep, sure, tung oil, sounds awesome, sell me some of that” and bought two big bottles, one dark and one clear. It’s actually made by the company that makes dry paint out of milk, and the bottles it comes in are very reminiscent of Dr. Bronner’s.
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So I brought it back to the house, got some good brushes for putting it on and some disposable microfiber cloths for wiping off the excess, and started slapping it up places. And you know what, guys? Tung oil turns out to be AWESOME. First of all, it smells nutty and nice, and it wipes off your hands without any big deal (unlike tung oil-laced varnishes like the one Minwax makes, which are a bear on your hands). Second, it goes on really easy (very much like paint) with very little dripping; like stain, you put some on and then wipe off the excess with a cloth, so it’s not the fastest going, but it’s no more complex than stain. And third of all, it is gorgeous.

Here’s some of the bathroom ply once I’d put the first coat on:DSC00553

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The irregularities in the picture are partially the light reflecting on the walls, but partially because the wood just absorbs the stain in different ways and at different rates (makes sense: it’s ply). A second coat totally smoothed that out, though.
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[note: those gaps in the ply will also be trimmed]

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[took the picture while the oil was still drying; that’s why it’s shiny]

Then I got some of the darker stuff and tried it a few places: the edges of the staircase, the beams, and the frame around the loft window. And oh man, do I love the way the dark oil looks. To wit:

Hubba hubba
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Stairs (the uprights are going to be turned into drawers and I am probably going to put leftover flooring on the treads, so don’t worry about the bleedover)
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Loft window (one coat in the picture: I’ve put a second coat on since)
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Starting the beams
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First coat on
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Second coat on
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I LOVE the way this looks, especially against the white ceiling. I am a total tung oil convert now. One of the things I really love is that it’s not totally opaque, which means that in my case, you can see the stamping and other lettering on the wood through the oil.
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I know this is not for everyone, but I really really really like it. I am down with some touches of industrial scattered around (I’m making towel bars and such for the bathroom out of galvanized plumbing pipe, and if I can swing it, the stairs are going to have a bannister that includes some rebar). Also, my inner minimalist enjoys having the actual building materials be evident: if this house is made from trees, and those trees are processed in a semi-industrial way, I would like for that not to be obscured, at least to some extent. The other upside is that the tung oil DID cover the blackish discoloration on the beams, which I thought was a lot less cool looking.

(Messy) tools of the trade
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Completion rate: Depends: I think 100%, unless the oil soaks in all weird tonight and I need to do another coat at some point.

Project Four: Scrap porch!

Step one was locating some good scraps, which I did last week. Step two was figuring out how to arrange them into something porch-shaped. I already decided that for the bottom porch (the part that supports the second stairstep), I wanted to make some panels of the same size that I could connect with mending plates (which could come apart when I have to move the house.) So last night, I laid them out on the floor in my mom’s house and played around with them until I had some good panels (yay for a Lego-filled childhood!).

Not totally done, but you get the idea
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Currently, there are some little spaces in the panels, which I think are feature-not-bug, as they will let leaves and water and such fall through the porch. That said, I may end up having to put ply below the panels (just depending on how structurally sound they are when I’m done putting them together), in which case, that benefit is nullified and I end up filling in the holes with offcuts or shims.

Next step: glue the individual pieces together into panels with heavy duty construction adhesive. I did this today: here’s that process, with unfortunately the most boring and least patchwork-y panel showing.
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My thinking is that tomorrow, I’ll put some wood screws in them to bolster up the construction adhesive, then I will edge the whole thing in 2x2s and screw on some small legs. If it’s wobbly, though, I will do something else. This is a totally improvised (and totally free) project, so I will not be too stressed if it’s a disaster.

Completion rate: Maybe 40%? There are definitely some more steps, even if everything holds together perfectly.

Project Five: Lay floating floor in loft

OK, I could not believe how easy this was, even for a click-together floating floor. First, I put down some spacers over the ply underlay (the wrong way, it turns out: when Mom saw these pictures, she told me that the spacers needed to be upright so there’s only about a 1/4″ space between the floor and wall. Oops! Tomorrow I will go change those around and then slide the whole floor over, as it’s not attached to anything yet.)
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Then I laid the first row of boards down, putting the tongue of one board into the groove of the previous board and then folding them down. For the next row, I did the same thing, but when I got each board in place, I carefully pounded it in with a hammer and woodblock so it snapped into the groove of the corresponding plank in the first row.

The seam between the two rows of planks before I got the boards pounded in
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[PS: I have not, as of yet, staggered the planks: I just laid them out in even rows. This is maybe a stupid idea, structurally? It seems to be working OK for the moment, though: it’s a small space, there’s only going to be three rows of flooring, and it’ll be held in by molding. And seriously, this whole thing took me about 45 minutes, so if I need to redo it, it is no big loss.]

Finished for the day. Tomorrow, I need to bust out Ye Olde Chop Saw and cut some pieces to fit between row #2 and the back wall, plus the edge pieces (the third row is not going to be quite as long as the current planks)
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Yay! Tomorrow’s pre-dog class projects: finish the loft floor, start touch-up painting, paint the bathroom ceiling, maybe do a paper template for the bathroom floor so I know where to cut the vinyl.

Finally, one shot of the house exterior as of today. ❤ ❤ ❤
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…and one of a cool Cooper’s Hawk I saw on the way home, when I took the dogs to run in Elephant Head as a reward for being good patient contractors today.
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Build: Painting Lacuna

First: Jeff is back, following some unexpected health badness! He looks much spryer than you might imagine, he says he feels fine, no big deal (OBVIOUSLY!), and he is very annoyed that he is only allowed to lift five pounds for ten days and is not allowed to climb on any roofs. He wants to come back and work on Monday: Mom was like, “NO I WILL HAVE YOU ARRESTED” and then decided that if he wanted, we would bring down a chair and he would be allowed to sit in the chair and dictate to us what he wants nailed where. But that’s it! (So Jeff, if you’re reading: prepare to be annoyed).

Second: we have painted and painted and painted and painted for the last few days and do I have any good pictures to show for it? I DO NOT! Apparently, it is hard to capture the awesomeness of walls slowly turning white, and you cannot see how pretty the white is in any of them. Let me just say for the record: it is very very very pretty. It feels huge inside, and the white itself is wonderful. Those dudes who picked this color for the White House sure knew what they were doing. Let me also say for the record: Zero VOC paints are awesome to work with, as they do not make you feel like you are being slowly poisoned, but they just do not cover all that well. I am using Natura, Benjamin Moore’s zero-VOC line: it tied for best when Consumer Reports rated all of the big zero-VOC paints, and it is creamy and non-drippy and goes on really well and holds color great, but man, even after priming (which we didn’t technically need to do, as it’s a paint/primer combo), we’re going to need to do at least two coats. And it’s just white! Crazy! Also it is so expensive that I might as well just be slapping ground up diamonds on the wall. However, it hopefully means I won’t die of Paint Cancer, so I like to think it is a wash?

Here are some pictures wherein everything looks terrible, so you’ll have to trust me that it all actually looks great.

I hate priming so much. I made up a song to the tune of “Everything’s Up To Date In Kansas City” that starts out “Oh, everything looks so ter’ble when you’re priming.” It has like twelve verses and I had to sing it about forty times before I was done priming.
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Priming: view from loft
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Nellie, “helping” grandma paint the loft
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Painted loft!
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Painting the living room (I stopped at the kitchen, as it is currently occupied by an immense skillsaw)
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Painting the ceiling, or “fifteen ways to get paint drops on your contacts”
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Lacuna when my grandmother and the Hua come to visit. They are bearing snacks, and immediately are the best-loved guests ever to arrive at the site.

Hua, attempting to pose figurehead-like on the tongue of the trailer.
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Nanny and the Hua
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Nanny + Hua + friendly photobombing pit bull
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Living room all painted!
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See all this trim? It is going on the walls!
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See these pretty copper pipes? They are going in the shower!
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See this former mass of wires? It is a real socket now!
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See all this flooring? It is hanging out in the loft acclimating so I can install it next week!
(main floor)
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(loft floor. Fifty cents a sq. ft!)
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See this pit bull? She is dead from boredom after watching paint dry all day.
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Consumer update! I bought this couch this weekend, which is going to be the greatest thing ever: it can be a couch or a chaise or a place for visiting dignitaries to sleep, and I am in love with it. I got it in this pretty dark blue, and es perfecto.

Also this doorbell, which is an old-timey, non-electric twist doorbell and which I basically want to marry.

Coming attractions: Jeff sits in a chair and yells at us about where to put the trim, hopefully; someday we finish painting the kitchen; my mom and I attempt to put in several floors without anyone getting murdered (results pending); I finally get my act together and order my countertops already.