Interior mega-update: Part One

Oh, friends, I am OVERDUE for an update! Quick recap: I recently got back from a two-week long job interview in Utah (verdict: we shall see) (also, hi Ashley!) and got home to discover that my mom and Jeff had been super-industrious while I was away. So first, let me show you all of the things they did, and then in the next post, I will show you the tweaks I have made since.  Because there’s a lot going on, let’s just jump right in, shall we?

Floors!

My bamboo floors, which I got for cheap and have been so excited about, are all installed. Look how pretty, even under a thick layer of construction dust!
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The color of the living room floor up close, which I looooove [Oh, PS, here’s another thing that got done: all of the molding is in! No complaints there: I love it, though I dread having to paint it]
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The batches I got appeared to be from pretty different dye lots, and the living room bamboo is darker than the kitchen bamboo. Had I been here, I probably would have just mixed it up and had alternating light-dark pieces all the way across the floor. Left to his own devices, Jeff decided to make the living room all dark and the kitchen lighter (Jeff: “Well, I wasn’t about to make it tiger striped!“. Fair enough!) I actually don’t mind the two different colors: I just decided to think of it as ombre and that was that.

I would like to find an alternative for that gold-colored metal threshold Jeff put in between the living room and kitchen floors: I understand the efficacy, but do not love the gold stripe down the middle of the floor, so if any of you brilliant DIYers have an idea about that, please do share!

Fan

The fan is up. Er, ish.  Jeff was having some trouble finding the right bolts for the blades: I got the fan from Gerson’s, and it apparently came sans bolts (spoiler: I called the company and found the right bolts and it’s now all A-OK.)

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I need to start hunting for a better light fixture shade: that one is unobjectionable, but I would love to find a cooler shade (since I am still a touch averse to the fan-light combo).

The stove

The eagle-eyed among you will look at the picture below and note that the stove in the picture is not the awesome little boat stove I got for free from my boss and talked about on my very first day of the build. While I was in Utah, my mom called me and said, basically verbatim, “The boat stove isn’t going to work because it is the wrong size at least I think it is the wrong size, Jeff explained it to me and it made sense then but it was very confusing, but anyway, it is not going to work and it is probably going to explode anyway, so I think I am just going to get a regular stove and I need you to just agree because I am way too busy and I just need to be able to make a decision, OK?” So I, in the middle of working on a presentation for my job interview, and exhausted from all the Utah-ing, just said, “Mom, do whatever you think is best”. And that is how I ended up with the stove before.

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I actually kind of love it, honestly.  A sweet, Energy Star gas stove (which can be hooked up to either propane or natural gas, depending on what I have access to) with four burners that is narrow but will fit an actual sheet tray and comes with a broiler and a warming drawer? Yes please.

Also it probably is not going to explode.

I was a little leery about the stove being right under the loft–the initial plan was to have it be on the end of the counters, clear of the loft–but Jeff pointed out that since you REALLY don’t want a stove under the electrical panel, the only alternative would be to have it sitting in the middle of the living room, which, no. He is very certain it’s not going to be an issue, and in any case, I can run the vent fan on the micro, so I have decided to feel OK about it.  My biggest worry now is that I have to explain to my boss why the boat stove that he drove all the way home for me from his boat in Mexico is not in the house.

The kitchen light

Before I left, I bought a small, low-key kitchen light (which will ultimately contain a Happy Light). While I was gone, Jeff decided the light I bought was way too small and that I would go blind with such a tiny light and told Mom she had to go pick out a bigger fixture from Lowes. Mom looked at everything Lowes had, ruled out 98% of the lights there for being hideous, and decided that the following was the best one there.

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I may still have to tweak this, because it is…..kind of hideous? I believe my mom that it was the best one there, but it is still godawful.  Also, it is so big that the cabinet door hits the shade when you open it.

The bathroom!

Supertoilet is in, and the way-better-than-you’d-think fiberfloor is now adhered to the subfloor.
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Shower is all done. Look! A shower rod (which will soon contain a cute Ikea shower curtain) and a showerhead! Also some tung-oiled walls that look great, if I may say so.
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And look! My extra handheld showerhead that I installed at dog-washing height!
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And my pretty little sink, which is technically not a new thing, but which I continue to love.
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For a bathroom the size of a coffin, it is about as awesome as it can possibly be. I mean, in Phase Two I want to figure out a way to tile the shower, but no big deal otherwise.

The cabinets

Cabinets happened! This is a place where the budget, which is getting very narrow, came into play: I wanted Jeff to make me cabinets, because his cabinetry work is incredibly beautiful. While I was gone, we decided that we could not afford to have him do that, which was a bummer. This meant stock cabinets, which meant Lowes, because Mom and Jeff were doing the picking and were not going to go out and look in all the crazy stores like I would have done.  I sent Mom in with instructions to find the absolute plainest, least decorative ones they had (I am kind of into cabinets that look like this: not necessarily the color, but the geometric/unadorned-ness)

Here’s what I ended up with:
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(sink side)
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They are not the pretty handmade cabinets I was imagining, but they are fine, and they are what they are.  There is a lot of storage, and they are big enough that I can put in drawers and lazy susans and get them really optimized for what I need. And I love that cute little triangle shelf Jeff built in under the stairs.  I am not crazy about the upper cabs, and if I had been here I would have opted not to get those and build open shelves in instead.  However, because they were there and un-returnable (because they’d been installed), I decided to take the doors off, paint them the same white as the walls and use them as quasi-open shelving anyway. In Phase Two, they will probably go, but for now, I am going to Tim Gunn them and make them as cool as I can.  And the lower cabs are getting stained gray, and I think I am going to do a cool-looking thing on the doors, which I will tell you about as soon as I figure out if it’s going to work.

In the next installment:

1) Countertops
So remember how I was all excited to get those Paperstone counters, and how I was going to get those cheap remnants? I was trying to arrange them while I was in Utah, and got them all in my online shopping cart, and then when I went to check out, found out that the shipping cost was more than twice the cost of the actual material, resulting in a cost of about $600. As budget’s a consideration right now, I just couldn’t justify it, though it was very sad because I love that stuff. So I started thinking about Richlite (another recycled paper composite) and started trying to track down local non-remnant Paperstone, and then I started thinking about stainless steel (like a restaurant) and started looking into restaurant supply stores, and then on Sunday, Jeff told me that he had to go in for surgery on Tuesday, so if I wanted him to miter out the corners for the sink, he needed that countertop on Monday morning”. So I stopped thinking about all of the products that I loved that needed a week for shipping, and then I started thinking about what was immediately available, and then I got in my car and drove back to Horrible Phoenix, went to Ikea and got an enormous piece of solid wood butcher block. Butcher block was actually my first countertop idea, so even though I don’t like it as much as Paperstone, I still felt pretty good about it. I got it to Jeff, he cut it and mitered the sink hole, and tomorrow I get to learn how to install it.

I had initially thought I was going to go with gray countertops and wood cabinets, but now that I am going to have wood countertops, I am thinking of maybe gray cabinets. Or green. Or blue. Who knows. I am going to tung oil the butcher block, so tomorrow’s decision is a) dark tung oil (like the beams) or b) light tung oil, like the bathroom walls. Feel free to weigh in!

2) Bedroom closets. If I can find some stock closet/dresser/bookshelves that are the right height, I’m going to try to do what Young House Love did here. You like?

Phase Two is, of course, this.

3) Floating bookshelves, which I have only just begun to think about.

[Thank you for reading that mega-post! Comment away if you have suggestions]

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: Day 19

I have to admit that a lot of the actual building today was done by Jeff: I came down late in the day and pounded some nails into some pre-cut wallboards, but I spent most of the day out playing hunter-gatherer.

Biggest news: Interior wallboard is all up! It looks unfinished, since there is no molding on the floor, filler between the sheets of ply or quarter round at the seams, but it is U-P-up! I can now officially say that the house has walls, which is always the first question I am asked by jovial senior citizens. Here’s proof!
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Here’s the view from the loft.
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Also, the shower is all the way up now. I may just have to accept that the layout of the bathroom means I will never get a good picture of the shower. Just use your imagination, though: it is a shower enclosure, and an especially boring one at that. Right now it is being used as extra insulation/sink storage.
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The fauxlarium is looking good now that it’s insulated and has walls! Now that that’s happened, I need to figure out precisely what I’m going to do with it. Drawers? Bookshelf? Cute window seat? Some combination of those things? Here’s Nellie standing in it, to give you a sense of the dimensions (though if I do bookshelves or something it’ll obviously be built out a bit.
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Here’s the exterior of the house + the super-blue sky today. The chile ristra is a present from my mom: it’s too early to be in the ‘decorate the exterior of the house’ stage, but I loved it so much I wanted it to be in its place of honor (though I will be replacing the random offset nail I hammered in with an Actual Hook at some point soon.)
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So that’s what happened while I was gone. When I got to the site today, I swept up a ton of sawdust (learning in the process that I need a different set of tools for sweeping the loft, since the big broom is too tall), pounded in some wallboard, and played around in the house with the dogs.

The dogs are pro-houselet.
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Gratuitous Widget picture.
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For those of you who know my dogs and are wondering where Lucy is, I will tell you: she’s been down a few times, but the build site is located next to a major highway, and big loud trucks give her the vapors. She’s an anxious kiddo, and the build site is just too much for her right now (she also hates the generator), so I usually just bring Nellie and/or Widget along with me. She just started Prozac a few weeks ago, though, so I have high hopes she’ll be able to manage it before we actually move the houselet to its new home.

Now, onto the day’s hunter-gathering:
1) I bought me a water heater, my water heater pleased me, I fed my water heater under yonder tree (the water heater says fiddle-eye-fee). It’s going to be mounted under the main sink in the kitchen (we hope)

2) I went back to the floor remnants store and bought the flooring for the loft. They ended up selling the bamboo I was hoping for to the original builder, so I bought the cheap laminate instead. I know the laminate was controversial in the last poll and I don’t disagree: it looks OK, but I feel very dubious about its longterm potential. What really pushed me over the edge with it was that they sold it to me for fifty cents a foot, for a total of $53. That makes the grand total for flooring the entire house $237.66 ($60 for the random lot of bamboo at Gerson’s [4 boxes], $88.66 for two more boxes of the same bamboo from Home Depot that I needed to finish out the main floor [that’s all I bought full price], $36 for the awesome hippie fiberfloor from the remnants place, $53 for the loft laminate). Considering that I’m flooring right around 300 sq ft, that is pretty darn good: if I’d gotten the cheapest stuff that I was looking at at Lumber Liquidators ($2.99/ft.2), it would have cost more than three times that much to do the whole house (let’s not even discuss what it would have been from a full-price, non-Lumber Liquidators source!) I’m getting a little closer than I’d like to the edge of my 18K initial budget (my stretch budget is 20K, and I think we’ll make that comfortably, but still), so I was OK going with the less spendy option.

This is the Tiny House Corner in my sainted mother’s garage. You can see all three floors in it: the fiberfloor is the roll, the bamboo is the first six boxes in the stack, and the top four are laminate. Behind all that is my craigslist convection microwave, my free mini-fridge that I’m going to turn into a tiny freezer and a bunch of my Ikea stuff.
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The pile of scrapwood to the left is the beginning of a potentially crazy project. I’ve been thinking about porches lately: after considering it a bit, I think the fold-up porch idea is not going to fly, since we’re skirting pretty close to the max road legal width (8’6″). I really dig how Chris and Malissa of the Tiny Tack House (one of my favorite Internet Tiny Houses) did their porch: it’s substantial, but you can still bring it in when you need to, and it reminds me a bit of pallets (and I loooooove pallet furniture, though I think actual pallets wouldn’t work for a porch).

Anyway, we have all this scrap wood kicking around and I got the idea that I could stain different pieces different colors and put them all together parquet-style, kind of like a patchwork quilt made of wood. After I got the main deck together, I could edge it with 1x2a, put some little legs on it, then I could duplicate the Tiny Tack House porch’s stairsteppy design. It might not work, but I got some construction adhesive and some stain tonight, so if worse comes to worse, I’m just out eight bucks.

A couple more cool scores, thrift and otherwise:
3) I got three bits of this cool natural stone/glass tile at Gerson’s the other day with the intent of turning it into a small backsplash in the kitchen.
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Here’s what I was thinking, using my mom’s sink as an example.
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4) Today I went into the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store with an eye out for exterior lights/floor underlay. They didn’t have either of those things, but they did have these for $3 apiece.
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They are little library card/index card holders, so the drawers are really deep, good for storage of stuff like utensils. They’ll need some love, primarily in the form of paint, but I can do that (oil rubbed bronze? pewter?) I’m thinking about mounting them under the counter in the kitchen, just to have some nice, waist-high drawers to grab things from. I’m also thinking about buying some hairpin legs, putting them on the bottom of two of the card holders and using them as nightstands. In any case, they are awesome and I was pleased.

5) Besides the ristra from my mom, I got two great little houselet-adjacent presents this week. My mom’s friend Jen (my friend too!) sent me this fabulous little mini grater/microplaner, which is adorable and totally houselet scale.
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Also, my Aunt Karen, who’s an incredibly talented and well-known quilter, sent me two tiny quilted squares, complete with tiny easels to display them [PS: the color looks washed out because I had to use a flash, but in person, they’re really beautiful.) I am toying with the idea of making a little mantel for my fireplace out of a little mesquite burl with a live edge, and now that I have some tiny art to display on it, I am even more excited about the idea. I am so happy to have a piece of my aunt’s work to put in the house: stuff like that makes it feel really special and uniquely my own.
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Now, onto the most boring possible subject: white paint! As I promised, I did some test patches of different whites on a scrap piece of the wall ply, and exactly as I feared, it is basically impossible to tell one from the other in pictures. See?
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In the interest of Science!, I decided to try to gauge what my skin tone looked like next to the different whites, because why not, right? My weird Sicilian/Cherokee skin is olive with, no kidding, a purple-y undertone, which means that a. I can wear jewel tones and b. I always look a little bit sickly, so I decided to try just photographing my thumb next to each white to see which made me look the least Zombie Apocalypse. I also tried it out with clear poly, just for kicks. It’s still kind of hard to say, but I ended up deciding that the Benjamin Moore Atrium White was the way to go, probably not least because I am charmed that the White House is the same color. I also really like the Benjamin Moore White Dove (Atrium’s a little pinker, Dove is a little grayer), so I guess my plan is to show up at the paint store and just buy whatever I feel the best about that morning.
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PS: if you are bored by the idea of all white, you might check out the ProtoHaus, which is maybe my most favorite preexisting tiny house (Tack House: close second). They go all white, but because they have nice colorful possessions, the house doesn’t seem boring or sterile at all. The white actually kind of reigns in any visual chaos, and I think it really makes the space open up: that’s why all white is the way I’m doing it.

Painting is happening….really soon, though I don’t know HOW soon, since I am slated to work for the next five days straight. Possibly tomorrow afternoon? We shall see.

Build: Days 17 and 18

The order of the day was W A L L S ! There are (some) interior walls now, you guys! This thing is starting to look like a house and less like a build site.

1) Insulation, insulation everywhere. Jeff didn’t love working with the denim: he says it’s really hard to cut and very dusty (“I had to blow my nose for two days to get all the blue stuff!”) So, Jeff, here is where I say in print that I am very sorry. I am still in love with it, though. It is soft, it stays between the studs just with friction (you don’t have to glue it on or anything), it really really really warms the house up, it really deadens sound (the house is set up about 50 feet from a major highway, and you can no longer hear that at all if you’re in the house. But, you know, just fyi if you’re ever working with the stuff.Everything is insulated though now: walls, ceiling, pipes, everything. Yay!
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2) Then we put a vapor barrier up on the outside of the insulation: a vapor barrier is just semi-permeable plastic (or something like that) that keeps any sneaky moisture that gets in from settling on your wallboards, and thus, it helps prevent mold. There are lots of really fancy vapor barriers out there, and they’re generally in the $60/ 9×12 section price range. However, a) they are all some variant of plastic sheeting, b) there isn’t anything commercially I can find that doesn’t off-gas, and c) they’re all about 2 mils., so we skipped all of that completely and bought six heavy duty 2 mil clear plastic drop cloths. $2.98 each, for a total savings of $342.12. That would be slightly more than half of cost of the fancy fridge I splashed out on. Yay!

Installation was easy as pie: I just staple-gunned the plastic right onto the studs all over the whole house (ceiling, too) and then cut out spaces for the electrical sockets and windows. If you’ve ever seen Dexter, my house looked unsettlingly like one of his kill rooms after I was done (it’s half done in the picture: I finished it up today.)

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3) And then the wallboards started going up! Based on your suggestions, I went with ply instead of beadboard, and that was SUCH a good call, I think. The ply is lovely. I really, really like it. My plan has been to paint it white, but I have to say, I actually kind of love the look of the ply and am toying with the idea of just doing a coat of clear poly and leaving it as-is. The color is really warm and nice, and the surface texture almost looks like linen (the boards themselves are perfectly smooth.)

The boards aren’t caulked yet, so there are some gaps, and there’s no molding, obviously, but this will give you a picture of what it looks like. If anything, it is a little rosier in person, kind of a soft pinky-brown. It looks kind of….sophisticated, which is such a weird thing to say about unfinished plywood.
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I’m a little squirrely about leaving it as-is: with all the love and respect in the world for cabins (my favorite house in the past ten years was a cabin!), I don’t want it to feel cabin-y, and with the bamboo floors, it might feel like a surfeit of wood. It sure is pretty, though. Options right now are 1) paint everything white, 2) paint most of it white and leave a wood accent wall up in the loft (and maybe keep the bathroom natural) or 3) leave it all natural.

I brought a scrap piece of wallboard home and am going to try out some samples of white on it tonight (plus the clear poly), just to see how it looks. If any of you have the kind of Serious! Opinions! about white paint that the entire internet apparently has, I will tell you that the colors I got are Benjamin Moore White Dove, B.M. Decorator’s White, B.M. Atrium White (the color the White House is painted, apparently!) and Behr Bridal Veil (Behr paint just came in first in Consumer Report’s test of low/no-VOC paints, and it’s like half the price of Benjamin Moore). If you don’t have Serious! Opinions! about white paint, join the club, but it’s one of the internet’s favorite topics, apparently.


Other things that happened, in brief:

-2/3rds of the shower is up!
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-Front door light switch box installed
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-Hole drilled through the front wall and wires pulled through for Future! Front! Light!
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-Mom came over today and put another coat of that pretty blue on the front door plus started painting the same color under the eaves. No pictures of that, because I forgot my camera and in any case was inside stapling plastic to my kill room sleeping loft ceiling, but it looks awesome.

-I bought some flooring for the bathroom floor. Did I mention that we discovered that we couldn’t tile after all, based on the position of the bathroom vis a vis the trailer? Truth. And that is kind of sad, because wood’s tricky in a frequently-wet space, especially given things like the bathing of dogs in the bathroom, and if tile is out, that leaves [duh-duh-duh] vinyl. Sheet vinyl, to be precise, since tiles tend to come up in humid situations. So I wasn’t loving that, as you might imagine. However, I found this stuff called Fiber Floor, which is a vinyl composite, but has really limited off-gassing, is 80% recycled and fully recyclable, and is not all that hideous looking. Also: I found a warehouse that specialized in remnants and stocked Fiber Floor, and they had a piece that was just the size I needed (I only need 86 sq.ft for the bathroom: this was about 100) and cost thirty-six dollars. That is maybe a fifth of what I thought I was going to pay, so I am pretty pleased about it. The stuff I got looks like this: it’s got a little bit of texture, doesn’t look hugely fakey, and I think it’ll blend nicely with the bamboo (it’s about the same color).

I am sort of stoked about how scroungy I’ve been with the floors: I’ve got 2/3rds of the flooring already, and the total cost right now is $176, which is less than a buck a sq. ft. Just need to square away some flooring for the loft and then I’ll be set! The guy at the warehouse is checking into some inexpensive bamboo for me (leftover from new bamboo floors some church is putting in); if that doesn’t come through, they happened to have a laminate that looks like whitewashed barn boards in exactly the right amount I need for the loft at sixty cents a sq. ft. That is kind of an amazing deal, but I swore I’d avoid laminate of any sort with the dogs, since they are really tough on floors and I’m certain the laminate will get ripped up. That said, SIXTY CENTS A FOOT, and also, it’s not like the loft is going to be all that highly trafficked. So if I can’t get the bamboo:

A couple of big purchases coming up: I’m ordering my tankless hot water heater Monday (my mom is getting one too, after not having hot water in like two years!) Also, I’ve got to get my countertops (I’m going to do the dark gray Paperstone, which you guys liked when I polled you about it). Based on what Green Countertops Direct (the place that does Paperstone remnants) has in right now, I think I’ll be able to get 12 ft of countertop for about $100, which is pretty stupendous, since new this stuff costs about $60 PER FOOT (no way in hell I’d be able to just up and buy it from the factory, which is yet another reason I am very happy to be building small: remnants!) Tragically, shipping the counters is going to double the price: the factory is in Hoquiam, Washington, and for about ten insane seconds, I was like, “Well, what if I just drove up there and got them myself?”, though I realized quickly that that was a dumb idea. Toying with the idea of finding somebody on craigslist who can pick them up and put them on a bus for me, though.
Anyway, I love, love, love the house. I am so happy, you guys.

Build: Day Eight

Ugh, the last couple of days have been a zoo. Yesterday Jeff worked on the house while I did a thousand other things, and he got tons done, including the rest of the siding and the windows in the loft.  I also got a ton done, including some Floor Science and Paint Science, and another fruitful trip to the awesome architectural surplus store.  Here’s a rundown on the last 48 hours in Tiny Housening, and then I am calling it quits for the night.

Here are some pictures of what Jeff did yesterday, along with some random pictures of Nellie and Widget exploring the new house today, because why not?Boy, I hate that siding. But it will look pretty soon enough.
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Nellie Cowger is a saint among dogs. Widget spends like 80% of the day biting Nell’s neck.

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Nellie in the fauxlarium
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Lots of Widgetyness was taking place
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ONE OF US got tethered to a tree after we decided to lick paint off the can lid and had to be held under the faucet of the weird hillbilly sink so we didn’t die of paint poisoning and then got blue noseprints all over everything. GUESS WHO? (hint: it the one of us that is tiny and pointy and bad).
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I’ve pretty much decided on dark blue as opposed to dark gray for the outside of the house, so yesterday I drove up to several paint stores to track down a bunch of different dark blue paint samples. I had the vague notion that I might get a couple of gallons paint for cheap in a Black Friday sale, though that didn’t end up happening. Today, I went down and tried out the samples I got on the different walls (I tried it on every wall so I can see how the paints look in different light conditions, etc.) Here’s what I was deciding between:
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(not that this is interesting to anyone but me, but if you are a scholar of blue paint, from left to right that’s Benjamin Moore Hale Navy, Behr Nocturnal Sea, Sherwin Williams Naval Blue (a lot like Hale Navy but warmer and brighter), SW Loyal Blue and SW Rainstorm.)Loyal Blue was my lead contender when I was looking at it on the computer, but in person I nixed it immediately: way too bright and peacocky. I nixed the Behr for the same reasons. Unsurprisingly, I definitely prefer the colder colors with more gray in them: I was not expecting to like the Benjamin Moore as much as I did, but I kind of love it, even though it is certainly the grimmest of any of the colors (it also covers the weird bumps in the T1-11 better than any of the others: not inconsequential). I also kind of like the Sherwin Williams Rainstorm, which is a very cold, dark teal, and the SW Naval Blue is OK, too, though I think I like the colder navy better. My inner Anton Webern is totally coming out in this paint color selection: just cold freaking modernism all the way. The guy at Sherwin Williams last night was totally freaked out by how dark I was going and basically was like, “None of these colors are appropriate for a house!”, but I think he was just concerned that I wasn’t going  SouthwestPinky-Greige like every other house around here.

On the same super-fast  trip, I also went by Lumber Liquidators for more floor samples, and when I got home, I got a second wind for projects, so I decided to try to do a semi-quantitative test of Flooring Vs. Pet Hair.

…which involved taking a little hair sample from all of the pets (mostly achieved by sneaking up on them with scissors and taking a little core sample). Emmett is NOT PLEASED by this violation of his shiny pelt.
DSC00131Once I had my little hair samples, I stuck them on scotch tape, then decided to up the ante a bit by also taking samples of random Arizona sanddirt and my hair (I had to take one for the team, since all the pets did.) I also got a wet sponge so I could see how much residual ghosting happened when you smudged a wet fingerprint on the wood. I then scored everything (1=best, 5=worst) and when I was done, I added up the numbers to see which sample had the lowest (and thus best) score. SCIENCE!
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Here are all my samples with their accompanying score. Dark wood, as I suspected based on y’all’s anecdata, didn’t do very well; surprisingly, neither did light wood. The medium tone worked best; the variegation of the tigerwood and the cork also did well.
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Cork, however, has officially been ruled out (though I may still use a little in the loft), because of Test Two: The Widget Test.
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I am lucky(?) to have a puppy who will happily put anydamn thing in her mouth if asked, and is totally on board with nomming random things to test their durability. These floor samples were pretty hard and I didn’t want her to hurt her teeth, so I only gave her a few seconds with each (and I only gave her a couple of the samples, not all six). But that was enough to get a pretty definite sense of how the different woods looked when they’d been abused. I know that my dogs are never going to be chomping on my floor (at least, I hope not), but pointy Widget fangs were a pretty good stand-in to help me gauge how the floors would do with nails. The cork, for example, was thrashed in about two seconds.

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Here all the results, which I arranged in a little collage highlighting areas of damage. Everything got pretty beat up–even the strand bamboo showed some big marks, Janka Hardness Scale 3000 be damned. The tiger and the medium-toned bamboo had some obvious marks, but they were the least obvious of any of them.
floor test- Widget test!

So I scored those, added them to the hair test results, and what I came up with was that the medium-toned bamboo (kind of reddish, neither light nor dark) was the clear winner. And then today, I was back at Gerson’s (the architectural salvage store) and when I walked in, the guys told me they still had some of that bamboo I was looking at last week. They didn’t have as much as before, just four boxes, and I STILL don’t know how durable it is, but a) it was that medium tone that I decided on last night and b) it was FIFTEEN DOLLARS A BOX, making this a $60 floor, so I just bit the bullet and bought everything they had left (bolstered by your advice in the poll last week.) I think I will only need one or two more boxes to finish the downstairs floor, and if it gets thrashed by the dogs, well, it will still be a sub-$100 floor, and that is not nothing. YAY FLOOR!
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So this morning, when I was settling up with Jeff, he informed me that my new Priority #1 had to be finding a front door, mostly so we could start locking stuff up in the house down at the build site (he’s been schlepping everything back and forth). And oy, I don’t know if you guys have shopped for exterior doors lately, but those guys are EXPENSIVE. I was looking at Home Depot last night when I was getting paint samples, and most of the ones I saw started at around $280 (and those were shitty cheap-looking fiberglass, and only a very few swung to the left, which is what I need). If you wanted something that didn’t look just awful, that started getting closer to $500, and those still weren’t actually wood doors, just weird composites. So when I got home, I poked around online to see what it would cost to have a wooden door built: the cheapest I found in the area was this nice Mennonite guy who did beautiful work that started at about $1000. So that was that, though someday I will be rich and then I’m coming for you, Mr. Mennonite!Thus, today I ended up back at Gerson’s to try to find a nice salvaged door. And find one I did! It was $79, it is solid wood, it is the perfect size, it swings to the left, it is pretty without being all weird and gaudy, and I loved it instantly. Two problems: first, it was not pre-hung (Jeff’s ONLY stipulation was that the door be pre-hung), and two, it was covered in an unspecified amount of old paint. So as they were loading it into my car, I was breezily thinking 1) eh, how hard could it be to hang a door?/I’ll just do it myself (bear in mind that as I was thinking this, I had zero idea what ‘hanging a door’ actually meant; I just assumed I could probably do it) and 2) I’ve stripped a little paint in my day, surely it would not be that big of a deal!

Oh my god, dudes. Here’s my new door, hanging out on sawhorses in bad garage light. It is gonna be a PROJECT.

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So, first: to hang a door actually is kind of a big deal, as I learned from the dude at the hardware store tonight. You actually have to build out a door jamb, and then a frame to go around the rest of the door (I’d never really thought about it before, but duh, of course doors aren’t being bolted right into the doorway.) Seriously, go look at whatever door is near you: see how it has a little frame? I had never really noticed. Anyway, instead of being hardcore and just building it out of lumber, I ended up buying a prefinished door jamb kit and a door header, which I’ll nail together then bolt to the door when I get the door itself refinished. But that’s a little bit of a thing (luckily on youtube, there is a video with a comforting Canadian woodworker who explains the whole process, and that made me feel better.)

Second: It turns out there is a LOT of paint on this guy, and it’s pretty well set. I bought some hippie stripper (her name is Quinoa, and she works nights down at the Positive Vibes Lounge) so I could work on the door in the garage. I put a layer on and gave it an hour and a half or so to sit (after trying futily to sand it a bit).
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When I got my little paint stripper tool and started working on it, I found another layer of greenish paint under the white paint: the white came off pretty easily, but the greenish wasn’t going anywhere, so I decided to reapply the stripper and leave it overnight.
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The nice thing is that in the couple areas where I could get through the green paint, I could tell that there was a pretty nice wood under it (that part was kind of a gamble, though I reasoned that worst case scenario, I could always paint it white again.) The door is VERY heavy, and I am pretty sure the wood is a hardwood (I couldn’t dent it with my fingernail); I don’t claim to be an arborist or anything like that, but from the way the grain is, I am thinking it might possibly be mahogany. If that is the case, then freaking SCORE!
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Of course, there’s a whole ‘nother god-knows-how-many layers of paint on the other side of the door, so we’ll see if I ever reach this alleged mahogany.

[Also, it needs hardware. If any of you know a source for not insanely expensive modern door hardware (no weird curlicues), do please tell me, because I sure cannot find one.]

In conclusion, from the comments last week, I think it is awesome that you guys have such strong opinions about Property Brothers 🙂

Build: Day Six

Now that I have (nearly) all of my exterior walls finished up (waaaaaalls!), today was the day to start on the ceiling framing (we just did the front section of the house today). This was weirdly fun, even though it involved a LOT of sawdust in the eyes.  I have learned a ton from this build, but today was especially like OJT Woodworking School; this was in part because almost everything we did today had an identical copy of (we were framing two identical small ceiling sections), so the way things evolved is that Jeff did one thing, then I watched him and tried to duplicate what he did for the second thing. Fun! Jeff and I talk very little during the build (Jeff, who is a very nice guy, is nevertheless not a talker). Also, the generator is loud, and makes it hard for anybody to hear anybody. So we conducted a lot of today’s Intro to Ceiling Framing in mime: Jeff would do something, and then he would mutely hand me some wood and a pencil and a power tool and I would copy it. It was in this manner that I learned how to make rafters.

But before we even get to rafters, let’s talk ceiling beams! (sorry! FUNNEST BLOG EVER, right?)[Oh, PS: Sorry for the picture quality today: I realized when I got there that I’d left my camera’s battery in the charger at home, so all of these were taken with an elderly iPhone that features a half-busted LED.]

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So apparently there are two ways you can go with beams: you can either get huge, heavy thick cut pieces of wood like you might see in a mead hall of the sort featured in an early Anglo-Saxon text called “How To Slaughter A Thousand Men in a Mead Hall”. Orrrr, if you’re working in primarily 2x4s (like we are), you can take two 2x4s, glue them together with hard core construction adhesive, fire a bunch of nails in them, and boom! instant beam! This has the benefit of still being strong without being so heavy that it takes out your entire ceiling (though they’re still pretty heavy: I was lifting them over my head all day and now my shoulders are mad at me.)

Step one: glue (this is Beam #1, which Jeff is doing, but I built Beam #2, go me!)
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Step two: Nail
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Step three: cut a little notch in the wall framing on both sides and slot the beam into that.

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Step four: profit!

Dos beams (and one thumb)!
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Actually, there’s a step 3.5 in there: cut down the temporary lintel over the door that held everything together, pre-beams. Once we cut it down, I put it to the side and said to Jeff, “I’ll just put this over here in case we have to fight any orcs”, which I am telling you about now because it ACTUALLY GOT A CHUCKLE OUT OF JEFF! This was the greatest accomplishment of my day.

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Next, we cut the rafters, fourteen little ones that sloped down just on one side (for both eight foot ceilings) and seven bigger ones that sloped on both sides (for the 10 foot ceiling). Cutting rafters is so fun!

Jeff did a little measuring, then drew out a the shape he wanted the rafter to be on a 2×4 (you can just see that in the picture): he cut that shape out and then used it as a template for the rest of the rafters.

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This went very fast. Here’s our pile-o-rafters:
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Then we arranged them from the side of the house to the beam and nailed them in.
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This all was done up on the ladder: when Jeff was installing his side, instead of putting one rafter up, coming down the ladder, moving the ladder, going back up with another rafter, etc., when he was done, he just kind of did a pull up on the ceiling beams, then I moved the ladder a few feet, then he pulled himself over a few feet monkey-style until he could get his feet back on the ladder. When it came time for me to install my side, I just went up and down the ladder a lot, because I found that that shit was way beyond me. Jeff is kind of a superstar. I didn’t leave him hanging on the ceiling so I could get a picture–that would have been unkind–but here’s some more monkey stuff up in the ceiling.

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I believe in that picture he is tiptoeing on one foot on the ladder and has the other foot just braced somewhere in space. BEST CONTRACTOR/MOST INSANE CONTRACTOR!

Right set of rafters installed
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Left set of rafters installed! (that is MY SIDE!)
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Next, we had to build  the inner edges of the eight foot ceilings up a bit, so the rafters for the ten foot ceiling would have something to rest on. One of the best lessons I learned in Woodworking School today was that if you have a complicated section to frame out, especially if it’s anywhere higher than at eye level, it makes the most sense to build the section on the ground and then just lift it up and install it.

…which is why Jeff is building these little hold-the-ceiling-up boxes on the ground
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Once that was built, we lifted it up above the eight foot ceiling (harder than it sounds!) and nailed it in
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After that, we had a level base on which to place the bigger rafters (the ones that go over the ten foot ceiling.) See how they’re resting on the new box we built on the ground? Incidentally, I don’t know WTH Jeff is doing there, but it apparently involves some epic veins.
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All three sets in!
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EPIC CEILING SHOT!
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[Does the ceiling make a little more sense now? I was having trouble really explaining it yesterday]

The whole shebang
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And then we called it a day, because come on, that’s awesome.

Oh, also: I have had another failure in The Battle For Denim Insulation, which is that the lady from Craigslist that had a bunch of extra denim wrote me today and said they’d run into problems with their build and were actually going to be using all of their insulation after all. And of course, I could just buy it from an actual store, but that starts getting somewhat spendy. We’ll see how it goes; right now, I am trying hard to convince myself of the merits of rigid foam board. The labeling on the side is trying hard to convince me that it is awesome!
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Which, whatever, foam board, I know that you are functionally non-recyclable and I do not care for that, though I do appreciate your relative paucity of toxic chemicals.

After the day’s fun ceiling action was over, I ran home, let the poor dogs out, threw some dogs in the car and headed up to Lumber Liquidators to help resolve my floor dilemma. I got lost in some crazy construction-related detours, ended up getting there five minutes after they closed, somehow persuaded the nice salesman to give me some samples anyway and then came home. I got samples of strand bamboo in dark, medium and light (I don’t know which specific finishes they are, since I didn’t want to make the poor guy hunt: I just asked for the first things he saw in dark, light and medium.) Had I gotten there on time, I also would have picked up some cork (which I’m considering for the floor in the loft), but as it was, I didn’t want to press my luck. Tomorrow, I am going to brush all the animals and see what their hair looks like on each of the floor samples (I may try to figure out how to get them to dig at the board too, just to gauge scratchability). Also, while the nice guy was getting me samples, I took a look at that tiger-stripe bamboo, which turns out to be a lot more subtle and pretty in person (it is interesting, but not nearly as HEY LOOKIT ME, I’M A FLOOR! as it appears in the picture.) Strong contender, I think!

Tomorrow is the last build day before Thanksgiving, which Jeff is remarkably taking off: we’re only working in the morning, but the plan is to frame the rest of the ceiling out (over the loft/kitchen/bathroom.) Yay house!