Interior mega-update: Part Two

Mega-post, continued!

1) Counters

So Jeff cut my new Ikea countertop for me, which I appreciated: my skills with the band saw are still a little rudimentary. When I got it down to the house, it looked like this:
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While it was outside, I tried out the two colors of tung oil on it to see what looked better. I was Team Dark before I started, but once I put the dark oil on, I realized it was absorbing differently into the different woods used in the butcher block and coming out all splotchy.
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A similar thing happened on the loft in the upstairs window frame: I did the trim in dark tung and the oil absorbed differently all over the wood (I think because the trim wood is compressed): it still looks kind of splotchy, even after a bunch of coats. So, lesson learned: I think the dark tung works better when you’ve got a single piece of wood, like my beams and stair treads. I am going to use it on the window seat today though, so more dark tung is happening, I promise.

So I ran a line of silicone over the top of the cabinets (to help adhere the countertop), hoisted the countertop up on top of the cabinets, and…

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Oops.

It turned out that there was a little tiny bit of stair runner wood that wasn’t perfectly flush with the rest of the runner, and that 1/8″ was enough to keep the counter from going in smoothly.
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I tried my tried-and-true trick of “when in doubt, put a towel on it and bash it with a hammer”, which mostly works, but in this case just left me with a hole in the wall.
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Double oops. And I cannot lie: there were definitely a few minutes where I was jabbing at the hole with a screwdriver hoping that if I made it bigger, the counter would slide down. Nope! So instead, I pulled the countertop off, put some wood filler in the hole in the wall and gave the countertop its first coat of tung oil.

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Pretty! I have noticed that the lighter tung needs a bunch of coats to really sink in: you’ll see in the Day Two pictures that it looks lighter (because the first layer has soaked in). But ultimately, when it’s all saturated, it’ll look like it does here.

2) Fan, redux

Fan blades are up!
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[Don’t tell anyone, but I am starting to dig this fan. It is so squatty and adorable!]

Also, I got some Howard’s Feed & Wax and went over the stair runners and beams, since I wanted a slightly shinier finish on them and they were getting pretty matte as they dried. I loooooove that Howard’s: I use it on furniture all the time, and I’m going to use it on the counters once they are all oiled up.

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[ignore That Light]

Day Two! Jeff came down and helped me with Countergate. He ended up just cutting into the corner of the countertop, and once he did that, it fit perfectly. I sanded and painted the hole in the wall, we got the countertop on, and then, since he was there, we hooked up the sink and the faucet and got the plumbing all set. Hurrah! Here’s the finished product:
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Gratuitous picture of my new on-demand hot water heater, which Jeff installed while I was gone. So tiny! So not an enormous tank!
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Jeff also had a surprise for me: the countertop I bought was too wide for the cabinets (which I knew: it was in the Ikea as-is for half price, so I bought it), so Jeff cut it down, but then he used the scraps to make a little countertop for the other side (he just cut them down and glued/clamped them together). And it is gorgeous and perfect, and now I only have to buy one more 31″x25″ piece of countertop, so that saved me a hundred bucks. Doesn’t this look good? You would have no idea that it was made from scraps.
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4) Then, we talked through the stair cubbies and horizontal bookshelves. Jeff took some measurements and is going to build the boxes for the cubbies while he’s recuperating: we’re making with doors on both sides so they’re accessible from under the stairs and also from the uprights of the stairs themselves (this will let me enclose that area if I want). I am going to build the bookshelves all by my lonesome, but I feel better about doing that now than I did before (today I have to measure and buy LOTS of lumber).

When Jeff left, I primed the uprights then painted them with a really heavy duty enamel paint (for ease of cleanup): it’s Benjamin Moore Advance, in the same color as the walls. It was super thick, almost ganache-like in texture, and it promises a very hard, durable surface, so I will let you know how it wears.

Primer: When You Want Things to Look Just a Little Bit Horrible
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Paint!
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These guys will eventually be front doors for the stair cubbies. One of my projects for today is to measure and cut some of the leftover bamboo for the floor: that’s going to be the stair treads.

5) Upper cabinets!
OK, so here’s the thing: because the upper cabinets (which, if you recall, I felt pretty ‘meh’ about) are some kind of melamine/MDF inside,the holes from when they got screwed to the wall are pretty big and obvious (if you’ve ever tried to nail or screw a piece of Ikea furniture, you know what I mean.) This makes the cabinets functionally unreturnable, so now my options are a) move them to a different part of the house or b) work with them where they are. Right now I am going to give b) a shot, since no matter where I put them, I think I’ll want to paint them. So my plan now is to take the doors off, prime and paint them (I’m going to use the same white enamel I used for the stair uprights) and use them as open shelving: I think I am going to turn the one closest to the living room into a little bar shelf, which might actually be cool (I hope?) So I started by priming them. The primer is having a hard time adhering to the weird melamine, even though it’s all-surface primer, so I put one coat on and today I’m going to try another coat and see if that first coat helps the adhesion. They look bad now! Hopefully they will look better? We will see.

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6) Backsplash!

So a few weeks ago when I was at Gersons, I saw a couple of packs of mosaic tiles (pretty cool ones: they’re natural stone and glass) for two bucks apiece. I didn’t know if I’d be able to use them or not, but I picked up six packs anyway since they were so cheap.

Cheap! Proof!
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Once I got the counter on, I realized they’d fit almost perfectly between the countertop and the window frame. Yay! So I got some ceramic tile adhesive and glopped it on the back:
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And started sticking them up! You’ll notice a little gap between the top of the tile and the window frame: that’s the almost perfect part. I might get some horizontal stone tiles to fill it in: I might also just decide not to worry about it, which seems easier 🙂
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You will also notice that that gap seems to disappear as I put more tiles on. That….is true! And I don’t know why, except maybe something somewhere is crooked? Regardless, not worrying about it (maybe I will just fill that in with grout.)
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When I got to the end part under the stairs, I had a little bit of room to fill in, but the tiles themselves were too big. However, I did have those little rows of glass tiles, and upon closer examination, they were all separate from each other and just held together with a little cloth backing. So I just got some scissors and cut them apart from the other stones:
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And made a little triangle at the end! I AM BASICALLY EXACTLY LIKE MCGYVER, YOU GUYS.
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I have to grout them still (I have never grouted anything before: it sounds…exciting?) and seal them, because they’re natural stone, but I am pretty pleased with it, and the whole thing, including the glue, cost $16.
And now I am heading back to do more projects. Think good thoughts in the direction of those cabinets!

Build: Days Ten & Eleven

Here’s the tiny house update for Wednesday and Friday (Thursday was rainy and cold, so we just did projects in our various garages).
1) Mistakes Were Made: Door Edition
So you guys remember the door I was so excited about?  DISASTER. Here is the process of that, in brief:
a. Buy door that turns out to be an awesome solid(*ish) wood, former schoolhouse door from Gerson’s, the architectural surplus store. For eighty bucks! Yay!
b. Start stripping paint from door, realize that there are at least three layers of old paint on each side. Yay?
c. Spend three evenings standing out in the cold garage hand-stripping paint. Begin feeling a little less yay. Go out and buy really pretty finish restore stuff to make self feel better, imagining how pretty the lovely raw wood door will look.
d. At the very end of the paint stripping process, uncover an enormous pockmarked section that had been filled in with wood fill. Wood fill is pretty solid, but that jettisons plans for beautiful refinished natural wood door. Exxhange finish restore stuff for paint and primer.
e. Sand sand sand sand sand. Attempt to get all old paint off the door; fail. Decide that if I just prime it, it’ll fill in the irregularities, and anyway, will otherwise look rustic.
f. Prime it. Primer does not do any of the things I’d hoped. Say, ‘rustic, rustic, rustic!’ over and over again, talismanically.
g. Paint it. It does not look rustic. It looks like a bad paint job.
h. Paint it again. Still doesn’t look awesome.
i. Jeff comes over while I am at work, looks at door drying on sawhorses, declares it totally unusable, due to some mysterious structural thing that was never fully explained.
j. Stuff door in back of Scion xa, drive it back to Gerson’s, sweet talk the nice people there into letting me return it for store credit.
k. Return door jamb kit to Home Depot, also get store credit.
l. Jeff goes to Lowe’s and buys a meh-looking plastic-y steel door for three hundred bucks. I have a sad. Oh well, I am going to at least paint it something cool.

Unpainted sadness door.
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The upside of these door shenanigans is that I now have a house key! To my own house! Which feels kinda momentous, I must say.

2) Paint: The Cold Feet-ening.

Went down to visit the house on Thursday while it was storming, because Science! And I’m glad I did, because without exception, all of the little sample blues looked awful when the sun wasn’t out and the weather was crummy. They all sucked up the available light and nearly all of them read black from any kind of distance (the only one that didn’t was the one that was called, coincidentally enough, Rainstorm). So I thought about it for the evening, and then the next morning, I bought a couple of samples of warm dark gray, my other option in the paint-off. I tried them out on the side of the house (it was still gloomy, though not raining anymore) and the grays seemed to work a TON better in a variety of light conditions. I am not sure I like them as much as the blues, but a combination of seeing them in the gloom and my mom and Jeff both yelling things at me about dark blues and solar gain (“when it’s blazing hot in the middle of the summer and you’re not living in a sweatbox, you are going to be glad you listened to your mother!”) made me reevaluate a bit. So yesterday, I started priming the house and also bought a gallon of this Benjamin Moore color called ‘Pewter’. But only a gallon, because I reserve the right to hate it and paint over it with a blue.

3) Construction! In the last few days, we have made tons of progress: first, on Thursday, I painted roof trim while Jeff was framing out the loft (yay!)

Roof trim, drying
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Loft frame: the little hatch is where the stairs will go
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Detail
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Then we put the roof trim up (did I mention in the last entry that we’d put on the ply roof panels? If not, we did, and here they are! That’s a later shot: as you will note, it includes Sadness Door)
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Then yesterday, we put the subfloor panels down in the loft, which means you can walk on the loft now, and Jeff BUILT STAIRS! The stairs, btw, are going to be drawers, so those uprights are temporary.
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Beautiful stairs
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Of course, the primary reason for doing stairs instead of a ladder is because I wanted the pets to be able to get up and down: here is Widget, proving that it can be done!
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In the loft!
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Late afternoon view from the loft
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(if I can get some stained glass in this house, I’m going to put the panels to the left and right of this picture, on those two dark spots at the top.)

Sitting in the loft with a photobombing puppy
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The loft is great, incidentally. When I’d visited tiny houses prior to this project, my knock on them was that the lofts felt really claustrophobic, mostly because they were under a sharply pitched roof. With the flat(ish) roof and the windows, my loft avoids that. You can’t stand in it (not possible if you want a functional kitchen), but if you’re sitting on the floor and you’re my height, you have to reach your arms all the way up to touch the ceiling. I think I am going to love hanging out in it.

Then I started priming the house. No pictures of that, but it looks like you’d think: I had limited time before the build site closed, so I didn’t do any edging work and just tried to get as much primer up as I could: it is fuzzy and Rothkoesque now, but I’m going down today to finish and hopefully get some of the actual paint up so I can see it. And while I do that, Jeff is going to be roofing! More probably tonight.