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Woody the Woodchuck

10 Jun

Turns out, when you remove a wall there is some patching to do on the flip side of the coin. Wall patching, floor patching, yep and yep. A la this little beaut. There is definitely a hole there 😉 With a matching gap on the other side. Twinsies.

How to patch wood floor

Patching Wood Floor

When we went shopping for the mudding materials, we came back with a few extra essentials. While we were shopping, I saw Jay start to slowly ebb toward the power tools section (never good). We were in the market for an air compressor and nail gun, and although I was *hoping* to find one on craigslist, we landed up getting a shiny new one instead.

Why you ask, well, because there was a crazy-licous Memorial Day sale where the nail gun compressor kit was marked down $100, meaning only $150 green backs had to be exchanged for this new power house. Overall, for the use we are going to get out of this beast, I’ll call that a good use of our simolions. So, Jay got his new tool, and in turn, I got Jay to do some projects around here the man had been dragging his feet on. All in the name of getting a new power tool – man – he knows how to manipulate 😉

Bostitch Air Compressor and Nail Gun

Bostitch Air Compressor

So, power tool in hand, we set off to remedy our little gap of a problem. We needed more wood to patch this baby up. Not a lot of wood, but turns out it’s hard to find little batches of red oak. We probably needed 4 square feet of wood, but we had to buy it in a 20sq foot bundle. Bummer. The good news, we now know we have ample wood in case things go screwy along the way. The bad, the wood came in over budget. In all honesty I’m kind of at the point where I’m sad if things go over budget, but I am also reaching my delirium point with this whole reno, where I just let Jay add things to the shopping cart, so we can just get the project done. I want my kitchen back, I want a dining room to eat dinner at, I want to not have an inch of dust covering my floor when I get up each morning. So $60 vs $20 right now, grumble grumble, whatever.

How to patch wood floor

Red Oak Floor

Speaking of just throwing things into the shopping cart, look at Jay’s handy new set of chisels. I think Jay’s long lost calling is as a sculptor. Grab this man a beret cause he pretty much thought he was Michelangelo. Sans naked sculpted people. And just run with the beret reference, I know, these fancy hats are probably before his time but I think artist and I think beret. Roll with it.

Kobalt Wood Chisel Set

Wood Chisel

I kept walking into the room with Jay all focused on his new art form and listening to my husband say things like – this is so relaxing, I love chiseling wood, can we do more of these projects. I could here the angels singing. Music to my ears, grasshopper.

The first step in this covert little operation was to measure where we wanted the wood piece to end at.  We used our level to make sure that the line was as straight as a whistle. No crooked boards here. Also, another little tip. We tried to stagger each board we cut, so that all the wood didn’t end at the same spot. We wanted the new pieces to look as intentional (and original) as possible, so changing end location helped to achieve this.

How to patch wood floor

Measuring Wood

The next step, well this one freaked me out a little. I knew that the pieces of wood had to come up, but still, taking a screw driver to my wood floor was not my vision of progress. More like mutilation. But, it had to be done, so Jay proceeded as I watched and waited on baited breath. You want to screw 2-3 holes right along the line where you plan to have your piece of wood end. Drilling the holes helps to prevent the wood from splitting as you lift up the board, and defines a clear ending point.

How to patch wood floors

Screwing Hole

Once you’ve added 2-3 holes in the wood, you can start to pry up each piece a bit with a crowbar and rubber mallet. If you put in a sufficient amount of holes, you should find that this keeps the wood from splitting beyond your intended end point. We found that some pieces were harder to remove than others, largely due to extra glue being placed on them, making them stick too much to an adjacent board. We tried to be very careful when prying each board up, since we knew that any screw ups could mean taking out a whole other board.

How to patch wood floor

Removing Wood

Once you get the big pieces up, you have enough left at your end to start chiseling, which is what creates the nice, crisp edge, and makes it look like a newly laid piece. In general, Jay would start by tapping along each line (that he drew with his pencil) and then he would come back through and remove each chunk of wood, one layer at a time. Since it is so important that this edge looks perfectly straight, this took about 25 minutes for each piece of wood that was modified. Luckily, Jay seemed to be enjoying this part of the process for the most part, so that always helps make the minutes pass a bit quicker.

How to replace wood floor


After each piece had been chiseled to our hearts content, the wood looked like the photo below. We tried to maintain the staggered look with each piece of wood. See those laser sharp edges? Jay is such a rockstar.

How to replace wood boards on floor

Replacing Wood Floor


Frenchie French

7 Jun

One of our big ideas for the dining/kitchen/sunroom space was to knock out part of the exterior wall and add some french doors into the mix. Well thanks to our aw-esome new handy dandy handy man, that dream is now a reality America! I guess once you start knocking out walls, you just can’t stop. It’s like pringles or something. For reference, here is a picture of our door before. Nice, but not quite there. The gold accents, the mini little glass panel. It worked, but I had grander plans.

Simply White Trim

Simply White Patio Door

We really liked the guy that came out to do our gas line, so when we brought him out for that job we made sure to have him quote us a price to have this work done, too. We knew that we had to have the following done for the new door install:

  • Brick surround needed to be cut
  • New header for the larger door
  • Electrical box moved over

Overall, we received (3) quotes to have the work done. The first, came in at $1,500 (ouch), the second $895 and the third (our guy) was $750. Normally we would go with the middle priced quote, just to avoid any issues with inexperience, etc, but since we had worked with this guy in the past, we knew he would do an awesome job so we hired him and decided to call it a day. Not cheap (by any means), but also, I think this is going to be a pretty darn good addition to our whole house layout, so we were willing to bite the bullet and make it happen.

Removing Exterior Door

Door Opening

After we removed the door that was installed before – you could already see a big difference in how things looked and felt. I personally feel like the glass panel to the right of the door didn’t really add much in the way of light. Since the paneling was so thick on either side, the amount of light (and openness) that actually resulted from the extra glass was minimal.

Here is Jason, our handy man, measuring out the dimensions for cutting out the interior portion of the door. Since the door opening was a bit tighter on the left hand side, we opted to bump out the door a bit to the right, so you can see a bit more is being taken off on the right side of the door.

How to Install Exterior Door

Measuring Door Opening

After removing the exterior brick and cutting the opening, things were looking like this! Starting to see progress here. Since this door opening was a supporting wall, he also had to pop in some wood framing in order to keep things from caving in (always good). 🙂

How to support structure while removing wall

Supporting Wall

Check out this hunka hunka header above the door. Every other stud isn’t resting on the new wood, since those are from the previous header. The newer (lighter colored) wood, is what Justin built to support the structure. Looks nice a sturdy to me! 😉

Header above exterior door

Header Above Door

Once the door was in, we noticed that there was some serious gap action happening. Since we had some great stuff insulation left over from the bathroom renovation, we decided to whip out that can and help make this new addition air tight.

How to insulate door

Insulating New Door

Truth be told, we plan on finishing off the screened-in porch soon, so this door will actually not be facing out onto the exterior. But, it just seemed to make sense to insulate wherever we can. Plus, it’s possible we won’t get around to finishing off the screened-in porch prior to winter, so this gives us some buffer room. 🙂 It continues to expand a bit, but here is a picture of the after. You can’t see the outside anymore, so we will go ahead and call that a win.

Great Stuff Insulation

Insulated Door

After lots of shimming and nailing up boards, we officially have a new french door installed! EEEEKKKK!!! Yes – I’m THAT excited about it. Looking mighty ffiiinnnee. Yep, I’m in love. Now instead of a 32″ opening, we have a 60″ opening – big difference. I can’t wait for all the summer nights when we can pop these doors open and enjoy the balmy breezes.

French Door Off Dining Room

French Door

Yippie skippie!! Pumped to get some trim around this beauty and call it a day! Also – very ready for my house to be sans dust for more than 2 seconds. 😉

The combination of the brick cutting and the supporting wall was overall what convinced us that hiring this one out was the way to go. We’ve definitely installed a door (or two) in our day, but this just felt a bit beyond our abilities. With all the other kitchen reno stuff in the mix, we also wanted this done (like yesterday), so it was pretty helpful to have someone come in and do some of the dirty work for us. The key to your sanity and safety in a DIY household (in my opinion) is to hire it out when you have to (or want to!). In the long run, I know we are saving SO much by tackling the majority of projects ourselves, so when it’s time to hire it out, I’m usually happy to do so.

Compounding that Joint

5 Jun

When we had the room all free and clear of studs and pipes and electrical cords, it was officially time to seal up that big ol’ hole in the wall and actually get this room to looking more like, well, a room. After chatting with another friendly Lowe’s associate, we came back home with all our new spackling gear and got ready to drywall this joint.

How to patch plaster hole

Big Old Hole

In all honesty, we came back with a lot more loot than I was planning. Being the frugal little lady I am, I thought Jay could like buy one trowel and a putty knife and call it a day. Lucky for Jay (unlucky for me) the guy at Lowe’s that helped us was like a drywalling duuuude. Like I think his middle name was drywall mcgee. This man was in his element when talking about all the tools we needed.

While grabbing 12  tools from the wall (and insisting we needed all of them), he told us stories of days gone by while making dramatic motions depicting exactly how you drywall, tape and apply joint compound. I guess I was so mesmerized by his actions that before I knew it, we had a whole arsenal of drywalling gear in our cart. Jay was smiling, I was still trying to figure out what all those hand movements meant from the theatrical performance.

Tools Needed for Drywall

Drywalling Tools

After one (rather lackluster, sorry honey) drywalling experience prior, Jay was sold on one thing. He wanted to get the big joint knife. No 4″ tools here, he wanted 12″ and up. Since a larger joint knife will smooth out the entire line to that plane, Jay’s experience was that this was the best tool of the trade for the work he was doing. Since I wanted him to be equipped this time to knock this job out of the park, I relented and let him get all the goodies at the store. Before Jay had a chance to use all his new tools, we had to cut the drywall outside to fit.

How to cut drywall

Cutting the Drywall

For some reference, here is how the whole room was looking before we added in any of the drywall, or started the mudding process.

How to fill hole in wall

Wall Opening

Since we have an old house, and plaster walls, we found that the actual wall height between the dining room and living room walls – well – lets just say there was some variation. After popping the drywall in, there was still a considerable gap.

How to patch hole with drywall

Adding Drywall

Since adding two pieces of drywall stacked on top of each other would have been too high, we opted (per the pro’s consultation) to put one piece in, and then use joint compound to fill the rest. Lots of joint compound, to turns out. This also helped a bit with the variation in wall height since we could gradually merge the two surfaces together. We thought a bag of joint compound mix would be enough – no dice. 2 bags it was. It was pretty chunkalicous at first, so we (Jay) really had to get in there and mix this for a bit before we had the right consistency to put up on the wall.

How to mud drywall

Mixing Joint Compound

Here he is applying the first coat. It was a pretty thick first coat, probably a solid inch around the entire wall opening.

How to mud drywall

Mudding the Wall

After the initial coat was on (we used the smaller, 4″ trowel for this part), we moved on to smoothing all of the joint compound out on the wall, to give it as finished as an appearance as possible. This is the point where the big old mudding knife came in handy. Look at that concentration.

How to fill hole in wall

Smoothing Out Joints

Now that we have the entire hole in the wall coated, it’s time for some sanding, second coats (and third coats), and then – paint!! Wishing we could just hop to the paint step, but, some things are worth the wait.

Going on a Table Hunt

9 Apr

Now that we’ve decided to work with the smaller dining space we have, it’s time to optimize the hut and get a round dining table already. Actually, the search has only just begun. Ideally, I’d really like to find one on craigslist or used (Salvation Army, consignment stores, etc) but if all else fails, there are a few online that I like as well.

This was the first table I found that I liked, it’s 54″ round, with an extension. 54″ could work, but I feel like 48″ would be a bit better for flow in the room. This one is from Art Van, (it’s the Sutton’s Bay Pedestal Dining Table) which is nice since there is ALWAYS a promo going on there. It’s listed for $599, but I wouldn’t pay much more than $400 for it, which I think is feasible given all the promotions Art Van runs.

Suttons Bay Dining Table

Suttons Bay Dining Table

I’m quite smitten with this guy from Macy’s as well. I absolutely love the pedestal base on it, but I’m not sure I’m crazy about the top. It looks like it has quite a bit of detail, and I think that I would prefer just plan wood versus an inlay pattern. This one is a 48″ table (right dimensions!) with a leaf that extends it to 70″, so it’s great for when we are entertaining and need additional space at the table. The reviews say that the table top scratches pretty easy as well, and with a cat that is constantly jumping on the table, that might nix this one.

I’m digging this one, from Liberty Furniture as well. Ideally, I think I would go with a slightly darker wood stain, but I think it’s a super handsome looking table! It’s a 48″ base table, that expands to 60″ (and seats 6) for entertaining. The smaller sizing is appealing to me, since I think it would help a lot with the flow in the room. Also, although I absolutely love the pedestal portion of the table, I’m not sure I’m crazy about the loop-de-loos at the bottom of the table legs. It’s also a bit more pricey – at $720.

48" Pedestal Dining Table

Liberty Furniture Pedestal Dining Table

Other than the price, I’m totally gelling with this table from Broyhill as well (think it might even be my top contender…). One of the most important aspects to me on the table is the look of the pedestal. Gotta keep it classy, America! There are certain details that just make me want to run and grab my wallet on a pedestal table and this one has a lot of those star qualities that have me thinking irrational thoughts, and saying to myself, $700 isn’t THAT expensive. Dangerous words, very dangerous words.

Broyhill Pedestal Dining Table

Broyhill Pedestal Dining Table

Any thoughts out there in blog land? I find it’s the hardest to find what you’re looking for, when you already know EXACTLY what you’re looking for. Narrows the search options a wee bit. 🙂

A Wo(man) with a Plan

2 Apr

Whenever I get an idea in my head, we have officially entered the danger zone 😉 Since we moved into the house, Jay and I had some pretty big plans to bust out the back wall on the house and convert that space to our dining room. And I still really love that idea – but the more I thought about it, the more I really wanted to try working with the space we already have. If we land up staying in this house long term and and have a bunch of bambinos in it, we might still opt to do the dining room off the back BUT in the mean time, I think there is a ton that can be done with the slightly smaller space. Before our revamped plan, I was dreaming of a dining room like this:

Dining Room

Dream Dining Room Layout

Flowing right off the kitchen, and into the back yard from french doors, this would have been a great space for entertaining. Le sigh, a girl can dream, no? Really, it all boils down to affordability. If we can find a way to make an addition off the back affordable (by doing the vast majority of the revisions ourselves…) than we might still tackle it.

Here is the layout again of the house, to refresh your memory.

First Floor Layout

Layout of First Floor

The current potential hurtles in place to converting the back space into a dining room are:

  1. The fact that we may have to hire a contractor to do some of the work. The room currently only has lattice under it, so we would need to route HVAC into the room (or perhaps install some underfloor heating?) and add some additional supports a la new foundation for it as well. The inspector casually estimated the addition would cost $30,000. I think that is bonkers – but that was his professional opinion. That would be to have the entire thing (from start to finish) contracted out, so if we are only looking for assistance with HVAC, and foundation support, that cost may decrease substantially.
  2. The cost is obviously a big deal – we could divert that money into SO many other projects/things that it’s hard to justify
  3. If we can get the same/or similar function with a smaller dining space, I feel like we should at least try that first. Well at least that would be the rational thing to do… 😉

The pros of a smaller dining space:

  1. More money in our pocket to tackle some of the projects we’ve been hoping to get to, instead of pinching all our pennies to contract someone out.
  2. I can start to bust out some of the really exciting/labor intensive projects on our list (kitchen remodel and attic conversion)
  3. It gives me something else to plan – I’d the good Lord knows I’m a girl that likes her plans

The cons:

  1. Space constraints – our combined kitchen and dining space is 18′ by 9′, floor print referenced above, so it’s not the largest
  2. Layout – optimizing everything in this small of a space will be tricky
  3. Room ambiance – I really like the idea of a formal dining space, and we will lose that a bit with a more open concept living/dining space

The good news, I think I’m up to the task! 😉 The jury is still out on our final plans for the space, but either way, I’m pretty excited to get the ball rolling so we know our options a bit more. We intend to meet with a few contractors to let them know about what we are thinking, and then once we get some direct feedback from them on the costs, we will make a final decision on how to proceed. Right now, we are either going to convert the screened in porch into a really nice, open and airy sunroom, or we might opt to just slowly DIY the space into a legit dining room. Here is another inspiration picture I have, since this is of the exterior, these shots will work for both scenarios.

Exterior French Doors

Exterior French Doors

Drool. I would pretty much cry tears of joy if the back of my house looked like this. Funny, by the end of writing this post, I’m already back in limbo land. I really can’t decide what I want to do – ugggghhh. First world problems.

This Little Light of Mine

6 Jan

Chandeliers. They can be lovely things – classy little details to brighten up the space. Or – they can be brassy 80’s relics that take the wind right out of your sails. Our home had the latter when we moved in. I think by the second day Jay was climbing up on the table to remove it per my insistent requests. Actually for a few days there – things were looking pretty dark around here as the hurry up and get r’ done side of me wanted to post all of our OLD lights on craigslist, so that we could buy new ones. Alas the old ones must have been priced to sell because those babies flew off the shelf before I could restock the abode. Flashlights were our trusted friend for a wee bit there 🙂 Sometimes I get ahead of myself.

We started with this guy, in all his golden glory. I considered spray painting it and looking for a drum shade to go over it, but after doing some research, I found that option almost as pricey as a new one, and a bit more risky if I didn’t like it and was stuck with a lamp shade that wouldn’t work for anything else – given the size.

Dining Room Light - Before

Dining Room Light – Before

If I had NO budget –  I totally luurve this light (or this one). But alas, $100 is more my style for a light vs. ya know, like a grand. A girl can dream, right?

Arteriors Rittenhouse Bronze Chandelier

Arteriors Rittenhouse Bronze Chandelier

This was a bit of a trial and error experience. At first, not wanting to gamble with purchasing a light online and then not liking it, I opted to take the conservative route and buy one off the shelf from Home Depot. I really liked this light in person, with one, notable, exception. The bottom portion of the light reflected down – hardcore – into your face. The first night, Jay and I tried to eat dinner under the light and I swear I could see spots from the light when I woke up the next morning. The jarring lights-in-our-eyes was not the peaceful ambiance I was going for over our romantic spaghetti dinners. Or our left overs nuked in the microwave dinners for that matter.

Home Depot Light Dining

Back to Home Depot it went. And then – I found the WINNA! Totally affordable – check! Super classy – check! to the rescue with this beaut!  When we got it and installed the light, it was love at first sight. I feel like I should break out into that song on the commercial now – but I won’t – just to spare y’all 🙂

Online – the photo looks much more coppery than I wanted, but once installed – it looks much darker, more of an Oil Rubbed Bronze, which was the look I was going for. Huzza! Here it is in the Dining Room:


So overall – I highly recommend the light and think it adds tons of class to our dining room. I feel like I have to host a dinner party now! 😉