Attic Steps Project

The steps to the Cottage attic are difficult to maneuver.

The ladder/stairs to the attic in the Cottage.
The ladder/stairs to the attic in the Cottage.

They’re perfectly stable when down but they’re a bear to pull down.

This permanent ladder leads to the cottage attic and tucks up near the ceiling.
This permanent ladder leads to the cottage attic and tucks up near the ceiling.

And even more difficult to put back up again.

Our pull-down steps may have to be custom made to maintain a maximum opening in the ceiling.
Our pull-down steps may have to be custom made to maintain a maximum opening in the ceiling.

So in addition to the Cottage improvements I mentioned yesterday, we’re having a standard set of pull-down attic steps installed into the hole in the ceiling.

The attic is a great place to keep all sorts of great stuff.
The attic is a great place to keep all sorts of great stuff.

This should make it easier to use the attic for storage and might allow us to hang a divider in front of the bed to block it off from the front door.

Do you have a practical improvement you’d like to make in your house which would be impossible for you to DIY?

Tile Quote for 3 Backsplashes

When our tile setter came to quote the work to install 3 tile backsplashes we actually presented him with 4 projects.

The kitchen backsplash tile -- Sealed Royal Grey Honed Limestone.
The kitchen backsplash tile — Sealed Royal Grey Honed Limestone.

I’ll start with the extra project first.   We were thinking of using the leftover tile from the kitchen backsplash to also tile the front of the fireplace.

The dark area inside the mantelpiece is brick painted Benjamin Moore's "Swallow".
The dark area inside the mantelpiece is brick painted Benjamin Moore’s “Swallow”.

Now it is painted brick.  We thought this Royal Grey limestone might look good in a herringbone pattern.

Item #3: Fireplace surround $960.
Item #3: Fireplace surround — $960.

However when the proposal for the small fireplace surround came in it was $960!  Way too much.  We’ll just keep the painted brick.

The conservatory sink will get a backsplash that matches the shower tile.
The conservatory sink will get a backsplash that matches the shower tile.

The conservatory bathroom is the first item: First floor bath — $517.

The space above the vanity could use a backsplash.
The space above the vanity could use a backsplash.

The second item: Second floor bath (master bathroom) — $677.

A tile backsplash in the Cottage would be nice.
A tile backsplash in the Cottage would be nice.

Finally, the fourth item: Kitchen backsplash in the Cottage — $832.

We're hoping there's enough frosted glass tile in our stash to complete this project.
We’re hoping there’s enough frosted glass tile in our stash to complete this project.

We were hoping to use subway tile set in a herringbone pattern thus the extra charge.

Frankly we were surprised at these prices as they were more than expected.

Do you negotiate proposed prices?

The Garage Apartment: Change Takes Time

Back in August I helped to freshen up a garage apartment with two bedrooms and a living room/kitchen which was improved with paint and new appliances . The best part for me is that I made the design decisions but we used a contractor to make the improvements.

Apartment kitchen -- Before
Apartment kitchen — Before
The mini-kitchen -- After
The mini-kitchen — After

And a mini-kitchen (much like the one in the Cottage) was replaced.

This vanity set-up will be replaced.
This vanity set-up needed to be replaced.

The bathroom was a dungeon which needed a new vanity, sink, and lighting fixture.  We discovered that the exhaust fan in the bathroom which turns on with the light doesn’t actually draw so it will also be replaced.

The tiles walls were in very good condition.
The tiles walls were in very good condition.

When the vanity was removed we were happy to find that the walls had been tiled all the way to the floor. A GFI outlet was installed on the right-hand wall (so the dangerous extension cord from the medicine cabinet would be unnecessary in the future).

The stairwell on protrudes partly into the bathroom.
The stairwell on protrudes partly into the bathroom.

However the left part of the wall had been cutout where the stairwell ceiling had to be accommodated.

The new vanity is clean and streamlined.
The new vanity is clean and streamlined.

The contractor told me that the vanity he ordered wouldn’t fit. Since the vanity and sink were destined to be in a three-sided niche I suggested he take it apart and use only the facing piece. Ultimately the new vanity was partially dismantled to allow it to squeeze into the space and the sink-top was trimmed.

A new lighting fixture above the medicine cabinet.
A new lighting fixture above the medicine cabinet.

New lights were put above the fluorescent tubes on the medicine cabinet.

Effectiveness of exhaust fans are easy to check with a sheet of paper. If it isn't sucked toward the fan the fan doesn't draw.
Effectiveness of exhaust fans are easy to check with a sheet of paper. If it isn’t sucked toward the fan the fan doesn’t draw.

And a new exhaust fan was vented to the outside. (The old fan vented into the very shallow attic.)

Now the bathroom is not only more functional but also safer.

Have you taken recent safety precautions?

Cottage Curb Appeal

The Cottage resident had the idea that she would like the hodgepodge of leaky windows in the Cottage replaced with more energy efficient ones.

The Cottage windows are charming but drafty.
The Cottage windows are charming but drafty.

That’s OK with me.

A little roof over the doorway would be both attractive and practical.
A little roof over the doorway would be both attractive and practical.

While her contractor was by I made the suggestion of putting a little roof over her doorway to tie the look of the Cottage entrance to the house.

The front of our house has a gabled porch roof.
The front of our house has a gabled porch roof.
There is also a similar shaped dormer over the French doors leading from the master bedroom to the roof deck.
There is also a similarly shaped dormer over the French doors leading from the master bedroom to the roof deck.

The house has gable-ended roofs so I suggested the same for the Cottage because I think repeating shapes helps the overall design.

CottageRoof
A small roof over an exterior door provides shelter while finding one’s keys.
This roof with a closed front seems more substantial.
This roof with a closed front seems more substantial.

I found some inspiration photos.

This is a sweet cottage-style entrance.
This is a sweet cottage-style entrance.

After looking at them the Cottage dweller decided she likes an open front.

A quick mock-up of a roof over the Cottage door.
A quick mock-up of a roof over the Cottage door.

I discussed with the carpenter about having the roofline of the new entry cover parallel the Cottage roof.

View from the 2nd story of the house.
View from the 2nd story of the house.

From the master bedroom deck the Cottage would look nice with a little roof over the front door.

Are you planning an exterior beautification project?

Offsite – Day 6 and the Finale

Our offsite project (Day 2 is here, Days 3, 4, 5 are here.) is finally finished.

Before
Before
Painted, carpeted, and furnished.
Painted, carpeted, and furnished.

There will be a postlude but for now we are finished.

Even the door got a new coat of paint.
Even the door got a new coat of paint.
Charlie sealed the seams with caulk.
Charlie sealed the seams with caulk.

We painted the walls and woodwork.

The room's occupant preferred wall-to-wall carpet.
The room’s occupant preferred wall-to-wall carpet.

We changed out the old carpet.

We rearranged some of the furniture -- this chair used to be across the room.
We rearranged some of the furniture — this chair used to be across the room.

We pared down the contents of the living room including removing a lot of chains.

Chains
Chains
More chains
More chains

There were chains holding a hanging lamp, chains holding a glass globe filled with fake flowers, and chains connecting some wall decoration.

The rattan chair was brought in from the porch.
The rattan chair was brought in from the porch.

We’ve been set free from the chains.

The vintage sofa
The vintage sofa
The new pale blue Ektorp sofa from Ikea
The new pale blue Ektorp sofa from Ikea

We replaced the vintage sofa with a new pale blue one from Ikea.  The old sofa had a matching chair which we had hauled away with the old sofa.

Before the renovation.
Before the renovation.
The wall behind the sofa needs some art work but I think the resident might return the mirror to this space.
The wall behind the sofa needs some art work but I think the resident might return the mirror to this space.

The work team is happy that the room has been lightened and simplified.  The resident is delighted with her newly freshened living room.

The new double curtains rods have been ordered from Home Depot.
The new double curtains rods have been ordered from Home Depot.

The only items remaining on the to-do list are rehanging the curtains on new rods and returning the artwork to the walls which we will do when the resident has all the pieces together and gives us a call.

Is there a piece of furniture in your house you would like to get rid of but can’t bring yourself to do so?

Offsite – Days 3, 4, and 5

Our offsite project (Day 2 is here) is in full swing but the resident of the room decided my choices were not her choices.

Tentative plan.
A review of my suggestions.

On Day 3 Charlie and my friend pulled up the remaining wall-to-wall carpet and tack strips in the living room.

The edges of the floor were is very good shape with stains the area that would have been covered by an area rug.
The edges of the floor were is very good shape. The stained area would have been covered by an area rug.

The original plan was to clean, wax, and buff the entire floor then to lay an area rug. Unfortunately the room resident had her heart set on wall-to-wall carpet. (I write that with a scowl on my face.)

The selected color, "Oyster," is the uppermost swatch on the right.
The selected color, “Oyster,” is the uppermost swatch on the right.

Instead, on Day 4, my friend and I along with the room’s resident met with a representative from Empire Today who presented us with wall-to-wall carpet selections. The first choice mentioned by the resident was “mauve” which apparently is no longer in anyone’s color palette.

"Oyster"
“Oyster”

After choosing the color “Oyster” from the “Making Waves” collection we asked for installation the next day. The carpet was laid wall-to-wall in the living room, up the stairs to the second floor, and in the second floor hall.

Before
Before
After -- Much simpler now.
After — Much simpler now.

When my friend and I arrived late in the day the carpet was finished and gave the room a calming look in contrast to the original variegated, sculpted carpet.

The stairs to the second floor -- BEFORE.
The stairs to the second floor — BEFORE.
The stairs are safer now that the carpet is fitted.
The stairs are safer now that the carpet is fitted.

Stay tuned for Day 6 and the Finale.

Do you decorate with your favorite color?

Offsite – Day 2

The jolly trio were back at our offsite project from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. yesterday.

Before
Before
After
After

When our work for the day was over we had totally painted the 9′ by 15′ room including the ceiling.

Before
Before
After
After

Our challenges were to cover the faux brick wall .  .  .

Before
Before
After
Almost finished — 2 coats primer, 1 coat Dove White — another coat necessary

and some vey dark and slick paneling.

We repaired the window damage, painted the wall, and are planning to paint the woodwork pale grey.
We repaired the window damage, painted the wall, and are planning to paint the woodwork pale grey.

The rest of the plan is to paint the trim light grey.

The wall-to-wall carpet is worn beyond salvaging.
The wall-to-wall carpet is worn beyond salvaging.

Pull up the wall-to-wall carpet and buff the floor.

Tentative plan.
Tentative plan.

Lay a new rug, hang new curtains, and get a new sofa.

Do you prefer an area rug or wall-to-wall carpet?