Engineering, Electricity & Geometry, Oh My!

If those three things don’t sound like a great time, then I don’t know what does. Amiright? Anyway, we’ve shared a few peeks at the ceiling progress in our sunroom, but have yet to explain how we got there. Hold on to your hats and break out your graphing calculators!

Just kidding about the calculators, because we actually left the engineering part of this job to a professional. The pro we referenced in this post was the builder we’re working with on the show home. He offered to pop by to give us his expert opinion, which boiled down to “those cross beams aren’t supporting the roof, they just created the framing for attaching the ceiling.” That’s exactly the news we were hoping to hear.

The news we didn’t want to hear were the tedious instructions that he gave for removing them and reinforcing the rafters up top (since the ceiling we were removing wasn’t load bearing but the rafters above it were a few decades old, a few additions would make it a lot stronger). It involved adding a lot of new hangers, ties, and bolts, which meant lots of nailing and drilling and ratcheting. Totally doable, just time consuming.

He recommended that we call one of the contractors that he uses a lot and get an estimate, just to weigh what it might cost to have a pro do the work (it would be faster since they’re more well practiced and already have the right tools). That contractor, David, said he could come by the next day and knock out the job with a second guy in 2 hours for $200. Um, SOLD. So within a few days of posting this update, this was happening outside our living room window.

The difference was awesome. The room may have only gained about 4 feet of height on one side, but it feels so much more open compared to the before. Well, except for those dang fan wires ruining the view.

So we put a call into our favorite electrician and got his crew to not only extend the wires so they could be attached to the new/higher ceiling, but also to turn our one fan box into two so we can stay cooler in there (and to hopefully bug the bugs enough that they won’t want to fly into the room at all). We haven’t received the bill from them yet, but we’re guessing that it’s in the $250 range.

Going into this lofting project, we assumed it could be around 1K if we needed to make structural changes (like enforcing things with more beams, getting a permit, etc) not even including any electrical work that we might need to hire out – so it was definitely a lucky break to find out the ceiling framing was just cosmetic and wouldn’t require any extensive restructuring or even a permit to remove it. And getting those two pro-worthy jobs knocked out for around $450 while doing the initial drywall removal ourselves, as well as our plan to re-insulate, hang the fans, and install all of the ceiling beadboard ourselves means we’ll hopefully save a good chunk of change when this is all said and done.

The funny thing is that we realized a few months after moving into our second house we embarked on another outdoor project (laying our stone patio) which came in around $1,200 when we were finished – and with the cost of the tile and the beadboard added onto the expenses out here so far, it looks like this project could end up being right in the same ballpark. Dare I call it an exterior project tradition?

Anyway, with those two tasks taken care of, we could finally turn our attention to rebuilding our exposed ceiling. We decided to start with the two empty triangles on either end of the room, which we opted to cover with plywood that we could paint to match the rest of the room (since the rest of the space is framed out with plywood already).

Dealing with a triangular space sort of sent me into a mathematical tailspin. My brain immediately grasped for every bit of 9th grade geometry I could remember and I found myself furiously measuring angles, calculating hypotenuses, and trying to decide if I needed to remember what a cosine was.

But soon enough I realized I was waaaaay over complicating things. All I needed to know was a few length measurements and I’d be fine. Since my plywood piece was only 8ft long (i.e. 96 inches) I knew I’d have to cut two pieces to fill the space. So I measured the height of the gap at one end (against the brick wall – 40.5″) and 8ft away from that end (17″), which you can see in my sketch below.

Since those two measurements went all of the way to the ceiling (and I didn’t need my board to go all of the way up thanks the beadboard ceiling that would eventually polish off the edges) I trimmed 3″ off those two numbers and marked them on either end of my plywood sheet. Then I snapped a chalk line to connect them.

And just like that the angle of my cut was determined for me. Time to break out the circular saw.

To cut the second piece, I took advantage of the fact that the “scrap” side of the plywood featured the same angle as the good side. So knowing that it needed to match up with the 14″ side of the first piece, I marked that on one side and drew a perpendicular line from there to the angled edge.

Once cut, I had my two pieces ready to be hung.

Well, not totally ready. First I had to build out the studs a bit so that my new pieces of plywood would sit flush with the existing wall. For this I just cut up a spare piece of 2 x 6″ and screwed them into place.

I was a a little nervous when it came time to actually test the fit of my board (such a big piece of plywood wasted by a bad cut would have been a big bummer).

But luckily it went up like a glove (victory!) and I was able to temporarily nail it into place with some brad nails before going back and hammering in some more heavy duty nails by hand.

So here’s one side up (after having put up the small triangle too). You can’t see it here, but it’s not 100% seamless. There’s a line where the new plywood meets the old wall, along the bottom, which we plan to caulk and then cover with trim. And I’ll probably use Bondo or wood filler to try to make the small vertical line where the two pieces meet less visible too.

As much as I wanted to celebrate my geometric accomplishment, I had another side to take care of. Back to the drawing cutting board.

So here’s the other side done. It had the slight added challenge of having to cut a hole for an electrical box (something the electricians had to install to corral some of the wires and, for code reasons, it needs to be visible and accessible). Fortunately, once the plywood gets primed and painted white, we think it’ll blend in pretty well.

It’s amazing how much more open the room feels now that we’ve removed the doors and popped the ceiling. It doesn’t even feel like the same room.

Now that the boring/mathy part is out of the way, we can finally turn our attention to the light blue beadboard ceiling that we’ve been psyched to install. It’s going to involve pricing a few things out, measuring, priming, and painting before it’s ready to hang – so we’ll probably be back with an update on that early next week if all goes well. What did you guys work on this weekend?


  1. says

    OH, there are a few math teachers out there who would be proud. I got very nervous when I saw the geometry coming out, ha. :) A cosine? Oh man…I that info is buried very deep somewhere in my brain, ha.

    I realllly love this project, guys. It has changed the feel of your house so much! How long is the weather warm over where you are? I’m guessing you’ll be getting LOTS of use!

    Thanks for sharing the details as always!


    • says

      Thanks so much Henna! We usually only get a few cold months (usually Dec, Jan, and half of Feb) so we can usually use outdoor spaces from late fall to early spring.


  2. says

    Wow! I can’t believe how great this transformation looks, I would have never thought to convert a screened in porch to what you guys are doing. Definitely makes me think that would be possible where I live in very buggy South Jersey (by Cape May) – screened in porches are everywhere around these part but ugly. Best of luck!

  3. JenB says

    The room looks so much bigger. It’s amazing! Will you paint the brick, too? This is going to be a great room.

    I changed out our interior doorknobs. We have a 50s rancher, so all the knobs were flaking gold, ugliness. We now have ORB knobs! I love the weight of them. What a difference it makes to switch those and light switch plates. I also made 2 of the 4 valances I’ve been wanting to finish for 3 months now. I’ll get there eventually! My 4 year old and 15 month old don’t want me to finish anything!

    • says

      We’re going to leave the brick since the rest of the house is unpainted brick and this is an open outdoor room now, so we like the idea of the house’s facade being the same color everywhere.


    • JenB says

      And your brick is pretty. It has nice texture and color. I love that you’re doing the light blue ceiling. You may know this already but the old superstition that got that tradition going in the south is that a blue ceiling on a porch (front or back) would ward off bad spirits (negative energy).

    • Gina says

      Annoyed, maybe you should check Sherry’s post that links back to one of my previous posts before you make such assumptions and statements about me. I am not a troll, but I am disappointed in the amount of trolling or whatever you would like to call it that is allowed here. It makes for an umpleasant read, and I do like to read all the comments because there are good answers and suggestions in here most of the time. I was not at all disappointed with today’s post, as you have suggested. I was disappointed with what was going on in the comment section.

  4. erika alvarado says

    hola!! realmente encanta todo lo que hacen aun que aquí en mexico son estilos diferentes de decoración son de gran inspiración para mi ya he realizado algunas modificaciones a mi casa . saludos :)

  5. A says

    C’mon guys…THIS is what you give us on a Monday morning? Talk about dragging things out. This sunroom is going to turn into 700 posts. It’s just not necessary. Where is the substance? It feels like you are phoning it in. Are you working on a larger project, or something? Be honest with us readers. Aren’t we the ones, “that got you here”?

    • says

      We’re definitely grateful for everyone who stops in to see what we’re doing! Many folks asked about load bearing/electrical info for the sunroom, so those details were overdue! We’re also working on painting a room (ceilings, walls, and the closet) in hopes of posting it tomorrow! Here’s how posts work for us – even if you see us sharing something, there are many other things going on behind the scenes, I promise! We also have the showhouse that we’re juggling along with book two, but as far as Monday updates go – we’ve definitely shared smaller things than this in the past 3 yrs that we’ve done this full time (like organizing a cabinet and ordering bedroom art). Our entire archives are made up of updates as we go, both big and small, which is exactly what got us here. If anything we’re doing a major project earlier into owning this house than our last house (we didn’t tackle the patio until 4 months after moving, and we started the sunroom 3 months in here). Sorry if it’s not a post that interests you though.


    • Lindsey says

      Hey A, stop being an A-hole! (That’s “punny” by the way, laugh a bit…unless you don’t enjoy that for your Monday morning either). Us readers didn’t “get them” anywhere; their hard work got them where they are. John and Sherry, you keep on keeping on!

    • Ashley Bussiere says

      Sheesh, chill out. We don’t need to see your comments and neither does John and Sherry, go to some other blog with your negativity.

    • says

      Sherry: “Book two”?! As in you’re already writing another one?? Can’t wait to hear about it! I think you guys are doing so well, and I can’t wait to read more about the show house, too!

    • HeatherB says

      I thought this was a perfectly fine post, although I admit to thinking lately (although nowhere near as snarkily as A), “Where’s Sherry?” My guesses were (1) painting something major for us to see later, (2) swamped working on the showhouse, (3) maybe working on the book?!?!, or (4) Is she pregnant again and taking it easy? Glad to see 3 of my 4 guesses were right (I love being right!)–especially #3 (wasn’t sure that was happening yet–CAN’T WAIT!!!), and keep hoping that you will feel ready mentally, physically, and emotionally for #4 someday in the future, too.

      You guys rock it, one day at a time, and have helped me so much to “Dude, get on that!” with my house, to relax that it isn’t all “presto!” done, and to just take it one day at a time, enjoying the process along the way.

      Keep up the good work!

    • says

      Thanks everyone for your thoughts! We definitely are huge believers in “Let’s all have fun here! It’s only decorating!” so we always appreciate when the comments can stay respectful, whether someone disagrees with us, or someone disagrees with someone else. As for book two, we couldn’t put it off any longer (haha!) so we’re just in the beginning stages of the outline but we’re really excited! We have it all mapped out and we think it’s going to be a ton of fun to put together – even though it probably won’t be out for 2+ more years (books take forever!).


    • Cori says

      A, I’m going to go ahead and guess that you’ve not done a whole lot of building projects yourself. A major project like this takes time, especially when there are only two people working on it, while also trying to raise a toddler and do about a zillion other projects in the background! It’s not like this sunroom can go from “before” to “after” in a weekend. John and Sherry are all about keeping it real, and chipping away at a project like this, little by little, is definitely a part of that. Personally, I’m amazed at all they get accomplished. If you really need faster results, though, watch HGTV. :)

    • Patty says

      Very professional response, Sherry! With a project as large as the sunroom, I’m expecting numerous posts. I’m actually shocked at how fast this process is going!

      Being the math nerd that I am, this post really interested me! :)

    • Gina says

      Sherry, it is so beyond comprehension that you would manually approve a post where one of your readers is calling the other an “A-hole”. Or seeing your readers to tell your other readers to go elsewhere? It makes you look really bad. But, it seems you kind of enjoy the drama and letting other people fight your battles. This is just more evidence of the downward spiral of what was once Young House Love. Really, how disappointing. You seem to have lost all touch with reality. This is your place of business and to allow not only catfights, but catfights with that kind of name calling and obscenity cannot be explained away with ‘we don’t moderate’ or ‘100 different people’, etc. This blog is in the gutter, in more ways that one. So sad to see.

    • says

      I’m sorry you feel that way. We want this to be a lighthearted and encouraging place for people to drop in, and we don’t enjoy drama at all, as we previously discussed here and here. We’ve also taken Meg’s advice and added a reminder for people to be respectful right within this comment thread (since we still believe censoring people and editing/deleting comments will lead to far more drama).


    • says

      All I want to say is that John and Sherry, I always love your posts — the big ones and small ones — equally the same. Honestly, I am dumbfounded at how frequently you manage to post and all of the amazing projects you accomplish in such a short period of time. I love your perspective that the small projects always add up to big results eventually. That’s just real life. Things don’t happen overnight and I appreciate that you guys celebrate the small things. Small victories make big victories eventually. So keep the posts coming, big or small, we’ll all keep reading.

    • says

      1. As a home blogger (much less successful/famous/awesome as these guys, sometimes what seems like a small post to a reader is a big deal to us. Hiring professionals, prepping projects, cleaning up after a project, and juggling life stuff (we hosted a garage sale this weekend which isn’t DIY post-worthy but took up all of our time so we didn’t get anything else done, sometimes means that posts aren’t as long, in-depth, or “exciting” as they sometimes are. That’s part of being an honest blogger–we have lives and often other jobs, so the home repairs happen on a natural time schedule.
      2. John and Sherry—book 2? Yes!!!!!

    • Caryn says

      Sherry and John,

      With a three year old to take care of and the determination to work through your weekends instead of relaxing, I applaud you for accomplishing so much in such a short time! It’s refreshing to see you take your time and do things the right way instead of rushing through projects and cutting corners to get up a quick post for your readers. Other’s negativity is purely a reflection on themselves and it’s unfortunate that they take it out on other’s but I’m glad to see you push through and stay positive. I haven’t been with you from the beginning but I have been following for close to two years now and you still have me hooked! I love reading your daily posts no matter how big or small the projects are so keep on kicking butt!

    • Heather W says

      I really hate that you both have to deal with these kind of comments. It is so funny to me because this blog has inspired me so much in regard to getting my own home how I want and love it and I have only been here oh say 13yrs and it still isn’t finished. Good thing I don’t have a blog huh?? Keep doing what you do… Unfortunately I knew today when I saw the post that you may deal with some snarky comments because there wasn’t a big reveal at the end… On a lighter note are you totally excited about Bethenny’s show starting today!!!

    • says

      Ahh, yes! I can’t wait! I have to make sure we set the DVR. I hope it’s good. I’m so nervous I have these high hopes and then I won’t be in love so I’m trying to go into it with managed expectations. Haha!


    • Ashley Bussiere says

      So I never make negative comments, Gina i’m sorry I offended you. But I enjoy reading this blog (and tell a lot of people about it haha) and i’m not a fan of seeing comments like “A”. So…that’s why I said that. Last “negative” comment, I promise haha

    • Annoyed says

      Ashley, I wouldn’t worry too much about apologizing to “Gina”. I am pretty sure attacking someone with a slew of insults ranging from “you enjoy drama” and “your blog is in a downward spiral” to “you have lost touch with reality” and “this blog is in the gutter” is FAR more offensive than “A-hole”.

      Of course, “Gina” knew that when she made her comment. The blatant hypocrisy is what makes it so easy to tell people with genuine concerns from trolls trying to bait people into their drama. They know they can spit out whatever awful thing they want to say, behind the anonymity of the internet, and if anyone speaks up and says “hey now, that’s rude”, they can cry “ohh, the fangirls are attacking me!”

      Its an ugly trend that has been going on here for a while now. Personally I don’t mind a little drama to spice up my day, but this whole shtick is getting REALLY old. I know I should just ignore, and in the future I will try to, but I just don’t understand why this blog – about DECORATING – is troll central lately. Well, I guess I do know the answer. J&S have a large readership, which is ideal for those seeking attention.

      If “A” and “Gina” were actual readers with real concerns, their comments would have looked something like “I am bummed there was no big reveal this morning, thats what I look forward to on Monday. I hope the sunroom is done next time we see it” and “J&S I think ‘A-hole’ is a very offensive term I would appreciate it if you considered blocking any name calling or allusions to swear words”. The fact that both of the comments were laced with insults and snarkiness gives you a big clue about their real purpose.

      As for readers telling other “readers” (aka snarky people with nothing nice to say) to go elsewhere, that’s not rude, that’s good advice – for your happiness as well as ours. I mean, why wouldn’t you want to read something you enjoy?

      (J&S I know this is long. I am just baffled by all the negativity. Thanks for keeping it classy, as usual)

    • K. says


      Just wanted to add a thought …. I think it’s easy to forget how long it can take to do the work, the hard, heavy work behind the projects! I live near the house and when I was out in the yard this weekend I could hear the hammering and work going on ‘behind the scenes’. It reminded me that while the projects posted here look so easy and all you have to do is scroll down to see the ‘finished’ photos; the ‘real life’ part requires hours and hours and more hours of planning, errands, re-thinking and Hard, Hands-on Work!

      I’m amazed at how much you guys are able to accomplish! Do you have super-human energy… where do you get it? :-)

    • says

      Aw thanks, K! Sorry if we’re being loud out back! John’s so funny – on weekends he waits until exactly 10am to start working in case anyone’s sleeping in – but at 10:01 he’s out there making noise like a maniac!


    • Jennie says

      I can attest to the fact that the projects with big ” wow” power are sometimes only a small part of the story. Example: We demo’ed our entire kitchen yesterday. It took an afternoon. Easy! The result … very dramatic! The amount of work? Middling. But, in contrast, to trim a few windows properly, in the style of our home, it takes the same amount of time, and someone might say, “Soooo, what have you guys been doing with all your time?” It may appear that not much has happened, but anytime you are measuring, making cuts, etc., it seems to take forever.

      No, this may not be a big, sexy reveal that you guys did today, but it is still progress! I, for one, like to see the progress posts, even if they are ” small” (though this is not a “small” accomplishment … we have done this on our porch too and it is a ton of work! I think you guys have developed a great attitude in knowing that you can’t please everyone.

      Finally, It is frustrating to see all the negative comments, and difficult to not defend you because you guys are so sweet. I am wondering though, if people started ignoring the unpleasant comments, perhaps they would decrease. I have a feeling that some of the not-so-nice comments go up with the intent of starting a riot in the comments. I am sure that is not the case for all, but perhaps for some. Either way, I hate for you to have to play police in the comments. Like you said, it’s only decorating! (And that is pretty darn awesome!)

    • K. says

      Not loud at all! I only hear it in the background when I’m outside. I like it, acually, it’s energizing and exciting ~ all the movement and changes. And I like the game of trying to guess, according to the sounds, what will be in an upcoming post!

      p.s. How nice of John to be so conscientious! He must be chomping at the bit when 10 comes around to get out there and get cracking! :) Your collective enthusiasm is amazing.

  6. Lenore says

    It’s amazing the difference, and as an added bonus, I bet it lets a lot more light into the interior room it’s next to. Love it!

  7. Amy Shaffer says

    Looks great!! Do I remember you saying you hoped to loft some ceilings inside your house? My mouth is watering at the possibility of trying that in my ranch house. I think it would feel so much more spacious. Our first ranch had 12′ ceilings and they were awesome!

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