Our Current House

While The Dust Flies In The Laundry Room…

This isn’t as exciting as our big laundry room reno (nothing is!) but let’s talk about curtains for a second. Remember when our bedroom was all naked and afraid? (Sidenote: if you’re not watching that show, you should be).

We added frames and hung curtains at the same time, but it took us way longer to actually finish said curtains. We knew we wanted nice white linen-like ones for our dark-walled bedroom, and had heard a lot of good things about the Lenda curtains from Ikea around blogland (they’re their nicer/thicker white curtains with a convincing linen-looking weave, as opposed to the cheaper/thinner/breezier ones we’ve tried in previous houses). After seeing – and feeling – them in person, we were sold.

We also grabbed some nice substantial curtain rods from Lowe’s along with some nice big ring hooks (the same ones that we used in Teddy’s room).

They didn’t look so great when we first hung them after washing and drying them (to account for shrinkage), which is why we moved on to our little frame project (and asked you ignore the curtains while posting about that).

Once we finished with the frames, I turned my attention back to the curtains and slowly (as in, it took me a month to finish them) got ‘em done. First I took them down one by one and ironed them. I also removed the tabs at the top, so we could clip them more cleanly to each panel. See how it looks floppy and folded over in the one that’s hanging below? No bueno.

Just ironing them and removing the tab tops made a big difference. We also realized that they looked nicer when they were less pulled out/wide. That’s right, after years of practicing hanging curtains “high and wide” to give the illusion of bigger windows, it felt odd to like the look of tighter, narrower curtains – but it really gave these curtain panels a cleaner and fuller look.

The last thing they needed was a bit of a hem on the bottom, so after three weeks or so of being almost-but-not-quite done, I took to my sewing machine to make a nice thick hem (around 4″).

Here they are after. So. Much. Better.

I just want to rehang the curtain rods a little closer to the windows (nothing a little spackle and paint can’t solve).

Oh and one more tip is that when I hung them I sort of trained the fabric to alternate the direction of the loops with the rings (between two rings I’d train it to swoop out and between the next two rings I’d train the fabric to swoop in). That created a nice shape that I could follow down the rest of the panel for that drapey look. The professionally made curtains at the showhouse had that shape to them, and we really liked it. They felt so polished and tailored. Here we use faux white wood blinds for privacy, and the showhouse has plantation shutters, so in both cases the curtains are purely decorative (so they’re not drawn closed and can keep that shape).

Speaking of the professionally made curtains we got for the showhouse, we’re actually debating getting some made for our office. We know it won’t be as cheap as buying fabric and making our own (or grabbing pre-made ones by mass retailers) but we really loved how the showhouse ones turned out, and we conveniently met a seamstress through that process that we can use. We actually debated using her for bedroom curtains, but we figured white linen looking curtains were easy enough to find, so we’ll save her talents for a more not-readily-available result, like office curtains in one of these fabrics:

We ran through our favorite local fabric store (U-Fab) to grab these swatches. We love all of them for different reasons, so we’re still simmering on which one to go with. The patterned ones feel a little busy when we hold them up, and although we thought we’d love the emerald green or the orange ones for being a little different than our usual choices, they both felt sort of thicker/heavier than we expected when we put them next to the window.

Our favorite of the group is probably the top right swatch, which we only realized after holding them all up is the same fabric we used for the window treatments in the master bedroom of the showhouse, so while it feels sort of anticlimactic to go with the same thing at home, it’s also nice that they’re pre-vetted and we know we love them (and that they drape beautifully).

We’re not 100% sold on it yet though, so we’ll keep you posted when we make a decision. Sometimes I look into the office and think leaving the windows bare might actually be beautiful…

We also made a few curtain updates in Clara’s room, since we both had some issues with how hers had been looking. I thought the pattern was competing a little too much with the bold rug and the playful raindrop painted wall, and  Mr. Function (John) didn’t like how the blackout curtains, which were clipped behind each breezy panel, made them feel a little bulky when we slid them open and closed since we hadn’t ever sewn them together. Plus, the thin rod – a carryover from our last house – was starting to sag.

They actually photograph better than they look in person (photogenic curtains?), but in real life they felt a little more demanding and messy looking. So while in the midst of hanging Clara’s new light, we tried two things: flipping the panels backwards (the pattern was more muted on the other side) and removing the blackout curtains (which we’ve been considering weaning Clara off of anyways). They immediately felt less bold and heavy.

So I took them down and I sewed a hem on all four sides of all four panels (16 hems!) so that hanging them backwards looked more finished. For a second I worried about how bad the bold circles might look from the street with them drawn, but realized that since we close the blinds before pulling the curtains closed, they’d never be visible from outside – and since we removed the blackout panels we probably would just shut the blinds and leave the curtains open anyway.

Rather than rehanging them on those thin, sagging curtains rods; we took the opportunity to upgrade those too. We went with white wood ones from Lowe’s so that we no longer had a dark metal line cutting across the top of each window. That’s a look that we like almost every where else, but Clara’s room is so light and playful that it felt oddly heavy and out of place in here. As soon as we got the white rods up, they felt great.

I was waiting for one of you eagle eyed readers to notice the rod change/curtain flip in Clara’s light post, but nobody did! To be fair, we hardly showed them, so here’s a nice full view for ya. We’re still not certain they’ll be Clara’s forever curtains, but we’re both liking them much better, and it was a zero dollar change other than the rod upgrade (they’ll stay no matter what curtains end up there someday).

Oh and as for the length in here, John was adamant that ours be floor-length in our bedroom (he likes that look best) but agreed that a little loose pooling action on Clara’s floor would be ok for these. I think that casual french vibe goes well with her Belle-looking chandelier.

The best news of all is that so far our fears of ruining Clara’s sleep habits without blackouts have been unfounded. She’s still taking good naps in the afternoon (which is when the sun hits her windows the most directly) and isn’t waking at sunrise like we worried she would. Turns out those white faux-wood blinds do a pretty decent job at blocking light on their own, so they seem to be just fine without blackouts backing them up.

There you have it. A whole lot of hem-sewing, some new rods, and some curtain considerations for the office. Now it’s back to laundry room stuff (today we’re re-routing vents, which sounds about as exciting as it is – but next is drywall!). Until then I’ll be daydreaming about what curtains we’ll hang in the future bunk room someday and trying not to duct tape my fingers together.

  Comment

   

Well That Escalated Quickly

For two weeks we had virtually no progress in our laundry area, except for rethinking our approach and considering contractor bids. So by comparison, things happened so swiftly over the last few days that it nearly put our heads on spin cycle. What started out looking like this…

…is now looking a bit more like this. Yowza.

Let’s rewind to early last week, when it clicked that maybe we could do more ourselves and sub-contract certain jobs out instead of relying entirely on one contractor and his team. As you may recall from this post, Option 4 is our goal:

We put together a to-do list for all of the tasks ahead of us and decided to take this approach: do what we’re capable of and when we get to a line item that’s outside our comfort zone, call in a pro. Here’s what that list looked like (I added an asterisk to the items we’ve hired out or are considering hiring out):

You already saw that we moved the appliances, so let’s talk demo – which started on Tuesday, with a careful prying off of all of the baseboards and trim so that we can hopefully reuse some of it.

Next came drywall demo, which only involved the cased opening at this point (we were trying to leave the walls to the storage room intact as long as possible to keep the A/C in).  As for the actual demo-tools I used, I knocked things out with a rubber mallet and pried things off with a crowbar.

As for clean-up, I have been sweeping small stuff into garbage bags and collecting a pile of the big stuff in the attic. At some point I’ll get either a small dumpster or another Bagster (I very much look forward to hurling things out the storage room window into the trash bin below – although we can reuse some items, like some studs and trim).

Next on the demo list was removing the old cased opening framing.

This probably required the most brute force of anything – lots of hammering at 2x4s and prying nails apart. Slowly but surely things came down.

Once that was all out of the way, we removed the upper cabinet so the space was officially empty.

Demo was not just limited to walls, though. I also had to remove some of the hardwood flooring since the framing for our new laundry room wall needed to be attached directly to the subfloor. It was a little weird to be tearing out floors that we had laid just last year, but whatchagonnado?

Since we used Elastilon to lay our floors (basically a big adhesive sheet) it wasn’t the same process as prying out nailed planks. I managed to pry off the first few pieces with a flat-head-screwdriver-turned-chisel (that Elastilon is ridiculously sticky) and then it started to lift up in sheets.

At that point I was able to separate it enough to get my knife in and slice through the Elastilon layer underneath, and eventually I could remove the exact section I needed. I also removed the particle board subfloor so that the plywood was ready for framing. Looks awesome, no?

The process of removing the floor confirmed one change to our plan that we had been contemplating for a few days: bumping the frosted door to the storage room (aka: future bunk/TV room) forward a bit. So rather than it sitting in the existing back wall, it will be framed to go right where the hardwood floors end. Not only does this save us from having to extend the hardwoods (we’re thinking we’ll do carpet in the TV room) but it also shortens the already-quite-long hallway a smidge. Thirdly, it will create a small vestibule at the entryway of the TV room for the door to swing into (rather than into the middle of the room), which may make furniture placement in the room easier down-the-line.

My last demo step before framing began was prying (and cutting) out the single attic step that was in the way. I’ll rebuild it on the other side of the platform later.

That was as much demo as our framing guy recommended doing before he arrived (we used David of Chicas Construction, who helped us raise our sunroom ceiling last year). Obviously there are still more walls that need to come down, but we all agreed it would be best to leave them up for as long as we could (again, to keep the hot storage room from overworking our AC). The last half of the framing couldn’t be completed until the plumbing and electrical was moved anyway (which couldn’t be moved until the first part of the framing had been completed) so we always knew framing would be tackled in two parts. So it just made sense to do demo in two parts to go along with that.

On Wednesday morning it looked like this…

…and less than three hours later we had two new walls thanks to David.

After observing him work his magic, I’m pretty sure it’s a task I could’ve managed, but it definitely would’ve taken me MUCH longer. And since he was so speedy, we were able to have the plumbers (Scott & Mike’s Plumbing Services) out just hours later to disconnect the old hook-ups and add new ones.

It only took them about 3 hours to make the change, especially since all of this sits above our garage – giving them easy access to everything without making a big mess inside the house. Of course, they still had to cut out a big section of our garage ceiling, so we do have that repair on our to-do list. But we have been talking about drywalling the whole garage (two big side walls are unfinished anyway) so we might try to get it all done at once.

Having that area cut open actually made life easier for the electricians (S J Ryan Electric), who arrived the next morning. They were able to move the laundry outlets in a flash, but there was still lots to be done in terms of moving light fixtures, switches, and outlets.

For instance, putting a ceiling light in the laundry room (with a switch at the future laundry doorway) and moving some of the storage room lighting & switches. Sherry and I brainstormed where we wanted everything to be moved ahead of time (time is money when people work by the hour) and were able to come up with a nice solid plan for relocating everything so it makes sense. For example, now we have a light above the attic stairs, an outlet in the future laundry room to plug in our iron, and a fixture box in the laundry room that will be centered in the room after we add upper cabinets (if we hadn’t been thinking we would have just centered it in the room but after the upper cabinets were hung it would have felt off-center since it would be closer to them than the other walls).

 

That was all done by Thursday afternoon, so we called our framer to come back out to finish framing on Friday buuuuuuut… he had food poisoning. He’s like the nicest guy ever so he was saying he would come out on Saturday or Sunday if he was feeling better, but we told him not to worry. We wanted him to focus on feeling better and, well, we had other messes to make over the weekend. The good news is he’s here this morning (feeling much better) to finish everything up so we can hopefully start hanging drywall soon!

With the plumbing and electrical stuff relocated, it was time to proceed with the second phase of demo, so I had some fun with that over the weekend.

 

First I bashed down some drywall, which fortunately came down in pretty big sheets for the most part (hence my growing pile of trash/reuse items that you can see near the window). Speaking of the window, here’s our first peek at the daylight we’ll be getting into the hallway now.

I could also take down a bit more of the framing too – namely the old wall with the storage room door in it, which would give us our first real feel for what the new laundry room will be like. Don’t mind the dangling outlet boxes. The electricians added them in a way that makes them easy to be set right into the freshly framed wall that David is working on right now for us.

Here’s the same area with the framing down (and white lines added to remind you where the last wall will be framed in). It’s feeling ever-so-slightly like a room.

I could also take out part of the other wall, since the area with the old washer hook-ups will now just open into the storage room. The plumbing was all disconnected already, but the plumbers left the old pipes in the wall for me to remove during demo. All it took was some cutting with my reciprocating saw and it all came down…

And that, my friends, is how we got to the picture that you saw at the beginning of the post.

The next step construction-wise is going on right now, which is getting those remaining two walls framed – both the one to close off the laundry room, and the one for the frosted door into the storage room. I whipped up a little GIF to help show what I mean (David does it almost this fast):

I realize that’s still not crystal clear, so I’ll make one last attempt by showing you an updated version of the floor plan. I can’t tell you how satisfying it was to change the “Current Laundry” label to “Former Laundry.”

Once framing is complete, we’d love to hop right into drywalling (which we’re going to give a go ourselves – although our mudding skills could use some practice) but we need to cross of some other little items first, like rerouting the dryer vent.

I’ll leave you with the last shot I took before taping up a few big drop cloths to keep the hot attic air at bay. It’s some glorious, glorious natural light that’s finally shining on that end of the hallway.

Oh, and we owe you a cost update too. Maybe in our next post once we have the final bill from the framer? So far his estimate, plus the totals for the plumbing and the electrical help are looking great compared to the line items in our two contractor estimates.

What did you guys do this weekend? Did anyone else wield a rubber mallet and tell some drywall who’s boss?

  Comment