Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Reworking the garage

This summer we had a huge project to undertake - helping Leslie and her husband Clint (and the two grandkids, Parker and Beckham!) remodel and renovate a 31' airstream.  Leslie and Clint wanted a change - they bought a vintage airstream and traveled to our place to remodel it. 

The whole procedure is outlined on their blog:  check it out - the outcome is fantastic.  In order to get ready to have the airstream in our backyard/garage, we had to get ready by clearing a bunch of stuff out, and remove the garage door (which was a pile of junk anyway, wobbly, heavy and ill-fitting).  So we spent the summer getting the airstream ready to go, and they successfully launched on August 4.

And we decided to take advantage of most of our garage being in dissaray, and emptied the rest of it out.  So we had a blank slate!

Our garage has never been empty - when we bought the house, there was a bunch of junk out there. We left some, sold some, and generally just packed more stuff in on top of it.  And I hated that minty green color - made it look old and funky.

Tearing down the built-ins created a huge junk pile in the backyard, which we worked on every week to cut up and dispose of.

 So we continued to empty things out of it, dismantled some of the built-ins and then painted the whole thing white. Which took gallons of paint!!

This whole process took weeks, because I was also teaching, and Dale had slipped yet another disk in his back.  So the going was slow, but we were persistent!

Once we got it all white, we added some new shelves in overhead, to match the ones on the left.  We used a lot of scrap that we had leftover from the airstream project, along with using new wood for the shelves under the overhang.

We painted the top shelves white and decided to create some sliding curtains to cover the shelves below, so they look neat even while we have a lot of things stashed on them.  This is a pic of the top after we painted it, but before we made the curtains.

I need to take a good picture of the new workbench, which we moved to the opposite side of the garage (swapping sides with the freezer).  We added in new electric on that side of the garage to accommodate our tools, and built an extensive shelf system above the space for the workbench.

We had an old red tool box that really was too small for all our tools, and we saw a great one on sale at Home Depot, so we used the two of them for the basis of our workbench.

We took the top toolbox off the red one, and created a new wooden top for that one, then added the black one to the right.  We can roll those out for extra worktops, and they finally hold all our tools well.  We also labeled all the drawers so we can remember where to put everything back. In this pic, you can see the curtains.  We made those out of Harbor Freight drop cloths, added grommets and a wire stretched to serve as a curtain rod.


Here's what they look like open and closed.  Most of the time they're open, but it's nice to neaten up and close them, especially when we are sawing or making some other kind of dust.

This is what the other side looks like. We still have several things we need to make some storage racks for:  the large scaffolding that we use, along with some of our beach gear.

We did make some overhead storage for our ladders and smaller scaffolding.

We relocated the flourescent lights so they align with the rafters.  We might want to add some hanging fans, to get some ventilation.

We also build an extra large worktable - a full 4' x 8', on wheels, that we can roll out onto the drive if we need to work on something large.

This will come in handy for all kinds of projects! (if we can keep all the junk off it!).

But my absolute favorite part is the way we worked on the doors.  We had picked up several sets of french doors on craigslist, intending to use them to replace our sliding doors in the living room.  We've gone back and forth about that - on the one hand, the big sliders allow us a great view of the outside, and we don't really use the sliders often.  So they've been sitting in the garage forever.  So we decided we'd create a series of bifold doors with them.  We had to create two 1/2 size side panels, and attach the hanging rail.  I cleaned up the old doors, filling the doorknob holes, the hinge cutouts, and dings here and there, then sanded and hung them.  They took about 5 coats of paint each - the originals were a dark greyish green, so I primed them twice with Kilz and then 2-3 coats of exterior semi-gloss.

I still have some top and bottom trim to finish - I have some brush weatherstripping ordered, and I have wood trim to install it with, and the bottom vinyl seal to keep the water out, but we're happy with how they came out!  (I actually adjusted the two on the right after taking this picture, so they hang at the same height as the rest of them). We got the faux black hinges from Menards one winter, and they add a little nice touch!  The doors open and fold back all the way so we can work out in nice weather, and working inside is nice and bright!  And they look sooooo much better than the old rickety door that was impossible to lift, and it hung just at the right height for Dale to whack his head on about once a month.  The best part is, they look fabulous from the house!

Monday, November 12, 2018

Finishing the studio - new cabinets!

Where does the year go?  I just realized I left blogging last April, as if nothing else had been going on  in our lives.  We actually have completed multiple projects since then, and I am going to work on them one at a time.  So since I left off after we started our central heating/air project (and we have loved our central air!), I am going to go through the rebuild there first.

This is what the original closets looked like. We took those out, so we could better utilize the space.

We listed the doors and drawers on Craigslist for free, and someone came and took them away.  I hate it when people throw things away, when someone else can use them!

So now we had a big open space. I knew I wanted to put a lot of my fabric bins in there, so we measured and figured out the size opening, and framed it in.  We also painted the interior after repairing all the cracks/dents/crud.

We framed it out, installed the shelves, and .......

took off a year.  LOL.  We did other things, but nothing here.  All my studio stuff sat in the garage in boxes, which gathered sawdust and other dust. We did this and that, and then my daughter said that they would be coming out in June of 2018, so in April (because we don't plan ahead so good), we started working on the plan that we had earlier, but now had a reason to get it don.  We scraped the ceiling (which had water damage from when we put a new roof on - it RAINED during a drought  on the ONE DAY we had no roof on, and some of the paint in this room bubbled.

So we scraped the old paint, fixed the bumpy ceiling, and Dale did a skim coat over the whole thing, which made it look FABULOUS.  Then we installed a ceiling fan.  Then we began work on the murphy bed:

I think I must have snap-chatted most of these pics, because this is all I have!  We created a box, put in the murphy bed hardware, installed the box to the wall, then built shelves around it.

Then we applied 12,398 coats of white paint. Seriously, it felt like I was painting and painting and painting.....but finally got the wall all done, and it was awesome.  Then we painted the walls a lovely shade of lavender.

In this picture, everything looks scrunched down by the one side of the room, because my daughter and her husband were coming to spend a couple of months while we all worked on renovating an airstream with them.  So I pushed everything to one side since they'd have the bed down all the time for awhile.  I don't know what those weird dark splotches are on the picture....hmmm.  Anyway, here's a weird pano of the room:

I need to take some good pics of the room - I've added a couple of shelves for paints, etc over the desk, and a shelf for Dale's Smokey Bear collection.  But right now it's not all that organized because I still need one more shelf but that got pushed to the side for some other projects....which I'll write about soon!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Working on the house....

It's been awhile since I posted anything!  And it's not that we haven't been busy, I just needed to sit down and write some stuff down.  So I'm going to just jump right in.

For the past few years, we've been living in a drought out here in sunny Southern California.  Which has resulted in a lot of challenges, but one of the ones that has becoming a bigger issue for us is the increased heat of the summers. When we move out here to Long Beach, we had that great experience of year round nice weather, not too chilly in the winter, not too hot in the summer.  But with the drought - and more likely, as part of climate change in general - it's been substantially hotter during the summer.  We went from having a summer that had maybe 2 weeks in the summer where we wished we had air conditioning, and managed through that with a window air conditioner in the bedroom, to a situation where it's unbearably warm for extended weeks, and last year, nearly the whole summer.  While that may lesson now that we seem to be out of the drought and back into a more "normal" cycle, realistically speaking, it's only going to be warmer, not cooler.  So we have been giving serious thought to installing central heating and air.

In the first 4 years here, we haven't had to really rely on our sub-par heating system. When we bought the house, the inspector told us that really the heater needed to be replaced, as it wasn't heating enough.  It's a radiant heater in the floor, in the wall between the hall and the living room.  Not attractive, not functional. This is what it looked like when we bought the house.

When I built the bookcases, I actually built around the heater and installed metal grates in the doors to let the (insubstantial) heat radiate out.   This is how it's looked for the last 3 years.

To get central air, we'd need to have ducts and a whole system installed.  So in the fall, we got an estimate from a couple of companies, and it was more than we wanted to pay.  So we thought about it, and this spring, we decided to see if we could do a little bargaining (use the lower estimate to get the company we liked better to price match, which they did, even going $500 below), and got it scheduled.

To get ready, Dale and I had to do 3 things: remove the old heater, and remove the water heater from its cabinet outside the house, so we could put the new furnace in there, and remove the catio so they could put the condenser unit.  All these things needed follow up, and that's what I'm going to show here.

First, removing the heater.  That was a chore! It involved Dale crawling under the house and disconnecting the gas, and removing some of the elements that he could reach from there, and then us removing the screws and parts and dragging it out.  No pictures of this process, it was loud, exhausting and filthy - but at the end, we had our old heater all taken apart and ripped out.

Here it is, sitting on the curb waiting to be picked up by metal scrappers.  It sat there for about an hour before someone loaded it up and took it away.

Then we were left with a hole to patch.  Dale was cracking up because I was sure some critter was going to come up the hole, and every noise I heard I was sure was a raccoon or feral cat or squirrel or something coming up.

That's the dirt under the house, y'all.  Gross.  We actually put the grates back over it but they were just sitting there and I've seen raccoons in our neighborhood.  Anyways....

Then we had to build this up, both in the hall here, but also within the cabinets.

I built new shelves inside, and replaced the metal grate panels with the original panels, which I had saved.  Then I repainted and got everything all installed.  That side looks good ---

Then we had to build out the other side, and patch the floors:

We had bought some flooring (unfinished) to match the original flooring, so I had to blend that in with the existing planks, after putting in a plywood subfloor.  We insulated the space, and then added some cement board, and now Dale has to build out the wall and plaster it over, and you'll never even know it was there.

So -- the other thing we had to do was take out the water heater from it's closet:

and install a tankless water heater on the outside. This was so they could put the furnace unit in that space. We ordered a tankless heater, and got started on the project, building a panel, getting the unit put on the wall -- and then......

We ran across 2 problems, just as the HVAC people came to get installation going.  We were going to pull the water heater, we had it drained, ready to pull out, and the HVAC people looked at the cabinet and said, "we can't put the furnace in there."  Not enough room in the attic for the plenum (air handler), and no route for an air return.  Great.  So we turned the water heater back on and refilled it, thinking, we can do the tankless thing in a day or two anyway, and then while we were looking at the tankless, it requires 3/4" gas lines, and we have 1/2".  We call the gas company, who comes out and says, "you need an upgraded meter."  Yay.

So we are STILL waiting on that (which is why the picture shows unconnected pipe), and using our old water heater.  We'll get this connected as soon as we get our meter upgrade (any day now!).

The other problem needed more thought.  We were not happy, our sales person had contacted the company and had done measurements before we signed our contract, and now they're saying, we have to put it elsewhere. They looked in the attic (too low, we have a low angled roof), maybe we'd have to use the guest room closet and move the closet into the water heater space (they are back to back), but they have to send a carpenter out to frame out the space and get it ready.  And that should be in a week or so. So we were pretty frustrated. But, it gave us time to think, and we decided we'd rather put the furnace in a different space - right off the entry where we have a door to the bedroom that we use as a studio.  This space, that open door (this is from a long time ago before I added a glass panel to the front door) :

Here's the space from inside the room.  It was a little jog and the only purpose of it is to have a place for the door.  it's about a 2.5 x 2.5 foot space that can't be used for anything, and if we close it off, it still leaves us one door into the room, from the hall.

It's kind of odd that this bedroom actually has two doors, one of them off the front hall.  We'd talked about extending the hall closet to use more storage space there - we'd been to an open house in the neighborhood, and that's what had been done there, so it was something we'd thought of before.  One of the problems with that room is that we always treat it as a hallway, and it was awkward, so closing off that space was a good use of the space.  So by the time the HVAC carpenter came out, we had a new idea, and they thought it was ideal.  So now it looks like this:

They moved the door forward, the door swings the other way, and the space has been insulated so it's quiet.  The intake is on the living room side behind the small tables, not even noticeable.

The inside of the room now looks like this.  we didn't ask them to smooth it out any further because we are building a bookcase unit over it.  this room now has a closet (that we are removing) on the left side of the wall, and on the right side is what you see here, the closed off space.  We are going to build a full wall of bookshelves and include a door to the closet and a murphy bed for our visitors.  On the other wall, across from it, I used to have two bookshelves, which I just sold this morning. This is where I am going to move my desks.

So next, we are going to demo the old closet. We've removed the doors and drawers, and we'll clear it out and get shelves built in for storing fabric and larger items.  Then we'll continue to build the walls out and then get some shelves and a bed built in.  Next post, I'll outline the plans!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Peg Doll House

My 3 year old grandson wanted a small doll house for his peg dolls.  I built this small wooden house that fits his peg dolls and playmobil figures.  It's gender neutral - so many doll house plans I found were for 12" fashion doll figures, or were very pink and feminine.

I started by buying 3 boards of 6" wide 1/2" poplar, each of them was 3' long.  I cut two pieces of poplar 15" long, and edge glued and clamped them together to make an 11 x 15 panel.

While that was drying, I cut out all the other pieces from the 1/2 inch poplar, except the base, which I cut from 1/2" plywood.  It was a little larger than the width of the boards I had, so I just used a scrap of plywood I already had.

I sanded all the pieces, rounding off the edges slightly so they weren't sharp for little hands.

To cut the doors and windows, I first drilled a hole and then used a jig saw to cut the shape out.  For the front door, I cut the door out, and saved the piece, adding hinges so his peg dolls can go in and out the front door.

Once I had all the pieces cut out, it was pretty easy to put the basic house together.  There were a few parts that were a little trickier:  the balcony and the stairway.  For the stairway, I cut 3 slots in a curved wall.  I made these so the steps would fit tightly, cutting them the same size (or slightly tighter) than the width of the steps.  For the balcony, the big challenge was lining up the holes that I drilled so the railing would line up.

I'm adding the plans here, in case anyone wants to make this.  I took pictures of all the cut pieces:

And here are 2 documents to print out to trace the pieces.  I used 13 slats cut from the poplar to finish the roof.   Both of these files should print over multiple pages, then taped together.

parts to print 1
parts to print 2

And here's an overall plan with dimensions:

So - hopefully on Christmas morning, Parker will love playing with his new peg doll house and all the peg dolls I am making him!  I might have to make some little furniture pieces if I have time before we leave.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Some shots of the interior

We've been putting "finishing touches" on the interior for awhile, and I realized I never posted any pictures that reflect that. So here are a couple:

We've had a few more good trips lately - the fall is here and it's a great time for us in SoCal to go camping - the temperature is a little more manageable and with any luck, we'll start to get some rain to green things up.  We went last week to Blue Jay Campground in the Cleveland National Forest.  For the first time, we could actually have a campfire!  That was super nice.  We also met a ton of really great folks and gave plenty of tours :)

We are trying to keep the names of all the places we've visited on the side of the vardo, but some place aren't really the type of place that has 'souvenirs' - so I improvised by painting a little logo (some made up) on the end to commemorate those places.

And a few shots from the campground at Blue Jay:

I think we're packing up today for another weekend jaunt!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Camping Life!

We've taken Stardust out a couple of times this fall, now that we have the interior feeling like home.  Dale and I drove up to the Chico area to visit Lindsay and Andrea over the Labor Day weekend, staying at Woodson Bridge SRA.  No hookups, so we used our water tanks and solar, and instead of using the fridge, we brought our cooler and it was just fine.
We had our pop up shade over the picnic table, and had a nice campfire in the fire pit!  We had a lot of visitors who wanted to stop by and check out our place!  On our last morning, we were laying in bed and all of a sudden we could hear someone outside taking pictures - we had to really stifle a giggle!

The park was super nice, and although Dale was hoping to go camping, we just enjoyed hanging out and going on walks with the dog.  Just great to get away. 

On our drive back, we stopped at a rest stop and got into a conversation with a couple who had their bus conversion, and chatted with them about some electrical questions - they gave Dale some ideas on how to get our inverter working better.  He took their advice and fashioned some new hookups with a heavier gage wire, and now it seems to be working just fine ---

Last weekend, we took another trip and went to Silverwood Lake - a lot closer to home, only about 2 hours away.  Dale was still determined to get out and go fishing, so he chose a lake site this time.  Also this time, we got a site with hookups, so we had water and electrical hookups.  We probably could have done without them, because it seems that the fridge is working just fine with the batteries and the solar, but we decided it wouldn't hurt to have it all.

This was really a pretty place to go.  We were able to totally get relaxed with no agenda and we slept in, cooked on our portable stove, and just enjoyed our camper.  Gave a ton of tours! Every park ranger came by and loved the camper.

Dale got to go fishing!  bad news, he never got a single bite!  But at least he had a chance to try!

Silverwood Lake is right along the Pacific Crest Trail.  We didn't get as much hiking/walking in as we would have liked, I would have liked to go along the trail a bit, but since we plan to go out at least once a month, I know we'll get our chances.

We already have found our camp ground for next weekend -- we want to try out a lot of the southern California state parks - one nice thing is that due to Dale's disability status, we get 1/2 price on campsites, so trying all kinds of new places is an easy and inexpensive.  I am looking forward to going some of the places that are winter only - Death Valley, the Mojave, and Joshua Tree will be great in December and January!  There are also a number of campsites directly on the ocean, and I need to get those spots reserved early.  So far, we've done everything kind of last minute, which is fine, but we need to look a little further on and make our plans early!
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