Sunday, January 26, 2014

Living room ceiling

As we were driving back from Indiana, we decided we had enough time to get started on one more project at home.  Our kitchen is 99% done - just need to scrape together enough to pay for countertops, but we're OK with keeping them plywood for a little longer.  And we do have a few other things that we'd like to do, such as:
  • replace the 2 front windows with new single hung windows
  • replace the back door with a full view or multi-paned french door
  • hang some decor
  • make a chair pad for the bench
  • get a new kitchen table
But those things are going to happen over time.  Iam pleased with the way it looks -- no big "reveal" as of yet, because we actually moved a bunch of our living room stuff into the kitchen (the two big recliners, mainly), so I can't quite take pictures. 

But as for that drive -- one thing that's really been driving me nuts was theliving room - it's acoustic tile ceiling and the ugly paneled walls that are painted but still uneven, the giant brick fireplace that's in the worst place ever -- but mostly the ceiling.  This is what it looked like when we bought the place:
Kind of hard to see -- and these pictures look WAY better than the room did.  Nice floor (needs to be refinished, really scratched and gouged, but nice wood), the rest has gotta go.  Here's what it looked like before we moved all the furniture out and stripped out the room:
Best attributes:  good size, nice floor, lots of light from big windows.  So that's how we've had it for awhile.  Painted the brick the same beige as the rest of the room so it would blend in better, but other than that, nothing.  But we were getting this along the edge where we redid the kitchen and knocked out a wall:

That's the lovely beam we put in, and that's the ugly ceiling tiles that we had to cut back to access the area.  Brown, seriously??  what were these people thinking?

So, we cleared the room, taped off the doors and went to work pulling off the paneling and then taking down the tiles and furring strips on the ceiling.  It always looks SO MUCH worse before it gets better!

 And this is AFTER we took stack after stack of ceiling tiles out, and piles of furring strips and nails and all kinds of yukky trash.  Gross.

What we wanted to do was create a coffered ceiling.  We had one in our house on Bosart Street back when we lived in Indiana, we loved it.  I watched another blogger do hers in NO time at all, and it gave me the nudge to get going.  I showed the pics to Dale, and he was sold, so this is our plan.  But first, of course, there are some serious issues that removing the paneling showed us:

We knew there was some plaster damage here, the paneling was loose at the corner and we could peek in and see there were some issues.  Large chunks of plaster gone, and the stuff along the bottom -- well, that's just a mess.  What they had done was create a switch that turned on the outlet - but they ran the wire right above the wood there, flush with the plaster.  We could have hit it with a nail or screw anytime.  Totally  unsafe.  

The other mess is this above, around the sliding glass door.  All kinds of janky wood filler, and big swaths of plaster missing.  This is actually OK with us - we can fix the plaster, but I'm contemplating waiting a bit on this, probably just do some minor patching because we plan on removing the sliding glass door and replacing it with 4 french doors that we bought off craigslist for a hundred bucks.  We'll need to build a frame, and we can see here exactly what size we need to fit it to.  And it would be easier if we didn't get the plaster all finished out since we'd have to cut it again, and we want to get the doors done this spring, so we may just patch this up a bit and let it roll for a bit.  There is also some damage to the floors here which we'll fix when we replace the doors.

After we pulled everything down, we patched all the many many holes in the ceiling, sanded them down, then patched again.  I contemplated priming the ceiling, but we decided to go ahead and lay out the coffers at this point.

Don't you love the contact cement all over the walls?  it's nasty, looks like dried on snot.  We have to sand that down, too, and then do a very thin skim coat to level out the walls.

So after screwing 2 x 4s and some blocking to the ceiling, we attached the sides to the boxes that make up the beams in the ceiling.  This actually went really easily, and this is where we also ran into two more problems:  because we are intending on putting bookshelves all along the back wall, we didn't want to build the coffers all the way to that wall, so we stopped 12" short of the wall to allow for the shelves.  So they just sort of stop--

And then .... I threw my back out.  Went to school for a meeting and decided to throw away some old art projects left on the shelf, reached across for something and just felt something slide in my back -- and I was flat on my back for 3 or 4 days.  It hurt to do anything.  Which stinks, because that means we had to live with our house looking like this!

It finally subsided some, I'm still dealing with it, but I can manage as long as I take breaks and don't pick up anything heavy.  So I got the ceiling and beams caulked, primed and painted  --- 2 coats of primer, 2 coats of paint --
And it's looking really awesome.  Right now we have a stupid "boob" light in the center --we want to get a nice ceiling fan fixture, but we'll wait until we need to.  We decided that since we were going to all the trouble to smooth out the ceiling and we could see where all the joists were, we might as well install recessed lights while we were at it. so that added a few days to the job.  But they are AWESOME.

It's so nice that the crappy ceiling tiles are gone, and the ceilings are beautiful and smooth. 

I've done several other things -- finished a whole lot of trim, am halfway through putting in the base cabinets for the bookshelves, but we had to stop and do a bunch of electrical -- this house had all kinds of wacky circuits, and when we added in the recessed lights, we realized that it was time to do a map and get all the circuits mapped.

We listed every single electrical outlet, switch and light in the house, and tested each one.

After we did this, we realized that about 75% of our lights and outlets were on the same circuit, and we had two empties.  So back up into the system to balance that out.  We feel so much better and we know that there are dedicated circuits now to our electronics and that nothing is over-taxed.  And now, no guessing when we need to switch off a breaker to rewire an outlet or run a fixture. 

So while the living rooms are still gross brown, we have been making progress, and hopefully I'll get some updates up in the next week or so.  We are coming along!

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Time out for a vacation

We are anxious to finish up the small bits and pieces of our kitchen, but we were also quite ready for a break for our Christmas vacation.  We decided to drive this year, so we could save a little money (the two of us could drive for less than the cost of one airline ticket), and it also gave us a car to use while we were in Indianapolis.  We had a fun adventure on the way out -- we left on Dale's birthday and decided to take pictures at every state sign along the trip. 

We'd just gotten to Arizona when we talked about how notorious they were for catching speeders -- so we were driving carefully, but still got pulled over! It turned out that we had a headlight out, which we hadn't noticed, but the policeman was nice enough to wish Dale a happy birthday and pose for us, which we posted to Facebook (as we reported our whole trip)!  The 30 hour drive turned more like 42, because we ran into some bad weather here and there, but it was still a lot of fun and we were glad to arrive in Indiana early in the morning of the 21st.

We were anxious to greet this cutie!

We had lots of fun playing with Parker, and getting ready for Christmas.  We enjoyed watching Parker open presents on his first Christmas. Here he is, waiting with Zoe, his doggie:

And here he is taking a brief nap with Grandpa:

And we made some cookies together:

Leslie and I did some sewing projects and we spent a lot of time catching up with friends.

But the time goes by quickly, and before we knew it, time to return home. 

Our trip home was a little more leisurely, but still we buzzed on through. We started off with bad weather in Missouri and Oklahoma, but the next morning, the sun was shining and it was smooth driving all through Texas (where we stopped to check out Cadillac Ranch:)

and New Mexico, where we checked out some petroglyphs --
And Arizona, where we looked at the Petrified Forest --
and of course, the Grand Canyon --

(Dale's been working on perfecting his selfie skills).  We did brief stops at both the Petrified Forest and the Grand Canyon, because in the spring, we are going on another road trip with our friends Eric and Herbert, and those are two of the stops we plan on making. We stopped this time because it seemed like a shame to pass on by without looking, and also to get a National Parks yearly pass.

Well, that's it, about 4100 miles and now we're home sweet home.  On the way home, we discussed what we want to work on next, and after doing the small touch ups in the kitchen, we're going to work on the living room ceiling!  Probably get started tomorrow, but we need to take a couple of days to catch up.  Hope you had as much fun (and a lot more relaxing time than we did!) on your holidays!

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