Friday, September 13, 2013

Sneak peek at new kitchen cabinets

Chris will be building me my kitchen cabinetry someday. I'm in no hurry as it's going to take some time to design what I want. I love to cook and I sure don't want to do any of this over again. In the meantime, we've set up a functional space for now and I didn't have any plans to improve it until the rest of the house was pretty much finished. Except we were in HD the other day and I saw something that made me go "huh". 

See, I've got an industrial vibe going in the house. Sort of farmhouse meets work shop. For example, this was my solution to needing an outlet over the island:

Retractable extension cord
Directly under that window in the background was a 4 foot plastic table that bookended the stove. A matching table was to the right of the stove. They provided functional work space but absolutely no style. After my "huh" moment, we took them out...

And I put this together...

and ended up with these:

So far everyone with testosterone has loved them. And they've all asked if I intend to keep them. And then they've offered to buy them if I decide to give them up.

I don't think I will though. Because I love them too.

Some details: the left cabinet is 46 inches wide while the right is 27 inches. Both came with hardwood tops. The drawers are rated for a variety of weights, the lowest being 50 pounds, the highest 100. The drawer glides are ball bearing and open very smoothly. The finish seems very tough and they recommend buffing with car wax once a year. That's probably not something you typically do in your kitchen, is it? I've been having entirely too much fun organizing the drawers. Pictures will be forthcoming.

In case anyone is wondering, I intend to have Chris build me floor to ceiling cherry cabinets on the left side of the room. The right side will have my antique sink and more cherry cabinetry. The center island will not be a plastic table. It will be an antique wooden optometrists cabinet (lots of drawers) with an oak top and bakery marble at one end. It's sitting on the porch right now waiting for some refinishing before its turn to move into the kitchen. Maybe it won't take me as long to design it as I thought.

Thursday, September 12, 2013


My friend came to visit and we decided a hike was in order. Since neither of us have done any hiking recently we figured a fire tower would be the perfect goal. Not too long, not too steep, and a great payoff at the top.
Hadley Fire Tower
Took us about 2 hours to climb the 3.2 miles to the top. We were doing quite a bit of huffing and puffing on the way up.

But even before we got all the way up, the views were incredible.

Not even at the top yet
The tower is actually open for climbing although there was some caution tape 3/4 of the way up. We wisely opted not to cross the tape.
Restored tower
The day was gorgeous, the blueberry bushes were full, and we were there so early that no one else had done the climb yet. 

We had this view to ourselves.

And it was awesome.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The exterior work continues

We're still sporting Tyvek style on the exterior of the house. I know this stuff is tough but I really don't want to go through a full winter with it still exposed. So we're working on finishing up the soffits as that's step one before putting up the board & batten.

We're staining the trim black and using the typical white plastic stuff for the venting. Started with a semi-transparent black but didn't like the coverage so we've switched to a semi-solid. Much better.

Lot of wood!
And what is the well dressed stain master wearing nowadays you may ask? Why slippers of course. I realized the other day that I rarely wear shoes anymore. A fashion maven? No. Comfortable? Oh yeah. 

Perfect outdoor footwear
Anyhoo, we also picked up some sample pots for the board & batten. I've always envisioned the house color as "natural". I styled the place after a classic horse barn and bare wood is how I've always seen those.

However when we put natural stain on our pine boards, it turned them orange. Not good.

Hmmm, not quite the color I had in mind
 So we thought we'd try another classic barn color - red!

I like this much better and think it will look great with the black trim boards.

Other guests

In addition to the deer and snapping turtles, we have hummingbirds.

We've had four or five all summer and are now down to just two.

They are surprisingly aggressive and spend a good bit of time fighting despite the abundant food available. 

We have a feeder at either end of the porch and they love to weave through the trusses as they race from end to end. We'll definitely miss them when they fly south for the winter. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The bathroom barn door

Remember when we bought the awesome doors for the bathroom and pantry? Yeah, it's been so long I barely remembered it too. But we did! And we finally got one of them hung up. Given our general sense of priority you may think we hung the pantry door first, but no, we opted to give a measure of privacy to the bathroom. We were having a party and thought the guests might appreciate it.

Step one: buy doors. Wait months to install. This allows proper aging. Honest.
Step two: buy barn door hardware. Curse when a search for barn door hardware online takes you to sites with very expensive examples. Hundreds of dollars just for one bracket. Go instead to Tractor Supply and buy real hardware for real barn doors. It'll be galvanized, but that's why they make spray paint.
Step three: paint the hardware and then lift extremely heavy door into position so you can figure out where you want to attach everything.

In situ so to speak
The track and hangers from Tractor Supply were much less expensive than fancy not-really-for-a-barn stuff. I used black satin spray paint to make them less industrial.
Galvanized, pre-paint.
Cut track to fit and file for smoothness
Once you decide where on the door you want the brackets you have the scary task of drilling through your awesome door. Take it outside to do so. It's pretty out. Enjoy the sun.
We moved this darn door many times. It's heavy.
Bring door back inside to see if the height is correct. Yes, you could measure it. But would that really give you the full effect? Ahem. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Figuring out where to mount the track
Once we figured out where we wanted the track, we had to find the door header. We planned for a barn door here so put a full header all the way to the far wall, not just over the door opening. Unfortunately, despite having photos and knowing that we did this, we couldn't find the darn wood. The stud finder was not finding anything. We drilled a few test holes and hit air. WTF???

Finally decided to cut out the drywall and see what was going on. Figured we'd sister in a nailer if that's what was needed.

Desperate measures
Chris was a good sport about all this. It was very frustrating that we couldn't figure out what was going on.

See? He's still smiling.
And this next shot says it all. If you look really closely you can see the three test holes we drilled in the upper left corner. We were 1 inch too high. 1 inch! Argh. The stud finder wouldn't work because the whole darn thing is wood. Nothing to sound against. Double Argh.

So we took that perfectly cut out piece of sheetrock and put it right back in place. Fortunately I've had lots of practice mudding and sanding drywall lately. Got that puppy repaired and repainted within 24 hours.

And now, back to the hardware installation process.

The wheel assembly is designed so that you can adjust the height by tightening/loosening the center bolt. This lets you correct level if the track should shift for some reason (like it's actually hanging on a barn and the barn sags). What it did for us was allow us to have a wee bit of wiggle room if the door didn't hang quite right against the jam.

Adjustable wheel assembly
In order to install it properly you have to drill down into the door frame so the bolt can travel up and down. It's a tight fit and we pinched a few fingers getting it all set up.

Drilled and ready to adjust
One more session of measuring and fitting and we had to trim a bit off the bottom of the door. Since we had to install the track a bit lower than originally planned, a couple inches needed to come off. Chris set up a jig, moved the sassafrassing door again, and used a circular saw to do the trimming.

Clamped level for a saw guide
Almost done
Then he used his hand plane to give it a nice finished edge. Applied some stain and varnish to seal the wood and we were ready to hang it up.

Giving it a nice finish
 And here it is in all its glory.

Checking level
Gotta admit I really love it. It's solid, it's pretty, it's got some history, and it says "Private". How perfect is that?!?
Ta dah!
And the view from the inside is just as good. Well, it will be once we have trim. That's for another day though.


Monday, September 2, 2013

Drywalling the garage

Okay, so this has been a long process. Mainly because it's summer and mostly gorgeous out and we really didn't want to be spending all of our time in the garage. So we kept finding other stuff to do. Plus it's not exactly fun to drywall, mud, sand, mud, sand more, mud & sand more, and then stage a total revolt against doing yet another mud/sand cycle because, you know, this is a garage,  not a bloody palace.

Smile even when you look like a bad addict
We eventually got every thing ready for priming and painting.
Buy scaffolding. It's worth it. Truly.

We decided to go with a site mix of paint because, as mentioned, garage. Bought two gallons of relatively inexpensive white ceiling paint and then poured two gallons of leftover paint into it. Not even paint leftover from this house; this was paint from the last house. So white, a sort of mushroom light brown, and a really soft sea foam-ish green went into a 5-gallon bucket and we got this:
It's a really nice grey with slightly green undertones

It went on sort of dark but completely softened when it dried. I actually like it so much that I'm thinking of matching it to use in the upstairs bathroom.

So now all of this stuff gets to move into its temporary home.

Clear the decks!
The big garage bay will act as Chris's temporary workshop until we can get the wood shop built sometime in the next couple years.
Yes, that is Chris laying on the shelf. Why do you ask?

Picked up a bunch of storage shelves from HD and will use them in the garage most likely on a permanent basis. Just what goes on them will change.
Ready for organizing

I'll add bins, layer in shelves, and hang stuff over head. This is really key for us as we have no basement. So places to store Christmas decorations, seasonal toys like skis and snow shoes, and all the other stuff that most people stuff in their basement are in seriously short supply. Anything that doesn't require temperature controlled storage is destined for out here. The rest will find a home in the closets or utility room; anything deemed not essential to continued happiness will be sold, recycled, or trashed. Awesome!