Garage Storage Planning

Now that I have the storage loft in the garage, here comes the fun part. I’m starting to plan out the storage shelves and “counter tops” I’m going to build for the back wall and work shop area.

Construction will be 2×4’s mostly, just like the work bench / spray booth I created in the basement. 

I still have to measure the area and inventory what I want to store, and what I want to use the spaces for, but that didn’t stop me from starting to sketch out my ideas on what I envision it looking like.

Once I have a plan I can work up a lumber list and see what the cost will be. I’m hoping to do this this fall or winter because I’m chomping at the bit. I really enjoy working on this type of project. And of course the organization will be awesome and mind-easing too.

-Chris

work-shop-elevation

Concept sketch of the work shop elevation.

garage-sketch

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Storage Room Workbench & Coat Rack

Finally I had the opportunity to roll up my sleeves and build something for the house. Work and life have been beyond crazy, but I was able to carve out a Saturday and Sunday to work on a couple storage and workspace solutions for the basement storage room.

The first unit is a workbench for the wife. She’s a paper artist and sometimes needs to spray glue large pieces of card stock so there is a spray booth in the middle of the workbench. No more spraying on the floor. To the right is a baker’s rack style set of shelves. And to the left of the booth is a small work bench with pegboard backdrop. I purposefully left space to the left of the unit to access existing storage shelves, and possibly tuck away loose and bulky storage room items.

The other unit I made is a coat rack. In winter we have a ton of boots and coats, but once summer comes we have no place to put them. This two level unit will hold a ton of winter gear. There is also a shelf and under shelf space for winter boots and unused shoes.

It was a very satisfying project to work on. It’s my therapy, meditation or whatever you want to call it. Challenging enough that it takes some planning, but mindless enough to be satisfying. And no one tells me what to do. I can do it my way. Which anyone who’d reached middle age can tell you, is a rewarding situation.

The storage room looks great now. We’re more organized and have some useful work space. We also took the opportunity to move the cat’s litter boxes to an open area in the room instead of in front of the storage room door. It’s all a wonderful monkey to get off of my back, and allows us to focus on the fun, “living” part of life instead of the “ugh, we still need to do that” part of life.

Overall cost was about $117 for lumber, and $40 for screws and misc hardware. It took me about four to six hours to cut, assemble and install everything. The 2×4’s are definitely overkill – but trees grow back, and it’s easy to find lumber in this size at a reasonable price. Plus it’s straight; 2×3’s or 2×2’s tend to be crooked. The units are screwed into the ceiling above when possible. The Superior Walls are difficult if not impossible to fasten into. At the bottom I placed plastic shims to level everything and I will add metal brackets to tie the units into the cement floor so they don’t fall over.

Eventually we will add lighting to the storage room. I’m thinking three overhead linear LED work lights, and then maybe task light bars over the bench work spaces.

Let me know what you think, and what you’re working on, in the comments section. Here are some pics, ask questions in the comments too…

-Chris

LED Lighting Update

I’ve been quietly updating the light bulbs in the house in order to lower our electricity costs, as well as re-illuminate areas where I had let bulbs burn out over the last four years without replacement.

First up were three outdoor sconces that each received one of these 7w decorative Philips LED bulbs – 2700K color (warm), 500 lumen rated at 22 years of life. I’ll be 65 when they need replacing. Actually longer than that because there’s no way we’ll use them three hours a day. All three total will use $55 in electricity in their lifetime.

 

Next up was my art studio. I had one of these awesome looking, “flying buttress” 8w, 650 Lumen, 2700K Green Creative bulbs from my LED light bulb test article. So I rounded out the rest of the studio with five more of them. A great looking, great performing bulb.

And most gratifyingly I completed the update of the kitchen light bulbs. I had a single GE Reveal bulb from the LED light bulb test  in one of the kitchen’s non-dimming fixtures, and five other burned out ceiling cans to compliment it. Well by time I decided to pull the trigger on getting five new ones to finish off the set, Amazon.com was out of them and I couldn’t find them online. GE actually updated the model of bulb with a 2800K color. The original was 650 lumens at 2700K color. So the colors wouldn’t match with the new bulbs and it’d look wonky. I did buy six new bulbs from Lowe’s but as it turns out, the lens on them looked decidedly “pink” which was no bueno, so I returned them and forgot about it.

Now you have to understand that every time I go to a retail store, I may spend easily fifteen minutes analyzing their LED light bulb offering. Wouldn’t you know it, a random trip to Walmart yielded five bulbs that matched my original GE Reveal bulb, 650 lumens AND 2700K color. Oh happy day! So I snagged them up an installed them upon returning home.

ge-reveal-comparison

A comparison of GE Reveal bulbs. The “discontinued” bulb on the left. A newer option I tried, center and right, had a pink lens which I found to be distracting.

As for the rest of the house, the remaining BR30 size can light bulbs will be replaced with 9w 650 lumen, 2700K Philips brand bulbs which have the best overall performance and lower cost.

philips-br30-led-spotlight

Overall LED bulb costs have plummeted in the last four years. You can now get a three or four pack of 100w equivalent bulbs at any big box store for around ten dollars. There simply is no reason to get incandescent or even fluorescent bulbs anymore. LED’s are here to stay. They are low cost, last decades, and use very little energy compared to conventional bulbs. They also come in a variety of sizes and shapes. They even come in ultra warm, vintage style finishes.

I recently saw an article on Core77 about a new LED bulb that finally takes bulb design to the next level. This artful bulb by Plumen elevates the bulb from commodity item to work of art. It’s timeless design leverages the two decade lifespan of the average bulb as well. No shade required thanks to it’s incredibly good looks, and multi directional lighting solution. $170 per bulb but looks to be well worth every penny. Images are from the Plumen website

Bee Wildflower Honey

Had to share my impromptu design for our honey jar labels.  I want to get them labeled for this weekend. There’s a village peddler’s day this weekend and I’m going to whore my wares in the center of town; selling honey alongside my old lawn mower and any trash to treasure stuff I can find in the basement or garage.

“bee” is our brand 🙂 I don’t know if anyone else is using that, but I’ll keep using it until someone tries to stop me (I generally always get what I want).

I drew the wildflowers using a photo I took earlier this year of flowers on our land. I don’t know what they are but they are yellow with red centers. There’s a photo on the blog somewhere.

The copy font is avant grade which is one of my all-time favorite fonts. The font choice, along with my black and white trace drawing kind of gives the label a retro 70’s vibe which I like a lot as a child of that decade (and the one after). We grew up in a classic 70’s house and they type of architecture is prevalent throughout the valley in which we live if you know where to look.

You know what’s really cool? Just like wine I’ve labeled the honey with the season, year, type and even which hive it came from. Honey never spoils, which makes it even better than wine. (We’re having a honey tasting later this fall, as a random side note – just like wine tasting!)

Available in 8oz and 4oz glass bottles, 100% of the proceeds from our honey sales go towards educating our kids, paying for our eco-friendly house, buying wildflowers and trees, and supporting our bees.

Seems legit, right?

Label for "bee" brand honey - includes hive, season and type information.

Label for our “bee” brand honey – includes hive, season and type information.

Porch Ceiling Trim

This past weekend we got a project completed that had been in the works for over a year. We trimmed out the screen porch and adjacent outdoor porch ceilings. I actually had bought the material this time last year, and just now got around to installing it. The project took me the better part of a Saturday to complete.

Ceiling before installing trim. You can see seams between 4x8 sheets of ceiling plywood.

Ceiling before installing trim. You can see seams between 4×8 sheets of ceiling plywood.

The purpose of the trim is to cover up all the unsightly seams between the sheets of cedar plywood that make up the porch ceiling. I selected 1×4 cedar boards, approximate 12′ long for the project. I ripped each board in half creating a bunch of 1×2’s. I suppose you can purchase 1×2’s but they’re not always easy or economical to find, plus I think you get a straighter board by ripping down a 1×4 into two 1×2’s.

Last year I drew up a plan on the computer, so I used a print out of my plan as a guide. Originally I had planned to go 16″ on center with the strips, but we felt that would be overkill. By going 4′ on center we could cover up most of the seams. Any seams not covered would be inconspicuous once we stained the ceiling.

I trimmed out the entire perimeter of the ceiling first, nailing a 1×2 flat against the ceiling, and butting the side walls. I used galvanized finish nails, and a nail gun / compressor to make the job easier.

The first cross board in place.

The first cross board in place.

Next I measured out the major seams in the plywood and made marks for the boards that go all the way across the porch, width wise. Since the porch is around 12′ wide, I was able to use a solid board and not have to splice anything. I placed boards 4′ on center, covering up each seam in the plywood above. I also made sure to pound any drooping plywood back in place before nailing the trim boards home.

Detail of ceiling trim near chimney corner

Detail of ceiling trim near chimney corner

Once all the boards were up, going across the width of the porch, I infilled with short segments running the other direction until the grid pattern was complete.

Finished ceiling with trim. Large squares are 4' on center.

Finished ceiling with trim. Large squares are 4′ on center.

Trim carries over to the outside porch.

Trim carries over to the outside porch.

The trim adds a nice level of detail to the porch, making the it feel more room like. We’ll stain the ceiling either a reddish color to match the floor and walls, or we may go bold and stain it a charcoal color to match the center of the house exterior.

Water Supply From The Sky

[Writer’s note: this is an article I wrote last year but was never published. I wanted to share it with my loyal readers. I hope you enjoy. Rainwater harvesting is fascinating and can be utilized anywhere there is precipitation i.e. everywhere on the planet.]

Living with the convenience of “city” water for over thirty years I was a bit apprehensive when my wife and I bought a little piece of rural paradise upon which to build our new family home. As far as I knew there was only one option for our water supply: a well, drilled deep into the ground pulling up water from the earth. As far as I knew a well meant smelly, slimy, water and iron stained plumbing fixtures. I was not looking forward to a lifetime of well water, but the land was so nice I was willing to sacrifice.

We soon discovered that the area of our new land was not a great place to get a reliable water supply from the earth.  So we had to find another source. The only other real option was to get a cistern, which is a large waterproof vault that holds water. Cisterns have been providing safe drinking water to humans for thousands of years. I immediately liked the idea because it meant no sulfur smelling water or toilet rings.

There are three ways to fill a cistern. We could pay a water hauling company to truck in water. Another option is to use the cistern in tandem with a well, the idea being that the cistern would keep ample water available from even a slow producing replenishment well. Lastly the cistern can be filled with free harvested rainwater from the sky. We wanted our new home to be as environmentally sustainable as possible so we decided to go with harvesting.

With the collection decision made, I needed to do some research.  Foremost I needed to know how much water we’d use and therefore need to collect. The U.S. EPA website estimates about 300 gallons per day per family[1] (109,500 gallons per year). Our goal was to solely rely on rainwater as our supply. If we hit a drought (in the heat of summer or the freeze of winter) we could have water trucked in. We selected a 10,000-gallon underground cistern, which meant we could go a month without refilling it. A low level light comes on at 2,500.

I found the Texas Manual on Rainwater Harvesting[2] online and it is filled with a wealth of information. The manual estimates that one can expect to collect 0.62 gallons per square foot of collection surface, per inch of rainfall. The efficiency of the system is about 75% because some water will be lost in the collection process.[3] So for our example, we have about 4,000 sq. feet of roof to collect water from. Our average precipitation (in nearby Akron, Ohio) is around 40 inches per year[4]…. (4,000 x 40 x 0.62) x 0.75 = 74,400 gallons per year we’ll collect. That’s far from the amount we need but that didn’t deter us from our goal of water independence. Our system cost $14,000 installed.

When collecting rainwater for home use, one has to consider the entire system from raindrop to faucet.  The biggest question mark during the design phase was the roof material. Aesthetically we wanted a metal roof, but weren’t sure if we could afford one. Would asphalt shingles be safe for our water supply? The Texas manual recommends metal roofs, sold under the Galvalume trade name for example, are the best for collecting rainwater for potable use. Potable water should not be collected from wood or asphalt roofs as chemicals can leach from them material into the water. Clay and concrete tiles are okay, but there rough porous surface means a less efficient system.[5] Ultimately we stretched the budget and went with the metal roof.

The collection process is fairly straightforward. As rain hits the roof it flows to the gutters, which have a screen on them to keep large debris out. Water is then directed by downspouts and pipes to roof washers located atop the underground cistern. The washers contain mesh and fabric filters to screen out any large contaminants before the water is deposited into the cistern.  As needed the water is pumped from the cistern into the house where it passes through chlorine and pressure tanks. Lastly the water flows through a 1-micron cartridge filter system to take the chlorine out as well as a final step in the purification process.  The filter’s cost about $30 and we change them six times per year.

WSFTS-Schematic

To minimize water usage we installed plumbing fixtures that use less water. Outside we irrigate the gardens using water collected from a rain barrel. Landscaping with native plants that don’t require supplemental watering helps also. Last year our area saw 33 inches of precipitation through November[6], which is well below average. That being said, our low water light never came on once since we’ve been here. Smaller (and larger) cisterns are available, but we’ve been very happy with the size of our tank.

It was amazing to take my first shower in the new house and realize that the water that was raining around me had fallen from the sky earlier that day. We’ve been very pleased with the system overall and recommend anyone interested in a self-sustaining alternative, look into rainwater harvesting. It’s a viable water source wherever you live.

-Chris

Rainwater harvesting mechanics inside the home include chlorine and pressure tanks, a changeable cartridge filter and low level indicator light.

Rainwater harvesting mechanics inside the home include chlorine and pressure tanks, a changeable cartridge filter and low level indicator light.

On the outside, a rainwater-harvesting house looks like any other except for the exposed cistern lid and roof washers. In this example they are hidden amongst the landscaping in the foreground.

On the outside, a rainwater-harvesting house looks like any other except for the exposed cistern lid and roof washers. In this example they are hidden amongst the landscaping in the foreground.


[2] Texas Manual on Rainwater Harvesting, Texas Water Development Board, Third Edition 2005, http://www.twdb.state.tx.us/publications/reports/rainwaterharvestingmanual_3rdedition.pdf

[3] Texas Manual on Rainwater Harvesting, pp29-30

[4] The Weather Channel website www.weather.com

[5] Texas Manual on Rainwater Harvesting, p6

[6] National Weather Service Forecast Office, Cleveland, OH, http://www.nws.noaa.gov/climate/xmacis.php?wfo=cle

This Rug in Studio: Yea or Nay

We need to know if this rug looks good or not in the wife’s studio, as soon as possibly preferably. (Don’t worry if we don’t like rug it was free and will go in the basement if we don’t use it in the studio).

studio rug 1 studio rug 2 studio rug 3