Rain and Drain – Pop-Up Overflow Day

This week’s theme is water, sort of. Saturday we had what I hope is our last snow storm of the year. We woke up to about four inches of snow, which is a very depressing thing to wake up to in April when you’re hoping to see leaves and blossoms.

The snow quickly gave way to rains to day, which did a great job of flooding the front meadow and parts of our yard. Basically our land is all wetlands, so when it rains, it gets wet out there. It’s actually interesting to watch the water flow across the land. It feeds off of adjacent properties, channels its way across our land,comes together in the east meadow and it all ends up in a wet weather creek, heading to a pond on a neighbor’s parcel of land. Eventually it all flows into the Cuyahoga River, then to Lake Erie. Generally speaking its all very interesting to watch, and doesn’t cause any great concern to the house or our landscape.

Inside we’re having a tougher time managing where the water is going.

There’s a leak, or leaks rather, coming from beneath the kitchen sink. No idea what’s wrong but it’s leaking from the top of the garbage disposal. With a big PVC drain pipe leading out of the disposal, I have zero desire to try and fix it myself, so the plumber is coming out tomorrow to see what’s going on and hopefully fix it. Also hopefully, we will not have to replace the garbage disposal. Knowing my luck though, we will and I’m sure it won’t be cheap. I’m past the point of thinking I’ll ever catch a break or get ahead money-wise. Life is playing a cruel trick on me for the last five years I believe.

In the master bath we are now on our third set of drains for the sinks. Originally our $800 Kohler faucets both broke: the stop pulls on both, constructed of cheap nylon snapped in half. The only reason I mention the price is because I don’t feel like something that expensive should break or be so poorly designed. Kohler told us to go pound salt basically, from what I recall, as there was no fix or remedy for their poor design. I don’t recall if there was even a replacement part, but now I look on their site and there are replacement parts (see picture below). Presumably they are of the same crappy material and design.

Well my fix to the problem was to replace the drain with a pop-up drain like we have in our vessel sink in the half bath. A pop-up drain is activated by pushing down on the drain head to engage and disengage it, blocking or allowing water to go through the drain. No need to pull on a stopper attached to the faucet like regular sink and faucet set-ups. Pop-ups are primarily for vessel sinks that don’t have overflows and usually have fancy faucets without lever or pull stops attached to them.

Here was our first attempt – which resulted in giant pop-up drains that were more appropriate for a tub, and the second attempt which looked a lot better.

Turns out the second attempt was wrong too. I ordered drains that didn’t have an overflow. At the time I didn’t know I needed to, but apparently they come two ways. For vessel sinks you don’t need an overflow. It’s just a vessel, if you leave the faucet on the sink overflows onto the floor and just like in the cartoons, comedic hilarity ensues as your house is flooded. The other kind of drain has a rectangle cut into it to accept the overflow water, which comes from sinks that have an overflow hole; that little hole below the faucet in the sink that you always wondered what it was for when you were a kid. We were wondering why water was pooling in our overflow holes. After three years we finally decided to ask the plumber when he was our installing something else. That’s when I learned about the rectangular overflow hole and the need to order the right part for the job.

So I ordered new drains for the master bathroom for the….fourth time technically. $16 apiece on Amazon.com. Which is cheaper than the $80 I spent last round on the Moen units. At least my mistakes are getting cheaper, right?

We’ll get the new ones installed tomorrow. And hopefully at least that one annoyance will be fixed. One less monkey on my back.

Below are images of the new drain, the exploded view of the faucet (I guess I could keep ordering replacement nylon rods for $3 apiece, and keep breaking them) and a diagram that came with the new chrome pop-up overflow drain assembly.

I’ll have a driveway update later this week as I wrap up my research. Until then, stay dry and well drained my readers.

-c

Basement is Done (Almost)

It’s been a while but most of the basement is finally done. Or at least done “enough”. We had a birthday party the other weekend at our house for our son, and the main behind the scenes star was going to be the basement. With seven kids plus adults coming over, we needed the indoor entertaining space done, or at least presentable enough to utilize for the party.

My brother and I busted our backs getting the tile in, and trim on. I fell short of grouting the tile, and painting the trim, but overall everything looked great and we were able to use the space without a hitch.

I was exhausted for days afterwards. More so than I’ve ever been in a very long time. But it was well worth the effort. Even in its unfinished state, the basement space looks fantastic. It’s like having a whole new house. And the possibilities are endless. At the very least we can finally start unpacking and going through everything that is in the basement. We can set out some furniture from the old house, that has been taking up space and collecting dust. I am looking forward to it.

Here are my notes and photos from wrapping up this phase of the basement project. I still have to do my office space (in addition to putting the finishing touches on the main part  of the basement). I have all the materials, I just need to find the time and energy to tackle that part.

Notes:

  • I hate tiling. I shouldn’t say I hate it, but I suck at it in one regard: cutting tile. I was cutting with a tool that scores the tile then breaks it cleanly in a straight line. Problem is I couldn’t use the tool very well. I went through $5 tiles like they were potato chips – cracking them and rendering them useless. I bet I wasted close to $500 in tile because I suck at cutting tile. I wonder how much it would have cost to hire a professional…
  • We went with 1×10 baseboards so that if the basement floods, we only ruin the boards, not the drywall. To save money I went with pine instead of poplar. I’ll have to fill in or smooth all of the knots in the wood, and then prime it…so definitely more labor on my part, but the cost was 1/4th of poplar or ripping down plywood
  • To mount the baseboards to the steel framing of the basement, I ripped down 1/2″ thick blocks and mounted them using low profile trim screws. I primed the treated wood blocks, to add a layer of moisture protection. Not sure if that was necessary, but hey, it couldn’t hurt.
  • The tile looks great. Most people assume it is real hardwood. Don’t be absurd. It’s porcelain tile, silly.
  • I found a great, simple circle mirror at IKEA. It looks great in the bathroom. I love shopping at IKEA.
  • The ceiling will be installed at some later date in the future. There was the suggestion that we simply spray paint the ceiling grey to give it an industrial vibe, while saving money.
  • I suck at drywalling. I had a piece of drywall I had to put in after the plumber moved the shower head. I tried to mud and tape it, and it was a complete disaster. So I called my drywall guy and he came out and rectified the situation in about ten minutes. I don’t know why I try to be handy. I’m not very handy at all. No patience.
  • I really hope I have enough tile – I think I counted right. Because with my luck they’ll discontinue the stuff before I’m done with the office. I went out and picked up six more boxes, which I think will be enough. Fingers crossed.

My Garage Organization Project

Over Easter weekend I tackled a project that I had been looking forward since we moved in: organizing the garage. And while it’s not 100% all good, it’s a huge improvement. I’m loving it.

I rummaged around the garage and came up with a few hollow bi-fold doors that would make perfect shelves. I also had a couple of pieces of 2’x4′ pegboard that I brought from the old house. I supplemented those items with 12′ worth of Gladiator brand organization track, and accessories, as well as premade metal shelf brackets from Lowe’s (~$125 worth of stuff).

First up was putting up a shelf and pegboard above the gardening area. I located the studs at 16″ on center in that area. There is an electrical box and a window in the way so I had to scratch my head a little bit as to where I wanted to mount the shelf brackets. Also I didn’t want to lose vertical height; mounting the shelf brackets above the pegboard, so I decided to mount the brackets ON TOP OF the pegboard.

Pegboard requires 1×2 furring strips so the panel stands off of the wall, allowing the peg hooks to have clearance and work properly. I cut the strips and mounted them over each stud location using my favorite screws: SPAX #8 2-1/2″ wood to wood screws.

1x2 furring strips where each stud lies behind the drywall. I will attach peg boards to the strips, notching it for the windows.

1×2 furring strips where each stud lies behind the drywall. I will attach peg boards to the strips, notching it for the windows.

I then mounted the pegboard panel, which I had to notch to clear the window, using smaller 1-1/2″ SPAX screws. On top of the pegboard I then fastened the metal shelf brackets using 2-1/2″ screws, through the bracket, pegboard, furring strip, drywall and into the wood stud.

I mounted the brackets over the pegboard and drywall, where the wall studs are.

I mounted the brackets over the pegboard and drywall, where the wall studs are.

Once that was done I was ready for the shelf. Like I said I reused some old hollow bi-fold door panels that were about 6′ x 12″ for the shelf. I had to cut the one end down, at a 45 degree angle to fit, and to make sure we didn’t hit our head as we came and went through the garage man door.  Because the door is hollow, the cut end looks weird but form follows function, and the door, er, shelf material was free after all. I used 1-1/2″ deck / drywall screws to attach the bottom of the shelf to the metal brackets. I also ran a 2-1/2″ screw through the top of the shelf into the top of the furring strips – the doors have solid would all along the perimeter so by running a screw through there where I could was an added measure of security.

Lining up the 45 degree cut on the hollow bi-fold door. Measure 12 inches up on both sides of the square along the same edge.

Lining up the 45 degree cut on the hollow bi-fold door. Measure 12 inches up on both sides of the square along the same edge.

The door are hollow and my SPAX screws proved to aggressive to attach the bottom of the bracket to the shelf. So I used some small deck / drywall screws that worked just right.

The door are hollow and my SPAX screws proved to aggressive to attach the bottom of the bracket to the shelf. So I used some small deck / drywall screws that worked just right.

Here you can see the 45 degree angle I cut on the end of the hollow bi-fold door that is now my garage shelf.

Here you can see the 45 degree angle I cut on the end of the hollow bi-fold door that is now my garage shelf.

Well we're a little more organized now.

Well we’re a little more organized now.

Here you can see I added another piece of pegboard and shelf to the other side.

Here you can see I added another piece of pegboard and shelf to the other side.

It was nice to have the added organization space above the garden work area and my work bench. I mirrored the set up on the other side of the window and was good to go.

Next up I quickly added a 1/2″ plywood shelf over the toy area per the wife’s request. I used up some scrap material and mounted that to three simpler metal brackets.

I added this quick simple shelf, made of 1/2" plywood and store bought brackets.

I added this quick simple shelf, made of 1/2″ plywood and store bought brackets.

Over to the far end of the garage I had a pile of yard tools leaning up in a pile in the corner. My plan was to put a Gladiator brand track up, then a bi-fold door shelf above that, and then way up high use a couple hooks I had lying around to hang up the extension ladder.

It took some time but I decided to run all 12′ of track in one line, even with the bottom of the window. The stud layout worked out perfectly – I didn’t have to cut any of the tracks. I decided not to temp fate though, and I predrilled all the tracks, in prep for using more 2-1/2″ wood screws to mount the them to the wall. I used a level, marked my studs and the tracks went up without any cause for concern.

Drilling pilot holes in the Gladiator track before mounting them to the wall.

Drilling pilot holes in the Gladiator track before mounting them to the wall.

A detail of the Gladiator track installed. I used 2-1/2" long SPAX screws.

A detail of the Gladiator track installed. I used 2-1/2″ long SPAX screws.

I then mounted shelf brackets above the track, the door shelf to the brackets and eventually the ladder hooks way up high. I intentionally tried to stagger how much I was screwing into each stud to try to keep the load distributed across the wall. The track goes into every stud obviously. Shelf brackets, I mounted those higher and tried to skip a few studs. Then the ladder hooks higher up on lesser used studs.

In addition to the Gladiator track I added another hollow bi-fold door shelf and even hung up the extension ladder way up high, out of the way.

In addition to the Gladiator track I added another hollow bi-fold door shelf and even hung up the extension ladder way up high, out-of-the-way.

I spent some time noodling over the Gladiator accessories I had purchased, but eventually got a set up I liked. Just above the electric trimmer I mounted the battery charger, using my favorite wall anchors and screws.  The charger is conveniently located near an outlet.

I mounted the recharger for the trimmer just above the track, near the timmer and an outlet.

I mounted the charger for the trimmer just above the track, near the trimmer and an outlet.

Now our garage is organized. For the most part. And I can start enjoying it. I can’t wait to work in the garden, or make bird boxes, with all our tools, and supplies easily accessible. The best part is I was able to use many materials that we had on hand, so it kept costs down.

Have any questions?

Know any tips or tricks?

Share in the comments below.

February Is Gross

We’re back from vacation!

I miss the beach already.

I miss the beach already.

We snuck away to sunny Florida for two weeks but now we’re back in dismal northeast Ohio. Well that’s not fair, I love NEOhio but this time of year it just stinks in my opinion. All the holidays are over and it’s at least two months before the weather even thinks of getting better. The days are still short. I have no idea if our bees survived what is turning out to be the coldest winter in quite some time (you can thank us for that: we get bees = coldest winter ever).

Ohio in February is where optimism goes to die.

Can we just fast forward to May?

“But Chris, you just went on vacation, you should be refreshed”

Well, yes I am. It was fun to sit in the sun and we even went to the Everglades which was really cool – I saw alligators. So yes I’m refreshed. Yay.

Alligators in Everglades Nat'l Park.

Alligators in Everglades Nat’l Park.

One good thing is I think the mouse is gone from the RAV4. We haven’t seen any droppings while we were in Florida. On the downside I think there is one living in the Rabbit now though – back to mouse duty, once the temperatures get above freezing. I don’t know how to keep these rodents out of my cars. It’s always something you know.

Before we left I had the Therma-Tru guy come out and inspect our doors to see what we could do to close up the daylight in the studio door. Turns out there is a laundry list of problems with the doors, none are fatal but all work together to assure that our fancy doors are not doing the job we tasked them with. He noticed the weather-stripping (in all three doors) had been put in wrong, so he pulled the strips and reversed them to restore their proper orientation. For the one studio door he ordered a piece of weather-stripping that I will install, run wild, and cut to a longer length to overlap the boot. The door frame was out of whack so that was causing the door to gap funny here and there. No huge deal, but need to do the aforementioned weather-stripping trick. He also noticed that there was no dead bolt plate installed (it came with the door but was nowhere to be seen). So he ordered me a new one of those as well.

In addition to backwards weather-stripping on the other doors my Therma-Tru tech noticed the other man doors were missing many of their hinge screws. This is bad because the doors weigh a ton and will eventually pull away from the frame. They don’t sell these screws on their own so now I have to hunt down 2″ stainless screws to fill in all the places someone forgot to install the screws.

Um, where in the f*ck are the screws?

Um, where in the f*ck are the screws?

On the upside, getting back home meant I gained a new appreciation for my cat, Dixon. He loves me unconditionally plus he’s really soft and likes sleeping on my lap while I work. I’m sure he’s doing wonders for my blood pressure and he’s a good reminder of what really is important in life. He’s the best pet I’ve ever had…actually he’s kind of like the first real pet I’ve had. I had a turtle once but it’s not the same.

Mr. Goo (Dixon) on my lap.

Mr. Goo (Dixon) on my lap.

Outside it’s just grey and all the days run together. I look out at the garden each morning when I get up and dream of when Spring will be here and I can get out there. I hope that I can find the time to get out there and work in the yard this year. I’m really looking forward to it.

Now if I could just skip ahead past the blandness that is Ohio in late winter.

More fun pics to share:

What the hell is this? I googled 'giant lime' and didn't come up an answer.

What the hell is this? I googled ‘giant lime’ and didn’t come up an answer.

Our kitties got huge while we played in the sand.

Our kitties got huge while we played in the sand.

Daisy grew a lot while we were gone. Sadness.

Daisy grew a lot while we were gone. Sadness. Love the little sprigs of fur leaping from her ear tips.

I came home to this yesterday. It looks like my wife murdered an alien in our kitchen. It used to be a pomegranate.

I came home to this yesterday. It looks like my wife murdered an alien in our kitchen. It used to be a pomegranate.

Studio Entry Bench and Coat Rack

You don’t need me to tell you today was freezing cold outside. I awoke early to take the car in to get the inside cleaned…detailed I guess is the fancy term. See, we noticed mouse droppings in the RAV4 the other day and that’s all it took for us to decide to hire a professional. The car was filthy and the guys at Wheely Clean did a great job restoring it to like new condition.  With all the cold I guess the mice had enough of living in the cold garage and ventured into friendly confines, replete with old french fries under the seats and a half drunk juice box in the door.  I pray that they are gone now though.

Anyway, it was a pain getting up and going outside in -8 degree weather.  There, that’s my complaint for today. Otherwise it was a decent day. Got to spend some time working on a new home dec design project for my brother. If you ever need a cabinet-maker, he’s the guy to call. I’ve been fortunate to work alongside him on a few projects at our house and we even wrapped up a fireplace surround at a friend’s house. I’m even learning a few tricks of the trade which is always good.

Speaking of projects around our place, I wrapped up a fun, quick project in the studio.  I installed the coat hooks, reinstalled the switch and out plate plates and put hinges on the bench. Now we can enter the house on frozen days like today, through my studio and kick off wet boots and hang up heavy winter coats, and avoid trashing the front hall entry. Remember, you always want to try to have just one entry to your house for various reasons, but if you have two make sure they’re delightful or at least there’s a good reason. I like the studio entry for the above reasons. The cement floor and abundant space in the studio means we can shed snow laden clothing and let it drip dry with no worries or fuss.

It took me three tries before I found coat hooks I liked.  I went to, and bought hooks from, Hartville Hardware, Home Depot and Lowe’s before I found the perfect ones.

Here are the three styles I bought:

Third time is the charm. Here are the three styles of coat hooks I bought.

Third time is the charm. Here are the three styles of coat hooks I bought.

I like the one’s I ended up using (far left in the photo) because they match the drawer pulls and look contemporary and old-fashioned at the same time. Below the hooks we have an entry bench. The bench is designed, by yours truly, to fold up so that the second entry door can be opened up all the way. I attached two oil rubbed bronze door hinges to the bench and a drop down latch to retain the bench panel in the raised position. I kept everything quick and easy by simply surface mounting the hinges and latch. I could have over thought it but for once I decided just do the simplest, easiest thing and that’s what I did. Everything functions and looks great. It all adds a bit of rustic charm and detail to my studio space.  I like it very much.

Here are the coat hooks I went with, Gate House hooks from Lowe's in oil rubbed bronze.

Here are the coat hooks I went with, Gate House hooks from Lowe’s in oil rubbed bronze.

Here is a bench hinge installed, I just surface mounted the hinge. It looks and works fine.

Here is a bench hinge installed, I just surface mounted the hinge. It looks and works fine.

Image of the finished studio entrance bench and coat hooks.

Image of the finished studio entrance bench and coat hooks.

This latch holds up the bench when I need to open both doors.

This latch holds up the bench when I need to open both doors.

latch in the "holding" position.

latch in the “holding” position.

Here you can see the bench in the "up" position. On another note, I wish we didn't have a vent in the floor right below the bench. Takes up shoe space.

Here you can see the bench in the “up” position. On another note, I wish we didn’t have a vent in the floor right below the bench. Takes up shoe space.

Hardware for the hinge included one really long screw. I'm not sure why but I used it in the top center hole to fasten the hinge to the back wall of the bench area.

Hardware for the hinge included one really long screw. I’m not sure why but I used it in the top center hole to fasten the hinge to the back wall of the bench area.

One other fun thing today, Christine made me a Scrapimal (TM) of Dixon for above my studio sink. I love it; and I hung it up already.  To help pay for all these projects of mine, you should check out her Etsy store and buy yourself, or a loved one, an original Scrapimal (TM) as well. They’ll make your day as they did mine.

Dixon is a Scrapimal!  Weee!

Dixon is a Scrapimal! Weee!

One bit of housekeeping, I went ahead and purchased http://www.nineappletrees.com for eighteen bucks so from now on that’s where you’ll find the blog. The old address should redirect there anyway, but just in case. That makes the blog a little more official (and I think more appealing to advertisers….not that’s why we do it but hey, if I can someday earn a penny that’d be good….homeless home projects would be much less compelling I suspect.)

Trip to Hartville Hardware

Today is Saturday. I picked up a paying project on Friday so I spent a few hours working on that. When I reached a point where I needed feedback I stopped.  It’ll wait until Monday when the rest of the world hops back into the office. For me, well that meant I kinda had Saturday to myself. We’re expecting the bottom to fall off the thermometer here by Tuesday, when the project high will be -1 F. The sun was shining so I checked with the boss of this household, my wife, to find out what plans if any we had today.

Nothing planned.

“Cool, how about a trip to Hartville Hardware?” I proposed and she was agreeable to that suggestion.

Up until a few months ago I had no idea what Hartville Hardware was. But I picked up a design project that required me to go visit the store located in Hartville, Ohio which is about a half hour south of us. I found it to be a really cool store. All I can liken it to, is like what Cabela’s is to outdoor gear, Hartville Hardware is to home supplies. Though as far as I know Hartville is a one of a kind store, not a chain. The place is huge and has a wide variety of products for your home. Not really raw materials per se, but more like housewares, but also tools, clothing and fittings such as light fixtures and plumbing fixtures.

Our trip today was not completely random, I did have a need. When I was down there last I noticed they had a totally awesome collection of cabinet hardware in store, much more than you’d find in Lowe’s or Home Depot. And since that trip I installed the cabinets in my studio. The drawers needed pulls. Also the sink stand in the half bath needed some unique decorative pulls as well. I thought taking the family down there would make for a nice Saturday trip. The store has so much for everyone, of every age to look at, I was certain it’d be a hit and it was. I wish I’d known about the store when we were building. And by no means does its country location mean it only carries cheap off brands. We say vacuum cleaners that cost $750, as well as high end faucets and appliances. Their tool selection is beyond anything you’ve ever seen. They have demo houses built right inside the store and there is even a John Deere dealer up front.

We ended up spending more time than we thought we would (but not more money), and didn’t even get through the whole place. We did discover lots of goodies for the house. Grumbling stomachs decided we were about done with our visit. Instead of heading home for leftovers, we decided to make our trek more of a “trip” and we visited Hartville Kitchen next door for a nice family lunch. The restaurant is part of a huge building that also has a bakery, gift shop and candy store. Lunch was simple fare; I had a chicken salad sandwich which was very good. Of course we stopped for some candy after lunch.

If you find yourself in the area, do plan on stopping in Hartville and enjoy a visit to one or both places I mentioned. You won’t be disappointed.

Back home we unpacked our goodies. We looked at the coat hooks we got for my studio and the crystal knobs we purchased for the half bath cabinet.  I didn’t take a photo, but suffice to say we didn’t like either of our selections so I’ll take them back. Surprisingly the coat hook selection was lacking at Hartville, I will say. I may shop elsewhere for those, or at least get double (one over the other) style hooks instead of the meal looking single hooks.

The drawer pulls for my studio drawers were perfect though. I selected simple Amerock pulls in a oil-rubbed bronze finish. They cost around $4 apiece. My drawer faces are 1.5″ thick so I scrounged up some leftover hardware screws from another project and install the pulls easily. Love them.

Amerock drawer pulls in oil rubbed bronze finish. They hole spacing is 3-3/4".

Amerock drawer pulls in oil rubbed bronze finish. They hole spacing is 3-3/4″. BP29202ORB Conrad is the pull part and name.

The installed drawer pulls look great in my studio, and I don't think they cost a whole lot.

The installed drawer pulls look great in my studio, and I don’t think they cost a whole lot.

Next up I installed a towel bar over my sink in the studio. The part I bought is actually a paper towel holder from Interdesign but for my purposes I’m using it as a towel bar above my sink. The folks at Interdesign do a nice job with the design of their products. The cantilever design of the towel holder is simple and easy to install.

Chrome towel rack. In hindsight I should have mounted it a couple inches lower in case I ever want to put paper towels on it but it'll be fine for a washable towel at this height.

Chrome towel rack. In hindsight I should have mounted it a couple inches lower in case I ever want to put paper towels on it but it’ll be fine for a washable towel at this height.

More interesting though is the dish drying pad we purchased, also from Interdesign. It’s a simple fabric pad that I convinced the wife could replace the bulky, ugly, metal rack she’d been using for the last 14 years. Interdesign is a smaller, local design company and they really thought out of the box with this product. Instead of designing yet another drying rack they analyzed the real problem and solved for that. The result is a machine washable pad that looks great in our modern kitchen and can be easily folded and put in a drawer when company comes over.

Goodbye yucky dish drying rack....

Goodbye yucky dish drying rack….

 

Hello sexy machine washable drying mat, in a grey color that matches our Silestone counter.

Hello sexy machine washable drying mat, in a grey color that matches our Silestone counter.

Hot on the heels of our pantry clean up, we picked up a 24-pack of Rubbermaid food storage containers. The “Easy Find Lids” kit is reasonably priced at $25, which compared to $15 for just one Tupperware piece, seems like a pretty good deal. The thought is, If you have a family of four, you only need about 12 food storage containers of various sizes. These new containers allowed us to get rid of the old ones – some of which were not BPA free, and others that were over 15 years old. Most of the old ones no longer held their lids very well, and that’s if you could find the lid.  The “lid basket” was a real mess. Hopefully now with the new ones we’ll be better organized, food will stay fresher. We definitely gained some more space in the pantry.

The new containers, and some old ones that we're keeping.  We did gain some space and organization with the new set. Notice how the lids store right under the stackable containers for easy finding.

The new containers, and some old ones that we’re keeping. We did gain some space and organization with the new set. Notice how the lids store right under the stackable containers for easy finding.

 

This mess of old lids and containers is going in a box in the basement until we figure out what to do with them.

This mess of old lids and containers is going in a box in the basement until we figure out what to do with them. Some of them are being used by our oldest son as “toys”…I can only imagine.

In the laundry room I install an 18″ Delta towel bar near the utility sink; I want to say it was like $24 (though the Delta site shows it costing more than that). Christine washes her hair  in the laundry room and needed a spot to hang a towel.  I installed the bar at 41″ off the ground. I was leery of the design of the mounting brackets. They are simply prongs that you screw to the wall and them slide the bar posts over them. But sure enough they seem to be secure after installation. Not sure if they come off easy, like when we go to paint the room, so we’ll have to wait and see.

I was skeptical of the prong design of the towel bar mount.

I was skeptical of the prong design of the towel bar mount.

 

The prongs fit into these pockets on the back of the bar posts.

The prongs fit into these pockets on the back of the bar posts.

 

The towel bar seems secure though.  The grey line is my thought for something down the road...maybe a fabricated "L" shaped metal rod that would allow a variety of towels and accessories to be hung around the utility sink.  "She" doesn't like the sponge just sitting on the sink, and I can't find the box in the basement with the sponge hanger we had in the old house.

The towel bar seems secure though. The grey line is my thought for something down the road…maybe a fabricated “L” shaped metal rod that would allow a variety of towels and accessories to be hung around the utility sink. “She” doesn’t like the sponge just sitting on the sink, and I can’t find the box in the basement with the sponge hanger we had in the old house.

That’s about it, I got everything installed that we bought, including some suet for the birds, on sale for $0.98 a square – I put it out in the feeder along with birdseed in preparation for the big freeze coming up next week. In my studio I installed a couple of pads at the bottom of the Therma-Tru doors, hoping to keep some of the warm air inside the house. I can still see daylight in the center so maybe I’ll stuff a sock in the door for now. We lowered our thermostat to 69 degrees to hopefully cut down on our electric bill. December’s bill was a whopping $308, our largest yet. I wish we had a programmable thermostat that would lower the temp at night while we sleep. I know Nest has one that supposedly works with hybrid furnaces like ours. Or maybe there’s a more economical programmable thermostat out there.  We need to get our electric bills to be lower this time of year.

One other thing, I doubt very much our bees will survive Tuesday if it only gets up to -1 F.  We’ll see but I’m not optimistic.  Fingers crossed.

Alright peeps, stay warm. Let me know if you have any questions on any of the products I’ve been installing or any of the projects I’ve been working on around the house. Until next time, be happy and healthy.

 

-Chris

December Snow Day

Not much going on here. It’s been snowing all day, and the land is beautiful with its coat of white fluffy icing. We found the time to tour the nature trail with the sled and go down and get the mail, which is always fun with the sled in the snow on our long driveway. Coming in with wet boots and jackets reminds me, I need to finish the bench in my studio.  Entering through the front door means that area is a mess…better to come in through the studio with its cement floor and sprawl out cold weather gear in there.  Hooks need to be sourced and hung as well as a few other details we never finished.  It’s a never-ending list.

We passed the bee hive, and wondered aloud how they might be doing in there. And also started talking about next year’s order of another hive worth of bees.  Once Christmas is over I won’t be able to wait for spring.  I hate January and February….and March.

Front of house. "Winter" December, 2013.

Front of house. “Winter” December, 2013.

Meadow dusted with today's snow.

Meadow dusted with today’s snow.

Inside the coat rack is done. It looks good.

Coat rack mounted to 1x8 board. I used 2" SPAX deck screws and painted them bronze.

Coat rack mounted to 1×8 board. I used 2″ SPAX deck screws and painted them bronze.

Beyond that I’ve been basically hibernating. It’s difficult to stay motivated this time of year, with it getting so dark so early each day. I’ve lost some of my holiday zest but will hopefully rally in the closing weeks with renewed spirits.

We’ve given up on keeping the cats separated, or at least we have a more lenient policy – our oldest cat stays in the master suite most of the day and the other two cats have the run of the place. Other than the occasional hissing fit all has been well.  Once we get to the six-week mark, and are worm free I’ll take the last barrier down and they can wrestle for supremacy.

Random House Repair

Sunday found me tackling a three items on my “honey do” list. Here is how things went or are going:

Repair The Coat Hook Rack In The Foyer

As you may remember, my sister-in-law ripped the coat rack off the wall in a drunken fit of rage on Thanksgiving (okay not really but that sounds better than “my wife and kids overloaded the coat rack, and my sister-in-law’s coat was the last straw”). Well anyway, the coat rack ripped clean out of the wall. My fix is to install a 1×8 poplar board, between the trim of the studio and front doors. I’m actually a huge fan of horizontal trim boards on walls. I think they add a “farm-y” or “craftsman” look to the interior and they are extremely practical, especially for coat racks, shelves or garment pegs. They also add some visual interest as well as make the wall color pop, if the trim is of a contrasting color such as white. If I was a designer, I would put them all over the place.

As of today, I’ve got the poplar trim board installed and painted. I’m trying to decide how best to install the coat rack. I’m leery to just screw it to the board, as I don’t want the screws to rip out of the poplar board. No worries about the board coming off the wall, it’s fastened with eight (8) SPAX screws so the board is going nowhere; just that the coat rack may still pull off under load if I don’t attach it properly.

Here’s the progress so far:

The coat rack ripped right out of the wall under load.

The coat rack ripped right out of the wall under load.

I cut away the damaged drywall.

I cut away the damaged drywall.

I spackled / mudded over the holes to repair them.

I spackled / mudded over the holes to repair them.

I pinned the 1x8 poplar board in place using my nail gun and small trim nails.

I pinned the 1×8 poplar board in place using my nail gun and small trim nails.

I used awesome 2-1/2" SPAX wood screws to attach the board to the studs, countersinking the heads.

I used awesome 2-1/2″ SPAX wood screws to attach the board to the studs, countersinking the heads.

I used spackle to cover up the nail holes. I then painted the trim generic white.

I used spackle to cover up the nail holes. I then painted the trim generic white.

Therma-Tru Door Corner Pads

For 18 months now I’ve needed to install the little “L” shaped pads in the lower corners of our Therma-Tru doors. We could see daylight in the corners which means we were leaking warm air outside all winter. I simply followed the directions that were included with the pads. It was super easy.

  1. adjust the threshold plate so the seal under the door fits snuggly
  2. caulk the seam where the plate meets the door frame
  3. install the wedge-shaped pads in the lower corners, tucking the “L” part behind the vertical seal on the door frame. I put the “L” part up. I think that was right.
You can see daylight before the pads were installed.

You can see daylight before the pads were installed.

Here are the parts and directions from Therma-Tru for the corner pads. They sent these to me for free after I sobbed that I didn't have any and could see daylight in the corners of my exterior doors.

Here are the parts and directions from Therma-Tru for the corner pads. They sent these to me for free after I sobbed that I didn’t have any and could see daylight in the corners of my exterior doors.

I caulked the plate after adjusting it vertically to fit snugly against the door's lower seal.

I caulked the plate after adjusting it vertically to fit snugly against the door’s lower seal.

The pad installed. Now we can't see daylight. Not sure if the house is any warmer.

The pad installed. Now we can’t see daylight. Not sure if the house is any warmer.

Laundry Room Drywall Repair

When we moved the water hook ups for the washer and dryer the plumber left a huge hole in the wall of our Laundry Room.  With two new cats exploring, the last thing I need is a cat, or kid, winding up behind the drywall meowing (yes my kids meow too, on occasion).

While the Cleveland Browns were blowing yet another football game I was in my studio cutting drywall. I attempted to cut it out of one piece and install it as such, which I was fairly successful at doing. The problem I ran into was for whatever reason the planes of the new drywall and old drywall already on the wall, didn’t really match up. Well let’s just say I didn’t let that dissuade me from making a mockery of the art of drywalling.  I proceeded to slather mud on the wall and squish tape into the joints. I pretty much hate drywalling.

Most “handy” people would look at something a homeowner does and give them pointers….”do this” or “try that“.  They would encourage and empower that person to do it themselves. They’d even make you feel bad if you called an electrician or plumber. ‘Cause after all, we’re all innately born with the ability to do simple house repair.

If a handyman saw how I do drywall they would say “You really should have hired someone to do that for you.

To say the drywall repair behind the washer and dryer is bad, is a gross understatement. It’s so bad, I CAN’T EVEN THINK OF A SNARKY ANALOGY! Just be glad I don’t make airplanes, condoms or lentil soup.

I put the second coat of mud on today. I’m thinking 32 more coats and everything should be evened out. The tape over some of the joints wasn’t sticking so I pulled it off and just slathered mud over those joints. It’ll be fine (no it won’t).  In the end, aren’t we just gonna tile over it all anyway?

The hole in the wall; a result of moving the water connection up in the Laundry Room.

The hole in the wall; a result of moving the water connection up in the Laundry Room.

On the right I screwed a piece of particle board in place so I'd have something to screw the drywall to.

On the right I screwed a piece of particle board in place so I’d have something to screw the drywall to.

This is where is started to go wrong. Once in place none of the drywall was on the same plane. Instead of fixing I figured mud could cover everything up. Frankly I'm not sure how I woulda fixed it anyway. What the hell, just "do it" baby!

This is where is started to go wrong. Once in place none of the drywall was on the same plane. Instead of fixing I figured mud could cover everything up. Frankly I’m not sure how I woulda fixed it anyway. What the hell, just “do it” baby!

After the first coat of mud.  Eeek!

After the first coat of mud. Eeek!

After the second coat of mud.  Looks better, kind of like having beer goggles on, and drinking your second beer.

After the second coat of mud. Looks better, kind of like having beer goggles on, and drinking your second beer.

I leave you with a picture of our new cats. Both of whom are driving me insane. They have to be sequestered in my studio indefinitely and cabin fever is forcing them to go insane to. I may have kitten fur mittens by Christmas.

cats-in-studio

Power Outage

It’s been kind of crazy 48 hours or so. Not like end of the world crazy but the twisty part of the roller coaster crazy.  Sunday I spent the morning getting shelf supports for the adjustable shelves in my studio, and installing them. I was very excited to get the shelves all set so I could start loading them up with books and other items that have been in boxes for some time. I went with 1/4″ spoon-shaped supports. All the variations of 5mm I had bought were too loose in the adjustable holes.

The two types of shelf supports I bought at Home Depot. I ended up using the 1/4" spoon shaped supports

The two types of shelf supports I bought at Home Depot. I ended up using the 1/4″ spoon shaped supports

Once that was complete I went back to painting shelves and cabinets for / in the kitchen. The coffee cabinet doesn’t look good in black so I had a good alternative idea. Build two doors for to cover the entire set of cabinets, and finish them in the same walnut laminate. Then it will look like we just pushed that cabinet back, punctuating the existing orange cabinet “core” imagery.  It’ll be nice, I’ll show you when it’s done.

The afternoon found the wife, boys and I back on the road attempting to make a final call on the new plates. We packed up all our new Pottery Barn plates and drove up to the east side. We ended up stopping at Pier 1, William Sonoma and back to Pottery Barn. We compared our Gabriella pattern that we had already bought to the only other PB pattern we liked, Cambria. Well despite our uncertainty at home, the original set we bought felt the most “right”, despite the really deep dishes. The Cambria was even wider, and though it was shallower, we didn’t like it as much.

Our new dish on the left, the, shallower and wider, runner up on right at Pottery Barn.

Our new dish on the left, the, shallower and wider, runner-up on right at Pottery Barn.

Wife: “See, here in the store the [Gabriella] plate doesn’t seem too deep. I like it better than the other one and I think we’ll get used to it. We should just stick with that. What do you think?”

Me: “I agree. And it’s different from what we’ve had in the past. We’ll just have to adjust our lifestyle. Start waxing [body parts] and eating mussels over vermicelli more often.”

So with that the plate decision is over. We picked up a salt & pepper set as well as a creamer and sugar vessel to match. All ready for holiday dinner parties, and Sunday night Mr. Chicken take out.

Back home I made decent progress moving into my “new” studio.  I unpacked a few books and found spots for magazines, painting supplies and “stuff to be sorted later”. As a line of storms passed outside I curled up on the couch to watch TV. Since getting hooked last week, I’m two episodes into “The Good Wife” on CBS; discovered when the television was left on for five minutes too long after “The Amazing Race”. This along with my wild desire to trade my car in for a minivan have me worried about my ability to make sound decisions. Mid-life crises are not to be taken lightly and manifest themselves in all sorts of ways. Mine is going on year four I think, with no end in sight.

I retired dead tired at eleven. Only to be awoken by various things beeping and flashing on and off. I lay in bed, sleepy-eyed, not sure I understood what was happening. Then I figured it out.

The power was out.

And there was a weird alarm or buzz going sounding from somewhere.

“What the hell is that sound?”

Well turns out it was coming from the sump pump. More specifically the battery back up for the sump pump. The little “low battery power” light was on. Luckily the instructions were still under the unit, where they sat since installation almost two years ago. So by LED flashlight I read and re-read the instructions. As best I can tell the batteries were shot and with no AC power the buzzer went off.

The wife and I weighed our options. If the sump pump wasn’t able to work then it was only a matter of time until the basement started flooding. And with that ruining a few decades of crap that we have stored in our basement. “Hmmmm.”  After some time I finally woke up a little more and figured, well my only choice is to get the pump running again and doing its job. Moving all that crap was not an option. And there was no way to tell when the power would come back on. By the way I have given some serious thought to getting a whole house backup generator so I don’t have to deal with this crap. Invariably these emergencies always happen on Sunday night. Oh, and another thing, it’s my fault I didn’t check the battery, but 1) why doesn’t the thing chirp or something to tell me the batteries are low before the power goes out, and 2) why does the alarm have to sound the entire time the power is out?  Once again, decent product poorly designed because human factors are not taken into consideration. Frankly someday I’d like to have a master “dashboard” for the house so I can check ALL the systems at a glance and not have to remember if I checked this or that. Systems need to be designed, built and distributed for lazy guys like me. Fortunately for me (yes, patting the wife and I on the back) we were willing to take a stab at fixing the problem; after all it was Sunday night and there isn’t anyone to call when your sump pump goes down as far as I know.

Ok, I’m going to Walmart” I announced. The instructions and the current batteries gave me enough info to figure I could basically buy two marine batteries and replace the old ones with them.  The wife held down the fort as I departed the driveway at 12:07am, destination our 24-hr Walmart. Note, the lights were on everywhere but our handful of houses on Riverview.  Fate, god and all their friends hate me, I’m certain of it.

I’m always leery of what I’ll see at Walmart after midnight on a Sunday night [actually Monday morning]. It was dead save but a few people doing their weekly shopping at this time…so weird. I tried not to make eye contact. I didn’t have much luck until I saw the last section of batteries: “Ahhh…marine batteries“. I grabbed two 12V batteries whose markings seemed to approximate what I had left behind at home. Most importantly they had smaller threaded terminals which were critical for jumping the batteries together and connecting them to the power supply. I loaded my cart, paid for them and headed back home.

Buying marine batteries at 12:30am at Walmart. I passed on buying the santa sweater.

Buying marine batteries at 12:30am at Walmart. I passed on buying the santa sweater.

The Rabbit at Walmart at 12:30am on a Monday morning. There aren't many people shopping at WM this late on a "Sunday night" but I'm fairly suspicious of all of them.

The Rabbit at Walmart at 12:30am on a Monday morning. There aren’t many people shopping at WM this late on a “Sunday night” but I’m fairly suspicious of all of them.

Back home I grabbed a handful of wrenches and headed downstairs with the wife in tow. The instructions said to have a helper in case the batteries blow up and spray hydrochloric acid all over my face, hands and body. She was my assigned helper. Plus I guess the battery charging process produces toxic gas which can cause you to pass out and die. Once again, good to have a helper. I’m glad this set up is in my basement within cat licking distance.

I gingerly unhooked wires by flashlight, trying not to touch anything but the fasteners with my wrench. I even put on a small rubber glove, not really knowing if that would keep me from getting electrocuted to death. Thank god, disconnecting the wires made the high-pitched buzzing alarm stop. I removed the fuse and unplugged everything as well, not necessarily in that order by the way; refer to your instructions if you’re trying this at home. I then removed the old batteries, and delicately wiped up some “goo” in the bottom of the battery container.

Reversing the order of operation I put the two new batteries in the container, jumped them together then hooked up the positive and negative leads to the power supply.

“Crap!”

The freaking alarm started sounding again. Low battery light is on again. It’s 1:30am on a school night.

“What the f*ck?! These are new batteries.”

We looked at each other. I didn’t understand, does this mean the old batteries were fine? The new batteries weren’t fully charged? The low battery alarm goes off when battery power is below ~23V total.  I wanted to cry, scream and burn the house down all in the course of 30 seconds of thought. I went through everything in my mind. Then I had a thought but very little confidence in it.

I reinserted the fuse into the power supply.  Voila! The alarm stopped.

The old batteries. Positive and negative terminals, and one white jumper wire going from + to - in the foreground.

The old batteries. Positive and negative terminals, and one white jumper wire going from + to – in the foreground.

Here's the power supply for the sump pump, ready to be reconnected.

Here’s the power supply for the sump pump, ready to be reconnected.

By time I got back to bed I think it was 2am.  The power came back on at 2:30am.  Of course.  Oh well now we have new sump pump batteries. I should start checking them in the future. Oh the joys of home ownership when you’re a lazy homeowner like me.

Alright I’m going to bed. Business picked up a little this week so I’ll be busy again.

But for now I’m tired.  Stay tuned for more fun later this week.

Studio Day 7-ish….Painting The Walls

After three days of working the wife’s weekend art show, Monday and Tuesday found me with no active projects to work on. Despite being destitute and borderline broke, I made the executive decision to take the opportunity to get my studio whipped back into shape this week. I rationalize it this way, once my studio is presentable to the world, I can use it for hosting work meetings and clients.   If that’s not rationale enough for you, I did sell a painting on Monday so that helps pay the bills during my few days “off” this week.

Yesterday I “cut-in” the edges of the walls in my office space, using Sherwin Williams SW 6121 Whole Wheat.  In the afternoon we ran out to the Sherwin Williams store to take advantage of a 40% off sale they were having; picking up some green paint for one of the kids’ bedrooms, and I bought some masking tape since I was without any by mid day. I’m not sure what else I accomplished yesterday….it doesn’t seem like much but I guess that was it. I did write-up some meeting notes, so not all was painting, I did do some work….oh and I delivered that painting, and even treated the family to Zoup for dinner (yummy lobster bisque).

Cutting in the corners, then roll on the paint.

Cutting in the corners, then roll on the paint.

I woke up and got to painting by 7am this morning. My goal was to get the entire office and studio painted so I could begin the shelves on Wednesday.  And I accomplished my goal.  My studio is the largest room in the house, and with all the bookcases / shelves there are a lot of corners to tape off. I used about one and a half gallons of Emerald satin paint to cover all the walls.  Oh, by the way, I checked with the helpful folks at my local Sherwin Williams store and the Emerald paint is in fact zero-VOC paint so we’re good on that front.

The shelves are primed and the trim is taped, ready for the wall color to be applied.

The shelves are primed and the trim is taped, ready for the wall color to be applied.

 

Sherwin Williams SW 6121 Whole Wheat in the can, ready for our walls.

Sherwin Williams SW 6121 Whole Wheat in the can, ready for our walls.

 

Coffee break while painting. The sun came out in between snow flakes.

Coffee break while painting. The sun came out in between snow flakes.

 

The shelves are strong enough to hold my weight.

The shelves are strong enough to hold my weight.

We really like the color. It visually warmed up the space quite a bit and it’s not too dark. I know most artist studios are white but I’ve never been one to follow the “rules“. I want my studio to be homey and comfortable. I also love that it is off our palette that we’re using for the interior of the house. It looks very similar to the hallway and kitchen colors but is different enough to add a whole new dimension to the interior space of the house. When looking through the open office pocket door the studio now beckons with a degree of mystery or discovery that was not present when the walls were just plain white. And as I look from my office to the front hall, all the colors layer upon each other and remind me of being out in the “real world” so to speak, with various textures, hues and visual geometry. There isn’t anything designer-ly about the composition, rather I find it to work because it evokes such natural feelings. The sense of being home because we are human beings and home to us is the earth. It’s in our soul. The color scheme, and dimension of details such as the deep windows, brings that marriage of man and earth.  I guess you have to live with it to understand.  However you describe it, it works most definitely. I don’t think I would ever change any of the colors we’ve painted the walls; at least not in the main living spaces. The more I live with the palette the more it becomes woven into me. And it is only reinforced when I go outside to see the natural world around the house.

The wheat color looks great and really warmed up the studio visually.

The wheat color looks great and really warmed up the studio visually.

I have a lot of great ideas for my studio space and will share those…lighting, furniture, decor… in subsequent installments.  For now the walls are done. Bookcases get painted tomorrow. I enlisted the wife to use a razor blade to get the paint off the cabinet trim where is seeped through, due to my crappy taping job.  She has the patience for that kind of work, I most certainly do not.

What colors inspire you? What do you think of how the studio is shaping up? What room do you want to makeover in your house?  Let’s get more interactive here….share your thoughts and comments. 🙂

-Chris