Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Really Fine Tile

The other day, got to finally check out Jon and Craig's tile work over on Project Rowhouse. I was really impressed. We may end up doing something similar here. Of course, that's no surprise, since our taste is already rather similar.

Anyway, check this backsplash out and tell me it doesn't rock.

Things I'd Do Differently 1

I'd buy a different drill.

Probably this one that DIY Diva loves.

We'd always had a Craftsman 19.2v cordless. It was serviceable and worked well, so early in the project we decided to get another one and thus be able to use the same battery. Makes sense. Back in the day, the big issue was running out of juice and needing extra batteries. Things are better now and charging happens faster than ever, but still, an exta battery is good. The thing is, the drill was a poor fit.

Poor fit how?

First, it was a poor fit for the job(s). The craftsman is pretty big and pretty heavy. We were up on ladders a lot and working in tight spaces often. This drill is geat for doing a deck or a number of straight forward jobs, or occasional use. For our purposes, it was a bit unwieldy and heavy requiring some unnatural positioning and some precarious perches on ladders, etc.

The drills were also a poor fit for our hands. Neither of us is large-handed. That means that my thumb doesn't easily get up to the reverse/forward button without some unatural twisting of the wrist. For Mrs. OrDie, it's a two handed job in many instances.

So the long and the short of this is over a year and several months of work, we've driven hundrends and hundreds of screws, often in ergonomically incorrected or damaging positions. The upshot is that both of us have arm and elbow injuries that just don't want to heal up. The injuries are similar to tennis elbow in part, but there are also some funny tendon issues from twisting our arms. Both arms, I might add. As our right arms got screwed up, we just learned to drive screws left handed. Then our left arms got screwed up.

I really wish I'd coughed up the extra dough for two of the small powerful makita drills. I'd be feeling much better now.

The lesson learned is this: keep the scale of your project in mind and don't just try to work through something that's not quite right. That's fine for 10 screws. We drove over 600 tapcons, plus pre drilling the 2x4's, plus screwing 1x3's (1200 or so screws, I'm thinking) into the uneven ceiling joists, plus all the funky little jobs that we don't even remember any more. If you're straining or using bad form with that many screws, you're going to develop a repetitive stress injury.

Make sure you get the right tool for you to do the job and not get hurt. Next time, I'll do that differently.

Monday, March 23, 2009

A Quick (and Unexpected) Shout Out

In this day and age, you don't hear many folks saying good things about finance companies. I know I haven't. "Competent" is about the best I can muster.

Well, we financed our windows, 1 year, same as cash, in order to free up cash flow, through Personal Finance Company.

I have to say it was a pleasure dealing with them. There was always a warm body to answer the phone to help with change of address or balance inquiry, or the like. Always professional. Always responsive. Always accurate. Always friendly.

Now, we paid them off this week despite the free money, just on principle (heh, "principle"), but I have to say that this is one lender that I'm not happy to be rid of. I recommend them highly, especially here in northern Kentucky.

The life cycle of a tree

For this Catalpa Tree, life was a thing to remember. Already about 140 years old, with rot seeping in, last year we knew it had to go.

Chopping day. Thanks to this wild eyed-hillbilly and a chainsaw, it was pretty quick coming down.

It hovered over the house by about 25+ feet, and we're pretty sure that if we hadn't taken it down when we did, when the remnants of Hurricane Ike came through, it would have taken a chunk of the house down with it.

3/4 of the tree is cut, this last teeny bit left.
(Zach is doing his best king-of-the-hill stance.)

When the day was over, we had a yard full of firewood, a pile of sticks about 9' high and this stump which became our fire pit for almost a year. Thanks to Zach, we've had the fire department show more than a passing interest once or twice. :-)

But darn it if hasn't been keeping us from putting up our fence.

After a year as a fire pit, this was all that was left...... above ground.

But I had absolutely NO IDEA that catalpa trees are a lot like icebergs. After digging around the outside, we realized there was a WHOLE LOT MORE underneath.

The pictures do not do justice.

There was at least 85% more root under the visible stump.

It had been a monster tree, and now it was a monster stump.

Here it is about half gone already, about 3' below ground level. Between the stump and the 4x4 in the picture below, is a section of one of the roots. It was at least 12" in diameter. And that was just a root.

This crater is about eight feet in diameter.

And we definitely need to give credit where credit is due.

I posted an ad on Craigslist and this guy did a hell of a lot of work for $150. His name is Joey Casey and works for Casey's Construction in Ft. Mitchell, KY. Call him if you need someone with a chainsaw and a good head on his shoulders. (859) 757-6132.

I think his family company also does mason's work. Concrete slabs, walkways, patios and the like. A very conscientious worker. Highly recommended.

It took him the better part of six hours working alone on this bad boy, non-stop. And when he was done, over 600 lbs of stump had been excavated, chopped, sawed, heaved and chucked aside.

The next morning, the birds were chirping (mostly because there were a LOT of worms unsettled and the robins were having a breakfast feast) and the sun was shining, and the stump was 12" below ground level.

After 2 quick cups of coffee, I was out there with a shovel and every brick, chunk of concrete and speck of dirt I could find. I thought I'd need a truck load of fill dirt to fill the gaping hole left in the yard where the wood came out.

Seriously, it looked like a bomb had exploded in the yard and left a crater.

The neighbors should be happy to note that a majority of their concrete crap pile is now gone.

It's been buried alive.

While in the process of filling the crater back up, we realized that if we were going to put a 4x4 fence post in the crater, we were going to have to skip the 8 footer and spring for the 10 footer, if only to make sure the base of the pressure treated 4x4 was in settled, compacted dirt.

So while standing in the crater, I used the fence post digger to dig down another 2 feet.

And then we poured the concrete.

I can't believe I finally have a fence.

Kinda funny how the tree becomes a stump becomes pressure treated lumber.

It's that whole cycle of life stuff from the Lion King, no?

Oh well, that's what I'm telling the neighbor kid, anyway.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Raptor Update

Looks like our new neighbors are trying to up the population.

I actually saw them mating yesterday. I'm really hoping that all the road and gas line work doesn't scare them off. This has to be one of the coolest things ever.

American Kestrel.

BTW, Kestrels eat sparrows and starlings along with snakes and bugs, though they aren't big enough to take pigeons. This is generally good. Sparrows and starlings are non-indigenous species and do a great deal of damage not only to property but to natural song bird populations. Do your part, and do NOT feed them. No bread. No corn, and no millet. Stick with black sunflower seeds. If you've got the stomach for it, trapping and disposing of European starlings and English house sparrows (but not song sparrows) is a good thing. Just do your research.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Our friends at Health Department are at it again. I advise you to take this class or the more advanced class if you're doing a gut renovation.

Lead Safe Work Practices Class

Thursday 4/16/09 AT

6 pm to 8:30 pm


Newport Brighton Center

8th and Central

Newport, KY 41071

Who is the class for?

· Homeowners doing renovation, repainting, or remodeling work where lead-based paint may be encountered

· Building supervisors and landlords

· Homeowners and property owners associations

· Community and social service organizations

· Home (or code) inspectors

· Maintenance workers

· State and local municipal agencies

NOTE: This class does not satisfy HUD requirements for lead safe training for workers on federally funded projects between $5k and $25k. Please call for more info if you need a class for this purpose.

What will be covered?

This class will teach attendees lead-safe work practices and the strategies for implementing them. Many homes built before 1978 contain lead-based paint, so it is important that renovation, remodeling and repair activities use methods that reduce and control dust and debris created during work. Even a small amount of dust can pose a serious health risk to children and families.

Is there a cost involved?

Class is free of charge

Is there a deadline for registration?

Thursday 4/16/09

To register call

Tony Powell at 859.363.2049

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The new neighbors across the street

Well, he's a bit gruff, gone a lot of the time.... apparently he likes to hunt quite a bit, but she's a lovely homemaker.

So far, they've just moved in a few things-- they pack light--but we think they're going to stay a while. Maybe raise some kids.

Mr. & Mrs. Sparrow next door must have moved out during the night, because they're no where to be found.

Oh well. Lose a neighbor, gain a neighbor.

Mr. & Mrs. Kestrel's new home.

Yes, I was actually able to take a picture with my little digital camera *Through* the bird watching binoculars. I didn't know I could do that.

Here's a clearer pic of the American Kestrel, our smallest falcon, found on the web.

Addendum by DH:

That's a very old church on what was the highest point in old Covington (prior to the annexation of the vineyards and farm land that became Devou Park and surrounds). Obviously, it needs some serious box gutter work. Fortunately, it's also perfect for our smallest falcon. I hope they stay and rear young. And eat sparrows and starlings.

I was struck yesterday by all the wild life we've observed on or over our little urban property so far. A quick inventory:

Canadian Geese
Mallard Ducks
Turkey Vultures
Red Tailed Hawk
Mourning Dove
Rock Dove
Downy Woodpecker
European Starlings (invasive)
English Sparrows (invasive)
Chimney Swift
Blue Jay
Garter Snake
Carolina Wren
Brown Thrasher

That's not a bad amount of wild life for just a few months on or over a postage stamp lot in the city. It seems like more than I could have expected a decade or two ago. If I include the whole of Covington, the list is larger and more bizarre (beaver anyone?).

In any case, I expect to be able to add some swallows, finches, wrens, maybe owls, wood peckers, and a few more land dwellers by the end of this summer. All in all, I think it's pretty cool. We live in an interesting time for nature lovers.

UPDATE: I've seen or heard the Kestrels every day now, and I've also caught them mating more than once (not that I'm a bird-perv). That suggests that they may be here for the season. That has to be a good omen.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

OK. Fine! Closet doors are finished!

Now we have the four sliding glass doors with the (what else?) frost on the glass panels (on the inside).

The colours are off because I turned the flash off on the camera so you could see the closet back lighting, sorry. It actually looks much better in real life.

Yeah, the boxes to the right... they're what hasn't fit in the closet yet. ;-)

Cutting and hanging hollow closet doors

The second set of closet doors we got from the Covington Reuse Center were for the 3rd floor closet. This closet is 60" x 8o". We picked up 2 white 2-paneled hollow core doors for $15 each.

Problem #1: The doors were 30"x 84". (4" too tall.)
Problem #2: The sliding door track and rollers require 1-1/2" of additional space to handle the doors.
Problem #3: the solid part of the exterior of the hollow core doors are only solid for 2-1/4" in.

Hence, if I cut the door to fit at the top and the bottom, there will be only hollow 1/8" exterior paneling left, and no solid wood at the top and the bottom of the door. Like this:

So I cut 1-1/2" from the top, leaving enough solid wood to attach the track wheels to the top. (They are attached at the top 1/4" anyway.)

And then cut the rest off of the bottom of the door. Leaving, of course, a hollow shell of a door at the base, and a remnant of what used to be the solid base to each door.

So I took the cut off remnant (chunk that was cut off the base of the door) and I chiseled off the 1/8" exterior paneling and the solid wood side pieces from the door frame sides (all of the grey, leaving the solid wood piece.)

The cut off piece looked a little like the above sketch, wherin the light grey is the paneling, the darker grey is the side panel wood, and the brown area is the solid wood. Once all of the paneling and extra wood is chipped off (and planed - these are attached with wood glue) the solid wood piece could then be glued, stuffed and clamped back into the hollow area at the bottom of each door again.

It's a perfect fit.

Rehabbing and Old House Step 7: Demolition

This is Part 7 of our Rehabber Manual.

So, you've got the place, you've got it secure, you've got your design, and you're ready to demo, right?

Now is the time to double check a few things. One is, make sure your water and gas are turned off. Make sure that you've got the electric unhooked too, except for a couple utility plugs so that you can run power tools. Your electrician will usually happily handle that. It's a simple job.

You don't want anything that can electrocute the workers or damage (or blow up) the house.

So, onto demo. What do you need? First you need to have your head examined if you want to do this yourself. It's hard, nasty, dirty, dangerous work. You only want to do this if you absolutely have to, or if you have a particularly delicate part of the house that you want to salvage or restore. The rest, hire a crew. Many of these guys can be happily hired for $10/hour/man in some markets. If you hire a pro, he'll give you a price for the demolition and no more. You can also negotiate the metal salvage rights with him. There's can be as much as $1000 worth of copper and recycleable metal in a house (depending on the price of cu and how much is left). Make sure this is part of your negotiation.

You should be able to get a demo done for between $1-$2 per square foot plus dumpster, less salvage.

Next, you're going to need a dumpster. Or two. Do NOT have these delivered to the site before demo begins. You'll find it filled up with old tires, toxic waste, the neighbors garbage, and other folks demo refuse before you even get started. So, start the demo, then get the dumpster. Cover it at night with a tarp, if you can. A smart demo-er will artfully position debri so that the dumpster looks full every day, but can still take several more days worth of debris.

In our market, a dumpster can run between $250 and $600, depending upon size, and the outfit. That includes delivery and pick up. Make sure you adhere to the rules set by the dumpster co., otherwise you may end up with some other charges you didn't expect.

Ideally, you can position your dumpster right up close to the house. This way, your crew can simply chuck plaster and debris right out the window into the dumpster. You may have to use a chute, but the concept is similar. You may want to remove the sashes of the windows you're going to dump debris from, even if you intend to replace them and not repair them. It's easy for a window to get broken and old glass is both pretty and hard to replace.

When you're hiring your demo crew, you will probably want to walk through the site with your plan and the crew boss so that he has a very clear idea of what goes and what stays. You'll probably want to spend a little time with the crew, too, just making sure that they know that you care and that they know what to leave. Orange spray paint is usually used to mark walls etc. that go, but let your demo guy (or girl) tell you how they like to do things.

Something else you'll want to have, since you'll be on site from time to time during the demo is a P-100 respirator. There's almost assuredly going to be lead paint. There may be asbestos. No matter what, there will be nasty dirt. In attics, there's a very good chance of running into bat and/or bird feces, and that presents a risk of histoplasmosis. Get a P- or N- 100 respirator. Wear it during demo or whenever you're in a high dust situation. It could save your life or at least your brain/lungs.

In addition to a mask, you're going to want safety glasses. You can get prescription glasses through Zenni Optical or $39glasses online for very reasonable prices. Non-prescription glasses can be picked up cheap at Biglots or Home Depot. Get some gloves. Make sure that they fit pretty well. You'll be glad you did. Trust me. Get several pair if you really like them. We blew through 4 pairs of gloves on our project, each.

Other things you'll probably want for demo and part of the project are:

a long heavy pry/crowbar
a thin pry bar, or two
a "cats paw"
a light sledge hammer
a reciprocating saw
a metal handled hammer
a chisle

Note that not all of these items may not be needed for the initial demo if you have a crew, but inevitably there will be other demo that needs to be done. Not only that, but inevitably you're going to have to undo some work you've done for one reason or another. Pulling nails happens. You'll need this stuff sooner or later.

Rehabbing an Old House Step 6: Design

This is part six of our Rehabber Manual

Part 5 is here.

Now you've probably had ideas about what you wanted to do with the house since before you even found a property. Then you had new ideas. Now is the time to get them all on paper, one way or another.

If you're going to be doing a relatively simple renovation, a hand drawn design may be adequate for both your purposes and for getting a building permit. If you're going to be doing anything structural or major, you'll probably need an architect and possibly an engineer. Many will tell you that the engineer is more important than the architect. I'd buy that. We had a simple design and a simple house so we didn't need an engineer. We got some help with our plans from an experienced draftsman, but we did a lot of the design ourselves.

If you think you only need a little help, you can probably get an architecture student or draftsman to help you for a very nominal fee. Check Craig's list. Most estimates ran from $100-$750.

Even before you hire anyone, though, you need to have a working drawing of the structure and you need to know where all the load bearing walls are. Basically, if you're moving any of the load-bearing walls, you're going to want some professional design help.

So, how do you know if a wall is load bearing? First rule of thumb, go down to the basement and look for support. A major structural wall will have significant support down in the basement carrying the load to ground.

One thing to remember, however, is that some walls are "semi-load-bearing". People do funny things when building or adding on to a house. Chances are there's been a hundred years for folks to make mistakes or take short-cuts. If you're cutting a wall out, if the sawzall binds when going through the 2x stock (or whatever), stop and re-inforce the ceiling where you're working, then go figure out what it's supporting. It may be time to call in some knowledgeable help.

Now, some houses are very straight forward. The old Covington row houses are that way, for the most part. The buildings run perpendicular to the street and the joists run parallel to the street. Most don't have to span more than 17 feet or so. As such, most walls simply aren't load bearing, unless the home was added onto. As a rule of thumb, don't assume that a brick wall isn't load-bearing. There's a good chance it's carrying the load of the roof on it. Another rule of thumb is htat if a wall runs parallel to joists it's usually not load bearing (but not always). Perpendicular walls? Use some care. When in doubt, head down to the basement and look for doubled up joists or footers or other signs of load bearing.

So, why am I all over the "load-bearing-ness" of walls? Because in these narrow homes, you're going to want to open things up as much as possible. Chances are, the rehab you've bought (if it is in Covington) has been cut up into a couple apartments. This is going to make it even more claustrophobic. You're going to need to take walls out. You need to know which are easy and which are hard.

Anyway, back to getting your basic working drawing. Get yourself some graph paper and go through the entire building taking very accurate measurements. Don't measure from trim to trim. Measure from wall to wall. Measure the thickness of the interior walls, too. This can make a difference if you're removing them or replacing them. Once you get all these measurments taken, you'll be able to transfer them to graph paper, and from there you can figure out what goes and what stays.

Don't forget to do an "elevation" drawing. Actually, in most cases you won't need a properly done elevation drawing, but you should have a decent idea of where everything is on the vertical plane. Measure your windows and where they are, as well as doors. These sizes will be useful when you're trying to find replacement doors and windows. Again, don't measure from trim to trim. Get the rough opening size. This isn't imperative in most instances, but while you're measuring, you might as well do it. There will be times when your'e planning things out that you'll need a door size or a window's placement.

When you get around to actual design (most of which is beyond our
"pay grade") there are two things to keep in mind, where you are going to put the plumbing stacks and supply lines and where you are going to put the HVAC vents and returns. There are tons of books on plumbing and rehab that will give you an idea of how plumbing has to get laid out, but suffice it to say that it's generally easier and a good idea to locate bathrooms and kitchens over the top of one another, if possible. Plumbers are resourceful, but you really don't want them cutting joists if they don't have to.

On the HVAC, you need to be able to visualize at least one vent and one return for every room unless the room is very small. These take up considerable space. You may need to build soffits, so it's good to think about how you lay things out and where you might be able to run the HVAC.

Also, remember that pipes and ductwork cannot occupy the same space. Seems stupid to say, but trust me, it's worth remembering. In light of that, when you finally get your lay out the way you want it, and you're ready to start, arrange to get your plans to your plumber and HVAC guys, and then tell them you want to arrange a quick meet with the three of you to coordinate. These folks are pretty independant, by and large, and they will do their jobs without regard to each other. You can save them and you head aches and scheduling issues if you get them together and coordinate. If you're acting as the General Contractor, that's your job.

Things you might want to think about at this stage are things like sky lights or "solatubes", central vac (highly recommended that you plan for this even if you can't afford it yet), lighting placement, closets, laundry (I love laundry off the bed room), water heater and furnace placement, and anything else that might require working around duct work or it's own special framing. Also, now is a good time to discuss insulation with your HVAC guy. I highly recommend spray foam (see our series of posts), but if you need to have your HVAC guy on board, because this presents an entirely new set of requirements.

I bought six cans of the stuff, ya know.

I'm surprised they didn't card me at the Home Depot when I was buying all of the frost spray cans. I know I must have looked like a 'huffer'.

"Excuse me, where do you sell your paper bags?"

So on to the next frosty-project: The kitchen door transom.

If you remember back, it all started out looking like this POS:

We ended up yanking the whole door and door frame out and rebuilding it from scratch.

We went with a custom built 34" x 80" wood-esque fiberglass door (luckily the day the refrigerator was delivered, the frame was out and we were down to brick, or the fridge would not have made it into the house at all.)

*Note the plastic covering the table in the picture. This is back when the water was still pouring into the house from the roof and the missing box gutter whenever it rained. Ah, memories......

Anyway, we rebuilt the frame for the 34" door, routed out the frame to hold the door, and once it was in place, then took exact measurements for the insulated transom glass. It cost about $60.

Once the transom was caulked and nailed in place with 1/4" quarter round on the inside and out, then we waited two months for me to buy six freaking cans of spray frost.

And, of course, we had to agree on a design.

My first idea was an adorable Latin phrase from my days at Walnut Hills H.S with laurel leaves around it: "Semper in faecibvs sole profvndvm variat" meaning, well, to paraphrase... "always in *it*, the only thing that changes is how deep."

Although that may remain our catchprase, we decided to go with something for profound and meaningful to us both.

The naked stud from Atlas Shrugged.

Again, I used the highly preferred sticky backed paper with the peel off backing instead of the spray adhesive on regular card stock.

I coloured the left and right bay laurel leaves green and blue so that when I cut them out, I'd know which side they went on.

I also numbered them before I cut them out for easier assembly.

Then I covered the walls and door with the obligatory newspaper and then sprayed the transom with three coats of spray, waiting 10 minutes in between each coat and using the time to run outside for a breath of non-huff clean air.

Once it was dry, I used a dry paint brush to wipe off the frosty-dust that gets everywhere.

And then I peeled the stickers off of the glass, sometimes using the tip on an exacto blade to pick up the really stuck edges.... viola.

View from the outside:

You know, I think I'm just avoiding finishing the closet doors.

(if you came here from the Hooked On Houses Blog Party or if you want to check it out, just use this link)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Closet Doors so far....

OK, I first have to apologize for the earlier rant on the Covington Reuse Center. Yes, I was given a price and it was later not upheld, but I gotta say, you need to know who to talk to. Some guys at the CRC 'get it' others just do not. The one who do not, I assume will not be in their jobs for very long.

In any case, I still wanted the glass divided light doors, but I wasn't going to get all six. At this point, we could only get four. And although we did NOT get the same deal we were offered before, we still got a good deal. I AM happy with what we got at the price we got it at. (It was still cheaper than the second full-rate price, anyway.)

So here's what we got: four true divided light doors, 24" x 82".

A few things of note: 1. They were too tall for the closet AND the sliding door racks we already bought the first go-around.

We needed to cut about 1.5" off of the bottoms of each door.

2. Although they were already primed, they were primed Bright White and needed a semi-gloss antique white paint job.

The glass came covered in plastic, so that after the semi-gloss paint, all I needed to do was cut out the plastic sheets with the paint on top and toss them away. This saved me Soooo much time taping and scraping.

Once the doors were sized and painted, I attached the track to the top of the closet jamb, which I'd just installed-- just enough to that when the doors closed, they'd still be recessed, attached the wheels to the doors, then hung them up.

This is the wheel kit. Relatively simple wheels, a bunch of screws and a door-separator for the bottom of the doors on the floor.

Once I was sure they'd fit, opened and closed ok, then I took them back off the track, laid them down on the bedroom floor and began the taping/newspaper process for spraying ... yup, you guessed it.... the frost spray.

So far I have 2 coats on already, and I'm batting for at least a third.

Here's the most important thing I can mention when spraying doors on the floor.... DON'T DO IT.

Rule #1 completely lost on me. When you spray the frost spray DOWN, it drops little droplets, making polka dot puddles on your glass. It sucks.

I ended up standing all the doors upright, and trying to cover up the blotches with more spray. It's "ok" now, but not great. I may end up scraping off a few panels and starting over.

More pictures to come....

Finally frosting the back door

I admit it, I'm on a window frosting binge.

I've been working on the bedroom closets (another post on the way once that's finished up) and I just finished the back door into the backyard/garden and I'm working on plans for the kitchen door and transom.

The first project was the front door transom. I finished it a while back, but I neglected to take pictures of the process. What I did was decide that I wanted our address in the front door (street side) transom, then spent a few minutes determining what font I wanted to use. Once I had that figured out, I sized out the lettering to fit in our new glass transom, printed the letters and numbers out backwards on sticky adhesive label paper, then cut out the letters and numbers by hand.

Once I had them cut out, I laid them out on the backside of the glass to make sure it would look right, then used blue painters tape to make sure my lines would be straight. That's what I used to set the sticky paper directly on the glass.

The I sprayed glass frosting, let it dry (only takes about 10 minutes) peeled up the sticky paper to make sure I had sprayed enough ( I hadn't) then set on for another coat. After the second coat, I peeled off the sticky papers and viola, it was ready to install in the door frame above the new front door.

But there was still the back door to do, which has been covered with non-descript polka dotted wrapping paper since last November. It was time.

I started my search online for stencils and came across a leafy-buckeye looking one I thought would work out. Once I got DH approval, I started sizing the images and printing them out on card stock.

In retrospect, I would highly recommend using the sticky paper with the peel of back sides like I used on the front door. This plan had me cutting out a bunch of leaves and sticks from the card stock, then spraying the backsides with spray adhesive. Sometimes it worked fine, sometimes the adhesive remained on the door and had to be scraped off and started over.

So here was the original plan:

The coloured printout was the design. (We ended up being a lot more sparing on the laves than the original plan, mostly because my right pointer finger was going numb- and still is-- from cutting out the leaves and sticks with an exacto blade.)

The grey sheet was the materials plan that I resized much larger and cut out from many sheets of card stock.

The cut out leaves were then numbered according to their 'leaf cluster' and placed in envelopes for easy arranging later. When it was time, I arranged each leaf cluster on our living room table to get a general layout. Once I had the spacing, I taped newspapers around the door to protect the walls and floors from overspray from the spray adhesive as well as the frost spray.

I used a rubber glove beacuse the spray ahhesive is a PITA to get off of skin. I sprayed the backs of the cut outs and just started attaching the leaves and the stick cutouts to the glass.

I wanted at least three layers of spray, meaning, I would attach most of the sticks and a few leaves for absolute negative space, then spray a layer of frost. Then I would attach more leaves and sticks, and spray again, then the last batch and that would be it.

It was a plan anyway.

I also thought it would be a cool idea to have 'positive spaces' as well as negative spaces where the leaves would go. This would be done by saving one of the leaf pattern cutouts and taping it in

place and then 'overspraying' so a thick layer of spray would stand out.

As much as the idea seemed great, and I actually did it in two places, it just didn't provide enough contrast. It was kinda boring, actually, but if you're going to uber-subtle, this could work for you, depending on the project.

For me, I ended up scraping the frost spray out with a razor blade, leaving negative space instead.

I actually ended up scraping out a lot more than I had planned, because the contrast for a lot of the door was hard to see from more than 8 feet away. Still, as you get closer, you can see some of the subtle hidden leaves, still in place.

Here's the positive space leaf that I ended up scraping away below. It was not easy to do, so if you're not sure, I'd just avoid this step.

The final project.

This is the before-the-before the backdoor: Note the 2x6 on the floor that we had to prop between the door and the steps to keep the door shut. ;-)

Now on to the closet doors!!
And of course, the side door.

Note the looovely polka-dotted holiday wrapping paper.


The Cincinnati Home & Garden Show '09

Yes, we buckled and went. Of course, we went to Home Depot and got $2 off the $11 ticket price first.

I have to say, the last time we went was 2 years ago, and we were looking to buy just about everything in the place at that time; windows, doors, metal roofing, insulation, carpeting... blah blah et cetera.

It was really nice to have gotten past that stage.

No, this time we were on a mission. A central vac mission.

You'd think that most of the booths at the show only had a few things to offer: retaining walls and fireplaces. It was actually quite annoying. There was a distinct lack of creativity.

Oh look, a fountain. and a rock wall.

Let's move on.... to another fountain. and a rock wall. and a fireplace.

Ok, there were a couple of creative layouts and designs, but they were scarce. Like this one, if you have $50K to blow on your backyard, the flat water pond and square stepping stones is it for me.

But this is the guy we came to see: Jason from Kirkwood Sweepers.

Because we laid all the Central Vac tubing before the drywall was installed, we're now ready for the rest of the shebang, and Jason led the way.

We knew we wanted the regular system, the vac unit and the sweeper with the 30' flex tube (and btw: they make vac 'socks' for the flexi tube so that it doesn't mar the trim in your house... and apparently someone makes these socks in snakeskin fabric. How's that for freaking out the guests, eh?) but there was something we didn't expect to see: the Vroom.

The Vroom is a small under cabinet unit that can attach to a central vac unit anywhere in your house. As you pull out the hose from the unit, it automatically turns on and extends out 24 feet.

Here, Jason is holding one in his right hand. The main sweeper unit for the whole house vac is in front of him and runs about $400. The vacuum unit itself (no picture) also runs about $400.

Actually, in the picture above, there are 4 different types of vacuum outlet. 1. In the wall behind the 4x5" white plate. 2. The long tubed one in front. 3. The under cabinet Vroom 4. The under the cabinet plinth secret suction door.

The small white 4x5" panel on the wall behind Jason is another central vac pullout unit that coils up in the wall and extends 50 feet, with an automatically retracting spool. The downside is that is takes up a lot of room in your wall, but the good news is that if you can spare it, you'll always have a place to store the 50' flexi-tube.

Here's a little bit of literature on the Vroom they gave us. The whole unit cost $200.

I know what I want for my birthday.

Livingroom layout

Re: Previous post

aahcoffee : Thanks for your input.

I'm not sure if this is what you were thinking, but perhaps I forgot to mention; one of those chairs is a leather wing back chair, and the other one matches the couch and has a high back and arms.

It would obscure the view from the couch, and that's 'cuddle central'.

I don't think I can see this plan working for us. Heck, maybe we chuck all the furniture and regress back to bean bag chairs.

It could happen.