Monday, March 31, 2014


I'm jumping out of the basement for a post... Probably about a year ago, we decided that we had had enough of our Ikea Malm bed that we picked up for our first apartment together back in college. At the time, it was a huge price tag for us, but we needed a bed. With our move into the house, it became more and more apparent that we weren't huge fans. The frame is actually pretty bulky and has VERY pointy corners. So pointy that they have produced blood a couple times and even more bruises. It was also just really low and really hard to change the fitted sheet (it required two people for our crazy mattress).

So, we abandoned the Malm and just got a regular, plain metal frame. We stored the Malm frame downstairs thinking that maybe we would use it in another room once the basement was finished. We decided to try and sell it at my mom's garage sale last year. Unfortunately, it was SO humid outside, all the veneer started peeling off and it ended up making a trip to the dump (we would have donated if it hadn't sold and done that).

Above is how our bed has been for probably over a year. The metal frame also allowed us to be able to store containers under the bed (you can see one peeking out at the end that didn't get pushed in all the way) for off season clothing, which is extremely helpful with our very limited closet space.

We had planned on trying to make our own upholstered headboard. I even thought about adding (and still could) some wood framing to the outside of the metal frame and even switching out the legs (or adding fake ones that show). Target has sales on their online stuff a lot. And I definitely get all of the emails, so I always check the headboard section just in case. I've also been perusing other stores and for headboards. Really, I would have like a nice mid century one, but the queen ones are SO hard to find and what I did find, I usually wasn't fast enough.

One day, not so long ago, one of those fabulous "up to 20% off furniture" emails from Target produced probably the perfect upholstered headboard for us.  |  Solid Upholstered Headboards

Really, my criteria was that it was actually white and that it wasn't super expensive. I also preferred if it wasn't some really weird material. This fit the bill, so I ordered and patiently awaited its arrival...

It came and I unboxed it. Sadly, it lost some hardware in shipping, but it wasn't anything we couldn't fix with all that we have on hand. We bolted the legs on the put it up by the bed... and it was way to tall. Like there was a good 6+ inches between the top of our mattress and the bottom of the headboard. It looked bad. Sadly, there is no photographic evidence of how ridiculous it looked...

I went into problem solving mode. The headboard itself is actually pretty light. says it weighs under 25lbs. After not very much thinking... I thought "why not just hang it on the wall?" And that is exactly what we did. We ordered a Hangman French Cleat from It says it holds up to 200 lbs, so that wouldn't be an issue.

It came, we put it up, and now we have a headboard! It was insanely easy (probably because I didn't do it... :D ) and came with clear directions and a level for easy install.

I have some things to figure out since the Ikea Ung Drill would look funny being so high up above the bed now... And I think I'm done with that lamp... I have a couple of ideas up my sleeve, but I still have somethings to figure out.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Basement: Carpet

There are limitless choices when it comes to carpet... there is weight, texture, color, twist... I could go on. And then there is the pad too... We started our carpet hunt in January, just in case... We grabbed a bunch of samples from the good old Home Depot one night and brought them home to look at them. We went in again a few days later to talk carpet with someone. This helped us really narrow down our decision to a specific carpet.

That was the first round we brought home.

We found out that Home Depot has a select few carpets that they push more than the others. They buy a lot more of these certain carpets, so they get better price breaks and pass them on to the consumer. While our favorite in this section wasn't our favorite overall, we decided it was worth it to make the compromise and save a fair amount of money that could be put towards other things.

That is the one we decided to go with. Not quite as shaggy as I originally wanted...

So, when there was enough framing done to have someone come out to measure the space, we set up to have that happen. I think that maybe took a half hour, if that. They got back to me the next day with all the info and put together a quote with the carpet and pad we had picked out. Easy.

Our contractor waited until we had a better idea of when carpet could be installed before it was actually ordered. I would say good for the project, not good for me. While I understand, Home Depot called constantly until we actually put in the order, even though I told them that our contractor would be coming in to pay and place the order. Not a huge deal, but a note to everyone out there, maybe wait until you're ready to place your order for the measuring phase.

Everything was all set to go and we even had an install date until we got the dreaded phone call. Our carpet choice was back ordered. But then not only was it back ordered until a certain date, that date got moved again. This put us at an install date of when we needed to have our final inspection done for our renovation loan. Too close for comfort. And the chances that the availability date got moved back again was really high.

The awesome woman who we were in contact with at our local Home Depot store made everything work out. We did have to go in and switch to a different carpet. It was really hard to find something similar and everything was more expensive.

On the left is what we originally picked out, the right is what we found that had the closest match in color and weight. The weight was higher and the twist was also higher. The carpet that we went with is Ryedale II in French Creek

I was really not happy at the time and this just added to the stress pile of everything going on. But, to be honest, I'm happier with the new carpet. It was the more expensive option that we wanted to go with originally. This one has a slightly higher weight and a higher twist. That higher twist is more of what I wanted. Because of the inconvenience, Home Depot was able to help us out on the price some.

Our install date is a week after our original one now, but we at least have a few days to work with between install and our deadline for that final inspection.

Now there is just a matter of finishing up all the other stuff... Trim, painting, clean up...

Monday, March 24, 2014

Basement: Mudding & Taping.

Mudding & taping... messiest thing ever. Well, probably not really ever, but you get it... It took almost a week for this part of the process. The guy our contractor uses came in first on a Wednesday. He was here for about 11 hours... He did leave a couple times during the day, once for lunch and once to make a quick Home Depot run. I got the impression that it was a really long day for him though. He basically just got the first "coat" done on everything.

Somehow, I only have that image of the process. There was a lot going on that week and I guess I never took the time to really take any photos. This was after the second time he was over.

Since we had him there already we also had him fix up a few things... like that door frame area in the kitchen by the back door that I recently ripped out. I also had him patch up behind our bathroom light fixture, because the wall was all messed up from the old fixture and we had never gotten around to fix it. Unfortunately, I don't have a before picture of that. Well, technically I do, but it didn't show in photos.

He came back again on Friday to do another round. He was there again on Sunday to do the ceiling. We went with a drop down finish. And then he was there on Tuesday to do any final sanding and to prime everything and paint the ceiling.

I don't love it, but it's just a ceiling... It's better than popcorn and it is better for the noise than no texture at all. You can sort of tell in that first photo that it wasn't painted yet because you can see the variation in color of the low points from mudding and taping.

Because our house is so small, I think there would have been even a little bit of dust throughout, but because we did some work upstairs too, there was a lot of dust. I've tried to clean some areas, like I couldn't justify trying to cook in a dirty, dusty kitchen, but I'm leaving a lot of it for now. I can see under the furniture in the living room that the floor is covered in it, but I want to wait until I have the room to actually move the furniture and actually wash the floor. So, I guess my plain is to just do what I can for now. Once I can start to move stuff back downstairs, I'll clean those things before they are brought down and then clean the areas they were in as they go? I can't wait...!

Next up we should be wall paint and windows!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Basement: Drywall.

Drywall was an extremely speedy process. I don't really have anything interesting to share... except a few photos of it all installed. A crew of 3 people came in and got it all done in about 4 hours.

The photo above shows what you see looking left at the bottom of the stairs. The door edge you see on the left edge of the photo is the door way into the utility room. The door way farther down goes into the bedroom.

This image is from the end in the previous photo. Doorway closest to the far wall is the laundry room. The lighter 'door way' in the middle is the stairs and closest to the right edge is the utility room again.

Turning to the left, you can see into the bedroom. I'm not very excited about how low the ceiling gets, but there was no way around it. In there is duct work for the cold air intake for upstairs. The plan right now is for that to be my office. If it ever becomes a bedroom, it would be a really small one and it would probably be for a kid. Our original plan was just to make it a small office.... no egress window, no closet. Because of some feedback from the appraiser, we decided to switch it to a legal bedroom. The additional cost for adding an egress window seemed worth it to us. The appraiser informed us that usually basements aren't considered finished living space (even when they are) unless there are two exits. That was something that we weren't willing to 'risk'.

This is in the bedroom from the doorway. On the left is the edge of the closet. The closet ceiling is also low to allow for duct work and the gas line. The egress window isn't in yet, but is supposed to be going in this weekend. Sorry for the crumby iPhone photos... Everything is further along than this now and I didn't get a chance to get in with a good camera. I'm also noticing how wide angle lens would be helpful...

At the other end of the basement, this is the doorway into the laundry room. That's our old sink that's on its way out. It is HUGE and heavy. Before it was between the washer and dyer. We will now have the washer moved over next to the dryer with the sink on the other side of the washer. The dryer is closest to the doorway, with that awesome Corgi magnet.

Here is more of a look into the laundry room. It's hard to take any photos with the sink, washer, and dryer in the middle of the room. That tiny cut out of light is the window... I'm not really sure why they didn't make a hole for the entire window. My only thought is that maybe they didn't know for sure how big it was supposed to be? Then there is the issue of the water softener cord coming through the wall to be plugged in. The electricians still need to come and add an outlet on the other side of that wall to plug it in... When discussing the utility room, we just sort of all forgot about electricity in there. So, there is no electrical for lighting either, which will be addressed at some point.

Next up mudding & tapping!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Interior Door Knobs.

After we picked out our exterior lockset for the front door, we finally got the kick to move on to the interior door knobs. We had been living with super shiny brass knobs since we moved in and neither of us were crazy about them. And we happened to get to enjoy FIVE of them in one very small area...

It made me a little sad that they weren't the originals. I'm guessing they were switched out to help sell the house. The bedroom closets still had the originals and while they were mostly covered in paint, they were a fantastic antique brass underneath. I would have totally taken the time to remove all the paint if we had all of them...

This one didn't even turn anymore. It was just basically there for pulling the door open.

To keep things consistent, we just went ahead and went with what matched the front door lockset and the handle we purchased for the back door.

  1. Schlage F40 LAT 619 Latitude Privacy Lever
  2. Schlage F10 LAT 619 Latitude Passage Lever
  3. Schlage F10 PLY 619 Plymouth Passage Knob
The privacy and passage levers have a slightly different look to accommodate for the lock hole (I'm sure that's the technical term...). We went with a simple knob for the bedroom closets because it saved some money and just because I wanted a knob there instead.

We have some tweaks left to do. One door has always not been properly aligned, so it doesn't stay closed. We need to go back and move the strike plate. And at least one door needs a paint touch up. Having levers instead of knobs has taken some adjusting. Some days are more noticeable than others... "Why can't I open the door?!?!" happens on occasion. Overall, they look fantastic and it was so worth the money, which is why it took us so long to do it in the first place. It's such a subtle change but I think it makes a world of a difference.

We have yet to do anything about the hinges... they aren't all the same (annoying!). I've browsed Amazon a few times for them, but they seem pricey individually or are packaged to help save money but with way more than what we need. But we might just leave them for now...

We have an awesome idea to eliminate one of the hall closets once the basement is done and organized to expand our bedroom closet. A tiny 1950's closet for the two of us isn't really working out super awesome. We have two hall closets right now. One that houses linens, towels, and other bathroom overflow. The other is home to a few cleaning supplies, the vacuum, and our long items (dresses, Bill's suit) that don't fit into our tiny closet. I think the cleaning supplies can work into that mix of bathroom stuff/linens and the plan is for the dresses, etc. to go in a wardrobe/cabinet in the laundry room. I'm not sure about the vacuum, but I'm sure it can find a better home in the basement. Heck, with a larger closet for us, we might be able to work in a small space to hang up those longer/taller items.

At that point, I would also like to replace the doors and trim. I'm not sure what happened in this house once upon a time, but the doors are in such rough shape, that I think they are beyond repair. Our bedroom door looks like it was once kicked in and is missing chunks of wood. The bathroom door has been replaced with a plain hollow core door. And there is SO much paint on everything that some things stick, many are peeling, and it's just a mess. Many of these things are probably noticeable by me because I live here, but they're noticeable enough to want to fix them. Anyways, removing that closet would eliminate a door and probably require reconfiguring our bedroom closet door way. I think I've found a new replacement of the same design that will also hopefully be going into the basement.

That probably won't be for quite a while, but I want to get an idea of costs so that I can start saving my pennies. I'm guessing maybe next winter... For now I am happy to enjoy no more shiny brass knobs!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Basement: Framing and Insulation.

The basement is slowly coming along. Not nearly at the speed we would like, but it's at least doing something. Really we have someone doing work here about one or two days a week. If it was five days a week or maybe even two to three days a week, we would be further along. Maybe even done...

Here are a few shots of it mostly empty before anything started. Part of me wishes I would  have been a little better about documenting, but I can't go backwards now (setting up the same shots at the same angles, etc.).

It's really not pretty at all... But these couple of shots gives you a decent idea of what's going on. It's just a giant rectangle. Laundry area in one corner, other utilities in the middle, and mostly empty everywhere else.


Framing went up fairly fast until we hit a road block. The city took about a month to get us the main building permit for the basement for a few different reasons, but the contractor couldn't finish up framing until the city had for sure approved part of his plans. That part of the plan involved moving one of the column supports (I'm not that great at technical building terms...) that supports the main beam that runs the length of the house. That require pouring new footings and putting in new supports.

The entire front half of the basement (shown above) will be a family room. It's large enough for a TV area and then maybe a game area (table and chairs / shelving). All the way at the end of the above photo and to the right is the bedroom.

There were also some delays from moving the plumbing for laundry stuff and a few other miscellaneous pipes that needed to be out of the way. We were at our peak of negative temps and for the first time ever, there were at least three days of school closings in about a month for insanely cold temps. So, all of the plumbers in the area were running around, dealing with people's frozen and burst pipes. Eventually, the plumping got done and we now have almost all new plumbing below (most of the old resides in the walls upstairs). So, we are all fancy and new with that flexible plastic piping, but I'll probably detail that all in another post.

These framing photos were all post electrical and pre pumbing. But if you look closely, you can see that the framing isn't quite done yet.

Our framing inspection happened just over a week ago (it was more done than the above shows) and the spray foam guys jumped in the house as soon as the inspector was out the door. We opted to go with the spray foam for a slightly higher cost because it is a basement and the spray foam is mold and mildew resistant. I believe it is supposed to better overall at insulating as well. The basement is great at staying cold, so anything that can help make it warmer in the winter is best. Plus we were able to get it sprayed into the floor joists above at the ends to help keep the house warmer.

I wasn't able to get in before the drywall was brought in. You can tell in a couple of these that they're mid column removal and adding the new ones from the weird temp supports going on.

Over the weekend before the spray foam happened, we jumped in and added R19 insulation (fun pink stuff) into the floor above to help with sound. We had to make sure to keep the exterior walls area clear for the spray foam, so it wasn't something we were able to finish in one swoop. For not being professionals, it went fairly fast. It was easy to get into the groove of it too.

For this, we spent under $200 out of  pocket, which should be worth it. In the end we will spend a little more, because we didn't tackle the unfinished area of the basement and still plan to do so. I guess it isn't something that is normally done unless requested (at least with our contractor) and we never thought about it when we walked through everything for the estimate.

After the spray foam went in, we finished up the ceiling/upstairs floor, so that it could be ready for drywallers asap. I can already hear (not hear?) the difference. I'm hoping that with actual walls, it will be even better.

Up next, drywall!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Missing Door.

I think that in the 1950's they may have had a thing for doors... At one point, there was a door in our kitchen that led to the back door and basement stairs. I'm sure people at that point used the front door and wanted that back area hidden. Honestly, that area is really ugly (see the view). I really don't know how they could have made that work well. It's quite cramped now and we don't have a door to open and close. I even know of a couple houses on our street alone that have doors that separate the living room from the tiny hallway that leads to the bedrooms and bathrooms. My mom even thought it could be possible that there was once a pocket door between our living room and kitchen.

At some point, the once upon a time owners of my house took that door between the kitchen and back door/basement stairs are off and removed all the door hardware (hinges, strike plate) and just painted over everything. So, the door frame has been there without a door for a long time. There was absolutely nothing eye appealing about this.

I figured that since we were finishing the basement and there would be someone around doing drywall and taping/mudding that I could just made that door frame disappear and get in some normal there. I brought it up to the contractor, asking if I ripped it all out, if they could fix it up. He said it would be no problem and would actually give us a couple of extra inches. Nice.

It was pretty easy to pull it out and it took maybe 20 minutes with clean up. I simply scored the paint between the wall and the trip with a utility knife. With layers and layers of paints, I figured it was best to not rip off a ton of paint and make the walls worse than they already are. Then I just used a crow bar to pry up the trim from the inside of the door (instead of from by the wall) to prevent banging up the wall.

The trim was very easy to pop out. I did the same to the other side of the doorway, which was a little trickier because of the back door trim. They both "met" and this doorway's trim is under the back door's trim. Next, I used the crow bar to push out the door frame where it was nailed in. Because of changes in floor (our floor is on top of the original weird lumpy laminate flooring), it was a little tricky. While I hate our kitchen floor, it has to stay a little while longer.

Pulling the frame out took a little more muscle, but it was kind of fun. It definitely freed up a few inches. Best part of it is, no more 'ghost' hinges and strike plate spots. I *think* that they should be drywalling soon. I'm going to cross my fingers and knock on some wood though, everything is taking waaaay longer than it should. 

A lot needs to happen in this tiny area before it can be considered done...

Luckily, most of it will be addressed shortly. As for the two types of trim, that's sort of my fault. But the paint on the faux wood trim is not my fault. I'm hoping next on our list after all this major stuff will be that kitchen floor. The plan right now is to do 18x18 Travertine like in that step down in front of the door. I'm looking forward to my demo to get all patched up now.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Shopping: Exterior Doors

Way back when, I somehow came across the Crestview doors. I drooled, I dreamed. I could never probably justify spending that much on a front door (unless I won the lottery). Luckily, there are some other options. Therma-Tru has a new-ish line out called Pulse. They have some doors that are similar to some of the Crestview doors but they are way less expensive and are available in steel or fiberglass with a number of different glass options (instead of wood). It sounds like there are also decent wood looks as well as a number of special order colors, but we just wanted it in white so we could paint it what ever color we wanted (once it was warm enough to do so of course...).

The Therma-Tru doors were an easy sell. When I brought them up to our contractor he immediately said they were great doors and how he's installed many of them over the years. He may have actually said hundreds, but I can't quite remember. The fact that they came in fiberglass or steel was a big bonus too. In the harsh Minnesota seasons, especially winter, we want to make sure that whatever we install is going to hold up to the elements and protect us from the freezing cold in the winter months. Lowering the cost of heating our house in the winter is definitely a bonus.

The Pulse line has 5 different window options and a few of them the windows are available centered or to the left or right. In the end, I let Bill pick the front door. I think I could have been happy with anything that wasn't what we currently had (Menard's/Home Depot special). And I wanted it to not be all about me, as things around her may tend to be. I did of course have a couple favorites (Ari & Echo Lite). He went with the Ari and then I made the executive decision to go with the Solei for the back door to get as much light in as possible because we have a tiny little back entry way with zero light (we're actually installing more lights, so that will help too).

Therma-Tru Pulse Line
While clear glass would be ideal for these doors, we opted to go with the granite style. We have no front entry way and the front door leads immediately to the middle of our living room, so I wanted to maintain some privacy. The back door really does not need that same level of privacy, but I wanted to keep it consistent. I feel that this even more important because of the size of our tiny house. In reality, there is probably a decent area that you can stand in our house and see both doors. Plus, with the basement on the way to being finished, we will probably be walking past that back door a lot more.

As of right now, the front door is installed. It still needs to be finished on the inside (just the trim), but it's already so much better than the old door. Because it was professionally installed, there is no slight breeze coming through when the wind blows just right, even without a screen door. We are planning on storm doors, we just don't have them yet. And I'm really, really hoping they don't "take away" from the look of the door, especially the front door.

Doesn't it look so wonderful...? Obviously there are some things left to address, but we'll get there... some day...

Read about how we picked out our lockset.

While this isn't the best before and after, it is quite the difference. And obviously, the trim still needs to be done on the inside, as I mentioned before. The extra light has been wonderful though.

Right now the back door (Solei) isn't installed. It's ordered and the contractor has it, but he is waiting until they are done going in and out the back door with all the big stuff so it doesn't end up scuffed, dented, or whatever. That will hopefully be within a few weeks here. I seriously can't wait. The current backdoor is badly warped and really hard to open and close and it only gets worse as the days go by.

Coming soon... insulation and new door knobs for inside.