Archive for the ‘upstairs’ Category

every time a window closes

Monday, December 26th, 2011

… a door opens. That’s what they say, right? So a few weeks back, it may have looked like all the windows were in and we were set for the winter. But no. These two hopper windows have been waiting in a corner…





















Christmas week, David and Joe finally unwrapped them (Thank you, Santa)…





















… and fitted them in over the upstairs sliders where they belong.





















Now the living area is much, much warmer. Bonus: we no longer hear the constant flap flap flapping of the blue tarp. I can’t wait until said tarp is gone and a trip to the livingroom no longer feels like a visit to the bottom of the deep blue sea.

While the boys were at it, they also tackled installing the new and incredibly heavy aluminum door downstairs. But first they had to get it there…

































Here’s where David takes over:

First we had to remove the old door and its associated framing (which was pretty funky, it must have been installed at 4:20 on a Friday). Once we had that corner of the house open we realized the beam was sitting on just two 2x4s, one of which was split. They missed an opportunity to land the beam on that foundation wall on the left side of the opening here…





















The concrete under the door was packed in under the old door in a haphazard way, so we replaced that too — remembering to use a bonding agent between old and new concrete so they’d stick together…





















We put super tape between the new door framing and the foundation walls, and used treated lumber for good measure…





















The old concrete work is pretty funky, so it took some serious shimming to get the door plumb and square. Then I filled the remaining spaces with low-expanding foam. That will look much cleaner when the walls get finished…





















The door hardware is German and super smooth…





















The locking system will take some getting used to. The lever throws the bolt and also four pins that lock the door along its whole length. …





















Supposed to be storm proof or something — with the right glass, which we didn’t opt for since we don’t live in Florida.

Looks hot, doesn’t it? Our front door will be replaced, too. In the fullness of time, of course.


450 lbs lighter

Monday, June 6th, 2011


Been a little bummed about the lack of progress but things are finally picking up again. Yesterday our friend Matt lugged away the Jotul woodstove. With the help of a small army…




This means we’re already thinking about the upstairs, like the dining area and built-ins that will go where the woodstove once was…


Thanks, Matt! Hope you and the family will be nice and roasty this coming winter.


what up?

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

I’ll tell you what up — our downstairs. We’re moving it all upstairs so we can begin demolition.

Ever wonder what it might be like to cart a 10′-long walnut and maple credenza out a slider, up a very steep, slippery slope in the snow, and then up stairs into a narrow corridor? I can’t show you the snowy bits (which were probably exciting) but here are Mikey B and David in action…




Not an earth-shattering event to you, perhaps. But to me, this is progress. Thanks, Mikey!

the upstairs plan

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

On Friday I showed you the downstairs plan we worked out with Emily, our architect. Speaking of which, we met with her and the engineer today to make sure everything’s hunky-dory before we go to the city for the permit. Getting closer. While we wait for final engineering drawings, let’s discuss the rough upstairs plan that Emily drew up. K?

Stage Two: Main Living/Kitchen Area

The upstairs remodel will have to wait for warmer weather — which is fine since we’ll be plenty busy with the downstairs. Upstairs is more involved than the downstairs as this is where the main living area and kitchen are located. Feel free to take the visual tour of what we want to do (I posted that back when we thought upstairs was going to be Stage One).

The upstairs currently looks like this (click to biggify)…

existing upper level

With the changes we want to make, it will look more like this…

proposed upper level

Not easy to spot the differences but here they are:

Just like downstairs, we’re knocking out a few load-bearing walls and putting in beams in order to open up the space. We’ll gain some breathing space in the kitchen by putting in a cooking island/breakfast bar that juts into the living area, plus we’ll go vertical with storage and add a large cooling tower/skylight over the whole space. Facing out to the backyard, we’re knocking out the giant closet and putting in glass sliders and little sitting area with a fireplace insert. The main living area will be flanked by floor-to-ceiling built-ins with built-in seating. The dining area next to the tiny kitchen will get a built-in sideboard/serving shelf as part of its floor-to-ceiling built-ins. We’ll replace current sliders and windows, put in a new floor and ceiling, and improve lighting and heating.

Basically, nothing goes untouched. So do you think we can get it all done in 2011? Let the wagering begin.

a plus-sized remod tour

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

Our wants are large for this first round of the remodel. Yes, there will be other rounds. There’s not a room in this house that will go untouched. First round: the entryway to the living area. Interested in a tour?

remod wants | entryway

The entryway

It feels like you’ve stepped into a well when you come into the house. There are a few things that can help with that. First off, we’ll probably change out that solid door with something in glass. Seeing out will make it feel less vertical. It will also step up the first impression.

remod wants | entryway floor

Under foot, we can’t leave that plywood exposed. I already covered some of our tile options. This entry well gets cold in the winter, so we need to update the heat, too — we’re looking into removing the 40-year-old Singer heater and replacing it with in-floor heat.

Looking up from the doorway…

remod wants | railing on entry stairs

The solid railings don’t help with that I-fell-in-a-well feeling. Those need to be steel and glass or steel and cable, period. If you can see through the railing to the far windows (yes, that far back door will be replaced with glass for a view out to the yard), this space will feel less claustrophobic.

remod wants | railing on stairs again

Whether you’re headed up the stairs or down, even if the space isn’t actually bigger, it will feel bigger.


remod wants | fan removal

We have two of these ceiling fans that the previous owners put in just a few years ago. Those have to go. Anybody interested in like-new ceiling fans? We’ll remove the cobwebs.

Heading up the stairs

remod wants | stairs

Steps will need finishing in the cork flooring we’re going to use upstairs for a consistent flow.

remod wants | flooring

If you’ve been following, you’ve already seen what the floor looks like at the top of the stairs: particle board and prehistoric carpet. This will all be cork. One cohesive surface throughout the top floor to unify our fairly small space.

Stepping into the living area

remod wants | window wall

The window wall is the star of the house. We’d like to build in seating under the windows cuz everybody likes to sit by the window, and add a shallow shelf for the succulents I have to winterize. Would also be a handy place to set a glass of wine.

remod wants | leaky windows

Did I mention there’s water trapped inside the glass? Damn. This is something we’ve seen in a few of the larger windows, including the one by the front door. They have to be replaced. Since that’s the case, we’re looking at sexier, commercial aluminum windows and sliders with a thinner profile frame. It’ll look hot when we’re done.

remod wants | storage wall

Storage is an issue. On either side of the window wall, we want built-ins floor to ceiling, with room for books, music and art, as well as the stuff nobody wants to see.

remod wants | wall removal

There is a storage closet already. But it really interrupts the space.

remod wants | closet removal

Here it is from the other side. We want to knock that whole thing out and replace it with window/slider wall…

remod wants | view to patio

… so we can step right out onto our soon-to-be fabulous new patio. We’re envisioning the area that’s currently the storage closet as a sitting area that looks out to the yard, with a cozy built-in, high-efficiency woodstove.

Just across from the storage closet…

… is another wall that’s coming out. See ya, ’70s-style kitchen pass-thru.

remod wants | kitchen wall removal

Once that wall comes out, it’s open concept. The kitchen becomes part of the living space and dining area. We’re picturing an island with a cooktop and a few stools pulled up to it — more entertaining-centric. And we’d like to knock out a section of the far kitchen wall to create a window onto the entry well. Once again, longer views always make a small space feel bigger.

remod wants | kitchen expansion

Remember, the current kitchen is insanely small — it made sense in a home built for a single person, but not for us. The floor measures 3’10” across at the widest point. Only 3′ where the fridge would have been directly across from the stove. It’s only 6′ from the doorway to the sink.

By knocking down the walls, we gain a little breathing room and hopefully a smidge more space. There are no appliances in this kitchen, so we need those. We already invested in an open-concept-worthy fridge — meaning we have to look at it from the living area so it has to be fab, as far as I’m concerned. It was the smallest footprint fridge I could find that still has enough space. Currently stashed downstairs next to our kitchenette. More on that another time.

remod wants | cabinet removal

We’ll need new cabinets as the space is being reconfigured. These we’ll save for either the garage or a future shed. We need to maximize storage in here so we’ll have to go vertical.

remod wants | kitchen ceiling heaters

We want to put in a big skylight, again to make this feel more spacious. But more than that, natural light and food just make for a sunnier mood. Those panels in the ceiling are heaters, which means we have to think about how to heat the kitchen as there’s no other source of heat in here.

remod wants | kitchen tile removal

Kitchen flooring will be a continuation of the cork. Looking forward to losing those cold, dark tiles.

Looking down the canyon between the kitchen and the storage closet…

remod wants | view to back

You can see how this space would be opened up by knocking down the walls. As much as I wish it weren’t the case, those are load-bearing, which means we’ll still need support. See how the stair railing completely interrupts the view to the back? I can’t wait for that to change.

This is a good time to address the ceiling… We want to cover it in the same material we’re using for the floor. One is aesthetic: to highlight the slope of the ceiling and the long view from the front to the back of the house. The other is yuck: popcorn ceilings installed prior to ’79 may have stuff in it that you don’t want in your house. We want to encase it and forget about it, just in case.

Let’s finish that spin around the living area…

remod wants | stove removal

A woodstove sits in what we want to be our dining area. A high-efficiency Jotul we brought with us from the loft as a temporary heating solution, but it obviously doesn’t suit the style of the house. We’ll be selling that. The wall behind it will be floor-to-ceiling built-ins just like the opposite side of the room. And speaking of walls, behind them we’ll be adding insulation.

remod wants | take that chandelier

Over the dining area, the last owners put in a chandelier that’s coming out. Anybody want a chandy?

remod wants | deck updating

Wait, we’re almost done! That deck we look out onto? We use it as an extension of the living space when the weather’s good — lovely dining spot with a view of downtown. Unfortunately, it needs replacing…

remod wants | deck rot

Here’s the view from below. You can see that soon, we may fall through.

remod wants | deck phone service!

While we’re out here, let me point out this space-age creature comfort on the deck: phone lines! Man, the architect thought of everything. Here it is 2010 and we literally have not had a land line in years — I gave up mine a decade ago. My how times have changed.

So what didn’t I cover?

remod wants | heaters

Heaters in the living area. We have to figure out how to not have them be hideous, how to do built-ins around them, etc. We’ll cover heating and our scads of research in another post.

remod wants | heat control

Obviously the heat control will change. I’m sure this was advanced in its day.

remod wants | light switches

Lighting controls will change, too. Basically, everything’s changing.

So that’s it. End of tour. You can go home now. You’re probably looking forward to a cozy, inviting place after seeing this mess. So are we.