Tuesday, August 26, 2014

From "Hollow" to "Hello"

Our hallway doesn't have much wall space. It houses 6 doors and not much else. To make it worse, the doors that were in the house when we purchased it were plain, hollow core doors with gold door knobs. We've managed to take care of the knobs here, but the doors were still a little lack-luster.

While on Pinterest the other day, I found just what our humble little doors needed. Over on Jenna Sue's blog, she showed how she pumped up her frumpy plain doors with a little trim and paint for $12. I showed Scott and he was just as sold as I was.

We started by grabbing our materials. Most of it we already had, but we needed to buy the wood for the trim. If you are thinking of doing this yourself, I would recommend making sure that you have everything before beginning:

-Air compressor/nail gun with brads or nails
-4ft x 4ft piece of 1/4 in thick plywood (This ran us about $14.95 at Lowes. I think the original blog must have gotten their for $12. Oh well)
-Spackle, sanding sponge, putty knife
-Paint, paint brush, small roller
-2in hole drill bit for the knob
-Saw (We used a miter saw, but you could probably do some of this with a miter box and a hand saw if you don't have many power tools.)
-Wood glue

We purchased our plywood and immediately ran into an issue. It wouldn't fit in the Rogue. Uh Oh.

Scott wandered back inside the store while I stayed in the car. To my surprise and delight, he exited Lowes with a stack of pre-cut 3in. slices of our previously single 4 ft. square board. I would recommend having them cut it in store. This made assembly soooooooooo much easier. Waaaay easier. As in, a lot easier.


You get the idea.

Scott took the door off of the hinge and placed it on saw horses. This made measuring and attaching our plywood pieces much easier.

After the door knob had been removed, we began laying out the pieces to get an idea as to how they would fit and how much scrap we would have left over.

Starting at the top of the door, we cut our first piece (I'll go through an exact step-by-step here a little later). We decided to cut the footer and header as the capping pieces and then align the sides to those. This is definitely the way I would recommend doing it.

We then used clamps as we went to hold down the pieces we had previously cut so they wouldn't move. Scott then measured and cut the struts for the middle of the door.

Once again, we laid it out and made sure it all looked correct.

Using some Gorilla Wood Glue, I slowly worked in the same order that the strips had been cut. I placed a line of glue, lined up the piece with the door, then used the nail gun to nail it into place.

Once it was together, we hung it up. Usually you would wait to spackle and paint it outside, but we needed a door on the room. We were doing the Ice Bucket Challenge that night and needed an extra room for people to change out of their cold and wet clothes. (For more on that, check out the bottom of this blog post.)

This is when we ran into a problem we didn't really consider. The new door was thicker than the old one.

It didn't close! Thankfully it was closed enough for people to change behind, but we knew that we would need to move the hinges for any future guests that might be staying with us. (For anyone wondering, we started with the guest door because it's the only door you really see at a casual glance down the hall. We are going to finish them all like this over time, though.)

After the hinge had been moved out a little, we were in business.

As you can see, there is a little bit of paint on there, too. I decided that doing all this work just to paint the doors white again might be a bit of a waste. I chose (of course) a neutral grey/blue called "Sanctuary Blue" in Behr semi-gloss because I liked the look of the space in this Pinterest pin.

And it seemed to go well in the hallway as well as the guest room when the door was open.

After spackling the holes left by the gaps and nails, sanding them all, and wiping away the dust, I gave the door a good coat of the new grey color. I painted the whole front except for around the door knob. Here, I placed a scrap piece of wood (also glued and nailed in place) to help add a nice base for the knob to attach to. Here you can kind of see what I mean.

I used the 2" drill bit to re-drill the hole for the mechanism, then painted over it all to make it look like one piece.

So far, so good.

The door knob had a few scratches, so I gave it a quick touch up with the Oil Rubbed Bronze and some poly and let it dry before attaching it again. Check out that hallway now!

Instead of taking the whole door down to do the back side, I just put it together while it was still on the hinges. This wasn't too difficult, but I would recommend taking it down for both sides. Here is the progression for what to cut and attach in what order. I am a very visual person, so if you want to use this as a tutorial, the images might help! (Read in order from top left to right)

Finished off by a final coat of paint and the door knob.

How about that? Not too shabby (anymore), eh?

Only 5 more doors to go. For now, at least, our guests will have a much fancier-feeling room. I'll also add that the weight of the wood trim to the door gives it a nice heft. Oh, and I wanted to clarify: The $15 sheet of plywood was enough to do BOTH sides of this 30 in x 79 in door, so you can easily estimate about $15 per door. I was also sure to use some of the scrap for the back side pieced together. Once it was spackled and sanded, though, it made it much less noticeable.

See the three pieces? My pride says you don't! 

So what do you think? Is it worth it? I'd say so. And so much cheaper than buying "nice" newer doors. I'm really hoping they help our resale, too.

PS- For anyone wanting to check out our Ice Bucket Challenge video and possibly donate, you can watch it below. We really appreciate any views we can get and awareness is key. We are also participating in a walk at the end of September and donations can be made to Team Anita here. It's a very personal cause to many of our friends and we would like to do all we can to support them and anyone else who has been touched by this disease.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Ain't No Sunshine

Kentucky lately has had a little bit of rain. By "a little", I mean a lot. By "a lot", I mean every day we are getting a thunderstorm that lasts at least an hour and has taken out power in parts of the city every single time. Most of the time, the power goes out at Beth and David's house. Almost like clockwork (Fayette County, you should probably fix that), but we had managed to avoid it thus far.

Until the other day.

Three of the main roads surrounding us, UK campus, and most of downtown were out of power at 5 in the afternoon. No stop lights worked, there was a lot of confusion as to whether to stay in our hot muggy homes or go out somewhere that might have air conditioning, during rush hour, and the 3G was so jammed up that getting updates on when the power might return was almost impossible. (On the up side, this was the only day so far that Beth and David DID have power. Figures.)

I was out of the house when the power went out, so I returned to a dark home. I tried my garage door opener the allotted 'duh' amount of times before realizing that I wasn't going to be able to get into the house.

See, when we purchased our house, we weren't given a key to the front door. The only keys we were given were to a dead bolt, the garage-to-laundry door, and another random key that we still aren't sure of. This meant that we weren't getting inside till the power was back on. This also meant that we had to stare at this face through the window till we found a way in.

We had put off replacing our front door lock due to a false sense of security. Suddenly that security was gone and the four legged guilt trips stuck in our air conditioned home were sadly reminding us of our puppy-parent failure.

Once Scott got home, we grabbed some dinner (thankfully Bourbon and Toulouse was open, had power, and wasn't busy), then ran over to Home Depot. The nice thing about home improvement stores during power outages is that they can still run on generators, which is exactly what Home Depot was doing.

We chose our new front door lock. It is a little fancy because if we were going to spend the money, we wanted it done right the first time. We also liked the fact that it had a bit of a skirting around the dead bolt to cover an issue we had with our previous dead bolt.

Sorry about the picture quality. I ended up using my phone for this post. You'll get the idea, though.

We had a gap. We have no idea why we had a gap. We are figuring that whoever drilled the hole didn't drill it correctly, so it was more of an oval than a circle. I really didn't care how it got there, just that we would be able to cover it up.

Through some blog magic, I will tell you that we managed to get into the house. We are lucky enough that we taught the girls to open doors. That might not sound true, but that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Scott started assembling the new door fixture right away. He quickly took off the old door knob and dead bolt. He then attached the new deadbolt. That part was easy.

Since we bought a fancy handle that needed to be attached at the bottom and the top, we had to drill a new hole. Scott made a template to lined it up. This showed him where to drill so that both sides of the door would fit together.

We were then able to mount the bottom of the handle.

For reference, here is the front.

And here is the back. That dark washer with a gold screw head is the screw that holds the bottom of the handle in place. It has a cover that just pops on to help it blend with the rest of the assembly, but we just hadn't gotten to that yet.

Next, we had to make sure that it actually closed. We lined it up with the previously drilled holes in the door frame and they didn't line up. (Of course they didn't.)

Scott took a chisel and took out some of the material so that the latches would catch. This wasn't a very difficult part, but it made all the difference. Closing our door now is much easier than it was with the old locks.

Now our door is finished and we are so excited to be able to get into our house "just in case". I know a lot of you are probably thinking that we are crazy for not fixing this issue a year ago when we first moved in, but live and learn. We figured that if we couldn't get in, no one else would be able to, either! That theory worked up till now! Honestly, we didn't use our front door that much anyway, so on a regular basis, it was dead bolted about 90% of the time. Now we use it much more often.

The door looks really swank now, too. I love how the oil rubbed bronze matches my rabbit so well and really ties it all together. I just wish you could see it when our glass door is closed.

Oh well. It does add curb appeal (it's just to bad you can't see it from the curb).

Have you ever had any emergency DIY you HAD to accomplish? Let me know in the comments!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Time to ReStore Some Light

One big issue with our kitchen and laundry rooms is that they are very dark. The kitchen has no windows (the laundry has one small one), so not much outside light gets through to them on a regular basis. Even after painting and cleaning them both up, they still needed some sort of connection with the outside.

Originally, the kitchen was the back of the house. There is a large window-sized opening that now opens into our addition. Before the addition, the window would have been a nice view into the backyard. We love the giant addition and the space it gives us, we just kind of miss what could have been a bright element of the original space.

To remedy this, I have been searching for a replacement for this guy.

That kind of dirty looking door is the back door out of our kitchen/laundry room. It is a dull space that lives on the same wall as our washer and dryer. This picture might help orient you.

That little window is the same one that has the two bright yellow curtains on the inside of the window. 

This is obviously not a space we use very often. It is on the opposite side of the addition then the porch, meaning it gets kind of left out. Honestly, if we didn't have the hose over there, we would probably never go over there at all.

Thankfully, the door itself could be very useful. It would be a perfect area for a door with a window! For the past six months, I have been visiting our local ReStore looking for just that. A 31.5in x 72in. door with a window that would brighten up our kitchen and laundry room. I even bought two doors... they ended up not fitting and we had to return them. I had almost given up hope.

Then, as it happens, Mom came to town. Mom is really good at walking in somewhere and going, "Oh, would this work?" and it's totally what you've been looking for for six months. We stopped by the ReStore on a whim and guess what.

The first door she walked up to.

"I bet this would fit"

Of course it did.

The door was then quickly purchased for the exorbitant price of $15, loaded into the car, and brought home.

Scott began by taking the old door down.

We then had to line up the new door and see how difficult it would be to hang. We ended up using the old hinges to make this part of the process a little easier.

There was old weather stripping at the bottom of the door which would make it too low for the frame, so we took that off next. It was well past it's prime, so it would have been replaced anyway.

We then attached it to the hinges that were already hung and checked it for fit. It was actually level and fit really well the first try. Huzzah!

I took the door knobs off of the old door and brought them to Scott who started to assemble them again in the new door. As he worked on that, I observed that the door needed a little bit of love. The windows were kind of dirty and there were a few dents in the metal. This little guy cracked us up, though.

Obviously a little past it's prime.
After one door knob was assembled, he re-drilled the receiving hole in the frame because these fixtures were going to be higher than they were originally. He then added the other knob and repeated the process. 

When it was all together, it felt like a breath of fresh air in the kitchen. It doesn't seem like it would make a huge difference, but this is what the kitchen felt like the next day with no lights on.

I know, it still looks dark, but it's really a huge step in the right direction for lightening up this space (because think about how dark it was before the window. It was a cave kitchen). One of the best parts is that it acts as a viewing window for the birds nest that is built into the soffit of the roof. We can check on the bird family any time now!

Since it's been up, I have also given it a nice, clean coat of white paint so it doesn't feel so second hand. It really does feel like a new door! Eventually I'll paint the outside of the door, but since that isn't something we can really see on a regular basis, I'm going to leave it how it is for the time being.

This is not the only door adventure we have had lately. Stay tuned for more updates!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Raise the Roof

The ceiling in the addition to our house is a little different. It has rafters that are exposed to the room, which creates a very interesting architectural element, especially with their 9.5 ft height. (the funny part is that this ceiling is only one of six different types in our entire house, but more on that in another post).

Unfortunately, the ceiling in the living room is also the one we see the most often. Between entertaining our weekly group on Sunday Nights (to watch Zombies, Vikings, and Games centered around the procurement of Thrones), and just Scott and I watching our nightly Modern Family and Big Bang Theory, we tend to see it a lot. This wouldn't be an issue if it had been finished correctly.

As it stood, there were some flaws. The first of which was the single layer of paint that was used to cover the dark plywood ceiling and beams. The second of which was the horrible patch job applied to the raw wood that was never sanded. Coming in third would have to have been the yellowing of whatever spackle had been originally used and how in areas, the caulking was pulling away from the wood, leaving small cracks and gaps.

One night, as we laughed for the 100th time as Bernadette Rostenkowski screamed downstairs at Howard Wolowitz's mom, Scott and I both brought up how the ceiling needed a little bit of love. The next day, I ran out and grabbed some caulking and started the very boring task of prepping the 23ftx17ft expanse for it's new eventual coat of paint. 

Some places we couldn't do much about. This dip has been there since we moved in, but was inspected and merely described as, "a dip in the roofing". It was reported to not have any impact on the state of the roofing itself, so we have left it alone. As for the rest of the roof, the 'before' images are pretty revealing.

Other parts were just never painted, like around where the ceiling fan is mounted.

But after everything was patched, the difference was astounding. We haven't painted it yet, but even just having less gaps has brightened the room.

The biggest issue was where an old wood burning stove had previously stood in the corner of the living space. It had been taken out before we even toured the house, but the piece of wood that had been haphazardly placed over the hole was a less than desirable solution to hide it's remnants.

I carefully unscrewed all of the screws (none of which, after examination, matched in the slightest) and pulled down the old piece of scrap. I suppose I should have at least been happy that someone painted it white. The side that had faced the attic looked like this.

I'm guessing that most of the debris is from the old stove pipe (which was only taken out when we had our new roofing installed), but I wouldn't put it past some rodents to have made a little home up there. Ugh.

Once the old ceiling bandaid had been ripped off, it was time to apply a new sterile bandage that would hide the blemish much more convincingly. I grabbed some scrap wood and cut it in half, leaving me with two strips. These strips were going to support the piece of wood I would use to patch the hole. I could have also used a piece of drywall and some drywall mud/mesh, but I used wood so that it would blend in with the rest of the wood textured ceiling. It helps that we also had it in scrap, so this fix cost us nothing.

After cutting a piece of plywood that we had sitting around in the garage to the appropriate size (14in x 14in, how nice!), I then screwed it into the two supports that I had already mounted. (I did spray a coat of white primer on the plywood before mounting it, just to make it a little easier to paint later)


Using a scraper, I tried to take off as much of the extra material that was stuck around the hole as possible Then I patched it the same way you would patch a wall. Mud tape, mud/spackle/sand, add more mud, repeat.

While that dried, I went around and patched any other places that needed a little attention.

When everything had dried, been sanded, and was smooth, I came back to the new patch and gave it a quick coat of some white paint I had in the garage. Check out the difference.

Waaaaaaay before:

Sort of After:


What?! WHERE DID IT GO?! I believe it was a victim of my awesomeness...

We haven't quite gotten to repainting yet. As with anything, it's a process. We are just generally pleased to have most of the eyesores out of the way for when we do paint.

What do you think? Is repainting a ceiling a waste of time "as long as it's white", or do you think a little ceiling paint goes a long way toward cleaning up the look of a room? Let me know in the comments!