Saturday, March 11, 2017

The Secret Room

Because it is secret, I can't share too much about it.

But those who have been here know where it is...

The room has been mostly done for quite a while.

All that remained were the finishing touches to make it look like the inside of Jeannie's bottle from "I Dream Of Jeannie".

Just prior to our most recent party, we did the remaining work.

And now that I've posted this for all the world to see, the room is not so secret anymore.

First, around the room going clockwise:

Now toward the sloping ceiling:

And last, from inside looking back toward the door:

Sunday, March 5, 2017

The Laundry Room - Part 5

While we were fighting with people over timezones and counters, I installed the artwork in the laundry room.

Yes, SWMBO wanted artwork in the laundry room.

We found it in a little shop in Oakes, North Dakota last summer.

The Laundry Room is finally done!

The Laundry Room - Part 4

Previously, I'd installed the cabinets and called to make the appointment for the counters to get measured.

There was a little messing about to get schedules to work out for the measure, but the guy arrived mostly on time and it it went off mostly without a hitch.

A week or so later the folks from the Big Orange box left a voicemail to confirm the color we'd selected and to tell us that there was less material needed than originally thought, so we'd be getting a refund.

I returned the call to confirm the color so they could start fabricating.  I'm not sure how much fabricating needs to be done for two chunks of counter each about 30 inches wide, but whatever...

After a week or so the fabricator called to set the install date. The window was 11 am - 1 pm.

On the appointed day 11 am comes and goes.

Noon comes and goes.

1 pm comes and goes.

At 2 pm SWMBO calls to ask where the installer was. "He's running a couple hours behind," was the reply.

Like clockwork, at 3 pm he shows up and gets started.  But SWMBO has an appointment at 3:30 and I 'm at work with a day full of meetings trying to keep the world from falling apart. So we agree to break the rules in the installation guide that say "there must be an adult present at all times during the installation" and leave SWMBO Jr in charge (note - this is not a portend that she messed anything up).

When I get home that night everything looks fine and the sink is dry-fit in the hole.

During the rest of the week, I gather the remaining supplies necessary to install the sink and set to work on the weekend.

Following the installation instructions, I remove the sink from the hole and install the mounting clips to the underside. Then I attempt to dry-fit the sink again.

Yes you read that right...


The hole in the counter wasn't cut to allow for the mounting clips.

So we call again to make an appointment to have the installer come out and enlarge the hole. He only needs to make the hole 1/4-inch wider at two spots; each about 1.5-inches long.

So the appointment gets made. Again with a 2 hour window.

The appointed start time comes and goes.

The midpoint comes and goes.

The end of the window comes and goes.

So SWMBO calls.  Again she is informed that, "he's running 2 hours late and we'll have to reschedule since neither adult can be there."

After SWMBO lights him up about why no adults can be there (Yo! Dude! Show up on time and we'll be there!), he finally relents and says we can have the first appointment of the day on Saturday, even they though they don't normally do Saturday appointments.

He arrived on time yesterday morning and got the work done properly.  In the afternoon I installed the sink and today the faucet.

I can't tell you how many times throughout this process the scheduler told me over the phone, "We want to make sure you give us a perfect 10 on our customer satisfaction survey, so we have our best people on your job."

Maybe so, but how about setting your watches to Central time.

And no 10 for you...

P.S. - The refund that actually made it to our credit card was only 2/3 of what she said it would be.  Now I get to go back to the store and straighten that crap out too...

P.P.S. - This is the first and last time we use the Home Services option from a big box store. I should have known from the horrific experience via the Blue Box at a previous house that my expectations at the Orange Box should be low. I'd have been better off if I just bought the d*mn specialty tools and done it myself.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Laundry Room - Part 3

All the chaos about the laundry room was driven by a deadline.

We hosted a party here today (Saturday) and the mountains of laundry needed to get dealt with beforehand.

After all the painting during the week, I stalled the cabinets yesterday.

Fortunately the floor is pretty close to level, so the installation went pretty easily.

Now I can call to get the counters measured. I'm not sure how long it will take to fabricate them, but we've done without them for 8 years. Another couple of weeks won't really matter in grand scheme of things.

We've already purchased the sink and faucet that will function as the laundry tub.

And the artwork will get hung at some point in the future.

And there's a story behind the cabinets, too...

We'd ordered them at the Big Orange Box just after Thanksgiving and were told they'd take 4-6 weeks. We promptly forgot about them knowing that they'd call us when they came in.

(Segue to what appears to be an unrelated story for now...)

I wanted a new workbench and my mother-in-law funded my purchase as a Christmas gift. I found the one I wanted at the Big Orange Box. I checked their website and they had several in stock at a local store just after the new year. The store associate couldn't find them where the system said they should be. After following him around the store for a bit I asked about the "Store Pickup" option on their website. He said that in that case they'd locate it and call me when it was ready for pickup at the service counter.

So I used my phone to place the order and told him I'd be back... ;-)

Later in the day I received the text that my order was ready for pickup.

Knowing that it weighed 150 pounds, I took SWMBO with me to help load it in the car.

We drove to the store and talked to the lady at the service counter. As she was pulling up my info she mentioned that she was just getting ready to call me to say the order was ready. I was impressed.

She said she needed to have it brought up from the loading dock and that if we needed anything else we could go get it and she could process everything at once.

So we went and ordered the blinds for the kitchen and grabbed some other stuff we needed. When we came back she rang us up and gave me the pick-up receipt. When we walked up I hadn't seen anything that looked like the box I was expecting for the workbench (6ft x 3ft x 6-8 inches - some assembly required), so I asked where our order was.  She replied, "On the flatbed cart behind you."

I turned around to see a cart with 5 or 6 big boxes on it, not what I expected. Puzzled, I started to ask why the workbench was in so many boxes, then paused while I looked more closely at the pick-up receipt...

It slowly dawned on me that these were the laundry room cabinets we ordered a month before.

So we pushed the cart out to the parking lot and...

None of the boxes would fit in our SUV.

So I trudged back into the store. And asked the lady at the service desk about the other order I was there to pick up. After looking it up on the computer she said, "No problem. I'll have them bring it out from the back"

I said, "Thanks, and have them bring it over to rentals, please. I need a truck..."

$20 and 20 minutes later - me and my girl are high-stylin' it in a Load-N-Go F-250 with a big orange logo on the side...

The Fishbowl Is No More

SWMBO always wanted to have window treatments in the kitchen. There are four large windows and it feels a bit like a fishbowl, especially after dark.

After some thought, we decided that blinds would be the best option to allow light in, but still allow for some privacy when it's appropriate.

The blinds arrived last week and I installed them over the weekend without any challenges.

Also last week, the cornice boards arrived. Once I finished installing the blinds I started on the cornice boards.

As with many things, there is a story behind these as well. Or I should say, there's a story behind the fabric.

The fabric is a custom pattern from a friend (Hi Schu!) who owns Miss Chiff Designs. She offered to design something for us and we went back and forth for a bit. SWMBO loves cheese and the theme was settled upon.

There was some more back and forth as we were working on colors and what the design should actually look like. At one point she tried another option and sent it to us, saying that she wasn't sure we'd like it.

Of course, we loved it...

And she put it up on her website so we could order a sample.

Within minutes the design was attracting a lot of positive attention and quickly became her most popular design.

I'm still thinking we should get a royalty check every once in a while... ;-)

Friday, January 20, 2017

The Laundry Room - Redux

 (Dramatic music plays in the background as our hero once again rolls the large stone up the hill just to see it roll back down,  Lather. Rinse. Repeat...)

Way back... I scrambled to paint the laundry room before the new appliances were delivered.

The color scheme was carefully chosen by SWMBO.

After everything was in, she informed me that she didn't like the color...

(Fast forward to last fall as the kitchen is wrapping up.)

For a variety of reasons - mostly that we needed to chase mechanicals up to the attic and therefore punch access holes in the laundry room walls - we never purchased and installed the rest of the bits for the laundry room. The laundry tub is one example.

After completing the kitchen, finishing the laundry room was next on the list.  I'd already fixed the holes in the walls while doing other repair work this summer. And we already had a pretty good idea of what we wanted, so went to the Big Orange Box and ordered the cabinets, sink, faucet, and countertop. Everything came as promised and is sitting in the garage waiting to be installed because...

The laundry room needed to be repainted...

SWMBO and our designer consultant came up with a plan and a sketch.  The plan incorporated the colors of the appliances, the window treatments, and countertop.

After creating a 2x2 foot sample board implementation, no one was happy with the original design.

So I repainted the sample board with the new design. Everyone was happy. At least I only had to repaint a 2x2 sample board... So I started painting the room.

  • Repaint the ceiling to white.
  • Repaint the walls to Ivory Tusk.
  • Wait 24 to 48 hours for the paint to cure so that I could...
  • Tape off appropriately for the red stripes.
  • Paint the red stripes using a foam brush.
  • Remove the tape.
  • Free-hand a paint pen with the black highlights.

When I got halfway around the room, I asked SWMBO to come see the results...

There was disapproval (hers)...

And then gnashing of teeth (mine)... And lots of bad words uttered...

She had a suggestion about what to do and I encouraged her to give it a try because I was frustrated...

The left portion of the photo is the result.

More disapproval...

More gnashing of teeth and bad words...

Because now I know I have to re-paint this d*mn room again!

After I took a sanity break and erased the sample board, I had an idea...

And created a new sample board.

And got approval.

The new idea meant I needed to repaint only half of the room because I could salvage the parts where there were red stripes, but I hadn't done the black accents yet. There were still multiple steps involved though.

  • Repaint the base color on the wall.
  • Wait 24 to 48 hours for the paint to cure so that I could...
  • Tape off appropriately for the red stripes.
  • Paint the red stripes using a foam brush.
  • Remove the tape from alternating new stripes and re-tape alternating existing stripes.
  • Use a foam brush to paint over alternating stripes with black paint.

After all the tape was removed, we ended up with this...

And from another angle.

Success was declared because SWMBO is happy!

(For the record I'm not entering this room with a paint brush or roller ever again!)

Zoom in on the window treatment.  The pattern on the fabric is French maids doing laundry.

To the left of the window is a drying rack that folds out from the wall.

Now, on to the cabinets!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Back to the Beginning

Like the game "Sorry", just when you're nearing the end you get sent back to the beginning.

Once upon a time this bedroom was painted pink and lavender.

Not any more...

Above the chair rail the new color is "Rainforest Dew", which looked like key lime pie filling in the can. This is what I was doing the day after Christmas.

And below the chair rail is "Split Pea", which looked like you would expect. And this is what I was doing yesterday...

The new colors are a lot more sophisticated and work better now that this room will double as a guest bedroom on occasion.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Toasty 2

Or too, as the case may be.

Earlier in the week I spent a little time burping the air out of the lines where ever I could. A little came out at each bleed valve, but not much.

Then I started playing with the fancy manifold that's now behind a base cabinet.

First, I reset the flow meters at the bottom to make sure that they were fully open.

Then I adjusted the balance valves at the top of the manifold. As it turns out, what are described as "dust caps" for the valves (blue caps) also adjust the balance valves. A couple of turns and...

The sound of water rushing...

And then...


Now all the little piggies are happy!

Monday, December 19, 2016


Even though it was -20F over the weekend, this still felt toasty.

Not because I'm always hot, but because the in-floor heat is now working in the master bath.


It's not quite working as designed in the kitchen yet, but I'm fiddling with it...

Interesting that the room with my crude hand-made manifold is working well when the room with the fancy store-bought one is not...


Saturday, December 10, 2016

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

We always buy the tallest tree on the lot.

This one is still 9 feet tall, but it looks shorter because of the scale of the space...

These two always seem to enjoy the poinsettia forest...

The Twelve Days of Christmas...

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care...

Where I might settle down for a mid-winter nap...