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Entries from April 2016

Guest room | Demo Days

April 19, 2016

Our most recent project has been the guest room. When we moved into the house, this room had an itty bitty closet in one corner that was a huge eye-sore and not practical given the space -the room is almost exactly square at 9’5″ x 10′. It had one dark blue statement? wall and felt dingy and dark.


We painted this room with Killz primer when we moved in to subdue the harsh smoke scent and added new electrical outlets since we were doing new electrical throughout the rest of house. Before the floors were refinished we ripped out the closet which you can see below.


Amazing what a coat (or 3!!) of fresh paint can do for a room. You can see here where the existing heater vents came up through the floor. When they refinished the floors we had them patch all of these as our new ones are in the ceiling. Once the floors were finished and cured we covered them up with RAM Board and went to town demoing the existing walls.


It was a serious mess. Even though we’ve systematically torn down almost all the walls in this house it still amazes me how much debris lath and plaster creates. We even found some chicken wire hidden in the plaster. THAT was fun. But we did find an old window that had been covered up – Hooray! My main concern with this room was that it would still look dark even after we remodeled it. Not anymore! We now now have western and northern exposures in this room and I couldn’t be happier! We ordered two new windows and they should be here at the end of the month.


Why the siding around the window is cut in a “V” we have no idea. Any guesses? Also, we found out we have two layers of siding, some straight cedar planking. Which, coincidently looks SO much better than the green cedar particle stuff we’ve got on there currently. We hope this can end up saving us some money, but more research is needed.

Original Hardwoods | To refinish? Or not. 

April 13, 2016

Our current home was built in 1926, at a time when most homes were ordered from the Sears catalogue at your local store. The materials were shipped in a rail boxcar which included everything needed to build the home. Once delivered, these homes were often assembled with the help of family and relatives. There were two options for floors, oak or fir. Oak, the harder of the two was considered an upgrade, while fir came standard with most homes.

We have fir. You can see below what they looked like when we moved in.



We went back and forth trying to decide whether the floors could be saved, or if we were better off putting in new engineered hardwoods. I love a good story, and the history behind these floors was no exception. I spent countless hours mulling over what to do and working to convince the efficient, ever practical engineer in the house that they were worth it. We knew that because they are a softer, more lightweight wood they would dent easily -something hard to stomach after spending a pretty penny to refinish them. However, after a few quotes and an extensive amount of research, we decided to refinish. One of the reasons was our original floors have a much tighter grain than anything we could afford to replace them with. Below is a look at the floors after the walls had received new drywall, can lighting and fresh paint.


We brought in a professional to do the job, as fir is extraordinarily soft and someone as spastic and inexperienced as myself should never be allowed near a drum-sander. We moved out for two weeks while the team refinished them. We also timed our two-week vacation right after so that the floors could have almost a month to cure. The Swedish-finish that is recommended for floors in the PNW is really toxic and it took a few weeks for the fumes to air out completely. Below are photos of the process.


Picking the stain. We went with the darker of the two, New American because it showed the variation in the grain of the wood but hid many of the small imperfections and variances in color due to age and wear.


It took five passes on a drum sander to reach a clean slate. Naturally, there were spots around the house where it was impossible to remove all signs of previous wear. And in a few places it appears the wood was dyed by some kind of spill, but it’s character and this stain certainly showcased the richness of the fir. Note: having your carpets cleaned commercially in place is a great way to damage the wood underneath. We think this is potentially what caused the dark squares in our living and dining rooms.


The photo above was taken after one coat of stain. We opted to have them apply three coats total to give the wood a more durable layer. Fir is really soft and we were/are concerned that it is going to wear quickly with heavy traffic and dogs. See below for the finished product!


They are beautiful, and needless to say we are thrilled with how well they turned out. Whether they were worth refinishing only time will tell -there will eventually be another post on that.






Bathroom progress | Tile

April 6, 2016

In the last post I mentioned some tips for choosing bathroom tile. Since deconstructing the bathroom we updated the plumbing for the sink, shower and toilet and ripped out the existing green board and replaced it with concrete board on the floor and walls (see it here). This will help support the weight of the subway tile, and is also a much more durable water barrier.

Additionally, we installed radiant floor panels, however one thing we didn’t plan on was the uneven surface that the panels presented. Hex tile comes in 12×12 squares that are incredibly floppy and hard to work with on an uneven surface. Before we could lay tile we decided to thin-set the floor with concrete so the tile would lay perfectly flat.

2015-01-08 22.18.05

Here you can see the floor tile going in. Finally!

After the floor tile was in and cured we grouted and replaced the toilet. Below you can see a few stages of tile going up on the walls. We chose a simple white ceramic subway tile to contrast with the black hex we picked for the floor.

Stay tuned for more progress!

Materials: Snow White Ceramic Tile from Home Depot  // Hexegon Black Matte from Statements Tile in Seattle // PolyBlend Sanded Grout in Charcoal from Home Depot //

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