Sliding Glass Door Replacement

It has been awhile since I posted about the Great Project Spiral of 2017. Never fear, the project is still going and still spiraling. I’m trying to get back to actually making progress and sharing some of the details…

Let me just say that the old sliding glass door wasn’t in great shape. The exterior has numerous chunks out of it. The track had parts that were broken and allowed in some cold air. And the glass itself was old and not terribly energy efficient. Mmm hmmm.

I’ve wanted to replace this door since moving in, but this is a pretty pricey replacement and this project has already gone significantly over budget. Bah. So I was trolling Craigslist earlier this summer to see if they had something to offer as a more budget-friendly alternative. Voila! For $100 and the inconvenience of driving out to the sticks, I got an Anderson sliding door, just a few years old, recently removed from this guy’s house (and yes, I can tell you exactly what he’s doing on his project, that his brother in law is flying in from Georgia to help install the new cabinets, that if I’m interested in cabinets, he’d sell me those as well…)

The door is in great shape and weighs about twice what the old one did and looks 1000% better.

Earlier in the summer, I proposed a project swap to my friend Nick, because he recently put in a sliding door at his house, and this project was kind of daunting to a newbie like me. So I watched their dog for a weekend and Nick installed the door with me helping. I clearly got the better end of this deal.

Naturally, I put it off until the weather turned cold and it gets dark really early (smooth move, Reenie, smooth move). So I snuck out of work a little early, went home and started disassembling the existing door. By the time Nick got there, it only took a few minutes to get the old door completely removed and start installing the new one.

It took us a couple hours but really impressively smooth for a project in this house (and it isn’t because everything was perfect!). I couldn’t have done it without Nick! We had to shim and level a fair amount, but by the time it was truly dark, the door was in and operational! And heavy! And beautiful!! The inside of the door is stained wood, but I’ll probably paint it all white when I do the trim.

The only truly unexpected glitch is that the door opens from the opposite side. I never even thought about that as an option. It isn’t a bad change, just a change. I’m going to be trying to open the wrong side for years to come!!

The only problem, as I discovered when I went to lock up for the night, is that the new door was missing the lock grab. It had the lock on the door part, but just this opening and no hardware for the wall side. Sigh. Naturally the next day I stopped at Lowes to find they don’t carry such a thing, just whole handle/locksets, which I don’t need. So I pondered it on Saturday for awhile and then realized “HEY! The old door has one!” Sure enough, it isn’t a perfect fit, but it does fit and I can now lock my sliding door. Woooo!

There you have it: a new used sliding glass door. Maybe the best $100 I’ve spent on this project.

The Situation

Just in case that last episode I shared wasn’t exciting enough,  the plot thickens or grossens (is that a word?). There are moments where I think God is having a chuckle at my expense, and this weekend felt like that.
Saturday I got up and took a trailer load of demo trash to the dump. It was perfectly terrible unloading it because some high school helper I had decided to dump all of my cans of tile shards on top of a trailer load full of drywall, paneling, and garbage bags. Right. There is a reason we never turn our back on the help, even if we explained exactly what we wanted. Sigh. Unloading it was a ROYAL PAIN in the behind and took nearly two hours. While I was at the dump, I got to observe some real characters. Like the old guy with a shiny white truck who came to look after each load of trash was dumped. He clearly thought I had something special but was disappointed in my load. One rickety old pick up that looked like it was on it’s last broken leg with an equally rickety trailer pulled up. The two uncouth looking men start unloading next to me and I look over as half a dozen mice run out from under the trailer toward mine. Eewwwww. It felt like a scene from a horror movie. I did score when a couple pulled up with their remodeling trash. They had four old style solid wood doors and one of the corresponding door frames. Before they threw it, I asked if they minded giving it to me. The lady’s mom went on and on about what nice doors they were and she didn’t understand why her daughter didn’t want them. It worked out nicely for me. So I got those four wood doors and what looks like a brand new sink vanity top and faucet (I’m going to build a new bathroom vanity). Otherwise I got a sore back and got rid of a lot of heavy trash I’ve had in my life for too long.

While I was there, my dad and my brother Emmet showed up to see about the crooked wall — they were there until mid afternoon and was no easy task but … THE CROOKED WALL IS STRAIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This feels huge. And I do mean really terrific, really ‘uge. This means my next step is framing the bathroom wall and putting a door back on my bathroom. First world improvements people.
Where was I? Oh right, the dead chicken saga, because I’m pretty sure the fact that I’m still talking about it means it is officially a saga.  Here it goes.
I am typically in and out of my pole barn a few times a week. In the winter it is less because it is so cold out there. But still, in and out enough to be lived in. Last summer I had made great strides toward having a wood working area and a paint area amidst the storage, but for the winter, the paint area gets filled with patio furniture and lawn/garden stuff.  Once it gets warm again, I’ll move that back outside and have a workspace again. I’ve also spent the last 3 months filling my normal wood working area with pieces that I’ve disassembled out of my house. So the barn is a hot mess right now. I need to build some wood storage, organize the lumber from the house, etc. Anyway, I’ve been out of town a lot in the last couple weeks, so I hadn’t been out there much.


Saturday I ran out to get a tool for my dad and noticed some animal droppings… uh oh. This is bigger than a mouse, the only critter I’ve previously hosted in the barn. There were two boxes knocked down and spilled on the floor from a high shelf. Weird. I didn’t think much of it because CROOKED WALL PROGRESS but after my dad left I was cleaning up and opened one of the big sliding doors. These doors are anything but air tight and latch somewhere in the middle of the door, so the bottom lets in quite a bit of cold air in the winter. Anyway, I open the sliding door and notice an abundance of white chicken feathers along the bottom of the door… and then I notice blood… and some more feathers heading into the barn….


HOLY CRAP DID THAT DARN RACCOON DRAG A CHICKEN CARCASS INTO MY BARN?!?!?!?!? Which probably means there’s a nest of little coons gnawing on that carcass as we speak. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.


I looked briefly and couldn’t see anything obvious. But of course it is probably on one of the high shelves, nested in a box, hidden out of view. And I have absolutely zero interest in coming face to face with a mean Mama Coon. But oh crap oh crap oh crap.


On Sunday I went to TSC and purchased replacement chicks which my dear friends offered to raise alongside their chicks until they were big enough to go outside. Look, fluffy chickens!


My friend Mark is the guy to talk to if you have any sort of animal problem and he sent me home with a big live trap for the coon and offered me a gun. I declined since I don’t really do guns (or haven’t in the past) but currently have at least 4 good friends / brothers with guns standing by if I catch this raccoon. Wish me luck.


In happier news, my crooked wall is fixed. I can officially begin reassembling my house after the longest demolition project ever. Also I’m still completely gaga over this wood clad wall. Eeeeeee. It’s so pretty with the red china cabinet!

Still projecting, still spiraling… Week 4

My apologies, dear reader, I meant to post this while I was away. But I was so terribly busy being away that I completely forgot.

Week 4: If you are still following along this long project, kudos to you. You have more patience than I do. Or possibly it is more enjoyable from a distance with less dust in your hair. Regardless, here’s what happened in week 4 — not to mention finding myself in week 4!! And worse yet, finding that I’m still doing demo in Week 4!! I never saw that coming… and I think Week 5 will contain even more because PROJECT SPIRAL!!!

Last Monday night I pulled all the staples out of the furring strips on the ceiling. And in the process, began doubting their structural integrity… They just seem not terrible securely on the joists — which is all well and good if you are supporting a bunch of cardboard ceiling tiles, but seems less than ideal if you want to hang a drywall ceiling and have all the seams not crack (like the ones Mr. HA did in the kitchen). Mmm hmm. So I removed all those staples and solved nothing, uncovered more questions and still moving forward, one step at a time.

Standing on the stepladder, yanking a million staples, I decided that DIY home improvement and your success with it is about 25% knowledge / experience / handy skills (and the willingness to acquire the skills you don’t already have) and about 75% your ability to withstand the impossibly tedious, time consuming, and often filthy tasks. Like bashing out tile for two weeks. Or pulling staples out of a ceiling for an hour and a half. Or removing 9,000 screws from a dusty floor. While doing these mind-numbingly boring tasks, you have a lot of time to wonder why you are doing this.

Thankfully, I came to the solid conclusion that I am still glad I’m doing this project which is a good place to land since it is too late to go back. I am pulling out all of these staples myself because I have more time than I have cash piled up, and by doing it myself, it is happening now instead of 5 years from now. Not to mention doing this project now, during the winter, gives me something productive to do with myself rather than sitting under a blanket on the couch hating my life and wishing for spring.  All in all, I’m okay with this trade off. Clearly, I enjoy a challenge and this house provides all of that and more.

I am hoping (fingers crossed) I may be able to get a morning of my dad’s time on Saturday to do the joist bracing and check out the wonky crooked wall and discuss the ceiling furring strip situation.

Tuesday evening I worked later than I prefer and arrived home with zero umpf for anything. I managed to get the drywall removed from the shiplap wall across from the fridge. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this but I LOVE FINDING SHIPLAP IN MY WALLS! It is a very old house with a lot of old house issues but this is definitely one of the perks. Removing the drywall paves the way for possibly straightening that crooked wall this weekend or at least talking about it with the expert. I’ve decided I want to leave the shiplap exposed rather than covering it with new drywall. I haven’t decided if should paint it or just sand it and leave the wood with some stain or varnish. I love the rustic warmth of the wood and am leaning toward just leaving that unpainted. Mmmmm shiplap. I also measured and calculated my next big trip to the Blue store. How many sheets of drywall, how much door trim, etc. Admittedly, this is a moving target still, but it’s nice to have an idea.

I also measured and debated with myself about putting in pocket doors. I’ve always wanted one for the sewing room and I would love them for the laundry room and bathroom as well. Looking at it, the sewing room would be the easiest, followed by the laundry room. The bathroom poses a lot of issues (flooring being very different levels, electrical switches in the way, etc). I think I should leave the bathroom door alone but I might go ahead with the other two. It adds some cost and some complication to the project, but it seems like now is the time if I’m going to do it since the walls are already open. Not to mention I already have the doors – I’ve had them forever, sitting in my barn waiting for the day I finally get to this project (both secondhand, obviously).

Crooked wall between bathroom and laundry room

I had plans out of the house Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday evenings so not much got done. I’m not good at balancing home time and away time. I’ll be home almost every night for a week or two and then gone every night the next week. I suppose that is my way of attempting balance.

Saturday I had to box up some vases and miscellaneous jars to move the red china cabinet in the laundry room so I could access the infamous bathroom window. Time to pull that thing out. It is on the crooked wall I’m fixing so why not remove it while we’re in this thing. I started removing trim, etc to get the window out and then my dad showed up to help me jack up the ceiling. It was simpler than I thought and jacking up the middle (sagging) joist and bracing it on both ends was enough – we didn’t have to do each joist!! My dad couldn’t stay long so after he jacked up the second end so I braced it in the attic and worked on getting that window removed. I was on the schedule to set up for Mass, so I had to cut my workday short. Even so, I’m very happy with the ceiling which is now flat!! And getting that dream-come-true open concept bathroom (sarcasm).




Sunday I pulled the rest of the bead board off the bathroom walls, removed a lot of nails, swept up some things, and spent the rest of the day in more restful pursuits. One of my stops included the Blue Store to scope out the tile offerings there. I will be visiting the other home improvement places over the next couple weeks to decide on new bathroom tile.

That’s right: bathroom tile. I’m going to spiral there. Haven’t done it yet but there are two layers of bathroom tile calling my name… I wanted to leave it (for now), I really did, but I can’t rebuild the bathroom doorway with the floor in the way and the door frame needs rebuilding before the drywall goes in. And if I’m going to be pulling up the bathroom floor, I might go ahead and remove the laundry room tile (the last of the old burger king tile). Again, I was  planning to leave it… but it makes more sense to tile the bathroom and laundry room in the same tile since they are both abutting the kitchen just steps away from each other. Amiright? They are both small spaces and I’m going with pretty cheap, generic tile so it won’t add too much to the project.  Not to mention if some girl is going to learn how to install tile, why not tile the tub surround and two rooms, right?

The Spiral Continues… this is ridiculous.

Week 5 Goals:

  • Show the cousins how to care for the pets
  • Secure hanging wires so no one gets electrocuted
  • Clean the house
  • Find some summer clothes, pack for my trip
  • LONG WEEKEND WITH SOME OF MY FAVORITES IN THE SUN (Yes, I’m more than a little excited)
  • Maybe some bathroom floor demo when I get home but let’s keep our expectations low, shall we?

Week 3

This is the week you think you might need your head checked because the enormity of what you’ve begun starts to sink in. There layer of dust coating everything on the first floor and every time you think about cleaning it, you realize the next thing you do will just add to it. You haven’t done laundry and are three pairs away from a serious underwear crisis. The dishes are piling up. The dogs are desperately needy. And you are way past the point of no return. People who do this on TV or for a living never show you the dark side of DIY… Week 3 into a demo project is definitely the dark side.

Monday evening I worked on removing screws from the tile backer board in the dining room. It was mostly just a slow and frustrating endeavor because most of the screw heads were filled with mortar. Gah. The idea was unscrewing the backer board would mean a cleaner removal, but instead it made for a wasted evening since one or two screws could be unscrewed and the rest couldn’t be no matter how hard I tried. So I started prying up backer board to see how bad it was going to be and then called it a night — too late, as usual.

Tuesday evening I spent with two of my favorite kids. CK (almost 3) asked some important questions about the renovation process: “What is this little ramp for Aunt Reenie?” (Good question, young man, it’s because the King of Half Ass who used to live here added a second layer to the bathroom tile without removing the first so he had to ramp up this tile to meet it). “What are we doing?” His perpetual question. CK liked inspecting the project and feels that it is basically his project since he helped remove drywall (which of course he calls to mind over and over again). He asked a lot of questions about everything and made Daisy nervous with his running through the house. I introduced him to my favorite DIY show, Fixer Upper, and he was excited by the projects, the saws (that match HIS saws), and was bored by the final reveal and the beautiful details that make me drool. I snuggled a small hobbit, we played with the dogs, and enjoyed ourselves. Sometimes you need hobbit snuggles more than you need to rip up more tile.

Wednesday evening: I pried up all of the backer board in the dining room and started on more screw removal. Now that the backer board was gone, I could get more removed with the drill, but a lot of them had to be pried up and or broken off. Slow and tedious but not unpleasant necessarily. Daisy liked it because it wasn’t noisy so she could hang out with me during the screw removal part and lean over to lick my neck whenever she was so inspired. The deck is looking worse by the day – full of demo trash. This thaw is particularly poor timing because it means the yard is a muddy mess and it doesn’t lend itself to driving a trailer or truck up to the deck to take a load to the dump. It kills me but I think next weekend will have to be soon enough for that. In the meantime, I am that klassy neighbor.

Thursday evening: Kitchen tile demo begins. Once I got into it, it became clear that the backer board is different, the grout is different, and the install is different. After I smashed out the first row, I was able to just pry off the tiles, most of them in tact or partially intact. This makes for much faster going than having to smash them all to bits and then shovel it out. I worked for about 4 hours and got about half of the kitchen floor removal done and more bags and boxes of tile bits on the deck.

Friday evening: Dinner with long lost friend and then home to The Project. Let the weekend insanity begin! I nearly finished removing tile from kitchen floor – late into the night. I managed to get the tile and backer board and screws off the floor under the fridge and get the fridge back in it’s place. The tile under the stove and kitchen island were left and the chaos was bad… time to collapse.

Saturday: Daisy and I met Lindsey and CK and a marvelous photographer at a park in Dexter for a “kids and pets” photo shoot. This particular photographer is amazing and I love her work. She was looking for people to shoot kids and pets and offered a couple free images. We thought CK and his Daisy girl would be awesome. CK was kind of a stinker and Daisy did better than I thought and of course, Melanie got some awesome images. It was a quick half hour shoot and a foggy, beautiful drive home on the back roads for Daisy and I.

The weather on Saturday was amazing, getting up to 57 degrees. It meant I could leave the patio door and kitchen window open for most of the day which made the dust situation SO much better while working, not to mention that it smelled (prematurely) like spring, which is like a taste of heave. Daisy spent a lot of the day running around the yard, another high point for any sort of home project. We even saw a glimpse of the sun after over a week without it. It felt amazing.

I got the rest of the tile removed and a good bit of the backer board removed and screws out. My dear friend Karen came by early afternoon, bringing lunch and work gloves. What a babe. In just a couple hours, we moved the stove to remove the flooring from under it and we finished getting all the tile and backer board and screws out. Hooray!!!

We also busted into drywall on the crooked wall by the bathroom. It is wider at the top than the bottom and I really want to shorten this little foot long stub wall that is just in the way. It is supporting a beam up above so I will ask my structural guy for his okay before pulling it out entirely, but I think it will be doable since I only want to remove a small part of it. This wonky little wall had layer upon layer of drywall, plasterboard, wall paper, the works! On the broader face of this wall is some delicious old shiplap. I decided I would have my dad look at the structural part first, but it is quite likely I’ll pull out the shiplap to use elsewhere and re-drywall this wall once we repair the structural oddities. #projectspiral

Karen helped me add to the trash barricade, put boxes of tile on the front porch, and sweep up the mess before heading home to feed her people. She left me in a much better frame of mind from her company and the kitchen in a better state for all of her help.


The demolition part of this project has felt endless. I’m excited to be finally getting to the part where I get to put the place back together (that’s what I’m telling myself anyway).

Saturday night I hung out with some of my lady friends (after a quick project consult for my sister in law who is in the middle of her own project spiral). Sunday I went to Mass, drank a lot of coffee and did some very necessary reclaiming of regular life things. I threw a lot of dusty laundry in, did a lot of sweeping and vacuuming, ran the dishwasher, and cleaned the disgusting bathroom. Naturally as soon as I cleaned the tub (with the last of the tub cleaner), Daisy rolled in mud and poo outside and needed a bath. Suzie already needed a bath so I dirtied my freshly cleaned tub and got two clean dogs out of the deal. All of this made life seem a little more manageable and gives me renewed energy for the remaining parts of this project. (Close your eyes and imagine the smell of clean dogs and clean laundry. A vast improvement in my life).

Let me also just say that I love the People of Craigslist. I myself have benefited from the “free” section of the site (closet doors, wood, etc) so I figured it was worth a try. I had about 300 tiles in good shape and although I was tempted to keep them and use them for paths and edging in my garden, I did not actually want to haul them all to the barn (so very heavy!), store them, trip over them, haul them into the garden, or ever see them again. I posted them free on Craigslist Saturday evening, complete with photos of how not awesome they are (below for your reference). By Sunday morning, 10 different people wanted them. Sunday afternoon a nice couple came to get them all off the porch. The pregnant wife was so excited to use them in her garden and to get them all for free and I was equally happy to have someone haul them away. Booyah. Craigslist win!

Week 4 Goals:
a) Run electrical for outdoor fixtures & plugs
b) Move electrical plugs / switches to their new locations
c) Cut down remaining pieces of studs in living room doorway and figure out how to put in subfloor across the gaping hole
d) Schedule my dad for half a day of joist bracing
e) Jack up ceiling and brace in attic
f) Pull all staples from dining room ceiling furring strips

Dining Room: Demo Week

Wednesday evening I worked on the prep for the dining room project. I put away other project boxes that had lingered too long (from make all the things Christmas). I removed switch plates, etc. I used to always just have a cup or plastic container for things like this, but I’m switching to gallon ziplock bags because you can label them easily and they fit all the plates and hardware better. I’ve found in the past my cups and buckets and containers get spilled during construction and it makes it significantly more complicated finding all the pieces when it is time to reinstall.

I removed one tiny section of the wall paneling and took down some trim. It only makes me slightly nervous that I’m removing insulating layers from the walls during a particularly cold week. Oh well. Once I pulled the paneling and trim down, I immediately removed all the nails so it is ready to be stacked and stored for future projects. Right now I’m stacking it in the kitchen, but I anticipate taking it to the barn one load at a time. Is it weird that I’m kind of excited about using this wood paneling for a future furniture build? It is high quality, real wood, tongue and groove planks- thick and sturdy. I just don’t like it on the wall.

Fun Discoveries:

a) The door trim throughout the room was installed before the tile. So there is mortar on the bottom inch or two of the trim at the bottoms. This also makes it tricky to uninstall. Gah I hate this floor.

b) The half-assery runs strong with the previous homeowner. Not kinda strong, strong strong. This shelf was mounted to the wall. Clearly instead of removing it (easily) since it was hanging on brackets, they just painted around it. Wow. I mean I really should not be surprised, but sometimes it blows me away.

After pulling just that small bit of paneling off one of the outside walls, I have found several layers of wallpaper on the old plaster walls which aren’t in good shape. I’m actually thinking if I can pull the rest of the paneling off that exterior wall first, I could put in boxes for the future exterior lights and switch, run the appropriate wiring, and then put the drywall up just on those walls sections for the sake of the warmth and keeping the wall insulation in the wall (and not falling out holes in the plaster). Fancy.

Thursday evening I pulled down most of the remaining door trim and a lot of wood paneling. The paneling in the dining room is nailed a lot of places but not glued so it comes off fairly well and mostly in good enough shape to re-purpose. The paneling in the kitchen was obviously installed at a different time since the stain is different, the paneling is slightly different … AND it is glued to the wall as well as nailed. These pieces are very difficult to remove and will probably not be salvageable. Oh well. All of the paneling was installed before the tile floor, meaning you have to kind of dig it out around the floor. It also means I will have to remove the floor before putting up new drywall. Not exactly what I had hoped for but it definitely means I cannot possibly save the floor – that isn’t disappointing at all. I’m fascinated to see what is underneath the floor though… fascinated and a bit nervous.

Fun discovery: There are ceiling tiles in several places throughout the house. In the upstairs bedroom, I removed one of the tiles to see what was going on behind it. It was glued to the original plaster ceiling with construction adhesive. So I planked right over the top of them and called it good. As I removed crown molding last night, insulation seeped down the seam at the ceiling and it feels like these cardboard ceiling tiles are instead of a drywall or plaster ceiling. Noooooooo. I’m really hoping there’s another ceiling under there otherwise this is going to get a lot more complicated.

Friday night I had one hour before I went out for the evening. I finished pulling nails from a bunch of trim boards and took several trips to the barn to move paneling and trim out there and out of my disaster zone.


Saturday I got up and started work promptly at 9. I turned off the electrical circuit in the dining room so I could remove the boxes and keep going on the paneling removal. Donal and Lindsey and their crew came late morning and we got CK set up with a tiny hammer, safety goggles, and he adopted a piece of trim as his “pry bar.” He was very excited for the projects, as usual.

The adults pounded away and made a royal mess for the next several hours. We got the rest of the trim down, all the paneling, all of the bead board, all of the drywall down except the living room doorway room since the Christmas tree is obstructing that. Getting that far and feeding the baby and getting the tot down for a nap and all the rest of it. I’m so happy with how much we got done! I couldn’t have gotten close to that on my own! And Lindsey even vacuumed up the chaos on her way out. I’m the luckiest.

Happily, the ceiling tiles do have a ceiling underneath (sweet relief). There were a few gaps that we had to fix but overall, I think we’ll be able to put drywall up on the same furring strips.

Next up: My structural guy (okay my dad) will come take a look and confirm that I can pull out the stud wall without a problem. I will also spend the next week pulling staples out of the ceiling shims and nails off the studs. I can also get started on the electrical I need to run.

The Dining Room Project

The 2017 Project Spiral has begun!!!

This project was one of the first things I knew I wanted to do when I bought the house. Sadly, it is also one of the more involved projects, so it had to wait a few years. I’ve been planning to do it this winter for awhile and my head kind of spins when I think about all the interrelated and complicated parts of the project.

Here’s a couple good pictures from when I first bought the house. They show the walls better than anything since then since the furniture is always in the way.

The goal: Take down the wall between the kitchen and dining room and widen the doorway from the dining room into the living room so there is better flow on the first floor. When we take down the wall between the kitchen and dining room, it also extends into the kitchen – basically anywhere with bead board on top, wood paneling on the bottom will be redone.

Currently the dining room is small and awkward if you have a table full of people in it and the kitchen is quite large with some dead space. Taking down the wall in between makes both rooms work better and means I can turn the dining table the other direction and it all just flows better. I can’t completely open up the space between the living and dining room (because of a chimney right in the middle) but I can double the size of the doorway and I think it will make it less choppy.
In addition, the kitchen has a drywall ceiling (that needs better mudding at the joints) while the dining room is these old cardboard ceiling tiles. Once the wall comes down, I want a continuous drywall ceiling — so the tiles have to go.

The pieces and parts of this project:
  • Remove all trim – some will be reused, some won’t
  • Remove all the paneling from the dining room walls and parts of the kitchen walls
  • Remove ceiling tiles from dining room ceiling so after the wall comes down, it can be one continuous ceiling with the kitchen
  • Repair kitchen ceiling
  • Add electrical to have lights on the deck and plugs on the walls on either side of the patio door
  • Run electrical for new lighting in the kitchen
  • Drywall dining room walls and ceiling
  • Open up doorway between dining room and living room to double the current size
  • New trim, drywall, etc for that opening
  • The Floor — remove horrid 1986 Applebees & McDonald’s floor tile
  • Level floor (this is not going to be easy bc it is really, really wonky)
  • Install new floor (or live with painted subfloor for awhile)
  • Trim (some old, some new)
  • Paint everything
  • New curtains for the patio door
  • Add headers for farmhouse trim (most of the trim will be new since the old trim is varying widths)
After all this happens, I need to add a lot of insulation to the attic above the kitchen and dining room – but until this project is done, it seems futile. I’m thinking insulation is going to be a big project for fall 2017.

As you might imagine, there is a lot of room to uncover issues that may end up being the bane of my existence for the next couple months. But no pain, no gain, right? Besides, it will make the winter go faster when I’m up to my eyeballs in a major renovation project right in my living space, right??

Here goes nothing…

Planking the Ceiling – Room 1

Friday night I was having three of my nieces and nephews over to sleep over. It had been far too long and everyone needed haircuts. Their mom brought us dinner, thankfully since I’d been in project mode and haven’t been grocery shopping in far too long. We ate around the stack of luan planks on the dining room table. The weather was nasty – cold, snowy, freezing rainy. Ick. I informed the kids that they’d be put to work on Saturday because at Aunt Reenie’s house, it isn’t all fun and games (I’m not sure they believe me). I considered trying to get a jump on things Friday evening, but it was too complicated considering needing places for people to sleep. So we did haircuts and played Settlers of Catan with much shenanigans. I sure love these goons.

Saturday morning, the kids were down shortly after 7. We ate breakfast and then got down to business. Geno was the official sander, sanding down the edges of the boards just enough to smooth them out and get rid of the splinters. Jane was my official spackler.  Once I removed the trim that was glued to the wall, there was a fair amount of spackling to do. Jane was very proud of her work and being able to help. Love that kid.

Both Lucy and Geno took turns helping me hold the planking up once it was glued, so I could nail it up there with my awesome Ryobi nail gun. I love that thing. This project would have been miserable without it!

The kids and I got the room emptied (into the other bedroom), 6 of the planks sanded and up, the walls spackled, and lunch eaten (and they did some reading and relaxing) before they had to leave. I spent the rest of the afternoon finishing the job. Planking a ceiling solo is not ideal or quick. And every single muscle in my back and arms hurt by the end of the day.

By the end of Saturday (which came around 11 pm), I had finished the ceiling, caulked the perimenter, primed the whole ceiling and the walls, removed the window and door trim, had completely trashed the whole room and my body. Laying down my back shoulder muscles throbbed and twitched. My wrists throbbed. My arms throbbed. How old am I?? Then I realized I had basically worked non-stop from 9 am until 11 pm. 14 hours. Oh.

Sunday I went to Mass, groaning in pain whenever I moved my arms. Then brunch at my parent’s to celebrate my niece’s birthday. And then home again to try to get this thing closer to livable. It still feels a long way off. Amazingly, once I started painting another coat on the ceiling, the throbbing subsided. Guess the muscles just needed to be worked again.

My dear friend stopped in and we visited while measuring, cutting and installing the new door and window trim. I was able to re-use some of the window trim but replaced a lot of it because it wasn’t a consistent size and was in poor condition. The door trim I replaced entirely to make it farmhouse style trim. It looks awesome, if I do say so myself.

By 10 pm on Sunday, I’d put a third (and final) coat of paint on the ceiling, a coat of paint on the walls, primed and put one coat of trim paint on all the trim. I also started trimming out the weird stairway cut outs with a combination of old and new trim. Gotta make these weird little cubbies look a little less trashy. All at once, both of my batteries died making finishing the cubbies or doing anything else with the power tool set impossible. At 10 pm, that felt like a good thing. And I crashed hard.

A few helpful tips in case you want to try this at home (and to remind me when I do the other bedrooms):

– Dry fit all of your planks — especially if you’re doing it in a wonky old house where nothing is even. It is much easier to make adjustments before you put glue on the plank.

– Everyone on the interwebs says this but seriously, have help to plank the ceiling. Even my inexperienced, rather distracted help was better than the part I finished by myself simply because more hands makes this project infinitely better! No matter how handy you think you are, it is very difficult to hold a board, grab a nail gun, check the spacing, and nail it in place with only two hands.

– I read many different posts online about ceiling planking. Some people insisted the cheap luan I used was miserable and terrible. Some swear by the tongue and groove planking in this brand or that. I will say this: the luan planking was not perfect. But it was incredibly affordable and I really do love it. Totally worth the investment. Even in it’s imperfections, it fits the character of this little shack I call home and is a vast improvement over the ugly ceiling tiles.

Cabinet Door Painting

This is the part I remember taking FOREVER when I painted kitchen cabinets in the old house — painting the doors. So many coats of paint. So many cabinet doors! Will it never end??


DSC_7544When I replaced the sink cabinet a few months back, I didn’t use the doors on the new (used) cabinet because they were not in the greatest of shape. I remember holding up cabinet doors (that I thought were from the old sink cabinet) and thinking how nicely they fit. Great! Yeah, it turns out I was holding up the doors from the adjacent cabinet, not the sink cabinet. Womp womp. DSC_7524

At the end of August, while preparing for my big Irish Park party, I desperately wanted to get some doors finished and put back on. Sometimes it’s the little things, right? I mean the party is mostly outdoors but people will wander through to use the bathroom and wouldn’t it be nice to have doors on the cabinets? Or at least the lower
cabinets? Right. So I pulled a couple long evenings and early mornings and finished painting the lower doors (not that impressive, but it felt like something.)
klassyI had gone grocery shopping after work and came home to find the lower cabinet door s dried and ready to install… and the power out. Argh. This is what cordless tools are for, people. So I fired up the drill and started installing hinges and doors in the mostly dark kitchen. I had a flashlight but it was in the barn and felt like work to go get it. I get to the last set of doors and realize they don’t fit the cabinet I thought they belonged on. Hmm. DSC_8490Must have used the wrong doors on the sink cabinet. So I install those on the cabinet next to the stove only to realize my error of a few weeks ago. The sink cabinet doors do not in fact fit the sink cabinet. GAH. Of course by this time it is truly dark so I snagged the motion sensored light I installed to take Daisy out to pee. Nice Reenie, that’s some serious klass.  
DSC_8488 DSC_8489

So I’ve got 7 out of 9 lower doors installed (but not the ones for the sink because now I need to find new doors to fit there). And of course it all took twice as long because it was dark.DSC_8492

And I couldn’t start priming the pantry doors because the power was out. So much for my overly optimistic plans. As usual, they were overly optimistic and I was left embracing the poverty of revealing my half done kitchen to lots and lots of people – who mostly know me well enough to expect such a display.

Pantry Cabinets

IMG_7764The week between vacations I purposely had a several evenings at home. I cleaned, sanded, spackled, and started the process of priming the lower cabinet doors in the barn. The next night, I was on a roll. I moved the two big pantry cabinets from the barn into my car, from the car, to the deck, and from the deck into the kitchen. These are big, heavy cabinets, and I was super proud of being able to maneuver them myself and get them into the house.

IMG_7765The only hitch was standing it up… oops. I realized I couldn’t get it without another set of hands. Thankfully I have a friend who responded to my “help” text and came right over and stood up both cabinets with me so I could keep going. Thank God for friends nearby! I needed to prime and paint the side of the cabinet that would be adjacent to the other cabinets. So I started that process before bed.

IMG_7777Friday night I was out with friends until late, but managed another quick coat of paint on the cabinet frames before heading to bed. I just want to get these things installed! (Note Suzie’s new napping spot: under the kitchen table where the puppy can’t easily disturb her).
IMG_7783 Saturday was a crazy busy day at home. I got the pantry cabinets installed – not as easy as you’d think- especially because nothing is level or square and the cabinets are different depths. Anyway, I finally got them installed, got the frames sanded and painted, the inside painted, modified some shelves (so I have a place for my cookie sheet pans) and even began filling the shelves. I love it!
Meanwhile my house looks like a bomb went off. Dirty laundry on the bathroom floor, the laundry room floor, rags on the kitchen floor. Tools everywhere. An extra dog for the week. My geriatric dog declining fast. A puppy chewing up the shim I was using for the cabinet installation. Dishes to wash. Ahhhhhh. The DIY lifestyle is not for the faint of heart… or for a person who regularly has people drop in unannounced… oops.
Regardless, I’m thankful for progress! And having the pantry cabinets in the kitchen and painted feels huge! Wooo Saturday!

Pre-vacation insanity

Please forgive my backlog of posts. I’ve been composing posts as I go and then forgetting to add photos and actually post them. Meh. They may or may not convince you never to re-do your own kitchen – you’re welcome.  

IMG_7692What I want this post to say is “hey look! I finished my kitchen!” Alas, what did happen was a week of insanity before family vacation, in which a person might reconsider ever vacationing again because of the crazy factor- both at home and at work. That Wednesday I picked up my nephew to have him mow the field. In theory it was a great idea, having someone doing one job while I did another. In practice, this was his first time mowing on a tractor, so I did a lot of instructing and hovering but he eventually got the hang of it. (I just had him do the field, not the dicey parts around the trees or the big hills, we’ll save that for when he’s got a bit more experience).


IMG_7695After he left, I managed to get the dishwasher installed (which still I need to pull out and do one last time because I forgot the insulation). But let me say this: having a dishwasher that actually washes the dishes is TOTALLY WORTH THE HYPE (and the $300 I paid for it and the evening I spent installing it).


The next day one kind brother (and a poor innocent friend who was just over for dinner) and I managed to haul the enormous china cabinet out of my kitchen and into my barn. I am giving up on it. I want to love it. In fact, I love the lines, the curves, and the fact that it belonged to a beloved grandmother who kept her fancy dishes and treasures in it. Alas, it is too big for my little house. There is not a single room it can fit in without dominating the whole room.
IMG_3743So I’m letting it go because try as I might, I cannot get it to work. My sister is going to adopt it when her house is built, so in the meantime it is in my barn. I offered to finish painting it (since I started it), and to help repair the back legs but I cannot keep it. I wanted it to work so badly and I gave it a good try, and it is time to let go. This cabinet is a formidable piece of furniture and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the brother that agreed to come haul it out of there with me. Once I had decided to let it go, I just needed it out of my way so I could keep going with the kitchen project without it taking over half the room and blocking cabinets that needed painting and wall that needs repair. After all that, it is kind of a relief to have it gone (or at least where I can trip over it in my barn).  Next thing you know, my Jurassic Thursday crowd was arriving (while the china cabinet was still on the move) for a movie and catching up. Love those dear people.
Friday was a BBQ / bonfire at my house for the graduating seniors. I am happy to have a place to host things like this and it is kind of nice to have a party when someone else does the shopping and running of it. It was another late night.
After a week like that, I had no time to do laundry or get ready to go on vacation so I had decided to go up Sunday night instead of Saturday to give me time to get things together- ish. Not to mention the kitchen sink was having issues (since I’d unhooked all the plumbing to install the new cabinet and the dishwasher). If it was just me, I could have left it till I returned, but since people were coming to watch by dogs, I figured giving them a working sink was the least I could do. I got the sink back up and running, sanded, primed and put the first coat of paint on the sink cabinet and the side of the cabinet that was previously blocked by the big china cabinet. And at the end of the day, I met up with a bunch of friends at German Park. Such a terrific way to end a long day of work at the house, and a great way to begin vacation week. Mmmm bucket o’beer.
Sunday was another flurry of Mass, some frantic cleaning, lots of laundry, softball, and then racing home to load the car and off to vacation. Mmmm vacation.
Part of me was sad to miss a single minute up north with the gang but I have no regrets for the time at home and it made it easier for me to relax on vacation without worrying over the state of things at home (worrying about leaving anyone with a geriatric dog and a puppy is bad enough without worrying about plumbing that isn’t functioning).