18 Months Worth of Work

Shortly after I put together the last post, documenting the changes we had made to the house in our first year here – we learned two very life changing facts.

  1. While our AC was being repaired in June, we were told the furnace was busted and would need to be replaced or we would all die from carbon monoxide poisoning.
  2. In July, I found out I was pregnant!

So most importantly, over the past 18 months, I made this little guy who is already 9 months old (#math) and amazing and all over the place.

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But thats not really why we’re here.

That first discovery led to a whole world of chaos.

How do I make this story short-ish.

A normal person would have just replaced the furnace and called it a day and enjoyed the rest of the summer – but we are not normal.

To be fair, it was impossible to get the upstairs warm enough in winter or cold enough in summer. We were pumping air from the basement, through the huge main floor and upstairs from one undersized heating system and it was super inefficient. And my HVAC husband had other plans.

The boring part of this story is that we’re putting radiant floor heating on the main floor and are able to do that from within the basement. Technically, even that isn’t done – we did the big main room and dining room and most of the time its plenty to keep things toasty enough. The rest of the main floor has another life ahead of it and we haven’t wanted to attach to areas of the subfloor that might need to get replaced in the future. Other boring details – its powered by a tankless water heater, so we use that for all our hot water and some day it will also power heat to the basement. So its a beast, but amazing.

But, that left us without any heating/cooling for the upstairs where we need it the most. So it was time to start tearing the house apart. Literally.

We decided to install a separate furnace/heat pump system (honestly, I don’t even know what it all is) for just the upstairs. There is a furnace upstairs, all new duct work and of course, all new electrical. Goodbye knob and tube. It does heating and cooling since that is where all the bedrooms are so its always comfy for sleeping. We decided that we don’t typically need AC on the main floor because the house stays pretty cool down there except for exceptionally hot days. We may regret this decision when we do a master suite on the main floor but thats an issue for future Kim and Dylan.

So here’s the recap of what’s going on upstairs:

  • Tear down 90% of the walls to redo ductwork to all rooms, all the electrical, and reconfigure the half bathroom to a full bathroom.

Oh – AND we had just finished redoing the porch steps completely. And I am pregnant and chasing a 2 year old around while Dylan is spending all his free time working on the house.

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Goodbye weirdest half-bath ever.

Oh – and everything is lathe and plaster, which Dylan LOVED tearing down.

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We had to lose some really great built-ins, but I’m almost over it.

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Dylan did all the engineering of the new bathroom layout, electrical, ductwork, re-purposing attic space and the kids rooms. That alone saved us tons of money but probably added years of stress to his life. But I can say now that he did an AMAZING job.

View looking in the opposite direction (towards the bedrooms now)

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Spoiler alert – that big blue thing is a chimney and that goes away throughout all of this too.

So basically, this is the end of summer and all demo upstairs stops to focus on getting heat downstairs before we all freeze to death – because if you were paying attention, there is now no heat anywhere in the house, and Winter Is Coming.

And we have a 2 year old and a pregnant lady here. The two year old has been moved into her temporary bedroom downstairs lovingly referred to as the crazy room. Fortunately, she’s not picky.

Ok – so here’s where things get fun. We had to demo the chimney/fireplace because Dylan also wanted to relocate the stairs both to the basement and upstairs to improve the layout and flow. We had never really used the fireplace because it was unsafe. Someday we’ll figure out something besides the plywood inside the mantle that is preventing it from being a giant hole from the living room to the basement.

Bet you didn't know plywood could be so festive.

Bet you didn’t know plywood could be so festive.

But at the end of October, we had our chimney demo’d – which is an unfortunate time to remove a chimney because it’s fall/winter and now you have a chimney sized hole in your roof.

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It was temporarily tarped over – which brought on a great rain and windstorm and made it so that it was raining inside our house. Like – a lot.

And kind of cold.

I think at this point we had a ton of space heaters, specifically for P’s room of course and the living room. But we have a nice open space around the bedrooms now.

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We thought about turning the hole into a skylight, but that was too much money/trouble and it needed to stop raining in my house.

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Now here’s a LONG period of boring stuff, like running electrical, installing the furnace and ductwork, installing insulation and framing in the bathroom and attic spaces.

Oh, and apparently still installing radiant floor heating which looks like this. And yes – I would help Dylan while 6 months pregnant after P went to bed, or at naptimes because thats the only way things get done in DIY-land.

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And then this guy came along.

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So now we’re at March with an almost 3 year old and a newborn and most of our house still torn apart. AWESOME!

I’m really not trying to dissuade anyone from DIY-ing, but you should know its not all fun and games and shopping at fancy lighting stores…we’re almost to that part.

I also stopped taking pictures of the house and only took pictures of a squishy baby. But this is the boring stuff anyway – electrical, bla bla bla. Its real important to a house, but not good for photography.

This is upstairs in June 2016. All open, you can kind of see some different walls towards the bathroom. Basically the boring stuff is done and it’s about time to put it back together.

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By July we had even moved the baby out of our room and into his own room!

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Definitely hung a curtain from the rafters, set up his pack n play and a rocking chair and called it good – for several months.

And throughout this we had to also run new plumbing upstairs for the bath, and new sink and toilet location. And all those pipes have to go all the way to the basement, which meant we needed to open up a wall in P’s current room (the crazy room). So her room now also included this wall.

Bonus points though – the 3 year old now knows that toilet waste goes through the black pipes…which might be true.

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We were responsible homeowners and permitted all the electrical and HVAC and plumbing work – so it had to be done right, and inspected. But I’m pretty sure our house won’t burn down or explode, and that was worth it.

About this time we also ordered all new windows for the upstairs which took several months to manufacture and install (by professionals). There were a few hiccups along the way, but totally worth it. I love windows that actually open and are safe and quiet!

Here’s the old windows in our room.

Hi Jasons!

Hi Jasons!

New windows from the exterior.

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And our really cool, big privacy glass window that will be in our tub/shower. All the other windows are your basic window.

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So FINALLY, middle of October all of this sheetrock gets delivered and hauled upstairs!!

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Thankfully, not by us but by professionals. This next part goes a lot faster because we hired out the installation of all the drywall and tape/mud finishing. It would have NEVER gotten done and I was very over this project.

One guy hung all the walls in 2 days.

Another crew of several guys had it taped and mudded over a week.

You have to know what you’re good at and what problems to throw money at.

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We did haul all the drywall scraps ourselves and P even helped out.

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Then, we spent a frantic weekend priming everything – I took a few days off work to paint walls and get the rooms ready to move the kids back in. We had H in our room again, and P was still downstairs.

And here’s the part where if you’ve been scrolling because this is so freaking long – STOP – and I will actually show you what things look like now (even though its not totally done)

We’ve closed up a doorway in the dining room so we can move the stairs back eventually. I haven’t touched on this much – soon, they will go straight up instead of turn at the top so you come up and there is more head space, and more hallway.

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Here’s coming up the stairs

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And looking towards the bathroom

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And for fun- a quick before:

Upstairs Floors Before

Here’s P’s room, which I love.

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Complete with drill and stud finder still. Real life folks.

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See that crazy hole in the wall? Each kids room has a nook that used to be weird attic space. We moved some of it into each bedroom so the kids have an extra special play space. P already has hers trashed with toys and we’ve had some cozy family story time.

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And H’s room. Also love.

Ok – i just love having real rooms again.

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And of course there are little things like the curtain rod is too thick for the grommets in the curtains I got and the curtain rings I want are on backorder for 3 more weeks. So we tuck the curtains into the top of the windows and call it good. And we need to do all the baseboard and window and door trim. Turns out not having these things has never bothered anyone under the age of 4.

The only change in our room besides the windows was a new light fixture. We haven’t had an overhead light in our room at all, so this feels real fancy.

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Tons of storage space still – we have one whole nice not-scary attic near the bathroom.

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Holly G – if you see this, don’t be offended about your dino print! It’s going up, I just still have walls to paint!!

Yes – we still have to paint the hallway. We painted the floors in the kids room and put down rugs until we do something more permanent. And then we’ve torn off a bunch of stair railing in preparation for moving the stairs, so its totally dangerous up here still.

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You don’t have a special drop from your second floor to halfway down the stairs at your house?

And the bathroom needs to get finished but will be resumed after the holidays at this point. Tile is picked, fixtures are here. The tub is in…and you could even bathe in it if you were so inclined (which, I nearly am after all of this)

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So there you have it.

This project has nearly broken all of us multiple times over the last 18 months. But I can finally breathe. Dylan I think has some breathing room. Our babies are snug in their beds that are warm at night. And I would still do it over again…I think.

This was BY FAR the biggest thing we’ve tackled and probably the biggest project we will ever do at one time. There were so many interconnected pieces that made one little repair spiral totally out of control. But we knew that was a risk when we bought this place.

I don’t know how people blog about their projects while doing them, working and raising kids and trying to have a life. Obviously – I can’t do it all. But I will try to post major updates like this occasionally.

OutSiye!

OUTSIYE, as our 1-1/2 year old housemate calls it, has developed substantially in the past 7 months.  The face lift stopped abruptly due to weather – did you know that it rains during the winter in Oregon?

The view on move in weekend:

 

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The paint was failing miserably and the house was incredibly dirty – we were admittedly tied to the pink, fuchsia and periwinkle color combination.

Proper paint adhesion is all about prep work.  We power washed the house, scraped, sanded and primed all areas with loose/failing paint to create a paint job that we wouldn’t be redoing in 5 years.

 

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Current front and side view:

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Sweating the 80’s aka Painting Things: Part 2 of 3267

As you may have been able to tell – there was some pretty groovy wall-paper in this house. Most notably in the dining room and master bedroom upstairs. It had to go.

Here’s a close up of the dining room in all its glory.

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Yeah – it was shiny/metallic with hummingbirds. Not really our taste. And like the living room, all the trim was off-white. I’m pretty sure that it started out off-white but this room was also the room with the most nicotine stains on the walls/trim/ceiling. It was gross. We really got to enjoy this while steaming the wallpaper off.

Let me back up a bit. I DREADED taking off wallpaper. Everyone tells you that it is the worst project to tackle. So I spent a lot of time looking at videos online and reading what worked best for other crazy folks. And even had someone come out to give me a quote on what it would cost them to remove the wallpaper and repair any damage underneath. Long story short – the quote was more than we wanted to spend for 3 rooms (although Spoiler Alert for one of the rooms alone we should have paid for someone else to do it because the walls are REALLY bad underneath.) So, I purchased a steamer which can be used for cleaning all the things as well as having an attachment for wallpaper for about $70 on Amazon. Here are some more before shots of the dining room for you.

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Again – things we love about this room:

  • The built in hutch. Its not actually very practical but its pretty.
  • The big windows. We immediately took off the storm windows (thats whats creating the stained glass look. Its not real. And its ugly. They all went away.
  • French doors into the living room. We only close these to cage our child into the main room, but they’re pretty. But have been a pain to paint. I have been living with green frog tape on them for probably 2 months now.

The great news with the wallpaper was there was only one layer (miracle of miracles!) and it came off really easily with the steamer. Just stick that baby to the wall (the steamer, not our real baby) for 20 seconds at a time and scrape away and it came right off! And the walls underneath were in great shape. No worse than the plaster in the living room. We soon learned not to expect the same result anywhere else.

Fun fact – I have no in progress pictures of removing the wallpaper. But here is what the walls looked like when we were done.

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Not bad. Not pretty, but no major problems to speak of. And then we lived like this for a long time. We even hung art.

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So we decided to throw a house-warming party and I was determined to get this room painted and the furniture put in place as I figured it would be where a lot of people would congregate and munch on food.  So off to the paint store I went.

I’ve had grand ideas about this room that may play out in the future, but for now we just wanted it to feel cozy and warm and a place our friends and family want to sit and eat and drink and chat for hours on end. So I found a bold blue that is similar in shade to the grey of the living room, but definitely more blue on the color scale. Say hello to Benjamin Moore’s Normandy and is one of their 2014 Color Trends!

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Hey, it looks like a dining room now!

Plus all the trim got several coats of bright white paint as well.

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The grey in the foreground is the living room, so you can see the colors in certain light almost look the same, but are actually fairly different in person.

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There are plenty of things that still need to be done in here. The ceiling needs to be primed and painted. That light fixture needs to go. And long-term we’ll probably pick out a new table, but the one we have works great for now. This room is large and could handle some more furniture. I’d love more storage for our china and extra serving-ware that is still in boxes in what we lovingly refer to as the crazy room.  But its a functional, clean space that has had some new life inserted into it. It was time to shake off the bad perm and join 2014.

 

Demands from the Tiny Toomey

On the off-chance you are reading this and don’t really know us – we moved and are rehabbing this house with a 1.25 yr old. Yeah, our level of crazy just went up a few notches. We know people that wouldn’t even consider moving in general with tiny people, so to be tackling this project while chasing a toddler around is extra fun. But then again, we gutted our last kitchen while I was pregnant, so we’ve been known to keep things interesting around these parts.

Kitchen Demo
Watch out – pregnant girl with a sledgehammer.

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Anyway, different house.

We knew we needed to get Peri’s room set up first to keep her from totally losing her shit being confused. And although the rooms have wood paneling, one of the rooms upstairs had enough cute details that we thought it would actually be fun for her room. We really haven’t done much else to the room besides the floors, so we moved all her belongings in and got her settled. We did need to make some new curtains with some help from my mom, which added some new fun colors to her room outside of the grey and purple theme that we had in the last house.

Peri's BedroomIgnore the chewed up crib. Homegirl is a Beaver apparently. Her dad is very proud. She did all that with only 6 teeth.

The shelves have been a lot of fun, and if she wasn’t so into everything they might be cutely arranged. But since she pulls everything off them on a daily basis, the bottom two shelves are free game for Peri’s little grasp.

Here’s a view of the whole room. Kinda cute, even with all that wood.

Full Room View - Peri's Room

The dirty secret left of this room is the light fixture… every light fixture in this house needs to be replaced. I can count 14 of them not including the basement. That is a lot of lights.

Peri's Bedroom Light Fixture

This is not really P’s style.

Overall, getting her set up with her things made the move pretty easy for her. And this quickly became a safe and clean place for her to play while we were finishing up projects like the hardwood floors on the main floor. So there you have it – the most complete room in the house!