Master Bedroom Walk in Closet – Framing 8/29/13

Framing the walls for the closet was fun and much easier than I anticipated. I drilled pilot holes and used 3″ and 2 1/2″ screws instead of nails. Hammering so many nails would have done in my shoulder, elbow, and wrist. Plus, I think the screws will make the walls stronger than nails would, especially nails driven by me. This was my first attempt at the first wall.

This was the first pass on the first wall.  The corner is built backwards and the header for the door would need to be added after the fact.  What appears to be a threshold is a 26" spacer for the 24" inch door that's going in,

This was the first pass on the first wall. The corner is built backwards and the header for the door would need to be added after the fact. What appears to be a threshold is a 26″ spacer for the 24″ inch door that’s going in,

Our neighbors did a very clever renovation in their downstairs bathroom, replacing a tub/shower unit with a laundry closet and shower. They bumped out a wall (into the living room) to accommodate the shower and laundry closet. They replaced the sink, toilet, and bought a shower surround, put in a high wainscot, closet doors, and painted. They bought the new fixtures from Lowe’s and hired the construction. They did all this for around $5000. Awesome. It looks really, really pretty.

I tried to imitate the way their carpenter made the wall corners but I realized I had it backwards, so the wall came down and was replaced by this.

Here the first closet wall door header and corner are correct.

Here the first closet wall door header and corner are correct.

Although I’ve had a bit of experience with framing walls, first in the basement when we built the family room (15 years ago! And, I really only assisted), and again when I converted a nook in our bedroom to a cedar closet (about 6 years ago); I am not at all confident, at this time, that the walls are plumb or straight, even after using a level and carpenter’s square. I think they are off by about an eight of an inch. Trouble is, this trend will continue to each of the adjacent walls. I guess we’ll know the truth when it comes time to install the closet door. All I can do is the best I can do, right?

There was just enough space in the room to construct the walls on the floor first.

Here’s a picture of the second wall ready to go up.

Closet wall #2

Closet wall #2

The second wall is up!

Isn't this a pretty picture?  Second wall of the closet up!

Isn’t this a pretty picture? Second wall of the closet up!

It’s starting to take shape! You can understand why the framing was my favorite part, right? Almost instant gratification.

As you may have noticed, I’m putting the walls up under the drywall ceiling. Everything I’ve read says it’s OK. The carpenter who did our neighbor’s house did their bathroom renovation that way. I also did the cedar closet this way and after 6 years there has been no movement in the wall–even after a noticeable earthquake last fall!

The only problem with framing over drywall is I couldn’t find a connecting ceiling joist for the second wall. It’s only screwed into the drywall and adjacent walls at this point. All of the other walls are connected but the second wall is a concern. So, what I’m hoping to do is connect the wall in at least two places from the attic when I do the bathroom part of this project. The drywall will need to be replaced with green board (that resists mildew), ceiling included, which will give me the chance to add spacers above and connect the second wall.

Below is a picture of walls three and four from the inside of the closet. The closet will be roughly 5′x7′ with a cutout that allows for the baseboard heat register and bathroom sink.

Walls three and four are up!

Walls three and four are up!

In the picture below, you can see how important it was to save the board(s) with the angle for the back dormer. You just mimic the angle with the chop saw.

Here is where the framing had to be angle-cut for the back dormer.  Using a piece from the original closet framing, I copied the angle on several boards with the chop saw to get the right fit.  This wall was built in place instead of on the floor.

Here is where the framing had to be angle-cut for the back dormer. Using a piece from the original closet framing, I copied the angle on several boards with the chop saw to get the right fit. This wall was built in place instead of on the floor.

Here is the wall partially framed for a medicine cabinet. I’ll need to add a lower board for the cabinet frame when I decide where it should go.

I left a space in the wall framing for a medicine cabinet.  Hope this is right!

I left a space in the wall framing for a medicine cabinet. Hope this is right!

This is the final picture of the framing event. Joe the electrician has returned to install the light switch and I have built a slide-out hamper. More on the hamper later.

All of the closet walls are up and the light switch is installed.

All of the closet walls are up and the light switch is installed.

Ready for Sheetrock!

Master Bedroom Walk In Closet: Demo 8/3/13

I am really, really excited about how well things are going with this project. The details go through my head at every free minute. This project is on the verge of taking over my life!

I have scoured HOUZZ walk-in closet pages for hours. There are 425,000+ images of walk-in closets on HOUZZ.com.

Here’s what I’m thinking at this point in time, 7/29/13. Except on a MUCH smaller scale, I like the color and design of this closet above all others I’ve seen. You really have to see it microscopically for my project because this is a grand closet and ours will be barely adequate, sizewise. It’s the way the hanging spaces and shelves appear to be built, and the color that interest me. It’s just looks clean looking and doable, I think. After our stuff goes into the closet the clean-looking part will be a distant memory. Ha!

It took several weekends to get the old closet torn out without getting hurt (a big concern!). After confessing to John that I had been using a couple of pry bars and hammers for the demo, he advised me to get a “real” crowbar. So, I did and it made things much easier. Duh. TK helped me with the really scary stuff.

This tool, The Sonicrafter was extremely valuable in the demo. I bought the older model on Woot.com for $40. I don’t think the Sonicrafter is meant for this but it cut through 2x4s like a champ. It also cuts sheetrock beautifully, though dusty compared to a knife cut. Here are some demo pics.

This is after taking the doors off, obviously.  Sadly, the bookshelf had to go.

This is after taking the doors off, obviously. Sadly, the bookshelf had to go.

The semi-built-in bookshelf was one of my first projects, so it was kind of sad to see it go. We considered making the bookshelf into the closet door, and after tossing that idea, I tried to convince our neighbors to use it for something close to what they were looking to do in their living room. Maybe I’ll take it to my daughter’s new house and install it somewhere. It holds a lot of books. We used the opportunity to donate a lot of books from this shelf and one in the living room. Why is it so hard to part with books?

This is where I got to on day one.

This is where I got to on day one.

So, baseboard, door frame, carpet, bookshelf — gonzo. The flooring from the bedroom side was pulled back too.

In this picture you can see the wire for the closet light that needed to be moved and part of an upper wall that I originally wanted to keep to avoid additional framing and sheetrocking at the back dormer.

In this picture you can see the wire for the closet light that needed to be moved and part of an upper wall that I originally wanted to keep to avoid additional framing and sheetrocking at the back dormer.

I ran into a minor electrical issue when I took down the closet light and switch. After turning off the power to the room, I undid the wiring and took the light fixture down from inside the closet; no big deal, right? The demo was not at the point where I was ready to call my friend Joe the electrician, however, I managed to knock out the power to half the upstairs when I took apart the switch at the wall.

This is where I ended up after removing the light fixture. Don't worry the power is off.

This is where I ended up after removing the light fixture. Don’t worry the power is off.

Well, I was in quite a pickle so I, of course, called John, who was not available at the moment. I asked another friend and ended up with the situation in the picture above. John, our ex-nextdoorneighbor has good home wiring knowledge. He called me back and helped me through this one, as usual. Thank you John.

This is the rewire after removing the wiring from the light switch which cut off the power to the bedroom and bathroom. The electrician put in an outlet to remedy that and pulled out the light fixture wire.  Later he put in a new switch and left a wire hanging from the ceiling where the 2' florescent light will be.

This is the rewire after removing the wiring from the light switch which cut off the power to the bedroom and bathroom. The electrician put in an outlet to remedy that and pulled out the light fixture wire. Later he put in a new switch and left a wire hanging from the ceiling where the 2′ florescent light will be.

I’ve wired several light fixtures but that is it. Frankly, I would rather leave the electrical and plumbing stuff to the pros and not have to deal with it at all. Too much can go wrong with disastrous results. Luckily, Joe the electrician was able to come over the next day. He left me with a long curled-up wire that hung from the ceiling and a new outlet to conduct the electricity to the house.

As I mentioned in a photo (above), I was trying to save myself sheetrock mudding headaches by retaining the curved part of the ceiling that accommodates the back dormer. There was no hope of this. It took some time for my reasonable self to convince my idiot self to let go of the idea. It was not going to work in a number of ways, the last straw being Joe the electrician saying, “You can’t have a wall in front of a window”. It was going to be 24″ out and house a recessed cabinet, but it would have been an awkward space. Joe the electrician is a smart guy and knows much more about renovations than I do. He made several other suggestions; make the window smaller, shorten the heat register, use a florescent fixture instead of recessed lighting, because of code, and a couple of other things that I can’t remember now. I took all of his advice except making the window smaller. A friend who is experienced at this sort of thing came over and shortened the heat register and I reconfigured the space so it makes more sense.

I took this picture to show how the back dormer wall was framed.  The angle in the ceiling board (inside the ceiling) needs to be copied when I do the framing.  So, I had to take it down without damaging the angled ends too much.  These are the 2x4s that I cut away with the Sonicrafter.

I took this picture to show how the back dormer wall was framed. The angle in the ceiling board (inside the ceiling) needs to be copied when I do the framing. So, I had to take it down without damaging the angled ends too much. These are the 2x4s that I cut away with the Sonicrafter.

This is the last demo pic.

This is the last demo pic.

Framing is next!

Master Bedroom Walk In Closet 7/17/13

I need to start talking about this project. It started in mid-April. You may remember this photo from my facebook page.

This space needs to be a walk-in closet and bathroom for our Master bedroom

This space needs to be a walk-in closet and bathroom for our Master bedroom

It is time. We currently have 1 full bathroom upstairs and 1/2 downstairs. It is a freakish marvel that a family of five made it through the 3-kid, high school, wonder years with one shower and still love each other dearly. So, you ask, why now that they are gone? Well, they keep coming back! Seriously though, the full bath has seen better days and needs to be gutted, as you might expect. Because we cannot seem to catch the DIY or HGTV channels at our local Home Depot and Lowe’s stores the renovation of the bathroom could take some time, therefore, we need to make another bathroom. Plus, it will add value to our house and I want my own bathroom. The latter being the most important reason. :) BUT! I am willing to work for it, so, here goes.

This is where I am.

Master Bedroom Walk-in.  The taping is finished.  Now a tedious week or two of applying the joint compound.

Master Bedroom Walk-in. The taping is finished. Now a tedious week or two of applying the joint compound.

The bathroom will be to the right of the closet. This is the most involved project I’ve ever done and I am both terrified and confident. There are so many details and so many things affect other things and that makes it terrifying because I don’t know if I’ve thought of everything. I’ve measured the hell out of the space and the measurements are not matching exactly in the building part. I’ve also thought it to death. Here’s the approximate drawing which I have altered 1000+ times.

This is the drawing for the master bedroom, walk in closed and bathroom, edited over and over again.

This is the drawing for the master bedroom, walk in closed and bathroom, edited over and over again.

Sorry for the worst photography ever. You get the idea though, right?

The Deck-Outdoor Cushions

You may recall a previous post concerning an outdoor cedar table and bench. Check the September archives for details about making the table and bench.

Seating for six!

Seating for six!

I found some super-on-sale chair and bench cushions at Crate&Barrel.com last winter in Sunbrella Cilantro (Cilantro is the color). I was going to make the cushions from scratch but considering the price (and time savings), I went this route instead. The bench cushion had to be shortened about 20 inches, and the plan was to make the chair cushions smaller as well, so they fit the seat of the chair exactly. I decided in the end that the chair cushions were fine the way they are.

This had to be shortened about 20 inches. It looks bunched up because I've already taken out the seam at one end.

This had to be shortened about 20 inches. It looks bunched up because I’ve already taken out the seam at one end.

This is the opened end of the cushion. It's 1" foam.

This is the opened end of the cushion. It’s 1″ foam.

Carpenter Square for a straight line, measuring tape, and a pencil to mark the cutting line

Carpenter Square for a straight line, measuring tape, and a pencil to mark the cutting line

Measuring Detail. Foam is cut to 54".

Measuring Detail. Foam is cut to 54″.

The manufacturer thread I took out was nylon–almost invisible. Luckily, I had some slightly lighter weight Coats & Clark nylon thread from some long-forgotten, previous project. I keep laughing at the thought of sewing with invisible thread. It was kind of ridiculous. Threading the needle was a major issue. I mean, really? The stuff was practically invisible. But, I diligently plugged along with reading glasses and the required glare from the lamp because in my mind I could see, vividly, the inevitable, over time mildew trailing from the seam if it were sewn with the usual cotton and poly thread. I cut the 1″ foam with sewing scissors.

This project involved a lot of hand sewing with freaking invisible thread! I read somewhere online that to successfully use this type of thread in a machine, you need to reduce the tension on the machine. I took the tension down a couple of notches (numbers) on my ancient Singer and got good results. The bobbin wound on fine too.

Chair and Bench Cushions in Sunbrella Cilantro. Bought from Crate & Barrel.com

Chair and Bench Cushions in Sunbrella Cilantro. Bought from Crate & Barrel.com

To resew the bench cushion I mimicked the factory needle marks that were left after ripping out the seam. This Sunbrella fabric is very easy to work with. The invisible thread…? …not so much. You can see in the picture above how water beads up instead of soaking into the fabric. I like the color and fabric so much that I bought more online to make cushions for two other deck chairs that our friends left with us when they moved. More about that project later.

Lucy says, "Yes, thank you."

Lucy says, “Yes, thank you.”

Furnishings for a Small Cape Cod Bedroom

To finish this room off, or at least make it habitable, I bought a full-size, Ikea Malm bed. At the time it was only $100. It’s low to the ground and works well with the slanted ceiling. The mirror is from Ikea as well. The dresser is a cheap POS bought from Overstock.com. I wouldn’t use this somewhat flimsy dresser in a kid’s bedroom and my 20-somethings have strict instructions to treat it with TLC.

For this small cape cod bedroom I chose an Ikea Malm bed and mirror and a small dresser from Overstock.com

For this small cape cod bedroom I chose an Ikea Malm bed and mirror and a small dresser from Overstock.com

As you’ve seen in previous photos I added a mirror to the closet door. I considered cutting the mirror to match the slant in the door (a feature which I love), but I chickened out. Now, there is also a light inside the closet. It was wired but never installed. The small, blue and white, sponge-painted table (in the left corner) holds an old-school TV and DVD player.

TV table

TV table

The wall lamps seen in the picture below are KRAMARE wall spotlights we bought in a hurry at Ikea.

Recently added lamps above the bed are Kramare wall spotlights from Ikea.

Recently added lamps above the bed are Kramare wall spotlights from Ikea.

I am very disappointed with these lamps. First, the cords hanging down the wall are unsightly, and second, I cannot find the required light bulbs ANYWHERE! Maybe with some cord covers and some art on the wall…. and light bulbs!

How to Make a Fold-down Desk in a Small Cape Cod Bedroom

Space-saving Fold Down Desk

Space-saving Fold Down Desk

As college students would be using this bedroom when home on breaks, I decided to add this little fold-down desk. I dithered for some time between the desk and a slide-out hamper. The desk won out only because I didn’t want to forfeit the closet space. Please bear in mind that this was a couple of years before tablets came onto the market.

Fold-down Desk in Fold-down Mode

I happened to have a piece of pine (leftover from a previous project), that was just the right size for the desk. I bought the folding brackets from Rockler. Of course, the wall studs were nowhere near where I needed them to be, so I had to hang the brackets from two pieces of poplar which are screwed firmly into the wall studs. The poplar boards add character, right? The medical stool came from somewhere online, as cheap as I could find. These medical stools are expensive little suckers. I keep meaning to put a small bulletin board on the wall above the desk but haven’t got to it yet. A recessed shelf is another idea. Maybe someday…

Space Saving Fold-down Desk

Creating Storage and Space in a Small Cape Cod Bedroom

The next step in the process was to build a window seat in the dormer. Two front dormers were added when we put the garage and breezeway addition on, Gaaa!, 17 years ago. I’d better look this up… Honestly, cold air came in around both dormer areas. The window seat took care of it though. This window seat was mostly build from scrap wood. I REALLY miss working next door to a shop that builds fine furniture. The guys who worked in the shop shared the wood scraps with us and there were some beautiful scraps. When I think of how many of those beautiful scraps we burned in the fire pit I cringe deeply and get very depressed. The window seat(s) came up before I realized I could easily build my own drawers. so for this project I bought pre-made Closet Maid drawers from Home Depot. I was not happy with the cost — close to $100 for the 4 drawers. Fortunately, they closed out this color two weeks later and Home Depot willingly refunded the difference, which was around $40!

Space saving drawers and a place to sit!

Space saving drawers and a place to sit!

I set to work sewing pillows for the room, a cushion for the seat, and a roman shade for the window. I bought a piece of foam online somewhere for around $30 and made the cover and blue pillows from leftover fabric. The fabric for the tan pillows and shade came from The Curtainshop. Hanging the drawers was no picnic but it was easier than I thought it would be. Here’s a picture of the dormer part of the project. I should add that I painted the room and refinished the window trim before building the window seat.

Here's the window seat with the cushion and pillows.

Here’s the window seat with the cushion and pillows.

Window dormer with roman shade, and window seat.

Window dormer with roman shade, and window seat.

Funny, I just noticed the Stieg Larsson books on the shelf which were not published yet when I did this project. Soooo, recent picture and nothing’s changed except the books on the shelves!

After the window seat came the floor. This is the crappiest laminate flooring I’ve ever worked with but the price was obscenely low — $0.69 a square foot from Home Depot. So, it was less than $100 for the flooring. Nice! I like it in the room for now. I need to be more patient in the future with floors because there is an obvious place near the door that had to be filled (I just could not get it right), and I cut the closet door trim too high. Not professional by anu means — last time, promise. Here’s the “showcase” floor picture.

Laminate floor in cape cod bedroom.

Laminate floor in cape cod bedroom.

As you can see, the baseboard trim has been removed. My architect, sister was on my case to update the “stock” baseboard so I replaced the “stock” baseboard with a two-piece system – costly but nicer, I think. The new baseboard is kind of a disaster in places though. One of the inside corners needed more than an 8th of an inch of putty. I kept measuring too short! It’s not really noticeable, except to a discerning eye, but it still sucks. And, I’ll need to maintain that corner because the space is so big that the fill will fall out over time. Again, last time, promise.

Onward and upward!

Storage and Space Saving Ideas in a Cape Cod Bedroom

This was a REALLY fun project. The front bedroom…. When the offspring were all out of the house and our nest was empty for the first time, I had the opportunity to redo this room from top to bottom. First of all, this is one of the best rooms in the house — very quiet and private with lots of interesting angles, and there is a view of the marsh at certain times of the year. It is, however, on the small side at 11′ x 14′. The room needed to be changed from a teen ravaged bedroom (for many years) to a guest bedroom that could sleep a couple, and still accommodate the ‘coming home for awhile’ of an offspring here and there. Because it is a small room. I wanted clean simple, and MOSTLY easy to clean fixtures and furniture that are still comfortable. I had the idea that some of the insulation had fallen down behind the knee wall because the room was always pretty cold. So, I started by cutting between the joists in the knee wall for the shelves you see here. The double shelf unit is on this wall and a single is on the other side of the dormer space.

These shelves are cut into the knee wall, framed inside the wall with 2'x 4's, insulated all around, and trimmed on the inside with 3/4' pine.

These shelves are cut into the knee wall, framed inside the wall with 2′x 4′s, insulated all around, and trimmed on the inside with 3/4′ pine.

Actually, I started by calling in the oil company rep and asked about extending the heat register in the room. Apparently, the door to the room needs to be left opened to allow the heat to circulate through the upstairs properly. Needless to say, during a decade of teenagers the door had been mostly closed. I discovered after cutting into the wall, however, that as suspected there was a piece of insulation behind the knee wall that had fallen down. There was also a hole from the outside, to accommodate a phone wire, that needed to be caulked. And! There were holes from a fallen down shelf in the closet that were blasting in the cold air.

So, I built a sort of frame system out of 2x4s for each of the shelving units that could be fitted into the holes in the wall, and built the shelf units separately from pine. The 2×4 frames were specifically built so they could be screwed into the existing framing of the house – the rafters, flooring board, and wall studs. I put insulation all around the inside of the frame and taped all the outside joints of the shelf units with Frost King tape. I regret not having taken pictures during many parts of this project.

More soon!

Back to it

Hi all! OK, it’s been a ridiculously long time since I worked on this blog. Where am I spending my time? Wellllllllll: My job is the major culprit. It’s a busy season and if I’m not working I’m worrying about it. And, there were two additional, new business trips that took time and energy. Second and really more important is a good friend of mine is going to die of cancer soon and I have been depressed and anxious about it for some time. Third, this winter has been a total bitch as far as cold and snow. The last thing I’ve wanted to do is play with wood and tools in the garage. Brrrr Around here it’s been more like TV and a fire every night. But! The weather is getting warmer and the projects are looming so I’ve started a new project which I will share with you soon. Thanks for checking in!

Garage Storage Solutions

To this bare wall, we added a 10″ shelf and pegboard to neatly store items that were strewn around our garage.

TK and I have been working together the past few weekends trying to get the garage cleared out and organized enough to actually use for our cars this winter. We sold a couple of items on Craigslist, donated some things to Goodwill and are trying to organize the rest. The garage is 24′long x 22′wide. The goal is to accommodate 2 cars, a snowblower, a lawn mower, power tools, lumber, 3 bikes, firewood, two large town-owned trash/recycling bins, and gardening tool and supplies…AND two cars. It’s hard to believe but we are almost there!

The woodworking tools and supplies use up a lot of space, and that’s where we started. You may remember last winter’s basement-workshop project. This is where I got to with that: http://dianabuild.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/DSCN1257-1024×768.jpg You can see the post in its entirety under March 2012 archives, if you’re interested.

We started with a shelf that extends across most of this wall.

A 10′ x 12″ piece of pine + shelf brackets = a sturdy and useful storage shelf for the garage.

We attached the braces to the board with 3/4′ wood screws, marking the screw holes first. Then, using a level, simply attached the shelf with brackets to the wall. The shelf is high and I can barely reach it, but I’m short, so no big surprise there. We needed ample room under the shelf for the pegboard. The wood and braces for this shelf were two of only three things we had to buy for this project! The wood was around $23 at Home Depot and the braces were $5.99 each from Ace Hardware. Coupons made the expense of the latter easier to swallow.

I was thrilled to find enough pieces of leftover 2×3 board to hang the pegboard.

The wall is sheetrocked due to fire code so we couldn’t just attach the pegboard to any exposed wall joists. You need a space behind the pegboard for the hooks. I was prepared to chop up leftover lengths of 8′ 2×3 boards to use for the hangers, when what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a box with leftover, already-chopped pieces of 2x3s, hoarded from another project! This saved us a lot of time and mess.








Frame out the space where you want to hang the pegboard with pieces of 2×3, then, using 1″ screws, attach the pegboard.

The 2×3 pieces are attached with 2 1/2″ screws to the wall joists. We would have done better to use 3″ screws but we didn’t have any. You could also frame the perimeter of the pegboard pieces with 2x3s, or even 1x3s, and attach it to the wall directly. I would do this if I were attaching an 8×12 sheet to a wall. With the smaller pieces of pegboard it would be overkill, in my opinion. Plus, the additional supports would plug up operative pegboard holes.

The lovely and talented, Hilary, a friend at work, donated the pegboard for our garage project-and brought it to me at work and helped me load it into my car. Thank you Hilary! I owe you a major haul of perennials These are used sheets of pegboard that Hilary’s parents rescued from a store that went out of business. It’s really good, heavy-duty stuff–and colorful, as you will see.


The last thing we bought was a variety pack of pegboard hooks from Ace Hardware for around $10.

Filling the shelf and pegboard was a great reward!

We’re going to need a few more hooks. They make some really cool pegboard stuff. Check out the shelves on the pegboard made from brackets that came with the kit, also, the hanging bin (bought from Amazon), at the lower left–a great place for random nails, screws, and small pieces. I scraped the rest of the obnoxious label off today. This is the organizing bin: http://www.amazon.com/Crawford-PB2-Portable-Pegboard-Organizer/dp/B0009WG62U/ref=sr_1_9?ie=UTF8&qid=1353716298&sr=8-9&keywords=pegboard+accessories There is plenty of other pegboard exotica available, as I’m sure Amazon will remind you…