How To Hang a Straight Row of Hooks (or Anything)

When planning the pool house, I didn’t picture art on the walls.  Instead, I wanted the accessories to serve as art.  Which means every item has to be extra special to serve the functional purpose and add a design element.  Obviously with a pool, towels are necessary.  I found beautiful 100% cotton striped Turkish towels from The Longest Thread and I bought ten.

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Our pool will have only one ladder, in the shallow end, close to the window in the photo above.  For convenience, I wanted to hang seven of the towels on hooks below the window, placing the remaining three near the future hot tub area.  To hang the seven hooks in a straight row, I held the towel on the hook up to determine my height, marking it with a piece of blue tape.  Next, I eyeballed down the line, placing tape on each batten strip.  With the tape up, I held a level, marking the line on each strip.

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Next, I held up a hook, making sure the level line ran through each screw hole and marked each.

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With the tape still in place, start driving the hook and screw in.  Before tightening too far, pull the tape off and continue attaching.

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Voila, easy, perfectly straight row without a bunch of measuring.  If you have to measure the spacing between each hook, stretch a full piece of tape or paper across.  It’s easier to mark it up and change than the wall.

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Over by the future hot tub, three more hooks and towels are hung higher below that window.

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I love the pattern and softness the towels add, just like functional art.

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I realize I’m jumping the gun adding towels before we even have the pool liner, but I’m excited to unpack the accessory hoard I’ve had for over half a year.  Speaking of my accessory stash, I pulled out all of the bathroom goodies and got it all in place.  Stay tuned for that next week!

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Seeing White

Our previously decrepit indoor pool house has been our single biggest, longest, and most expensive room makeover to date.  Though we had demolished the raised wet bar in 2012, replaced windows and doors in 2015, we really got to work in November 2016, working from the ceiling down.

While the ceiling was a lot of work, mostly due to the awkward working space, the walls win the most tedious award.

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Although I only have myself to blame for that, because I was set on a floor to ceiling board and batten wall treatment.  First, hanging sheets of plywood backing, followed with hundreds of batten strips.

Pool-House-Tile-Install-Finished

The single most time-consuming, finger killing part was the miles of caulking.  I trudged through because I knew the result would be 100 percent worth it all.  This weekend, we made it one giant leap closer to the final, completed room.  Before we could get to the satisfying part, spraying primer, we had to mask off everything we didn’t want to get paint on.

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Floors, ceiling, cabinets, shelves, benches, doors, and windows.  Probably most fun, the two huge support beams that span the entire room.

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When masking, I prefer to start with a good quality painter’s tape, closely following the edges.  Then I come back with my sheet of plastic to quickly mask the remaining open areas.  When in doubt, tape every single seam.  It’ll prevent over spray coming through as well as the plastic flapping up from the sprayer air.

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With the plastic applied, we laid drop cloths on the floor to completely cover it.

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With the prep work out of the way, we cracked open the oil based primer and got to spraying.  Ben started in the kitchen, working around the walnut shelves and vent hood.  My heart was beating so fast, a mixture of excitement of how great it looked already and worry that I hadn’t masked well enough.  I felt the same way about the ceiling beams and those turned out perfectly, so I have my fingers crossed.

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This step is the single most satisfying part of a job.  In a matter of seconds, the walls went from unfinished plywood to crisp white.

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Ben rocked the priming, knocking out the entire room in about 2 hours.  Despite being unfinished, the primer gives us an idea of the finished look and feel.

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Even with the windows covered, it’s so bright and fresh (looking, because the smell was terrible).

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It’s taking everything in me not to peel back the tape on the benches to see how it looks, but we still have to paint.

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One minor annoyance is that the rough edges of each batten strip absorbed most of the paint.

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We hoped to paint on Sunday, but instead took the day to brush each edge with a second coat of primer.

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Not ideal, but necessary for the best possible paint finish.  We’ll spray the walls white, Snowbound from Sherwin Williams, this weekend and that’ll be the last whole room project.  After that, it’s all minor tasks to complete.  We’ll install sconces, finish the kitchen cabinets, and add the pool liner.  Then, it’s party time.

Stainless Steel Counter Tops

Between the teacher lounge makeover and building a pergola for a client, we haven’t spent much time in the pool house.  That doesn’t mean we’re not excited to make progress, but we did check one more piece off the list.

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We built basic cabinet boxes a few weeks ago, which allowed us to place our stainless steel counter top order.  Ben measured everything and I transferred the measurements to a digital format to hand off to the fabricator.  For easy cleaning, we had them build a sink and 4 inch tall back splash into the counters.

Sink Measurements

Counter Measurements

With the details nailed down, they told us three weeks before they’d be ready.  A week and two days later, they called saying the counters are finished and ready for pick up.  What a pleasant surprise.  Ben picked them up and paid the $1200 and installed the two pieces.

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Though we initially considered a small, bar sized sink, we decided to go for a full size.  Easier for washing, or we can fill it with ice as a cooler when we have people over.

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Obviously, the faucet and drain aren’t fully hooked up, but it’s enough for us to install the remaining batten strips.

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A horizontal strip will butt up to the steel back splash top, with the vertical battens terminating into that piece for a seamless look.

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We’ve been so happy with the stainless counters in our master bath and the laundry room that these were an easy decision.

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The one inch thick back splash top is a nice, custom detail that adds a finishing touch.

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The contrast of the shiny stainless and the warm walnut is perfect in my book, which can only get better once the walls are painted white.

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Now that the counters are in, we can face the cabinets, including a support piece across the sink front, and build doors.

Pool-House-Kitchen-Stainless-Countertops-Installed

We’re getting so close to functional and can’t wait to have our first pool party!

Tips for Cutting Marble and Placement of a Wall Faucet

Between several projects this weekend, Ben made time to cut the marble remnant we picked up in January.  At roughly three feet wide by 50 inches tall, the size was perfect for our half bathroom counter and a slab back splash.  It wasn’t in perfect condition, with blue tape and a red circle noting scratches or tiny surface chips.

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Even so, we knew we could make it work.  Before we could even get to the install point, I did a lot of measuring and number crunching to determine the faucet placement.  This is the first wall mount faucet we’ve installed, and it’s an entirely different process.  With a traditional deck mount faucet, you only need to know how many holes (1 to 3) and whether it’s mounted to the counter or the sink.

Our Humble Abode Blog Master Bathroom Vanity

A wall mount faucet is more like a shower control, hidden in the wall, so the height of every element determines the faucet height.  To place our faucet, we had to determine: the gap between the floor and shelf+the space between the shelf and walnut band+the height of the wooden walnut+the counter thickness+the sink height+the space between the top of the sink and bottom of the faucet spout.

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It was a lot of marking on walls, mock hand washing, and heaps of second guessing.  Once closed up, that’s it.  No changes from there on out, so no pressure.

With the vanity frame built, we got started on the marble.  Using a masonry blade in a circular saw, Ben cut the marble pieces to size as well as a rough square for the sink drain.  The sink hides it, so it didn’t have to look good.

Pool-House-Bath-Marble-Counter-Installed

The back splash was a bit trickier, as we had two holes to cut and very little wiggle room.  And no material for a re-do if it was wrong.  Ideally we would have used a diamond tip hole saw, but didn’t have one in the two sizes we needed.  We made do with a standard hole saw, which worked fine, but took a little longer.  After a test fit, it wasn’t quite perfect, so Ben made slightly wider holes.

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Second time was the charm and he installed the spout and handle to finish it off.

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With the counter top cut, we had just over 16 inches of marble left.  We decided to use the rest to create an over-sized, statement making back splash.

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Between the sleek faucet and the extra tall slab, this should be a breeze to keep clean.

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That’s all great, but how did we hide the scratches?  I’m glad you asked!  I love the look of honed marble, so we sanded the entire surface, first with 60 grit, followed up with 120 grit paper.  It takes off the sheen and makes any imperfections nonexistent or noticeable only if pointed out.

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I can’t help wandering in and sneaking a peek.  It’s just as beautiful and luxurious as I’d hoped it would be.

A Glass Bathroom Door & Walnut Vanity

We started off our pool house remodel with a half bath between the house entrance and the bar space.  It had a narrow swinging door that forced snugging against the vanity just to close it.  The bathroom itself was dark, in part because of dark wood clad walls, but also from a lack of natural light.

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Our remodel plans included adding wider doors to the bathroom as well as the house.

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A six-foot wide sliding glass door now connects the house and this space.  When I proposed using the previous swinging glass door for the bathroom, Ben gave me a funny look.  I continued with my rationalization that I’d like a way to get natural light into the small space, and the glass door, with the addition of frosted film, was perfect.  This gave us a wider opening, and with a pocket door, a more user-friendly function.

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Adding a pocket door in a 2 by 6 framed wall is easier, and sturdier, than in a 2 by 4 wall.  Placing 2 by 4 boards flat on either side of the pocket area, with the track installed, makes a rigid wall.

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Ben installed trim around the door frame to finish it off, with little brackets at the bottom to keep the door in line.

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I ordered a round locking pocket door handle to fill the hole from the previous knob.

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Obviously, a clear glass door doesn’t give privacy for a bathroom.  We called a local glass company and asked for pricing on frosting a tempered glass door.  I don’t remember the price, but it was really reasonable.  However, they said there’s a 50/50 chance the process of frosting the tempered glass would shatter it.  We decided to play it safe and chose a frosted window film instead, applying it to the bathroom side of the door.

Pool-House-Bathroom-Pocket-Door-Frosting-Film

It obscures really well, unless someone is standing within inches from the door, but still lets light flood in.  With the door in place, we turned our attention to building the vanity.  My plan included a floating slatted shelf with a wooden band across the top.

Pool-House-Bathroom-Vanity

When building something, Ben always plans for MWS: most weight scenario.  To support the front of the shelf enough for a kid, or grown man, to stand on, Ben ran a steel pipe across the front of the shelf, drilling through the baseboard and wall for it to rest on the wood.  A cut piece of baseboard serves as a rest/support along the back.

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Constructing the shelf was a pretty simple process.  A 2 1/2 inch thick face, a 1 inch wide strip (to cover the top of the pipe), 2 inch wide slats, and a 3/4 inch thick strips for the back.  We started at the center and used a 1 1/2 inch spacer to keep the width even.

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A dry fit run to make sure it fits before adding the final two strips along the sides.

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Another cut piece of baseboard follows the top of the shelf, creating a nook for the shelf to rest in.  It also keeps the shelf removable for painting.  To support the vanity top, a wooden frame lines the walls, with a four-inch board along the front.

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With the walnut sanded, attached, and oiled, it’s a thing of beauty.

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Keeping this space clear of unnecessary junk is important, and cabinets tend to become a catch-all for lotions and potions.  A single shelf allows room for a basket of toilet paper and a first aid bin.  Clearly, it didn’t take me long to test things out.

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Seeing the vanity peeking out has me excited to get the marble top in place and install the rest of the batten strips.

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I’m still caulking away my spare time, but adding these finished elements is really making the end of this gigantic process seem within reach now.  There is light at the end of the tunnel.