Installing a Vent Hood

Sometimes, when doing the same thing over and over again, you have to switch gears.  Though we don’t have much sheeting left to hang, over the weekend, Ben decided to hang install the kitchen vent hood.


We bought this one over three years ago for our main kitchen, but after opening up the kitchen wall, I didn’t want anything blocking the new open feel.  Plus, we have a big whole house fan about ten feet away, so it seemed redundant.  Having purchased a 48″ wide DCS range off Craigslist for the pool house, we knew it would eventually be put to good use.

To install the vent hood, Ben first secured a 3/4 inch thick strip of wood at the vent hood back height.  There’s a little lip for the housing to rest on, making it a bit easier to screw into the wall.  While Ben held it in place, I screwed into the predrilled holes to keep it in place.  With the frame up, Ben installed the fan and duct work to get it all in working order.


The venting angles into the dead space between the main house and pool house roof lines before angling up and out the roof.


Next, we’ll build a frame around the hood and duct work, sheet over it, and paint it when we get to the walls.


Everything is great, except the buttons on the front, which I had completely forgotten about as the fan had been in storage all this time.


While not detrimental, the button placement does play into the walnut accent I want at the bottom of the hood.


Ben and I discussed various options such as forgoing the walnut strip and leaving the front edge steel.  Or building the frame out around the hood, leaving a 1 to 2 inch gap to reach in a press the buttons.


Each option wasn’t perfect and had issues, so we’re planning the simplest: notching out the walnut strip around the buttons.  It’s not ideal, but a solution we can both agree on.  I know we have much more to complete, but I can’t help getting excited over the details that will finish off this space.

DIY Board and Batten, Step 1

In the last pool house update, I shared all of the details on the guts inside our walls: insulation, electrical, and a little bit of plumbing.


With all of that important, but generally unseen business taken care of, we are able to start hanging our vapor barrier and sheeting.


To create the board and batten look, we’re using exterior grade A/C (one side is good A grade, the other a lesser quality, C) plywood as our base.  After, thin (1 1/2 to 2 inches wide) strips will cover the seams and nails.


Before installing, Ben meticulously measures all obstructions, then transfers the measurements to the sheet before cutting the sheet to fit.  Once cut, I hold the cut sheet in place, about an inch off the floor to prevent the plywood from wicking up water that will be on the floor.  A quick nail into a visible stud helps hold the board in place while we mark the stud placement across the panel.  Obviously, nailing into the stud is necessary to securely hang the sheet on the wall.  But it also ensures the nails will be hidden beneath our spaced batten strips.  Marking is made quick with an eight foot level and pencil.


More nails along the pencil lines keep the panel firmly in place.


Installing the sheets isn’t difficult, just time-consuming thanks to the many necessary cuts around outlets, windows, and doors.  Particularly the kitchen wall, which had as many as seven cuts around objects in a single panel.  Careful measuring and marking of the sheet before hanging is crucial to keep the sheets as seamless as possible.


Knocking out the most intricate pieces first makes the rest of the sheets feel easy by comparison.


We’re continuing, working our way around.  In an effort to prevent as much waste as possible, we’re cutting pieces in strips to avoid big, unusable chunks taken from the windows.  The gaps below will get filled in with left over pieces cut from other areas like doors.


Essentially, we’re putting together a big puzzle, looking at each piece and how to best use it.  It might not look like much yet, but this is similar to the drywall phase of a project.  It’s the turning of the corner from “unfinished construction” toward “beautiful, finished room.”  Because the batten strips will terminate into the baseboard, we’ll have to tile the floors after hanging all of the sheeting.  Big, exciting things coming up!

Importance of Insulation

Bit by bit, progress is happening in the pool house and we’re this close to being able to close up all of the walls.  If you’re feeling like we’ve been working on this forever, you’re not alone.  Officially, we started late last year on the ceiling, which was a task and a half.  Though the rest of this room is relatively accessible, the peaks via ladder, we still have dozens of steps to tackle.  And that’s just the walls and the stuff inside.

Creating beautiful rooms is only half the battle.  Creating functional and efficient spaces is the other half.  The far less glamorous, ugly, tedious, and often underappreciated half.  Right now, we’re still in the ugly phase, but hope to create something beautiful soon.

In the five and a half years we’ve lived in this house, the pool never functioned.  Which is a big reason we were able to scoop this house up for the price we did.  Because the pool doesn’t work, we shut off  all the water, hoarded building materials, and never have heated this space.  It’s large, about 1,600 square feet with 14 foot vaulted ceilings.  The majority of the north and west walls (straight ahead and right in the photo below) are concrete foundation due to the steep slope of our lot.

New-House-Pool-Room April 13 2012

When our house was built in the 70’s, it was typical to build a wood framed wall atop the foundation and fir out the foundation with 2 by 2 inch wood strips.  Essentially, there’s a thin sheet of insulation and that’s it.  Actually, you can see a little bit at the bottom of the left wall in the photo below:


I guess what I’m trying to say is, this room as it was before, was about as efficient as a cardboard box.  And what’s the point of having an indoor pool if it’s impossible to heat the space to a comfortable swimming temperature in the cold months?!

To achieve that, we’ve framed in new 2 by 4 inch walls, tucking insulation between the old and new.  Above the foundation, there’s space for another sheet because we’ve eliminated the half wall step.


Our new electrical  runs behind the new studs, then Ben adds another sheet of insulation inside each stud bay.


Each 2 inch thick Polyisocyanurate foam sheet has an R value of 13.  (R value is the resistance of heat flow through a given thickness of a material.)  By doubling, or in some areas, tripling the insulation, we have a total R value between 26 and 39.  Fiberglass batts have an R value ranging from 2.9 to 3.8 per square inch.


Back in 2014, before we installed our new siding, we took similar steps to insulate the exterior of our home.  Then, when we remodeled our basement two years ago, we followed the same steps I described above.  Immediately, we noticed the house maintained temperature much easier, keeping cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

In the pool space, we (let’s be honest, it’s all Ben), have one more section of wall to insulate. We had already completed the front wall, so we took a break from the tedium of insulation to start hanging the 4 by 8 foot sheets of exterior grade plywood.


To complete the board and batten wall treatment, we need a durable backing that can perform in this wet environment.  Hanging the sheets requires marking the 8 inch spacing of the future batten strips, nailing in place where the strips will hide the nails.


Each sheet hangs 1.5 inches above the floor, to prevent the sheets from wicking up any water near the wall.  Baseboards will cover the gap and thin boards will follow the edge of the ceiling.


Another horizontal band will line the room at the 8 foot mark, covering the joint of the sheets.  Something along the lines of this, but you know, real:


As usual, there are many steps we need to take before we can get to that point, so we’ll keep working and I’ll keep you posted.

Pool House Bathroom Remodel Plans

We’re in the thick of summer and a prolonged heat wave with temps near or above 100 for a few weeks now.  I mention this because the heat and lack of air conditioning in the pool house make for rough working conditions, thus very little progress.  Now more than ever, the prospect of a pool is really appealing and we’re excited to get the space finished.  To keep myself busy (and in the cool climate controlled house), I’ve spent more time researching the exact designs and products for the space.

I’ve always had a rough picture in my mind, but now’s the time to track down every.last.piece that will go into this area.  Planning the half bath is perhaps my favorite part, so let’s get into the design.  I took to Photoshop to translate the vision in my head onto paper, err, screen.

Pool House Bathroom Vanity 2

This is the only half bath we’ve ever had in a house, and it allows a bit more fun, less practical choices than a full bath.  That doesn’t mean it won’t be hard-working.

Pool House Bathroom Vanity Labels

1  As with the rest of the pool house, the plan includes covering the walls in white board and batten for a bright, blank canvas.  2  We’ll also carry the Montauk Black slate into the bathroom for continuity.  3  With the black and white foundation, we need to add a warm wood to the mix, just as we did in our master bathroom.  Unlike the master bath, this half bath doesn’t need much in the form of storage, and a cabinet will surely accumulate junk.  Enter, stage left, the open walnut vanity of my dreams.  The top plank will hide the sink, with a slatted shelf below, perfectly modern, without room for clutter.  4  These Beaker sconces are one part industrial, one part nautical, and fully perfect for this bathroom.  5  Wall faucets are so sleek and simple, I think this is the perfect place to incorporate the Delta Trinsic in chrome, to match the sconces.  6  Clean lined vessel sinks are a go to of mine, but I want to go slightly off course with this semi-recessed vessel option.  7  I adore the collected look of mixed metals, so in addition to chrome, I’ll toss some matte black accessories in there, too.  We’ll need an odd sized mirror in this room, so I have plans to DIY a similar mirror with a slim shelf to store a small jar of cotton swabs and a lotion pump, both items I need after swimming.  8  Bringing in another black accessory to tie in with the mirror, this Trinsic towel ring is elegant and simple.  9  Cute Turkish hand towels will add a bit of pattern and color.  10  For a luxe touch, I’ll add  a beautifully scented Izola soap in a gorgeous and reusable glass dispenser.  Of course I have to add a little bit of green.  11  We’ll corral toilet paper in a cute basket, perhaps this wicker option or this black wire one. On the other side of the vanity shelf, we’ll stack extra towels.

I’m not 100 percent sure, but I’m leaning toward a white painted drywall ceiling for simplicity.


The other thing I’m undecided on is whether to add a marble back splash or not.  It’s a look I love, and it certainly would be more durable.  What’s your vote-back splash or without?

Over on the toilet side, things are much simpler.

Pool House Bathroom Toilet Side

In this small space, I don’t want to overwhelm the room with stuff.

Pool House Bathroom Toilet Side2

1  The lack of natural light in this room, especially compared to the rest of the pool house which is so bright thanks to the generous windows and skylights, feels so dark.  Granted, before the walls were clad in dark stained wood and the only light source was an old light/fan combo.  To bring a little natural light in the room, we’re repurposing an old glass door by painting the frame and frosting the glass, similar to this one.  2  Carrying a bit of the warm wood to this side in the form of picture frames will make this side feel less stark.  3  For a burst of color, movement, and interest, I’d love to add gorgeous abstract art, like the Coral and Palm Nights prints from the talented Britt Bass.  4  While in Minnesota, I took a quick run (45 minutes start to finish!) through Ikea and grabbed a Grundtal toilet roll holder for this space.  The simple design was only six bucks, but I think I’ll paint it matte black to keep the mixed metals to chrome and black.

We’re still far off from the bathroom actually looking like this, but I find it helpful to get my ideas down, not only for myself, but also to show Ben what I have in my mind.  And in store for him in the building department.


Lingering Little To Dos

Over the course of the last four years, we’ve updated every room in this house as well as our outdoor spaces.  Pool house not included, as that is serving as a personal warehouse of building materials until we have time to finish it off.

Most rooms are completely functional, minus the basement bathroom that currently sits showerless.  Despite functionality, we’re solid 95 percenters, as I like to say.  With as many big projects to tackle as we have, it’s easy, too easy, to get side tracked and move onto the next task.  So, there are little unfinished tasks throughout the house.  All are purely cosmetic, which means they’re low on the priority list until we wrap up the basement remodel.  Ironically, most of these are quick fixes and wouldn’t take even a weekend to finish.

Replacing the cracked, stained beige entry tile with beautiful slate is on the to do list.  Removal, laying the tile, and grouting should be a weekend task.  I’m just dreading the dust storm that removal will create.


In the living room, our entertainment center is still without doors, and I’m greatly regretting painting the backs yellow.  We’ve gone back and forth on how we want to handle air and sound flow that isn’t an option with solid wood.  Fabric and perforated metal insets are the top contenders.


Directly across from there is where I’d love to have a wall to wall window seat with bookshelves on either side.  I’ve nailed down my plan, so the hardest part is out of the way-haha.


Over in the dining room, I had started patching the hole from the previously off centered light fixture, but still haven’t finished sanding and painting.


A quick addition of thin trim along the top of the bar hutch will finish it off, covering the small gap along the ceiling.


In the kitchen, I’d love to add vertical dividers above the double ovens to store and divide cutting boards and baking sheets.  Right now, they’re stacked up in the drawer below.


A pesky, improperly installed can light hangs down in the family room.  The housing isn’t screwed into place in the attic, so the insert can’t go completely in.  It wouldn’t take long to fix, but climbing in the hot, dusty attic isn’t high on our to do list right now.


In addition to wanting cabinet doors on the entertainment center, I’d like to add a set covering the wood storage area next to the fireplace.  When full, it’s a dirty mess that may be easier to contain behind closed doors.


While the back deck is finished, we still have to run wiring and install two outdoor sconces on either side of the pool house door.  Until then, we have holes with insulation stuffed inside.


Rooms on the sleeping side of the house are more finished.  No unfinished parts in either bathroom, the guest room or the boys’ bedroom.  A simple addition of a bench at the foot of our bed would fill in the awkward open space and complete the room.


Moral of the story, don’t feel bad if your home isn’t 100% finished.  Ours certainly isn’t, and that’s okay.  Everything is a work in progress, eventually those tasks will be completed, just in time for more I’m sure.