Tile on the Floor

I’ve said it before, progress on the bathroom is slow.  We’ve got a million and ten projects we’re working on, some more pressing than others.  First removing the water heaters to make room for the geothermal.  Then installing a new dishwasher.  And a whole house fan to keep us cool.  All necessary things that have taken focus off the bathroom.  Such is life, I guess.  In the video tour, you caught a glimpse of the newly installed floor tile.  So here’s how we got to that point.

Before we could install the tile, we had to determine the layout.  We knew we wanted a brick pattern and preferred the look of it running parallel to the door.  Then, Ben measured the distance between the wall and the bath tub.  Centering the middle of the first tile on this portion looked best, instead of centering the first tile over the entire room length.

More of the room is this width, not the full 8 foot span.  Ben marked the center of the tile with a pencil, making it easier to line everything up.  After nailing that down (figuratively, of course) Ben measured and cut the rest of his pieces.

Including this hole for the floor vent.

Sometimes tiles are finicky and break while cutting.  Well, not these.  Ben said these tiles are crazy strong and a dream to work with.  A happy Ben means a happy tile job and very little complaining.  And, this is his best toilet cut out to date.

Turns out a paint can is the perfect template.  Knowing this is a small space, Ben pre-cut and fitted his tiles before mixing the mastic.

Install was crazy quick because of this.  Seriously, I watched him set the first few, walked down the hall to clean up a few things, came back and saw this:

Sure it helps that the tiles are 1 foot by two feet, but it went fast.

The following morning, V helped me pull out the 1/16 inch spacers and I got to work cleaning the floor.  Wetting the mastic with a rag makes clean up super simple.  Then I used a utility knife to scrape the higher sections of mastic out of the grout lines.

Bring on the grout!  And a toilet, please.

Airing Things Out

Montana summer is near, and we love enjoying the warm weather outside.  And we want that warmth to stay outside.  In our first house, keeping it cool wan’t too difficult.  Ben super insulated the walls and we had a functioning geothermal to cool.  Well, the mountain house has neither and we’ve got loads of large windows and southern exposure.  It heats up in here.  Luckily, our nights cool off nicely this time of year. Ben came up with a genius idea to tide us over during these in between months; a whole house fan.

After some discussion and weighing our options, we decided to remove the ugly fluorescent light in my office to make room for the fan.

The electric from the light made install easier.  Removing the light was easy enough, then Ben located the roof rafters using a stud finder.

Typical install involves cutting the rafter to make room for the fan.  Not cool with us.  Something about tearing out part of a structural element seems wrong.  Instead, Ben used the fan template and cut the sheet rock around the beam.

Here’s the big guy now.  The fan, not Ben.  🙂

Ben used 2 by 4s to build a brace around the outside of the opening, then put the fan in place.

I’d love to give you a detailed tutorial of everything he did, but I wasn’t in the attic.  However, I can give you this shot of how it looks from afar when on.

The fan sucks warm air from the house and puts it in the attic, which also pulls the louvers up.  The beam across the middle blocks the center louver from moving, so Ben cut it loose from the rest.

When off, the louvers kind of look like a vinyl fence.  Still, it is a far better look than the huge oak encased light of yore.

Even better, when on, the fan does a great job pulling the cold outside air through the open windows.  If we close everything early enough, the house stays cool throughout the day.  What a smart man I have.

Ready To Dish It Out

The mountain house boasts many upgrades over our first house.  Fantastic views, more land, larger home, an indoor (non-functioning) pool, room to expand, and loads of untapped potential.  However, there are several slight downgrades from our first home; dated bathrooms (we’re happy to live with until we can remodel), old windows, and crappy appliances.  Appliances that are as old or older than I am.  Like our dishwasher.

I’m pretty sure its close to original in this house.  At any rate, it’s gross.  And I have no clue why there’s a board on the floor at the base.

Apparently, in the 80’s, this monster was considered an energy saver.  Hmm, I wonder what Energy Star rating it would have today?  It still functions, but not very well.  Clean dishes are hit or miss and the capacity is tiny compared to the KitchenAid washer we bought for our last kitchen remodel.   Seriously, why is the utensil caddy on the door?  Spoons are rarely clean.

While we’re on the topic of the KitchenAid dishwasher, let me show you what we got to replace that puppy above.  This stainless beauty from Lowe’s.

Yep, we got the exact same dishwasher.  Why?  We loved it at our first house.  Huge capacity (seriously, I had to buy more dinner plates because we didn’t have to run it often enough to clean the 12 we had), sleek controls, and stainless interior and exterior.  Ben had to get this big box in his tiny car.  And he did, so we’ve got a new to us dishwasher sitting in our garage, waiting to be installed.  We’ve got 30 days to return it if it doesn’t work, too.  I’m so excited for a new, clean, quiet dishwasher.

What upcoming event are you excited for?  I do deem a new dishwasher an ‘event’.  Score any great deals lately?

Tub Thumping

Before we can officially move into the new house, I’ve required a working bath tub.

See, we pulled out the claw foot tub and we’ve replaced it with a five foot jetted tub and shower combo.

Which also required removing the small half wall and building a new floor to ceiling wall.

The plumbing runs through the new wall, and a Hardie Backer surround, tub to ceiling.  Ben taped and filled the seams and we’re waiting for it to dry.

We also gained a little bit of space for the toilet.  A claw foot tub plus a wide half wall in an eight foot square room is a tight fit.  Now a five foot tub with a standard wall gives the cramped toilet space a few more valuable inches.

In other bathroom news, we picked up our shower tile and a remnant for our vanity counter today.  Hopefully Ben can start (and finish) the shower surround tomorrow.  But here’s the counter:

The counter is a 45 inch by 25 inch piece of white quartz.  I love that it is light and will allow me to paint the vanity any color I want.  Ben got it for 60 bucks, which is about $400 cheaper than the quote we got from the other granite supplier in town.  Score!

Even better, this granite place has piles of damaged materials.  Ben saw a few pieces of Carrera marble in the heap, so he asked about it.  The company is trying to get rid of these and the employee said Ben could take anything he wanted, free.

Those babies are sitting in the garage, waiting for Ben to cut them down to fit our end tables.  He sure knows the way to my heart.

In other new house news, I hung a few pictures.  Mostly because I don’t want to look at the epileptic seizure inducing wall paper.  And because I have about 10 boxes of art at my disposal.

We were able to sell the old bathroom vanity on Craigslist, and now we’re trying to pawn this enormous wooden pergola on someone.  No clue of its original purpose, but it’s in our yard and we want it out of there.

We met another neighbor yesterday; Rocky, the rock chuck.

That’s the latest progress.  Bring on the bath tub so we can move our beds over!  Tell me, what kind of counters do you have in your bathroom?  Have you scored any free things lately?

Cabinet Doors? Done

Almost.  I’ve got some touch up painting to do, but I’ll explain that later.  On Saturday, Ben built eight cabinet doors including two glass frames.  Details to come later, but you can bet I filled the doors right away.  Sunday morning I sanded those babies down and filled a few areas again.  While impatiently tapping my fingers waiting for filler to dry, I dreamed about installed cabinet doors.  A few hours later, I gave the doors a final sanding and started painting with my two in one Behr paint.  Love that I don’t have to prime.

I don’t know why, but Behr paint seems to dry faster than any other brand.  Which is good news for me because I got two coats of paint on the fronts of the cabinets on Sunday.  Then I flipped ’em over on Monday and gave the backs two more coats.  Tuesday morning, I flipped back to the front for one more coat.

Once that coat dried, I hauled the doors up to the kitchen and propped them in place.  You know, just to get a feel of what they would look like.  Because I’m impatient like that.

That’s when I discovered a problem.  The two glass door frames were about 1/8 inch wider than their lower counterparts.

Ben happened to come home to get his wallet during this and I pointed out the problem.

When Ben got home that afternoon, I politely asked begged, pleaded, and whined for him to install the cabinet doors.  He ripped down the glass door frames to make everything even and flush.  Then he started with the install of the fridge and bar doors.  To install the hidden hinges, Ben measured and marked his the hole locations.  He carefully drilled into the frames to hollow out a hole to recess the hinge in.

I admit, I was holding my breath while watching this.  Ben is skilled (as you all know) but I imagined him drilling too far or popping a screw through the front.  Luckily, everything went smoothly, other than one screw head breaking off.  Then he popped the hinge in, used a square to keep it straight and put 3/4 inch screws in to hold it in place.

Handy Sammy was over for dinner, so he held the door up for Ben to hang.  I’m too short, I can’t reach.  Okay, I’m not that short, but it is nice to pawn a job off on an unsuspecting guest.

We didn’t want the wood cabinet frames to split, so Ben used a small drill bit to make a pilot hole, followed by a 1 1/4 inch screw in each hinge to hold the door in place.  After the two bar and two fridge cabinets, Ben called it quits for the night and took a shower.  While I was in the shower, Ben did a little more work.  I walked out to see two door knobs in the fridge cabinets.

Speaking of the knobs, I had a little trouble deciding on the placement.  Like Goldilocks, one was too low; centered in the bottom corner.

Another was too high; the outer edge of the knob above the bottom edge detail.

But one was juuuust right.  And Ben agreed.  Centered width wise on the edge detail, but also centered on the cross edge.

Fortunately for me, this made measuring a cinch.  I just lined my ruler up with the raised detail and marked 1 1/4 inch from the edge (because our banding is 2 1/2 inches wide).

Yesterday afternoon, Ben finished installing the doors.  Where’d the microwave go?  Oh, it’s hidden behind a cabinet door.  Sneaky us.

And now you can’t see our pile of mail or the toaster.  But you can see our pretty dishes!

Add a few sparkly knobs and we’re done.  Wait, we’re not.  I’ve got to paint the crown moulding, those MDF brown trim pieces we’ve added, repaint the edges of the glass frames, and, oh yeah.  Get glass!  Notice the lack of glare?  Ben thinks we should leave the doors glass-less so we always have clean and clear glass that’s under control (not to be confused with the face cleanser).

And I’ve already made this a long post, so why not make it a little longer, all in the name of eye candy?  Oooooh, shiiiny.

I did realize why the knobs were so cheap, though.  Some of the bolts are bent.  Nothing Ben and a little man muscle can’t fix.

Edit:  Here are the pictures I promised to add.  I’ll have to touch up the paint on the glass frames.

And, here’s something I really love.  Ben bought soft close hinges.  No more slamming doors.

We’ve got tons more storage on the bar side, too.  So far, the only thing inside is Ben’s food dehydrator.

We used three hinges on these heavy guys.

Once we get the glass in the frames we’ll have a full cabinet building post.  I’m just excited we’ve covered the gaping holes and you can’t see our junk.  Before, it was like we left our zipper down, but no one told us.  Well, we figured it out.

One more thing checked off our to do list, one step closer to a finished kitchen, but it’s finally starting to look finished.  Just a little more sanding, priming, and painting…  Of course then we’ve got organizing and little building projects to do, but nothing that has to be done.

What do you think?  What’s your favorite part?  Who’s excited to see some paint on those walls?