Sunroom Before/After

by Rachel Blackburn in ,

When we started the kitchen renovation, it never occurred to us that this would be such a long, drawn-out project.  Things dominoed and we worked on the living room, dining room, kitchen and sunroom all at the same time.  Half our house was torn up.  Since this turned into a very long project, it's been nice to celebrate the big and little victories along the way.  

Today we celebrate that the sunroom is essentially done!  It's been a journey.  The only thing this room didn't require was wallpaper removal.  We took down a load-bearing wall, demo'd a bunch of wood paneling and a closet, removed a window, upgraded some insulation, installed hardwood floors, drywalled the whole thing, painted, fixed outlets and light switches and installed a ceiling fan.  

It feels AMAZING!




Still to do is a little paint touch up around the skylights and changing out the door hardware.

Michael worked really, really hard to get this done.  It involved a ton of drywall work, which is definitely NOT his favorite thing to do.

We went from a room that felt closed-off, dingy and dirty to one that feels huge, fresh, clean and inviting.

Having the kitchen and sunroom in one space makes it feel so airy and open, and it's a great place to entertain.

Even though the room is clearly an addition, we tried to make it fit a little better by bringing in trims found in the rest of the original house.  Windows were trimmed like the old ones, the same trim went around the top of the wall and the same baseboard was used.  We also painted the doors gray to match the character in the rest of the house.  It helped a lot!

It's hard to say how long we spent on this room or how much it cost, because this is rolled into the larger kitchen/sunroom/living room/dining room project.  All we know is that we got the best deals we could and did it as fast as we could.  We had a some family help with this room too, which was wonderful.

Sometimes you need to break a big project down into baby steps.  There came a point in the reno that we decided to just focus on getting this one room done so that we could live in it while we worked on the last bits of the kitchen and living/dining room.  And it paid off!  It's so relaxing to sit in the sunroom now, and it makes the whole project feel less daunting.

We'll post more pictures when this room is fully decorated.  We have plans for a custom entertainment center/toy storage area, and the room definitely needs a rug and some art, which will probably happen after the kitchen is finished.  

For the time being, we will enjoy it as it is - FINISHED!

Good Friends Make All The Difference

by Rachel Blackburn in ,

This has been some week!  We had a huge wind storm on Thursday that knocked out the power {for the SECOND time this renovation...on a day when we had planned to do a lot} for over 24 hours.  Great.

The reason that was so great?  Michael's cousin was coming down to help out starting Thursday night.  They planned to work really hard Thursday night, Friday, Saturday night and Sunday.  And they did, electricity or not.  

Thursday's task was cleaning.  Yeah, that didn't exactly get done...  One really great thing we noticed on Thursday though was that with the insulation up that side of the house stayed pretty draft-free, even with all the wind and no power.  Win!

Friday's task was drywalling the kitchen.  We passed insulation inspection {also known as the fastest inspection known to man} and the guys got to work.  They had the whole thing done by sundown, which was fortunate as we still did not have power.  Friday was a total God-thing.  The inspector showed up at 8:15AM.  The drill batteries lasted only enough to hang the very last sheet of drywall that they had enough light to hang.  All but a 2ft x 2 ft section got hung before it got dark.  

Saturday night was spent finishing up the small section of drywall, moving everything out of the sun room and gluing plywood to the sun room floor.  The sun room is on a concrete slab and we needed to glue the plywood to it for 2 reasons.  Reason 1 is that we needed to shorten the step into the room somewhat, which we accomplished by using 23/32 thickness plywood plus 3/4 inch flooring.  Much better.  Reason 2 is that we needed something to staple the hardwood onto.  Concrete makes that a little difficult...

Sunday was a sun room floor-laying marathon.  The guys glued the rest of the plywood down in shifts, as it was bowed and needed to have the wood flooring laying on it to weigh it down and ensure good contact with the glue.  They then got about 2/3 of the hardwood laid, which was amazing!  They were beat at the end of the day, but happy.  Having Michael's cousin here made it possible to accomplish way more this weekend than we normally can.  It was really incredible.

The kids of course thought that this was all just marvelous.  Caden was especially enthralled, and he was very proud of being a great helper.  He handed the guys drywall screws, picked things up that dropped, doled out the floor nailer staples as needed, and generally kept up a running commentary on the whole thing.  He knows a lot about renovation for a 4 year old!

This week the plumber is supposed to put in the gas line.  Hopefully we can get that inspection done.  It might be hairy, as we have things going on every day this week that require Michael to be out of the house at some point.  Michael is going to try to finish the floors in the kitchen and sun room.  The sun room floor needs the rest of the hardwood nailed down.  Then the 2 floors just need a light sanding and 3 clear coats.  Drywall taping and mudding will happen as there is time.  At least that's a quiet activity, so we can do that after 9.  

Christmas is coming, and hopefully we will have a functioning kitchen for it.  I am missing doing my usual holiday baking, but at least I'm saving myself the calories!  We seriously can't wait for this to be done.  People ask us what we'll do next after this project is done.  Our answer is something along the lines of "nothing, at least for awhile".  We are looking forward to having things calm down for a month or two!

The Dirt on Renovation

by Michael Blackburn in

Drywalling looks easy, right?  You put up some large pieces, tape and mud between them, give it a light sanding and get priming.  

I used to think that!

I had previously not done a lot of drywall work, and when I did, I had the benefit of a good friend who did a lot of the work for me. He made it look effortless with what looked like a fairly simple process of putting drywall compound on seams, taping them, a couple layers of mud on top, and a light sanding to smooth the edges out. 

I, on the other hand, have probably ended up sanding off half of what I put on the wall in an effort to smooth out my divots, crevasses, and the air bubbles caused by my novice mudding skills. That, in itself, is not the problem, it's the dust created by the sanding. It gets anywhere and everywhere inside the house.

Dust on a dresser in the room next door 

Dust on a dresser in the room next door 

So how do you control the dust?  

Create Negative Air Pressure. 

Hospitals utilize negative air pressure for patients in isolation so that the contaminated air from that patient does not spread to the rest of the hospital, so why not use it to keep the dust from contaminating the rest of the house? By putting a fan in the window blowing out, and opening another window or door in the house, you keep the air only flowing into the room and reduce the amount of dust that can escape into the rest of the house. 


A box fan might have been more appropriate in this situation, but you work with what you've got!

Using negative air pressure really does keep dust from escaping the work zone.  That's especially important when you have 2 adults, 2 kids and 2 cats tracking it all through the house!  

Re-creating a Closet (or two)

by Rachel Blackburn in ,

It's funny how renovation projects have a domino effect.  In order to fix a funky floor plan in the guest bath, we are ripping out a hall linen closet and demo'ing and reconfiguring Caden's bedroom closet, both of which have to be done before we can finish renovating Caden's room.

The hall bath is shaped kind of like a "s".  The hall coat closet backs onto it on one side, and the original master closet backs onto the other side.  It's awkward.  

When we talked to our realtor about 86-ing the hall coat closet, she wasn't all that keen on the idea.  Apparently coat closets are actually used here in Portland.  I, being from Southern California, have never really seen the need for a coat closet.  I hang my hoodies in my bedroom closet thankyouverymuch.  Oh well.  If it'll sell the house, we'll keep the coat closet.  But it has to move, because that bathroom layout is hard to live with.

The hall had 2 closets: the coat closet and the linen closet.  We decided to make the linen closet the coat closet, turn the original (small) master closet in our room into the linen closet, eventually absorb the hall coat closet into the guest bath and build a giant walk-in closet in our room.  Problem solved.

It just makes Caden's room a little more complicated to renovate.  





This is Caden's room: 

Lovely wallpaper, don't you think?  I think it's lovely.  It peeled off over the course of 2 evenings, one spent pulling satisfying large chunks off the wall by hand (wallpaper that is so old it's crackly is great!) and another spent with the steamer.  Lovely wallpaper.

Phase 2 was staining the ceiling.  That took 2 evenings.  It could have all been done in one day if Michael's arm hadn't been in danger of falling off after the first night.  It's all good though - he could move his arm again 2 days after he finished.

Phase 3 was demo'ing the closet and hall linen closet, since they back onto each other.  

The kids had fun playing peek-a-boo with that.

The master bedroom is on the left, Caden's room is on the right.

The master bedroom is on the left, Caden's room is on the right.

How many kinds of wallpaper can you see in that shot?  Hint: there would have been one more if we hadn't pulled the rose wallpaper down already.  Total count of wallpaper prints in the 3 rooms we've touched so far is now up to 7 with the discovery of one print hidden under Caden's baseboards and another hidden in his closet.

Next came rebuilding the closet.  Framing and drywall are the name of the game.  So is white noise, because our white noise kept the kids from waking up as we worked on the room in the evening.  They can sleep through a chop saw in the next room if the white noise is on.

Currently Michael's still working on drywall.  It's going slower than i had hoped, but honestly that's a good thing.  It means we're getting more sleep and spending more time with friends and family than we are working on the house.  

We'll keep you posted as we move along with this room!  It's going to be be-YOU-ti-ful (to quote Caden) when it's finished!