Surprise!

We have taken on a new project. I really thought we were going to take a little break from projects, but right in the middle of our vacation, Brett and I both agreed on some major changes in the basement.

We just could not get the idea out of our heads.

Why have finished space when you could instead have concrete? Just think it’s perfect for roller blades, bikes, scooters… What kid doesn’t get cooped up a bit in winter and need some space to mess around. The other thought was what about an indoor swimming pool? It wouldn’t have to be too deep, the kids are little and would still enjoy even a splash pool.

Usually after we get back from vacation, we like to relax, but instead we got right to work and ripped up the entire floor in the basement; the carpet, the wood floor in the bar and even the newly finished laundry room foam floor. There is nothing that I love more than taking apart freshly completed projects. I mean the laundry room was done nearly a whole week before we ripped up the floor.

In case you think we have gone mental, the entire basement flooded.

While we were on vacation.

From multiple directions.

 

Awesome.

 

Thankfully Brett’s brother Nick happened to stop by our house to check on a slow drip in the sunroom. The plan was to see if the bucket needed emptying. Well the sunroom ended up being fine, but the puddle emoji Nick had queued up to send as a joke, didn’t get sent once he walked in and saw all the water. He also walked into all carbon monoxide detectors going off.

If you were worried that flooding was the only fun happening in our house, don’t worry because the boiler also crapped out. Turns out the old gal was 50 years old. Which makes sense, considering every time it was negative outside, the house felt like a cool spring day inside.

So anyways Nick and my brother Josh were incredible and worked like crazy to save all of our furniture, getting it upstairs or on blocks. Nick also took care of calling the fire department and Xcel so no one took a long long sleep from the Carbon Monoxide.

We also have some of the most amazing friends and family who helped us rip out truly rank carpet, vacuum up water, remove cabinets, move crap and get off the baseboards. (Shout-out to Matt Lindstrom, Jared Porter, Andy Nordquist, Josh Lawson, Jon Lawson, and Christie Lawson). The silver lining in all the suck is feeling really loved and cared for by those around us.

So I’m not sure that I’ll do any more updates on the basement. Because we plan to leave it concrete for a while. We need to solve the leaking problems before we consider any kind of flooring. I am hoping to bring in some wheeled things for the kiddos so it feels like a fun adventure. I don’t think we will actually do any swimming in the crawl space, not that I have all that high of standards. I do remember taking turns swimming in my friend’s new trash bin when I was a kid. I mean it was way deeper that a traditional kiddie pool. I even remember questioning my mom why we never got to do that at our house!

I just might need to stop by Trader Joe’s and get myself some flowers. They really do have the best ones and for cheap. It just might do the trick and remind me I really do love spring!img_20190317_133954863627929585499619057018203705894617283973000492815703077529image

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Laundry Reveal

The laundry room is officially done! Well there is still one thing on the list, which now that I write this, I worry we may never do, but alas it is done!

So what did we do to get to this point?

Let’s start with the new drywall ceilings. Big pain, but worthwhile. We ended up going with a flat ceiling because I like it best, though I will say it makes it significantly harder to make it not look janky. The laundry room is an odd space in that it has two separate areas that have a drywall ceiling and the rest is open/unfinished with all the house’s plumbing and wiring visible. Since we didn’t want to lose easy access to all that, plus we are in no way skilled enough to make unfinished into finished we only fixed the existing ceilings. Shown in blue.

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We also changed out both of the existing lights. The one originally here was a boob light that we had to take the glass part off because it kept overheating and burning out the bulbs. It also was held together with tinfoil for whatever reason. I found this beauty at Menards, which has surprisingly decent light selection. It came with some cute super dim vintage bulbs which we changed out for some much brighter LED bulbs.

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The other part about the ceiling that we were stumped on for a bit was how to not make it look so shoddy next to the wood plank walls. We ended up using quarter round not only for a more finished look, but also to cover a few largish cracks. And what the quarter round couldn’t bridge, nothing a little (or a healthy dose) of caulk couldn’t fix. I would highly recommend learning how to effectively caulk if you don’t know already. It is the great equalizer for all things wonky. Didn’t make a perfect cut- caulk will fix it. Square hole in the ceiling isn’t covered by the circle fixture- caulk it. See? If you are a the kind of person who says “good enough,” but still want it to look nice, this is a totally worthwhile skill. Two hot tips – 1) Under-do it initially, it will be less mess and you can always add more caulk. 2) Use baby wipes, especially for filling nail holes, it will wipe off the extra so you don’t have to go back and sand or paint over it.

Want a little glimpse into how Brett and I do projects together? This was our final to-do list. Not only can you see the one outstanding item, but look at number one. Crossed off no big deal. I tell Brett come check this out! (The subtext was that he was to check it out, say it looked awesome, say I was uniquely skilled, I was totally fine if he ad-libbed a bit, but I was pretty set on the messaging ) Brett instead heard ‘could you carefully critique the thing that I am so over and done with so that I could do it some more?’ Now I don’t know if you are a list person, but I am. And like any good list maker I love to cross things off. So when Brett said it looked okay, but not great… (now I don’t want you too nervous so I’ll give a spoiler- we are still happily married, even if the next parts sounds a bit hairy)…So while maintaining eye contact with my beloved husband I added number 9 to the list “Caulk light again to Brett’s satisfaction.” This time the subtext was if you want it a certain way have at it. And guess what folks? He got the subtext!

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Here is the other light we added in. It was quite tricky to get a halfway decent picture of it. This one I bought at Ikea back in phase one of laundry room. The former light was just a bare bulb tucked part way into the wall. We kept the junction box in the same spot (minus the jutting into the wall part) and then added a hook so we could hang the pendant in the center of the little square of drywall. Another thing we did to improve this area was to take out some plywood and added wood to frame out the beam that cut through there. It allowed more light through the space, making it almost like a transom window. Please appreciate that Brett and I painted some of the cords running through there, but only enough to cover any orange.

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The next massive undertaking was the floors. I know I left you in suspense from last time and now you had to read everything above here only to finally find out the solution we came up with….

Foam floor tiles! Yup, the kind people usually use for workout spaces or daycares. Now before you think I am crazy, listen to the perks: it’s basically like an anti fatigue mat covering the entire laundry room, easy installation, works over weird uneven floor, great for two wild kids to wrestle on… Am I selling you yet? Now I don’t know that people usually install it how we did, using a razor blade to make exact cuts and then finishing it with baseboard, but I have to say I am quite pleased. I think it helped that we found tiles that had a pretty gray print, making it feel less like a crossfit gym (not a place you want to find yourself typically- unless you are into that sort of thing, which don’t worry we already all know if that is you).

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You can see the seams, but it doesn’t bug me in the slightest. We did make sure to have all the lines run the same direction (except of course on one of the trickiest cuts that we screwed up and didn’t notice until the next day). Also for about a 1$ a square foot, the price wasn’t bad. We got in the 3/8ths inch thickness which was plenty thick even for covering uneven vinyl tiles underneath. The only downside is the tiles are slightly more prone to curling up at the seams. We might add some carpet tape to secure them to the cement/vinyl down the road, but for now its pretty slight. I’d imagine the thicker 5/8th inch version would do less of that, but we wanted the 3/8ths because it matched the height of the neighboring bar floor (and lets be honest it was cheaper and who doesn’t love cheaper.)

Okay now that you’ve seen glimpses, here is the whole thing completed!

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I finally got to hang my late aunt’s hand crank clothes wringer. I’ve had it for 10 years and to finally give it a home and to think of her while folding clothes gives me all kinds of joy. It is quite a burly piece, so I am hoping the hooks, which can hold 95 pounds a piece, and the pieces of wire, which can do 40 pounds a piece, are in it for the long haul. It adds some nice warm wood tones to the white walls.

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Before we called it last winter we added an old left over rod and sprayed it black to crisp it up. Now we can hang our clothes straight out of the dryer, since goodness knows we rarely iron, except for job interviews, we always iron for those! We carried the floor under the washer and dryer too. It was a bit of a doozy, tilting and lifting and trying not to puncture the floor, but it was totally worthwhile. It feels so much cleaner and finished. The other unforeseen perk is they rattle and shake significantly less than when they were just on the concrete. The single black hook is from CB2.

 

The wall behind the washer and dryer remains cinder block with all kinds of pipes and cords running through, but it didn’t stop me from adding a few cute things. The old brass iron is from my aunt too. Under the stairs Brett built a perfect little shelf for storing detergent, lint and any money I make while doing the laundry. The detergent is the only orange I’ll allow now that we’ve finally gotten rid of the oppressively orange walls from before. I can’t and won’t put any of the original horrible orange laundry room in this post, but feel free to check out the before here.

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Brett bought me this picture for Mother’s day last year (well I bought it, but around mother’s day, so same thing). It’s from Juniper’s Print Shop. I think it is called August, but it reminded me clothes in the washer and it was just so happy and bright. I had it printed from Snapfish in a 20×30, which ended up being pretty cheap, since they always have some kind of 50-60% off coupon. The frame was just a simple white frame from Michael’s since they always have coupons too. And the tulips, well I think every Minnesotan just needs some glimmer of hope that spring will come. Does anyone even like March? Maybe it is a decent month elsewhere, but nothing good happens until April…

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Here is looking the other way towards the bar, not too much changed from before, except for the floor and ceiling. You might notice the missing threshold, the final thing left to do (that we both know may never get done).

And that is all folks. It’s a pretty happy space now. I’ve conveniently left out the unfinished ceiling parts, the angles toward the utilities, but I promise you there is not one lick of orange left on the walls and that gives me great satisfaction!

Our next big project is getting grass in the backyard and building a pergola. We are just 3 feet of snow melting away from that!

Laundry Room Reloaded

I don’t know if you remember but last spring we called it a wrap on the laundry room. It’s like throwing in the towel except literally you need to throw in the towels because we just couldn’t live without a functioning laundry room.

I’d like to say when we wrapped it was 1/2 done, but in reality we hadn’t touched the floors or the ceiling, so that would put us at about 1/3 done if we counted the walls as complete, except that a lot of the walls still need another coat of paint, so maybe we were a 1/4 done? Did I lose you with the fractions yet? Luckily I am not one to do math or any kind of realistic thinking before picking up a project.

So the plan was to finish up the laundry room this winter and I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but it’s felt an awful lot like winter lately. So I decided it must be time. It all started because one day I organized our junk drawer and it really didn’t take all that long. Then I got to thinking if I am the kind of person that can have an organized junk drawer, maybe I’ve got my whole life together. If you are thinking about tackling a junk drawer. Do it. But also watch out because you just might feel invincible just long enough to tear your whole laundry room apart…

Here’s a couple of tricks you can steal to successfully complete a project. The way I always jump into projects is do something that is annoying to undo. It should make you think that you might as well just do the work, because if you are anything like us, you’ll want to quit, so I always account for future laziness. In this case we moved out everything we store in the laundry room and set up camp with all the crap in the downstairs living room. Trick number 2: Always make the periphery around the project at the very least an eyesore, but preferably a hazard, or at least something the kids can get into and spread filth throughout the entire house. That way when you inevitably go nuts from all the mess and mayhem you will decide that you just have to suck it up and finish to regain some semblance of control.

You know what fun the kids found with this project? Hitting cardboard boxes with hockey sticks and smashing them into a million tiny pieces. I was recently a mystery reader at Levi’s school and after reading two stories the kids in the class got to ask questions about our family. Want to know what Levi’s favorite thing to do with his brother is? Wrestle. Want to know what they like to do for fun? Hit boxes with hockey sticks. Can you really play soccer in your house? Totally. Do we sound crazy, because I felt like maybe we’ve been running a mad house, but then again maybe that’s just how it is raising two boys in the winter and with parents who have really lowered their standards…

Whoops so I got a little side tracked. If you need a refresher on where we left off check out the laundry room wrap up. Though the real offenders that were left unfinished weren’t exactly front and center in that post. So for a more accurate portrayal here is what we started with:

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There was this awesome concrete chunk sticking up 2-3 inches from the rest of the floor in front of the dryer. We’ve had a thick mat doing the work of trying to make it less of a toe stubbing hazard. We also had two amazing sets of vinyl squares. The purplely one on top was deemed too fancy to be put everywhere, it could only be in the most visible places, it was that special. The dirty river pebble vinyl was more long suffering and likely asbestos. Cool. The ceiling was popcorn, that is except for the parts where it was instead comprised of miscellaneous holes. I mean there were only 6, so it’s not like it was terribly noticeable.

So yes all of these were just an absolute delight to tackle.

The concrete chunk was simple and by simple I mean only for me. Brett hacked at it with a crowbar and hammer. Sparks flew and the forearm that was doing the whacking swelled to 2x the size of his other. So while it sucked it only took 20 minutes or so and we’d been tripping on it for 6 years.

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I stupidly decided I would get up the whole top layer of tile to have a more even surface, thinking then we would only have one smooth layer of vinyl covering the floor. Well after doing most of it I realized the bottom layer was cracked and crumbling in spots. It ended up really being a waste of time once we realized given the age of our house the bottom layer was likely asbestos. So what I really did was make our entire walking surface super sticky. We were kind of in a pickle for a bit on flooring because I really couldn’t figure out what would work. There was no way we were going to pay for asbestos removal. I didn’t really want to do another vinyl over all the unevenness. I though about actually tiling, but you can’t get good adhesion to vinyl and you can’t exactly attach concrete board to concrete. Don’t worry I came up with a killer solution but I am going to leave you hanging for now.

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Look how happy I am wasting my time!

And finally for the ceiling, I decided I would first try to knock down the popcorn. But of course it had been painted so there was no chance it was coming down. Also there was the problem of the many holes, so we decided to drywall over the layer there. Does anyone like dry-walling? The problem with all of these projects were they were not only labor intensive, but they really blew. Do you love holding heavy things over your head? Do you love working with no overhead lighting, but instead a crazy hot work light beaming on you? Do you love sanding right into your eyeballs? Then you are just going to go nuts over the fun of dry-walling.

I don’t have any pictures of dry-walling the ceiling because even with conning Brett’s oldest friend into helping hang, it was not exactly easy. Though I’ll say, sanding is a million times worse than the hanging and mudding. Brett’s gotten pretty decent at mudding since our first attempt in the basement. (If you ever want to check it out just turn off all the lights in the downstairs living room. It looks kinda like a topographical map.) For sanding we took turns, but whether I wore safety glasses, swim goggles or ski googles I kept getting loads of crap in my eye. I finally just took my contacts out and hoped for the best!

That’s where I am going to leave you for tonight. We are just about nearly done, but don’t be too surprised because we started 2 months ago and are only now finishing… I’ll show you the 100% complete laundry room soon!