Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Mirror, Mirror, (Leaning) On the Wall

For those unfortunate enough to remember the state of our house before we moved in, might remember that our guest closet didn't always look like this: 


Instead we bought this, cedar plywood and all:


After gutting the closet we were left with two mirrored sliding doors.  Any sane person would toss them and call it a day, but not two LEED AP's and DIY freaks like Mike and I.  We saw potential.


After three or four months down in the basement, we finally had enough of the garage done to start working.  Although I would rather paint my walls bright purple before I would install mirrored closet doors, I do see the practicality of having mirrors near your closet.  Something our guest room/dressing room is lacking at the moment.  So instead of paying nearly $200 for a floor mirror, we built our own.  We started by removing the metal brackets around the edges and ended up with a mirror 2 1/2' x 6 1/2'.  Mike bought some maple 1" x 4"s and got to work.


He built a simple frame and biscuited the joints and then routered out a recess in the back, so the mirror sits flush. 



Then, after some sanding the frame was ready for some stain.  We all know Mike's aversion to paint and any thing that needs to be applied with a brush, so this is where my mad skills come in.  We started by picking up some stain and poly at Home Depot.  We knew we wanted a dark stain, something to offset our faux leather chair on the other side of the closet, so when we looked at the color charts my eyes immediately went to the bottom.


Since our floors are 'Dark Walnut' and 'Ebony' had too much of a black base, we fell in love with 'Jacobean'.  As we were searching for the can, both Mike and I had a moment of hesitation.  We knew we recognized the name 'Jacobean' before, but couldn't figure out from where, and even wondered why we hadn't chosen it for our floors, since we loved the color so much. 

Fast forward to the first coat and it hit me.  While we were choosing colors for our floors, we had asked for the dark Jacobean.  When I asked Mike to relay this to our refinisher, he said that he doesn't use Jacobean at all because it is so difficult to use and never turns out right.  After the first couple of coats on the frame, I knew exactly what he meant.  It was off.  It didn't spread evenly and even pulled off in the corners.  Leave it to me to think I could stain better than a professional.  


That is not the quality (or lack) of the photo and my point and shoot, the stain would not penetrate in the corners.  No matter how long I would leave it on before wiping it off it would not stay.  By the second coat I stopped wiping it off and it still looked thin in the corners.

Though it didn't go on with the ease that I was expecting, and required five coats, the finished product isn't too shaby. 



And in the end, it looks almost identical to the dark walnut of the floors, (which isn't a bad thing).  Hindsight is 20/20.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Building Blocks

After tearing down the old garage, the only evidence left of the burgundy trim was the trim around the basement windows, seen here in the "Truss Truck Accident Report" photo:


Not only were the windows ugly, they also had no dressings and everything in the basement could be seen by anyone that walked by.  This was especially bad when Mike stored his tools in the basement during the garage build, not to mention whenever I would run downstairs and change in the laundry room after washing my favorite pair of jeans.  Let's just say I got really good at dressing in the dark. 


Mike and I knew we wanted to replace the old (and non-efficient) windows for some fancy glass block windows.  We really lucked out when, during our door-shopping trip to Building 9, we found these bad boys for sale:


Not only were they the right size (fist pumps), came pre-made with a vent, they were only $60 a piece!  We were fully prepared for a $100 plus cost per window.

The first step was to remove the old window and sills. 


Then Mike had to use the partner saw to cut the opening a little, because although the windows were the right size, window openings that are 83 years aren't exactly the most square. 


We then dry-fitted the window in the opening and used plastic shims to level the block, (sorry no photos, as there were only two of use, we had our hands full).  We then mixed up some grout and used a bag that looked like an cake icing bag to squeeze grout along the edges to hold the window in place.

After the window received the grout and a good cleaning we left it over night and the next day we mixed more grout up to create a sill. 


We did this for all 4 windows in the basement and the difference is huge!  Not only can I get dressed in the laundry room without fear of public indecency, but taking out all of the wood trim actually allowed more window and in turn more light.  We probably won't notice the energy savings since we haven't lived here in the winter yet, but I'm sure it's going to help out too!

Here is the same angle as the first picture to show how nice the basement looks without the maroon trim.

Monday, November 1, 2010

This is Not a Garage Post

The truth is our lives haven't been consumed with the completion of our garage, it only seemed like that.  I actually was able to finish a couple projects in the last few weeks and am finally getting around to sharing.

One of the most dramatic changes (and probably the least expensive), was painting our front door.  Because the door is covered by the porch, I wanted to make sure it didn't fade into the shadows.  From the moment I saw our house I knew that with the beige siding and black trim, a bold red door would be perfect.  Mike was less (okay, not at all) enthusiastic.

Before I painted, we had to finish the trim.  As embarrassing as it is, this was the state of our front door, (and back), for the last couple months, yes months. 


To complete this project, Mike borrowed a metal break to make the custom bent aluminum trim.  This was done by measuring the aluminum, cutting it down to size, then locking it into place in the break.


Then Mike grabs the handles and lifts up, creating a 90° bend.


We continued to bend and flip over until we got the desired profile.  Here's our work in progress:


After bending all the pieces needed, Mike installed the trim around the door.



After the trim was in and the J-channel was installed, the siding was put back in place and the job was 50% done, and already looked 100% better.


After living with some paint chips for a couple weeks and checking in on different times of the day to get all the different lights, I finally decided on Sherwin Williams Brick Paver (SW7599) which looked a little like burnt orangish red, because it was bright enough for a pop of color, but not too red. 

I started by washing the door with a TSP and water solution, then I simply used a paint brush (I wish I could have rolled, but the oil-like paint left weird roll marks), and applied that paint.  The deepness of the red required 3 coats, and the temperature (in the 40's and rainy) did not help the drying at all.  We actually had to leave the door open overnight twice because it was that tacky.  Eventually it was dry enough to add the final coat and Mike, being the genius he is, added Vaseline to the edges so that we were able close the door without the risk of pulling the edges up after re-opening. 


I quite like the new color and Mike doesn't hate it, which is good enough for me.