Saturday, March 19, 2016

Cabinetry Is Hard, So I Cheated

When we redesigned the floor plan last year we moved the guest room closet wall to make space for a linen closet at the end of the hallway.  But built in cabinets weren't a priority so we made due with cheap plastic shelves.
I was initially planning to build a cabinet completely from scratch but then I found an oak utility cabinet on Craigslist for $85, still new in the box.
 At 36"x84" it was too small to fill the hallway but it was a starting point and I figured I could finish this for about half the cost of the materials I was going to need for a custom build.
We need half of the linen closet to store our vacuum so I built a divider down the center of the cabinet.  This gave me a chance to finally use the shelf peg jig I bought from Rockler for our last house and never needed.
Luke and I moved the frame into place then I added filler pieces to either side.  To make it look like a single unit I built a small face frame, attached it above the main cabinet then added some leftover crown molding from the kitchen cabinets.
It took three coats of primer and two coats of cabinet paint to get the factory-finish look I  wanted.
Luke was out of town while I did most of this project.  He was surprised by how well the finished product turned out.
Now that we have actual space to store the linens I'll have to figure out where I stored all of them.  We don't have a lot of demand for cloth napkins and bed skirts so they've been boxed up since we moved in.
Utility cabinet                       $85
Lumber (for top face frame)  $11
Nickel Register                     $10
Shelf Pegs                              $6
Total                                   $112

I had expected a custom-built cabinet to run $200-$250 for materials so this came in a half the expected cost  Even though I have quite a few hours into this project it would have taken much longer to build from scratch.
(These are our costs only and will not necessarily reflect an accurate cost for anyone else to do it.  We already had the equipment, primer, paint and knobs on hand from other projects).  

Friday, March 18, 2016

How To Fake a Fireplace

I'm loving our new open floor plan, but the living room lost its focal point when we removed the ugly wood stove (nobody said the focal point has to be attractive).
After removing some walls we were left with few options for where to draw the eye. The best choice was the 10' wall between the living room and master bedroom.  I neglected to get a good picture before demo.  This shot from what eventually became the kitchen is the best I can find.

We moved the coat closet to the hallway which left this 10' wall as a perfectly blank canvas.

We didn't have enough space for a real fireplace or a gas unit so we opted for a wall mounted electric fireplace.  In order to get the built in-fireplace look I started by tiling the wall to look like a stone surround (the color is blotchy because it's wet from my tile saw).
After a few months with just the tile on the wall Luke and I built a custom mantle and lintels.  I did the design work but Luke is the one who actually knows what he is doing.  He did the real work and I helped out with sanding and the unskilled portions of the assembly.
We used hickory for the surround but decided to try a chestnut stain to help it blend with the darker color of the floors and our furniture.
Eventually we put the whole thing it place.  Luke and I are a little biased, but we think it looks great and provides a perfect focal point for the room.  (The fireplace has a flame effect but it doesn't show up in daylight photos.)
The whole project cost a total of $275 for the fireplace, tile and surround.  As long as you don't consider the many hours involved in building the custom mantle it was well worth the trouble and expense.


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Starting on the landscaping

A few weeks ago our yard looked like this.  That pile of dirt has been there since we excavated driveway almost two years ago.
Now that we are finally ready to do something about the yard we gave away the fence on Craigslist.  I was surprised by how many people wanted an old fence that needed some serious work.  Within a few hours I found someone who would remove the fence and haul it away.  Free materials for him, less work for me.
We found a contractor who was willing to spread the dirt, remove the large rocks and put a 2% slope on the yard for $389, less than we would have spent just to rent the equipment.  Plus the results are so much better than we could have accomplished on our own.
 Now that the yard is level we need to install the sprinkler system, bring in top soil and get some grass started.  Our excavation guy will be back next weekend to do some work in the front yard.  I'm sure our neighbors are breathing a sigh of relief.