Sun Room Big Reveal

The big day is finally here.  The day where in photos I can take you from this:

Sun Room Before

To this:

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Amazeballs, no?  The biggest difference is the ceiling height.  Pitching the roof to go from a 7.5′ flat ceiling to an angled ceiling with a height of just over 9′ on the high side made the room feel not only bigger, but less like porch and more like a room. Once the initial demo of the room was done, this was the first project we tackled. Here’s the post with all the details about how we pitched the roof and installed the beams.  This is what the ceiling looked like after we took down the original drop ceiling and installed the new beams but before we put the ceiling back.


And here is the ceiling once it we insulated and put the boards back up, painted, and finished out the beams.


You’ll notice that the floor in this photo also looks different.  We started with carpet that had been laid (but not nailed or glued) over old tiles.


We removed the carpet and tile (that was a crappy job!) and then installed wooden subfloor which we lived with for 6 months or so until we installed laminate flooring.


Final Floor

To get to where we were in this photo, we had to replace the old windows with shiny, fancy new ones and trim them all out.  We also had to demolish the old outdoor kitchen (another craptastic job) and then install the barn board accent wall.  Now things were starting to come together.

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This photo is taken just shy of a year into the whole project.  After we got the floor down, we added curtains and then had the chairs recovered so they matched. Add in some other furniture and a new rug and one side of the room is in business.

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So much better than where we started!


But what about the other side?  After creating the barn board accent wall, we installed a row of cabinets and then made our own concrete counter tops to create a bar area and extra kitchen storage.


Again so much better than this.

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The last thing we did was buy this pendant from Shades of Light to replace the temporary bulb we had over the bar.

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The only finish option was chrome so we spray painted the chrome parts with Oil Rubbed Bronze spray paint, put the sucker back together, and hung ‘er up.  Then we high-fived each other on a job well done.  Now all that’s left to do is enjoy this room!

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To those of you (hi mom!) who have followed along the past 17 months, thanks for sticking with us.  We’re very proud of where we ended up, even if it did take awhile to get here.

So what’s next, you ask?  Well that’s an excellent question.  We have some smaller projects in the queue for the next month or two.  Some rooms are getting painted and of course, I will share my holiday decorations.  After the first of the year, we are going to start thinking about the big kitchen reno and possibly also widening our driveway.  Both of these jobs will be decidedly less DIY than this sun room, but hopefully that means things will move a little faster.  I can’t imagine not having a kitchen for 17 months!

So what I am saying is, fear not.  There’s more home updates on the horizon!  Yay, old houses!

Concrete Counter Tops – Part Two

If you missed part one, click here to read about measuring and creating the molds for the counters.

Now that your molds are made, you are ready to prep for concrete.  You’ll need:

  • Concrete Mixer (we rented ours from the local equipment rental.)
  • Concrete (We used Sakrete 500 Plus.)
  • Counter Top Additive (We bought this stuff in the base color from Cheng’s website.  Depending on what concrete is available in your area, this may not be necessary.  More details on that below.)
  • Buckets
  • Water

Before we started mixing the concrete, we attached 2x4s to the sides of the molds to prevent the melamine boards from bowing to the weight of the wet concrete.


Then we wiped down the molds with a lint-free cloth to remove any dust.  Jessi and Mike at Imperfectly Polished ordered and used a release agent on their molds to help ensure that the counters slide right out once they are dry.  We decided to use cooking spray rather than order, pay, and then wait for a specialty product.

Once the molds were completely prepped, we began to mix the concrete. Some home improvement stores either carry or will special order Quikrete Countertop Concrete Mix, which is specifically made for thin applications like counter tops, but our local stores would not.  We literally checked not only our local stores but also ones in Maryland and North Carolina as well.  So we used the Sakrete 5000 Plus, which Cheng recommends, along with this additive that provides additional strength to the concrete.


This is the additive from Cheng.


As you can see, we needed to mix one bag of additive per 120 lbs of concrete.  However, the concrete bags are 80 lbs so that meant it was time to do some math.  The mixer will hold two bags of concrete (or 160 lbs) so we determined that for every batch of concrete we mixed, we needed 1 1/3 bags of additive.  So I measured out two bags of additives into thirds.   The photo below shows four of these because that’s how many batches of concrete we planned for.  The additional 2/3 of a bag was extra in case we needed it.

IMG_1277Cheng says to use 1-1.5 gallons of water per 120 lbs of concreteand then add a cup of water at a time of the mixture is still too dry.  This meant more math.  We poured a 1.25 gallons of water into a clean bucket and used a sharpie to mark a line where the water was so that we would know how much to fill for each batch.

So we started our first batch in the mixer with 160 lbs of concrete, 1 1/3 package of Cheng additive, 1.25 gallons of water and got to mixing.  Once the concrete was mixed, we thought that it still looked a little dry so we added one more cup of water, per Cheng’s instructions. Big Mistake.

Here’s the biggest lesson we learned: a little water goes a looong way!

The extra cup of water made the cement too wet.  We tried to fix it by adding more dry concrete, but that did not work.  We ended up scrapping our first batch and starting over. For the second batch we were much more conservative with our water.  We started by only putting in about 3/4 of our 1.25 bucket.  We slowly added a drip of water here and there, it was amazing how as little as one tablespoon of water could change the consistency of an 160 lbs of concrete!  Being an avid cooker and baker, I had never seen such a relatively small amount of liquid change the consistency of something so much.  In the second batch, it seemed like exactly 1.25 gallons was the right amount of water.  (I guess Cheng really DOES know what he is talking about!)

To test to consistency, we used the “slump test.”  You cut a hole in the bottom of a plastic cup and then fill it with the concrete mixture.  Then you place the cup upside down on a flat surface and life the cup up.  The concrete shouldn’t settle to more than half the height of the cup.  This photo is from our first batch when it was too wet.  Unfortunately, things moved too fast for me to get a picture of the right consistency, but you’ll get the idea if you do your research ahead of time.


Once we had to consistency right with batch two, it was time to transfer it to the buckets and get it into the molds.  We decided to mix the concrete on our back porch because it is raised and the step would make it easier to fill a bucket from the mixer.  We set up the molds on saw horses in the garage, however, #1 because the garage is covered and #2 because it’s important that the molds are level.  By using the saw horses, we could apply shims under the legs where necessary in order to ensure the molds were level.


We set 2×8 pine boards on top of the saw horses to create a firm surface for the molds and then covered them in plastic so they wouldn’t be ruined.


Once we got the mixed concrete into the buckets, we carried them into the garage and dumped them in to the molds.  Okay, strong Mark did all of that.  I opened the gate.  Once the concrete was in the molds, we used our hands (which were covered in heavy duty plastic gloves) to spread the concrete around and get it even and into the corners, like you would do with brownie mix after you pour it into a pan.


One batch of concrete filled about half of one mold.  Once we had it spread out, we used a rubber mallet and an oribital sander to try and pound/vibrate out all the air bubbles in an effort to reduce the amount of holes we would have to patch once they dried.


Then we added some wire mesh (which you can find in the concrete section of your home improvement store) for strength before mixing and pouring a second batch to fill mold one.


Look at the consistency of the concrete in this photo as it’s being poured into the mold…


…Versus this picture taken just moments later…


See how much wetter the concrete looks?  This stuff is strange to work with, for sure!

With the second batch, you need to do more that just even the concrete out with your hands. You use a board to screed the concrete to ensure that’s it’s level.  Like in the photo above.

We repeated these steps with mold two and were delighted that we were able to fill both molds with exactly 4 batches of concrete, one less that we had anticipated.  We covered the molds in plastic, said our prayers and left the molds to dry.  Apparently I was too exhausted at this point to take any “finished” pictures.

We dried the molds for one week.   Apparently you can remove the molds after 24 hours, but we decided just to wait a week as it really takes about a month for them to gain their full strength and we weren’t going to be able to install them until the following weekend anyway. That week was very wet and damp so we started running a fan out in the garage about halfway through to help with the moisture.

With the help of some friends we removed the molds and turned the counters right side up.  we were pleasantly surprised that there were no air bubbles to fill and a little shocked at how different they looked than the ones Jessi and Mike made.  Theirs seems to have more speckles and ours had veining.  Ours also seems much darker.  At first, I wasn’t sure about it, but as I looked at them longer, I started to like what I was seeing.


Because ours ended up being so smooth with no air bubbles, we skipped the sanding (we were not sad about that) and just went straight for the sealer.  We used Cheng’s sealer and applied two heavy coats.


Installing them took the work of two strong men and several tools.  Mark and a friend were able to carry them from the garage into the sun room and slide the first one into place no problem.  The second one, as we expected, was a bit more of a challenge. Brick had to be shaved and there was a crow bar involved but they eventually got them into place.

We sealed the seam with concrete adhesive and gave it a coat of carnuba wax (which is food safe) to lock in the sealer.


And that’s it!  Total cost was $362.00 (see breakdown below).  That ends up being just about $18.00 /sq ft.  Considering that granite starts at about $50.00 / sq. ft., I would say that’s a good deal!

Cost Breakdown:

  • Molds = $72.00
  • Concrete = $50.00
  • Additive = $130.00
  • Metal Reinforcement = $20.00
  • Sealer = $30.00
  • Mixer = $35.00
  • MISC = $25.00

Since it took me a few weeks to finalize this post, I can report that we have had some issued with water rings leaving stains.  Apparently, this is a somewhat common problem without great solutions.  But since this is in our sun room and not our kitchen, we are ok with them having a “patina” look.

And with the completion of this project, we have officially finished our sun room renovation. I can’t wait for the big reveal post with all the amazing before-and-after photos.  I will have the for you soon I promise!

Concrete Counter Tops – Part One

I really can’t remember when we decided that we wanted to go with concrete counter tops in the sun room.  Obviously its an option alot of folks are considering these days for many reasons.  For us we thought that the look would compliment the barn board and the overall indoor/outdoor feel of the sun room.  We also liked that the cost would be reasonable since we’ve tried not to splurge too much on materials and we already went kinda big on the flooring and the club chairs.

A while back Mark started researching how-to articles and videos online and came across the series of posts on Imperfectly Polished.  They referenced the apparent Godfather of domestic concrete applications Fu-Tung Cheng.  His website offers so much information on the process and possibilities for concrete items in your home, whether you are looking to do it yourself or hire a professional.  For the DIY-er, he has several fantastic how-to videos that we, and many others, watched again and again to get a good idea of how the process works.

The first step of the process was to make a template of the area where we wanted the counter tops to sit.  This is important because it allows you to create a exact replica of the space, rather than just relying on measurements.  To make the templates Mark used 1×4 pieces of pine wood (because they are “straight and cheap” he says).

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We knew that we would have to have two pieces of counter top because we would never be able to install one long piece as it would be way too heavy.  So the first step to creating the templates was determining where we wanted the seam to be.  We decided that it would look best to put the seam in the middle of the two middle cabinets.  This would also distribute the weight of the counters most evenly.

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Visually the seam may appear to be exactly half of the length of the cabinets but if you look closely you’ll see that the cabinet on the far right in the picture above is wider than the cabinet on the far left, so one side of the counter top will be slightly longer than the other.

Once the templates are made, Mark traced the shape onto the melamine board, which is basically plastic coated particle board.  This is ideal for the molds because the plastic coat helps prohibit the concrete from sticking to the mold as well as preventing wood grain from stenciling the hardened concrete.  When tracing the template onto the melamine it’s important to remember to turn the template upside down because the bottom of the mold is actually the top of the counter, like when you make a cake in cake pan.  *Warning – this will be the first of several baking analogies I will use to describe this process.*

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Once the templates have been traced upside down onto the melamine board, it’s time to cut the board and then create the sides.  Because A: the template is not a perfect retangle and B: we don’t own a table saw, Mark used his circular saw for this process.  To make sure he stayed on his line, he clamped a straight edge to the board to keep the saw from deviating from his trace line.

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To create the sides, Mark cut 2 3/4″ strips of the melamine board and screwed them to the bottom/top with decking screws.  In order to keep the melamine board from splitting when he screwed the sides in, he pre-drilled holes every six inches and then went back with the screws.  The height of the sides is important because it dictates the thickness of your counters.  We wanted 2″ thick slabs, which is about as thick as our IKEA cabinets can safely hold, so we add 2″ + 3/4″ (the thickness of the melamine board) to give us molds that were 2″ deep.  (By the way, not all cabinets can support the weight of concrete counter tops so it’s important to determine that ahead of time.  Luckily, the Internet was able to confirm that IKEA’s cabinets are strong enough to hold them.)

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Once the molds are made, the next step is to tape the top edge where the particle board is exposed so that moisture cannot seep in and cause the boards to swell.  Then we ran a line of tape about 1/8″ from the seam where each board comes together.  This was so that we could then run a fairly straight line of caulk on each of the seams.

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Once the caulk was in place, we removed the tape right away.  Another pro tip we learned in our research is that using black caulk (instead of white or clear, which is what most people have laying around) will ensure that you don’t miss any spaces and create a airtight mold.

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All of the steps above were completed about a week before we actually poured the concrete.  In the next post we will cover how that process went.  It was not without its ups and downs, and I promise there will be more baking analogies as well!

Bar Cabinet Details

We poured the concrete countertops this weekend you guys.  But before we jump into a “how-to” series regarding our process, I have a little bit more info to share with you about our cabinets.

I mentioned in our last post how we decided what size and configuration of cabinets we wanted, but I didn’t cover our door choice, hardware, etc. So here are those details.

Choosing a cabinet door style was a one of the decisions that held this project back for awhile.  Are you surprised that I had a hard time making a decision?  I am such a commitment-phob!  Ikea has lots of great door styles in their collection and companies like Semi-Handmade provide even more options.  At first  I was drawn these this grey option.

Lidingo Grey

This the IKEA Lidingo door in grey.  I thought it would help bring out the grey tones in the barn board.  Here’s a photoshopped idea of what that would look like.

Grey cabinets

But since I have matching issues, I was concerned that I wouldn’t like the look of the grey concrete countertops with the grey cabinets.  (Full disclosure: as I am typing this and looking at the photo above, I am completely questioning that logic and wishing I had thought it through more because maybe that would have looked amazing.  Sigh!)

Anyway, we nixed the grey cabinets and next considered the Ramsjo, which is a shaker style door in a semi-white-wash finish.


We liked the shaker style since that’s what we think we would like in the kitchen eventually and the white wash finish tied nicely with both the floors and the barn board.  Se we went for it.  Here is what they look like all installed.

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Don’t worry about the red stripes on the sides, that’s just the flooring underlayment that is exposed temporarily while the base boards are removed so we could install the cabinets.

For hardware, we knew we wanted oil rubbed bronze since that’s what the rest of the fixtures in the room are.  Some oil rubbed bronze hardware, such as this example below, have a brushed look to them.  I didn’t want that.


I wanted something that was almost black and I didn’t want to have to buy a hundred of them.  Many of the cheaper options I found were only sold in sets of 10 or 20.  So I ultimately decided check out Restoration Hardware since I knew they you could order custom amounts.  We ultimately decided on these 4″ cup pulls and these 1 1/4″ knobs (total cost about $100).

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Sorry this is such a crappy, low light photo, but you get it idea with the hardware.

We have moved some stuff into the cabinets and I am love with all the space.  We had to get some smaller containers but the dog’s food fits nicely into the cabinet on the left.  In the drawer above we are going to get a container that will house their supplement powder that is currently sitting on top of the cabinets so that will be tucked away eventually as well.  I will share a photo of them all open once I get a few more organizers in place.

To share a little bit about the countertop process, I will tell you this, it was exciting and not without itss ups and downs.  I promise to fill you in next week!

So This Bar Walks Into a Sun Room

The area of the sun room where the bar is going to go has a width of 9 feet, 10 inches.  Kind of a weird dimension but certainly big enough for lots of good storage which I sorely need with a kitchen that’s only 10 x 10.

IKEA’s kitchen cabinets are the source of much discussion on the Interwebs (have you heard they are coming out with a new line?) and I have read a bunch about them over the course of the past three years.  The general consensus seems to be that while they are not without their challenges/downsides, they are a pretty good product for the money.

Using IKEA’s Kitchen Planner, I created a room with the same dimensions as the sun room and then went about planning out which cabinets would maximize space and meet my storage needs.  Here is what I ended up with.


On the left of this image is a 18″ cabinet with a top drawer and bottom pull out function that we are going to use to store the dog’s food containers.  In the middle are (2) 36″ cabinets with standard shelves, and on the right is a 24″ cabinet with a top drawer and standard shelves below.  I plan to use the middle cabinets to store my larger kitchen electrics and serving platters and the 24″ cabinet and drawer will be for booze and bar items.  All of this stuff is currently housed in the basement so it will be really nice to have it up on the main level.

After planning out the layout online, we went into the IKEA store and went over everything with their Kitchen Planning Staff.  They helped us to make a few tweaks and ensure that we ordered all the necessary components.  Some of the items were in stock and some had to be delivered, but we had everything in our possession in just about a week.  It’s important to go over the contents of your order soon after you receive it all as it’s common to have missing or incorrect items.  We did have one thing wrong but we called customer service and they sent us a shipping label to return the incorrect item and shipped us out the correct piece right away.

Assembling the cabinet bases was pretty easy, but not necessarily uncomplicated, much like any other IKEA product.  We managed to assemble all four cabinet bases in an hour and a half.

Rather than using IKEA’s stock legs and toekicks, we decided to build our own base for the cabinets so that we could customize the height.  We wanted it to be bar height (slightly higher than an average kitchen counter) so we cut two  2×8′ wood boards so that they would run the length of the bar wall.

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Then we placed cross members (also 2×8′) between them wherever the edges of the cabinets would sit.

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The width of the base is slightly narrower than the width of the cabinets (21″ vs. 24″) so that the cabinets sit out a bit from the base.  Once we had the base in place, we leveled it with shims and then placed a few screws through the bottom of the cabinets into the 2×8’s.

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The visible toekick of the base will be clad with the same trim that goes around the rest of the room so the cabinets feel built into the space.

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On top of the cabinets Mark screwed in sheets of 3/4″ plywood which is what the countertop will sit on.

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We have decided to DIY concert countertops because of the cost savings and we think the look will tie in nicely with the barn board accent wall.  So that’s the next step in this process and we hope to get started on them next weekend.  Of course we’ll share on the details as we go!


Entirely Recovered

Over the Labor Day Weekend Mark and I tackled recovering the dining chairs.  The chairs came to us with a red toile fabric that wasn’t awful, but just didn’t go with the color scheme of the new sun room.


A long time ago I order a bunch of swatches online.  We decided that grey would be a nice, complimentary neutral.  After looking them over we decided on this one and ordered up two yards.

Fabric Sample

You guys, this is the easiest project!  It took Mark and I less than an hour, we did it together, and no one used a swear word.  All we did was remove the seat pad from the chair using a screw driver to remove each screw.

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Super Cool Side-Note:  This table and chairs was made in Tell City, Indiana, which is very close to the small town where Mark grew up.  This wouldn’t be that amazing if this table we from Mark’s side of the family, but it’s not!  As I have mentioned before, it was my late grandmother’s and my mom recalls her saving her pennies to buy this and how excited she was when I finally came all the way from Indiana to be hers.

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Okay, back to the instructions.  Once we had the seat pad removed from the chairs, we places the pad on top of the fabric and measured how much we would need.

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Since the fabric we chose was thick and you couldn’t see the old fabric underneath, we just went right over top with our new fabric.  We started with one of us holding the fabric straight while the other one used a staple gun to attach it to the wood.

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Once the first side was stapled into place we did the opposite side by one of us stretching the fabric so it was taught and the other one stapling into place.

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For the corners we folded the fabric like so


And then added staples all along the creases to get a nice clean edge.

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Here are all four chairs all recovered and happy!


You may remember that we had a mirror in here before.

Old Mirror

It serves two purposes; it helps the room appear wider and it also covers up the window opening from the powder room. (Remember that this sun room is an addition to the original house so that used to be an exterior window.)

Our plan was to take the old mirror out of it’s original, cheap frame and create a frame out of the leftover barn board.  Mark got the mirror out of the frame and into the new one, but just as he was tightening one last screw to make sure the old mirror was firmly fastened into its new frame, CRACK!  The mirror broke. *Cue deflating balloon.*

So since the frame was already made, Mark found a glass place by his office and had a new mirror cut to those dimensions. We were more careful installing it this time and here is the finished product.

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So now both our sitting area and dining area are complete, that just leaves the bar area. Remember our plan here to use kitchen cabinets to create additional storage and a bar area.  On Sunday we braved the masses at IKEA and purchased the cabinets we needed to fill the space.  More on that process to come.

Were You Raised in a Barn?

I don’t even really remember how this story starts.  I think maybe it starts with this blog post about a faux barn board wall that was created in a nursery.  I love the look of barn board, especially in contrast to clean, white elements in room and since I already had the clean white elements going on in my sun room, I started to think that barn board might be the perfect accent wall/back splash for the bar area.  That was last summer.  Seriously.

I ran the idea past Mark and he loved it.  Rustic things like barn board are his love language.  He began to search around on the Internet to see if there was any available near us.  There wasn’t much, and what was available was overpriced.  Our recent sticker shock over quotes for soffit and HVAC work has led to the coining of the term the “beltway double.”  Basically everything seems to cost about double what we expect it to, and apparently people in this area can afford to pay it as everyone we talk to seems to have no shortage of work.  So I guess we weren’t that surprised that the “beltway double” also occurs in the case of barn board.

We mentioned this to Mark’s dad when he was visiting over Labor Day and he was even more shocked at the price tag for the wood than we were.  Where he lives in Southern Indiana, barn board is almost always available somewhere for free if you’re willing to haul it away.  So my father-in-law went home, asked around, and got us some barn board for free.  Not only that, but he, his brother, and his sister-in-law drove it up here to us over Thanksgiving.  We are very grateful for this and really enjoyed having them come to visit as well.  My uncle-in-law is a retired electrician so he looked over our electrical work out there to make sure we had done everything properly and helped prep the rest of it for the HVAC unit.

Mark was out of town the first two weeks of December so we didn’t start installing the barn board until the middle of the month.  Here’s what the bar area wall looked like before we started.


Remember, this was the wall with the old outdoor kitchen.

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The first thing Mark did was screw 2×4’s into the wall to act as nailers or studs for the barn board.  He installed them 2 ft. apart.


Then he covered the whole thing in black construction felt paper.  This is the same stuff that is under our hardwood floors.  The reason for using it here is to visually diminish the appearance of seams between the boards and to make sure you can’t see any of the wall through the barn board.  Originally our plan was to paint the wall black.  Then Mark had this idea to use the leftover black paper from the kitchen floor installation.  So much easier and faster!  We just stapled the paper to the nailers.


Installing the barn board was relatively easy.  Mark’s dad and uncle had cut the boards before they brought them up here so that they would fit in the back of their pickup.  They marked each board as they cut them so Mark would know which two boards go together.  We thought that a brick pattern would be best since the other wall is actual brick and has that pattern as well.  Another key detail Mark though of was to special order some old-fashioned nails.  You probably would never noticed them, but they blend alot nicer against the rustic barn board than new, shiny, round nail heads would.  The installation took Mark about 8 hours start to finish.


Do you like it?  We do.  The bright, white electrical boxes are a bit of an eyesore, but we are looking for some solutions to make them less obviously/out of place.  Here’s a wider view that shows how the rustic wood contrasts with the white walls and light blue ceiling.


Did you notice the new chandelier?  It’s from the Young House Love collection at Shades of Light as was only $89 bucks.  I think it’s perfect with the new wall and also compliments this guy.


This is a Hunter Caicos ceiling fan from Home Depot.  The price on the link says $129, but I think we paid $119 when we bought ours back in early December.  The information on the box said that the fan could be installed on a sloped ceiling but we couldn’t tell whether or not we would need to add a down rod in order for the fan blades to clear the beams.  We figured we would just take the fan home and see how it went.  Luckily the blades cleared the beams by just enough that we didn’t need a down rod.  I couldn’t get a good picture of the clearance depth, but it’s only an inch or two.  We thanked the reno gods and moved on!

The AC unit arrived this past Monday and Mark is fixin to start the installation tomorrow.  He’s done a ton of research, purchased the necessary parts, and discussed the process at length with anyone he thinks might have good insight, so I guess we are as prepared as we can be.  You know I will let you guys know next week how it goes.

As a side note, we had a lovely Christmas with Mark’s brother and sister-in-law.  While I would have preferred to have celebrated with my family in the 80 degree California weather, we loved enjoying our home.  I hope you all had a nice holiday week and are looking forward to ringing in the new year!

Sun Room, Where You At?


Welcome to threenineohfive.  If you followed my last blog, you know that we are about 75% of the way through the renovation of our sun room.  If you’re new, you can check out where we started here.

When last we posted about our progress, we were essentially here.


And now we are essentially here.


Basically we are talking about alot of painting.  Usually painting isn’t a long process, but when you have a 40 linear feet of window trim and 30 linear feet of brick plus some other random surfaces, it slows you up a bit.  Oh and painting overhead is never fun.  Here’s how we did it.

First we primed all the unpainted brick, wooden beams, and other surfaces that didn’t already have a coat of paint on them.  Then we applied two coats of Benjamin Moore’s Simply White in semi-gloss to all the trim, the beams, and the walls.  This is the same color and gloss type as the trim in all the rest of the house, so everything in the sun room matches the two doors that lead out to it from the house.  We chose white for two reasons.  One, we wanted the “interior features” i.e. the walls and the window trim to fade away as much as possible and we thought white would be the best way to achieve that.  And two, there are so many different surfaces on the wall that connects the room to the house, we wanted something that would blend them all together as best as possible.

It took at least 8 hours and over 3 gallons of paint to complete this process.  The brick really soaks up the paint, and painting all that trim three times is a real time suck.  The good news is, we’re done!

The other thing we did a bit earlier this fall when the weather outside wasn’t as frightful, was finish up the exterior components by installing aluminum soffit and trim.  Here’s what the eave looked like awhile back after we had drilled holes in the ceiling before installing insulation so that the could escape.  More about that here.


And here is what it looks like now that the soffit has been installed.


Here’s what the outside of the windows looked like before the aluminum trim.


And here is what they look like now.


Originally we planned to hire these two jobs out. Since Mark didn’t have any experience bending aluminum like this and we didn’t have the large piece of equipment needed to do so, hiring a pro seemed like the right way to go.  We thought it might cost around $1,500 for the job, but every quote we got was for alot more.  (One guy wanted almost $4,000!)  So after watching some videos on YouTube and finding a place that would rent the machine for about $200/week, Mark decided he could DIY.  He actually rented the machine and did the work the same week our floors were being re-done.  This actually worked out well for a number of reasons.  We were blessed with great fall weather that week and he could work outside every day.  And since we were living in ta hotel,  it gave the dogs a chance to run around each evening for a couple of hours while Mark worked on the siding.  It turns out to be a pretty simple and straightforward process and the results look professional.  We are so glad we didn’t spend the money hiring someone else to do it!

The next step out here is to get some temperature control going on.  As nice as the room looks in the photo above, it’s been too cold to use it since we finished painting.  We had a cold November and with winter upon us, all our hard work will be for not if we don’t get some heat up in this room A-SAP!  We’re going with a Mitsubishi duct-less heating and air combo.  Mark had experience with these overseas when he was in the military and the AC only ones are popular in Hawaiian homes where central air is not common, so we’re pretty sure we’re going to like what we’re going to get.

Although the price on the link above is more, our unit ended up costing just about $1,350.  What has held us up is installation.  Apparently, in our area, according to the contractor that was referred to us by Home Depot, the cost of installation STARTS at $4,800.  STARTS, people.  My head is still spinning.  Based on the fact that it took this contractor almost a month to call after we requested that someone contact us, I can only assume that they aren’t hurting for work.  Aye, NoVA!

So once again, we’re going the DIY route.  That means we’ll have to spend some extra money on tools and some time on YouTube learning how to install the thing properly, but I am sure Mark will do a bang up job as always.

Given the trouble we’ve had with getting the HVAC installed, it’s unlikely that we’ll reach our informal goal of having the room ready for Christmas dinner.  We never planned on being 100% done by Christmas, but we did  hope that the room would be usable and without heat, it’s probably not going to be.  Wah, wah.

So that’s the current state of the sun room.  Next week I will share with your our holiday decorations this year and I have lots of other posts in the hopper about other things we have been up to, stay tuned!

Getting Trim

Update: We’re still in love with our new windows.  Okay, moving on.

This past weekend was spent starting to install wood trim around each of the windows. There’s a lot to trim, y’all.

As a metaphor, trim is kinda like a snazzy rain coat.  It hides whatever messy-ness you have going on under neath and keeps you dry.  You caulk the windows, of course, but the trim makes everything seamless and lovely.  Here’s where we started on the long run on windows before we started to add trim.IMG_0579

And now with some trim.IMG_0601

Besides there being alot to trim, there was also an issue with getting a wood piece that would cover the larger 4×4″ posts that run every few windows.  IMG_0579_V2

They don’t sell a board 4″ wide in the thickness we needed at Home Depot so Mark borrowed a plane saw from our neighbor and planed down a thicker board that was the right width.  While we were grateful that our neighbor had this handy tool, the job was still messy, time-consuming, challenging, and loud.

To do this, Mark drew a line on the wood that designated how much he needed to remove to achieve the right thickness.IMG_0591

This is what the bottom of the planer saw looks like.  IMG_0593

Basically it works like a cheese slicer to shave off a thin slice of wood.IMG_0596

Here is a shot of Mark using it.IMG_0594

As I mentioned, it’s very loud and creates alot of sawdust, but it did get the job done.

So that’s where we’re at currently, working through all the trim.  It will likely take another week and a half to two weeks to get everything done.  The good news is rather than post boring trim updates for the next two weeks, I’ve got a couple other posts in the hopper. We have some new kitchen lights I am excited to share with you and I’ve got at least 200 words on door knobs I know you are dying to read, so get excited for that.