To Have and to House

Chronicles of an 'As Is' House Renovation.

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Bathroom Refresh

The third and final bathroom remodel in 6 months wrapped up this weekend. Not bad for DYIers.

We learned a few tid-bits during the process: 1.) Buying a good tile saw is worth it when you have several projects. 2.) Creating a shower stall from scratch is a bitch and a half. 3.) Getting the pitch right in the shower floor is key. (See future mini remodel to fix this.) 4.) Heated bathroom floors are amazing and installing them is pretty easy (We used Schluter Ditra-Heat). 5.) Buy extra tile before you start the project so one of you does not have to drive 2 hours to get another box. Unless you need some alone time. : ) 6.) Take your time.

This final bathroom was originally the ‘best’ of the 3. Still it was pretty rough when we bought the place 2 years ago. The tile was cracked and the grout, which had once been white, was an ugly brown rust color. In the winter the tile were freeeezing.

Our goal with this remodel was to keep it as close to 1000 bucks as possible. Since the floor was the biggest wreck, we decided to replace it with heated porcelain tiles. We also swapped out the pedestal sink and toilet. All in all, it was a pretty easy project.

Here are a few before, during and after pictures.









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Wood Wall

Since starting the house renovation, one bedroom has had the least attention given to it.  It’s been the last on our list of ‘to-do’s’ for a while now.     Initially, we ran out of primer to paint over the bright yellow walls and ceiling (yes, they painted the ceiling too?), so it looked kind of painted and kind of not.  It was used as a storage space by our contractors and it also housed the kitchen appliances and cabinets before they were installed.  In it, we also stored the hardwood floors that would eventually be in every room….. except this one.   So, we ‘owed’ it to this room to do something different….. and cool. 

We picked a ‘reclaimed wood’ project for the wall behind the headboard.    We scouted out several options online but decided on the layout after being inspired by a wall in a retail shop in San Francisco.   We just had to figure out how to do it.  All in all, it was pretty easy. 

Bedroom Before 1


Bedroom After


Step One: Prep   We measured the wall to know how much wood we would need and did some simple math.

Step Two:  Supplies   We picked up the wood at Lowes.  We searched for wood that was not meant to be finish quality.   So we choose wood that is typically used in behind the scenes projects.   It was rougher and had more character.  This wood is typically chaper, which we loved.   We got 5 different width sizes x 8′ length.   We spent about $350 on wood given the size of the wall (19′ x 10′).  We also picked up 4 cans of wood stain that ranged from dark to light and some liquid nails.

Selecting Planks of differnet widths

Step Three: Staining the wood.  We tried several layers of stain, letting the stain sit for a while, and also wiping it off quickly.   We also hammered screws sideways into the wood and hit it with hammers to give it a ‘past life’ look.   It was pretty fun marking them up randomly.   If you do this, be sure to wear gloves and do this outside so the fumes don’t get to you.  We stained ours under a pine tree so some sap drip on them as they were drying, which added to the look.   After a day drying, we stacked them outside (out of the sun and rain) for a week.  Leaving them outside helped cut down on the smell too.  While this was happening we also choose to paint the wall dark brown so any spaces, knot holes, etc. wouldn’t be too obvious. 



Step Four: installation.  We cut the boards and used Liquid Nails and a nail gun to secure the boards to the wall.  I’m a total pain the in the ass about how things are laid out so this part took a solid day.  Getting it right is subjective and I’m thankful that Marc lets me do my thing.  It includes a lot of standing back and looking at it then trying other colors and lenghts.  It’s a process… but a fun one we did together.


Step Five:  Trim  We added base-boards and trim to cover any uneven cuts.   The clean lines of the trim and base-boards really helps the roughness of the wood stand out. 




This project could be a solid two weekend project.  First weekend is to buy and stain the wood the second weekend is to install it.  


The room went from being blah to wow.  We are looking forward to having our first guests stay there soon.   The Week’s are going to love it!

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Gate Installation

Well, we decided we needed a gate at the base of our 1500 yard long, bumpy , dirt driveway. (We’ll attack the ‘bumpy’ part at another time.)

It’s been great to have a 30 acres of wooded land surrounded by several hundred acres of pristine undeveloped land.

Despite the bliss of the isolation, we decided a gate would add that extra notice that says, we don’t really want any unplanned visitors.

We went with a 16′ livestock gate from Home Depot. After debating how…and if… we could load it on the back of our truck and then drive an hour to our place, we decided to have it delivered. It was a great choice. It would have been nearly impossible to somehow rig a way to support it without demolishing the truck, the gate or both. The Home Depot delivery guys were great.

We started with two 8 foot metal poles that we dropped into 4 foot holes we had a local guy dig for us. He had a Bobcat with an attachment that made short work of the holes it would have taken us days to dig.

We bought 8 bags of ready mixed cement, added water to them and we’re ready to fill the holes the pipes were in. We made sure the poles were level and had enough exposed above ground to accommodate the gate.

At this point we figure we earned a break and chilled with our friends Becky and Erika enjoying the warm sunny day and the view.

After letting the cement dry for a week, we were ready hang the gate. Of course it rained all day and we got a little cold but, it’s what we do when we have a house in the foothills. The outside work is still there, rain or shine.

We drilled two 3/4″ holes for the hinge-bolts and assembled it. Marc loved using his new drill and before long, we were done. From beginning to end it took us about 4 hours to install the poles, mix the cement, and assemble everything.

Next we’ll be adding a solar powered gate opener. Because even though the house is in the foothills, we like to add modern conveniences whenever it makes our lives so much easier.