Saturday, December 24, 2011

Times They Are 'A Changin'

Our little bungalow is starting to seem a whole lot smaller these days. For Sarah, Gilligan, and me, our little 950 square foot home was perfectly cozy. But the Puleo family is growing - we've got a little boy on the way!

With limited space, our new addition means we need to rethink our house. We tried moving, but the market didn't cooperate. So, we're working with what we've got. The guestroom/office is becoming the nursery. After some work, it will make a great space for baby Puleo. One problem: we won't have any space for guests. So our little addition means we're going to have a little addition.

Let the fun begin!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Room to Grow

When you have a tiny little house on a tiny little lot, there's not a whole lot of room to grow. But with a little one on the way, and with him slated to take up one of our two bedrooms, we really wanted to add some space for guests to stay and for us to have some sort of office.

Growing out was out of the question: we didn't want to lose any of our precious little yard space. Growing up was a possibility, but very expensive. We'd also have to add two rooms upstairs for the net gain of one because a good portion of one of our existing bedrooms would be taken up by a staircase.

The solution? Use the space we already have. Not wanting to relegate guests to the basement, we decided on building a room out onto our porch.

And yes, we hired a contractor. But just for the outside! I'm saving the inside for myself.

Step 1 was to jack up the existing porch roof so new supports, floor, and walls could be added.

Step 1: Jack up the existing roof so that new supports, walls, and flooring could be added.

Step 2: Create chaos.

Step 3 (week 2): Build stuff.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Finished Product

After a few Saturday mornings of work, the patio is finally finished. Total cost: less than $300.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Day 3: Crushed Stone Base

The third day of work on the project entailed filling the frame half way with a crushed stone base. This required 14 cubic feet of stone or 1,400 pounds. Thankfully, Lowes was able to forklift a pallet right into the back of the pickup.
Gilligan, as usual, was a great help on this project. While it took some convincing to get him in the wagon, he refused to get out after enjoying a trip around the yard. I think I may have created a wagon monster.

Getting the stone in place before dumping, raking, and tamping.

One small step for man....

It Runs in the Family

Like many things around our house, our picnic table is an antique. Okay, it's really a hand-me-down. But we love it.

The table is in great shape even though it is probably approaching 20 years old. A few years ago we painted it like the Texas flag and really love it in the yard. The benches are a different story. They're sagging and are showing signs of rot.

My recently-retired father offered to replicate the old benches. They came out great!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Day 2: Lattice Backing

Okay, so day two on the project wasn't really a day at all. Today I made a trip to Home Depot, bought my supplies, and put up the lattice backing on the patio project. All-in-all, it took about an hour and a half from leaving the house to finishing the project.The first step was to figure out how to setup the backing. I decided to do three panels, with the middle panel being higher than the others. I'm adding a 1"x4" backing to add support and to give the lantern/plant hangers something to grip.

The hangers are leftovers from last year. I'm not quite sure why I bought them, but they work perfectly here.

Assembling the panels was pretty easy.

I drilled the panels into the 6"x6" timbers. The bottoms of these panels will be covered in gravel later.
And since I had some extra time, I got the grill all shined up and ready to go for summer.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Day 1: Timber Install

With the timbers put in place, it was time to start digging. The goal was to have a level place to sit. After Measuring the space, it was clear that one timber would be almost completely flush with the ground, while to other would sit almost entirely on top of it. I'm not sure if there is a "right" way to level off timbers, so I adopted my own technique. Dig, level, stuff dirt underneath, level, repeat. It took a long time, but I saw the results I wanted.Thankfully, my landscape edger was the same width as the timber. I used it to cut out blocks of grass. Next, I put in the bars to secure the timbers to the ground. I also added some corner brackets to shore-up the frame. Gilligan came outside to help. Being afraid of hand tools, powertools, and banging noises, he spent most of his time eating plants and sunning himself. Not a great helper, but he sure is cute. And we have a frame! Next weekend: lattice and fill.

We're A-Go

They say you can't choose your family, but for house projects there are no more willing and excited DIY'ers I like to choose than the people I call mom & dad.

In this project I needed two things in particular: the pickup truck and labor. The frame of the patio box is made from four 6"x6"x8' timbers. More than likely, they would tip over the smart car. Dad is taking the pictures.

She was having way too much fun.

This were heavy suckers. I definately could not have lifted them by myself. I'm extra thankful for the new gate, which eliminated the need to walk in a complete circle around the house.

Lined up and ready to go.

To the Yard!

With classes and the new job it's been hard to stay on top of blogging and come up with new house projects. But I couldn't resist the warmer weather this past week. So, I decided to undertake a much pondered-over back yard project: the dining patio.

We have a picnic table that we love (Texas flag style), but our yard is very uneven. For a long time we've been looking for a way to level off some space. I didn't want to tear up the grass and then have to replant. A deck was out because we don't have a door into the backyard. A stone patio was out because of water run-off issues. With the houses so close together, I don't want to cause flooding in my neighbors' yards. So what to do?

Naturally, TOH answered my questions. When the most recent issue came out, the cover story was on patio designs.

One option was a gravel "sandbox style" patio. I liked it. So, I went with it. Here's my design:

From this This Old House design, I added a raised planter box and lattice backing with hanging lanterns. I also sketched in our picnic table to make sure the box was wide enough for people to get in and out.

My Shopping list:

-4"x4"x8' timbers (4)
-Six 2' pieces of rebar.
-Four corner brackets
-14 cubic ft. of crushed stone
-14 cubic ft. of pea gravel

I'll need more materials later, but this will get me started.

Friday, April 1, 2011

West Coast Style

What better way to get back into blogging and kick off spring then to do a blog on location? I recently visited Chuck in LA. In addition to seeing Steven Baldwin at a burger joint and hanging out in the green room of the Jimmy Kimmel, I made my way to the Pasedena Salvage store.

It took some searching on the GPS, but I finally found it.

The place was awesome; salvage material was all over the place. But the prices were crazy! Glass doorknobs were in the $40-50 range. I've seen the same thing on ebay for $13, so it doesn't seem to be worth the mark up.

But man, was it cool to look around. There were lots of great materials and pieces.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Birthday Surprise

So, this year I turned 28. I guess that officially makes me on the wrong side of 25. So long mid-twenties, it's been real!

As I've said before, I am always borrowing tools. With some pieces, that means they most likely won't make it back to their real home - usually my dad's garage. Many items are usually heavy or bulky and are a pain to cart back and forth between Braintree and Quincy.

So, when birthday time rolls around, the gift of home improvement tools is always welcome. This year I was very excited to get a Porter-Cable nail gun set. The set includes a 150 PSI compressor, an 18-gauge brad nailer, 16-gauge finish nailer, and a narrow crown stapler. This set is identical to the one I've been borrowing from dad to do projects around the house.

I'm looking forward to using it on my next project!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Uncovering History...In My Sock Drawer

No one gives thought to their sock drawer, at least not much anyway. I don't mean the actual socks in the drawer - a well-stocked supply avoids the need for the dreaded smell test - but the actual drawer itself. Until recently, I considered myself among the blissfully ignorant.

It all started when I posted pictures of our recent bedroom renovation project. A photo captured the corner of our room where I keep my dresser. One of my wife's relatives commented, "love that piece." I began thinking: this is really a nice dresser.

This piece of furniture has a long history. At some point in the 1950's it had a happy home in a guest room of a Boston hotel. The name of the hotel is still up for grabs in family folklore. But in the early '60's the hotel closed (or remodeled), and it made its way from Boston in the trunk of my great uncle's car. It made it to White Street in Quincy, where my mother used it as her dresser until she married my father.

In the mid 1980's my grandparents and parents bought a two family together. For the next fifteen years this dresser accumulated dust in the basement and was used to store Christmas ornaments. I noticed it in college, and brought it out of the basement to use in my room. I've used it ever since.

After hearing the history, I decided it was worth taking a second look at the details. I must admit, I have seen one too many episodes of Antiques Roadshow. They are always finding the imprint of Paul Revere on the backside of a bedpan or an artist's signature on the back of a blue ceramic hippo. So, I decided to see if I could find some clues.

And, much to my surprise, I found an imprint- In My Sock Drawer!

The imprint said it was made by Paul McCobb as part of his Planner Group. Apparently, McCobb is a famous furniture designer (Wikipedia).

McCobb's designs were counted as some of the most popular in contemporary furniture during the 1950's.

Who knew this much history could be uncovered from a sock drawer!

Monday, January 24, 2011

It All Comes Together

The first thing I have to say is that it is really hard to take pictures of the nook. In order to get a good picture, I had to open the window and stand on the side porch. I also need to become a better project photographer. I keep getting into projects and then remembering I forget to bring the camera. Since the last post, I installed the cabinet surrounds and built a custom wine rack.

Put to good use already.

...even better use!

Repainted kitchen.

Sarah's cookbook collection.

Countertop and Plan B

Home Depot doesn't stock our counters anymore! Instead of trying to find something that was "close," I decided to go with something completely different. I found a butcher block counter at Ikea for under $50.

I had to remove some of the surround moulding in order to fit it in.

Fits great!

Long Week-End Adventure

Behr's new sample size was perfect to cover the entire cabinet and was cheaper than buying a small can of paint. The purple paint will get covered with a few layers of clear coat.

Working on the cabinet.

After putting up the backsplash, I put in some bracing to make sure the cabinet went in level.

And voila: perfectly level. We didn't get a good picture of the installation because it took two of us to hold the cabinet in place and use the drill.

The base cabinet was a lot easier. To maximize space I installed an Ikea shelf system. I had to trim it down from 4 to 3 bins, but it otherwise fit great.

It's starting to look like something!