Old House Restoration

A real family makes an old house their home...for the 2nd time
The Splendido's renovate, restore and rejuvenate their home with their own hands - all while living in the house
and balancing their family needs...you know...like most families have to do it!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

It Rained on My Parade...and In My Porch...and on My Pillow?!*^%

I was really happy with this project when I was done. I only had to go to Lowe's once - no really! It only cost $30. It went smoothly. I had never done something like it before, but thought it through in my head and within a few hours was done - pretty much exactly like I had envisioned in my head.

To review it cost practically nothing (on the home improvements scale), it only took me 2.5 hours from start to finish, it came together as planned and it blended in seamlessly with the house.  So what went wrong? Well not everything is about ease and looks. This project had a function too. Unfortunately last night we had our first down pour since I finished this project 10 days ago and it FAILED miserably

....as miserably as my project failed that was nothing in comparison to my roof last night. That went something like this... "Hey why is my pillow so wet?" I looked up. "Ohhhhh." ....btw- I don't do roofs. Anyone have a great slate repair guy?

You can see where the drips land after a light rain

So what was the project you may ask? I wanted to extend the drip edge on our screened in porch so the water would miss the slate floor and not splash back into the porch. Besides all the wetness inside the porch whenever it rains, over the years this splashing has caused the wood around the porch to rot. I had already replaced several posts and much of the framing last fall because I was concerned the rotted posts would not hold up if we got a lot of snow - which we did - so glad I did not procrastinate on that project! On top of the rot, I noticed during the melt and re-freeze last winter that the drips from the roof landed on the slates and then would refreeze which started to loosen the mortar between the slates. We LOVE this porch! So eliminating all these issues are important to us.

A Mystery - I must admit the issues does have me perplexed. This house is 76 years old. So why now am I just noticing these issues with the drip line? Sure the wood posts could have been replaced in the past without me being able to tell. But the mortar between the slates. I can tell the mortar is original. My only guess is at some point the roof was replaced from slate tiles to asphalt shingles (these are only asphalt on the entire house). I am guessing at that time, the roof line (drip edge) was slightly changed (shortened). So in essence there use to be a slightly wider overhang of the roof than there currently is.

I figured the easy way was to just extend the edge of the roof a few inches and the water would just roll off the edge and fall onto the mulch below - missing the porch all together. With that I went to Lowe's to pick up some edging and 2x2 lumber. I only spent $30 - which for any project can be considered a win...unless of course it doesn't work :-(

Step 1 - Cleaning & Prep
Clean the area to be worked on. You will notice the before pictures above have some green algea and lots of tree debris.

Step 2 - Transition
Transition mentioned in Step 2
Make a transition from the plum edge of the porch so my 2x2 would sit at the same angle as the roof line. For this I used some of my left over 3/4" hardwood plywood from the Breakfast Nook Bench project. I set my circlular saw at the correct angle and used my circular saw guides (to see these guides check out the Breakfast Bench post)

I then attached this transition to the underside of the current drip edge (see picture below)

Step 3 - Attach New Wood
Attached the 2x2's over the transition pieces with sheet rock screws

Step 4 - Install Drip Edge

Installed drip edge over the 2x2's slipping the back edge of the drip edging under the asphalt shingles so no water could get under the edging.

Step 5 - Wait for Rain
When the rain came last night my new edging had its first real test. It did not fair so well. The rain rolled over and then down to the bottom of the drip edge before falling down to the ground (or porch in my case). The current edging, as you can see in the above pictures, kind of rolls under itself - bringing the edge back in towards the porch. This underside edge is still over the porch. So this is what happened last night...

Back to the drawing board...

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Breakfast Nook Bench

Before picture with wallpaper removed
The very first time we saw the Butler's Panty and Breakfast Nook on our initial walk through of the house with our realtor, Glenda Lewis (to say she fought hard to help us get this house would be an understatement), we said this would be a perfect place for a Breakfast Bench.

Even with it's wallpaper and dated color scheme, we could see it's true potential.

Old wallpaper

Walls and trim painted

Karen removed all the wallpaper from the room - thank you! I had enough practice in the old house and was glad to not have to do this room. With that said, we have become experts at removing wallpaper. I will detail our process at a later date. In the meantime - if you have wallpaper that you are itching to take down and want some pointers - just ask!

After changing the light fixture, painting the walls and trim, renovating the butler's pantry and restoring the original wide plank pine wood floors - I set my mind on the project I was most excited about - building a breakfast bench!

I spent some time looking at pictures online of various breakfast benches to get inspiration. I looked for some breakfast bench plans, too. However, I never quite saw a 3 sided bench like we wanted, but I saw enough to give me some ideas. With that, I took some measurements and drew a very simplistic sketch of what I had in mind. Which brings me to the first step.

Step 1 - Sketch your Project

Breakfast Nook Bench Plans | Breakfast Bench Plans
My Blueprint & Bill of Materials

Step 2 - Buy your Materials

I would like to say that I only had to go to the store once because my bill of materials was dead on, but of course we all know that was not the case :-)

Step 3 - Build your Framework

I used 2x3's instead of 2x4's. They are less expensive, easier to carry (lighter) and plenty strong enough for a project of this size.

Breakfast Nook Bench Plans | Breakfast Bench PlansI measured 17.25" up from the floor. I wanted an overall 18" seat height. I planned to make the top of the bench out of 3/4" hardwood plywood. So the two added together gave me the 18" I wanted. Using my level - I marked this 17.25" height all around the room starting from this initial spot. Note - if you want the top of your bench to be level, you cannot just measure 17.25" in all the different spots around the room and connect the dots because who's to say the floor in a 76 year old house is still perfectly level!!!

How to make a Breakfast Bench | Breakfast Nook Bench
I connected the top rails first to the wall with drywall screws. Then using my level and right triangle I added the other supports and rails as needed. Then I added the cross braces. I will not lie - I am not a carpenter by trade - so there were some on the fly adjustments and un-screwing and re-screwing needed here and there. But overall, it went together as planned. Even at this point in the process I could tell this was going to be one solid bench!

Breakfast Nook Bench Plans | Breakfast Bench Plans
Final framework for the bench

Step 4 - Plywood Sides

How to make a Breakfast Bench | Breakfast Nook Bench
I used clamps to hold the pieces in place until I nailed them in for good
I used 3/4" hardwood plywood for this project for a couple of reasons. First, the top layer is MUCH smoother than normal plywood so it paints to a super even finish. Second, it is more durable than regular plywood. Since this bench will be sat on (and sometimes walked on...Luke!!!) and used for homework (and may accidentally be written on with the pen...Luke!!!)...it will resist dings and pressure impressions better than normal plywood.

One of my circular saw guides
As far as cutting all my plywood I do not have some fancy table saw. Actually all I owned at the time was a small 18V Ryobi rechargeable circular saw (until I finally purchased a real corded circular saw to cut the slates for the patio a few weeks ago). I made a set of saw guides out of some particle board 8 years ago in 2 foot, 4 foot and 8 foot lengths that I still use today. I have used these to cut every piece of plywood, bead-board and more for all my projects at this house and the last house. Smooth straight cuts are needed and these guides get the job done right!...and they are very easy to make.

Sidenote: How to make a circular saw guide for your saw - The pictures can probably show you how to make them. Basically you need two pieces of 1/2" plywood or particle board. You need at least one of the edges to be perfectly square. That squared edge is used as the edge that your saw guide will touch as you make your cuts. Attach this top board to your second piece of plywood with screws (and wood glue if you like). Make sure this bottom board sticks out longer than the width from your blade to the edge of your saw guide. Now cut this bottom board to width by just cutting the bottom board using the squared edge on the top board as your guide. What is left is the perfect guide for your specific saw. You line up the edge of the bottom board on any two points, clamp it down and you will make a perfectly straight and smooth cut every time.

Here I stopped mid-cut to show you how my circular saw guide works

...and now back to our regularly scheduled blog post...

As for attaching the plywood to the frame...I had been wanting one forever and finally broke down and purchased my first air tank and nail gun for this project. Since I was paying a premium for the hardwood plywood ($45 per sheet) I did not want to mess it up with hammerhead marks. OMG! I have wasted a TON of time on past projects!!! I wish I purchased an nail gun years ago! It is quick and makes almost invisible holes. Here is a link to the Bostitch Nail Gun & Compressor kit I purchased. Two thumbs up in my book. It has since been used a lot without a single jam***knock on wood***

Step 5 - HVAC Vents

Breakfast Nook Bench Plans | Breakfast Bench Plans
Not everybody will need to perform this step. The breakfast nook had two HVAC vents - one supply duct and one return duct (you can see both hvac vents in the pictures in Step 3). On the left side of the nook was the return duct. These are easy. They do not require any special treatment. Since they are just pulling untreated air back to the HVAC system it can pull air from the whole area under the bench. So all I did was use my jig saw to cut the area and place my new vent to allow air into the bench cavity.

How to make a Breakfast Bench | Breakfast Nook BenchHowever the supply side is a totally different story. The air coming out of your supply register has been treated (heated or cooled) and it costs money to treat this air! You do not want to waste it inside the cabinet. Therefore I needed to extend the wall register to the air vent I placed on the bench itself. Luckily for me I work for RJ Murray (the local Carrier HVAC Distributor) and one of our fabulous customers made me exactly what I needed:

Custom fabricated duct work extension
Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Breakfast Nook Bench Plans | Breakfast Bench Plans
The duct work extension installed

In the above picture, if you look carefully you can see another important part of any home project...having the whole family (including the dog) sign your work before you cover it up with more wood or paint...fun!

How to make a Breakfast Bench | Breakfast Nook Bench
Duct work complete

Step 6 - Floor Boards and Trim

I added 6" tall floor molding and some quarter round to trim the bottom of the bench. I finally got to use my sliding compound miter saw on this project.  Best.Investment.Ever. The sliding option is sooooo important when doing floor molding. It allows the long (wider) boards to be cut in one smooth step.

Breakfast Nook Bench Plans | Breakfast Bench Plans

Step 7 - The Top

Using my circular saw guides discussed above I was able to cover the whole top with only 4 separate pieces of hardwood plywood.

How to make a Breakfast Bench | Breakfast Nook Bench

Step 8 - Making the Top Stronger & Thicker

The 3/4" plywood is plenty sturdy for the box, but I was concerned with the 5 inch over hang. This 5" overhang is important for many reasons: 1) It looks nicer to have an overhang than to just have the tops and sides meet - then you would have a box - not a bench. 2) the overhang is more comfortable when sitting. This way your knees go over the overhang and then you have some space for your feet to swing back before they hit the bottom of the bench. It is a more natural sitting position.

Breakfast Nook Bench Plans | Breakfast Bench PlansI tested the overhang and it was plenty strong and really did not need additional support, but I planned all along to add the extra strength and wanted the front edge of the top to have a meatier look. Therefore I attached 1/2"x4" poplar boards to the bottom of the edge with wood glue and nails, making sure my seams did not line up with the seams on the plywood - adding strength to the seams. You can see in the picture to the right.

Here is a look at the poplar boards from underneath:

Step 9 - Trim the Front Edge of the Top

As you can see from the above picture in Step 8 the front face of the top would not look nice when painted as is. Multiple materials and plywood layers...so I added a bull nosed edging to the front with glue and small nails. I metered them for a finished look.

Breakfast Nook Bench Plans | Breakfast Bench Plans

How to make a Breakfast Bench | Breakfast Nook Bench
Front edge trim work
Step 10 - Crown Molding

I added crowning molding to the underside. It really gave the underside a nice finished look. You will need to wait until the After Photos below to see the crown molding.

Step 11 - Sand and Filler

Since I was painting the bench I used paintable caulk to fill any imperfections (yes there may have been one or two!!!) or small gaps. Big Hint - when doing a wood working project it is important to know if you are going to paint or stain the finished product. Paint hides A LOT! You have to be much more careful when staining. You need to know what species of wood your are using. They all absorb stain differently. You could end up with an uneven finish if you are not careful. Also all your cuts and mitered corners have to be that much better when staining. Any filler could be be noticeable.

Then I sanded the whole bench with my orbital sander to smooth out any seams.

Breakfast Nook Bench Plans | Breakfast Bench Plans
Filled and sanded - ready for paint.
Step 12 - Paint

I painted the bench the same way I painted the Butler's Pantry. Once again here are the steps I used:
  • 1 coat of Benjamin Moore primer
  • Two coats of Benjamin Moore White Dove (satin finish) on all the shelving, dividers, cabinet doors and face of the Butler's Pantry. I used their ADVANCE Waterborne Interior Alkyd Paint. It self levels much better to a smooth finish. Brush strokes are barely noticeable.
  • To protect all the bench tops - I used 3 coats of Minwax Polycrylic.
IMPORTANT - The reason you MUST use polycrylic instead of a a polyurethane, is because a polyurethane has a amber finish to it. You do not want to use polyurethane on something you painted white! It will turn off-white or worse. The polycrylic goes on cloudy, but dries to a crystal clear hard finish.

The After Pictures

How to make a Breakfast Bench | Breakfast Nook Bench

Breakfast Nook Bench Plans | Breakfast Bench Plans

How to make a Breakfast Bench | Breakfast Nook Bench

You can see the crown molding in the above and below pictures

Breakfast Nook Bench Plans | Breakfast Bench Plans

Luke horsing around...

How to make a Breakfast Bench | Breakfast Nook Bench

Sometimes I still cannot believe I made this. It was definitely one of my most ambitious projects...that is until I made the slate patio a month later!!!

We love the bench...and the whole room now. We eat breakfast, lunch and dinner at the breakfast bench. It is much more cozy and intimate than eating at the dining room table. Each night the family just slides into our own personal diner booth and talk about the day....except when we have baseball or softball or swimming or school concert or ice cream social...then all bets are off!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Butler's Pantry Renovation - Before & After

In the video I took on inspection day you can hear me say, "so far everything looks nice in this house, until you open this swinging door." On the other side of that door was the butler's pantry. The home builder, Paul Schaefer, was know for the built-ins he made in all his homes - and he did not disappoint. The butler's pantry, with it's window to the outside and space for a breakfast nook was beautifully made and a GREAT space, it was just in sore need of a major update and renovation.

A couple of weeks ago I documented how I restored the wood floors in Part 1 of this Butler's Pantry and Breakfast Nook Series. In the next week or so I'll write about the really fantastic (if I do say so myself) breakfast nook bench I designed and built for the room. But today will showcase the rehabilitation of the Butler's Pantry. I think you will find my Formica transformation really cool...and if you still have laminate counters you might start looking at them and saying..."I wonder if I can do that."

Before Pictures

Wallpaper above the pantry

During Grandma Holly's first visit to the house she said, I think these panels on the middle doors are painted glass. To be honest, we had been in the house for over a month and had no idea. She was right! We did two test panes to see how easily we could restore them to glass. The paint came off easily, however we kept this look (only 2 panes revealed) for the next 5 months. Although it looked weird, we wanted to save all the glory for when the project was really completed.

Step One - Removal of Wallpaper

Karen enjoyed this job. She removed all the wallpaper using a paper tiger, warm water in a pump sprayer, a putty knife, more water, large sponge, scotch brite pad and elbow grease. I'll discuss the wallpaper removal process more in my next post, because there was a lot more wallpaper involved in that portion of the renovation.

This picture shows the wallpaper removed, revealing plywood...
...it also doubles as a pretty complete Before Picture

Step 2 - Remove Doors & Reface Cabinet Doors

First I removed all the doors and brought them to the basement to be refaced. Unfortunately I did not take any pictures of the transformation process for the doors (Karen had yet to say, "you should really start a blog to capture all the changes we are going to make.").

But fear not! I need to do the exact same process to the kitchen cabinets (some day), so I will document that process then. In a nut shell - I used strips of 1/4" X 4" poplar boards to frame each of the lower cabinet doors. The lower cabinet doors were real wood, but had plain flat panels. Adding the trim work gave the cabinet doors depth and character. As for the upper cabinet doors, I scraped all the paint off the glass. Revealing the beauty that Paul Schaefer originally intended.

Step 3 - Build Open Shelving

I drilled a a few 1 inch holes in the plywood so I could use a flash light to see what was behind the plywood. Empty Space! Time to make some open shelving. Yeah! Love open shelving!

I carefully cut the plywood with my jig saw, using the ceiling, walls, molding as a straight line guide. I took it out in a few pieces.

On the right side of the pantry you will see a portion that I did not make into open shelving. That is because those are faux cabinet doors due to that is the location of our laundry chute. Can't cut into that! The kids love it too much!...and so do we. Just pick up all the clothes the kids left every where and throw them down the chute. It is like magic...their rooms look immediately cleaner!

Then I used some left over sheet rock and 1/2" x 2" poplar strips to create some dividers that matched the cabinets below.

Step 4 - Painting Prep & Minor Drawer Improvements
You can see in the picture above where I started filling in the cabinet screw holes with spackle for painting.

Also these are old drawers. So they do not have smooth rolling bearing drawer guides. Over the years the friction of the wood on wood has caused some unevenness. I found a way to correct both issues. I used shims to level all the drawer fronts. Then I found a great product on Rockler.com. Nylo-Tape Friction Free Drawer Slide Tape. Just clean the drawer slides and then stick this tape on. Your old drawers will slide smoothly. So simple. I liked it so much I used this on all the drawers in our house and on our furniture, too! So much better than fighting to open a drawer.

Step 5 - Painting
  • 1 coat of Benjamin Moore primer
  • Two coats of Benjamin Moore White Dove (satin finish) on all the shelving, dividers, cabinet doors and face of the Butler's Pantry. I used their ADVANCE Waterborne Interior Alkyd Paint. It self levels much better to a smooth finish. Brush strokes are barely noticeable.
  • For some contrast we chose Benjamin Moore Navajo White (Regal Select Eggshell) for the back wall of the pantry.
  • To protect all the shelve tops (the portion glassware and dishes will be stacked on) - I used 3 coats of Minwax Polycrlyc.
    • IMPORTANT - The reason you MUST use this instead of a a polyurethane, is because a polyurethane has a amber finish to it. You do not want to use polyurethane on something you painted white! It will turn off-white or worse. The polycrylic goes on cloudy, but dries to a crystal clear hard finish.

Above you can see the painted pantry without the doors reinstalled.
...you can also see the Moravian Light I wrote about a month ago

Step 6 - Convert Laminate to Oak Countertops

Sure I really like the woodworking I did for the open shelving and the refaced cabinet doors (you will see these below in the after pictures), but if I had to pick the one portion of this project I was most proud of, it would be my oak countertops. This is truly an idea I came up with on my own. I never saw this done online or on a TV show. I am not saying it has never been done before, but I have never SEEN it done before. I just decided to go for it and hoped it would work.

Converting laminate counters to oak
Before - laminate countertop - chipped in the center and all

My idea came to me as I was purchasing poplar boards for the cabinet refacing. I saw that Lowes had some nice red oak boards in 1/4"x 2"x 4' lengths. I figured since this countertop is not close to a water source (no sink), I could maybe glue them right on top of my formica countertop - offsetting each row- to give the counter top the look and feel of solid oak without having to rip out the laminate. This was important, because I would have had to take apart portions of the Butler's Pantry to remove the countertop. Not something I wanted to do.

Converting laminate counters to oak
I do wish I took some more in-process pictures, but I think there are enough for you to get the idea.

Steps to Convert Laminate to Oak
  • Clean laminate with degreaser (good cleaning product) to remove all grease
  • Sanded all surfaces with 60 grit to leave a rough surface for glue to stick to
  • Drilled many 1/4 holes in all surfaces of the laminate - again to give more areas for the glue to hold onto.
  • Glued the back of a board with indoor/outdoor wood glue. I spread the glue out evenly along the whole board with a small paint brush.
  • Starting with my front edge I carefully laid the glued board down and attached it with clamps.
  • Repeated this process for the whole countertop - alternating the seams from left to right for every other row and making cuts when necessary.
  • Placed all my P90X weights (hey at least they got used for something!!!) on top of pieces of plywood to help weigh down the boards and let the glue cure overnight (see below picture)
Converting laminate counters to oak
I weighted down all the boards while the glue dried overnight

 When I removed all the boards, clamps and weights the next day I was left with this:

Converting laminate counters to oak

The next steps:
  • I sanded the oak boards with my orbital sander with 60, then 120, then 200 grit sandpaper to ake all the seems smooth.
  • Taped off all the edges with blue painters tape
  • Karen and I decided we wanted a dark counter to go with the dark floors, so I used a can of Minwax Walnut stain we already had. Don't forget to use Minwax Pre-Stain first as I discussed in the how to restore floors entry.
  • I protected the counters with 3 coats of the same satin polyurethane I used on the floors
When I was done the counter looked like this:

Converting laminate counters to oak
 Love it!

Step 7 - Reinstall Cabinet Doors and New Hardware

After lots of trial and error Karen and I finally decided on the new hardware. For the Butler Pantry and Kitchen we needed a combined 10 drawer pulls, 28 pairs of hinges and 31 knobs.

We found the perfect combo at The Home Depot, but then decided before installation that we didn't like any of them. Returned. Then we purchased everything again. This time we really did love the satin cup drawer pulls I found on Rockler.com. However I hated the hinges. So They were returned (again). Finally I found the right self-closing satin 3/8" inset hinges on Rockler. Thank goodness the 3rd time was the charm. As for the knobs, I actually found these really nice crystal octagon glass knobs on Amazon.

When installing knobs and pulls it is a good idea to build a template out of scrap wood that can be placed as a guide to make sure each is installed in the same spot.

The After Pictures:

Butler's Pantry Restoration | Renovation

Here you can see the trim work I added to reface the bottom cabinets.

Butler's Pantry Restoration | Renovation

We are really pleased with the way the Butler's Pantry came out. With this done, I was really looking forward to the next step in this room - the Breakfast Nook Bench...it is a good one!...entry next week!