Saturday, July 19, 2008

It's amazing...

blue hat 1
Originally uploaded by southsideandy
...what a baby will do to your home-improvement projects and your house blog. :)

Sorry I haven't posted as frequently as I did to start...I figure quality is better than quantity for my blog. :)

Keep reading though...I promise we'll have things moving in the future...projects are lurking and time is running out on them!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

What's in bloom...

An idea plucked from The Bungalow Chronicles, I bring you, "What's in Bloom at Building a Better Bungalow." If it were a question, the answer would be: "A lot." Here are four can click here to go to my Flickr page for the other flowers in bloom on July 13...enjoy!

Red daylily--Chicago H. variety--planted a couple weeks ago:

Yellow coreopsis, planted last year, looking beautiful this year:
Orange coneflower with white yarrow in background...again, planted last year, looking good this year:
Shasta daisy, planted a month or so ago...the best success I've had with these, even though they're supposed to be "easy":

Monday, July 7, 2008

Back to the drawing board...somewhat...

OK, I fashioned up a prototype of the basement ceiling yesterday, and found the widest joist-to-joist distance to use it on. I took no pictures (sorry Fred!) because I'm seriously disappointed in it.

1. The 12x12-inch ceiling panels don't reach from trim piece to trim piece well enough to make me feel as though they won't shift and fall out, which means I'll have to buy the molding from the original plan. I thought, well, at least maybe that will help it look "fancy"...sure, it will, but it will also cost more money. Even if I buy 1x6s rather than 1x4s, buy (or rent or borrow) a router and do the work myself, it's more money in the end. So the jury's still out on that.

2. Speaking of not square or plumb, helpful Anonymous commenter...either the whitewood trim board I'm using is warped (raising another concern for me), or the joist (more likely) is not flat and flush down the entire length. This is a more serious problem, since it basically "corkscrews" the trim board to where it's not level where it meets the wall. That's a problem, big-time. That's a lot of planing or sanding or whatever the hell you do to level off the bottoms of the joists. And a lot of hoping that I've done it right. Although, I have another idea of how to address this, and it might just work. We'll see...these prototype boards are going to certainly be worth the price once I'm done with them. :)

So, it's back to the drawing board, more or less, on the basement ceiling idea. Needing a big DIY and "project completion" win, I decided it was time to give myself a fighting chance in the battle to replace our backyard fence. As it stood, I had bought the posts and concrete and was planning to meticulously take down the pickets (hoping, but doubtful, that they're panels and not individual pickets) and rehang them on the new posts. The great prognosticator that I am, I saw into the future and saw myself cursing the god of picket fences under a hot summer sun, working with one or two other people, not finishing in one weekend (dogs necessitate that) as planned and generally getting totally pissed off. So, seeing fence panels on sale at Home Depot for a mere $25 for a 6x8 section, I bit the bullet and bought enough to replace the fence on the west side of the yard entirely. Originally, I didn't want to do this, because of the pocketbook hit, but the fence is currently being held up by a 2x6 propped dangerously against the leg of the deck. Not smart, but there's nothing else that can be done right now, honestly.

So, big win there. Even bigger win was that it cost only $59 to have them deliver the fence panels for me...would have cost me that much, if not more, to rent a truck and buy my brother dinner or beer for helping out. :)

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Minor update...

After having measured the space between the joists this morning, I've found two things:
1. There probably won't be much space, if any, for molding above the trim board (if I want to put can lights in).
2. Joists are not (?!?!?) evenly spaced, somehow...I measured a few spaces...some were 13.5 inches, some nearly 15. That sounds not right to I missing something?

I didn't measure them all...maybe three or four. But seriously, there was a discrepancy, which I find to be odd...any ideas?

After measuring, I went to the ol' Home Depot to get some materials for a trial run...some hardwood 1x4s, some stain and the ceiling panels. I ended up bringing home a whitewood board and a poplar board. The poplar was way more expensive than the whitewood, and the two are distinctly different-looking. The poplar has a very wide grain, while the whitewood has tigher grain and several smooth knots along the face. The poplar also was less heavy than the whitewood, but not a great deal. Since I'm going to be using this as trim, I want to use as few finishing nails as possible, so lighter is better, in this case. For now, anyway.

I chose Minwax Red Mahogany and Minwax Early American stains. I actually applied the first coats to each this evening, and will probably put on another coat tomorrow morning, maybe. We'll see how they dry.

I also found a USG ceiling panel product that doesn't use tracks to hold it up. In fact, it appears to be the variety that you'd simply glue to the ceiling and slot the pieces together. No tracks means I don't have to worry about it looking too much like a drop ceiling, and the panels themselves are smooth white. So I'm pretty happy with the potential those bring. We'll see how it ends up looking.

Other than that, I'm going to try to get a prototype up tomorrow, and I'll take some pictures, but no promises...we'll see how it goes! :)

Friday, July 4, 2008

Months of thought, hours of "doodling"...

...but I think I finally, FINALLY, have devised what I want my basement ceiling to look like, at least in the main area. See the pictures added here to get the idea for the rough draft, drawn up in Sketchup (sorry for the sloppiness -- there are some rogue lines and planes floating around!

(EDITED, ADDED LATE JULY 4): Here are my thoughts on this whole basement ceiling thing.

1. I tore down drywall, so I didn't want to put up drywall again, since nothing was really wrong with what I tore down.
2. To the bottom of the joists, it's about 73 inches, so a drop ceiling was out of the question. There was no way to modify it and make it look OK that I could think of, either.
3. I wanted something more "sophisticated" looking than a drop ceiling anyway.
4. Leaving the beams and such exposed and painting it was not an option either, because of the total lack of sound insulation. Also, I hate track lighting. Also, it felt like a crime to paint what appeared to be beautiful woodwork on the underside of the floor. Also, the joists were in pretty decent shape, and it just wasn't for me.
5. Leaving the ceiling exposed created the difficult conundrum of what to do at the wall-ceiling corner. Examples I saw of this were not up to my liking, and I couldn't think of anything better.
6. The more I saw boxed beam ceilings, the more I thought that would look great in our family room downstairs and could be exactly up my alley.

So this is what I came up with when I finally sat down with all the ideas bouncing around in my head. It's actually a raised "drop" ceiling, in a sense.

I will buy nice flat trim wood to cover the bottoms of the joists. They will protrude just outside of the joist widths to create a mini (like, less than an inch) "shelf" above which I'll fasten some crown molding the entire length of the joists. On top of those joists, I will rest the acoustical panels that are typically used for drop ceilings.

As you can see in the cross-section version, there will be a gap above the panels, allowing me to tilt them up and pull them out. This way, if I ever DO need access, I'll have it. Furthermore, the acoustic tiles are probably lighter than drywall, so the weight load will be better on the crown molding/trim. I'm aware I'll have to cut the panels smaller to fit, but that's easier than cutting drywall, and they don't have to be perfect, just so long as they clear the edges of the moldings on each side.

Lighting: This is the tricky part. I know that I'm going to have a few fluorescents here. In the sketchup model below, in the righthand part between the joists, you can see my plan. It's going to be inset fluorescent lighting, with the housing separated out by a couple 2x6s (or so) that will run 90 degrees to the joists on each side...the molding will be parallel with the regular molding and I will hide a fluorescent bulb on each side behind it, bouncing the light off the ceiling and to the floor. I also plan to have small can lights throughout the room, assuming there's enough "headspace" for them above the ceiling panels.

Since I haven't officially measured this, it's probably not an exact representation, and the final version may differ. But at least I got these ideas into a working drawing that I can manipulate now.

Problems this doesn't solve, however, are workload (lots of cutting, staining, fastening, etc.), what, exactly, to do at the wall-ceiling corner to minimize drywall cutting and such, and how to maximize sound insulation. I know the acoustic panels are OK, but will they be enough, I wonder? I guess we'll see!

Have a happy Fourth of July!