Sunday, October 30, 2011

2011 Project Retrospective

2011 was another productive year.  Fall always seems like the right time to sum it all up and "close the books" for the year.  The garden is largely done producing, and we are slowly transitioning to new or different projects.  The following blog entry is a retrospective of another year of progress.


It was another big year in the kitchen.  We've been working on this project for a number of years in our spare time, and each year it gets closer and closer to being done.  When we started the year, we had just finished the installation of dry-wall.  Since then, we've painted, built and installed cabinets, built and installed countertops, installed ventilation, gone through the arduous process of getting a gas line installed for the cooktop and more.  Here are some more photos of our progress:

Before Pictures:

After Pictures:


This project has been in the works for years, and this is the first year we've been able to harvest the fruits of our labor, literally.  We spent a lot of time putting together plans for the garden this year, and as the year progressed the plans changed as they normally do.  Next year will be an even more spectacular year for the garden, that is if the weather cooperates.
Before Pictures:

After Pictures:


It was another big year for the outdoor landscape.  We had some lofty goals, and we managed to accomplish quite a bit.  We completed our outdoor kitchen and dining area.  We completed the first phase of the landscape on the North side of our house.  We planted approximately 130 new plants include 5 new trees.

Before Pictures: 

After Pictures:


Occasionally we treat ourselves to a nice vacation, and that was certainly the case this year.  7 days in Spain and 7 days in Paris.  One of the most amazing vacations I've ever had.  Here are some photo highlights from the trip.



Misc. Other Home Projects

Here are some misc. other projects we completed this year.

Above: newly remodeled utility room.  New floor, new wall paint, new shelving and new water heater.

Above: Kitchen pantry cabinet we installed in the utility room for extra food storage.

Above: Newly installed EPA certified wood burning stove to help keep the chill off.

Above: We started the process of painting each and every rafter tail to match our house trim color.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Utility Room 2.0

Old laundry room.
Our utility room was always pretty ugly.  When we first bought the house, it wasn't completely separated from the kitchen, so the furnace was practically sitting out in the room.  During the kitchen remodel, we closed in the utility room and added a door to separate it from the rest of the space.  That was helpful, but it made the room feel even smaller.

We started this project because we bought a new water heater to replace the old one.  The new water heater is a high efficiency heat pump type that we received a Federal discount on.  The plan was to rip everything out of the room, install a new floor, paint and then get everything reinstalled in a weekend.  That's just what we did.

Here are some photos of the project:

Above: New vinyl flooring.  We picked vinyl because it is easy to clean and a water resistant surface.

Above: New energy efficient GE heat pump water heater.  It's an attractive looking machine.  We painted the room to match the kitchen colors.

Above: The controls on the new water heater allow you to set the temperature, as well as the efficiency settings.  You can temporarily set it to fast recovery for high-demand hot water needs.  The energy sticker on our old water heater claimed 5,000 kWh per year.  The new GE claims 1,856.  According to my calculation, the new water heater will save us approximately $25 per month.

Above: The newly organized and finished utility room.  It looked a lot better before we put everything back into it, but it feels much more organized now.  We installed a large shelf in the back for laundry and recycling.  This room also houses the cat box and now there is room for cat liter storage.  Not bad for a weekend project.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Preserving Food

Tomatoes and peppers in the smoker.
A friend came over and brought with her a case of tomatoes, a case of peaches and a case of red peppers all sourced from local farms.  With that started the fun that ensued in the kitchen for the next 2 days.  We canned smoked red pepper spread, smoked tomatoes, peach butter, hot & spicy peach BBQ sauce, and a Guinness mustard.  Not bad for a couple days worth of effort.  Altogether, we each walked away with around 30 pints of canned goods.  The new gas cooktop got a serious workout!

In the next couple of weeks I'll put up some cranberry relish sauce in time for T-day.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Living/Dining Room Remodel

Salvaged built-in cabinets
We're picking up the pace of the living/dining room remodel project.  A few details have changed since we last talked about this project.  First, we've decided to go with a more open floor plan.  That means finding a new use for the room divider cabinets we picked up from a Tacoma salvage store.  We have since removed the glass front doors from the cabinets and deconstructed the cabinets.  We have carefully stowed the wood away for use in future projects, such as the library cabinets we are going to build in the future.

Fireplace mantle and bookshelves
The new plan is to install the cabinet doors on the fireplace mantle bookshelf surrounds.  At one time we have grand plans for rebuilding the mantle, but have since decided to keep it simple and refinish it as it exists today with some minor modifications to make the glass doors fit.  To make this a reality, we need to finish stripping the paint from the mantle, which is nearly 80% complete.  Next up is to cut the new bookshelf surround frame and install.  Then, we'll begin the work of sanding and staining the mantle.  I expect to be able to finish up the majority of the project before the end of the year.

But wait, there's more -- a lot more.  We're looking at different tile products to redo our fireplace, which is currently a 60's style brick.  We love much of the tile offered by Motawi Tileworks, and have set sites on the gorgeous field tile in the picture to the right.  We're making a trip to Seattle in the coming weeks to look over their tile products and get some ideas.  Our current thoughts are to use the same field tile in the kitchen and living room, but use different embedded art tiles to make the room unique.

We're also looking at drastically changing the color scheme in the living room.  When we first moved in the living room was a mustard color that had been sponged with a gray silver color.  YUCK!  One of the first things we did to the house was to paint the living room and dining room.  We picked a very dark and rich merlot color and painted the walls and ceiling.  It wasn't the best choice.  The colors are very dark, and the room swallows any hint of light.  We have a 300 watt bulb in our floor lamp, and yet it is still to dark to read.   The color makes the room feel much smaller than it is because it is so dark.  The plan is to paint three walls Leapfrog green (Sherwin Williams SW6431).  It is the color highlighted in the picture to the left between the two black lines on the color swatch.  It was picked by matching it to the color in the background of the wallpaper we're going to use on the back wall of the living/dining room.  The plan there is to build wood frame and panel wainscoting 5 feet up the wall with a plate rail.  Above that we are planning to use hand screen printed wallpaper we've selected from Bradbury & Bradbury.  The ceiling will be painted Roycroft Vellum (SW2833), which matches the ceiling color in our kitchen.  That should help to brighten the place up a bit, but still make it feel cozy.

The list goes on.  New light fixtures, box beams in the living room, new ceiling to cover the popcorn installed in the 60s, stained wood work, etc.  It's a long process, but I look forward to making progress on the project.

Living/dining room.  Left: Wall to be wainscoted.