The Dining Room Built-In: The fireplace carcass

November 30, 2017

I keep thinking I want to wait until the whole project is finished before posting, but quite frankly - it's going to take too long, and sharing the progress is half the fun!  The main reason this is taking so long is because I really don't have much time after work to monkey around with the built-in.  Okay, you're onto me - the real reason it's taking awhile is that I'm not that skilled.  Just putting a few boards together takes an incredibly long time...I measure, do the math, set up clamps, measure, do the math and set up clamps again! 
For example, building the fireplace carcass took two evenings, a part of the project that probably would have taken a professional an hour!'s fun for me, a way to relieve the stress of the day.  Here's the first night's work:
That's right boys n girls!  A whole evening for that!  And the rest of the carcass took the whole of the next evening!
Right now the front is just tacked to the rest of the carcass, there's a few things to do before it all gets permanently affixed.  Tonight I got the based all leveled up, tomorrow I'll probably redo that long platform board (I mis-cut the one in the picture), then I want to get the power run up into the fireplace box.  I already ran the wire from the circuit-breaker box to the spot in the workshop that's just below the dining room:
Once the platform is re-cut, I'll be able to drill the hole and set up the outlet.  Seems like so many steps to go still!

The Dining Room Built-In: Meet St. Bart's

November 26, 2017

I think it was in 1998 that the dining room was first painted - and it's been the same color ever since.  I don't know if that's a statement of the quality of paint, the steadfastness of not fixing it if it ain't broke, or  - is it just a flat-out sad statement!  Either way, it's changing! 
Back in '98, the dining room was painted Missoula Blue by Dutch Boy...
It's been a nice color for the room, went well with the woodwork, and lent a very calming (if not cool) feel.  After removing the old bookshelves, the fading showed, but it was remarkably little fade.  I think you may be able to tell in this picture, look around the top two and right at the bottom of the lowest hole patches:
Not too shabby!  I always thought Dutch Boy made really good paint, but I'd have to drive 75 miles one way to Springfield, Massachusetts to get it (isn't that where the Simpson's lived?).  
Now, with the new built-in going up, it really was time for fresh paint.  Oh the agony of picking a color.  We've been all the way around the color wheel.  Here are a couple finalists:
All four of those colors were considered at various times in the past year or two, pretty much since the great dining room furniture adventure of '15.  Then there was...
'Cuz we were thinking blue has been a good color.  And...

But it seemed too dark, so maybe lighter... 
Somehow, that one didn't feel right, so maybe...
That's Sherwin WIlliams' Stonebriar.  That came very close to being the new color, but we thought it might be a little too...something.  But there was one color that caught our attention from the beginning, and kept lurking in the background, and in the end - it won out.  Introducing....
The coordinating colors are similar to the furniture and in the family of the woodwork.  It's a shade of blue - which seems to be our wont, and thought it would really make the room pop!  Here's the first wall...
If you look in the upper left of the picture, you'll notice the contrast between the new St. Bart's and the good ol' Missoula Blue - kinda striking!  At first it feels like it would be a bit dark, but when the built-in is finished, I think it'll look awesome!  
And finally, for my own future reference, St. Bart's was mixed at Lowes in satin:

The Dining Room Built-In: The Base

November 24, 2017

It's real now.  The old bookshelves are gone, and now the base to the built-in has been, well, built!  First, just for posterity, here's the first board all ready to be cut:
When you're working alone, it's always good to have hacks to make the work easier.  Recently I saw a suggestion in Family Handyman magazine to use rigid foam insulation to support the boards when crosscutting.  It worked like a charm!  I used 2x10s for the base, and they're way too awkward to cut on sawhorses by yourself.
One problem I ran into was that the 2x10s were only 8 feet long (96") but I needed 101".  So I married an extra length using pocket screws.  It also gave me an opportunity to use my new Stanley smoothing plane, and my new random orbital sander!  I also had to notch out one end:
One of the things we love about 173 is the woodwork.  It's never been painted (except back in the day in the bathroom), and not trusting my skill level, I thought it better to notch around the quarter-round and base molding rather than cutting it.  And now the base is in!
This gives you the idea of where it's headed, with the fireplace positioned slightly forward of the bookshelves.  Let's cross our fingers!

The Dining Room Built-In: Away with the Old

November 21, 2017

It's weird..the things I find myself getting nostalgic about these days.  For years I looked at the Sauder bookcases in the dining room as just what they were - inexpensive beginner furniture.  But now - I find myself reflecting on all those shelves have seen.  After all, they predated the purchase of 173.  When we got them, they were actually a little more than we could afford.  Having just left the military, entering college, and living in Horseheads (yes, you read that right), NY we were living check-to-check.  But we have always been bibliophiles, and wanted some shelves the lend them a little dignity.  I don't even remember where they were purchased, but they looked better than anything we had.  And you know what?  They really didn't look bad...
They just always looked temporary.  Those bookcases have been around for some 25 years, and in the dining room at 173 for all 20 we've been here!  But no longer.  They are no more.  All that remains are the remnants...
I saved the sides of the two tall bookcases, figure they're pretty solid MDF and I can use em around the workshop.  And now, the dining room looks empty for the first time since '97:
And of course, the table is a storage spot for the time being... 
 Looks so sad right now.
So, now I'm committed...there's no turning back!

Legacy Post: Bathroom 2002

November 19, 2017

Just last month I replaced the drainpipes in the bathroom, and that got me thinking about the remodel we did back in '03.  The sink was replaced as early as  September of 97 (173 was purchased in August of  '97).  
That's a page from my old homeowner's journal, the forerunner of this blog.  Anyway, the reason that was one of the very first projects was because the original bathroom sink, while a classic, was a cast iron behemoth, with chipped enamel and rust.  I couldn't find a picture of the 173 original, but here's a pretty fair representation from the web:
I would have loved to had that sink re-enameled, but back then I didn't know that could even been done - and of course there was the matter of the affordability!  It was, however,  replaced with another pedestal sink, just to afford a sense of authenticity.
That shot was taken after replacing those drainpipes, so the grout was still wet from the leak.  Anyway, that brings us to the great bathroom redux of  '02:  
It started with putting in an exhaust fan and new ceiling.  Instead of pulling out the old ceiling, we went over it with ferring strips and sheet rock:
Ha!  The wall tiles look light blue - they're white.  At the same time we stripped the paint off the bathroom trim.  In this next picture you can see how it started out as represented by the condition of the window trim.
Then, new wallpaper went up.  This was the original paper, I loved it, but it was really showing its age:
From that, we changed to a maritime theme (seems kinda cliche I suppose) to a wallpaper by Parkview:
And of course, we went with the lighthouse theme...
It's very hard to pick up the color, I'll have to work on my photography skills.  It's actually a very gentle light blue.  That was followed by replacing the old medicine cabinet and light:
I have no idea what camera I was using back then, but holy cats that's bad!  After all was said and done, the bathroom ended up looking like this:
Oh!  There's the old Bruegger!  Miss that little fella!  Here's the other angle:
Since then, the shower curtain has been changed for a little less busy look:
And here's the other angle again:
And finally,  just because there are no other pictures of this that I can find, the mosaic in the shower/tub wall...
Ooo, looks like the grout needs a little cleaning there!  Anyway, not sure what the idea was when the mosaic was installed, but it's a unique feature - so it stays!  And that's the Bathroom redo of '02!

The Dining Room Built-In: Trying to Make Decisions

November 12, 2017

The last post I announced my intention for the next project here at 173, which turns out to be a built in fireplace/bookcase.  I have an idea of what I want...

Similar, but not quite...there won't be cabinets in the bottom, just book shelves.  The picture above is merely an inspiration shot that I culled from Retro-Tech Construction's website.  As I go through this planning process, I am already faced with perhaps the biggest decision of the whole project - what will the finish be?  One of the big selling-points here at 173 is that the woodwork has never been painted, and it's gorgeous!

So my initial idea is to finish the builtin so it matches the rest of the wood in the house.  I want it to look original to 173.  But there's a couple hurdles to that idea.  First off, I am FAR from a master carpenter, no matter the amount of planning, I always screw up at least a small piece of a project!  But in this case, the biggest problem is matching the stain.  Of course, to some small degree, I have been stressing about matching the stain color here at 173 since 1997!  This has become a bit of an obsession the last couple weeks, to the point this has happened...
And that's not the half of it!  Here's another shot:
I've tried so many combinations of pre-stain conditioner, multiple stains of different colors, amber shellac, polyurethane, oil-based wood-penetrating stains, gel stains, everything but steeped tea!  But I just can't match the wood color in the house.  However, that one on top - this one:
I'm liking that one.  It's General Finishes' Antique Walnut:

... and  I think I may be able to work with that one.  Restyle Junkie has a nice post about using this stain, and some advice I need to consider!  I was talking about this with a colleague at work, and she said something a bit's probably worse to try to get close and miss with matching a color than it is to simply choose a different color.  Sage advice, I'm trying to keep that in mind!
BUT.  I'm not 100% convinced I'm going to like that color on a larger scale than just a test board.  So, in the back of my mind is the very real possibility that the whole thing may end up painted.  I spent some time back in 2015 painting the dining room table, chairs and hutch, and I guess there's a real possibility the whole thing may be painted to match those pieces:
But that's all some time away up - prepwork!

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