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9 Mar

The funky around the sewer pipe framing.

Completed tasks.

  • Re-framed all walls (mix of metal and wood where needed for structure)
  • Reinforced framing for new wall hung sink
  • Framed out new shower
  • Ran new wiring to lights and add new GFI protected circuit for outlets
  • Ran all new PEX plumbing
  • Installed new Exhaust Fan and vented to exterior
  • Installed insulation and Vapor barrier
  • Installed mold resistant sheet rock on walls
  • Install Cement Board in shower
  • Taped, installed corner bead, Spackled and sanded to smooth finish
  • Installed tongue and grove wood ceiling

Starting to put things back.

My first header!! Over what will be the pocket door.

New studs, electric, water, gas, dryer vent and washer drain. Phew. Oddly, I sort of missed being able to see through walls when the drywall went up...

Photo by Harrison from the basement stairs. Putting things back.


|ON| The Fence: Before and After

2 Mar
Completed Fence

The Unfortunate Before.

The Fence in the back”yard” facing north.
Facing south

The Plan.

The Design Stage. Direct from my notebook.

More after shots.

Close up.

Close up version II

|FINALIZED| Bathroom Floor Plan: Apt #1

1 Mar
The Finalized Floor Plan for the basement Reno. Made on for FREE!

Yes, I started this project months ago, but the layout (mostly of the shower area)  went through a lot of changes. So here it is, final and forever, or until the next person rips everything out and starts over.  None of the plumbing in the actual bathroom has moved to keep the cost and aggravation of moving drains in concrete out of the picture.   I did however add a shower bench and moved the washer and dryer because they were in an incredibly awkward space before.


Coming up in the next week or so, a re-cap of tasks done and those to come.


|RE-PURPOSED| Bar Mirror for Bathroom?

28 Feb


I’m trying to figure out what to do with the gaping hole I’ve left in one side of my bathroom for some sort of shelving/cabinet/make-up station.   I think this bar mirror shelf system with lighting would be PERFECT.

The problem area.

The sewer pipe runs long the outside of the basement wall.  I figured I could reclaim some of this space lost before with the wall built 10 inches away from the wall.  So here we are with a large empty space.

The gaping hole in question.

The original plan…

Was to put shelves or a cabinet in there.  I found two of the doors (leaning in the photo above) at ReStore and figured out a way to use them in the space.  See the original drawing below.

The Drawing Board

New, bar inspired plan.

Shelving on the left for display type pretty things.  a cabinet with a door jam light switch that will turn on when open.   Top shelf at “make-up height” with lights on top and either side (prob LED).  Mirror back to whole top shelf.  2 shelves below for misc bathroom necessities.  Wood doors.

Maybe I can used these for lights?

Inreda from Ikea

|How| many 2×4’s fit into a Honda Civic?

7 Feb

Easy Rider

I took a little HD trip last week and after wrangling my cart through the parking lot, I realized that it was going to be a squeeze  to fit everything in my civic.   Two 2X3’s,  five 2×4’s, and one 6″ tongue and grove panel plus a creek chair and some rope and voila!  See my mad MacGyver skill below. Luckily, Philly is not  hilly and I live about two miles from HD.  Moral of the story, I need a bigger car.

Step One. Fold down every seat possible and slide everything in through the trunk. If possible, leave yourself access to the radio controls. Oh, and stick something soft between your dash and your materials.

Step Two. Slide Creek Chair under wood. This will prevent it from sliding out into traffic behind you and causing a huge accident which will severely delay the start of your work day. Also, assumes that everyone keeps creek chairs in their trunk at all times.

Step Three. Gently fold your Creek Chair over the wood and prepare the rope by sliding it through whatever looks solid in the trunk.

Step 4. Firmly tie your trunk closed and drive home. Watch for potholes!

|RESOURCES| for Kerdi Shower Construction

5 Feb


Seeing orange.

I read as much as humanly possible about the Orange Kerdi Membrane Monster, and am putting together a thorough plan so I have everything I need for the big day (Hopefully with-in the month!)

Here are the most helpful resources I found.

The Grand-daddy of online shower/tile resources, Mr. John Bridge

I also purchased his E-Book for $10

Here is a GREAT resource from posted by mongoct with PHOTOS GALORE, I found it really helpful in visualizing the actual process of applying the membrane.

Kerdi products are available to purchase at:
and at
as well as

also, they sell it locally in Philly at Avalon Tile


Much more to come on this topic I assure you!

|PORTFOLIO| Apt #2 Kitchen

2 Feb

Unit 2 Kitchen

This was my first real design project in the house. I didn’t do much of the work myself because of a super tight time-line (except painting the whole place including ceilings, with some help).  I had given myself a month to put a kitchen in, separate the electric onto different meters for each unit, separate the hot water for each unit and install a new water heater for Apt #1, put in 11 new windows,  put up a railing on the porch, fix some stairs…. the list is longer but I may have blocked it out.  I had all of the work contracted out, which didn’t end super well but I learned a little about hiring people… Anyway, I settled on November 15th and had secured renters by December 1st with the promise that, yes, there will be a kitchen when you move in on December 15th, and electricity (I literally showed the unit with a flashlight one night), and fresh paint, and all this junk will be gone, and the floorboards put back, and it will be clean.   Oh and I had washer/dryer hook-ups, drain and vent installed in a 3rd floor closet.  That was an interesting delivery.   All in all, I mostly succeeded.  I had a bit of touch up and some kinks to work out once the renters moved in, but things worked out.

Unfortunately I don’t have a before picture, but take my word for it it was ugly. Also completely unusable.  There was a stove top but no oven, the counter top was all broken up tile, and the layout just didn’t work.

Check out my design sketches below.  The cabinets, counter-tops and sink came from IKEA.  I kept the floor tile that was already there for the sake of time and money. The stove is from Lowes, its a special order apartment size electric.  The fridge came from a scratch and dent place in North Philly.  Total cost for materials was under $3000.

The Design

The west wall.

|How To| Plaster a Concrete Wall from

26 Jan

How to Plaster a Concrete Wall |

I found this guide while doing some drywall research.  The stairs to my basement have a plastered over cement wall, which was crumbling and efflorescence-ing  in a couple places.   So I decided one day to attack it with hammers and scraper things of all shapes and sizes.  And now it looks like the way to a dungeon.  Of course, I wasn’t planning on tackling this project until AFTER the bathroom is finished but might as well take advantage of my accidental research and remember this.  I don’t really trust in general, but this seems right from other things I read when I did the cement repair last summer in my alley where I had some water seeping in.  Which was actually most likely the reason my wall was in that condition in the first place.   Ahhh old house love…

|UPDATE| The Great Shower Pan Saga

22 Jan

Thank you all for your votes!  BASALT has WON!

Image from

Now for the bad news….. Yes that’s a bathtub and not in fact the Basalt shower pan.

It’s possible I failed to read the dimensions of said shower pan.  And I can’t actually use the winner….  Nor does that company make something in this color or material in a size that works for me.  And, it seems, a 36″ X36″ cast iron shower pan does not exist. anywhere. in any color.  With the exception of some vintage versions that have actual feet, which just doesn’t work for me.

On to PLAN C or D.

C is for Clawfoot tub!


  • Love the look
  • I can find one vintage for less then the shower pan budget.
  • It will keep the open feeling in the space
  • Bubble Baths!


  • Water slosh-age possible, which I’m trying to avoid
  • I have to find one
  • They are really freaking heavy
  • The bathroom ceiling is only 7ft. So add the tub and shower head, and it may be really uncomfortable for tall people who I may want to rent to in the future.

Option D

Do what I was going to do before. Which actually makes this Plan B I think….

Get an acrylic pan


  • Price
  • Best water protection


  • that “acrylic” look
  • enough said

At this point I’m running out of other things that can and/or need to happen before the shower/bath situation is resolved.  So I need to just make up my mind.   And in the interest of simplifying, I’ll likely go with Plan D/B.

Leave me a comment!

Change of Plans…..again.

13 Jan

The original plan was to tile a shower base.  After extensive research of the options (wet mud base, pre-made pre-sloped pans, Tile-Redi,  Schluter-KERDI….)  This Cast-Iron shower pan is making more and more sense to me.   Especially since I will be shower-less for the duration of the tiling process, and this will significantly cut my labor hours.  Also, it’s approximately the same cost with a look that is growing on me.