Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Renovated House

It is very interesting how everything needs water to survive, yet water destroys everything! If just about anything gets wet, you have to take immediate drastic measures to attempt to salvage it… and even then most things are beyond repair. That is what we had to do following that time a pipe burst in our rented house. We literally washed every single thing we own.

I meticulously cleaned, dried, and gave excruciating individual attention to the books and records. Although most were salvaged, many no longer possess any real value. They only have the value that I personally assign to them, which itself has been greatly eroded. This whole ordeal has really driven-home just how ephemeral everything is.

The renovation
Although my landlord managed to find and employ the most inept contractors of every trade, the end-product is far better than it was before the flood. The house has been stripped down to a shell and fully renovated and restored.

Everything to do with the interior is brand new: walls, ceiling, flooring, cabinets, wiring, plumbing, lights, fixtures, and so on. The best part was that got to give a lot of input on how it was improved, optimized, and customized for what we want. So it was kind of like renovating our first house, [except it’s not our house].
Anyway, things have been back to normal for a little while now, and this post is long overdue. Sorry to keep you all on the edge of your seat. Here is what the place looks like now. Honestly, the place is way better than it was.

The kitchen was an overall improvement. 
You can read more about our thrift-store counter-tops here!
Tess and I built a Murphy bed to save precious space in our tiny house. We ordered a kit from Create-A-Bed which came with good instructions, hardware, and the essential mechanisms. We then cut the lumber and assembled, built, painted, and installed it. It turned out perfect, and we are quite proud of it.

Murphy bed down.
Murphy bed up.
Tess and I also built in a custom desk, clothes-rack, and gear closet, and incorporated shelving into the bedroom which is a huge improvement in the use of the space.

The built-in desk, that we built.
One good thing to come from all of this is we got a washer/dryer in the house now.

The Bathroom is pretty much the same.
The kitchen was rearranged a bit.

The stove was re-positioned, and the counter extended to the wall. 
Now that things are in good shape, and we are back in a livable house, I fully expect it to burn down for no good reason other than Murphy's Law. I only ask that if that happens, I am inside when it all goes down in flames. 

Hiking Independence Lake with Carolyn

We met up with our good friend Carolyn to go explore the Mt. Baker – Snoqualmie National Forest of the Cascades, which apparently is one of the most visited forests in the country (although I certainly did not get that feeling). More specifically we were adventuring along the beautiful Mountain Loop Highway, which is practically an outdoorsman’s playground, jam-packed with outdoor adventures. 

Why did the Pheasants cross the road?
I was very impressed with how nicely maintained the roads, trails, and facilities are in this National Forest, and I completely understand what my Northwest Forest Pass fee goes to: Take my money and keep up the good work!

The Mountain Loop Highway is located along the route of an old railroad which was built around the (relatively unsuccessful) gold rush of 1889, which was partially backed by John D. Rockefeller. I would like to thank Rockefeller, the Civilian Conservation Corps, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt for their hand in making this awesome part of America accessible for an easy weekend adventure.

Carolyn taking in the view during lunch. 
We ended up hiking the Independence and North Lakes Trail. It was full of beautiful lakes, snow fields, and amazing views. We failed to reach the actual North Lake, (we couldn't find the trail down to it), but we saw it from a beautiful vantage point where we ate lunch, as well as seeing many other snowmelt-fed lakes. Some of the trails in this back-country aren't all that clear sometimes, especially when you meet up with a snowfield, and are thinking…”I don’t see any footprints…?”

We camped at one of the many random campsites off of Mountain Loop. The next day we did the quick hike to the Big Four Ice Caves, which weren't really that impressive at this time, (maybe we are too late in the year…?). Speaking of cool, the coolest thing was walking in front of the ice caves on a hot day and feeling the air rushing out of them. It was like being in a walk in freezer.

I assume these trees are like this due to avalanches.

The Ice Caves are only about 4 feet high in this picture, however, they are much larger at other times.

This is a random sign that was in the parking lot. I like it b/c it makes no sense in ANY context!  

Monday, July 15, 2013

Recycled Kitchen Cabinets

Here is a post that I meant to post months ago... ....

After the flooding incident, the entire house was remodeled, including the kitchen. We later realized the cabinets were done with almost 100% recycled materials! This is mainly because we (and our landlord) are cheap, but if you prefer to think of it as being green, that's cool too.

Materials and their sources:

Cabinets and Sink       ->     Craigslist
Countertop Laminate  ->      Thrift Store
Drawer Handles         ->      The Re-Store
Our landlord had found the replacement cabinets on Craigslist and I swear they looked like were taken from a meth lab that was being renovated. I can only imagine the deal he got on this heap (likely free). But after a good cleaning, some paint, and a lot of TLC, the cabinets themselves actually turned out better than the previous ones.

Cabinets that we fixed up from total crap to pretty nice.
The counter-top needed some work.
The counter-tops however, were a different story. In the rush to get the house livable, the particleboard surface of the counter-top was not nailed down by our landlord's chosen handyman. It was actually placed on upside-down and completely backwards! The laminate counter-top was total crap: thin, cracked, chipped, not glued down, and gross. So it was a bit sub-par to prepare food upon.

Lucky for us, a good friend of ours, Matt Behring, is currently pulling a 4.0 in the Cabinetmaking and Fine Woodworking Program at The Wood Technology Center at Seattle Central Community College. It is prestigious woodworking school and he will without a doubt go on do great things. In fact he already has, with our counter-tops! 

Tess made an awesome find when she found this brand-new roll of nice counter-top laminate at the Ballard Goodwill for $12.  One man’s trash is another man’s kitchen.

Counter-top laminate from the Ballard Goodwill for $12 !
It was easy to convince Matt to help us fix and laminate the counter-tops as it is the perfect opportunity to test out his new-found skills in a real-world setting, and we couldn't be happier with the results! I was very impressed with his work, from the second he showed up looking all professional with his toolbox and shop apron, to when he put the finishing touches on the laminate and we went out for a celebratory beer.

He has the necessary tools of the trade, knows the tricks of trade, and has honed his skillset to a point where this could have easily have been his 100th  real-world install (instead of his 1st)! I enjoyed helping him help us with this project, and I learned quite a lot of useful skills in the process.

Matt fixing the particle board.

J-rolling the laminate to help the cement bond.

Rough cutting the hole for the sink.

Routing away the excess laminate. 
Note how good the final routed hole for the sink looks after being routed!

He briefly used a really awesome Japanese saw called a Dōzuki, which is a type of backsaw
It has a very thin kerf, only cuts on the back-stroke, and therefore is used for fine cuts. 
It is awesome and I really want one!

To finish up the kitchen cabinets, we got new drawer handles from the Re-Store. The Re-Store is a concept that I absolutely love. It is what you would have if you combined a thrift-store and a Home Depot. It’s a store that sells recycled and re-purposed hardware, fixtures, and building materials! Brilliant.

Cabinet and Drawer handles from the Re-Store.

I wish I had a good before picture to really drive home how much of an improvement this laminate counter-top is. But you'll just have to take my word for it; it is night and day! 

If anyone in the Seattle area needs any carpentry and/or laminate work done, I know a guy! He is professionally trained, top of his class, and is highly recommended! Thank you Matt!

The final counter-top. We love our professionally installed thrift-store find!