Hi Everyone!  Wow, it feels like it’s been months since I posted to Building With Beth!  You see, renovating a home is not entirely unlike going to the gym.  At first you’re all fired up and ready to prove your mastery of gravity against those weight machines.  After working hard for a while, however, sometimes you simply hit a plateau, making it harder to keep up the routine.

In the case of my home renovation project, I can say that I literally hit a wall!  Well, maybe “hit” is too strong a word.  I sanded a wall, over & over & over!  That’s right, it’s drywall time!

Not long after finishing up the process of spray foaming and insulating the walls, I had a friend of a friend come in and install the drywall.  Now, I know what you’re thinking, “Beth, I thought this was a DIY’er blog, why didn’t you install the drywall yourself?”  Well, blog reader, that’s a fair question.  I will outline my thinking in the following list of mathematical equations:

  1. Me + Maneuvering Heavy Drywall Sheets = Trip To Emergency Room
  2. Me + Complicated Precision Drywall Cuts = Drywall With A Lot of Misplaced Holes
  3. Me + Balancing on Ladder + Overhead Installation of Drywall sheets = Trip To Emergency Room
  4. Me + Full Time Job + Large Drywall Project = Many Many Months Without Drywall

In the end, the decision was made mostly based on my desire to have a nice looking space before 2014. They guys came in and knocked out the entire drywall installation in a single day!  Watching them work was like watching a well-oiled machine.  Together, these three guys effortlessly maneuvered those sheets of drywall into place like it was second nature.  In the end the transformation was pretty amazing:





Of course, after their work was done my work began.  Picture Ralph Macchio in the Karate Kid as a 6’2” tall female DIY’er sanding a wall rather than waxing a car.

The drywall finishing process is the main reason why you haven’t seen a post from me in awhile.  What took three guys one day to install, took me nearly two months to finish.  With that said, the feeling of pure satisfaction when it was all done made the whole process feel worth it!  AND, now the walls are ready for primer!

Walls WIth Primer



Now, with the room all ready for paint, it is time to focus my attention on the various wooden accents in the room.

A while back I tested the paint on the column and beam that is the center of the room.  Unfortunately, it came back positing for lead.  Since I want to keep the rustic feel of the exposed, well-aged wood, I decided to wrap the column & beam in some reclaimed barn wood I got at the local lumber yard.  I like to think of it as putting a nice warm coat on the old bones of this house.  Once the reclaimed wood was put in place, I stained the lighter wood to match the dark color of the older wood in the room.

Before Pictures



After Pictures


Now, you might recall in my Whats Next post awhile back I mentioned picking up a couple of boxes of beautiful walnut flooring at the local salvage yard.


Now that the drywall is up it’s time to make it look pretty.  I didn’t have much walnut to work with, but I had enough for an accent wall behind where we will be mounting the television.


Using my trusty finishing nailer and some construction adhesive I staggered the boards down the wall.



Between the drywall, the walnut accent wall and the beams wrapped in reclaimed wood, this former barn-like space is starting to really look like a warm and cozy room!

After Pictures



I still need to sand the walnut so it’s smooth and cover it in a protective finish, but this accent wall is already classing things up!

Phew!  I covered a lot in this post, but stay tuned for more on finishing this In Law unit!  Things are coming together.


I’ve come to the conclusion that renovating a space is not entirely unlike creating a Frankensteinian monster.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect our In Law unit to terrorize the village locals; nor do I expect it to require a jolt of lightening before I can call this project complete.  With that said, there are some similarities that should not go unappreciated.

If you think of renovating as being a series of phases, we begin with the demolition phase.  From a Frankenstein standpoint, this might include digging up bodies and harvesting the good parts and chucking the bad parts.  “Oh..that legs is missing a foot, let’s go ahead and scratch that.  Onto the next body.”  From a building standpoint, you open up the walls and identify the rotten wood, or broken pipes.  Then you try to identify the parts of the space you plan on keeping.


Then you’re onto phase two, “repair.”  Now if I was a mad scientist, this is when I’d start opening things up and shoving things into place.  A kidney here, a femur there, etc.  As more of a mad-DIY’er than a mad-scientist, in this phase I prefer to put a floor in here and a wall in there.


Now, we’re onto the last phase, the “finishing” phase.  This would be when I (the mad scientist side of me) might stitch up the holes, put on the little neck bolts, hook my beast up to a lightning pole and hope for the best.  This would understandably be the most anxiety producing phase of the project.  Questions, that I might not want to know the answer to would go flying through my head, such as… “Will my monster eat children?  Will he chase screaming farmers off their land making it that much harder to find organic vegetables in the village?”

Now, as a DIY’er, this is the phase that has the highest level of instant gratification.  This is when the work space magically transforms and reflects its own personality and character (more like a butterfly than a crazed zombie beast).


This, my DIY following friends, is the phase I’m after!!  This is the prize I have my eye on!

The “Finishing” phase is right around the corner!  I am officially in the final throes of the “Repair” phase and after a few stitches supports here and a new kidney electrical outlet there, I’ll finally get to move onto the finishing phase!  (and don’t think I won’t yell “IT’S ALIVE!” when this is all over).

Here’s the list of everything that needs to be done before I can put up drywall.

  1. Raise the closet floor
  2. Add support where the wall mounted TV will be installed
  3. Add support where the sliding door tracks will be installed
  4. Stain the joists
  5. Insulate the walls
  6. Install the tub
  7. Add electrical outlet in the kitchen

So far I’ve knocked 4 items off my list.  Here’s the summary:

The Closet Floor:

Now that all of you blog readers are well versed in the art that is installing a floor, I will spare you the details of what it took to raise the closet floor.  Instead, I’ll show the summary in picture form:


As you can see in the picture above, there is a significant drop off from the main floor of the room to the closet floor.  While this didn’t bother me for a long time, when someone asked me about it the other day I decided that it would make more sense to bring it up to the height of the floor.

closet2 closet3


Unfortunately, the floor is about 1/2″ higher than the main room, but that may be able to be fixed when I put the new finished floor in.  At least you won’t break your leg when trying to get a shirt out of the closet.  It’s a…step…in the right direction. Get it? “Step” in the right direction.

Okay, moving on.

Support for Wall Mounted TV:

Here I just added a couple 2×4’s to the wall to give me something solid for the future attachment of the wall mounted TV arm.





Support For Sliding Door Tracks

As you know we will have two wall-mounted sliding ‘barn’ doors in this room.  One door will be for the closet and the other will be for the bathroom.  Both of these sliding door tracks will be holding anywhere from 75lbs to 200lbs, depending on what type of door I decide to buy or build.  These tracks will require a lot of support to carry that weight.

Here are the new supports for these doors:

Barn Style Sliding Closet Door:





Bathroom Door

The bathroom door will also be on a wall mounted track, although this one will be a little smaller to fit in the limited space.




Stain The Joists:

As you may recall, I intend to drywall between the ceiling joists so that about 2″ of wood remains exposed.  Since half of the room has beautiful old (original) Douglas Fir ceiling joists, and the other half of the room has new construction Douglas Fir, there is a noticeable difference between the colors of the two types of wood.  The old wood is dark and rich like a freshly brewed cup of coffee, while the new wood is bright and golden like the afternoon sunshine.


To create some degree of continuity, I decided to stain the new wood to get it to a closer color match with the old wood.  Unfortunately, trying to reflect the difference in photographs is quite hard.  The main beam, however, is big enough that you can see the difference in color.  Check it out…






With that work done, all I need to do is get the electrical to install one more outlet, get the plumber to set the tub and I’m on to insulating the walls and putting up drywall.  Then things will get really exciting!

I am officially at a crossroads.  What do I work on next?  In all honesty, there is no shortage of work to complete, which might be part of the problem.  It’s sort of like being  a kid in a candy store.  While I want to eat tackle a bunch of candy tasks all at once, I’m afraid that after the sugar-rush thrill wears off I’m just going be an over indulgent DIY’er laying on the ground with a stomach ache.   To avoid this sugar coma I’ve decided to narrow my focus down to one task.  Wall framing.

Much like the floor, framing a wall sounds easy in theory, but I have a feeling it will be much more complex when I really sink my teeth into it.  On a positive note, I think we’ve come to a decision on how the wall will look down the line.  Here’s what we’re working with right now:


Now you might remember in one of my earlier posts that I discussed the idea of installing a sliding barn-door in front of the closet.  In case you need to refresh your memory, here’s a link to that post:

The Hassle of Doors

The plan is still to cover the closet with a sliding barn door, however, the plan has evolved a bit since I last posted about it.  Rather than building a wall, covering it in drywall and calling it a day, the new plan is to take the extra step to cover that wall in wood paneling.

Here are a few pictures of different paneling options that I like:







To aid me in my quest for wood paneling, I decided to call upon the discarded and disheveled masses.  The cast aways.  Those that once had homes, but find themselves sitting patiently as they wait for that one special person who will see the beauty they possess inside, underneath the years of neglect and grime.

That’s right!  It’s salvage yard time!  

Normally the salvage yard visits are more for brainstorming ideas and are less about actually finding quality merchandise; however, this weekend was different.  Leaning against a wall like a tall dark stranger, beckoning me with a bewitching glance, were two unopened boxes of unfinished walnut flooring.  I was torn.  Should I listen to my head that’s telling me to ‘stay away’ lest I be disappointed to find that underneath that dark and alluring veneer is a weathered and worn interior that has seen better days, or should I listen to my heart that says ‘go for it!’  I mean, we all have parts of us that are weathered and worn.  For me, it’s my drilling hand, so why be so quick to judge?  

In the end, my heart won out and I went home as giddy as a school girl with these beauties:

walnut  walnut2

Now, in reality two boxes only amount to a space of about 6 feet by 8 feet.  With that said, I’m sure I can find some more walnut flooring to match, or I could even mix and match this wood with some other wood to come up with a cool look.

Either way, listening to my heart was the way to go.  I couldn’t be happier with the new additions to the household and I can’t wait to see them up on the wall!

Next up…building a wall!

Whether it is the musty smell of 100-year-old wood and dust, or the rustic Douglas-fir beams, the more time that I spend in the completely gutted In Law unit, the more I feel like the “urban barn” look will work well in this space.  One thing, in particular, I have really been enjoying are the exposed wood beams in the ceiling.  Unfortunately, only a portion of the ceiling has the original old-growth Douglas-fir joists, but they are really beautiful.  So beautiful, in fact, that I’ve been thinking that we might keep them exposed.  Here’s a picture for you…


I have a meeting tonight with the electrician, which should clarify how we can approach lighting the room.  Once this is figured out we will know if we will need to cover the ceiling in drywall.  If it is possible to get the lighting that I would like while keeping the beautiful wooden ceiling that would be ideal.

To give you a sense of what I’m thinking of, here are a few ideas I’ve found that show what a space can look like with exposed joists & beams.






In addition to the ceiling beams, we have the large wooden columns in the middle of the room.  After consulting with the structural engineer, it sounds like we can potentially remove one of the two columns.  Whether we keep them both, or only have one column in the room, I’m looking forward to sanding it down and sealing it to expose the natural beauty of the wood.


When working in such a small space, something that always seems to get in the way are doors.  It may sound strange, but doors opening & closing can make a small room feel like it’s constantly shifting in size depending on the door’s position.  It’s like the room is breathing…or like you’re Alice in Wonderland, without eating or drinking anything.  

In our old home, which was only 450 square feet, doors became a bit of a problem.  The french doors to the back yard conflicted with the bathroom door, so neither could be open at the same time.  Inevitably, there would be times when we would need to navigate the labyrinth of doors just to get to the bathroom.  Sometimes urgency requires access to the bathroom to be swift & obstacle free.

In the In Law unit, there will be four doors.

  1. The closet
  2. The bathroom
  3. The door to the yard
  4. The entry door

That’s a lot of doors for such a small space.  When it comes to the closet, I’m not a fan of accordion (or bi-fold) doors.  Maybe it’s just me, but they always seem to get stuck, or making a screeching sound when I open them.  While a pocket door might be an option, plumbing & wiring in the wall may make it impossible to install without a lot of reconfiguration.  The solution I’m considering is to install a sliding barn door.  (I know…back to that barn talk again).  I think that from an aesthetic standpoint, sliding barn doors look really cool and could fit into our rustic space quite well.  There are also a ton of options for doors and hardware.

Check out some of these ideas.






Here is a picture of where the closet is located in the room.  This door would be one of the first things  a person will see when entering the space, making it that much more important that it sets the tone for the design.


The original In Law unit had, what one might call, a ‘kitchenette.”  I’m not sure if a sink, an exposed gas line and a few electrical plugs count as a kitchenette, but for the sake of argument, let’s call it a kitchenette.



The question that is currently at hand is whether or not the new In Law should have a kitchenette.  The space is not particularly large, so adding a small kitchen will “eat into” (pun intended) the overall living space.  On the other hand, having a small kitchen would allow our visitors, or even future renters, to live a little more independently.  They would no longer need to walk outside, up the deck stairs, and into the back door of the main house to heat up some water for tea.

With this in mind, here are a few kitchenette ideas I’ve found.


As you can see, if we go the route of kitchenette, it would essentially be a sink, a microwave and a small refrigerator.

kitchen 4

One thing I love about the following option is the window.  Unfortunately, attempting to move the plumbing to accommodate a kitchenette on an outward facing wall might be a bigger expense then we had planned on making.


Let’s say we decide that we do want one of these sleek kitchenettes.  Then the question then becomes, where do we put it?



I found this picture online and was thinking it might be a nice addition to the In Law.


I was wondering what to put in the space between the (current) two windows, which will eventually be one window and a sliding glass door.  Now I’m thinking that it might be the perfect space for a built in bookcase.  What do you think?