The Framing Inspection

You know that feeling of anticipation when you think someone is going to check out your work with a magnifying glass?  It’s like when you’re painting and you miss a spot in a corner by the floor, you just know someone will notice.  Or right when you send that email, you notice a typo.

We’ve worked really hard with our framing and we were feeling that kind of nervous anticipation.  But when we do really big projects, we make sure we’re prepared.  We’ve been using this Black and Decker Codes for Homeowners book shown below for any questions we may have along the way.

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This book goes into great detail.  We’ve used it as a reference for lots of things that are hard to remember from past experience.  Especially things that you don’t do frequently!  Things like what’s the best way to frame a corner, how to put the top plate on correctly, framing out doors and the list goes on and on.

In addition to the inspection, our replacement window installer stopped by today.  He met with Brian to provide instructions on how to take out the windows, and also how to frame them out.  I think the framing out idea we have is going to look really good!

So, how did we do with the framing inspection?  The inspector was impressed by how much and how quickly we had completed the framing.  Especially when he heard that it was just Brian and I working on it.  He really liked the building and the shop, too!  He’s looking forward to seeing our finished project.

Oh, yeah!  Guess what?!  Our work was –


I’d just like to take a minute and say how thankful and proud I am of my dear, sweet husband!  He’s worked so hard to get us to this point and I greatly appreciate it!

Thanks for joining our journey!


Tear Down That Wall

Due to building codes, our existing stairwell half wall must be replaced with a full length firewall.  Building codes also require us to drywall the inside of the stairwell with 5/8″ fire rated drywall.

On Sunday, we rolled up our sleeves and got to work removing this beautiful stairwell wall.  The patina on this wood is amazing!  Our plan is to recycle the wood and use it as a feature wall.

Stairwell wall in the loft.

First we removed the handrail leading up the stairwell.  Then we removed all of the trim and realized that the bead board was indeed tongue and groove, as you can see from the picture below.

Tongue and groove bead board.

Sometimes when your doing a remodel it’s all about coming up with a plan for the best way to tackle the task at hand.  This was definitely one of those times.  We initially planned to run a level chalk line on the inside of the stairwell.  Then we would tack a board to the wall and use a circular saw.

That didn’t seem like the best idea since we were dealing with tongue and groove boards.  So we headed to Lowe’s to see if we could find a saw that would do a flush cut from the outside of the stairwell.  We found this Dremel US40-03 Ultra-Saw Tool Kit with 5 Accessories and 1 Attachment.  This saw is small, easy to handle and it will cut flush with the floor.  Luckily the blade was large enough to go through the bead board.


Again, it’s often about having the right tools to make the task at hand so much easier!  I can’t say enough about this saw!  We were amazed at how quickly we were able to remove the wall.  We did stop a couple of times to let the saw cool down.  Here’s our end result, along with the temporary wall we put up.

Removing and framing out the wall was the last part of our framing phase.  We hoped to complete this before our inspection but knew we probably wouldn’t and we didn’t.  The inspector is checking our other framing so that we can start with plumbing and electrical.

Our inspection is today.  Hope it goes well.

Thanks for joining our journey!


Gonna Tell You a Story ’bout a Clamp Named Jed

We’ve posted about having the right tools for the job at hand, but haven’t said much about clamps and vises.  Whether you need to make two pieces flush, bring down a crown before nailing, or just hold pieces together, a clamp or vise is a great tool.

Let me introduce you to Jed.  Jed Clampit.  I know it’s silly, but I like to name my favorite tools.  My Dremel Multi-Max is Maxine.  My favorite clamp is Jed.  He’s the one in the picture above.  And, he has been a wonderful time-saving tool as we install the top plates on our walls.  Sometimes it’s hard to get the entire length flush before you nail it in. So being able to attach Jed to hold it in place is great.  And if you’ve ever worked with lumber, you know it’s not all perfectly straight.  There’s almost always some sort of bow, or crown that needs to be held down before you attach it.  And some lumber is twisted a bit (some more than a bit) so you may need to make some adjustments and a clamp is the easiest tool for me.  Especially when I’m working alone.

We have a little wood working shop on the second floor where our son, Matt does his magic, and he will tell you how much a clamp helps with his work.  So, we have a variety.

Ha ha,,,check out the old school pencil sharpener.  Very handy.

Anyway, that’s my words of wisdom this morning.  Thanks for following our journey.  Peace!

2 Bathtubs Are Better Than One – Right?

When I saw this bathtub, I fell in love with it.  I basically designed our entire master bathroom around this tub.  Except for the fixtures.  I always knew I wanted a shiny chrome finish because that’s what I like.

We’ve designed our bunk bathroom around this garage workbench up-cycled into a vanity   I just love it!

Bunk bath vanity!

On Friday, our friends from Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery called to let us know they had another bathtub just like this one.  And they thought we could make it work in our bunk bathroom.  They know that we have 6500 sq. ft. and plenty of room for it.

The folks at Ferguson are great to work with!  They’re following our blog and they knew we could make this work in our design.  I’m very impressed with their customer service!  When Katie called, we discussed how we could alter our design.  She also consulted with another designer and we came up with some options, which I greatly appreciated!  If you’re in need of a designer for your kitchen, bath or lighting needs, I’d definitely recommend a visit to Ferguson.

The timing of their call to us couldn’t have been better!  Earlier in the week our plumber realized we had a big problem – without access to our elevator the one piece bathtub/shower combo we planned to use in the bunk bathroom would not fit up our existing stairway.  The only solution we could come up with was to install a shower pan and tile the shower, like we’ll be doing in our master bathroom.  But we really didn’t want to do a big tile job in our bunk bathroom too.

After verifying with our plumber that the tub would work, we decided we definitely want it!  We’ll have to finalize a plan for using the tub as a shower.  I’m sure our friends from Ferguson will be able to help us out with the fixtures we need.  Stayed tuned to see our design board later this week and let me know what you think.

We also still need appliances, so we may see if they have any suggestions or any great deals.  Of course, I’ll be looking for the best bargains I can find!

Thanks for joining our journey!



Having Fun At The Elm Loft Project

“Never underestimate the importance of having fun” – Randy Pausch.  We’ve been working like crazy since mid-July on our loft project.  Almost every single night and as much time as possible on the weekend.  But we decided when we started this project – we were going to have fun!

Our current status

As you can see, we are still working on framing the walls.  I really thought we could complete this part of the project in 2 weeks.  Ha!  It’s been almost 4.  I’m happy to say we are almost finished.  I’m nervous & excited to say our framing inspector is coming on Tuesday.  We’ve followed code and I’m sure it will all be just fine.

The piles of lumber are getting much smaller!

Once we pass our inspection, we’re ready to move on with our electrical and plumbing.  I can’t even imagine not having to run down 2 flights of stairs to use the bathroom!  It will be awesome!  And having outlets where you need them, instead of running a heavy-duty extension cord will be great too!

Within the next 2 weeks our replacement windows should be about ready to go in.  The HVAC should be going in soon.  We need to finalize our kitchen design.  We have doors that need to be refinished/painted.  Are we going to use some barn door hardware for some of our doors?  The bathroom sink needs to be cleaned and possibly refinished.  The master bathroom vanity needs to be designed and built.  And the list goes on and on.  But that’s what we signed up for and we are loving every dang minute!

Insert fun here

One of the first things we do when we start work is turn on the music.  We always have music going and we love it!  Brian has just started with a new band The Valcoes, so we’ve been listening to all the songs he’ll be doing with them.  A great mix of rock n roll!

This past weekend, we had the pleasure of having one of our grand kids “helping” us.  Little Leo had the most fun!  The first thing he did was take off his shirt and put it with Nandad’s shirt!  (It’s been so hot working, Brian mostly works without a shirt.)

Leo learned to ride the trike.  He rode all over the place, giggling and having so much fun.

Leo riding a very old trike!

At one point I gave him some blocks of wood to see what he would do with them.  Here’s one of his creations.

Look at that concentration!

He asked if we had a measuring tape.  I found an extra one and here’s what he did with it.

He even drew lines on his scraps of wood and pretended they were cut!

And then I told him he could write on any of the wood he wanted to.  Just not the floor.  I thought he would write on the framed walls but instead he started writing on a pile of lumber.

My advice for you – try to have a little fun in all that you do!  Whether it’s working on a remodeling project, working at your job/career, doing chores or whatever – try to find some fun in what you do!

Thanks for joining our journey!


My Love for Maxine

I did home renovations for a while several years ago before we bought our building.  Painting, repairs, flooring, concrete counter-tops, etc.  I discovered that it really pays to have the right tool for the job.  It not only makes the job easier, it makes it quicker.  When you get paid by the job, that’s important.

One tool I fell in love with is the Dremel Multi-Max.  It became such a valuable tool for us, especially when laying new flooring, that I named her Maxine.  I’d say, “go get Maxine”, or “where is Maxine” and my guys would go get her.  She can cut wood and metal, scrape and get into tight spaces better than any tool I have.

As we do our framing in the loft, I’ve had to use her to cut out the existing quarter round so can get our walls butted up to the brick.  I’ve also used her to cut through nails to take apart a section where I made a little miscalculation.  Yeah, we make mistakes.  But, we also learn from them, so it’s all good.

Steps to cut out for quarter round using Maxine:

    1. measured the bottom/sole plate to determine the exact measurement
    2. dry fit our cut 2 x 6 to make sure it would fit correctly
    3. using the dry fit 2 x 6, I marked where the quarter round needed to be cut
    4. removed the 2 x 6 and made the vertical cutsimg_2529
    5. once the vertical cuts were complete, I made the horizontal cut under the quarter round & removed the quarter round
    6. the last step was to dry fit the 2 x 6 again to make sure the cuts were correct

If I didn’t have Maxine, I’m not sure what tool or method I would use to make a cut like this.  I’m sure whatever alternative, it wouldn’t be this easy!  I just can’t imagine doing a project without dear, sweet Maxine!



Master Bath Design Board

Master bathroom design

As soon as we finish our framing this week, we’ll move on to electrical, plumbing and HVAC.  Which means I need to have as much of our design finished as possible.  Here’s our master bedroom design board.  What do you think?

We pretty much knew from the beginning that we wanted a black and white bathroom.  I previously talked about some of the design but we definitely need to get this finished as soon as possible!  The sink is still sitting on our deck, waiting for a bit of cleaning and TLC.


The tub was delivered a few weeks ago.  I just love it!

Our master bath tub!

We have the faucets shown on the design board ready to be installed.   I’m pretty sure we are still going to use the tile shown on the design board for the floor and possible as a feature in the shower.  The shower will mostly be subway tile with black grout.

So, the only big decision left is the vanity.  I like the one on the design board but I think it needs to be a bit smaller.  Due to the weight of the sink (it’s cast iron), we want the sink to rest on the vanity.  Most likely our son, Matt, will make a custom vanity.


Also, our design had to change a bit.  When we built out our walls and door frame, we decided it would be too tight and we’d need to walk around the tub to get to the shower.  Here’s our revised bathroom layout.  Thankfully our plumber approved the changes, which I’ve noted below!loft bathroom switchThere’s a pole next to the shower that we were going to build a half wall around but have  instead decided to use a fixed shower panel.  A fixed shower panel has the look of a door but it doesn’t move.  The wall the shower faucet is on will need to be built out a bit, probably 10 inches or so, unless we can find a wider shower panel.  We love the industrial look but we also want frosted glass.

What do you think of the design?  Do you like it so far?

Thanks for joining our journey!


Henderson Hosiery Mill Display Case

One of the things I love about having an antiques and consignment shop is that we have some really unique pieces come through our doors.  This beautiful merchandise display piece is from the Henderson Hosiery Mill.  Don’t you just love the patina and the richness of the wood?

This is a piece that we acquired some time ago that we’ve been saving for our loft.  We intended to use is as some kind of display case.  The other day when I revealed our plans for a time capsule, we had a great recommendation from a friend.  Harry Stolzy suggested we have a time capsule but not hide it in a wall.  We’ve decided that’s what we will do with this display case.

Henderson Hosiery Mill History

Just a little history about the Henderson Hosiery Mill.  The building stood for 100 years on Washington Street.  When the building was complete in 1885 and production began, the mill was hailed as a commercial wonder.  The factory was considered to be one of the factories that formed the foundation of local industry.

A total of 200 men, women and boys were hired when the factory opened.  The factory was producing such a high quality of “fine sheeting” that they couldn’t keep up with customers’ demands.  Some of the workers lived in company owned double brick tenement houses located across the street from the mill.  The company closed in 1931 due to the depression and reopened 6 years later.

The factory operated under 4 different names over the course of the years.  In late 1982, the mill closed it’s doors.  The mill was razed in 1985 and most of it’s 13 million bricks and strong poplar beams were salvaged for a second life in other buildings in other places.

The Elm – Consignments & More

Just like the bricks and beams from the Hosiery Mill, we salvage items for a second life at our shop, The Elm – Cosignments & More.  Our son Matt has a workshop on our second floor, where he does everything from repairs to custom creations.  Last year he donated a guitar he built from an old door for a charity auction.  He’s turned antique sewing machines into tables, old headboards into benches and completely refinished antique dining sets.

We also have a lot of items that were once loved but not longer needed.  Like grandmother’s china, lots of antiques, some great mid century modern pieces and all kinds of glassware and collectibles.  We’ve sold many unique pieces with local history, like this merchandise display case.  We have a typesetter cabinet and drawers from the Sebree Banner Newspaper and chandeliers from the Boots Randolph museum.  We even sold a huge red crushed velvet, king-sized, heart shaped bed with an 8 track player built into the headboard!

Brian never knows what’s going to come through our doors but I’m glad we get to see so many unique items.  And yes, I have a stack of stuff I’ve purchased from the shop for our project.  I also have some additional very cool furniture pieces that I can’t wait to share!

Thanks for joining our journey!






Fall in Love with Downtown

Tomorrow is the first day of Fall and I couldn’t be happier.  It’s my favorite season.  I love sweater weather, the smells of soups and fall recipes being cooked on the stove.  Lisa and I love to dress up in costume for Halloween, too.  Our little downtown has a very heavily attended Tricks or Treats on Halloween and almost all of the downtown businesses participate.  It gets pretty crazy, so our kids and grandkids help out every year.  It’s a lot of fun.

Henderson has lots of things happening in the Fall.  Cates Farm has become a family tradition for us.  They have an 11 acre corn maze, acres of pumpkins, hayrides, bonfires, food and games.

The Fall Farmer’s Market is also a great place to visit and buy pumpkins and Fall fruits and veggies.  It’s at the Henderson County Fairgrounds.

The Arts and Crafts Festival at John James Audubon State Park is always a great event, too.

The Spooks and Legends Haunted Tour, of which we are a participant, is a spooky little tour of downtown and it’s haunted history.

For a more detailed list of events in the Fall, here’s a link to the Henderson Tourist Commission’s Fall Calendar of Events.

Fall Festivities in Henderson

I hope you enjoy the following pics from Falls and Halloweens past.

How Not to Estimate For Materials

I remember when we built our garage many years ago.  Brian and I designed the garage and Dad came up with our supply estimate.  The cost to build the garage ended up being about 20% higher than the estimate.  The main reason – we changed our plans and went with 2 x 6’s for framing instead of 2 x 4’s.  We didn’t add this price increase to our budget, for some reason.  And our garage is about 1400 sq. ft.  Lesson learned, right?

We’ve completed a lot of projects since then and we always say – don’t forget to add 20%.  That’s 20% to the budget and 20% for materials.  I think this is the general rule of thumb for most projects.  When we haven’t done this method of estimating, we usually run into problems.

Remember this big pile of lumber?  The lumber we paid a few strong guys to carry up 2 flights of stairs?

Framing Lumber

Well, it turns out my estimate was wrong.  I didn’t follow our 20% rule of thumb.  And I know better!  Also, Brian didn’t help with the estimate, so I can’t blame him.  Ha!  So how did I estimate?

The Original Estimate

Basically, I made a spreadsheet with the running wall length for all walls and added that together.  For a grand total of 279.75 ft.  I rounded that up to 300.  Then I multiplied 300 x 12 and divided by 16 = 226.5.  A little more about this formula: 300 is the running wall length, multiplied by 12 inches per foot, divided by 16 inches – this is to get our 16 inches on center estimate.  Then I upped the 226.5 to 230.  This gave us the number of 2 x 6 x 8’s for our studs.

Next I figured the 2 top plates and 1 bottom plate.  So that was 300 divided by 12 ft = 25.  We planned to use 12 ft lengths for our 2 top and 1 bottom plates.  To get the number of 2 x 6 x 12’s, I simply took 25 x 3 for the 3 plates (2 top, 1 bottom.)  Here’s what I ordered:

  • 250 – 2 x 6 x 8
  • 75 – 2 x 6 x 12 (notice I didn’t order any extra here)

The Correct Estimate

What was I thinking?  Here’s what I should have ordered based on our 20% rule of thumb:

  • 275 – 2 x 6 x 8
  • 90 – 2 x 6 x 12

The problem is we ran out of straight 2 x 6 x 8’s earlier this week, so we decided to use 2 x 6 x 12’s.  This wasn’t our best idea because now we have a lot of waste.  So today, we are having more lumber delivered.  Here’s what we are getting:

  • 60 – 2 x 6 x 8
  • 20 – 2 x 6 x 12

Why do we need so many 2 x 6 x 8’s?  Because we used a lot of them for the top and bottom plates of shorter wall lengths.  Also, if we wouldn’t have started using 2 x 6 x 12’s and having so much waste, we probably wouldn’t need any additional.  Lesson learned and that’s why we stopped using them and started working on the second top plate.

Did I mention it’s very, very hot this week and working on the third floor with no air is not too much fun?  Luckily, we just have 2 walls to finish.  Only 2 walls!  The wall between the bunk room and the veranda and the wall between the master bedroom and the veranda.

The up side is we are getting the additional lumber delivered today.  The down side is we’re going to have to get it up 2 flights of stairs.  So now we’re looking for a few strong guys that would want to do some heavy lifting.

Thanks for joining our journey!