Anyone Planning Small House Projects for 09?

gayle0000January 11, 2009

I always have little projects going on...mostly outside. I just bought this place in April 2008 so I'm now settled in and re-thinking some things.

My first real indoor project involves taking out and re-installing the wood shelves in my little bathroom storage nook.

At the moment, the shelves are constructed well and are not a necessity to change (no storage problems/issues), but if you look at the pics you will see the shelves could be better placed with more shelves added to take advantage of unused space. It also bugs me that the existing shelves are just randomly in there and not measured evenly with each other.

I'm just going to remove and replace with the same type wood installation method already being used. Wood all the metal brackets or cheesy wire shelves. I want to keep true to the rest of the house and do it right.

I originally thought about just putting some kind of curtain treatment over the shelves, but it being right next to the shower curtain...and it being a small bathroom...there would be way too much fabric hanging around. Plus, the inside of the nook is all painted white & not an eyesore, so no need to hide the space.

I like the use of the dark brown baskets and plan to continue the basket thing once the new shelves are in.

Anyone else want to talk about their projects? I'd love to hear about them!


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We have several projects planned, all with an eye towards getting our house ready to sell. We plan to start building in SC in a year or so, and have to get this place in top shape if we hope to sell it. First up is to finish the kitchen. I need new countertops to go with the the re-surface I did on the cabinets. Next up will be re-doing the master bath, which is about 30 years old. Finally, I need to re-do the tub surround in the other bath (tile). No real changes; just re-surfacing/updating to put a fresh face on the place.


    Bookmark   January 11, 2009 at 8:46AM
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We do several projects every year at tax time--we roll our refund into the house.

This year it's painting the exterior and replacing the garage door, which is old, broken, and rotting at the bottom. I also plan on replacing the flooring in the laundryroom--I'd like to do a 1950s blue and white checkerboard linoleum tile--and putting new carpeting in the small playroom. (Both laundryroom and playroom are in the basement.) The stairs leading down to the basement are bare wood and I'd like to carpet those, as well, for kid safety.

Gayle--you mentioned once that your house has a basement playroom for your daughter. Have you done anything with it yet?

    Bookmark   January 11, 2009 at 9:24AM
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Hey Crystal...about the basement/playroom. She goes down there a lot to technically the whole basement is her playland. She's got a table area down there for glue/glitter/crafts. She rides her big wheel down there. Dollhouse, etc.

However, after living here for 9 months, any plans to cozy-up the basement for living/lounging space has been scrapped.

My cat decided it's also her territory. I put down a big berber area rug for DD, some beanbag chairs, tv/DVD's, and so forth. My cat pee's on any item left on the floor. I had to remove (throw away) the rug & beanbags. My cat even pees on little 2x3 rugs I've set in front of my washer/dryer and just at the bottom of the steps.

No cat pee. Nothing cozy down there at this time. Just concrete floors. No new finishes at this time. Darn!

    Bookmark   January 11, 2009 at 9:48AM
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We're in the middle of an organizing project this weekend. We actually have tons of closet space in this house (7-1/2 6' x 20" reach-in closets in bedrooms and main room) but it is all designed for clothing. Who has that much clothing? We sure don't, but we have things that need to be stored.

We're putting shelves inside two of the closets and DH's audio set up inside another. We also have dedicated a small bedroom to music room/workout room use. We put a HUGE shelf in there (77" x 24" x 72" high) and it now holds almost ALL of our musical instruments, including a 5-piece drum kit in cases (vertical storage is a beautiful thing). The only things not on the shelf are a cello and some cymbals. That freed up floor space for the keyboard (previously boxed in a closet)and a music stand, and also the exercise bike and DH's weight bench.

Definitely not a stylish room, but perfect for our needs. And we're putting a little flat TV in there so the workout equipment might actually get some use! This room is only about 10' x 12', so hard to photograph.

The giant horn rack:

The opposite side of the room:

    Bookmark   January 11, 2009 at 1:07PM
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We need more space in our kitchen but don't want to do a major remodel. So, this year's project is to add a kitchen island - that will give us additonal counter space, storage space and seating.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2009 at 9:27AM
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We are going to replace the flooring in the master bathroom and hope we don't run into any surprises, but I'm not counting on that.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2009 at 10:55AM
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This is this years list so far:

1. Kitchen Floor
2. Paint Ceilings: living room, dining room, upstairs bathroom
3. Touch up paint
4. Patio

that's all I can think of at the moment!

    Bookmark   January 12, 2009 at 3:11PM
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I didn't realize how addicted I had become to reading everyone's small house projects. Gayle, your basement sounds like a fun place for kids and less worries for you with no carpeting or anything.
We're in the process of remodeling our kitchen. Started last year and just started installing the countertops. Unfortunately, it's not going totally like it should. I described it a little if you're interested.
Oh and I like how Crystal puts her tax refund into the house. What an inspiring idea... because we hate tax time!

Here is a link that might be useful: installing countertops trouble

    Bookmark   January 16, 2009 at 12:26PM
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We bought our little house a year ago. It has lots of vintage character but a lot of deferred maintenance issues as well. Last year we pulled up 5 rooms of 30 year old carpet and padding (gross!). Had the floors of 3 of those 5 years refinished. Had all the 80+ year old cast iron pipes replaced with copper. (Our most expensive project.) Had a shower head put into our bath. The original toilet was sadly beyond repair and had to be replaced. Had the old window in the bathroom shower replaced with glass brick. Had all the electrical gone over. About half of the outlets had to be replaced including new gfi outlets for the kitchen and bath. Had the attic and basement sealed. A new basement door put in and the attic partially insulated. (These last three things were partially paid for by the city of Chicago - woo hoo!)

Luckily we get to tone down things a bit this year. We're still living with a hole in the shower wall where the shower head was installed, so we have the bath retiled.

We're going to do some work to the yard this year. Last year we pulled up tons and tons of hostas - all overgrown and frankly, kinda ugly. I replaced those with irises in back and some cute heucheras in front. I'd like to put a few more heucheras in the front as well as a couple of small bushes. I also want the overgrown lilac bush pulled up and plant a tree in its place. Our back yard is supposed to be flat but it is very uneven. Need to pull up the grass, level everything out and put in some sort of paving/patio over part of it so we have a place for our table, chairs and bbq.

Then, once all that's done, maybe we can see about doing some fun stuff like painting the family room walls. I'd also like to replace some of the window treatments with something more attractive but we'll have to see how our finances hold out.

Sadly, there's still a lot of boring but necessary stuff we should do. A new garage door is in order. The exterior electrical box need to be updated - to the tune of $1500. Yikes! Need to get more insulation in the attic. But, one thing at a time...

    Bookmark   January 24, 2009 at 3:58PM
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So many.

1. Finish renovating master bedroom (paint trim, install wallpaper on accent wall, buy and hang window treatments, buy and hang a mini-chandelier)
2. Have new window sills and trim built for three windows or work up nerve to try doing it myself.
3. Finish buying and hanging window treatments for first floor.
4. Paint all the new trim on the first floor.
5. The biggie -- renovate the bathroom.
6. The lowest priority -- do something about the amazingly ugly stairway.
7. Do something about the jacked-up hardscaping in my postage-stamp front yard.
8. Replace paint-smothered original doors upstairs with 12-lite doors (3 doors) -- hoping to re-use original hinges and glass knobs if I can get 60 yrs of paint off them -- a mini-project in itself).

    Bookmark   January 26, 2009 at 12:46AM
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We need to improve the insulation in the floor of the attic. The house is over 20 yrs old, and the insulation has settled. Besides what they put in there does not meet the new standards. We also need to repaint the living room, dining room and kitchen, and to refinish the hard wood floors in the living room and dining room.

Next we need to repaint the exterior and, if we have any money left, we would like to install a screened porch in part of the rear deck.

Oh, I forgot -- my wife wants new window treatments in the living room and kitchen.

I'm tired just thinking of it all. We've already done a lot renovating the bathrooms and kitchen and putting in a direct vent fireplace insert in the living room, and we're enjoying what we did and taking a breather. So we're in no big hurry to do more right now.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2009 at 9:26PM
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I do not dare to make a list. I would scare myself half to death. Sooooooooooooooooo I just finished making our ugly little guest bath sparkle. I tiled the counter and made the mosaic back splash for under the large mirror and ends of counter. Was a long project but it was fun.

A happy accident when a fantasy fish appeared in the design. LOL this was not planned at all.I added the eye as an after thought.

And once all the glass work was done in my studio I cleaned it up and re-organized my tools so it will be a better place to work in. This was my first big project.I am sitting at the desk right now.I am usually in the living room on my laptop but had to make a long distance phone call tonight on it.

Next I would like to paint some shelves and small pieces of furniture. I like the clean look of your bath so well Gayle000 I think I will change some things in our master to look more like yours. Hope you do not mind.


    Bookmark   February 18, 2009 at 12:36AM
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I have seen some of your work before and am entranced with all. This project is beautiful, can imagine how much work you put into all the detail. The accidental fish is wonderful.

I volunteer at Habitat's Restore and have to keep reminding them to "not" throw away broken or loose tile. We have a free box most of the time, it is usually emtied quickly by customers. Wish I could just send it to you......


    Bookmark   February 18, 2009 at 7:55AM
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Oh my, Chris, your backsplash is wonderful! I'm in awe!

    Bookmark   February 18, 2009 at 2:15PM
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Well, it looks like on the honey-do list, page 17, Section G, subsection 17: Completely replace kitchen; is coming up. I guess I should start looking into that, now, shouldn't I?

And living in a timber frame home, that means LOTS and LOTS of very custom stuff, like triangular drawers and such. Oh boy.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2009 at 8:00PM
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A large small house project is in the works...
If we sell the foothills 26 acres at the price we are asking then we will be selling the in town house (1912 q.ft. on a 3/4 basement) and buying a new place to build our new 784 or 840 sq.ft. mini-palace there.
Then again, since we both really like the foothills place and since we actually own and have full title to it, and the well and septic are already installed, and since we've already had the two previous foundations we built bulldozed and the power and land-line telephone installed, if we don't get offered what we're asking, we'll just keep it and build there.
My darlin wife has some (a lot actually) reservations regarding building "so small", but I don't care.....1 bed, 1 bath, a decent size living room and kitchen/dining room and an office/sewing/spare room.
If we stay and keep the 26 acres, it's NO mortgage, 12-14 acres of hardwoods for free heat and winter-time cooking and hot water,(12-14 acres open 5 springs a creek and 2 branches for gardens and animals) a very small house with little need for A/C, and very small other bills (and taxes too, apparently it seems that, after talking with the county tax folks anyway, our county values a 1bed/1bth at close to zero, lucky us eh?)
No need for more, both kids have land adjacent (if we keep our 26) and as far as I'm concerned, if we move and they want to come and stay with us... we'll build a barn that's warm and dry enough, or they can always get a hotel room in town....Later, LOL, more like we might one day, build a tiny little "guest cottage" for folks to stay in, one day.....
All our friends think I have slipped back into my long long past hippy days, but we've raised our kids, got them out of 16 years school and off on their own, and I figure that now it's our turn.
And so, I figure smaller is better, as little as possible for the tax man and the utility billers is even better than that....Some day, I hope to be if not totally off-grid, then real close to being able to do a few mid-winter weeks without grid supplied electricity. Time will tell....I like growing things and then eating them, and since I have lots of time on my hands now-a-days, this just seems like the right thing to do all around...
My wife thinks that this is all a pretty crazy thing for folks in their 50's to do. And the neuros I see, and most of our friends too, think that for me to even attempt such an endeavor, is absolute proof of my being insane...They might be right, but I intend to persue my small building project regardless of what anybody thinks or says....

BTW>>>> that is one really nice backsplash!

and the link attached is a site definitely well worth reading

Here is a link that might be useful: An interesting concept, a nice read too

    Bookmark   February 20, 2009 at 4:18PM
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I'm hoping to complete some DIY cosmetic projects this year. Interior and exterior painting, and replacing the 20 year old carpet in the bathrooms (YUCK!) with tile are at the top of the list.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2009 at 9:41AM
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Interesting thread, and inspiring too, to get off my rear and work on some projects in our cottage.

Chris ~ As always, I'm inspired by your mosaic work and in awe at all that you accomplish.


    Bookmark   February 21, 2009 at 11:38AM
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Spunbondwarrior your plan sounds good. One thing that really makes this house work for me is the large size of the room I use for my studio. This is the first house where I had such a nice room to work in. Since this is a manufactured home we had options on room sizes and hubby said to do whatever I wanted for a studio room and I did add a 3 1/2 foot stretch through that room. Some of it added to the master and some to the guest room. I think the room is 13 by 10 so not huge. A really nice working space.

I had them leave the closet wall open to the ceiling so I had all the storage easily available to me. I covered it with a curtain.

Just to be sure to build in lots of good storage. It makes all the difference in being able to live easily in a smaller house.

Thanks all on the comments on the back splash. It was really relaxing for me to do.Stress reliever.Not nearly as hard as I expected and I will be doing our kitchen and second bath as time and $$$$ permit.


    Bookmark   February 22, 2009 at 11:18AM
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I decided that instead of doing a kitchen remodel, I would benefit more from an addition that would convert my 1/2 bath off the kitchen to a full bath, next to that would be a laundry/pantry room (currently W/D in cold basement and 2 flights of stairs from bedroom)and end with a screened porch. Hopefully the addition would have a hallway wide enough to have lots of coat hooks and troughs for winter boots/garden shoes, and a door out onto deck.

Issue will be roof line. This is small 2 story colonial with attached garage (back end is half bath off of the kitchen.)

I keep looking for pics of similar additions and try to look at how people did it in our town but haven't seen anything that makes me say 'ah, that's it!)

    Bookmark   February 28, 2009 at 7:33AM
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Chris Love the back splash,I would not be able to try that, for fear the fish would not show up. I realy love the fish. And the hoosier cabinett, in your studio.Great work. Gail

    Bookmark   March 17, 2009 at 7:18PM
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Thank you Galiee. It would have been fine if the fish had not happened. I did not even see it happening until I had the tiles glued to the wall. LOL The project was really fun to do and I can not wait to get started in on the next one.


    Bookmark   March 18, 2009 at 10:36AM
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Oh so many great projects going on. It makes me itch for our next plan - working on the bathroom. It has floor-to-ceiling tile and no storage or hooks. I love reading about what some of you have planned or done with your baths.

Outside of the bathroom, we were keeping our bikes. We figured it was more important to make a safe route to the bathroom before working on it. We used the only nook in our 480 sq ft place for our bikes. We don't have a car, so I call it our double garage.

We're in Europe, so it takes a little adapting from what we're used to in the US. Here's our "garage" if you're interested in our small space conversion--

Here is a link that might be useful: effectively storing our bikes in the house

    Bookmark   March 24, 2009 at 12:53PM
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God, I wish I had 1,000 sqf to work with! My house is 816 sqf!

Right now I have painters in finishing the living room and my two tiny bedrooms. I love DIY stuff except for paint, I hate it! So its worth the money for me, anyway.

This year I'm getting the kitchen redone. The cabinets are probably from the 50's and they are pretty much goners. I am keeping the cute handles on them to put on the new cabinets. I even found the box the handles came in when I moved in, with extras still inside it! Behind the floor cabinets you can still the old wallpaper, it was cream with little dutch girls and boys on it. So cute, I wish I could find a repo of it.

I wish I could afford to take out the drop ceilings and the "lovely" wood paneling in the house, but that will probably never be in the budget. Painting over the paneling is working for now. I'm too scared to see what's under the drop ceilings!

Its nice to have cousins and uncles that work in cabinetry and flooring, so at least my kitchen won't cost a fortune!

    Bookmark   March 25, 2009 at 1:50PM
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kitschy, We used to have an 806 Sq Ft house. I had it fixed up so cute. Was like a little doll house. We really enjoyed living there. The cabinets were also from the late 40's early 50's because that is when the house was built and I am sure they were original. So many layers of paper behind things. I had to redo all the kitchen walls because too many layers of paper to get off nicely. Even olive green flocked. EEEEKKKK

The house did not have plumbing to begin with and they stuffed a tiny bath into what we think was a large pantry or maybe it was just part of the kitchen. Leaving just a cupboard behind. Still the house was so fun to live in. We did enclose part of the front porch on three sides and put a washer out there. We could only use it in the summer then had to winterize it. Best of all it took me about an hour to clean the whole house and even do a good job of it. Gave me more time to explore the hills behind the house. The dog goat and calf and I would all go for a nice walk. Ah For The good old days.


    Bookmark   March 25, 2009 at 3:03PM
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I re-did my 5x7 bathroom because the builder put in a 36 x 22 inch wide vanity that was really too large for the room. I replaced it with a 28" x 18 sink. People who had been in the bathroom understood why I was downsizing. Others questioned wny I would want something smaller with less storage. While it was just a few inches difference, the room just looks and feels so much better now.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2009 at 9:47AM
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I'll mostly be doing cleaning, painting, replace a broken window, fix the floor of kitchen sink cabinet type things - while planning for 2010... to redo the kitchen, replace hall / laundry flooring and maybe the mstr bath vanity. Change out the back door and possibly the patio door - it doesn't look so good. Probably the lighting fixtures in the other rooms too. depends on how i survive the kitchen redo.

It'll be a long year I think...

    Bookmark   May 22, 2009 at 12:28PM
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