Thursday, April 29, 2010

Home improvement as therapy

As an engineer, I really enjoy building things and one of the things that is getting me through this chemo is that I'm healthy enough to do various home improvement tasks around the house. Over the winter we decided to tackle a redecorating project and redo our master bedroom. As all projects go, it started small, got way bigger than we expected, exceeded all time and money budgets and the initial thing that prompted the project actually got put way down on the list and ended up being the last thing we did.

We've been in our house 5 years in May and ever since we moved in we've had to see our slightly lame colored, rose formica countertop in our master bath (here's a picture after it was ripped out:)

So the initial project scope was to replace the counter top. We decided on a granite counter top but if we just put that in, the equally lame vinyl floor would look bad. So rather than get the counter top, we got distracted into putting in a glazed ceramic floor. And gee, that would be kind of cold on the tootsies in the morning, so we really need a heated floor, don't we? Yes we do! So now we've put the counter top on hold and have engaged ourselves in a combination electrical and mechanical project to put down a wiring grid on the subfloor, thin-set mortar over the wiring, run the wiring up through the wall (sheetrock work, spackle, orange-peel finish, paint), new control unit in the wall, re-wire to support the heating system, lay the tile, hope to god we haven't foobar-ed the wiring (at this point, you're talking a jack hammer to get the thin-set up to re-lay the wiring). Finally, cross our fingers, turn on the control, wait 3 anxious minutes or so, and - yes! - the floor is heating up! So that part of the project took about a month. Major props to Kyle who did a lot of the work and managed to: a.) not electrocute himself, b.) not burn the house down and c.) produce a really great looking floor:

and here is the slightly lame control box install in the wall:

and of course, once you do the bathroom, the lame master bedroom color plan (off-white) won't work anymore, so you need to completely re-paint that room (great painting work by Caitlyn on this part of the project, btw):

and import Ernie the cane tree and put in new window treatments:

and finally, 2 months and several thousand dollars later, you're (gently) reminded by the project manager that - WTF! - what about getting the counter installed? So here is the counter top for the master bath, complete with really cool vessel sinks:

And since it's no more expensive to get granite for 3 bathrooms vs 1 (trust me, this is true. Getting less than 25 sq. ft. of granite is hard to do), let's redo the two other bathroom counter tops:

hallway bathroom:

1st floor bath:

So we started in mid-December and just completed the work a couple of weeks ago. So even though I'm doing chemo, I can still do some plumbing! Which is very soothing to me, although I know that if you're not an engineer this will all seem like Work but it is really Great Fun!


  1. Beautiful job on the counters! I love those new 'above ground' sinks too. Very cool. We have some jobs to do over here if you get bored with your own home. :)

  2. OMG...the counter tops look great! What a fancy upgrade!