This is a hair salon that I put together for a local businesswoman named Angela, who also happens to be my wife.
This building was originally built with three residential units upstairs and three commercial units downstairs. At some point, the bottom three units had doorways added to open up the space for one business. It was very poorly done, as were the subsequent decades of “maintenance”.
The building was bought by a friend of mine and the downstairs was re-divided into three units. Angela signed up to take on Suite #3 as the home for her new business, Mop Salon, and I got to work making it presentable. The original bathroom had been torn out years ago and made into a closet, so that had to be converted back, almost all of the drywall needed to come out, thanks to years of bad patching and water damage, the front wall was riddled with termite damage, there was a bullet hole in one of the front windows, and that was just the beginning.
When all was said and done, we’d replaced the flooring, drywall, insulation, woodwork, removed the popcorn ceiling, built a custom soffit with lighted crown moulding, built custom cabinets, installed a built-in sound system, and built a bathroom from scratch. We had an electrical contractor completely redo the wiring and add a lot of new circuits, we had a plumber basically start over in order to add lots of sinks, laundry, a water heater, and state-mandated backflow prevention.
It was a huge job, and a year later, I’m still wrapping up loose ends and working all the kinks out. But I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out, and more importantly, my wife is pleased.
Custom Basement Railing
This is a railing I built so that the stairs leading to this finished basement would be safer for the small kids living in the house. Because of the odd shape of the ceiling and the placement of the newel post, an off-the-shelf solution wasn’t going to work. Instead, I bought some dimensional lumber and built it from scratch. Most of the work was done in my workshop, and there were only a few short visits to the house for measuring, test fitting, and installation. All in all, it turned out quite nicely, especially considering it started out as a pile of 2x4s.
1935 Atlas Lathe Restoration
This is probably not the kind of work you were planning on hiring me to do for you, but it’s one of my favorite things to do. Yes, It’s fun to go into someone’s house and make broken things work or make ugly things cool, but if I didn’t need to make money, I’d probably restore machinery all day.
This is a 1935 Craftsman-branded Atlas metal lathe that I got as a partial trade for some work I did. It was basically just boxes of rusty parts when I got it, so I had to take the guy’s word for it when he told me it was all there and it worked when it was disassembled. I won’t go into the long, boring, tedious work that is machinery restoration. Instead I’ll just let the pictures do the talking.
Now, if anyone wants to trade some work for a Bridgeport mill…
Master Bathroom Remodel
This house had been a rental for many years, and as such, it was repeatedly patched together as cheaply as possible. The new owner wanted to start fresh with the master bathroom and undo years of landlord quick-fixes. As you can see, it was a dramatic change. Removing a fiberglass shower stall to find a creepy little mini bathtub was definitely one of the stranger things I’ve uncovered. I jokingly told the owner that the tub was probably a baptismal font for Satanic rituals, which gave her nightmares. Oops.
The “new” tub is an antique which was good enough inside to just need a good cleaning. The outside got a new coat of paint and a brand new faucet. I loved installing that tub. It’s nice to do something different sometimes.
Shoji Screen Doors
This was a fun one! The homeowners wanted the look of Japanese shoji screens, without the high price tag. Plus, the screens were to be used to divide a storage area in the basement, so durability was also a concern. The last thing you want is a pile of boxes crashing through a $1000 rice paper door. I decided to give them the look with cheaper materials.
The job started off with framing the opening to accept sliding doors. I then bought four hollow-core slab doors, primed them a tan color, and glued on rectangles of fancy paper from an art store. I stained a bundle of lath, glued and nailed it on the doors to simulate the screen frame, and hung the doors like any other sliding door installation. The bottom track was a unique problem, since the 100+ year old basement floor was so uneven. I glued up some 1x stock, scribed it to match the floor, stained it, and attached it to the floor with screws so that it could be easily removed. The attachment screws are concealed under the glides for a clean look. This job was so much fun!
This house had a nice, finished basement, but the stairs leading down there weren’t working for the homeowners. They were carpeted, which is hard to clean, somewhat of a tripping hazard, and just not attractive. After replacing the 9×9 tiles at the top of the stairs with new 12×12 vinyl tiles, I turned my hours of attention to the stairs themselves. The carpet and padding came up, nails and tacks were pulled, the treads were scraped and chemically stripped, re-stained, and sealed with semi-gloss polyurethane for floors. I repainted the risers and stringers white to blend with the other woodwork in the house.
Another Bathroom Remodel
This is a small bathroom in a small house. It is also a rental, but with an owner that cares about it. As you can see, there was a lot of work to do in this tiny space.
This was a pretty nice kitchen and it didn’t need a complete remodeling, but the owners did want a few upgrades. I don’t install granite countertops, but I did get this kitchen ready for them by adding structure to the existing cabinets to accommodate new bar seating. After the granite installers did their thing, I finished out the cabinet and installed a backsplash.
One detail that I suspect some would overlook is the flooring situation. There is laminate installed there now, and it must be able to “float”. If I screwed the counter extension through the laminate, it would keep the floor from moving and make it harder to replace in the future. Not to mention, under the flooring is a layer of padding. I didn’t want the counter support to sag as the weight mashed down the foam. Worst case scenario, the shifting could crack the granite. To prevent that, I cut out the section of laminate where the new structure would be attached so that I could screw it directly to the subfloor. Then I trimmed out the expansion gap with quarter round to match the rest of the room.
Another Small Bathroom Remodel
Not much to say here, it’s just another small bathroom remodel. (The baseboard was reinstalled by the homeowners after I left, so I don’t have a picture of it DONE done.)
This homeowner had talked to me about replacing their railing, as it was clearly starting to rot, especially where the wood was in contact with the cement. Before I had a chance to start, half of it blew over in a windstorm.
They wanted a maintenance-free product, but I don’t like the look of Lego-style railing kits. We compromised by using composite materials, but assembled with pocket joinery like a wooden railing. It’s a bit more work, but in my opinion, looks much better than clunky brackets that attach the rails to the posts.
To attach the posts to the stairs, I attached galvanized pipes and flanges to the concrete, slid the posts over them, and glued them in place. The posts are somewhat hollow, but the dimensions of the cavities were varied. Some of the posts slid right over the pipe, but a few wouldn’t. For those I had to core them out with a big forstner bit on a long extension.
A Couple of Exterior Repairs
This house just had a couple of the usual issues: damaged siding boards and a rotting fascia. Nothing here was too difficult except that I made the replacement piece of siding myself. I could have ordered one, but it just seemed easier to make it. I bought the straightest cedar 1 x 10 I could find, shimmed one side of my planer, and ran it through repeatedly until I removed roughly half of the board diagonally. What a mess that made. It turned out great though, and no one would ever suspect it wasn’t a purchased piece of siding. (Notice the primer on the endgrain of the siding. I primed all six sides of each piece of cedar. Although cedar is thought of as a water-resistant species, new wood just doesn’t hold up like the old growth stuff. Exposed, untreated cedar WILL rot.)
In this slideshow, I highlight a few things I’ve done at a fraternity house. Those include rebuilding an old shed, painting the hardwood floors in the great room, tiling a basement floor and repainting the walls in a Hawkeye theme.
The front door was a tricky one. The original door had been replaced at some point with a solid oak prehung. There were no suitable stock replacements available, so I turned to a local custom door-maker to build a new one out of mahogany. The stained glass panel was provided by one of the brothers and the door was built to accept it. All I did was coordinate everything and paint and install the door when it was done.
Custom Pantry and Hardwood Floor
This house is part of a neighborhood of newer, identical zero-lots. The homeowners were understandably tired of the cheap vinyl floor and the useless built-in desk area. They wanted a pantry built in the space instead and maple hardwood floors installed in place of the vinyl. The hardwood would be extended into some areas of existing carpet as well. I designed the pantry to match the adjoining wall in height, design, and trim, with an open ceiling to let in light. I spaced the wall the same distance from the doorway as the fridge wall to keep everything symmetrical. Inside are two walls of adjustable shelves that match the flooring color. We even saved the old cabinet over the desk and re-purposed it as a bathroom storage cabinet. Not only is the kitchen much more useful and attractive, if they ever want to sell the house, it will stand out from every other house on the street.
Custom Built-in Bookshelves and Room Restoration
This is an area in our rental house, a 1930s Spanish Colonial Revival Moffitt cottage. The house is around 600 sq/ft, so any wasted space is unacceptable. This area of the house was definitely a waste, so I decided to put it to good use. I built a set of shelves to hold books with a special compartment to hold the vacuum since we don’t have a closet in which to store it. Then I decided that the shelves looked so good that I better fix up the rest of the room. The ceiling plaster was falling down, the light fixture was buried in layers of latex paint, and the walls were cracked.
Rotted Wood Repair
This is a small job I did repairing wood that had been damaged by years of water infiltration from missing downspouts and mostly flat roof. It was like an onion; I had to peel back the layers until I found something solid to attach to. All that was holding up one of the two 2×8 corner beams was a single-gang metal outlet box. Originally the wood was cedar, but I replaced it with pressure treated. Since it will be painted, no one will ever know the difference. Most of the boards had to be taken back to my workshop to be ripped to the proper profiles before installation.
The first picture is with the old wood removed, the following three are the steps taken to put it back together. Painting will follow when the wood dries out.
Quick Entryway Fix
This rental had a section of carpet just inside the door that was badly stained from years of muddy shoes. They needed a quick, easy fix and this is what I came up with. Ideally, I would have done a straight transition strip to the vinyl, but the stains extended into the room a bit. Enter: bendable transition strip. It was a little tricky since the floor is concrete, not to mention, those strips bend about as easily as a 2×4, but it turned out great for a 3-hour job.