Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Pics of the brick wall

Here are the pics of my brick wall. Yes, this is the new studio entrance on the North side of my house. The door was installed (by an idiot) during the summer, which started this entire project. Many months later, the end is finally in sight.

Here's how it went, starting with the prep on the drywall...

... and the finished product! Obviously the mortar is still wet in this pic (especially on the left side) and it dried much lighter.
Since finishing the wall I've done more painting, had the nightmare with the floor, the electrician has done his finish work, and the custom cabinets have been built and installed.
I finished with grouting the bathroom tile floor late last night. Mike hung trim in the salon, so it's putty and paint today! Our plumber will be here in the morning. Could we really be that close? It seems like a lot still.
Not to mention the mass amount of snow I've got to shovel off the driveway... thank goodness for ALEVE. And lots of it!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Heigh-ho, heigh-ho... it's off to work I go!

I went to work last night (hopefully for the last time) and it made me so excited to think about having my own studio. Being able to go downstairs instead of fighting Christmas traffic and winter weather.
I have put so much into this project of mine... it's by far the biggest thing I've taken on in a long time. From designing the floor plan and electric needs, to building an interior brick wall... I've honestly lived the term 'blood, sweat, and tears'.
Mike was able to do the framing, and had some help from my bro-in-law. We decided to hire out the electrical work, plumbing, and HVAC. Even thought Mike did all of these things in our last house... to expedite the process, and because Mike doesn't seem to have any free time. ever. If Mike worked only on Saturday's... it may be a few years before we finished it up.
I think the greatest accomplishment I've had... the brick wall. The biggest flop... the floor. I bought the brick from a Mason on KSL. When we picked it up, he gave me a quick explanation of how to use mortar and wished me luck. I bought the brick for 1/4 of what it costs, and the mortar was something like $7 a bag. So 20 hours and four days later... I couldn't hardly walk and certainly couldn't put my arms above my head... but I was done! I literally just mixed up the mortar, cranked up the iPod and took a leap of faith. Although it was more like throwing myself off a cliff into the valley of the unknown... just praying I land on my feet. I knew once I started to trowel that cement on my walls there would be no turning back. Luckily... it came out how I had wanted it to.
Which brings me to the floor.
I didn't feel like this was going to be jumping off the cliff, I actually wasn't very worried. (Maybe I became overly confident after the brick) I wanted to stain the concrete an earthy 'slate' type color. I wanted there to be variences... darker and lighter... looking very much like a natural stone kind of thing. Well... I had alot of variables. We had to move the plumbing, so the concrete had been torn up in some areas, we also had the typical basement floor cracks. The newer cement had not been filled in evenly (we had a contractor from hell... my 5-year old could have made the floor move level than he did) so my palette was not ideal. Still... I wasn't too worried.
My problem was the color. The cement didn't absorb like it should have. So after washing the concrete (took 1 day to wash, 1 day to dry) then using an acid to etch it (one FULL day to put the it down, then mop it up, and 1 day to dry) I put down a stain that turned out too blue... not gray.
So after consulting an 'expert' at Home Depot... I decided to put down another stain on top of the blue. Something more brown to neutralize the color. (1 day to apply, 1 day to dry) Well... it was a red-brown... so I got a purplish floor.
Now I will admit that I'm a stickler when it comes to color. I wasn't looking for perfection... but I had an idea in my mind, and was nowhere close. So I proceeded to use a stripping solution, which turned the stain into a sticky thick goo. It came up in some places, but not in others. I was left with a complete disaster! (not to mention ANOTHER two days wasted) Scrubbing the floor and scraping the goo left me so incredibly sore and nasty gross.
My solution was to fork out more cash and get a laminate floor from IKEA. It was cheap as far as flooring is concerned, and I just wanted a floor that would look nice. So I went with the rustic wooden laminate. It looked awesome with the brick! and the paint on the walls! It was a beast to lay... due to the uneven concrete areas... what should have taken me 2-3 hours, turned into 6-7 hours. I just did my best and got the floor done. It looked nice, and the uneven spots weren't noticeable.
The next morning I walk in to find that as the material climatized... the uneven spots had bowed up, and any piece not properly fitted popped up, separating itself. Like little springing slats over two areas.
Up until this point of the entire project I had experienced a range of emotions and feelings... I had been very angry with a contractor. Extremely sore from physical labor. Super tired from too many long days. I felt guilty for neglecting my children through much of this project. I had gotten sick from running down my immune system. And I had been happy with results, surprised at the things I had accomplished, and excited to see the end coming soon.
For the first time... I was now devastated and hopeless about the stupid floor. Mike kept saying "it's just the floor" and I would think "YES! the floor! that's a huge part of the room!"
As I tore up the already-cut-laminate-pieces-I-couldn't-return, I actually fumed. My blood was boiling so hard I thought my head would explode! It was actually therapeutic to rip those boards off the floor and throw them across the room.
I laid in bed and as the thought of the money I had wasted on the floor added up in my mind... I put the 'tears' into the 'blood, sweat, and tears'. I was spent! And out of ideas.
Mike and I were leaving for almost a month... and we had been on schedule to complete everything before we left. I was getting too stressed and decided to put it all on hold until we got back.
We finally came home on the 8th, and I finished the floor a few days later. I went with a solid concrete paint. The color isn't my favorite... in fact, I think it clashes with the wall color... but at this point it "is" what it "is". Nobody will be bothered by it but me.
So as of today... we are getting the cabinets hung and installed... hopefully this week, then Mike can finish the trim and hang the doors. Then the plumber can come hook up the water and we are GOOD TO GO! I can't wait!