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New Powder Room and Hall Closet

Hi – this is Karen again as guest blog editor while Mike continues to slave with the interior remodel.  I’m sure he will re-appear again very soon with some great detailed information.   In the meantime, I’ll update you with just a few details about the new powder room.

The original first floor bathroom is almost completely torn out and is being converted into a master bath using additional space from the old hallway to the kitchen.   A new powder room has been built out located at the front part of the old hallway where the door to the cellar is located.  The challenges with using this area were that this was a small space and that the cellar door would be located inside the powder room.   To overcome theses challenges, we knew that the right fixtures selection would make the difference of being able to squeeze in comfortably.  A tiny, narrow wall-mounted sink was used and we plan to add a narrow wall mounted cabinet for extra counter and storage space.  We like the idea of a wall mounted cabinet since this will give a feel of more space along with the ease of cleaning under the cabinet.


This is view as you walk in from living room into old hallway. Now instead of hallway, there is a bathroom (door on right) and stairs to the right. To the left of the powder room door are home controls. From left to right (hot water heater control, bell to upstairs, Nest Thermostat).

The original closet at the bottom of the stairs outside the new powder room was re-configured with a pocket door.  Also, some of the original closet space that is now behind the new power room will be used for a flush to the backsplash appliance garage in the kitchen (more about that later!).


View on right of power room entrance door. Photo take from stairs.


Powder room before drywall installed showing where toilet will be set. This was originally the hallway from front of house leading to back of house. The door to the cellar is opposite the toilet (not shown).


Powder room after drywall, toilet and sink installed. Small hanging cabinet will be hung to the left of sink for storage.

French Door Replaces Old Kitchen Window

Hi, This is Karen again filling in for Mike who is slaving away with the interior remodeling.  It’s a cold January day here in Virginia Beach; in fact, we actually had a few big fat snow flakes today!  So, I sat here today with a hot cup of coffee in hand trying to catch up with documenting all the work that has taken place this past year.

With the old kitchen demolished, we were ready to take out the kitchen window and replace it with a French Door.  Because the garage is in the back of the house as well as homeowner parking space, this back entrance will be the main entry point from the garage to the house.  Additionally, the french door would provide a wide entry to the house and will be most beneficial as we continue the interior remodel with the requirements of carrying in large construction products, cabinetry and appliances.

After removing the old window, we than had the job and mess of cutting  through the concrete wall to enlarge the opening.  The bond beam above the doorway was broken so we had to put steel lentil beams to span the opening.

Before. Kitchen window was removed and new french door put in.

Before. Kitchen window was removed and new french door put in.

Opening for new french door. Previously this is where the kitchen window was located.

Opening for new french door. Previously this is where the kitchen window was located.

French Door

French Door


New Ceiling for Kitchen and Living/Dining Room

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Hi blog readers.  This post is being written by Mike’s girlfriend, Karen.  Mike is busy working on the house, and doesn’t need his trusty helper today (me), so I have time to catch up  with the remodel blog.

This post highlights the new ceiling in the kitchen and living room/dining room.   I’m sure Mike will fill in the gaps with another blog entry detailing work completed between tear out and this post!

The first challenge we had to overcome was how we could create a flat ceiling when we were dealing with studs and joist that had sagged and bowed since 1917.   The ceiling was majorly our of level.    Because of this situation, we had to ensure that we found the ceiling’s low point (which would be the new ceilings hight point).  The technique we used was to set up a laser to find the low point as a reference line and then set the level for the ceiling.  Next, we installed a series of blocks and battens  at the new ceiling height to establish something to screw the drywall into.  An advantage was that we had a gap between joist and batten which makes it easier to run electric lines.  Additionally, when we put the drywall up, we put 1/4″ foam board as a sound reducing technique between floors.


Interior Fireplaces – Living Room Resurfaced and new Hearth in Kitchen

IMG_0009 IMG_0012 IMG_0013 With demo completed and luckily my mason contractor between jobs – there was no better time than now  to IMG_3502tackle some fireplace projects.  The first project was  resurfacing the living room fireplace.    Because the hearth was flush with the floor, the front of the fireplace had been blacked over the years with smoke.  The mantel was the original custom 6″  thick concrete including the concrete molding on the bottom (the guy who made the mantel concrete form really knew what he was doing!).   We wanted to ensure that the fireplace would be an incredible focal point for the room.  I had worked with the mason contractor previously and had come to admire their skills and eye in keeping the 1917 period design.  Craftsman houses are a mixture of Asian and Mission influences.  The fireplace, in it’s current condition, was brick with a colonial look.   It just didn’t fit. I will let you be the judge.

For this project, my instructions were simple:

  1. Cover the fireplace brick with stucco.
  2. Whitewash the stucco (leaving intact the mantel which was painted in green).
  3. Raise the fireplace hearth 4”.
  4. Finish the fire box in Blue Stone and the hearth floor with one large piece of stone.
  5. Use a template I had made for the keystone piece.
  6. Embed in the face of the mortar some Virginia Beach seashells I had collected.

IMG_3086 IMG_3087From the time I purchased the house in 1997, I was aware of a chimney that was once used for the kitchen cook stove but it had been covered up behind walls.   After the demo, I was excited to finally see the chimney!   For nine days in June (2015) I had a trip planned to Kansas City to see my new grandbaby.  While I was gone, I let the mason’s expertise and creative juice’s flow with the design of this fireplace.   My only instructions were: Cover fireplace  in stucco and make it look good with blue stone trim.

How do you think it looks?  It is very small and I plan to put a small gas log in it.  It will add warmth and unique beauty to the kitchen.


A new project page is up for the Addition and Garage project

In trying to get up to date, it is much easier to make a project page than a bunch of posts.  Therefor I have added a project page for the Addition and Garage project. Click here:   Addition and Garage

It is pretty lengthy and has lots of recent pictures.  Enjoy….