Summary of My Learning Project

My Initial Thoughts…

When I first started my project I thought it would be a quick process and I would need to tackle another reno in order to make my hours! Boy was I wrong. This project took a lot longer to do and I am not just talking about the actual process. The research I needed to do before each step took a lot longer than I thought. I originally figured I would just watch the video and then tackle the task. In a way, it started like that. The first stages of this project were pretty simple and did not require much thought. Cutting the hole in the way was basic but looking back now some things were overlooked. I am not sure if I had found better videos if these things would have been caught but at the same time it was pretty specific to my project. For example, cutting the hole to account for the new drywall to match the line of the other opening that was already there. That is pretty specific to my job and it would be hard to find a video that matched that suggestion when at the time I didn’t even think of it. That is more or less just something I know now from experience. I think that wasn’t something I accounted for in the beginning. All the things I would learn from the experience of carrying out this project rather than learning from youtube. Don’t get me wrong, I learned a lot from the videos and research I did but because of the nature of the task I picked, I learned from the experience too. The process started off pretty quick but as I moved along, the tasks became more complicated and therefore more time consuming. I did not take this into consideration when I first began. Knocking down the wall also was a drastic change. We got to see how much it changed the space and it was the most dramatic change. The rest was minimal so that also made me feel like things were moving slowly.

How Things Changed…

Once I got into the process of demo, I realized how inexperienced I was and how little I knew about using power tools in a comfortable and proper way. The skill required for this takes time to learn. Once you are comfortable with a power tool the results become next level. I watched youtube videos to help me understand the process of running the plunge saw but yet I still felt uncomfortable. I understood how it worked but it wasn’t until my later cuts that I actually relaxed while cutting. I am not sure if this is unique to me or if this would be the case for everyone. We all learn differently and that is something we need to remember when we are teaching our students. I know that watching the youtube videos helped prepare me for using the powertools and made me more comfortable than I would have been if I hadn’t watched them. I just think the experience of actually using them was when my understanding really clicked. I relate this to students learning math through videos. They may need to watch it a few times in order to understand the lesson. Then once they think they have the understanding they could work on actual questions. Working through the questions would help solidify the learning. This is likely no different than if a teacher was standing up front and teaching. However, for those that need to reference the lecture a few times or watch it a few times to improve their understanding, they can by rewatching the video. With instruction done without a video students are required to absorb everything in one shot. That can be really tough for some students, especially those with special needs.

I also found that my learning from each phase helped prepare me for the next steps. I liked that I was able to focus on one task at a time and then enter the weekend ready to take them on. I found a routine in researching all week and then executing it on the weekends. It helped me focus on one thing at a time and really grasp an understanding for it. It wasn’t overwhelming.

As the process worked its ways into the final stages and the work became more intricate, I found I was relying more on our contractor for his personal experience and expertise. I watched the videos and learned how to use the tools but I had to be very specific about the tasks I researched. It was hard at times to find videos that explained exactly what I was doing. For example, making the thickened edge for my counter. I either did not know what to search to find the videos or they just did not have one that was close enough. So instead, I ended up asking Chris for some guidance. This may have just been because my project was so specific and it was hard to find something I needed. I think of students and how they might struggle with knowing what to search for or just not finding what it is they are looking for. This might be a skill worth teaching our students. How to properly search for information they are after. I was able to find videos explaining stuff close enough to what I was trying to do and then I just transferred that knowledge to suit my needs. This is a skill some students might struggle with and it is something to keep in mind when asking our students to learn through social media.

My Final Thoughts…

This project was so much more than learning how to build my breakfast nook. For me, I learned a lot more about how I need to help my students understand what I am teaching. Using technology is a great tool that can help further our students knowledge but as teachers we need to make sure we are providing opportunities for our students to add to that learning. This includes through experience, discussion with teachers and other students and also just practicing the skill. Understanding that some students may require extra time to re-watch lessons can help with understanding. We have known for a long time that students learn in different ways and I think sometimes we forget that when we implement technology. Some students may learn really well with the help of technology while others may struggle. I know at times I have thought, “Great, I used technology, the kids will be hooked!” but yet for some it becomes another obstacle in their journey. So making sure we still provide differentiation and supports even with the use of technology is important. I loved this project, not just because I gained some confidence when using power tools and I was able to create a functional space for our family, but because it has helped me grow as a teacher. It has given me a new understanding and approach I take when teaching in my classroom and how I can help the students on my caseload, especially since they are all requiring extra support or have special needs. I honestly never thought I would get so much joy out of a school project but this assignment was the best way to finish off my masters degree. Pretty sweet that my whole family gets to enjoy the final product too! Check out my Major Learning Project tab for my journey blog by blog! Thanks for following along, all the support was encouraging!

Early morning breakfast watching cartoons!

I DID IT!!!!!!!

I cannot believe it, I have finally reached the end of this project. This last little step took about a week to complete and then the staining process alone took about three days. I think this may have been my favourite phase because it was rewarding but also something I had never done before. I had little experience with the previous phases as it was similar to stuff I had dabbled in before. It was the finishing and most obvious piece to this puzzle so it was exciting to see it come together. This is how it all rolled out.

Cutting to the Width:

You can see the amount that comes off with the corners cut!

This was actually a time consuming process. We had an idea of how big we wanted the counter to go but until we saw it in the actual space we were not totally sure. We had originally thought the counter would be 24″. However, once we got it into place we felt it was way too big. It hung over too far and it made the coffee counter in the corner seem out of place. So we instantly cut down to 22″. We liked this better and knew we wouldn’t be able to go too much smaller because then we would have a crowded counter and with young kids… the juice would be on the floor 9 times out of 10. The biggest issue was that it was still in the way of my coffee machine. It was awkward and just wasn’t going to work. So we deicded we would cut the corners. We did this and man it was a game changer. I am sure it is still a little crowded there and it will take some getting used to but it was way better. Plus when little ones run into the corner they are less likely to draw blood!:)

I had ordered the brackets ahead of time because I wanted to make sure I had them for when they were needed rather than waiting on them. We measured everything out but after the changes we found they weren’t quite right. See the picture below. I was panicking. Thankfully my husband was able to work his autobody magic and shaved off the tiny amount that was too long. They were going to work after all. Screwing the brackets into the wall wasn’t as simple as just screwing them into the wall. We had one bracket going into a stud so it could just be installed using a wood screw. The other two required extra support since they were only being screwed into drywall. With little ones leaning on the counter I knew I had to make sure the supports held and didn’t tear down my wall. I did a little research and found that a hollow wall anchor screw was my best option. As an added bonus, the top screw in the brackets fit into the top wood pieces that are laying horizontal so they are secure there too. At the end of the day it took a little more work but it all went smoothly. Everything is level and didn’t even need to be shimmed. I was pretty pumped about that.

The Thickened Edge:

Since the boards we used for the counter top are not as thick as we would like, we have decided to create a thickened edge look. This is why we cut all the edges at a 45 degree angle. We will then cut another piece at a 45 degree angle to make the edges appear thicker. This is what our contractor, Chris did for our other counters he built using the same process. Since we want them to match I copied his approach. I asked him to make youtube videos for me but he declined! So I set off to do some research. I found this video to help me use the miter saw and get a nice clean cut. The nice thing about the Mikita saw Chris lent me, was that it has automatic brakes to stop the saw at common angles. This way it is accurate everytime and I didn’t have to look super closely about making sure my angle was exact. I kept trying to get the angle correct and it would never line up. I was getting super frustrated. I called my contractor and was begging for help. He ended up stopping over. Since we cut the corners off the angle I needed to be cutting at was no longer 45 degrees. Instead, I needed to cut them at 22.5 degrees. I never clued into that and my high school math teacher would be so disappointed. After that slight hiccup we were off. My husband and Chris stayed and watched me plug away at this and found humour in my struggles. In the end it ended up being a pretty fun experience and it all turned out pretty good. I had one slight moment where the blade hit a rough patch and pulled the wood I was cutting. Scared me a bit but no fingers were lost. This happened when I had to hold with my right (dominant hand) and cut with my left. It was an easier way to get the cuts I needed but still was a bit awkward. My measurements and cuts were pretty darn good. They all lined up nicely. I used wood glue and a finishing nailer to attach each piece to the counter top as they were cut. Chris stayed to help with this process as the extra hands for my rookie skills were helpful. It was also nice to have the company and guidance. All edges were attached except for the two sides. We will attach those once we know exactly how much space we need for the wall. It will be easier to do once the counter is installed.

Filler and Sanding:

Now that the edges are installed it is time to make the counter top look good. This means making sure the finishing nails are flush with the board and using wood filler to fill all the gaps and pin holes from the finishing nails. The first step was making sure the finishing nails were all the way in. This little tool of Chris’ helped with that. It is called a Spring Nail Set. You basically put the nail head in the one end. Pull back on the other and then release it to gently hammer the nail in. This is done with little movements. It bounces a bit and if you miss the nail it will leave an imprint on the wood. It took some getting used to but it worked well. Learning the little tricks from Chris has been super handy. Next up, we added wood filler into the center crack to fill the slightly unlevel or gap between the two boards from when we attached them. We also filled the seams from adding the thickened edge. This helped to create a nice finish.

Installing the Counter:

With the counter all prepped and ready we can finally install it. This just means placing it onto the brackets that are already installed and shooting a nailer into the wall section for added support. I needed to add more wood filler for those little holes. After I let the filler sit overnight, I got out the sandpaper and sanded the whole counter. This included the edges. Instead of having square sharp edges, I created a slightly rounded edge. Not only is this nice to touch but it is also less likely to chip through wear and tear of life. When installing the counter we had to adjust the one bracket as it wasn’t quite where it needed to be. I loosened the screws and wiggled it up a bit. It was good to go. I also used a nailer to secure the counter on the wall. I filled the holes with wood filler and gave them a quick sand. Now we keep the kids away from using the counter until it is stained and sealed.

Staining:

This was a fairly quick process. With the board all prepped I was able to tape the edges and put the stain on. I followed the steps provided in this video I found. I wanted to work quickly so that it didn’t stain too dark and lose the nice grain look that it had. The application worked well and I didn’t drip anywhere. I was able to do this process in about 20 minutes. Wiping off was easy but I did find that some of my sanding was not moving with the grain and it left scratch marks. This was super disappointing. I thought I had done this but apparently I did not in a few spots. Also the wood filler took the stain for the most part except a few spots that I felt it was too thick. This made for a finish I was not totally thrilled about. In the end it all worked out though. For now I need to let the stain dry and then I will put on three coats of sealer. Here are some pictures of the blemishes that showed up after staining.

Finished Product:

Overall, I am pretty happy with the way this all turned out. I cannot wait to use it and let the girls enjoy breakfast or whatever else their imaginations come up with at this spot. I know we will be spending a lot of time here. Now that the counter is installed, I am loving the height it is at. I find it is the perfect height to stand by and have a drink and chat. If you have followed along on my journey I want to say thank you! It has been fun! It will get a little darker with the sealer on but here is the final product!

Working on the Last Part!

I am so excited to begin building the countertop. Not just for the purpose of having a counter top and a functioning spot but also because I am pumped to learn how to do it. This is all very new to me and I get to try out some new tools I have not experienced before. Plus this will be my second last post before I share my final product! YAY! The thing with our countertop is that I am copying other counters we had made for our bootbench and laundry room area. Due to this I relied on my contractor a lot to help me with how he did it to try and match the same look. I was still able to learn through youtube but it required some next step guidance from Chris. I will try and keep it short.

First Step:

I had to buy the same wood from Rona. I tried to pick the best ones with smooth edges and lots of knots for a interesting look when things were all complete. Once we got the two pieces we got to start cutting them down to size. This is where I got to research how to use a Plunge Saw. The nice thing was I found a video for the exact saw I would be using:

I required my contractor, Chris, help with the set up. Since I am using his tools I felt it was only fair to make sure I didn’t wreck them. I helped him through the process and he was a great teacher. He reviewed how to use the saw and sent me on my way. The first cut was to make the two straight edges in the middle of the boards. This would be where we connect the two boards together to make the full width of the counter. The reason we are doing this is because then it matches the other areas of the house and it was cost effective, especially with lumber prices these days and would do the trick for what we needed. Cutting these two straight edges was pretty simple. Measure both sides to make sure we are straight. Confirm with a level and cut.

Angled Edge:

Once I was done making the two straight edges. We moved on to cutting the edges. We cut them at 45 degree angles. The pieces we cut off will then be used as the last piece of the puzzle. They will go on to make a 90 degree edge. By doing this the counter will appear thicker than it actually is. We had to adjust the angle of the saw but it still attaches to the track in the same way. It was a little awkward to hold at first because I am not comfortable with the saw but I got the hang of it and gained confidence as we moved forward.

Biscuit Cut:

The next step was to create the biscuit cuts to join the two sections together. I felt a little nervous about this task because I knew I needed to have the cuts line up correctly for the seam between the boards to not show. I wanted to make sure I did my research and came in prepared. The video I found on youtube seemed to clarify the process for me. Check it out here. For this I borrowed a special tool from Chris. It is specifically used to create this style of cut. It was fairly simple to use. I measure out the distant I need and made the ticks on the board. Then I lined up the tool and cut.

Gluing and Clamping:

The next step was to add some glue to each biscuit and shove them in the nice new holes I made. All of them fit in perfectly. I was pretty pumped. I then ran a bead of glue along the other board and squished the two together. I got Chris and my husband to help hold them in place as we add some clamps to hold everything in place while the glue dried. We left them overnight to dry. The next day I took the clamps off and cut the board down to the length we needed. This was a little nerve racking as I wanted to make sure I was not off on my measurements and cut it too short. Once the cut was done we took it inside to see how it looked. It was a pretty darn good fit. A slight gap since the walls weren’t perfectly flat but overall I am happy with the fit.

Next Steps:

The final steps are coming up. We need to cut the width to the width we want, put the supporting brackets under the counter, add the edges all around to make the counter appear thicker than it is and then stain it all and apply a finishing sealer coat. Seems like a lot but a lot of the prep work is already done. Our base is fairly level so we won’t need to shim the counter much at all so that is exciting. I really cannot wait to see this all come together in the next week! Thanks again for following along!

Testing it out with a plate to help give us an idea for size. Only issue is how it cuts off our coffee corner!

Mudding, Sanding, Repeat x 3

This was a week long next step and I was absolutely dreading this part. I knew it would get messy and it would require some skill. I was also dreading it because I knew my husband would struggle watching me attempt this because this is something that comes easily to him. He is an autobody mechanic so he uses a similar product called filler on cars to help repair them after a crash. This experience was helpful as he eventually helped me by providing me with tips once I admitted defeat. After numerous attempts at trying to make a smooth surface he showed me a different approach and it proved to be beneficial to have him near. He also did the top beam because I was getting tired of doing it and was getting frustrated. Since we had the supplies out he just hammered that section out for me. I also found it helpful to observe and learn in person versus watching a youtube video 10 times in order to try and perfect my technique.

My Research and Plan

Coming into this week I was watching quite a few videos on the best approach to mudding and sanding drywall mud. I found that there were a tonne of videos out there and some were better than others. I came across the Vancouver Carpenter and really enjoyed his videos. He talked slowly, provided good examples, explained why it may not be working and seemed to have a good understanding of the job. I still found myself rewatching the videos but that was just because I felt there was a lot to think about. I also enjoyed that I was able to find a few different videos that worked specifically for what I was working on. I did not have to keep scrolling to the spot I was on. I was able to focus on one skill at a time then go and watch the video to refresh my memory before starting the next step. In our case, the area we have to mud isn’t that big. I needed to apply a corner bead for all the edges, feather out the edges for less sanding, coat the drywall screw holes and sand the drywall. After some research I felt I was ready to tackle this on the weekend!

Installing the Corner Bead

I hit up our local hardware store and grabbed the paperface corner bead. I miss calculated the length I would need and had to go back and grab one more! They only cost about $6.00 each so that was nice. They make the corners look so much better and honestly they were pretty easy to install. I basically followed the steps provided in the youtube video by Vancouver Carpenter.

At first I found I wasn’t putting enough mud also known as compound on. Once I added a bit more the corner fit a whole lot better and allowed me to adjust it accordingly. I enjoyed this process and kept the mess to a minimal I swear! The stuff I dropped I was able to wipe up pretty quickly!

I found it interesting that he talks about the job being more difficult well when you leave the mud on the wall for longer than a professional might. I made a comment to my husband that I found the drywall was drying too quickly. After watching him do the work in real time I realized how much quicker my husband was working and remembered that I likely was letting the mud dry a little bit because I was being pokey. I guess in a way working slow and careful was actually working against me in this situation!

Sanding Equals Drywall Dust Everywhere!

And now the final stage before I head into painting… at least I was hoping so. I went ahead and sanded to see if it would be ok without doing a third coat. Since it was a small area it seemed to turn out. Sanding was an absolute disaster. If you are familiar with drywall dust then chances are high that you know how it can get everywhere. It was in my kitchen and living room, dining room, other living room and likely my office too. I swear some found its way to my car. The process went pretty smoothly as we had the right sanders for the job and it was a small area. My husband was smart and suggested I tape over the heat registers and lay some poly down over the carpet. This helped but it still got everywhere! The clean up took much longer than the actual process did. However, my daughter loved helping out with the mopping!

After a busy week it is nice to have this stage over! Now I get to paint which is something I have done a million times! The next update will be one of the last! All we have left is the counter top and it is an important one. I have some research to do this week on building my counter top and then getting some help from our contractor friend. I am all about learning this process but when it comes to the bigger and more fancy power tools I think a beginner like me should have some supervision from a pro! Looking forward to sharing the next phase! If you made it this far…thanks for following along!

Slow and Steady…

This weekend my goal was to get a lot accomplished on my project. I found that I was very nervous to start this step and knew that it would take some time to do it properly. It wasn’t something I could rush. It seemed like the task was simple yet it took hours. I think the part that took so long was measuring multiple times to make sure I had things correct. Once I knew the board fit into the space I was working in then I was able to put it in. Screwing a screw into place isn’t new to me. I have done this numerous times. Have I done it well? Probably not but it works. This time though, I needed to drill the screws in using an angle screw. I could have gone out and bought the kits you can use but instead I challenged myself to learn following a technique I found on YouTube.

The kit I could have used if I wanted to buy it!
The video I found on Youtube to guide me through drilling angle screws.
Me attempting the angle screw…getting better each time!

The time it took to make sure everything was level was very time consuming and a bit frustrating. As I drilled and fought with the drill a bit the boards would get sucked out of position. I used a screw in the middle of the board to help hold it in place. I would get my husband to hold onto that screw while I drilled the screws into place. With each board I was getting better and gained more control. I know this will come with practice but man was it a pain. In the end we were happy with the results and knew the dry wall would hide some of the mistakes. The bottom wall was one we really need to do well. For the most part it turned out ok except it was maybe high on the west side. We were sure to level it running north south or lengthwise. I am not sure if we took enough consideration to each board being level width wise. Here is the end product.

Day 2

Sunday morning I tackled drywalling the space. I anticipated this wouldn’t take too long. I was wrong. I think I measured things out four or five times to make sure it was good. My first cut fit really well. The two side pieces needed a little extra shaving after I was done. In the end I was happy with the cut. In order to cut my drywall I found a youtube video guiding me through the process. It is fairly simple but I also had to make sure I was cutting straight lines. I know my drywall corners would fix any uneven edges but I still wanted to do a good job. I used a piece of versatek siding that we had on hand to keep a straight line. I ran the utility knife along the edge a few times. Then I bent the drywall and ran the knife along the edge to get the final cut. I moved slowly but my cuts turned out pretty nice. That was the end of the work for the weekend as it was time to go trick-or-treating!

Things I learned:

  1. The more experience I get, the more comfortable I become with power tools. This comfort makes a world of difference. I found as I made my threw each board I became more and more comfortable with the power tools and therefore the product was cleaner. The signs of a good contractor are those that can finish well. We walked into houses when we were looking and so often the finishing was so sloppy we lost interest in the house. If that is what the workmanship looks like where we can see it..what does it look like behind the walls? This is something I thought of often during this project and therefore was feeling the pressure. This needs to look clean!
  2. This leads to the little tricks and tips that come from being in the trade. Most of the videos I have found don’t go into the details around use of the tools or in specific situations what you can do. I had my husband helping me and he has a great deal of experience using power tools so he shot me a few tips to help me in the moment. This is something you do not get from social media learning experiences. The instant feedback specific to you.
  3. Having a second hand to help hold things proved to be very valuable. This was most evident when I was trying to drill the screws into the top wall. The boards tended to shift as they bit into the studs so they would move and we would lose the level edge.
  4. Using the vacuum when cutting the drywall was very important. That dust gets everywhere and we forgot. It was a disaster. Plus it clogs your vacuum so using your household one is not a good idea.

Overall, it was a good weekend. It seems like little was accomplished but what we did do was time consuming. Next up, researching mudding and taping. Then sanding and mudding and sanding and mudding. I might look for our countertop this week too in order to get that process started.

I Am Committed Now!

Smashing the drywall on Thanksgiving weekend was still a commitment to this project but I felt like once those studs came down there was no turning back. I was way more nervous and hesitant during this process than I anticipated. I watched the youtube video I previously shared numerous times. I wanted to make sure what I was doing was right. I found I google searched multiple times to confirm my process. Before I finally made the cuts I reached out to our contractor to make sure that I was doing the right thing. To confirm that I wasn’t cutting down studs that were carrying the load of all the weight of our upstairs. Finally I took the plunge and I am loving the open view.

Our new view to the living room
The view to the kitchen!

We had my daughters first birthday on the weekend and we were forced to bring it inside due to poor weather. This meant we had 9 kids that were three and under running around our house. PURE CHAOS sums it up. As I prepped lunch in the kitchen I found I was so thankful for this massive hole in my wall. I was included in the living room fun, I was able to stay connected to our guests and it just opened it more than I thought. This was the first test and we still have a long way to go. I found people still sat at the stools even though the counter was not there. This made me excited to get going on this project. Time to put my research into action.

Next Up…

My plan now is to cut and fit the studs into the gaps along the edges of my hole to brace and support the structure. The video also talks about how this is used to fasten the trim for the final steps. Without the wood there, I will not have anything to nail the drywall to. The video went a different route than I am for completing the next steps of the project but it has been super helpful up until this point. I am super nervous about this step as it will be tedious and be one that I need to make sure is done well. This is especially important on the bottom section because I will need to make sure it is level for the purpose of adding my countertop. I think I will cut the drywall back to the stud that is on the south side. The rest I need to cut the supports and then screw in using an angle screw approach. I could cut the studs down further and put in a full length board but then I would be fixing drywall larger than need be. I guess we will see how this goes and if it is unsuccessful then I will cut down more of the wall. Here is how I plan on drilling my screws at an angle.

Source

One thing I keep thinking as I tackle this project is that we need to up our tool game in this house. We have the beginner tool set like drills, screw drivers, wrenches and a few others but the fancier tools we haven’t added to our tool kit. I know I want a multitool for our own use but a saw and some others could come in handy. Then I came across this reel on instagram and thought I would share with you all. I think Santa might be seeing a few of these on my list!

Making the First Cut…

Well this weekend I decided to finally knock down a wall…literally. Everyday I stare at the wall and think, “I need to get going on this project!” So with the long weekend we were able to find time to start. Full disclosure, I do not always have the exact tools for the job so I made it work with what I had or borrowed it from a contractor friend we have. My first task was to come up with a plan of how big we wanted the opening to be. We decided that the top needed to match the opening above the walking path so that was easy. The one side we made it the same distance away from the lightswitch as the opening for the walkway was. Again easy. The south side we decided to make it extend up passed the current edge of the coffee station. For the most part easy. The bottom took some research. We have the stools already that we will be placing at the breakfast station. We already knew that they are counter height. I measured the current counters and confirmed with a few google searches that our counters are at the standard 36″. With that in mind I could cut at the width of my counter-top that I am installing (1 1/2″) so that they match. However, my husband and I talked about it for a while and decided we would like a little more clearance between our legs and our countertop. Therefore we decided the top of the counter would match the top of the stools backrest. This meant the line would be cut at 36″. Now with a plan in place it was time to draw it up on the wall to see how it looked and begin the process of looking into how to go about making a hole in my wall.

My Research…

Since my first maternity leave I have been following some of my favourite HGTV home renovation stars. However, their accounts only shared a few tidbits of information of how to actually do the renovation. Instead, they share before and after photos and some really cool ideas. It took a bit because I would constantly get videos of projects involving cutting out picture windows on exterior walls which was a bit of a different process than I was needing to tackle. Finally, I was able to find this video on youtube and it proved to be the guidance for my first stages of work.

Source

One of the first things that the video mentions is that we had to confirm that this opening was not going to affect the structural integrity of our house. After consulting with our contractor we were pretty sure it was not but would know more once we opened the wall up. There was some confusion because of the way the house is and some other walls nearby. It is a busy corner you could say. This is also one of the reasons we cannot remove the wall altogether. We also knew there was likely one electrical switch we needed to be aware of but it would not play a major factor. Our next plan of action was to draw it onto the wall and see what we thought.

Time to Draw

My first plan was to draw a rough line to see if we liked the general idea. I used a meter stick to carry on from the header in the opening beside where the hole would be. I did the same for the south side following a line up from the coffee counter. For the north side I measured using a measuring tape. I made ticks up the wall at the same width and then connected the line with a meter stick. Finally the bottom line I struggled with. With our radiators it involved some obstacles to work around to make sure the measurements were accurate. I ended up measuring the height of the radiator from the floor. It took some tweaking but it worked out ok. Once I had all the lines somewhat roughly drawn I was able to see the plan and sit back and digest it. I debated about using tape like the video suggested but my pencil marks was giving me a good point of view. I also used a stud finder, with some help from a little helper, to mark the studs and electrical. We then sat back and let that sink in for a day. See if it was what we were after.

We agreed we liked this size and were very eager to get to it. I rewatched the youtube video a few times and decided I was ready to move forward and se a level to make sure my lines were straight. Good thing I did because my rough lines were far from level. I anticipated that would be the case but not to the level they were at. See below:

No Turning Back Now…

The moment had come. Were we actually going to cut a massive hole into our wall. Our contractor had stopped by to bring me his multipurpose tool so I was able to run the drawing by him. It was reassuring to know I was doing the right thing. I also appreciated that I was able to talk through my plan and see what he thought and any tips he had for me. Just like the video, he also recommended using a shop vacuum as I cut to help limit the amount of drywall dust that would get everywhere. It was time to get to it. I was pretty nervous to start but I quickly got the hang of it. I was surprised at how well I was following the line. I had some angled cuts and a few that were a little rough around the edges but it worked out. My husband tossed a few tips my way. He tried to let me take the lead but also wanted to provide me with a tip to make the process a bit easier. Using the multipurpose tool, I found it worked easier to only have 3/4 of the blade in the wall and the rest sticking out. If I let too much of it go into the wall then it would catch as it moved and would tear the drywall. Once the cut lines were done, my daughter and I hammered a few holes into the wall so we could rip off the drywall in chunks. She loved this part and so did I. It was fun to include her and also for her to see that Mom can fix things and not just Dad!

The video talked about using little probes to mark the corners and then connect the dots to find the other cut lines on the other side of the wall. I did not have these and instead I used my measurements on the other side of the wall to make my lines. It took a little longer but it was not bad. I once again cut using the multipurpose tool and then took out chunks of drywall. It wasn’t long and we had an opening. Our daughter was thrilled. She couldn’t believe we did this and it has since become her favourite place to hang out. I can only imagine what she will think once we get it done. It really opened up the space and has changed the functionality of the house. In a way we wish we could remove the little post to have it more open but once we get the counter top in, without that post, I see a lot of people running into the counter. Here is the final product for this weekend.

A clear view to the kids fort on the other side of the wall now.

What I Learned…

Besides the obvious of learning how to use a multipurpose tool and the fact we need to add one to our tool kit, I learned that I much prefer to learn from someone in person than re-watching a youtube video numerous times. I felt I gained more confidence from an in person conversation that I did from watching the video. Even though my husband isn’t a contractor his guidance and knowledge as an autobody mechanic and handy guy came in valuable in the real time. The video I found was not providing me feedback on what I was doing or what the final product was. It did not provide me with tips on how to use the tool or the best approach to holding it was. I had to observe that on my own. The general knowledge behind what I was doing was there but not the actual technique used was described. Moving forward I need to come up with a plan for moving the electrical wire, best approach to cutting the studs down and framing in the area. For the most part my lines matched up. I have some areas that will require some fixing but it shouldn’t be too bad. Here are some close ups.

Overall I am happy with how the project has started. I got more done this weekend than I anticipated. I feel the next phases will be a lot slower and a lot more intricate. I am struggling a bit to find the right youtube video for the job but it has been a great learning process. I did come across an instagram account sharing a product that would have been beneficial for this renovation. Check it out.

If you made it this far thank you for checking out my project! We did a lot this weekend so capturing it all was a feat in itself!

My Major Learning Project!

It has been on my mind for a while. What will I tackle for this project. I had talked to a friend that had taken this class before and she had mentioned this project. So I had been thinking about it since the summer. I really wanted it to be a meaningful experience. Until last week I was thinking guitar but now I am set on a DIY project. In my previous post I had mentioned a bunk bed we want to make for my daughter but that has changed. My husband and I are not totally sold on it yet and he was looking forward to tackling that project. Plus we do not think she is quite ready for it. Kelly had commented on my previous post saying if I felt this was too big of a project maybe I could tackle something a little smaller. So that is exactly what I am going to do.

Three for One

A year ago in August we moved into a new house in anticipation of the arrival of our second child. The interior of the house did not need much work. We replaced some flooring and painted the kids rooms. Next on the list was the kids bathroom. Other than that we felt the house was how we wanted it and touch up painting was all we would tackle down the road. Fast forward to today and we have done way more than that and have not touched that kids bathroom. I head back to work tomorrow and it feels like the last year has been the busiest ever due to all the renovations we have been tackling. I guess that has been a bonus to a lot of time at home through the combination of maternity leave and living in a pandemic. The reason why I share this is because the three projects I hope to tackle throughout the timeline of this course are all tied to those renovations. My main project is adding a breakfast counter to our kitchen. My husband is an autobody mechanic that has his journeyman’s in painting automobiles. He sanded and masked off our whole kitchen, sent me outside for the day as I was pregnant and used a paint sprayer to paint our entire kitchen. The transformation was crazy. See pictures below.

This made me like our kitchen. I was struggling with the oak but this helped me come around. The thing with our taste and our house is that it isn’t a massive open concept home. We were ok with that. We like some separation. However, the main living room tends to become a WWE room when I am making supper. The ability to see into the living room would help the functionality of the house a lot. Plus, I am not a fan of a formal dining room and then having a little kitchen table in the designated kitchen. Back when the house was built in the 1970’s that was fine to have but I would prefer not to. As it stands right now this spot is kind of an awkward waste of space. The plan is to cut out a picture window almost to keep the structure in tact without having to install a beam and move some electrical wiring. Plus we have boiler heat so removing the wall completely would affect the baseboard heaters that occupy this space. In the picture window we will install a countertop with a ledge so that the kids can sit and eat breakfast or have a snack at the counter. Those of you with kids will also know that whenever I am cooking supper they feel the need to be right beside me. I am hopeful that this will also provide a place for the to color or play while I make supper. Plus it gives me access to the living room instead of shutting out the cook during large gatherings. Here are some before photos and some current photos!

On top of this renovation we have already completed a little change that will tie in the counter top plans we have. We have added a mantle to our fireplace in the living room and changed the stairs banister to the same stained wood as one another. We have also moved our laundry into a different room. Created a wood top and laundry basket shelves that match this same stain. The old home for the laundry now has a bootbench/locker set up for the kids to put all their stuff as they come in from the garage. It is basically complete except for painting the walls again and adding trim around the door to the garage. In the laundry room I would like to tile and add some shelving. If I get done my first project I will then move onto learning to tile this space. It shouldn’t take long but learning how to do it will take some research. Here are some photos to help explain my ideas.

Finally, the biggest renovation we have going on right now is move our garage doors from the east side of the garage to the north side of the garage. We added 6 feet to the existing structure and had to pour a new driveway. We hated the type of grass they had in the front yard so we asked them to tear out all the grass so we could start fresh. They were basically tearing up 2/3’s of the grass anyways so why not have it all the same. Plus I wanted to change some of the edging and build some raised flower beds in front of the house. I have experience in laying paving stones as I worked at a landscaping company for a summer during University. However, learning to do raised beds will be something I will need to refresh my memory on. Since I will be doing some of this during the fall I thought I might document it on my blog too. In the spring I redid the ones in our backyard and it made a world of difference. I might need some advice on what to add to the beds once I am done so look forward to hearing some suggestions.

The rock bed will go along the retaining wall on the far side.

Where to Start

My first plan of action in my main project will be to map out how big my picture window will be. What height do I need to make the counter ? How wide does it need to be in order to fit three stools? Once I have the shape mapped out I will start smashing. Maybe that will be a post turkey supper plan! Stay tuned. If the weather is right I may even tackle the edging along our far west wall. I am debating about making it a river rock bed or just putting in some shrubs and rock. Let the construction begin!

My Learning Project

Leaving my post till the last minute is not just because I am procrastinating and not finding the time. It is because I cannot settle on an idea. I keep coming back to learning how to play guitar. It was something I wanted to tackle eight years ago but after a little attempt I never stuck with it and kept going. When I read Curtis’ blog post he mentioned that he would walk away from this project playing simple guitar that would result in some weak sing-a-long’s around the campfire. Since my singing voice resembles something closer to a dying cat, it made me realize it would likely be very similar on my end. I would learn a few favourite songs and get some understanding but it likely won’t be something I keep at. Once the expectations to document my learning leave, so will my desire to make time to practice. Instead, a text from Durston to fire up the Xbox will pull me away from a simple jam session. Speaking of jam sessions, I won’t be joining or starting a band from this so where will I play the guitar? A little Raffi for my kids? Is it something that I can take to my classroom? I just do not see it happening. So I continued to think.

One thing I am knee deep in right now is renovations. My husband and I bought a house a year ago and have been slowly picking away at projects. Lots has been hired out but some of the landscaping we tackled on our own. Our next project is to change the edging in the front yard and build a couple of raised flower beds. I thought this might be something I could do. However, my experience in this area isn’t new as we already redid the backyard edging and I worked at a landscaping one summer in my college years. Of course I have a lot more I could learn but it just didn’t seem like I would be getting the whole learning experience from the project.

Finally I came to an idea that we weren’t quite ready to tackle. Honestly, it might be a little much right now but it got me excited. Months ago I came across a cool bunk bed that I would love to have in our eldest daughters room. The plan was for my husband to build it for her. He already has a bunch of projects he can tackle so why not let me attempt this one. Check out the pinterest inspiration :

My first plan would be to alter measurements. The wall we want to put it on doesn’t quite work for the information provided by the original post. Once I figured out a game plan, I would then like to attempt a CAD drawing of the plan. This is something I did in high school but my memory fails me so I know I will have to do some research to do this correctly. Will we add the light features? Will we use the shiplap like he has done? Or is there a different/cheaper and easier way to create this look? Once the plan is set, I will begin the build. I might start parts of it in the garage and build it section by section. Or maybe I will follow the video provided and see how it works out. I still need to think a bit more about this and if it really is something I want to tackle.

I know I will have to rely on some others for this project. I have done some construction work in the past but I am far from confident or an expert in this field. I know my husband will be supportive and walk me through the cuts. He is pretty handy and a bit of a perfectionist so this might kill him to hand the reigns over to me! If I end up welding the rails and the ladder together he will be my guide. He is an autobody mechanic that tends to have some pretty nice welds so he will be a great teacher. Next, a good friend and our go to construction guy (that is currently doing a big garage reno for us right now) will be who I talk to about using some of the tools I am unfamiliar with . I will do my research online but will likely need to use some of his tools so he will be a support with that. Finally, a dear friend of mine has tackled quite a few home renovation projects this past year. She has a very knowledgeable instagram account and blog that shares tips and tricks for all the DYIers out there. I will be sure to scroll through her feed to help guide me along in this process. I know I can also count on her if I am really in a jam.

As I type this, I can feel a slight panic settling in. Can I really do this? This seems like a lot to take on. Maybe learning guitar is more manageable? But will it be as rewarding? Will it be something I will continue with after this class is over? I would really be relying on social media and online apps to learn guitar, so maybe that is more applicable? Time for me to decide. What do you think? Is the bed build the project I should pursue? Or dust off the guitar and give it another go.