Monthly Archives: September 2015

Building a Knee Wall Built-In Cubby

Last week I shared with you my pretty built-ins that we completed in the dormer knee wall areas, but today I want to discuss with you how we built the cubbies for these improvements. The definition a a knee wall is a short wall, typically under three feet in height, used to support the rafters in timber roof construction. In our bathroom we had a knee wall on the right hand side which was about 6’ tall as shown on the right of the picture below. The closet knee walls were a full 8’ height.

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We knew that there was a ton of wasted space that we wanted to gain access to. So in the bathroom we decided to use up a portion of the space to create a nook for the laundry cart, it’s not a big deal but it’s a good use for space that would otherwise be unused.

First things first we decided how big we wanted it and then cut a hole in the sheetrock. My Hubby built 2×4 walls in place to hold all of the “guts” of the cubby. The walls were attached to the floor and the ceiling rafters and built like a typical (albeit small) walls are built.

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Hubby thought I went a tad overboard with the insulation of these boxes, but I’d MUCH rather over insulate than under. So he wrapped the outside of the box with a radiant barrier insulation, stapling it as he went and taping the seams with foil tape. Then he installed R-13 bat insulation between the studs on the inside of the box.

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We then installed 1/4 plywood sheeting to the studs, securing it with nails and caulking all of the seams to prevent air leakage.

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Then we installed 3/4 MDF, securing it with nails to the frame and I again caulked all of the seams. I also filled any gaps around the sheetrock on the outside frame with spray foam… look guys I was being THOROUGH!

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I then added the molding and trim around the inside and outside of the box, caulking and filling where necessary.

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This was the end result, a perfectly insulated built-in cubby! just ready for our laundry cart!

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The cubby was perfectly sized, we made it a lot taller though so that I could add a shelf to the area, I’m waiting to see how I use it first before moving on to that step.

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We also built 2 other boxes into the knee wall in the closet, to which we then later added pull out shelves. These boxes were built the exact same way as the one in the bathroom.

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We also added a radiant barrier to the walls inside the closet knee walls while the walls were open, this extra step will also help with heating and cooling loss. I feel very confident in the insulating job we did on this project and I can’t stress enough how important it is to do so anytime you open up a wall into an un-insulated space.

I hope you enjoyed this project!

Thanks as always for stopping by…

Until next time!

K

Sharing a Fun Date Night Idea

I just wanted to tell you about the date night my Super Awesome Hubby and I had last Friday night. It was a different date night than usual and because we had such a great time I really felt the need to share it with you just in case you might like the idea too!

We took a “Date Night” cooking class!!! It was held at Cooking in the Cottage in the St. Matthews area of Louisville. Chef David Moeller of Sullivan University was the chef and he was wonderfully entertaining and educational. To set the scene, it was a full class of 13 couples, with ages ranging from the early 20’s to their mid 70’s. The long tables were arranged in a large U in front of the kitchen and each table station had a small gas stove, utensils and all of the ingredients prepped, labeled and ready to use.

At the Cottage each date night menu is different and ours was Fried Green Tomatoes with Goat Cheese and Roasted Pepper Relish, Cannelloni with Shrimp, Scallops & Lump Crab Filling in Tomato Cream Sauce and for dessert a Pear and Brie Tartlette with Bourbon Sauce… YUMMY right!!! Oh, it was so delicious and all of it easy to make, granted we didn’t have to prep the ingredients but that is more time consuming than difficult. Also, you can bring your own wine, but they also give you each 2 glasses of either red or white with the meal. So for $95 per couple we had a delicious 3 course meal, 2 glasses of wine each and we learned how to cook some new recipes! We really had so much fun sharing this experience with one another, for us it was much better than just going out to dinner and we plan on taking these classes many more times!

So I only took a couple of pictures, which I will share with you, but I’m also going to give you the recipes… and I’m telling you they are worth trying for yourself! FYI, all of these recipes are for serving 2 people.

Fried Green Tomatoes with Goat Cheese and Roasted Red Pepper Relish

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 sliced green tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 egg for egg wash
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 oz. diced roasted red peppers
  • 2 oz. diced tomatoes
  • 2 oz. cider vinegar
  • 2 oz. granulated sugar
  • 2 oz. goat cheese
  • vegetable or Canola oil for frying
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. For the green tomatoes, dredge in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs. Set aside for frying.
  2. In a sauté pan, combine peppers, diced tomato, vinegar and sugar.
  3. Heat pepper mixture and cook until slightly syrupy; set aside
  4. Heat oil to 350 degrees and fry breaded tomatoes until golden brown
  5. Remove and drain on a paper towel or rack
  6. To serve, top fried tomatoes with goat cheese and pepper jam
  7. Serve immediately

(sorry no photo here, we ate them before I could even think about taking the picture)

Cannelloni with Shrimp, Scallop and Lump Crab Filling in Tomato Cream Sauce

Ingredients for Filling:

  • 4 Cannelloni pasta shells, cooked al dente and shocked in ice water, set aside
  • 4 oz. shrimp, cut into 1/2” sections
  • 4 oz. bay scallops (these are about the size of a dime)
  • 3 oz. lump crab meat
  • 2 oz. heavy cream
  • 1 Tbsp. basil pesto
  • Panko bread crumbs, as needed to bind (I think it was about 1/4 cup)
  • vegetable or Canola oil as needed
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Heat sauté pan and add enough oil to coat the pan; heat oil
  2. Sauté shrimp and scallops until about 2/3 cooked; add cream
  3. Heat thoroughly and season with salt and pepper to taste
  4. Add just enough breadcrumbs to bind
  5. Add pesto and crab meat; gently incorporate
  6. Open shells and stuff with mixture, set aside

Ingredients for the sauce:

  • 4 oz. heavy cream
  • 3 oz. tomato puree
  • 1 oz. vodka
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. In a sauté pan, heat cream and tomato
  2. Add vodka and reduce sauce consistency
  3. As it reduces gently place stuffed shells in sauce, to heat through, ladle sauce on shells
  4. Serve!

Seafood stuffed Cannelloni in tomato cream sauce

Pear and Brie Cheese Tartlettes with Bourbon Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 2 individual tart shells
  • 2 Tbsp. room temperature brie cheese
  • 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 oz. bourbon
  • 1 pear, ripe but still firm, cored and diced

Method:

  1. Place brie in the bottom of the tart shells (it will work best if it is spread evenly across shell)
  2. In a sauté pan, melt butter
  3. Add sugar and incorporate
  4. Add pears and coat with butter and sugar mixture
  5. And bourbon and cook to a syrupy consistency
  6. Pour pear mixture over brie cheese in tart shells
  7. Serve

(umm… sorry about the half eaten dessert picture, this was fabulous)

Pear and Brie tart

Ugh, now I’m hungry!!!

Well I hope you all had a great Labor Day weekend, thanks for stopping by!

Until next time!

K

A Tale of Two Dormer Windows

Well, believe it or not we have parts of our master bathroom & closet remodel complete! They are just a very small part of the total renovation, but hey I will take what I can get! So basically the dormer window areas are 100% complete, these are the two windows over the garage area as shown below. The window on the right is in the closet and the one on the left is in the bathroom.

Domer windows

These are the original plans my Hubby drew up before we moved in, you can see the dormer areas effectually created a 8ft long “hall” in each of the rooms. It was a lot of wasted and unused space, plus they really bothered the heck out of me.

Bathroom and closet plans

Let me start with the bathroom window makeover as it was especially annoying to me… I mean who puts a window seat down an 8ft. long bathroom hall. Just stupid and serves no purpose whatsoever. Would you sit here? What reason would you have to sit here? I just don’t get it…

Before dormer area

See what I mean? Obviously we removed the brown wallpaper (again people, why?!) and removed the stupid window seat (and the door to nowhere). You see, I had a plan for this space… and it’s going to be mine… all MINE!!! (can you read that sentence in a sinister tone, not sure how to make that come across just right in print Annoyed)

In progress dormer area

While I couldn’t make the “hall” any shorter without affecting the amount of space in the closet (nope, not making the closet smaller)I could however make the destination worth the “trip”! First we installed a floating vanity top. Nothing fancy, just smooth plywood with a 1×2 plywood face on the front edge. It is attached to wood cleats which are attached to the studs in the walls for extra support. Then I painted the wood the same color and sheen as the window trim (BM Decorators White Semi-Gloss) . This area is going to be my makeup/getting ready space. Also, you can barely see it, but my Super Awesome Hubby installed an electrical outlet on the left (smart right?) and a junction box for a sconce on the right.

Adding floating vanity top to dormer area

We also cut a big ‘ole hole in the wall on the right for a built-in area to house the laundry basket (this dormer is right across from the shower so it’s a very convenient space as well).

Using knee wall space for built in

Here is the “box” almost complete, I will have a how-to on this project that I will be posting soon for those interested.

Using knee wall space for built in laundry basket

Now for the finished project… my vanity area! Look at all this wonderful light I get in here!

Custom built in makeup vanity in dormer window space

I recovered the vanity stool and made the valance using the same fabric. I also spray painted the stool blue, it was originally black and just really didn’t have the “feel” I was going for. I do so love it blue and with the sheepskin rug draped over it, it feels and looks luxurious.

Custom built in makeup vanity in dormer window space

You’re also getting a sneak peek at the Board and Batten I installed. It’s only in the bathroom and it was a HUGE pain in the ass project but it really adds so much to the room. Plus the new engineered flooring that has made me so happy as well!

Custom built in makeup vanity in dormer window space

What do you think about my swing arm light? It’s perfect for getting additional light just where I need it and then I swing it back up against the wall and out of the way! Plus the color is divine…

swing arm light for vanity makeup area

Here the finished nook for the laundry basket. I was originally planning on adding a shelf in there above the basket, but I put that on hold because I want to wait and see how I use the basket before committing to the shelf idea… but it looks like I’ll have plenty of room for one if I want it.

Built in laundry basket space in knee wall

So now onto the closet dormer area.

Here is the sad BEFORE, again 8ft long wasted space, we really couldn’t utilize this space at all.

dormer window space before

Here is the “hall” now greatly diminished, by 4ft. to be exact, you can see the original footprint of the walls painted on the subfloor. Look at how much light floods into the closet now!

dormer window space in progress

This is just after the drywall crew came in and did their thing. Yup, we made use of the rest of that unused knee wall space, on both sides!

dormer window space in progress

These niches are about 2ft deep each and make the most of not only the unused space in the knee walls but of the (now) little hall.

dormer window space in progress

But did we stop there, oh no we did not! My Super Awesome Hubby (SAH) made and installed fabulous pull out drawers. They have full extension, under mount slides that are also soft close. Listen, these slides were not cheap at $20 a pair, but they will hold up to 75lbs. per pair and they open and close as smooth as silk… they were worth the extra expense in my opinion.

Dormer window space built in shoe shelves in knee wall

Dormer window space built in shoe shelves in knee wall

Plenty of room for shoes & purses!

Dormer window space built in shoe shelves in knee wall

I even have some empty shelves to fill Party smile

Dormer window space built in shoe shelves in knee wall

I also wanted some low profile handles for the drawers (I was concerned about jabbing myself on the handles, yes I factor in my clumsiness when decorating) and had settled on the idea of leather pulls. I couldn’t find anything that I really liked or if I really liked them they were $$$$ (of course right?!) so I decided to make them. All 16 of these pulls cost me $57 to make (not including the special end punch) and I absolutely adore them! I dyed the leather hot pink to match the drawer liner and they’re a pretty close match if I do say so myself. FYI all of the materials I purchased from Tandy Leather and are readily available online or in the store if you’re interested.

DIY hot pink leather drawer pulls

The other dilemma I had was what to do with the bottom of drawers. I knew I was going to have shoes in them and I wanted the shelves to remain in good shape, but I also wanted to do something fun, you know jazz it up a bit! My final solution was vinyl fabric, yes I said vinyl, this hot pink vinyl fabric was less than $8 a yard and I only needed about 3 yards. So not only was it more economical than contact paper, but it feels and looks like leather and lays in such a way that I didn’t even need to attach it in any way to the drawer bottom, it’s just laying in there all nice and purdy…

Dormer window space built in shoe shelves in knee wall

Did I mention that my SAH also added an outlet in the dormer? I’m going to eventually use the space for charging my phone & iPad. I had originally planned for a floating wood shelf here, but when we did a dry fit for it I didn’t like the way the shelf blocked the light from the window. So I found this great glass shelf online, it will hold more weight than I will ever need to have there (over 50lbs.) it really helps complete the space and gives me some room for jewelry, display items and maybe even a plant!

Floating glass shelf in dormer window area

My one and only Derby hat and a sun hat adorn the right side while on the left is a wonderful mushroom watercolor my very talented oldest daughter painted me for Mother’s Day.

hat wall decormushroom watercolor

So these dormer window areas went from bothersome to beauties and I cannot be happier with both the way they look, but also with the way they function!

As always thanks for stopping by, I’d love to hear what you think about the spaces!

Until next time!

K

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