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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

Master Bath & Closet Renovation (part 4)

Choosing tile for the master bathroom shower is where I left off a couple of weeks ago. I did decide to go with marble instead of the considerably less expensive ceramic tile, I will share with you sources and actual selection soon… I’m still picking out exactly what I need. In the meantime all of the walls in the rooms have been constructed, well except for one small one that cannot be erected until the plumbing is moved, and the insulation is in! It was VERY cold in the bathroom and we did have a small problem with the copper pipes bursting, but Super Awesome Hubby drained them, capped them off and wrapped them in foam so they are ok now. The temperature in there still hovers around 42 degrees in the room, but that is so much better than the 7 degrees it is outside!

So this is the current view looking back toward the door to the master bedroom. The shower is on the right and to the left of the shower is the water closet. See all of that lovely pink insulation in the floor? If you remember these rooms are partially over the garage and stayed cooler than they should so we had blown insulation added on top of the bat insulation that was already there for added floor warmth.

master bathroom remodel construction phase

I constructed a niche on both sides of the shower walls, the Hubby relocated the whole house vacuum pipe and I installed the new electrical switches and roughed in the wiring. The plumber is supposed to be here at the end of the week, barring any more emergency pipe bursting calls that is, the plumbers around here have been VERY busy!

The picture below is of my Hubby’s closet space, seriously the man has a ton of clothes and shoes! The wall on the left will be double and single handing rods and the wall directly ahead will be all shelves for shoes and folding items. The wall on the right will also be for hanging clothes with a window seat under the window. The way it works out is that he “gets” everything to the left of the window and I “get” everything to the right.

master closet remodel construction phase

This is my side of the closet. The knee wall on the left will be for long hanging items and the one on the right will have short hanging with shelving below for shoes, sweaters, purses whatever. The other wall (across from the right knee wall) will have two hanging rods for short hanging items as well. Also, the area behind the knee walls, which is accessible from the dormer window area, will have built-in cabinets for additional shoe storage. At this point in the construction we also made sure to add additional bracing to the walls so that our clothes rods will be well supported.

master closet remodel construction phase

If you remember this closet space was broken up before with this center wall that blocked the natural light from getting to my side of the closet… I hated it! Just removing this wall made such a big difference I really have no idea why they designed it this way in the first place… and don’t get me started with the wire shelving, but rest assured there will be no wire shelving in our “new” closet.

master closet BEFORE

A birds eye view of the closet layout is this, more efficient use of the space and the natural light available to the whole space. I like having one big closet space, no one gets short changed with the “small closet” you can be a closet hog or not it’s up to you!

master closet design

With the addition of the insulation the room is at least bearable to work in now. However, I am looking forward to the sheetrock installation next week and no we are not doing that ourselves. I’ll leave sheetrock and plumbing to the professionals, we are doing a lot of DIY on this renovation, but those two items are just ones we choose not to do.

We still have quite a ways to go and I feel like I am going a little crazy trying to source the perfect flooring option, but I’m hoping I’ll find something soon. In the meantime we still have to install all of the can lights in the ceiling this weekend so that if there are any mistakes the drywall guys can fix them…

While our bathroom is being remodeled we have taken over our daughter’s bathroom (she’s away at college), it has great natural light in there but I miss my nice, deep tub so I’m hoping that once the drywall gets installed I can use my tub again.

Stay safe and warm guys… I’m hoping that Spring comes to us all soon!

Until next time…

K

How to Remove Tile Flooring, master bath update part 3.

You might remember that we are in the beginning stages of a remodel of our master bathroom and closet. This weekend we decided to tackle removing the tile floor from the bathroom. I had every intention of hiring the contactor to do this, but the feedback I was getting for the costs were more than I was willing to spend on demo. I’m not going to sugar coat this for you… this is a sucky, messy job, but totally a DIY one if you’re willing…

Again, this is what the bathroom looked like just before we moved in. We had already started some updates like wallpaper removal you can checkout here.

Master bathroom BEFORE

After removing my vanity we discovered that the floor tile was set in a bed of concrete and lath and it was roughly 1.5” thick… that’s a LOT of concrete and mainly why we didn’t want to tackle this ourselves.

This is what the layers looked like. Starting with the base there is OSB, tar paper, metal lath, concrete, mortar then tile. Looks fun right?

DIY bathroom tile concrete and lath removal

We used our hammer drill with the spade bit attached for the entire job, I would HIGHLY recommend this tool as it made removing all of these layers a ton easier. Also, you MUST wear eye protection and a face mask, I would also recommend earplugs and something to cover your hair as well… did I mention how dirty this job was?

We found that removing the floor in layers was the easiest and fastest way to go:

Using the hammer drill (with the spade bit attached) we removed all of the tile (which I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to remove), then we separated the concrete from the lath by inserting the spade bit between the two layers, then we pulled up the lath which was held in place with staples (instead of screws which you would most likely see in older homes), then pulled up the tar paper which was also stapled down.

DIY bathroom tile concrete and lath removal

I did most of the removal while my Hubby had the backbreaking chore of lugging all of the debris down to the garage. After 5 hours of work we ended up with this. A nice clean sub floor that was still in good shape thanks to the tar paper and lack of screws holding down the lath.

DIY bathroom tile concrete and lath removal

We’re not 100% done though as we still need to remove the flooring from the water closet / shower area. We originally thought we would still use this area, but decided against it at the last minute. We will need to remove the toilet prior to removing the floor, but that shouldn’t be a problem. BTW all of that dust you see is not from my lack of cleaning, it’s the concrete dust from the demo… trust me you do not want this stuff in your nose or throat so please wear protection.

DIY bathroom tile concrete and lath removal

We still have quite a bit more demo work to do in here, a couple of walls to remove, my Hubby’s vanity, the toilet and shower not to mention the baseboards and door trim, but we feel pretty good about saving money by doing much of the demo work ourselves. Yes, I took some Aleve before I went to bed and when I woke up this morning, but this job could’ve been MUCH worse than it was.

I hope this post helps anyone looking at tackling this particular type of tile and concrete removal. I personally am hoping to never have to do it again…

Have a great week everyone! And as always thanks for stopping by!

K

The Master Closet Remodel Part. 1

We had SOOO much fun this weekend starting on our master closet remodel / renovation. Lots of drywall dust, carpet crud and insulation removing fun! Here is a recap from the beginning…

Our closet is located off of the master bath, on the end of the house over the garage. It was by far the largest closet we saw while house hunting here in Louisville (which is just one of the reasons we loved this house). Having said that though it has some “issues”, it’s layout is awkward and it’s chilly in there in the winter. As a side note we have already replaced the 2 windows so we are assuming the problem is in the way it was (or was not) insulated.

This is the view looking into the closet from the bathroom:

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This is my side of the closet. The door you see is access to the unfinished area that slopes down to the garage side walls, it’s large but freaking cold and we didn’t really use it.

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This is my hubby’s side of the closet, lots of nice natural light on this side, which he totally needed in order to help him determine blue from black suits…

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Here is the original layout of the master closet, just LOOK at all of that unused space marked “storage”!

Master closet renovation remodel

Below is the most recent plan for the new space, but since we are building the units ourselves this plan is certainly subject to change.master closet plans

One of the closet walls is being moved back in order to enlarge the shower, which is on the other side of that wall. Also, we will be removing the walls on both storage sides of the closet and installing a new knee wall 4 ft. back from the original walls. These changes will make the new walls about 5ft. tall (the original walls were 8ft. tall) and give us an additional 63 sq. ft. of closet space.

I was just thrilled with the space after we removed the center wall, the light just fills the room now… By the way there are 2 windows in the closet, the one you see pictured and the dormer window on the front of the house.

Master closet renovation remodel

We are saving all of the lumber we can so that they can be used to create the new walls. We removed all of the nails out of the wood before removing them from the wall.

Master closet renovation remodel

Now on to opening the side walls. There was insulation in these walls, but only R-13 which I think is the minimum for our zone. We did not save it to reuse as we will need to insulate this room better. This is the unfinished area on the left that they had setup as extra storage space.

Master closet renovation remodel

We then hit a “little” snag… my Hubby was a tad overzealous and started removing some of the vertical 2×4’s before we had a good look at the wall structure. Once we did we stopped removing the 2×4’s. See we’re not 100% sure if this is a load bearing wall or not. See photo of top of the wall below.

Master closet renovation remodel

See the 2×6 beams going across the ceiling of the room appear to be resting somewhat on the wall. Most of the beams appear to be nailed in with 2 nails on one side to the rafters but that doesn’t seems like enough support to us. After HOURS of research we think those beams are collar ties that also happen to be used as the ceiling structure, however we’re just not sure. To be 100% sure we’re having a contractor come by and look at it, if he’s not sure I’ll have a structural engineer come by and take a gander. You don’t happen to be a structural engineer who might know what’s going on here?

 Master closet renovation remodel

We moved on to removing the sheetrock on the other side of the room. This is another extra storage space that they had access to from the bathroom. I think they called this the “suitcase storage” on the realtor listing… again a VERY cold space. Same deal with the walls seeming to support collar ties?!

That’s where we finished up on Sunday. We filled up a bunch of bags of debris and cleaned up as much as possible, but we’re at a standstill until we here about the walls. Luckily we have a door on this room so it’s coldness can be closed off from the rest of the house… BRR!!

If you have any suggestions or ideas about these walls or the space please comment below! Thanks as always for stopping by!

Until next time…

K

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