“I’m yours until you say to stop”

Week 35 – Joe A week ago I got a text from our carpenter.  It was a text that rehabbers in need of structural expertise only dream of getting:  “I’m starting Monday and cleared out all week or longer if needed.  I’m yours until you say to stop.”  There was much rejoicing in our house and we dug out the list of items that needed attention.  There are a couple of large items that are way above our heads to accomplish on our own and then a lot of smaller tasks all related to framing.  The very first thing to get accomplished was the installation of the new windows.  Done.

[Edit from Amy: Let’s pause to celebrate that! YAY!]

We moved to the next most pressing concern – the old staircase to the 2nd floor. You might remember (probably not) that our original plan was to wall over the existing door to the basement (located in the kitchen) and add a new basement door on the opposite side of the stairs. This would allow us to use what was previously door space as added wall space in the kitchen.

[Edit from Amy: You might remember that our kitchen was originally comprised of doors. Not much wall space at all.]

When I did the demo for the new door to the basement stairs we discovered that we liked how this new-found hallway to the kitchen made the flow of the house flow so much better.  It meant that there would now be a good traffic pattern from upstairs to the kitchen.  I really think it is one of the best changes that we have made to the house – and it happened completely by accident.  Here is what that area of the house looked like after the initial demo:

The area of the house currently being revised

The area of the house currently being revised

You can see the work that needed to be done.  We had to get the no-longer-needed staircase out of the way, raise the sunken platform to the basement, frame a new doorway to the basement, and build new stairs to the basement. First job, frame up the new floor:

Creating a smooth flow to the kitchen

Creating a smooth flow to the kitchen

We will salvage old wood flooring from another area in the house to keep a consistent look through the entire hallway into the kitchen. For now, some plywood. Next, remove the top portion of the staircase:

The upper portion of the old stairs have been removed

The upper portion of the old stairs have been removed

You might remember from an earlier blog post that Amy and I decided that we wanted to save some of the stairs.  We think it will be a nice little relic of the original layout of the house AND it will create a way to use more vertical space in our bathroom closet. Our carpenter started out by just cutting back the stairs to allow for the framing of the new doorway to the basement.  Once we had the top portion of the stairs removed and the floor raised it became obvious that we were going to need to remove more of the stairs.  The stairs were low enough at the point of entry from the new door that it made for a very tight fit as you descended the basement stairs. We eventually removed everything except the bottom 4 stairs.  Here is the view from the top of the new basement stairs.  (At the top is the new wall that has been framed.  Also, the stairs were not completely done when I took this picture… hence the ladder at the bottom)

[Edit from Amy: Because it’s loads of fun to descend into the basement via ladder. Stairs are for lazy people.]

The new entry to the basement

The new entry to the basement

Here is the view from inside the bathroom closet looking towards the newly framed closet wall:

Inside the bathroom closet

Inside the bathroom closet

We were able to reuse one of the original closet doors that we had to remove to make way for the new staircase.  Remember those?

The closet door and upper cabinet that we are using as the doorway for the basement stairs

The closet door and upper cabinet that we are using as the doorway for the basement stairs

The doorjamb fit perfectly and we will even be able to create a shelf so that those upper cabinets can provide storage space.

Placement of the old closet door

Placement of the old closet door

Now that the stairs are gone we can finally frame out the new floor in the master bedroom.  Here is what the top of the stairs used to look like:

Stairs that lead to the master bedroom

Stairs that lead to the master bedroom

Here is what it looked like after the railing and stairs were removed:

No more stairs to the bedroom

No more stairs to the bedroom

Here is the old view from the top of the stairs:

Looking down from the master bedroom

Looking down from the master bedroom

This is the view looking down to the basement stairs (before framing the new floor and new closet):

Looking down from the master bedroom

Looking down from the master bedroom

[Edit from Amy: That is quite a fall. Also, these are some of the most disorienting pictures I have ever seen.]

Here is the view looking up towards what will eventually be new closet walls and (at the top) a new floor in the master bedroom:

Standing at the bottom of the old stairs looking through the closet wall and up to master bedroom

Standing at the bottom of the old stairs looking through the closet wall and up to master bedroom

Here is a before and after comparison of the hallway to the kitchen:

before

before

after

after

I know it doesn’t look different, but it feels very different in the space because the ceiling height is now consistent with the rest of the downstairs and floor is now level as you cross in front of the basement stairs. We have many more projects like this that will be happening this week.  On the list, making the space above the master bedroom into a usable loft area:

Yes, we want to use this space

Yes, we want to use this space

There are also many other odd jobs (we have a long list) that will hopefully be wrapped up this week.  More updates coming soon, including my wife’s impressive crash course on how to wire a house!

 

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