2 years of home ownership

January marked our second year of owning our own home.  Our first year was all about major change, whereas Year 2 was more about tweaking. Here are the highlights:

  • Had the back yard completely redone, including new fence and new deck
  • Grimbil took up wood working as a hobby and turned the old boiler closet into a linen closet. Result!
  • He also framed out the garage, so that he can build the wood shop of his dreams.
  • Kicked off the process of replacing the ratty old furniture by buying a snazzy new couch
  • Finally installed our pendant lights in the kitchen. That means the kitchen is done!

Year 3 will be another big year for change: we are finalizing plans to completely redo the upstairs. More to come!

Linen Closet

Another weekend, another post on home improvement. On Saturday I painted, cut, and fitted pine shelves for our now fully functional linen closet. I know Binky will appreciate the mop and bucket living somewhere besides the foyer and now we can clean out one of the guest bedroom dressers. Huzzah!

Who says it's never sunny in London?
Linen closet fully functional, including a nice new floor

Home Alone aka Grimbil’s DIY Weekend

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve posted here….Binky normally handles this bit, but since she’s travelling for work and I’ve had a very productive weekend (these are not related), I thought I’d break my silence.

Behind our house there is a small parking area and several garages that are owned by the local council (government) to be rented out. Ever since visiting our friends Joe and Maricar’s home in San Francisco, I’ve been thinking about how nice it’d be to have a workshop and to pick up woodworking as a hobby. Fueled by our lovely neighbor Paulene’s information on how to rent one, several months ago I submitted an application to be added to the waiting list for one of the six garages behind our house.

Surprisingly, within a month of submitting my application, we got a letter stating there was one open and we could start renting it immediately. Even more amazing, it was the one directly behind our house! My workshop was destined to be….

Now, it ain’t much, only 8′ x 16′, but it’s big enough to keep the motorcycle locked up with room for storage and (hopefully) a small workshop. My plan is to frame the back of the garage, build a small workbench, then some cabinets for storage. There’s no power, but because it’s directly behind the house, I can easily run an extension cord from the garden for when I’m working. This reminds me, I need to learn a little electrical wiring…..

A pile of timber, the motorcycle, and a few boxes all easily fit in the 8' x 16' garage.

Now that I had the space for my workshop, I need tools to put in it. Christmas time came around and my father-in-law saw my need and helped me out. A few last second sniping bids on eBay and I was fully equipped with a circular saw, jig saw, power sander, router, and a few other odds and ends. Thanks Dad!

So onto the projects…I’ve got quite a list already:

  1. Build two sawhorses
  2. Frame the garage
  3. Build a workbench
  4. Shelves for the foyer
  5. Linen closet shelves
  6. Living room shelves (something modern looking)
  7. Repair the garden bench
  8. Replace the back / right side fence
  9. Wood deck extending from the house
  10. Planters for the garden

Better start small and work my way up, right? A couple of weeks ago I was able to build one sawhorse…a beast made out of 2x4s that may be a little big but should come in handy when building the fence this spring.

Er, it's a little large but extremely sturdy (that's what she said)

So Saturday morning finally came around and I had a been planning a big day for the past week. With Heather out of town, Otto stepped up to make sure I go up and going ASAP. Saturday is the same as any other day as far he’s concerned, so 7am he was ready to get cracking.

Otto takes his responsibilities very seriously.

Unfortunately, the British winter weather wasn’t cooperating and it rained the entire day, preventing me from working on the second sawhorse. Instead I turned my attention to the former water heater closet upstairs. It’s pretty beat up but could be turned into a very serviceable linen closet.

Looking slightly better

I took measurements so I’ll cut some shelves in the near future, paint them and this should be quite nice after another coat. Sunday rolled around and although it was sunny and beautiful outside, the pouring rain from Saturday caused my football match to be called off. I swear, the Brits cancel games way too easily. If it’s not rain, they’re complaining about the ground being frozen. Come on guys, I played high school soccer on grounds with worse weather and the Starkville Youth Soccer Organization fields were just jagged shards of cracked and broken mud that would shred your knees and legs. Tighten up!

But I digress….

Otto again woke me at 7 but was kind enough to give me another hour before forcing me out of bed. I was able to cut the 12 pieces of wood for the 2nd sawhorse before the rain hit….it’s amazing how nice the mornings can be in England up until about noon when it starts to rain again. A few hours later tho, the rain stopped and I was able to complete the sawhorse with minimal fuss.

Can you guess which sawhorse is smaller?
They're also stackable!
A soon-to-be-shelf demonstrates how level the two sawhorses are

I know it’s a little silly to be proud of such a simple project, but as a complete DIY novice, it was great for making sure I was comfortable with the circular saw and jigsaw. It was good for Otto, too. He got (somewhat) comfortable with the noise of the tools and enjoyed rolling in the sawdust after all the fun.

Otto didn't like the noise of the circular saw so slept as far from the saw as he could without losing sight of me outside.

Next up are the shelves!