Archives For Home Projects

We’re getting ready for our new baby daughter coming in less than three weeks.

One of the outstanding items on my to-do list was to paint a couple dressers. One of them I had painted yellow in anticipation of my son coming more than four years ago. It was surreal to have him “help” me paint the dressers to get ready for his little sister.

This dresser was originally painted bright red with wooden knobs. It cost $5 at a garage sale.

It took two coats of primer and two coats of white paint to get rid of the pink hue you get when you paint white over red. We topped it off with some pink flower handles for the drawers. I also hung that pink curtain up in lieu of a closet door with this cool hook my wife bought. It turned out pretty good.

This dresser was originally fake wood grain with gold plated handles. It was free at a garage sale.

I painted the entire thing white (drawers had been yellow) and spray painted the hideous golden handles a satin brown. It turned out really great.

Also, I did a whole bunch of laundry this week, including the new baby’s clothes, and boy was I surprised at the explosion of pink.

My white t-shirts need to be afraid – very afraid.


Last summer my dad and I built an epic fence along the back of property. For my birthday that fall, he bought me three gallons of Behr wood stain sealer and left his sprayer for me. We were still adjusting to Baby #2, and the project just never happened before it snowed.

Fast forward eight months, and it was a Memorial Day project in the making.

Fence Stain: Before

Fence Stain: After

Fence Stain: Halfway

What you can’t tell from the pictures is that a shadowbox fence is super hard to stain. Each board has six sides, and getting an adequate amount of stain between alternating slats without over-coating is practically impossible. And once you finish the front of the fence, you have to do the back. Even 30 feet of fence is a huge undertaking.

The folks at the big box store paint department highly recommended using a nylon foam applicator and doing it all by hand, so that’s how I started. After more than an hour I was only six boards in on one side. As the sun heated up, I started eying the sprayer, and I’m so glad I switched. It may not be coated on as thick or last as long, but it was worth it to get the project complete in just under five hours.

Lessons learned about staining a fence:

  • Don’t shake the stain. Stir it. Bubbles = enemy.
  • Test in the least seen area first. I was very glad I did this as I got used to the nylon pad and then the sprayer.
  • Wear a mask. It seems basic, but I was fairly surprised how much paint covered my respirator mask when I was done.
  • Wear eye protection. Unless you like soaking your eyeglasses in mineral spirits (like I had to do), put your shop goggles on when spraying.
  • Use a cardboard box to cover for overspray. Big boxes for big areas and use a little box in your free hand for little areas.
  • Once you have all your materials out, do more projects. I went ahead and stained my extra piece of fence and a small deck where I keep my grill. I had the sprayer hooked up, mask on and stain mixed up. In hindsight, I would’ve had a few other ideas in the works.

Grant did help me out for about five minutes before declaring the project “boring.” He thought we should get out more colors, like pink and blue. I tried to explain, but then I was boring, too.

That was fine, as it gave the boys a chance to get in some pool time.

We turned our air conditioning on this week. I personally love sleeping with the windows open when it finally gets warm outside, but with my wife’s allergies we have to keep things closed up.

One of the first things we did when we bought our 120 year-old house was install air conditioning. In fact, we had the a/c folks come out in February to give us a quote so we could factor it into our budget (they thought we were crazy…especially in Minnesota…asking for an air conditioner quote in February). But with a pregnant wife and little baby, we thought it was an important investment to make

It’s definitely nice to have, but since the house wasn’t built for nor ducted for a/c, it’s not exactly the most efficient. The first floor gets very chilly and the second floor — where our bedrooms are — gets semi-cool, but definitely isn’t crisp. For one, there aren’t any cold air returns on the second floor, so the cold air blows up and that leaves the hot air nowhere to go.

Potential Project:
I talked to a guy about installing some manual vents, but I’m not a big fan of digging into century old, plaster-coated, load-bearing walls. My grandpa once rigged up an attic fan system to suck hot air out of an old house. We do have attic access in the upstairs hallway, but we just had the attic insulation topped off and that door sealed a year ago. I guess overall I’m not really up for that level of project this summer, but it’s something I’m thinking about almost every night.

So for now, until I’m ready for a re-ducting or venting project, we freeze in the living room and sleep under fans in the bedrooms. I think this sums it up the best…

I added up the cubic feet needed do to our yard — and this will cover almost the first third!

Do they sell stock in mulch?

Sunday afternoon saddle valve….I know. It sounds exotic.

My friend Matt is having a new refrigerator delivered this week — with a sweet ice and water dispenser in the door. Man, I love those. It’s like milking a water cow — if your fridge were a cow and water was milk.

But the fridge is a good 15 feet away from the water line, through three sets of cabinets and behind a stove.

So we got out the drill and went to work this weekend.


From the fridge spot, after:
New line

Behind the Drawers:

Behind the oven:
Behind Stove

Through the lazy susan cabinet


And into the water line:
Don't crank too hard!

Most saddle valves you can buy at big box stores are self-puncturing. But the one Matt received with his new fridge wasn’t. So we had to drill straight into his water line.

The saddle valve directions were HORRIBLE and the photo wasn’t much help. We couldn’t get the valve to sit flush, had extra pieces and spent a couple hours worrying about the best way to put it on.

And of course, we didn’t want to install it incorrectly — potentially causing a nonstop leak below the water cut-off. We asked his contractor neighbor, who in turn, asked the plumbing neighbor. They couldn’t figure it out. So we drove over the big box hardware store and asked the licensed plumber. He couldn’t figure it out, either.

So we made our best guess, lined it up and tightened it on. I haven’t heard that their kitchen is flooded, which means we did it perfectly. Next time, I think we would start with a self-puncturing one, though.

Final product - no leaks!

Rather than give us clothes or toys for the birth of our new son, my dad and step-mom offered to buy us lumber for a new backyard fence.

We have a great backyard, but it’s only fenced on three sides. The alley side was wide open, and my three year-old loves playing in the rocks right next to the alley where the pizza delivery folks buzz through.

looking west

Fence! Just needs stain

looking east

Fence! Just needs stain


The project took all day Saturday, half the day Sunday and a few hours Monday night. Now the boys are corralled. The boys say, “Thanks Grandpa and Grandma!”

More pictures here.

Last week Rodney and the crew at Why Wait Roofing installed the roof on our home, and they did an excellent job. I highly recommend them.


Roof: Before


Roof: During


Roof: After

They started at 7 a.m. sharp and by 3 p.m., were done AND all cleaned up.

Shingles: Cottage Gray


Roof Vents:
Roof Vents

Roof Vent (with Grant peeking)

Yes, the house is still a hideous pink, but considering the best quote for painting was $6,000 – repainting the house will have to wait until next year. Meanwhile, at least we’ll be dry.