Monday, March 29, 2021

Remodeling Our Hut Part 38: Concrete and Colonnades

 Continuing this seemingly never-ending saga of the remodel, I'm going back to September of 2020.  Due to the pandemic, our final cabinetry was delayed, so Carl and I turned our attention to the mundane tasks of burying drain tile, installing a retaining wall and getting ready to pour a floor in the new garage lean-to addition.

Our friend Cody, who helped us with everything from framing up and roofing the garage extension to installing our crown molding and so much more, came over on a Friday afternoon to help with the concrete floor along with Ann and Joel, too.  Pouring concrete is a big job and the more hands the better.

The cement truck was ordered for 3PM and we were all running in circles getting ready.  The biggest problem was figuring out how we were going to get the cement to the backyard.  Carl was thinking we would use three wheelbarrows and wheel the cement between the shop and the garage, but I had my doubts about that plan.  Wheeling heavy cement is extremely difficult.

I came up with the idea of using the tractor bucket which Carl wasn't crazy about since he didn't think it would work.  Joel was game to give it a try, and luckily, my idea panned out.  We had the cement truck park on our farm lane and Joel went to and fro with the tractor fetching cement for Carl and Cody.

Joel managed to skillfully fit the tractor bucket as far into the lean-to as he could and Carl and Cody filled the wheelbarrows and wheeled the cement to where they needed it.  I didn't do much more than shovel the cement around and help with the screed board to level it off.

Though this was a small area, the work was intense.  Cody spent a few more hours troweling the entire floor smooth and was done just before dark.  We ended the night with a cookout and some good conversation.

The picture above was taken in January 2021.  Since we are also in the midst of demolishing my mother's home, we removed the doors from her garage and put them on the lean-to.  Carl also painted three doors for the garage and the mudroom and rehung them just before winter.  A lot of snow slides off the roof, making it a challenge to get to the chicken coop but at least the doors keep it out of the garage.

Once the garage floor was done, we moved on to the driveway. Audrey pitched in to help with gravel leveling in mid-September 2020.  
Notice Audrey's 'gloves'?  She was playing in the mud and dipped her arms in up to the elbow. 
As the weeks went on in the early fall of 2020, I kept pestering our cabinet maker to see if we were still on his list for the colonnades and some extra cabinets I wanted in the mudroom.  I hate to be a bother, but the squeaky wheel gets the grease, they say, and I really wanted to get this house done.  I talked to him in late August, and he assured me we were up next.  He couldn't give me an exact date, but I understood.  These things take time, especially in a pandemic. 
In the meantime, I was working with Joel on Mom's house demolition.  We removed the one hundred year old maple hardwood from her house and made piles of it as we went along. 

I have to admit, this has been a sad experience for all of us.  As I've mentioned before, Mom was very proud of her home, and every inch of the house holds so many memories.  After four parties looked at the house in hopes of moving it to another location, they all eventually backed out, so we have no choice but to take the house down.  
It has gotten a little easier as we went along with the demo, because the house looks less and less as it did when Mom was alive.  That said, I also confess to having more than a few solitary crying jags while working on my own when Joel wasn't there.  Tearing up her carpets and pulling the hardwood made the tears begin.  Grief sneaks up on me at the oddest moments, and at times I feel such guilt at destroying her home. 

 Joel and I worked for weeks on the hardwood removal up until winter set in.  The house has no furnace any more, and neither of us felt like working in the cold. 
Mom's once-tidy, spic and span kitchen, now littered with the removal of the flooring and the cupboards.  I took the ceramic tile backsplash down and have hopes of installing it here in our house as a memento of Mom.   Joel has been able to sell some of Mom's furniture that we have no room for and some lumber, too.  None of it brings much money, and sometimes Joel delivers it to the people who contact him.  We've also given many things away for free.   If other people can use any of the items, all the better.

While Joel and I were working on Mom's house, Carl's assignment was to finish the staircase railings here in our house.  Divide and conquer with the work; it is the only way to get stuff done.
Carl had a lot of math calculations to make to get the railing to come out right.  He welded the designs up at the shop, brought them home to see if they fit, and then back to the drawing board until they were right.  
My idea to build the railings with a 'Craftsman' design which I thought would be relatively easy, proved to be anything but. Carl had to remake the railing several times before he had the desired look.  
And, to make this job even more difficult, I decided we should have wood newel posts instead of the wrought iron curved ends we'd had previously.  Carl had made the original railings back in 1979, and was very proud of the the curved laterals he'd built back then.  He wasn't keen on changing to the wood newels, but ended up humoring me in the end.  

Off we went to the big box store and came home with two newel posts in need of staining.  (And installing, which meant Carl had to do more math.)

Carl spent a few hours hand sanding the oak posts, seated on my exercise ball.  (He said it was handy and moved easily, but as a chair, it lacked lumbar support.)  Once he had them sanded to his satisfaction, we propped them up to see how they looked.  The posts came very tall, and the idea is you need to saw them off to fit your staircase.
Finally, the last week in September, the cabinet maker called to say he was nearing completion with the colonnades and cabinets.  I asked him if he would stain and lacquer the newel posts too, and he agreed.  We dropped them off at his shop the next day.

A few days later, he called to tell me he was going to bring out the cabinetry to make room in his shop, but wouldn't be installing until the next week. 

Below, the pillars and colonnade cabinets are awaiting installation.
October 1, 2020, our cabinet makers extraordinaire, Don and Jamie, arrived to begin putting them up.

 I was working outside in the garden in the morning to get the garden ready for winter.  When I came back in the house to make dinner at noon, I was surprised to see the progress.

The two man crew worked steadily for two days.  They had the pillars attached to the cabinetry and the next step would be the beams to go across the ceiling to attach to the pillars.  Those would be delivered the next week.

After another day and a half of work the following week, the colonnades were complete. 
 We have one colonnade and box beam between the kitchen and the formal dining room.

And a matched pair and beam between the foyer and the dining room.

Our house is not large, but the room dividers give it the Craftsman feel we were looking for. 

The cabinets for my laundry/mud room were also installed.

So, now we're caught up to October 2, 2020.  We'd come a long way from June 2019, when this whole remodeling adventure began, but there's still a lot more to do. 

Thank goodness we have Audrey to come and give us a much-needed popcorn and painting break now and again.

She reminds us old folks to have some fun. We all need a little time to rest and be creative.