Happiness. Short-term, stupid, self-interest.

Home Improvement – Where we started

In case anyone forgot, this is where we started…



October 30, 2007 Posted by | Home Improvement | Leave a comment

Home Improvement – It’s Done!

October 30, 2007

Welcome to the Barley Room…


Word has it it will just be called the new family room…






Monopoly has the monopoly on the pub table…


The infamous carpet that finally made it…


Note the trim/threshold between carpet and tile…



And at night…




A closeup of the faux paint that looks like real wood…





Going to need some decorating in here…


And get rid of that TV!


OK, the new TV won’t be that big…


We are currently furniture shopping and have already bought one new piece. The TV and new credenza will also be coming sooner, rather than later, because my wife can’t wait for the new flat screen TV. (no really, she’s pushing me to just buy something!) There are other components that will also eventually be coming, like the HTPC (Home Theater PC). Last, but not least, there is the next home improvment project which I hope to break ground on in the spring of 2008.

I will post more pictures along the way!

October 30, 2007 Posted by | Home Improvement | 2 Comments

Home Improvement – Post Octoberfest

October 26, 2007

Octoberfest was a success. The room was perfect and we didn’t even stain the newly installed carpet.

There was still finish up work to be done, which despite a deadline, I made sure I kept moving forward. I needed to install the base trim, fill all the nail holes, and make a transition threshold between the tile and the carpet.

I finally finished all of that yesterday and now I’m in the process of taking some final photos. We are using the room with the old furniture and the old TV and we love it already.

So, here I am, sitting at the pub table in the Barley Room at 8:00 in the morning, stove warming the room, and now, after years of all that work, I think I can finally say it…


October 26, 2007 Posted by | Home Improvement | 1 Comment

Rom-OH MY!!!

f100906a.jpgOctoberfest weekend turned out great, despite the logistics we all had to juggle. We played many games, ate great tasting but not-so-healthy food, and got little sleep. It was a great weekend, but it was exhausting. That exhausted state I was left in Monday evening was not a good state to be in for the football game I was about to watch, especially because this Cowboy’s fan had no idea what was coming.

The teams the Cowboys had defeated up to this point were not much to talk about. I thought the Bears game would be a real test, but it didn’t turnout so. The Bills certainly can’t be their real test.

I was worried about Romo because I felt he needed some humbling. Well, I think he got that and then some. Six turnovers by one guy… the Quarterback… I can’t believe it!

As always when losing a night game, there is the temptation to turn the game off after half-time if things don’t start to get better. Which, they didn’t. But, I stuck with it knowing the Bills had not yet scored an offensive touchdown and that Dallas’ half-time adjustments in their first 4 games were always positive.

The emotional rollercoaster that was the fourth quarter nearly killed me. One second we had a chance, the next it was blown. There would be a close call, then get overruled. There would be almost catches, then a drop. The jobs by the referees were good, better than most games I’d say. (their were a couple of missed calls and a couple of non-calls, but it went each other’s way) I don’t like the rule about calling a timeout as the ball is snapped, especially before a kick, but it is within the rules.

I won’t try to rehash the game… either you saw it, heard about it the next day, or don’t care. But let me tell you, the ESPN Sports Center coverage can’t relay the intensity, or incredulous, that happened live in Buffalo. That was one of the most entertaining games I have ever seen. Ever.

Romo came through in the end, the rest of the team stood by his side and they stepped up to win the game. But, I’m still wondering if the Cowboys are for real even with a 5-0 record. However, in less than one week, I will know as they play the Patriots on Sunday. If they can just hang in their and make it a game, win or lose, then, I can start believing…

October 10, 2007 Posted by | Sports | 1 Comment

Home Improvement – Here comes the play at the plate…

Friday, October 5, 2007

All the cleaning up was done last weekend. I had moved my saws and workbenches into the garage. My wife washed all of the windows, we swept, I cleaned the tile, I adjusted the thermostat, I adjusted the lights, and I put back in all of the screens … basically cleaned up everything.

Yesterday I tested the home theater. I had a panic attack when one of the rear speakers wasn’t working using the receiver’s sound test. Troubleshooting indcates the receiver, not the wire, which is good. (because the speaker wire is in the wall, goes under the stove and under the floor – it can’t be fixed) However, the receiver problem fixed itself at some point. I breathed a sigh of relief but I wonder about the state of my receiver.

It is currently 9:30 A.M. and the carpet installers are here, but without a carpet. My carpet made it as far as the Albany warehouse when early this morning the truck to bring it to Clifton Park broke down. The installers have started working and were promised that the carpet would be here in a couple hours. I don’t think the play at the plate can be any closer to call.

The official start of Octoberfest is just hours away… nothing will stop that from happening. I can’t make the call at this time, so stay tuned over the next week to see how this story ends.

Let the games begin!

October 5, 2007 Posted by | Home Improvement | Leave a comment

Home Improvement – T-minus 10

September 2007 (Sep 24th – 28th)

The countdown is at 10 days until Octoberfest and it wasn’t supposed to be like this. The room is a disaster, and I have no idea if my loosely contrived plan for the windows will make them look any better.

Thinking of a song from Rush’s latest album, Far Cry, “Sometimes I feel I’m on top of the world and the next it is falling in on me. I can get back on. I can get back on…”

I don’t know why it matters so much to me, but it does. With renewed determination, I was going to get this done one way or another.

My head was spinning that week. Five days to fix what previously took me weeks, if not months, to complete.

I refined the plan in my head. I just had to test it out before implementing it and hope my family doesn’t disown in the process. I re-wrote my task sheet down to the day, including what I can get done in the morning and what I can get done at night in order to stay on track and may the gods be good, I’ll have a presentable room for Octoberfest.

Third time’s a charm. I knew by heart now what wood I needed to buy. I’ve also gotten very good at the table saw, staining, and sealing gig. The trick was how to paint the windows and picking out the right color. (you know how that goes for me)


By the way, buy your paint at Lowes, they accept returns of tinted paint, Home Depot does not. I think I got the color right the second time, even though it looks like pumpkin on the chip.

I painted the casement windows in the morning, and sealed the trim at night; then did it again the next day for a second coat. The new paint will look better against the stained trim, but I’m a crazy man this week and I want to take this a step further… I’m going to attempt to faux paint it to look like wood.

I had tested this all out on scrap wood, so I knew what I was getting into. I didn’t follow a book; I just made it up as I went along. I first sealed the paint with one coat of poly. This is because if I didn’t, the next step of using an oil based stain to faux with might wreak havoc on the paint. The first coat of stain is to further tint the paint and to texturize it to give it a base grain look. I put the stain on with a sponge, let it start to dry, and then use a dry brush to feather it.

The second pass of stain was to create a more distinct wood grain effect. It didn’t matter so much how you got the stain on, it was all in how you took it off. I found a technique with the dry brush that seemed to work and I think the final effect is pretty good. Actually, it looks really good. I surprised myself once again with what I am capable of.



The final look…

I put up the trim Friday night (thank you again, Paslode) and in five weekdays, I turned it around and did what I thought was impossible. I fixed it. I feel better.

On the weekend I can start to clean the room for Octoberfest and then take my time during week to prepare all of the other things on my list to host this party. I have calmed down and I’m at ease with how everything will work out. It was going to be great no matter what state the room was in and I just felt better about the whole thing.

Truly, while Octoberfest is obviously near and dear to me, the remaining 51 weeks of the year matter so much more. The blood, sweat and tears I’ve (…we’ve) poured into this room will all be worth it because this is the place where I know many memories will be made with my loving family. I can’t wait to share it with them. After Octoberfest, I will finish it up and start thinking about how great the Christmas tree will look in this room with the snow falling outside and the wood stove keeping us warm.

Thurday, October 4, 2007 – 9:33 A.M. (10 minutes ago)I just got a call from the carpet installer; the carpet is in currently northbound out of New Jersey.

T-minus 3, 2, 1…

October 4, 2007 Posted by | Home Improvement | Leave a comment

Home Improvement – She hated it, too

September 2007 (Sep 21st – 23rd , 2007)

I had asked my father earlier in the summer for some advice on what to do about my desire to stain the windows and use stained trim along side of the painted windows. Was that something that is ever done? My dad is a master wood worker, or as close as you can get to master without it being your profession. I was hoping he would say, “well, in this situation, what you do is … “ and I hoped there would be some clear cut procedure you follow in this situation. But, there isn’t a straight forward answer. Basically, you don’t do that. What you should do is paint all the windows and trim to match. (which, as you know, is not what we decided) What he did mention, however, is that the windows in question were the main architectural feature of the room and it is what will be drawn to everyone’s eye.

That notion has stuck with me and has been eating at me all through the week. I decided to ask my wife what she thought. I realized I was holding back on asking her because I didn’t want to hear the answer.

Yep, she hated the painted windows the same. The windows themselves looked fine, but with all of the other wood in the room, they looked silly. No, they looked stupid. Argh!!!

It was Friday night, September 21. With stupid looking windows, no carpet, and lost enthusiasm, I took the evening off. I took my son over to the neighbors so the kids could play while we adults had a couple beers. (Stone Pale Ale, I recall). It took my mind off it for a while.

But when I got back, I looked at it again. I had to find a way to fix this even if it meant Octoberfest in a room with table saws, ladders and nail guns. I was also resigned at this point that Octoberfest just doesn’t matter in the long run.

Lying in bed at 11:30 PM it was just killing me. Something had to be done. Maybe I could just paint the windows a darker color… wouldn’t even that look better? Anything would look better.

I got out of bed, put on a bathrobe, and went out on the porch. I proceeded to rip down all of the casement window trim. As I did it, I started to realize the gravity of the situation and there was no turning back now. I would have to re-purchase all the wood for these windows. Re-rip each piece, re-stain each piece, and re-seal each piece (at least twice). Then, I’d have to pick out a paint color that looked best with stained trim.

I also managed to damage the walls ripping down the trim. Not a lot, but enough that it would need drywall mud, sanding and repainting of that wall.

We left for the weekend for my sister’s 40th birthday party. It was a surprise party and well worth the trip to see everyone. She was much surprised and the party was great. The food was great. We even brought the dog, the kids got to go swimming, and I added a special trip the “candy store” to get a particular beer I could only get in New Jersey for Octoberfest.

I returned from the weekend to an extremely busy work week and a Barley Room that was taking steps backward. This isn’t how it was supposed to go.

October 3, 2007 Posted by | Home Improvement | Leave a comment

Home Improvement – Out of Control

September 2007 (Week of Sep 16th-20th)

I can’t believe it. I can’t believe how this one thing screws everything up. The path to completion has slipped through my grasp.

I got a call from the carper installer. I am ready to go, but the carpet we put a deposit on back in August and scheduled for this coming Monday (September 17th) is on back order. The factory is making carpets as fast as they can, but ours is now estimated to be ready on Friday, September 28th.

I hate it when I see a potential problem, compensate for it (scheduled early), and I still get smacked in the face with the exact problem I was trying to avoid. It turns out, the carpet production ready date already slipped once earlier this month… now I have little faith any date they give me will hold.

That’s it… I’m done. There is no way I can finish the project in time for Octoberfest. I need time after the carpet is installed to finish the base trim. And even after that, there is another whole long list of things I wanted to be doing in preparation for my annual get together that I estimate will take a full week to do.

I tried so hard, and got so far, but in the end, it doesn’t even matter.

Not knowing what else to do (there was nothing I could do about it) I decided to forge ahead anyway do what was scheduled for this weekend. My plan was to keep busy physically while I got used to the idea that Octoberfest would have to be held in an incomplete room with a major echo problem.

Mounting the lighting fixtures was a simple job, except for the one with the temporary mounting bracket. When I went to pick up the lights earlier in the week, one of the light fixtures was still missing a mounting bracket. But I checked the box at the store and made them find something that would work while they ordered me a new one, again.


I was extremely cautious hooking up the power at the circuit box. I planned this for during the day when there was extra day light and also for a time when I knew Home Depot would be open. I new I had room for the two new 20 amp circuits where one of the 220 volt breakers sat. We had replaced the electric range and dryer many years ago. It was quite simple to figure it out, as I had expected. The only trouble I ran into was snapping the new breakers into place; but I figured that out, too. It turned out that the hot wire bar was bent a little.

I closed up the box and flipped on the main power. Nothing flipped off, that’s a good sign. I went upstairs and checked the polarity on each of the circuits and they all were fine. I then tested out my lights and ceiling fan, they all worked as designed too.

The next weekend we are scheduled to be out of town, but with little to do without a carpet, I was able to put off painting of the casement trim to my free hours after work.

The casement windows have a long story behind them. One of them was given to us by some good friends of ours before we even broke ground on this project. It was old, but a nice 6’ x 5’ Andersen casement window. It was wood and painted white. In designing our room we incorporated this window and bought a new matching one, saving us $600. The new one we bought in white, not unfinished wood, to match the other. The other windows we bought for the room we purchased in unfinished wood and really like the idea of staining them, not painting. But that created the problem of some painted, some stained. We figured that as long as it looked nice, it probably wouldn’t make that big of a difference. Several years since the gathering of the windows, the plan was to repaint the casement windows an off-white and the trim to match. (because certainly, a painted window with wood trim would look silly)


So during the week, they got a fresh coat of paint. You know, a fresh coat of paint on anything makes it look better, and the windows themselves looked pretty good. But, I really did not like how it did not match the other stained windows, or the tongue and grove ceiling. I regret the decisions we made so many years ago, but there is not use in kicking myself about it, there is nothing we can do about it now.

October 2, 2007 Posted by | Home Improvement | Leave a comment

Home Improvement – On track

September 2007 (Week of Sep 10th – 15th)

During this week, I could work a more on the window trim, a small section of the base trim where the tile is, plus I could run data cables and terminate them and the speaker wire. Busy, but doable.

The trim went up fairly easily, thanks to the Paslode. Not only does the nail gun save time, it let’s one man do the work of two. Picture this… you have just cut a piece of trim and want to mount it. You line it up perfectly and hold it with one hand, then get the nail and set that up with the other hand, and then you grab your hammer with… well, you can hold the piece up in place with the hand that also holds the nail. Now you can use your other hand to hammer in the nail… bam, bam, Dam… it slipped a little. Lucky it wasn’t your finger. “Honey, can you help me for a minute?”

But, with the Paslode, you hold the piece of trim in place, even upside down over your head, grab your Paslode off your belt and shoot the sucker with extreme precision. Bam. Bam. Bam. Done.

I like to call her… Linda… (sorry, Scary Movie 3 reference)

During the week I also ran some cable and terminated all of it. I did a good job of labeling my wires over a year ago. I also had planned back then how I wanted this to be organized. Using my notes, I looked up my parts list and went out and bought all the parts and pieces to have the speaker jacks in the wall for easy hook up. This includes the wires that exist but are not hooked up, like the 6th and 7th channel speakers and the outdoor patio speakers.

I had also left a fish wire in the wall to run the rest of my wires. Now that the sheetrock was up and painted, I hoped it would work and that I didn’t lose it. It worked just fine and I left it there for future use. I ran two Ethernet lines, one phone line, and one cable line. I even installed a second F-type jack for my over the air signal, even though I don’t have an antenna yet. (nor an HDTV)

This is a picture of my aggregation point in my basment. I have all my network and phone all in this one nice, out of the way location.

I tested each of the line and things are looking good overall. As a matter of fact, the three week schedule I sketched out is running perfectly. My new lights had come in and the coming weekend I’m scheduled to mount those fixtures and hook up the circuits at the breaker box. Even though that’s an electrical job I’ve never done, nor seen done, I understand electricity and I’m fairly confident doing electrical work.

I love it when a plan comes together. I feel good, and I’m in control.

October 1, 2007 Posted by | Home Improvement | Leave a comment