Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Project: Mud Room Arrival Center

Yes, the length between posts increases exponentially with each day that passes from closing. I'd love to promise that I'll work on that, but that would require a lot of work. And writing. And I'm lazy.

Just in time for the holidays, I dove in to tack one of the bigger projects on our list - our mudroom. Those of you with a Dunkirk (or those considering a Dunkirk), know that the mudroom is really a great space. It's just off the garage making it a prime entryway into the house. It's really good size and it already has a closet. There's an optional arrival center that Ryan Homes offers, but its really basic and we didn't think it would be a good use of the space, so we didn't opt in for it. 

Having live in the space for more than a year (almost two, gasp!), our wants and needs have changed a little. We now have two cats and nowhere to hide the litter box. I considered putting a door in the wall next to the stairs so we could at least put it in the basement, but I don't like holes in walls. That seemed to be asking for trouble.

As we kept looking at the space in the mud room, we thought, why couldn't we put it somewhere in here? But I refused to consider putting it in the closet - I have no desire to wear coats that smell like cat poop. Then we thought about adding something to our yet-to-be-built-custom-and-completely-imaginary arrival center. So I set about sketching something up - literally, using SketchUp Make. I stole parts of the design from a 2011 blog post on A Charming Nest, so I feel obliged to link to them.

Here's what we've come up with - warning, I had some extra sheets of 3/4 plywood so I designed it to use as much of them as possible.  At least it's going to be sturdy. Really, really sturdy.

Instead of having a bench go all the way across, I put a rectangular, enclosed table in the corner to hold...wait for it...a litter box! The top of the table is actually a lid that will open to allow access for cleaning and there will be a entry hole somewhere to allow the cats to enter. I haven't fully decided on the best location for the hole - I like the idea of it being somewhat hidden, but that would put it somewhere under the bench which means that we can't use the cubby next to the table for shoes. If I put it in the front, it sort of destroys the goal of keeping the litter box hidden. Right now, I 'm leaning toward somewhere in the front, but I'll post a picture when it's actually done an installed.

Currently, I have the bench and table all cut and dry fit. Tomorrow, I'll begin the installation and trim work. The shelves and the rest of the upper portion will have to wait until after Christmas. Altogether this project will probably cost about $600-700 including paint and the 3/4 plywood. 

Anyone else have ideas for how to use the mud room space in their Dunkirk? 

Monday, June 19, 2017

A Work In Progress....

Yes, the updates have gotten sparse. That's the joy of a new home - all the new projects that come with it! Somewhere along the line, I'd convinced myself that moving to a new, new house I would shed all of those nagging tasks and have a blank to-do list.

Don't believe it. Not for one second.

While a new house is new and the list has many more "wants" than "needs" - it starts growing immediately. Currently we have many wants, in no particular order:
  • A Pool
    Yes, our community has a pool. Yes, it's only a block away. Yes, a pool means more work. Yes, it means a reassessment and probably more taxes. Yes, yes, yes. We know all the reasons we shouldn't want one, but we still do. 
  • Landscaping
    Even though Ryan Homes supplies some basic landscaping, we want more. Yes, I'm struggling to keep grass alive and mowed. Yes, it just means more weeding, pruning and toiling in the never-ending struggle to keep things looking nice. But parts of this are actually bordering on more of a need. We have a drainage ditch that runs across the back of our property line - it looks horrible. I'd post a picture, but I'm too ashamed. It's been over a year and we simply haven't made any significant progress - but we're developing an idea, that counts, right?

    We plan on doing a dry (unless it's pouring down rain) creek bed along the bottom of the ditch, then mulching up the far side. We'd like some large landscaping rocks to give it a more natural feel and, of course, plants. Lots of plants. Trees, grasses, flowers (hopefully the perennial kind that require minimal work but look gorgeous all year long - do they even exist?) and anything else I don't have to mow. Initial estimates from contractors were in the $6-9k range, which seems ridiculous for a DIYer (or at least an aspiring one). Plus, we need to finalize a plan and get the ever-crucial HOA approval. Ugh, work that requires more work - my nemesis.
  • The Garage
    We didn't opt for the home office and as a result I have a nice little niche in the garage for storage. I've started my plan to make use of all of that space. I subscribe to Family Handyman (thanks Dad!) and a while back they did an article on a garage storage using french cleats. I love the idea of not having to buy a proprietary "system" just to store stuff (and pay lots of money for). I also love the flexibility it offered - being able to move things just seems like a great idea!

    Here's the general idea I came up with:
    Garage shelving and french cleats for flexible storage
    Here's what I have so far:
    Garage in progress
    So far it's working great, except ripping down sheets of 3/4 plywood is a real struggle! I've realized, I need many, many more hooks.

    I did finish my rolling workbench. That was a born-of-necessity project when I realized I needed a larger space to work than the small workbench I'd planned as part of my shelves. I threw together a work table on casters that I can move around as needed (and store out of the way when it isn't!). It isn't large, the base is 3'x3' with a 4' square top, but it's been one of the best things I've ever built! (For actual use, not definitely isn't pretty.)

    My plan is to finish painting the rest of the garage walls and continue putting up the french cleats just as fast as I can rip them down. Then I'm going to hang every damn thing in the garage that I can.

    See how the to-do list grows?
  • Mud Room
    We didn't really like the basic look of the cubbies in the mud room that Ryan Homes offered. We wanted something a little more useful, larger, pretty, etc. That means I'm building them. But I need to get the garage sorted out first - I'm still unpacking tools! 
  • Weathered Side Table for the Great Room
    The great room in the Dunkirk is huge. Absolutely huge. It caught us by surprise and we simply can't find a side table long enough to not look ridiculous. So I'm going to make one - keeping with our beach-theme design scheme of course. This also has to wait for the garage so I have somewhere to work!
  • Pantry Storage
    I so want to build custom shelves in the pantry - the included wire shelves are pitiful and there's so much more space that could be used. I'd love to find a way to put a rolling ladder (they're not just for libraries!) to really make use of the high ceilings and all the space up there!
  • Speakers in the Master Bath and Great Room
    Darn you Sonos for being so expensive! I just can't justify until some of these other projects are done!
  • Patio
    Yes, we still don't have a concrete patio. We did cover up our mud with a healthy layer of pebbles, but we've change our minds fifty times about the size, shape, type and virtually every other characteristic of our to-be patio. 
Ugh! I could go on and on and on... Maybe I should focus on what I've accomplished? Ceiling fans, check. Um...I think that's it. 

Maybe I've been slacking a little too much around the house. Maybe I'm just enjoying the fact that we LOVE our house. Maybe I'll just bask in that a while longer and let the list grow!