Concrete Keith

As part of the massive deck and three season room construction project, I wanted to remove all of the existing pavers (including the walkway around the garage) and replace them with newly poured, stamped concrete. I was introduced to a contractor named Concrete Keith, and he and his team did a phenomenal job. First, they removed the pavers, along with bushes that were along the side of the house and were at the end of their life.

After that, they brought in dirt to change the slope of the hill so that water will run away from the house. Once that was done, they got to work pouring, stamping, and sealing the new concrete.

After the concrete was done, we brought in river rock to replace the rock that had been dug up along the side of the house. I also mulched along the other side of the walkway and put in a barrier between the grass and the mulch, and planted grass seed to replace some of the grass that had been torn up.

When I planned out the deck project, I hadn’t even considered what an amazing difference the new concrete would make. It’s truly transformed the side of the house, along with the upper and lower patios around the new deck!

Deck Construction

As mentioned in a prior post, the big project I was planning for spring was demolishing the old deck and building a new, larger, composite deck, along with a three season room, an outdoor kitchen space, and an improved hot tub patio with a new hot tub and outdoor TVs. The first actual step in the construction process was to demolish the old deck, which went fairly quickly.

Next, concrete and diamond pier footings for the new deck posts went into the ground, along with the posts themselves.

In a huge, multi-person effort with the help of a skid steer, the main central beam was installed. It’s a massive piece of wood that weighs over a thousand pounds, so it was no small thing to get it into place.

After the big beam, joists went in next.

Finally, the brown aluminum railing went in.

Guest/Office/Basement Bathroom Counters and Mirrors

After putting in new flooring and painting three of the bathrooms in the house, the last steps were to install new counters (plus fixtures and sinks), and update the mirrors with mirror frames. Here were the original counters:

I orders the same countertop material that I used in the master bathroom remodel, along with the same sinks and fixtures.

After the counters were installed and the plumbing was reconnected, I painted the vanity cabinet in the basement bathroom to match the master and guest bathrooms.

New Deck and Hot Tub Planning

My big spring and summer project this year is going to be replacing the deck at the Verona house. It’s not just going to be a new deck, however; it’s going to be a deck with an outdoor kitchen, a three season room, outdoor TVs, and a new hot tub and lower level patio that is much larger than the current deck and patio.

Plans are still being finalized, but I have initial sketch and material selections picked out.

Aside from selecting and ordering materials, I’m also in the process of selection options and customizing a new Bullfrog Hot Tub, which will be a massive upgrade from the current tub. I’m working with Patio Pleasures in Madison, and next week I’m going to finalize jet, deck, and tub colors so that the order can be submitted for the tub to be completed and delivered in June or July.

Stay tuned for more news on this project! I’m planning on construction starting towards the end of April, assuming that the weather cooperates and spring continues to warm up here in Wisconsin.

Guest House and Theater Flooring + Paint

The big spring project, which I described in more detail a month ago, was to finish all of the flooring throughout the main Verona house and the guest house. It became a two-part project, with the theater, basement bathroom, and guest house left for part 2. Both the guest house and theater received the same LifeProof vinyl that I’ve been using elsewhere in parts of the house, and the basement bathroom received the same tile that I used in the entryway, kitchen bathroom, and laundry room.

After the flooring went in and before painting those rooms, there was some cleanup work to do. First, a bunch of trim had to be replaced in the guest house, and the door frames needed to be redone:

Second, I hung the projector for the theater from the ceiling so that the old shelves could eventually be replaced (the theater is currently in the process of being redesigned, which will be a future project in the spring or summer):

Third, I replaced the toilet in the basement bathroom with a new Kohler unit that matches the others in the rest of the house:

Fourth, I removed a cabinet from the guest bathroom walls and repaired the drywall. While doing this, I also installed a new mirror frame, courtesy of the awesome company MirrorMate:

After this, it was time to paint. I went with paint colors that were consistent with the rest of the house, although the theater walls are darker so that they reflect less light, and the guest house has new primary wall and accent wall colors.

Once all of the art and other decor was back on the walls, everything ended up looking incredible!

Bar Cabinetry Install

Another late-winter / early-spring project I wanted to work on was remodeling the bar. The first phase of this project was driving to Indianapolis and picking up a new bar, and ordering new bar cabinets. The second phase was putting in new flooring. And the third phase was actually installing the bar cabinets and the associated plumbing. As noted in this post, I ordered cabinets from a California company called New Age Cabinetry. Due to pandemic-related supply chain issues, I had to order some of the cabinets from Costco and some from Amazon. After about a month of shipping drama, they arrived at my house.

They came fully assembled, but they were fairly light and easy to carry down to the bar area to begin installing. The lower cabinets and counters were really simply, since they just had to be set in place.

One initial challenge was creating the corner joint, which required some creativity with a couple of pieces of oak trip and some dark oil-based wood stain.

After the lower cabinets were taken care of, I finally assembled the bar itself.

The upper wall cabinets and floating shelves were more complicated. I had never installed cabinets before and so I assumed it would be pretty easy since I was just following the ceiling, but I quickly learned that was not the case: because the ceiling wasn’t perfectly level and because the corner line between the back wall of the bar and the ceiling wasn’t completely straight, getting all of the cabinets to line up correctly was a challenge. I essentially ended up hanging all of them twice, but I was pretty proud of how well I was able to get them to line up!

The next day, I installed the sink, which included cutting out drywall to allow access to the hot water, cold water, and drainage lines from the guest bathroom, and cutting out the back of one of the cabinets along with a hole in the counter top.

The final result looks amazing, now it just needs glassware and liquor!

So Much New Flooring

One of my big late-winter / early-spring projects was to finish all of the remaining flooring projects at the main house. These included:

  • Mud Room Tile
  • Kitchen Bathroom Tile
  • Laundry Room File
  • Guest Bathroom Tile
  • Library LifeProof Vinyl Flooring
  • Bar LifeProof Vinyl Flooring
  • Guest House LifeProof Vinyl Flooring
  • Theater LifeProof Vinyl Flooring
  • Guest House LifeProof Vinyl Flooring
  • Basement Bathroom Tile

This was obviously a tall order to do at once, but it made sense to consolidate all of the setup and teardown of tile and LVP cutting spaces, along with all of the associated mess. The following gallery provides a window into the chaos, which took around three weeks of solid work to wrap up:

One comical aspect of the chaos was that the cats had to be “jailed” in the unfinished room in the basement (where they had a full supply of food and water, along with many cushions to sleep on). That said, they were not thrilled with their new home.

The end result of the flooring turned out gorgeous across the board. The LVP was a given, since that had worked so well elsewhere in the house, but I was especially impressed with how well all the new tile turned out!

Repaired Drywall Painting + Final Floor Prep

After the drywall repair that was done in mid-January, I repainted the walls and put all of the rooms back together, which was one of the last steps before all of my winter flooring work could begin.

After that, I worked to get everything cleared out for the new flooring. Most of this simply involved moving furniture off of the floors, but I to take apart the old bar and donate all of the old shelving. Thankfully, I was able to find good homes for everything. After the floors were cleared, I finished hauling in the rest of the flooring.

The very last step was to have Midwest Billiards come over and take apart the pool table, and move it plus the shuffleboard table to the guest house garage so that they were out of the way.

Drywall Repair

Prior to the next round of flooring installation, I had various parts of the house (and especially the guest house) that needed to have drywall repaired. In the main house, there was a piece of drywall that had been damaged near the bar, and in the sunroom a corner near the ceiling had sustained water damage due to a roof leak.

After repairing and replacing the drywall, it looks good as new (aside from repainting).

The more complicated repair was in the guest house, specifically the guest house bathroom. When I originally built the bathroom, I used the existing drywall from the guest house garage which was not in great shape, and also had to be cut to install new electrical lines.

That drywall needed to be repaired, and then skim-coated to smooth the surface. First, I removed the trim and moved the toilet and vanity + sink out of the bathroom.

After that, the drywall repair and skim coating could take place.

The end result turned out really well, with a nice, even texture and perfectly smooth walls.

Next week, the walls will be painted and I’ll re-install all the plumbing and light fixtures, and the guest house will be ready for new flooring in February!

Final Library Bookcase Installation

After two previous rounds of installing built-in bookcases in the library, I spent the past several weeks installing and building the remaining bookcases. This installation was the most complicated, since it involved 5 bookcases and I’d need to do some framing work to make the wall they were anchoring to a flat surface due to the presence of a closet. First, I had to get the bookcases into the house, which took a $500 bribe to the delivery team due to the weight of the bookcases.

Once they were unpacked, I used a trailer to haul all of the packing materials away. There was so much cardboard and styrofoam it literally filled a 12×6 trailer!

Before I could install the unpacked bookcases, I removed the external trim from the closet door and built a frame that would attach to the studs in the wall of the library, bringing that wall level with the closet. This preserves the closet if there was ever a desire to turn the library back into a true bedroom, while allowing the bookcases to run the entire length of the wall.

Next, I got to work modifying the two bookcases that would go in the corner. I had to use a jigsaw to cut the molding on the top and bottom, as well as angle-grind the ladder rail. Since this was my third corner set for this project, I was able to knock it out pretty quickly.

Next, I installed the other bookcases, anchoring them to the back frame’s studs, as well as anchoring them to each other to insure that they lined up perfectly.

Next, I built the cabinets that connect the bookcases to the ceiling, along with a side cabinet connecting the left-most bookcase to the wall.

The last step was painting all of the cabinetry, and installing the crown molding at the very top, along with some additional trim on the far left side.

After that, I put back all of the books and decor, and it really started to look like a library!

Next up for the library project: painting the walls (scheduled for next week), and installing the new flooring (scheduled for early February).