Lake House Open for Another Spring

As the weather has warmed up and the pandemic is starting to be firmly in the rear view mirror, it was time to open the lake house for the spring.

While this year won’t involve any major construction projects at the lake house (there was more than enough of those last summer, including painting the entire interior of the house and replacing all of the flooring), I’m planning on doing a lot of landscaping, and I also replaced some of the aging furniture in the basement with furniture that had been displaced by all of the remodeling and design work at the Verona house.

I also did some minor electrical work, including adding a switch box for the water heater so that it can be turned off with a switched as opposed to using the switch in the fuse box.

The last thing that needed to be done to truly be open for spring was to get the boat in the water and setup the awning on the boat lift. I picked up the freshly detailed boat from Skipper Bud’s, and with the help of my friend Bret got the awning installed.

This weekend, my wife and I took the boat out for the first time on a beautiful 80+ degree day. It’s time for summer!

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.

Theater Remodel

After redoing the flooring in the theater, I wanted to redo the rest of the room as well. I removed the old shelving and ceiling mounted the projector, and also moved the electronics to the back of the room. I installed built in shelving in the alcove that used to house the old free-standing shelving, which is much more space efficient and better looking.

I then installed the theater electronics, and also added decor to the shelves.

In addition to the shelving, I added window treatments with a complementary pattern to those in the library, but with different colors that better match the theater.

Next, I added a vintage popcorn machine to play up the “theater” theme.

Last, and probably most important, I replaced the old couch with two rows of actual theater style seating. The seats recline, have adjustable headrests, along with cup holders and lighting. They make it feel like an actual theater, as opposed to just a media room.

The final step is adding an area rug and risers for the second row of seating, both of which are in progress.

The rug should be ready in early June, at which point I’ll install it and the risers to complete the remodel.

Guest House Remodel Complete

Over a month ago, most of the guest house remodel was finished, including new floors, new paint, and improved decor. The last thing to do was replacing the couches with new sleeper sofas, which completed the transformation from man cave to true guest house (even though it’s still a man cave). I was able to find comfortable and attractive couches that still function well as queen size sleeper sofas.

The completed remodel is a pretty remarkable transformation!

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!

Finishing the Bar

After installing the bar cabinetry and sink, there wasn’t a whole lot left to do. I glued the countertops in place and anchored the lower cabinets into the walls, and plumbed the sink.

I then put bottles into place, and added a bunch of cool glassware and other bar tools. I also hung a small TV behind the bar for watching sports while sitting at the bar.

That weekend, I put the bar through its paces by making cocktails for my wife and I, including a round of Boulevardiers. It was definitely a success!

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!

Powder Room Plumbing Cabinet

When the master bathroom remodel was wrapped up in December, there was one remaining task that I didn’t get around to completing until recently: replacing the cabinet in the powder room that covered the shower’s complex plumbing. With the previous steam shower, the steam apparatus was pretty short and was covered by an oak cabinet that could be lifted off for easy access. This cabinet was too short to cover the full thermostatic valve system for the new shower, but it could sit next to it and cover the copper piping, which was a fine interim solution. For a more permanent solution, I bought an inexpensive dresser from Walmart and modified it such that it perfectly covered the new thermostatic valve, while looking reasonably attractive and and giving my wife a useful counter surface in the powder room.

For an improvised and cheap solution, I was very happy with how it turned out!