Saturday, March 16, 2013

Catching Up...

Ok, it's been too long since we've posted anything to the blog, and we've heard you.  The BOTH of you (you know who you are).  But message received and before another season passes, here are the latest updates on recent projects:

Project #0: H.A.L. - COMPLETE
This project is getting the "0" designation because it was never really a project, at least not in the regular sense that projects tend to go in this house: long, drawn-out, potentially over-thought endeavors.  This "project" pretty much came together quickly and was executed relatively effortlessly.

We needed a new thermostat.  The one that came with the house was an old school mercury dial switch.  Classic. However not programmable (which isn't a deal breaker) and not calibrated.  When we first moved into the house and the first hot weather hit, we turned on the AC.  The dial was set to about 72 degrees and we went to bed.  When we woke up the next morning, the house was a frigid 60-something degrees.  Over the months, we've deciphered the conversion factor relating the temperature that we'd like to the temperature specified on the thermostat.  And we were ok with that arrangement until last fall when I got bit by the techy-gadget bug.  The culprit: the Nest learning thermostat.

I saw it at a Lowes months prior.  It looked so cool.  Then I saw the price tag: $250.  How the heck can you justify spending that kind of money when there are perfectly good programmable Honeywell thermostats sitting right there for $75?  It was a pass on the Nest.

Then Black Friday hit and I got an email from Lowes saying that the Nest (first generation) was going on sale.  And we had gotten a gift card from friends for Lowes.  Those two money-saving opportunities made the Nest much more competitive in price.  So we bought one.

Installation was a breeze.  When I removed the old thermostat, which had a bigger footprint on the wall, I had to paint the wall first before I could mount the Nest.  Even with that extra step of painting, it took almost no time to install the Nest.  Once it was mounted and powered up (and connected to the WiFi) it immediately updated to the latest version of software.  That's too cool.  And then the learning began.

After about a week of us just using the Nest like a regular thermostat, it learned enough of our habits to program a schedule for heating, etc.  It makes recommendations for lowering/raising temperature settings to help save energy and money.  It gives you daily reports of how much energy the house used the previous day.  It even senses when people are home.  That's almost too creepy to handle.  Therefore we named our Nest thermostat (yes, you actually have to give your Nest a name when setting it up): H.A.L.  When a glowing red eye on a wall wakes up when you walk by and gives you suggestions about how you should live certain aspects of your life, you must name it H.A.L.

Here he his, keeping all systems nominal:

I'm half-expecting to come home one day and find that none of my keys will unlock the doors.  And then through a window I'll call to H.A.L., telling him to open the doors.  And he'll reply very calmly and coldly: "I'm sorry, I can't do that."

Project #1: Dining Room - COMPLETE
As you remember, we got the table and chairs last October from "Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Roy Martin" and they're just lovely.  We finished all the painting - white chair rail and below (see the post on how to get clean straight lines) and hung curtains in the windows.  We're pretty happy with how the whole room came out:

Project #2 - Kitchen fume hood/microwave - COMPLETE
We've been itching to replace the fume hood/microwave shelf over the stove since we moved in.  It provides good light and ventilation, but it really does protrude into the space over the stove.  Using some Christmas gift money, we found a great microwave/fume hood replacement.  Here's the old hood:

It was more difficult to remove than I was expecting.  The hood was supported by hangers mounted on the wall and the fan/exhaust extended up into the cabinets above it.  After much tinkering combined with simple brute force, we got the hood out:

The new microwave-range needed to mount into framework of cabinetry above it.  Since our cabinets were facade only, we needed to build some framework into the fake cabinets:

And we had to wire in an outlet box so we can plug the microwave to a power source:

Once the framework was in place and mounting holes drilled, it only took about three attempts to get the microwave mounted:

It really has freed up counter space.  So nice.

Project #3 - Painting the Powder Room - STARTED, IN PROGRESS
One project I wanted to finish before classes started up in January was to paint the powder room.  It's a very small room, almost closest-like.  How hard could it be?  As you can see from the status, it ain't done yet.

In the past, when trying to determine the color to paint other rooms, we usually would get about 10 samples and paint test spots on the walls.  I didn't want to do that much work for painting such a small room like the powder room.  So, we went to our local hardware store, got some paint swatches and brought them home.  We decided on an aqua-blue-ish color.  The next day, I bought a quart of said blue paint, brought it home, and painted some of the walls.  Nope, not a good color.

So we decided to give the sample-free swatch method one more go.  Changing gears, we settled on an orange.  And this is ORANGE.  On paper, it's looks like it's too vibrant to look good on any wall (but if you're going deer hunting, then you're in luck).  The color is called 14 Carrots.  And I really liked it.  I just didn't know if it would look good on a wall.  The powder room is a small room so we figured it was worth the gamble.  It took a few days of looking at it, but we're digging it now.  I still have to finish up some edging work, but here's the (almost) finished product:

We realize the intensity of that orange can be overwhelming so if nature calls while you're here and this color is too much, rest assured, we do have another bathroom at your disposal.  As long as you don't mind walls that have been stripped of their wallpaper.  Failing that, we have some nice trees out back.

So that's a quick rundown of the latest projects.  There is another painting project we hope to get into the works in the near future.  And hopefully we'll post about it before the next Pope is elected.