Speaker Bench

We wanted something that looked nice, hid the speakers, and could possibly be used for seating, and a bench seemed to fit all three. Cushions might come later.

Simple plywood construction of some verticals, pocket-screwed to the osb flooring, combined with another Marmoleum countertop. The black is another remnant piece (1/3 of the cost), found at a local construction company.

Vent box extension. Our third now, showing how things have changed since the original design of the heating system, and placement in the floor.

Top installed and edge scribed into place. The wall was fairly straight which surprised us.

Already a nice place to sit and enjoy the sun

Nice clean edges

All tidy, with just the covers remaining. These will be just like speaker grills – stretched black fabric on a frame – hiding the components underneath.

Here it is finished. Built four front frames and wrapped black speaker grill cloth. Held in place by magnets for easy removal.

Dining Room Built-In Drawers

The drawers (like the bedroom doors) are recycled from a previous project (where Dad works), and we were able to take our pick from a number of different sizes.

Designing the layout to fit to our given space.

More edge banding for the carcass that the selected six drawers will sit in.

One (of the two) semi-finished units in place under the office. Drawer fronts and kick will come later.

A second mirror-imaged unit will sit to the left, leaving a 22″ gap between, and there we will install a small door leading to John Malkovich’s brain, as well as cables under the office.

The amazing thing is we picked out the drawers this morning, and were installing the unit after lunch! How lucky we are in having Dad’s amazing skills available to us.

Here’s both sets of built-ins for the dining room.

And here’s the finished kick and casing around them.

Playing catch up…#1

Lots of interest in the kitchen flooring has inspired* me to make a new post.
Since a month or so has passed I thought some all-in-one house updates might be best.

 A housing warming gift a wonderfully modern toaster…

Start of the linen closet…

Milled up some shiplap pine and attached around the 2×4 studs.

The added in the shelf and door jamb. The ever present Marmoleum is the bottom surface.

*and by inspired I mean forced me to get off off my lazy butt

Kitchen Sub-Floor & Layout

In keeping with our eco design model, and just for the sheer fun of it, we’ve decided that the kitchen floor will be made up from all the leftover pieces of Marmoleum we’ve saved so far.

The first part was the installation of a high quality sub-floor (similar to the bathrooms), consisting of maple plywood and a lot of staples.

Then we mocked up some layouts on the computer (complete with correct colors and textures), and settled on the one below.

Then using a panel saw we cut the pieces as square as possible and ended up with this!

We’re hoping to have it installed in the next couple of weeks.


The floor was finally installed this past week by a local company. We felt a professional would handle the complexity a little better, rather than installing it ourselves – plus they’ve got all the tools! He did a really nice job.


Closet Doors

Installing your own bi-fold doors can be a major pain and I don’t recommend it, especially if they’re hollow core and you decide to use a nice “hidden” track system. This choice meant swapping the standard hinges for a euro type, which is quite difficult to do in a slab door with very little inside to screw and attach to. Some fiddly block gluing saved us.

It all worked out in the end though, and now we have master and guest bedroom closet doors that look beautiful and work perfectly.

Interior Bathroom Windows

Purchased months ago from a local salvage yard, we finally got to install the two British stained glass windows.
After removing their temp frames we cleaned them up as best we could, and fitted them between two new sheets of glass, essentially sandwiching them in place. They sit on small wooden risers (colored black with a larger permanent marker!), which get the original windows to the height we need, as well as acting as a continuation of the leading design.

Office Flooring

We designed the office floor around two leftover pieces of oriented strand board (osb) from the construction. Sanded up and sealed with clear poly-whey floor finish the material looks amazing. More leftover material from a neighboring job site allowed us to add burnt poplar in between the osb giving us some extra width and more importantly a very unique look.

Each poplar piece is biscuited to the osb section, which is then screwed directly to the sub-floor with some nice looking 2.5″ screws. All materials were prepared at the workshop, making it much easier to cut, sand, drill, countersink and finish.

Upper Kitchen Cabinets

Installed the upper kitchen cabinets and lighting this weekend. We’d previously worked on the construction of the cabinet boxes at the workshop – maple plywood framing, edgebanded fronts and a full length top that runs across both boxes and secures the microwave in the middle.

The whole system hangs on a frame that’s bolted to the wall, allowing access to wiring for the lights, and the ability to easily remove the cabinets if we need to – which actually happened numerous times as we finalized the leveling and microwave attachment.

Lighting is provided by four inexpensive T8 30w commercial fluorescent fixtures, 4′ in length.

Frame system…

Lighting wiring pulls…

Fixtures being attached…

Let there be light!

First cabinet up, also wiring for microwave…

Second cabinet up…

Top and microwave in place…

And finally with some decoration…

Up to speed…

Here’s what happened in two months!


A washer and dryer

A temporary office setup

Posts in finally

Wall color

Thanksgiving dinner

Pantry shelves



Bathroom lights


Baseboards and casing

Beauty shots

More snow!


Lattes and creme brulee



and more lattes!

Our buddy TED

So now that the HRV air handler and geothermal heating system are online and doing what they do, we decided to invite a special friend to watch over them for us. He’s called TED, AKA The Energy Detective, and he’s helping us with monitor our daily, monthly and yearly electricity usage.

Here’s TED in his box…

…and here he is doing his job.

The unit uses a connection in the main breaker box of the house to relay information every second on the total amount of KW being used at any one time. Type in your utility cost per KW, and it gives you your current hourly rate.

So here the house electricity is costing me 5¢ per hour (since it’s just the HRV and a CFL or two running), but use the bathroom sink and some hot water for a little bit and it jumps to $1.50-2.00 per hour! I guess that 100amp circuit for the on-demand hot water heater is working!

This nice thing about the unit is that it will remember 13 months of data (which you may be able to pull out of it at some point with the USB connection it offers), and gives you the ability to really track your usage over time. Once you see where that energy is going, you can adjust your behavior and hopefully lower your monthly expenses.

The unit was around $155 shipped, but I felt it was justified since it gives us the ability to monitor everything in our all-electric house, at any time.