Master Suite Reveal!

I think I can safely say that we went into this little project of ours a wee over confident. Starting last OCTOBER, we kinda shrugged our shoulders and thought we’d get started on converting the attic to a Master Suite. We thought the whole shabang would take 6-weeks, maybe 8. So, so wrong my friends. πŸ™‚

If you remember, before we could even get started with adding all the new stuff, we had to rip out all the old. Cause quite frankly, I couldn’t find a way to work with the bright pink carpet adorning the floors pre-renovation. πŸ˜€

Attic Conversion

See what I’m saying? It just didn’t work with my color scheme πŸ˜€ We are so fa-reaking excited to finally be able to reveal this brand spanking beauty of a room. It had blood, lots of sweat and I’ll admit, a tear or two, but by George, it’s DONE!!

Here is an after shot from a similar angle. Bit different, right? Most notably in this shot, we took out the wall that was encasing the left side of the staircase, which in my opinion, makes the room feel so much more open and airy. The skylights on the roof help as well!

Master Suite in Attic

Our most expensive single cost in this room was our carpeting. $1,800 similions went out the door on this one. Errggg. More expensive than I thought it would be in all honesty, but it really makes the room, so I’m glad to have it. We found that since our room had a bunch of odd angles in it, that we landed up paying for 200 sq. feet of carpeting that we didn’t use, since they had so much scrap left over. Live and learn.

Here’s an action shot of the padding going down. It’s so cushy and squishy, it was pretty fun to walk on it sans soft carpet on top. Since an upgrade in padding only set us back .10 a square foot, we opted to get a nicer, mid-grade cushion that supposedly is less likely to absorb stains. Bonus.

Having Carpet Installed

The guys were super nice and extremely fast, they had everything down within an hour. I did notice that some of your trim can get pretty scuffed up during the installed, and we saw quite a few dings where actual chunks were missing, which was kinda annoying.

We went with the Martha Stewart Winterthur pattern from Home Depot in Potter’s Clay, which is a soft greige color.

Winterthur Potters Clay

At $2.53 a square foot, we found this carpet option to be a nice mix between a more affordable option, and something that looked pretty high end compared to a conventional carpet. It adds a bit of needed texture to the room, and I really love the subtle geometric pattern it’s got going on.

Here is a shot of how the carpet looks from a bit further away. Sigh. Isn’t it lovely?!

Adding Built-in to Knee Wall

I love how the little reading nook/built-in bench turned out, as well.

Built-in Knee Wall

Remember the pillows I found on clearance at Home Goods? They’ve already found a new home, I knew it wouldn’t take long πŸ™‚ (Added bonus, the pillows are made in the USA!)

The carpet installers had to take off our closet doors for installation, so it was super gratifying to get these bad boys back up so we could see how everything looked along the opposite wall. We had some touching up to do on the doors, but after we popped them back into their place, everything was looking mighty nice over there, too!

Board and Batten Trim on Closet

I love how the crisp white looks up against the more neutral tones for the carpet and wall. Since our home is older (1940’s), it’s pretty much a miracle to have more than one closet adorn any single room, so these two flanking beauties are a sight for sore eyes. My work day starts an hour later than the hubster, so having his closet in our bedroom has actually helped me get my tuckus out of bed each morning, too πŸ™‚

The best part about being completely finished with our upstairs (sans a few details) was to move our furniture up into this room!

Converting Attic to Master Suite

Looks like it was always meant to be there. Seeing everything nestled up in our new room made me do ninja kicks for 40 minutes straight. In LOVE.

I’m especially smitten with how the dark wood night stands look up against our $20 board and batten. I just want to lick it and claim it as mine. #Waytoomuchgorgeousnessithurts

Makes me so glad we took an extra day to install that beautiful white trim. Can you tell I love it πŸ˜€ On a side note, we still need to do some cord management to make things look a bit nicer, but for now, my eyeballs are so fixated on the bootifulness that I don’t even notice all our cord action.

Board and Batten Wall

From the far side of the room looking back toward the staircase, you used to have this view.

Master Suite Attic Conversion

And now, you’ve got THIS view! Taking down that wall and adding the skylights just makes the left side of the room feel so much more open. Plus, it’s so fun to wake up to the sun coming up through the windows. When I don’t see snow on my windows every morning, it will be that much more fun πŸ˜‰

Converting Attic into Bedroom

I’ll be back next week with a complete cost breakdown of how much this attic conversion set us back. Although it was definitely not the cheapest renovation we’ve taken on to date, it was SO worth it to have a more livable and enjoyable master retreat.

Psst! Want to see this project in action? I’ve bulleted some major projects up here with links, below!

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Polly Pocket

Pocket doors, amigos. It’s where it’s at. Especially when you have a rinky dink small little loo with barely enough space to get your tuckus in and out, let alone worry about a door swinging back at ya. Plus, I like the noise it makes as it slides on the glider. πŸ™‚ #LittleThings

Now, a pocket door really works best when you are already planning on tearing down or putting up a wall. Otherwise, the good old conventional route is probably your best option. We had the advantage of a pretty blank slate upstairs, so putting in the pocket door was really a no brainer. Remember, when we were at this point in the project.

How To Install a Pocket Door

Oh righhhtt. When we were going to install a FULL bath. Things are constantly changing round these parts. πŸ™‚

Man it feels good to not be at that point, I gotta tell ya. Hanging doors is a much better step than installing door frames. πŸ™‚ Being that we had a pocket door on our hands, there were a few extra/different steps from our previous door hanging escapades. Namely the door hardware is altered (since a door knob would prevent the door from closing) and there are rollers in place of hinges.

Let’s start with the rollers.

How to install pocket door

The mount (which gets installed on the door) is in the left side of the picture and the rollers are on the right side. You need two sets of these, so that you can have a pair of rollers mounted to the top of the door.

Here is the top bracket, installed to the door.

Pocket Door Installation

After we got the first bracket on, we installed the other one on the opposite side of the door, about an inch out from the edge.

When we had the top hardware mounted, we had to come back and create a hole in the door for the pocket hardware. A HOLE, in the door. Uggh. I hate it when we have to deface things. It just gives me the heeby jeebys thinking about everything that could go wrong. Luckily, this was a pretty straight forward fix where we just had to make a small rectangle to accommodate the pocket door hardware, below.

Pocket Door Hardware

Overall, this step was pretty easy peasy. We just measured up 34″ (which is the distance the rest of our door handles are) and measured out the correct sized hole for our new fancy pants hardware.

Installing Pocket Door Hardware

To cut the hole in the door, we used a jig saw. Jay cut, while I prayed. And grimaced. And told him to be careful not to cut too much and ruin the door.

To help matters along, we made sure to sketch everything out directly on the door so we’d know exactly when to stop jigging. πŸ˜€

Installing Hardware on Pocket Door

We purchased special hardware for the door at Home Depot. They only had one to choose from, so if you were looking for a different color, your best bet would be to spray paint it. Luckily, we decided to just roll with the color since it coordinated with our other fixtures. Lucky break. πŸ˜‰

How to install pocket door hardware

The door hardware separated into two pieces, so once we had the hole cut into the side of the door, it was just a matter of popping it on and screwing everything in.

Pretty simple. Until we went to hang it and noticed some funky action happening. You see that big old gap on the far right side of the door. Turns out we mis-estimated the amount of trim necessary to properly close up that dang door. And it also turns out that we’d already put on all the trim. Frickety frack.

How to Install Pocket Door

Since we bought everything together in a boxed set, all of the hardware we needed for installing the door came with the frame that we purchased for $50 at Home Depot. That, my friends is a very good thing, since I wouldn’t know the first place to hunt for this stuff if we had to buy it all piece meal. Other than our trim door snafu, the entire project took about an hour.

Once we came back through to fix up our trim, we had this!

Installing a pocket door

The door just slides right on into the wall. Groovy, right? Now you see it, now you don’t!

Framing for a pocket door

Since the rest of the doors were original to the home, we weren’t able to get the exact same door, but I think that since this is the only door on this level that it works to have it be a bit different. It reminds me a lot of the doors that Lindsay has at her home over on White Buffalo Styling Company. Check out her house if you haven’t, it gorgeous!

New Year, New Projects! | January Recap

You know it’s been a busy month/beginning of the year, when I don’t get around to the monthly recap until mid-February. Fail.

It’s pretty exciting to think that for the next monthly recap, I’ll be able to include a FINISHED attic. Omeergggauuud. That makes me feel like chest bumping the next stranger that walks down our street. Pumped, I am. (Yoda talk)

March Blog Sponsors

I’m also SO excited to announce that the month of February/March will be chock full of some pretty sweet giveaways thanks to some amazing new sponsors for the blog! Think personalized address stamps from Blush Paperie, Artwork from Eva Juliet, Jewelry from Junghwa Jewelry, and some sweet etsy finds from Hearts Beat Electric. I know, right?! Get excited blogosphere, it’s going to be epic.

But before we get all pumped about the future, let’s dwell in the past and see some of the projects the Sell household got done in the fine month of January.

Raise the Roof

How to property insulate attic

In the month of January, we finally bid farewall to our insulation fun fest and installed our final round of foam. Can’t say it didn’t feel good to finally have a completely insulated and air tight upstairs.

Plus, we got our DTE bill this week and it looks like all that insulating is paying off, too. For the month of January, our bill was only $158. Last year, even with our brand new high efficiency furnace, we were at $190! Anddd it’s been considerably colder this year (polar vortex, anyone?).

House Hunting with Mary

Durham Real Estate

I’ve got a Β new Thursday tradition round these parts with the start of my house hunting with Mary posts. Cause really, couldn’t we all use some real estate eye candy every once and a blue moon. For serial house hunters like me, the only way to get my fix is to pretend I’ve got a million dollars lining my pockets and go out and find that next beauty. Ahhh, to have a dream.

USA for Jesus’s Day

We set a pretty lofty goal this year and tried to have a completely China Free christmas. For those that actually check tags before you buy something, I think you can agree that this is a harder task than initially imagined. In the end, we actually did pretty good and tried to buy as many locally sourced, USA made products as possible. I definitely think this is a tradition we’ll be looking to keep!

Gifts Made in the USA

Mission Organization

Chalk it up to the new year, but we’ve beenΒ I’ve been on an organizing kick the past few weeks. Closets, drawers, my underwear. Nothing is safe. πŸ™‚

Plus, who doesn’t like having an excuse to search for cute organization bins? Count me in!

Inexpensive Basket Locations


Drinking in some Drywall

Ah, yes. I’d almost wiped the drywall saga from my memory. Two contractors and way more money than I wanted to spend later, we finally had a finished attic. Finished, in your dreams Mary!! We had an attic that had drywall kinda sorta up, that needed a decent amount of elbow grease before it’s day in the sun. Even though the drywall install did not go as planned, it was a pretty exciting moment to finally, FINALLY, have walls up in our attic!

Drywalling Attic

Picking La Paint

After we slaved for a weekend or so and fixed up all the jankiness that we fondly refer to as our drywall, we decided it was high time to paint this joint and make it actually look like a room instead of the bunker it had been for the past 3-months. I don’t know about all of y’all, but I do have to confess that painting has to be my favorite part of the room transformation. On this room in particular, the addition of paint really took it from ugg to on it’s way.

Best Greige Colors

Board and Batten

For $20, this project was without a doubt my favorite home renovation DIY to date. I just can’t get enough of this stuff, it just makes such a difference on the wall that was kinda meh before.

Here’s how everything look post install. Yummerlicous.

Twenty Dollar Board and Batten

Plumb De Dumb

What better way to close out the month of January than with the install of our lovely marble floors in the bathroom. Just like your favorite go-to little black dress, err leggings in my case πŸ˜€ I’ve gotta say that this new pattern is going to be in my back pocket for future homes. A bit trickier than a traditional subway tile pattern, but only incrementally. And by George, I’d say the look is leaps and bounds sexier. Am I right, or am I right. πŸ˜€

Marble Subway Tile Herringbone Pattern

From Bland Bi-Fold to BAM

Guilty as charged, I’m a board and batten fa-reak. Can’t get enough of this stuff. Bathrooms, bedroom walls, and now – closets πŸ™‚ I just couldn’t handle the 80’s builder grade look we had going on with the bi-fold doors so when I saw some extra scrap from our wall adventures in the side of the room I started to think about jazzing up these little dudes.

Here is how they looked after we had them installed. Definitely better than the gaping holes we had there before, but definitely kinda meh.

Adding Closets to Attic Knee Wall

So in an attempt to spice these bad boys up, we added some board and batten action into the mix. Since the doors are quite a bit more rectangular in shape than the wall and bathroom, we decided to ditch the square though and go a bit more oblong for this DIY.

We didn’t even bother to take the doors off for the install. We just grabbed our scrap pieces, cut them to size and starting nailing them in.

DIY Bi-fold Doors

Since the boxes that we were creating were quite a bit smaller than the other walls we had done, we also thought it would be prudent to trim down our wood sections a bit to make them a little skinnier. Instead of the 3″ pieces that we used for the wall, we used 2″ for the doors.

We also knew that we would want to have equal sections for each box that we created, so to determine our height on each box, we just took the total area of the door and divided it by three. Easy enough! Here we are measuring the first piece for our horizontal striping. You can see Jay pointing to the location for the first piece of trim.

How to add trim to bifold door

After measuring, we just cut a piece to size and nailed it in to create the bottom of each rectangle.

Adding Trim to Bifold door

Then we did that a few more times, and we had this! Yummy! πŸ™‚

Board and Batten on Bifold door

For those trying to recreate this look at home – it’s so darn simple it’s crazy. Now, for those without a table saw, I’d advise just grabbing 2″ pieces of trim, vs. cutting it to size. Since we only used (1) board of plywood, our total cost was $20 for this DIY. If you’re purchasing trim, it will most likely be just a tad more expensive…

The dimensions for your door will dictate your measurements, but here are the proportions we had for each of the boxes.

Trim on bifold doors

After we had a bit of primer on it, you could really see the board and batten look coming together. I knew it was going to look mighty swanky πŸ˜€

And here are some of the after shots with a coat of simply white on it! We still need to add some hardware and trim, but I can tell that these babies are going to be show stoppers already.

Adding trim to bifold doors

Another side angle shot looking out toward the board and batten wall. Love, love, love it! We’re just waiting on our carpet (it’s been ordered!) and this room will be d.o.n.e. Can I get a heeelllll yeah!

Bifold doors with trim

Now to figure out the hardware … here are some of my top contenders!

Β  Antique Brass Door Knobs

1) Knob 1

2) Knob 2

3) Knob 3

4) Knob 4

5) Knob 5

6) Knob 6


Stair Struck

Chalk it up to our little bout of confidence from our newel experience, but we got kinda ballsy around here and decided to also DIY the banister. Now, normally when I say DIY I mean that we go out and buy pre-made said thing and then install it. Like, I would consider our bathrooms DIY’ed, but ya know, we didn’t make the marble tiles – we just installed them ourselves. But ladies and gentlemen, we’re just little carpenters over here and we keep busting out our wood related projects. Can’t stop, won’t stop.

Alas, there are a few reasons for this. Like newel posts, it turns out banisters are cray cray expensive. Like $325 for the wood we’d need for our little rinky dink number. So I had to say goodbye to my dreams of a banister that looks like this …

Dark Wood Hand Railing

And say hello to an all white painted banister. Not a bad thing, especially when it’s saving you mucho dollares.

So here is the back story. For our banister, we needed approximately 17 linear feet of railing. When we went to Home Depot to price everything out, it was going to cost us just north of $300 for the railing and the spindles and really, that just felt like too much for me to handle. So once again, I gave the hubster the sly eye and said – by George – let’s build it!

Although the banister turned out a-ok, I have to confess, this little DIY project was a bit harder than our newel experience. Mainly since we had to kind of make it up as we went along vs. having an exact image of what we knew we wanted, like we did with the newel.

After we ripped out the old, we were left with this. Am I the only one that gets sweaty palms taking that view in. Eeek!!

How to build a stair rail

Next step was to pop in our newel posts so that we had a clear idea of the distance we needed to cover for each railing. Since we will be installing carpet in the next few weeks up here, we just got some l-brackets for the posts and screwed them in directly to the floor. Easy peasy. The less easier part – constructing the stair rail.

We knew that we’d need a base and a top and some slats down the middle, and with some improvising, we finally found the right combo to get the look we wanted. We purchased a 5″ piece (cut in half for the base and top) , a 3″ piece (cut in half for the edges) and a 1″ piece (for the spindles)

How to build staircase banister

After some trial and error on the sizing that we wanted, we landed up with 1.5 inches for all sides of both the base and the top. Here is Jay putting together our first piece. The top section, where he is resting his hand, is where the spindles go.

How to Build Banister

After we got the first side panel installed, we flipped it over and came back through to screw in each of the spindles. Since we knew we would need some space to get the screwdriver in there, we decided to wait until after the spindles were installed to attach the other side.

You can see Jay coming back through with the nail gun for some extra reinforcement along the top as well. To keep things simple, we just followed the exact same dimensions for both the top and bottom railing.

DIY Stair Case Banister

After we got the spindles in (they are spaced at 5.5″ apart on center, with a 4″ interior gap), we came back through and attached the second side panel so that we could pop on the top railing.

DIY Stair Railing

Since we were just figuring out the process the first evening, everything took a bit longer and we only finished the front, smaller section. By night two, we had our game faces on though and we were ready to rumble, so things went quite a bit faster.

We pre-cut everything to size and got moving! Here are all the spindles lined up and ready for their day in the sun.

How to Build Stair Case

As we started to connect the railings to the newel posts, we were very careful to make sure that everything was level and that the banister was hitting at the same height on each post.

How to Build Stair Railing

Once we got everything level and screwed into the newel posts, we popped on our top railing piece and called it a day.Β Got ready to sand, caulk, prime and paint this bad boy. One downside of our less expensive banister was that we had to come through and do a decent amount of prep work before we could grab our paint brushes.

DIY Stair Railing

Problem areas like this had to be filled in with wood putty.

Dent in stair railing

And problem areas like this had to get sanded. Umm – yeah – ya think, a bit fuzzy πŸ™‚

Sanding Stair Spindle

Here is a breakdown of all the supplies we purchased and our total cost.

  • (3) 5″ wood planks cut in half for the tops of the bases where the spindles attached – $4.48 each
  • (5) 3″ planks cut in half for the side panels for the base $3.48 each
  • (3) 3″ planks trimmed to 2.5″ for the top railing $3.48 each
  • A box of screws $6
  • Total: $47.28

Vs. $325 for the pre-fab banister options at Home Depot!! Hello money in my pocket. The picture below provides a visual graphic of the dimensions we used for each of the stair banister components.

How to build stair railing

Sans the top of one newel post (got lost in the shuffle and we still have to go back and grab one from the hardware store), we now have this for our stair case after one coat of paint!

How to build stair banister

Now when you add in the savings from our DIY newel posts, we saved around $650 by tackling this bad boy ourselves. That, makes me a very happy little lady πŸ˜€

Nifty Newel

Newel posts. I’ve always had a soft spot for these chunky chunks of goodness. On our last house, we had dinky little 80’s style posts at the end of our steps (like this) and I always wanted to demo that bad boy and put in a beefy newel post in it’s place. And then we moved. Story of my life … ya just can’t hold me down.

But when I went to the hardware store to start pricing out our stairwell, I was in utter dismay when I saw the price they wanted for one of my big bertha’s. $100 – a pop – and I needed (4). OUCH. So I stood there in the aisle for a while and started to ponder about the possibilities of slapping one of these little beauties together ourselves. For one, I could tell it was basically a glorified 4×4, more or less. So I smiled nice at my husband, told him how easy it would be (pep talk) and we were off to the races!

And ya know what? The project was actually pretty darn easy! Like I said, it’s basically a glorified 4×4. πŸ˜€

For your viewing pleasure, here is what we had in place of a newel before we started. An ugly half wall. Oh, and pink carpet πŸ˜‰

Stair Railing Wall

So I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted and with an inspiration photo in hand, we picked up the necessary goodies and got crackin. The whole shebang centered around this beauty. Ask me how much it cost πŸ˜€ $6 per newel – BAMMM! Ok, yes, there are some other things that get added to said post, but a few Georgie Washingtons is a real good place to start.

You can see in the photo below that Jay is hacking this guy right in half, since the 4×4 we purchased was 8′ total, we knew we’d be able to divide and conquer to get two newell posts from each piece of wood.

How to Build a newell post

Based on the photo’s I’ve seen of other newel posts I liked, I knew we’d have to add some extra mdf around the base to make the bottom third section a bit beefier. Jay was able to use his new table saw (worth it’s weight in gold, not sure how we ever lived without it) to cut a mitered corner, so the mdf would essentially wrap right around the base of the post.

How to use miter cut on table saw

We just used the nail gun to get each piece nice and snug to the side of the post and wrapped the mdf around the base like so.

How to Build a newell post

Another detail I knew we’d need to add was some type of trim to help smooth the transition between the new piece of mdf we cut around the base, and the 4×4 post. Lucky for us, I found some trim at Home Depot that perfectly fit the bill. Added bonus, it was under $5 for 10 feet of it, which was more than enough for each newel post. Can ya tell I’m feeling pretty good about all the moolah we saved?

I think it worked perfectly for what we needed! It’s a bit gappy around the edges, but we knew that once we caulked and painted everything, you wouldn’t be able to see these seams.

How to build Newell Post

After that first base piece is installed, the rest is really up to your imagination. I had a general idea of what I was looking for, but I think you can kind of make the newell your own by just arranging the trim on there however you like. We decided to follow a more traditional newel post pattern, with an additional chunk of trim a bit further up, and then a cap on top.

DIY Newell Post

For the cap, we improvised just a bit in order to save ourselves the extra trouble of creating something with a lip in it. We found these pieces of trim that were $3 each (no idea what they even are for!), and figured we could press two together to get the look our hearts desired. At $7 for both of them, this was the most expensive part of each newell post! Huzza!!

DIY Newell Post

Not too bad, huh? So for those trying to recreate exactly what we did at home, here is the source list and price breakdown. For each newel, we used:

  • (2) caps (above) $7
  • (1) 4×4 post, $6
  • (4) feet of trim $2 (we purchased a 10′ piece for $5)
  • MDF for base $6

If you’re counting, that’s a grand slam total of $21 per newel, vs. $100 for the pre-made option. What, what!! Both are solid wood, and this was pretty darn easy, in complete honesty. Here is a visual break down of each post.

Parts for a newell post

One learning experience for us on the newel post was that the 4×4 posts have a tendency to be a bit warped. Do yourself a favor and really look at each piece before you commit to it and bring it home. We landed up not doing that and had a few trouble spots result from the jankiness.

And – drum roll please … Here is the final newell post with a coat of paint! For $20, I’m thrilled with how they turned out!

DIY Newel Post Tutorial


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Batting Eyelashes at Our New Board & Batten

Every once and a while, I come across a new project that I know will be a back pocket move for ever and eternity. Like your favorite song or your Mumzie’s meatloaf, there are some things that are ok to come back to time after time. This board and batten project falls into that category. Thanks to our nail gun (purchased last spring) and our spankin’ brand new table saw (best. tool. ever), this project was super fast, super easy and super cheap. Like $20 cheap. Whoaaaaa nelly.

Here is the wall we started out with in the attic.

Accent Wall in Bedroom

We had a few ulterior motives for boarding and battening the heck outta this room. Mainly, a lot of the seams were a wee crooked. Remember when I said that the first drywall installer was kinda crappy? Well, let’s just say it was a wee obvious once we finished priming. In the end, it didn’t land up being a big deal, since we were able to essentially use the top trim piece to cover up our drywallers boo boo. Like my elementary art school teacher use to say – when you mess up – just make it look intentional and make something out of it. Advice heeded.

First, I’d like to start out by introducing you to my new best friend. The Ryobi Table saw. Lurrve it.

Ryobi Table Saw

This bad boy set us back $120, but it’s almost paid for itself in savings from the first project alone. We priced out the cost to buy trim (vs. cut it ourselves) and right there we were pretty much cost neutral.

One caveat. Table saws are hella dangerous. It scared the bejesus out of me just helping my main squeeze with this thing – so word to the wise – watch your fingers ever so closely when using this beast.

How to use table saw

Our first step in this project was to take the plywood boards we purchased ($20 each at Home Depot) and cut out a bunch of 3″ strips. We knew that we wanted to make a square board and batten pattern (like this), and 3″ seemed like a reasonable width for each piece. For our wall, which is 16′ x 5′, we only needed on 8×4 board, cut into strips.

This is what your strips should look like after you’re done. Nice and long and lean. πŸ˜€

DIY Board and Batten

Our first step after cutting was to add trim pieces along the top and the bottom. We knew we’d need this border no matter what, so it provided an easier first step where we didn’t have to worry quite yet about what size we wanted to make the square, etc.

Adding Board and Batten

Once we had the top and the bottom boards up, we had an executive decision to make. How big to make those squares. Now, you’ve got some obvious limitations on height, so we just took the straight forward route on that one and split the difference between the top and bottom trim piece.

To get our horizontal dimension, we measured across the length of the wall and then we had to do some math. Ugghh. Since each strip added 3″ to each section, we had to account for that as well. After we had a rough idea of the number of squares we’d be looking at, we took a pen to the wall and jotted a line where each vertical strip would go. Since this measurement was a bit more complicated, it definitely took a bit longer on this step, but well worth it to avoid any snafus as we went along.

Adding Casing to Wall

We also pulled out our trusty level to assist with the installation of the middle section. We had the floor and ceiling to help guide the install of the top and bottom border, but with this section, we had to use the level to help guide our placement.

Voila – fancy pants.

How to install board and batten

After this baby was up, we were ready to finally add our vertical lines and complete our board and batten squares. Now, as a reference point, we installed a similar board and batten trim in our basement entry, and I have to tell you that this one was SO much easier with our handy nail gun. Plus, everything looks so much better since you don’t have to worry about a hammer dinging up your trim.

DIY Board and Batten

Here is how it looked after we had all the boards up. Can you see where these is headed? Bootiful.

Square Board and Batten

And after a coat of paint, things are looking mighty classy in this joint. I’ve basically told the hubster that we’re hearby installing this in every single house we ever live in until eternity. Just can’t beat the class act punch you get for the moolah. I’d say it’s $20 well spent. πŸ˜€

Square Board and Batten

And a few more close up shots, since I can’t get enough of this stuff πŸ™‚

Twenty Dollar Board and Batten

We also popped some up in our bathroom! Love the detail it adds to this tiny little space! We’re working on laying the tile tonight, so I’ll have some shots of that action later this week.

Board and Batten in small bathroom

Anyone else out there tackled board and batten? It’s definitely my new favorite project!

Raise the Roof

So THIS, is what our attic looks like right now. Hella messy, but hella on. it’s. way. to being a legit room.

Adding Drywall To Attic

Since our attic has been looking like the photo below for the past oh, ya know, 4-months, it makes me want to do a flippin’ air bound somersault when I realize that the next attic projects will consist of fun things like painting, and carpet installation and bed linens – and not – oh, insulation! πŸ˜€

Raising Ceiling in Attic

But, I’ve had a few people emailing me asking about how we insulated the top portion of the attic (above the ceiling), so I wanted to show y’all a comprehensive play by play to help anyone that might be looking to try the same type of project. I know, yet another post about insulating yo timbers. Due to the amount of emails I’ve been getting on this one though, I’d venture to say that we’re not the only household trying to tackle making their space a bit more cozy.

The awesome part about all of this, is that we’re actually able to exceed the code regulated insulation value for our ceiling, which means our space should be deliciously toasty for our frigid Michigan winter’s. When your future forecast looks like this, extra insulation makes me extra happy.

Weather in Ann Arbor

After insulating all of the walls and roof deck, we were still left with the top triangle of our ceiling, which is where the most heat escapes from (hot air rises…). Since our rafters are only a few inches deep, we really thought we’d never be able to get anywhere close to code unless we used spray foam. We were pleasantly surprised though to see that with a bit of ingenuity and a lot of time and patience, we were able to get the desired level of insulation for our zone. Sweetness.

Insulation for Zone 5

Each step of the insulation process got a bit easier, and this one was really just a matter of creating a base for the fiberglass to sit on, and loading the insulation up onto the landing we created. Since we had extra foam around from our wall insulation process, we used that as the bottom section for the fiberglass to rest on.

For the pot lights we had scattered throughout our ceiling, we had to cut out a small opening for the foam to fit snugly on top of each light.

Insulating around a pot light

Once we would get the foam pieces up, we had a good floor for all of the fiberglass to sit on top of. Since we had enough room to accommodate it, we purchased R-30 fiberglass to sit on top of the R-5 foam – with the walls, that brings our R-value up to at least R-52 and up to R-54 in some sections. Holla holla give me a dolla.

You can see Jay in the photo below, putting some of the R-30 fiberglass up into the cavity above the foam board.

How to Insulate Around Pot Light

One VERY important thing to note when insulating around pot lights, is that you may have to build a structure around the light, in order to prevent the risk of fire. Pot lights get hot, foam is flammable, not a good combo.

Since we had extra drywall around, and didn’t want to let any scrapes go to waste, we opted to build a box to go around our lights in order to prevent anything that might be prone to catching fire from touching the light boxes. The boxes we built were about 8″ square – just large enough to pop right over the top of the pot light fixture.

Insulating Around Pot Light

This is how the box looked after it was installed above the pot light. Nothing fancy, but you can see that it definitely provides a barrier that prevents anything flammable from touching a light that could potentially get too hot, and cause a fire.

How to Insulate Attic

After we came back through to close the other side up with foam, this is what our ceiling looked like pre-drywall.

How to Insulate Around Pot Lights

Overall, we are SO happy that we were able to get as much insulation as we did in the space. Our last house also had a finished attic, but the amount of insulation was in no way sufficient and we were freezing our badonkadonks off morning noon and night. We don’t even have the heat pumping up there yet, and I can already tell that the insulation we added is going to make a huge difference.

Here is a side view shot of how each layer of insulation looked before we added our drywall. Nice and toasty my friends.

How to property insulate attic

For all you newer blog readers, you can read about our other insulating adventuresΒ hereΒ (andΒ here).

Insulation Round Three Hundred and Fifty Seven

Yes, yes, it’s true. We are still insulating our attic. The good, we are o-fficially on our last round of insulation and after this is up, we’re onto DRYWALL. Drywall, people. That’s like prime time wham-a-bamma we’re almost donzo. The bad, well, ya know. 3-months later we are still insulating the attic.

As a reminder, this was our system for insulating the space.

How to Insulate Conditioned Attic

In the end, we landed up deviating just a bit from the plan above, mostly since the hubby had some big plans about creating a barrier between the drywall and the studs to make the heat transfer a bit less. So we decided to add another layer of foam to meet his grand plan vs. the foil wrap.

How to Install Foam Insulation

The final layer of insulation set us back $225 (15 boards of 1″ foam), so our total cost was just over $1,000 and we have the same effective R-value as the spray foam option, which was quoted at $3,400! Sweetness. Here is the cost breakdown:

  1. 800 sq. feet of foam board: $375
  2. 1,000 sq. feet of fiberglass bats: $400
  3. 3 cans of spray foam: $15
  4. 3 rolls of HVAC Tape: $30
  5. Extra Foam Board: $225

Since Jay is the engineer in the family and he seemed pretty confident about the path forward, I took a whatever floats yo boat approach to this DIY. I’ve been moderately persuaded by seeing a recognizable difference in temperature at the bottom of our steps where the attic meets up with the rest of the house, too. Here is what the side wall looked like pre-install.

How to Insulate Attic

The extra foam made the biggest difference on our end walls, where we just had room to add R-13 before. Although that’s technically code, we noticed that there seemed to be more airflow vs. the portions of the attic that had the foam installed for the baffle.

After adding the foam, we noticed a significant increase in temp in the room so that’s a good sign that the insulation is working!

Adding Foam Insulation

The great part about our second round of foam was that it was not nearly as time intensive or difficult as the first set. Since our original round of foam was put in to keep air flow out, we had to cut each piece to fit in the ceiling rafter exactly. That was a legit pain in the rear end.

This round was just a matter of adding some extra R-Value, so sealing and making sure each piece fit in like a puzzle, was just not on the radar. Slap it up, grab another piece and call it donzo. We just screwed in the foam directly onto the wall joists.

Foam Insulation Installation

The best part (other than noticing a significant bump in the heat retained in the room) was that we took down the partial side wall, which opened up the room so dang much. To date, I think removing this wall helped us really envision the space and see how open and large this room is going to feel. Here is how it looked before, completely closed off as a narrow and hard to navigate closet. Oh, and the PINK carpet. πŸ˜€

Master Suite Attic Conversion

And here is how it looks now. A whole lot messier, but I think it also looks a lot bigger!

Attic Conversion Master Suite

I was worried before that the built-in side of the room would feel too tight when you’re walking down along side it but taking down the wall made things look pretty darn spankin’ spacious. I’d gander to say there’s enough space to show off your chicken dance moves if the mood struck. πŸ˜€

Our final step will be to add some fiber glass insulation up into the top triangle above the pots lights. Since most of your heat escapes through your roof, we are trying to make sure the ceiling is as insulated as possible. We are hoping to get R-30 up above the ceiling (in addition to the R-23 we already have lining the walls) , which should keep everything nice and toasty.

Insulating Attic Ceiling

Probably the thing we are MOST excited about with the next stage of the process is that we are hiring this one out. We’re in the process of getting quotes right now, but it looks like we will have someone coming it to install all (or most) of the drywall. YIPPIIEE!!!

Even though in many ways, we’d be happy to do it, it will be nice to see something get done quickly, vs. having to scrunch in a few hours after work each day. Wham bam alacazam.


The Frame Game

Framing our bathroom upstairs makes me feel like this is actually happening. Like we are actually going to (eventually) have a Master Suite rocking in our upstairs chunk of the house. As far as grunt work goes, the framing part took us the better half of a Saturday morning. Not too awful, considering some of our other attic adventures have taken us the better part of a month. Cringe.

I went through some of our bathroom options here, and when everything is said and done, the bathroom will look similar to the inspiration pic below.

Marble Bathroom Mood Board

Afters lots of deliberation, I’m exciting to tell you we decided to take the plunge and go big or go home by adding a walk in shower to the b-room mix upstairs. On one hand I’m SO EXCITED to have another full bathroom in our house. On the other, I think it’s kind of crazy sauce excessive. We will have 3 full baths when we’re done with the upstairs, when most houses in our neighborhood have 1 – 1.5 baths. I guess it’s not the worst thing, but it still feels kind of ridiculous to me. Especially since there are only TWO of us. Just come over and shower at my place, I’ll feel better about it then. πŸ˜€

Determining the final layout of the space was kind of tricky (not much space to work with) but eventually we landed on this configuration.

Attic Bathroom Layout

The only area I’m a bit worried about as far as space being a bit tighter than ideal is our vanity area, which will have a slanted ceiling along it, making it a bit tricky to position a mirror and all that jazz. I think we will be able to swing it, but it falls into the skin of your teeth category. Stay tuned on that one πŸ™‚

We also decided that a pocket door would be another handy way to make the space feel a bit less tight, so for $50, we sprung for the special framing at Home Depot. Initially, we had intended to use a door that we already had upstairs, but after further inspection, we realized that someone had majorly hacked off the bottom down the line and that Jay had to essentially duck to even use the door. It measured 74″ when standard doors measure 80″. Turns out that extra few inches makes a difference.

Normal Door Height

Not the end of the world. but we will have to buy a new door slab now, which unfortunately, will not match the rest of the house like this one would have. Whomp whomp.

The first step to framing out the space was doing some measurements to scope out where we’d need to place everything. We knew that we wanted the bathroom to be at least 5 feet wide x 10 feet long. Now that sounds like a big old bathroom (it’s more than double the square footage of our other bathrooms) but the tricky thing about this space was dealing with some mega slanted ceilings. Of the 50 square feet, less than 20 of it is not compromised somehow by the ceiling slant. Since showers (by code) need at least 30″ x 30″ at 80″ high, we’ve positioned the shower off to the side enough that it’s able to meet this provision before the slanting starts. We’ve decided that in the space that is slanted, we’ll add a little bench (like this shower).

Converting Attic to Master Suite

Now after we finalized the location, it was just a matter of carefully measuring each 2×4 in order to install them and create the wall. Normally, your studs would not need to be cut on an angle at the top, but since our wall is against a slope in the ceiling, we had cut each end piece to fit snug up against the existing ceiling beams. This added some time on the the project, since it involved quite a bit more measuring and then cutting each stud with our miter saw.

How to Frame Wall with Angled Cuts

Like our closets, we also had to make sure that each piece of wood that we installed was square. For 6 bucks, Jay convinced me to spring on the new tool below for him, which is called, a square. Very inventive group of marketers for these tools, I’m telling ya πŸ™‚ It’s essentially just a metal angled “l”, which helps to make corners at 90 degree angles.

How to Frame Wall

When framing, you also want to make sure that your vertical studs are 15″ apart. Due to the door opening coming up in between that 15″ measurement, we had a few openings that were not exactly 15″ across, but in general, we tried to follow this guideline as much as possible. Since this is not a supporting wall, we knew the only thing this would be holding up would be some drywall and bathroom tiles, so we were not super concerned about small inconsistencies like the measurements between studs. If you are working with a supporting wall, you need to take lots of different provisions as you build (temporary structures, supporting headers, etc) or your house could cave in. πŸ™‚ Probably not cave in, but it might sink a wee bit. Just not good so make sure to check first! Here is an article, where you can check, if helpful!

Once we built the frame on the floor and checked to confirm all our studs properly met up with the ceiling, we screwed in the bottom section to the floor.

How to Install a Wall

After we had the first few feet framed, we were ready to add the pocket door. This was the part I was the most excited about. In an old house that is lacking on space, you almost wish all your doors had sweet little rollers on them that made them disappear into your wall versus taking up valuable room space. Since we were starting from scratch in this room, we took the opportunity to optimize the space a bit more and take advantage of nifty little magic trick doors instead of going the conventional route. πŸ˜€ Overall, it will cost us about an extra $50, so I’m down with that.

How To Install a Pocket Door

The pocket door came with instructions, but quite frankly, they were not very helpful. πŸ™‚ We had to kind of wing it and make some assumptions as we went along. We knew the door frame needed to be offset by the length of the door in order to accommodate the sliding feature, and give the door somewhere to disappear to.

With a normal framing job for a door, you would just put in a frame for the exact footprint of the door. With a pocket door, you have to essentially double that space to leave room for the inset frame, and the door location.

How To Install a Pocket Door

The door also had a slider affixed to the side, where the opening was supposed to be – so we knew that this needed to be removed and installed somewhere. The directions made no mention of this mystery piece of equipment, so we made some educated assumptions about where it was supposed to be located. Since the door has to slide in and out of the pocket, we put this piece up at the top.

How To Install a Pocket Door

The last thing that we needed to do for the pocket door was install a header up above it. As mentioned before, this is not a supporting wall, so our header was just a 2×4 above the frame to provide some additional structure. In the picture above, the header is just the piece of wood that is right above the slider for the door. Pretty easy.

After a weekend morning’s worth of work, we now have this!

How To Install a Pocket Door

Having everything framed out makes this really feel like a room vs. a big, open, uninsulated space. Now we just need to:

  • Hire a plumber to install the rough-ins for the fixtures
  • Install a walk-in shower (it will look a lot like this)
  • Drywall and put down floor
  • Install lighting
  • Install all fixtures (shower, toilet, vanity)
  • Build built-in for storage
  • Paint, add trim and accessorize!

Oye! That’s a serious list! Off to call some plumbers and start getting quotes. πŸ˜€