Breaking it Down

You guys – thank you SO MUCH for all the kind words of encouragement about our move! We’ve just gotten an outpouring of support and it’s really nice to have such an amazing group of people to share with us in our excitement!

So if the last post didn’t make it pretty obvious, the last few weeks have been a cluster of activity around here, so I’ll be playing catch up on the blog with some things that have definitely already gone down. I’m super excited to show you what we did with our old bedroom and lots of other updates we scrambled to finish in the last seconds before listing our house.

As promised last week though, I wanted to start off with a cost breakdown of our attic conversion. This project, by far, is the one I get the most inquiries about, so I wanted to provide a really holistic cost breakdown for those that might be tackling a similar project at home. Y’all ready for this?

Let’s start back at the beginning. Our first significant cost was insulation.

Foam Board Insulation

To make sure the house was as efficient as possible, we decided to do a combination of foam and fiber glass. Foam had a higher r-value per inch, but it was also more expensive. Overall, I’m super pleased with the solution we found for this part of the project (read more about the install here). We’ve already seen a significant cost savings over last year (to tune of heating bills under $150), and we’ve had a beast of a winter here in Michigan. #PolarVortex

Here is the cost breakdown for this part of the project.

  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. Thermal foil barrier: $340

After we had the insulation in, our next big chunk of change went to drywall. Well, the drywall and the extra contractor we had to hire after the first one jumped the coop. Geeze louise, I’m telling you.

Converting Attic into Bedroom

This one was a bit more expensive than anticipated since we had to essentially double our labor costs unexpectedly. :/ (Don’t you hate that!) Overall, we spent just over $1,000 on the drywall supplies and installation. More than we had budgeted, but obviously an essential component of the remodel. We just didn’t have the expertise the do this one ourselves though, so unfortunately we had to rely on others to make the magic happen. And ya know, in the end it just wasn’t that magical.

Adding Built-in to Knee Wall

Although the built-in wasn’t done until near the end of our renovation, we actually started it before we even put in the drywall. Since we’re certainly not carpenters, we opted to cheat a bit with this part of the project and purchase pre-fab cabinets to speed things up a bit. All and all, this project wasn’t crazy expensive, but it still set us back a few hundred dolla billz.

Master Suite in Attic

Now this project was one that we landed up coming way WAY under budget on. After pricing out everything in the stores, I just kinda got sticker shock and decided to try this bad boy ourselves. If we would have opted to go with the pre-fab railing available at the home improvement store, this part of the attic would have come in just north of $700. Ouch. I’ll take $350 πŸ˜‰ Overall, I’m pretty darn happy with how it turned out, too!

We also decided to add a DIY Board and Batten accent wall for behind the bed. At $20, I’d say it’s the project that definitely had the most bang for the buck with the attic renovation!

Converting Attic to Master

BAM. I’m telling you – that’s the sweet spot. Speaking of way too much sweetness you can’t even handle it, check out our finished closet doors.

The board and batten finish was only $20 on these beauties as well. The door hardware and wood panels added to that price, but including everything, these closets costs around $200. Not sooo bad.

Board and Batten Trim on Closets

Last but certainly not least in our attic cost calculations, came our carpeting. Chalk it up to lots of odd angles leading to lots of scrap, this part of the remodel actually landed up being the most expensive. Errggghhh.

Winterthur Potters Clay

Including a few other incidentals and our skylights ($1,500), our total cost for just finishing off the attic (not the bathroom), came in at $6,590. Β Now that is so, so not cheap. It’s way more than most renovations we take on in this little house of ours BUT when we got quotes back in the day for adding a dormer out, we had (2) contractors tell us that finishing out this space would cost around $18,000 (sans dormer, mind you). Now that – that’s a lot of money.

Plus, as you all now know, with our house newly on the market, we feel pretty good about making an investment in a nice finished Master Suite. Gotta knock their socks off, people! πŸ˜€

And as a parting gift, I give you one more before shot of our lovely attic. As far as I’m concerned, this renovation was priceless!

Attic Bedroom

And … after!

Converting Attic into Bedroom

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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Holey Moley

Our attic conversion, what can I say, it’s been an uphill climb. Ya think you’re ready to check something off the list and then BAM. There it is laughing you in the face again. Take our insulation, or our drywall, and now, our built-in. It just wasn’t quite ready to depart from it’s moment in the sun, so it decided to stick around a bit longer and become a problem child. Oye. See what I’m talking about?

Fixing Gaps with Trim

A bit too gappy don’t make Mary happy. Since we had so many otherΒ problem areas in this room, we really didn’t even notice all the jankiness on said bookcase until we started our final round of close up painting and started scratching our heads. Yes, that will not do.

Don’t believe me? How about a close up …

Adding Trim Around Bookcase

Mmmhhmmmm. Now that is a gap if I ever saw one πŸ™‚ The good news was that we had a lot (a LOT) of spare pieces of wood left over from all the other constructing we’d been doing upstairs so we were able to repurpose a few pieces to help with our little problem.

For the gap above, we found some quarter round that we used in the bathroom.

Installing Quarter round trim

Well lookey there. By George, that pretty much fixes it! We still had to slap some white paint on it, but for the most part, the quarter round and some caulk fixed our first problem area.

On to the second.

Adding Trim to Bookcase

Whomp. Whomp. We fixed this section in no time flat with some extra trim as well. It still needs a bit of caulking to smooth out the lines, but it’s well on its way. It’s pretty tricky to get back there to paint, since your arm is at such an odd angle. This area will be choke-full of books and accessories, so those back angles will be harder to see any way. Or at least that’s what I’m telling my self. πŸ˜€

Adding Trim Around Carpet

Remember our closets? Now take a close look at the photo below. Do you see how the closet on the far left has some extra space up above. Believe you me, this was a big aaaahhhh sshhheeeetttt moment in the Sell household, cause quite frankly, your closet framing is not supposed to look like that. Not at all.

Adding closets to knee wall

Here is a close up shot of all that loveliness to refresh your memory. This photo was taken during our initial construction phase, but I think you get the idea. One of these things is not like the other …

Adjusting Bi-fold door

Truth be told, when you have an old house and old walls pretty much nothing is straight. So, you roll with it and you try to improvise enough so it looks like “character” and not like “jankiness”. Our solution? Some hunka hunka crown molding. No weenie stuff, chunkcalicous stuff. Go chunky, or go home.

Putting Crown on Top of Closets

Since the crown was so large, we were able to essentially bend it up toward the ceiling in order to cover up the problem child area. We used our nail gun to get the piece installed initially, but because we were twisting the wood up so much to cover our gapalicousness, we had to also come back through and screw a few spots in for added support. Not ideal, but we made sure to “sink” the screw in so we could come back through and cover everything up with caulk after.

Adding Crown Above Closet

Here is how the crown looked after the install. So. Much. Better. Not perfect, but waaayy better.

Adding Closets to Knee Wall

And here is another shot of the front before caulking and painting the top section.

Board and Batten on Doors

Even after we’d fit the crown as tight as possible to the ceiling, there was still a decent amount of caulking that had to be done to help fill that ginormous gap. You can see in the shot below that we still had an eighth of an inch or so that had to be caulked after the crown was installed.

Caulking Top of Trim

Our last trimming detail pre-carpet install was adding a section right along where the stair banister and the wall meet. This was uber easy – one cut at the base of the steps and another for the corners and we were ready to get these bad boys installed.

Adding Trim Around Stairs

Here is how the stair trim looked the night before our carpet installation. Umm yeah. That’s right. I just said CARPET INSTALLATION!! Stay tuned for the big old reveal on Friday!

Adding Trim to Top of Steps

Drinking Up Some Drywall

Man alive, amigos. This drywall shabang has been a lot more painful than initially anticipated. Overall moral of this story and hard lesson learned? Never, ever, go with your lowest bidder. Care to hear my sad tale? Sit down, it might take a while πŸ˜€

So …. flash back a few weeks ago, and we were going through our normal looking for someone to assist us routine via craigslist. Although we do almost all the work in this joint ourselves, every once and a while you just have to call in the support troops. Drywall happens to fall into that category for us. We got (3) quotes. at .70 a square foot, $1 a square foot and $22.50 an hour. We went with .70 a square foot, and landed up paying $22.50 an hour. Do you hear that, it’s me, wailing in the corner. Loudly.

After a few days of drywalling (with the first guy), our attic was looking like this.

Adding Drywall To Attic

The status of the room didn’t change much after oh, day 3, cause the dude just stopped coming. Like I don’t know if he’s in jail, or hates our guts or moved to Tahiti but this guy seriously went awol. We tried contacting him for 3 days straight, and when we only heard crickets talking back to us, we bite the bullet and had to hire another guy to come in and finish the gig. Β Go figure, the only guy available was the one that charges $22.50 an hour. Ouch. He also (kinda smugly) informed us, it would take 4 days of labor to do the job, when we’d already PAID the first guy who disappeared on us. Nope, sorry, I don’t have another $700 sitting around that I can burn hand over to you. GAH.

On top of the crap sandwhich of a reality that the first guy just up and left us, he also did the poopiest job possible on the initial work. POOP. The new guy also (kinda smugly) informed us of this reality and kept telling us how we should have hired him first. Thanks for the memo, Sherlock.

That being said, there is finally a light at the end of this tunnel. Although we paid up the nose for it, we finally got a guy in that can actually help fix our little situation. We’ve got one more day of sanding ahead of us, but right now our space is looking like this.

Drywalling Attic

Some of the problem areas for the first installer included our ceiling joints. He used WAY too much mud on them and basically just tried to fix all his bad hanging skills by slapping on tons of mud. We had (3) full buckets of drywall dust from the first pass.

Too Much Mud on Drywall

Overall, I think that the ceiling will be able to be moderately camouflaged since it will all be the same, matte white color. So although the seems are not perfect, they’ll at least be under some cover with the paint job.

You can see our wee little bathroom bump out, too. This room is going to be small, but ya know what, it’s still a bathroom so that’s a value add to an old house like this where you typically only find one bath.

Half Bath Attic Knee Wall

Speaking of bathroom’s lookie what landed on our doorstep this week. Color me PUMPED to get this beauty upstairs! It’s my new motivation – just get this babe of a vanity upstairs where it belongs πŸ˜€

Marble Vanity

Moving on to some areas I love … check out these skylights. The corners look nice and crisp, and they add so much light into the space, too.

Skylights in Attic

You can also see how nice the closets look now that they have a drywall surround as well.

Adding Closets to Knee Wall

Everything is starting to feel much, much closer to being done now. In all honesty, I’m just really excited to be at a point in the reno where we don’t have to depend on someone else to do the work for us.

Overall, hiring out has been such a pain for a control fa-reak like me. I can’t manage any of the timeline, how much it will cost me, anything. After our super awful experience with this first craigslist dude. we’re feeling a bit sour about the whole shabang of an experience. Especially when they come through and leave messes like this throughout your house, kinda adds salt to the wound (umm – drop clothes, ya heard of them?)

Contractors Leaving Mess

For reference, our total cost with supplies will be around $1,400 for the drywall. Way WAY more than we had initially anticipated largely due to our little mishap with the installer. At the end of the day, it was a valuable lesson for us and being so dang tired from the entire process, I think we’re just glad to finally see light at the end of this tunnel.

Has anyone else had a bad experience with a contractor? Any good hints or tricks to keep these things from happening? Bestow your knowledge!!

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˜€