A Shack by any other Name...
A shack by any other name would be as sweet (apologies to one Mr. Shakespeare). Our Love Shack is sweet all right, but it's a lot of work to make it our kind of sweet. As promised, we're back with some details, but mostly pictures because there's still a lot of work to be done. And the sooner we get it done, the sooner we can get to the beach, and back to the Caribbean as well. (We do have a trip planned to go back to Vieques this summer - can't wait!)
We'll do a few of these posts, as things progress and we find time to document it all - hope you like it.
As we said before, this is not a fancy beachfront house. It's a modest place, only a couple blocks from the beach. This has some challenges (salt spray, storms, etc.) but the benefits far outweigh them, in our opinion. We bought the place in mid-September and signed with a contractor the same day, knowing he was a few weeks out from even starting.
The house was built in 1962 and much to my relief, it has drywall instead of a lath and plaster wall finish. It even has ground wires in its wiring and outlets - so it can meet modern building codes for safety. The house I grew up in, near here, was 4 years older and had lath & plaster walls, and no grounds in the wiring. Somehow we all survived it.
There were also cast iron drain pipes in this house, which needed replaced before we would move in. Deb's requirement* for buying the place was to do something with the tiny, cave-like "Florida Room". A Florida Room is basically a sun room, often added on to these small houses to provide extra square footage, more breezes and more light. But ours was none of that and we aimed to solve this and the pipes with the help of the contractor.
* Deb didn't have many requirements, if you read the Love Shack post, you know I didn't have to talk her into this place!
The Master Bedroom
The contractor couldn't start right away, but we could, so we jumped into the master bedroom to start. Well, we jumped in, but first, we had a toast to our good fortune! Woohoo!
For practical reasons, we wanted to start in the back of the house and work our way to the front. To move out of our rental and into the house we had a simple plan - get a place to sleep (our job) and a working bathroom (contractor's job). All our belongings fit in the car, so we wouldn't have any issues with "moving day". The master BR had a bunch of moisture issues, and the inevitable mold in the walls. We are not sensitive to mold and that's a good thing. You can't have a 60 year old house in Florida without some mold in it somewhere. We just removed drywall until we stopped seeing mold, and then rebuilt it and finished it all off.
We also paint-washed the wood floors, trying to create the impression of an old dock. The gray color shifted toward blue as we put it on, and it came out looking more sleek and modern - we love it. There is terrazzo underneath the wood, but we didn't want to tackle that restoration job just yet. We replaced the broken tile window sills (original) with solid quartz, and added an architectural feature wall. We also replaced the old bathroom door with a neat laser-cut faux shutter door made in Brazil. A little furniture, a little art, and Bob's your uncle.
From those before & during pictures, we got to this point in the Master. We are very happy how it turned out.
As for the contractor's part, it was about turning the Florida Room into something great (adding windows, light, and breezes) and fixing those cast iron drain pipes.
They were corroded and pinching down on themselves, the plumbing version of clogged arteries. The laundry pipe wouldn't even drain, and the kitchen was the next worst. The bathrooms were better, but this was out one chance to get it all done without trying to live there through it all. This meant cutting and jack-hammering concrete in the garage (for the laundry) and in the main bath. The bath job was huge but starting from there allowed access to it's own pipes, the kitchen pipes on one side, and the master bath pipes on the other side. They actually dug, from the main bath, about 3' underneath the master bath wall and floor, to replace those pipes. We'll get into all that in another post, it's a big deal.
The Other Bedrooms
The other two bedrooms were in better shape, but had similar issues with drywall and window sills (a couple of which we haven't yet replaced). They also have the same flooring, so we did all of them at the same time.
One of the bedrooms is now the workout room, which is mostly a zen yoga space, but has some free weights and PT stretching/strengthening bands (which we both need after all this manual labor!).
The other bedroom is our guest room and is the least functional, unless you consider storage a good function. I guess we do, but only as a temporary measure. We had planned to do another feature wall in there, with horizontal wood and attached shelves for built-in nightstands. Then Deb saw something very, very similar in an online Marketplace ad, used but already assembled. It looks like it came from Ikea. We looked at each other and simultaneously said, "Good enough". So that needs installed and then we can start putting that room together.
Here's how those rooms turned out, although admittedly they are not really "done done". They're not trimmed out for one thing, although the rest of the house is in the same shape - there's hardly a stick of trim in the entire place. We'll do that all at once, or at least in large batches, not just room by room.
There we were, with 3 bedrooms finished (enough) but no bathroom, so we still couldn't move in. The contractor was moving slower than expected (it was going to be two weeks, remember?), but we were pushing as much as we could. We'll get into the bathrooms in our next installment, and believe me, it's worth the wait. It's quite a thing!
To date, we've only shed a little blood, but a lot of sweat. And we'll continue to toast cheers every chance we get. To be honest, the bedrooms were the "boring" part of the renovation, so it'll get more interesting soon. Looking ahead, this post is the first of several, as we go through the house wall by wall and floor by floor, so don't touch that dial. We'll be back soon with more.