We’ve been having a back-and-forth on which room we would renovate next — laundry room? half-bath? dining room? All three are in rough shape. But since we’ve already started work in the dining room, we’ve decided to wrap up in there before moving on to another room.
Here’s what we’ve done so far in the dining room:
- Exposed the brick wall
- Removed the carpet
- Sanded the floors
- Exposed the ceiling rafters
- Put in 2 new windows
- Put in a wood-burning stove
Our wood stove installation didn’t go exactly as planned. The chimney pipe was put in at funky angles and it looks really topsy-turvy:
We called up our installers and told them we were unhappy with their installation. So they came back and fixed it, this time with us supervising to make sure we got exactly what we wanted. Here’s how it looks now:
Much better! The chimney pipe makes a nice, straight line up. But the part where it connects to the wall is still at an angle. Our installers told us they can’t do anything about it because this part of our chimney was built at an angle. We hate how that part looks.
We’re also not too crazy about the brick repair around the chimney pipe. That’s not really the installers’ fault — the mortar looks smooth because it’s new. And it’s hard to match up brick just right. We’re working on a solution to cover up the stuff we don’t like.
One that we don’t like about our stove is how much ash accumulates around it:
It mostly just falls on the steel plate we put under the stove.
As long as we’re diligent about sweeping up, the dust doesn’t get tracked all over the floors. Aside from those few snafus, we’re in love with the stove. We haven’t really had to use our oil boiler to heat the house since we got it. We’ve been a little nervous about how much heat is escaping up into the rafters, so we decided to insulate up there:
The heat is going to right up through our floor boards and into the guest bedroom regardless, but at least that room is insulated. The master bedroom isn’t — this should help keep heat out of that room for now.
Once that was done, Bradley decided to do a little electrical work. He’s done a lot of electrical work over the years, but he always keeps this book nearby to reference:
He started by shutting off the power to the first floor. Then he removed the old switch and electrical box. He also removed all of the wires from this area so they wouldn’t be in the way. He outlined the electrical box he wanted to install:
This will give us three switches: one for a fan and two for lights (more on that in a minute). Next, he drilled holes in the corners of his outline:
He made sure he drilled inside the lines, not outside.
After that, he used a jigsaw to cut from one hole to another, following the pencil outline as best as he could:
He cut all around the outline, and the plaster popped right out:
The new electrical box slid right in:
After that came all of the complicated wiring stuff that I know nothing about. Bradley’s the electrician:
I just lurk around with my camera yelling helpful advice like, “DON’T CUT THE RED WIRE!” and “WAIT, THAT’S WHAT THEY WANT YOU TO THINK! CUT THE RED WIRE!!”
Flash forward to a couple of hours later and this is what we had:
The switch in the middle controls the fan. The ones on the outside control lights. Each one is on a separate dimmer so we can control them individually.
Next up, Bradley installed the ceiling fan:
We loved the raw, industrial look of the rafters. So we decided to roll with that theme and do exposed conduit and junction boxes. We also decided to do track lights for the dining room so we could have light all over.
Bradley made the fan perfectly centered in the room. And wired that sucker in:
The last time he installed a fan (in the guest bedroom), he assembled it on the ceiling. This time, he assembled the entire fan on the ground and then hooked it into place afterwards:
It was much easier this way. He didn’t struggle with parts and he didn’t drop any screws.
Once the fan was up, Bradley tackled the track lights. We picked up two basic white tracks from Home Depot for $20 a pop.
Each track sits in the middle of a beam. We spaced them evenly on either side of the fan. The conduit for the track lights were a little tricky to install because we had to bend the pipes at 90-degree angles. Bradley had to use a pipe bender for that:
He told me that you have to buy a different pipe bender for different diameters of pipe. This one is a 1/2″. If we had to bend 3/4″ pipe, we’d need a 3/4″ pipe bender. Bradley only owns a 1/2″ because it’s a pretty basic size for what he uses.
Little bit of a disclaimer here: pipe bending is kind of a science. Bradley admits he doesn’t really do it the “proper” way. He does the quick-and-dirty method that doesn’t involve formulas and rules. He recommends watching YouTube videos if you want to learn the right way.
Here’s how Bradley bent our conduit pipes:
He put the pipe through the bender, stood on the pipe and bent the pipe back:
I helped him figure out a perfect 90-degree angle using a small level:
And we had a bent conduit:
After bending the conduit, Bradley cut it down to size using a hacksaw:
And he installed it to our tracks:
The lightbulb swinging from the junction box in the middle is temporary. We weren’t loving any of the track lights at Home Depot or Lowe’s, so we decided to hold off on buying them.
We turned the power back on, flipped a switch, and ta-da!:
Bradley had one more trick up his sleeve before the sun went down:
He wired up a second set of switches and an outlet on the opposite side of the room.
This way we can turn the lights off and on as we go into the kitchen.
Next up for this room: insulation. Our spending freeze is almost over — fiiiinally! — which means we can do a big bulk purchase of everything we need to wrap up the dining room. Or at least make it less fugly.
We’ll be back soon with updates from what we did this weekend. Things are about to get super busy around here. Both of us have December 26-31st off from work so we’ll be tackling a bunch of projects on our to-do list. Stay tuned!