April 24, 2008

Utility Closet Wall Shelf

Usually I self-paralyze by setting up dominoes and then refusing to knock the first one down. "Well, I can't do A until I do B, and that can't happen until C..." etc. In this case, I had the communications gear sitting on the floor of the utility room and the shelf + brackets on top of the laundry. But I finally got a bug up my ass and attacked mounting the shelf to the wall

Pulled out the stud finder, which seemed to output some close, but not identical, data. The center of some of the studs seemed to float a little. It's very possible that this was due to the collection of lines in the wall, drifitng left or right, and it was picking them up instead of the studs. I marked off the areas that most consistently registered hits, and then positioned the first bracket. I leveled it, and marked out the screw holes in the wall, and then grabbed the drill. I quick prayer that there weren't any current-bearing lines behind the bit head, and I had three neat holes to hammer drywall anchors into. Once I had the bracket mounted however, I discovered that it was leaning about a quarter inch to the right. Being not quite sure how to deal with that, and unwilling to let that derail my attempt to finish, I quickly advanced to the second bracket. It was slightly off-camber, so I'm not sure what's happening between marking the wall and mounting the bracket. It's not unsightly, for sure. I placed

It's certainly not the most amazing or ambitious home improvement project, but I think it kinda counts as the first thing I've "built" for the condo, so I consider it a win.

* Screw shelf to the bracket
* Find shorter CAT-5 cables to pretty up the wall a bit
* Cable-tie all the cords together, for the same reason.

April 22, 2008

Why Do You Think I Have This Outrageous Accent?

Well the Sherwin Williams Cordovan was definitely too red. Put up a huge sample patch, and it just wasn't going to work.

Wall, post-priming


After looking at it for almost two weeks because there wasn't enough time to deal with it, I finally went back to the Eco-Green Living store in D.C. and got them to mix up some SafeCoat paint to match the Valspar Chocolate Raspberry. Slight hiccup in getting the paint, as we went in on Saturday, and were told that they'd contact the manufacturer and get the formula on Tuesday, and call us back. Didn't hear from them by Thursday, so I called back, and it was finally Friday before they said they had the formula and Saturday before I could pick it up.

On Saturday I re-primed the wall where I had painted on the Cordovan, and tackled the first coat of new paint on Sunday. In all likelihood I picked the absolute worst two days to paint, as it poured buckets nearly continuously from 8 AM on Sunday until some time Monday night.

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April 5, 2008

Accent Wall

How do you fill up a mercifully empty Saturday? By attacking the accent wall in the living room. We decided on Sherwin Williams' Cordovan, as the closest match to the Valspar Chocolate Raspberry (Hey Valspar! Get some low-VOC paint!)

Loaded up on supplies, got a test quart, and came home. Pulled the plates off the wall, taped, sanded out the rough patches and filled in the holes, and washed the whole thing down with TSP. Letting that dry now, and will start in with the primer, shortly.

Welcome to Stoupsy's

Welcome to Stoupsy's Athens Diner

April 2, 2008

Deskus Interruptus

Took a stab at assembling the desk this morning. Hit a snag when I discovered the rear legs didn't have screw holes drilled in them, as the illustrations in the instructions indicated. Not a huge problem, not one that the drill couldn't fix, anyways. But the crossbar seems to have been mis-drilled as well. There are two holes, one for the screw and one for the dowel. The screw hole begins on the bottom of the bar, and hits the leg at an angle. The screw is supposed to exit in line with, and below, the dowel hole. In my case, it's coming out somewhat to the side.

When I try to tighten the screws, the off-center entry point torques the bar and the leg, causing the legs to not lie flat if they were placed on the floor, and the bar to be twisted along the longitudinal axis.

I could try to fix it by bolting the legs to the frame and forcing the legs to behave, but I don't think I want that much pressure/tension on these base pieces.

I called Crate and Barrel, and a manager got back to me. Since visualizing the issue seemed to be a problem, I sent the (helpful) manager pictures. As it stands right now, the options are to return the unit (unlikely, considering the pain it was to get it up here) or to possibly get new parts. She didn't sound enthusiastic about that second one, though.

We'll see what she comes back with.

UPDATE: Nikki at C&B was very helpful, and secured a new crossbar and legs for me. However, they were drilled - or not - the same way. Either the entire shipment was screwed up, or the instructions were wrong.

But this is where the Tyson's C&B staff went above and beyond. From the floor model, it was impossible to tell if the legs were drilled, or where the crossbar screw exited. They tried to track down who had assembled it, and when that failed, Nikki and one of the stock room guys tried a couple different times to put the pieces together, until it got to a point I was happy with. It wasn't perfect, but they were straight, not under a lot of pressure, and there was a small gap at each end of the crossbar.

Took the assembled piece home, slapped it into the leg mounts on the desk frame, and finished the rest, righted it, and slid it into place. It definitely feels big, bigger than I thought it would be, even with measuring it. But I think it's going to be a great workspace.

Now to find a chair.

April 1, 2008

Desk, Sisyphean

Going to pick up my desk without some muscle was a major, major mistake. Got it inside a friend's loaned Blazer, but the box was about 5 feet high and 3 across, and elicited the following dialogue at the Crate & Barrel loading dock:

Me: "I'm picking up a Bungalow Desk."
Stockboy [staring]: "You are an evil, evil person."

So I trundled home, and roused Jenn for some help getting it upstairs. Unfortunately, she could only manage from the car to the bottom of the steps. Great effort, though. I couldn't sling it on my back but finally managed to push it up the stairs, end over end, with Jenn providing alignment and landing guidance.

So now there's a giant box standing in my bedroom. Hope no big trucks drive by tonight.

March 23, 2008

Feeling a Draft

Installed some outlet baffles in the exterior wall outlets today. Supposedly you lose a lot of heat through these holes in your wall, and as cold as these things feel, I believe it. Sometimes I can even feel some air movement.

So you get these little foam pieces that just fit around the plugs, and should block the hole (if they were cut conservatively, which mine didn't seem to be).

Remove plate, put in foam, return plate. Couple bucks for the foam, couple minutes of time, and supposedly I'll get a return on my energy bill. I dunno, though. They still feel pretty cold.

March 22, 2008

Feet Up

Went to Crate & Barrel tonight to check out the coffee table, and ended up taking it home. Paid for the desk too, though there's no way it would fit in the car. Put it together while Jenn made cupcakes for Easter dinner.

Things progressed much more expeditiously with the screw driving bits for the drill. It can be rather difficult to keep from over-driving them into the unit, and cracking the wood.

Even though we measured out the height, in the living room, it still looks taller, when you see the mass of it. But I like it.

Now begins the challenge of keeping crap from collecting on it.

March 20, 2008

The Heat is On (Maybe)

Installed the programmable thermostat yesterday evening. Went very well, on the surface. The screw driving bits for the drill made quick work of the fasteners. When I went back upstairs to turn the power back on, however, I found that maybe I never turned it off, after all. Oy.

Set the programs, things seem ok - except for the fact that the temperature still reads 72. I wonder if disconnecting the thermostat while it was still powered, stalled the furnace or something.

February 1, 2008

Last Shots Across the City

My last night in the apartment. Perfectly clear, so no clouds to reflect the mercury lights. I propped the camera up and tried some exposure times of 10 seconds and longer, with the telephoto lens. I think they came out pretty good.