Sunday, January 15, 2017

DIY Outlet Upgrades!

As promised I have an overview of our process installing new outlets into what we think will be the master bedroom, we are not electricians and this is not a how to guide, always consult a professional.  (We did end up having a proper electrician do the rest of the house and he checked out our work.)
Now that the disclaimer is out of the way... we needed more outlets in the bedroom, and Matt had the brilliant idea to upgrade to a set with USB ports, so we were pretty excited and motivated.  
The upgraded receptacles only cost a few dollars more than the standard and came with installation instructions.
We measured out the size of the bed so that the outlets would go outside of it and got about securing the casing to the brick.  Drilling into the brick was tricky because, in an old house like ours, the bricks are not uniform, some were way to soft and crumbly, others were very very hard, the mortar was to soft as well, so there was some trial and error here.  The first of the two outlets we installed went back in the original space, IE: where the wires were coming up from the floor. 
I threaded the wires (electricity was shut off at this point) into the case and Matt took over attaching the correct wires to our new outlet face as well as separating out the ones which were to go off to the second new outlet.  (See the gray cord going off to the left.)
The second case and cover went faster than the first, though there was some hanky panky using the electric drill to install because to use the drill the power had to be turned on... Do Not Do This! But glossing right over that...
Look how pretty!  And it works!  Our next move was to use this metal strip to secure and cover the wire to the brick, protecting it and us from any reno in the future.  This took forever to get right, but with some good brick anchors for the screws, careful measuring, and pilot holes we got it done.  
Very proud!  This was one of the bigger projects that we've taken on and successfully finished all in one day with no outside help.  When we plastered this room the wire housing was secured further and covered over, the outlets are now nearly flush with the surface of the wall and rock solid.  I'm so glad we made the effort here, we really needed the extra outlets in there and now with the built-in UBS ports we have a plethora of options. 
I should probably pick out some cool bedside lights..
- Nicole

Plastering at the Cottage. Fall 2016.

Last time I brought you up to date on my holiday and new job, but naturally, I spent most of my August holiday 'helping' at The Cottage, that is part of why it took so long for me to publish this, I didn't want to come off to whiny... Plastering is hard work.  
So, as of August 2016, Matt had spent a lot of time before my visit pulling down the ruined and damp lime plaster, exposing the brick in what will eventually be our bedroom. This allowed for the brick to dry out and for us to update some electrical work (post on how we totally didn't do anything dangerous with electricity coming soon!)
Now I know this goes against the grain and probably ruins any Hipster cred I may have earned when diving in to a Victorian Renovation, but I don't love exposed brick.  It's cool for a bar or a loft apartment, but it wouldn't be right for this house.  The exterior is already red brick and the interior would have originally been plastered anyway, so this is in part wanting to stay true to the character of The Cottage. 
Matt likes the exposed brick, so we compromised and ultimately decided that the fireplace in the bedroom could remain exposed, but that I can do a thin lime wash over it to tone down the red.  Additionally, Matt finished the raking out and re-pointing of the fireplace front, so it looks very sturdy now.  
A big part of what we did this August involved plastering.  There was also a lot of driving to get more plaster, and then some more, and several meals, and then plaster.   Plastering the rest of the room was  a major undertaking, there is definitely something to be said for using Sheetrock... 
Lime Plastering 101.
Step one: Be great at plastering as you assumed you would be.
Step two: Arms aching, cry tears into your pizza at dinner because you are actually terrible at plastering.
Step three: Play assistant and try to be somewhat helpful.
Anyway we got the bedroom re-plastered and no one died. Did I mention that new ceilings were put up for us? They look great and have been painted white. 
The attic has been fully insulated, which has already made a difference in heating the home, and we made major steps towards picking out the kitchen and flooring!  The next post will be much more fun, I promise, with some pretty pictures!
-Nicole