New floor (and more)!

I’m sitting here in our downtown apartment in Ottawa sipping the soup we had for dinner at the cabin last night. I’m showered and in intact, non paint-splattered clothes. I don’t smell like sawdust and my head is uncovered (I wear a head wrap or cap at the cabin for ticks). Yet my brain is totally back in the woods. It’ll take me a few days to get my bearings, I’m sure.

So, this was an exciting visit. It was a longer stay (4-5 days) and it was eventful!

Liam had a lot of marking and prepping to do, and spent a good chunk of Monday in town to make calls, do emails, etc., but we still fit in some good long walks around the property. The walks were inspired by a visit from Ernie, our “country neighbour” whose son is our actual neighbour, who told us that we probably own more land than we originally thought. Last visit we had discovered a new pond by following some old snowmobile trails that Ernie told us he had made years back. Ernie says that’s all our land (looking at our various maps, that would make sense), but so is a whole other area beyond there. He took Liam way up the road to show him the property marker (supposedly ours) and told him in detail about this and that landmark showing the boundary line (an old rocking chair, a bear’s den, a pine stand, etc.). Pretty neat stuff.

The next afternoon we went back to that spot and walked along what seemed to be a barbed wire boundary line fence. Following it through creeks and forest, we lost it for a while (and also didn’t find all the markers Ernie had told us about), and then found it again about 100m from the old snowmobile trails we’d walked last visit. It’s conceivable that that additional chunk is ours, but it doesn’t entirely match up with some of the roughly sketched property maps we have. In any case, it was a fun outing. We took some pictures and headed back along the trails toward home. With no bugs and little mud these walks are the BEST.

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A headless snake – a bit ominous. We also saw a big water snake chilling in a little pond earlier in the hike and another dead snake along the road the next day.
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Farmer Joe and (maybe) our boundary fence. Strangely, some areas had a single or double strand of relatively new barbed wire. No idea who would have done that or when.
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Another porky-pine up in a tree!
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Definitely a porky-pine. Amazing they get so high up. I wonder how long it takes to get up and how long they stay.
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The fence took us here. Not bad, not bad at all.
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This is where the fence led to. This is along our big pond. That bit of land jutting out to the left (top photo) is just on the other side of the snowmobile trails we’d walked last time. We hung out a while at the water’s edge for a while, admiring the view and watching the teeny-weeny beavers (bottom photo) swim into the lodge (you can see it on the left in the top photo).

Walking is fun, but meanwhile, I went to town on the cabin interior. That’s the real juicy stuff. First, the small successes:

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I cleaned, primed, and paint the underside of the cast iron sink we’ll be installing in the “laundry room” (details coming later in this post). The top isn’t in bad shape, but I’ll be giving it a new coat of enamel before I install it. Next time.
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Halfway through making an interior games shelf in the back side of the left backrest of the daybed (got that?). I didn’t take a more updated picture, but by now it’s trimmed out, nail holes filled, and waiting for a sand and coat of paint.
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I had a few hours between other projects (drying time, etc.) so I experimented with milk paint. It was fun to use and I think I got the hang of it pretty quickly. This is two coats of Homestead House’s Laurentian blue milk paint. Very fun. I gave it a light sanding and two coats of acrylic poly and it turned out really nice. I mouse-proofed the bottom of it last time (you can kind of see the hardware cloth in the picture) so I feel OK about using it for clothes, towels, etc.
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Note the wall laundry rack. I made that puppy in our apartment using only very basic hand tools (because the good ones were at the cabin – plop). It got a couple coats of high gloss white and I mounted it on plywood screwed into studs. It was a bit of overkill, but oh well (another “oh well” to the fact that we should have mounted it with the bars going the other way so clothes don’t slip off it we only open it partway. Oops.). Liam gave it the A-OK for location – not tooooooo close to the fire (which we didn’t use this visit after the first night – no need). I figure once the laundry sink is in (you can peek into the demo’ed space on the right) it’ll get used primarily for handwashed laundry – socks and undies (see next pic), towels, and other relatively lightweight things.

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Last little thing: I’ve been oo’ing and ahh’ing all the kitchen cabinet plans on Ana White, knowing that one day I’d fill in those awkward gaps between cabinets. Many visits ago I hacked at the existing counter top and pulled a chunk into an “island” (foreground of this picture) to make room for the fridge on the back wall, but I wasn’t loving it. It was nice to have a spot to drop stuff on our way in and out the door, but that also meant that whole island quickly got filled with tools, coats, bags, and everything else. So, new plan.
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I moved things back around again, putting the fridge into its original location and swinging the island under the window that looks into the workshop area. Even with that corner cabinet currently missing (I started cutting the shapes for it already!) it was so much nicer to move around in the L-shaped kitchen. It’s all open to the other room, too, which is fantastic. I’ve taken a bunch of measurements, but really it’s just going to take a lot of elbow grease to build and tidy and make this set-up workable.
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This is actually how it looks now, since I took down the open shelves for the pantry (later, you’ll see). I’m not sure what this will look like when it’s all done, but I’m thinking just a 3″ or so ledge along the top of a low backsplash, for glasses and oils/spices. And that’s it. We’ll see. A big open wall is quite refreshing (never thought I’d say that).

And for the grand finale… the laundry room! I’m referring to what was previously the bathroom/catch-all area in the back left of the picture below. Since the cabin is too small to have junk-filled spaces (and we don’t actually need an indoor toilet), it’s getting converted. This is how it started:

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Last visit I had pulled down the drywall and the sliding door and stacked the pieces against the wall. They’re still there. Note the laundry rack, too. This must have been taken the first night we arrived.
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This is again what it looked like when we arrived this visit. Note the pretty window frame I threw together at the end of last visit. Still need to sand, prime/paint, and caulk most of the window frames in the cabin.
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The boxes are a hint of the work to be done…
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And the other side…

The idea was to make this space (previously roughed in for a shower and toilet – draining where, you ask? We’ll never know) into a laundry room, using the big cast iron sink in the alcove (last photo), and pantry, with shelves all up the wall with the mirror (second-last photo). I also wanted a peg rail for a broom, towels, aprons, and other Shaker-type things (my latest everything inspiration) that are awkward to find good homes for.

The plan also included a tiled floor, which is where this story begins and ends. Not coincidentally, I had been stockpiling tiles since we bought the place, thinking we’d put a wet room into this space. That changed with the installation of the outdoor shower and the ripping down of the wall and door (we loved the open space to much more than the wall that was there before. Privacy be damned!), but I still had the tiles and a bunch of tiling tutorials under my belt that I wanted to put to use.

Enter: Project Laundry Room. We started by ripping out the sink and all the unwanted pipes (after checking under the boards to see where they came from and went), and laying a new layer of plywood (with luan over top, which the Home Hardware guy recommended. I still think I should have laid cement board, but too late).

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It looks so different with no sink! See all the stuff coming out of the floor, all toilet-ready? Nooo thanks.
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I think some critters had been enjoying the safety of under the sink cabinet… It was empty when we found it, tanksbetogod. No more baby miceys flying around the cabin.
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Pulling up or cutting out unwanted things. The unneeded water lines were capped and fed through holes in the foundation wall covering to the outside, in case there are any problems in the future and we need to access them.
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Patching the floor with some very wonky cuts.
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Testing the fit of the new plywood. Luan went over top and was screwed in every 6″ or so.

The above part took the better part of a morning or afternoon (don’t remember which). Then it was time to get tiling…

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I got nervous at this point because I knew this was it – do it or don’t! Time will tell of my prep work was OK.
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Testing out tile configurations. Happily.
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Opted for a subway tile look to minimize cuts. I had a manual scorer and YOWZA that makes an awful noise, even with ear protection *shiver*.
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Got it all laid down in the mortar.
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This whole back area is going to be under the sink cabinet, so I wasn’t at all opposed to grabbing different tiles that I had on hand (same thickness) to fill the back row. Anything to avoid making those awful slices – SCREEECH.

I was really happy with how it was looking and left the mortar to do its business for a day or two, then I went in and grouted – to perfection, I might add. My great grandpa was a bricklayer, dontchaknow.

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After grouting and the first pass with a sponge.
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After a second pass.

Man, I’m good. Look at those lines! Such great lines. I’ll be going back in a few days to seal it and maybe build that corner kitchen cabinet because I’m obviously unstoppable now. Here’s how it looked after I threw up some shelves and a peg rail (that I made in the dry time between coats of poly on the dresser – no big deal).

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Just the best. Later I’ll have a lightweight curtain across the whole opening so this can double as a change room when we have guests.
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The pantry stuff will go all the way up the wall eventually (when we’re there often enough to need that much food). I’ll also have thick, tall baseboards and maybe vertical wall paneling, for interest and to cover up the ugly drywall.

The last question (for now) is: keep the red rolling cart thing or use the two little white cabinets (photo below) that I’d be paint some great colour? I like the rolling thing because I can put a board over the top and use it a a chopping block and rolling island. BUT I also like the cabinets because they’re adorable (like the little handles I added? I found them at Home Hardware for 99 cents the other day), sturdy, and mouse-proof-ish. Ah the decisions…

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More photos from Liam’s phone!

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Snake guarding the bridge across the water.
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Sausage party on the island

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Beaver-cleared forest
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Beaver-downed trees that narrowly missed our canoe over the winter.
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