Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Battle of the Three "R"s

We are just over a year into our 1954 Canned Ham Trailer remodel.  It's starting to feel like an episode of "Grand Designs".  (If you haven't checked it out, "Grand Designs" is a fabulous British TV show about self-builders. Season 1 is now on Netflix!)  In pretty much every episode, the naive homeowner has a unrealistically small budget and and even more ridiculous time frame.  Build a whole house in 9 months with 300 pounds? Sure! Why not!?!  2 years later and 600 pounds in the hole the home is done and the show is over.

Thankfully, our little "Grand Design" is on a much smaller scale money-wise but our original plan of having it done last Labor Day was hysterically unrealistic.  At this point, we are about $1000 in and have just finished getting the main shell of it back together.  Our main huddle to get to this point is just having enough of a full weekend to get work done.  This has not been a project that we can put in 1-2 hours and walk away then easily come back.  It's needed FULL days of undivided work which is pretty much impossible with 3 kids.
A year of work- walls and framing done
So, to get us back on track, we created a calendar that gets us finished in June.  We have already altered our calendar several times, trying to decided what order of operations most makes sense but we are getting there.  Our walls, floor and framing have all been replaced so we are now on to building the furniture.  So here, we get to the three "r"s.  Do we Renovate, Restore or Replicate?

My definitions of the three in the context of this project:

Renovate: Use the shell and restore, modernize, overhaul the rest. (Think of the bathroom we renovated in our Decorah house.  We tore it to the studs and built everything new on top of that, totally changing the layout, fixtures, etc)

Restore: Take what is already there and fix it up.  Return it to it's original condition.  (Take old carpeting up and restore the hardwood floors under back to their original- or close to condition).

Replicate: Make an exact copy. (Like when "This Old House" takes a piece of existing molding, creates a mold of it and makes a cast to then replace this missing portion).

When we set out on this adventure a year ago, we had every intention of replicating the original design where it was still present.  We carefully took measurements and drew outlines of old cabinets and shelves planning on making copies since the original wood was too moldy to use.  Fast forward a year later and we are a lot less interested in making exact replicas of the original trailer.  Vintage trailer enthusiasts are going to have our heads but at the end of the day it's our trailer and our project.

Many things contributed to this decision including time and money but a lot of it came down to supplies.  When you work on a project for such a long time, luan that once was $5 a sheet and at the local hardware store is now no where to be found, the closet match an hour away for $25 a sheet.  So unmatched luan which makes up the interior walls and ceiling of the entire trailer forced us to rework our original plan and make adjustments.  Such is life.
Right side wall out of original luan; ceiling curving to back wall in new, lighter luan
This mind flop from replication over to renovation then took us on our never-ending search for supplies and design ideas which took us to every home improvement, restore, and building supply store in the entire Portland area... much to our children's dissatisfaction.
 And husbands.
 On top of potty training the littlest one, I don't know how we've made it.
Make your own port-a-potty in the back of the car!
So, after several months of searching, looking at paint colors and debating bed layouts, I think we finally have settled on a design. Good thing because if we had made the kids look at flooring options anymore we would have had a mutiny on our hands- no matter how many donuts we bribed them with.

Here is our "final" design plan.

We reupholstered the front benches last winter so the fabric there was our jumping off point for everything else.  Next step was deciding what cabinet wood to paint and what to leave wood- after our luan debacle which caused us to decided to paint the side walls, we decided it would make sense to paint most of the wood so it blends in with the walls better.  We are restoring the old, original turquoise stove so we have picked a great, dark blue for the kitchen cabinetry, "Approaching Storm" by Glidden.

The side walls will be painted white which will showcase the beautiful luan that wraps over the ceiling.  Picking white might be the hardest thing around but after much contemplation, I settled on "Sleek White" by Behr which is nice and warm but doesn't show too yellow like others did.

Finally, the flooring decision.  We had originally settled on beetle kill blue pine.

We found this stuff at a local building supply resupply and fell in love.  Beetle kill pine is a result of a beetle epidemic in which the beetles bore through the trees, eventually killing them.  The trees have these beautiful blue streaks running through them, making them perfect for unique home projects.  Unfortunately, once we did the math on the wood plus other supplies for laying hardwood we were at $300.  A little pricy for our trailer project.

"Grand Designs" and "This Old House" to the rescue again.  As we were driving to yet another hardware store to look at linoleum yet again, when I remembered a technique where you paint on top of concrete then throw paint flakes over to give a polished concrete, kind of vintage linoleum effect.  This is usually used on basement or garage flooring but why not our little trailer?  Lightweight, fast application, easy clean and cheap?  Sounds perfect to me.  $50 later and we are in business.  We chose Behr's 1-Part Epoxy Concrete and Garage Floor Paint tinted in Pacific Fog with Valspar's Paint Flakes in Granite.
Sample of grey flooring before flakes are added with white wall color
Finally, design in place, we are now painting the walls and floor and then building cabinetry for the kitchen, back beds and front dining area.  Hopefully, we will starting making some more visible progress soon!
Side wall painted white
Flooring prepped for paint

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