Converting a Sunroom into an Outdoor Gym Area

I had a sunroom that was over 20 years old, leaked, and it’s foundation had been shifting for several years. I never used it, so it was time to go. This project started in April and though we’ve been using the area for weeks, we finished up last night by moving rocks back in place.

The first step was removing the sliding glass door and putting in a big window.

I hired a company to come in with a Bobcat and hydraulic breaker to remove the 7+ inch concrete slab and posts.

After that was out, I was able to fix up the roof line and put siding on the house.

They did do some damage to my gutter drains, so I made a repair there.

Still had to remove a bunch of sand from the area, so I rented a small dumpster and we hauled a lot of buckets.

My inspiration for the project was this setup I saw online. I mapped out my own layout.

I did a rough sloping job and then we dug three holes four feet deep.

Ordered some materials from Menards, and ended up having to get another 10 bags of cement.

My buddy Kevin was a huge help, getting the two 16 foot 6×6 posts installed. Each one weighed about 190 pounds!

Then Brandi and I were able to install the 12 footer on our own. Between the 3 posts we used 1,500 pounds of concrete!

I painted the posts and leveled the ground as best I could.

Put up the bars, top caps, and painted wall ball targets.

Some of the early plans were to get thick rubber playground flooring tiles, but we eventually decided it wasn’t worth the cost. Used pavers instead.

Turned out great and we’ve been using the outdoor space for one or two workouts a week. It looks good and is a much better use of the space, which wasn’t getting used at all before and had become an eyesore. Now I can finish the inside wall of the house!

A Fireplace Insert

I hadn’t started a fire in my living room in over a decade.

It wasn’t an ordinary wood burning fireplace though. My house has a boiler and the previous homeowners had installed a heat recovery system, called Hydro Fyre, which fed the heat from the fireplace back through the boiler and out to the rest of the house. It sounds good in theory, but with the number of pipes running over the top of the fire, it seems like it was a chimney fire waiting to happen. Look at how loaded with soot everything was!

After they removed the old system and cleaned things out, a direct vent gas fireplace insert was installed. I got the Escape model with the black Firescreen front, made by Heat & Glo. The interior panels are a patented FireBrick technology, which produce up to 25% more radiant heat than a metal interior. Even on the lowest fan speed it really throws out the heat! A remote control makes it easy to change five flame heights, four fan speeds, and three levels of ember illumination. It’s a slick unit.

I love how it transformed the look of the entire room. Why did I wait so long to get this?

I’ll call this phase two of a living room remodel after getting Mitsubishi mini-splits last summer. Several more projects are planned whenever an item arrives, which is supposed to ship near the end of April.

A New Hobby Desk and Organization

When I was doing the wiring for the cabinet LED lighting, I remembered how much I hated the tall desk for that kind of work.

I woke up the next day and decided to get a new desk. I wanted something similar and I basically found the little brother; it’s almost identical. The old one was 4″ deeper, which I think I’ll miss.

When I was desk shopping I saw these storage bins and they sparked ideas for decluttering the area.

I had to make a modification to the desk, because the adjustable shelf couldn’t be placed in the middle. After measuring everything about five times, I made two risers to get the shelf where I wanted. You wouldn’t even notice if I didn’t point them out.

I was in the zone and decided to tackle another problem. A couple of years ago I made an overhead camera rig out of a swing arm desk lamp. The mount it came with was someone else’s mod and one wrong bump knocked it off the desk. This is what it looked like.

I made a mount to match the profile of my new desk, which hooks up and over the metal bar. This isn’t going anywhere!

Back to those storage bins. My goal was to get the hobby tools out of sight, while making them easy to access. On the bookshelf they were always piled up and I had to get off the chair to reach them. All I needed was some cardboard (from the desk’s box) and hot glue.

The second bin didn’t get dividers because everything in there is pretty big and doesn’t need dedicated space. I can always update it later if necessary. In fact I probably don’t even need the cardboard liner, but it was already made. The small bookshelf, where my tools had been, moved inside the closet. I love the cleaner look the room has.

IKEA BILLY / OXBERG with Custom LED Lighting

I made a recent roadtrip to IKEA for two BILLY bookcases with OXBERG doors.

Perfect fit in the Tesla Model 3

These are for my hobby room to help organize as well as display things I make or collect. That’s why I went with the half panel half glass doors.

I added some LED tape strip lights I picked up at Home Depot. Two boxes of 16′ lengths left me with several feet left over. There was a fair amount of time spent cutting, stripping, splitting off from the power source, etc. It was good to get back in to some electronics work though.

Hobby Room

This used to be my home office, before I created the new one.

I wanted to make it in to a hobby room, where I could organize all of my electronics stuff and any future projects. My woodworking shop is still obviously in the basement though.

Notice anything odd with the lighting? Yeah, one ceiling light and it was in the corner of the room. I’ll never understand that placement. Luckily the joists ran the correct direction (no attic above), so I was able to feed wire across the ceiling for a second light to the left of the window. It was time for the carpet to go as well and I liked the flooring I installed in my new office so much I went with the same stuff.

Look how much brighter it is when the lamp is off and it’s dark outside.

I still have to organize the closet and all of my electronics parts, but the room is already a lot more functional.

My New Office: Lighting & Furniture

One of the next steps in the new office project was lighting. The room didn’t have any, so I installed a ceiling light today.

I hadn’t posted about the furniture yet, which came in a couple of weeks ago. I’ve always wanted a brown leather chair in my office but didn’t have space for it. Now I do. White seemed more fitting.

I also have some top down bottom up blinds ordered, but I won’t get those for weeks because it took forever to get some samples. The air conditioning install starts tomorrow morning, so I’ll be able to move in my desk very soon!

Moving a Thermostat

As I’m preparing my new office, I realized it didn’t make sense to keep the thermostat for the front heating zone in the old/current office anymore. In the winter I’ll probably keep the doors closed and the register shut in that room unless I’m using it. So today I wanted to move the thermostat to the new office.

Disconnecting the thermostat and pulling wire through the basement was a walk in the park. Getting wire up the wall and through a small hole is no easy task though. I was playing around with some ideas in my head when I remembered I had an endoscope. I bought it 3 years ago, to the day, on Woot, knowing it would come in handy one day. Which reminds me of this quote from Adam Savage.

Today was that day! A couple of friends even made fun of me at the time, asking what in the world I’d ever need it for. I love proving people wrong when they doubt me. 😉

Ok, so what did I do? First, I found a hole in the basement that led up to a light switch on the back of the wall where I wanted to put the thermostat. Then I drilled some holes where I’d mount the thermostat. I tied a washer to a piece of string, for some weight, and fed it through the hole and down the wall. I uncoiled a wire coat hanger and made a small hook on the end. I fed the endoscope and wire hook up through the hole, found the string, and pulled it down through the hole. Success!

The hard part was done. I looped my thermostat wire around the washer.

I fed that back up through the hole. Then I went upstairs and pulled the string and wire up through my hole in the wall.

From there it was just a matter of mounting the thermostat and connecting wires.

Creating a New Home Office

Late in August I’m finally getting air conditioning (Mitsubishi mini splits) installed in my house. One of the wall units will be in the room across the hall from my current office, so I decided I’ll move there. The room is larger, gets more natural light, and has never been used for anything.

I’ve spent a lot of time in that room over the last three weekends, removing wallpaper, painting, and installing flooring. I’m loving with how it’s turning out. Here’s a before and after with the progress so far.

It’s been nice to have a big project to focus on. This room has already become a happy place whenever I walk by or look across from where my desk is now. Since I spend so much time in my office, I have several other plans for the room. More to come!