Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Project Switch Rooms: Lukas's room

While Jacob and I were working on his side of the partition, Jörn and Lukas started painting Lukas's side. I guess Marie must have taken this photo on Thursday, January 9th, since I didn't even KNOW they'd started until the door and window frames and bottom edges had all been finished, and Jörn was asking me to do the edges around the fancy molding along the ceiling.

Lukas had a grand time:


I got rather into it myself, although I REALLY didn't like the color Lukas had chosen:

Here the molding is visible:

On Friday, January 10th, I did a second coat on the entire room, and Jörn and Lukas put a wood undercoat on Lukas's bed. Its original owners had painted it yellow and green, and when Marie inherited it when she was five years old, I painted it red and blue. Lukas has had the bed since he was about five himself, and wanted it the same green as his room. His room. His bed. Not my problem. Jörn took one exciting photo of the undercoat, and none of the painting:
However, somehow or other, I ended up doing most of the painting of the bed, including a second coat of some parts on Saturday, the 11th, and that afternoon, I put it together. Upside down. At Lukas's request. He decided he didn't want a high bed anymore. That meant a loss of two square meters of floor space, but also, as he put it, two fewer square meters that he would have to clean up. Whatever. His bed. His room. His problem. Or not a problem. Elisabeth likes his bed:

Lukas got busy with hammer and nails, covering up a lot of the green and making the room much more bearable:

Actually, I even kind of like it now, and Lukas is doing a relatively good job of keeping his own room tidy, too. And the bed being the same color as the walls isn't as weird as I'd thought it would be--I think it even makes the room feel a little less tiny, because it blends in.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Building The Wall

The first post about the project of moving and dividing rooms was mostly photos of messy rooms, here's the next bit about the most interesting (to me) part: the building of The Wall. Actually, it's technically just a partition, not a permanent structure, and despite it taking us a week to build, we could probably dismantle it in under an hour. As for the purpose of it, it does seem to be that a good fence is making better neighbors: Jacob and Lukas appear to be getting along better without having to share a room.

Jörn's idea of building the wall on Thursday, January 2nd, was first of all thwarted by the fact that some shops, including the hardware store, were still closed. However, the wood warehouse was open, so we were able to get 48 meters of rough-cut 2X2s in approximately three-meter lengths and start with the measuring and cutting. It was good that we didn't need them to be EXACTLY three meters long, because none of them were--Jacob measured several, and they were between 296 centimeters and 304, and the ends were, for the most part, cut very badly. It amuses me that although the lengths are in metric, the width is in inches, but being rough cut, the "two inches" each way varied from just under 4 1/2 centimeters to just over 5.

Here Jacob is making the first cut, with plenty of supervision:

In fact, we had even more of an audience than I had realized! We'd told the little girls that they could NOT come out on the kitchen terrace while we were cutting the wood, but I didn't know about this photo, taken by Jörn, until I uploaded the photos to the computer.
That first day we cut most of the uprights (280 centimeters each--the distance from floor to ceiling is about three metes, varying up to two centimeters, and with the fancy molding on the edges and wanting room to maneuver, we settled on 280 centimeters) and the pieces for the tops and bottoms, for making three individual frames. We didn't cut any of the cross-pieces, though (called "noggins", a new term for me, and thanks to Wikipedia, I now know that they are called "blocking" in the U.S., but I didn't know that term, either), because I wanted the frame to be put together first and measure the noggins as we went. It seemed like we were going to have a lot of wood left over, though, so we asked Richard to have a look at what we'd done so far, and we decided to add one more upright (I suppose I should properly call it a "stud") to the longest wall, as well as make the corners much stronger than I'd planned, requiring another four uprights. In fact, in the end I had to buy another nine meters of wood.

On Friday the 3rd we went to the hardware store and bought 70x4 mm screws and finally got started with the actual construction. I did all of the measuring and marking and Jacob did most of the cutting and drilling of pilot holes.

We started with the frame for the second shortest section, the one coming out next to the window. This shows it with some of the noggins in, and it's upside down: the top right corner has a notch cut out of it to fit around the skirting board (is it called that when it's actually tile??), so that's actually the bottom.

Seeing how well it fits (and still missing one noggin):

Testing the strength after the final noggin was put in:

Jacob and I worked really well together, at least that first day, and had quite a good rhythm going of measuring, cutting, drilling, and putting in screws, and if we could have continued at that pace, we probably could have finished in another day, but Jacob was out in the afternoon and I did the second section almost entirely by myself. Once it was completed, we held them in place to see if they fit and how they would look:

Marie steadying something for me while I drill a pilot hole:

On Saturday, January 4th, Jacob managed to take enough time out of his busy schedule that we completed the third, and longest, section. They were so well balanced and fit so well together, that it was very easy to hold them up for a photo (yes, I'm bragging), even before they were fastened together or fastened to the walls of the room:

Here Jacob and I are working on one of the corners:

Lukas helping steady the pieces while Jacob and I continue fastening things together:

The ends are fastened to the walls with coach bolts, three on each wall. That doesn't seem like much to me, but the shape of the partition is such that it could stand up by itself without any fastening at all, and it definitely seems very sturdy.

On the Friday we had ordered 4mm thick MDF, medium-density fiberboard, which was delivered 15 minutes later, but we didn't start working with it until Monday, January 6th, which was a holiday. They had told us that the MDF was 183 by 220 centimeters, so we'd planned the frame accordingly, making the longest section exactly 220 centimeters wide to accommodate that with minimal cutting, and putting noggins at 183 centimeters all the way across. Happily, the 183, at least, was correct, but the pieces were actually 221 centimeters long, meaning that for that one single piece we'd hoped to put in easily, we had to cut off one centimeter. But it all worked out and we were far too busy to take photos. I finally took one, from Jacob's side of the room, as Jacob took one of me:
Sometime before the above photo was taken, Jacob had also moved the lamp to Lukas's side of the wall (as that's where the light switch is), and installed a light on his side.

Again, I did all of the measuring and marking, and Jacob most of the cutting. Jacob is taller than I am, so he did most of the work closer to the ceiling:

However, Jacob was busy all afternoon, so I ended up completing Lukas's side of the partition and some of Jacob's by myself, although I did have to get Jörn, Marie, or Lukas to help me carry the largest pieces from the kitchen terrace, through the kitchen, down the hallway, into Lukas's room, and then all in reverse, as I was cutting the details in the corner to fit the molding around the ceiling, not to mention to fit the fact that the walls are not exactly perpendicular to the floor (MY wall is!! I mean the house walls!) and the ceiling not equidistant from the floor! However, there's only one photo of this entire process, because I was occupied with doing the work and Jörn was occupied with keeping the little girls out of the way. Lukas did help some:

And then as of Tuesday the 7th, Christmas vacation was over and regular activities were starting up again, so the rest of the work moved very slowly. The following photos were taken on Thursday, January 9th, Lukas's side completely done, but Jacob's side awaiting his decision as to exactly how we puzzle the pieces in:

A compromise was finally reached, and a photo duly taken on Friday, January 10th, of Jacob driving in the final screw:

In the meantime, painting had been started and very nearly completed on Lukas's side, but that's another series of photos, to be posted another day.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Project Switch Rooms: getting started

When I was 17, I spent seven weeks in Costa Rica, and in the car on the way home from the airport, I got informed that I wouldn't be able to sleep in my room that night, as it was under construction. My brothers, 15 and 12, had presented a plan of construction to my parents, which would provide each of them with their own room, and they'd decided to go with it. It involved building a hallway through my room to add an extra room onto the house. I didn't really mind, in fact, I was quite happy about getting a new room (I got first choice of the three rooms: the one my brothers had had, the one that had been mine and was now considerably smaller, and the new one: I obviously chose the new one!), but it did seem rather a drastic move for my parents to make for my brothers' sake, I left home a year later anyway, and besides, I'd had my own room since I was 11, so didn't quite understand their conflict.
I get it now.
It's been close to out-and-out war here for quite awhile between my two sons. Three years ago we turned our office/second living room into a bedroom/office for us, made our old bedroom into a room for the little girls (two at the time, as of April all three are in there), and Marie got her own room. It was easier for me to sympathize with Marie, I think, because exactly like me, she's the oldest, a girl, followed by two boys, and the next sister eight years younger. Obviously, it was beyond frustrating for a 13-year-old to share a room with a five-year-old and a two-year-old. Two boys three years apart shouldn't have so much trouble sharing a room. Right.
We don't own our home, so adding an actual complete room is not an option, but that didn't stop us from thinking creatively. We'd tried dividing the boys' room by putting tape on the floor, but that was useless, and it just wasn't big enough to divide it with furniture, and while I LOVE the built-in closets here (as opposed to having to buy wardrobes in Germany), it also meant that both boys needed access to the same side of the room. Marie's room was slightly larger, and for over three years, we'd been saying that if the boys managed to clean up their room, we'd switch them. We finally decided that wasn't gonna happen. But we also were pretty sure that just putting them in a bigger room wasn't going to solve anything either--that's just more room for junk to be collected and fought over. (Especially fighting over how much of the other's is on which side of the room...)
So...we looked at all the rooms to figure out a way to divide one with a partition. The girls' room is by far the largest room, but it only has one window (well, it's a double-sliding door, so a BIG window, but still just one), and besides, there are three children in there, and at their ages (eight, five, and three), they play a lot in a way older children don't. We even considered our room, which doesn't even have a door, but two doors could be built into the large archway, but it's already such a dark room that dividing it wouldn't be great, and I didn't really want the boys at the front of the house. Or move all my stuff. ("My" stuff being a relative term...yes, I have piles and piles of chaotic mess and it looks awful, but the vast majority of it is not MINE, it's stuff that I have to deal with! Clothes to be mended, toys that have been confiscated, bags of things people have kindly given me and I haven't had time to look through, etc....)

The best option seemed to be Marie's room, because while the other two children's rooms have sliding glass doors leading onto a balcony to which there is no practical access (ahem...the children DO climb over one end of it, and also climb from it into the fig tree and down to the driveway underneath, but I don't think I'm supposed to know about that), Marie's room has a small double door (glass) leading onto what we call "the kitchen terrace." (Balcony? Porch? Veranda? Covered area?) So from that door, one crossed a small covered area and enters the kitchen, so is never really outside.
Much to the astonishment of some of our friends, "thinking about" changed to "decided" became "happening" all very quickly. Actually, Jörn had been talking about doing this during the week between Christmas and New Year for some months, but I didn't get at all involved in the "thinking about" myself, because I figured that we could start that after the boys cleaned their room, and since that wasn't likely to happen until they left home (and if some of my siblings...and myself...are anything to go on, leaving home wouldn't necessarily make it happen, either...) I think it was the Sunday before Christmas that we decided to just go for it, not waiting for the boys to get their acts together. Marie had been gone for two and a half months and Jacob had had her room, and neither Jacob nor Lukas were looking forward to having to share again as of Marie's return the next day.
We didn't actually get started until December 31st. Our friend Richard came over a few days before that and helped us brainstorm just how to make it work, and then Jacob and I had gone over to his house to look at the plans I'd drawn and discuss material, and then Jörn and I went away for our anniversary on the 30th, so suddenly, most of the "week between Christmas and New Year" was gone already. Jörn, who has many wonderful organizational skills, isn't the world's best spacial thinker nor estimator of time needed for projects in which he is not directly involved, and HE certainly wasn't going to be doing the building! He kept saying that on the Tuesday (December 31st) the children could pack everything, on Wednesday (January 1st) we'd switch the furniture around, Thursday build the wall, and Friday paint. While I'm perfectly capable of being unrealistic myself, I KNEW there was no way that was going to happen.
However, on December 31st, the children did start packing stuff up, and it even occurred to me to take some photos. A lot of photos. Most of which probably won't even make sense to people who haven't actually been in our house.
First of all, here is a view of Marie's room, AFTER she had cleaned up a LOT. The sofa bed is even folded into a sofa!

Here's another view, standing in the corner by the built-in closets, and there's the door to the kitchen terrace:
 And here's the corner in which I'd been standing for the previous photo:

It all looks pretty awful, but just wait: here's a view of the boys' room from the door, also AFTER they'd spent hours sorting, packing, and throwing away stuff:
 The bed that's (sort of, under all the stuff) visible is Jacob's, while all the stuff piled behind it is Lukas's. The blue and red barely visible on the left is Lukas's bed, and Jacob's desk (not visible) is behind that. No, I have no idea why they'd decided on that arrangement.

Here's some of Jacob's stuff on the balcony outside their bedroom:

And...their bedroom from the balcony door:

Lukas's bed, taken from his corner behind Jacob's bed:

And one more of the room from the balcony door, trying to get both beds in:

This was NOT going to be an easy project!!

But all three of them were motivated, even Marie, because although she was going to have a slightly (very slightly) smaller room, she was going to get to paint it. I decided that MY first job was to clear off the buggy (actually a stroller in American English, but I've been in Europe too long for that word to sound normal to me) in our entrance, as it hadn't been used to carry a child for probably a year or more (Elisabeth is very independent and didn't want to ride in the buggy by the time she was two, whereas Helen sometimes still did when she was four...) and was piled high with stuff. I didn't take a photo of it, but did clear it off and put it downstairs, and then moved the coffee table from Marie's room to that spot in the hallway. (All the stuff IN the coffee table is mine, or mine-to-deal-with...) Within seconds of putting it in place, Elisabeth put a sweater on it, and now it's piled as high as the buggy ever was. Oh well.

Jörn and the boys went box hunting, and stacked the empty boxes in the hallway:

In the meantime, Marie had made quite a lot of progress in her room:

And Jacob a remarkable amount in his:

And a bit later, even had most of the bed OUT of the room:

...and stacked in Marie's room: which point we started taking apart Marie's bed:

...while Jacob swept the space in his room where his bed had been:

Here Marie and I were trying to maneuver a particular piece out of the room without taking it apart, but I think we ended up having to take it apart after all:

Marie, Jacob, and Lukas holding up the bed while I put it back together, now in the boys' room:

That was the final photo of the day, as our friends Richard, Sue, and Tim then arrived for dinner. We did finish putting the bed together, though, but couldn't get one particular screw in, which was rather vital for holding up a corner of the desk. Since we'd originally gotten the bed from these same friends in the first place (and Richard had built the desk), he had a look at it and discovered that the screw had broken off. He kindly said that that sometimes just happens. I suspect that the earlier photo of Marie sitting on the desk gives us another clue as to what happened...

Anyway, they propped the corner of the desk up with a radiator and a nerf dart, and the next morning Richard came by and fixed it properly:

Lukas putting his clothes away in his new closet:

The hallway piled with Jacob's Stuff:

The sofa bed moved (temporarily) into the living room:

Jacob fixing a bookcase which was now going to be his, and his bed in the background, in his new room:

Marie's bed put together in her new room, desk looking back to normal:

Lukas's stuff piled up on his side of the new room, but Marie's desk still there on the right-hand side, and the open closet door on the right showing the stuff that I'd taken off of the bookcase and all of the bedding:

And...that, I think, is quite enough! Part two may or may not be written and posted in another day or two.