Hello! I’m Ana, a mother and homemaker from Alaska.
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posted by Ana White

Grandma-who-likes-to-sew took a little trip a bit back, so we hijacked her side of the Momplex and got to work on a project we didn't quite get finished up before moving day.

Downstairs, where the stairs land, between the garage and the bonus room (which will hopefully someday become Grandma's craft and sewing room), is a little area that will make a perfect mudroom.

In Alaska, where coats and boots are used like shirts and shoes, a mudroom is essential to a home.  The space here isn't very big, so we'll need to plan cleverly to make the most of it.

The only real place we have to add storage is on the far wall, between the two doors.

Grandma definitely wanted a bench seat for family and guest to sit down and take their boots off.  Under a bench, there should be storage for boots and shoes, but to make the storage more attractive, I'm going to build drawers.

Up top, cubbies for hats and mittens and scarves will sit above a row of hooks.  I'm going to convert Grandma to my lazy ways ... who needs hangers and closet rods when hooks are so much easier?  Don't judge me.

So we got a plan in place, and we'll tackle it in steps. 

We are already one step ahead of the game when we painted the concrete floors last fall with Rusoleum's Epoxy Shield Garage Floor Coating Kit - best $99 spent on the Momplex!  No chipping or scratches, several months later.

So now it's time to work on that mudroom storage system!

First up, the bench.

For the bench, we wanted something above all that was sturdy.  We decided to build a built in bench, using the studs in the walls as legs and supports for the bench.  It will be like a mini floor built into the nook area.

First up, we found and marked all the studs.

Then we used a level to mark the studs up the wall.

Then we picked a height for the bench, and drew a level line around the entire nook area at the height of the bench minus 3/4" (since we'll be using 3/4" plywood on top of the framing, we brought the line down 3/4" below the desired bench height).

When you are working with basement floors, the floor is often not level, so you shouldn't just measure off the floor in multiple areas.  Instead, you should measure off the floor in one spot, and then use a level to transfer that measurement around the walls.

On each side of the nook, we attached 2x4 boards to studs in the walls by predrilling holes and with 3-1/2" screws.  You'll want to hit two studs to avoid the bench from pivoting forward or having to add front legs.

Then we attached boards along the back to studs in the wall.  There was an electrical box, so we just cut the boards around it (it will still be accessible from underneath).

Then we just added a joist in the middle.  Depending on how wide and how long your bench is, you'll want to add more joist (more joist = more support).

We attached our joist with pocket hole screws using our Kreg Jig, but you could also toenail the joists in or use 2x4 joist hangers.

Then we added another 2x4 to the front to tie everything in, just predrilling and attaching with screws.

Then we took a break.

But we pretended like we were testing out how sturdy the bench was.  And contemplating adding front legs, additional joists, or just going with it.

But it got a little rough sitting on the 2x4 joists,

So we cut a piece of plywood for the top.

And then trimmed out the back with a 1x6 board (we also trimmed out the sides too).  The 1x6 boards cover the gap between the drywall and the plywood and give the bench a finished look.

Then we took all the trim pieces (the plywood and 1x6 boards) and painted them, and let them dry.

And then brought the prefinished boards back into the nook area, and set them in place.

Good thing we didn't hand brush because I can pretty much guarantee I would have sat on the wet paint.  There's no doubt.

Then we attached the prepainted boards to the wood framing with a finish nailer and glue.  We then filled the nail holes with wood filler and did a touch up coat of paint over the nail holes.

After the bench was built, we did end up deciding to adding two legs to the sides, attached to the wall.  This will give us a square area for the drawers to fit between.

We used the following materials to build this bench (measuring 18" wide by 6-1/2 feet long):

- 1/2 sheet of hardwood plywood ($25)

- (3) 2x4 boards ($6)

- (1) 1x6 board, 10 feet long ($7)

- Paint leftover from painting trim

- 3-1/2" self-tapping deck screws, 2-1/2" pocket hole screws and 1-1/4" finish nails ($5)

For a grand total of $43 for the sturdiest mudroom bench ever!

We'll be adding drawers underneath, testing my sewing abilities for a cushion, and a organizer with hooks on top - so stay tuned for that!

Thanks for reading!

XO Ana + Family

PS - If we made this bench a little wider, and hung it taller, wouldn't it make a great loft bed????? 

posted by Ana White

This set of stringers is going to get put in a skirt and heels - er, risers and treads today.

But before we start putting our Sunday's best on these stairs, let's take a second to remember where these stair boards have been.

We originally spent $400 on 2x12 boards,

Yep, at one point, they were new, not gray and old looking at all.

Until we poured concrete in them.  That's where the gray staining comes from.

The boards came in handy when we poured the concrete ICF walls,

And we used them as scaffolding.

Some of the boards got used up when we built the stair landings,

And the rest got cut up into stringers and construction treads.

We've already replaced the stair treads and risers in Momplex Unit B with finished treads and risers,

So this is it.  The last time you will see these boards.

This time around, we framed up a closet under the stairs and drywalled it in.

Then we replaced the stair stringers, and it's time to dress them up.

First up, we are going to put a skirt on the stairs.

This is how a carpenter makes a skirt.

First you put the uncut skirt board up, resting the top edge on the finished upstairs floor.

Then you bring the bottom corner past the bottom of the stairs the width of your tread cuts - probably around 11-1/2".  This places the skirt at the same angle as your stairs.

Then you use a level to mark level lines at the top and bottom of the board, where the board touches the two finished floors.

Notice that the landing floor isn't finished, but we have the skirt resting on a piece of the finished flooring.

Then to bring the skirt down to fit between the stairs and the wall, the height of your stair risers (from top of tread to top of next treads - somewhere between 7-8") is cut off the bottom of your skirt bottom.

Our Rigid saw has a laser line that helps us find the angles to cut the skirts,

After the skirts are cut, we can just slide the skirt right into place. 

We then cut an identical skirt for the other side of this run of stairs.

We screw this skirt from the inside to the stair stringers.  

On this skirt, we were smart, and marked the top edge level with the finished upstairs floor.

Remind me again why we didn't do that here too?

Using a level,

We mark the excess off the top of the skirt,

And then cut it off with a saws-all.  Definitely recommend cutting before than in place, but it can be done.

On the lower set of stairs, there's drywall on both sides.  So we built our stairs a little small for the opening, so we could fit the stairs in without damaging the walls.  Then we attached the skirts to the walls in place.  Notice that gap between the skirt and the stringer?

Well, you definitely want to attach the stringer to the studs in the wall for extra support.  So we shimmed between the skirt and the stair stringer,

Treads and risers will cover everything up.

With the skirts done,

We started cutting our risers.  Since our rise is 7-1/4", we just used 1x8 boards,

And nailed them to the stringers.

The bottom riser is always a tread's width less than the rest, 

So we ripped a 1x8 board down on the table saw,

To finish the bottom riser.

NOTE: The top riser is then a tread's width more than the rest of the risers.  We ripped our top risers out of a 1x10 board.

With all the risers done, it's time for the treads!

We cut each tread to fit, working our way from the bottom of the stairs (the saw is downstairs), to the top.

Then once we got to the top of the stairs, we started at the top, and working downward, removed each tread,

 glued under each tread,

Nailed each tread down with 15 gauge nails,

And worked our way downward.

We'll let the glue fully dry over the weekend,

And you won't believe we are going to do to these stairs next.

Have a great weekend!

XO Ana + Family

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