The Beach DC

For the past couple of years or so, the National Building Museum puts on some big, really fun exhibit during the summer. Last year, it was a giant maze that was a blast to go through. This year, they built a giant ball pit called The Beach DC where everyone can pretend they are five years old again. On Wednesdays, it is open late, and at that time it is also a happy hour, a thing that DC does really well. The Beach DC is the best people watching. Watching men and women in business outfits play in a ball pit is quite frankly really entertaining. Watching adults create “ball storms” is also hilarious.

Also, I went in a couple of times, and I now want to study the physics of trying to move through a giant ball pit. There is serious friction and other forces trying to stop your movement. I seriously have started trying to consider the forces. The balls all have friction against each other and you.

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Yes, he was throwing the ball at me I am sure. Yes, he did hit me. A couple of times.

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This guy even came prepared with swimming goggles.

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This staff member had moves.

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Sunset light was amazing

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Taking a selfie in a ball pit with a DSLR

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I got to give this dad credit. He threw his two sons into the ball pit for at least a half hour. His sons were having so much fun.

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Baby was really not sure about this ball pit thing.

Yes, someone helped her out of there.

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Happy kids everywhere

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Guy having a very serious discussion with a woman while he wore an inflatable toucan life preserver. Enough said.

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Dude was having so much fun playing with the balls.

Finally a 45 second slide show of still photos of people playing in the ball pit.

Building a Spice Rack

old spice rack

old spice rack

Here is the back story. The above photo is a spice rack I bought at IKEA. It was raw wood, and I painted it to match the wall. My initial intention was to see if I liked it there, then buy two more to place on either side if I did. I decided I did like it, but when I went to go buy two more, I couldn’t find them anymore. Then I realized, well this is stupid, I can just build a spice rack. Thus without further ado, how I built a spice rack.

The building supplies consisted of two primed, composite wood 1 x 4’s (which are really 0.75″ x 3.5″), primed 0.25″ x 0.75″ shoe molding, flat head screws, and wood glue. I cut the wood planks to fit the length of the wall, and I cut the molding into three pieces, one, the length of the planks and two, the length of the depth of the planks. Then I mitered the molding. The molding will serve as a shelf stop to make sure nothing falls off the shelf, in theory at least.

Building supplies

Building supplies

First, I joined the two planks to form an “L” shape.

Two planks joined

Two planks joined

I used screws to attach them together. Before inserting the screws, I pre-drilled holes and also pre-drilled a larger hole the size of the screw head at the very top of where the screw would go, so that the screw head would be recessed into the wood. The side where the screw head is, will be the top of the shelf, and plank perpendicular to it will be the way I attach it to the wall.

Screws used to join two planks

Screws used to join two planks

Then, I glued the long piece of shoe molding to the top of the plank, on the opposite side of the perpendicular plank.

Long stop piece glues and tape so it won't move while glue dries

Long stop piece glued and taped so it won’t move while glue dries

I then glued the two small pieces of shoe molding to the ends of the planks to complete the shelf stops. I used painter’s tape to keep the molding in place while the glue dried.

Tape pieces so they don't move while glue dries

Tape pieces so they don’t move while glue dries

Tape pieces so they don't move while glue dries

All pieces now joined, tape pieces so they don’t move while glue dries

Once the glue dried, I then used spackle to fill in the gaps and also the indentions where the screw heads are to make the shelf look more like one finished piece.

Sparkle used to fill in holes and gaps

Sparkle used to fill in holes and gaps

Spackle used to fill in holes and gaps

Spackle used to fill in holes and gaps

I then painted the entire piece with the same paint that I used to paint the wall. Obviously it could be a different color, but I like how it seems to just be part of the wall when it is the same color and not some attention grabbing piece. I then hung it on the wall using more flat head screws that I screwed into the studs.

Completed rack hung on wall

Completed rack hung on wall, notice recessed screw heads

Completed rack hung on wall

Completed rack hung on wall

I then filled in the volumes above the recessed screw heads with spackle.

Spackle used to fill indention from screw heads

Spackle used to fill indention from screw heads

Finally, I sanded the spackled areas and painted. Below, my finished, custom built spice rack.

Finished rack

Finished spice rack

Half Bathroom Renovation Finished

I have finished renovating the half bathroom! It is pretty much the last room in the house that needed renovation. [I say pretty much because I still have a few projects I want to do in the laundry area and storage room.] The plumber installed a new toilet and also the vanity. I bought a vanity that came with a white glass countertop, a white ceramic vessel sink, and a matching mirror. All it needed was the faucet. I installed a new three-bulb vanity light and also replaced the outlet and wall switches for new white ones. I also installed two glass shelves above the toilet. Finally I replaced the door hinges and door knob with hinges and a lever that match the rest of the house.

Full view of half bathroom

Full view of half bathroom

New toilet

New toilet

New vanity and matching mirror

New vanity and matching mirror

New vanity with vessel sink

New vanity with vessel sink

New glass shelves, mirror, and vanity light

New glass shelves, mirror, and vanity light

Half Bathroom Reconstruction

Reconstruction of the half bathroom is partially done. I hired a contractor to remove the second layer of subfloor and then lay concrete backer board so that I could lay tile. The contractor also placed new green board in to fill the whole from the old medicine cabinet and also use drywall mud on the walls to smooth over the texture left from the old wallpaper. After the contractor finished, I primed and painted the walls and ceiling and laid a new tile floor. I painted the walls the same blue color as the accent wall in the dining room, and the ceiling is the same pale blue as the ceiling in most of the house.

Patched and smoothed walls

Patched and smoothed walls

New concrete backer board subfloor

New concrete backer board subfloor

Newly painted walls and ceiling

Newly painted walls and ceiling

New tile floor

New tile floor

New marble transition and new tile floor

New marble transition and new tile floor

Half Bathroom Deconstruction

Sadly, with this phase of renovation, there was no drywall demolition. I say sadly because drywall demolition is one of my favorite activities. Deconstruction is now finished. The plumber came in first and removed the toilet and disconnected the sink. I removed the wallpaper, tile floors, the vanity, and all the fixtures. I then had a contractor come in and remove the second layer of plywood subfloor which only went around the old vanity. As with previous rooms I have renovated, at some point, “renovators” came and removed the old floor, but only around the old vanity, then put in another layer of plywood subfloor for no discernible reason, and then tiled. Thus everything had to come out to get to the original subfloor.

Old tile floor

Old tile floor

Old tile under the vanity still present

Old tile under the vanity still present

Demolition (almost) complete

Demolition (almost) complete

Hole left from medicine cabinet

Hole left from medicine cabinet

Vanity removed

Vanity removed and tile removed

Phase 4 Home Renovation Begins

The (possibly) final home renovation phase has begun. This will be a rather small and hopefully short phase. The only room involved is the half bathroom off of the living room and kitchen. So first some photos of the bathroom before renovation. The vanity cabinet is the exact same style and color as the old kitchen cabinets were. I did not realize it until I took it out, but the mirror above the vanity was actually a medicine cabinet.

Looking into the bathroom from the living room

Looking into the bathroom from the living room

The old vanity and medicine cabinet

The old vanity and medicine cabinet

Old vanity

Old vanity

Looking out to the living room

Looking out to the living room

Bad Restroom Design Example

Some time ago, I wrote about female public restroom design basics. I am so tired of walking into badly designed female restrooms, and I wanted to give a primer to what women in need in a public restroom. We don’t need fancy. We need functional. Based on the comments to my post and also one of the most hilarious Twitter discussions I have ever had, men’s restrooms are badly designed also.

Last month one day, I was working in an office building that was not the one in which I normally work. It was an older building. I won’t say which office building it was, but it was in Washington, D.C. It was the perfect example of bad public restroom design. It was the perfect example of not updating elements that could be easily updated. Thus, of course, I had to take photos and share with everyone why it is a perfect example of bad restroom design.

Toilet stall so short, one must climb on the the toilet to close the door

Toilet stall so short, one must climb on the the toilet to close the door

First, it had toilet stalls so short, a woman has to either stand on the toilet or squeezed in between the toilet and the stall wall to close the door. I still don’t understand how the original designers just can’t understand door swing distance and the area of a human footprint needed to be in stall length calculations.

The sinks: 3 sinks with separate hot and cold water faucets and 2 working soap dispensers at the ends

The sinks: 3 sinks with separate hot and cold water faucets and 2 working soap dispensers at the ends

Then it had three sinks with only two soap dispensers, both of which were on the far ends of the sink areas. Thus, a person who uses the middle sink needs to either go to the end or reach across another sink to get soap. In defense of the original design, each sink did originally have a soap dispenser above each, but those are now non-functional. Instead of replacing the non-functional soap dispensers, they just put new ones at the end. It should be noted that by either changing the mirror or finding a smaller soap dispenser, the middle sink could have its own soap dispenser. Thus, the renovators of this bathroom do not get an excuse for the soap dispenser stupidness.

Next, also shown in the above photo, there are separate cold and hot water faucets. I am not sure if separate faucets originated before mixing valves were created, but that is the only reason I can think for their existence. However mixing valves exist now, and thus there is no point to the continued existence of separate hot and cold water faucets in a public restroom sink where a person is never going to be filling the sink with water to then wash their hands in the water filled sink. While it would obviously require taking out the sink and faucets, to change the plumbing to include a mixing valve, it could be done. Depending on the piping, it is possible it would require taking out some tile to change the plumbing, but it could be done, and it is not a massive renovation, and it would make the sinks so much more functional.

The inexplicable couch

The inexplicable couch

Finally, the restroom had a couch. Old buildings always seem to have couches in the female restrooms. Because women often get the vapors and need a lie down while we clutch our pearls until some savior arrives with smelling salts. Or something like that. Could you lie down on most of these couches? No, they are generally love seats. Would I lie down on any of these couches? No, I would never even touch most of these couches. But it fills the space, which seems to be only point of these couches.

Master Bathroom Renovation Is Finished!

The master bathroom renovation is finally completely finished. The bathroom is small, but it has all the features I need and want. It is functional, and I love it. I previously wrote about the cabinets, but the final piece, an open shelving unit that sits on top of the countertop has been installed. All the cabinetry is from Tuscan Hills, and while most of it is standard cabinetry, some of it, especially the false bottom of the wall cabinet for access to the bath mechanics is custom. The tub is an MTI Andrea 14, and I must admit, after having taken a bath in it, it is even bigger than I realized, but it has whirlpool jets and air bubblers and is quite lovely in which to soak. I used frameless glass for the shower and simple, clear glass vessel sinks, so that visually they take up as little space as possible. I previously wrote and posted more detailed photos of the shower, so I am not posting too many here. The plumbing fixtures are all Grohe’s Atrio line. I used Moen’s Iso line for the towel bars and rings, robe hooks, and toilet paper holder, and I used Thomas Lighting’s Pittman fixtures for the vanity lights and wall sconces in the water closet.

Newly renovated master bathroom

Newly renovated master bathroom

Shower

Shower

Tub

Tub

Wall cabinet next to the tub

Wall cabinet next to the tub

Water closet

Water closet

Vanity

Vanity

Vanity

Vanity

Open shelves on the vanity

Open shelves on the vanity

One of the sink areas

One of the sink areas

Vanity faucet

Vanity faucet

Vanity lights

Vanity lights

Vanity Backsplash Tiled

This weekend I tiled the vanity backsplash. It is a rather high backsplash as I wanted the tile to go at least as high as the wall faucets. I wanted to tile a border around the recessed medicine cabinets, so I decided just to bring the backsplash up to the base of the medicine cabinets. Also, I changed the original design for tiling in the shower, and I have a bunch of left over glass tile, so I might as well use it. The height of the marble tile was determined by the height of the electrical box because I wanted the same tile type surrounding the electrical box, so the cover would lay flat.

Tile frame for medicine cabinets

Tile frame for medicine cabinets

Tiled vanity

Tiled vanity

Tiled vanity. Tiling stops before corner where shelving unit will be.

Tiled vanity. Tiling stops before corner where shelving unit will be.

Shower Floor Tile Laid

I laid the shower floor tile on Saturday. The tile is the same marble that is used on the bathroom floor. The bathroom floor tile is 12 in x 12 in tile with a brushed finished. The tile in the shower are smaller pieces that have been tumbled into odd shapes and placed on a mesh to give a cobblestone appearance. I really like using this type of tile for a shower floor because it is naturally slip-proof and feels really good on the feet. The only problem with using this type of tile though is fitting the different pieces together. They don’t line up the way regular shaped tile does. I removed pieces from the mesh of unused tile to fill in any gaps where the tiles met or where a tile met the edge of the shower. It is a bit of extra work, but I really like the appearance and think it is worth it.

Tile laid on the shower floor

Tile laid on the shower floor

Shower floor tile

Shower floor tile