Remodel: Townhome in Rafter J

We bought a townhome – Let the remodel begin!

My fiance Chris and I recently purchased a townhome south of Jackson. It’s going to be a complete remodel and we are excited to get started. I thought it would be interesting for my readers to follow our progress (including successes and missteps). We’ve never done something like this before so it will be interesting!

Closing

Signing the closing documents for the townhome

Here are a few of the “Before” photos. The townhome is 1,040 sq feet with 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms along with a oversized 2 car garage. It was built in 1981 and has original finishes, including dark brown carpet and 80's style "brick" linoleum in the kitchen and entry way. One of the bedrooms was painted bright pink (even the ceiling!).

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Needless to say there is a TON of potential! The south facing deck overlooks a neighboring horse pasture with mountain views. I have a feeling we'll be spending plenty of time out there this summer.

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Stay tuned every week to track our progress!

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Week One: Demolition & Painting

As soon as we were able to get into the condo, Chris began tearing out the old brown carpet and baseboards that were throughout the home. He also chiseled out all the old linoleum, which was quite the laborious task!

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Kitchen Demo: Chris dismantled the entire kitchen pretty quickly. We have new cabinets from IKEA, and hope to purchase new appliances in the next few weeks (although the original ones do still work - the fridge is keeping Chris's afterwork beers cold!). Our plan is to knock down the wall on the right, which will really open up the entryway and then install a large granite counter top in between the kitchen and the living room.

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Bathroom #1: Our plan is to fully remodel one of the bathrooms (the smaller one) first. We figured we could work on the second (larger) bathroom once we are moved in.

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Chris got to use his new sawzall to cut apart the shower! He had to cut it into several smaller pieces to get it out of the house. (Note the concrete wall is the firewall between ours and the neighboring unit.) Our plan is to install a new tub and use shower tile all the way up to the ceiling, in addition to installing a new vanity, toilet and tile flooring.

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Painting: While Chris is doing most of the work for the remodel (I get the fun job of documenting it all), I was able to contribute my painting skills in the back bedroom (with my friend Lucille's help!). We are painting both bedrooms a light blue color (my favorite) and painting the living room and hallway a beige/light brown color. We are also painting all of the trim an eggshell white. Everything was so dark in there (carpet, trim, doors, etc.) it will be nice to brighten it up!

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Up Next: Tearing down the kitchen wall, installing new cabinets and doing some basic electrical and plumbing work.

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Week Two: Removing the "Wall" between the kitchen and entryway and Installing the Kitchen Cabinets

Both the SE40 and NE40 townhomes in Rafter J were constructed with a galley style kitchen with a wall on both ends of the counter. In speaking with many other townhome owners, we learned that everyone that did a remodel, also removed the "wall". In many of the remodeled units we looked at, removing the wall really opened up the entry way and the kitchen. It makes you wonder why the built it in in the first place! Here are some of the "before" photos of the wall taken from the entry way:

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If you ask Chris I would think demolishing the "wall" has been his favorite part. I envisioned taking a sledge hammer to the drywall, but it appears Chris handled it in a much more professional manner.

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After shoring up the bar wall to the height we want for the counter, Chris went to work on moving the electrical (dangling wires in the photos) to the wall closest to the entrance - he's pretty handy! He also installed new energy efficient canned lighting fixtures in the ceiling.

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After the wall was removed and the wires re-routed, Chris went to work on installing our new kitchen cabinets. We purchased them from IKEA, which means they arrived in flat boxes - assembly required. Chris said it they were easy to put together; it just took time. I think they look great; we are really happy with our selection of color and style.

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For those that haven't met Piper, she is our cute little Basenji mix pup. Chris takes her to the job site many days (unless it's a big painting day). Below she is checking out the neighboring horses and enjoying her first bowl of crunchies at the new place - I think she is excited for our new house too!

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Up next: More painting (living room and trim) and tiling the entryway

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Week Three & Four: Tiling the entryways, installing the bathtub, a new water heater and more painting!

In the last few weeks, Chris has been hard at work down at the townhome.

In the kitchen, he did some drywall patching near the ceiling (from where we ripped out the wall), and rebuilt/adjusted the bar/center counter.

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We removed the step up counter and are going to get one big piece of granite. Below are some of our color choices. We are leaning towards some sort of subtle color: blue, green, etc. What do you think? It’s hard to know if we’ll like it from one small 3″ x 3″ sample at the store!

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We finished painting the living room and now everything has been painted except the bathrooms, which we’ll do once we pick out tiling, vanities and fixtures. The living room is a light brown / beige color. We painted the window and trim an eggshell white and also painted the ceiling a bright white – it was dirty!

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Chris wrestled the new tub into the bathroom and installed the new plumbing for the shower. We moved the shower head up higher on the wall. Our plan is to tile up to the ceiling (next week). We have bronze/copper colored fixtures for the shower and vanity.

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We had our friend Tommy Price help with the tiling, since Chris had never done it before. He did a great job! We tiled the entryway, laundry room and small area by the back door. We picked tile that had a little bit of brown in it, which should look nice next to the bamboo wood flooring.

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We plan to replace all of the appliances, but the water heater was the top priority as it had been corroding for a while. Not too exciting, but definitely a necessity!

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Up next: Installing the wood flooring and putting the small bathroom back together!

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Week 5 & 6: Installing the wood floors and tiling the bathroom

For the past few weeks, Chris has been focused on installing our new bamboo wood floors. We are putting hardwood floors in the entire house with the exception of the bathrooms, entryways and laundry room. We got a great deal on the flooring at Lumber Liquidators in Salt Lake City last fall. Chris learned how to start from the middle of the house and work out (who knew?!). We borrowed a huge nail gun from our friend Jon Hunt and Chris went to work! We are so happy with how it looks - even better than we were expecting. Piper doesn't know what to think - the nail gun and compressor noise scares her (poor pup!) and she is still getting used to having much less traction on the slippery wood floors compared to the old carpet at our current place.

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Chris ripped up the ugly linoleum in the kitchen - I think the wood looks MUCH better and like how it looks against our new cabinets - what do you think? We also installed a new kitchen sink!

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Our friend Tommy Price continues to work hard on tiling the shower in Bathroom #1. Lesson learned: the small tile we selected for the shower, while it looks really cool, is very tedious to install. Further, our desire to install it at a 45 degree angle (as opposed to 90 degrees or a "brick" design), also extended the installation time. Tommy is doing awesome work, but recommended maybe doing larger tiles (12" x 9") in the second bathroom. We can get the larger tile in the same color/design as Bathroom #1, and could pick out a different accent border to mix it up a bit.

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We also scored a used refrigerator from JB Mechanical! It was purchased by a woman, but was never used as it turned out to be the wrong size. It's perfect for us. I can't wait to not have to bend over to reach the produce in the fridge (why aren't all refrigerators designed like this?!). Chris is going to build me a wine rack in between the fridge and the cabinets. Eventually we will get all new black appliances but for now, we have a nice white stove given to us by a friend.

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UP NEXT:

1. Selecting the granite for the kitchen: Below are some of our choices - we are leaning towards the one on in the upper right. It's called Sage Green which we think will go nicely with the cabinets. It also has a hint of black which should go well with the black appliances.

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2. Finishing the bathroom: As soon as the shower is done, we are can install the toilet and vanity. Still need a bathroom mirror, towel rack and shower curtain.

3. Finishing the flooring and installing new baseboards.

3. Move in! Our move in day is quickly approaching. Thankfully we have a large 2 car garage where we can store many of our things as we get organized in our new place.

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Week 7 & 8: Finishing the flooring and bathroom and MOVING DAY!!

We are living at our new place!! We love it! So thankful to have a garage. I did quite a bit of purging for the move - lots a great spring garage sales items.

Chris continued to work hard leading up to moving day. He finished up the wood flooring in the back bedroom a few days after we moved in. We installed a thick bamboo floor that supposedly has a 100 year warranty. We really like how it looks; it goes well with the cabinets too.

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The small bathroom and shower is complete! We put in everything new - new shower (with higher shower head), new tub, new tile flooring, new vanity, new toilet and new paint. Here's another look at the "before" photos. Chris also installed a new bathroom fan and removed the baseboard heater and installed a small wall heater. Great work! If we had to do it over again, we would have used larger tile in the shower - the small tiles took forever - but they do look pretty cool!

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We ordered new custom wood blinds for the windows. The house came with some very old and dirty vertical blinds (we threw them out on day one!). We plan to replace the windows (original from 1980) but needed some new blinds in the meantime. (We ordered them from selectblinds.com and found them to be nice and very reasonable.)

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UP NEXT:

Granite Counter Installation (right now we have plywood counter tops!)

Insulating the Crawl Space (fun!)

Starting on the big bathroom (but not until April - Chris is going skiing!)

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Granite Counters & Starting the 2nd Bathroom

We are have now been living in our new townhome for a month! We love it. Rafter J is a great neighborhood with beautiful mountain views, gorgeous sunsets and sunrises from our back deck and, to our surpirse (and Piper’s delight) several walking/running trails along Flat Creek only steps from our front door. We couldn’t be happier!

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The biggest addition (literally and figuratively) to the townhome this past month was the installation of the granite kitchen counter tops. John from Teton Granite (whom we HIGHLY recommend!) templated the counters and 3 days later showed up with a huge piece of granite.

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Along with two of John’s partners and our good friend, Brian Stepek, the six of us slowly moved the granite counter top into the house. The large piece weighed more than 600 pounds! They ended up driving the truck around back to minimize the carrying distance.

The granite looks amazing! We are so happy with our selection of color (green with black/brown specs) and our decision (Chris’ idea) to have a curve shape facing the living room.

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Near the beginning of April, Chris started work on the large bathroom. Similar to the other, smaller, bathroom our plan is to rip everything out and start over. In addition to new tub, tile floors, tile shower, new vanity, new paint and new toilet, we also decided to enlarge the bathroom slightly be shrinking the over-sized hall closet. This required Chris to tear out the drywall, move the plumbing back and rebuild the wall (he’s pretty handy!).

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As a result of shrinking the closet, we are able to have a bench at the foot of the tub, which will be tiled along with the rest of the shower. Our goal is to have the bathroom finished in time for our parents’ visits in early May.

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UP NEXT:

Insulating the Crawl Space (fun!)

Finishing the big bathroom (hopefully by early May when our parents visit)

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Finishing the Second Bathroom (finally!)

The remodel of the second bathroom took longer to compete, probably because we already had a working shower/tub/etc. in the first bathroom, which we remodeled before we moved in. Once we did complete the second bathroom, we had difficultly finding a longer shower curtain (most only span 72" in turns out!). IMG_1875IMG_0252

We are very happy with how the tile turned out in this bathroom - thanks again to our friend Tommy! Since we liked it so much, we ended up using the same type of tile we used in the first bathroom, but chose a different size and pattern for the shower (9" x 12" tiles in a brick pattern). We painted the walls a dark brown color, which matches some of the accent tiles. The blue towels also match the accent tile and help to brighten it up. (Note: Chris still has to finish the trim.)

In April Chris shrunk the size of the hallway closet in order to provide more room in the shower, which allowed us to construct a little bench at the foot of the tub (see the above post).

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Selecting a vanity turned out to be more difficult than we imagined, given that we needed it to be 5 feet long. Turns out there are very few vanities in that length and most of them have 2 sinks (while we only wanted one). We found one we liked online at HomeDepot.com and had it delivered to the house. We really like it and enjoy the many drawers (you can never have too many!).

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UP NEXT:

Working on the Landscaping (there currently isn't any!) and re-building the back Deck (it's falling apart!)

Installing new windows and doors throughout the townhome

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New Deck, Windows, Doors & Landscaping

Over the past several months, we have replaced all remaining items in our townhome. Chris ripped out and re-built our back deck. The original deck was literally falling apart from years of use and deferred maintenance. Many of the boards were rotten. We called it a "happy" deck because the drooping center made it look like it was smiling at you. Chris finished building the deck just in time for summer and we enjoy most summer dinners out there!

We added some additional landscaping to the east side of the house and removed a large dead shrub from near the front door.

We replaced all the original windows with new, energy efficient windows. We opted for the slide open windows instead of the crank open. Chris installed all new trim (inside and outside). They really look great!

We also replaced all the interior and exterior doors. We found these beautiful solid wood doors at the Restore to replace the damaged hollow core original doors. It was quite the find and they all swung the correct way – what a score!

Lastly, we replaced the front and back door. The new back door has a full length window which dramatically improved the light in the townhome. I wish we would have done this on day 1 of the remodel!

The Remodel is Complete!

Nearly two years later we have replaced and updated nearly every single thing in the townhome, including new windows, interior/exterior doors, complete new kitchen and bathrooms, new appliances, new flooring (bamboo and slate tile), new back deck, additional landscaping, and even new insulation in the crawl space. Phew! While we both spent a ton of time on planning and shopping for the remodel, my husband Chris really deserves most of the credit. With the exception of the tile work (thanks Tommy), Chris did all the work himself!

Here's a quick look at a few of my favorite "Before and After" Shots:

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UP NEXT: Chris and I just purchased a single family home in Wilson. It's an older home with a ton of potential! Great bones but everything needs to be updated. Starting another blog soon!

One thought on “Remodel: Townhome in Rafter J

  1. Dad says:

    This appears to be a much better way to spend your time than skiing those powdery slopes! Linda watches most episodes of Property Brothers and Love It Or List It if you need remodeling advice. She also watches most episodes of all doctor shows if you need any medical advice. I built a shelf for our new kitchen almost all by myself in case I can be of service. Have fun.

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