From the Mailbag

Occasionally here at Phantom Eyes, we get offline comments, IMs and other items to which we feel compelled to respond. Lately, the most common has been “WTF? Where are the pictures of the renovations?”

As always, we’re here to help.

First off, for the lazy or those who just don’t care enough, [here are the before pictures][1], taken a few years ago during our first walkthrough of this house.

![The den, looking toward the garage door][2]
![The den, other side of the room][3]

On the window side, you can see the exposed ventilation duct. The windows themselves are like a non-picture picture window: two pairs of four windows, of which one window of each set of four would open, if not painted shut.

There is a sill around half the room – this is where the wooden wall ends and the concrete foundation wall ends. You can see the one electrical outlet in that window-side photo. That’s one of only three in the entire room. The ceiling light is plenty bright – 4 x 100 watts isn’t bad, but it cast horrible shadows.

The walls aren’t paneled. It’s wallpaper. No shit.

No photos of the office – sorry. But, now that you’ve been introduced to the room, here is what it looks like now:

![Holy crap, that’s a lot of stuff in a work room][4]

Same basic view as the ones above. The vast majority of the work is on that outside wall. The old walls above the sill came off. We replaced the complete piece of crap “insulation” with actual insulation, and brought in a contractor to replace the non-functional windows with new energy-efficient ones. We’ve pulled the ceiling light and put up recessed lighting, adding a separate lighting circuit for lights in this room and the office.

Around the duct, we’ve cut about 5″ back from the ceiling to create a work channel. When we were trying to figure out how to wire up the lights, we first considered wiring through the outer wall, or using the trench that exists under the sill (it’s exposed in this photo – look under the new drywall). The problem with that was we couldn’t bring the wire up behind the duct and then over the duct into the ceiling.

Then, we considered punching holes in our living room wall (which is the room to the right of this one, up a half-flight of steps). Well, I considered it for about half a second, until the wife said no.

I had the idea for the work channel when looking in my crawl space at the wiring that was done when we upgraded our service. The electrician used these very cool brackets that nailed to the stud, and then had room for about 8 wires. I put them up on the joists, and was able to run the multitude of wires for outlets and lights around the room.

To close up the work channel, we’ll box it in roughly according to this diagram:

![Crappy powerpoint diagram. Sorry.][5]

The idea is the sit the plywood in the dado cut on the board, and then rest it on quarter-round. Should I want to ever get back up into the ceiling for additional wiring (surround sound, for example), all I’ll need to do is lift off the plywood and unscrew the board, which will be attached to the joists with L-brackets.

Anyway, that’s a quick overview of where I’m at. New lights, new walls, as I said the other day. I didn’t do squat with the spackle this weekend – I took the weekend off. So this week, got to complete the spackle and put up the prime coat of paint.

More photos of the renovation, including the office, are [here][6].


[1]: “Flickr set: The Old House Back Then”


[6]: “Flickr set: Progress on the downstairs room”


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