The Story of #TinyMountainHome

"The mountains are calling and I must go..."

First things first, let's get the stats:

  • Name:  #TinyMountainHome
  • Location:  Park City, Utah
  • Size:  640 Sq Ft, 2 Bed, 2 Bath
  • Project:  Gut Renovation (In the Middle of a Blizzard)
  • Timeline:  5 Weeks

If you know us at all, you know we like to stay "in the bubble".  We live at the beach, we build at the beach, we stay in our little beach town and we LOVE it.  But sometimes, we get the urge to explore.  To get away from the norm and just go for it!  This time, it led us to a place called "Victorian Village" in Park City, UT.  

For those that haven't been to Park City, UT --- GO!  GO NOW!  If we sound a bit jaded, maybe we are.  An easy 30 minute drive from Salt Lake City, the CUTEST little town, and world-class skiing and snowboarding - what's not to like?  We also have some of our best memories here from A Park City Wedding and have wanted to come back ever since.  So in November 2015, we pulled the trigger!

So where to start?  Because the building is part of an HOA and because it was DUMPING snow, there really wasn't an opportunity to do anything to the outside.  We did find out that as soon as the snow melts, they are going to repaint the outside this really pretty blue color.  Yay!

So we started work on the inside.  The first step:  Make a list of all the things we wanted to add, change, or get rid of.  We even looked at some other houses in the same HOA to see what they had changed.  The list suddenly got really long when we started getting outside input!

Brett Roth

After making our list, it was time to sit down and make a plan.  This is when a good old fashioned pencil, tape measure, and graph paper can really make a difference.  

It wasn't easy but we came up with a plan that included:

  • Two Bedrooms with Closets
  • Two Bathrooms with Storage 
  • Adding a Washer & Dryer
  • Full-Size Appliances in Kitchen
  • Sectional Couch for Seating
  • Gas "Wood-Burning" Stove 
  • 3 TV's

And the toughest challenge to figure out was...

  • Dining Table for 4 People

 

Then, it was time to start construction.  Want to see what it looked like "BEFORE" ?  We thought so!  

Here is what the kitchen looked like during the demo.  What a difference!  We gave away the cabinets and appliances to a local family.  Recycle and reuse - yeah!

Speaking of reusing - one of the main reasons we were drawn to this house was the old wood floors throughout.  We really hoped we could salvage and refinish them.  However, the entire kitchen and entry area was tiled.  We had to hammer, chisel, jack-hammer, and sledge hammer through THREE layers of old tile and mortar but FINALLY under all that mess --- the wood floors we so desperately were hoping for APPEARED.  We were so excited!  It wasn't easy but we chipped away and got all that old tile up. 

So let's not sugar coat it --- the demolition was a PROCESS.  There isn't a garage, or a dumpster, or even a single bit of outside area that is covered.  And just to make it more fun, we received 60 inches of snow in 3 days.  Yes, that's considered a blizzard!     

About this time, we decided to start making some progress videos.  Everyone was asking how it was going and it was easier to just send a video than to explain it over and over.  Is that being lazy or being a genius?

As the demo got going, we had to keep changing things based on what we found.  We moved the electrical panel, we added backing in walls and reframed closets.  We added an area for a washer and dryer and re-insulated exterior walls for warmth.    

Finally, the demo was done and it was time to start rebuilding everything.  While the electricians ran all new wires, the plumbers ran all new pipes, and the finish carpenters started snapping their lines --- we unloaded all the IKEA cabinets from our car and started building!

Next step, install the cabinets!

For those considering IKEA Cabinets, we would highly recommend them with a few caveats:

  • Unless you are VERY handy, don't think you can install them yourself and that they will turn out looking like they do in the store.  We consider ourselves pretty capable and we NEVER could have installed these properly without the help of our carpenters.
  • Measure, measure, MEASURE!  1/2 of an inch off and you are in trouble!
  • Though they are relatively inexpensive, there are added costs such as toe kicks, hinges, side panels, etc that can start to add up.  Do your $$$ homework before you purchase! 

All that said, we went with the shiny white IKEA Ringhult Doors and we love them.  

As we waited for our plumbing materials to arrive, we ventured out to shop for all of our materials.  We had a list of all the finishes and worked diligently to check off each item.  We ordered brick for our walls, carpet for our stairs, a gas "wood burning" stove, and even a couch!  

 

On a sunny day in Salt Lake City we found ourselves way out by the train tracks picking up materials.  Had to stop for a photo!

Ok, enough fun!  Time to add the tub.  Now usually this wouldn't be that big of a deal.  Houses all over the world have tubs and you just install them and go about your day, right?  Not the case in this project.  The tub is cast iron and that means it's HEAVY!  Also, the plumbing supplier sent us the WRONG TUB.  So we were on a deadline, the tractor trailer somehow made it up the mountain in a snowstorm, we get the super heavy tub unloaded and unpacked only to realize they sent a tub with the drain on the wrong side.  Ahhhhh!  So instead of returning the tub and waiting for another, we decided to move all the plumbing to the other side.  It actually worked out ok but not without some major headaches.  Not to mention back aches - did we mention this thing was HEAVY?

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While the plumbers figured out the tub, the carpenters kept working as well.  They were tasked with covering every single surface of the interior with shiplap.  What is shiplap you ask?  Usually, it's a horizontal wood wall panelling.  In our case, since we were installing over existing drywall, we opted to use very thin plywood and rip it into "boards".  We then nailed these to the walls with a nickel's worth of space between.  When painted, it gives the look of shiplap without the cost or the weight on the walls.  We followed this very helpful Hooked on Houses Blog Post.  And did we mention our carpenters?  They are awesome!

To give an idea of what the difference is, here a photo of the bare walls when we started:

And working around the clock, here is a photo just a few days later of the walls with the thin brick and the shiplap:

After all the tile was laid and the carpentry was done, it was finally time to sand down the floors.  Now, just a sidenote - in order to sand the floors, NOTHING could be on the upstairs or downstairs floors.  Like we mentioned before --- no garage, no extra space, no NOTHING!  Just noting this because this is why renovations can be so challenging.  We had to bring EVERYTHING (think couches, sinks, toilets, tools, tv's, appliances, etc) and move them to a storage unit.  It's never as easy as it sounds!  

The floors sanded down beautifully:   

Time to choose the stain!  Which would you choose?

We went with the color on the right.  Two parts brown, one part gray.  They turned out awesome!

Finally, it was time to finish painting, install the countertops, add all the finish electrical, and a million other final touches!  Here is a video close to the end of the project:

And just a reminder - the entire time we were working - the SNOW WAS FALLING!  What a winter wonderland!  Great for snowboarding and pretty scenery - not so great for getting work done.

It was finally that time, we were almost done!  A few (ok, more like a dozen) trips to IKEA, some binge shopping at West Elm and Anthropologie.  Some major stock-ups at Target and it was almost time!

If you're interested in what we bought, we kept most of the products organized in a Pinterest Board.  In our opinion, this is the easiest way to manage a project.  Our favorite purchase by far were two IKEA MALM Storage Beds.  The storage gained is the equivalent of two closets!

The final touch?  An awesome gas "wood burning" stove in "Hunter Green" which is not only the coziest and warmest accessory we could find, it is awfully cute too!

Ok, we lied --- the real final touch were some bright yellow vintage lockers from Dusty's Rusty Lockers on Etsy.  As you might remember from our blog post Getting Classy With Lockers, this wasn't our first encounter with vintage lockers.  It was however, the first time we had to carry them up a very tight spiral staircase.  Yikes!

And finally, it was DONE! 

And some fun "BEFORE" and "AFTER" photos:

And what you really have been waiting to see...the official "AFTER" pics!  Also available to view (along with many of our other projects) on our HOUZZ page.