Introduction: Second Floor Bungalow Remodel

About: I have been a full time bicycle mechanic for the past 15 years. I also do some graphic and web design. I love the Quote "If you can’t open it, you don’t own it"

Remodeling your bungalow style 2nd floor.

From clearing out the junk, to demoing and reframing walls, to installing some custom built-in shelving. Finshing with painting and updating the powder room. Starting Time line: Two weeks; Starting budget $700. How did we do? Read on to find out.

Step 1: Cleaning Out the Junk, Looks Better Already!!!

Cleaning out the junk, Remember to always KMF "Keep Moving Forward"

1. Throw out the unnecessary boxes, bags and literal trash.

2. Organizing random debris into "CLEAR" storage totes for easily recognizable accessibility later on. This came in so handy when people would call up and ask if I have this or that and I could say, "Ya, I think I just put a bunch of those in here, hold on let me look" Added bonus getting rid of stuff easier & faster.

3. Make a box(s) to take down to local thrift shop. Side Note: be aware of the drop-off times, as to not get chased out of the parking lot by a mean guy screaming "no donations after hours, drop off hours are over." What's wrong with this guy, doesn't he want my FREE junk. Hum.....well maybe not! Also, it does tell you something when even the second hand stores don't want it. Well, maybe Uncle Al would take it......wait.....stop......don't be a enabler! Its probably just junk and Uncle Al most likely already has two of them. Believe me, Aunt Sylvia will thank you later on for not mentioning it to him when, he sees all your nice completed project pictures on

4. EBAY and Craigslist are a good way to clear out and bank some much needed funds for upcoming remodeling expenses. Don't waste too much time on this part though, it could stifle your mojo to KMF and if not careful you could end up buying more than you're selling and be going backwards.

5. Sit back and appreciate the nice clean space!!! Now is also a really good time to stop and ask yourself if you're up to this and could you just stop here and live with the space as-is. Obviously, I couldn't, didn't !!!

Step 2: Starting Demo & Pricing Out Your Project

1. Demo, sounds easy right, it can be if done right. Don't just grab that sledgehammer and start swinging for the fences. Plan out what is being demoed and cost and labor time to rebuild it later on. Note: I found a tool I love to use in demo and just have to tell you about it. The Husky 1-1/2 in. Chisel Putty Knife Model# DSX15s was great for removing trim I wanted to reuse and cutting a straight line in plaster.

Here I deemed it would just be easier to remove the knee wall area where I was planning to install new built-in shelves. It was old plaster and lath and was a bear to remove all in one day. I used, no exaggeration 10+ homer buckets and filled them one by one till all ten were full than took them in one trip to dump. Yes, I could have just filled a trash can or two but, the smaller buckets were a lot easier to move and handle up and down stairs and transport in my car. One 50gal trash can could have weighed in at 150lbs when full of plaster and debris. No way I was moving that alone.

Note: Most curbside trash companies now have a 40lbs rule on you trash bags, etc.. So don't over fill your bags and cans. Also, Most States now do not let you put small electronics like TVs, printers, monitors, etc. out with your trash, you will have to find local e-recycles to part with them. I was able to take some things to my local electronics store "BestBuy" to recycle for free. Even better some things can be taken to scrap metal recyclers for a little pizza money.

2. Trip to local home store to price out building expenses and get design ideas. Helps to keep the KMF* mojo going, but keeps your dreams grounded to your budget.

3. Craigslist deals!!! Ok so when I started this project it was in a heat wave and was 101% up here. So I found a good deal on a Portable Ac unit. Worked great, however don't use it when there is a lot of dust in the air, just clogs the filter.

Don't be like me and try to be cheap and buy your new flooring from some fellow DIYer who over thought his abilities till his smart wife told him to cut his looses and sell his mistakes on CL. This flooring has to be installed in a way that you can't reuse cut pieces. So the 300sf I thought I was buying was really only about 170sf of usable floor. Despite being able to relist and sell this flooring 3 days later for what I paid for it, it still cost me some KMF mojo and took a few more days to mentally recover from this pride killing setback.

*Footnote: KMF refers to "Keep Moving Forward"

Step 3: Design Planning and Framing Construction

1. Started with some design planning using "Sketchup" Free 3d design software. This was a big help to visualize how I wanted the room to be a head of time and troubleshoot any potential problems. These screen shots are a few examples of my early conceptions for the knee wall and shelves. By laying this out I was able to conclude my shelf sizing needed adjusting and early ideas of color for the room. These were not the final dimensions for the built-in shelves. I love this software a lot because it is very powerful, simple to learn and use right away. However, with that said, I must warn you that it can take a long time to become proficient enough to use it to implement all of your design ideas. You can check out you tube for a lot of great how-to video's on using the software, but don't let this stage kill your "KMF" mojo. Sometimes you just have to start cutting and painting to see your dreams come to life.

2. Look at other projects for inspiration and color palettes. I used of course "" as well as Pinterest and other photo searches for design ideas. I found a great design plan for a desk on Pinterest that I was able to duplicate near the end of this project that turned out great. A word of caution here don't tarry to long on these sites, they can suck you in and waist time and mojo energy. Also, don't become overwhelmed with how great stuff looks, or how you could never make anything look as good as they did. You won't know how good your dream can turn out if you never try. "Keep Moving Forward"

3.Start your re-framing and remember to measure a few times before cutting, when in doubt make your cut longer. You can always trim to fine-tune, its a lot harder to stretch short cut 2x4. Some basic construction framing knowledge goes a long way at this step and if you're not sure find someone who knows your local building codes and ask them to guide you.

4. Built-in shelves are a great way to take back some of the lost space behind the knee-wall area. It was very helpful knowing ahead of time the dimensions for the shelves and having them somewhat pre-built before framing the wall. I was able to make snug fits and troubleshoot problem areas. Still this being my first attempt at building them I would go about this a little differently if I was to do it over again. Having made the cabinet boxes out of 3/4 plywood I should have planed a better face frame for them out of solid wood. In this attempt I just thin glued poplar to cover the plywood end grain and did trim molding around them. I also didn't account for how long the finishing process would take. All the priming, sanding, painting and sanding and repainting and sanding again, and repainting and sanding a third and forth time to achieve the soft smooth surface I was hoping. Also not shown in the original plans, I added a drawer under each self section, changing how I would do the trim molding around the units.

Step 4: Wiring


Warning: Yes you can do it your self, however if its not done right you could kill people and cause major damage that won't be covered under you homeowners insurance if you didn't get a permit, have a licensed electrician sign off on it, and have it inspected by your local code officers. So if after all that you still feel like trying make sure you read up on all your local codes and consult your electrician before you start. Typically after buying the bulk materials, specialty tools and paying the electrician for his John Hancock you will be at about the same amount as if you had just paid him to do the work. So if its just about boasting in your newly acquired skills, than you may feel that the added reading and learning experience is a payoff.

1. Make sure power to the circuits your working on is OFF in the breaker/panel box. Keep a Non-contact tester in your pocket at all times and use it on any power connection, light switch, wall receptacle, or wire in the path of your demo or new construction. It will beep continuously when it senses voltage, stop and find the breaker to kill power before moving forward. If the breaker is already off than you could have a bad breaker but more likely your wire is on a different breaker/wire run than you thought. This also a good time to update the labels on the breaker box door with the correct area each breaker controls.

2.Expect the unexpected, When I started this project I was just going to put down a new floor and install some new book shelves and a little paint. I knew I had a light fixture I wanted to replace and a switch or two from the 70's that arced when you turned it off and on, a few receptacles on the knee-wall and some cable/cat6 plates to adjust. Didn't foresee having to run any new wires to the 3 way light switches to replace old knob and tube wiring that was still in use along the way, but when you open up old walls you tend to find old stuff, to bad I never find any old money boxes or lost valuables.

3. Follow the rules. Use wire staples, run wires in the middle of the stud when passing through, use the metal plates on the outside of the stud when power runs through. Don't put too many receptacles on any one breaker. If you don't know what is too many get some DIY books from the home store and read them before moving forward.** Try not to use the internet as a resource for electrical stuff, the books in your local home store had to be approved before print where as the internet has no filter at all. Also should you be able to accomplish the amazing feat of finding a home store electrical department employee in his native environment (aka the electrical product isles) they will often be a retired electrician that will be more than willing to impart his wisdom and experience into your project task. However, even the most seasoned electrician is not a mind reader, it will serve you best to take a bunch of pictures on your phone or digital camera to show him so he can guide you on the right path or tell you if you are walking the ledge of a cliff and need a pro to keep you from falling off.

3.5 In older homes you will find even someone's great grandfather DIYer may have cut a few corners in his Diy project in the 40's as evident in the wire running inside the plaster in one of the above pictures. Always best to replace and redo this kind of half hearted workmanship and not repeat his potential booby traps for the next person.

**Side Note: I have had a book on "home wiring" I got at a home store recalled and had to send it back to manufacturer (never did get the refund for it either) due to some bad info in it so even that is not foolproof.

Step 5: Drywall and Plaster Patching

1. Plaster repair with Rapid-set onepass. Great for big gap fills and doesn't need tape although it doesn't hurt. Best to do little sections at a time. Only mix what you can get on the wall in five min or less at a time and use very cold water. Dries very fast and can be damp sponged smoothed after 25min, painted after 90min later. If your going to want to sand it don't wait more than 8 hours, it hardens like concert in under 12 hours and becomes very hard to sand after that. Not the best for new drywall unless your in a hurry and aren't super picky about a rough finish or are going to go over it with joint compound like I did. Does still help to KMF the job by letting you not have to wait for joint compound to dry 12+ hours before your second and third costs. I found the more I used it the better I got with it.

2. I used 1/4" or 1/2" drywall pieces as filler in the plaster repairs, than mudded over them with the onepass. Very important to note is when making plaster repairs, secure everything, any movement on the plaster or drywall filler surfaces will cause cracks and always use mesh or paper tape when mating two different surfaces. I learn this the hard way and there is only so much painter's caulk can do to cover up a crack.

3. My Drywall tips are to start with good metal knives and metal mud tray. I have tried the plastic tray with the metal edge, it just doesn't work as well as the all metal one. Use all the knives 3", 6", 8" 10" and 12" Start with the small one first and with each coat use a bigger knife to spread out finer edge Use a plastic knife or mud bucket scoop in the mud bucket to keep from adding unwanted plastic strips on your walls. The different inside and outside corner knives are good to have also. Try to use all the mud you put in your tray and don't be tempted to put what you didn't use back in the bucket, once out in the air and debris from the wall mix into it the mud can get lumpy and not lay smooth, adding this into the new mud only exacerbates the problem to the next coat. I like to sand with a shop-vac attachment and sanding screens to cut down on dust. Also having a dust air filter running in the room helps for both demo and drywall.

Added a few pic of the doorway that had been at the top of the stairs. I had to rip it out and rebuild it later to make room for the new floor trim moldings. I did my best to reused the old base molding in the room as a cost saving measure, but it did really kill my KMF mojo. Took a lot of time to sand/plan and repaint and didn't come out looking nice in the end. Sometimes cheap is cheap.

Step 6: Added a Bathroom Update Midway

So not originally planned, I decided to update the bathroom while midway into this project. Sorry, I couldn't find any before pictures.

1. Turn off all water lines in basement and cap all drain lines to stop odors.

2. Removed all fixtures like toilet, sink, vanity and mirror.

3. Had to install a new bathroom light/fan unit as per city code due to no window. This meant climbing out onto the roof to cut a 4" hole for the new fan vent pipe. There is a great "this old house" video on how and why to do this here: Cutting a hole in bathroom ceiling meant having to redo some plaster and install a new light switch to the fan/light combo unit that was covered with GFCI protection.

4. Some former DIYer had put some kinda plaster/latex like wall art on the one wall top to bottom that was super sharp and had cut me a few times just using the room. So I got it in my head to redo it. Big KMF mojo killer, as scene in the video it took a very long time to scrap off the wall. I tried painted remover, many different tools like the oscillating tool with scraping blade and various chisels with little performance. One last stitch effort, at the home store I came upon this 4" paint scarper you see in the video. Man I wish I had found that two days earlier.

5. With the light/fan installed, some new vinyl floor tiles and the walls repaired, I painted the walls and reinstalled the fixtures. Added a new wall mirror after concluding putting a in-the-wall cabinet was to much added labor.

6. Cellular PVC trim molding are what I used in this bathroom.

Step 7: Painting and Installing the Built-in Shelves

1. Strongly recommend taking the boss with you to the home store to pick out the paint colors. My wife nailed it with this coral blue. I fell in love with it before we were even done with the first coat. Painted one coat with primer, than used a premium paint and primer mix for the final color.

2. Had a bigger gap at the top of the knee wall than I had plan for so I had to custom make up a trim piece to fit and cover it just right. After a few test tries, I was able to make one that looked good and installed and painted it.

Step 8: Installing the Flooring

Well after the craigslist flooring deal didn't work out I decided to just breakdown and buy some at the home store.

1. Don't just go to the home store and buy right away, look on their website at pricing before going into the store. We found the padding we wanted on there website for $100 less than we would have paid in store, so when I had the flooring rep ringing us up I asked about it, got it shipped to the store for free and saved $100 right there.

2. After looking around at 4 different stores we found the price was about the same everywhere for the glue less laminate flooring we wanted. I strongly recommend getting the Roberts laminate and wood flooring installation tool Kit if you don't already have one. These tools made installing so much smoother.

3. Installing the flooring was easy, role out your underlayment and tape seems as needed. Set a 1/4" gap around the perimeter of the room using the spacers in the tool kit, open a few boxes and start laying them in piles by grain style/pattern. Our floor had 6 different style boards so I did my best to try and keep same styles away from each other by numbering the patterns and keeping to a sequence only changing it up when I had a lot more of a particular style. I highly recommend watching a few youtube videos on installing laminate flooring for more tips and tricks. I waited till I was halfway before rolling out the other half of the underlayment, so I wasn't walking on it so much that I was ripping and tearing it.

4. When I was done installing the flooring I started on the base molding which covered most of the perimeter gap, used 1/2" quarter round on the area where the gap was out past the base molding.

5. Stair transition was very hard. I talked with the home store floor rep and he said they could order one that would match the flooring but it would take a few weeks and would be pricey. So I went over to the millwork section of the home store and got a 1 in. x 3.5 in. x 48 in. Unfinished Oak Nosing. Cut it to width and rabbited the back part down to 1/4" thick. On the old stairs I cut the nosing off the top stair and nailed the new nosing over the front of the stair so the back of it would cover the laminate floor making sure to not nail into the laminate flooring at all and even leave a little floating room under the back of the new nosing. Later on, I used some wipe on poly to seal it and didn't even have to stain it. This worked unexpectedly well, very please with how it turned out. Please note that you have to be sure not to extend the new nosing off the stair any farther than the old nosing, this could make the stairs an unsafe trip hazard.

Step 9: Finishing Up!!!

After installing the new floor, base moldings and trim around the built-in shelves this project was mostly complete and I am in love with how it turned out.

Closet sliding door was spray painted with no joke it took over 4 can's and it still could have used more.

The little access door in between the two book shelves is really the same old one, I just had to remove some paneling from the front of it and add a few little wood fillers to add a little more character along with a few coats of paint and a nice older looking handle with some trim molding around the outside of it.

The shelves got there new drawers and a few books.

OK, so as for the time line. yeah you guessed it, that two weeks became just over six months.....with my only salvation being I have only two days off a week and a lot of other responsibilities so I had to just chip away at it when I could. Still did my best to "Keep Moving Forward" and reached my end goal.

As for the budget yeah that was blown out of the water in the first month, I lost count after $2000 and considering all that I did, it was well worth it.

Thank you soooooo much for reading and my hope is that this inspires you to do a project like this of your own.


Mark Reagle

Step 10: The Desk!

Lastly I loved this pin of a desk I saw on pinterest and knew it would go so well with the new room I just had the build it.

The pin was from a website where you can find complete set of plans and more info.

The only change I made was buying a premade stain grade top from the home store to save time and stained it a color to match the floor.

Before and After Contest 2016

Runner Up in the
Before and After Contest 2016