The family room fitness area is one of my favorite spaces in our house. I enjoy exercising while the kids are playing. Many times they even join in with me.
Setting up an exercise area behind our family room works for us. Exercise is a big and important part of our lives so we wanted to dedicate some space in our house to it. Not just any space, but space that would permit someone to exercise and yet still be part of the family.
Having a collection of fitness workouts helps prevent my workouts from getting stale. My collection of fitness programs include:
I love admiring beautiful watercolor paintings. I am amazed at the talent it takes to create these works of art. I definitely do not have this artistic talent and since artwork can be pretty expensive, I tried to look around for other alternatives.
I found an app called: Waterlogue. This app can change any of the photos you upload into beautiful watercolor paintings in 30 seconds or less. There were several app options, but I personally liked this one the best and it had the best reviews. Here are a few examples below.
I ended up deciding to frame one of the pictures I turned into a watercolor. I printed off the picture at Costco, framed it and had my hubby hang it up. I love it! I already had the frame, so the whole project cost me about five dollars.
I was contemplating what to get Mrs. Brimmed Hat for her last birthday. She wasn’t too subtle when she started hinting that she wanted me to make her a growth chart so she could mark the kids height as they grew.
Many people we know use a wall to chart their kids growth. She really liked that the chart could come with us if we were to move or simply if she wanted it in another place in our house.
She showed me a Pinterest growth chart board she had created and described to me what she was looking for.
Step 0 – Select Your Vinyl Kit
We found this kit on Amazon and as you can tell from the video, it is pretty straight forward and easy to put on. If you are considering doing this project, please click the vinyl kit below to purchase it and get it coming to your house.
Step 1 – Gather Your Supplies and Tools
The supplies you will need include the following:
Board – I used a 6 foot by 8 inch select pine. If memory serves me correctly, I picked this up at local big box home improvement store for around $20
Wood buttons 3/4″ – To cover up where the mounting screws
Drywall anchors and washers – To mount the ruler to the wall
3/4″ butterfly drill bit
Command Strips (if you don’t want to drill into the board)
Step 2 – Sand and Stain the Board
I used my palm sander with 120 grit sand paper to sand the front where I planned to adhere the vinyl kit and each of the sides.
I then applied the stain. I left it on the board for about 30 minutes before I wiped the excess off with the rags. If you want a darker look, leave the stain on longer.
When I initially stained the board, I did not have the buttons so I had to stain them on a separate occasion. If you’ve got them you might as well stain them now as well.
Unfortunately I did not get any pictures of video of this step. If you need more information on staining wood, there are countless YouTube videos at your disposal. Essentially, put the stain on, wait a while, wipe off excess. It’s that easy.
Step 3 – Wait 72 hours to Apply the Vinyl Kit
I was a little late gifting this to Mrs. Brimmed Hat because I didn’t first read the instructions on the vinyl kit. It indicated that the vinyl is prone to peel off if it is put on too soon after staining.
Step 4 – Apply the Vinyl Kit to the Board
I followed the instructions that came with the vinyl kit above. The board is designed to go 8″ off the floor. For this reason, the first set of tick marks start at 4″. Before you begin adhering your tick marks, use your tape measure and a pencil to mark the following lengths from the bottom. 4″, 16″, 28″, 40″, 52″, 64″, 76″. After you have your board marked you can begin to add the tick mark strips. The last one will hang over the top of the board. Cut it off flush with the top of the board. You are going to use this piece on the bottom.
Create a mark 1″ down from the 4″ mark. (If you have’t watched the video above, now would be a good time so you know what I am talking about.) Apply the piece that you cut from the top there at the bottom.
Run a putty knife over the vinyl to remove any air pockets. After you have all the strips on, you can pull the wax paper off.
Now you can place your vinyl numbers on the board. I wish I had placed mine above the foot markers instead of below. I didn’t notice this until it was too late. I placed the number where I did because I wanted to leave plenty of room for marking the kids height.
Run a putty knife over the numbers and pull off the wax paper.
Step 5 – Applying a Topcoat
I had some leftover topcoat from when I stained my front door, so I just used this. I applied two coats. I was pleased to discover that I could rub my fingernail across the vinyl after I applying the topcoat and it would not come off. I had been concerned that the kids would find a way to pull them off. The topcoat did a good job of adhering everything together.
Step 6 – Hang the Growth Chart
You have options here. You could do it as I did and use hardware to mount it to the wall, or you could go the command strip route if you live in an apartment and can’t damage the drywall.
Each options has its pros and cons. With command strips, the kids could potentially pull it away from the wall and knowing me, I’d just stick it back on there without measuring the 8″ from off the floor. This option is definitely easier, but is prone to inaccurate measurements.
To go the route I did, I used the 3/4″ butterfly bit to drill about half the thickness of the board. I used another drill bit the thickness of the anchor bolt to drill through the rest of the board.
I then used the drywall anchors and bolts to mount the board to the wall. I used the washers to give the bolts more surface area to grab onto the board. I covered the holes with the buttons.
Step 7 – Measure your Family
Now for the fun part. Measure each person in your family. I like to use a book. If you use a book like a square, you can get more accurate measurements.
I think Mrs. Brimmed Hat really enjoys the growth chart. She is so sweet, she wouldn’t tell me if she didn’t like it.
If you found this to be helpful, please take a moment to subscribe to our blog, pin this on Pinterest or share on Facebook. We greatly appreciate all the publicity we can get. If you end up making one, please send us pictures of your project.
I love November probably because it is the month I got married. The other big reason I enjoy this month is because of Thanksgiving. I LOVE yummy Thanksgiving food and especially all the fun gatherings with family. I have so many blessings and am grateful to reflect upon them during this time with the people I love. Continue reading “Thanksgiving Fireplace Mantel”
Had I ever built a shed or any structure like it before? No. There was a definite learning curve for me. Luckily my dad, father-in-law and several friends were willing to help me out along the way.
Dimensions: 12 ft x 10 ft x approx. 13 ft high
CertainTeed® Landmark® shingles
Lifetime Rocket Slide
Therma Tru Fiberglass Door
Aluminum soffit and facia
Tearing Out the Old Shed and Koi Pond
When we bought the house, it had a beautiful koi pond and water feature next to this old shed. The water feature had leaked and rotted out part of the wall on the old shed. Also, there were some mice that had taken residence in the old shed. In addition to that, my wife and I were beginning to have little ones and my daughter was pushed into the pond by her cousin. It needed to go. I started out trying to remove the water feature with a sledge hammer. I whacked at it for several hours over the course of a few Saturdays. I noticed that my progress was diminishing. Something else needed to be done.
I decided that a jack hammer might do the trick. I went to my local Home Depot and rented a jack hammer. I was so surprised to see how much progress I was able to make in a short amount of time. The lesson I learned from this is that I should have rented the jack hammer on day one. I could have had the whole thing out in a few hours.
After the koi pond was out, I had a lot of help from family and friends in tearing out the shed.
Removing the Fitzer Bushes
My father-in-law was kind enough to come over and help me remove the fitzer shrubs that were in front of the shed. He dug all around the roots chopping away at them. They still didn’t want to come out. I took a steel cable I had for setting up a zip line for the kids and hooked one end to the back of my pickup and the other end to the fitzers. They came out pretty easily with the help of the pickup. The length of the cable made it nice because I was able to leave my pickup in the driveway.
Pouring the Cement Pad
I bought a few stakes and some 2x4s and started forming out where I wanted the shed to reside in my yard. You may want to refer to your city for certain codes and easements. This will tell you how large of a shed you can build without the need to get a permit.
Luckily I had a good little helper to put down a gravel base. I went to a place called ConRock. I liked that I was using recycled cement and much cheaper than getting gravel. I am not sure if I used the best gravel product for this application, but as I write this two years later, I still don’t have any cracks that I have noticed. Be sure to consult with professionals in your area for the best products for your situation.
I opted to use a mesh reinforcement called remesh in the event the cement cracked, because everyone suggested that over time it would and there was nothing that could be done to prevent it. I understood that this helps keep the cement together better when it cracks and keeps it from shifting to different depths. I picked up these sheets from the local Lowes or Home Depot store.
For the cement I used a place where you borrow a trailer and cart it yourself. I am from the Ogden, Utah area. At the time a company called Save-More Products had a very competitive price. I also made sure I had plenty of friends and family on hand to help me out. We had to use wheelbarrows to bring it from the front into my back yard.
I had found some old paver stones that worked great for rolling the wheelbarrows over the 2x4s without knocking the forms out of level.
Luckily we have a friend that is pretty knowledgeable working with cement. He was able to give us a nice broom finish.
Framing the shed
I have a good friend, Eric, who used to frame houses. He came over to show me some tips and tricks. Using the plywood to square the walls before lifting them up was an awesome tip. Many of the tutorials I watched online didn’t put the plywood on until after the structure was already framed. Eric said it is much harder to square up the structure after the walls have been lifted.
I was a bit concerned after lifting up the wall that the 13 feet might put my neighbors off a bit especially since the old shed was so small.
After lifting the wall, I got it supported and went and spoke with the neighbor whose house you can see in the back. I told him that I did not want me building a new shed to cause any neighborly discontent. I am not certain he was a fan of it, but gave me his blessing nonetheless. I assured him that I was going to be using nice materials and that it would look nice once it was completed.
I continued framing the rest of the shed.
To fasten the structure to the cement pad I used the Titen HD anchors by Simpson Stong-Tie. I used about 4 per side.
It is also important to add hurricane/tornado fasteners to the top rafters.
I went with the following straps from Strong-Tie:
Simpson H1 Hurricane Tie
Simpson H2.5A Hurricane Tie
Please be sure to consult your local code for the proper ties. Additionally, it is important that you uses the right fastener for the job. Again, consult your local building code to use the right products.
Finally, the framing is complete. Next comes the roofing.
Roofing the shed
I was able to get a steal of a deal on some architectural shingles from a local roofer that had some spare shingles from a job where his customer changed their mind after he had already made his purchase.
The first step is putting down the roofing felt. Be careful when climbing on your roof after this. The felt tears easily and could slide off the roof.
I don’t have any pictures of the installation of the drip edge, but you would want to install that at this point as well.
I didn’t want the shed to get too hot in the summer, so I decided to install a couple vents.
I also didn’t want it too dark in there during the daytime so I also installed a skylight. It’s one of those luxuries I am glad I added.
When installing your skylight be sure to watch all the many YouTube videos on how to properly flash around it.
I remember running out to the shed during every rain storm to see if my first attempts at roofing were a success. To my delight, it was water tight.
Installation of the Window, House Wrap, and Door
One of my good friends, Eric Wimmer, is the owner of Squeaky Clean Windows. As a result of his business relationship with Valley Glass, he was able to call them and negotiate a window from their scratch and dent section. Since it was a window for a shed, I was happy with the savings and I didn’t mind a minor defect. Honestly, I could not even locate a defect with the window. The window was one of the first things I had to buy before framing the structure. You will want to frame the opening for the window for the right size of window. Before framing, you will also decide which size of door you go with. Since I was going to be going in and out with a lawn mower I decided to go with a 42″ wide door.
I had followed a technique to install the window from a YouTube video. In my pursuit to find the link for the video I saw, I think I found an even better one. Please check out this YouTube video from NovaFlash®. The method in this link seems to be a bit more intuitive.
After flashing the window, I wrapped the shed with house wrap. I didn’t know if this was necessary for a shed. Many folks told me that this is a step I did not need to do. With the moisture problems I had with my old shed, I decided that I may as well just do it anyway. Besides, I was having a blast learning the process of building a water tight structure.
Lesson learned, I have not had any water leaking problems with my shed, but I think the method in the NovaFlash® link I posted above is better than the approach I used.
In addition to going with the 42″ door, I also decided to go with fiberglass as opposed to steel. I thought with wheeling the lawnmower in and out that the steel would dent really easy. Also with the play area on top and plans for a fireman pole, I could envision a dented up door that would look terrible. The fiberglass was a little bit more expensive, but I have no regrets going with it.
Installing the Siding
It was a real struggle to decide which type of siding to go with. There were pros and cons to each. The three types of siding I was considering were: an engineered wood, cement board, or vinyl. I added an extra long eve on the right side of the shed and a small privacy wall. The idea was to hang garden tools on the exterior side of the shed. I could not find any good solutions to mounting stuff to both vinyl and fiber cement, so engineered wood is what I decided to go with. I went with a brand called LP® Smart Side®. To give the shed some variety, I went with three different styles. The paneling, the lap board and the cedar shakes.
I used the paneling in areas where I intended to mount stuff. On the right side of the shed I intend to hang shovels, rakes and other yard tools. I used paneling on the left side because I knew that it was going to be covered up by a rock climbing wall that I still get to build.
I installed the LP® Smart Trim® over the top of the paneling, but directly to the structure on the sides with the lap board and the cedar shakes.
The LP® SmartSide® side recommended using aluminum drip edge when transitioning from one siding type type to another. I had a difficult time finding a company that made this type of siding. I guess most siding companies have a machine where they can make it on site. I finally found a siding company that would make me a couple pieces. Home Depot and Lowes did not carry it.
The paneling wasn’t my favorite look, but it was cheaper than the other two styles and went up much quicker. I also saw YouTube videos where folks skipped using any plywood or house wrap and simply nailed the paneling to the 2×4 structure. This method would save a bunch of money and time, but you would have to use the paneling.
I really struggled to select the right material for the floor of the deck play area. I had contemplated using tile, but thought that it could be too slippery when it got wet. Additionally, I feared the freeze and thaw cycles of the cold Utah winters would compromise the grout lines. I had used a product called RedGard®, a waterproofing paint-on membrane, when tiling my shower. The thought occurred to me to apply this concept to the playhouse deck. I thought about calling a company that specializes in truck bed linings to come out and coat the area. After I got a few quotes and saw how expensive it was I turned to the internet to see if there were affordable DIY truck bed liners. This is when I stumbled across Herculiner. Here is a video I made demonstrating how well this product worked for me.
Installing the Outlets and Lighting
The previous shed had power run to it so I was able to just use that same cable with the new shed. I decided to put plenty of lights on it. I went with LED lights from Platt Electric.
A splash of color really helped the shed and play house come to life. Ms. Brimmed Hat helped me pick out all the colors and her mother helped us to paint the cloud mural on the soffit in the play area. We used a color called Lyndhurst Timber by Valspar for the majority of the shed. We accented that with a rusty reddish color for the door and the cedar shakes. The red color we used is called La Fonda Deep Clay Red by Valspar. We painted all the trim in a high gloss white.
Installing the Railing and the Ladder
This is the one task I hired out. Ms. Brimmed Hat had called around and found a guy that said he was retired. He was nice enough to come out and do this one job for us. Some of the elements of this design are that the railing actually provides some structural stability to the widows peak roof. Additionally, I opted to make sure that the bar extended over the slide area. I wanted the kids to have to sit down when getting on the slide. The height of the play area is 7ft off the ground. The opening on the left side will eventually have a rock climbing wall going up to it. This is a project I can’t wait to start. In order to get the railing in, I had to temporarily install the slide. I wanted to make sure the railing would not get in the way of installing the slide. If my memory serves me correctly, I believe the railing and ladder set me back about $800.00.
Installing the Slide
We had fun picking out a slide for our kids. Finding a slide for the deck hight of 7′ limited our choices. We were able to find one from Lifetime products for about $450.00. I was looking online to find a link and it appears the model we got has been discontinued.
I did find that there are several options on Amazon though. Here are some quick links to help you out.
After installing the railing, I had to remove the slide again to install a cement pillar under the bottom of the slide. I wanted the slide to be able to sit securely on the ground. It occurred to me that the slide was like a big lever and if I just let the slide sit on the dirt as it was designed to do, the kids could potentially move it side to side loosening the lag screws or damaging the plastic where it mounts to the shed. This was a safety concern for me.
I purchased a Quikrete tube from Lowes and dug about a 3′ hole so I could set the slide on a stable surface.
While the cement was still wet, I placed a plastic garbage bag over the cement. I reinstalled the slide by bolting it to the shed. The plastic garbage bag prevented any cement from getting on the slide. I made sure to push the bottom of the slide into the cement so the cement for form around the slide. This worked out beautifully. After the cement dried, I removed the plastic garbage bag and the slide fit perfectly into the cement pillar. This prevents the slide from moving side-to-side.
Please be sure to watch this tutorial from Quikrete on how to install footings. You will also want to find out the depth you will need based upon where you live. I used this map from Decks.com and added an additional 6″ for gravel.
Please test out the placement of your pillar. I first neglected to account for the additional height above the ground level so the slide and the pillar did not match up perfectly. Luckily I hadn’t put in any cement yet so I was able to dig the hole a little further forward and move the pillar to better align with the slide. You can see in the image above that there is some space behind the tube.
To install the soffit, I first nailed or stapled j-channel on the wall of the shed. I then cut the pieces of soffit to size and used some white screws I bought from Lansing to secure the soffit in place. The soffit is designed to snap together on the sides. The folks at Lansing told me that I only needed one screw in each soffit at this point. They suggested that a second screw would hold it in place when I put up the facia and screwed that in as well.
I am not sure if using foam is how the professionals do this, but I was worried about yellow jackets making nests in my eves. Installing the soffit using J-channel on both sides made it such that the soffit could not fit snug into both sides of the soffit. So to solve this issue, I purchased some tubular foam and put it in the j-channel so I could compress it while putting it in. It would be snug when it was in and prevent insects from getting through. Here is a little video I took to demonstrate.
Installing the Fireman’s Pole
I did some research and found that most firemen poles at the historic stations were 3″ in diameter and were made from wood. Little kids have smaller hands, so 2″ to 2.5″ diameter pole should be sufficient. I also went to a few parks and measured the diameter of the park poles and found out that they were usually about 2″. I decided that a 2″ stainless steel pole would work for what I needed. I purchased the stainless tube from Affiliated Metals at their Salt Lake City location.
Similarly to the pillar I used for the slide, I dug down about 36″. I used about 6″ of gravel at the bottom and filled the rest of it up with cement. I think I used an 8″ diameter tube for this.
I had planned on having about 1′ of the pole extend in the cement, but just before I was to cut the pole a friend stopped by my house. We talked for a while and then when I resumed my task I remembered the measurement incorrectly. This caused me to only have about 4″ that was to go in the cement. To give some stability, I stuck some rebar in the bottom of the pole and extended that down further into the cement. Lesson learned – remeasure after you get distracted.
I placed the fireman’s pole about 16″ from the ladder. This gives ample room for the kids to climb up. When I first installed the fireman’s pole, my kids didn’t feel comfortable going down from the very top. They would climb up a few rungs on the ladder and then slide on down the pole. Gradually as they gained more courage and practice they started going down from the very top.
I still need to complete the rock climbing wall. Once I do, I will create another blog post with pictures. Additionally, I will do another post on some of the ways I organized the shed.
If you have any questions or comments, or would like more information in any specific area, please comment below. I had a blast creating this shed / playhouse and love talking about it. With that said, I would love to hear from you.