When the Ants Go Marching In


September 8, 2018

This is a picture of our “Florida room,” or, to put it another way, a glorified shed built off the dining room in our house.  It was not always in this half disassembled condition, but it was in very poor condition for many, many years at the neglectful hand of the prior owners.


Honestly, I do not understand how they functioned in this house.  They were not poor, but they simply did not know how to do anything right.  If you think I am being harsh, please see my kitchen article here.  Anyway, we were not using this room for anything special- just storage really.  Not so much because I wanted to, but because I could not formulate a good plan for this room and there are other projects slated higher on the list of priorities.

That is until….


The ants came marching in.

Again, I kick myself for not taking more photographs as I go along but I went in like gang busters with this project so you will need to use your imagination a bit while I tell this little story:

So, holy hell there I was standing in my kitchen minding my own damn business, when all of the sudden out of the blue, and without invitation, I noticed a steady stream of mobile black dots on the floor traversing the landscape in a direct manner from the door of the “Florida room” to Joey’s dog bowl.

Now it is important for me to be clear my frame of mind here…  I was in the immediate presence of these many, many ants as they entered my dwelling house, without authority and with the intent to commit a felony or theft therein; to wit: theft of Joey’s dog food remains.

Clearly we have a situation that requires swift and forceful action!

In the first couple photos you can see the gross carpet thing they had in this room.  I had to follow these little black dot ants through this carpet… and let me tell you, these numbskulls did not take the path of least resistance, until I lost them in the rear wall of the house.

Where did they go?

Well I had to know.

So “On hammer! On crowbar! On gloves!” Just kidding, gloves just get in the way of my cold, merciless grip of disdain for anything committing a wrong towards me.  To hell with the walls, I am in hot pursuit!

At last, as as I should have suspected, the perpetrators made their cowardly way into our comfortable and seemingly secure abode through the back window.

The picture just above was completely riddled with ants when I pulled the boards away.  And that part is no exaggeration.  I was pretty grossed out at what I found and this ant nest all happened nearly overnight.


But that was not the only problem with this room.  So at that moment on that sunny day, I decided I was going to fix everything in one shot.

The previous owners replaced all the windows in the house- to include the basement windows- with pretty decent Anderson double pane windows.  I mean, nothing crazy fancy but they are insulated pretty well and the heat and cold stays on the appropriate sides of the glass.  All the windows except the four in this room.  Why?  I don’t know why- because they are the old owners and that is their modus operandi.

After about six decades of water finding its way into the wrong side of the glass and wood frames, the window sills look like the photos above.


When the house was originally built, this “Florida room” was actually a deck.  The lower half of the wall was never changed since new- and had cedar shake shingles on both sides.  At some point, the old owners decided to enclose it and instead of doing things properly, they just added some walls and a roof above the deck.

Now this wouldn’t be such a terrible idea if they at least removed the cedar shake so a) the walls would all match or b) install insulation!

I cannot imaging what sense it made to insulate the top half of an unheated and uncooled room if you are not going to insulate the bottom half?

And the top half walls…. I cannot imagine there was ever a time when putting polyurethane on this garbage splinter board was ever a reasonable idea for a finished interior wall.

*As an aside, lucky for me I did have a little pre-planning awhile back and I insulated and completely sealed the floor under this room in anticipation of doing something, someday.


So with every stupid little barbed nail, I cursed those thanked the prior owners for this opportunity to further hone my skills as a homeowner.


But in the end I got it done.  Every board, every nail, every thing.



My favorite part.

It is strangely satisfying for me to run cable and see it all work flawlessly when I am finished.

Additionally, you can see the 2×4 I installed between the studs at the base so as to create a “base plate” for the next step.  And you can see I have spray foam insulation everywhere because I was still mad that I was made a victim by not one, but thousands and thousands of burglars in one day! That is intense stuff…


This is the next step I was referring to.

Well, actually, The next step was to add good, quality insulation throughout the entire room.

But photos of cotton candy aren’t as powerful.


I bought 12 foot lengths so that I would only have two seams in the ceiling.  Drywall at this length is… not lightweight.

But we must continue on, right?



But still plenty to do.

By now I am sure you noticed I still do not have the final window installed.  Well remember that rotten sill plate?


I made that windowsill great again!

No worries about the wood rot on the right- I wrapped the whole thing with flashing and there is no physical way for water to get on the wrong side of justice again.


And just like that, the mud work was done!


As was the priming of the walls!

Not a seam, nor a screw, nor a tape line, nor an ANT in sight anywhere!


And the big finish?

Well, we have special guests coming next month and I cannot spoil the grand reveal just yet.

But it is done, and it is spectacular!

Stay tuned!


September 28th, 2018

This just in! Hot off the procrastination express!

No. More. Ants.

And in their stead, we find an abundance of color and style. 😎

We decided we wanted this room to be bright, and to pop! I believe we were successful in keeping a bright, stylish, and maybe even a bit of Caribbean theme. And the most exciting part for me is now I have more walls to hang photo prints! Of course, I am becoming so proud of the way this house is coming along that part of me wants to hang pictures of the kitchen remodel in here, photos of this room in the bedroom and photos of the back patio renovation in the….. bathroom?

Yes, you guessed it- my next post will be the final complete room renovation in this house!

Three of four bedrooms, two bathrooms, a laundry extravaganza, the kitchen of all kitchens in Clifton, a paver patio that gave me the most significant weight loss in a decade, garage, roof, porch, retaining walls, garden, and plenty in between.

And on the seventh day I shall rest. Or build a shed.

OH! I almost forgot. There is just one more thing:

It required a van…

And a remarkably efficient trip to Ikea…

To bring home a few boxes that somehow turned into this little gem:

Step one.

Step two.

Step three. We aren’t done yet…

Step four, testing…

Step five: Rest.

This couch with chaise turns into a Queen size bed in under three seconds.

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