Now for the fun part: Demolition

We have started gutting the house! The goal is to remove all the internal walls (drywall and wood studs) as we are changing the room layout. We are also removing 3 concrete colums that are to be replaced with window walls. The major structural alteration we are making in the house is to remove a staircase and adding another in a different place. We are also converting a former 2-story squash court into 2 floors. These two project require about 500 cubic feet of concrete.

New project in Puerto Rico

After a long hiatus welcoming a new member to our family, I finally got started on a new project in Puerto Rico this week.Its a house from 1970 built by a family that used to build warehouses. This house is built of the same concrete modules as a warehouse and is structurally very impressive. Virtually nothing has been done to the house since it was built. Renovation is just started and the first issues we had to address were termites of the subterranean kind. They were everywhere. They nest underground and make their way into the structure trough cracks in the foundation or gas in the window frames etc. Although the structure itself was fine they found plenty of food inside in the form of wooden floors, cabinets etc. We also had to get an abatement team in to remove asbestos and lead containing tile.

Kitchen Renovation Oslo

While living in Oslo I renovated a house from 1954. It had not had an update since the 70-ies. The first project was the kitchen.

white kitchen, flat kithcen fronts

I used kitchen cabinets from a Danish company, HTH.  Now IKEA has similar kitchen fronts with no handles in Europe (not offered on the US market unfortunately). The lamps are from Finnish company Artek (

Kjøkken2 Oslo

I used a white quartz counter top which I loved, as it is virtually stain resistant.  The cooktop was from an 80 cm induction top from Siemens, as were all the built-ins. I especially liked the built-in microwave to free up counter space. Beacuse I had space for so many drawers I didn’t miss more wall cabinets.

Kjøkken3 Oslo





Shelving for livingroom

Custom shelving for living room with Rakks shelving system and oak planks.

Total cost approx 700 USD; 200 USD for shelving system and 500 USD for oak planks. The planks are 12″ wide and 5 quarters thick. They are 11 ft long, and came in at about 10USD per feet bought at a well-stocked lumberyard in Cambridge MA (



Office renovation

With the help of Rakks shelving system, some oak planks from Home Depot and IKEA butcher blocks my father and I built my husbands new desk and shelving for his home office for less than 500 USD.








First I replaced the carpet with oak flooring that was stained ebony (Minwax-2 coats) and sealed. I then painted the wall and baseboards white. Because the baseboards had ben sealed with polyurethane I used an oil based primer in them before the top coat to make the paint stick.


The hardware for the shelving is from and I used red oak planks (1″x12″) that i picked up at Home Depot for about 8USD per foot. I sanded them lightly and eventually will use a white-pigmented wood oil to finish them.

I started with wall standards that were 6 feet tall, mounted to wall studs.

To attach the desk to the same system, Rakks sells counter support poles that are 24″ deep like in the picture below.



I sanded the oiled IKEA oak butcher blocks (it came that way) and then used a white pigmented stain on it (I used 2 coats) before 2-3 coats of  satin polyurethane


20140326-142008.jpg20140326-142043.jpg Do a sample of the stain first!



The white file cabinet below  is on wheels and is from IKEA.


This is how I attached the side piece that supports the end of the desk.


Wall support-made sure it was attached to a wall stud as well.





Guesthouse Bathroom Renovation Part I

My newest project is a rather spacious bathroom build in 1995. When I renovate, I prefer to work with the original plumbing layout as long as it makes sense. Moving plumbing is expensive! This building is quite contemporary in style, so that is the look I am going for in the interior as well.

I like to use natural materials whenever I can, but since it is often more expensive the extra investment must make sense considering resell value on the property. In this bathroom I used vein cut limestone 12″x24″ which i got for about 9 USD/sqft. When the original tile was ripped out, I had my subs install Schluter-Ditra to the original wood subfloor. It is an uncoupling membrane that is thinsetted to the subfloor and allows the floor to move seperately from the tile when there’s expansion and contraction, thus preventing the new tile from cracking easily.

The toilet, new glass shower door and hardware is from Koehler.

“IKEA HACK” with Godmorgon cabinets ;

Again, I used IKEA cabinets for the vanity. I combined 2 “Godmorgon” IKEA units (24″+48″) without the vanity top. My plan is to center only one sink in the middle of it. I know I will have some trouble with the plumbing on this one…




Here the old pink shower is gone. Put in some 2×4’s to build an edge in the new shower.



The insulation is filled in and lined with plastic before the cement boards go up.


The base of the shower is lined with a waterproof membrane (goes up alongside wall underneath cement boards)


This orange waffle membrane goes over the subfloor to keep the tiles from cracking.


It is always a good idea to keep the tiles in the shower small to make it easier to get the right angle towards the drain. You do not want your water to puddle up here!


Ahhh…my beloved IKEA. I put a 1×2 underneath where I want the cabinets to hang to make installation a lot easier.


After I put the cabinets on the ledge I know exactly where to drill my holes for the cabinets to attach on the wall. I found out where the studs were situated so I could make extra attachment points there as well.




I was going to get a plumber to do this, but I got impatient. Youtube shows how how to install a toilet. Not that hard! Key is to get someone to hold it straight above the piping so you don’t put it down at an angle and squish the wax ring unevenly.


I had my tileguy line the old brick wall with the same tile as the floor:


Modular shelving for office

In the planning stages for my husbands new office I am looking for some nice looking storage. There are several modular shelving options out there, the question is just price! With an  (imaginary) unlimited budget my first choice would be from the German company Vitsoe, Dieter Rams 606 Universal Shelving System.


Other options on the high end side include another one of my favorites from Atlas Industries Their shelving is made from solid wood, and many different wood types to choose from. Being from Scandinavia, my favorite is the light oak verison.


Before I make any purchases, I always check what IKEA has to offer.  Another idea is to combine BESTÅ cabinets (hung low on the wall) and perhaps replacing the doors with something more custom. There is a great company based in California that makes custom doors fro IKEA cabinets. I am thinking about using them for my new kitchen as well, but that will be another post…


For storage on top an option is to use the Ekby Harpen shelves, also from IKEA. I would only use the hardware for mounting the shelves and replace the actual shelves with real wood, matching the front of the doors on the Bestå units.


ELFA also has a modular shelv system that perhaps could be customized with some better wood for the shelves…

Lots of options!


Wallpaper for new office

Planning a new office for my husband for our next house that we will hopefully move into this summer. Its a midcentury modern, and I want to inject some elements of retro in the renovation.  The room is not too large, so I’ll keep it light. For the walls I am thinking Winds Breath by Benjamin Moore, and on the back wall where I will put up some modular shelving I want to use a graphic wallpapaper. The Swedish wallpapercompany Borås tapeter ( are carrying wallpapers for the late designicon Arne Jacobsen, and there was especially one pattern that caught my attention, its called Trapez;


According to their website, its not sold in the US, so I guess I’ll have to bring someback with me when I go  to Norway this summer. They also have a black and white version which I think would be better suited for this space.  Another option is a beautiful wallper I always wanted to use somewhere; Riflesso by Cole and Son (Fornasetti)





Looking for the next real estate project in a hot spring market in the Boston area…Several towns have caught our interest, all with focus on good schools for the kids. A nice difference from the Norwegian real estate market is the size of lots you can get in this area…if you are looking 15-20 minutes away from the city, that is. Looked at an interesting house the other day, it had been scooped up by an real estate developer who had put in an low ball-all cash-no contingency- offer and got it. Now she was trying to flip it for a quick profit. I like ugly houses with good bones, and this one was definitely ugly;



All the bedrooms (and bathrooms!) had padded walls covered in fabric. All I could do was picture the bugs falling into my hair as I tried to take that down…We ended up not making an offer, they were simply asking too much for it.

Kitchen Renovation Miami

The biggest project in this apartment was by far the kitchen. The original layout was unpractical and not made for entertaining. There was a dividing wall between the kitchen and living/diningroom that blocked out much of the direct ocean view. This wall was the first to come down.





Since I think the kitchen cabinets from IKEA are brilliant, I used them in this kitchen as well as the bathrooms in this apartment. The countertop is quarts. To get the apperance of en extra thick countertop, an 3″ (9cm) edge was made on the end of the reguar countertop.  All appliances were ordered on