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A Screen for Laura

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Our friend Laura lives in a newer apartment building in Chicago; her bedroom has a large opening from her bedroom into the kitchen/living space that makes it “up-to-code” because it replaces the fact that her bedroom doesn’t have a window. Not that you could climb out an opening at the top of your wall in case of emergency without a ladder…

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Beebop and I offered to build a screen to go in the hole in the wall and block the light and sound that carries easily into Laura’s room from the living room and kitchen. Laura’s roommate liked the idea because in the mornings, when Laura isn’t up, but roommate is getting ready to go to work, she has to try and be really quiet in the kitchen to not wake Laura. Also, Laura and her roommate are kind enough to host our friend group at least once a month at their apartment, where we all usually end up sleeping over in the living room. Bb and I thought it would be a nice “thanks for letting us crash here” gesture to fix this little annoyance for them.

We measured the space and came up with a plan. Two rectangles attached together in the middle, either to be able to fold them to balance on the wall or two pieces to make them easy to move. The next week we went to Hancock Fabrics with Laura and she picked out a fabric for the screen. Then Bb and I went to Home Depot and got the supplies we needed to build two simple rectangle out of wood for the screen. Why two? easier to move in a car, easier to get up into the wall, and in case our measurements were off we could manipulate two pieces more than one long piece. We had decided that instead of hinging the screen we would use mending plates to attach the two pieces together, and use L brackets to hold the screen to the wall so we picked those up at the store too.

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Beebop screwed the pieces together at the ends.

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We bought a piece of slab foam when we bought the fabric to cover the screen with. It was too long and just slightly too wide for the rectangle we were building, I trimmed down the foam while Beebop put together the wood rectangle.

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We used the extra foam to pad the other side of the screen in combo with batting.

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I don’t have a picture of us covering the screen with fabric. We were a little busy. We stapled the fabric along the bottom and stretched it over the top, stapled it on the bottom again and then stapled down the sides. We folded the corners like a present and stapled them flat.

We loaded the two screen pieces in the back of my car then drove our screen downtown with us. The tricky part was getting the screen up in the hole in the wall. When we measured the wall we didn’t account for the slight slope in the ceiling and the fact that a rectangle doesn’tt fit in a slope. Wah-Wah.

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So we came up with a Plan B, which I think turned out to be better option than Plan A. We decided to bump the screen down to sit on top of the upper kitchen cabinets and then we screwed the screens into the top of the cabinets with the L brackets. Because the cabinets are slightly lower than the wall hole the other side of the screen will be supported by the lip of the wall cutout.  Plan B is much sturdier than Plan A.

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We, well mainly Beebop, climbed up on the counter to screw the screen into the cabinets, while on the other side we had our friends assist by making sure the screen didn’t come crashing down on the other side of the wall we weren’t working on. Which was smart, because at one point the screen did tip their way.

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On the kitchen side, Beebop was being convinced to step down and let Gorman finish up. As he said, “I don’t doubt that you can do it. I know you can do it. But I’m taller than you and I don’t have to stand on my tippy toes to screw the L brackets down. Again, I believe you can, it would just be easier for me to do it, not because I’m better, because I’m taller.” He really didn’t want to sound sexist in suggesting that he do it instead of Bb, he did make a good point, he is 6’3″ and Bee is 5’2″ so…… yeah…. he made a good point.

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We all hands on deck and got the screen screwed down into the cabinets. I need some better after pics, this is what I get for using my phone at night. The gap is good to have because it allows the air to move between the rooms and when Laura shuts and closes the door it allows the air to move without sucking the screen out of place, which happened when it was just balanced up in the hole. You can see the slight slant in the ceiling, where the light is visible from in Laura’s room along the top. It’s not noticeable till a rectangle doesn’t fit along it.

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The screen isn’t maroon, it’s a purpley-grey. I chalk it up to bad lighting plus phone-camera pic. Here is a view of the screen from the bedroom.

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Laura was pretty excited about how much darker her bedroom was with the screen, as for noise, it’s hard to tell when a whole bunch of people are talking in the kitchen and fake “testing” the noise absorption by yelling. I’ll have to ask her how her mornings have been with roommate getting up and being in the kitchen, really how it is with normal everyday noises.

Anyone ever have a moment where you ask “What was this builder thinking?” and have to come up with a fix? The opening seems like a good idea until you’re living with it as Laura can attest too.

A big shout out to our friends for being awesome, being classy, and helping us out with installation.

-Mm

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