Thursday, December 13, 2012

Where did I leave off?  With a cutie doozin sitting in the bathroom staring at me?

No, that wasn't it.  

Oh yeah, I left off having torn up half the bathroom on a random Friday off.

The tearing stuff off the wall thing was easy, it was harder doing the detail work and patching up.  It was fairly tedious to scrape the decades old scraps of wallpaper away and smooth out the walls...and admittedly I could have done a better job here.  As you can see, there's kind of a border around where the window blinds were - I'm honestly not sure when the blinds were installed, but it must have been a while ago because there was quite a few extra coats of paint surrounding them.

I was in a rush to clean things up before Sean got home, so I definitely rushed the next steps.  I applied some lightweight spackle in the most uneven areas, but I probably could have spent some more time making sure everything was extra even.  And waiting longer than 10 minutes before getting impatient and priming the walls over wet spackle.  I am definitely not the most patient DIYer.

Anyway, here's what it looked like an hour or two after I began, after a coat of primer, and before Sean came home.  Not quite as scary as above:

 That's how I let things sit for a few days before deciding I should probably fix things up.  Like I said, I didn't really have a plan, but I did know that I should probably put up some new molding because those windows were noooooot looking pretty.  Speaking of windows, the windows in our bathroom are seriously awful.  I don't know if you can get windows off of a sketchy clearance rack, but if you can, that's definitely where these came from.  They're just awful and cheap looking, not to mention broken so they don't open properly.

So, I basically headed to Lowe's to wander around because I know absolutely nothing about installing molding.  Turns out there's an entire aisle of it, so I wandered for a bit and pretty much randomly picked out a style that looked nice to me.  I knew I wanted a thicker molding overall - mostly to cover up any imperfections - and something fairly ornate to match the rest of the house.  If you'll notice above, the space on the bottoms of the window is pretty narrow, so I had to pick out a narrower piece of molding for down there.  I don't know if that's a "thing," but let's go with it.

My triumphant return home from Lowes!  I also grabbed a gallon of paint from one of the swatches that's been on the wall for several months.

Time to paint!

The paint I chose was called Chinese Porcelain by Olympic.  I loved the color on the chip, but it is slightly different in person.  I don't know how to explain it, but on the chip it's a little calmer blue, and in person it's more BLUE!  I still like it, but it's slightly different than I thought.

The reason I chose blue is because there's quite a few tough shades to work with in the bathroom already - not least of which is the lime green tile.  In addition, the wall tile is bright white, while the floor tiles are an odd off-white/beige with a hint of salmon.  I wanted something that would look ok with all of these different shades and hopefully bring the color scheme together.  I thought either a darker blue or gray would work, but since a lot of our house is gray I went with the blue.  I initially envisioned more of a dark navy, but I painted a few swatches up and it was just wayyyy too dark. 


The bathroom is super hard to photograph because it's either dark or light is streaming in the windows, but here's the first peek at bathroom 2.0.

To install the molding, I just used a simple mitre box.  I've never done molding before and obviously this would have been easier with a power saw, but since I didn't have many cuts to do I just did it by hand.  Then I nailed it into the wood surrounding the windows, sunk the nail into the wood with a mini screwdriver (I don't have a nail set) and puttied over the nail holes.

I haven't painted the molding as of these pictures (ok, I haven't done it in real life either), so it'll look much better and brighter when I do.

You can kind of see in this next photo that I could have done a better job evening out the paint around where the window blinds used to be.  Oops.  Semigloss paint is also not very forgiving for uneven walls.

As a reminder, here's the before:

And hopefully improved (but still in progress) after:

On my list of future things to do is paint this grody bathroom vanity.  Ew.

I also need to add a light over the mirror, but the trick is finding one that doesn't look totally weird with the chandelier.  I'm thinking something simple like this (and I just realized the paint color matches the new bathroom...ha):

 But I'm just not sure.  Thoughts?

I actually think the paint works with the green least as well as any paint could ever work.

One of the most random things about our entire house is this chandelier in the bathroom.  It's super fancy in an otherwise unremarkable space.  However, with the darker blue paint as a background I feel like it kind

So, that's where bathroom things stand as of today.  Nothing too fancy, but I think my total cost so far is at about $40 - just paint and molding.  Even if we end up re-doing the bathroom, at least I won't feel bad about throwing money into a lost cause.

There's still a bit more to do, like:
  • Paint the vanity with some bright white paint;
  • Replace the vanity hardware;
  • Replace the light above the mirror;
  • Add matching accessories (new bath mats, storage, etc.)
  • Add storage! 
I'll get to it ;-)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Hello, again.

I haven't forgotten about this little place.  

I guess after February or so I stopped really having the motivation to write about what we've been doing around the house.  I think this directly correlated with a couple of frustrating and never-ending projects that were stressing me out for quite a while and making me grumpy...I'm looking at you, crappy interior doors and ugly hallway wallpaper.  I also tend to take less photos when I'm frustrated and angry at a project - because really, who wants to document that?

I promise I haven't spent the past 10 months or so weeping into a bucket of wallpaper remover.  I'm not going to say I've never wept into a bucket of wallpaper remover, but it wasn't very frequent.  I really think I just hit a few months of de-motivation (is that a word?  Let's say yes) that coincided with two somewhat annoying projects and resulted in me slogging through them maybe not as quickly as I should have.

However, the crappy projects are DONE.  Like, officially, finally done, done - all of the doors now close properly, and I spent a few minutes last weekend scraping the last of the paint off the new door hinges.  The darkness seems to have passed and I'm (maybe?) ready to start sharing some fun house-related stuff again.
Since I finished those two doozies, I've actually been very motivated and had a ton of energy on the weekends to keep on truckin' on stuff around the house.  It's looking good.  Really good!  We're finally getting to a stage where we can have people over without making too many lame excuses..."Just ignore the scary looking cracks in the hall, they're not structural we swear (we think?)"..."Yeahhh, some of our rooms don't have doors and/or door handles...sorry?"..."Of course we're going to pick from one of these 10 swatches of paint that have been in the bathroom for the past 4 months...maybe"

I've pulled all the home-related photos from the past few months off my memory cards and iPhone, so hopefully I can actually share all these fun things with you kids soon.  I realized going through photos that I have a TON of scary "progress" photos, and not a lot of fun "after" photos, so I need to take some more afters before all the projects are ready to swear.  I promise you would judge me if you saw some of these mid-progress pictures.

FIRST UP, I guess I'm going in reverse chronological order because it's bathroom tiiiiiiime.

Our bathroom has been a sadly neglected area in our house since we moved in almost 2 (!) years ago.

If you remember, when we first bought the house, the bathroom was a lovely shade of green.  At some point of the history of our house, someone had the brilliant idea to install bright green tile.  Then, later in time, another genius thought it would be a great idea to color match the wall paint to the bright green tile.  Thanks, guys.

To refresh your memory, this is what we were dealing with:

These pictures are from our walk through before we closed - I promise I've cleaned the floors since then.


Yeah, it was a lot of green.

Overall, the bathroom has some good things going for it.  It's a decent size, overall in pretty good condition, and, uh, I don't know I can't really think of anything else positive to say.  On the downside, the layout is a weird and seems to waste a lot of space, and the aesthetics leave a lot to be desired. 

We've tossed around the idea of a full bathroom remodel, but since this is our only bathroom and someone lives in our guest house, I'm not sure how that would logistically work right now.  Not to mention that a gut bathroom remodel seems like it would be expensive, and we don't have the funds saved up at the moment because we keep emptying our home improvement fund on smaller projects.

So, the bathroom has just kind of sat there.  We, meaning Sean, did eventually work up the motivation to put a few (or 4) coats of white paint over the green, but other than that we literally did nothing.  All of the accessories were from our old apartment and we just tossed them into the new place regardless of whether they matched or not (they didn't).

A few months ago I got the motivation to tape up some paint swatches, but then my motivation dissipated.  When people would come over I would pretend like the paint chips were haphazardly taped to the wall because I was imminently going to paint, but I think our friends started to catch on as the paint chips hung there, alone and abandoned, for months.

Until Thanksgiving weekend.  We had actually planned for our laundry room project (to be blogged) as a Thanksgiving weekend project, but ended up more or less finishing the project on Thanksgiving. With three days to spare of the Thanksgiving break, Sean made the mistake of going to work on Friday and leaving me at home unattended with nothing to do.  And lots of energy.

And I'd been eyeing the weird window blinds with hatred for the past few months.  

Notice the paint chips lurking in the back of this photo...

The blinds actually don't look horrible in photos, and maybe you'll think I'm crazy, but I hateeeeeed them.  It's hard to tell but they were super bulky in the room, and hardly let any light in.

So, I did what any normal person does when they're bored on vacation, and decided to start tearing my bathroom apart without any real game plan.

It's goin' down, bathroom.  I don't know why I took a stud finder out for this project, but I did.  Also pretty sure that tool to the right is a gardening tool.  That's how we do 'round here.

When I say I didn't have a plan...I really didn't have a plan.  I'd been eyeing the construction on the blinds for a while but I didn't really know how they were attached or how easily they'd come off.  I basically just scored the edges of the paint along the wall, and then started not-so-gently pulling at the wooden boxes until they came off the wall.

One down...and probably 5 minutes into the project.

As far as I can tell, the boxes were screwed into the window molding.  The downside to this is that tearing them off totally wrecked the molding.  Maybe I could have avoided this if I was more gentle...although the way it was attached was pretty haphazard so I'm not sure I could have.

It's hard to tell from these next photos, but the construction on these was pretty fab.  The boxes surrounding both of the windows were attached to the top of the medicine cabinet with half of an old hinge.  Resourceful, I guess?

   Things went from kind of fun to kind of scary pretty quickly as I realized I had no idea what I was doing, but I kept tearing stuff out of the walls because it wasn't like I could really stop now.

That looks...not good?  I also chipped a tile (second from the left) which is currently causing my a great deal of stress.  It's not pretty tile, but it looks prettier in one piece.

One of my favorite things about tearing things out of an almost 80-year old house is that there are about 17 layers of wall coverings on any given wall.  Tearing up the bathroom revealed snippets of fuzzy patterned (I'm sure there's a real name for this) wallpaper.  

Please take a moment to think about how amazing this room must have looked at one point with bright green tile and fuzzy wallpaper.  It's

I should also mention that removing super old bathroom fixtures uncovered a number of what I can only describe as not lovely smells as I disturbed areas that have probably not been cleaned since before these stupid blinds were installed.

Blinds off - pre-molding removal.

At some point I also decided to remove the old light fixture (which is sticking out of the sink in this photo) and tear out the wood surrounding the medicine cabinet this point why not?

This was also the panicky mid-stage of the project.  As I began to look around, with dust and shards of wood everywhere, I realized that I had no real vision for how this project was going to wind itself up.  And my husband was out, blissfully unaware that I was destroying our bathroom without even mentioning it to him first.  Oops!

Anddddd this is where my story ends for today.  I can pretend I'm building suspense, but really I'm tired and have to wake up in like 6 hours.  

Stay tuned for me hopefully developing a plan about how to fix this scary mess.

Also, here's some of the projects that are either done (some of which have been done for a while...) or in progress that I'll try to share soon: 
  • We totally re-did our yard!  IT IS NO LONGER ALL DIRT.
  • I replaced all 7 interior doors and added new hardware (but not before trying to strip and refinish all the existing doors...blerg)
  • We finally tore down the sketchy 70's (80's) wallpaper in the hallway, only to discover the entirely crappy plaster wall it was hiding
  • We re-vamped the previously ignored laundry room area

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Office Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes!

(does anyone else get annoyed by the odd spacing between paragraphs?  I do, but I can't figure out how to fix it.  meh.)

You guys are in for a treat today!  Ok, not really.  But play along with me.  You see, usually my posts suffer from extreme delay, because I'm usually only motivated enough to take photos OR write posts at any given time.  So it takes me a long time to actually download photos to my computer and write up a post to go along with them.  Which would explain why I've had updated guest room photos ready to go for months now without actually showing you the guest room.

But TODAY I am just so super excited about the project I just finished that I'm actually posting in real time!

So, as you may remember, when we moved in to this house almost a year ago (!!) our 3rd bedroom/office had delightful mirrored closet doors.

The rest of the room was also really classy and beautiful.  

Why yes that IS a doorway leading to the garage, which was illegally converted into a bedroom!  And of course the walls are patched with wood putty, what do YOU use to patch holes in plaster walls?

Anyhow, Sean was so impressed with the mirrored closet doors that he tore them out and threw them in our rented dumpster on the first weekend we owned the house.  

Now, I'm not saying I liked the doors, but this would not have been my personal choice.  If I hadn't been off somewhere when Sean was demolishing the doors, I probably would have explained to him that it makes sense to keep the doors in place for now while we figure out how/when we are going to replace them.

Anyway, the doors went bye-bye.  And my closet has remained doorless for approximately 355 days.  

(Brief explanation: since our bedroom closet is teeny tiny and we live by ourselves, Sean took over the guest room closet and I took over the office closet as our personal closets.  It works for now, we can just never have kids if we want closet space)

You see, as it turned out, it wasn't so easy to find replacement closet doors.  The only stock closet doors that the big home improvement stores sell are: (a) mirrored; (b) super super cheapo plastic fake wood; or (c) frosted glass.  None of these were what we wanted.  We had in mind plain white wooden closet doors, which are IMPOSSIBLE to find.

I shopped around for a while, researched a lot, and then a year passed.  We had a few false starts, like when we tried to special order doors from Home Depot only to find out (a week or so after we tried to order them) that they were discontinued.  In the meantime, I hung a curtain in my closet and it was almost as classy as the original mirrored doors.

A few weeks ago, I resolved that I was going to make closet doors.  A few pieces of plywood, some trim pieces, paint, and we're done!  So we headed to Lowes to check out lumber.  And somehow ended up in the interior door aisle.  And it was there we figured out that we could just buy plain interior doors, buy sliding closet door hardware, and rig up out own closet doors.  Durr.  

So, we ordered doors!  They were special order at $120 a pop, which seems a little expensive but who knows, I'm not really in the business of buying doors often.  In contrast, cheapo mirrored doors in the same size would cost about $100 for the set, rather than the $240 for the set that we paid.  But we got solid wood doors that are exactly the style we wanted.  And I had a Lowes gift card from my wonderful and generous Anna Donna which helped.  So I think it was worth it!

Good lord I'm writing a lot about our closet door search.  Hopefully this lets you know what a stress these closet doors (or lack thereof) has been in my life over the past year.  

Once we ordered the closet doors, this was not the end of it.  I won't get into detail, but Lowes totally screwed up our order.  When we went to go pick up the doors (which we had to rent a UHaul to do because these babies are 80" tall and would not fit in my petite Honda Insight) they told us only one of the doors had come in.  Uh, ok.  Then a week later they called us and said oops!  We had the second door all along, come pick it up.  Except no way I was spending another $40 on a UHaul because of their mistake.  So we got them to pay for delivery.  FASCINATING STORY, EH?

Then once they got here, I had to paint them since they only came primed.  This was fun, I guess?  I did three coats of our favorite $5 white paint in satin.  Maybe I should have done semi-gloss.  We'll see.

This morning I had the joy of installation.  I will spare you the gory details but of course this wasn't simple and required drilling and re-drilling about 40 holes, going to Home Depot to get a 1x4 because nothing in our house is standard size or even and I had to kind of rig up the track so that the doors fit.  And I stabbed myself in the pinky with a screwdriver, and stepped on a sharp drill bit.  This project literally involved blood, sweat, and tears.

But now it's done.

And it's beautiful.

Yes, I whipped out my $10 wide angle lens again because this room is teeeeeeeny.

It's shocking how much more this room looks finished now that there's closet doors instead of a cheap curtain nailed to the wall.

Oh, I also re-arranged the office since we spoke last.  And bought a rug (I dig it).  And some shelving.  And let Ernie's hair get way too long.

I also replaced the blinds with the white blinds that were in our bedroom when we moved in.  Except I only had two.  So there's one ugly wood blind in the office.  It's on my to-do list to fix, I promise.

I've just thrown things on the shelves so they don't look pretty.  Sorry.  I also don't know what that mirror is doing there on top but I didn't know where else to put it.

I like this photo because two dogs snuck in to it.  Oh, you'll also notice that there's no door to the office.  That's another project in the works.  Hopefully not one that will take a year.

For some reason this is the only room I hang stuff on the walls in.  This is my map art.  I don't know if I like the black frames, but I was afraid white frames would look weird with the off-white-ness of the antique maps.  Meh.  These are all places that we've lived/have special meaning for us (California on the left, Connecticut in the middle, the UK on the right, and the world on top.  Duh.)

Ernie stares off into space a lot.  Not the sharpest tool in the shed, this one.

I think this covers most angles of this room.  I really like how it's turned out - it's still evolving day by day, but overall it's a really useful space that also (I think) looks pretty.  I actually work from home a fair amount on the weekends and evenings, and it really helps having a nice, bright space like this.

So you don't have to scroll up, and because everyone loves a good before and after...



So, there you have it.  Closet doors.  Woo!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Let there be (new dining room) light

I have a serious Craigslist problem.

I have wanted this:

firefly pendant light for-ev-er. Like since before we even bought our house.

I first saw it on a listing website for a house that we never even looked at (here - by the way how awesome is the photographer than this teeny house looks so amazing?) and I knew I needed one in my future home.

We've been dealing with a fugly big ceiling fan in the dining area since we moved in. 

We turned it on exactly 0 times.  There's obviously a giant sliding door in the dining room so if we want some air we it.  So, the fan had to go.

One weekend I got particularly annoyed and in about 10 minutes, dismantled the fan.  The room looked amazingly bigger and more open.  Sean was amazingly unphased by the fan on the ground and live wires hanging out of the ceiling.  I think he's used to my erratic behavior.

Since the big hole in the ceiling meant that it was game time, I also finally resolved to buy the firefly pendant to replace the big ugly fan.  CB2 was having 10% off at the time so I figured $200 or so with tax was do-able.  Buuuut, I figured I would check out Craigslist first, juuuuust in case. 

Aaaaaaaaaand I found a brand new firefly pendant for $150, holla! 

Duh I talked the guy down to $100. 

I started installing it myself, but then I got a little nervous because the wiring looked old and I started having visions of electrocuting myself and burning the house down, so I called a local electrician.  It only took the pro 10 minutes or so to install the light, and he only charged me $50 AND he complimented my half-done wiring job.  

I can't even express how happy I am with this light.

The lighting in the dining room is really awkward whenever I try and take photos.  But you get the idea.

See anything unusual in this photo?

There he is!

By the way, I've heard the most important part of a camera is the lens.  So I went out and bought a $10 wide angle lens on Amazon.  Isn't the quality astounding?  In all honesty, I kind of like the effect.  You can see way more of the house and I kind of dig the retro looking black edges.

Is that enough light pics for you?

With the new table and the new light, it's starting to actually look like a real dining room!  No more crappy ikea table, mismatched chairs, and giant ugly ceiling fan!  After almost a year of living in this house it feels like it's actually coming together.  Yippee.

By the way, we're totally digging the new table.  The benches are surprisingly comfy and easy to push out of the way.  I'm still so-so on the buffet with the table, but it works for now.  As I'm looking at this photo, I reallllly want to hang some art on the wall to the right of the table.  Someday, someday we will hang art in this house.