Sunday, October 31, 2010

Painting the Living Room

This weekend we decided to finally work on the Living Room. Before we bought the house, we decided that the Living Room would be the first room we'd work on and finish. That way we'd have a "clean" room to go to relax or eat while we were doing all of the major work on the rest of the house. That didn't work out exactly as planned.

On Day 2, we removed the wallpaper in the Living Room. That revealed original plaster walls, which were in okay shape for 240 year old walls, but weren't exactly to our liking. They had a very rough finish (felt/looked like rough stone) and the previous owners had scoured the plaster when they were hanging the wallpaper, which resulted in holes in the plaster which had dry sand flowing out. So we abandoned the room and moved on. 
Fast forward 3 months, and we're now living in the house and need our Living Room! For the first month we lived here we had our TV set up and our two couches. That's it. 3/4 of the room was covered in boxes and tools. We had a 18" path that went from the Kitchen to the couches. I could only sit on one half of my couch if I wanted to see the TV without boxes blocking it.
So when my SILs said they were coming down for the weekend, I immediately knew what we had to do. It took a whole half day to just clean everything out of the room. With only the couches and TV cabinet left the room looked huge!

Our first act was to clean everything with TSP. **We really should have stripped all the paint from the trim and doors, but in the essence of time, we decided to just paint over it. This is something that is on my long-term To Do List though. There are about 9 layers of paint already on the trim, and it's very clumpy looking. It WILL get done eventually though!** The trim wasn't very dirty, but the walls were. The TSP cleaned off any remaining wallpaper and glue, as well as years of dirt.  We decided that the casing around the doors would need either major sanding or the paint stripped because they were in pretty beat up shape. So for this weekend, we skipped over the door casing.

Then it was time to fill in the holes and sand the walls where possible.  It would be impossible to have perfectly smooth walls, and frankly, we didn't want that, so rather than sanding the patches completely, I left them a little bumpy. That way they blended well with the rest of the wall.
The picture totally doesn't do it justice, but the walls already had many years of patches. And none of the patches were white. There were beige patches, yellow patches, green patches (I don't get that one...), brown patches, etc. It took 3 coats of paint to cover all of them completely!

By the end of the weekend, we had the entire fireplace wall (trim and wall), summer beam (large beam in the center of the room) and half of the closet wall painted. That's the work of 3 people for a day and a half! Like I said... 3 coats of paint on the walls and 2 or 3 on the trim. But it looks great so far! At first I didn't like the color... it had a pinkish tint to it, and looked metallic in the sunlight. But by the end of the day today, I really liked it. I have a feeling that it was the way the first coat of paint was covering, and also the comparison between the color and the ugly whitish wall.
See? Doesn't it look pinkish?
I won't do a before-after picture yet, because it's not done... but what do you think so far???

Friday, October 22, 2010

Second Bath Faucet

These faucets were actually one of the first purchases for the house. Immediately after closing we went to Home Depot to buy a bunch of things (most importantly, new locks/keys). While there, we bought these two faucets, intending to use them in the upstairs bathroom. However, once we got back to the house, we realized that the bathroom was in worse shape than we remembered while at the store. So for 2 1/2 months the faucet boxes were used as door stops. I kept meaning to return them... we weren't remodeling the bathroom, so why keep them?  I'm glad we didn't return them, because we decided to re-do this bathroom after all, and they look great! My only complaint about them is that to get the water coming out at a good pressure/decent amount, you need to turn them as far as the handle will go. I know that this is a problem with the faucet, not our plumbing, because this didn't happen with the old faucets. But for $20, I wasn't expecting the world.

Manufacturer: Glacier Bay
Retailer: Home Depot
Model: Constructor 4 in. 2-Handle Low-Arc Bathroom Faucet
Finish: Brushed Nickel
Price: $20

Thursday, October 21, 2010

New Toilet

The major purchase for the bathroom was the toilet. After a lot of discussion at Lowe's, we settled on the Jacuzzi Maxima White Elongated Toilet for $179. We had an elongated toilet in our apartment and fell in love with it. We just couldn't go back to a round toilet, even though they were slightly cheaper. It came down to the Jacuzzi or an American Standard. The American Standard was $5 cheaper, but the Jacuzzi looked so much nicer. And for only $5 more, you might as well go with the nicer looking one right? Guys just don't understand stuff like that..

There are a couple negative reviews online about this toilet, regarding the flushing and amount of water involved. It's a water saving toilet, so it doesn't use very much water. Duh. We've had the toilet for about a month and a half now and haven't had any trouble. Once. Once R had to flush twice. Not bad when you consider how little water it uses. And the box claimed it's clog free... and so far it has lived up to that.

We had a little trouble installing it, because we had to slightly raise the floor. Even the extra jumbo wax ring R got from Lowe's wasn't tall enough. But luckily he found one at a local plumbing supply store. Other than that, it went in pretty easily!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

$2 Countertop

A brand new countertop, for $2, purchased at your local cheap-o store (aka Big Lots, which often has a lot of good house necessities, for really cheap. Wouldn't ever buy food there, but other stuff is good!).

A client of mine at work mentioned to me that 10 years ago when they bought their house, she couldn't stand the Kitchen countertops. Because the huge remodel we're now doing for them wasn't in their budget at the time, she bought a couple packs of contact paper and covered the countertops with the contact paper. I was in that house for months, measuring, designing, meeting with them, etc. and never realized it was contact paper! So when cleaning our lime green countertops just wasn't working, I went digging in the bag of contact paper that the client gave me. While the brown color she used wasn't exactly my style, it was still a good idea. Rolls of contact paper were only $2 at Big Lots, and I found one that had a granite-ish pattern to it, and was really the only option they had (everything else had flowers or fruit).

I tried to do some research online, but nothing seemed really helpful. So one night after work I just decided to go for it, and if it didn't come out good, I'd suck it up and go buy another $2 roll.

Turns out it's pretty easy! First I cleaned the countertop as best as I could. I didn't want any of the dirt or paint that was on the countertop staining or causing bumps in my new countertop. I started in one corner, with the backsplash, and very slowly and carefully rolled out the paper. I would peel off about 3" of backing, and then using my fingers push down the paper as flat as possible (and I'm a perfectionist, so it was definitely flat!). The hardest spots were the backsplashes and corners (corners were almost impossible!). When I got to a sink, I just rolled right over it, and then when I was done took an Xacto Knife and cut around the edge of the sink. It only took about 3 hours. R was shocked when I finally let him in the bathroom around 11:30 pm... he had been waiting outside the door wanting to see our "new" bathroom! I was so proud of myself! You can't see any seams and there aren't any bubbles (though my client gave me a good tip... if you do get a bubble, use a pin to pop it and then smooth it out).
Countertop Before
Countertop After

Monday, October 18, 2010

One Day Bathroom Remodel

We've been using the upstairs bathroom to shower, and the downstairs bathroom for everything else. And just the ten minutes I have to spend in the upstairs bathroom every day has given me major headaches. I've had them since the day we moved in and nothing relieves them.

So Ryan decided that we should use our one work day this weekend to remediate this (I think it was mostly to shut me up about my headaches). We could do some simple cleaning and cheap fixes to the bathroom to make it usable. 

First was removing the carpet. Surprisingly there wasn't a forest of mold underneath it. There was a disgusting black pad though that had basically become one with the plywood subfloor though. That thing was not coming off, no matter how hard we tried. So we decided to put down 1/4 luan plywood right over it. We'll tear it up when we redo the bathroom correctly in a couple years, but for now, it just wasn't worth it.
Over the luan we put down some inexpensive vinyl tiles. It's not the most stylish floor, but it's about 300 times better than what was there.

We then painted the walls and ceiling with Kilz 2 to help seal in some of the bad smells and stains on the plaster. The walls were in pretty bad shape and it was amazing to see what just one coat of Kilz did. I also painted the vanity cabinet with Kilz... it went through an amazing transformation! This picture shows the nastiness that was the cabinet right next to the newly painted cabinet.
The existing yellow toilet looked really old. We know that the last people to renovate the house did so in the mid 1950's, but we were still surprised to find out that the toilet was manufactured in 1956. A 54 year old toilet. They just don't make them like that anymore.
We bought the toilet at Lowe's, which I would not have done if this were a more permanent remodel.  We decided on the Jacuzzi Maxima Elongated Two Piece Toilet. It was only $5 more expensive than our other option, an American Standard, and this one looked a lot nicer. 
The existing sink faucets were also replaced with some inexpensive Home Depot faucets. Nothing fancy, just better than what was there. A repainted vanity, new cabinet hardware and new paint on the walls, and we're done.

A brand new countertop was not in our budget for this room. Like I said, I didn't want to spend a lot of money on this because I'm planning on re-doing in the entire room in a couple years. So rather than spending $80 on a new countertop from Lowe's I re-did it for a mere $2. How you ask?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Second Floor Bathroom

Our Second Floor Bathroom was scary! It had a moldy, constantly wet yellow (or at least it was yellow at some point in it's long life) carpet (yes, carpet), yellow sinks, mustard yellow wallpaper, and lime green countertops. And a yellow tiled shower, which was almost black with mold. There was mold all over the ceiling and plaster walls (underneath the wallpaper) as well. The faucets had clearly over lived their life expectancy. One of them was missing a drain (it was just a hole in the sink) and leaked no matter how tight you turned the handle. This picture was taken during our first walk-through, back in May. Everything you see there (including the wet, dirty towels and other disgusting personal items underneath the sink, and the full garbage barrel) was left by the sellers for us.
And this is the mold underneath the wallpaper.
The bathroom currently shares a space with the washer and dryer. The room was split in two by a previous owner, and you have to walk through the laundry area to get to the bathroom. When we eventually put on a Garage/Master Suite addition, the laundry will be moved to the other side of the house and this whole space will be bathroom. For this reason, we didn't want to spend a lot of money on the bathroom. In fact, we weren't even planning on using it. Ever. We'd just close the door and ignore it until time came to demo it.

But, nothing ever goes according to plan. The night we moved in, we discovered that the downstairs shower didn't work. So for the first month or so, we would shower in the nastiness that is this shower (no amount of bleach or cleaning could get rid of all of the black mold) and then use the sink and toilet in the downstairs bathroom. It was a huge pain! The carpet would squish under your feet, we had to bring in a free-standing lamp to light the shower area, and the countertop was unusable because it was my paint station, and was covered in painting supplies and dried paint (like I said, we weren't planning on using it, so it was a good place to wash brushes!).

So when a one day weekend presented itself to us, what better to do than tackle this bathroom and make it at least usable!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

My Office

I am always on my computer. Whether it's working on house designs, work, blogging, or just for fun, I'm always using it. In our old apartment my office consisted of my laptop and the couch. In our guest bedroom I had a table set up with some of my craft supplies, but that was such a multi-purpose room, the table was always covered with other stuff.

The day we first viewed this house, I fell in love with this room and knew it would someday be my office. 
It was perfect! It has a central location, beautiful view out the windows, a built-in bookcase and a fireplace! And it's the only room in the house that has the potential for lots of bookcases. The only downside is that it was pretty dark and ratty looking. Even without the curtains on the windows, it was dark. 
Luckily the wallpaper came off pretty easily. A helper and I took it all down in about 2 hours. We peeled off the grass layer, and then using spray bottles got the bottom layer wet, which made it peel right off. The walls underneath were pretty disgusting though. Aside from the wall with the windows, they were all newer drywall (when I say newer I mean from the '50's), but were stained and had a lot of holes. The wall to the left of the windows (seen in the next picture) was very poorly installed, and was very squishy.
We originally thought the wallpaper in this room was going to be the hardest in the house. The grass was so thick, and at first, didn't peel off nicely. But then we had the pleasant surprise of it being a piece of cake. Well, it came back to bite me when I started to paint. Before painting each wall I had to first wash it down with TSP, then sand the little bits and pieces of wallpaper left behind, then wash it again, then fill in the holes with putty, then sand again. THEN I could paint.

I decided to paint the trim, beams and fireplace surround a nice bright white. I love rooms with natural light, and the lighter the colors, the more reflective the light is. I used Glidden Semi-Gloss White. I made the mistake of not using any primer. The trim color didn't seem dark enough that I would need it. It took 4 or 5 coats of white to cover the yellowy-tan color. The paint on the beams was peeling and needed to be sanded, but I was a little worried it was lead paint. We bought a $9.95 lead paint test (good for 3 tests) at Home Depot, and it came out negative.
The color I chose for the walls is Lowe's La Fonda Mirage. It doesn't photograph 100% accurately, but it looks great in the room. Especially with the natural light shining on it. Because the wall underneath wasn't white (more of an off-white tan color with stains), in some areas it took two coats, but not everywhere. I was very impressed by the paint. The only downside was that because it took so long to prepare the walls and paint the trim (which I needed to do before painting the walls), I waste a lot of paint. I used up the entire gallon of paint on this tiny room and I still wasn't done! But luckily Lowe's sells those small sample bottles of paint, so I got two of those and only ended up needing half of one.

We still need to paint behind the radiator, but I skipped that for now because we're planning on having the radiator replaced because it leaks. A lot. The wall behind the radiator still has old wallpaper, which was on the walls before the grass wallpaper. We can't get behind it without disturbing the already leaking radiator. But for now, I just put my table in front of it and you hardly notice it.

The room is far from being finished (I need bookcases, more tables, filing cabinets, curtains, a rug, stuff on the walls...), but it's my favorite room in the house so far. I often find myself staring at the room from other rooms.. I just love it, especially in the morning! I didn't get a chance to clean the fireplace yet (there's a lot of smoke damage, and about $10 in pennies, inside the fireplace), but just the trim being repainted makes it looks so much cleaner and fresh.