Sunday, May 17, 2015

Some progress, and I hate hinges

SO.  Bathroom is slowly becoming less awful.  I spent a lot of time washing the walls, skim coating the parts where the drywall paper came off, and as of today we are ready for priming! 
Today Shaun sanded well and then coated the walls with Gardz, a Zinsser product for damaged walls.  It is strange stuff, like skim milk consistency, but it has definitely helped the texture of the walls and seals in all the dust and remaining wallpaper paste.  It leaves a sheen on the walls. 
We are going to skim over any remaining bad spots with joint compound, then hopefully I can prime and paint tomorrow.  Finally!  With the walls almost done, I turned my attention to the vanity.  I am under no illusions that this old thing is going to look new or fancy, but I'm going to do the best I can with it.  After removing the hardware, I had to spend some time scraping the built up paint and sanding the area smooth. 
I have to seal up both holes because I'm changing to a single knob for the drawers and the doors.  I chose Latex wood filler because I wanted it to harden nicely in the holes. 
I had high hopes that I could use the top holes in the doors for my knob, but because I chose a fancy knob with a star backplate, it was much too high.  Figures I have to fill both holes on the doors, too!
After all the holes were filled, I turned my attention to the hinges. 
This is what I hate about updating cabinetry in old homes.  The hinges are ALWAYS some weird style that you can't get anywhere.  I googled these, they have a little plate that actually slides into a recession in the door.  They are called 'demountable' and I was only able to find them online. 
Since I was only able to find nickel (not chrome) and didn't want to pay and then wait for them to be shipped, I decided to just boil the paint off and spray them.  We all know that 'chrome' spray paint isn't really chrome, but it was $3 for the can of paint instead of $18 for new hinges.  I have an old pot that I use just for the boiling of hardware that idiots have painted.  
I usually boil them for awhile, use tongs to pull them out, and then paper towels to just wipe the paint away.  I use a tiny screwdriver to get into all the crevices. 
The last step before spraying is to hit them with some steel wool.  I don't spend a ton of time, but I try to get all the large areas.  Then, they are looking good and ready for paint!
I use Rustoleum chrome, it works fine and it's cheap.  I know there are most expensive, more realistic chrome sprays out there for rims and stuff, but I just go with this to save money and because I'm too lazy to seek out better options. 
After several light coats on both sides, moving the hinges open and closed to get everything even, they look great!
Now I just need to pick the paint color for the vanity....which is sort of driving me crazy!  I'd love to do a bold color, but I'm sure I will end up with a neutral. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

It's not going well

So, lest you think I have been really lazy, I really have been working on our bathroom since my last post.  It is just taking THAT long.  Removing the wallpaper in this room was a HUGE, EPIC mistake.  The drywall was so compromised by the moisture trapped behind the paper that it just tore apart no matter how we tried to remove the paper.
It is really really bad.  I also had to use a razor to cut all the caulk away from the edges of the counter and shower tiles, which took forever.
The walls are so bad, that I'm considering not removing the section around the light and just skim coating it so you can't see the line of the wallpaper border.  I managed to clean up the area behind the toilet enough to paint it so we could get our new toilet installed. 
The wall color is a very safe, boring greige..BM Natural Cream.  I just wanted it to look fresh in here, so light and neutral it is.  The Behr paint sample actually covered in one coat, I was impressed.
The toilet is the Kohler Cimarron, it looks really nice and was pretty inexpensive.  Our amazing friend drove all the way from Racine to put it in for us, along with a shiny new faucet that I didn't take a good photo of yet. 
Here is a shot of the awful wallpaper before we removed it from behind the mirror.  Thank goodness it wasn't glued onto the wall!
Because of all the damage to the drywall on the walls, we've decided to just leave the popcorn ceilings.  I have no idea what we would do to the ceiling if we try to scrape it, and we are just so over this mess.  I think it might be weird to have a smooth ceiling in just one room of the whole house, too.  My plan is to put some joint compound over the worst of the bare drywall spots tonight, then sand those smooth tomorrow and do a full skim coat over everything afterwards.  Wish me luck!   

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Our bathroom

I'm not quite sure what to label this bathroom.  I suppose it should be considered the 'main' bath in the house because it's the only one with a tub, and it's the one most everyone uses since it's closest to the living room.  It could also be the 'guest' bath because we have our own master bath and this one is right across from the guest room.  Whatever it is, it needs help!  We have done absolutely nothing in here but put up a curtain rod that always falls down, and add the towels and rug.  If I had it my way, this bathroom would be gutted and there would be a solartube installed because I despise not having natural light, but we just can't invest that money in this house.  So, I'm working with it. 
This is the most boring bathroom I've ever seen.  Everything is white, or should I clarify, varying shades of white - except the tan walls that are so drab.  Do you love the preschool white plastic handles on the vanity?  Me neither. 
The vanity has those typical 70s doors that so many old kitchens had.  We have the old kitchen cabinets that match this vanity in the downstairs workshop and laundry room, too.  I'm not entirely sure if the floor goes underneath, and we don't want to spend unnecessary money, so I'm going to work with this vanity and counter.  Hopefully I can pick a color to paint the cabinet without losing my mind. 
The counter is a decent white Corian with integrated sink.  That is great, because I have a plan to sand/refinish it to hopefully look like it wasn't abused for 20 years.  More to come on that when I figure it all out!  The light fixture is a hideous two light that makes it about as bright as a cave in here.
My plan includes a new FOUR light fixture because we just have a ton of space up there...this one in fact!  It is the same Seagull Driscoll line as the chandelier in our dining room, and it is a splurge at $175.  I chose chrome to keep it very classic, yet modern in here.  

The light takes 4 100w bulbs, so I'm hoping it will be as bright as the sun in there.  It is also 30" wide so it will look more proportional to the vanity.  I also got a new faucet, this one by Grohe.  I thought this one fit the slightly retro style I'm going for. 
I also procured a new mirror because the one we have is damaged.  I wanted a 'statement' mirror, something other than a plain frameless one.  It had to be big because the vanity is 49 inches, but all the ones I liked were either 30 inches wide (too small) or meant to hang vertically.  I bought several mirrors and returned them before I finally found the holy grail at TJ Maxx/Homegoods.  During a 20% off for associates weekend, even!  Did I tell you guys I married Shaun for his TJ discount?  I'm just kidding.  Mostly.  Behold the simple beauty:
Hey, I haven't done a thumb up on here for awhile!  It was $100, so $80 plus tax with our discount.  Score!  At 28" high and 40" wide, it is almost the exact size of our existing mirror...just two inches shorter.  I can live with that!  The outside edges are a brushed silver.
The tub.  Well, the tub itself isn't bad, but it totally doesn't match the tile surround.  And SOMEONE, for whatever reason, caulked the tiles instead of grouting I'm sort of surprised they are still on there.  You can also see that the last row of tile is clearly different (whiter) than the rest, right next to the still-unused potty chair.  This is the case on both sides.  Some shady work was done in here.  This bathroom is full of secrets.  Like Gretchen Weiner's hair.   
Luckily, the tub drains fine and the fixtures are clean.  I don't mind the built-in soap dish or the matching towel bars and TP holder.  I will keep them because I honestly don't know how well they will come off the wall, and I don't want a huge patch job after we take them down.  The toilet is being replaced because it is a 1980s Kohler Wellworth - it was the cat's meow in it's day, but now we're lucky if our turds go down after a couple flushes.  Out with the old!  It will be replaced with a nice new Kohler Cimarron
Because it's such a boring box in here, I'd really like to 'Young House Love' this bath by raising up the curtain rod (which will be replaced with a chrome one) and getting a super long curtain.  I can't seem to find anything I like, though.  I would even be open to just using regular window curtains, but I'm feeling very picky for some reason. 
More dumb almond outlets and switches.  They never end.  The previous owner put the white plate on, not me.  Silliness. 
The worst part....the hideous ceiling.  Whoever did the texture in here did a very poor job and it has to come down.  Along with all the wallpaper!  More wallpaper, but I believe it's the last.  Thankfully, it's just a small bathroom with tile floor so we don't have to worry about the mess.  But, I'm really not looking forward to this job.  I think I might also replace the fan with a fan and light combo...but I'm unsure if I will hire an electrician to make it two separate switches, or just have the light and fan come on together.  It would be even better to have a light in the shower, because it's so dark in there!
I really wanted to stay around 1k for this bathroom facelift.  Luckily, we have a friend that does plumbing and he is going to help us with the installation of faucet and toilet.  So, to sum up our plan and budget:
Replace light ($175)
Replace toilet ($230)
Replace faucet ($110)
Replace fan with new fan+light unit (Estimate $100)
Towel rack for above toilet ($80)
Replace mirror ($85)
Replace cabinet hardware ($40)
Paint cabinet (Estimate $25 for samples and final quart)
Chrome curtain rod (Estimate $20)
Extra long shower curtain or window panels (Hopefully $60 or less)
Wall paint ($35)
New towels, rug and accessories ($50 if I'm lucky)
Refinish kit for counter ($10)
Hopefully I will have some progress to show you soon!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

My photo studio

Hi, everyone!  Thank you for the sweet comments on Ashford's room, we are very happy with it and Ash seems to love it, too.  I got a question about the shelf brackets - they are these ones from Home Depot.
Today I'm sharing my photo studio space with you all.  The gory 'before' details are in this post, but the full write up and all the good after photos are on my photography blog here.  If you wouldn't mind clicking over, your comments are much appreciated!  Here is the room before -
This bonus room is on the lower level of the house, the door leads out to the backyard.  This was part of an addition and it was used as a hobby/workshop area.  A lot needed to happen in here to make it useable for a studio!  I had to remedy the ugly tan paint, change out all the almond outlets and switches to white, and also do something about the gross screen door. 
Seriously, this thing was rotting apart!
The genius people we bought the house from had just sprayed the old burgundy paint all over it, too.  I suppose they probably thought they were replacing it, then never got around to it. 
I also LOVE the beautiful detail painting they did on the door.  I really wish I had gotten an up close photo, it was dismal.
Wait a you go.  Beautiful!
Anyway, we replaced the screen door with the same full view door we put on the front of the house.  The main door also got primed...but I haven't decided what shade to paint the door.  It has to be light and not create color casts when open into the studio...but I don't think white looks right.  I'm sort of in a bind because when that little window is painted the house trim color on the outside, (whoops!  I guess I missed a window) it will seriously clash with the storm door frame.  So, I can't paint the door to match the storm door because then the window will look really bad.  I realize this is a dumb problem, but I really stew about paint colors!  I might just stick with a cream or something. 
So much better!  I also want to replace the big ass motion light with a pretty light.  And a more attractive hose setup.  And we have some landscaping work to do on the stone retaining wall there....always something!  So back to the it is in process.
It was like a breath of fresh air painting over that tan.  And it literally was, because I added a 'clean linen' glade scent packet to the gallon of paint.  I am pretty happy with the way it worked, it was VERY strong for a few weeks then just faded away.  I might use it again, if I had a musty or stinky room to paint.  More almond outlets and switches for the pile....
Here is the room set up for my Christmas mini sessions after most of the work was done last November, but before I mounted my 9 foot roll of seamless paper...
I used this old coat rack from a thrift store to hold props.  I painted the back white, then stained the pegs espresso before spraying with poly. 
I was pretty happy with this setup, and got some great photos, but the bed was just too big to move around in there.   I took it out and dismantled it until Ashford was ready for his big boy bed.  Now, it's so much bigger and nicer in here!
I have a simple coffee table covered with a faux fur rug for sit down poses, and I absolutely love my seamless paper backdrop!  On my wish list is new flooring in here, some sort of ceiling with new lighting, and a pretty arm chair to use as a prop.  Check out more after photos and a few adorable test shots of Ashford on my photography blog here.  Thanks for looking!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Ashford's room - final edition

So, after all the floor refinishing, wallpaper removal, skim coating, priming and painting, we finally have a mostly finished room.  I say mostly, because we still have to put baseboards in here.  If I waited until that was done to show you the room, we'd probably be in the process of selling this house, so....I put one piece in there so you can get the idea!  Before:
The room is much smaller with the twin bed, but we managed to make everything fit ok.  We have the option to take the glider out and slide the dresser down, but for now our little guy still likes to sit and rock once in awhile.  We did eliminate the little wood shelf in the corner, it was wobbly and that is just not good!  I replaced it with these shelves.
These were a cheap DIY project.  I bought three 2 foot pieces of pine building material (1x9s) from Menards for $1.55 each.  They were not really meant to be stained because they had a ton of stamps, markings, neon writing, super rough edges, etc...but I did it anyway. 
I sanded the stamps and markings off the best I could, stained, poly'd, and used $2 'over under' brackets to attach them to the wall.  The brackets were sort of hard to install, but we love them!
And then I got the opportunity to do a little reading area under the shelves with some throw pillows I got on clearance at Target.  Oh, and here you can see my 'example baseboard.'  One day!   
The doggie butt hooks and blue clamp light are from Ikea.  Ashford needs a light on at night, so this one works well.  I'm trying to find a paintable cord cover I know we have somewhere...
While almost everything in this room is the same stuff from the old house, I did need to buy some things.  Mainly, bedding.  We had the antique bed, and just one set of twin sheets I used to stage the old house.  One of the most exciting purchases for me was the yellow quilt and sham from Target that almost exactly matches his dresser.  I love it!
One of the most exciting purchases for Ashford is the ABC poster from Ikea.  He LOVES this thing, before I got it hung he would carry it down the stairs to the living room so he could show us how he can say his ABCs and point at the letters.  In fact, he already dropped it and broke it before it got hung...but I'm just going to ignore that little bit of broken plexi in the corner!  His other artwork looks good in here - even though he has a lot less wall space.
His closet and main entry doors are still sort of an eyesore, but I'm still working on my plan for those.   
The inside of the closet was pretty run of the mill, so I painted it a fun accent color (Behr Voyage) that perfectly matches the blue in his drapes, painted all the existing shelving fresh white, and picked up a simple STUVA storage system from Ikea.  It works well to hold toys at his level, rather than having them on the floor.  As he gets older, we can add doors or drawers to customize it. 
We also keep the ottoman for the glider in here, so it's not cluttering up the main room.  And the little stool is something he uses to get into (and out of) bed.
It's pretty cute to see him using the stool because the bed is quite high!
And in case you think I'm nuts to let my toddler sleep in this tall metal bed, here is what is looks like in real life!
We always keep the foot board covered with the quilt, and he usually has a pillow there as well.  The guard rail is a great investment because this dude is like a rotisserie chicken at night, he has fallen off many a bed and I often catch him totally squished up against the rail at night.  I also bought a few under bed baskets from Home Goods for easy clean up of clutter around the floor.
So, that is about it!  I believe I spent $120 on all the items from Ikea, $80 for the bedding and pillows, $25 for the bed rail, $35 for the baskets, and $18 for the three shelves.  Add that to the couple gallons of paint, and it's more than I wanted to spend, but I think it's worth it to have an organized and nice looking room.    
 How have you designed around a tiny room?  I'd love to hear your clever ideas!