Thursday, February 25, 2010

Wallpaper Wrap-up

Now that I have taken all the wallpaper off the 'orange room' (and for those that asked, I am not repainting the orange color on the walls) I can finally say that the wallpaper saga is over.  I'd like to take this opportunity to recap all the removals we've been through in our home.....and I thought I'd grade them for 'ease of removal.'  Because wallpaper should always be judged.  And possibly graded harshly. 
Front and back hall
This area did not come off without a fight, but it did come off.  I would say this removal was a C. 
Methods used:
DIF/Fabric Softener and water
Stairway and upstairs hallway
Try not to be distracted by Shaun's sexy apparel.  The stairway was a real pain because the wallpaper went up to the top of the 15 foot ceiling: 
And the paper extended all the way down the upstairs hallway, so that was fun.  I'd give this area a D just for sheer annoyance and the death-defying location.  It came off about the same as the entry. 
Methods used:
DIF/Fabric Softener and water
Dining Room
This paper came off pretty easy, some of it was in larger strips, too.  I would give this removal a solid B because we didn't have to use any steam or sprays.
Methods Used:
Box Cutter (for the corners and edges)
Downstairs Bath
This room was a lost cause from the beginning.  The ceiling had layers of I-don't-know-what on it, and the walls had wallpaper in some spots, thick latex paint in others.  We scraped, steamed, scored, and sprayed to no avail.  This room gets an F because we ended up having to do this:
Yeah, wallpaper removal is a big FAIL when you have to re-drywall the entire room.  But we added tall beadboard to the walls, so it all turned out great. 
Methods used:
Every removal method possible 
Art Room
Shaun did all this removal himself, and he gives it a C- due to all the little scraps that came off the walls.  You can see in this photo that it was not coming off the smooth plaster walls easily.  At least it was a small room, so it didn't take that long.  Alas, I'm not quite finished because this still lurks in the small closet:
Even though all the wallpaper isn't off, I still reserve the right to consider myself done with wallpaper.  Who knows when (or if) I will get to this closet!
Methods Used:
DIF spray
Scorer (used minimally)
Den/Family Room/Office/Whatever this room is
The paper in this room came off like a dream, as you already heard.  I obviously still have some little pieces to remove, but I would say this is as close to an 'A' removal as it gets. 
Methods Used:
Box cutter for edges

To wrap up, here are my wallpaper removal tips:
~ It is best to lay down a tarp or dropcloth before removing the paper, because wet pieces will stick to your floors like you wouldn't believe. Don't skip this step!
~ Evaluate the paper you have.  Some papers are thick and vinyl-like with a paper backing, some are thin and come off in tiny pieces.  Removal methods are different for every type of paper. 
~ Outlets and switches are a great place to get a good tear started to check out how easy removal will be.  It also is a good place to see what the original paper looked like if it has been painted like ours!  Here's a fun strip we found in the orange room:
Here, chickie chickie!
~ Use a steamer to loosen the glue, using a scorer can help to get behind the paper, however it also makes it very hard to get large pieces off the wall.  Use it when you absolutely have to! 
~ Sometimes the paper's glue is so dried up you don't need to use any steam or spray, which really saves you from a nasty, sticky mess.  Don't get it wet until you know you need to!
~ We do like DIF, but I have had success with fabric softener and water as well.  
~ As you can see from my list, we used different methods for almost every room.  Play around with the possibilities until you find what works best.
~ Most importantly, wash the walls like IT'S YOUR JOB when you have all the paper off.  We washed all our walls with hot water and a couple drops of dish soap at least twice before attempting to prime, changing out the water often.  If you don't, the glue can make your paint job streaky and go on funny.  Of course, priming helps a lot, but it's still best to make sure you have a nice smooth, glue-free surface. 

Adios, wallpaper!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A maroon masterpiece

The lovely orange room that I showed you a glimpse of in my sticky and stanky makeover post was full of drama.  We're talking tears, anger and excessive amounts of paint and primer-slinging.   
I was horrified when I saw the condition of this room during our first viewing.  The highlights of the room?  The gross maroon paint and creatively-run cable:
The weird (undescribable shade of) paint on the baseboards, desk, and doors, the dingy carpet:
The gorgeous 12-lite Prairie-style french doors that were VANDALIZED with maroon paint, cheesy blinds, and were CAULKED AND PAINTED SHUT:
Yes, some yahoo (I'm talking to YOU, Boozy Susie!) decided to caulk these wonderful and completely operational doors shut, probably because it costs about $200 a month just to heat our house in the winter.  Instead of putting up plastic or using rope caulk, she used the real stuff.  Removing the caulk and excess paint was a multi-day ordeal involving heat guns and scrapers.  And swear words.  And adult beverages.  I'm happy to say that they work fine now, but are sorely in need of a good sanding and repainting, as you can see by this present-day photo:
Even though the floors were in remarkable condition after we ripped up the carpet, the wahoos previous owners had decided to use massive amounts of glue on the carpet pads - yes, there was more than one pad in some areas.  This resulted in a sticky goo along the perimeter of the room that would only come off with hours of working at it with a plastic scraper and Goof-Off.  Let's just say it isn't all off yet:
You can only scrape so much, people!  And there is still maroon paint on the casement window above the built-in desk:
But, I saved the best for last. 
The entire room was painted-over wallpaper.  Under the advice of my mom, when we closed I had decided to just put a fresh coat of primer and paint on everything, and deal with the wallpaper when I was ready to address this room.  The walls were dirty and I just wanted them covered with something I could live with for awhile.  I love the orange paint (Behr Pumpkin Toast), but it just doesn't flow with the red, brown, and teal in the rest of the first floor.  So I did this on my lunch break yesterday:
And when I got home from work, it had somehow turned into this:
This wallpaper came off in SHEETS, people!  I wish I would've taken it all off in 2008...alas, you never really know how it's going to come off until you get to strippin.  Do I get bonus points for most creative use of a treadmill?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Clarke Street Reno

I received a reader renovation that I just had to share with you all.  Erin is a fellow Wisconsinite, and sent me photos of a lovely 1929 bungalow that she renovated and recently sold in the Milwaukee area.  I have always admired the older homes in Milwaukee and the surrounding suburbs, so I was quite excited to see what she did.  Here's a recap in her own words, and pictures of her whole-house renovation! 

The exterior of the house was in need of a face lift, but I didn't have the funds in the budget to do any major work.  The house had been sitting empty when I bought it, so the lawn and flowerbeds were a mess. With the help of some $10/hour labor from Craigslist, the lawn was brought back, the flowerbeds completely cleaned out, and new topsoil, mulch and plantings bought in.  The major changes came from painting the brick piers and the metal railing the same color as the window trim.  Painting brick is a real PITA but the bang for the buck on this portion of the renovation was totally worth it.

Exterior before:
And after:
Living/dining room
The floors were refinished, the built-ins and moldings were cleaned up, lighting was switched out. 
Dining room before:
And after:
After pic of living area:
Master Bedroom
I love old houses.  However, I don't love the tiny bedrooms or tiny closets that usually come with old houses.  When I looked at this house I knew exactly what I was going to do with the 2nd floor. The previous owners had started the work, but there was still a lot to be done. The front half of the 2nd floor wasn't drywalled.  A back bedroom was small and lacking a functional closet. It was pretty clear to me that the way to go would be to make the entire 2nd floor a huge master suite.

The stairway, hall and bedroom got drywall, paint, trim and new light fixtures throughout. My carpenter was able to almost exactly mimic the door and window trim on the first floor. The floors on the 2nd floor are only pine, but my floor refinisher convinced me he could stain and seal them.  They're a little soft (dropping a tool left a nick) and the finish isn't as uniform as it is on the oak on the first floor, but I still prefer it to carpeting.
Master before:
And after:
Master Bathroom
The gross 1950's 1/2 bathroom was pretty much intact. The walls were covered in 'beaverboard', kind of a cork-like material that had a finished face. Continuing the work that the previous owners had started, the bathroom was given all new drywall, flooring, and fixtures.  I love how it turned out for the most part. 
The vanity, granite top, sink, and floor tile all came from a local discount chain. The mirror over the sink was $40 at Home Goods.  The light fixture is from Lowe's.  The shower tile was left over from the last house that I renovated...I'm pretty sure I have enough left over to do one more shower stall!  The shower door and sink faucet came from Home Depot. Wall paint is Benjamin Moore's Quiet Moments. The only thing that I'd have done differently in this room is pick a different vanity and added a built-in under the cute little window for additional storage space.
Bathroom before:
And after:
The old kitchen was gross.  Laminate cabinets full of mouse poop, bad wallpaper border, fake hardwood flooring butting right up to original wood floor. Bad all the way around, it all had to go.  By this time, I'd made the decision that the house was going to be sold, so I tried to set aside my personal preferences to choose finishes that would appeal to the broadest range of buyers.

I purchased my cabinets in a pretty traditional mid-tone maple at a local discount chain for less than 2k.  Appliances from Lowe's and the granite from a local company that I've worked on commercial projects.  Certainly not my dream kitchen, but for right around 10k including installation labor, I was able to get new cabinets, tile flooring, granite tops, and brand new appliances.  I really can't complain about that!  All that being said, I'd have done things totally different had I known that I was going to be staying in the house!
Kitchen Before:
And after:

Didn't Erin do a great job?  I just about died when I saw the living and dining rooms especially, those windows!  The built-in cabinet!  The baseboards!  While the kitchen is not what she would've chosen for herself, she did an admirable renovation for a grand total of 10k.  The Milwaukee area has so many wonderful old homes, thank you so much for sharing, Erin!

This also brings up a good talking point.  How do you decide what materials to use when you are renovating your home?  Do you take into consideration resale value, or just go with what you like?   Does it even matter these days with styles changing so quickly?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Art room is finished!

Remember when it was 'The Shining' room back in December? 
Well, it looks nothing like that anymore!
LOVE.  My favorite shots of the entire room are the night ones, the wall color is soothing, yet dramatic.  But we do get a lot of western light during the day as well:
Here is another before and after shot of the 'ballet bar' wall:
These are art pieces I did in middle school (yeah, I was 12)...the one on the right was featured at the Frank Lloyd Wright-built Wingspread in Racine as part of a 'young artists' collection.  It then traveled all over the world, all the way to Japan and back.  Yeah, I'm kind of a big deal.  It sustained some water damage on it's travels, but I still love it.  My mom saved the gallery card for me....check out my really long Polish last name! 
There is a place for everything in this room, but the only furniture is the desk and chair, so there is still a lot of open space.  About that chair....I think it's too big and roll-y and it is an OFFICE chair, not a PRETTY, SOPHISTICATED chair.  But Shaun vetoed getting rid of it in favor of a lovely upholstered-seat number. He thinks it's really comfortable, and so for $0 it gets to stay. At least it's black and not too offensive to the eyeballs.
I wanted some rustic-looking shelves to hold all the art supplies. I had a Home Depot dude cut a medium-quality 6'x 8" pine board in half and then I sanded, stained and poly'd the 3' pieces using the materials we already had. The board was $5. Then I found 4 shelf brackets at Menards for $2 each. I made the two shelves for $13, and I love how they turned out!
Our art supplies got plopped into various receptacles: The large acrylics are in a metal utensil caddy (?) I picked up at Goodwill for $1.99. The brushes, colored pencils and small acrylics are in: a pasta sauce jar, a salsa jar, and a 3-wick candle jar, respectively.  The palettes, pastels, and other miscellaneous items are in a Pier 1 basket I picked up for $8. I also have another one holding sketch pads and other items in the cubby under the desk. 
The IKEA 'cubby' that came with the desk originally holds all of our paper pads, sketch pads, notebooks, etc.  We also have large canvases slid in between the wall and the desk. 
The lamp was purchased at TJ Maxx (finally, I got something with Shaun's discount!) for $27.  I was originally planning to spray it bronze, but the antique brass finish grew on me and I rather like it in this room, just as it is.   
I already talked about the window treatments, but I forgot to mention the rod and clip rings are from Menards. The rod was $12 on clearance. I loved the finials, but it was a short rod (24" - 48") so in order to stretch over our 30" window, I had to use a center bracket to avoid a sag in the middle. I'm not thrilled about that, but I love the rod and they didn't have a bigger one, so I will live with it.  The rings were $5 a pack, and I got two packs. $22 total for the curtain rod.  The fabric was $24 after a 40% coupon.
The rug was the biggest expense. I wanted a natural fiber rug because we had a wheely chair, and I didn't want a plush rug in a room with acrylic paints being thrown around, so I thought this was the best bet. It was $156 on, but I'm sorry it is out of stock!  I literally got the last one. I love that it is 8' square, it fits in here perfectly.
And because I know Shaun will need inspiration while drawing, I put a picture of my butt on the desk.  This was taken by him while we were on our first (and only) cruise together in 2008.  I was checking out the water from our balcony, not losing my lunch, just in case you were curious! 

I'm pretty excited that we now have everything all in one place, at our fingertips. And I can always hijack the table if I have some other crafty thing I want to work on. So, did this room live up to all the hype?  Did I drag it out too long? 

Source and price list:
Rug from Overstock - $156
Wall molding from Menards - $98
Urbino track light from Menards - $60
Desk lamp from TJMaxx - $27
'FC Besame Fiesta' fabric from Joann - $24
Bamboo shade from Overstock - $23
Curtain rod and rings from Menards - $22
Baskets from Pier 1 - $16
Rustoleum Oil-Based enamel in Gloss White - $9
Shelf brackets - $8
2 cans Cover Stain primer from local store - $5 (a STEAL!)
Pine board for shelves - $5
Goodwill basket - $2

Total - $455, definitely more than I wanted to spend.  However, the big ticket items were (as usual) the floor covering and the wall molding ate up some decent cash, too.  I think it was well worth it in the end!