January 30, 2010
This time around we've been (thankfully) setback free while getting the work done. No late night discoveries of mismatched tiles or water valve snap offs- yet! We still have one more days worth of work ahead of us, so who knows what surprised will pop up.
Pete is busy installing the wainscoting and it is looking really good! After taking a closer look to the condition of the lower drywall in the bathroom I'm really glad we decided to take the extra steps to do the wainscoting. It will add a lot of interest to the blank little room and help to protect our slightly beat up walls. Unfortunately the walls in the bathroom aren't exactly square or straight, so that means a lot of creative engineering of the cuts by Pete. Good thing he's used to our really wacky walls at home, coming up with a solution that makes the final product on the wall look good is something he has a lot of experience with.
I'm off to paint and get back to scraping the fish decals off the shower.
Ps- we were supposed to have a showing at home this morning. I'm not holding my breath for an offer.
January 28, 2010
A little excerpt from the "Pants Dominate at Saint Laurent" article.
"Women who have reservations about wearing pants all day, every day, will pick and choose from the wide Saint Laurent selection. He has some marvelous new rain pantsuits with belted tunic or safari jacket tops. He has U-necked jumpsuits under collarless button-down-the-front semi-fitted tunics. He has three-piece silk crepe pants ensembles in the ochre, gray, black and white polka dot or dotted checkered prints he repeats and repeats in his collection. He has silk jersey pants outfits and wool ones, with short or maxi length trench coats- one of which is a jazzy country check."
Just reading the term "rain pantsuit" makes me smile.
I have to admit, I'm digging the little white dress the model is wearing. It's super sharp and something I'd wear around in the summer. In fact it reminds me of the dress I wore for our wedding rehearsal and dinner. Which incidentally, my Dad thought was my actual wedding dress.
Part of the reason why I love renovating old houses so much is the potential to find some really interesting things. So far the Wee house walls have turned up an American flag, a mouse skeleton and part of a fruit packing crate from California. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a box of money to show up under the attic floor boards. Which reminds me that I should do a post about what we've found in the Wtown while working on it. Anyone unearth anything really cool during their renovations? You know, the diamond ring that fell out of the wall? A old Dear John letter that was written but never sent? Let me know! I love hearing about old found items.
January 25, 2010
Pete is fanatical (ha! get it?! I'm so lame) about making sure the bathroom exhaust fan is running whenever someone is taking a shower. The fan then must remain on until the bathroom is no longer steamy. Even though a fan deprives me of the steamy bathroom showers that I love, I accept that I have to do what is better for my house over my personal showering preference.
While redoing the bathroom over at the beach condo Pete gets up on the ladder to take out the old vent fan and install the fancy new light/vent unit. With the new combo unit if the overhead light is on, the fan will be on.
Pete takes down the fan. And realizes that since 1984 the fan has been venting to nowhere. It was just a fan and motor that made whhr sounds attached to our ceiling. A quick peek into the shared attic area confirmed that not one other unit had a vented bathroom fan. The builder was a corner cutter.
No wonder I liked taking showers there.
Now the new fan/light actually vents. My Husband, the not corner cutting fanatical fan installer.
None of us had ever been to a home expo before, so we really had no idea what to expect. Overall the expo was just ok. There were an overwhelming amount of hot tubs displays there, which we're not in the market for. The salesperson pitches were out in full force too, we had to brush off a lot of people who tried to rope us in and I really hate doing that because it makes me feel like I'm being rude. I just like to walk along and see what there is to see, if I'm interested in a product I'll stop.
Although the boys did get entranced by some product called the "Smart Master Pro". A masking and painting tape dispenser that promises straight smooth tape dispensed in lines with ease. Our friend bought one and used it this weekend. He's loving it so far, so I guess those gadgets can work!
We only talked to a few vendors- one was for Hardi Plank siding and the sales guy was no help. A other vendor was for garage doors and we got some good info from them that is going to come in handy when it comes time to add the doors on the garage.
Overall I wish there were more design display rooms to look at and get inspired by. There weren't many rooms and while I did think the ones they did have were nice, I just would have preferred more.
Am I going to go back to the Home Show next year? Ehhh... I'm neutral on it. Now that I've seen the place and know what it offers me I'm thinking that its just not the right fit for us and how we like to do our DIY home thing.
I'm leaning toward no unless it looks like I'm going to really need a hot tub next year.
January 21, 2010
Do I feel hopeful? No.
Am I so emotionally ready to move on and feel ready to sell this house yesterday? Yes.
You know what was really awesome about the showing today? They didn't close the office door all the way and the cat was able to slip in (hopefully after they left) and take a massive poo on the floor. Our cat seems to think that the office carpet is her free for all litterbox, even though she favors one corner. We've already replaced the carpet once.
One day I'm going to make a post highlighting all the crap in the house that my cat has ruined during her 6 year tenure here. It is going to be the longest post ever.
Please Please Please tell me that I'm not the only one with a destructive pet out there. Please.
Our newly installed door, threshold and ungrouted floor.
The floors and threshold nicely grouted! Unfortunate the new door had to get taken off temporarily. In the end everything worked out well. The floor does look fantastic, if I do say so myself, and is such an improvement over the vinyl sheet that was there before. Now I can't wait to get back and finish up the rest of the work. Finding the time is proving harder than we thought, hopefully soon we'll get back there! At this point we think we're about three more weekends worth of work away from completion.
January 20, 2010
Right before I dipped the paint brush into the first sample can I remembered that the water was turned off. There was no way that I would be able to wash the brush off between samples or at the end of the trial. We usually try to spend a little bit more for a quality paint brush, so I really didn't want to ruin this one because of the lack of water. Plus I needed the brush for later, it was going to be the brush used for painting along the...trim.
Paper towels will work as a paint brush in a pinch! Would I recommend painting your entire room with a roll of Brawny? No. But a little touch up or sample coat it is fine to reach for the paper towel.
Looking at the colors on the wall I picked my choices right away. Without disclosing them to Pete I asked for his favorites. And they were the same as mine. I love when that happens! Can you guess which ones we both picked?
Don't worry- I'm not going to drag our color choices out.
We picked the middle ones. The lighter color is Vellum Parchment and will go on the wainscoting and trim. Darker is Toasted Mocha and will be the wall and ceiling color. Both by Behr!
That night we dragged our dirty selves to Home Depot and picked up a gallon of each color. As well as tube of wall patch to fill in all the holes that the old bathroom fixtures left behind. That giant hole in the wall was actually made by Pete to reach the shower plumbing. We're going to create an access panel there for future plumbing needs, instead of having to tear out the wall again.
You can see the ceiling in this picture, Pete painted it the same color as the walls to help the small room feel bigger. I love it! The ceiling looks awesome and blends so well with the walls now.
You like our fish decals? I know- how awesome and stylish right? They fit SO WELL with our plans for the bathroom. If it was opposite day.
January 19, 2010
We decided the new plan of attack was going to be for me to grout around the toilet and for Pete to continue on with fixing the plumbing in the shower. That way both the grout and plumbing glue could set overnight and then the water could get turned back on Wednesday morning.
To lay the rest of the tiles and let them cure so the entire floor could get grouted together would have added an additional 8 hours in getting water/toilet back. Which would have pushed us back until Wednesday night. It sucks that everything worked out like that, but what are you going to do? Sometimes you just have to roll with the punches. It was our own fault for not double checking the tile box beforehand.
I slapped my knee pads on and got to work on my home improvement specialty- Grouting.
Back in the summer of 2008 I learned how to grout while tiling our college rental unit and found that it really spoke to my previously undiscovered anal tendencies. I'm fine with my desk being a mess, but heaven forbid I mess up while grouting. Grouting is tedious- But I LOVE IT!
- Plywood to kneel on and evenly distribute weight across tiles.
- Sponge to act as a wrist pad for non grouting hand. I tend to lean hard on my left wrist while working.
- Giant Pastry bag to help squeeze grout out into seems. Tricky at first, awesome once you get the hang of how to use it.
- Eva sized float. I have dainty lady hands.
- Grout- two part epoxy mixed with colored sand. Love it.
- Water for wiping up excess grout.
After an hour and some change I'd used up all the grout and had gotten a decent chunk of the bathroom done. Pete was working on fixing the shower, shocked at how well everything plumbing related was going. Thankfully no major problems after the initial shut off valve snafoo! We'd definitely be able to get the toilet out of the bedroom and reinstalled into the bathroom that night.
The whole condo was packed to the brim with tools and varies bathroom fixtures. I didn't even take a picture of the downstairs during this time. because I have no inclination to preserve that hot mess with a photograph. Believe it or not but the above picture was the neatest corner of the condo during the construction days.
After grouting I set up a painting station and got busy priming all the trim pieces. During this time I discovered the show "DEA" on Spike and watched a marathon of the show while painting away. Fabulous. I love a good law enforcement drama.
Success! Later on that night the toilet gets put back in! However, the water was still not on. So the toilet was more of a very nice, non working bathroom ornament for a few more hours.
January 18, 2010
Trip to the hardware store number uno. Thankfully there are two small, but well stocked, hardware stores a few minutes of the condo.
That night Pete attempted to get all the tile down on the bathroom floor, because it needed time to cure and then get grouted before the toilet could be put back in. So we figured overnight and morning curing would be best for the tile, and then I could grout in the afternoon while Pete fixed the shower plumbing. That would allow us to put the toilet in late that evening and get the shower back.
At 2 am, after slamming down a Red Bull, Pete saw the flaw in our plan.
We bought a box of tile in the wrong color.
January 15, 2010
One cold Saturday morning in early December Pete made a master shopping list of all materials that the bathroom was going to need, I made a giant cup of coffee and we headed off to our closest Lowes. Which just happens to be in Delaware, so thank you DE for the no sales tax! Four and a half hours later Pete and I emerge from Lowes pushing a loaded cart out from the contractor side of the store. Then we went down the street to Home Depot to get the rest of our list. Thankfully the Home Depot trip was only an hour.
When we got home we took a good look at all the materials crowding our SUV. Then we looked at the tools that needed to come along for the job, that is when everything clicked and we realized that one trip down to the condo was not going to be enough.
Pete decided to go down for a quick trip with all the excess stuff and start doing some floor prep, which ended up being smart to get done ahead of time because of proper curing time needed . After ripping up the linoleum Pete put down a self leveling cement and then screwed the backer board into the floor. The reason for the two step process was to make sure our floor was reinforced enough to handle getting tiles on top of it. If you put the backer boards directly onto your sub flooring there can be too much movement with the wood contacting/expanding and the tiles could eventually crack. Same goes if you put tiles directly onto a plywood sub floor as well. I would cry if all my hard work was ruined because of skipping steps, so consider that a little PSA.
Two weeks later and we're headed down for the real start of the renovation. Please believe me when I say we could not have packed another friggen thing in our SUV. It was so loaded that our suburban family mover turned into a low rider.
This is in the condos parking lot, right before I started unloading. Pete took a trip upstairs and started working asap on some time sensitive plumbing issues. Did I mention that the condo is on the third floor? And there is no elevator?
It was the-best-time-of-my-entire-life unloading the car and bringing everything up three flights of outdoor stairs during a windy evening in late December. I must have looked like some sort of deranged ninja running up and down the stairs to any casual observer. Dressed in black leggings, black fleece jacket zipped all the way up, with the hood up and tied so just my eyes could see out, black gloves and bright pink Uggs.
In total it took me 20 trips to get the SUV almost completely unpacked. That is 60 flights up, 60 down. Enough exercise that I didn't feel bad about the Sonic we stopped at for lunch on the way down. Or my Rt. 44 sized Strawberry Limeade.
January 14, 2010
While talking about what we wanted to accomplish with the room, we decided that the reno had to have improve upon three major things- better functionality, nicer design and all the products put in had to be very durable. Because the unit serves as a high volume rental for three months a year we really have to make sure that everything put into the unit can handle all the extra use without showing wear. However we wanted to put in materials that weren’t just blah basics and the cheapest option out there. I think our vacation renters will appreciate having a nicer bathroom!
We knew that this renovation would likely be our one and only for the condo bathroom so a lot of time was spent gathering design inspiration. That meant hours of walking around various home stores, visiting tile warehouses, all while figuring out what exactly it was that we wanted. I have pages of scribbles, item numbers and descriptions in my little purse notebook for all different types of items.
Eventually we settled on an idea to build around and which materials to use.
Building from the ground up we decided right away to get rid of the two layers of linoleum that were currently on the floor and put down a strong ceramic tile that has some texture on top. The ceramic will be really durable and the texture will provide the floor with some non slip protection. I’m trying to think ahead of all the wet bathing suits that will get slopped down on the floor in there!
Since the bathroom is so small and basic, we decided to add interest in the form of wainscoting and square trim. Both of those will help take the bathroom out of 1984 blah-humbug stage it is in right now. Plus the wainscoting will help protect the drywall and the plumbing that is behind it.
An early on big budget buster surprise was the bathroom sink area. During the measurement portion of the renovation we took a closer look at the sink. It was then that we realized that our sink vanity was not actually a vanity. It was a bit of plywood with doors and 2x4's holding the sink up. We had planned on just replacing the sink, faucet, top and painting the doors for the upgrade. Now the vanity that really wasn't would require a full replacement once we tore out the sink, so that got added to the list of materials.
The toilet was new, replaced earlier in the year because our old one crapped out on us. Even though we’re not in love with the toilet (but can you ever be really in love with a toilet?) it was staying. The shower and bath surround was also going to stay. The bath is a very functional all-in-one fiberglass piece that is in surprisingly good condition. To replace that would be a lot more money and time than we could spend or would even be smart to spend. However the crusty old shower head and faucet would be getting replaced, with something sleeker and much more user friendly. I even had a hard time figuring out the knobs in the shower, I can’t tell you how many times I froze myself when trying to turn the water off.
Going up the walls we realized the need for nicer storage and better lighting. There was medicine cabinet and the always lovely coated wire rack on the wall. But we wanted something that was going to look nice and be functional. The lighting was a huge issue because there are no windows in the room and the only light was tucked away in a corner with the medicine cabinet blocking part of it, so the bathroom never felt bright and cheerful. It just would look rather dim in there all the time.
And of course there is the obvious change, paint. The yellow was dated, faded and had to go.
January 13, 2010
Our realtor got us the feedback from the weekend showings! The couple who came back for the second showing has a wife who is in love with the house and a husband who is worried about our foundation. The other couple has a husband who loves the house and a wife that is worried about our neighbors. Could they just swap spouses so at lease one couple agrees on buying our house?! I might have never mentioned on here that we're flanked by the only two abandoned houses in the entire town. Which does makes for some quiet neighbors.
January 12, 2010
So I'll just say a little lesson learned from this past weekend.
Renovating a house with no heat in January,when the temperature outside is a brisk twenty four degrees is FRICKING COLD. It helps to wear a hat.
January 10, 2010
All this work is really worth it (hopefully) and comes with the territory of selling a house. It may be inconvenient but we singed up for it! So I try not to complain too much and maintain a positive outlook for every showing.
Out of all our 20+ showings, my favorite are the ones that are on back to back days. Those types of showings mean that we only have to touch up the deep cleaning, instead of having to do it all over again. Despite our (my) hurricane like tendencies to rip through the house leaving a mess in my wake, I can usually manage to keep the house looking spotless for 24 hours.
My ultimate favorite types of showings are SECOND ONES! We've only had two far. One was a fake one too, an old relative of the owners who wanted to see the house. Then she wanted to bring her mom back for a tour. After the other second showing the peopled ended up buying our neighbors house instead. Major Bummer.
Today we had our third second showing! One of the buyers from yesterday called last night and scheduled another showing for today. When the realtor called last night to let us know I started crying. It was just such a good sign. and I'm a crier.
So, we super spiffed up the house this morning in hopes of it making a fantastic second impression. Now that its all over I can't lie, I feel really neutral about all this. Not so excited that I'm holding my breath for an offer, but not so down that I'm counting an offer out. Somewhere in the gray middle.
Please cross your fingers that something good does come from this showing.
January 9, 2010
It still hasn't proven itself to be a good or bad decision, more like a neutral one. We only had one showing in December, right before the holidays. So you can imagine how surprised we were to get the call from our real estate office for a showing this weekend. Even more surprised when we received another call, for the exact same time. One of the agents agreed to come early though, so we got two showings for the mid-am Saturday morning. Pretty much the most convenient time ever! Clean Friday night and then just take the two pets over to the Wee house with us when we leave for the showings.
Now we're back from doing a couple hours of work over at the Wee house and thankfully both sets of showings seem to have to shown up! Two different Realtor cards are on the dining room table! I can't help but to feel positive about this. Not so positive that my hopes get risen only to be crushed when we don't get an offer. But optimistic that there are buyers out there and they are still interested enough in our house. I still can't help crossing my fingers and hoping that an offer comes our way sometime soon.
You know how if a bird poops on you its considered lucky? Well does anyone know anything about dog vomit having the same luck effect? Because on the way back from the Wee house Nala the dog ralphed right onto my lap.
January 8, 2010
The bathroom came with the lighthouse theme, and we've kept it until now. Not pictured are the lighthouse shower curtain hooks and about 199 lighthouse pictures that are/were hung about the bathroom. See if you can spot the lighthouse nightlight that is in one of these pictures.
Hiding behind the lighhouse shower curtain is a lovely ivory formica shower and bath surround. With fish decals.
Yeah, that is TP under the sink. I'm showing it because I'm a real person who stores her extra Charmin under the sink.
The bathroom doesn't have the worst decor ever seen by any stretch of the imagination. But everything is quite outdated and could definitely use a boost into this century. Also, the bathroom is in very high use during the rental season and there were definately problems starting to pop up. Last year we got hit with a few emergency repair bills that sucked. The functionality of everything in the bathroom was starting to slide down hill. We wanted to address those problems before they cost us renters and higher repair bills during the summer.
Is the bathroom finished now? Ha! yeah right. It's somewhere around the "three more weekends and we'll have this done" stage. It might even look like the above picture of where the sink used to be.
January 7, 2010
My dad has been a carpenter for over thirty years, working his way from apprentice up to the title of master carpenter. He has worked on every single type of project imaginable, from historical renovations, private home construction and all the way to overseeing custom homes that have been featured in Architectural Digest. Because of my dad being a carpenter, I remember his sawhorses being around my entire life. Every evening after work they'd be in the back of the truck, getting more beat up by the day. I also use to pretend they were regular horses and would play for hours on them.
A few months ago my dad asked us to come over and pick out what we wanted for when he moved out of his house. He's in the process of majorly downsizing his current life in favor for a much more movable one. The two things that I really wanted- his tool chest and the sawhorses. The sawhorses are still the same ones from all those years ago, and man do they look it but it doesn't matter because they are still usable.
Christmas rolls around and my dad tells us that our presents are in the basement. Yay presents! So my sister and I head on down to check them out. Pete and I got a brand new pair of sawhorses! My sister, being in that she has a livable house, got a pair of Adirondack chairs! The best part is that they are handmade by our father.
Dad explained to me that these are a copy of his sawhorses, which are an original design that he came up with back in his apprentice days (1980?) because the ones on the job site were horrible and kept breaking. He explained that we can also use them as a step ladder or scaffolding if we put a piece of plywood down between the two. Put the plywood down on top and pop a table cloth on- I'll have myself an excellent extra picnic table. Plus because of the placments of the lower steps, with one on the outside and the other inside, they can be easily stacked and stored away.
I LOVE them. I love them so much that I don't really want to use them. But I will, because they are meant to be used and frankly are going to be so handy to have during this renovation. Our current sawhorses are rinky dink plastic ones.
January 6, 2010
We were able to to the house on the 26th of December, fully intent on getting a lot of work done! Except that we couldn't. Because there was about a foot of water in the basement. Two feet of snow melting in about a 24 hours because of day long rain equals a lot water for our basement. Pete wasn't going to walk through the flood to get to the electrical panel to turn the electricity on. We leave the electricity off in the house except for when we're there. Thankfully my ipod was fully charged and broom cleaning requires no electricity, so I just put my earbuds in and got to work. However the husband was pretty cramped on his workload because it required using electricity. Don't worry, he quickly found something else to work on for a few hours.
And the After.
I like how clearly you can see the bumpy top layer of flooring here. It is almost like I have a bounce house in the living room, that is how much the thing moves when you walk on it.
This side of the room has a really dark corner on the left hand side. I love natural light (who doesn't) so the bleak corner bother me a little. However, that window is actually inside our craptastical wrap around plastic porch thing. So right now it receives very little light, hopefully once the plastic thing gets torn down the corner will be a brighter place.
The other side after, with all our construction stuff neatly arranged.
Once all the remaining bits get swept off of the floor I'm going to go around the room and pull off the rest of the plaster from the walls. Because the piles on the floor got so high at times there are parts closer to the bottom that couldn't be reached during demolition. You can see those remaining bits it in some of the pictures. After that is done I'll sweep again and shop vac the floor as much up as possible. Which is when I'll consider the living room demolition DONE!
January 5, 2010
I hope everyone enjoyed their holiday season, I know mine was great and like always blew by way to fast. How did it get to be 2010? I feel like we are just a blink away from the beginning of the decade. Speaking of the decade it was quite the banner one for me, in the last ten years I've done more than I once ever thought possible and yet life keeps getting a little bit crazier, busier and exciting every day. I'm stoked to see what the next ten years holds.
In the past decade- I learned to drive, got my braces off, graduated high school, went off to college, met my last boyfriend, watched my sister get married, got engaged, landed myself real adult full time job, became a homeowner (x4), graduated college, met my adorable nephew, got laid off, was a bride, morphed into a wife and somehow an adult at the same time.
Even the past year highlights include: Valentines Day in Washington DC, First visit to Las Vegas (and coming home ahead!), day trip through the Nevada/California dessert to visit LA, Bel Air & Santa Monica, losing my Zaida, Ireland and drinking lots of Guinness, first wedding anniversary and anniversary food poisoning for Pete, putting the house on the market, diving head first into working on the Wee house renovation, watching my mom get married, road trip to Rochester, NY and Canada.
It has been a good year marked with moments of great sadness. But you know what, you can't appreciate how sweet the good is without knowing the bad. I'm lucky that my life leans heavily towards apples dipped in honey more often than not.
As for this year and my house-ish resolutions? and yes I'm well aware that is almost a week after New Years, I run late. Just ask anyone whose every waited around for me to show up, they can verify that us running on time just doesn't happen. Usually I do a big resolution and have had pretty good success with keeping it. My blood pressure thanks me for the year I gave up adding salt to every single meal without even tasting it first. For 2010 here they go-
1- Compost more.
2- Carry my reusable bags and SS water bottle more.
3- Organize myself just a little bit more than the hot mess of an organizational nightmare that I am right now.
4- Keep up with the blog!
5- Stop buying cheap and uncomfortable shoes.
6- Learn more about architecture, specifically turn of the 19th century homes.
and do everything in my power to get our house sold!!