Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Renovation Update: Big Issue Solved!

So - we haven't had a renovation update in a couple weeks because there was nothing to report. We had called out a structural engineer, and were just waiting for him to get us his drawings so that the team could get to work. Finally - after a lot of calling and harassing him, he got us the drawings and they got started. They installed one new steal beam across the doorway between the kitchen and mudroom, and another along the side wall. Then after about 2 days with the beams - they quickly put the sheetrock back up and got the walls all finished up and nice. 

new beam across the doorway

new beam along the sidewall

the two new beams
sheetrock back up

looking nice and finished again

Upstairs, they finished up the sheetrock and started working on the trim. They also installed the new vanity and medicine cabinets - so it's beginning to look like a bathroom. 

trim going up in the bedroom

bathroom doorway getting finished

toilet flange in! 

medicine cabinets and vanity looking like a bathroom!

So now that they delay is over - things should really start moving quickly. We have cabinets on their way, and a new floor ready to go down in the kitchen. I'm hoping everything pulls together fast and we can almost be done by Thanksgiving.  

Monday, November 13, 2017

The Main Bath Project - Paint and Paint Chips

I haven't posted a lot about our main bathroom, which is currently our only full bathroom until the new master bath is finished. It's original - and not in a good way. It's covered in lots of black and white tile, with a bunch of cracks and broken pieces. The walls are a textured wallpaper that has been painted white, making it impossible to remove, while also being sort of fuzzy and always dirty. There's no vent, so trapped moisture has made a lot of paint peel and chip off -- which is really horrible in the shaft of the skylight - so the skylight window (which is meant to open and close in a very cool way) just stays closed all the time to prevent chips from raining down. Three years ago I tried to just clean up the skylight window, and we've done basically nothing since. The feeling has always been that someday we would gut it, so there was no point in bothering to do anything until then.

Well, now we have come to realize that we probably won't get to gut it ever. Our contractor explained that the tile is set in a bed of concrete and requires a jackhammer to remove, so he gave us a rough estimate of $20k to refinish it. We're never going to have a spare $20k to pay them, and I really draw the line of DIY at jackhammers, so I think the tile is staying put. That means that all we can do it clean it up and make some small tweaks to make it a little more functional and attractive.

While the contractors work on ripping apart the rest of the house, I'm focused on this bathroom. It's my new weekend project. We're starting with just getting rid of the falling paint chips.

Step 1: Scrape off the Loose Paint
Armed with a long scrap piece of wood with a paint scraper taped to its end - I got up on a ladder and poked all the paint in the skylight loose. Since I can't get above the swing window, I was pretty limited in what I could reach, but managed to do a decent job just poking at everything blindly with my eyes squeezed closed. This made a huge mess, which I then spent a couple hours cleaning up.

filthy skylight covered in paint chips

more pealing paint on the ceiling above the shower
see look - I tried to protect things

lots of pealing paint in the skylight shaft

after scraping - ugly, but no more pealing paint

Step 2: Paint Everything White
Once the chips were all scraped loose, I grabbed a gallon of primer and painted the skylight shaft and the ceiling white. To get up there - I was standing on the stepping stool, and then using an extender to get the paint roller as high as possible - so I'm not going to claim this was a work of precision. But I was able to get most spots pretty well. My hope is that it looks just good enough that no one will ever actually look at it.

skylight all white 

ceiling going white - so much brighter!

Step 3: Walls get Painted
So once the ceiling was all white and chip-free, the walls started looking really crappy. I pulled out the same gray that we have throughout the house to give everything a quick coat. Not only did it cover up all the smudges and discolored spots - but it added a nice contrast to make the tiles really pop and help blend this room in with the rest of the house. 

dirty shadow of art that used to be on the wall
so dingey

new paint!

no more chips and smudges 

no more dirt shadow

So - even though I always wanted to remove these walls and tile altogether - I think it looks a lot better. Just getting rid of the pealing paint so that you can confidently open the skylight window is a huge improvement. But just as soon as you make one thing nicer - now the trim and the door seem like eyesores in need of improvement - so maybe that's the next weekend project. 

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Halloween 2015-2017

It appears that I have not posted about Halloween in the past few years, so I thought I should catch up. Before kiddo, we didn't really dress up, but post-kiddo, this has become one of my favorite holidays with mostly hand-made family-themed costumes.

2015: Mars
So for our kiddo's first Halloween - I happened to see an adorable martian outfit online, and came up with Mars themed costumes for both of us. The movie the Martian had just come out, water had just been found on the planet - so the theme was super topical.  I ordered painter's coverups from Amazon for Spouso, and added a few print-outs of a NASA logo and American flag, taped them on - and he was an astronaut. I ordered the largest orange sweatshirt I could find - cut off the sleeves, painted some random black and red splotches, and taped on a picture of the mars rover. I think I tried to get a hulu hoop inside to make me more circular- but ultimately ditched the idea.

because his first 2 teeth had just arrived

2016: Monsters/Dragons
Last year, I also found a cute costume online as a monster for him, and decided to make us matching monsters too. I ordered hoodie sweatshirts and pants online - and then glued on some leftover felt pieces for our bellies and horns. The tails were really my proudest part - I used cheap hand towels, cut them into long triangles, and then sewed them closed with more colored felt triangles as spikes. Then I attached them with belts around our waists.

monster family

tail close-up

2017: Sea Creatures
So this year, on a trip to Target, we swung through the Halloween section and found a few costumes that would fit the boy.  As the first year he could opine on the subject, we asked him which costume he wanted (though I'm not sure he really understands why we are dressing up) and he clearly chose a shark costume. I poked around pinterest a bit to figure out what we could be as part of the theme - and ended up going with a octopus and jellyfish, as two relatively cheap and easy costumes. The jellyfish was really quick - I ordered a dome-shaped clear umbrella, cut up some of the plastic tarping that's all over the house, and just taped on the pieces. For the octopus, I ordered a really big hoodie, cut the front and back all the way up to the armpits for 3 legs in the front and 3 in the back. I would've liked to stuff them and sew them together, but my sewing materials are all boxed up, so I just stuffed the arms with newspaper and stapled them closed into legs. I cut up some circles in leftover felt, and glued them onto the undersides as suckers.

master of the cheesy smile


there was a fin too

jellyfish was awesome in motion


didn't like the hat parts

octopus attack
A trend?
So - it seems that the pattern I have fallen into is to order a premade costume for the kiddo so that he can be super cute - and then pay no more than $20 for some random stuff on Amazon, definitely including at least one cheap sweatshirt, to make a family theme for the two of us. I'm not sure how many more years of family-themed Halloween costumes we will have - but so far this has definitely become one of my favorite holidays.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Fixing up the Pocket Door

A little side project in the midst of all the big stuff happening around the house - I spent a couple hours this weekend fixing up the pocket door.

remember the pocket door we found in the kitchen? 

If you remember - when they demo'd the kitchen walls, we finally got to see the pocket door that we knew was stuck in the wall. We could only ever see the edge of it, so we had no idea that it was in great shape with an awesome window. We had them move it upstairs to be the new closet door - but knew it needed a little work. The edge had been painted many many times, with lots of colors sloppily painted further on the sides of the door.

door upstairs - with a lot of paint on the edge

So- first thing, I grabbed my heat gun and spent an hour or so removing the paint. Once I'd gotten everything off that way- it was definitely better, but still pretty smudgey.

after the heat gun - still schmootsy.

So then I grabbed some really course sandpaper, and hand scraped it down. Yes- I could've used the power sander which would've been faster, but it was naptime, and I was trying to be quiet. 

after sanding- no more paint, but some discoloration. 

 Then I removed the handle and locking mechanism, so that I could get the remaining paint off of it and the door around it.
lock comes off

After I cleaned it all up, it was clear that the heat gun and sanding had also removed some of the stain, leaving the edge of the door a little lighter than the rest of the door. So I dug around the garage and found a lighter walnut stain, and gave the edge panel a light coat. It didn't sink in very well, but just enough to darken the door up a bit. It's not a perfect match, but I think looks better.

cleaned and stained

Lastly - I gave the whole door a quick coat in polyurethane to protect it. I briefly debated sanding the whole thing down and restaining, but decided to just let it be. The door is old and should look old, I decided. (plus, there was halloween candy to poke at).

stained, protected, and ready to go.

I spent a little time scraping paint off of the edge of the locking mechanism, and then a lot of time trying to put it back together. A spring had come loose, and it took quite a bit of googling to figure out where it should go. Finally, we figured it out - putting the lock back together so that it will actually work.  Now when the door is unlocked, the handle pops out to grab. Then I just slid it back in the door, screwed it in - and called it a day. 

tinkering with the locking mechanism

paint mostly scraped off 

back in the door
close up of lock on top and handle on bottom

now when you push the button- the handle pops out

The door looks great and is ready to be used again. Our contractor was initially pretty negative about the idea of reusing old doors - but I'm pretty excited that we saved this one. I have no idea how long it was trapped in the kitchen wall, but now it's ready to be seen and used and hopefully will last another hundred years.

a bit of old character in a sea of new construction