Nursery progress

So here we are, T-3 weeks and some change to my due date, and the nursery is coming together.

Most new parents’ nursery plans involve a gallon of paint, moving in new furniture and hanging a few pictures. Ours were a little more involved.

Here’s the bedroom we plan to use for the baby’s room, as we saw it when we bought the house.

Nursery, before.

Nursery, before.

Gotta love the candy dish of Werther’s Originals for guests.

It’s one of the reasons we were sold on the house. In our neighborhood, three-bedroom homes are really two-bedroom homes with a third, smaller room that can be used as a nursery or an office. The previous owner had full-sized beds in each room, with room to move around.

This bedroom is still the smallest of the three, but it won’t be easy for LB to outgrow.

Like the rest of the house, the drapes went as soon as we moved in. In January, we took down the ceiling. As predicted, it was the same situation as in our bedroom: fake wood panels nailed to pressed wood tiles stapled to wood boards nailed into the plaster ceiling.

So many layers.

So many layers.

Demo.

Demo.

Then, Josh began stripping the paint from the baseboards, door frame and window frames. All had been painted a gross brown color and several other colors before. Getting down to the original wood (still intact throughout the first floor) wasn’t an option, so the goal was to remove as much as possible and sand smooth so we could repaint.

Method: Citristrip paint removing gel and a heat gun. Although the citristrip is a chemically safe stripping agent, the smell was too strong for me. So he was on his own, and it took a long, long time.

Josh’s dad came to help in early February and they got the drywall ceiling up and took off more paint.

Josh's dad measuring drywall.

Josh’s dad measuring drywall.

nursery12

Putting up the ceiling, one window frame partially stripped.

Meanwhile, I sewed crib sheets, changing pad covers and burp cloths.

#nesting

#nesting

Last weekend, our moms helped paint the walls a buttercream/yellow after my baby shower.

Walls, trim painted.

Walls, trim painted.

Josh painted the ceiling today and we should be ready to move things in this weekend while finishing up the closet.

Nursery:
remove fake ceiling(s)
– install drywall ceiling
– strip paint from trim, baseboards
– remove wallpaper
– prime and paint walls, ceiling
and trim
– strip wallpaper in closet and paint
– assemble/move in crib, dresser, chair and bookshelf currently hanging out in other parts of the house
– hang prints, light fixture

Bathroom before/after

I wanted to wait to do a before/after of the upstairs bath until we were completely done with it. But we’ve been 95% done for a few months now, and I’m not sure when that last 5% will get done. So here goes.

Let me remind you what it looked like when we first saw the house:

View from the door. Look at that beautiful drapery!

View from the door. Look at that beautiful drapery!

And from the opposite corner:

Bathroom viewed from the tub corner.

Bathroom viewed from the tub corner.

The previous owner kindly left all the drapes in the house, including the shower curtain and valance. Hours after receiving the keys, we took down almost all of them.

Josh taking down the drapes.

Josh taking down the drapes.

Josh might not look happy in that photo, but he was thrilled to get a ton of use out of the power drill I gave him the previous Christmas.

We demoed the bath July 3, and began the slow haul of rebuilding it the next day. The walls behind the bathtub were moldy and rotted so we had to insulate and install tile board. The floor had severe water damage near the toilet due to dozens of years of a faulty install. Luckily, the rest of the walls were OK, needing a few skim coats.

We saved thousands of dollars by doing almost everything ourselves. My dad helped a lot with the structural work, plumbing, and installing a new outlet by the sink. Josh did the tile and installed the sink. We also used modest, classic materials — subway tile and basketweave tile from a flooring warehouse; a sink, cabinet and faucet from IKEA; and a lower-priced tub from Lowe’s. We kept the toilet, for now, and splurged on mosaic accent tile, the shower head and matching chrome fixtures.

We painted the room tempered gray, which is about the same color as the grout. Our shower curtain, towels, and rug all complement the accent tile and gray walls.

And here’s what it looks like today:

Upstairs bath, finished

Upstairs bath, finished

Viewl from the tub

View from the tub

Upstairs bath, finished

Upstairs bath, finished

The previous cabinet was way too big for this space. This smaller cabinet gave us room for a waste basket on one side and a hand towel on the other. We had bought a medicine cabinet mirror at IKEA, too, but I realized when I was about done assembling it that it wouldn’t fit with the outlet. Oops.

Upstairs bath, tile

Upstairs bath, tile

So what’s the 5 percent remaining?

This ugly thing.

Bathroom wall storage unit.

Bathroom wall storage unit.

Previous owner wallpapered over the bottom half, which made no sense because 1) goodbye, storage! and 2) how are you supposed to get to the pipes?

It’s been painted probably a half dozen times and is in dire need of a good stripping, sanding and fresh coat of paint. The window/door trim and door are in the same situation.

I found out I was pregnant soon after we started, so unfortunately stripping paint with strong chemicals was not on my list of things to do and won’t be for a while. So we’ll wait for the weather to improve so Josh can refinish the door outside and we can both work on the rest with lots of ventilation.

There’s plenty to enjoy about the room until then, like no crumbling tiles or shiny brass fixtures.

Bathroom to-do list:
-demo bathroom
-insulate walls and level floor
-rewire electrical
-install toilet
-install showerhead
-clean grout
-prime and paint walls and ceiling
-caulk tub
-seal tile, floor
-install floor trim
-assemble and install sink cabinet
-install light fixture
-shower rod, towel bars, toilet paper holder

-paint storage, window trim and door white

Red room

This post is long overdue but I need to publish it before I show pics of our (mostly) completed bathroom.

I loved the dining room the first time I saw it from the leaded windows to the 70s wallpaper to the antique chandelier.

View from the kitchen door

View from the kitchen door

View from the French doors to the living room

View from the French doors to the living room

We saw the house twice before we put our offer in. We didn’t realize the wallpaper was velvet until we did the inspection. Or that the ceiling was wallpapered as well.

I wanted to keep the wallpaper on one accent wall, but every wall had at least one faded area.

When Josh’s mom visited in June, she offered to take down the wallpaper while Josh and I were at work. She got all the paper off, but there was still a lot of old wallpaper paste stuck to the wall that wouldn’t come off easily.

Wallpaper past residue on the wall.

Wallpaper past residue on the wall.

My mom helped me get the gunk off when she and my dad came in July. We decided to try a product new to us called Piranha. It’s a solution you spray on the wall, let sit for a minute and scrub off with a special sponge. Then we had to wipe it down again with hot water to get the last bits off.

Scrubbing it down.

Scrubbing it down.

The process was very tedious, especially for the ceiling, and it gave me hiccups. But it worked.

Piranha-ing.

Piranha-ing.

And the walls stayed naked for a few months.

Josh’s mom, aunt and uncle planned to drive out an antique buffet table on a Friday in October, so we hustled the week before to paint the room before they arrived.

The dining room gets a ton of light and I was feeling a deep red. But the light yellow underneath the wallpaper was growing on us. To be sure, we bought a few samples and painted them in different light around the room.

Clockwise from upper left: Valspar Cloudy Sunset, Honeysuckle Beige, La Fonda Antique Red, La Fonda Tile Red

Clockwise from upper left: Valspar Cloudy Sunset, Honeysuckle Beige, La Fonda Antique Red, La Fonda Tile Red

While we liked the yellow, we kept coming back to the deep red. So we bit the bullet, bought the paint and got to work.

Here’s how it went:
Thursday PM: I patched holes, dents and cracks with patching plaster.
Friday: Josh sanded walls
Saturday: I wiped down the walls and ceiling.
Sunday: Josh and I primed the walls with a low-VOC primer. Josh primed ceiling with Kilz while I went to a birthday party. We put one coat of red on the walls.
Monday: Josh painted the ceiling
Tuesday: Josh painted a second ceiling coat before I got home from work. We finished the second coat of red — Josh rolling and me cutting in behind.
Thursday: Josh touched up painters’ tape spots, we moved the furniture back in, burned a ton of candles to get rid of the paint smell.

dining room paint1

Josh had a little pre-Halloween fun with the paint.

Josh had a little pre-Halloween fun with the paint.

dining room red rum

Again, here’s the room we bought:

View from the kitchen door

View from the kitchen door

And this is what we look at now:

View from the kitchen door.

View from the kitchen door.

View of the living room doors.

View of the living room doors.

Of course, we still have a few things to do to finish this room:

Dining room to-do list:
-remove wallpaper from walls and ceiling
-remove wallpaper paste
-fill a billion holes in the walls
-paint walls and touch up crown moulding

-sew and hang curtains
-buy new rug
-hang art
-clean antique chandelier (possibly replace)

Oh, hey bathroom

We demoed the upstairs bath on July 3.

It has been 100 days and it’s still not done.

To be fair, Josh and I both work full time, were out of town quite a bit in August and September and started other projects in the meantime.

But it has been much more work than we imagined.

Here’s the bathroom as we saw it when we put an offer on the house:

View from the door. Look at that beautiful drapery!

View from the door. Look at that beautiful drapery!

Bathroom viewed from the tub corner.

Bathroom viewed from the tub corner.

Peach speckled tile, linoleum floor, brass fixtures, too-big vanity, awkward off-center medicine cabinet, too-low towel holders, wallpaper, cracking tub, weird eye-level sconces…

We knew it would all have to go. Luckily, my parents decided to drive down July 4th weekend to help.

Mom is not thrilled about bathroom demo.

Mom is not thrilled about bathroom demo.

Dad loosening the old tub from the floor.

Dad loosening the old tub from the floor. His hair is not that gray — there was a lot of plaster dust in the air.

The wall behind the bathtub was moldy and had to go. We took advantage of this by insulating the walls before covering with cement board. Then my dad and Josh installed the new, curved tub. They were able to start tiling the tub before my parents went home.

New curved tub.

New curved tub and insulated walls.

You can’t see it too well in the above picture, but we had to completely remove the original hardwood floor underneath the linoleum and install new subfloor in some places to make it level. The hardwood rotted near the toilet — the result of a toilet poorly installed years ago.

Tiling the tub. We thought we were so far at this point.

Tiling the tub. We thought we were so far at this point.

Tiling the tub took Josh about a week, doing only a few rows at a time so the tile didn’t move before it set. We decided to keep it classic, chosing a simple white subway tile for the shower and walls anda classic black and white basketweave for the floor. We splurged on glass mosaic as an accent tile in the shower. We used a warm gray grout for the whole room.

Basketweave floor

Basketweave floor

So why aren’t we done?

Because grout.

Stupid grout.

Stupid grout.

When Josh applied the grout on the floor, he didn’t do a great job wiping it off. And we let it sit for a few days… So it was a huge pain to scrub off once dry and neither of us ever felt like sitting and scrubbing for hours. Josh installed the toilet, which was my main complaint about having to use the basement bathroom.

But as of last weekend, it’s gone. What finally motivated us to move on the grout? We found a nylon brush that attaches to our power drill that took off the same amount of grout in 20 minutes that it took me 90 minutes to do by hand. Doh.

We really are in the homestretch now. We have all the materials to finish up and the dogs have already taken baths in the new tub.

Bathroom to-do list:
-demo bathroom
-insulate walls and level floor
-rewire electrical
-install toilet
-install showerhead
-clean grout

-prime and paint walls and ceiling
-caulk tub
-seal tile,
floor
-install floor trim
-assemble and install sink cabinet
-install light fixture
-shower rod, towel bars, toilet paper holder
-paint storage, window trim and door white

Bye, bye bushes

I haven’t updated the blog in a while because I didn’t feel like we made much progress. But as I’m thinking of things we’ve done since August, we’ve actually done quite a few things.

Probably the biggest change around here is ditching the two ginormous bushes in the front yard. The two bushes were taller than me and a big safety hazard when pulling out of our driveway or our neighbors’. Apparently, several neighbors tried to convince the previous owner to get rid of them but her late husband had planted them so she didn’t want to part with them. The bushes and huge evergreen tree blocked the view of our house from the street and the street from our house.

The front yard when we moved in, from the living room window.

The front yard when we moved in, from the living room window.

My dad came down Labor Day weekend and brought his chainsaw. The bushes were gone in minutes, as was space under the large evergreen tree in the front and two trees in the back. Our neighbors were thrilled.

One of the bushes in the front yard.

One of the bushes in the front yard. Taller than me.

Dad chopping 'em down.

Dad chopping ’em down.

New view of the front yard

New view of the front yard

The aftermath.

The aftermath.

We weren’t able to pick up the branches until the next weekend and met more neighbors bundling the scraps than we have the entire time we’ve lived here. Everyone complimented us on how good the yard and house (now that they could see it) looked.

Even the previous owner drove by to see, we were told. She didn’t let us know she was here, but according to the neighbor, she was OK with axing the bushes now.

The best part is once we had everything bundled up, the city took it all away on our biweekly yard waste day. Possibly the cheapest most visible change we’ve made.

Finishing up the master

We are so, so close to being done in the master bedroom. How close? We’ve slept there for the past month.

My brother visited during Memorial Day weekend and we put him to work installing drywall — paying him with food and beer. Without him, we might have never figured out how to get the 8×4-foot drywall up our staircase. (Thanks, Brother!)

Installing the drywall.

Installing the drywall.

Josh was able to do both walls mostly by himself. The ceiling wasn’t too painful with three people. It took all three of us to fit each panel in place and two would hold it steady while the third screwed it in.

Teamwork for the ceiling.

Teamwork for the ceiling.

(Don’t worry, we hired an electrician to replace that ancient wiring with a solid fan box and new, safer wires.)

After Jeremy left, Josh and I taped and mudded the seams — three coats, sanding after the last. We primed the walls and ceiling one night and painted both over about a week.

All done! (not really)

All done! (not really)

The room doesn’t get much sunlight because it’s in the northwest corner. Painting the walls and ceiling different colors makes the room feel cozier than with white ceilings but not too dark.

My mom and grandma’s visit in June became our motivation to push ahead.

We didn’t get to apply a second coat of paint before they arrived but we were able to take the carpet up to set up the bed. Unfortunately, the Tetris tricks Jeremy taught us with the drywall were no good for our queen-sized box spring. The bed, a 7-year-old IKEA frame, has no springs and we had no SKORVA.

What’s a SKORVA? If you Google it, one of the top answers is: “SKORVA is Swedish for ‘return to store.'” It’s a $10 metal beam that holds wood slats in place, on top of which the mattress is placed. Many people forget to pick up this extra item in the warehouse and IKEA does not sell it online.

After Mom and Grandma left Saturday, we made a quick trip to IKEA outside of Cincinnati. It was the fastest IKEA trip I’ve ever had and it still took us an hour to get through the store. Halfway through, it seemed silly we’d traveled all this way for a $10 piece of metal so we decided to buy a new bed.

Josh plans to finish the crown moulding while I’m on vacation so the next update should be a before and after!

Master bedroom to-do list:
-remove wood from ceiling
-remove wallpaper
-remove plaster from chimney to inspect brick condition
-possibly remove/replace drywall if installed incorrectly or damaged by water
-scrub walls
-remove baseboards
-insulate and replace drywall
-patch plaster ceiling near chimney

-repair, paint and seal brick
-install 1/4 inch drywall over the ceiling
-prime and paint walls
-remove carpeting

-sand and stain wood floors (probably when we refinish the rest of the floors upstairs)
-install new baseboard and crown moulding
-paint trim
-window dressings, rug, decor

Goodbye, ugly house

A lot has happened in the month since our last post, but today I’m sharing what’s happened in the last 48 hours.

Despite our house being a fabulous structure with strong bones, it needed a makeover inside (a work in progress) and out.

Two are better than one — except when it comes to exterior paint colors.

Two are better than one — except when it comes to ill-paired exterior paint colors.

We literally bought the ugliest house on the block. Not only was the circa-1980s McDonald’s color palette more than stale, the aluminum siding paint had become chalky and dull. A paint job — probably the first in 30-40 years — was a top priority for our first year of renovations. Neighbors and friends asked us what color we planned to paint it. Our answer: One.

Josh proposed painting it ourselves but the idea of renting equipment/ladders we didn’t have and working during hot summer weekends was not appealing to me. So back in March, we booked professional painters through College Works Painting.

They washed the house the weekend after Memorial Day and planned to show up June 2 to paint. But then it rained on and off. For two weeks. The weather held off enough for them to come Monday morning and they sprayed one coat on in between rainstorms. They showed up at 8 a.m. Tuesday and finished by 2 p.m.

My mom and grandma were driving through Columbus on their way to and from Virginia last weekend.

When they left on Saturday morning, the house looked like this:

Two are better than one — except when it comes to exterior paint colors.

Two are better than one — except when it comes to ill-paired exterior paint colors.

When they came back Tuesday evening, the house looked like this:

One color.

One color.

My grandma thought for a second they were at the wrong house.

It does look like a new house. We love it. I think our neighbors love it more. One neighbor stood outside, watching the painters do their thing and commenting about the color. (It’s Sherwin Williams “Needlepoint Navy,” if you were wondering.) This morning, we caught someone driving by and staring out their window. I’m sure they stared before, but I don’t mind them staring now.

We probably could have waited a while to paint, but now the house feels more like ours and less like one that belongs to a nice old lady.

exterior paint gif

Bedroom demo

I promise we haven’t been hiding our master bedroom renovation from you. Actually, we haven’t done much since that first update until last weekend. The weather got nicer and we moved our weekend work outdoors (garden updates TK.)

Let me remind you what it looked like when we bought the house.

master

The curtains were the first to go, obvi. We removed the fake wood paneled ceiling and the ceiling tiles above. And the wood nailed into the plaster ceiling above that.

Wood boards nailed into the plaster ceiling were used to anchor crappy ceiling tiles.

Wood boards nailed into the plaster ceiling were used to anchor crappy ceiling tiles.

We’re still undecided on how to address the ceilings.

Option 1) Screw drywall into the wood beams.

Option 2) Remove wood, carefully, and patch cracks in the plaster ceiling.

Option 1 is a lot of work but Option 2 is riskier.

Luckily, we have plenty of other work to keep us busy while we hem and haw about the ceiling.

Josh got most of the plaster off the brick chimney a couple weeks ago. We plan to patch the mortar in places and seal it with a clear sealant, leaving it exposed.

Removing the plaster from the chimney was hard work.

Removing the plaster from the chimney was hard work.

The spot above chimney and the half drywall-half plaster wall adjacent were two big clues to us that there was water damage at some point. On Saturday, we pulled down the drywall.

Behind it was plastic sheeting over the lathe. The drywall only extended halfway, where it was poorly layered over the original plaster wall. That would explain the wall bowing out. The plastic sheet had some mold on it and the lathe and wall boards had some old mildew.

Drywall > plastic sheet > lathe

Drywall > plastic sheet > lathe

It was an easy decision to take down the rest of the wall.

Josh removed the plaster while I worked on wiggling the wood away from the studs. Once we were clear, I set to work scrubbing the walls. It had rained all week and there was no sign of new moisture so we figured the mildew was leftover from whatever damage occurred 50+ years ago. They probably didn’t let everything dry out before screwing in the drywall.

Ah, clean walls.

Ah, clean walls.

It was a little scary, taking down stuff that had been there for 90 years. But I’d be lying if I said we didn’t feel like total badasses in our work gloves, masks and protective eye ware.

We were planning to insulate and hang the drywall ourselves, but now we’re not so sure. The new wall would have to fit behind the window pretty tight and we’re not that confident with our limited DIY knowledge. So we’re getting some estimates on someone else cutting and hanging drywall on the walls and the ceiling.

Once that’s up, we can paint and do the floors ourselves.

Master bedroom to-do list:
-remove wood from ceiling
-remove wallpaper
-remove plaster from chimney to inspect brick condition
-possibly remove/replace drywall if installed incorrectly or damaged by water
-scrub walls

-remove baseboards (halfway done)
-insulate and replace drywall
-patch plaster ceiling near chimney
-repair and seal brick
-ceiling?
-prime and paint walls
-remove carpeting
-repair wood floors
-install new baseboard and molding
-paint trim
-window dressings

That last one is on there out of pure optimism.

Things Josh said as we were leaving the Lowe’s parking lot after dropping some benjamins on a new a lawn mower

20140427-094211.jpg

(major eyeroll) “I hate the suburbs.” — After the dad in a family getting into the car behind us said “Next stop, Trader Joe’s!” Incidentally, our next stop was Trader Joe’s, too.

“Now I know why the government wants people to buy houses so bad — because then you have to buy a bunch of crap you didn’t need before.”

“I just got excited to buy a lawn mower. I’m becoming my dad.”

First new light fixtures

Sorry we haven’t had many updates to share lately. My mom came to visit and the last two weekends have been busy busy so we haven’t felt like tackling anything big.

We have been doing little things here and there.

The house is full of antiquated and just plain odd light fixtures. We have a goal to replace one light fixture each month, and we were two months behind. We planned to replace the two kitchen lights first but our bedroom demo made us realize we might not be able to replace the fixtures at all until we demo the kitchen, 4-5 years down the road.

In the bedroom, the wood paneling and beam were installed after the light fixture.

The kitchen lights were installed the same way. The lights are actually installed above the beam and ceiling.


Ugh.

To feel better, we decided to replace fixtures in the first and second floor hallways. These spaces need a lot of light and the old-school lanterns weren’t cutting it.

Old hallway light fixture.

Old hallway light fixture.

On move-in day, we actually knocked the glass out of one of them while trying to fit our box spring up the stairs. Our friend apologized but we didn’t care – we knew they’d come down sooner than later.

Like removing the kitchen wallpaper and redoing the master bedroom, we thought replacing these light fixtures would be easy. Like all those things, it was not.

These lanterns must have been up there for a good 30-40 years, maybe longer. The wires coming from the box weren’t black and white. Over the years, the white cord faded to brown and the black cord also faded to a similar color.

Josh carefully removes the ancient fixture from the ceiling.

Josh carefully removes the ancient fixture from the ceiling. (Yes, the ceiling was wallpapered.)

A few phone calls to Dad later, Josh made some educated guesses and voila! light! The new fixtures give off enough light to compensate for no light on the landings between floors.

So. Much. Light.

So. Much. Light.

Which light to replace next? Probably the bedroom in progress because Josh broke that one.