Thursday, January 30, 2014

My Home is a Minefield

Well folks, I was hoping to share a completely finished bathroom with you this week.  Not gonna happen.  The tiling got a bit behind schedule and since its been a super busy week we haven't gotten much of a chance to work on it.  Oh well.  It will wait for us!  In the mean time I thought I would share with you something I made little man for Christmas.  He LOVES Legos.  And when I say loves them, its a huge understatement.  He has quite a collection going now and I was a little tired of spending my days stepping on miniature Lego mines in my house.  Seriously, our house felt like a minefield.  I decided the only way to proceed was to come up with a way to corral the Legos and centralize little mans architectural genius.  The first step was to head to the thrift store.  I was lucky that the first time I went looking I hit the jackpot.

Solid wood with a drawer that functions well and $10.  Sold.  I made my purchase and headed home with my treasure.

Isn't she loverly?  In an elegant 70's sort of way?  So I went straight to work wiping it down, taking off the hardware and lightly sanding the gloss down a bit.

Look'n purdy.  I next applied my chalk paint.  The top is Behr Powdered Snow (with water and plaster added of course to get that wonderful texture it creates when dry) the rest I painted Behr Gray Morning (also with water and plaster added).  Are you guessing where I'm going with all of this yet?

Next I found the center of the table and marked it.  I didn't give a second coat of paint to the center of the table for reasons that will unfold here shortly.

Lego Table!  I ordered the Lego plates from Amazon, applied liquid nails to the back of them and centered them on the table.  Why are there Legos on there you ask?  To make sure that the plates lined up.  I feel a wee bit guilty about this next part, but, not really.

I added some girly looking acrylic knobs to it.  I couldn't help myself.  After all the table is out in the open so it might as well look nice right?

The little guy didn't seem to mind the knobs at all.  Didn't even look at 'em.  
Some of his Legos fit in the drawer and the rest are in a box that easily slides out from underneath the table.  I love it!  Instead of Legos all over our floor he builds on the table so for the most part that's where they stay.  More importantly he loves it!  My favorite part of this entire project was the cost.  
  • Table: $10
  • Lego plates: $20
  • Paint: I already had so Free 99 baby
That's only $30.  Have you seen how much Lego tables can cost?  Not cheap, so I was pretty happy about this little table.
We now live in a safe mine-free home, unless you count the other toys that get left on the floor.  

Friday, January 24, 2014

Are we there yet?

Usually its these kiddos asking that question.  Its their cuteness that saves them after they have asked around 20 times.

Lately I've been the one asking that question.  Over.  And over again.  Does fixing up a home ever feel like and endless and intimidating vast of foreverness to anyone else?  I've learned to just be happy enjoying what we have finished.  I  know you all are feeling me on this right?  Anyway I'm going to show you all the project that we are working on now and (collective crossing of everyone's fingers) hopefully I can show you the finished project sometime next week.  Its the downstairs bathroom y'all.  Here is what it looked like when we bought the home.  

Anyone ever heard of the kitchen work triangle?  We were once the proud owners of a very small non-functional bathroom work triangle.  You know, the kind where you can shower, relieve yourself and wash your hands all at the same time.  Yes I just said that.  Apart from the fact that you couldn't even open the glass door to the shower all the way and the toilet continually flooding and the shower pan leaking and mold growing up the outer concrete wall because of it, it most definitely was not functional.  So we did what any person would do.  We tore it all out.  Best. Feeling. Ever.  
We actually tore the entire basement apart along with it, but that's a story for another day.  We also decided to move the bathroom about 3 feet to "hide" most of the duct work that lowers the ceiling by a good 10 inches in some parts of the basement.  We cut down on cost by doing all of the demo which included jackhammering out the concrete where the sewage drain pipe was and trenching through the basement to relocate several drains.  That was quite a project but saved us 1500 big American bucks.  Totally worth it.  We did hire a plumber to lay the new pipe but we then re-poured the concrete ourselves.  We also hired someone to hang our sheet rock, mud and tape since at the time I was about 6 months pregnant with little girl and tough guy was finishing his last semester in Nursing school.  After getting to that point the bathroom sat there unfinished.  For two years.  This is what it looked like.  (Sorry for the lousy lighting.  There currently is none in this room and there is no natural light either.)

The new shower.  

This is where the sink and vanity will be.

Location for the toilet
As you can see there is bead board paneling that needs to be installed along with pretty much everything else.  We decided to start with the shower.  Because we have had multiple flooding issues in the basement in the past we knew that we wanted to hire someone to install our shower.  In the interest of keeping costs down we found a contractor who was willing to take a part of the payment in cash and the remainder of the payment in the form of a wedding cake for his upcoming nuptials.  Bartering is the way to go folks.  If you have a skill you can trade with people, do it!  He is almost finished with the install and so far we are loving it.  Here's the progression.

Installation of shower liner and cement board

Tile going up!

Almost there!

Now all that is left is that top row of tile, the ceiling, the shower pan, tile on the pan and grouting.  We are seeing the light people!  After the shower is complete the bead board will be installed and painted, the flooring will go in, the vanity, toilet, light fixtures and lastly some shelving for storage.  We couldn't be more excited to be a two toilet, two shower home.  No more fighting over who gets to use the toilet first and second.  Now we'll be clamoring for third and fourth.
In regards to the tile we've chosen.  We really wanted to do something upscale but as with everything in this house, our decisions are based on the fact that one day this will be a rental home.   We want things to be nice but by no means is this our dream home so going "all out" is not an option for us.  We decided to go with a stone look that is ever so popular but to punch it up a bit by using a smaller 6"x6" tile to give more texture and interest (as opposed to large 12"-18" tiles that everyone uses) as well as adding the accent strip of that glass/stone mosaic.  I think it makes all the difference.
Well as I said hopefully next week I will have more to show you but what do you think so far?

Over and out.

Friday, January 17, 2014

The Kitchen

The kitchen is where we spend a lot of our time.  We gather there 3 times a day and the kitchen gathers our messes all day long.  Because we knew this when we bought the home and because the kitchen is teeny tiny we decided to make the kitchen as light and airy as possible.  We also had to consider that although we wanted our house to be comfortable and aesthetically pleasing we didn't want to dump a ton of money into the home.  We plan to rent this house out whenever it is that we buy our next home.  These pictures aren't the greatest but you can see what I mean right?

So the first step in our kitchen redo was to take all the doors off of the cabinets.  They are actually a really great quality wood so in the interest of saving as much mulah as possible we stripped them down sanded them primed and painted them.  More on that another time.
The next step was to take all of the wallpaper down.  Well almost all of it.  I got so tired of doing it that I left a section of wallpaper up behind the fridge.  It may or may not still be there.  We also removed all 4 layers of vinyl flooring.  Yep 4.  That's where brothers come in handy.  It's also where I stood back and said "way to go, its looking great".   I'm sure they appreciated my cheering.  We took out the counters, back splash and the sink and decided to replace all of the wiring and plumbing in the kitchen since everything else was torn apart. That included taking down the light fixtures and adding canned lighting in half of the kitchen. Here's what it looked like partway into the project.

See that little light bulb up at the top?  Now it's gone, no more, hasta la vista!  Instead we now have this.

It takes up no visual space in the room which was a real plus considering how small the kitchen is.  
I'll go into all the details another time but here's the list of things we did to put it all back together:
  • New tile floors
  • Tile back splash
  • Granite Counter tops
  • Painted cabinets and wood trim and added new hardware
  • Skim coated the walls with plaster and textured the ceiling
  • Painted the walls and ceiling
  • New lighting under the cabinets and on the ceiling
  • New fixtures for the sink
We decided to keep our retro stove/oven and don't plan on replacing it until it gives up.  Here's the after pics:

We think its quite a change and love how much brighter and bigger the space feels now that it has changed.  I would say that the thing that changed the appearance of the room the most drastically was the cabinets.  It made a huge difference in how the room reads.  Dank and dark previously, light and bright now.  On another note, the tile on the floor and walls unintentionally ended up being the same color.  It has worked for the most part but sometimes we feel like it looks a little drab.  I'm considering painting the walls the same white that's on the ceiling and cabinets or maybe a soft blue?  I cant decide.  What do you think?  The light fixture in the picture above is really more of a place holder until we found something that we really liked.  Maybe something like this but in more of a drum shape?  I'm thinking possible DIY project.  
Because we did most of the legwork and installation/painting ourselves on this project we spent a fraction of what we would have otherwise spent getting the place in tip-top shape.  So anywho there it is.  Part of our main floor makeover.  Check back later for more reveals!


Thursday, January 16, 2014


As previously mentioned our house projects were the result of our first home purchase.  I'm here to tell you that although the home had mostly good bones it was desperately in need of an update.  I'm not joking when I say that there were layers and layers of wallpaper on the walls and ceiling that needed to be peeled off.  In between those layers of wallpaper was plaster, paint and who knows what else.  It was a painstaking process.  Very painstaking.  Here are some photos of the house when we purchased it.

Wow.  Am I right?  I don't think we even realized what a project this would be.  Just looking at these photos reminds me of how tired I was when we had finished the main floor of the house.  That might also have had something to do with the fact that I was 7 months pregnant by time we finished.  We decided to strip down the main living floor and pretty much ended up gutting it before we even moved in.  Here's the list (I'm sure I'll miss several things on this list) of what we removed:

  • Took out all the carpeting (yes there was even carpet in the bathroom as seen above) and linoleum.
  • Removed popcorn/asbestos ceiling.
  • Removed wallpaper (even from the ceiling).
  • Took EVERYTHING out of the bathroom.  Carpet, toilet, vanity, mirror, tub, tile, walls.
  • Took out almost all of the light fixtures.
  • Took out the counter tops and the melamine back splash.
  • Removed the existing electrical wiring.
  • Removed existing plumbing.
Its a very basic and now it looks like a short list but man I'm here to tell you that took a LOT of work.  Is anyone else feeling me on this?  So now that you've seen the old house photos I'll be treating you to posts room by room to show you what they look like now and where we are at now in our home improvements.

Over and Out.


Monday, January 6, 2014

Try Anything

For those of you who don't know me, I'm willing to try just about any diy project there is out there when it comes to my home.  Mostly because I can't afford to pay someone else to do it and also because, well, its fun! When things don't go exactly according to plan, I improvise.  I've decided to post several of these projects on this blog the good the bad and the not-so-pretty for any of you out in the wide universe that might be interested.  Most of these projects started as a result of buying our first home.  Yay!  Heres a picture of me holding our first house payment.

It was perfect timing for our little family.  Around the same time we bought our first home we found out we were expecting baby #1.  I think I took 3 or 4 tests just to be sure!

Now we are a family of 4 and MANY house projects later, we are still finding things to improve in our home thanks to a patient husband who says "sure let's do it".  Here he is in all of his toughness.

I know, I know, I'm a lucky girl.  So there it is.  The beginnings of our crazy, fun, and wonderful lives laid out on a blog.  Hopefully you will find something inspiring here and know that you can do it too! This is our way of making our home charming on a budget!