Showing posts with label bathroom. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bathroom. Show all posts

Monday, July 28, 2014

And now my greatest source of shame

There's one area of the house I never photograph because it's so awful. I don't ever want guests to see it, which means it's always the first place they peek.

Our bathtub looks like someone was murdered in it, after which time they cooked up a batch of meth. Or maybe the meth came first, but then something definitely died in here. I tried bleach, vinegar, scrubbing bubbles, Oxyclean, you name it. Ironically, it's harsh cleansers that cause or intensify those discolorations. You live, you learn. (Can you spot all the Alanis Morissette song titles in that paragraph?)

Our grout is cracked and missing in places and looks awful. We have both that weird pink bacteria AND black mildew. Greg flew to Germany for a two-week business trip this spring, so I decided to finally do something about it (that wasn't a full on remodel).

I had that f*cker refinished. Take that, meth corpse! Then I poured myself a glass of wine, put that one Neko Case song on repeat, and went at the grout with Q-tips and hydrogen peroxide. Then I patched the missing grout in places. It still looks pretty terrible but it's MUCH better.

The tub didn't turn out perfectly. There are tiny holes where bubbles formed in the finish and there's what they call a "sag" where it looks like the paint dripped.

I called the guy at Premier Glaze and asked if this was normal or something he wanted to fix? He came out to see the results and declared, "I want to redo this for you." So that's still in our future. But our bathroom no longer looks like a crime scene! It just looks like a pretty normal bathroom with mauve shower tile from the 80's.

Then, since I wasn't having enough fun showering at the gym, I had the walls replastered. Before, we had a giant hole in the wall where the previous owner had removed the medicine cabinet. I kept the hole, hidden behind the mirror, just in case I wanted to install a new medicine cabinet later. It's been five years, so I'm guessing that cabinet ain't going to happen.

The wall was terribly rutted and poorly patched (by me!)

I used John Macnab and the process took two days.

The finish is SO DREAMY. The walls look beautiful. I wish I'd had him replaster all the walls instead of just these two.

Last fall when Anna helped me pick out a color for the living room she tackled the challenge that is this room. The original purple and yellow tile is easy but those awful pink shower tiles throw everything out of whack. Anna ended up finding a color (BM Hampshire Taupe) that matches the grout in the purple and yellow tile. Then she picked out a metallic (Ralph Lauren York Purple) for the wall over the shower. 

The main color initially went on the color of a flesh colored crayon and I totally panicked. Then I decided to just go for it because hey, I can always repaint. And you know what? I love it. It's the perfect taupe-gray with just a touch of purple.

I know what you're thinking: "That looks like the same color." Greg couldn't even tell that I had painted it a different color, but look:

We refer to this as "the butt painting"

The new tub finish cleans up beautifully using Scrubbing Bubbles and a soft sponge. Did I mention it only cost $355 to refinish? Why didn't I do this earlier?

And some day I will have the money to hire either Tommy from This Old House or Chris and Meryl to retile the shower and there will be great rejoicing.

And just to recap, when I moved in:

And then:

And now.


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

I guess you could say I'm a fan

Since we're preparing to install insulation and upgrading our electrical, and blah blah blah, I asked our contractor to sell me one of those super quiet super fans that Panasonic makes. He told me it would be cheaper to just have my electrician install it, BUT! I suspect he knew that the plaster would end up cracking and that's why he gave me this advice.

So yeah, the plaster cracked when we were cutting a bigger hole for the new fan. It wasn't even our fault; this was one of those weird places where there were short bits of lathe left and when we tried to cut through them everything crumbled.

So I watched some videos on YouTube about patching plaster and headed to Home Depot for supplies. There was a column of hot air coming down from the attic so I wanted to get it patched as soon as possible. I used the wrong kind of screws to connect the wire mesh to the ceiling but it seemed to work okay.

Oddly, my plaster job didn't look as smooth and beautiful as the guy's on YouTube. Of course, we have a weird sanded texture on the ceiling that I was never going to match. I'm thinking about having a pro skim coat the entire bathroom, since I did such a poor job patching when I first worked on it.

Shitty patch job aside, this fan is awesome. It's hard to tell that it's on, especially if air is blowing through the register. Our old fan sounded like a jet engine and we had it rigged up with drinking straws around the edges so it wouldn't rattle so badly. Really.

The bathroom mirror no longer fogs up when we shower, it pulls steam out so well. The window does fog up but it clears so much faster than before.

They have a whole line of super fancy fans, some of which have motion detectors incorporated (!!!) and I think there's even one that murmurs you look nice today when you turn it on. Highly recommended.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The best of times and the worst of times

Last fall, back when I was having the house tested for mold, the guy pointed out that my toilet was rocking and he detected water under the floor in that area. The toilet was rocking when I moved into the house, so Bill and I replaced the wax ring, which was such a gross project that I never wrote about it here. The toilet was still rocking after replacing the wax ring, so I shimmed it with some coins, but that didn't fix it either.

So I bit the bullet and hired a plumber for the first time. I looked on Angie's List even though I don't find it useful. Everyone gets an A+ on Angie's List, no?

"He came and completed the work he said he would. A+!"

It's not great for finding the best of the best and I've felt pressured in the past to leave them a glowing review when their work was just average.

So I picked someone from the multitudes boasting A's all across the board and settled on Nichols Plumbing. He fixed the toilet, which required replacing the lead outflow pipe with an ABS pipe, installing a new flange, and adding a flange repair kit, which drove screws down into our tile.

Have you ever noticed that when someone is charging you by the half-hour they talk a LOT?

Anyway, our toilet no longer rocks. Then, as he stood in my kitchen with hands black from toilet gunk, he placed both hands on my white walls and leaned. So I get to bleach and touch up the paint there. Why do repair people do this?

Because he had forgotten to put me on his calendar he was two hours late to arrive, which meant he couldn't do the second part of the job, installing a line for our ice maker. Four years ago I paid the extra $100 to get a fridge with an ice maker, even though there wasn't a line installed to supply the water. I was so poor at the time that making that decision felt like Sophie's Choice. I could've run the line myself but it would probably take me all weekend. As long as I was hiring a plumber to come out, I thought it made sense to have him do it.

So the guy had to come back out two days later. He initially wanted to just punch a hole through my kitchen floor and run the line that way. I told him I wanted a wall recessed unit with a shut off valve. Buddy, I can inelegantly punch a hole in my own damn floor. I'm hiring a professional because I want this to look good.

Then he suggested installing the unit here, to the left of the fridge. So when you entered through our kitchen door (as most people do) it would be staring you in the face.

So I was like, "How about we install it BEHIND the refrigerator?" You know, where people can't see it?

Then I micromanaged him about how he was going to create the hole in my wall, since we have lathe and plaster. I encouraged him to use a Fein tool like Chris did when he made this perfect hole.

He got out two different stud sensors, made a bunch of pen marks on my wall, then told me he couldn't find my studs and it wouldn't be his fault if he had to open up the whole wall. So I pulled out my stud finder and figured out where they were. I told him, "Open the wall right here. If there's not a stud, it's my fault." And lo, there was a stud!

He did not do such a good job making a hole in my wall. In his defense, he's not a carpenter. Plumbers are notorious for doing whatever is easiest for them, even if it means driving holes through structural beams or creating safety or aesthetic issues. But I was still disappointed.

He got the line run and installed the recessed unit, then tried to hide the chunks taken out of the plaster with caulk.

I know, that's not in the skill set of a plumber but it still bothered me. As we were settling up the bill the pricing we'd agreed on two days prior changed from a flat fee to an hourly fee. He started rambling through the breakdown of the charges and I was like, "I don't care! Just tell me how much I owe you." Then he says, "So I need to know. Are you going to write me a negative review on Angie's List? Because you can see that I didn't charge you for when I had to run and buy that part."

This made me totally uncomfortable. It felt akin to your waitress dropping off your bill and asking, "So are you going to leave me a big or a small tip?" It's unprofessional.

I tried to avoid his question by asking a different question, then went back to filling out the check. He asked AGAIN, "So, are you going to write me a bad review on Angie's List?" and I said, "I don't know." I actually hate writing bad reviews. You never know if you got someone on an off day, or if you're being unreasonable with your requests. I wouldn't want to work for me--I'm super annoying. I wasn't planning on leaving a review at all until he started pressuring me.

I left a mediocre review explaining that everything works but nothing looks terribly good. I gave him a C on everything but punctuality and professionalism. I don't ever want to be the cause of someone losing their livelihood or their health insurance.

I submitted the review, started worrying that the plumber would come to my house with a gun, then discovered that our ice maker was not working, and then something went *pop* in my brain. Greg came home to take me to the airport, only to find me incredibly agitated about the whole situation. He told me he'd look at it this weekend, which was what I was hoping for.

Greg is as handy as the next guy (as long as that guy isn't Norm Abram) but he works long hours, sometimes 70 a week, which means while I play in the garden all weekend he's usually sitting in front of his computer. He doesn't enjoy home improvement or have the time for it. And yet!

He fixed it.

I got a text while at my niece's party from Greg with a picture of our ice bucket. I nearly wept. Apparently the electrical connection had come loose in the back, next to where the water line goes in.

Very long story short: plumbers stress me out, Angie's List is worthless, my boyfriend is the best, and as soon as I recover from stroking out on Friday, we're making Manhattans. Because our freezer makes ice now. I'm pretty sure this is what Obama meant by "winning the future."

Manhattan drinkers: have you tried Bulleit's rye whiskey yet? It makes a dangerously delicious Manhattan. I'm obsessed with it.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Get the lead out

Was last week the longest week ever? I've had some stuff unrelated to the house or Greg that has left me feeling really blue and I've been moping around the house, watching Greek on streaming rather than grocery shopping or taking pictures of all the things blooming in my garden. Everything is going to be fine but my people are an anxious people and worrying comes too easily to me.

On Saturday we went to an open garden tour hosted by Lance Wright (beautiful!) with Greg's parents and had banh mi at Double Dragon. Then Greg and I finally saw Moonrise Kingdom and grilled in the backyard and I felt fussed over and better than I had all week. Sometimes you just need to be taken care of a little.

I think our day of leisure was restorative because I woke up on Sunday on a mission. Our toilet has been intermittently running for the last three months and it's been driving me crazy . . . so crazy that I've ignored it for three months. But there were strong words every time I heard it running!

I degunkified the flapper and adjusted the balloon arm thingy and our toilet stopped running and my blood pressure is back to normal. It took all of 15 minutes. It was running and driving up our water bill for three months. I'm a little mad at myself for this.

I didn't take pictures of the inside of our toilet. You're welcome.

I also didn't take pictures of our office, an unending source of shame for me. Just picture piles and piles of artwork stacked on the floor, an Ikea desk piled 18 inches high with god knows what, and a bed covered by plant catalogs and nursery receipts.

Greg and I had a lot of artwork between the two of us when he moved in. My artwork is mostly cheap but sentimental prints in Ikea frames. Greg's artwork was more expensive but chosen without much thought. He needed art for his bathroom. "Hey, two sailboats, I'll take it." Boom. Except he paid to have it professionally matted and framed, so it looks way better than my prints, even if we don't really care about sailboats. I don't believe in hanging art that I don't love just like I don't believe in styling rooms with books if you're not a reader. At some point I will convince him to let me move different artwork into his frames, but until then we have sailboats in our entryway. The word sailboat has officially lost all meaning. Sailboats!

We both secretly think sailboating is too much work to be considered fun.

And I took all the big pieces and put them in the freshly painted basement stairwell. I am not a fan of gallery walls but we had a bunch of leftover art and I hate empty space, so there you go. Boom.

Yay, pulp fiction covers!

And then I cleared my desk because we have house guests next month and we have to pretend I don't live like a savage. Greg is super organized and his desk always looks this clear. I like stacks of papers that make my allergies flare up. That cable bill isn't going to lose itself.

So we're practically ready for visitors, I have artwork on every conceivable wall in the house, our toilet doesn't run, and now I'm going to reward myself with a little fretting session. Didn't you hear? The universe could tear itself apart sooner than anyone expected.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Join me in my pity party!

I feel like my life is in revolt. Two weekends ago we were working on a project and I ran out to get supplies and lunch. When I pulled up into the driveway my car door wouldn't open. This is apparently a common problem with Hondas, one that typically happens when all of your neighbors and all of their friends, and all their friends' friends are hanging out in their yards, so a thousand people can watch you climb inelegantly through the passenger side door.

I bumped my head on our silverware drawer while touching up baseboard paint, got mad at the drawer and slammed it shut, which caused it to go in at a weird angle. When I bumped it in with my hip, the whole drawer front split.

I went to Loree's house the day after my car door busted to pick up retaining stones that she generously gifted me and I ran over her neighbor's lawn trying to back into the driveway. Once we got the car loaded up I discovered I was in the car with a wasp. I thought, "Oh god, this is how it will end. Me, stuck in a car with a door that won't open, discovering that I'm allergic to wasp stings." I managed to get my gardening gloves on and the wasp moved out the window and finally Monday morning came so I could take my car to the mechanic. They fixed my door! And then my car got hit-and-runned while it was sitting in front of the shop!

The damage is minor, but son of a bitch. So now it gets to go to body shop camp.

The second sink that I installed in the bathroom, after I cracked the first one, is the tiniest bit taller then the first sink and twice the P trap popped off the sink's drain stem because it wasn't quite long enough. Installing the extension piece wasn't that hard . . .

. . . but that perfect hole we drilled in the shelf wasn't roomy enough to accommodate everything.

So I got frustrated and sawed out a clearance wedge. It looks terrific. No, wait, awful. It looks awful.

I'm really just being a whiner. Greg fixed the drawer somehow, without my asking, which was awesome. My car will be fixed. My life is full of people who are very nice to me for no reason, like Sarah who gave me agaves, Loree who gave me landscaping materials and a lot of helpful advice, and Scott who drew up plans to help me landscape the front yard, just because he's nice (!). It was a revelation to see how he plans out his garden. I'm incorporating a lot of what he drew up and I'm so grateful.

And my Oregon irises really went bonkers this year. The blooms don't last very long but there were so many this year! I think that's the universe telling me to quit feeling sorry for myself, as these annoyances aren't really big problems.

Iris tenax

Let's just keep our fingers crossed that my car quits having problems. KNOCK ON WOOD.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Hoo ha cherry soda!

I am the Ron Paul of home improvement. My plan makes no sense, everything is backward, but I'm having a good time and people seem content to let me keep on with it because it's mildly entertaining. But I don't send out racist newsletters, so at least I've got that going for me.

I've been painting this alcove for two months. Painting with this color (Benjamin Moore Whirlpool) is a pain in the ass because it essentially goes on white. I don't use painters tape because I can usually cut in with a pretty straight line with a brush. But this color makes it very difficult to see where the white trim ends and your color begins. So there's been a lot of repainting around the trim. And then after I painted it I decided to patch some of the holes. And then I had to repaint those spots.

Then I filled the gaps where the door hinges used to be and primed and painted those sections. Then I slapped a coat of paint on the trim. Then I decided that I should put wood filler on the thousands of dents and holes covering this poor doorway. And THEN I primed it. And painted it. Again. What's wrong with me and why am I at this debate?

I'm sick of having a purple bathroom (it was supposed to be gray) and I've been hunting for the perfect color for three years. With our new gray-with-a-purple undertone house paint I thought, "Aha! I can just lighten up our exterior color and have it put in an interior paint base!"

I had them mix up a 25% mix of our house color and then decided to put it here in the bathroom. Because touching up TWO colors is the best.

Our house color has a blue undertone, not purple. I know this now.

I'm pretty sure the white alcove was painted with Killz primer, something I don't have on hand. You guys, don't do this.

Hoo ha! Cherry soda!

Have you watched the Bad Lip Reading videos already? They (along with that cat from Japan who jumps out of boxes) are some of my favorite things that the Internet ever created.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Where I continue to pay for my mistakes

Remember how I poured boiling water down my bathroom sink and cracked it? And then how Home Depot sent me a replacement one for free because I wrote the CEO?

That replacement sink sat in our living room for a couple of months in its humongous box because I didn't want to install it. To put in the new sink I'd need to remove the old faucet from the old sink and then reinstall it. Installing faucets is the worst: you have to get three separate parts aligned while tightening bolts from two different sides and it just totally sucks. I did it myself when I first installed the sink and it's a miracle that it was even close to normal looking.

I started by unwrapping the box in the smallest area possible. Does anyone else do this? Inevitably I decide to build a huge Ikea desk in the hallway, only to discover that I've wedged myself into a corner and it requires an act of god to get it and me out.

Last time I put the sink together I used a jigsaw to inelegantly cut out an area for the P-trap.

When my parents remodeled their bathrooms the contractor used a hole saw to create a tidy hole for the pipes. This time we were going to do it right! So I went to Home Depot, bought a hole saw and the auger/pilot hole bit for it to attach to my drill.

Except I bought a bit that's too big for my drill. So we connected it to a socket wrench and did it by hand. That's how we roll.

And that mostly worked.

Then I started to dismantle the faucet from the old sink, only to find that the plastic snaps underneath that connect the water supply tubes to the faucets are designed to be installed once. I couldn't figure out a way to get them off without just breaking them. I'm sure they sell replacement kits online but they didn't have them at the Home Depot, which meant purchasing another faucet kit. I don't know about you but I can think of about a thousand things I'd rather spend my money on than a new faucet. Like curtains. Or scotch. Or new trees for the yard. Toilet paper. Anything, really.

So Greg and I installed them and got really, really pissy with each other. I hate that part of home improvement. But it got easier from there! We had lunch! I installed the plumbing! Oh my god it was leaking underneath! Then Greg and I bickered about what was leaking (I was right, just saying), reinstalled the plunger kit again (still leaking), then tried the old plunger kit (it leaked too), then discovered that the porcelain has a tiny chip where the sink terminates and meets the gasket in the drain stem.

Fuck. Me.

It was really discouraging. Finally, with a magical combination of plumbers putty (which I kept calling "plutters pumby" even though I had NOT been drinking), wrenching, and swear words, it stopped leaking. Usually when I finish a project like that I feel exuberant afterward. This time I just felt like weeping because I have no confidence that this will continue to be watertight.

The best part of this whole story? Our bathroom looks exactly the same as it did before I lost an entire Saturday to it. Okay, we no longer have a line of caulk through the middle of our sink basin, but other than that it's the same. Do they make fifty year sinks? Next time I'm buying one of those, having it professionally installed, then never touching it again.



Have you told someone you love recently not to pour boiling water down their bathroom sink? Maybe you should go do that right now.