Showing posts with label decor. Show all posts
Showing posts with label decor. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 21, 2017


In other big project news, after eight years(!) in the house, we finally got our wood floors refinished. It took this long because I couldn't afford it for years, then once we could I knew we'd have to move out of the house to have it done. We also had a huge question mark about the sloping subfloor under the carpet.

We had no idea if fixing a creaky franken-floor would cost $500 or $5000. Just to recap, at one point our dining room was two rooms: a formal dining room (the side with the big window) and a kitchen nook that was 2/3 as deep as it currently is. The kitchen nook was bumped out to meet the front of the house and the wall between knocked down.

Plywood removed and subfloor revealed

They either ran out of money to finish out the oak flooring or got lazy? They put down plywood and slapped some carpet on top. The floor sloped and squeaked. When I moved in there was evidence of a previous roof leak (this wall is drywall when every other wall in the house is lathe and plaster and there was clearly damage to the ceiling), and the mouldings were all hiding in the garage.

Anyhoo, we finally bit the bullet and hired Union Floor Co. In preparation I started cutting the carpet away from the wall so it could be easily rolled up the morning that work started. In the course of doing this I discovered past water damage and dried, inactivated mold. Yay! We are assuming this was from the previous leaking roof because why would you replace the plywood when you've had a leak and you could just put carpet on top?

There were a couple of reasons that the floor squeaked. For starters, when they were nailing in the plywood THEY MISSED THE JOIST. So the plywood was sitting atop the joists in places. There was a particularly bad squeak that Greg would stand on and rock back and forth, just to drive me crazy, and I would think, "Oh that's why people get divorced after a year."

It turns out that that squeak was caused by a nail that had been shot into our metal air duct. Every time we stepped in that spot the nail would scratch across the duct. Company that built this floor, I WOULD REALLY LIKE TO REVIEW YOU ON ANGIE'S LIST.

Other issues included the weird hatch in our closet (read more about that here):

We had deep gouges in the bedroom where someone dragged something heavy across the floor.

Pet stains in the living room:

Extensive staining, water marks, and paint drips in the dining room:

They just generally looked terrible:

The dining room was leveled and patched with white oak flooring, as Siberian oak is no longer available.

We moved everything into the basement and a POD outside and I decided that we are never ever moving because we have too much stuff.

We moved out of the house for a week and into an Airbnb a block away. I was able to check in and be incredibly picky about how the floors were looking. The main worker kept saying things like, "The scratches aren't coming out in the bedroom but you lived with them before, so . . . " and then I'd feel like I was having a stroke.

I had told the owner that we didn't care how much it cost, we wanted all the scratches and stains removed, either by flipping the boards or installing new boards. It was in our contract. We didn't move out of our house to "live with" floors that weren't fixed because it was more effort. I called the owner and asked him to clarify with his employee that we wanted them as perfect as humanly possible.

And they did it!

We opted to seal the floors without a stain and they've assured me that the new white oak will patina to match the original Siberian oak. I'm skeptical, but my fingers are crossed. We did a satin finish, which is the least shiny option.

The nails in the original flooring are more pronounced

Other than that, the floors look SO GOOD.

Former closet hatch

Site of former floor gouges

We're very happy with the results. We're also totally exhausted from cleaning the house and moving back in. There was a fine layer of dust on every surface, requiring a wipedown of all the walls, counters, windows, etc.

I'm going to be camped out here for the next couple of weeks, until my feet stop hurting.

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.


Monday, January 13, 2014

I let someone photograph my garden in January

Our house is featured on Houzz today, holy smokes!

General contractors, home builders, and more ∨

Home improvement can start with something as minor as installing track lighting or ceiling fans.
Search for a fun counter stool, clock, sectional and storage dresser to spice up your basement.

I was emailed by a Houzz photographer in December about showing some before and afters of our house and I initially didn't want to do it. There are still so many rough edges and unfinished projects that I didn't feel like the house was ready. In the end I decided "perfect is the enemy of good" and that I might never get a chance to have a professional photograph our house again. 

Greg declined to join in because he felt like he'd be stealing my thunder (and he's shy). Oddly, the bathroom didn't make it into the shoot. I think that's the universe confirming that I need to repaint!

There are more photos here, as well. Eeep!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Starting the year off right . . . with chemical fumes

A happy new year to you! Is anyone else glad to have December behind them? I feel like I just finished a marathon and now I want to climb into bed and watch movies while wearing sweatpants for the next six weeks . . . but I also sort of want to get out in the garden? It's a weird feeling that is making me antsy but also very sleepy and like I'd like to eat a lot of pasta. It's awfully confusing and it's making me get weird impulses around the house.

The doorbell that's original to the house has never worked. I bought a wireless one at Home Depot when I moved in and called it good. This summer our electrician was futzing with the original unit while he waited for me to pick up supplies and he actually got it working for about five minutes. You guys, it makes the most beautiful sound.

He lost the thread somehow because it stopped working and we chased him up into the attic so he could finish the electrical upgrade there. I plan on having him come out again sometime when I have money to burn so he can get it working. 

I was thinking about crawling into bed with my seed catalogs this weekend but then I decided I should try and strip the paint from the doorbell cover. No idea why! Then I ate a bunch of pasta. It was actually a pretty good night.

Under three layers of paint (white on top of red on top of tan) there were brass musical notes and a gunmetal case. I had to spend a good hour with steel wool and a bottle of Brasso to get it looking like this; it could use a few more hours of elbow grease still. Citristrip and plastic wrap removed the paint with almost no effort, which makes me wonder what else in the house might be worth stripping.

I should just strip Greg. He certainly smells better than Citristrip and he'd probably make me some pasta afterward. Priorities, I have them.

I hope you had a marvelous holiday season and that your new year smells better than mine.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Snug as a bug, slub as a mustard

Since spending an ungodly amount of money on having the house insulated, we've noticed a drop in our heating costs. The house is less drafty than before, which really helped when the temperature dropped to 6 degrees. The one exception has been the bedroom, where we have sliding glass doors with a broken thermal seal. The old curtains had thermal liners but they weren't big enough to cover the whole expanse of glass, and as a result this room was freezing.

I wanted new drapes anyway and I wanted to try something I'd seen on various blogs: curtains made from dropcloths. I bought the heavier weight canvas cloth in the largest size I could find.

I had to wash them three times and then air them out for about a month because they smelled awful. I wanted to do pinch pleats on my drapes but, due to a poorly situated seam in the dropcloth, I didn't have enough fabric. I had picked up a roll of 54" thermal blackout fabric this summer on clearance, so I used that as a guide for making sure the curtains were square. I have a terrible time making things square, which is why most of the baby blankets I've made have been trapezoids. But I think these turned out pretty well!

They are fully lined, so they're HEAVY. As you can see, "sewing a straight line" is not in my grab bag of skills.

Wonky seams aside, these things really work. Our bedroom is a black pit when they are closed and the room is about 15 degrees warmer. And since they cost me less than $100 to make, I bought a new duvet cover.

Ignore the uneven artwork, I was just experimenting.

I've had my heart set on mustard since before I painted the room. I saw an image on Pinterest of a dark moody room with a tufted mustard armchair. I loved the image so much I didn't even pin it and now I can't find it. It was that good.

Greg really doesn't like this color and I am deeply in love with it. I get it, it's a divisive color. I look at it and see curry and goldenrod and deliciousness. Greg looks at it and sees baby poop and old mustard. Tomato, tomahto.

We both agree that this duvet is incredibly soft. It's Coyuchi organic cotton and it's the first time I've opened a package of bedding and smelled . . . nothing. It's dreamy. I recommend it, if you're in the market for a new duvet (and they come in lots of colors if you hate the mustard).


The last step before I declare this room "done" is to replace the bedside lamps with better task lighting. Those lamps suck for reading or drawing or anything detailed. And since I do everything from bed (I'd cook dinner from there if it was possible) I need good light.

On the upside, Greg really like the colorful pillow I sewed! It has a zipper in it and it's pretty square and I'm pretty darn proud of it. So, are you with Greg or with me? Help me convince him it's good. How can you hate on a color called "slub mustard?"