37 posts categorized "home renovation (life sized)"

renovation update #3

Wallpaper stripping is coming along slowly.  I got another little section of wall done.


Upon the advice of a professional colleague I bought a bottle of DIF wallpaper stripper.   All the home renovation TV shows that tell you fabric softener is the best stripper, that it's some kind of trade secret...they're lying, the lot of them.  

I bought new pulls for the kitchen cabinets.  I was going to buy new silver hinges to match the silver pulls, but couldn't find any that matched the hole pattern of my current hinges.  Then I took an SOS pad to the hinges and happily discovered they aren't brown, they're copper.  Yay!   I love copper, and it looks wonderful against the teal.

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I was all set last weekend to paint the rest of the cabinets, but then my direction was shifted.  Matt wants to bring his CD racks back into the house, and wants to move them from sitting side by side to the left of the door to sitting one atop the other behind the door.  He brought the first rack inside, looked at the wall, then me, and said "Oh.  I suppose I have to wait until you've painted there first, don't I?"

Since it doesn't matter what order the painting is done in, as long as it gets done, I spent last weekend painting one end of the living room.


I was going to replace the closet doors, because of the gap at the bottom, but then I priced new closet doors.  Outrageous!  I decided to live with the gap, and painted the doors the same color as the wall.  I bought new silver nickels levers to replace the old brass knobs, and will most likely replace the hinges too.

Over the course of the workweek my brain got stuck in a loop of whether to finish the contest miniature or work on the life-sized reno.  Which is more important, one has a deadline, what if I focus on one during the week and the other on the weekend, etc, etc, etc.  I finally decided that I am going to wake up each morning, ask myself what I want to work on that day, then do that.

Yesterday morning I wanted to paint the worn, flat black dresser that sits in the entry before I roll it back against the new walls and floor.  That's what I did.  She looks smart.  I bought new knobs with a deeper projection because Matt had worn the paint off the front of the drawer behind the knobs.  She needs one more coat of polycrylic on the top then can roll back into place.


There was much conversation yesterday, between coats of paint, about Matt's CD racks.


I understand why he wants to move them, they aren't very functional sitting behind the end table, and will be less accessible once I add a lamp to that table.  They won't fit side by side behind the door, and if one is cut down so they can sit one atop the other he'll lose two shelves, which means he will have to pare down his collection a bit, but, worse than that, I pointed out, it leaves no room for growth.   Possible other solutions were discussed, and it was decided he will make a new rack to fit the space, in the same manner he built the rack in the kitchen.  We are also discussing lighting options so that he can see the CDs, but have yet to reach agreement on that solution.

This is the kitchen rack he built for me a few years ago when I couldn't find a functional microwave stand that was also attractive.  It is made from threaded steel rod, nuts, washers, rubber feet, and stained furniture grade pine.  It has proven perfectly functional, and is extraordinarily adjustable.  When I bought Bob the roomba I had Matt raise the bottom shelf an inch so Bob can fit under it to clean.


Matt is out in the garage building the new rack now.  I should take him a glass of water, it's very hot today.  Ester and I are inside enjoying the air conditioning.




renovation update #2

I got the wall behind the stove and refrigerator, and the walls behind the washer and dryer, stripped, washed, washed, washed, primed, and painted, so that I could move the appliances back into place.

Before we moved the washer and dryer back I had Matt buy and hang a couple of ready-to-install unfinished cabinets to replace the shallow open shelves that were there previously, which I had hung a curtain in front of so I didn't have to look at cleaning supplies.  There was a shelf high on the wall opposite the back door where seldom used large pots were kept, which I gleefully eliminated when the pots were relocated to the top of the new cabinets.

I also relocated Ester's food dishes, which sat on the floor in this area and Had to be stepped around when I did laundry.  She now has a "breakfast bar" on the bottom shelf of the microwave stand.  She has shown no opinion about it.


I left the 1970 wallpaper in place on the wall behind the appliances.  I am going to paint the cupboards the same beige as I am painting the walls.  I may paint the bit of back wall above the cupboards beige too, I haven't decided yet.

I had planned to paint the walls a light gray before the new flooring was installed, while I could still use the old flooring as a drop cloth.  I'm glad I didn't.  After the new flooring was in I knew gray walls would be too much gray.  I took some leftover carpet and vinyl to the paint store to pick out a new neutral....Benjamin Moore's Hillsborough Beige.

After much back and forth we decided on new colors for the kitchen cabinetry.

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Matt wanted to paint just the doors, as had been done previously, but I think that's ugly.  I wanted to paint the doors and the boxes, but he thought one block of color would be ugly.  We reached agreement on painting the uppers and lowers different shades of teal.  I think we're both going to love it.  (I put just enough of the cupboard doors back on to show you the new colors, I'll put the rest on later.)

This is the other side of the kitchen...consider it a before picture...


I was going to have the countertop replaced, but the original 1970 white with gold fleck laminate looks good with the new color scheme, and is still in great condition, so I'll leave it.  I am going to replace the sink and faucet though, because the faucet leaks at the base and there is a lot of ugly mineral build up that I can't clean off.

Notice, in that last picture, my new window.  My new windows and doors were installed over the course of the last two weeks.  I had the double-hung in the kitchen replaced with an awning window, so that I can reach to open it without standing on my tiptoes and stretching.  I love it.

The rest of the double-hung windows were replaced with new, energy efficient, modern double-hungs.  The bow window in the living room was replaced with a new bow window.

Here's the old bow window...


Here's the new...


On the old window only the two lower, outermost, panes opened (well, only one did, because the other was broken), now I have full casement windows on each side.  Yay!

It was discovered when pulling the old windows and doors out, that while most of the windows were original to the 1970 build, the bow window and the doors had been replaced at some point.  The bow window wasn't screwed in!  It was held in place by a balancing act and the nails in the trim.  When I think of the number of times I kneeled on the base of it and leaned on it to wash it....I could very easily have landed outside in the garden, cut to pieces.  There was a one inch gap on either side of the window that was not insulated, and a slew of old mouse nests above it.  Neither of the doors were sealed, which explains why I had yellowjackets building a nest in the back door threshold a few years ago.  Yikes!  The new windows and doors are so well secured and insulated that our boiler is now setting off the smoke detector when it comes on (we're getting some cold nights already).  We need to add a vent from the furnace closet to the outside since we're sealed up now and have created a vacuum.  Apparently the heating guy should have installed that vent when we got the new boiler a few years ago, to bring us up to code, but....

What I like best about the new windows is that now I can't hear cars drive by, or the young girl across the street playing (she's a screamer).  I can't wait to see what my electric and gas bills are this winter.

We ordered the new front door with a window at the top.  It lets in a surprising amount of light into the front entry.  I love the color.  Winterberry.  It matches wonderfully, coincidentally, my husband's leather chair.  The new back door has a larger window than the old, letting more light into my laundry area.

I eliminated the storm doors, aka screen doors.  It freaked Ester out.  She wouldn't go through the new doorway, I had to carry her out the first time.  She's used to it now.


The new carpeting looks solid gray in the picture, but is really a mix of cream, tan and gray fibers.

Next on the reno to-do list is to paint the rest of the kitchen cupboards, purchase new cabinet handles, replace the blue closet doors in the living room (the new flooring has created a gap at the bottom of the doors), and finish stripping wallpaper and painting the walls.  I also have to call the roofer to see if he has a date in mind yet.

Let's see, what else....

Oh!  I splurged on the latest model roomba.  I named him Bob.  Bob cleans under my sofa, under the beds and dressers....I love Bob.  Ester hates Bob, but she'll have to deal with it.






renovation update #1

The new windows and doors didn't get installed last week.  Rain delay.  They're being installed next week.

The flooring is in!  It's beautiful.  My favorite part is that we ran the vinyl all the way from the kitchen to the front door so that we can now carry in groceries without having to step in onto slate, then walk over five feet of carpeting in wet boots to get to the kitchen.


I told them not to put the appliances back when they were done with the flooring since I wanted to strip wallpaper...which is a shit job by the way, in case you've never had the pleasure.  I am kind of regretting not hiring out the stripping and painting, but it's my belief that the renovation will be more appreciated if we have some sweat into it.

This wall needs to be finished today in order to get the stove and refrigerator back in place, then the walls behind the washer and dryer.  From there I can take my time.  I have to strip both the kitchen and the dining room.  The 80's layer is coming off very easily, but the 70's layer is a real pain.  I had thought about leaving the watch-bicycle-fish wallpaper in place in the backsplash areas, then putting a coat of poly over it to protect it, but the paper was damaged on the wall behind the stove.  I suspect it's not going to be in good shape over the sink either.






I finished the niche shelves and added some trim to the big bookcase.  Now I need to prime and paint.


I didn't think to take a before picture of my bedroom until I was in middle of emptying it out.




Honestly, the blue looks better in photographs, but in person the blue was almost blinding and the cookie color is warm and relaxing.

I do have to move the Audubon print back out to the hallway though, I don't like it against the new walls.  I'm not sure about the curtains, either.  Maybe I'll turn the flat sheet that won't stay on my bed into curtains.  Also, the brackets for the houses need to be painted the same color as the walls so they're not so obvious.

Benedict Cumberbeetle looks right smart, though.


what's going on here....

Kate moved out.  It was surreal.  I'm grateful for the renovations on her house providing a transition time, so I could get used to the idea before it happened.   I was anticipating the empty bedroom she vacated but not the other odd empty spaces, like the bare shelf in the medicine cabinet or the half full coat closet.  Each time I discover one it's like a little hole is pierced in my heart. 

The change has been unsettling for her as well, she visits a lot.  She said it doesn't feel like she's moved into her own house, but rather like she's on a trip.  She suspects that's mostly because her house isn't furnished yet.  (She had to use her furniture budget on the unexpected issues that cropped up during the reno, and is saving all her pennies for the new roof she needs before winter.)    Thank goodness garage sale season is starting.


I've been busy moving into Kate's old room.



I contemplated painting the walls a different color, but I haven't recovered from all the painting at Kate's house yet.  It feels a bit like blue overload to me, but if it still bothers me a few months from now I can paint then.

Kate left behind the bed but took her mattresses.  She also left two bookcases she didn't have room for, and a mirror.  I kept the bed, but gave the headboard a fresh coat of paint, changing it from black to royal blue.  We gave the bookcases to my mom, for storage in her sewing room.  I kept the mirror because I didn't want to repair the holes in the wall if I took it down.  It hangs above the dresser, but it's not in the picture because I'm repainting the frame (it was black).

I bought myself new mattresses, bedding, curtains, and a lamp.  I repainted the 1950s hand-me-down dresser I've been using for years and gave it new hardware.  I hated to do it, it was a nice mid-century modern piece, but it was showing a lot of wear and the price tag on a new dresser of comparable quality was outrageous. 

I thought I'd let my feminine side out to play in this room, but it's starting to get a bit too girly and shabby-chic already, so I need to bring my tomboy side in to balance it out.  With that in mind, I'm drawing bugs all over the repainted mirror frame. 


I'm planning to paint the bugs with iridescent paints.  It will take a while to draw them all on first though, and I'm in no hurry to finish.  I imagine it will be an every-once-in-a-while project....especially since I'm itching to get into my studio to start on this year's contest kit.

Next on my list is to get some artwork hung, the empty walls are starting to weird me out.

It's also weird to have a separate bedroom from my husband.  It's not like we slept together anyway, I've been sleeping on the couch for 17 years because he SNORES, and I'm getting improved rest on my new cloud-like pillow-top mattress, but it feels unnatural.  We've been spending more time doing things together, to compensate.

Let's see, what else is going on....



Kate's roommate's cat had kittens...sweet, fluffy, playful, adorable kittens.  Kate is keeping Gomez, since Gomez became her shadow the minute they moved in.  I tried to take Bells, to give Ester a new companion, since Wakefield left us last summer, but Ester was violently opposed.  I had to give Bells back because I feared for her safety.  As long as Ester is alive we'll have to be a one cat household.  Kate has decided to keep Bells, since she's started sleeping in bed with her and Gomez.  I agreed that if she wants to have more than one cat it's easier to get them together, as kittens.

There are an awful lot of cats in that little house, but as long as everyone is happy and healthy, that's what counts.



my glorious new closet

The requisite before picture....


The first in progress picture...the long shelves are six foot wide, the shorter shelves on the left are two foot wide...we went with 20" deep shelves...except for the very top one, which is only 12" deep, because of the bulkhead...my husband had to custom make rod hangers by running U bolts through the brackets, because the 20" deep shelves don't have the slots for the rod hangy thingys....he's brilliant....


After the first trip to Michaels, who had storage boxes 50% off....I can fit the photo storage boxes 18 across by 2 high on the top shelf...can do them 18 across by 2 high by 2 deep on the three shelves below that....but will use other boxes too...


Done!  I ended up making two more shopping trips to buy more boxes...but it will be so nice to be able to put my hands on something when I need it.


making progress

I should have pictures of Kate's finished room tomorrow night, I think.

I finished painting her dressers and the new knobs she bought are on the top drawers, but the new handles for the other drawers don't quite fit, we have to figure out what we're going to do.

The first of the bookcases is built, but the shelves aren't in yet...Matt is building the second now.

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The headboard has been spraypainted black (it was pink)...the nightstand and lamp are new.  Kate found a good deal on the nightstand...a half price, already assembled, floor model.

Most importantly to Kate, her pretty new bedding is on her bed.  You'll be able to see it better in tomorrow's pictures, when she's not sprawled out over the top of it.

I must say, her new bedroom suits the twenty year old young woman she has become much more than her old cream and pink little girl's room did.