Archive for the ‘Home Improvement’ Category

Going green

The safe beige colors on our walls are no more! It’s a subtle difference from sandy beige to a greenish color called fishnet. (It’s actually the same color that we had in our living and dining rooms, so it’s not really an earth-shattering change.) The two-tone color scheme just wasn’t working for David, so he took it upon himself to re-paint the entry hall and kitchen green.

There was a fair amount of cutting in required to complete the task, especially in the kitchen with the many upper cabinets. My involvement on the job was to remove outlet covers, artwork from the walls and to de-clutter the counters so David could just paint on by. He has become quite the skilled painter over the past few years with our constant home renovation habit and doesn’t mess around with blue tape anymore. At least that eliminates one time-consuming step. Even so, I think it still took about seven hours to transform our lower level into a green oasis.

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When we debuted our kitchen remodel just shy of a year ago, you may have noticed a void above the refrigerator in this post. The intent for that void has always been to give a flat screen TV a home in our kitchen. We didn’t know what size TV we would end up with during the design process and but we did know that the TV cavity would need to be altered for a snug custom fit. Of course, we had the space pre-wired with cable and electricity because it was part of our master plan, after all.

Once we purchased our telly, David got to work adding drywall on the sides for the TV to slide right in. The good news is that it was a relatively small area to drywall which kept the dust down (kind of). The TV was secured in its space with good ol’ heavy duty velcro. (Yep, velcro! It was David’s brilliant idea.)

And there you have it. The TV is shown here in its little nook in the kitchen. Now, we won’t miss a play during the big game, we can cook along with our favorite Food Network chefs or catch the evening news! It turned out great!

The first meal we cooked up in our TV-clad kitchen were chicken fajitas- a staple dinner menu item around our household. Yum!

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We scored some authentic mid-century metal lawn chairs while walking Wyatt in the neighborhood this summer. They were in pretty rough shape, but it was nothing that a little DIY-ing couldn’t fix.
We sanded down the rusting/flaking painted surfaces and then rinsed the chairs off with the garden hose. After a quick towel dry, they were ready for paint. We opted for a mint green color as a throwback to the 1950′s era of the chairs. Going from a deep red color to a light green color required 3 coats of spray paint.Ta da! The finished product has been on display out front. We’ve spent countless hours sitting in the fabulous seats watching the world go by. We’re pretty proud of our garage sale finds especially considering that they go for $99 a piece these days!

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Our downstairs bathroom is the final room on the lower-level in need of an overhaul. When we moved in, it was a mash of colors: pink, teal, yellow, white and brown linoleum. It looked like this:

After about 5 months living in the house, we decided to spruce the bathroom up with paint. It was a temporary fix, but made it much more livable. I painted the cabinets white, half the wall white and the upper half yellow. I painted the vanity white and left the radiator teal. The temporary fix looked like this:

The real bathroom renovation began unfolding this spring. David took down the lath and plaster walls, carted off the cabinet shelving around the shower and removed the flooring, radiator, vanity and toilet. Because the downstairs bathroom is also our only shower, we had to install a temporary plastic enclosure while the room was down to the studs (which it has been since April). The cast iron tub, which we love, had to be removed temporarily so that the floors could be leveled. We took showers at family member’s houses during the 7 days that the old floor was removed and a new subfloor was installed. It really made us appreciate the convenience of a shower, albeit a makeshift one.

So, the toilet and radiator have been on the side porch for months now as we piece this little room back together. Sorry neighbors.

Many of the timestaking and frustrating projects of the bathroom remodel has been behind the scenes work- the stuff that you won’t physically see when it’s all said and done (unless you like to check out people’s crawl spaces when you go on a home tour). David installed all new plumbing to the shower and vanity, moved the location of the toilet and subsequent plumbing, installed a ceiling vent/light (by spending a hot day in the attic and on the roof), and added a concrete footing to support the failed foundation in the basement crawl space. David also built a bathroom vanity from scratch (with the help of our cabinet-maker friend- Scott) and it also took a bit of time to get right.

So you’ll just have to wait for Bathroom Makeover II to see the bathroom transformation complete. We still have a long way to go… mudding and sanding the recently hung drywall, tiling the bathtub surround and floor, painting the walls and ceiling, installing custom shelving, picking out and installing new bathroom hardware, the list goes on and on…

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First off, it’s good to have perspective when showing off a good before-and-after-picture, and boy, do I have some perspective for you!? Obviously, we bought our home for it’s potential and could somehow see past the very dated interior. Looking back, I’m not sure I wear the same rose-colored glasses or would ever make the same mistake choice again.

Needless to say, we had our work cut out for us to transform the mudroom from a wood-paneled dark and dingy space into a clean, crisp and inviting room that would welcome us home from our daily chores.

Originally, we planned to keep the paneling, paint it a creamy white, and envisioned outfitting it with some kitschy cabin-like decor. Afterall, the mudroom space has been a super handy storage room along our 25-month (and counting) remodel– our kitchen appliances were happily stored there while our long-awaited kitchen was built, it served the utilitarian purpose of storing snow pants, coats, scarves and boots during our long Up North winters and has housed a rotating army of tools depending on what projects were going on.

Well…our 130-year-old house had other plans for us and keeping the mudroom paneling just wasn’t in the cards. Since the electrical panel was back there and we opted to install new wiring throughout the entire house, the paneling had to go. We ripped out the carpeting (some places two layers of carpet) and linoleum only to find that the floor was still sagging in spots. It turned out that a subfloor was put on top the original flooring which was almost completely rotted, as evidenced by hole down to the crawl space in the picture to the left. Yikes! Watch your step.

The more we dove into the problem, we realized the back of the house had settled quite a bit and we needed to raise the floor (up to three inches in places) to sync up to the other rooms. To level the floors, we sistered in new 2×6′s to the existing floor boards and leveled and re-leveled along the way. Then we put down sheets of 3/4-inch OSB plywood subfloor and were back on solid (and level) ground! Success.

By January 2009, we were installing the drywall throughout the lower-level of the house, including the mudroom. It was mudded and sanded in February and we primed and painted in March. We chose “sand between your toes” beige for the mudroom, kitchen and front hallway. In April, David installed the ceiling fans and recessed lighting throughout the lower level.

Then, the mudroom project took a backseat to installing and finishing Hickory hardwood floors, planting grass in the front and back yards, sprucing up our three porches with paint, building a little outdoor firepit patio, installing victorian-style baseboard, rehabbing six old dilapidated radiators, re-using old doors and trim, improving our front closet, and of course, working on our brand spankin’ new kitchen.

The mudroom actually became a “room” when the tile floor was installed. Because we live across the street from the beach, we chose a sand-colored tile for the mudroom and think it compliments the “sand between your toes” wall color perfectly.

There are still many to-do’s on the mudroom’s list, but we’re quite pleased with the results. The room is light, airy and welcoming.

Feast your eyes on this:

We still would like to add a bench where the red rug is, add shelving and hooks for coats behind the door, install a super swanky dogfood center for Wyatt and my dream is to add a washer and dryer where the couch is.

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Our next door neighbor began an extensive addition/remodel last month. They plan on converting the old garage into living space, relocating the garage to the back of the house (hence the new driveway on the left side), adding a front porch and a building a completely new kitchen on the inside. I saw the building plans and it’s going to look completely different. Wow!

Two doors down, a new family moved in a few months ago, but had the house refurbished over the winter with new floors, kitchen, paint, wiring, etc. They have big plans to add on to the house and also build a front porch to take advantage of the bay views.

We are really changing the neighborhood by giving these old beauties some much-needed TLC. We hope that the renovation bug will continue down the block. I’ll keep you posted.

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Our kitchen remodel took longer than we wanted, but the super stunning results make us forget the temporary kitchen (hot plate + toaster + microwave) that we used for months. Our cooking palate has grown since the debut of the new kitchen (more on that later).

Honestly, the day that our kitchen became operational it really felt like home. Sure, there were problems… when David hooked up the sink the first time, the drains were clogged. David bought a plumbing snake, went back into the crawl space only to find that the snake couldn’t make it through the first bend. Back to the home improvement store to return first snake and purchase the other model from the shelf. Then, back in the crawl space and voila– success. It was 10 o’clock at night on a Sunday when the kitchen passed the clog-free, open-for-business test. What would any 22-month oven-deprived person do? Bake cookies, of course.

Our kitchen was far from complete on it’s cookie baking debut, but that first batch sure was sweet.

Feast your eyes on our completed kitchen masterpiece. Of course, we must give credit to Scott from Warden’s Point Woodworking for building all of the beautiful wood cabinets. The birch plywood cabinets are outfitted with painted poplar face frames. Scott also helped us build and install the walnut counter tops. We really like the way the dark walnut counters balance the white cabinetry and the natural hickory flooring seems to tie it all together.

Glass shelves and glass doors adorn the upper cabinets on the south wall of the kitchen. We now have twelve drawers of which are equipped with easy-close mechanisms that prevents them from slamming shut. The peninsula, lit by two pendant lights, offers seating for two and increased counter space. Eventually, we plan to install a TV in the cavity above the refrigerator. Catching the 6 o’clock news while cooking dinner will be a snap.

The north wall of the kitchen includes a built-in hutch. We wanted it to look like a piece of furniture. The hutch displays some antique collectibles and provides ample storage in the cupboards below.

Review our kitchen transformation:

Walnut counters 4/2/10

Kitchen in the home stretch 2/23/10

House progress report 1/28/10

We’ll be cooking soon 1/5/10

Kitchen progress 10/12/09 (includes the ONLY kitchen BEFORE picture I’ve ever published… because it was really scary!)

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Sorry for the brief absence from blog-land. We’ve been way too busy working on projects and creating more content to blog about!

So… our front hall closet was a blank slate. Since, if you recall, we completely ripped our lower-level down to the studs and put it back together again, working a closet into the space was a must. In the previous layout, there was sadly only one closet on the entire first floor- in the downstairs bedroom. So… a closet in the redesign was a must. The closet sat empty or nearly empty for months as we toiled away on other projects. It was only until recently that we installed a shelf and hanger bar. Gone are the days of draping our coats over the chairs in the dining room. Now they have a place to hang- what a novel concept! The other big closet moment came with the purchase of two shoe racks! Now the coats and shoes are hidden away from view…

And now to show you the newly finished closet…

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We decided to make a bold statement in the kitchen with our counters by choosing walnut countertops. The richness of the wood tones offset the white cabinetry. Building the counter tops was the first step. David built the countertops with our cabinet guy, Scott, from Warden’s Point Woodworking. They assembled the walnut plywood counters in Scott’s shop in Leland. Next came the installation. Even with the extensive renovation work that we’ve done, the walls are not plumb (which we learned when installing the cabinets) and it caused some frustration during the countertop install. Then the wood needed to be sealed. David ended up putting 7 coats of spar urethane on the countertops, sanding in between each coat.

The results speak for themselves! The bar-like surface cleans up nicely and saved us a ton of money.

To see previous kitchen posts, click on…

Kitchen in the home stretch 2/23/10

House progress report 1/28/10

We’ll be cooking soon 1/5/10

Kitchen progress 10/12/09 (includes the ONLY kitchen BEFORE picture I’ve ever published… because it was really scary!)


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David and I were recently lamenting that it seems like we’ll never be done with our home remodel. We would really love it if Carter Ooosterhouse, Holmes on Homes or This Old House showed up at our front door and gave us a hand (or just finished it all for us).

I thought about titling this post “THE HOUSE” to emphasize how enormous and endless the project feels. However, I’m not a big fan of all-caps and try to use it sparingly. While we’re not quite at the all-caps point in the home remodel, we are approaching the 2-year mark. We’ll just say that we grossly underestimated both the time and money that it would take to complete our overhaul. I call it the too-much-HGTV-syndrome where doing home renovation appears enjoyable, non-complicated and finished in a weekend or two. We’ll just say that the dust has settled on that TV fairytale idea.

Our back mud room currently looks like this:

Our kitchen looks like this:

We finally bought a kitchen sink and are making some decisions on tiles for the mud room and downstairs bathroom.

We’ll keep plodding along and will finish this big ol project one of these days.

And at some point in our future, we’ll tackle rehabbing the upstairs level too. But we’ll take a break in between.

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