Banned to the Basement: Home Renovations, part whatever

Progress is being made. Right now someone is sanding and refinishing my hardwood floors. Floors someone hid under carpet and peel & stick vinyl. In the past week we managed to peel up that vinyl and mostly remove the adhesive, paint a room, and move our entire living room.

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Peeling with a heat gun and a scraper

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All the vinyl is up just adhesive left

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The end product. We cleaned as best we could with mineral spirits

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Just beginning and a little freaked out I chose such a dark color

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1st coat and it was blotchy with the former chair rail clearly visible. eek!

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End product. Everything covered up and evened out. Whew!

We’re cruising along but, right now, I’m stuck. Stuck in the partially finished basement with my boyfriend and three cats. And those cats did not go easy.

I spent the morning, before my first cup of coffee, chasing one cat around the house after he got loose when I tried to close him in the basement. He is freaked out very easily and upon figuring out we were trying to sequester him he jumped a baby gate and plowed through what I thought was a closed door. It was a process but he is safely hiding under a couch in the basement. Finally.

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While one is hiding the other 2 cats want to be where the action is 

My living room floor is being worked on which means I can’t get anywhere in my house. Not the full bathroom (yes, thankfully, we have a half bath in the basement), or the bedroom, or my office. This is why everyone is stuck in the basement. I can get into the kitchen but because there is not a door to the basement the area is being blocked by two the of cheapest baby gates I could find. Cheap baby gate means pain in the ass to use! So I’m not going through them unless expressly necessary. But, it’s not terrible. We have a tv and couch down here. Plus a twin air mattress. And more reading material than I could possibly finish. It would almost be like a vacation if the sound of sanding wasn’t so distracting. After all there’s not much I can do down here.

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Tomorrow I go back to work and hopefully the floor project will wrap up. By Thursday evening I’m hoping to actually be able to walk on it and get to the shower & bedroom. By Friday I should be able to put furniture back where it belongs and start organizing my house again…at least a little. I still have a living room to paint!

 

 

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Spackling dust, the new dry shampoo

The home renovations continue. Those lazy bastards (aka the former home owners) have struck again. I was prepping our extra room for painting. Patching where I removed the chair rail, sanding, and re-patching.

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That’s not blurry, it’s dust floating in the air. What a mess!!

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My post sanding look. Old chemistry goggles are good for something!

Finally I was ready for one last wall and ceiling wash. I noticed as I was washing the ceiling that there were TWO colors up there. Very similar colors so I never noticed before but with my nose pressed up there to wash, it was clear, the lazy bastards didn’t bother to cut in when they painted. They just rolled to about 6 inches from the wall and stopped. I shouldn’t be surprised anymore but it still makes me roll my eyes.

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We also are removing carpet in our living room. The hardwood floors will be sanded and refinished next week. Who covers hardwood with shitty carpet in the first place?! However, as we removed, we found another surprise.

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We hadn’t swept yet. So much dirt under carpet!

Someone had stuck peel and stick vinyl flooring over the hardwood to create an “entry way.” It’s awful. Today’s project is going to be trying to peel it all up. That’ll be a good time, I’m sure.

At least we have supervisors who keep their opinion to themselves.

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Keeping an eye on the progress

I Like Deadlines

Well, actually, I need deadlines. I’m good if there’s an impending….something. I was listening to the Jordan Harbinger podcast and he had on Gretchen Rubin who talked about “The Four Tendencies…” which is about the origin of motivation. She describes which, external or internal, motivations prompt action depending on the person. I do take a lot of this research with a grain of salt, however, it did give me some insight when it comes to following through or, as the case may be, lack of following through. After listening, I noticed that I respond well to external motivation. I do well in school, there are deadlines, and consequences for missing them. I’m productive with work stuff because, again, there are outside influences telling me when something has to be done. I’m not nearly as good when the motivation needs to come from me. I need a push to get the ball rolling. I’m trying to use this knowledge to create motivation for myself. If I can create deadlines that actually mean something maybe I’ll actually get some shit done!

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I slowly have started to put this in action. When I decided to take up photography I knew I wanted to take a class to learn the camera better. After the first class I continued because I liked having photography homework. Not only did it make me try new techniques, but it also gave me a deadline. It’s not that I don’t take photos without the class but I enjoyed being “forced” to make time for my hobby.

I have been renovating my house FOREVER. This is partly due to time constraints and partly due to simply putting it off. In an effort to play to my strengths and motive myself I scheduled the floor guy in advance. (I’m getting my hardwood floors sanded and refinished.) Now, I have a month to pull up carpet and repaint two rooms, one being the main living area. It’s completely doable and with that deadline fast approaching I’m feeling more pressure to get stuff accomplished.

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Now I just need to figure ways to apply this to other areas of my life….like cooking, blogging, and exercise!

Home Renovations continue

I have, very slowly, been working on updating my house. While I was in nursing school, yes, like the entire time, we finished our guest room. Before nursing school I painted my office and at that point decided I hated the previous owners. Like a lot. At some point I need to put up some photos of the finished products. After I finished it, my office became my favorite place in the house. I swear it gets the best light and it just turned out so pretty. But I digress.

We have a third bedroom downstairs that was sort of functioning as our junk room. Everything we didn’t have a place for sort of just ended up in there. The carpet is terrible because it’s also the room where we housed a kitten during her first arrival and she tore it up at the doorway. Also, it’s the room where our ceiling leaked which had clearly happened before. We did have all of our books in there on cheap bookshelves we got from Target. Now we are repainting, pulling up the carpet, finishing the floor, and setting it up as a library.

The room had the stupidest chair rail ever. It was stuck out a good 1/2 inch from the wall which didn’t allow for anything to sit flush against it.

I removed it with glee! There was quite the paint story behind it too. I’m going to have sooo much spackling to do.

Wow, look at that orange sherbet color!

There quite an ice storm in lower Michigan today so the plan is to turn on a podcast, rip up some carpet and spackle my little heart out. Wish me luck!

Finishing the Bathroom 

One thing I’ve learned about home improvement projects from fixing up my bathroom is that there is no hard and fast finish to these things. It’s not like those shows where they add one last touch, have a big reveal, pack it up and call it a day. Right now my bathroom is mostly done. Basically. I could add another layer of paint to those shelves and maybe I’ll caulk around the toilet. Oh, and there might be a small drip under the sink that will have to be addressed at some point…but the renovation is, for all intents an purposes, finished.

I panted, tiled, and caulked. There is a new sink and vanity, new faucet, and a semi-new toilet (replaced just over a year ago when something fell in the previous one and it stopped flushing. Turns out it’s cheaper to replace the toilet than get a plumber out.)

Here are some of the stages of progress:

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Some creative thinking/problem solving skills were employed to make this vanity fit. My choices were limited by the narrow space between the wall and toilet; of the few available I really liked this one (and the mirror that matches).

Not impressed yet? Well, it started like this:

And now it looks like this:

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Okay so the tub is still a little rough but that’s a project for another day.

All told the cost of this bathroom update was right around $700 including paint, tiles (from the Habitat for Humanity Restore), cement backer board,thin set, grout, grout sealer, the vanity/sink, faucet, some pvc drain pipe stuff, and an assortment of random tools and bits and pieces. Oh, and a reciprocating saw. If all goes according to plan (and really when does it ever?) you’ll be seeing some more of the saw’s handiwork in the spring. Now that I’ve dipped my toes in the home improvement pond I intend to do some serious wading

Bathroom Reno Part 2

It seems I am blogging about this bathroom renovation project at a rate that is proportionally slow to the progress I’m making on it. So as a reminder here are a couple “before” pictures:

And here’s the post about the destruction of this beaut (in case you missed it).

When I was looking ahead, tiling the floor appeared to be the most challenging and intimidating aspect of this endeavor, well, that and sawing. It turns out it was the most fun.

I had to start with a layer of thin set/mortar (they’re the same thing..Hey, it was news to me.) and cement backer board. My brother-in-law came over and helped with the cutting and manhandling of the backer board. Once we got it all cut and ready we headed back to his house to celebrate my niece’s birthday; later that night I had my first experience with mortar. It was fun. There’s something sort of zen about raking even lines through some smooth, grey mortar and then squishing it all down with a board. Joint tape is pretty fun too.

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Even with only the backer board down it’s an improvement.

And then, of course, that had to set for twenty-four hours. Almost everything does, turns out home improvement is yet another provider of lessons about patience.

During the destruction of the bathroom I saw that my toilet flange was broken around one edge. My brother-in-law none too gently hacked out the rest of it and, in the process, notices what looked like a crack in the drain pipe beneath it.

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I spent a morning stressing, Googling, and phoning a friend over those little lines down in that pipe. After assessing how difficult it would be to cut the pipe out and replace it but before actually starting to cut I decided to take a step back and apply a classic mantra: Keep it simple, stupid! (One of the very few things I retained from high school math.) After one more assessment and some basic reasoning I realized the pipe was not in fact busted, those were just seams. Crisis averted…but morning wasted. Doh! At least the flange was easy to replace. I got one with a built in rubber gasket that just slides inside the existing drain pipe.

By this time it was Wednesday evening (week one). I’ve got class until mid afternoon Thursday and the kids come back from their dad’s Thursday evening. It was becoming obvious that I was not going to have the bathroom back together by then. Ah well, onward and upward right?

Because my bathroom is on the small side I laid out all the tiles to see how they’d fit. I took some helpful YouTube video’s advice and measured the center of the room, laid a line of vertical and then another of horizontal tiles, adjusting as needed to fit before filling in the rest. I preferred the look of the tiles flush with the tub on one side which left about a two and a half inch gap on the other. There was a matching gap on the short wall that’s perpendicular to the door. I have a random assortment of smaller tiles in my basement, my first instinct was to see if any would fit. The closest I got was some 1×1 inch green tiles but they were thicker than the main ones and there wasn’t even close to enough for both spaces. Obviously a no-go but I liked the idea of a smaller tile mosaic border.

But first things first, I needed to cut some tiles to fit around the toilet opening, along the back wall, and around the floor vent space. I done mentioned my saw intimidation, turns out it was a non issue. My nice neighbor has a tile saw and was happy to lend it to me/teach me how to use it. Cutting the few tiles was really no big deal at all! I got that finished and the tiles refit Thursday just in time to pause and go pick up the kids. Little did they know it was going to be a frozen pizza, not even sit down together, dinner night. I had tiles to set!

Again with the thin set.

I was a little worried that I hadn’t used enough thin set with the backer boards (time will tell I guess) so maybe I overcompensated when I was laying the tile. At first I was making a giant mess but after a few I got the hang of spreading an even layer of mortar, raking it, and applying the tiles and spacers in an orderly fashion. My youngest thought the process was pretty cool and “helped” some. Mostly he watched but I did let him press a few tiles into place.

And then it was time to wait for the materials to set. Again. Friday and Saturday were both busy days and (I was working Friday night) so other than pulling the spacers out, nothing happened until Sunday…

On Sunday morning I got up early (for me), made my coffee and tried out some edging layouts with the glass/stone mosaic tile sheets I had picked up.

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These things are not cheap but I only needed two sheets. Also they’re apparently mostly used for back splashes and wall tiling but I found at least one website that talked about doing mosaic tiling on floors and the sides of the room are little to no traffic areas. Plus they’re the same thickness as the other tiles which, from what I could tell, was a key factor.

They were a little messy to put down and I definitely used a little too much thin set in a couple areas making them less than even but all in all the results aren’t too bad.

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I definitely like the what they add to the aesthetic of the bathroom..

Yes, I know, the walls are terrible. That’s something to take care of later in the process. After all the edging tiles were down I left them alone for a while and later that afternoon we grouted. BTW grout is Not the same as thin set. It also takes a lot of water to a little powder. My fifteen year old was roped into helping me with the grouting and we learned that the hard way. Let’s just say we had some extra grout mixed when all was said and done.

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Also, grouting is a messy, messy process. It cleaned up a little better than what you see there. After a day or two of letting the grout set, I applied a sealer. It was really not too exciting and didn’t change the appearance at all so I took zero pictures of that. I did take some of the purple paint on the back wall.

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Not the finished painting, obvs.

With the floor done and some paint on the wall it was time to start putting this thing back together. Well, at least get the toilet back in. It’s still not quite back together…but I’ll tell you more about the details of that another time.

Bathroom Renovation Part I: Destruction

As the super creative title of this post implies, I’ve recently renovated my bathroom. Well, technically speaking I’ve started some renovations on the small bathroom on the main floor of my beat up old house. Hopefully it will be finished this week. Originally I thought I’d bust out this update in a week but like so many things in life renovations never follow the schedule we think they should.

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I’ve been wanting to do something to that hot mess for a while but didn’t even know where to start. The peal and stick laminate tiles gave me the push I needed when they started breaking and pealing off revealing the wood sub floor beneath. Now that’s a classy look right there!

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One of my sisters had just tiled her bathroom wall and if she could do it I sure as shit could! which meant I had someone with first hand experience to tell me about the process. Between her and about a million YouTube videos on tiling a bathroom floor I had enough confidence to tackle tiling the floor. On top of that my sister had enough tiles left over from her wall to cover my floor.

So two Monday mornings back I found myself wandering around one of those big box hardware stores (you know, with the orange or blue signs) trying to convince myself that I am an Adult and I can handle this. There may have been a couple mantras being repeated as I wandered back and forth before finding the flooring supply aisle way at the back of the store.

Two cement backer boards and a 50lb bag of mortar later I was pushing an awkward cartful of goods out to my minivan.

That evening I took advantage of my teenage boys being home and destructed the bathroom…

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The toilet came out easily enough but the vanity put up a struggle.

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The hot and cold valves were on the inside of the vanity and they were not fitting through those holes. My goal in life this project was to do as little plumbing as possible. Taking the ends off these things did not mesh with that goal. Good thing I had bought a reciprocating saw (aka a Sawzall except that’s not the brand I got)! After some rough hacking the cabinet was free and it was onto scraping off the lingering floor tiles.

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And here’s what I found underneath. It’s really not as bad as it looks…other than that one corner. I’m not sure what happened there.

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It looks pretty rough and for a few minutes I thought I was going to have to do some leveling but after buying a larger level I discovered that this little patch of roughness was technically even. Booyah!

(That black ring from the toilet is a little ominous but I’m mostly sure it’s a result of the broken flange there.)

And then it was on to prepping for the tile.

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While I’m still not done, great strides have been made. Next time I’ll show you the finished tiling and maybe the painting too! Fun stuff all around.