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 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.

Lessons in Plastering

First let me start by saying that I am in no way whatsoever an expert, or even an experienced amateur, in any type of home renovation…AT ALL.
My experience in fixing or building stuff is limited to the drilling, painting, and what ever else I did in my high school drama club during set construction and following the instruction booklets for assembling furniture. When I was a young teenager one of my brothers and I did help my dad put together a barn-like shed. Then we had to paint it ourselves. But really that’s about it.
There is nothing in my past that qualifies me to do any home renovation (except maybe some light painting) without the direct supervision of someone possessing expertise or at least base line knowledge.
But that never stopped me before so why should it now?

It’s Easter weekend and my first holiday without my kids also their first school break of our shiny new post-divorce parenting time agreement.
Not having my kids for the actual holiday doesn’t bother me but it’s their dad’s turn to spend spring break with them. He gets them from our usual Thursday switch time through Monday morning…the next Monday morning.
That includes this whole weekend, the one that would normally be MY time with them.
In a span of ten days I’ll have spent four hours with my children. That’s the most time I’ve been apart from them EVER. It sucks but maybe I’ll get into that in another post later.

It’s a beautifully sunny spring weekend here in Michigan and I really didn’t want to spent the whole weekend angry, drunk, or crying about not seeing the kids. If I gave into the temptation I’d probably find myself indulging in all three simultaneously.
Instead I decided what I needed was a project, one that would take up the majority of the weekend. Luckily I have an old house that has many potential projects.

In the spirit of all those home make-over shows where a crew comes in and totally revamps something then reveals their amazing results after a short time, I’ve been spending (part of) my time the past couple days giving my living room a mini-makeover.
Okay maybe that’s a tad too dramatic. Basically I’ve been working on painting my living room but that also entails patching old, crumbly plaster.
I bought a rug and two colors of paint about a month ago and painted one wall shortly after that. The other paint has been waiting patiently for me to find the time for it.
Painting is not a problem for me. I’ve done quite a bit of that as my multi-colored painting pants can attest to. The problem that has caused me to procrastinate (like I really need a reason for that) is the gaping holes in one of the living room walls.
My house has a lot of holes in its walls. It could quite literally be called a hole in the wall place.
The biggest of these holes are in the living room, the dining room, and the computer/sewing room all on the main floor.
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It doesn’t look so bad from a distance but the whole area is cracked & a bit messed up.

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Up close & personal it looks worse.

See. Intimidating.
Before patching it I had to clear out some of the loose stuff. It made the hole bigger but trying to work over it just makes a mess.
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Those two circular little holes, the ones that look like vampire bite marks, are a direct result of my attempts to tack down the wobbly walls. It didn’t go so well. Thee screws just went right through and fell into the abyss between the walls.
At this point I was tempted to open it up and make it look like the crack in the wall from season five of Doctor Who. People buy wall decals of the crack, this would be way more authentic. I could paint the inside of it black. That could be pretty awesome…buuut I did already buy that other paint.
So enough avoiding it and on with the wall fixing I went.
Last fall a friend with experience bought me a bag of plaster and showed me how to use it but this has been my first solo venture into plastering.
Here is what I’ve learned so far:
-use cold water, it makes the plaster set a little slower and you’ll probably need that extra time
-mix it thin. Again, extra time to get the plaster into the hole and smoothed out. Also thinner plaster is easier to spread smoothly
-don’t check text messages right after mixing plaster. AGAIN, extra time, you don’t have any. Once the plaster is mixed it goes from a spreadable thick paste to a putty-like substance to a barely pliable mess pretty quickly.
And here’s what I’ve done so far:
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One more layer of plaster and it’ll be time to sand.
I did get two smaller holes completely patched.
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I also started painting the other walls but I’ll save pictures of that for a dramatic reveal post in a few days.

Right now it’s time for me to get ready to practice another kind of plastering.
One that involves alcohol & friends