Category Archives: Our DIY Home

Our (Messy) Bathroom Renovation

A final “beauty shot” compliments of iPhone Panorama camera feature.

There’s nothing like a good old renovation to get you feeling frantic about your home. I posted earlier this spring about preparing for our bathroom renovation, and it’s well-well-well underway!

I mentioned before we decided not to DIY this product project because it was complicated and messy and would have taken us a significant amount of time in addition to the other projects we already have going on!

After we removed the toilet, lighting fixtures, medicine cabinet, and vanity we were ready for the team to come in. And come in they did.

bath1

We had a Home-Alone-2-style tube hanging out our guestroom window for all the debris. I can’t say I miss demo and the heavy mess you have to deal with.

bath10

In order to make this bathroom larger we reconfigured the hall closet, a guest bedroom closet, in addition to moving a wall between the bathroom and the guestroom.

bath7We clearly weren’t thinking ahead! Our bedroom was behind the sealed-off construction area!

Obviously there are 1 million elements going on in this process. As a quick overview, after they tore down the walls and ripped up the floorboard, we were left with our new open space. We moved the doorway to the bathroom over by a few inches to maximize the new square footage we were gaining. (Originally there was a radiator behind the door, which we removed.)

bath2

Recessed mirror frames and plumbing for new double sink.

Rough plumbing was put in, and a significant amount of work needed to be done to move the toilet, like cutting through the floor joists and reconfiguring plumbing. From an amateur’s perspective, you would think you can move things anywhere when you are gutting a room, but that simply just isn’t the case!  bath3 New plywood subfloor, toilet plumbing moved and framing for new window is added.

Next, the plywood floor was put down and they cut down the wood floor in the guestroom where the new wall will be. The new wall structure was put up. Then we had rough electrical added (outlets, light switches, canned lighting, and where we’d like to put the lights above our bathroom mirrors).

bath8 bath5New guest room closet and rough electrical is added.

Additionally, we moved the access panel to our attic from the main hallway into the new guest bedroom closet. This allowed us to reconfigure our cam lights in the hallway. It’s easy to see how renovations can quickly spread and grow – you’re doing one thing you might as well do them all at once!

bath6Building the new wall between the bathroom and guestroom.  bath9Yep. I showered in that. 

bath11The skylight will no longer be in the bathroom, but become a part of the attic. It’s old and once it starts leaking we don’t want to have to rip the new ceiling out. Plus it will no longer be centered in the bathroom and will provide natural light in the attic.

bath4Recessed shelves for the shower and you can see where the old window frame in the shower was.

Although it’s been messy and we’ve been without a shower (for far too long) I’m extremely excited for our new bathroom and it’s definitely been worth the wait.

Have you experienced a messy renovation? Does it scream “adventure!” or “disaster!” to you? I can’t decide which one it is for me!

 

Spring with The Boston Pops

Although I was in choir for a number of years, took a few piano lessons, and had a summer fling with the flute, I have little-to-no musical capability. But that’s not to say I don’t love music! Doesn’t everyone love music?

Last year, I went to see the Boston Symphony Orchestra for the first time and it was a beautiful experience listening to the musicians and admiring Symphony Hall. Did you know that Symphony Hall in Boston is one of the world’s most acoustically perfect music venues?

This spring the Boston Pops had a fantastic lineup of events. If two hours of classical music isn’t your thing, some of these unusual events may interest you!

Oz and the Orchestra

On Mother’s Day friend and I attended the Oz and the Orchestra event. We got to watch the Wizard of Oz on the big screen, something I haven’t done in at least 15 years! All the music was taken out of the movie and the scores were played live by the Boston Pops. It was a fantastic way to appreciate such a fun and whimsical movie.

This year is the 50th anniversary of the Wizard of Oz movie, so this special event celebrated Judy Garland and her famous red shoes. Although in the books her shoes were actually silver. The movie producers decided to make them red because of Technicolor and they wanted them to stand out. Another fun fact, I just got to see the original ruby slippers from the movie at the Smithsonian last month!

The Pops will perform with the Wizard of Oz again in August at Tanglewood.

Cirque de la Symphonie

Last week I returned again to the Symphony Hall for another out-of-the-box musical performance – Cirque de la Symphonie.

They specialize in performing with symphonies all over the world. It was simply amazing! Gymnasts, acrobats, magicians, and illusionists performed on stage along with the symphony. It was the classiest circus I’ve ever attended.


image source

Pops on Nantucket

Another one of my favorite ways to listen to the Boston Pops, is on the beaches of Nantucket. The Pops perform on Nantucket once the summer and it’s a very fun way to enjoy the summer evening picnic on the water. We still talk about it to this day as one of our favorite summer memories! The Pops play on Nantucket on August 9th, plan accordingly!

 

The Boston Symphony Orchestra plays regularly over the summer at Tanglewood, a beautiful outdoor amphitheater in Western Massachusetts.

See the summer event schedule here.

Have you seen the Boston Pops? Are you able to play any musical instruments?

Any summer musical event you recommend for me? Always looking for more ways to have fun!

Laying the Deck (With Sir Kreg Jig)

Let’s have a round of applause for rising temperatures and the arrival of spring!

We christened the deck with grilled burgers and a delicious dinner – which brings to mind that I haven’t posted on the deck in a while. Last I left of it looked like this:

Laying Down Decking with a Kreg Deck Jig - DesignLively

This project was a big undertaking. Normally, laying down decking can be finished in a weekend. True to form, we decided to choose the most complicated way all for the sake of aesthetics.

Naturally.

We worked for many weekends until, literally, the snowfall stopped us – so there was never a chance to take an “after” picture until now.

Laying Down Decking with a Kreg Deck Jig - DesignLively

This is not a tutorial post – there are way too many steps and I wouldn’t even know where to begin. It all started with the proper tools, as many projects do. We used the Kreg Deck Jig. The tool comes with a DVD on how to use it. Basically, it’s a tool that guides the angle of the drill to create the look of invisible screws.

But let’s go back to the beginning.

Laying Down Decking with a Kreg Deck Jig - DesignLively

The Decking

We purchased Veranda composite decking from Home Depot in Nantucket Gray. Composite decking is more expensive than wood, but more durable, less maintenance (no sealing needed!) and will save money over time.

It should be noted that the color will fade within the first year, so you should make sure you like the color it fades to.

Laying Down Decking with a Kreg Deck Jig - DesignLively

And also be prepared for all your grass in the front yard to die. 😉

The composite boards are heavy. So heavy that you need two people to lift it – otherwise it may crack in the middle due to the weight. Laying Down Decking with a Kreg Deck Jig - DesignLivelyWe put down plywood boards as we worked our way across the deck, as our deck is one story off of the ground. I did not like walking across those rickety boards – that’s for sure.

The Kreg Deck Jig

The Kreg Deck Jig process was time-consuming, but fairly straight-forward once you got the hang of it. As I said before, this is not a tutorial, but merely a brief overview if you are interested in DIYing your deck.

Laying Down Decking with a Kreg Deck Jig - DesignLively

The spacers are very helpful. they show you how far to space the boards for expansion and drainage. But most importantly, they keep the boards parallel  to one another at equal distances. If you start to get crooked, you’ll notice and it’s not a good thing.

The spacers shown above are 1/4″, Kreg also includes 5/16″ for pressure treated wood since it expands more than composite. The kit (as shown above) only comes with 3 red spacers (1/4″ ) and 3 blue spacers. (5/16″). Three spacers won’t get you very far on 16 foot runs, so we bought a dozen extra spacers from Amazon. I highly recommend buying yourself some more spacers.

Laying Down Decking with a Kreg Deck Jig - DesignLively

Here is the handy blue box! Your new best friend! The Kreg Deck Jig.

Centered over every joist, you will pre-drill and drill a screw into each joist, on both sides of the board.

My job was pre-drilling the holes. The drill can be set to a certain depth, so it’s easy and there are no questions asked. If this girl can do it, anyone can. (Although I admit, I was nervous at first. I only made a mistake once!)

Laying Down Decking with a Kreg Deck Jig - DesignLivelyUsing our feet and hands, we pushed the deck board in towards the spacers as well as we could, especially when setting the first several screws in. You’ll want to make sure it’s tight to the spacers to ensure a straight line.

The deck boards took us quite a number of weekends. In all honesty – it took up at least a month of our weekends. But DIYing the deck saved us a pretty penny, and it was actually fun.

Random Recommendations:

  • It’s helpful to have two drills. Since you are constantly pre-drilling and drilling, you having to swap out the bit every time would be painful and slow you down a lot.
  • Use an impact driver as the drill for driving the screw. You will have a lot more control and no stripping of the screws.
  • Buy an extra kreg drill bit and extra driver.

 

Laying Down Decking with a Kreg Deck Jig - DesignLivelyOnce we finished the decking (yahoo!!), we moved on to the railings.

The railings were pretty straightforward. We used the Veranda ArmorGuard Composite Railing in white. The post jacket will slide right over the wooden post.

Next we needed to decide how high we wanted our railing to be. Each town or county may have legal requirements on the height – especially if you are not on ground level like ours is.

Laying Down Decking with a Kreg Deck Jig - DesignLively

There are a number of railing specifications we needed to decide on:

  • How high do we want the handrail?
  • How much taller than the top railing do we want the post cap to sit?
  • How much space do we want between the bottom rail and the decking?

Laying Down Decking with a Kreg Deck Jig - DesignLively

We made our decisions 50% on personal preference, and 50% based on standard measurements provided from a quick Google search. After we measured and marked – on both the wooden post and the post jacket, it was time to slice away!

As always, measure twice, cut once.

Laying Down Decking with a Kreg Deck Jig - DesignLively(Notice our lovely yard from the pipe and excavation adventure we had last fall.)

Laying Down Decking with a Kreg Deck Jig - DesignLivelyNext we attached the lower railings (with brackets) and cut the bottom middle spacer.

The nice part about these railings is that the balusters were pre-cut and spaced, so we only needed to pop the balusters right in! Next we attached the handrail to the post with the brackets.

Laying Down Decking with a Kreg Deck Jig - DesignLivelyWell lookie here, the light is at the end of the tunnel!

Laying Down Decking with a Kreg Deck Jig - DesignLively

We still have a bit of work left to do. All the trim boards (which will be white) need to be attached. And, you may have noticed that we have no back staircase yet!

Laying Down Decking with a Kreg Deck Jig - DesignLively

Soon we will have a concrete based poured (at the base of the patio) and then the structure can be built. Our GC will come back and build the structure, and we will do all the finishing work.

And about that patio….

Well, that’s just another story for another day.

🙂

I’m in the market for some type of deck furniture to store my potted herbs on. What do you keep on your deck?

Our Bath Renovation: Pulling Together the Pieces

I am very excited for our upstairs bathroom to be out-of-order! After much deliberation, we decided to hire-out for some key parts of the bathroom renovation. In the end it came down to two main reasons:

1. We both work full-time, and DIYing would mean we would be out of a shower (and weekends) for a long, long time.

2. We are moving a wall and reconfiguring two closets, and our walls are plaster, not drywall. Best to bring in the experts. (Plaster is seriously an art form. I watched them work in our family room and it’s amazing!)

We will DIY the shower and floor tile (which I am very excited to learn),  install board and batten, as well as the normal painting and finishing trim work.

You saw my inspiration board here, and now here is a Photoshopped rendering (can you tell I am a visual learner?) of what look we are going for.

bathroom

In the mean time, we have been doing a lot of research (mostly Moose), shopping, and a LOT of time talking to sales associates. Here’s what we’ve gotten off the list so far:

Bathroom Materials

Faucets and showerheads are always going on clearance at Home Depot and Lowe’s. We check constantly until we find one that we like! We got our sink faucets for more than 50% the original price!

There is a Kohler showroom in Natick, MA where you can see their whole line of bath equipment. Because we ordered our sinks and tub through them, they shipped it to our house for free! (Don’t even get me started about helping carry that 400 lb. cast iron bathtub up the stairs though.)

The people at The Tile Shop are AMAZINGLY helpful. We waited for a sale and managed to get all of our tile for 20% off. They also have free classes every Saturday morning for those looking to DIY tile. My parents also recently DIYed their bathroom, and we split the cost of a tile-saw with them.

We still have to pick out our sconces, the mirrors, wall color, and, most importantly, our vanity/granite slab.

This past week we have been vanity hunting – if you are in the Boston area there are several great places: Frank Webb’s, Ferguson’s and Splash, and the custom cabinetry department at Lowe’s. We also went to New England Supply, but it was the least helpful. We saw a lot of great options are very close to finally getting that checked off the list as well!

In more exciting news…. who is ready to see the new Muppet’s movie that comes out next week!?!? Only me?? (Probably!)