Tag Archives: 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!

 

My DIY Powder Room

Continuing my efforts of blog organization here is a before and “current” post for our powder room that will now be found under the “DIY Home” link in the navigation bar. Some pictures you will have seen before – others will be new! Enjoy!

Our DIY Powder Room

The powder room was our first gut-and-overhaul project. Coming in at only 12 square feet, it’s a small space. The original layout didn’t help at all – a pointless radiator took up too much floor space and crowded the rest of the bathroom to one corner. And that extended countertop you see? If you sat down the countertop was jutting into your back and your elbow was nudged up against the sink! Not to mention that beautiful access panel on the wall.

This room is so small it’s hard to get very good pictures, so the straight on view is the best you’re gonna get! You probably can’t tell from the photo, but that was the world’s tiniest sink! It’s not a standard depth (old house) and the faucet was in the corner. You could hardly get both hands in sink to wash them.

The entire room was completely gutted and we started from scratch.

The old floor was fake hardwood. We replaced it with a 2″ tile.

IMG_4552

DIY Powder Room Project Posts

Projects to Come:

  • Replace window trim
  • Install and paint quarter round shoe molding
  • Install window treatment / shutter
  • Seal tile floor

DIY Home: 5 Things I Wish I Knew Before We Bought a Fixer-Upper

5 things to know before you buy a fixer-upper - DesignLively

We are on our third year of renovating our 1940s New England Colonial fixer-upper and have learned quite a bit along the way.

From the likes of this blog you would think all we’ve been doing is gallivanting around all summer swimming at the beach and eating ice cream! Such is the impression of the internet – the truth is we’ve been doing a LOT of work lately. Hopefully I’ll get to posting about it someday soon.

The first year we were wide-eyed and naive newlyweds attacking each project with gusto. The second year we were weary and sprouting gray hairs. In our third year we’ve started to plan our exit plan. As in, renovation wrap up. We’re hoping sometime in year 4 will turn into regular house maintenance projects for us. (Could that possibly be the dim light of a normal life at the end of this tunnel?)

I hope it doesn’t sound like I am whining, I love our house and we are extremely blessed in this home. : ) It has, however, been a lot of work and these are some thoughts I’d like to share with the rest of you who are considering it!)

Here’s a list of what I wish I knew before we bought a fixer-upper.

(and a few photos displaying the crazy adventure we’ve taken!)

5 things to know before you buy a fixer-upper - DesignLively

1. Old houses are… OLD

Living in Boston, where there are plenty of properties dating back to the 1800s, owning a 1940s house hardly sounds decrepit. But let me tell you, it’s certainly old enough.

The problem with old houses is, well, they’re old. The house has long-settled, so none of your rooms are square. The house was built when standardization didn’t exist, so you have to custom-fashion your dry-wall so it’s the same depth as the rest of your house. Old pipes, old wires, old plaster… all waiting just for you!

5 things to know before you buy a fixer-upper - DesignLively

2. Everything takes longer and is more expensive that you think. No, Seriously.

As two over-eager and frugal minded people, I expected we were above the curve on this general expectation regarding renovations. I remember when I’d watch Flip That House and smugly thinking we would manage a renovation budget unlike some of those yahoos.

Wrong.

It takes longer because suddenly your permit was rejected, Home Depot won’t have the item you need in-store for another two weeks, the weather has been too humid for X project. It’s more expensive because your house is built on-top of granite and you need to hire rock-demolitioners to destroy your front yard so you can run a wire.

Unless you take out a construction loan, you’ll need the means to make it happen. Make sure you have the resources to finish a project before you start.

5 things to know before you buy a fixer-upper - DesignLively

3. Your passion for DIY comes and goes in waves

Plain and simple: sometimes it’s fun, sometimes it’s not.

You must persevere and accept. Otherwise you’ll live in an eternal construction zone. Picking out paint colors and hardware? that’s fun and over in about .02 seconds.

Ripping out drywall and insulation at 2am because you’re on a deadline? That’s about just as fun as it sounds.

5 things to know before you buy a fixer-upper - DesignLively

4. Flexibility is the Key to Success

That’s a motto I learned on a missions trip back in my freshman year of high school and I repeat it to myself often. DIYing means putting up with a lot. We lived without a fridge for a month, and then lived with it smack dab in the middle of our kitchen for another 3 months.

I can fall asleep to the sound of power tools.

While it’s easy to dream and scheme, you will learn that some things just can’t be changed. That wall you wanted to remove for your “open-floor plan” might just be load-bearing. Your floor joists run East to West so your toilet can only go one of two places.

5 things to know before you buy a fixer-upper - DesignLively

5. Goodbye Relaxing Weekends

Unless you’re an heiress with a penchant for power tools, it’s pretty likely that you have a job. You need a way to pay for all those power tools, right? That means all our projects either have to happen on weeknights at 8pm, when I’d rather put my feet up and watch a re-run of The Office, or on a sunny Saturday when I’d rather skip down to the beach. Oh yeah, and normal life obligations like laundry, groceries, socialization and errands are still going on too.

Lots of people will tell you how they also have a fixer-upper and have had to “paint and put new lights in every room.” And inside your head you will laugh wickedly.

5B. You are giving your husband the excuse to buy every power tool under the sun. Consider yourself warned.

Don’t let a DIY house scare you away – there are also MANY PERKS, but sometimes I wish I really understood these things before we were ankle-deep in plaster dust.

We’re on year three of this house – and we definitely thought we’d be done by now. But, we’ve also been able to do a lot more than we ever thought we’d be able to. Pros and cons.

Are you DIYing your house? What’s your favorite, and least favorite, parts? Have you ever wanted to?

DIY Tutorial: Refinishing a Painted Dresser and How to Pre-Stain Wood

DIY Tutorial: Refinishing a Painted Dresser and How to Pre-Stain Wood

As I’ve slowly been dabbling in the world of furniture rehab the last year, I’ve learned quite a bit. Namely, that restoring wood furniture takes time and patience. I understand why people choose to go the painted furniture route because, frankly, it’s a lot easier!

A few weeks ago I revealed that I had finally finished DIYing my mom’s childhood bedroom dresser.

DIY Tutorial: Refinishing a Painted Dresser and How to Pre-Stain Wood

It’s been a beast to get it done. Nonetheless, I definitely don’t regret this DIY dresser project!

I shared a few months ago the dresser and how I stripped it of its (many layers) of paint.

DIY Tutorial: Refinishing a Painted Dresser and How to Pre-Stain Wood

DIY Tutorial: Refinishing a Painted Dresser and How to Pre-Stain Wood

DIY Tutorial: Refinishing a Painted Dresser and How to Pre-Stain Wood

Read about my sanding process here.

After that, I spent a boatload of time sanding. Usually I just use a palm sander (starting with rough grit paper up to very fine).

But the gouges in the surface of this dresser were so deep I needed to use our belt sander. (And as you can see by the photo below I needed a bit of assistance using it. I was a little Lucille-Ball-esque letting it carry me away with it!)

DIY Tutorial: Refinishing a Painted Dresser and How to Pre-Stain Wood

DIY Tutorial: Refinishing a Painted Dresser and How to Pre-Stain Wood

DIY Tutorial: Refinishing a Painted Dresser and How to Pre-Stain Wood

It was well worth all the effort of sanding though – it now has a nice new surface!

It goes well with the other DIY dresser I have refinished!

DIY Tutorial: Refinishing a Painted Dresser and How to Pre-Stain Wood

This time around I did use one new method: pre-staining.

Why Pre-Stain?

Pre-Stain is typically used on raw or soft wood materials. The pre-stain helps to prepare the wood so the stain will soak in more evenly – preventing blotches and streaks.

How to Use Pre-Stain:

Using pre-stain is simple. Going forward, I would definitely use it on any furniture staining projects I have, just to make the final color that much richer.

I used Minwax Pre-Stain conditioner. A large can will run you about $10, but will last you forever! After you have finished all your sanding, brush on the pre-stain with a foam brush just like stain, and let it sit for 5-15 minutes. Then just wipe off any excess.

You will want to stain your piece within 2 hours from pre-staining it for the best absorption.

Read how I stain and polyurethane here.

This dresser was stained with Minwax Special Walnut stain and topped with Cabot Semi-Gloss Fast Drying Polyurethane. I always use foam brushes when applying stain or poly, and just a friendly reminder – DON’T SHAKE THE POLY! Stir it gently! Otherwise the air bubbles will dry and your dresser will feel like you spilled PopRox on it.

DIY Tutorial: Refinishing a Painted Dresser and How to Pre-Stain Wood

Dresser Hardware

For the hardware,  I chose with mercury glass knobs. I found a 4-pack in HomeGoods for $8.00! You can find the same ones on Amazon ($12 for 2) or let yourself be seduced by the glitz of Anthropologie and get ripped off for $8.00 a pop for the exact same knobs!

For the top drawers I found smaller mercury glass knobs at Target for a whopping $20 for set of 4. I couldn’t find smaller knobs like them anywhere so I bought them. And they are perfect!

For the keyholes, I gently pried out the old metal inserts with a screwdriver. I’ve seen replacements online for $2/each, and may add those at a later point.

That brings my grand total for this DIY dresser makeover to about $45. (Pre-Stain – $10, Hardware: $28, Sandpaper: ~$5)

While this project took me ages to finish, I’m so happy I kept at it! It was totally worth it!

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Thanks for stopping by! : ) Kat

I’m linking this project up to one of my favorite furniture rehab gurus – Miss Mustard Seed’s Friday Furniture link party.