Monday, April 28, 2014

Basement: Tiling the Laundry Room

Let me just say, I am no tiling expert. I do what I can and that saves hundreds of dollars when it comes to tile installation. We opted to take care of the laundry room floor on our own to help save some money on this renovation. You can read about my very basic laundry room plan here.

I started off by scrubbing the floor *really* well. It was nice to have a contractor floating around to ask what he would do (he even offered up a tile saw or any other tools we needed). Because of the lovely paint on the floor, he recommended using an acid wash to clean it and to remove anything loose. I read a lot of conflicting things on the internet about paint on cement... I am hoping that because its fairly low traffic, it won't be an issue. But besides the paint, the floor was extremely dirty and covered with drywall goop and dust.

Having the floor drain right there turned out to be nice because I was able to rinse everything but just dumping buckets of water out on the floor and pushing it down to the drain.

Then I did a basic dry fit to see where things would end up. The contractor helped me lay down a straight chalk line around the middle of the room to help keep things straight. I wanted to not have to cut too much... and everything ended up fitting really well.

We mixed up our mortar and I just went for it. I got from the far wall to the end of the cabinets in under two hours. I had to stop and clean up at that point because we had planned to spend some time with some friends.

The rest of the tiling the next day took much, much longer. Laying down full sheets went fast but under the washer and dryer area didn't fit full sheets, so I had to cut them apart and lay down individual tiles at points. Then there was also the matter of the drain. I had Bill snip tiles by hand and fit them around the drain. We still need to address the drain area, maybe at some sort of edging and even get a new drain cover that isn't so beat up and rusty.

BTW, that pipe sticking out of the ground will be cut down by the plumber when he's back to do the sink. It will have a "cap" that doesn't stick up too far, so that we'll be able to push the washing machine up to the wall.

You can kind of see how the floor dips a lot around that drain above. Going with these tiles seriously saved my sanity. If I had gone with larger tiles, I would have had to make a million cuts to make that work.

The next day I grouted. Bill helped following behind me to do the first wipe down. This was the first time I've ever worked with dark grout, so it was surprising to see how much more we had to clean the tiles of grout residue. We did the recommended second wipe down 2 hours later, which still left a lot of haze.

During grouting. I grouted while Bill followed behind me for the first wipe about 20 minutes after I applied it.

Finished grouting with first full wipe down.

After the second wipe down more than 2 hours later.

The next day I scrubbed the floor a couple more times before I finally sealed it.That's probably the easiest part. All you do is follow the directions on the bottle...

I believe that was technically before I sealed it. The contractor is going to put down quarter round molding to hide the gap between the tile and the baseboard. We need to figure something out for the drain… Suggestions definitely welcome. I was thinking some sort of something to go around the edge of the hole. Possibly a new cover, but everything is plastic now and this one is some sort of metal, so it's nice and heavy. But really, suggestions on that drain would be great!!!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

ThermaTru Doors and Mid Century Lighting

I touched on the new doors a little while back after we had the front door installed. Our contractor wanted to wait on putting in the back door until most things were done in the basement to make sure it didn't get all banged up. Well, doors and lighting are now installed in the font and back of the house! After months, we also have house numbers!!!

For the front of the house, I was inspired by this customer photo that Crestview Doors shared on their Instagram feed in November 2013. I liked the idea of the house numbers set on something that used the door color.

As of now, here is where we are at with the front of the house with the ThermaTru Ari.

The door will be painted as soon as its warm enough to do so on a weekend day where we can leave it open long enough to dry.

With all of the updates, things are looking really great. At the same time, all the things that we have issues with are really loud... We plan on painting the foundation this spring/summer, so that should help a lot. There is also a matter of the cement steps. The most budget friendly thing to do would be to build over them. If anyone out there has some suggestions or photos of fixes, please let me know. Basically, these steps are disintegrating and have already been patched a few times. It's just not worth it to do it again, plus that shows and it doesn't look great.

As of now, here is where we are at the back of the house with the ThermaTru Solei.

It is amazing to finally have light back there, since that is the door we use the most. I also plan to paint the back door the same color as the front.

Beyond looks, having a door that works properly is so wonderful. The old door had somehow warped over time and it was way too tight fitting. It required a lot of effort to open and close the door. Beyond that, the keys we had for the locks had been remade so many times that they had to be in the lock just right to lock and unlock them. I do not miss that...

Item sources:
Doors - ThermaTru Pulse Line
Rugs for both back and front - Ikea TRAMPA Door Mat
Front Door Hardware - Schlage Century Handle Set with Latitude Interior
Back Door Handle - Schlage Latitude Keyed Entry Lever
Back Door Deadbolt - Kwikset SmartCode Electronic Deadbol
Front Light - Eglo Riga Wall-Mount 2-Light Outdoor Cylinder Light Fixture
Back Light -  Eglo Riga Wall-Mount 1-Light Outdoor Cylinder Light Fixture

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Basement: Let there be light!

All of our new light fixtures are in! Along with the switches and outlets! WOO! The electricians came in and finished up everything in one day. While it's exciting to have the fixtures up, it's more exciting to finally have light in a few areas. The bedroom/office had nothing going on, as well as what we're calling the utility room. We (us, contractor, electricians) didn't even notice at first that there were zero lights in the windowless utility room. Oops. Besides getting everything else finished up, they added lights in there. Nothing fancy.

You can get all the details on picking these light fixtures here.

I had the highest hopes for the allen + roth Valencia 12-in W Brushed Nickel Fabric Semi-Flush Mount Ceiling Light for the back entry way light. I am not disappointed. I LOVE IT! I wish it could be in my life more...


That is only ugly door...

Home Depot's Hampton Bay Vortex 5-Light Satin Nickel Track Lighting Kit in the laundry room turned out as expected. Like, but not love. It does really help having more light already and I think it makes me like the paint color more.

I'm hoping that it will work great when everything is situated and I can aim the lighting to where it is needed.

Nothing crazy going on in the main room. They put on the covers...? frames...? I don't know what they are but they look finished now. They also swapped out the miscellaneous assortment of bulbs for ones that are all the same. It is nice and bright. The bulbs they did put in do put off a little bit of warmth, but I think it will be ok because it is fairly cool down there. 

For the bedroom/office, we went with Lowe's Portfolio 17-in W Painted Champagne Ceiling Flush Mount. It was a challenge to capture with it on...

The height of it is perfect. No one will be banging heads on it unless they're jumping on something or they're an NBA basketball player... 

I had been a little worried about the edge of the shade. It was described as string and that's what it is. I actually like it though. This is the only fixture where we didn't stick with a brushed chrome, which I was a little concerned about as well. I think it will work great with the room and as of now, I like it.

You can tell in a couple of the pics that HVAC popped in for the last time too. They installed the weird white covers in the ceiling for the vents and the cold air intake ones elsewhere. They also hooked up and turned on this pump that we now have that pumps the water run off from running the furnace and air conditioner through the ceiling and walls into the fancy new drain for the washing machine.

It's very exciting watching this all come together. It already is crazy that this semi-finished space is in my house! Big things left on the list at this point are paint, flooring, doors, and then just small odds and ends.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Basement: Laundry Room Cabinets

The purpose of actually finishing the laundry room was to make more practical storage for our home. Well, then there is the fact that I am the one that does the laundry and I really just wanted a nice, clean space that I could sort of enjoy while doing the laundry.

Our main storage issues on the main floor of our home are in the kitchen and our bedroom closet. We have exactly 4 cabinets in our kitchen, one that we've added and does not match the others at all. So, we have no real home for things like crock pots and mixers, things that I could probably live without but want and use a fair amount, just not every day. I mostly wanted one big cabinet that I could keep all the things we don't use almost daily.

On the bedroom closet front, our bedroom closet is tiny. We have two bars for hanging, one high and one low. Bill and I both get one and they're both backed full. So, the laundry room tends to be our overflow and the spot that houses the long things that don't fit in our closet because of the double bar situation. I really wanted a big sort of built in wardrobe or cabinet that I could hang up those few dresses I have, Bill's suits, and even our off season coats.

Let's just say, we came up with about 20 different layouts for cabinets and/or wardrobes in the laundry room. Things kept changing in that room, so I kept changing my layout to accommodate what was happening. We decided that Ikea was the way to go in this department. There were lots of options available for us to make things work for us. We could also save money by putting together and installing ourselves. I originally wanted lower cabinets that would accommodate the utility sink and then a big Pax wardrobe for hanging stuff, thinking that shoes could reside in the bottom as well.

To make this already long story that is in reality much, much longer, I'm going to cut to it. Everything was thrown out the window and are down to just focusing on the one wall with the sink for now. We had exactly 6 feet to work with, so we were able to get the 24" wide sink cabinet and the 36" regular cabinet with the high gloss gray Abstrakt doors.

Ikea ended up being really easy, but a pain at the same time. We went on a Saturday and it was crazy busy. The doors for the 36" wide cabinet were out of stock, set to arrive on Monday or Tuesday. We ordered everything else we needed, paid, and went to go pick it up from that area of the store. When we got down there they told us that the counter we had purchased was not available, as in sort of out of stock. They didn't have any in that area, but there were more upstairs, but they couldn't be taken out of that area until that evening when there were no customers in the store. So, we essentially returned the counter top knowing we had to come back for the doors anyway.

That night we put together the cabinets. It was actually really easy, probably more so than some of the other Ikea items we've put together in the past. We did have an issue with the door hinges at first because the directions weren't super clear, but a quick YouTube video search had us all sorted out in about 60 seconds.

We decided to go ahead and hit Ikea when they opened the next morning to grab the counter and miss the crowd. While there was less crowd overall, the kitchen ordering crowd was heavier than the day before. We had to wait awhile to "order" the counter again. We also went ahead and did the toe kick board for below the cabinets (had sort of forgotten about that the day before).

We wanted to make sure we weren't holding anything up and we were hoping that the plumber would be out to put in the sink and finish up in the laundry room on that Monday or Tuesday. Well, we had everything that was absolutely needed ready to go, but let's just say the plumber didn't show up for almost a week.

On Monday morning our contractor actually attached the cabinets to the wall and each others, made sure they were level, and cut & installed the counter top for us. He even had the toe kick board cut to size and snapped on for us. On Bill's lunch break that day, we quickly ran over to Ikea and grabbed those doors that had come in. Poor dude went to Ikea 3 days in a row... It is always insane there, so it's always a slightly stressful trip, even if you're just going to browse.

I'm leaving the film on for now, so they hopefully don't get damaged at all while other things are still happening. I can't wait for everything in this room to come together and hopefully I can figure out the wall opposite of this...

Next up tiling the floor...

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Garage Service Door Hardware.

I mentioned awhile ago when I was talking about new door handles and locks that we purchased similar ones to swap out the handle and deadbolt on the garage service door. It would have been that one spot of shiny brass that kept yelling at me to fix it until I did. So, we bought replacements when we bought the others and waited until it was warm enough to not lose any fingers from the cold while trying to install it.

On a recent Sunday, we hit 60°F! HEAT WAVE!

We definitely have some cleaning up to do... Yikes. That door needs a good scrub... And then there is the construction debris floating around along with leaves and pine needles. Then there is that blue pipe that needs to be painted... Let's just say there will be a lot of painting outside this summer.

While they were still in pretty good shape and not all that horrible looking, it was the last shiny brass knob and deadbolt around and it would have bugged me to leave it.

I think it looks much better. Now to just take care of the yard... yikes!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Basement: New Windows & Paint on the walls.

At last, every single window in this house is new and air leak free! Horay!

They put in the new basement windows and started painting the same day. They got a first coat on almost everything, just not the stairway and part of the family room.

I just flew through quick when I was on my way out the door, so I only got a few shots worth showing...

I went over choosing colors in this recent post.

Up first is the Spearmint Stick in the laundry room. I like, but I'm not sure...

Here is the family room with one of the new windows. The wall straight ahead and to the left have the White Clay color on them. The walls on the left are white primer. I'm hoping that once there is trim up with a stark white that it will show better. I may not every be able to capture it well on camera though.

Here is that window close up. I'm not sure why the walls ended up looking orange... But we have three of these. Two in the family room (one at each end) and one in the laundry room. They are a few inches taller then the previous windows. And the one shown above, we will for sure need to add a window well once it warms up. Below you can see some dirt and snow just outside of it.

 Finally the bedroom/office. The window makes such a huge difference. The image without the egress window shows the room with just primer and the left shows the Silver Drop gray I went with with the egress window. Again, the color is hard to show at the moment, there is also no light fixture, so I had to work with the natural light that was there.

It's not the best view, but that extra light is great!

Up next will probably be trim and things like touch ups before the carpet arrives. Bill and I plan to tile the laundry room ourselves, so we need to squeeze that in somewhere too. We're also going to put in some cabinetry, so we have to get that purchased, assembled, and installed as well.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Junk Bonanza - Spring 2014

Over the weekend, my sister and I hit up the Spring Junk Bonanza! This is the third one we've been to. It was almost the 4th, but with my new nephew and my mom's wedding, we couldn't get to the one in the fall.

While my sister has no problem finding things that fit her style and going for it, I am usually more reserved. So, this was the first time that I ever purchased anything.

Bill and I saw this chemistry set box a couple months ago at one of our favorite vintage shops, but it was $75. I spotted this one, which was a little more beat up for only $23. I knew Bill would be excited to own it, partially because it's awesome and partially because we also found out that Bill's dad also had this as a kid.

For now, this it is sitting on top of the hutch in the living room. It may or may not move once our house is back to a state of normal. 

Sorry this one is a little blurry... but I also snagged this clock. My thoughts are for the kitchen above the stove where there is a plugin for such a clock already. I think everything is original. The lady I purchased it from did say she stripped the paint off the frame portion and it looks really good in person. I even got her to go down a bit on her price.

I should have some more updates on the basement later this week. It's been really stressful... and we've been really busy with everything going on. I think once this is all done, I will have a "I wish I would have known" or "what I would have done differently" post.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Basement: Choosing Lighting

Lighting is one of those things were there are sooo many options in such a huge price range that it can be very difficult to make a decision.

For the inside of our house we needed to choose three new light fixtures. The outside fixtures had been fairly easy because we knew what we wanted. It was more of finding what we knew we wanted and in a price range we were happy with. The fixtures for inside are a whole different story...

We opted to go with recessed lighting in the family room, so there really was no choice to make there. We needed a light fixture for the laundry room and the bedroom though. The ceiling is lower in the bedroom, so we wanted something that Bill wouldn't bang his head on. In the laundry room I was concerned with making sure it was bright enough. Being able to direct multiple lights in different directions would be a plus. For the third one, we needed a fixture for the top of the stairs, just inside the back door. We had that added so that we could have more light, especially at night, for coming and going out the door. For that space, we had to be sure that it would not be in the way of the door.

We looked everywhere for light fixtures... online and in every store locally that carries light fixtures. We didn't really narrow it down to possibilities, but we just did a lot of looking until we found what we thought would work the best.

The first one we found was the for the bedroom. It was "low profile," was a little fun, and definitely didn't look like a boob...

We spotted Lowe's Portfolio 17-in W Painted Champagne Ceiling Flush Mount light online first. Then we tried to track it down in store to see what it looked like. They had them in stock but didn't have any on display, so we just really hoped that the pictures were accurate and we would like it.  |  Portfolio 17-in W Painted Champagne Ceiling Flush Mount

At only 4 inches tall, we knew it wouldn't be at a head bumping height with the slightly lower ceiling. It also helped that it was fairly big, energy star rated, and held 3 bulbs, which would hopefully ensure a decently bright light.

In the same trip we picked up that light, we also found the light for the top of the stairs. We went with the allen + roth Valencia 12-in W Brushed Nickel Fabric Semi-Flush Mount Ceiling Light. I immediately liked it. The shade reminded me of the CB2 arc lamp that we have in the living room and of the light we put in the bedroom that is actually more of a pendant with a double shade, but has the same glass diffuser on the bottom.  |  allen + roth Valencia 12-in W Brushed Nickel Fabric Semi-Flush Mount Ceiling Light
I'm almost giddy about this one. I definitely have high hopes for this one and I kind of can't wait to see it installed. I think that having light in that area finally will also make a huge difference.

We ended up deciding that track lighting, as much as I'm not really a fan, would probably be the best way to go in the laundry room. That way we can make sure there is enough lighting and be able to redirect it as that room evolves... I'm thinking a sewing area might be in order...

We looked everywhere for something that we liked and never really found anything that seemed perfect or that we instantly liked. Home Depot's Hampton Bay Vortex 5-Light Satin Nickel Track Lighting Kit was what we found that looked the best.  |  Hampton Bay Vortex 5-Light Satin Nickel Track Lighting Kit

Now we just have to get them installed. Hopefully they look fantastic...

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Basement: Picking Paint Colors

Paint! Paint! Paint!

I have a love / hate relationship with paint. It depends on the day. Sometimes I know exactly what I want and it turns out exactly how I had hoped. Sometimes I know exactly what I want and it goes horribly wrong. And then of course, there are those times that I have no idea what I want... That's why it took a few different paint jobs in our bedroom to finally get it figured out. I usually like to have a room somewhat figured out before I pick the paint color. It's just how I work, but I don't get to work that way this time.

Having to pick out paint for rooms that I don't really know where they're going yet is hard. So, we decided to just stick with light colors for now. It's a basement with not a ton of natural light, I don't want to make it darker.

We still have all of our old living room items (you can see that here) to put in the family room. So that color palette is what we have to work with, at least for now. In an ideal world, we could afford to get all new stuff for an all new space, but this renovation isn't cheap... We were aiming for off whites or really light tan / beige colors. For the office, I figured gray would be a nice neutral color to build off of. Most of the furniture I have for that room is the black Ikea stuff. For the laundry we had a little more room to do something fun. I thought maybe a mint color would be good.

So, of course we headed over to the Home Depot to grab a ton of paint samples to go through... It was pretty easy to narrow it down to a few swatches for each room right away. Some things were too something... yellow, red, blue, etc.

Family Room

At first we narrowed it down to the these swatches. We still weren't quite sure how light we wanted to go, but the more I thought about it, the more sure I was that I wanted to be light.

Eventually, Behr White Clay won out (top one in the swatch below). My hope is that it is still really light, but will still have just enough color to make the white trim pop. That swatch and my lighting isn't really doing it justice, so hopefully it will show better when it is up on the walls.


Really only one stood out to me, but then it was a matter of the two lighter colors.

I went back and forth between the Irish Mist and the Silver Drop. Behr Silver Drop (middle) won out at the very last second.

Laundry Room

The laundry room mint was narrowed down to these swatches.

It took awhile, but we decided on Behr Spearmint Stick (middle below).

I can't wait to see how it all looks. I'm really hoping we 'chose wisely'...

And yes, it is weird that our dog came with the same name as the paint we use the most...