Minor Updates Can Make a Big Difference

So much going on these past few days that it doesn’t seem that I’ve had time to do anything but work. Which is ironic, since today was my last day at my current contract position. I work in IT and very often do between 3 months and a year’s worth of work for a company and then just be done. It can be tough sometimes, just about the time I feel comfortable in the commute and start to really make some friends, it’s time to move on. I think the worst part is the looking for the next contract, which is almost constant, and I am getting to the point where I think I might like to settle into a company and stay a while.

Anyway, enough about that. Been just doing some long neglected chores around the house. The first was to re-caulk the floor tile in my master bedroom. When we first bought the house – new, almost ten years ago – there were a few things that I didn’t like and knew would have to be changed. This is in sharp contrast to the fact that I fell in LOVE with this house almost immediately and changed – or wanted to change – very little.

But the master bedroom bathroom was one thing that I had to change. Apart from the size and layout, almost everything else I disliked. From the builder grade fixtures and cabinets to the blah color of the walls and tile, this was a room that would require change. The very first thing was the fact that the main area of the bathroom was carpeted. CARPETED. Like you would have to step out of the shower or bath tub onto CARPET carpeted. Who does that? Want to talk about the perfect environment for mold and mildew? Carpet in the bathroom. Gah.

Unfortunately, find tile to match what was already in there was going to be tough. This is one time I almost wished they would have used white tile, at least finding something to match would have been easy. I still have about 15 samples of tile colors that I hoped would match but didn’t. I really wanted to rip everything out and start the whole thing over, but we did just buy the house and had already spent big bucks changing the layout of the dining room into the home office (I still need to write a blog about that), adding a new decks leading out the new french doors from the master bedroom and finishing the entire basement (nearly 1500 square feet), not to mention that everything in the bathroom was brand new. Seemed really tough to just rip all that out and throw it away.

So, I endured and finally stumbled onto a tile – being discounted and discontinued – that matched almost perfectly. I had done a fair amount of tiling in my other house in California and felt comfortable with this small area, so I ripped out the carpet and laid the tile. And since the tile was priced so right, that we bought enough for an area of the basement that would benefit from a nonporous surface.

Something wasn’t right though, and before long the grout started cracking. Kept getting worse, until I got fed up and removed it all and replaced it with caulking. Much more flexible and seemed to stay white longer. But over time, and this time more like 5 years, it did peel in a few places and wear. And it was getting dirty looking. So, all of it was scraped out and once again replaced. Only this time, it was done mostly by The Kid, since my knees don’t do so well with the arthritis.

DSCN2193But it is back to looking shiny and new again, so I can stand to look at it again. Until I get to the point where I get so fed up with it that I start ripping it out myself. That might be a while though, as I want a whole new look with subway tiles and a clawfoot tub and some beautiful old vanity to use as a cabinet. I have some wonderful ideas, but now with the contract ended, it is time to reign in the spending for a while.

DSCN2192The other thing that has driven me a little nuts was the kitchen sink. Actually, the upstairs bathtub (in The Kid’s bathroom) too. You see, they are not cast iron, but those fiberglass or plastic pieces. I am sure they are cheaper, easier to install since they are so light and initially they are pretty nice looking. But my experience is that they don’t stay nice looking long… especially if you use chemical cleaners and scrubbing pads to clean them. It seems like you take off the nice, white top layer and then it takes way too much effort to keep it looking clean. It is a little difficult to really see what I am talking about, but here is a photo of the old sink:

 

DSCN2182When it came to the kitchen sink, it was used so much that it didn’t take long for it to start looking dingy. I really wanted a farmhouse sink, but that would have taken some cabinet modification as well as counter top change. It is my intention to install new counters, but again, what I have in mind is just a little too expensive right now.

An avid Craigslist watcher, about six weeks ago I saw a cast iron sink listed – for free. I called up The Kid and had him go over and pick it up. Initially, I was thinking I’d snag it for the sink I wanted to put in the garage, but after cleaning it up, I realized that this particular sink was flawless. No porcelain chips, no stains or rust… it was incredible.

DSCN2196So, it was slated for the kitchen. Actually just a couple of weeks later, I picked up another sink, this time with a steel cabinet that will be perfect for the garage.

Well, I finally got husband and The Kid to install the sink. There are times, like this, that it is an advantage to be married to a plumber. :-)

DSCN2195It might not seem like much, but to me, it is like night and day to me. It just gleams! I think it is just beautiful. The downside? Now every flaw that I used to be able to overlook is now front and center when I walk into the kitchen. Its that old conundrum that once you start updating something, everything next to it needs it now. I suppose that now that we’re approaching the ten year mark, things are in need of updating and changing. I have a mental list going… the house needs painting, I want to replace the two decks with a single, wider deck and a new staircase, kitchen cabinets need replaced or refaced and I want new counters. I hear this knocking from the washer and I am just holding my breath that the heating and A/C unit holds out another year or so. But first, gotta get back to work.

julie

 

The Finish Line is Within Sight!

So me and The Kid have been putting some real effort into finishing this dollhouse and we’re getting very close. I am hoping to have the bulk of it done by the end of the weekend. I am so ready for this project to be done and over with… and I can get my entry way back!

So, updates: The floors have been done in the bathroom and the bedroom. Laid 2″ square tiles in the bathroom and then grouted with caulk. Because the house still needs to be delivered and therefore undergo some critical traveling, I didn’t want the grout to break or crack so thought that the caulk would be a much better solution. DSCN1853Here is a quick shot of the tile installed. I used Liquid Nails to adhere it, not standard practice for the installation of tile but a good solid decision based on the size of the room and the number of tiles.

DSCN1855Here is the floor with the caulk ‘grout’. I am really liking the clean look of the tile.

DSCN1857Here it is with the baseboard trimming. Isn’t this sweet? And The Kid did a great job of making a door transition and gluing and then grouting the space between the bathroom and the bedroom.

DSCN1858A little bit of clean up to do and it is ready to be staged. You can see in this photo that the floor has been stained (two coats) and then polyurethaned (two coats) and the trim also installed. It, too, is ready for furniture!

DSCN1836You may recall that I started work on the love seats, I wanted to show you how I applied 1″ foam to the pieces to get ready for upholstery. One piece wraps up from the seat and over, all the way to the bottom. A couple of staples and lots of glue, a few clips to hold it in place while it dries.

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Next, I wrapped both arms with the same foam. This time I used clamps in addition to the staples, clips and glue to hold things together until they dried.

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Both loveseats got similar treatments with the foam on the front (forgot the photos). But they have been relocated to my sewing room for the upholstery work. Probably won’t get to them until we finish the work on the house and its ready to be furnished. Additional photos promised.

DSCN1850This is the side and back view of the third floor. Slowly this piece is coming along. You can see that I am toying with ideas for how to “roof” the angled pieces, and at this point, have not settled on a solution.

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I stumbled across the most wonderful little piece of furniture. It actually had three small photo albums in it, but it is going to be transformed into a fireplace. Which means, at some point, I need to scout “fire wood” for it. I also need to figure out how to put floor moulding with the tricky angles, but The Kid thinks he has a way. Ah, I love that Kid!

I won some glassware at a local auction, in additional to a 12 foot x 30″ purple counter top (all for the grand sum of $15!) that I have plans for. But… like I have said many times, no new projects started until this doll house is completed. Now that I have this quick update written, I am going to go work on the kitchen’s lower cabinets and get them ready for installation. Once that happens, then I can do the tile countertops, get the sink installed and complete the trim around the edges. Then its just a matter of details! I can see the finish line!

Once this has been done, it is going up for sale. If you are in the market for a custom doll house, watch this space. I have been thinking about the logistics of getting this shipped or (my choice) delivered, I know that whoever is the recipient of this gift is just going to love it. And just in time for Christmas!

Okay, thanks for stopping by and for following my progress. Remember to keep making beautiful things for the sake of beautiful things! And of course, I’d love to hear any ideas you might have for finishing touches!

Thanks again!

julie

Bathroom Makeover – A Trip Down Memory Lane

I have about a half dozen projects in progress, but nothing completed. I have been going through photos and ran across a project that I did for my son in our house in California. the house was new when we moved in (and was my first place as a homeowner) and it was pretty “builder” standard. As a new homeowner and a new mom – the Kid was not quite a year old – I had a lot of expenses and had no idea where to start in decorating my new place. My son’s nursery was just transferred from our old house since I had spent a lot of time and effort on planning it – it was crayola themed. I’ll add photos here soon.

It always seemed easy to decorate for the Kid, so I decided to do something for the Kid’s bathroom. The house allowed for him to have his own bathroom, so I was able to decorate it specifically for him. I went wild with the Winnie the Pooh theme. On every wall and even the ceiling was something Pooh themed. It didn’t require a new paint color for the walls or new flooring or lighting, just a shower curtain, towels and wall decals.DSCN0772

 

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DSCN0781This is the ceiling! I told you, Pooh every where!

It worked for a while… but then the Kid started to get older and I grew tired of the theme. I had started to decorate other areas of the house, painting and building and tiling and I thought it was time to do a makeover to this room. I knew it was destined when I came across a cast iron tub with a left hand spout (which is how his bathroom was setup) on sale for $50! It was a $900 tub for $50! You tell me if this is destiny or what?

So, I ripped the bathroom out down to the studs. The bathroom had one of those all-in-one fiberglass tub things and I don’t know about you, but I really dislike them. They are cheap and at first, they look nice, but you can’t scrub them without removing the top layer and they don’t stay looking clean and new for very long. I would happily replace every tub in my house with cast iron – even better, cast iron claw-foot tub. But I digress.

So, I had started quilting a few years earlier and had run across this playful underwater, sea-type pattern that I thought would translate well into a tile pattern. So I set about collecting the necessary tiles in all the colors. This turned out to be so much fun. It took two days to cut all of the tiles, over 1,000 of them in 17 colors. I laid them out on the garage floor and moved them into the bathroom in 2′ x 2′ squares to apply it to the wall. I had so much fun just working on it… took a few days off from work and over a couple of weekends completed it and grouted it. Used black glass ceramic circles for the eyes and had the insets for the bathtub for shampoo and soap. I bought a child sized toilet so that it would be easier to potty train the Kid when the time came. I also laid a new floor and in hind sight wished I had chosen a different tile. I wanted to make it seem that when you were in the bathroom, you were underwater and looking up at the sky… so the ceiling was painted a light blue and I installed a light fixture that looked like the sun. I wished that I had laid a tile that looked like sand or the bottom of the sea.

It all turned out so wonderfully. I had planned to place a half a sheet of glass with a custom edge to look like a wave for a shower deflector instead of a shower curtain but as it turned out, I made the decision to move from California and the house and didn’t have a chance to buy and install it. I think that the Kid had a chance to take one bath before we accepted an offer and sold the house.

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I put so much heart and work into that design that I didn’t have the heart to try and reproduce it in our new home. I based his new bathroom off a painting that the Kid did in fourth grade which just happened to be of fish in an underwater setting, but I think it might have been coincidence. I’ll have to take some photos and post them.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoyed seeing my walk down memory lane… and my stab at bathroom decorating!

Keep crafting y’all!

julie

Playing ‘Catch up’!

It seems that the big projects always get the attention here. So, while we’re still in the midst of the big project of redecorating the Kid’s room, I thought I’d throw up a few of the smaller projects that have been skipped in the past month or so.

First up is this gorgeous rocker. I had originally picked this up thinking it would be great for my mom, so on nice days she could sit on her patio and enjoy the sunshine. Unfortunately, she didn’t love it as much as I did. :-(

I picked it up from the local Goodwill store and I couldn’t believe what awesome condition it was in. The seat and arms were a bit worn – this was obviously a piece that had been loved and used in the past – so structurally I didn’t have to do anything to it, but a bit of sanding and painting. I chose to do this with spray paint to get a nice, smooth finish and I used this dark blue/navy color. It was a pretty straight forward project although the dark paint required several/many coats of paint to get a nice even coverage.

Up next, is a small night stand. If you recall, I did a gray ombré dresser and sold it to a young man who after a couple of tries at getting furniture that he loved, finally settled on the piece I restored.

When we delivered it, he mentioned that he would be interested in a night stand if I had one. I told him I would keep an eye out for a piece. Well, I did find one and here it is completed (again, I forgot to take a ‘before’ photo):

I am constantly amazed by what a good paint job can do to a piece of “trash”. I live and die by the statement that one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.

On to another quick project, repainted a round mirror. It could be used to accentuate either of the gray ombré dressers or would work on its own.

One more to share with you. This one was pretty challenging with the spindles and curves of the chairs. Here is the before picture:

There is just something about this black paint that we’ve chosen for the Kid’s room. “Deep Space” black, Behr paints from Home Depot. I really wanted to try something unique on the table, by routing out the center of the table just deep enough to accommodate some glass tile. I was hoping to do something in shades of grey or perhaps white and blue and then paint the table top and chairs to match. Here are some tiles that I am considering:

But before I started working on the really nice table I purchased for this special treatment, I wanted to see how the paint would turn out. So, on with about six coats of my favorite black paint. It is really a pain to have to alternate positions of the chairs to be able to get every nook and cranny painted, especially when using a roller! I will probably work hard to avoid using roll on paint again and opt for spray paint for this type of application in the future.

Here is the final result:

I actually had one matching chair and one more that was very close to the same style. You really have to look close to noticed the difference.

And for your convenience, here is a ‘Before & After’ photo:

Today is Thanksgiving Day and I just wanted to take a moment to wish everyone a wonderful holiday and weekend. As one who wasn’t overly obsessed with holidays, the Kid and I are simply using the day to kick back and do some of our favorite things. And our dinner selection is our three cheese lasagna. It is made with ground turkey, so it sorta works out. :-)

So wishing everyone their version of a perfect Thanksgiving! And happy crafting y’all!

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