Tuesday, June 7, 2011

I blinked!

I went to the house last night to see what progress the guys made on Monday, and....

The tub in the guest bathroom is in! They put up cement board around the tub and green board about halfway up the walls--so there's a little more privacy to use the lonely toilet in the master bath. However, they also turned the water off, so please DON'T use the lonely toilet.

They also did something with the drains... apparently they were all full of junk? I don't know.

Thankfully I'm not living in the house--Joe and his crew started at 6 a.m. today. I guess the plan is to get the bathrooms ready for tile TODAY. Holy smokes! I still need to pick out the tile, and then wait for it to come in if it's not in stock, and then... and then they'll finish up the bathrooms. So fast! I can't WAIT.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Tearing down to build back up...

Oooo-eee I have been naughty and lazy about updating! Long story short: I had many contractors come out and give me quotes. Some of the them didn't actually give me quotes until after I chose someone, but! I chose someone!

I took advantage of Lowe's Memorial Day paint sale to save $140 on painting supplies. I still spent $600... and haven't yet purchased paint for 3 bedrooms, either bathroom, or the laundry room. It's insane how quickly the costs add up.

Here are a few of the color choices I tested:

This is the dining room. The paint was still wet here--when it dried, the left sample is a dustier blue, and the right sample is a really light, bright blue. I chose the dusty blue. I'm removing the paneling--which Grandma thinks is really nice, despite the fact that (a) it's not, and (b) it's buckling out from the wall. I'll probably slap up a chair rail.

And now the kitchen choices! By the way, Grandma haaaaates these. "Dark. Dark! So dark! That's really dark. Ew, so dark." I really wanted a charcoal gray, and I chose the bottom sample. The top one was kinda bleh with the light birch cabinets, but the bottom one had some pizazz.

These are the top two choices of the samples I got for the living room. I was worried the top one would be too mustard-y, but the bottom one was too close to baby poo. The paint is still wet in this picture, too--once it dried, there was more of a contrast, and the yellow is even prettier. (I chose the top sample, obvs.)

All ceilings will be a flat white. They're white now, but the paint has some gloss, and it's awful. The trim, doors, and windows will all be the same clean white.

The "fun room" walls will be a medium mushroom-y gray brown, with one accent wall of blue with a touch of green. The hallways will be one shade lighter on the sample strip. At this point, I'm planning on pulling the naaaaasty carpet in the fun room and painting the concrete, rather than putting down laminate and carpet. I ran out of money! So I'll paint the floors a shade darker than the walls, hopefully with a high-gloss finish. Then I plan to pick out some song lyrics that I love and stencil them on the floor, around the room along the edge of the wall. Add the inexpensive but pretty IKEA rug I recently bought, plus some inexpensive carpet-rugs, and that will have to be good enough for now.

The master bedroom will be a light gray, but more of a light dove gray than a brownish-gray, and one accent wall will be a deep, plummy purple. Grandma picked out a light green for her bedroom. From the smudge on top of the can, it looks a little more pastel than I anticipated... so we'll see. Mom still has to pick out a color for her room, but she wants a buttery yellow with brown, sheer curtains.

I may paint the laundry room the blue I did not choose for the dining room. The room gets lot of light, and I think it'd be pretty. I still have to choose paint for the back two bedrooms, too, but I am pondering some ideas. I'm planning to pull the carpets and paint the floors in there for now, too. It's gonna be chilly in the back of the house!

So my contractor, Joe Emmert with Bathrooms by Design, got most of the tear-out done this weekend. Hurrah! But because the dumpster isn't being delivered until today sometime, he had to pile all of the junk in the fun room. Voila:

I may try to salvage the bathroom vanities for the laundry room. Maybe I can slap an inexpensive countertop on them to make a folding table. Yes? Yes.

Here is the guest bathroom, which was already partially torn out. I took the picture from the door. Notice that you can see into the master bath... Using the toilet will be a little tricky for a little while. Peekaboo!

And the master bath, which looks soooo much bigger with the little half wall removed!

I'm really excited about the master bath. It's getting a tiled shower--which is where I was standing when I took this picture--and a glass pivot door and wall and a pretty long vanity with two sinks....

I'm so excited to see some real movement. We've done a lot of cleaning, but it's hard to really see much progress with that, especially when there is still so much to be done. But the back two bedrooms and hallway are nearly ready for paint--I just need to sand one more spackle spot and wipe everything down with a tack cloth, and then paint can go on! Grandma's room is about read for paint, and Mom's is about 3/4 of the way there. I'm hoping to pull the paneling in the dining room (three half walls) and the master bedroom (one whole wall) this weekend and get the walls sanded down. Then I can clean, spackle, sand, and wipe those two rooms, and they'll be ready for paint, too. Mom and Grandma are planning to come down for some good stretches of time, so hopefully the ball will really get rolling now.

I'm packing in the evenings at my apartment.... and I hate packing so. much. Hate.

Oh! Mom talked to the neighbor this weekend, and he found paint cans for the living room and kitchen, which is awesome--there's enough paint for the touch-ups I'll need in the kitchen, and there's a good start for the living room, where I need to re-paint a chocolate brown accent wall. And obviously now I know the formulas, so I can actually get a match on the paint colors. Maybe I'll get that deposit back after all.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Lessons in home ownership/renovation/common sense

I spent about 12 hours at the house today--well, some of that was at lunch and at Lowe's. Whatever.

I learned a few things:

1. Don't dismount a ladder that is near the corner of a windowsill without paying good attention to your surroundings. Take it from me--or from my butt, which now bears an unsightly, oddly shaped bruise--and spare yourself the painful lesson.

2. If you ever need to scrub blood off your textured ceilings, use a spray bottle to spray the ceiling with a TSP mixture before you scrub. I don't know why it took me so long to realize that, but it's GENIUS. I finished the last of the blood today in about 1/5 the time it took me before. Hurrah! Bloodbegone!

3. Drinking beers while you work all day will make you very, very, very sleepy in the afternoon. You might even fall asleep in a chair.

4. I would rather clean someone's blood off the wall than someone's hair from anywhere. Oh man, hair is disgusting.

5. Louvered doors are a fucking bitch to clean. Seriously. Fuck those doors. They can go straight to hell.

6. 93.9 literally, truly, honestly plays the same five songs over and over and over again.

7. I could do without EVER hearing that commercial for the Speedy Beverage Club again. So. So. Bad.

8. I really need a contractor to start working. Like, now. Yesterday. THREE WEEKS AGO.

I also had a really amazing, touching encounter with a dude from Craigslist. (No not THAT DUDE. Hahaaaahahaha.) I hired this guy to pick up a washer and dryer from a friend and deliver it to my place. He charged me $30 (for the 25ish mile one-way trip), and I was planning to give him $10 extra. Then it turned out that my friend added in a patio table and a couple of chairs, and we didn't have any burly help on either end of the trip, so it was just us girls helping the Craigslist guy load/unload the stuff. So, I figured I'd throw in another $10. But then the bank only gave me twenties, so, meh, ok, I'll give him $60. So the guy showed up and was super nice and friendly and helpful. I handed him the cash and thanked him, and he looked at it, and sorta confused, asked, "Do I owe you some change here?" I told him no and thanked him for being so helpful. And he paused for a minute and then said, in a really sincere, totally not obsequious way, "Well, thank you, very much. That's an answer to a prayer. We weren't sure how we were going to make it this week. Thank you." He left just after that, and I went inside and cried. I can't quite verbalize all the reasons why, but it was just really touching. I really appreciated the opportunity to meet and have that encounter with him.

It was a good day today.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Contractor woes, to-do lists, and small victories

As you may remember, I planned to have General Contractor Greg do the remodeling work on my bathrooms. We talked on the phone a few weeks ago, and he said he was in Florida but would be back in a couple days and would call me then. Well, a couple days passed, and he didn't call. On the day after he said he would call, his wife called and said that he'd been really sick in bed, but he asked her to let me know that he hadn't forgotten me and that he'd call me as soon as he got out of bed.

Two weeks later, I still hadn't heard from him. I wasn't sure whether to be worried about him or pissed that he hadn't called me. Plus, I was two weeks behind schedule--I'd hoped to have the bathrooms nearly done at that point! Anyway, I called and left a voicemail for him after two and a half weeks, and I sent him an email, too, because my realtor told me that he thought GC Greg was pretty good about his email. Three days (from the voicemail) passed and I hadn't heard anything, so I got the name of another guy from a partner at work, and I called him.

He responded right away--yay!--and said that he was definitely interested in talking to me about the project and that it sounded right up his alley. BUT.... he also said that his mom had passed away that weekend, so he would need to touch base with me later in the week. I mean, what can you say to that? So I said ok.

And then the next day, GC Greg finally contacted me. Turns out he'd had some melanoma spots return and had to have them removed. But now he's ready to move forward!

So now I'm in a pickle. I guess I'll just get quotes/bids from both guys and go from there. But in the meantime... I STILL DON'T HAVE A CONTRACTOR.


Anyone who knows me well knows that I like to plan things and make lists. Listmaking is soothing... usually. I've never really had a situation where making a good, detailed list didn't immediately make me feel better, where committing my little falling-asleep-oh-no-i-must-remember-to-do-XYZs to paper didn't make me feel more in control and able to figure out the details of whatever project I was wrestling. But this house... I... I'm overwhelmed with lists. Or, at least, there are so many things to do that I just can't think about all of them or I will go crazy. I have to rock some good, old-fashioned Scarlett O'Hara denial just so I can get through the day. And although that makes me feel better, I also worry that I will forget something major. WHAT IF I FORGET TO BUY A STOVE?! (Oh actually I do need to go do that.) WHAT IF I FORGET TO PACK MY APARTMENT UP? WHAT IF I FORGET TO... whatever.

But I generally know that the cleaning has to be done before painting, and painting comes before new flooring, and ripping up existing flooring comes before new flooring, and getting the bathrooms done comes before new flooring, and kitchen drywall comes before painting the kitchen, and kitchen drywall comes before the kitchen's new flooring, and new flooring comes before kitchen install, and... oh man I have a lot to do before July 1.

I will take them where I can get them! I bought a new remote for my garage door opener, because no remote came with the house, and who knows how many there were and who had them. Given the blood-splashing, I don't want to eff around someone maybe still having a remote to my garage and hidden access to my house. So, a new remote!

I crawled up on a ladder to figure out how to make the remote and the opener "talk", opened the cover, and found....

a remote inside the cover. All righty.

Anyway, I managed to get the remote and the opener to "talk" so now I have a working remote! Holla!

Yeah. Like I said, SMALL victories.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Gas line troubles....

I had an insurance walk-through on Monday, during which I opened the exterior furnace closet and noticed that it smelled gassy. I ended up calling the gas company, which sent out a technician right away. He tested a whole bunch of stuff and determined that I had a gas leak somewhere in my house lines... greaaaat. So he turned off the gas.

I called a place that he mentioned--and that's highly rated on Angie's List--and they came out the next day to assess the situation. When they got up in the attic, they pointed out that the addition to the house was essentially built around the second furnace.... so you can't get to some of the fittings unless you, you know, TEAR DOWN THE CEILING AND WALL. Cool. But luckily, they eventually determined that the pipes and fittings were fine, so we didn't need to do that. They re-piped the exterior closet, wrapped the pipe that enters through the brick wall, stuff like that. I didn't really understand it all, but I understand the $625 that I paid them. YEESH. But it needed to be done, and now it's done.

B is town this weekend to help me scrub and pick out paint and what not... she's so wonderful.

So, I still haven't heard back from General Contractor Greg. Either he's realllly sick or I got punked.

Monday, April 25, 2011

And... some "after"

I quickly discovered that washing the ceiling with a rag was not gonna cut it, because the texture tore the rag out of my hands. So I had to switch to a scrub brush... which makes lots of spatters. I protected my eyes reasonably well, but I am just pretending that I did not spend two hours with spatters of old blood and TSP (trisodium phospate) all over my face. LET ME HAVE MY ILLUSIONS.

All geared up to scrub blood off the textured ceiling...

The end result is SO satisfying, though. I have a blood-free ceiling!!!

More "before"

Ok, so continuing from the previous post. Turn around from that beeeeyootiful shower/tub combo, and you see the gorgeous other side of the guest bath. Mmm.. yeah. Oh yeah.

Now step out into the hall, and look up. Oooh... pretty! And they're all through the house, yessss.

Across the hall from the bathroom, to the west: another bedroom. This one will be Grandma's room. The carpet here is salvagable, phew. Dontcha love that lightswitch?

Exciting shot from a little deeper inside the room:

Grams announced that (a) the room doesn't need to be painted, (b) she doesn't want curtains but only wants blinds, aaaaaaaaand (c) she likes these closet doors. Hi!

Ok, moving north down the hallway, again to the west side, is bedroom #4. The carpet was pretty dirty, but it has cleaned up pretty well so far. I need to clean it a couple more times, until the water is coming out a little less squidocaustic.

The closet doors are off-track and busted up.

And there's no door handle! Look how nice and clean that door is. ....Not.

Aaaand here's what happens when you open the windows on a breezy day and one of your doors is doorknobless. Needless to say, there's no assembly left in that hole now. (TWSS.)

Almost every room needs some sort of drywall patch... this is an especially big one.

There's a linen closet at the northernmost end of the hallway. Again, no shelving.

Now to your right (east) is the lovely paneled master bedroom, with its not-hardwired ceiling fan and its boarded-up window. Ooooh, jealous??

These closet doors are also off-track and busted up.

And here's the master bath (the navy walls are a lighting trick). This bathroom is going to be gutted to the studs, too. We're also going to close off an exterior closet that houses a furnace (one of two) and the water heater, insulate the hell out of the closet, and put an interior access door to it in the master bath. The door (to the outside of the house) didn't even have a lock on it before closing. I can't believe the water heater is still there!

The vanity is outdated but doesn't seem to be in terrible shape... until you look inside. Lotsa water damage. Vanities ain't cheap, people!

There's a hole cut into the wall behind the toilet. Someone was nice enough to stash a plastic bag and a water bottle in there for me. Thanks!

Linen/overflow clothes closet in the bathroom:

Tub and shower combo. Apparently I neglected to get a shot of the end of the tub where the lip that's supposed to go behind the shower surround is instead in front of it.

Looking south down the hall towards the kitchen:

Another shot of the wood-burning fireplace in the living room:

There are three windows in the living room, and each one of them has some sort of paper wasp nest(s). We found one guy in action:

(He's dead now.)

At the south end of the living room (which is on the east side of the hallway, not the west, as I said in the previous post), the "before" shot of the carpet grunge:

And a "during" shot:

I've already cleaned this carpet twice (these shots show the first time) and will probably do it at least twice more. The water was still coming out dark brown on the second round. Ew. But it looks decent enough that I'm not going to put laminate down here--I'm going to take that savings and put carpet in the two back bedrooms, which were worse than I remembered and which didn't clean up well.

Oh yeah... speaking of the back bedrooms....

So there was this.

What does it look like to you?

Yeah.... that's what it was.


All over the back hallway wall and ceiling (and on the lightswitch and fuse box), on the wall and carpet in bedroom #1, and on the wall, ceiling, and carpet of bedroom #2. Really, really gross. And sad.

Moving on to more nonsensical things... more black Xs, on every single panel of the inside of the garage door. Ok....

It's not for sale anymore!

Me in front of the house:

So, there's lots (and lots and lots) of work to do, but I'm so excited to keep working and see progress.

Friday, April 22, 2011


Oh, I have so much to say and no energy to say it. I've been thinking nonstop about kitchen purchases (IKEA trip is planned this weekend to take advantage of the 20% off sale--though I need to do some number crunching to see if it makes sense to buy non-IKEA appliances, which will make the 20% off sale a 10% off sale BIG BREATH), and I'm feeling fairly comfortable with my general design decisions. Which are not fancy. I don't love the kitchen configuration, but there's not really anything else I can do without knocking down multiple walls, removing closet space from bedrooms, etc. So, a weirdly shaped kitchen I shall have. It's still better than the one I have now!

Ok. I have promised "before" pics. So here they are! But first, some explanation. The house is a ranch, and it's oriented in a great big L, with a hallway running down the middle the entire way. 3 bedrooms, including the master, are on the north end of the L. The master is on the east side of the hallway, along with the master bath. The guest bath is also on the north end and on the east side of the hallway. Two of the extra bedrooms are on the west side. Then the foyer is on the north west side of the hallway, with the long living room across the hallway on the east side. The dining room is immediately south of the foyer, on the west siiiiide. (Living room is opposite (east) of the dining room, with a wall separating it from the hallway). Next comes the kitchen, on the west side of the hallway, and the laundry room makes of the south side of the L's crotch. Then there are two bedrooms in a line t0o the east of the laundry room and kitchen, and after that.... the "fun room." (Yes, I am totally channeling Michael Scott. Shut up.)

Ok. Now for the pictures!

The enormous, filthy fun room:

(Wow. It doesn't look nearly as dirty and gross in this picture as it does in real life!)

Looking from the fun room into the hallway (the bottom of the L) (yeah, I hung my purse on the doorknob of furnace closet #1 so that it wouldn't be on the ground... the carpet is GROSS):

Bedroom 1, the smallest, just a general, normal bedroom. The carpet's still pretty gross, though. Like, there are a bunch of splatters on it (and the wall) that we think are blood. Mmmm! The carpet will be removed.

This is bedroom #2. Isn't this nice? All signs are pointing to some troubling domestic violence with the previous owners....

Hmm. I must have this picture upside down. Welp. You get the idea.

There's a nice walk-in closet in this one. I think I'm gonna make the room my treadmill room and the closet my office. I want to be able to just shut the door on all my paper.

Ok. Once you step out of bedroom #2, take a left, and do a little wiggle, you're at the crotch of the L. To your left is the kitchen, and to your right is the living room. Kitchen first:

The kitchen is kinda oddly large and yet narrow. The workspace itself is set up like a straight kitchen--no "work triangle"--and there's not really a good way to change that. Then there's just this big chunk of unusable empty space...

It was nice of the previous owners to take most of the cabinets. I mean, really. At least I don't have to demo them.

The laundry room is through that door thar. Also, see the ceiling? Yeah... that's grease. Mom scrubbed and scrubbed the wall around the door and finally said, "Jane, I think you just need new drywall." Ok! Let's do it.

The laundry room:

Laundry room windows at the front of the house:

Looking down the hallway from the threshold of the kitchen and the dining room:

Then pivot to your right and there's a big ol' pantry...

No shelving, though, thanks to the previous owners... The pantry extends out to either side within the closet.

With your back to the laundry room, you have a lovely view of the janky little pass-through from the kitchen into the dining room. Most of this wall is probably coming down. If so, we'll install a little breakfast bar on the kitchen side.

And on the other side of the wall is the delightful dining room! I'm going to sand and paint the paneling, rip out that disgusting carpet, install laminate, paint, put up curtains....

Now, if you go back to the crotch of the L and turn to your right, that's the south entrance to the living room (on the west siiiiide of the hallway).

Here's the north end of the living room, from the foyer:

Standing on the threshold of the living room and looking south:

Standing about in the same spot but turning left (north) and looking down the hall... Thanks for the Xs, former owners. I appreciate all the painting you've left for me to do.

Take a couple steps down the hall, turn to your right, and you've arrived at the lovely guest bath. Now who wants to suds up?!?

Ok, that's it for tonight. I'm beat.