Office Reno

My parents bought the house they live in now about twelve years ago, and the house is about twenty years old now.  In fact, it’s the first new construction house my parents have ever owned.  So new, in fact, that when we all moved in back in 1997, it wasn’t quite finished yet.  Like it didn’t have a back porch.  That sort of thing.  It also used to be a rooming house, so there were some weird things going on.  The room that is my dad’s office was designed to be a laundry room, and when they bought the house it was actually being used as a kitchen.  As it was pretty low-priority in the scheme of everything else that goes on in my parents’ busy lives, it remained in more or less its original state.

UNTIL NOW.

This is the before shot, when my dad and I were clearing out all the furniture and stuff.

You can see the artful sponge painting that outlines where the laundry sink used to be.  And the place where the faucets come up and out of the wall.

This dryer outlet and vent also needed to go.  As did the b-awful linoleum.  I hate linoleum.

So out came the mouldings and the overhead lighting.

After checking to make sure the fuse was dead, out came the dryer/stove outlet.

Make sure you check it more than once before you start cutting wires.

This rubbish bin was filled and emptied many times before the job was done.

The vent will get cut flush to the wall and filled with expanding spray insulation.

The faucet pipes were capped and sealed with solder and the plastic frame removed. 

We will put a piece of gyp-rock over top and patch that sucker, same with the one on the floor.

Just screw it in place, using shims as a backing, and trim off the excess.  Fill the holes with Durabond-90 or other crack filler and you’re good to go.

All the other holes and cracks got filled as well.

There were plenty.

Now for that ugly awful floor.  This was my especial project and it took me FOREVER. 

Whoever put the lino down GLUED it, which is not something you normally do.  And they didn’t just lay down lines or dots of glue.  No.  It was like they took the can of glue and spilled in on the floor.  But not all over the floor.  This part came up super easy, so we thought it would be more of the same. 

PAH.

I spent about seven hours with a pair of gloves and a putty knife peeling up the rest of it. 

And let’s not forget all the glue that stayed on the floor.

Which my dad spent three days scraping off.

It was a sticky business.

Back to the walls.  On with the primer.  Note you can still see the terrible, terrible sponge painting shining through.  Took a couple of coats of paint to get that hidden.

Next the crown mouldings went on and were lined up.

Nailed and glued in place.

You can use wood filler to artistically cover the spots in the corners where it doesn’t quite line up.

And to cover your nail marks as well.

Now for the floor, which we replaced with a nice floating bamboo one with interlocking pieces.

You can see the grooves here.

Make sure to measure out everything ahead of time.  It helps to label your pieces and to draw yourself a little map.

You will need to cut pieces to fit the vagaries of your room.

Dad glued down the first section.

Make sure to follow the instructions on your glue.  This little grooved applicator enables the glue to spread under pressure.

You want to make sure your pieces are super snug together, so a rubber mallet is very handy.

We noticed that the glued section was making cracking and popping noises, so the next sections were nailed in place as well, with the nails going through those little grooves I just showed you.  It cracked the grooves but kept the things on the floor, so there you go.

The moulding on the floor will cover up that wee gap there.

Then you paint.  Again.  Always a good time.

See?  This is after it got a nice shiny coat of enamel.

You can scrape up your spills by covering a scraping razor with a piece of cloth, and then you won’t scratch the floor.

This is mid-cleanup.

And after everything was moved back in again.  What a difference!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Knit This

Do you have knitters in your family?  I do.  I am one.  Though not a very good one.

In any case, knitting needles are a remarkably easy thing to make (according to Martha Stewart) and they make a great little gift.

You can get doweling of several different thicknesses at any hardware or craft store. 

Saw the dowel to the desired length (my dowels were all 36″, so I cut most of my needles to 12″ lengths, though I did make a set of four 9″ double-ended needles).  Use a pencil sharpener to create a point.

Sand the dowels down to create a smooth surface that won’t catch on the yarn.  Make sure as well to dull the points a bit.  It’s all fun and games until somebody loses an eye.  You can rub the needles with a bit of warm beeswax, just to protect them and let the wool slide a bit easier.

Then all you have to do is use a glue gun to put colourful buttons at the ends. 

And there you have it.  Tie them with some pretty ribbon and give them all away!

Or keep some.  Your choice.

 

Death to Beige – Painting Elizabeth, Summer 2009 and Winter 2010

Elizabeth is our house.  On the outside, she’s kind of pinkish, with an orange roof that leaks, and windows in need of replacing.  On the inside, she’s a cozy nest that we adore.  When we moved in, however, we were confronted with wall upon wall of the most disconcerting beige I had ever seen.  In no one’s conception could this beige be considered a neutral.  It looked to me like someone had taken a brown paper lunch bag and vomited on it, then left it for dead in the rain.

In other words, I hated it.  The Pie didn’t really care, but he’s a boy.  Something had to be done.  We had to paint.  We had an agreement with our landlord that we could paint the apartment any colour we wanted, and if she didn’t like it, then we would simply have to repaint when we left.  That is a good deal.  We had to leave the hallway as it was, because the ceilings were too high for us to paint safely, but the rest of the place was fair game.

We went with ICI Dulux Inspirations Paint for its low odor (very few of the windows in this place open so we didn’t want to fume ourselves out of house and home).

Office

Before

Because I was spending a lot of my spare time in my office, this was the first room to be painted.  I’ve always found green to be a good colour for productivity, so I went with “Kiwi Fun”:

I managed to only spill paint on the linoleum once, which was a high achievement on my part.

After: Nobody here but me and the freezer.

Bathroom

Cheers! was the name of the bright yellow I used in this tiny room.  All our fixtures are 1960s green, and all our accessories have blue in them, so it seemed only appropriate to make a tiny dark room a cheery yellow.

I taped up the toilet to avoid drips.

This was the job from hell.  This particular paint came out super thin and runny, and it took me SIX COATS to get it done, and that’s working with a tiny roller and sponge brush around all the fixtures.  I had also decided to re-do the woodwork and trim in the bathroom because years of dampness had caused it all to crack and mildew.  There’s nothing like scraping black mould out of crevices you didn’t know existed.

I had a really hard time getting the enamel to stick to the woodwork.  I think even that too four coats or so.  A smart thing I did was paint the ceiling with the same enamel, as well as the rusting out light fixture and the air vent.

I used rust paint on the ceiling.

Three lessons I learned from the bathroom experience: (1) don’t leave painter’s tape on any surface for longer than 5 days; (2) make sure the paint has fully cured before you stick stuff to it (even painter’s tape); and (3) sand the crap out of shiny surfaces before you paint them.

The sunny bathroom, finally finished.

Bedroom

I had hung curtains in this room that we were very pleased with: vertical stripes of brown, taupe, turquoise and green (sounds weird, I know, but they’re quite nice).  Having spent all that money on the curtain fabric ($250!) we wanted to paint the room to match them, as well as coordinate with our black bed and brown chests of drawers. 

Bramble Tan was the one we went with.  In the sunlight, it looks more like a warm, wet clay than anything else.  It’s relaxing and inviting at the same time, and I love it to pieces.  The consistency of the paint in this can was more like pudding than anything else, and we finished the room in a day with only two coats.

Living and Dining Rooms

Dining Room in progress.

Pie thought we should paint these rooms the same colour, so as to draw the eye to the magnificence of our kitchen, which we intended to paint a bright red.  I wanted something plain because our furniture in these rooms is a jumble of everything, and a bold colour would only make the place look cluttered.  In the end we went with Stowe White, an off-white that reminds me of cream.  It makes our hung pictures really stand out and yet it’s not a sterile white – cozy is definitely a theme in our place.

Photo stitch of the finished living room.

These rooms we did about two weeks before we left town for our wedding, so they were a little rushed, it was hot, and we had many other things on our minds.  Nevertheless, they turned out really well, and we made very few mistakes.

Stitch of the finished dining room.

Kitchen

We went with Cranberry Zing, to match the red tiles in the floor, and to make the white and black fixtures really pop.

The chaos before I began.

This room, I was determined, was going to be my pro job.  I was going to do it right, just like my dad does, and not take any shortcuts.

We had a leak in our roof the previous fall, which had since been repaired, but it had left some damage on the ceiling and the wall above the stove.  I took a wide, flat putty knife and used it to carefully lever away the damaged paint so I could assess the drywall underneath.  While spotted with dried mould and water-stained, it was still pretty solid, and so I just patched over it with Drydex.  I like this stuff because when it’s wet it’s bright pink, and you know it’s ready to sand and paint when it turns white.  It also doesn’t smell and is easily washable.

Step 1: Assess Damage
Step 2: Remove loose paint.
Step 3: Spackle!
One wall at a time.

I washed the walls down, then I sanded them, then I washed them again to remove the last particles.  I taped everything up well and I worked wall by wall, so we could still use the kitchen while I was painting it. It took three coats.  I didn’t spill anything, nothing broke, and it turned out really, really well.

I did this in January of 2010, while procrastinating on studying for my final comprehensive exam.  This is why I had the time to get it right.  I even managed to wait a week before putting all the stuff back up on the walls.

The one issue I had is one that had to do with my roller.  For some reason I can’t explain, the roller this time left bubbles on the walls as it passed, and when they dried you could still see them.  In certain spots it looks like I have sparkles on the walls.  It’s not entirely unpleasing, but it is a little weird.

In any case, we are both in love with our ‘new’ kitchen and we spend a lot of time in there.

Finally finished. My favourite room.