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Category Archives: First Floor

Bathroom Reveal!

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I know my last post left you hanging.  We only had one measly thing left to do before the first floor bathroom was completed.  I ended the last post promising another more exciting post with before and after pictures of said bathroom.  I know you must have been waiting on pins and needles, so I apologize for my absence.  There was that whole celebrating the birth of Christ and ringing in the new year that held up our long-awaited bathroom reveal.  But here it is folks, the finished bathroom!

The last thing we had to do in the bathroom was add a shelf.  As previously mentioned, the shelf was back ordered for weeksIt took a few calls and “live chats” with the company to finally get it delivered. Although that was annoying, luckily, the installation was easy-peasy.  We measured out where we wanted the shelf to go and taped the template in place.  Jim drilled in hole in the wall for the drywall anchors (drywall anchors allow you to screw something into a wall regards of where the stud is, they only hold so much weight so only work to screw in certain things).  Once the anchors were in place, Jim was able to screw the shelf’s plates in place and then we placed the glass shelf on top. We screwed the knobs in place and it was done!  Bathroom complete!

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The wall before the shelf

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Shelf up and completed!

Great place for tissues and a candle!

Great place for tissues and a candle!

The other side of the room, you can see some pictures we hung up

Another view of the shelf – you can also see some pictures we have hung up

Now, what you’ve all been waiting for….the before and after pictures!!

Best view I could get of the whole bathroom

The old bathroom

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The new bathroom!

We messed up the tile when we were taking up the tile in the kitchen a year before - it was about time we fixed it!

The old broken tile

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New tile that matches seamlessly with the new kitchen tile!

Light switch cover - it is just not cute

Ugly light switch (you can sort of see the textured wall in this picture too)

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Nice new one!

View of the weird towel rack/cup holder thing that was in the bathroom, also a sweet view of the medicine cabinet and light fixture

Ugly outlet with weird towel holder

Outlet cover

Close-up of the ugly outlet

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New outlet and outlet cover with a new towel rack!

The sink - a vanity style

Former sink vanity

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New pedestal sink

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Another view

Although this project was nowhere near as big as the kitchen remodel, the update makes quite the difference. It still took planning, time, and a lot of hard work. We are so happy to have a new first floor bathroom.

Now it’s time to start thinking about the master bathroom…

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This S(t)inks…

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The sink was the last major thing we had left for our first floor bathroom to be fully functional again. We had a working toilet, new medicine cabinet, freshly painted walls and ceiling, new tile, and a working exhaust fan.  We had relatively few hiccups throughout this bathroom renovation and with only one thing left, it should be smooth sailing from here on out….right?

Wrong.

After finishing all the DIY projects we have so far, this bathroom project had almost been too good to be true. There’s always at least one thing that doesn’t go as planned (the exhaust fan wasn’t completely as planned…but was an easy fix). In this project, it was the sink.

We bought a very nice and elegant (if I do say so myself) pedestal sink for the bathroom. In the planning stages, this was a somewhat tough decision because Jim wanted a one-handle faucet. I didn’t have a preference either way, so one-handle was fine with me. What we didn’t realize was that most pedestal sinks are designed with three holes for two handles and a spout. There are one-handle faucets that are designed for one or three hole sinks but they are designed for much smaller pedestal sinks than what we wanted. After much research, we decided a faucet with two handles would be acceptable in order for us to get the type of pedestal sink we wanted. This was annoying but it didn’t cause any major issues, it’s just the beginning of the sink’s story.

Pedestal sinks are made in two parts; the pedestal and the basin. They are actually sold separately, so you can mix and match styles if you so desire. We were able to find a pedestal and basin to our liking at good ol’ Home Depot (I don’t know when I will start receiving endorsement checks from Home Dept for this blog, but its bound to happen at some point). Once the bathroom was ready for the sink installation, we unpacked the boxes and began reading the instructions. We knew we would have to secure the sink in place, but we did not know how this would have to be done.  Turns out that both the pedestal and the basin need to be secured into place. The pedestal needed to be screwed (through tile) into the floor and the basin needed to be screwed into the wall. This didn’t immediately seem too difficult, until we measured the distance between the holes in the basin. They were spaced 19 inches apart. If you are familiar with wall structures, you will know that studs are normally spaced 16 inches apart (if you weren’t familiar with wall structures, you’re welcome for that knowledge). That means if we tried to screw the basin into the wall, we could screw it into one stud but then the other screw would be 3 inches away from another stud and would therefore have nothing to screw into. The instructional manual that came with the sink showed a diagram of installing a 19 inch 2 by 4 that went through the studs (behind the wall) so you could screw the basin in place. This is all fine and good for those who did not just pay to have their walls refinished by professional dry wall guys or for those who did not just finish painting the walls.  After much discussion on the possible ways to solve this problem, we came to the inevitable solution – a hole in the wall.

That’s right, we had to cut into our beautifully painted and finished wall to add a 2 by 4 through the studs just so we could screw the basin in place. Jim traced the basin on the wall and showed where we would have to cut the hole in order to complete our desired goal. It seemed that we would be able to make this adjustment and have the basin block the area of the wall we had to cut out. It was going to be extra work, but at least the wall would still look good.

We cut through the wall to find out that there was a board of wood already between the studs. This posed a new problem. The board was not a 2 by 4, it was a lot larger. I reached my hand in the hole in the wall and could not find the ending point of the wood. That meant there was no way to take the piece of wood out unless we opened up the wall more. Neither of us wanted to do that. Now we had to figure out a way to reach our 19 inches without putting a board through the studs.  We looked to the other side of the right stud to see what options we had. I could slip my hand in the hole to see how far away the next stud was. We were in luck (finally), it was much closer than the standard 16 inches. It was only about 6 inches away. Therefore, we just needed to get a 2 by 4 in between those two studs so that we would have something the basin could be screwed into. We had to cut open the wall so that the other stud was showing. This meant the basin would no longer be completely covering the wall where we had to cut. Most of it would be covered though and we really had no other choice. Without having space to hammer the new 2 by 4 in place, Jim screwed the board from the inside-out. We also had no good way to ensure the 2 by 4 would not fall to the floor when we placed it in the wall, so I balanced it on a screw driver while Jim got it in place. Somehow, it worked perfectly.

The entire hole in the wall - you can see all three studs plus the large piece of wood already in place between two of the studs

The entire hole in the wall – you can see all three studs plus the large piece of wood already in place between two of the studs

The additional 2 by 4 in place

The additional 2 by 4 in place

After the board was in place, we needed to add new dry wall to cover the hole. Then we had to spackle the dry wall to make it look seamless with the wall. We had to do about 4 coats of spackle and sanding before the wall looked back to normal. Since spackle has to dry, this ate up a few nights (just waiting for it to dry, not completing the work). After the 4th sanding, the wall looked like new again. We put a fresh coat of paint on the wall and voila – it was like nothing ever happened.

New drywall up!

New drywall up!

First spackle...I didn't take a picture after each spackle, but just so you could compare the first and last

First spackle…I didn’t take a picture after each spackle, but just so you could compare the first and last

Last spackle - no seams to be seen!

Last spackle – no seams to be seen!

With the new coat of paint - you would never know we just took a piece of that wall out!

With the new coat of paint – you would never know we just took a piece of that wall out!

Once the board in the wall was in place, we were ready to set up the sink. Jim bought a special drill that was able to screw through porcelain tiles. He bought the size that was indicated for the bolt provided with the sink.  We were fearful that drilling into the tile would break the tile, so we tried to recreate a situation as close to a wet saw as possible.  As Jim drilled into the tile, I sprayed some water from a water bottle onto the tile.  Jim also put blue painting tape on the tile to try to hold it in place. It took a long time to get through the tile, but after a lot of persistence, Jim made it through! Next, Jim wanted to put the screw in place in the tile to make sure it fit properly before moving the pedestal in place. Although Jim bought the correct size drill for the bolt that we were provided, the drill is designed to work in situations where there would be some give. To better explain – when you drill a hole, it is slightly smaller than the screw you plan to screw into the hole. This is because the screw needs to be secure, so if the hole is slightly smaller, it will dig into the wood and stay in place. But, when you are screwing into tile, there is no give like there is with wood. A smaller hole means a bigger screw just won’t fit. We obviously learned this the hard way. Instead of getting a new drill from the store, Jim decided to use the small screw and just try to widen the hole by moving the screw around. This made me a little nervous, but Jim managed it perfectly, per usual, and after a few attempts, the bolt screwed into place.

The hole Jim screwed into the floor - quite a beauty!

The hole Jim screwed into the floor – quite a beauty!

NOW we were finally ready to go.  We put the pedestal and basin into place and bolted them in. Neither of them were going anywhere!  Jim handled setting up the faucets and plumbing.  The sink was complete!

Pedestal in place!

Pedestal in place!

Jim attaching the faucets

Jim attaching the faucet

Finished sink!

Finished sink!

The bathroom is now 99% complete.  We ordered a shelf to add to the bathroom two weeks ago and it still hasn’t arrived.  We just found out it was on back order this week, so I decided to go ahead with this post.  I will take pictures with the added shelf when we get it (probably next week) and put them next to the before shots.  1 bathroom down, 2 more to go.

Two Weeks of Work

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It has been a short two weeks since my last post, but we have made a lot of progress on the bathroom. As mentioned in the previous post, we planned to hire someone to flatten the textured walls and ceiling in the bathroom. Since they would also be patching up any holes in the walls (and ceiling since we changed the exhaust fan). Therefore, our priority was to focus on anything that could affect the drywall.  First – we changed the light fixture. With all the electrical work Jim has done – this was pretty easy. The hardest part was making sure it was level.

New light fixture!

Next, we had to focus on the new medicine cabinet.  We had a hole in the wall from the previous medicine cabinet that could used for the new one. The only problem was the new medicine cabinet was not the same length as the previous one, it was shorter.  There was a lot of thought and discussion on how high the medicine cabinet (with the mirror) should go.  We pretended to be people at different heights, including children and tall friends. We finally settled on the best spot. In order to make up for the smaller medicine cabinet, we added two 2 by 4’s between the two studs in the wall.  This was the result:

The drywall guys can cover up the extra space!

We waited to install the medicine cabinet until after the walls and ceiling were done.

With the completion of the medicine cabinet, we were finished with all the wall and ceiling work for now. Next, we could start focusing on the floor. We needed to add new cement board to the subfloor.  Since the space is small, we only had to use two cement board pieces. This made things go just a tad faster than when we did the kitchen cement board.  The one thing that proved to be challenging was cutting out the hole in the cement board for the toilet’s waste pipe. The hole fell inside of the edge of the cement board. In order to start cutting the hole, Jim used a power drill to make a bunch of small holes in the outline of the circle. Then he connected the holes with a utility knife.  In our first attempt, the hole turned out to be larger than what we needed. Luckily, we had another piece of cement board and we could give it a second try.  The second time, the hole was just the right size.

Waste pipe hole – we took the flange (the piece that the toilet screws into) off to make it easier to lay the cement board and tile. We have the plastic bag there to stop fumes from escaping and to prevent anything from falling in the pipe

Before screwing down the cement board, we needed to add mortar to secure it into place. You may remember this from the kitchen post when we laid the cement board.  After the mortar was spread on the subfloor, we placed the cement board in place, and screwed them down.  In order to connect the two boards, we laid mortar in between the two pieces, placed this special type of tape over it, and finished it with one more layer of mortar. The work was still exhausting, but it went by a lot quicker since it was our second time around.

Jim putting the mortar down

Jim showing his acrobat skills while screwing in the cement board (didn’t want to step on the board with the wet mortar underneath)!

One piece of cement board complete!

New cement board finished! Look at that perfect hole for the waste pipe!

The next project was smoothing the walls and ceiling. Since we hired someone for this job, there isn’t much to say except that I love the new SMOOTH walls and ceilings. They completed the work in one day (last Tuesday). Here is how it looked once it was completed:

Medicine cabinet hole closed up – we uninstalled the light fixture so it wouldn’t get paint on it

The hole in the ceiling is gone!

Even though two weeks have passed since my last post, we have not worked on the bathroom every night. When we were redoing the kitchen,we would try to get something done almost everyday. As much as we would like to finish the bathroom quickly, it is unnecessary to work every day since there is less to do. Plus during this project, Jim is playing in a volleyball league Wednesday nights and has his volunteering as an EMT on Thursday nights. I am also tutoring Tuesdays after work (I was tutoring Thursdays as well, but just recently cut back). These extra curricula activities eat into the bathroom remodeling time.  So our bathroom walls and ceilings were smoothed out last Tuesday, but we didn’t get around to painting until Friday night.

Our trip to Home Depot to pick up some paint supplies on Friday evening reminded us that we should probably pick up a new flashlight while we were there. Hurricane Sandy was predicted to make landfall Sunday or Monday and although the bathroom was the first thing in our mind, we had to be prepared. We lost power for two days after the durecho in June, so we weren’t sure what to expect.  We bought a “weapon-sized” (Jim’s words) flashlight and then tried to put Sandy in the back of our minds.

Since we are painting pros by now – we knocked out the painting job quickly on Friday.  We chose a nice, neutral taupe color.

Painted walls!

With the painting complete, we could now install the medicine cabinet.  With a level and the power drill, this was easily completed. We also wanted to update the old and dirty electrical outlet and light switch. The exhaust fan cover could officially be put in place since the ceiling was painted as well.

New medicine cabinet and electrical outlets!

Another picture of the medicine cabinet – it is hard to take a picture of a mirror

Exhaust fan cover in place!

We dedicated Saturday to painting touch-ups, tile placement, and Halloween costume shopping. We had to paint the ceiling and walls on Friday. Some of the blue tape we used to protect the new paint caused the paint to peel when we took it off. This led to a decent amount of touch-ups on Saturday. We also wanted to get moving on the tiles. When we re-tiled the kitchen floor, we ordered enough tiles so we could use the same tile in the bathroom. We ended up ordering the perfect amount of tiles which was great. We did all the tile placement and measurement with enough time to get in our costumes and celebrate Halloween with friends on Saturday night.

Marty McFly and his girlfriend, Jennifer Parker! Happy Halloween!

On Sunday, we were determined to get as much done in the bathroom before we lost power.  We weren’t sure when the rain was going to start. Jim went to Home Depot early to rent the wet saw we needed to cut the tile. While he was there, I started bringing in the trash cans and patio furniture so Sandy wouldn’t wreak havoc in our yard. Since we already took the tile measurements, including the complicated section of tiles around the waste pipe, Jim was able to get started cutting the tile as soon as he got back from the store. We were both worried about the tiles surrounding the waste pipe, but thanks to careful measurement and planning, the cuts worked out perfectly on the first try.  In about an hour and a half, Jim cut all the tiles and returned the wet saw to Home Depot. We worked so quickly – I never even got a picture! If you need a refresher about a wet saw – check out this old post.

We were both convinced we would lose power and did not know for how long, so even as the rain started to fall, we laid out the tile on the bathroom floor. Jim attached a new flange to the waste pipe since the old one was pretty gross and rotted. We were able to see that the flange fit perfectly in place with the laid out tile which was a relief. The new tile had to line up with the already existing tile in the kitchen. The biggest challenge with this was that we had to line up the tiles while also starting the new tile in the corner of the bathroom farthest from the kitchen. As soon as the mortar was down for the tile, we would not be able to walk or kneel on it, so we had to work out way out. To solve this problem, we traced pencil between all of the tiles to give us an idea of where they went. We also left the non-secured tiles in place while we put the mortar down.  Luckily, our planning paid off and the tiles lined up.  We managed to finish the mortar without losing power!  We called it a day and prepared for Sandy.

Tile set in place with the mortar – look at the perfect hole in the tile for the waste pipe and the nice new flange!

Another view of the secured tile

On Monday, we woke up with power on in the house. The storm hadn’t gotten too bad yet, so we still were not convinced we were going to keep the power. We both did not have work that day, so we decided to take advantage of the extra time. The mortar was dry, which meant we could grout the tile. Grout is the stuff that fills in the space between each tile. It needs to be spread into the spaces and then wiped away with a “moist” sponge. This takes a lot of time. You cannot use the sponge to wipe more than once because you may spread the grout (which is like wet sand) and the grout can scratch your tile. You also need to wipe down each tile three separate times. It is not fun and it hurts your hands, knees, and back. Don’t let HGTV fool you into thinking it is easy. You may remember my injuries from the kitchen grouting experience. The storm was supposed to start getting bad at 2pm so we started early, hoping to get whatever we could done.  Before we started the grout, we quickly installed the toilet paper holder. We knew we wouldn’t be able to walk on for a day once the grout was completed, so we did what we could beforehand.   We also had to get any excess mortar off of the tiles. With a wet cloth and flat head screw driver, we were able to prepare the tile without incident. After grouting the bathroom tile, we did a few touch ups on the grout in the kitchen. There were a few imperfections that bothered us that others may have never noticed.  Within a few hours, we finished the grouting.  Sandy started really to pick up by then, so we hunkered down in the living room for the rest of the day/night.

Toilet paper holder installed

Look how cool it is! It just lifts up for when you need to replace the roll!

Close-up of the grout in the tile – you can see the mosaic tiles we added in the bathroom to match perfectly with the kitchen mosaic tiles!

After sleeping in our basement since we live near “large trees” (aka we have five huge oak trees in our backyard), we woke up Tuesday morning and still had power!  We couldn’t believe we were one of the lucky ones who did not lose power throughout Sandy’s devastation.  We lost it for a total of a minute the night before but that was it.  Thankfully, most of our family and friend’s fared well throughout the storm also (evacuations and power outages aside).

Since the storm had calmed down on Tuesday, Jim was able to make a trip to Home Depot to pick up some new molding for the bathroom. We both did not have work again, so we dedicated the day to the bathroom. Jim measured and cut out the moldings while I spackled the walls where there were imperfections.  We installed moldings and quarter moldings along the floor of the bathroom. Once installed, we painted them to match the trim throughout the house.  Once we completed the molding, we installed the towel rack near the would be sink. We took the sink out and put it in place to measure the perfect location for the rack (we did the same for the toilet and toilet paper holder). With this complete, the only things left to install were the toilet and sink.

Close-up of some of the molding and quarter molding

The new towel rack (it matches the toilet paper holder) – you can also see the new outlet in this picture!

We decided to install the toilet first. We already have a sink in the kitchen, but since the demolition, we have no toilet on the first floor so the toilet got priority. Using our “1,2,3 Plumbing” book as a guide, we installed the bolts on to our new flange.

The new flange with the bolts installed

Next, we added the wax seal to the bottom of the toilet. This ensures an airtight seal between the waste pipe and the toilet to prevent leaking.

Bottom of the toilet with the wax seal

Then we needed to put the toilet over the flange, leading the bolts into the holes on the toilet base. Once in place, we used washers to tighten the toilet into place. Then Jim had to saw off the tops of the bolts so the bolt covers could fit. Once this was set, we noticed that the toilet was not perfectly level. We used plastic shims to level the toilet (a shim is a piece of material used to fill up space and make something align). This luckily worked out very well and the toilet was leveled.

Secured in place

Next, Jim added the tank onto the toilet base. It required lining the tank and base just so (three points needed to be touching) to ensure the tank didn’t leak. Then they were bolted together. We also attached the toilet seat which was pretty simple.

Tank and seat in place!

The last step was to hook up the supply pipe to the toilet and turn it on. Since we replace the supply pipe valves, it was very easy to connect the supply pipe.

Close-up of the new supply line

We turned all the water and let the tank and toilet fill out. After a variety of tests, we concluded there was absolutely no leakage.  The toilet was officially open for business. After two unexpected days off from work – we are now one sink away from a completely remodeled bathroom.

Exhaust(ing) Fan

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It is hard to see in the pictures, but the walls of the bathroom are textured.  The best way to describe it is a popcorn ceiling and walls. Although it is not exactly the popcorn style, it is textured like that.  Not just the ceiling but the walls.  Why in a million years would someone do that?  I guess the ceilings were “in style” back in the day – even though I hate them, I could still see why people did that. But the walls?  If you bump into the wall, it scratches you.  In other words – it is miserable. Luckily, you can hire dry wall guys to remove the texture.  We could probably do it ourselves, but we might not do it as well and it would take us three times as long.  So we plan on hiring these guys.

In addition to the dry wall guys, we decided to hire a plumber to change the water shut off valves.  He came on Wednesday and was able to fix it right after giving us the price estimate.  Not DIY – but here are some pictures:

New valves for the sink – easy to turn and nice and shiny!

New toilet valve

Now – back to DIY things. With the dry wall guys coming sometime soon, we made replacing the exhaust fan our first priority.  Exhaust fans are put in before ceilings are put up and therefore we thought we might have to cut into the drywall in the ceiling to replace the exhaust fan.  We ended up being right.

Yesterday afternoon, we got to work on the fan.  We had already removed the motor from the old exhaust fan but we needed to remove the housing that was attached to the duct.  Jim managed to do this without increasing the hole in the ceiling.  He had to had a screw driver sized hole to unscrew the housing from the duct connector, but that was it. We were excited thinking we might be able to do this without messing with the ceiling too much.

Jim getting the old exhaust fan housing out of the ceiling

The old housing loose but not out of the ceiling yet

As we started looking at the instructions for the new fan, we soon realized the duct connector was about an inch larger than the old one.  Off to Home Depot we went.  We couldn’t find exactly what we were looking for, but we did find a connector for different sized ducts that could work. Although this fixed the problem, it introduced another one.  By putting this at the end of the duct, the fan wouldn’t be able to start for another 3 inches.  So we needed to cut our first hole in the ceiling.  Once the hole was cut, we were making sure the fan could fit in the space and realized the duct couldn’t move all the way up against the ceiling beam. Since the fan was going to be attached to the ceiling beam, we needed to get the duct over.  Unfortunately, there were two by fours in the ceiling that was in its way.  The duct was able to move other to the other beam.  This meant we needed to change the location of the fan, and therefore add another hole.  Luckily, this was our last problem and our last hole.  We followed the instructions that came with the exhaust fan and voila! The fan was complete.

Jim hooking up the electrical wires for the fan – notice the much larger hole

The new exhaust fan!!

The exhaust fan with the cover on – good thing the dry wall guys are coming!

Another Year, Another Project

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On the year anniversary of our kitchen demolition, we took our the sledgehammer once more.  Last Sunday, we started the demolition of our first floor bathroom.  All of the bathrooms in the house could use some TLC, but since this one is attached to the brand new kitchen, it really looked out of place.  It also is a half bath, so this one will be easier to remodel than the other two full bathrooms.

Here are the before pictures:

Best view I could get of the whole bathroom

We messed up the tile when we were taking up the tile in the kitchen a year before – it was about time we fixed it!

View of the weird towel rack/cup holder thing that was in the bathroom, also a sweet view of the medicine cabinet and light fixture

The sink – a vanity style

The toilet and ugly toilet paper holder

Ugly towel rack

The old and loud exhaust fan with the popcorn ceiling

Under the sink – that vent had been completely duct taped closed

Outlet cover

Light switch cover – it is just not cute

We started the demolition by shutting off the water. Jim tackled emptying and disassembling the toilet while I tackled removing the medicine cabinet and the smaller accessories.  We didn’t destroy anything because they are still in good shape and we hope to sell some of the items on Craigslist. When we got to the sink and realized the water shut off valves were almost impossible to turn.  Jim got a wrench and with some serious effort, was able to shut them off.  With shut off valves that difficult to turn, they are basically worthless.  We quickly decided we were going to have to replace them.  We took the sink and exhaust fan apart and all that was left was the tile.  Now it was time for the sledgehammer and crowbar.  Before we knew it, the bathroom looked like this:

Empty! Do you see the purple on the wall?  This bathroom was once PURPLE also…these previous owners really loved that color…

Where the medicine cabinet had been – we plan on taking out the light fixture too but have been holding off on that so we can still have light!

Part of the exhaust fan is gone

You may notice in the picture that we had not gotten down to the subfloor yet.  The cement board was still there.  We were not looking forward to taking up the cement board.  It took us days to get all the cement board up in the kitchen and we knew it would be a lot of work. We learned some lessons the first time we took up the cement board, so the first thing Jim did was find as many screws to unscrew as possible. While finding the screws, our power drill ran out of battery. Since it was around 5pm, we decided to call it a night.  The next day was Columbus Day so we set our goal to tackle the cement board then.

On Monday, Jim first finished getting up all the screws in the floor. There were only a few that were so rusted, Jim couldn’t screw them out. Next, we started taking the cement board up near the waste pipe for the toilet.  There was a hole in the floor already, so it provided us a space to get under the cement board.  It was slow-moving, but eventually we were able to start making some progress.  Since the bathroom is so small, Jim did most of the work.  I helped by sweeping up the pieces of cement board and cutting them off when he needed me too.  I also chipped away at the smaller piece of cement board that didn’t come up with big pieces.  After a lot of grueling work, we got all the cement board up.  It only took ONE day!

Subfloor exposed! (You may notice the waste pipe has something in it – in order to prevent gases from seeping into the house, you need to stuff rags in a plastic bag and put it in the pipe to create an air-tight seal)

The bathroom was officially gone – now it’s time to rebuild.

The Big Kahuna: Conquered

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Friends, family, strangers – we did it. We conquered the biggest do-it-yourself project to come our way. We remodeled our kitchen.

I still will find myself amazed in our new kitchen. When I look at the ceiling, I know that Jim and I put that up. Almost every wall in the kitchen was also put up by us.  I know what is behind my walls – I’ve seen it and at times, put it there. I drop something on the floor and become worried I broke the tile even though I would never think that somewhere else – but I know how fragile each tile is since Jim and I put them there. We see every imperfection – which isn’t great, but we also see the big picture and it is awesome.

Our kitchen is modern, welcoming, and spacious.  We have a ton of counter space and some cabinets we haven’t even used yet! The work triangle flows just as we hoped – with the pantry nearby as well.

It took us 5 months almost to the day to complete this project. Demolition was on 10/10/11 and we finished Sunday, 3/11/12. We have only been married for 7 months and therefore have spent most of our marriage thinking, talking, planning, and working on this kitchen. The best part is that we worked on this together and completed it together. We barely fought and even when frustrated with a project, we stuck through it as a team.  Our kitchen project just reinforces the strength of our marriage and friendship. If we can handle this – we can handle it all.

Ok – enough of the reflection.  Here is what you’ve all been waiting for – the before and after pictures!!

Kitchen when we toured the house

The same view of the kitchen on demolition day

The same view today!

Eat-in part of the kitchen on the day we toured the house

The same view once the walls and ceiling came down

The same view today!

Similar view today!

The view of eat-in part of the kitchen into the family room on demolition day

The same view today!

A similar view today!

View of kitchen from the other direction on the day we toured the house

Same view of the kitchen on demolition day

A similar view after the walls and ceiling came down

The same view today!

A similar view today!

View of family room on the day we toured the house

Family room plus the eat-in section of the kitchen today!

Painting the Town

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The last week has been B-U-S-Y.  Jim and I have been going nonstop from when we get home until bed every night.  A lot of the projects have involved painting and little fixes in each room.

Last Monday night – we painted the living room.  Jim had the idea of painting one wall a bold color while keeping the rest of the walls white (we did a yellowish off-white). We already bought a new sectional for this room that had not yet arrived. The sectional itself is a beige color but we picked colorful pillows and we wanted our bold wall to match a color in the pillow.  We picked a bright blue.  It was a very pretty blue color, but it was a little bright for the living room.  We decided to wait until the furniture arrived before making our final decision.  It took two days (Monday and Tuesday) to paint the living room and entrance way.  There was a lot of trim and taping to do.  Here is the transformation from the first two days:

Living room before - view 1

Living room before - view 2 (painter's tape already up!)

Living room (and entrance way) before - view #3

Living room after first round of paint - you can see the bright blue color we had

Another view with the first blue color (and old furniture)

Wednesday, we dedicated ourselves to the dining room.  We fixed some holes in the wall and got to painting. We had a late start that day and we had to do two coats, so we didn’t get to the trim.  Thursday – Jim was at the station, but I finished up the trim on the dining room.  Here are the dining room shots:

Dining room before - view #1

Dining room before - view #2

Dining room after - view #1

Dining room after - view #2

Dining room after view #3

On Friday, we put our focus back on the living room.  The sectional was going to be delivered Saturday, so we needed to get our current couches out of the way (we moved them into the basement). It was a little difficult, but we were able to get the couches downstairs with just the two of us.  We also decided this was the perfect time to clean the floors.  We didn’t just clean the floors though, we also polished them to help bring back the shine from when Jim first finished them.  While I was working on the floors, Jim got to work on the closet in the entrance way.  The old closet doors were broken.  One of the doors didn’t stay on the track and would just fall every time you tried to open the closet – it was miserable.

See the door on the left falling over?

New closet doors!

Throughout the week – Jim also added blinds to the window in the family room and the two windows in the living room.  All the days are blending together so I can’t remember which days they were. It is a-m-a-z-i-n-g to have new blinds in the living room.  The old blinds were meant to be under-mounted but they were outer-mounted, so the blinds were too short on both sides. Therefore, our neighbors could see into the house even with the blinds down. In addition, the blinds’ pull strings were the kind that were one big loop. Do you know what I mean?  You have to pull over and over just to move the blinds up 3 inches at a time.  They were horrible.  Now we have beautiful new blinds that are quick and easy to use.  In Jim’s haste to get rid of the old blinds, I did not get a picture. I do have a picture from when we first toured the house that captured one of the blinds though, so I will post that.

Their living room was more of a playpen...but let's focus on the blinds. Do you see how the blinds are too short and you can still see the window? Yeah...no good

Her's one of the living room windows with the blinds removed

And now...our beautiful new living room blinds!

And our new family room blinds (no before picture here either)

On Saturday, Jim tackled the crown molding (our LAST project of the kitchen).  It was a one person job for the most part (I had to help hold the molding up every now and then). It was also a very frustrating job. The molding came in a length of about 10 ft. One would assume although there were different poles of molding, they would still line up the same. That was not the case. This meant Jim had to be creative when lining up two pieces of molding at a corner. Some of the molding was also a little warped which added more challenges. In addition to measuring, cutting, and nailing the molding up – Jim had to hide the nail holes with this wax and marker filler we have.  Needless to say – this took all day.  By dinner time, Jim had finished all the sections but one on the crown molding.

Cabinets before molding 1 - Jim cut into the edge of the cabinets for the molding

Cabinets before molding 2

Cabinets before molding 3

Cabinet after crown molding 1

Cabinets after crown molding 2

Cabinets after crown molding 3

Cabinets after crown molding 4

While Jim worked on the molding, I painted our front and back doors. Our doors are made of a weird material (not wood), so it did not take too easily to the new paint.  The first coat looked horrible, but luckily the second and third coats were better.  There was also a TON of taping to do. Between each window and the door molding, there was a lot of space I did not want to get the exterior gray paint. Painting the doors took me a lot longer than one would expect.

I remembered to take a before shot after I started painting a little! The back door before -side 1

The front door before - side 1

Front door before (and cute pup) - side 2

Back door finished - side 1

Back door finished - side 2 (I forgot to take a before picture for this)

Front door finished - side 1

Front door finished - side 1

The sectional arrived around 3pm on Saturday.  Shortly after we were able to analyze our blue paint and decide it needed to go.  After dinner on Saturday, we ran to Home Depot and got a new paint color.  We protected our new sectional and got to work changing blues (we went with a darker blue). We worked into the evening, but it was well worth it.  Our finished living room:

New and improved living room!

Another view! I love it!

Sunday was another day of many things.  Jim finished the last bit of the crown molding (the kitchen is DONE!! another post to come), put knobs on the closet door, hung up a new coat rack in the front entrance way, and added molding and new blinds to the dining room window.  I finished the trim on the back door and the many touch-ups the doors needed after the blue tape ripped some of the tape off, I cleaned all the picture frames that got dusty while we worked on the kitchen the past few months, and I cleaned the garage.  The garage was pretty disgusting and dirty – filled with a lot of scrap wood we needed to get rid of. Our garage is now clean enough for us both to park in it!  We really are going to start this time.

Jim also threw in some plumbing along the way the past week.  The sink on the first floor was barely draining (due to all the things we had to wash down it the past few months), so Jim cleared the clog.  The connection under the sink was pretty poor, so Jim replaced some old pipes as well.  It worked pretty well the past few days but this Monday night it needed some more TLC from Jim. After the plumbing, some painting touch-ups, and cleaning windows – we decided where to hang pictures throughout the house. The pictures went up last night and our first floor is now ready to go. It looks like a different house.  We can’t wait to show it to our friends and family this weekend!