Completed projects:

roof, kitchen, master bedroom, main bathroom (sans shower tile), fireplace, hardwood flooring, windows, office, front entry, stairway

Ongoing projects:

shower surround, dapping/painting woodwork, ensuite vanity/lights/mirror, painting outdoor trim, finishing front entry tile work, interior door painting and hardware, decorating

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Ensuite in! And tips on some fav things.

My ensuite now functions!

The new toilet is in and is awesome. And the sink I've had for awhile now (which I've stalled due to no tap set) is as of today fully functional with a beautiful new tap set, thanks to Splashes in Abbotsford! Go see Laurie, she knows her stuff big time.

My all time favorite installer Vic came just as soon as he stepped foot into town again. And to our delight, he brought along Bonnie. While I assisted Vic with the installs, Bonnie helped Cody get through his homework. Woa.. is there anything these two can't do? Bonnie later joined us for some 'manual reading.' Imagine.. two women reading a manual in stereo to one guy. Lucky Vic!

So what's my favorite thing to do today? Going for a walk to my ensuite to just look. It's like Christmas morning all over again. :) It's a very small but very pretty ensuite with all those new sparkly things inside. I'll take pics when I get my camera back home. I've left (forgotten) it at a work place I frequent. (again)

Nothing else has been worked on this week as I've been taking care of work-work. For the time being, renos will be for weekends. And one is upcoming so I'll get productive again come Saturday.

I'm now going to share a few of my very favorite things I'm finding invaluable lately.

Steel wool for sanding

I have been sanding the wood stair pieces with fine sand paper and extra fine steel wool, followed by a tack cloth, in small time increments when possible. I sure like how that wood feels once the steel wool does its thing. It's time consuming, but well worth the effort when you feel a before and after.

Swiffer for hardwood floors

One thing I am LOVING since having floors in is the dry swiffer. I'm speaking of the model that you put disposable dry wipe things on. I have pretty much traded in my broom for this new fangled gadget. The wipes have a magnetic type of pickup and are fabulous for pet hair! I've never been a big fan of anything disposable, so I make the wipes last for much longer than originally planned for. The head of the swiffer is very shallow and handle long, so you can get every nook and cranny under any sofa or bed with no issues. They were designed really well!

For shiny stainless steel sinks, the best cleaner is...

Bar Keepers Friend.

I admit, I started with a brand new sink so how hard can it be to keep up a new shine? But the shine fades if you don't keep at it with a good product. My honest first choice is BonAmi which you can no longer get in Canada. That stuff was amazing in that it put an actual film on your stainless so water repelled it much like rain to a freshly waxed car. Bar Keepers Friend is similar. You do get that intense deep shine back and you don't need very much. Les and Fiona got this stuff for me (I think from Home Outfitters or Linens and Things, can't remember now) awhile back and I've been putting it to excellent use keeping up my gorgeous sink.

Best sink for washing paint brushes...

I know. How odd of a tip is this one. BUT, when you lose your icky old stainless paint sink and you refuse to destroy your new one with paint splotches, you go to your next available sink, which would be my poor porcelain pedestal. Oh my gosh, can that thing clean up nicely! It's way easier to clean than the stainless is. Comes back like brand new every time!

To warm up a cold bedroom...

This isn't really reno related, but there's a reason I always love walking into my bedroom at the end of the day. It's warm and cozy. And that's due to the little oil heater I keep on low in there. You see, my bedroom is situated on top of the garage AND is on the edge of the house, so it isn't the coziest room going. The oil heater is very efficient and is silent when it's heating so it's the perfect little gadget I would never do without in my bedroom. We've had some incredibly frigid temps this winter and I have adored my little heater this winter!

When you have a cold or ache, drink...

Homemade ginger tea!

I really just had to add this. I was sick with something or other not long ago, and Janette brought me some of her infamous homemade ginger tea. And to boot told me how she made it! She grated a fresh ginger root into a bowl, then added boiling water and let it steep. You grate the skin of the root as well for extra antioxidants. Once steeped, pour through a sifter, add honey to taste and you have a wonderfully healthy hot drink! She warned me it didn't taste all that great but I loved it! And just google ginger. Wow. She was dead on about this stuff being great for colds and such. It's also very good for arthritic conditions. So, ginger tea will always have a place in this home! I mean, just look what this stuff does!

Anyway, here's hoping you'll find some of my very favorite little things useful in your own homes.

I'm off to get my sleep so I have some major reno power for this weekend! Two more sleeps! Whoohooooo!

Next: completion of varnished stair pieces

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Varnishing the stair case components

I was a good girl and did my homework this weekend. Varnishing the wood stair components that is.

And I'll admit, I just wasn't sure how well this varnish deal would fly. I was told to use a 100% bristle brush as the varnish was oil based, but with my luck with bristle brushes, (abit coarse for my personal liking), I bought it anyway. The outcome? Brush strokes in the varnish. Yech! I must be learning something if I can for tell the future of things to go wrong.

I also had picked up a cheapo sponge brush. Paint Store Guy said it would melt in the varnish, but for a buck, it was worth the chance. And it worked fabulous! No brush strokes and the finish went on very light.

Just look at these pieces! They are beautiful!

The whole lot in one evening took me approx 4.5 hrs to varnish up one coat. It's my guess with how fussy I can be, I'll want at least 2 more coats but I'll spec out #2 when it's done first.

This was a BIG job. It was hard to ventilate the room tonite as it was sooooo cold outside with the wind howling, but it got to the point of feeling light headed so I opened the front door up WIDE open and dealt with it. Cranked up the radio some, and forgot about the cold.

I'm so happy I'm getting this done! And equally pleased with how it's turning out. Tomorrow I'll seek out some steel wool to help me fine sand the varnish before another coat.

I've shocked myself. I think I'm going to be happy with my work! Why did I procrastinate this job again?!?

Update for Sunday Jan 25

This little addition wasn't worth a whole new post, but I finally painted the stairway. It's so light and bright and pretty! Bamboo Beach wins the day again. I was abit disappointed that the only sponge brush I had was toast and I didn't have steel wool on hand for the woodwork. Will check out the local hardware store Monday.

One big bonus on painting your whole house one colour? You can walk into every room with the can and brush and touch up. Lots of that and well overdue.

Next up: more varnish on the woodwork, painting the vanity and white woodwork touch up in the ensuite bathroom before the new toilet gets installed.

It's been a long while now that there's been no toilet in that bathroom. I hope I remember to use it when it suddenly appears again!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Kitchen before and after

Here's a little memory lane of the kitchen for your viewing pleasure! And yes you guessed right. I haven't done more on the house this week yet so I was hoping to distract and entertain all in one. How am I doing so far?

It's the year 2005. This is 3 months after I moved into this house. I quickly took this shot before I went too far. The walls already got some new paint in some areas. Note the old peachy tone on the headers touching the ceiling, and burgundy lower portion of the walls. My new colour was the taupe. These cabinets were flat out tired. The luxurious marble counter tops were oh so dated. I knew I had to live with it for awhile so....

... I got busy with a paintbrush. Over the 3 years I'd been in the house, it was all about buying time with the miracle of paint until I could do things right. This picture was taken right before the 2008 reno. This was about my 3rd colour on the counter tops as I loved to change them... had white, black and then finally mocha. The cabinets got a coat of deep mocha melamine with black distressed accents. Paint saved my life! I learned alot about what did and didn't work and never had the fear to try in this house, because no matter WHAT I did, it was always an improvement.

Time to shake this place up abit and get rid of this wall I've stared at for way too long. Oh did that wall use to bug me. It was like holding a board in front of my face no matter where I walked. I so longed to just have it gone. See those plywood floors?!? Had'em for 3 years.

Ohhhh yeah! I remember this day. I squealed when that wall came tumbling down! I loved the wide open spaces! The upstairs felt massive in size without walls haulting your visual. One neighbourhood kiddo paid a visit and she exclaimed in horror, "WHAT DID YOU DO TO YOUR HOUSE?!?" And I happily shared, "Yeah, isn't it GREAT?" Perhaps I'm easily pleased...

And naturally things have to get abit worse before they get better. It was somewhat challenging cooking at this point. But we managed absolutely fine! I remember adoring those new lights installed in the ceiling. I couldn't believe how bright it was as the kitchen was so dimly lit before. It was just about too bright for awhile, until darker objects arrived in the room soaking up the glare. And just check out those windows!! See that table on an angle? That was my pretend future island, already in place. LOL

This was like the Trump Tower at this point. FLOORS!!!!! Walls! It was relatively clean! Ok, well, until I sanded again. And again. And .. ah, you get it.

Here's after the paint went on the walls. Cabinet day was especially exciting. I don't think I stopped talking or pacing all day long. I kept leaving the room so I wouldn't intimidate the guys working but I HAD to keep coming back out to peek! That white coroplast was laying on the floor for the longest time. I couldn't WAIT to lift it to reveal the incredible floor! And that dear 'ol stove is still hangin' out. But not for long.

Cabinets, appliances and counter tops in all in one week!!!!!!! I thought I was gonna die from kitchen love. No working stove for awhile until gas was hooked up and all that jazz. Still waiting for that coroplast to be gone. And no island top yet. But I did load the cupboards up! It was so nice not to have to search for box after box for a fork. I remember this day vividly. The sun had broken out and I couldn't believe how gorgeous and bright this open floor plan was that day.



This is what you see today. And we are thrilled! Appliances are awesome. Lighting intensity is perfect! Windows glorious. Open floor plan nice and airy. Island and topper funky and practical and happily overused. Cabinets gorgeous and awesome quality. Sink and taps outstanding! Floors smooth and to die for. I need to take a good picture without all the glare and to cover the room from the angle view one day.

And the best part? Look ma! No coroplast!

The team and I worked incredibly hard to get this kitchen in before Christmas. When Christmas did arrive, we had a snow storm. Can you imagine how awesome it was being snowed in and having to stay in this kitchen?!? Well, if you can't, let me tell you.

Imagine having so much disfunction for so long that you can't even see your way up. You muddle through, you tell yourself all is fine, but you know it isn't. But you go through the motions anyway.

Then you are so busy implementing all your dreams that you barely have time to poke your head up beyond the dust to enjoy what's transpiring around you.

Finally, one day the dust settles, and all is wonderfully silent and beautiful. It's all there. It took me awhile to adjust to the beauty and reality of this kitchen. It's only a room, I know. But when you've dreamt for so long and it's finally here, you don't know what to do with all that emotion. So I did the only thing I could. I enjoyed it.

Cody loves to come in this room. He putters around in the easily-big-enough-for-2-cooks-now kitchen and pipes up, "We have a nice house now don't we?"

"We sure do buddy. Thanks to our wonderful friends for helping us get there."

You all know who you are.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Very unique way to shop for a toilet!

So I go into a place of work today to stripe and letter up a firetruck. I take note of the nice toilets they have there. Strange but true. Yes, I'm in the market for one so I examine what works for others. I love the one I got for my main bathroom, but it's over budget for me in secondary bathrooms, so I've been shopping around. I wanted a water saver, good flusher, good brand name, reasonable price. Not asking too much is it?!?

I go to the owner and ask him how much those nice toilets were and where from. He tries to call his plumber but there's no answer. So I happily go off to work in the bay area.

Next thing I know, he comes up to me, tells me the price (totally reasonable I might add) and tells me he's already loaded it in the back of my truck.


Vic will be so so happy! He's been waiting for an eternity for me to get my act together to get a lousy toilet already. You're welcome Vic!

I wonder what else the firetruck manufacturer place also carries that I need...

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Operation wood staining for staircase

I sure know about procrastination. I've been procrastinating this little project for way too long.

Staining woodwork is new to me. When I was assigned the somewhat daunting task of staining all the stairway wooden components, I knew I could do it of course, but just how well I wasn't sure.

I waited until the 11th hour naturally before going to order up the stain I'd been told months ago to do. I was busy, you know, with the rest of the house. Yeah well.. So right when I was ready to actually start, the particular rub on oil based stain that was apparently perfect for this job was on back order. Oh... Ok, well, I'll just paint the staircase wall three times over while I wait! No problem. I seem to have a knack for filling in time just fine.

The day arrived when the stain was finally in. That meant I basically had no more excuses. Time to learn on the job.

I've had these wood stair pieces in my basement for nearly three weeks now. (and much much longer in the garage) This is my work office and it's currently a little hard to do my work in here, so the stain came in at a good time. Work is about to step up in pace so I need to move these guys on out!

I waited until I found a Saturday where I was alone so I could pull a 24/7 if need be. And I procrastinated that day too. For as long as I could. I found an excuse to clean the house top to bottom for it was sunny out and every spec of dust shouted at me, "Clean me, then you don't have to stain wood!" Then I noticed Rudy and Corinne home so I dashed over there for added wood inspiration. They had distressed their bedroom wood floors and I kinda liked that idea. Oh their floors were wonderful! That was the ticket right there. I was no longer afraid and actually somewhat eager.

I set about finding the tools to ruin/distress the perfect pieces. Just ever so slightly. I liked it! There were a few nicks and dents in the pieces from storing them for such a long time in a very busy garage, so I felt I may as well make it look like those knicks were meant to be there.

Next, came the wipe on oil based stain. Wheeewww.... when you're use to latex varieties, this one hits you right in the nose. Windows got opened wide, radio flicked on, off I went with my staining party.

The stain actually went on very nice. I quickly figured out what NOT to do but had practiced on the back of a piece. So making sure I was working with wet edges and long even strokes with wiping on and off, they turned out pretty good in this rookie's opinion.

So I visited my little wood village Sunday again to spec out my work. Some pieces looked ehhh.. needed more stain. So I ended up double coating some. Well, now they're darker than the rest. Can you see where this is heading?!? I just gave myself double the work. Nice going. Still debating if it was absolutely necessary, but I kinda think it was. The wood looks richer and not so faded. I tried a couple pieces with the clear coat which darkens them up abit too. Not sure I have the full swing of that part yet. Wishing I could do a spray finish, but I guess others manage to do it well with a brush, so I'll keep at it.

This is where all these lovely pieces will eventually be installed. This is a shot well beyond the initial before, but it's still a before nevertheless.

Next up: varnishing these guys. Then painting the stairwell wall once more.

Guess what... I'm going to have pretty stairs!!!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Plugs, lights and smashed up tiles

So a few things have been transpiring the past few days. Back to work we've gone.

Vic and Pete came and installed this very cool outlet in the kitchen island. I LOVE it! I left the dust in tact for that true reno in action kinda experience. Honestly, it was pretty cool seeing abit of mess happen again.

AND... they finished the under the cabinet lights by hooking them all up. WOW. I kept the microwave light off on purpose to showcase their fine work. Isn't that sharp?

And last but not least, the ugliest job of all, perhaps even to date. There were a few rows of old tile that had to be removed before I could install the new tiles. About 8 rows or so. Hero Vic gave these old nasty things a good hammering, and I followed through with a fancy dancy tool bit loaned to me by Dan, a jackhammer kinda chisel run by my own air compressor. It worked really slick in removing all the old mortar and grout left. Boy was that one dusty job!

I know. He does look tired. I'm glad there weren't many to do because he wouldn't stop when I asked him to. Thanks God, for the incredible strength this man seems to grasp from nowhere. But we know you had a part in it...

I tried smashing tiles and the tool simply happily bounced right back at me without leaving a scratch. So let me tell you, strength and stamina x 1000 was definately required here.

Next? I'll be painting my staircase for ONLY the 3rd time ( first it was sage, then chocolate and now I want it beige. I saw that look...)

Then hopefully staining staircase wood.

And maybe even get ready to finish tiling my floor downstairs if any of the above is delayed.

If I don't repaint the staircase yet again that is.

Thanks Pete and Vic, for helping me with these tasks! They've all made such a tremendous difference.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Back to the grind

Oh my, Tuesday will be a day of work.

I've been spoiled. I took the entire Christmas school break off work to spend time with Cody and putter on the house. It's been fabulous.

And how could it not? Have you seen my house lately? (hardeeharhar) It's an amazing place to hang around in! So much room to move, a place for everything, easy to keep up and a pleasure to look at. Can't ask for more than that.

With all the snow days we've also had, wow. I'm sort of verging on the corner of cabin fever, but what a nice cabin to be stuck in.

So the timing will be good. Get back to making some income, pay attention to incoming bills again, just continue on with a routine of sorts.

And find time to tinker on the house too. Some of the tasks to continue, many I can continue with them on my own and don't require the team's help. It's so nice to be in that place of knowing I can handle things again! But I also made a vow to complete what was started. So I shall do that. It's tempting to keep stopping to admire and just live. But we aren't done quite yet.

So my big pie in the sky plan is, to accomplish at least one task a week. I'm so waiting on that stain for the woodwork, so that will be my first priority as soon as they call.

Other than that, there's plenty of other tasks that require my attention I can manage. I'll also try to work on them during the week as well if I complete my career work first. See? I've already given it much thought!

*stair and rail staining and varnishing - PRIORITY
caulk and paint mouldings
paint interior doors
replace all door hardware
remove old entry tile
lay new entry tile (I already own)
lay new shower tile (I already own)
put together and install new coat shelf at front door (I already own)
get a toilet for the ensuite
install of tap set for ensuite (I already own)
get lights for the kitchen
paint the laundry
paint the rest of the office
purge more junk from the basement
find more storage for the work junk in the basement
get a closet hanging system of some sort for the main bedroom
... and more I'm sure

And I have a shopping list of sorts. I'm on the lookout for (new, used or I make):

a twin bed base with drawers, headboard not important. It's used as a daybed in the playroom.
king headboard for the bedroom (make or buy??)
a vaccuum cleaner (nearly dead now)
a self propelled lawn mower (my current brand of lawnmower is called a Zach Toews)
(what have I started here?!?)
a couch I can sit on. One day I'll find one I can sit on.
a reclining chair that isn't ripped to shreds on the seat (or reclining sofa and chair or loveseat? dunno yet)

Lots. See? I got it covered.

Today, on the proposed first day of school, I was geared to work. But the schools were closed due to our snowfall last night! Wow! It was awesome. And playing that one extra day with Cody was equally so.

But life continues on. I've put away my mix master as cookie baking time is over. The tree is hidden until next December. And I brought up a few more home decor trinkets, washing off all the drywall dust so they can help make the house shine again.

Welcome 2009! And routine. And whatever else comes. We are well rested and ready to roll again!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Mantel decorating after Christmas

It's after Christmas, so generally that means the Christmas tree comes down. I really wasn't ready as I had put it up abit late this year, but also knew it would be a good evening to do it. It's time to make dust again in the house, so it should come down.

So I made a promise to myself that I'd only take down the tree and mantel garland if I found something else to put on the mantel first. I'm suppose to be mortaring the rock on the fireplace, but I just can't do it... just can NOT leave that massive mantel bare. So I went in-house shopping.

And this is what I came up with.

Just a buncha old boxes with mini lights strung all over.

And just when you figure out one thing, you have to fix another. Now I have to find new places for ALL those items that came out of those boxes...

Happy after Christmas decorating! I'm not sure this post has anything to do with renos. Does this mean I need a home decor blog too?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The entry way fiasco

I've attacked the entry way. Remember me mentioning the colour blocking of sage green and taupe???

I have never had sage green before. This entire house was some kinda green when I moved in but it wasn't sage. I love sage in other homes so I wanted a small taste of it in this one. So I bought a gallon of it confident it would just work because I'm a lot less picky now... (I heard that)

I was pretty excited with this new and improved sage for 2009! I ripped open the can and was smacking it on the wall to eagerly try it. I liked it! Different! So I smartened up and prepared things like I ought to, ripped out the old laminate floor, crack filled, and that tedious job of painting that boring white sealer. Prepping took a whole day. I'd have to wait one more day to do that wonderful sage.

So the next day I did my sage. Nice! I liked it! 2nd coat because I was just that confident and all. Then it was onto the taupe.

That's where things started to go wrong. After ALL the taupe was down first coat only, it looked pink. Gah... This was my first choice of taupe and it was nice in some rooms, but for the main upstairs, I switched it to Bamboo Beach to lose the pink undertone. Thinking I had to do the pink variation all downstairs because that's how I started down there, I got another can. But in the entry, it wasn't working for me.

It's New Year's Day so no paint stores open and I want it done today! So I scrounge around in my own stock and find two partial cans of Bamboo. The pink wasn't really wasted because it was a good base coat anyway I justified to myself. So I repainted. MUCH better!

Only, the sage wasn't speaking to me now. It was whispering. I wanted some major partying of colours here. That was suppose to be a feature wall and it was nearly transparent against the taupe.

I know what the issue was. The sage wasn't deep enough. The two tones together were too equal in value. Paint store lady suggested I go lighter but I went darker than she wanted me to. And it still wasn't strong enough.

But another issue was at play for me. I liked that sage and it was a beautiful sage. But for someone else. It just didn't feel like something I'd pick for me. What was I thinking...

So I went crazy, hoping no one would come over because of what I was about to do to my sage wall. I took all these colours and went mad on it. Wiped, dabbed, dry brushed, flicked, washed... and I stood back. Oh yeah, it was horrid. And then the doorbell rung. Doh!!!

After a little jibber jabber at the doorway, Gord did glance in quickly when I told him I was painting. He saw the nasty wall but didn't say anything. He may not have focused on it. But if he did, he musta thought, "She's painting all right, but what I don't know." Neither did I.

Gord left. I dashed back to my stock. I found a half gallon of chocolate. I smiled. Yeah, this is more me for sure. I didn't hesitate. Buh bye whatever that was I made on my wall.

There's something about colour on walls that doesn't work for me. I love the neutrals because they allow me to change my mind a hundred times over with accessory choices. I'd always have sage walls if that's the paint I used. I just like changing out stuff within my own stuff around the house to make things look different. I've always done that and don't see that stopping anytime soon. If I want blue stuff one day, I start painting some wood stuff I have, well, blue. And go from there. To me that is fun and easy and challenging and free!

Now I had to imagine the tile floor in but for now, the floor is a lovely cold cement tone (cuz it's cement). I revamped my stuff to make it work. Ah the magic of paint I tell ya. I took a little table I had upstairs and painted/distressed it up just so to make it work. Then touched up another thing, and another. Dragged out my decorating junk and put this here and that there. All the while, paint cans and brushes flying. I was down there all day and all night. Again.

But I like it! It's eclectic but efficient for the way we live at the same time. When I get this shelf thing hung to hang coats up (that I have still in a box in the garage from about a year ago), I'll try some pics. Because when that goes up, I may have to change stuff around anyway.


Shelf thing up and some tile removal from entry way.
Staining and varnishing staircase components
Digging out the laundry room to paint in there
Dapping and painting woodwork and doors...

I think I'll stop the list. Nothing like making your own job jar too overwhelming.

I just hope I don't add changing my chocolate wall to tomorrow's list...