...still ended up with chalky shoe prints up the stairs from my dear husband.
Another March Break project was to paint the kitchen - I did the ceiling, primed, and did 2 coats of paint, then the trim. It was a big job, but I like how bright and airy the kitchen looks now, and a lot cleaner too.
Kitchen before - I didn't mind the medium greige colour, but it needed an update
Also pre-grout work!
First step was to patch all the uneven walls - Matt did that
Also a lot of sanding...I took preventative measures to minimize the mess...
...still ended up with chalky shoe prints up the stairs from my dear husband.
View from the ground after the walls were primed and ceiling was painted (ohhhh my back!)
Lucky we have so many drop sheets to cover everything
2 coats done, now for the trim!
Took off the tape to reveal that the last painters were not too careful with NOT painting the trim...
All done - much brighter entryway
The cupboards need some updating - they are starting to yellow which really stands out now that the trim is whiter, and everything is cleaner. Also still have to do a bit of decor, of course.
This project actually took place while I was on March Break...just forgot about the pictures and project until Matt started doing the caulking this past week. Our grout was originally white I believe, and it turned a gross yellow over time. I tried cleaning, scrubbing, and everything to get it back to white, but nothing would help. So here's what I did, in pictures:
BEFORE: Also before I painted the kitchen, was just prepping the walls
A close-up...very dingy yellow
Chose a gray as I figured if I did it white, it would just go back yellow again.
If you read the ingredients, it's pretty much just paint. Squeezed it into a bottle and applied it with a foam brush
Wipe the excess from the white tile with a slightly damp towel. Some grout lines will required two coats.
It took me 8 hours over 2 days to do this whole room. You need to go slow and be patient.
Did around the stove on Day 1, and around the sink on Day 2.
Finished work - I like it!
Crisp and clean!
Coming up next? Caulking around the counter and tile, painting the kitchen, staining the living room TV unit, and of course, or backyard furniture project!!!
So here's what I accomplished over the month of January, and my future plans:
2. Cleaned the guest bedroom mirror
3. Organized the guest room drawers
4. Got the ProActiv frequency to the longest time
5. Decided to leave the picture on the floor - I like it!
10. Stepped on the scale (and promptly stepped off)
Did not figure out ways to dry towels better (sticking to over door knobs and frames), find art for the walls, spray paint the lamp base or the chandelier
Cleaned with a new light
Cleaned mirror and organized drawers
11. Organized the shower stuff
12. Replaced the turquoise pouf
82. Ripped out the basement medicine cabinet
83. Ripped out the basement toothbrush holder
Did not replace the shower mat, buy more white towels, or paint the basement bathroom
BONUS: scrubbed the bathroom floors!
Scrubbed bathroom and organized cabinets
Cleaned and some easy demolition
15. Storage solution for the saw horses (threw them out and got metal ones that collapse)
17. Donated the mirror
Did not spray paint the bird cage, put together the light, remove the sweater (why oh why?), patch and sand the walls, figure out the parquet
Got rid of sawhorses, donated much of the clothing, and got rid of the wire hangers
22. Made the bed (repeatedly, haha)
23. Did the laundry (also repeatedly)
25. Dusted the blinds
26-28. Organized the closets
Did not cover the yellow storage ottoman
BONUS: cleaned this room really well, including the mattress
Added some purple decor and cleaned
Also cleaned out every closed and cleaned the mattress with baking soda and fabric softener
32. Touched up the stairs
33. Put away some coats and accessories
34. Organized the shoes
35. Got a welcome mat for the hallway (not a runner, though)
36. Got a new light for the main entryway
Did not organize the upstairs hall closet, put a gallery wall down the stairs, get a new light for the hallway (although planning to use the old hallway light after spray painted silver)
Got a new light and organized some of the storage
Touched up the paint and stain on the stairs
39 & 40. - Used my new tripod and lens
Did not prime and paint the trim or update the sideboard decor
BONUS: cleaned this room really well
Washed all the linens from Christmas and dusted everything
Got some inspiring ideas from my YHL and D*S books (more to come on that!)
41. Took down the overhead light
43. Mounted the speakers to the wall
44. Read some decor magazines (but there are so many more now that I haven't read yet!)
46. Made the gallery wall
Did not figure out how to hide the wires, sand and stain the TV unit, figured out the lonely vase
BONUS: cleaned this room really well
New lighting and cleaned up space with mounted speakers
Need something for that far wall...
Got pictures for the gallery wall
48. Organized the change
49. Re-oiled the cutting boards (Matt is actually doing this as we speak!)
51. Bought milk
54. Cleaned the chalkboard (but didn't figure out something fun)
55. Shoveled the snow (multiple times, unfortunately)
56. Found a place for the cookbooks
57. Threw out the lavender
58. Threw out that orange
Did not organize the kitchen spices (although did rid myself of many of the ones in the basement), regrout tiles, paint the kitchen, figure out the top of the shelves, take down the ceiling fan, pulled out the plugs, fixed the wall bulge, or fix the clock
Florals to brighten up the kitchen
Spic and span kitchen, organized cookbooks, and a meal!
Dinner - Rosemary Chicken Lasagna
64 Dusted the shelf on the stairs
65. Put away laundry
66. Found a shop-vac space
67. Organized the bookshelf
69. Played the piano (Joseph Act 2!)
70. Used my office space
72. Stored the miter saw
73. Organized the wrapping container
74. Organized the storage pile (and threw a lot out)
75. Donated multiple items
76. Took back the empties
77 & 78. Organized the storage cupboards
81. Got rid of the old paint cans
86. Got the stuff out of the dryer
87. Washed the Christmas napkins and runner
88. Washed the stored the drop sheets
89. HHW disposal
90. Got rid of/washed some of the rags
91. Sorted the random wood
92. Dusted the laundry room rafters
93. Organized the tool drawers
94. Stored (but not cleaned) work shoes
95. Stored the towels (although not exactly where I want them yet)
96. Put away Matt's Queen's stuff
98. Covered the AC unit outside
Did not do anything with the chalkboard, get more ink for the printer, learned to golf, go on a picnic, called to service our AC unit
Organized files and bookshelves
An incredible amount of decluttering and organization
Wood gone, and a new home for the shop-vac
Tool area cleaned up and a little bit of love
And # 100 - Loved my home (a lot!) 63 of 100 things? Pretty good! Most of these things I didn't plan to finish in January in the first place, but it was a good list to get organized from. Matt says "ohhh...so that's a C" to which I promptly hit him. So supportive. It was a great month, and can't wait to do more!
Plans for the next few months?
1. Organize the linen closet
2. Paint the kitchen, dining room trim, and basement bathroom
3. Spray paint crazy - chandelier, hallway lights, birdcage
4. Plus some of the easy missed organization from the above list.
Longer term, we are planning to build a storage area underneath the stairs, along with reinforcing the stairs themselves and tearing off the carpet on it.
Day 1: Make a List of House Projects
So I figured this would be more fun in pictures, although I will write it down in list-form for myself. I wandered around the house taking pictures of things that need fixing/changing/updating/organizing, anything! There's a few different random notes to myself as I went as well that I threw in. A lot of these are small, and add up to the larger projects we want to do around the house. Some will take 1 minute and I will do today, others this month, others later this year when the weather is better (like spray painting things), and some won't even be in 2013. But it's a list! I took this pictures with my house as-is. No editing, no cleaning, nothing. Now considering it is a week after Christmas, my house isn't too messy, but you'll see some typical my-house stuff as we go around the rooms.
**Note that this is a photo-heavy post, so could take a bit to load!*
1. Find a towel-drying solution. I used to hang them on the stair guard but now that it is new and shiny Matt says I'm not allowed anymore. Hanging them on doors doesn't seem to dry them as well...
2. Clean that mirror
3. Organize these drawers - the far one has Christmas receipts in it along with my makeup. The other has extra bath stuff.
4. Oh yes, and change the frequency of the ProActiv...I have too many extra kits that I'll never used fast enough. Anyone want to try it?
5. Hang this
6. Find decor for this wall - some great art
7. And something for this wall too!
8. Spray paint this light a brighter gold
9. "Pretty" this lamp base...paint?
10. Step on this...hmmm...perhaps not.
11. Organize the shower stuff - need a little shower organizer box...
12. Oh yes, and replace the turquoise pouf
13. Replace this shower mat - it never dries
14. Buy more white towels - these are getting dingy
15. Storage solutions for sawhorses
16. Spray paint this birdcage
17. Donate that mirror on the right
18. Put together the light I bought for this room
19. Remember why there is a sweater in the vent...
20. Patch sand the walls and paint
21. Decide what to do with that parquet
22. Make the bed
(I have since made the bed...and decided as it is 2:30pm, to get dressed too)
23. Do the laundry!
24. This is yellow...but now my room has purple...slipcover???
25. Dust the blinds - annoying but doesn't take long
26. Organize this - it keeps getting messy so I need a new organization solution!
27. And this too!
28. Oh yes, and go through all these dresses and see which ones I will possibly wear again, and donate the rest
29. Organize the hall closet again - just needs a bit of tidying really!
30 Gallery wall down the stairs with family and friend pictures
31. Get a new light for the hallway
32. Touch-ups on the stairs
33. Put away coats and accessories that aren't in every day use
34. New shoe storage for winter
35. New runner for winter - it's going to be a snowy one!
36. New light for the downstairs hallway
37. Prime the oil trim and re-paint in latex (the oil yellows)
38. Update the sideboard decor
39. Take some pictures of the house with my new tripod!
40. And with my new 50mm lens!
41. Matt really loves this light and I don't...perhaps painting it a silver colour would make me like it more...
42. Figure out how to hide the wire to the TV
43. Should I mount these speakers to the wall?
44. Read these.
(Notice my inhaler from my lingering bronchitis? Also watching Disney movies while making exams, and of course, drinking tea (placed on pretty coasters from Hope from Anthropologie)!
45. Sand and stain the TV unit
46. Fill these frames with black and white travel pictures
47. This vase looks lonely...what to do?
48. Ooooooh Matt left me some money (change goes in the car for Tim Hortons, Starbucks, etc) - oh right - ummm...put money in car.
49. Oil the cutting board and seal it again
50. We got rid of the spice rack so now I need an organization solution for the ones we keep out
51. Buy milk (used the last of it in my tea)
52. Regrout tiles (can you just re-grout them or do you have to un-grout them first? I want to change the colour)
53. Paint the kitchen
54. Do something fun with the chalkboard (and wash it again because obviously Matt's washing job was not great)
56. Make a shelf in the kitchen for all the cookbooks
57. Sorry Jessica, but the lavender is now just making a mess...must be tossed
58. Decide whether that de-zested orange is still good...
59. What do do with the tops of the shelves - can I put things up there?
60. Get a new kitchen light (do I still want a fan?)
61. Pull random plugs out of wall
62. Fix weird bulge in wall
63. This clock does not keep time...how to fix?
64. This shelf needs to be dusted
65. Perhaps put away last week's laundry before I do this weeks...
66. Find a space for the new shop-vac (yay my Dyson vacuum will not be subjected to giant wood pieces anymore)
67. Organize my shelves...the chemistry shelf is combusting...
68. Another chalkboard to do fun things to!
69. Play the piano more - need to go over the Act 2 songs for Joseph!!!
70. Use my desk for its intended purpose...work (hmmm, I should really start making my 12 C chem exam...)
71. Get more ink for the printer
Basement Storage Hallway
72. Storage for the miter saw...preferably still in the basement
73. Organize the wrapping container
74. Organize this pile of old magazines and keepsakes
75. Donate some of the furniture (anyone want a brown microfibre headboard?)
76. Take back the empties
77. Organize this kitchen storage cupboard
78. See if I still wear any of these coats and donate those that I do not
79. Learn to golf (will you teach me Uncle John?)
80. Ooooh go on a picnic (bottom shelf is a picnic kit Matt got for working at his job for 5 years)
81. Yeah....paint organization...that's going to be a big one...
82. Rip out that medicine cabinet
83. Rip out that toothbrush holder
84. Get a new light fixture
85. Paint the bathroom
Laundry & Tool Room
86. See that little orange light on the dryer? Well that means there is something in it. No clue what, but it's been in there for a week. Figure that one out and put the stuff away. Or rewash it.
87. Wash the Christmas placemats and napkins.
88. Wash and store the drop sheets and work clothes
89. HHW disposal...and I teach workplace safety?
90. Wash/throw away rags from stripping and staining and painting
91. Random wood. Does it stay or go? Does it stay HERE or go?
92. Look above when dusting...
93. Organize tool drawers
94. Attempt to clean shoes
95. Store towels
96. Find a better place for Matt's Queen's stuff
97. Our air conditioner needs more freon - call Direct Energy
98. Is the cover on the AC unit?
Come on? 98? Couldn't be an even 100? Hmmm...what are two more things I can think of?
99. As sson as the snow goes away, start weeding and tidying garden (do not wait until the weeds take over in May)
100. Enjoy the house - love the decor I have, and the paint, and even the mess - as Ikea says "long live the home."
Since Matt has a huge hand in our home projects, I thought I would give him a voice (whether he wanted one or not) to talk about our house and life in general. I did this as an interview, as there is no way he would just ramble on the way I do about stuff. So one New Year's Eve day while he watched a hockey game, I asked him questions on commercials and intermissions about our home.
Matt last June
1. How do you feel about being interviewed for the blog? Be honest.
Ummmm, it’s not how I intended to spend my morning (he’s watching the world junior game versus Russia). You have 20 minutes for intermission time.
2. What was the first home project you remember? Doesn’t have to be for our house. *Reminder that my husband has a bad memory so this may not actually be the first one*
I did the bunkie at the cottage when I graduated university.
What did you do?
That one was pretty easy – everything was pre-bought – the carpet was torn out of another room, the plumbing was done, and the fixtures for the bathroom were already bought, so for that was mostly just tearing out an old laminate floor, putting down a new subfloor (I didn’t know you did that much), painting – painted over the wood panel walls, tore out the wood covered doors, and replaced the trim. Painted all the windows (old fashioned window panes – ranch style), and then it was all the finishes – put in the padding and the carpet, put in new baseboards, new light fixtures, and blinds.
How did you know how to do all that?
Ummmmmmm….most of it was just instructions, my dad told me what he wanted done and I went and did it.
Yeah but how did you tear it out without damaging?
Ohhh I damaged a lot. The floor needed to be chiselled out, and it was rotted so I had to replace some of the subfloor. There’s probably a bit still there…but it’s all finished over…so you can’t tell, haha.
Any more recent projects in your own place?
Trying to hang a shelf in my first condo. Unlike the bunkie, I had access to very little in the way of tools and had no idea the difference between drilling into drywall versus the concrete fire walls in a condo. So I started by using the drill that I had (probably from 1960 given to me by my dad and shocked you every 30 seconds or so), but it only made it about a ¼ inch through the plaster before it stopped and started smoking. So my first idea was trying to hang it with short screws into the plaster, and after the shelf fell down once I learned you can buy special drill bits and screws that go into concrete. Problem solved!
Bunkie on the outside
Bunkie on the inside from the bed- the only picture I have of the inside when I was trying to take pictures with my phone for the first time last summer...it didn't turn out so well.
3. You moved around a lot as a kid, and your mom is very crafty and your dad is pretty handy too – do you think you get all this home project desire from them?
Maybe, my dad was a lot like me in that he has no real experience in any of this, just figured it out as he went. He did work a few odd jobs in landscaping and contracting stuff when he was in high school, so probably knew more than I do. He’s also a better electrician because my grandfather was one.
So what do you get from your mom?
I believe the phrase “queer eye” comes up. I think just a sense of style, and knowing what I like in a house.
4. We lived in a condo before we bought our first house – did you know that you wanted to buy a fixer-upper then?
I think this place is pretty live-in ready – we just had to do little things. Remember that one place on Coxwell I wanted? That one was detached, triplex, that could have easily been opened up but would have required some professionals to remove 2 of the 3 kitchens and the place needed a complete gut from top to bottom.
And the basement was scary.
Then there was that other place that had the cheap kitchen reno.
The one that smelled like mothballs?
But it had a lot of potential – it was pretty big for a semi, but needed a lot of work.
Our first condo together
5. What made you want to buy our current house?
The more we thought about it, the idea of a COMPLETE reno seemed a bit daunting, so we wanted something not necessarily finished, but liveable. This one had a finished bathroom, the kitchen worked (although tiny). It had a lot of character – the original wood floors, the beautiful backyard, and it was a good size (3 bedrooms, in the city, finished basement).
Our current house on the left way back in November 2010
6. What are some challenges with working in an older home (90 years this year!)
Lath and plaster walls – it pre-dates drywall – it’s hard to drill into and secure things too. You have to be careful not to crack them – one crack and there goes a big chunk of your wall. Almost every fastener at Home Depot is for drywall, so you have to get special hollow wall plugs that aren’t exactly easy to work with.
Nothing is square. It looks it, but there are no 90 degree angles anywhere – either on the floor or the walls or anything.
So what do you do?
Most cuts are trial and error with wood – to get the right fit. Filler and shims to fill gaps - you just have to work with it.
Troubles with lath and plaster walls...
7. We’ve done a lot of projects over the past few years – which one was your favourite and why?
I think the guest bedroom.
Yeah, getting that rounded moulding around the corner was a lot of work and I like the way it turned out.
I also like stair guard, because it was the most structural work I’ve ever done. It went from a rickety not-to-code post to a strong solid rail. (Pause) Oh wait, I forgot about the side board (in the dining room). I really like the way that turned out.
Do you want to develop on that at all?
Oh, well, even though most of it was from Ikea, finding a good solid piece of wood that big, and staining it and polishing it to what it looks like now really makes the room come together – it looks good. Wiring the light into the staircase was good – I don’t know about electrical work, and it hasn’t burnt down the house yet, so it’s pretty good.
Curved chair rail on the left
Stair guard project
Wiring this little light to turn on with the regular basement lighting
8. Which project drove you crazy the most and why?
Stripping the stairs was a terrible task. It was monotonous, physically exhausting, and very dirty. Plus, after about an hour of those fumes you developed a pretty bad headache. (Pause) The shelving unit in the basement made out of plywood was pretty difficult – it had to be built into a wall where nothing was square, so every cut was custom, and made it very difficult. In hindsight, I would have purchased a unit that was close to the size, and made it look like it was built into the wall. Live and learn. But we did do it for a quarter of the cost if we had bought one, so there was one benefit to it!
Refinishing the stairs
Working on the office shelving unit
9. There are never any pictures of me doing things. Can you please explain how I contribute to home renos around here?
You…..ummmmmm….what do you do? You paint. Because I hate it. You are generally the chief designer….and you’re also the, haha, chief photographer and documentarian, hence you are always behind the camera and not in front of it. Documentarian’s a word right?
I don’t know. You’re generally opposed to anything Ikea or anything that involves an allen key. Seems to get the better of you.
I helped with the Pax wardrobe.
You did, you assembled two drawers, one of which was backwards, so you had to do that again.
I’m trying to think of other things I did.
You’re a level when I’m trying to hold things – like hanging a painting or mirror.
So you don’t really need me?
No, I need you. (Pause) Yeah you do a lot of the painting. I don’t know if you’ve ever picked up a power tool.
I stripped the first stairs.
You did – you stripped the first four stairs. You came up with this wall thing (points).
That would be called a gallery wall.
Yes, that thing. You’ve selected all the paints and painted most of the rooms.
I did the entire basement without you at all.
How would you want me to help in the house?
That’s a good question. I actually prefer doing a lot of these things. Because I typically learn by doing, it’s hard to give instructions. I’m also…selfish, and I don’t like giving up control on projects.
That’s funny, most people would say that about me.
The little evidence I have of me doing work...
10. What are some projects that you are looking forward to for 2013 (short-term)?
What’s on the list?
No, I have my own post for that. What do you want to do?
This summer I want to build a big table and bench for the backyard to custom fit the deck. I’ll purchase chairs – I won’t try to build those, haha. With my new compound mitre saw!!! And a big chunk of cedar.
Anything in the house you want done?
I want to sand down the floors in the middle (unmentionable name - *cough* - baby) room.
Well right now it is a construction area and it needs to be well cleaned up. I may have also put a hole in wall when I was doing the railing.
Yeah…there’s a hole. When the saw piece broke it shot a piece of wood next to the dresser right into the wall. A perfect little square. Haha.
It’s also parquet flooring.
Yeah, but I still think I can strip/sand it down. Rent a big floor sander for that. Make it a lighter colour to match the floors. Won’t change the floor completely. I still don’t know why it’s parquet though. So do you think it’s worth redoing it with hardwood?
I’m more worried about how it will be to pull out the parquet.
It’s glued down – you’ll have to chisel it down piece by piece.
Something to think about.
Current backyard furniture
The "baby" room
11. What are some longer-term projects you want to tackle?
I think we eventually want to do the kitchen. Knock out the wall between the living room and kitchen to open it up a bit.
My mom’s worried that we’re going to put a lot of money and time into the kitchen and then move.
That’s something to consider, although they say that the kitchen is the place where you get your money back on the investment, if we do sell. You always have to consider in any project if you’re doing it for yourself or for resale. I don’t know about you, but I’m not planning to pack up and leave in the next year or so.
Yes, but we won’t get around in the kitchen in the next year either. Any other projects?
There’s talk about expanding the bathroom downstairs and refinishing the wood floors throughout the house.
How long do you think we’ll be in this house before you get the itch to move again and start all over?
I don’t know, haha. It’s hard to put a date on that. 5 years maybe? 10?
Well you’d be surprised at how quickly 5 years will go by!
Current tiny kitchen
Basement bathroom (well before we moved in)
12. What things would you be looking for in our next house that you may not have considered in this one?
A bigger kitchen for sure – this one is quite small. Less creaky floors? One of the things I love about this house is the character of the old floors, but one thing I hate is how creaky they are. I don’t think there’s a way to fix that, though, without tearing them up.
I can think of a million things I would change.
Really? I don’t know. A fireplace – preferably wood, but gas would be okay too.
I want a mantle – so many décor magazines decorate mantles.
Does the fireplace matter at all?
I can put in a mantle for you if you really want.
What about detached?
Ummm, I don’t mind the semi-detached because we’ve always had quiet neighbours. But detached would be better for more natural light in the house.
Agreed. Would you consider getting a house that needs more work next time?
You mean, like, gut the main floor?
I don’t know.
I don’t know if I’d want to do something with more work, I think we would need help – hire someone to tear out walls and major structural stuff requiring a contractor.
You don’t think you could tear a wall out on your own?
I think I could tear out a wall on my own, I don’t know if I could put back a wall on my own. There’s very little room for trial and error – it’s not something you want to get wrong.
My brother has a mantle...
13. So you also have a pretty good eye for décor. How does it make you feel when I call you Martha Stewart?
Laughs. I think I get a little smug satisfaction because I know you’re just saying it because you’re jealous.
Why am I jealous?
You wish you had the same eye.
Matt painted that...
14. You’re also a really good cook – what’s your favourite thing to make?
I really like doing pulled pork or slow-cooked lamb. The dutch oven makes cooking easy and delicious. Add beer/wine/some sort of alcoholic beverage to meat, and cook for hours.
What’s for dinner tonight (New Year’s Eve)?
It will be a beer-braised duck, pulled, served over homemade duck-fat fries with cheese. A pulled-duck poutine if you will. Not exactly healthy, but New Year’s Resolutions start tomorrow.
We’re having salad too.
Although the salad contains goat cheese – pomegranate and apple and goat cheese baby arugula salad.
Frozen chocolate mousse trifle.
Which I made.
There you go.
Lamb + veggies + wine = awesome
15. Are you sick of answering questions yet?
I was sick about 20 minutes ago.
16. How do you feel about the blog? About being on the blog?
It’s always weird when friends and family are so familiar with stuff I’ve done around the house, even if I haven’t talked to them in months.
How do you feel about me writing a blog?
It’s kind of like your diary – I don’t have a problem with you writing it, but publishing it is odd.
I don’t put anything too personal on it.
No you don’t. I find the whole blogging, facebook, and everything else - the whole concept, way too much information about people.
17. Do you love me?
Of course. Always.
I have to quantify this? Like on a scale from 1-10? I feel it's unquantifiable.
18. Anything else you want to say to our 10 readers out there (9 of them being my family)?
Laughs. Whose the 1 who’s not your family? Some lonely guy in Russia?
My coworker, Mike. Tell him you’re not a slave in your own house.
Can I go back to watching the hockey game now?
I just looked back at the "House Projects of 2011" post I did last December, and WOW - we did a lot last year. We had moved in mid-February and did the living room, dining room, master bedroom, basement office, and some outdoor gardening. This year I thought about what we did, and most of it was done in the past few months. I asked Matt "why did we do so little this year?", and he replied "remember that whole 4.5 months when I lived in Vancouver?" - ohhhhhh yes. Now I remember. He came back mid-May and then we were really busy travelling around - a week in Dominican for my brother's wedding, 5 days in Vancouver, and 4 days in NYC. We weren't home for an extended period of time so do any projects until the fall. So what DID we do?
Before - Summer 2011
After - Summer 2012
And the backyard last summer is pretty good too!
Before - sea foam green walls
After - Benjamin Moore Brown Horse
Still needs something on the walls
Before - beige walls
After - Benjamin Moore Gray Owl with White Dove trim
(Painted courtesy of my dad!)
Before - Benjamin Moore Cloud White
After - Benjamin Moore Sea Haze with White Dove trim
Really need some non-Christmas pictures!
The few scary nights of no stair guard
The reconstructed finished product!
Can't believe how bright the stairway looks now!
6. New Furniture & Decor
New dining room table from West Elm
New sofa from West Elm
New bedding and some purple in the bedroom
I don't think I posted this - there is now also a new purple sunset throw at the end of the bed I got at Christmas!
What We Didn't Do? (based on this post from last year)
- Gallery Wall Up the Stairs (although we did just do one in the living room)
- Backyard Entertaining Space (I guess you would have to be around to do work in the summer!)
- Lighting (still need lights for both the upstairs and downstairs hallway, living room (standing, table, overhead)
- Refinish the TV unit (although we did add a back to it a few weeks ago)
**More on 2013 projects coming up this week!**
Once we finished our stair guard, we wanted to refinish the stairs. Originally we were just going to pull out the runner and leave the stairs white, but I started to like the look of wood steps with white vertical rises. So in the summer while we were in New York, my dad pulled out the runner for us - it was a LOT of hard work. There were about 40-50 nails in every stair holding it down, and the only way to get them out was to rip them out. No glue...just a LOT of nails. He said it took about 2 hours to pull them all out. Thanks Dad!!!
The stairs when we just moved in
And after my dad pulled out the runner...
(That's a mixture of stain, oil paint, and latex paint from many years)
View from above when we were working on the stair guard
So once the runner was up, the next step was to strip all the old paint and stain to get the wood back to its natural finish. This is a really messy, nasty job, and I would never want to do it again. Paint stripper is very gross - it is bad for your health, so make sure you have a good mask, gloves, safety goggles, and a well-ventilated area (some strippers even suggest a respirator). We got the kind that is biodegradable, so it doesn't damage the environment as much (it is methylene chloride free), but it is still bad. It has a sickly sweet ester smell and made me sick to my stomach after a while. I did the first few steps - 4 steps took me 3 hours with cleanup. Each stair required about 3 coats to get it all off, and even then it wasn't perfect. You paint it on, leave it on for about 10 minutes, and then scrape it off. It is very hard to get the corners and edges, and you need a lot of muscle to do it. My entire body ached for about 3 days afterward. You are left with this sludge of paint and stripper that you need to dispose of as well, and it just makes a mess.
3 hours later...
Day 2 - Covered the stairs so the gross sludge fell onto a towel instead of onto the stairs (and myself) below.
You need a bucket to rinse the stiars after, lots of rags and towels, a scraper, and a paint brush.
After 1 layer of stripper
3 more hours on Day 2 produced this
3 days to finish all the stairs - WOW, it was a lot of gross work!
Once the stripping was done (insert bad joke here), the staining began, but before that we needed to wash and sand every stair (very hard wood - took a lot of work), and we even bleached the stairs to try and get them a lighter colour (because as you can see above, they are still much darker than our floors). Bleaching was honestly straight forward - apply a laundry bleach and water mixture to the stairs, then neutralize with Borax solution (yay for chemistry!). Once that was done (and the stairs still darker), we decided we loved it enough and we were reading to stain. We once again used Minwax to stain the stairs, and let it dry for a day, and applied another coat. Then applied 3 coats of water-based polyurethane for strength (not oil-based as it is banned in some states and takes weeks to cure). The coats could be applied within 3-4 hours of each other, and then needed 24 hours before they could be stepped on. We did every other stair so that we could still get everywhere in the house, which means it took many days. (4 days for staining, 4 days for polyurethane). Dry time is temperature-dependent, so make sure you have adequate heating in the home at all times.
Stained (with blue tape telling me where I can step)
After all the staining was done we needed to paint all the vertical rises and sides. First coat was a primer, followed by two coats of Benjamin Moore`s White Dove in Semi-Gloss. This was pretty straight forward but leave the tape on for longer than we did (finished the last coat in the morning and took the tape off that night, because it was Christmas Eve and we were having my family over!) - at least 24 hours.
Taping the stairs actually took the longest
We were actually peeling off the tape on Christmas Eve as my parents arrived
(Some touch-ups still needed but pretty much done)
Finished product - really brightens up the hallway!
Before & After
A bit of filler and repainting are needed on some of the white - the wood was really beat up
Stair guard and stairs done - feels so good to be finished!!!
This project turned out to be a lot bigger than I anticipated, as it was a lot more building and construction than we were used to. Our original stair guard was about 2.5 feet, and building code for houses in Toronto has a minimum requirement of 3.5 feet. We figured that it would be a good idea to get it up to code. I routinely stumble to the bathroom in the middle of the night, and if I grabbed that rail wrong, I could definitely have gone right over multiple times. We eventually will have kids, so now was the best time to tear down railings and rebuild them up (to minimize the amount of tiny children falling over the ledge). I looked online to find some resources but there was very little, so I hope this post helps some others in their own stair guard projects!
Tools Needed: Compound Mitre Saw, Circular Saw, Power Drill, Drill Bits (1/4, 3/8, 5/8, 3/4 inch), Crowbar, Planar, Power Sander, Newel Bolts, Rail Fastening Bolts, Construction Adhesive, Wood for Newel Posts & Railings (Oak), and Balusters (Poplar)
Time Required: 2 Days for Staining (2 coats with sanding between), 1/2 Day for Demo, 4 Days for Rebuild
(Total Time: 7 days)
This was the original stair guard in October.
View from the stairs
Our first step was to buy the right wood and stain it - we wanted the wood to match our floors with white posts between. We ended up buying oak for the newel posts and railings, and poplar for the in between posts. Oak is very strong, and we really decided to stain it instead of painting everything white like it was, because oak is so pretty, and expensive, and it seemed a shame to cover it up. So we bought a very natural stain (we used Minwax Polyshades - stain and polyurethane in one) and stained all the wood and even our railings we had done last year to match. Made them all bright and shiny after two coats and polishing.
Very impressive staining lab in the basement
Newel posts - very thick oak!
Then came the demolition, which was actually the shortest part of the whole project. Some of the wood beams were nailed (used toe nails supposedly Matt says), others were glued, but in general it was already very wobbly and shaky and really a good sledge hit probably would have knocked it all down completely...yes...that is a very scary thought, now!
"Yes dear, I have safety glasses" - SUNGLASSES ARE NOT SAFETY GLASSES
(This was soon remedied by the lovely people at Home Depot)
About 1 minute later and the top was sawed off
And then we ripped off the beams
The excellent craftsmanship of the original railings...multiple bent nails and glue...
There were a lot of nails, actually...but none of them in too well
Next came the newel post, which would have been difficult had it been solid
But as you can see it was not. Just a hallow box.
4 posts together, which is very typical of newel posts as I researched, but we wanted something more solid
The post was built into the stairs, so now we had a hole to deal with
And this is how it was for an entire day and night...it was the scariest night ever.
This was going to be a challenge - look at that ledge
Obviously some paint would be needed too!
Matt found an extra piece to replace the broken top step
Our makeshift workshop...so pretty much we can't have kids if we want to renovate...
Now the rebuilding begins. The newel posts were the first to go up. So first a support beam under the floor was drilled into to insert the newel bolt, and then an access hole needed to be drilled up through the bottom on the newel post and through the side to attach the nut and secure it to the floor.
Multiple drill bits were tried until this one worked through the very thick oak
Okay - posts are up. we attached the poplar pieces we were going to use for balusteres with bungee cords around the poles to make it a somewhat less scary night
Makeshift rail protection for a few nights...
No clue what he is doing (drilling something) but I couldn't resist...love that guy...
Then the handrails were attached between the newel posts - pilot holes had to be drilled for the rail bolt to go into the newel post and into the rail itself. Once the rail was up a shoe rail was cut and placed to cover up the damage to the floor left by the old rail (see above on the left), then each of the balusters was cut and measured. They were secured with construction adhesive and a wood plug - this was harder than it looked because the rail had to be lifted up to insert them on the top and bottom, but if it was lifted too high they would fall out when others were being placed - definitely a two-man job for this section. I almost got impaled multiple times - be patient! We primed and painted the balusters beforehand - Benjamin Moore White Dove in Semi-Gloss to match the trim. One final coat was done once everything was in place.
Before he asked for my help...
You SURE you don't want my help?
He took it eventually - and look how well it turned out!
Once everything was in the railing was lowered and all the bolts were secured, and the access holes in the newel posts were filled with wood plugs and stained to match. Matt cut small white pieces to put between the posts, and filled it with wood filler. Then it was all sanded and touched up with paint until the gaps were gone. The hardest post to put in was the one in the corner. We had to get a drill bit that went 90 degrees so we could get it in.
Filling in the gaps between balusters
The post attached to the wall on the right - that was the one that needed a 90 degree drill bit
Tried to stain the little access holes as best we could - that's where the tightening happened
It's all done!!! YAY!
Matt's advice - pre-plan the drill bits you will need to limit all the attachments needed, careful not to get the newel bolt jammed (we had to get a new one) - use a double-locking nut to avoid this, have a plan to secure your railing or stairs so you don't fall in the middle of the night mid-progress.
Here's our living room just before we moved into the house:
And the day we moved in:
And a few months later after we painted it Cloud White:
And last Christmas:
Well one day a few weeks ago I got sick of the white and decided I was going to paint. I went to the colour I had in the hallways (Benjamin Moore's Grey Owl), and went a shade darker, to find Sea Haze. A nice grey with only a slight greenish undertone (which I noticed perhaps only because of our Christmas tree, so that won't be an issue soon enough). Matt came home to this:
Yep - there I am super glamourous with ancient AE sweats with holes in the butt and my greasy hair pulled back.
As usual Matt took more but they were usually of me bending over or another equally unflattering angle...
Done! (iPhone photo makes it look much more beige than it really is)
Ahhh yes, the overhead light casts weird shadows - I am already looking for a replacement...I never quite warmed up to it anyway, and now I feel it is too rustic for the room...
And one week to Christmas here it is!
Oh yeah - did you see our new sofa too? It's the Bliss Sofa from West Elm, and we had a 15% off coupon - sweet!
Yes, I think the glow is only from the tree...
The lsofa egs were originally natural pine, but Matt stained them to match our other furniture
I like the flow from the living to dining room better now too!
**We've since added a little gallery wall in this room too - once I change the wrapping paper in the frames to pictures, I will post about this too!**
Yes, I have not blogged in over a month, and even then, the posts were sparse. I honestly have been incredibly busy with a new course I'm teaching at school, with the play, and with the Christian Band. This past week alone I was at school until 10 pm 4 of the 5 weeks. On the weekends we have been doing various projects, and if I'm not doing that, I'm seeing family or more school prep. I feel like I am sleeping, working, or house working 90% of the time. That doesn't leave a lot of room for blogging, but with Christmas break coming up in one week (choirs of angels are singing here), I'm hoping to fire off quite a few posts. Here are some sneak peaks of the projects we have done in the past month or so, along with random events:
1. The Great Railing Demo (which was actually quite a brief process)
2. The Even Greater Railing Reconstruction (which, proportional to its greatness, took much longer)
3. The Stair Stripping (much less sexy than it sounds...)
4. Christian Band Events (aka the best kids in the world singing and playing their hearts out)
5. My Grandpa is 88 and AWESOME (self-explanatory)
6. 50+ Reasons Why I Love My Husband (but since I have yet to make this list, it could be less, or more, depending on the day and time...)
7. Surprise - I Painted The Living Room Again!
8. Pure Bliss Sofa (with and without its legs, and no more falling between couch cushions)
9. What? Christmas is in 10 Days? (Better decorate that tree we've had over a week...)
10. Post-Stripping Stairs (plus staining, painting, and taking them two at a time...)
Not Pictured Above:
- Putting some back into the living room console (pictured above beside the stairs, currently happening as we speak)
- The teacher's strike (depending on if I'm in a rant-y mood or not that day - my board already settled in the summer)
- Distillery Christmas Market (going to tonight, along with dinner at Archeo)
- Go Go Go JOE! (our school play this year)
- Going Purple (in the bedroom decor)
- Top Home Projects of 2012 (90% happened in this above post, I think)
- House Goals for 2013 (the projects never end!)
- Personal Goals & Resolutions for 2013 (oh yeah...I have a gym membership)
- And of course all the Christmas festivity-related posts in the next few weeks!