(That's a mixture of stain, oil paint, and latex paint from many years)
(Some touch-ups still needed but pretty much done)
|The Science of Married||
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.
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!
So as mentioned before, we are refinishing the stairs in the hallway, and decided to redo the guard at the top of the stairs, as it is much too short. Code is 3.5 feet, and ours is less than 2.5. If I stumble to the bathroom in the middle of the night, I could easily go right over the edge if I didn't grab it the right way, so I can't imagine what would happen to people who are average height. The project is a bit more complicated than it seemed - have to cut a lot of new wood pieces, secure them to the floor somehow, build new newel posts (as the one that is there is a hollow box and not really structurally sound), and add the top railing - all within a very brief amount of time so we are not without that guard for any period of time. Last weekend we bought most of the supplies - poplar for the balusters, painted white (White Dove, BM), and oak in natural stain for the top railing to match the handrails down the stairs. This week we stained the wood (including our handrails), and bought new newel posts and stained those as well. Next weekend will be all the assembly (so much for getting it all done in a week, haha). Then comes stair paint stripping, stair staining (landings), stair painting (vertical parts) - this will all take multiple days as we can only do every other stair landing at a time so that we can still get up and down the stairs. So in summary, it's progress (as the title suggests).
Here they are on the left - only just over 2 feet!
Current newel post - just a hollow box - no real structural support
New newel posts - Oak, and now stained (because it's such a shame to paint such great wood)
The state of my unused and eventual baby room...construction zone.
Decided to stain our railings at the same time - so here's hoping I don't take a tumble!
This room was already filled with work projects (hence using the other room too)
A pair of bookends made from the leftover railings last year - stained them first to test the colour - great match to the flooring! The stair landings will eventually be this colour too. It's going to take a lot of paint stripping to get them back to their natural wood finish first, though. Then we'll paint the vertical parts white to match the trim.
So I have a lot more time on my hands since I finished summer school so I looked to all my blog stats for the past month to see what people were creeping on or searching to come across the blog. Here are the most popular posts (PS - I wrote "hottest" post and then I thought I sounded like a nerd so I deleted it...). The titles link back to the original post if you want to see more!
1. Highlights of Joni's Wedding - I found out that if I added titles when I linked my posts to Facebook, and added "with" - it was posted on other people's walls and more people saw the post. So Joni and Blair, you have so many people who love you. You are BY FAR the most clicked people on my blog this month, haha. If you really love these two, I also did a post on Joni's Tea Shower, and her Bachelorette Weekend.
2. Dining Room Curtains - This is also related to the most searched term which was "Emmie Kvist Curtains" which are the ones we have from Ikea in the dining room. There were also a lot of searches for navy blue dining rooms, and I got a few comments on liking both the colour and the curtains from multiple people, which was nice. I wrote this post way back in October so it was surprising it was so popular this month - usually the ones I post most recently on Facebook make up most of my stats.
3. Bedroom Posts - this one was more from people clicking the tag "bedroom" on the sidebar, and the main posts in there this month were about the guest bedroom painting and decorating, Other than that, there were only posts from the end of the year last year in January about upcoming projects, and way back about our master bedroom decor.
4. Adam's Wedding Posts - all of them! This took over most of the stats, which again, is probably due to the fact that I tagged the friends and family who were in the posts on Facebook, and I did so many posts about the wedding in general. The first one was the wedding outtakes, then the father-daughter dance, followed by the ceremony, the reception, and even their launch party from before the wedding. Even did posts about the showers - one at Great Cooks and one at her Dad's House.
5. Shopping - again another tag search - I had to actually go back to the blog to find out what is in this category. I do quite a bit of shopping, but never remember to take pictures or post about it. Maybe I'll do that this week with all this time. Anyway, some posts covered shopping in Vancouver, and buying stuff for the house. Nothing exciting in this category, but if you want some great outfit and shopping posts, visit my friend Veronika's site at Veronika's Blushing!
6. Basement - Again, haven't done much to the basement for a while, which actually requires a post itself - it is a disaster, haha. This is good, I'm thinking of more posts to write. So the first post is about free house projects, of which I have done one, so I should get on that! If you go further back, there are a few posts on the progress here, here, here and here. By the way, the shelving no longer looks like this because it is overrun by books - new organization will have to happen because colour just isn't working for me anymore!
7. Sideboard Project - probably the one I am most proud of. I think it really makes our dining room look great. This was done in December and it took a while to do everything. The Ikea cabinets were first, then the base, and then the stained poplar top. The decor changes quite a bit (it's much different than the picture to the left and that was taken in May), but overall I still love this room. Now for more dinner parties so we have an excuse to use it.
8. Painting - another category search - we have definitely had some painting adventures both in this house and in the condo. I do most of the painting, although when Matt helps, he does the harder stuff - all the trim and edges - because I can't stay in the lines very well. Here are the posts: painting the basement, the master bedroom, the dining room and living room, the linen closet, the HBC painting, and the guest bedroom. Up next for us are all the hallways and the kitchen!
9. Kitchen - in this category we have the little butcher block island I built from Ikea, the kitchen chalkboard, and the some painting projects for spring and summer (of which the kitchen is one!)
10. Decor - lots of posts in this category, and besides a few mentioned above, there was one about spring and summer decor, and even all the projects from 2011. Way back was all the Christmas decor, the dining room mirror project, and just some mini-projects here and there. Most of my inspiration now comes from Pinterest, so I need to do more posts that link to my boards there, and I need to look at them more often to keep inspired!
Search Terms: Emmie Kvist Curtains, Science of Married Life (probaby one of my coworkers navigating), West Elm Tangle Rug (we have it in our living room), Paint Colours - Moonshine vs. Revere Pewter (both Benjamin Moore), Yellow and Grey Decor, Unfortunately I Married to Science (this one made me laugh), Peter Fallico - Married (don't know if Peter is married, although he is gay, so probably about 50% of you readers are out of luck trying to snag him), Finger Numb - Spraypaint (ohhh yes, so many people have had similar experiences! - *Update - it did eventually get feeling back in it, but it took over a month!*), Pax Wardrobe (ohh geez, what an ordeal!)
Referring Sites: Google (obviously) - so many countries - but the main ones are the US and Canada, Facebook (and Mobile), Pinterest, My Wedding Planning Site (probably still linked from The Knot), and then other search providers like Bing and Yahoo. By the way, that picture on the right is my most recent Pinterest desire - peanut butter chocolate cheesecake...wow.
This project started off slow - we decided to paint this room, and I had bought a mirror and red side table from Home Sense a few weeks before. We cleared the room, and realized we wanted to add chair rail to the curved wall (harder than it seems), and then had to decide on paint. I primed right away, but then it was about 2 more weeks before we did any work. Matt suggested having the family over prior to Joni's wedding, and all of sudden this project was kicked into high gear - we started on a Wednesday, and finished Saturday night! WOW! Chair rail in, filled, sanded, cleaned, 2 coats of 2 different paints, a bit mirror hung, and all the furnishings in and decorated in 4 days! We need to have people over more often! Here are the pictures:
This was the way it looked before we moved in - from the MLS listing
This is the way it looked at Christmas this past year
Other side of the room - notice that there is no chair rail on the mirror wall.
The first few steps were to clear the room, take all the covers off the switches and plugs, pull up the old cables along the baseboard, and take off the mirror from the wall. I've had this cheap $10 Walmart mirror since university, but this is definitely the most damage it has ever caused...let's take a closer look:
...gotta love the plaster walls...
One evening later in the week I primed the walls (the green really did not want to be covered).
I then got a few paint samples. I know I wanted brown to match the bedding, but was afraid of going to dark.
The first paint was too light and more coffee-like (Benjamin Moore's Driftwood) and the second I was worried it was too dark, but I went for it - bold, I know! It is called Brown Horse (BM too).
Matt then tackled the chair rail - it was easy for 3/4 of the straight wall, but really hard to do the curves. A few people I spoke to suggested making many cuts in the wood to make it more flexible, but the curve to the door was almost 90 degrees! My dad then suggested to soak the wood all day and it would bend (THANKS DAD!). It did - a day of soaking in the tub (at least someone is using it!), it was very bendy. Matt did end up cracking the wood a bit, but I was worried it would not be fixable...let's take a closer look:
This was going to be salvageable?
But with some filling and sanding, it was a bit better. Good job Matty! Now to paint!
I painted all of the bottom - Benjamin Moore's Cloud White - our go-to white paint. Then Matt started cutting in and doing a bit of painting of the brown while I finished up. There's no going back now!
I pretty much kicked Matt out of rolling - I'm better at it. He's better at staying in the lines and not painting the ceiling brown, so he cuts in and I fill in the rest with the roller. We had to do a second coat as well, but I think this picture is after one coat only. You can't tell, but the primer really showed through.
*Note - Benjamin Moore now makes a line for Canadian Tire that is paint and primer in one that I might try. They also have an environmental line that is very low VOC that I will be using from now on (discovered that too late).*
Now the reveal:
I think the paint goes well with the bedding!
Another view with my new little end table - a Home Sense purchase (of course)
I like the little alarm clock I got there too (battery is NOT in - I can't stand the ticking)
Oh yes, that's right - that is the Twilight Series and apples reused from Thanksgiving
(Now it is a teenage girl's dream bedroom - oh Edward...)
The other side - same Ikea dresser and decor that was there before, but added the holly reused from Christmas to a vase we got as a wedding gift, along with Jamie and Hope's gift - the "treasure chest" as I call it, on the right. Didn't know where to put the red picture, so left it on the ground. I don't really mind it there at all!
The mirror was a Home Sense purchase as well - I really like it in the room.
Before - just after we moved in
After - a year and a half later!
We still have a bit to do - I want to add some art above the wall, I want a nice chaise or chair for the wall opposite the window, and just little decor items to complete the room. For now, I think we did a pretty good job, and I can't justify spending much more on this room, as it is only a guest bedroom. Now who wants to be our guest???
Next big project? Painting all the hallways up and downstairs - a summer project after our trip to Punta Cana, DR, in the 4 days! A week of sun and fun and celebrations of love, then I'll get back to work!
Yesterday I featured some of the major projects of the year, and of course, with all of that, comes plans for the upcoming year. We have a list too daunting to tackle in a year - in fact, it will take multiple years, and lots of money that does not currently exist. Again, a lot of people ask me "what are you going to do when its all done?" - I just laugh and say that it will NEVER be done. I estimate it would take at least 5 years to get everything on our list done, and by that time, we'll probably want a bigger house, and it will all start again. Yes, the projects can be tiring, and straining, and frustrating at times, but they are also fun. I like watching the house evolve and I like that I can work with Matt to design our house. Oh yes, we disagree A LOT, but we have always agreed to not buy or do anything until we both agree on something. I won't ever come home with anything that Matt wouldn't like, and he won't rip out walls or do any handy-work until we've talked. That's how we work and not kill each other when our house is mid-renovation!
Anyway, from the very daunting list, we've pulled a few things we'd like to get done in the next year, and I'll also discuss a few long-term projects that will eventually be addressed...maybe if we win one day through the Heart and Stroke Lottery Calendar my mom bought for us!
1. Paint, Paint, Paint!
This is my major contribution in our house. My friend Mike likes to joke that Matt does all the work and I just crack the whip. Actually, he's not joking, I believe he thinks it really happens. He has a "Free Matt" campaign he would like to start - anyone want a t-shirt? Anyway, although I am not very handy (but willing to learn), I do have a lot of vision and ideas, and I also can PAINT. We painted our bedroom and dining room together, but I painted the living room and basement myself, plus the closet shelving. So there are a few places that paint is still required in our house, and luckily it's an inexpensive way to update a room!
a) Hallways - both upstairs and downstairs. We got a quote from College Pro in the Spring for them possibly doing the hallways while we were away on the cruise, but it was pretty expensive so we decided to keep it as a DIY project. Now that my parents got Matt an incredible ladder for Christmas (it is like a transformer - it has SO many configurations), painting way up high will be a bit easier. We are probably going to paint the hallways the same colour as the basement - Benjamin Moore's Moonshine - it's a pale gray. It looks a bit off-white in the basement, but with more natural light, it will show up more grey. I am thinking about going a shade darker - not too sure yet. Check out the two last pictures and let me know what you think! The ceiling and trim will continue the "Cloud White" trend, as I want it to match all the trim of the other rooms.
Current downstairs hallway colour - pale beige of sorts
Upstairs hall - same colour - has a bit of gray undertone with natural light
BM Moonshine in our basement on walls and ceiling - pale gray but looks paler here than it is
BM Moonshine in Natural Light - via Young House Love on Pinterest
One shade darker - BM Gray Horse via Leah Lee on Pinterest
b) Spare Bedroom - right now the spare bedroom is the same seafoam green as was in the dining room. It actually doesn't look bad in the space, but it doesn't match the bedding and needs a fresh coat on both the walls and wainscoting. I'm not sure exactly what to do here - the duvet is chocolate brown and deep red on cream, and the sheets are deep red to match. I'm thinking about doing a brown (not too dark) on a warm cloud white wainscoting. What do you think? This will probably be my March Break project room!
Here's the current green room colour
An inspirational photo via Pinmarklet
Another Pinterest find
c) Railings - easy job - not sure if I'm going to stain or whitewash or what, but these railings need some finishing!
Main floor railing - probably will stain to match the floor (or eventual floor) colour
Basement railing - may be fun to add a bit of colour to this one?
2. Gallery Wall
Not sure whether I will put a gallery wall of pictures in the dining room, or up the main floor stairs, or even in the empty space in the living room, but I definitely want to add a mix of photos and art in a collage in our house - they are always so interesting to look at! Here are some inspiration photos I like for various reasons, gathered from Pinterest. Also another project I can tackle myself!
Like the black and whites - this would work best going up the stairs
Perfect symmetry, which I usually love, but not the look I'm going for this time
Very cool for a stairway!
More black and white beauties of all shapes and sizes!
Oh YHL, how I love your mix of pictures and art - great for the living or dining room!
3. Backyard Entertaining Space
This was something we started to do last year with the tables, but we really want some bench seating with storage underneath to free some space chairs would take up. We could use it to lounge, or pull a table up for dining. Here are some inspirational pictures gathered from Pinmarklet.
Current backyard - looking to add bench seating to that fence corner on the deck
I like the back bench and the colourful top
No storage, but still a simple bench design
Sectioned pieces to move around the design
I like the rustic look to this long bench
4. Gardening - Take Two
So this year's gardening efforts were a fail. At least we now know what will spring up in the, well, Spring, and what we want to yank out and what to keep. The backyard is in pretty good shape, will probably just add in some annuals to fill it out. The front, however, is a jungled mess that needs some structure and good ol' TLC!
Current back garden - nice and green
Just needs a few pops of colour from some annuals
Yeah...not really pretty...
Thinking of sectioning off the front and creating a path
Or adding some tiers to make it more organized
5. Lighting Purchases
So we have a lot of bad lighting, and replacing them would be nice. We need new lighting for: the front hallway, the upstairs hall, the living room (ceiling and floor and table), the kitchen, the hallway closet, the spare bedroom ceiling (although I may just spraypaint this one and keep it), and the other spare bedroom. This won't be a rush, but we'll be keeping our eyes out for a good deal to replace some of these lights in the next year.
Spare bedroom light - not too bad, but may spray it dark brown or brighter gold
Upstairs hallway light - going to string a light from this outlet from the wall to the ceiling, and add a little chandelier
Front foyer light - little chandelier needed here too!
Other spare bedroom light - anything but this would be good
Kitchen ceiling fan - never used, so simple lighting would be better
Hallway closet light
Living Room - already took out the bad chandelier and capped it, but now need a light to fill it!
6. Refinish the TV Unit
This unit just needs to be sanded and stained to match our living room furniture - another March Break project.
Just needs a little facelift!
These are some things we'll be looking to do, but doubtful within the year, due to budget, time, and sanity!
Basement: new carpet in den/office and on stairs, built-ins for TV area in den, reinforced stairs, enclose and add storage beneath, move wall in bathroom back and get new vanity and fixtures and re-tile, finish laundry room and add storage.
Kitchen: completely redo kitchen - new floors, cabinetry, appliances, lighting, and probably make half-wall into the living room with breakfast nook - may involve adding a small addition to the back - VERY FUTURE PROJECT!
Living Room: get new couch, curtains
Dining Room: get new dining table and chairs, curtains
Main Floor Hallway & Stairs: new runner for floor and stairs
Spare Bedroom: new room lighting, side table, mirror, curtains, rug
Upstairs Closet: add hooks, more storage above
Master Bedroom: new chaise for under window, curtains
Middle Spare Room: this will probably be an eventual baby room, so will need to refinish gross parquet flooring, paint, add furniture, knock down door to closet and build storage, curtains, rug, all that baby-related stuff. With that will probably come baby-proofing the whole house? We do have a lot of sharp edges...I have the bruises to prove it!
So yeah - the list never ends! There is probably many things I forgot too! Anyway, lots to keep us busy! Happy New Year!
So I've looked back at the past year...technically we've only been in our house just over 10 months, but it's almost a year, and so I've compiled a list of the top 11 house projects of 2011. Actually, I did ask Matt for his input too, and our lists were quite similar. I'll mention the variations as I go.
# 11: So Many Acorns...
My attempt at gardening, better known as weeding and raking and talking to squirrels
I only really put this in at # 11 to showcase what a little TLC in a garden can do. I am in no way a professional gardener...actually I am not a gardener at all. What little knowledge I gathered was from my mom, my grandma, and a coworker, Sonia, from whom I plan on seeking much more future advice. Anyway, this year we decided to see what would pop up in the garden and go from there. "Go from there" meant staring at our crazy garden and not knowing what to do with it once it exploded into life. I decided to start small - weeding our back stone, raking years of leaves from between the budding flowers, and constantly sweeping away acorn pieces that littered the backyard. My friends Jess and Carolyn contributed with a pretty little purple plant which I potted, only to have it torn apart by a squirrel the following day. So....house project fail? Perhaps, but at least we'll be aware for next year, and have a head start on what to do then.
That's our house on the left, when we first saw it in November
A close up of the front garden in November
The backyard was in better shape than the front, even in the fall
With a little weeding and TLC, the front garden was very green and lush, if not a bit wild for my taste...
I have since removed some of the old wood chips and done a lot of soil turning
Stole our house light, but added some colour to the drab backyard
Oh yeah, and amidst my outdoor adventures, I made a friend that loved me enough to do this when I went inside
...and George is still here today, sometimes with his lady friend Georgia, and although looking chilly in the snow,
he is happily taking shelter in the neighbours' shed when he's not visiting me
# 10: Ahead of the Trend
Painting the Dining Room Navy
For once I had an idea that came to be before I saw it in the multiple house magazines I read. I wanted to paint the dining room a dark blue, and we ended up choosing Newburyport Blue by Benjamin Moore. My first idea was actually to use navy Phillip Jefferies grasscloth, but the amount of work wallpaper adds and large increase in price all lead to paint being the better choice! It is dark and rich, and adds some drama to our main floor. It was a drastic change from the seafoam green that was left behind, but it was a fun change!
Here it is shortly after we moved in
Moment of truth - first cutting in!
Of course it wouldn't be painting without me getting it in my hair...
After two coats, it was done!
Looks darker in the evening, and more blue in the natural light, but I like it either way
# 9: Musical Chairs
Rearranging the Living Room
Defining the space wasn't a major project, and involved more purchases than anything, but figuring out what to do with our dining room turned living room space was a first step in creating a welcoming environment in our house. I just did a post like this recently for the living room, so I'll keep it short.
Living room our first day in the house, although you'd be surprised how often your house looks like this during renovations and painting and pretty much always when you don't have people over or aren't staging pictures!
After some chair and accessory purchases, we played musical chairs with the layout
More furniture purchases,displaying some art work, and mounting the TV, the room is much more complete!
*Note - Matt put the TV mount in his Top 11 list - I wanted to get a smaller TV and get much smaller speakers instead so I did not add this to the list of major jobs, but I will admit it looks better now!
Once we get rid of the tree, I will post pictures that do not have a holiday theme!
# 8: We're Definitely Not in the Suburbs Anymore
Front Hallway Storage without a Closet
When you are looking at a house for the first time, you miss many things, like the fact that there is no hallway closet. That isn't surprising in Toronto, but in the suburbs, it's a staple....so is a grand foyer (pronounced FOY-AY and not FOY-ERR like in US), but at least we anticipated it being missing. So when it came to organizing our coats and shoes and everything else, we were at a loss. We have some closet space in the basement, which is where the majority of our coats and winter gear and some shoes live, but our day to day stuff needed a space that wasn't on the back of chairs or scattered throughout the hallway. So when I saw this post on Young House Love, I headed straight to Ikea to get a storage unit of my own. It was perfect for our narrow front hall, but we still needed coat storage. Home Depot had some hooks that Matt installed and we were set after a bit of decor.
State of the hallway on our first house tour post-purchase
Super-skinny shoe storage!
Hello, shoes! Goodbye clutter!
Coat racks pre-hooks
Coat racks post-hooks - much better. Oh yeah, and the mirror helps a bit too with decorating the space
A little front curb appeal always helps the hallway too!
# 7: An Indoor Fence...Another Reason to Hate Home Depot
The Master Bedroom Lattice Headboard
This project started when Matt decided he wanted a headboard. He wanted to make it out of distressed wood, but with our fancy wardrobe and more modern finishings, I didn't think it would go. Then during a trip to Home Depot to pick out trim for the basement, Matt sees lattice fencing, and gets all creative and wants to build the headboard from it. I can't see it, refuse to buy it, and that's that. But with constant lattice obsession, I cave and he goes back to get it for our room. Ohhhhh Home Depot...the bane of my existence. Yes, it helps us on projects, but it seems like we live there sometimes, and creates new projects that were never meant to be. Again I end up liking the end result, so I can't complain too much I suppose.
Before the headboard and other decor
Lattice headboard done - painted and mounted to the wayy
Other view, with some furniture upgrades thrown in too
# 6: Grade 10 Optics Lesson in Practice
The Dining Room Mirror Construction
Again I did a recent post on the mirror, so this won't take long. The mirror was on the ground since we moved, because I wanted a nice frame around it so the screws into the wall wouldn't be seen. This project was put on hold for a while, but eventually we got some wood to back it, and Matt took over, building the frame, spray painting it black and then silver (the original idea was the sand some of the silver back to give it a tarnished look, but we only did this a bit because it looked better all silver), and then mounting it to the wall. I used this application on my grade ten optics test about adding light to a room without buying more lights - most of my students got it right - add a mirror, which also makes the room appear larger. Teacher WIN!
This was in our dining room for a long time before it became part of a mirror...
Skipping a few steps gets us here - to a framed mirror in my basement
Spray painting outside - at this point I thought George got into the paint, but it was another squirrel altogether...
Spray paint takes a LONG time to dry when its zero degrees outside
End result? Pretty mirror and brighter dining room (with Christmas prep well underway)
# 5: Making Martha Proud
Organizing the Linen Closet
The linen closet upstairs was a disaster to start with - the "organizer" that was there was not a practical use of the long and narrow space, so I designed the way I wanted it to be, and Matt built me some beautiful shelves, which I primed and painted, and then filled up the space. There's still space now to rearrange or add more storage which I like.
Original "organizing" system left by owners
Matt's shelves - cedar - it smelled like a beautiful sauna in here for weeks!
...until I painted them - primer and 2 coats later the paint stuck
...and more paint in the hair...
More space and organization!
Oh Martha Stewart would be proud...all that's missing is a tiny chandelier above (hmm, that's a good idea!)
# 4: Matt Plays Carpenter
The first house project: the built-in basement shelving
The first project we tackled in our house was the basement. I needed a workable office space and the couch wasn't cutting it. We were going to go Ikea crazy (which we sort of did anyway), but Matt wanted to do some built-ins of his own in a little corner nook. Along with that came filing cabinets and closed storage cupboards, which ended up looking great! To be honest I did not have any faith he could do it, since I've never seen him do anything like this besides painting and some light repair work around our old condo. Wow - did he ever show me, and now he may do some more built-ins in the TV area on the other side of the chalkboard.
My "office" shortly after we moved in
The carpentry begins - not an easy feat with slanty walls and floors
Shelf faces on, doors made
Primed and painted
The colourful bookshelves were thanks to Ikea and my decor
More storage for all the binders
# 3: Long Live the Home, Short Live the Marriage
The PAX Wardrobe Assembly
So I will admit that Ikea products have come a long way, even in the past few years. We have a lot of stuff from there, but our first HUGE purchase was the PAX Wardrobe system for our bedroom. We have a tiny closet, and we really needed space for clothes. That closet now only holds my dresses and our laundry. Build this yourself at your own risk - it is heavy and big and frustrating to construct with an Allen key and I swear for a few hours I did not want to be married or live in a house with this wardrobe. Once it was all done and assembled I calmed down and realized that I now had a closet and my husband back, and it was good. It fits perfectly in our bedroom and stores everything we need! It will be staying when we eventually move, and the new owners better appreciate our effort!
Old owners wardrobe system
Oh how I love organization!
Ooooh it lights up!
# 2: Copyright Infringement?: Our Hudson Bay Point Blanket Painting
So I wanted a sort of comfy rustic look to our living room, and I thought that maybe a great Canadian-themed painting would tie it all together. Matt's parents have an HBC Point Blanket at the cottage, and I love the Queen's colours simplicity, and Matt thought he could paint it. He did paint in high school, so we got a canvas and a laser level and took a shot at it!
Laser level on coffee cup painting accuracy!
Frame was built and stained too, because having it framed was a ridiculous cost!
Done and goes perfectly in our living room
This was actually Matt's # 1, since it was his actual "Work of Art"
# 1: Wedding China Does Not Belong in the Basement: The Dining Room Sideboard
This was my # 1 project because I think it really pulls the dining room together, it gave me an appropriate space to put my wedding china, and it helped a lot on Christmas Eve when organizing and serving all of the food. It will add a lot of value when we sell, and it just looks so damn pretty!
Of course it starts off with the wine racks
Which becomes shelves
That get lifted off the ground and closed up with doors
Ohhh Royal Doulton - how pretty you are in your new home
I painted the baseboards to match the trim in our dining room
And a beautiful poplar stained top to finish it all off!
Add some new lights and decor and that's one great dining room piece!
Good job, us! What a great year!
Didn't Make the Cut: The Great Fall
Stair Railings Project
Funny enough, I didn't even consider this project. Yep, in October I fell down the basement stairs. It was definitely more my general clumsiness than the lack of railings, but we figured it was just good sense to add them in, so we did - to both staircases! Matt had this in his list instead of gardening at # 11 - because he obviously thought my gardening was less than stellar...
Odds are I will fall again, at least this time I will have something to grab onto!
So that's it - our 11 top house projects of 2011! I will let you know right now that this post took about 5 hours to complete, with breaks here and there. Figuring out what to put in, formatting, uploading, writing...wow it takes a long time. Up next? House Resolutions for 2012!
We started the sideboard project a while ago - you can read about the progress here and here and here...our dining room before we moved in looked like this:
This is after we moved in and painted it with Benjamin Moore's Newburyport Blue:
Then once it was built, it looked like this:
Now finally, it looks like this:
Finished Room - still decorated for Christmas...I really need to wash all that linen and clean the tableware...
The last phase of the project was adding a top to it. We originally were going to go with granite or quartz, but after I saw this post from Jen Ramos' Made By Girl blog, I knew that I wanted to use wood. Here's her sideboard, and she used Ikea cabinetry too - this eerily came out less than a week after our cabinets were installed - it was clearly fate! Here's my inspiration picture:
Once wood was clearly the way to go, we had to decide on a wood and stain. We thought oak or maple would be good solid choices, but those come with a hefty pricetag. I went back to Jen's post and saw that she used poplar, which is a soft wood, but is still suitable for kitchen surfaces, as long as it is treated properly. We spent $70 on the wood, cut to our exact specifications at Home Hardware, instead of the $250+ we would have spent on oak or maple. Here it is when we got it last weekend:
Then we used Minwax's Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner, which supposedly allows it to soak in and prevent all of the stain from soaking into the soft wood and lessening the number of coats of stain required. You only had to leave this on about 20 minutes, then it was safe to stain. We used Minwax Stain in MIssion Oak Gloss, which is a medium-dark brown. It was actually a stain and polyurethane in one, since we needed to seal it too. It took two coats, each done a day apart and with a very fine steel wool sand between, and then we left it for a few days before attaching it to the cabinetry. We noticed it was a bit tacky, even after several days, so after a few quick Google searches, the answer was found. A very light sanding with oil (we specifically used baby oil, lol), and then finishing it all up with automotive rubbing and polishing compounds, back to back. Wow...it was a lot of layers of things, but the result is a healthy, shiny coat (geez, you'd think I was talking about a horse...) that looks great in the dining room!
Stain Coat # 1
Stain Coat # 2 - Much glossier!
Finished product, now glossy and smooth!
View from the hallway
Oh yes - and you can see our two new sphere table lamps from West Elm we got last week to go on each end
A little sparse right now in terms of decor...but it's getting there!
At least it's done before Christmas!
Hand railings have been on our project list since October, when I fell down my basement stairs one Sunday morning with a bowl full of shredded wheat...the result was a hospital trip with torn up everything but no breaks, and a lot of sticky wheat mess to clean up on the floor and walls in the basement. After a bit of time searching the proper building safety codes for railings and such, Matt bought some nice oak and went to work with the mitre saw. He bought some brackets, measured them out, and attached the rails - pretty straightforward job (I think?).
Installing the brackets and making a mess of my stairs
Trusty laser level has really been helping us out!
Wow can't wait to paint and decorate this hallway...it's so blah...
Saw the oak pieces to the right length
And voila! Needs to be stained, but you get it!
...also although this is safer, one could still fall over the other ledge to the ground...
We are planning to rebuild the stairs and enclose this side at some point.
The upstairs hallway was longer, but the pieces were assembled in the basement and it was longer than our kitchen!
This is the engineer trying to pry open the window...I told him to just use the door...
Finally got it up both stairs, and ready to go!
Ta-da! Done and now (slightly) safer too - you can't solve clumsiness, however...
Again, still need to stain the railing at some point - probably over Christmas break.
Oh yeah, and Matt suprised me by using the few pieces of remaining wood to make L-shaped bookends - jealous?
I'm going to spray paint them a fun colour and use them in the living room or dining room.