Monday, April 30, 2012

Weekend Entrepreneurs

Walking home from swimming, we passed a lemonade stand.  Jake insisted he wanted one too. 

It sounded like a good way to kill a few hours on a Sunday...

Served by Kids with Mohawks

We undercut the other kid by half, but upsold on something extra.  Cookies.


If you asked Jake for legal advice, his response (via daddy) was "When in doubt, sue."  I'm wondering if the neighbors think differently of us now.

By the end of the day, the boys raked in $18.45.  Jake & Henry knew they had cookie and lemonade costs to repay, but the overtired tears came streaming down when it was time to settle up.  Instead, I made them strike a deal to use this sale's profits to invest in any future stands...and accepted the penny they couldn't split evenly.

I guess that makes me a venture capitalist.  Or a sucker.

The mohawks made me do it.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

"Hun, let's expose the brick..."

Just what any wife wants to hear.  Especially when it's from one very-non-DIY spouse to another.  So, of course, the perfect response would be:


So here's what we did yesterday.


Oh yes we did.

Let's start from the beginning.

This room is officially called "The Sink Room".  It's a room that's at the end of our 2nd floor hallway that you must pass through in order to get to the master bedroom.  And it has a sink in it. 

View from the Hall
That window faces the front of the house and you can see the master bedroom door on the left wall.  The sink room is about 6 feet wide and 12 feet long.  Small but big is how I describe it.  Too small to be a functional room on it's own, but too big to be ignored.  The sink is the best part of the room, as we use it every morning and night (it's our "ensuite").

Because we don't want to add a toilet or shower to this room to make it a real ensuite - its end-of-the-hall location and front window give it a spotlight -  future plans include removing that wall on the left and merging it with the current master bedroom.  One day.

So that's the background.  Here's a bunch of dirty and dusty pictures.

Cutting the Drywall

Steve researched the heck out of this project.  He took the lead.  Since we know there is drywall leading up to all three sides of the brick, he cut the seams to help the plaster crack away at the right spot.  While he was doing that....

Door to Master
I was taping away.  Everything he read about tackling this project stressed the clean-up part.  Super messy.  So I taped the door, air vent (turned off the heat) and vanity.

Starting Point

Then we got started.  Steve began by cutting a small square with the carpenter's knife and chipping away with a screwdriver. 


Yup, here's my moment.  I always get one.  Every project.  The point of no return panic attack.

But this one disappeared quickly because as soon as I changed into my working outfit, I came back to this.

Orange Peel

Once we put the screwdriver down and used the proper chisels, it started coming off like crazy.  If you chiseled gently, you could get whole two-handed pieces to peel off at once. 

At this point, I put down the camera and we both went to town. 

An hour and a half later, we took a break for lunch.

We couldn't believe how fast it came off.  So fast, that we had to keep an eye on the weight of the garbage bags.  We couldn't fill them too full because plaster is HEAVY. 

Another thing we kept our eye on was a pipe we started uncovering.


When I started uncovering it at the baseboard, I was worried.  As I got higher, I was intrigued.  Now that it's completely uncovered, I don't know if I love it or hate it. 

It's a pipe - maybe 1/2 inch wide - with a T at the top. 

It seems to be part of the original construction of the house.  My guess is it's a water pipe, maybe for a shower.  Steve thinks it's gas.  Either way, we can't figure out why it has a T at the top.  This is the shared wall of our semi-detached house, but the T just ends.  It doesn't go through to our neighbor. 



Either way, we can't decide if we want to keep it or get rid of it.  For now, it stays. 

After lunch, we took some action shots.

Mask & Goggles
Serious Chiseling

I'm never in pictures on this blog because I'm the one taking them. 

Hello...I'm Working Here

You might be wondering what 106 year old plaster looks like.  Here it is:

Between 1/2"-3/4" thick
You can see three layers here:
1/ morter with horsehair (you can see wisps of it on the right side in the pic above - we were told it was horsehair, anyway....helps with the insulation/sound barrier-???)
2/ plaster
3/ paint - as chunks came off, the blue chipped away to a red-hued color

Overall, 85% of it came off in chunks that we could break off and put directly into bags.  The rest chipped off easily but hit the floor as we gently chiseled.  There were only two small areas where we had to work at a stubborn patch of mortar. 

After 3-1/2 hours of chiseling, we had this.

Nice View
We stood back and admired our progress through extremely dusty goggles.  It didn't photograph well, but you can sort of see how mortar-crusted the wall was.  We wanted some patina, but this much looked quite dirty.  And it was.  So we started gently scrubbing each brick with a wire brush.

See the Line?
I was worried we were cleaning off too much.  But at this point, we had to keep going.  So, we did.

Two hours later, we had this:

Lookin' Good

A little less mortar-y/crusty, but still rough enough to have a character-filled finish without looking dirty.  Make sense?

Still Sorta Mortar-y
The Pipe

Then came my favorite part.  The clean up.  Steve thought I was being sarcastic.  But I honestly really truly love to clean up after any project because that's when I get to see my hard work in all it's sparkly clean glory. 

Almost After

*Disclaimer*  I hate that sink.  It's the same crap build as the kitchen cabinets & countertop.  But it serves a major functional purpose for me every morning and night, so I embrace the ugly.  For now.

I hate this guy, too, but he's custom made -from bad plywood- to fit between the bulkhead on the left and the doorway on the right.  So I embrace him, too.  The good news is my plasticizing inside the door totally worked - not a trace of dust. 

And now, after cleaning an inch of mortar, plaster and brick dust off the floor, may I present our DIY exposed brick wall.

In stages, at the window:

Just Exposed
From the hallway:
From the master:


Waking up to see it this morning put a smile on our tired faces.  Now to finish the job by washing the brick and then sealing it.  Always more work...

...and more updates to come!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Kitchen Jewelry

For me, starting projects is FUN! 
But I'm finding that finishing projects can be...hard to be fun. 

I'm still having fun in the kitchen, but I'm calling the kitchen cabinet painting project "done".  The drawers were the last big item to check off the list and I'm so happy to say they are complete. 

And beautiful.

Here's they are when I last left off -oh- February 8th.


They were the biggest pain in the neck, because the sliders were cheap and failing.  So I had to replace them all (which you can read about here).  I ran into problems with each new slider since the drawers are poorly constructed slap-together plywood boxes...with crooked drawer fronts.

I admit, those fronts delayed me from drilling the pulls.  I contemplated making new fronts (i'm not that handy - yet), removing and reattaching level fronts (each front has multiple holes already and none are in great shape - another hole could break them) or "hiding" the crookedness by drilling the pulls all level (center on each front but align with each other). 

I chose Plan C.

It felt like a bit of a cop out, given all the work I've put into this project so far.  But I decided taking this route would be best for now and still allow for Plan A if I ever got the courage to make new fronts.  Like when my kids are in college.

Plus, knowing that I couldn't make them any WORSE than they already were right now sealed the deal.  And the fact that a new kitchen is not in my near future...

So after wrangling the sliders, and much contemplation, I gathered the courage to put the new pulls on.

Here they are, Restoration Hardware (on sale) loveliness.

Bistro Pull

Each pull probably costs more than the plywood for the drawer. 

So randomly, on Tuesday, I got to work during morning naptime. 

One Down, Three to Go

The whole mark-it-out-on-the-tape-and-drill-through-it thing worked like a charm.  No splintering, cracks or chipped paint.

Then 2 hours later (drawer #2 gave me trouble), I had this.

(SFX: Angels Singing)

Immediately upon screwing in the last pull...I had to grab George from his crib and jump in the car to pick up the big boys from Kindergarten.  It was a close one. 

So now all I'm doing is staring at the beauty.


The pulls play nice with the knobs.  So nice, that I'm wondering why in the heck it took me so long to suck it up and put them on. 

Maybe I liked watching Steve grimace every time he went to open a drawer with his fingernails grabbing the edge.  I will say, he's their biggest fan.

Here's another before and after:

Before Pulls
After Pulls

Since I'm sticking a fork in it and calling it done, I promise to recap the whole project with hundreds of before and afters. 

But I promise it won't take me almost 3 months to do it ;)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Kitchen Banquette ARGH!

I braved IKEA this weekend.  Yes...weekend!

I've been planning to build this banquette for I don't know how long now.  It was lust at first sight.  I planned and planned and planned it out -every item I need- down to the primer & paint for the lumber.

Then I screwed it up.

Let's start with what went RIGHT:

A Coat of Primer

I'm following Lindsay's DIY bench to the "T".  So, I got two 2x6x8's to lay down on the floor like railroad tracks.  Sanded, primed and painted them.  I, too, have a vent which isn't going to I measured to make sure one would fit behind the vent and the other in front.

Another RIGHT:  the trip to IKEA was uneventful. 

Even though it was a crowded Saturday morning, the salesperson was more than helpful.  Before I walked away with the back-room-list-of-items (kitchen cabinets are not self-serve), he asked me "Are you sure this is what you want?"  Ok, I've been planning this FOREVER.  "Yes!" I confidently replied.

Without double checking the item number on his printout to the item number in my notebook, I proceeded to checkout. (foreshadowing)

I got home and unloaded.

Heavy Boxes = 5 Trips to Unload

What went WRONG:

My husband handled kid duty while I assembled one entire cabinet -including doors- only to realize I got the wrong sized cabinets. 

These are 15" deep.  I need 24" deep. 


So, back to IKEA I go. 

After I ranted about how absentminded I was, Steve simply said, "Well, you've waited this long..."

Aaaaaaand.......I'll wait a little longer ;)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Living Room Update

Let's, just for a moment, go back to before.


Fast forward to today's pretty white walls and lovely window covering.


Looking better from that angle, right?  Not so much when you add the tube corner of this TV loving family's living room.

Yes, many families keep the TV out of the main floor living room.  Most of whom I know live on this street.  And yes, we do have a big beautiful one in the newly made over family room basement.

But the basement isn't always where we want to be. 

Our family of three little kids (including one crawler) tend to function better throughout the day when we're all on the same floor.  I'm in the kitchen 99% of the time.  And I can't lie, many times, Spongebob is an honorary member of our family.  Especially when dinner needs to get on the table.

I also like to catch glimpses of HGTV while feeding George a bottle...which usually happens in the living room.  The couch is comfy and only steps from the kitchen where he watches me make it (screaming crying until it's in his mouth).

And at night, there's something about watching Mad Men only one floor away from just-put-to-bed children instead of two. 

We've come to the conclusion, that in this house, we just can't not have a TV in the living room. 

So it stays.  For now.  At least for the foreseeable kid-filled future. 

Here's the ugly current state with taped-out vision behind it...nice and up close.

Gotta Go

See those two holes to the right of the awful stand?  This morning, those were the outlet and cable connections.


My amazing electrician came by today and moved them to the corner.  I've got a plan.  And the plan is to make them disappear.

Future Viewing Pleasure

The top half-taped box is the current TV wall mounted in the corner (it will have to mount on the right studded wall, as the left is the old drywall over lath & plaster over strapping).  The box below it is a floating corner console. 

I'm in touch with one of the fabulous carpenters from our basement job to give me a quote to build the console.  The plan is to hide the outlets and wires in the console...which will have a shelf and sliding doors to conceal the DVD player, router, wireless box, etc.  It's visually deceiving here, but the console height is just over half the height of the TV.  That way, it should ground the corner better and make everything feel less float-y.

The long-term plan is to put in a gas fireplace (this is the outside wall, so we have access to the gas line on the other side of it) and built-ins on either side.  If the TV stays even then, the new cable & outlet positions will be hidden within the built-ins.

For now, I'm excited to patch those holes and hang that TV. 

And hang some artwork, replace the bad pillows, find a new floor lamp, figure out a new coffee table...  ahhh!