Tag Archives: bathroom

A New Garden and Molding

We got a bunch done this weekend, including finishing our flower garden edge, buying some crown molding, and even getting it up in the powder room as I had hoped! I’ll show some pictures for a quick update:

For those who don’t remember, our backyard started like this, with an unsightly jungle gym:

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My dad and Nik ripped that down in a single afternoon (although somehow my mom ended up in the rewarding “after” shot…probably because she was helping clear a lot of brush from the yard when this was taken):IMG_2159

Last spring we built a small raised bed garden:

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And now we’ve extended that garden around the deck to create a bordered flower garden:

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This garden greatly diminished the old pile of jungle gym lumber under the deck, but you can see we still have some more to get rid of. Baby steps…

We bought a few bags of dirt to get this area started, but I’m not spending a ton more on new dirt. We’ll probably just put a light topping to make it look nicer, add some mulch, and any flowers we plant we’ll dig out a hole and add better dirt just around the plant.

Now on to crown molding: we bought a contractor’s pack of molding (8 pack of 12′ pieces!), which caused some drama since it had to stick out of Nik’s trunk on the car ride home. We were ill-prepared for this, and I had forgotten bungee cords, so we tied the trunk down with rope, went very slowly, and tried not to annoy too many other drivers on the 2 mile drive home from Lowe’s. It was a success, overall.

To do the bathroom, we needed 2 32″ pieces, and 2 71″ pieces, all cut with inside corners. This is evidently the only “before” shot I took of the bathroom ceiling:

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We messed with the miter saw a bit, and figured out there are two ways to cut the angle properly: one that makes the angle easier to figure out, but is harder to hold the trim, and one that takes some time to think about the angle, but handling the trim during the cut is way easier. But inside angles are figured out, nonetheless. When we were sure the pieces fit decently, I gave them a quick coat of our semi-gloss white trim paint. Then it was time for nailing.

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Getting the pieces in place was trickier than it looked – I forget nothing is perfectly straight/plumb in our lovely house, including the ceiling, which apparently is curved in the bathroom. We had to settle on an arrangement that left some gaps, knowing that caulking and filling would hopefully cover things up. So here’s the semi-finished room:

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Looks nice from afar, but up close here are some of the gap issues I’m referring to that will have to be dealt with:

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Also, the gleaming white trim made it glaringly obvious that we forgot to paint the ceiling in this particular room. It looks downright dirty compared to the new trim (most obvious 2 pictures up)…so we’ll have to buy a small can of ceiling paint and get to that asap.

This week there’s not too much on the to-do list. Friday night is the 6 year anniversary of when I finally agreed to be in a relationship with Nik (this was a lengthy decision for me, starting with Nik asking me out on a date on Valentine’s Day…little did Nik know that this was just the start of all the indecisiveness he’d have to deal with in a future involving me!). So we’re going out to celebrate Friday. Then my parents might come up to visit Saturday and Sunday since October was their last visit. We are hoping to install a front storm door, and maybe get some more crown molding done, but there’s not many other pressing chores so it should be a nice weekend.

2016 Year In Review

2016 has come to a close, so I wanted to look back at the progress we made. This was a busy year, with both of us still adjusting to our new careers and planning our October wedding. But I think we made enormous progress on the house, and reflecting on all that we accomplished will hopefully be motivation to keep up the hard work this year.

In early 2016, we finally wrapped up the trim and painting on the stair column – at this point, we still need to add some base and top trim, but we’re planning to install the crown molding downstairs sometime this spring, so that will be the final step of this job. Apparently I haven’t taken a picture of the column after it was painted, so this is the best one I’ve got:

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The next big project of 2016 was our downstairs powder room. What began with a new toilet seat resulted in a gutted room and complete renovation. We painted, tiled and grouted the floor and backsplash, installed a new vanity with a new faucet, new mirror, new towel/toilet paper holder fixtures, and a new threshold.

We installed all the chair molding trim in the dining room, completed refinishing the china cabinet, and got our dining room furniture all set up to finish this room.

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We built 2 raised bed gardens which did pretty well last year. I just bought seeds for 2017, which I’ll start inside next month. I’ll be planting cucumbers (pickling size and regular), bush string beans, snow peas, eggplant, jalapeno pepper, bush zucchini, roma and grape-sized tomatoes, spaghetti squash, mescalin, leeks, garlic, and various herbs. If anyone wants extra seedlings, let me know!

Our furniture work this year was pretty pitiful, and I hope we have more time to do furniture projects in 2017. The two big pieces we did this year were building a front porch bench, and redoing  a small set of shelves for our master bathroom:

Our biggest renovation of the year was the kitchen. In this room we replaced the flooring with our engineered hardwood, sanded, primed, and painted all of our cabinets and installed one more new cabinet on the far wall, added new cabinet hardware, got granite countertops and a new sink and faucet installed, tiled/grouted/applied sealant to the backsplash, got all new appliances and mounted the microwave over the stove, created open shelving on 2 walls, and painted the walls.

In this room the final projects for this spring are installing cabinet crown molding at the tops of the cabinets, finding and installing new light fixtures, and building our island, which will have matching granite.

We also bought a new HVAC system (gas package with AC and furnace) and just updated our laundry room with a new washer and dryer last month, but these don’t make for fun pictures, just not-so-fun expenses. But they are upgrades nonetheless.

So what’s on the list for 2017? First we want to finish up the final tasks downstairs: cabinet crown molding in the kitchen, ceiling crown molding in the entryway, living room, dining room, and possibly powder room, building a functional kitchen island, getting a stupid banister installed on our stairs (still hasn’t been done!), and adding new light fixtures for the kitchen and dining room. I also want to get my gardens going in March, and finish creating a bordered backyard flower garden out of the extra jungle gym wood. We also are ordering new blinds for almost all the windows on the house that will be the thicker wood-look blinds, so we’ll have to install those when they come in. We also need to have the house washed and gutters cleaned (which we’ll hire out for lack of good ladders) as well as have the lawn aerated before we seed it.

The big project of 2017 will take place in the summer months when Nik doesn’t have a 2 hour commute twice a week for his teaching responsibility at UNC Pembroke: our master bath renovation. For this, we’re planning to tile the floor, refinish and raise up our vanity and add undermount sinks with a nicer (possibly granite) countertop, paint the walls, rip out the old shower, replace the shower pan and tile the walls, add a new glass shower door, and add new faucet hardware for the sinks, shower, and tub. After vaguely tallying up what we’ve spent on this house so far, we’re around the $15K mark, so we’re going to attempt to keep the budget pretty tight for the bathroom – ideally in the $2000 range. Cheers to 2017!

Bathroom Reveal

This title may be a little misleading, suggesting we’re TOTALLY done with the bathroom. There’s still a few tiny things to do…finishing the caulking around the toilet (once we’re sure its still got a good seal), caulking around the vanity, and adding the wood threshold piece to the floor. And we’re still deciding on a mirror (I have one option to show you). But for all other cosmetic purposes, it’s all done so I can show pictures!

To remind you, here’s what we started with:

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And here’s the final product:

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Here’s some close up on the vanity backsplash – tile trim edge pieces are insanely expensive (would’ve cost more than $40!) so I found some decorative wood trim to use instead:

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I also spent $20 on a new toilet paper and towel holder:

Figuring out where to put these was trickier than I imagined. Nik performed some highly technical positional testing, and we referred to internet sites that recommended TP holder placement:

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So there you have it!

We’re very happy with how it turned out – admittedly better than expected. I’ll give you a rough breakdown for the cost of this project, from start to finish. We had leftovers for a lot of things that will definitely get used on more projects, so I’ll count only what we used. We also had to buy a tile saw ($80), mortar spreaders ($10) and mixer ($6) and grout floats ($6), but these tools will last a while.

Demo and rebuild ~ 5 weekends of time

50 lb Mortar (used about 1/2 bag) $25/2  = $12.50

10 lb grout (used about 1/4 bag) $30/4 = $7.50

Cement backer board for floor (3’x5′) $10

Screws for cement board (2 packs) $10

Vanity and sink (on sale) $180

Faucet $70

Faucet water lines $ 15

Toilet paper holder/towel rack $20

Extra drain pipe length $6

Toilet seat $25

Toilet foam/wax ring $12

Plumbers Putty/caulk/adhesive $10

Wood Trim piece $5

Floor tile $42

Wall tile $60

Wall paint (clearance mismatch gallon) $9

Threshold wood (half a piece) $15/2 = $7.50

Extra quarter round trim $4

Total: Around $507

People care about bathrooms a lot, especially ones guests will use. For a little over $500, and all the DIY expertise we gained with tiling that we can now use in our kitchen and eventually upstairs bathrooms, I think this was a great investment. Now, on to the kitchen!

Laying Tile

I’m happy to report that our floor tile was laid this weekend without any major issues! We got our tile saw ($80 on Amazon) on Thursday and Nik went to work assembling it. It has a little water trough under one side that you fill with water and as the blade turns it dips into that and throws water up on the top, to keep your tile wet and reduce friction.

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We grabbed a small test tile to see how it cuts, and it gave us great results:

So now on to figuring out our layout. We laid out tiles in a straight set and offset pattern, and agreed we liked the offset better for such a small space. We thought it would be easiest to start in the corner, with a half tile, then go from there. It seemed that this would make the cuts around the toilet the easiest.

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But then we started thinking that if we did it this way, there would be a seam in front of the toilet that would not be centered on the toilet. Would this look weird? I have no idea, but we changed our thinking and instead decided to center the tile on the toilet, so the seams on either side of the toilet would be symmetrical. This also meant we’d get 3 different width rows of tile going the long way…but we decided this was acceptable.

So since we started with the toilet, we had to cut our circular areas first. We did this by making parallel cuts into the circular area creating a row of cuts that looked like teeth. Then we just knocked out the teeth and cleaned up that edge with tile nippers. The circle came out perfectly!

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Next, we worked our way from there, around the toilet then the whole back wall, then the middle row, and finally the row along the door. We were just cutting and laying tile, with the 1/8″ spacers we bought, not actually adhering it to the floor.

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We had EXACTLY enough tiles…we should’ve had 1 extra, but I made a mistake cutting one and made it an inch shorter than it was supposed to be. We do have a lot of scrap tile left over, so maybe we’ll use it for a fun project in the future.

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So that was our progress on Saturday. On Sunday, it was time to actually lay the tile with mortar. Again, we used our 1/4″ mortar comb spreader tool, spread the area we were working on, back buttered the tile (meaning a thin layer of mortar spread onto the tile as well, like gritty butter on toast) then basically plopped the tile onto the floor, gave it a light smush, then moved on. After each adjoining tile, we’d add in the spacer, and check for levelness – more so levelness of one tile to the next rather than the actual floor being level, to prevent cracking. There was only one tile in the whole floor that was just higher than all the tiles around it (no idea why) so that one took a little adjusting of adjoining tiles to keep the floor as even as possible. Overall, it went very smoothly and we got the whole floor done in a couple hours:

So the tile is down…what’s next? We’ll remove the spacers and mix up our grout, which is a medium-dark gray color that has grout sealant already in it, saving us that step. We’ll fill all the cracks with that then wipe the tiles down with water and let the grout dry. Next we need to add our baseboards around the rest of the room, and tile our back splash (which seems much less complicated than the floor!) and grout that. Then the toilet and the vanity go back in and this project will be wrapped up.

Other news around the house is that we’re trying to make way with our vegetable garden. There was a little hiccup in this process since we found out our HOA ‘requires’ an official survey to put in an application for any exterior changes. We never got a survey since we have no intentions of building a fence or any structures near our property line, and I’m not eager to pay $300 to get one for this garden application. So, we did our best to download accurate plot plans from the DurhamMaps website and do some measurements to prove the garden will be over 9′ from our property line, so we’re hoping the HOA will grant us permission with this.

But in the meantime, I can show you the plans! We were originally thinking of using landscaping stones to make a raised bed garden, but then we thought proposing a raised  bed garden simply made out of wood would seem less “permanent” to the HOA, and perhaps make them more lenient with our application. So I think we’re going to use 6″ cedar planks to make an 8′ or 9′ by 5′ box, with a U shape and a small gate to get into the garden.

I made some simple sketches for the application using graph paper. I forgot how much fun graph paper is. Seriously, when’s the last time you used graph paper??garden pic 1garden pic 2

It’ll go along the side of our garage which gets decent sun, and there is a slight slope there so it’ll be higher on one side than the other. We’re planning to get garden fill dirt delivered – the whole reason for building it raised bed is because our yard is total clay, so getting some nice soil will be important. Keep your fingers crossed that the HOA lets us continue with this since spring is on it’s way and it’ll be time to plant soon!

 

 

 

Bathroom Progress

It’s been a little over two weeks since we tore out our bathroom so you’re probably curious about the progress we’ve made. We took a long time thinking about the logistics of this project, so to us it seems like more work has been done than it may appear!

Once we had the room down to the subfloor, we first worked on patching the wall since we had some areas that the drywall had been torn or was uneven. We used a mix of drywall joint compound, regular Spackle, and plaster compound (similar to Spackle but wetter) to patch these areas, and did a fair number of coats with sanding in between to get it just right.

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After talking with a guy who seemed to know his stuff at Lowes, to get the best results on a plywood subfloor we figured out we needed to lay mortar, cement board, mortar, tile, and grout. This was a bit more than we were expecting height-wise (it’ll probably be ~ 1/2″-2/3″ thick when done), and our hardwood floors right outside the bathroom are about 3/8″ thick plus the thin layer of foam, so about 1/2″ total. So we’ll have to think of the best transition piece to use between the two floorings if they’re slightly different heights.

We also learned that we need some sort of device for cutting the tile around the toilet, and decided to spring for a tile wet saw (we got a cheap one on Amazon for $80) combined with tile nippers to make these specific cuts. If we tile a backsplash in the kitchen and eventually tile either or both of the bathrooms upstairs, I think it’ll make this purchase worth it.

So here’s the tile we picked out, for a little less than $2/square foot. Since this room is approximately 15 square feet, and we bought some extra for inevitable mistakes, it was only about $42 for all the tile. It is ceramic, and they’re 12×12 squares. I like that it has a little texture with the striated lines in it, so it won’t be slippery. We picked a gray grout to go between the tiles, and 1/8″ spacers. We’re still debating whether to lay straight lines of the tile (which seems to be trending now) or off set them…

Last weekend we got the cement board cut to size which is done by scoring it with a razor and breaking it. Nik also used a screw set on a piece of wood to trace out a circle for the toilet and punch that out:

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And then this past Saturday Nik finally mixed up some of our mortar, got it spread on the floor with a 1/4″ comb, and maneuvered the 1/4″ cement board into place.

Then Nik screwed the cement board down with cement screws to secure it. And then we waited for it to dry!

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On Monday, UNC had a snow day so I went into work, and Nik stayed home and got 2 coats of our gray paint up. Here’s the paint, if you can get a good impression of the color from this picture (I think its more similar to the left picture, a warmer gray):

You’ll notice we didn’t do the whole vanity wall…I’m thinking I want to do a cool tile back splash on the wall since our vanity doesn’t have a back splash. The vanity will almost go to the wall on each side, so I thought some little accent tiles that will go up around the side of the vanity, and then a few inches above the top of the vanity will add some interest to this room without breaking the bank. Kind of like this, except in our tiny bathroom you’ll see just a hint of tile on either side:

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Our tile saw will show up this week, so I’m anticipating that we can get our floor tile in this weekend, and maybe get this back splash tile picked out so things can keep moving along.

 

 

 

 

 

If you give us a toilet seat…

Have you heard of the children’s book “if you give a mouse a cookie?” The story goes on that if you give the mouse a cookie then he asks for milk…then he asks for a straw…then it continues to escalate as he asks for more things. Apparently our “cookie” is a toilet seat. And when we bought a new toilet seat on Saturday evening to replace the old one on our downstairs toilet and spruce up the bathroom a bit, in a matter of hours (and completely on a whim) we went from this:

To this:

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Now, we have been planning to eventually demo this bathroom this month, but it was not planned to be started this soon. So, it seems like our children’s book goes something like “if you give us a simple toilet seat…we’ll tear a bathroom down to the subfloor.” Our future kids wil be DIY pros if we read them this kind of story!

To show you step by step how we did this, we started with the toilet. Nik turned the water off, then flushed to empty the tank. Then he sopped up extra water with a sponge and  loosened the bolts.

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I grabbed a large bag, and Nik lifted the toilet up and straight into the bag to catch any dripping water. We plopped it on the deck for the time being:

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Then Nik scraped off the wax ring and stuffed the hole with a rag for the time being. Luckily he knows what he’s doing, because I (stupidly) thought that gross wax ring was poop. Can you blame me?

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Next we removed the counter top and side panels which required some maneuvering since it was actually wider than the wall with the door casing right there.

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And then out came the vanity, which is now residing in our garage as a handy workbench.

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Finally, the linoleum and underlayment it was glued to was ripped up, leaving approximately 1 million little staple nails behind in the subfloor which we plucked out one by one with a nail puller.

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We also removed the two weird pieces of wood that were behind the towel rack and toilet paper holder, which left behind a little damage in the drywall that’ll have to be patched.

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So next on the list, we need to pick out tile and figure out how to prep the subfloor to lay the tile. Then we’ll need to add some new floor trim around where the vanity was, since our new vanity won’t go all the way to the side walls. Then we’ll paint with some semigloss grey-beige clearance mismatch paint we found at Home Depot. Then we’ll need to install the vanity we bought a while ago, which will require some plumbing altering since this sink is about 4″ higher:

Style Selections Drayden Grey Integral Single Sink Bathroom Vanity with Cultured Marble Top (Common: 31-in x 19-in; Actual: 30.5-in x 18.75-in)

If we’re feeling artsy we might add something to the walls for more character – tiling or chair rail or something. I think we’ll also upgrade the mirror to something nicer with a frame. And finally, our toilet will go back in and the last piece will be put in place: the toilet seat that started this whole renovation!