Monday, August 13, 2012

Laundry Room Makeover Part 1: Toilet

This project should have been finished about a month ago, but nothing ever happens as planned when Dan and I decide to tackle a project. We started stripping the floors in the laundry room back in early June. Dan and I each started pulling back a section of the 70s-tastic "Brady Bunch" linoleum before we realized two things:

The 70s called. They want their floor back.

1) Clearly I have OCD and he does not. Look at the section on the left that I did. It's perfectly rectangular and every little bit of adhesive is gone--stripped to the bare concrete. Dan did the much larger, but very incomplete, section on the right. Obviously. 2) There is probably asbestos in the old floor. Naturally. See above statement about nothing ever happening as planned. We had to stop tearing it out and search online to see which respirators could filter out asbestos. Then, of course, we had to search every home improvement store in the city for them, because no one carried the one we found online. Or at least they said they didn't. Dan found it at Home Depot after the employee told us they didn't carry them. Score!

Also, notice the gray table in the upper left of the picture. I think that's the only "before" picture of it. My PawPaw made me that table years ago at our old house to use in our storage barn for storing garden stuff. I brought it inside when we moved here to use in the laundry room. It will be black by the time this is all finished. 

Meanwhile, we had a plumber come out to give us an estimate on putting in a bathroom downstairs. The original bids were way out of our price range. We considered getting an upflush mascerating toilet like this so that we wouldn't have to cut through the concrete to lay the new pipes. But in the end we really wanted something permanent. The upflush toilets are noisy, the motors tend to wear out and need replacing, and they're just not attractive. Instead, we called my cousin's husband (who has his own construction company) to see what he would recommend. He sent some plumbers out who gave us a great bid (about a fourth of the original) on tearing out the concrete to lay the new pipes, redoing the overhead pipes to get more headroom in the low ceiling, and just generally making the whole thing great. The downside: they were really busy. They were working on a new construction down the street and were snowed under with work. They said they'd try to fit us in soon and "come by maybe some Tuesday evening to take care of us."

Do you hear that?

***Cue the crickets.***

We didn't hear anything from them for weeks. Eight of them, to be exact. For those of you doing the math in your heads, yes. That's my whole summer break. ARGH!

However, we waited for them because their bid was in our price range, and I trusted my cousin's husband to send me good people who could get the job done. I'm glad we did because there's no way we could have done this on our own.

Before they could dig the trench for the potty, we had to rip out the old sink. SuperDan to the rescue. This ends the portion of the toilet installation that we did ourselves. Here's why:
I forgot to take a picture before we took the doors off.
Not a job for us.

They had to cut through the concrete to dig a trench from the exterior wall to the middle of the room. This was extremely loud, messy, and gross. Then they had to dig down into the soil and gravel under the concrete to install the new pipes for the potty--also messy and gross.

This poor fella was covered in mud and filth. He worked so hard.
No more cast iron drain.
 While they were installing the pipes underground, we asked them to also rip out the old 1.5 inch PVC pipes and the cast iron drain-out thingy (Don't you love when I use technical terms?) because our washer used to back up into the sink when it was draining. We were told by another plumber that we needed 2 inch pipes there to handle the drainage. While they were removing the old cast iron thing, they found the real problem: it was totally clogged up with forty years of funk and I-don't-wanna-know-what. They said they were shocked that anything was getting through that pipe. Here's the new pipes, the drain thingy, and the new vent they added. Notice the cabinet above it. That's going to change too.

Here are some shots of the wet concrete patch to fill the trench and the future site of the new toilet. Please also notice the ugly door. Next time you see it, it will be sporting a fresh coat of paint. Too bad you can't see the deep gouges dug into it by an overzealous cat who "winters over" in our garage, but thinks she should be a house cat.

Future home of my new potty.

I resisted the urge to carve my initials into it.

New throne.

The next day, after the concrete had set up, the guys came back to seat the toilet. Here it is, folks. Introducing the newest feature of Casa de Princess--the royal basement throne.

Yes, I got to take her on her maiden voyage. Because, after all, I AM the princess.

Stay tuned for the rest of the laundry room story including: ceiling paint, wall paint, new floors, new sink, storage closet, and decorations.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Cross collage

I've been collecting crosses from garage sales for years now. I have several large metal crosses hanging in the carport, and I had a basket full of smaller crosses that I wanted to hang in the hallway upstairs. I saw this tip from Centsational Girl about hanging pictures (on Pinterest), and decided to adapt it for my hallway project.

My faithful helper and I gathered as many of my crosses as we could find (there are probably more, but I can't remember where I stashed them), and arranged them on a piece of plain white paper.

Once we had them arranged, Aaron and I traced around each cross.

Then we measured down from the top of each one and made a mark where each nail needed to go.

After marking each nail spot, we moved all the crosses aside. We used painter's tape to hang the paper on the wall in the hallway. We drove the nails directly into the paper on the spots we marked.

Then we pulled the paper off the wall and used the pattern as a template to remember where each cross was supposed to go. Here's the end result.

I left a little space in the bottom center to add another cross, in case I find one at a garage sale soon (or I'd find more tucked away in a closet somewhere.) Because if I hadn't left room, I'd be sure to fall in love with one at a yard sale and have no place to put it.

So there you have it. In less than half an hour, with a little assistance from a very helpful eleven-year-old (who didn't realize I was sneaking in a math lesson by making him measure and mark the nail spots), I now have all my crosses on display instead of sitting in a box somewhere.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Other People's Junk

Garage/Yard Sale treasures from the last two weeks:
  • shelves for the laundry room makeover (3 for $6)
  • apothecary jars for the laundry room makeover (4 for $25)
  • chandelier for the laundry room makeover ($3)
  • purple and green pillows for my classroom ($2)
  • purple and green butterflies and paper lanterns for my classroom ($3)
  • white antique mirror frame for the patio ($1)
  • three awesome pairs of shoes ($3)
  • big flower pot ($0.50)
  • five pairs of PETITE dress pants in my NEW, SMALLER size for fall ($20)

Today's hauls from garage/yard sales and Goodwill's half-price sale:
  • four more purple and green giant pillows for my classroom ($2)
  • dress pants, skirt, shorts, three pairs of yoga/Zumba pants (all for $17)
  • two more apothecary jars for laundry room ($1)
  • red vase for laundry room shelves ($0.50)
  • plant stand for the patio ($0.50)
I love garage sales!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Patio Makeover

Most were $1-$3 at yard sales
So it all started with a garage sale purchase (or nine), as most of my projects do. Over the years I've collected various pieces of patio furniture, plant stands, garden decor, candle holders, etc.  Most of the accent tables and plant stands were old and rusty and I liked them that way because it gave them history and character. Then one day I decided that instead of being full of character, they just looked old. Shabby without the chic. So I decided to paint them all various bright, fun, tropical colors. Here they are before they received their spray paint treatment.

Don't be jealous of my fancy painting area.

I went to Lowe's and Home Depot and bought fuschia, lilac, teal, lime green, and purple Rustoleum spray paint. I also stocked up on sandpaper and a can of primer. I sanded down each piece to knock off the old rust and peeling paint. Then I sorted through the pieces trying to picture how I would rearrange them when we put them back on the patio so that the colors would be spread out. This is my very fancy painting area, and my furry painting assistant. You can see part of the new hammock (which I will mention later in this post) on the left of the picture.

Three years ago when we first moved to this house, I bought a black wrought iron patio table and four matching chairs for $40 at a yard sale. It had peeling black paint with a layer of hunter green paint underneath it, so I knew I'd have to repaint it eventually. Here is how it looked before.

 I sanded the table down to the original primer, then reprimed it and painted two coats of black flat Rustoleum. The chairs were in slightly better shape. I sanded them and only primed the flat areas because that's where the paint was peeling the most. We had a brand new table umbrella that we bought on clearance from Linens N Things years ago that was just sitting in the garage with the tags still on it. We never used it because we bought a gazebo instead. When we move the gazebo (which I will mention later in this post), the umbrella will help shade the patio.

A couple of years ago I bought a swing with a canopy at a garage sale for $40. Last year I bought a pair of wrought iron chairs with a matching "coffee table" for $40. These pieces used to sit on the other side of the back yard, at the end of the driveway--opposite side of the yard from the patio. I gave the table and chairs a good scrubbing and a fresh coat of black paint. We knew we'd be rearranging the furniture out on the patio because we wanted to move the swing to the patio. Now that we've moved it, the swing looks shabby in comparison to the rest of the freshly painted patio furniture. This winter I think I will try to take it apart, paint the frame, clean the canopy, and recover the cushions. But for right now, it's staying "as is" because we're enjoying sitting in it.

Three years ago I bought the gazebo from Kohl's. (I had to buy it new because I couldn't find one at a yard sale, but I got it on mega-sale). It's been on the patio with the table and four chairs under it for the past three years. It is pretty beat up--several holes in the top and a giant hole in the netting created today by one very spastic Labrador (my furry assistant, pictured above) who ran THROUGH it today while chasing the cat. My pets are idiots.

Our patio felt very claustrophobic with the gazebo taking up space in the middle and because of the fence that the previous owner put up around the patio. The poor fence was so old it was literally falling apart. The boards were bent and splitting and it looked pretty ghetto. Dan has been wanting to take it down for a couple of years now. It was a privacy fence, but instead of giving us privacy, it make us feel cramped. We couldn't see the rest of the yard, and we rarely spent time on the patio because it felt so confining. So, we took out a crowbar and ripped down the fence. Well, most of it. There are still eleven fence posts, but they have to be dug out of the concrete they're set in underground. Since the highs have been between 95-109 degrees Fahrenheit for the last week, that job is going to have to wait a bit. I have some crafty people coming to get the old, aged wood to make projects of their own. I have enough projects on my plate right now without figuring out what kind of crafty things I can do with the old wood. Although, I may hang on to a couple of pieces in case I get inspired later on.
Here's the falling-down fence before we took it down.
Here is what's left of the fence now.

I also bought a hammock on a stand at a yard sale two weeks ago (for $20) for Dan's Father's Day present. Our plan was to move the gazebo off the patio and into the grass alongside the patio, with the hammock under it (along with some white plastic chairs I found on the side of the road--my favorite price, FREE--a couple of years ago that I'm probably going to spray paint aqua blue). I have a really cool gazebo candle chandelier from Party Lites that I got at a yard sale for $3 last summer. I also have some gazebo lights that I bought on clearance at Big Lots three years ago, but have never taken out of the box. We didn't have a power outlet on the patio, but we do have one on the side of the garage near the gazebo's new location (which you can see above the bird feeder in the picture on the right above). I'm hoping to get that wired up before the gazebo roof completely disintegrates so we can enjoy for at least a little while.

Once we cleared everything off the patio, I decided to powerwash it. Here's a picture to prove just how dirty it was before. The left and bottom sides have been cleaned. See how black it looks on the right? See the big wave of black that I'm pushing away with the force of the water? Yeah, the whole patio was that dirty before.

 I'd bought some Quickrete transparent concrete sealer at a yard sale the weekend before, so I put that to good use. I paid 75 cents for a full gallon plus a gallon that had already been opened and was about half full. I prayed the whole time I was rolling it on that I would have enough to finish. I prayed, "God, I know you can do miracles. I know you fed five thousand people with those fishes and loaves. If you could make this sealer last just enough to finish this patio, that would be a miracle to me." And, of course, I finished with about half a cup to spare. :-) God is good.

So, here are some "almost finished" pictures. Dan took these before we ripped the fence down. There are a few of my candle stands and cute garden decor pieces that I had not put back out yet when he took these, but you get the general idea. I also bought some brick clips to hang some of my adorable artsy things from the walls of the house, but you can only see a couple of them (above and to the left of the grill in the third picture). We also bought a grill cover, but forgot to put it on before the pictures were taken.
Ignore the coffee mug. Focus on the freshly painted black furniture. 

See how clean the floor looks? Dear Swing: You're next in the makeover lineup.

Don't you love all the brightly colored tables and plant stands?

Friday, June 29, 2012

I "Shutter" to Think

...what I would do if I actually took a vacation during breaks from school.

Yes, it's a cheesy title. Hey, it's 109 degrees in the shade and I've been working outside since 7 a.m. I'm allowed to have cheesy titles when I have brain fry.

I will post the project I've been working on all week soon, but just so you know I'm not resting on my laurels....

Wait, do I HAVE laurels? What the heck are laurels anyway? Wait until after you read the rest of this before you make clicky to go see what laurels are. Oh what the heck, go ahead and look now. You know you want to. I'll wait here. Good. You're back. That definition didn't really help much, did it? But aren't idioms fun?

Okay, so back to the project. We have a water heater in the garage (soon to be Dan's newly remodeled office). It's not very attractive to look at, so I decided to buy some shutters to make a folding screen to hide it. This was my inspiration piece, as seen on Pinterest, of course.
Expensive store screen
cheap vinyl shutters with potential
Pier One wanted $260 for that folding screen, so of course buying it was out of the question. Plus, I need my shutters to fold around the water heater, so I'd have to redo the hinges. I wanted the middle one to stick out in front and the other two to fold back from it on either side. SO, I searched Craigslist and Facebook to see if I could score some wooden shutters or bifold doors.

I found these for sale for $25. They're vinyl and I was really hoping to find wooden ones, but so is everyone else who pinned projects like this one on Pinterest. I figured I could make this work. I really wanted them to be red like the ones above, but we're thinking about a concrete stain for the floor that has orangey-brown sunset-type colors in it. Dan and I were afraid the red would clash. So, I spray-painted them black. The decor in his office (like the music room and laundry room that connects them) is red, black, white, and gray, so they will match that without clashing with the future (hopefully not-too-distant-future) floor. Right now we're rethinking the whole acid-stain thing, AND we're installing a bathroom which requires busting up the concrete, which means that project has to be done before we can even start the others, which means we're at the mercy of really busy plumbers, which means we're in an indefinite holding pattern right now on the office remodel, which means I'm going me crazy. So, back to the shutters, one of the projects on my To-Do list that I can actually do without waiting for plumbers.

I went to Ace Hardware to buy some hinges. I like to go to Ace instead of the big box stores like Lowe's and Home Depot when I know there's something very specific that I'll need help with. One of their managers named Nate is extremely helpful and never makes customers feel like he's doing them a big favor by waiting on them. He helped me pick out the hinges I would need.  I couldn't use bi-fold hinges (like for a closet door) because the shutters are pretty thin. Also, I had to think about how the shutters needed to fold out from the center, unlike the screen above. Hinges in hand, I came back home to drill the holes. I love using power tools. :-)

After a couple of false starts (no one will ever notice the "oops" holes from my first attempt that didn't line up quite right), I managed to get them together. Here's what they look like finished:

Not bad from this angle...
...but this angle shows the true story.
They hide the water heater and match the room, so mission mostly accomplished. However, they do not hide the pipes up above the water heater. That board with the dust pan and stuff hanging from it will be gone when we redo the garage, but the pipes are there to stay. If I had this to do over again, I would not buy shutters. Instead, I'd keep searching until I found some old louvered bifold closet doors because they're tall enough to hide more. But, for $25 and a can of paint, I'm happy that I don't have to stare at the water heater behind it.

Stay tuned for more summer projects, including: painted wrought iron furniture, patio powerwash, laundry room makeover, garage/office makeover, and more. I'm running out of summer!!!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Zebra chairs

In which I blog about yet another project because, well, it's summer and I can. Plus, it makes Marian happy when I blog and I like to make my friends happy.

Zebra chair #1
Over spring break I reupholstered this chair. I took it apart, which involved removing millions (only a slight exaggeration) of staples. I painted the frame with several coats of matte black paint (going for that Pottery Barn look) and then covered it with zebra fabric after borrowing my Dad's staple gun. I didn't blog about it then because spring break only lasts a week. And since my principal did my pop-in observation first thing in the morning the first day we returned from spring break, it's a really good thing I didn't spend time doing frivolous things like blogging, buying groceries, or having a life over spring break. But, I DID take the time to recover this chair.

And I love it. I really do. However, it didn't work very well for the purpose for which I created it. It matches the music room beautifully, but it has arms. Unfortunately, so do I. The chair's arms and my human arms did not play nicely together whenever I tried to sit in the chair to play guitar. Dan, who joins me whenever I practice, sits there comfortably rocking out in an armless task chair. So naturally I had a major case of chair envy and decided to make my own.

Shopping list: armless chair
I saw a few zebra chairs online, but they were too expensive. Plus, I'd have to buy two of them and get rid of Dan's chair. That just seemed wasteful to me. I wanted to by a cheap task chair, and then recover both to match. I found a chair like this one at Target for $20. Not bad, but I knew I could find one cheaper. I looked at garage sales (which, next to being off work is my very favorite part of summer) for a few weeks, but I didn't find one. Then I hit paydirt at the Goodlettsville Goodwill and found one that looked a lot like the Target chair for $7. Score! It's a bit shorter than Dan's chair, but that's okay with me because I am a bit shorter than Dan myself. Win, win.

I took both Dan's chair and my new chair apart, borrowed Dad's staple gun again, and got to work. I love to recover furniture because it's typically pretty easy, does not involve sanding or caulking, and is finished pretty quickly. Naturally, my chair was more difficult to cover than Dan's was (which makes sense, really, if you know the two of us) because I had to do the back of the upper part instead of just the front. Thank goodness I had some fabric glue left from another project. So, here are the two chairs after being recovered. I probably should have cleaned up all of our cords from the floor first and tidied up the music area. Eh, you get the idea.

Zebra, party of two

When we line up all three chairs side by side, we have a real Goldilocks and the Three Bears theme going: Papa Bear, Mama Bear, and Baby Bear. The chairs are super cute and, best of all, it's easier to practice my bass in the new chair. The other chair sits across the room and glares at me, so I have to sit in it every once in a while to keep it from feeling left out.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Red Chair Redo

Okay, so I never completed the tale of woe from the bathroom cabinets. I've been really busy. For the past six months. Ahem.

The Before picture
So here's my latest project: redoing a chair from school. Since my classroom is all purple and lime green, this red and gray chair totally clashed. Every day when I arrived at work, this chair taunted me with its glaring redness. I haven't had time to do anything about it (see paragraph one re: time/busy) until now. Summer break is the time to tackle all the crap I pinned all year on Pinterest.

Such a pretty purple.
I started by taking the chair apart and painting all the plastic gray parts purple. Love that shade of purple, don't you?

My original plan was to reupholster the chair with some lime green zebra print fabric, but (as usually happens with every project I decide to tackle, Grrr!) I ran into a stumbling block. 1) The fabric was attached to the foam backing so I couldn't take it off, 2) The whole chair is plastic so there's no wood to staple fabric to, and 3) The fabric I wanted was $17 a yard, and 4) the red fabric would have showed through the light-colored zebra print. SO, I decided to paint it after reading this. I've always wanted to use Gesso or fabric medium on something, so this was my chance.

Seriously? I'm going to be here all night.
It took a LOT of paint. Like, a really, really, immense LOT of paint. Here is what it looked like after the first coat of lime green. I knew I had my work cut out for me at that point. After two or three coats, I ran out of the lovely lime green I started with (and so did Wal-Mart), so I had to switch to the pea green that Mom and I had leftover from other projects. It also took a ton of textile medium, which my Wal-Mart doesn't carry. Trying to avoid going to the Rivergate area on a Saturday to hit the craft stores, I went to Mom-Mart. Thankfully she had some leftover fabric medium too.

Final Product
It look four (or maybe five--I may have lost count--AND I lost all the feeling in my fingers because I had to press hard to get the paint to soak into the texture of the fabric) coats of paint/textile medium/water blends, but I finally managed to cover all that red. Here's the final result.

It's a little stiff, but I think it will soften over time. Even if it doesn't, I'd rather sit on a stiff chair that matches the room than that awful red in my tranquil sea of purple and green.

Over the weekend I found some more purple and green paper lanterns to hang from the ceiling above my reading area. The ones I already have over my desk are so cute.

Monday, January 2, 2012

My Bathroom Cabinets part two

Remember back during fall break when I painted my bathroom cabinet doors and drawer fronts and spray painted the knobs and drawer pulls? Because we all know that I can't have time off from school unless something is getting painted. I'm apparently not acquainted with the works rest or relaxation.

I wasn't happy with the way that fake drawer thingy stayed white. I wanted it to be blue like the other real doors, and it needed something. Also, the base cabinets looked, well, weird. I used some of the previous owners left over paint, but it wasn't a great color match. Plus, the white annoyed me. So, I started over.

I removed the door and drawers and sanded down the base cabinet to the original primer coat (or bare wood in some places). I primed it with Zinsser water base primer for all surfaces. A lot of people prefer oil-based primer in the bathroom, but I hate cleaning up after using oil-based paint. I chose Valspar semi-gloss latex paint in Humboldt Earth. The can says it's "scrub safe," so hopefully it will stand up to daily use. It says one coat coverage, but because I didn't tint the primer to match, I needed two coats. I prefer two coats anyway, and I didn't want to tint the primer to match because I've been using this same primer for everything lately.

While I was at Lowe's getting the paint, I found the something that the fake drawer thingy needed. A little wooden architectural bling. Perfect. I lightly roughed it up with sandpaper and sprayed it with my trusty oil-rubbed bronze from Rustoleum.

Here's the final result.
I love the contrast between the brown and blue. I love the bling. And I love the nice, crisp edge that results from using a really tight tape line on the PAINTABLE caulk edge along the side and floor. That will be important in the next post. Oooo, foreshadowing. It's almost as if I'm a writer again.
Next, I'll be posting about painting the boys' bathroom cabinets. Stay tuned for a great opportunity to alternately feel sorry for me and/or laugh at me. Stay tuned.

Boys Bathroom Cabinet Redo (and Redo)

Last Christmas I recaulked the boys' bathroom because all the old grout and caulk was crumbling and nasty. This Christmas break I wished I could go back in time to last year and kick my own butt. If I knew that someday I would be painting the cabinets, why did I caulk around them with UNpaintable caulk? Because I was caulking the shower surround with silicone and I didn't bother to change the caulk tube. I paid for that this week.
After sanding, cleaning, tacking off, taping off, priming, and painting two coats of paint on the cabinets, I had to start all over again. When I removed the tape, all the paint around the edges of the cabinets peeled off because latex paint doesn't adhere to silicone caulk. Duh. I know better.
So, I could've cried and then thrown up OR thrown up and then cried. Instead I went shopping. Hi, I'm a girl. It's how I roll.
While what was supposed to be the FINAL coat of paint was drying, I went to WalMart and bought some paintable caulk. Key word here being paintable. I also bought myself some really cute pink leopard print slippers for $10 and a few T-shirts and some yoga pants because I needed retail therapy after that debacle. Don't judge me.
When I got back home, I scraped away all the old silicone caulk, which took forever and several razor blades. Thank goodness for my iPod and my totally schizo music selection. I listened to a crazy variety of music while scraping caulk for hours, so it was very therapeutic. Then I sanded the rough edges of the paint, re-primed those areas, and then painted two more coats of brown paint.
I also removed and painted the hardware. Instead of using my trusty Rustoleum oil-rubbed bronze like I usually do, I did an under coat of aged copper first. I was trying to make it look like the faucet that the boys installed for me a few weeks ago (which looks a little bit like this one) with its rubbed-off places where the bronze-y part shows through the blackish parts. So, I painted a couple of coats of aged copper, then painted a light coat of oil-rubbed bronze over it. Then I lightly sanded away some spots of the ORB paint to reveal the aged copper. In some spots, it rubbed clear down to the original hardware surface because the aged copper did not adhere as well as my precious ORB usually does. Instead of thinking of that as an error, I'm looking at it as "adding character." Because I'm way too tired to start over on any other part of this project.
The other thing I changed was I took off the fake drawer front thingy (there has to be a better name for those) and bought the
tip-out trays and hinges. Dan installed them for me while I put everything back into the drawers and cabinets. Now he has extra storage for his contacts and solution and I don't have to look at that stuff sitting out on the counter.
So, without further delay, here are some photos of the finished product.