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Monday, March 31, 2014

As Is

There's a loooooooooooottttt of pretty pictures out there of perfectly manicured, not even close to being lived in homes. 

My home is not one of them. And I'm still insisting on taking 99.9% of my pictures on my iPhone. Resulting in many grainy, poorly lit and out of focus photos. 

But I guess that's the way it is until I either A. upgrade my phone or B. get serious and use a real camera. My vote is for option A. 

Back to the Pinterest perfect homes. I'm not hating, I love looking at these pictures. I read countless home improvement blogs and droll over vintage reupholstered chairs and wall organizers crafted out of scrap wood. I think that I can do all of these things and someday my home, too, will look just as unique and awesome.

Sometimes I get frustrated that it seems too out of reach. Then I realize the kinds of tricks that cameras and Photoshop can play. That those insanely tidy shots of a cozy reading nook or a kitchen just waiting to be cooked in are very small fragments of a whole picture that likely includes baby toys and clutter and messy floors.

So without tidying, I decided to snap a few shots of our room. As is. This is our very humble abode, much of it was already here. I finally got around to adding in some of our own stuff while repurposing many things that I've found around this 60-year-old house...

 Our sleeping nook, dressed up with a colorful Nate Berkus comforter and striped pillow. 
Making the bed is overrated.
   Old wooden box turned bracelet storage. 
Lovely old dresser.
The desk is bulky and in need of a fresh face. But for now, it works...

And that's what I keep reminding myself. For now, it works. Things are just fine. In fact, they're better than fine. Life is great, as is.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The loo

This little half bath is a tough one. It's the only bathroom on the main floor of the house, and thanks to the addition my grandfather did on the kitchen decades ago, it no longer has an outside window. Just an inside one. Yep, window stayed and it gives you a nice view into the laundry room.

Once we started the kitchen floor, which had the same old tile, we knew the bathroom had to be done. It was small enough, so might as well.

There was two layers to get through to the plaster wall. I was lucky. This stuff peeled like nothing and warm water and a scraper was all it took to get down that second layer of paper.

 Evan wiped the walls down while Gramps and I hit up Home Depot for some paint. We would finish the tile before we actually got to painting. See that lovely linoleum underneath? Oh linoleum. I was not sad to see you covered up.

Gramps went full steam ahead and cut in all around the ceiling. He didn't want to bother with taping things off but I'm picky, so I did it. I finished the cutting in around the trim, which didn't need to be perfect because we were painting it anyway. The color we chose for the wall is Geyser by Behr, and the trim is Ultra White.

And then wouldn't ya know, the little loo was brought back to life with some snazzy new floor tile, fresh paint, and a simple curtain I made out of some heavily discounted fabric from JoAnn's and no sew hem tape.

All in all, I'd say this place is shaping up little by little. And I'm happy with how much I've learned in such a short amount of time. Next phase is to tackle Sienna's room. Looks like I'm gonna have to brush off the ol' Pinterest account and get some inspiration.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

My idea of a good time

I need to write.

That’s what I’ve been saying to myself these past few weeks. But I’ve been too busy.

In between all the transitions that take place when moving back home, plus the endless job search... I've been lucky. Gramps and I are currently entrenched in some really enjoyable and productive projects. I’ve finally gotten the chance to do some of the things that I’ve been wanting to do for the past 18 months, but just wasn’t in the right place.

I’ve been making some old bathrooms look slightly better.

And ripping up and laying down floor tile.

This may sound strange to some people, but I’m a true DIYer at heart and have never really had the chance to enact some of my DIY fantasies out on the places I’ve occupied. Mostly because these places have always been rented and landlords didn’t feel like letting me get artistic on their walls.

Now I’m in my grandfather’s house, the craftsman. I’ve talked about this house before because it is very special to me. This place is a canvas just w a i t i n g to be painted on.

Gramps is the ultimate DIYer. He masters skills (and still renews his Journeyman plumbing license despite being retired for decades because he’s so damn proud of his accomplishments). He fixes what needs fixin’ and doesn’t really bother to keep up with the latest and greatest. He’s as practical as practical can be. He is basically what I strive to be.

He’s also stubborn and impatient and I know where I get it from. He has also fallen under the charm of Sienna and loves being a great grandfather. He says it's a trip.
The business face.
Onto the projects…

Gramps has already refinished the dining room’s hardwood floors and put down a brand new area rug. Despite the dining room still being 100% underused as an actual dining room, it has become a good place for the storage of many tools and supplies through the duration of our floor project.

And that’s where it started. The floor in the kitchen has been in bad shape for a long time. It lasted for many years, there's no denying that. But it was discolored, cracked in multiple places, and it was obvious that the subfloor had retained some water damage from where the ceiling leaked... a problem that Gramps said he's has on and off ever since adding on to the kitchen 30 years ago.

So we ripped that sucker up and it became a little bit more of a project than I bargained for. But it was also to be expected and I jumped at the chance to learn all I could about the ins and outs of flooring, including repair.

After removing and replacing the water damaged portions of the plywood subfloor, we set out in search of new tile. Nothing Fancy (see what I did there?). Just some higher quality peel-and-stick vinyl would do the trick. Gramps really wasn't interested in getting into this project in the first place, but I sort of pushed him into it so although I had a much more glamorous picture of a sweet ceramic bricklayer pattern in my head, I went along with the simple stuff.

Let's be honest. Day after day of being on your hands and knees is no joke, especially on your back. I actually struggled at first to keep up with my 84-year-old grandfather who had to sit in a chair most of the time because getting down on the floor wasn't an option. He needed my young knees and I needed his brain.
Yes, those are polar bears on my pants.

The lines sometimes veered off course and the cuts weren't perfect... sometimes they were so far off it was laughable. But we made a good team and in the end we ended up with a way better result than I think we realized we could get with him being much slower than he use to be and me being a complete novice.

We started ripping up old tile on March 1 and laid the final tile yesterday, March 15. Two weeks, about $300 and a million hours of labor later and we have a shiny new floor in not only the kitchen but the bathroom, which had some peeling wallpaper. I couldn't just stop with the floor, so you can imagine what I did next...

To be continued!