Friday, December 31, 2010

Bathroom Remodel for under $40

Yes, you read the post title correctly, I updated my bathroom for under $40.

Even though I would have liked Ryan to spend New Years Eve day finishing the trim, he had told a friend that he would help him move (which was fair since this friend helped us move). So I had an excuse to go to Virginia and to my own personal Disneyland, Home Goods! I went there with a list and, like usual, got nothing on that list but I did get a new shower curtain.

The thing about the upstairs bathroom is that it's blue, very blue. Since we do plan on renovating the bathroom some time down the road, I had told myself that I would just use our old bathroom things and it would be fine. That was before I saw Home Goods incredible selection of shower curtains at their everyday low prices (do I sound like a spokesperson for Home Goods yet? Because I'm pretty sure I would be great at that job). Now, that is something I can commit too, probably because it isn't a commitment at all, but that's besides the point. So after much personal debate, I decided on a shower curtain that I thought would accent the blue and make the room come together.

Before: Hello Blue!
After: You like?
I know it might not be everyone's taste but I think it brings together the room and makes the blue a little less in your face (if that's possible).

Home Goods Shower Curtain= $15
TJ Maxx White Towels (2 large)= $6
Home Goods White Rug= $6
Home Goods Shower Organizer= $8
Home Goods Shower Curtain Hangers= $4
Total = $39

Did I already mention how much I love a good deal? 

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Rolling Solo

After a very successful trip, my Mom left Tuesday morning, tear, so Tuesday night I was rolling solo (it took Ryan somewhere around 6 hours to get home). My Mom had given me confidence on re-upholstering, and had made me do all the sewing for the arms, so I decided to re-upholster one of the ottoman's.
It seemed like it would be a pretty easy task, just measure the four sides and sew them together. And it was, compared to the arms... but that really doesn't say much.

Caley being obnoxious... I swear I also have a dog
A few hours later, and wallah! a new ottoman.
Finished Product... and the cat who is the reason that I had to do the project in the first place
Of course, I forgot that I should hammer in the staples on the bottom of the ottoman so that they wouldn't scratch the floors, which I'm obsessed with but are impossible, so I mayyy have scratched the floors, a little bit. Whoops.

Now I just have to get my butt in gear to do the second ottoman....

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Day 2: Still No Ryan

I'm pretty sure by day two my Mom was regretting her decision to come help, or atleast I would have. Ryan had called Monday morning and let us know that he was stuck in Jersey and wouldn't be making it back to DC until Tuesday, which meant one more day not in our bedroom. I was not a happy camper.... at all. With that in mind, we continue through our list and touch up the paint on the walls and the window trim.  Apparently, when my Mom was a child and her family was getting ready to move in to their first house, her Uncle was obsessed with smooth window sills. Since our house is around 100 years, the window sills were far from smooth, so my Mom and I set out to make Uncle Sal proud and we sanded down the window sills and re-painted them.
Terrified of getting the white trim paint on the beloved floors
Ryan calls and the snow in Jersey is holding him captive so he won't be able to leave until later on Tuesday, which means no second coat until Wednesday. At this point, I'm tired and cranky. My Mom and I had been working on projects constantly since she arrived (not to mention she had me up at 6am) and that was just not acceptable. So my Mom and I do what any two women would do, we decide that we will do the second coat of polyurethane ourselves. We figure this shouldn't be any harder than re-upholstering the arms so we set out in search of Ryan's supplies. About ten phone calls to Ryan later, we have all the supplies we need and we put down the second coat.
Our blood, sweat and tears.. aka our floors
Note the electrical outlet that is just chilling on the window sill. Since the house was built before the electric was installed the master bedroom's outlets were all 3-D.  3-D is cool for movies, not so cool for bedrooms.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Project: Undo Caley's Rat-tastic Work

Over a year ago I had bought a leather couch, thinking that Caley wouldn't want to scratch it like she had my previous couch.

Mistake #5: Cat's with claws scratch couches... and just about everything else.

But, she did, and now the sides of my couch looked horrible and since we just bought a house, and had no expendable funds, we had to live with it. Great.
Arm of Couch
I had bought a re-upholstering book and some upholstery fabric a few weeks ago because I was determined to make it look better than it did (which couldn't be that hard). So when my Mom said she was coming down, I knew she would be the perfect partner for my project. I thought it couldn't be that hard but, like all other things to do with this house, it was quite the project.
Caley watching the progress

Our kitchen work station
Our first task was to figure out sizing, then how to sew it since it sloped down on one side, then how to get the front square, and finally how to hide the staples. Fun times. Did I mention my Mom had me up at 6am every morning? I think the first side took us somewhere around 4 hours. But boy did it look good when it was done.
New Arms!
Project #2 of Mom's visit: done.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Project: Clean House

The Sunday after Christmas, my Mom was going to bring me back to DC so we could get a head start on some of our fifty million projects. Ryan was going to stay in Jersey and meet us back in DC Monday so we could finish the floors. That was pre-storm. When we found out the huge snow storm was scheduled to hit the whole north east that Sunday, my Mom and I decided to leave PA super early to avoid the snow. I had a list of things that I knew I needed my Mom's help with and she had a plan of her own. As soon as she walked in to the house and saw this:
She did her Mom magic and started organizing the boxes so you could actually live in the place. A few hours later and she managed to do this:
And I could actually breath again.

Saturday, December 25, 2010


So Christmas Eve morning came and we (and by we, I mean Ryan) put down our first coat of polyurethane and we were off to PA to spend the night with my family... and take a short break from the house. We had originally planned, and by originally I mean somewhere around plan F, that we would put the second coat of polyurethane down before we left for Christmas so that it could dry for the necessary 72 hours. Of course, that didn't happen.  So we were looking at a Thursday night bedroom furniture move in date versus our original hope of Monday night, sigh. Although it was utterly frustrating, we were starting to see the fruits of our labor... even if we were still sleeping in the family room...

Me: "I like the distressed look of the floors."
Ryan: "It's not a look, they're actually distressed."

Friday, December 24, 2010

Project: Stain

We did it, we were finally done sanding! I had already stated that I was not going to PA for Christmas until the floors had a coat of polyurethane on them, (note: I actually said that I wasn't going to PA before the floors were done but that clearly wasn't happening) so we were in good shape. We had had a debate on whether the floors should just be sealed or stained natural before the polyurethane and decided to go with the natural stain (after consulting our flooring expert aka my brother in law). So Ryan bought one gallon of natural stain and on 8pm on the 23rd we started project finish these damn floors.

And the staining begins!
It looks good, really good and I am one happy lady. Until we get to the end, when we have a square left, it's about 3 feet by 3 feet and we can not squeeze one more drop out of the stain bucket and believe me, we tried. We even tried to wring out the stain cloth but, no go. Sigh.

Stain versus no stain
Mistake #4: Always buy more than enough supplies, it's better to have left over than not enough. Case and point.

By now, it's after 10pm and, of course, all the hardware stores are closed. Story of our life. So we brainstorm and think about what's open 24/7 and we immediately think Walmart. So we google the closest Walmart and it's only 5 miles away in MD and they're open until midnight, thank god. We go to Walmart, along with the rest of Maryland who have left their last minute Christmas shopping until tonight, and buy our beloved stain to finish staining tonight.

Pretty floors
And it's finally beginning to look like Christmas :)

Caley says "Merry Christmas!"

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Baby it's Cold Outside

Oh, Christmas time. Normally, I would be knee deep in decorations with atleast one holiday party to throw but this year? This year I would spend the week leading up to Christmas sanding and re-sanding the floors.

Are you sick of hearing about the floors yet? Because I'm sick of talking about them. Imagine having to do them...

After our adventures with the black goo, our molding is officially toast. Granted, it was pretty nasty in the first place but the goo just confirmed our need to get new molding. We also need to take out the radiator so we can sand and finish the floors beneath.  Ryan reads about how to do it and we think we're set. Not quite. There's this one piece (actually two pieces but I won't bore you with the details) that we need in order to plug the pipes so that we can keep the heat on while the radiator is detached. We search high and low for this piece and no dice. A couple of days later, we find it only to discover we need a special wrench.  The place that sells the wrench is closed so we have to go ahead and disconnect the radiator without plugging it. No plug= no heat. Awesome.

Ryan bleeding the radiator so that we can disconnect it

All Gone!
Note that this radiator weighs as much, or more, than I do and I should not be the one helping to lift it but as Ryan reminds me, there's only one male that lives in the house so I have to help. Boo.

So for two days while we're finishing sanding the floors we are living and sleeping in the family room with no heat. The first night wasn't so bad but by the second day I would barely get out of bed because it was so cold. It was some dark, dark days. Finally, Ryan gets to the store to get the correct wrench (we got a wrong one first) and we plug the pipes so that we can have heat again. This was a very good day.

And just for fun, here's what the place looked like while we were sleeping in the family room. Freezing.

Third Bedroom... where we kept our clothes

Second bedroom aka our tool "shack"

Family room aka our "everything" room, our bed is to the left 

Fridge Room/ Laundry Room/ Pantry/ Bike Room
And now back to the floors....

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Moving Up in the World

So, the day finally came, moving day.  We started out around 8am running errands and picking up the truck (since we're too cheap to hire movers). Ryan had three amazing friends come over to help him load up the truck with all of our crap stuff and bring it over to the new house.  Although this sounds like a quick and easy task it actually took about 4 to 5 hours and nothing, I repeat nothing, has been easy about this house.
Load One
Once the boys left the apartment with the first load, my savior friend, Maria, helped me clean our old apartment. We washed carpets, cleaned ovens and scrubbed the entire place from top to bottom. Six hours later and the place was clean and (almost) empty. I couldn't ask for a better friend. Who else would come over to clean? Not even I wanted to do that... and I lived there.

Once the boys had unloaded all of our stuff and sufficiently "moved" us in, Ryan came back to the apartment with the truck to collect me and the remainder of our stuff (which we probably should have just thrown out). Because we didn't have enough crap to move, I decided I wanted to keep all my planting pots.  So I attempt to empty out all of my (large) pots and manage to cover myself in dirt which I then track through the clean apartment... because that was really worth the $20 it would have cost to buy new ones (decision making skills are clearly worn out from all that cleaning/ moving). After everything is packed in to the truck, we were on our way to our first night in the new house!

Note: Originally, we had planned to sleep in a guest room while we finished up the bedroom since, we do have two other bedrooms. We also only planned on being in there for a few days. Neither of those things happened. When the boys moved all of our things in to the house, my bedroom furniture took up the whole third bedroom (not leaving room for a mattress) and we had already converted the second bedroom in to our tool shack (minus the shack part). 

First night in the new house and we were sleeping in the family room. It was like camping except for the fact that we paid a lot more money to sleep there. Atleast we had heat... for now.

Our everything room for the next few weeks...

Thursday, December 16, 2010

They're Not called Drums for Nothing

FINALLY, the floors are starting to resemble floors (sort of, but after all those mineral spirit fumes, definitely). So we look at our hand sander, that we borrowed from the best landlord ever, and we look at the larger sander, that we borrowed from Ryan's parents, and quickly come to the conclusion that neither of these will do. We call around and find out that Home Depot rents drum sanders. So we head on over to Home Depot where we have the oldest, cutest man helping us (note: this does not negate the fact that he only uses one finger while typing and takes about an hour to check us out) and pick up our drum sander for a day of fun. Oh, what fun a drum sander is. I now understand why it's called a "drum" sander, this is when those ear plugs most certainly come in to play.

Some improvement

Ryan with the drum sander
After a few times sanding down the floors, we're definitely seeing progress.

Raw Floors

Although we have come a long way, it is now painfully clear that even though we'll be moving our stuff in to the house on Saturday, we will not be moving in to the bedroom....

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Attack of the Previous Owners' Bad Taste

Fast forward a day and we're back at the house, after work, trying to get these floors done before we move in at the end of the week. Ryan spends the whole night trying to get this black, tar-like goo off of our floors and he does a pretty good job.

Ryan scraping up the black goo

Mistake #3: Thinking that glue is all that would be on top of the 100 year old floors.

Clearly, whoever lived there before us, and then before them, had good taste because under the awesome black tiles (and glue) there was, once again, another surprise. Painted wood! Not to mention the part of the floor where they had moved the radiator and left a gaping hole. Oh, how I would have liked to meet these people and their awesome decision making skills, or lack there of. So we do what any young couple would do who have no idea what to do, we wipe down the floor with Mineral Spirits* (and in the process get high off of the fumes). And wallah! we're finally starting to see the floors! 

Clearly, we have low expectations at this point.

* I would not suggest doing this. It's very flammable but clearly, at this point, we didn't care. Blame it on the fatigue or the laziness. You take your pick.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Carpet, Tiles and Glue, OH MY!

So after what felt like years, but was actually about 10 hours, of Ryan chipping away at what we can only assume is asbestos tile (yes, we wore masks), the floors were clear of tiles. Of course, what comes with tiles is glue, black glue, all over the wood floor. Oh, happy day.

And this is what the tiles had in store for us...

Mistake #2: Look in to how to get the glue up BEFORE you get the tile up. It will save you time and sanity.

Luckily, my brother-in-law is a flooring expert over at Lowes so we call him in a panic asking what to do about the glue. He tells us the glue remover to get and we head over to Home Depot. Crisis Averted.

We bring glue remover home and it is the nastiest, tar-like substance I have ever seen. Ryan might as well have been paving a road with this stuff but instead, we were using it on our 100 year old wood floors, greattttt. It gets EVERYWHERE. My cat even managed to get it on the top of our toilet (oh the joys of having a cat). If there is one thing I NEVER want to do again, it's deal with this goo.

The black hole aka our room

Ryan gets all the nasty, black goo down and we wait a few hours. It's supposed to dry and just magically flake off but, of course, it doesn't. What it does is turn in to a black mess of a floor. After much disappointed, Ryan puts down another coat and we let it sit over night and retire back to the apartment... that we rent... even though we just bought a house. Oh the joys of home ownership!

Saturday, December 11, 2010


We closed at around 11am on a Thursday and by noon we were in the new house, ripping up the ugly mess that the previous owners called carpet.... and, SURPRISE, no sooner have we (and by we, I mean Ryan) ripped up one corner of the carpet do we discover that it's hiding tile. Yes, I said it, the carpet was covering the ugliest tile I had ever seen.

Post carpet

Tiles, where did they even find these?

And that's when we decided to move on to painting the walls this gorgeous Wolf Grey color by Benjamin Moore. Swoon.

grey walls, yes, please!

Twelve hours from signing the papers and we were on our way, asbestos tiles and all.

Friday, December 10, 2010

New Home New Projects

When we bought this house, we were fully aware that we would be spending all of our time (and money) on projects to fix it up. Don't get me wrong, it's not a "fixer upper" per say, it's just not completely our taste. The master bedroom couldn't be more boring and the kitchen? Well that's just a whole different story. I knew I could live with the blue bathroom and the drafty laundry room but there were just some things that had to go... immediately.

Commence Project Master Bedroom.

Before Pictures
Before Pictures
When we were first looking at the house, at 8pm on a Wednesday night, we noticed that the whole upstairs had original hardwood floors, except the master bedroom. Being the conclusive people that we are, we decided that under the carpet, well that had to be hardwood floors too, right? You would think. So day one in the house we would rip up the carpet and wallah! there would be beautiful 100 year old hardwood floors.

Mistake #1: Never Assume anything about a 100 year old house, you'll just be disappointed.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


We did it! We bought our first house. It's shiny and new (well, maybe not so new) and OURS! After a few hiccups with the closing, ahem our loan officer was a complete nightmare. On December 9th, Ryan and I became homeowners. We can't wait to share our adventures as we stumble through life as grown-ups and make this lovely, old house our home.

First up, transforming the boring white carpeted bedroom with neutral walls in to an elegant master bedroom. Stay tuned!