One of the things that attracted us to this house was that the bones were good.  Visually/cosmetically things were outdated, old, and in some cases poorly installed.  But underneath it all the structure, the electrical, the plumbing, the AC, etc was good.  The inspector identified a few areas of concern like leaky faucets and slow sinks – but nothing that scared us away.  In my opinion, that’s just normal house maintenance that wasn’t given the proper attention.  But J and I are here to give it proper attention!

Last Saturday, my dear Papá volunteered to help address the leaky bath fixtures in the kids’ and master baths.  He had previously taken a look and thought it was old washers so he brought over his plumbing tools and with J’s help took things apart.

Kids’ Bath

Sure enough the washers were essentially gone – half the size of brand new washers which meant water was just leaking around the seal.  The insides of the handles were also full of hard water deposits and corroded, as was the drain trip lever and the spout.  We ended up getting a complete rebuild kit with new stems and handles (this kit from Home Depot); and a separate new drain lever.  We still have to swap out the spout and the shower head but after that the kids’ bath will be completely leak-free and brand new.  I think J and I picked up some handy tips from my dad as well.  It’s good to be new homeowners learning the tips and tricks of home maintenance.


Master Shower

The shower head in the master was constantly dripping.  I thought it was just a bad shower head but my dad and J explained that if the water was dripping from the shower head then it wasn’t properly sealed and shut off at the handles.  Duh – seems so obvious now.  So once again they pulled them off and found they needed to be replaced just like the kids’ bath.  It was cheaper to get a second rebuild kit with two handles and a diverter than it was to get everything separate so now we’ve got an extra diverter – yay!  We went with the cheaper chrome for the kids’ bath but spent the extra $5 for the brushed nickle for the master. Et voilà!


The end.  Coming up next time … Tile Install!

Paint: Main Floor

With the upper floor painting complete (or nearly, we still have doors and base & case to paint), we move on to the main floor.

Paint Prep

If you recall from Base & Case Main Floor, we removed the chair rail from the former-dining-room-now-playroom.  One, because the chair rail was installed poorly which made the whole house look bad.  Two, as a playroom, chair rail was a little formal.

When J tackled this room, the chair rail took with it a good portion of paint and drywall.  It was suggested that we bite the bullet and simply re-install chair rail rather than deal with all the patching which most likely would end up showing through the fresh paint anyway.  We looked at a few pics on Pinterest and decided a chair rail the same color as the wall would be one way to dress-down a chair rail.  However, in the end, J wanted to at least attempt a repair.  So here we are:


I took a putty knife to the peeling areas and scrapped off all that was willing to go.  Some areas ended up looking a lot worse but mostly it was just the edges that grew a bit.  A thorough sanding to get off any stubborn remains and then cover in spackle.  After drying there was more sanding, more spackling, and a final sanding.  Currently, it feels quite smooth.  I don’t think, upon feeling, that you could tell there was chair rail or a giant patch.  We’ll have to see if visually it shows through the paint.  However, I am hopeful.  So far I have been quite pleased — and surprised — by how well Behr paint covers.

Moving right along.  The front rooms had this dramatic texture.  It was clearly some sort of spray on texture that was globby and a bit overdone in my opinion.  I’m all for an interesting/textured wall but this was a bit much.  S had the idea to take a power sander to it and that turned out quite successful.  She was able to bust out about 30% one morning and J finished the rest during the week.

And ta da!  A wonderfully spotted wall.


And a glorious close up.  It is smooth to the touch but neither J and I would be disappointed if some texture shows through the final paint.  A little interest on a plain, flat wall is welcome.


The last room to prep on the main floor was the half bath.  Return in your mind to the days of the green wallpaper and the monstrosity that remained after I attempted to remove it: Bye Bye, Wallpaper.

Again, it was suggested to us that we consider installing beadboard on all the walls to hide the torn drywall rather than attempt to cover.  S was going to take a stab at repairing it but thought the effort wouldn’t be worth the payout (time consuming and would still show through paint).  Similar to the chair rail, J and I took to Pinterest to get some inspiration for beadboard bathrooms.  We decided a dark beadboard up to the window paired with a white upper wall would look nice.  But again, like the chair rail, J and I wanted to at least attempt the patches.

So here we are, after the first round of scrapping-sanding-spackling:


We did run into one problem.  We originally used joint repair instead of spackle and it was too moist, causing the paper in the dry wall to get damp and bubble.  So we ended that and switched to spackle which seems to work just as well as it did on the chair rail.  Again, we will see how well Behr paint covers.  I still like the idea of half-wall beadboard to add interest to the small room and to tie it in with the kitchen which will have a beadboard peninsula.  So we will see where the half-bath journey takes us …


Last but not least, we painted the ceilings!  The final ceilings to be painted (for Phase I, the basement ceiling definitely needs help).  Nothing much to say here.  Two coats of Ultra Pure White flat ceiling paint and ta da!  Ten times better than where we started.


The end.  Stay tuned for the rest of the progress made this week and weekend.

Paint Transformation, part 2

This weekend was about more painting.  And lots of family help again:  me, J, J’s mom S, my parents M and J, and of course Miss L’s adorable “help”.  And this means the upstairs is done – well, mostly done; the bath vanity doors still need some finishing touches.  Like painting the backs and touching up the fronts.  Without further ado, here are the before and after pics that everyone loves (or maybe it’s just me that loves them).

Kids’ Bath


Dark blue walls were switched out for light blue.  Brown, scratched-up vanity was repainted a nice berry gloss.  It might seem strange, but trust me, the color combo is going to look great for a kids’ bath.

Here’s a shot of the wonderfully blue walls.  And the paint covered in only two coats.  No joke.  Best ever considering how dark the original blue was. (P.S. Zoom in on those corners, I’ll wait, go ahead and check out that excellent cutting in.)

Beach Foam (Behr)

Here’s a close-up of a vanity door.

Sugar Beet (Behr)

Overall, I am much happier with the colors as they turned out than they appeared on the paint chips.  I hesitated that the blue was too blue not white enough and that the berry was too red not purple enough.  But I think they really turned out just as I had envisioned.

Oh, also (I’m getting bad at keeping up with all the weekday work – so sorry!) the floors were removed.  Yay!  But some water damage was found.  Not yay.  Hopefully, it’s easy to replace.  At first I didn’t want to replace the kids’ bath flooring since it wasn’t in terrible shape but I’m glad we tore it up or else we wouldn’t have seen the condition of the subfloor.



Master Bath

The master was already partially painted.  Since the vanity/closet area is open to the bedroom we continued that Heather Sachet color into that area and decided to go with a white-ish for the water closet.  White because 1) it’s a smaller room and 2) the free tile from the garage is tinted blue and we couldn’t think of a light, airy color that would go well with the dark grey-purple walls in the vanity and the blue-tinted tiles.  So blue-tinted white it was.

It is really hard to see in the picture but if you look closely you can see the line where the blue-white wall ends and the pure white ceiling begins.

Maui Mist (Behr)

Since the vanity/closet area is a bit narrow and again the darkness of the grey-purple, we went with a pure white vanity.  Doesn’t look half-bad does it? (Not really the best before & after, sorry about that!)

Ultra Pure White (Behr)


The last area to be painted upstairs was the hallway.  I wanted a bright white entryway, a fresh and open area to greet people.  Since the entryway flows right into the upper hallway it’s easiest if they are the same color.  We didn’t want pure white walls so J picked a blue-tinted white.  Blue is my favorite color but I’m starting to think J favors it as well (his idea for grey-blue kitchen cabinets with blue walls, blue-tint in the master bath, blue-tint hallway …).  The picture doesn’t do it justice, it’s really a nice bright white in direct light and then a soothing, subtle blue in shadows.

Frost (Behr)

Don’t worry about the crown (I know you were worried about it).  It will get a fresh paint of Ultra Pure White gloss.  Unsure if we’ll do semi-gloss or high-gloss … Add your suggestion in the comments!

The final project of the weekend was to begin prep on the main floor.  Patch nail holes, smooth the wall where there once was chair rail, and address that torn-to-bits half-bath.  If everything stays on schedule, we’ll be able to paint the main floor this coming weekend and with that, only the kitchen cabinets and trim will remain to be painted.

Sanding … again

Just when we thought all the sanding was done.  Nope.  It will never be done.  We still had the bath vanities to prep for new paint.  J, knowing how much I hate sanding, took this project on himself.  Luckily the brown paint on the vanities was not nearly as goopy and glopy and terrible as the black kitchen cabinets.  So there was no stripping involved and a relatively quick power sand of the doors, drawer fronts, and boxes.  We’re planning on painting the kids’ bath a berry red which will pop and add a playful element to the room.  The master bath will be white to lighten the small area and off-set the dark walls.  So all in all, an improvement over brown.  And now for our favorite:  before & after pics (before & during?).

Lovely brown vanity
No-longer-brown vanity fronts

Unfortunately, the sanding is not quite done.  We still have to go over everything with 320 to make it really smooth and ready for paint.  But that should be quick and mostly painless.  After that, all the interior power sanding will be done.  Still need to prep the walls and ceilings for paint.  As for exterior: some of the trim needs sanding as prep to painting/staining to keep the wood from rotting.  Ugh.  As I said above, the sanding never ends.

Paint Transformation

This weekend was all about the paint.


Saturday began with a morning run to Home Depot for 5 gallons of ceiling paint (Ultra Pure White flat), 7 gallons of bedroom paints, and painting supplies.  My sister and I got a head start, completing one coat on the ceiling and in the closet of miss L’s room.  Break for lunch which J and his mom brought over at just the right time.  Then we busted it out in teams of two: J and his mom, me and my sister.  Little L had a great time hanging out in the master bedroom watching everyone paint.  She was much happier roaming free rather than in her playpen.

The difference that a little white paint can do!  Fresh, white closets look amazing.  The closets were probably the biggest pain to paint – all those corners and crawling up to get the top shelf.  But totally worth it.  Seriously, I recommend it to all of you: paint your closets.

I think the biggest transformation on Saturday was the kids’ bath ceiling.  Here’s a “during” picture.  You can really see the grey, half-painted ceiling as compared to the fresh, bright white ceiling.

Kids’ Bath Ceiling

All in all, we painted little L’s ceiling and closet, the second bedroom ceiling and closet, the kids’ bath ceiling and linen closet, the master bedroom ceiling and closet, the master bath ceiling, and the hallway ceiling.  And there was only one extra run to Home Depot for another 5 gallons of ceiling paint.  It was a very long day and no one died from the paint fumes so that’s good.


Sunday morning everyone slept-in.  For J and I that meant 7:30am because miss L doesn’t really sleep-in.  J’s mom met us at the house a couple hours later and we started in on painting the walls.  Judgement day.  Hopefully we chose (paint colors) wisely.  Cutting in brings out the perfectionist in me.  But at some point you have to admit it’s “good enough” because the walls and ceiling are not perfectly straight.  As long as it looks good from the floor, it doesn’t need to look good up on a ladder 3 inches from the wall.

J, his mom, and I were able to get a first coat on L’s room and the second bedroom before lunch.  Another run to Home Depot for more rollers as we decided to have dedicated rollers for each room/paint color so we didn’t have to wash rollers between each room.  Just slid them into gallon-sized ziplock bags to keep them from drying out and move on to the next room/color.  During lunch my sister arrived to help.  The Dream Team was reunited for another day!

Again teams of two and we busted out the master bed first and second coats, the second coats on L’s room and the second bedroom.  Miss L wasn’t allowed to roam completely free today since she was tempted to touch the freshly-painted walls.  So when she was awake someone was on duty to watch her.  I have to admit, I failed when it was my turn.  L and I were watching the neighbor’s guests come and go from the master window when J pointed out that L had leaned against the wall to press her face against the window.  Oops!  I leaned forward at that moment too and left a little hand print but poor L pushed her whole toddler tummy against the wall.  So she now has an official paint shirt like us adults.  L’s first paint shirt!

The verdict.  I absolutely LOVE the master bedroom paint color.  It turned out perfect:  warm, colorful, darker, and not too feminine.  Little L’s room may be too much color.  I’m thinking with all the finishes, furniture, and decor it won’t seem so in-your-face-BAM-purple.  The second bedroom is my second favorite after the master. It’s brightened up the room and it a great mix of color pop but not too intense.

The Grand Reveal

L’s Room, in-your-face-BAM-purple aka Evening Slipper (Behr)
Before & After


Second Bedroom, Wintergreen Dream (Behr)
Before & After
The two bright Bedrooms as seen from the Hallway
Master, Heather Sachet (Behr)
Before & After

Overall, it was a very productive weekend.  And it’s true what they say:  fresh paint does wonders!  It’s starting to feel like our home now, with the colors and touches that we want.

All that remains for the upper floor:  paint bathrooms, tile bathroom floors, base & case, carpet.  The List is getting smaller, step-by-step.

Yard Work Saturday

Disclaimer: this is a pic heavy post.  For better or worse.

With the interior work in a slight lull and with J’s mom offering to come help with yard work, we spend most of today working on the exterior of the house.  Most areas weren’t terrible, just overgrown.  But, goodness, just getting rid of the overgrowth made a huge difference.

front view
Before Yard Work
After Yard Work

I stayed home with little L until after morning nap.  When we arrived I saw this beautiful sight:


All the overgrown grass and bushes were removed.  I don’t have a before pic, but it was essentially covered in 3-foot tall wild grass and shrubs.  As you can see, there are now some exposed rocks.  A fun accent rock and kinda random edging rocks.  There were also some extra rocks which were salvaged to fill-in the parking strip.  For some reason, there was a small section of parking strip that was at one point bark but now just dirt.  So J and his mom used the newly-unearthed rocks to fill in this section so now it’s all rock not half-rock/half-dirt.  Ta da!  And now matches the other area that I had already weeded (and have since been routinely killing weeds because I am not weeding it again!).


We also weeded the front flower beds.  With the weeds and random plants removed it’s bare but better – minimalist instead of neglected.  We will eventually fill it in with a nice landscaped, colorful collection of flowers.


The area in front of the living room window received the same treatment.  Instead of random growth it’s trimmed back and minimalist.  We also took out a couple smaller aspens that were growing too close to the house.  Another great find!  J’s mom was creating an edging, digging out the lawn that had grown into the bed and actually found some pavers under a couple inches of soil.  Again, this house is just full of finds.  Free pavers!  But more “Why?”  Why are the pavers under the soil?  Whatever the reasons, they were put to good use.  It looks great!


One last project to report.  Windowells.  What a pain.  Here’s a great before shot.  They were full of random stuff, trash, leaves, and – I swear – each window had a ball.

I jumped into the first well and it stunk terribly.  Rotting greenwaste and trash.  So I jumped right out and switched to raking out the trash, leaves, and sticks.  I also re-purposed the rocks for the parking strip.  One well is full of dirt and needs to be dug back down.  The dirt is level with the window – if you were to open the basement window I’m pretty sure some dirt would fall into the house.  That’s a project for another time.  At least today they are clean.

That’s all for yard work Saturday!

Paint Prep, cont.

With paint colors selected, we’ve begun prepping the upstairs for paint. J has been hard at work sanding and patching all the walls and ceilings. The textured celings look much improved with just a slight sanding. They look less dirty – J says the “dirt” was really shadows from extra texture and with it all softened the shadows aren’t so dark. Little L’s room had quite a few pinholes to spackle – I’m assuming a love of posters might be at play here.

After a long day, a dust-covered J finished up the bedrooms and now we are set to paint. Bath vanities still need power sanding so we’ll probably hold of on actually painting until afterward so our freshly painted walls don’t get covered in vanity dust.

Tile finds, part 2

Being the holiday weekend we kind of took a break. Plus we’ve reached a lull in the work schedule where we are mostly waiting for professionals (electricians, plumbers, carpeting, etc). We did go back to Floor & Decor to get some budget tile.

If you remember from our first journey there, they have clearance and bargain tile that is essentially cheaper than linoleum. So the old linoleum instead of replacing with new linoleum will now be tile. I’m excited to see how it all looks redone and upgraded.

Here’s the kitchen, mudroom, half bath tile. We went with a light gray. Light since the existing laminate floor is dark and gray so that it 1) ties in with all the wall colors we’ve picked out and 2) is neutral enough to go with anything else should we decide to repaint.

The kids bath linoleum wasn’t terrible but it could stand to be replaced, and with tile so discounted we went for it. A plain white since we’ll be playing with vanity and wall colors in a small area – really need something white to off set it.

Now just comes the hard labor of tiling all those floors. But we think it will be well worth it. Til next time!

Paint Samples

Saturday was an errand day. We did get a little work done on the house (yard work and wired the sprinkler control box) but mostly we looked at paint and tile.

We spent a fair amount of time at Sherwin Williams looking at colors and types of paint. Even with 40% off it was still more expensive than we’ve seen elsewhere. It’s probably true that you get what you pay for but right now we’re trying to do this reno on a budget so we’ll go with bargain paint and update later as needed.

Here’s the color scheme we picked for the main floor.

Entryways, kitchen cabinets, kitchen walls, dining room, living room & playroom with accent wall in playroom.

I think they all look good together and are the light, slightly neutral colors we had envisioned. I’m concerned it might be too much green but J thinks it’ll be good so I’ll trust him. He did pick the house when I was hesitant, the entryway tile when I was hesitant, taking down the walls when I was hesitant. So he has a good track record. 🙂

We also pondered colors for the kids bath and selected this. Very light blue walls with a bright, playful vanity since it is for the kids. I’m not sold on this shade of berry red but this is generally the vision.

I’m excited to see everything start to come back together!

No Mas Vent

The swamp cooler is long gone but the giant vent remained. A reminder of older times I suppose.

But no more. A useless, ugly vent is not something we felt like keeping in the house. So last week, J worked Monday, Tuesday and Thursday graves. With a random Wednesday off and not wanting to get off the graveyard shift sleep schedule, J went to the house to do some late night work.

And ta da! The vent is no more 🙂