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 Visually/cosmetically things were outdated, old, and in some cases poorly installed.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.
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.
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!
I know storage rooms are not very exciting or “blog-worthy” but that’s what we are talking about today. The house has an over-sized storage room in the basement. It’s about the size of a small bedroom but without a window it can’t technically (or safely) be a bedroom. The previous owners had it set-up to be a storage room and we’re planning on keeping it as such as well. For now.
Originally the whole house was getting a repaint. Then we actually set the budget and listed out everything and decided the basement was in good enough condition that it could wait until later. The storage at least needed some new shelves, though. The existing wood shelves were only about 6″ deep, which isn’t really that great for storage. Do you have storage boxes or totes that are only 6″ deep? Doubtful. The walls are also dirty and gross with I’m-not-sure-what so I definitely want it cleaned.
Saturday morning was spent taking down all the shelves and brackets. It was tedious work made more tedious by the number of different screws used. And spider-y. Unfortunately, once all the shelves were gone I couldn’t get the walls cleaned. Looks like we’ll be painting a storage room. Seems kinda like a waste but it also seems worth it to start fresh before all the spiders move back in. I’m thinking we just pick up a couple cans of returned/rejected paint in a white or off-white color. Anyone know of a good place to get discounted, reject paint?
The last time we visited the half bath J and I had removed that green wallpaper. Since then we pulled the toilet to finish removing the wallpaper.
Also, another great find (like that tile)! We were definitely not planning on replacing the vanity. All the cabinetry in the house is in fairly good shape just a bit worn and dated colors. The half bath vanity though had been chewed and scratched by the dogs. So we were planning on replacing the doors. But then, The Home Depot special buy of the day was bath vanities. I immediately forwarded the link to J after reading the daily email. We ended up snagging this combo for roughly equal what we would have spent on doors plus shipping. And in the words of the legendary Barney Stinson: “New is always better”.
And we get a new mirror! The medicine cabinet in the half bath is actually attached to the mirror. I was going to try to separate them and reframe the mirror but now we have a bonus new mirror!
Next step: New flooring. With the toilet and vanity out in the garage, we have direct and easy access to the flooring so they will remain in the garage until the old linoleum is replaced (probably with bargain tile). Stay tuned!
I repeat: the kitchen cabinets are completely stripped and sanded. It was a ridiculous amount of work – never to be repeated by this lady – full of blood, sweat, and tears.
There is absolutely no way J and I would have been able to get through it all so quickly without the help and support of his mom. She spent a good chunk of her weekend with us on multiple occasions now. When she’s not actively helping with the work she’s watching after little L so J and I can keep busting it out. She lent us her sander and then bought a second so we could have two people sanding at the same time. Simply put, we couldn’t have done it without her. Thank you!
In case you don’t remember the cabinet stripping stage, check out this earlier post. There was so much more stripping and re-stripping. J took on the task of stripping the cabinet boxes. He ran out of stripper so I bought a tiny little spray can for the last section. Then, on Thursday, he realized we forgot the backs of the lower doors. So back to The Home Depot (literally, our second home at this point) for more stripper. Back of the lower doors and some touch ups here and there … and … stripping was done!
On to scraping. The stripper left some goopy glops which we waited to dry then scraped off. It was detail work but kind of cathartic to scratch off glops of black goo. Like peeling glue of your hand as a kid.
Then sanding. I hate sanding. J laughs because I volunteered to sand one evening after work even though I hate sanding. And then came home angry about having to sand. But seriously, it’s the worst. We sanded everything down to the grain. I thought for sure we were over sanding but J and his mom agreed that down to the grain would be best. And damn! Did those cabinets look good! Good enough to stain. And then a little touch of a finish sanding to get it all super smooth.
It was hard, hard work. Took days and days. The priceless help of J’s mom. And endless sandpaper.
We had a rent-back agreement so while we signed paperwork last week we had to wait until today to pick up the keys to the new house. And so tonight, for the first time, the house was ours 100 percent, completely ours. Or so we thought. There were some belongings waiting in the garage and a bit in the back yard. So hopefully that all gets picked up soon. But other than that – we’ve got an empty house just waiting to be masterpiece-ized (that’s a word, right?).
First impressions on the empty house: The whole place needs a good cleaning. And J’s wonderful family has offered to get it cleaned for us! So generous!
Walk-through thoughts: Literally, every inch of this house needs to be touched. Baseboards are a bit sloppy, mismatched, or missing entirely. Walls are dirty and dinged up. A few light fixtures need replacing or simply updating. Old smoke detectors could stand to be removed. And that’s all on top of the safety updates and electrical fixes. But we are SO excited to get started! As promised, The List will be out soon enough.
First DIY job: J completed our first home improvement project tonight! The sliding door would not lock because the latch mechanisms were not lining up properly. He grabbed a screw-driver that was so handily left behind in the garage and in under 5 minutes had it fixed up and locking properly. Wonder how long the previous owner lived without a locking door … it seriously took under 5 minutes to fix. That’s kind of the theme of what we’re dealing with. Little things here and there throughout the house that alone are simple but add up fast.
And on that note, I’m calling it a night. So super excited to get started!
Oh, we also measured for the fridge so we can start keeping an eye out for the sales. I’m sure summer will be full of them. Let us know if you see anything good out there 🙂