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Posts Tagged ‘before and after’

2008: We buy a house with jungle print wallpaper and tan fixtures in the upstairs extension master bathroom
2009: We prioritize other rooms because they were more public
2010: We prioritize other rooms because they were original to the house
2011: We prioritize other rooms because they were more fun
2012: We prioritize other things because we had a baby
2013: And another baby
2014: We have two babies, probably not a lot is getting done around here
2015: I mean making additional messes? On purpose?
2016: New roof needed, necessitating a new skylight… which got me thinking about that bathroom…

So, while my husband was in the Mediterranean doing a study abroad class for 3 weeks, and we still had a few weeks of full time childcare after our semester ended but just before the public school year did, it seemed like the time had finally come, so I decided to tackle the jungle bathroom.

My two biggest priorities:

1. Say goodbye to the loud jungle wallpaper on the ceiling and in the skylight and closet and everywhere.

2. Try to make the “sand”-colored toilet, bidet, sink, and tile seem lighter by using a dark wall color.

Now, I know that leaf print / botanical wallpaper is very “pinnable” and cute:

Screen Shot 2017-09-02 at 1.22.38 PM.png

And some people might argue (with good reason) that it is a great style. I usually love florals and leaves in fabrics, clothing, textiles, art, and jewelry design. But even though I love Blanche Devereaux:

blanch+golden+globes

After 8 years of staring at it, I felt sure this stuff had to go:

4

Please note that this wallpaper continued ON TO THE CEILING and was even wrapped up IN TO THE TUBE connecting the skylight to the ceiling.  And the adjoining closet ceiling, too. I mean you have to admire the DETERMINATION involved.

5

Peeling begins. The top vinyl layer came off in fairly large chunks, just by picking up a corner and carefully peeling.

6

My trusty Wagner steamer helped with removing the under layer — the soft peach paper layer that was actually glued to the walls.

7

Sorry about the wide range of light levels — these were taken over the course of several different days.

8

Steaming the under layer briefly led to loosening. Notice you can see the leaf print even on the underlayer because it had aged differently where more and less sunlight got through to it.

9

Carpet up, more wallpaper peeled… hi there skylight. Note the wallpaper going on into the closet ceiling as well.

10

This was while roofers had the skylight covered with plastic before they took it out — it really made the room much darker and made me appreciate that the skylight exists.

11

The ceiling was very slow going — I think they must have used some stronger adhesive up here, probably because wallpaper on a bathroom ceiling is a tough job!

12

These small areas were hard as the steamer could not fit into them. Hot water in a handheld spray bottle seemed to work.

13

Skylight peeling in progress. There was some rubbery glue in here that was VERY hard to get off — I think it may have been contact cement.

14

Jesus is that you? (Nope, just skylight replacement day!)

15

New skylight in place for the rain.

16

Now about the rest of that ceiling… (And yes, we have a crazy old Victorian style toilet with an elevated tank, who knows why? I will say it has never clogged in 9 years due to its enormous flush-power, so maybe that is why.)

17

For some reason this back wall was much harder to get right. Slower going than any of the other walls. There truly is a lot of variety in how wallpaper removes, and that is one reason why I will probably never hang it on purpose in any area of my home. It’s just too much of a hassle to get rid of it and make a change.

18

Progress!

19

Steaming inside the skylight was weird, it sort of formed a little cloud.

20

More small areas needing attention.

21

I had read that it is good to use tinted primer before a very dark color. Since we were doing the walls in a very dark blue: Valspar Indigo Streamer, I decided to try it out. Lowe’s paint department agreeably added some black pigment to a gallon of Kilz2 primer I purchased.

22

It already looked a lot better!

23

First sample pot of Indigo Streamer on the walls.

24

One coat down, one to go. This was to try to make that “sand” tone tile look lighter… I felt excited it was starting to work as an optical illusion.

25

So no, this is not a white sink, but it does look lighter to me.

26

Toilet, bidet, sink against the Indigo Streamer walls.

27

Rehung some old IKEA curtains over that giant glass window outside the shower for some privacy (there had been vertical blinds but they were very old and not clean enough to save).

28

I found this image in a 1935 American Standard plumbing catalog online and loved it — now it’s framed in our bathroom! ūüôā

29

Trying to choose some vinyl flooring. We went with vinyl because it was cheaper and we have long term plans to properly redo this bathroom with a soaker tub and new fixtures, so we didn’t want to over-invest in it as is.

30

Stick on tile floors! We chose a groutable vinyl tile to make it look a little more like ceramic.

31

Tile progress.

32

Tile through the adjoining closet — this had been plywood for a couple of YEARS since we had pulled up the carpets for hygiene reasons (Carpet in the bathroom, another thing I will never do intentionally after having dealt with it twice in this house)

33

Some after pics! I stuck a frame from MirrorMate over the builder mirror to make things look a little more finished. It was a quick and easy install, as promised! I chose a chunky style I liked from their discounted options, and spray-painted it with oil rubbed bronze Rustoleum to match the frames and clock.

34

After. It’s still an odd little space (hi, Victorian toilet and bidet!) but at least it’s a lot less junglesome now.¬†All of the trim and the ceiling is painted in Valspar Light Raffia to match the tile and help it read as lighter/whiter.

35

Closet ceiling WITHOUT WALLPAPER! Now painted Valspar Light Raffia.

36

View from the bathroom into the closet.

I’ll finish with a few before-and-after comparisons just for fun.

132

The floor was Armstrong Crescendo peel-and-stick vinyl 12×12 groutable tile in French Gray. It was $1.08 per tile which was convenient, since we were able to overbuy, save the receipt, and then return the tiles we didn’t use. Link to its current listing at Lowes here.¬†We used a grout color called “Mocha” again to avoid bright whites that would make the fixtures look dark.

So that was our rumble in the jungle! I’m so glad it’s over!

(And yes, it took me over a year to get around to posting this! We’re currently working on the downstairs hallway which had pink grasscloth and pale yellow paint on all the built in bookcases… hopefully I can update sooner when that’s complete.)

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First off, a note on the plural of the word roof. My first thought was rooves but according to the OED, the standard plural in both British and US English is roofs. So roofs it is. (Rooves is still in use and not officially¬†incorrect, though. So that’s my fact of the day.)

So, it’s a little hard to tell, but after a long wait, two large bills, and a lot of drama, we have a new roof! And it came in two stages.

Stage One: Replacing the main shingle roof

After our paint job, this was the primary¬†large maintenance expense we had tried to plan for. As you can see below, this is nice fresh paint (and I still love the colors) but the shingles were unfortunately starting to buckle and come apart a bit as they were a few years past their prime. When we had the house inspected before purchase in 2008, the shingles had been given a 3-5 year remaining lifespan. We pushed that all the way out until the fall of 2015, but it was definitely time. During a big rain, we had to strategically position a bucket¬†in the back bathroom and one in the back storage room, and one wall near a bad join (which I’ll get to later) would suddenly develop random drips coming down the wall. It was especially bad near one chimney, where any really heavy rain had a way of dripping down through the edge of the attic and into one of our closets. Not great.

Untitled

 

So, after much handwringing and saving up, we got 3 estimates and went with a reputable local roofer our home inspector had recommended. He was less expensive because he only does regular¬†shingle roofing, not metal or thermoplastic polyolefin (membrane) roofing, and is a small business owner. He did a great job and was really nice to work with. He even built us a “cricket” which is one of these:

Untitled
No more chimney drips! That raised bit where the roof meets the base of the chimney is the cricket. It basically splits the water draining down the roof surface rather than letting it pool near the side of the chimney, which had been the case before. So far it seems to be doing its job, so hooray for crickets.

Untitled
So smooth and shingley.

He also installed a ridge vent, which helps keep air circulating in the attic and theoretically helps your shingles last longer because they don’t get quite as hot for quite as long.

Our shingle color / brand was Tamko Olde English Pewter¬†– we picked it because it was a light grey that seemed to fit in with the old houses in our neighborhood. Obviously it’s still a modern asphalt shingle but the lighter color seemed to read well against the older roofs around us, some of which are silver-toned metal roofing or old slate – they’re all shades of grey.

 

Stage Two: Replacing the weird back-of-the-house low-slope roof

So the larger, main part of the house had a lovely new waterproof hat on and all seemed well, except for one minor (major) thing: the back of the house had an extension put on it in the 1980s. You can kind of see it in the upper left corner here:

Untitled

 

We really appreciate this extension because it gives us an extra bathroom upstairs, and lets a lot of light in as well in a part of the house that is north facing and could be really dark. But the low-slope on this roof (it had once been a back porch, we think) means that it’s not a good candidate for shingle roofing. There was some rubber membrane roof up there as well, but it was getting old and starting to leak, the join between the rubber roofing and the shingles was especially bad and letting a lot of water in. Here’s the join:

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And here it is from another angle, in process (you can see the ridge vent at the top): Untitled

Basically, from what we understand, this sort of flattish roof should probably not have been done with shingles in the first place due to the angle. But it was:

Untitled

And because of the flat angle (low slope) of the roof, rain could find its way in to this space. Although the shingles were not super old or in terrible shape, the leaks were finding their way in and that was not fine.

So after another round of estimates only two companies even offered to DO the work since it was so finicky. The answer to our problems (knock on wood) is TPO roofing: thermoplastic polyolefin. It’s a thick plastic membrane roof that is heat sealed and lasts well on low-slope surfaces. Here’s a link about it! It was finally finished yesterday and a new skylight was put in the upstairs bathroom. I don’t have any “after” pics of the plastic yet, but it looks like it does in the link above. We’ve had a ton of rain this week and so far so good.

As the last worker (the skylight guy) was leaving he said “You should be all set for MANY years up there!” and I am definitely hoping he’s right.

 

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So when I left things at the end of part one, we had a dark blue painted front door (no more flower mural), which was a step in the right direction.

But although I was glad to be done with the flower painting, and liked the color (Sherwin Williams Naval) it was still a little unfinished feeling, with sort of a “blank” look to me because of that big wood panel in the middle:

Image

Whenever I’m lucky enough to travel someplace with pretty architecture, I like to take photos of my favorite doors and doorways. One of the loveliest cities in the world for pretty doorways is Bath, near where my husband grew up in England. There are so many gorgeous doors there in all that beautiful Georgian architecture.

Here’s are a few I fell in love with this summer in Bath and Oxford:

Bath Door 1

Bath Door 2

Oxford Door 1

Oxford Door 2

Look at the history! The glassy paint! The great mail-slots and knockers and hand-crank doorbells. In fact, when I couldn’t find anything particularly inspiring in our local hardware stores, my sister in law mentioned a place in Bath called The Knob Connection which specializes in “door furniture” which sounded like a place that took things seriously. And they even have a website! I was thrilled.

Since our house had many years of ownership by a prominent medical family in town, and I think the style is really beautiful and timeless, I was very interested in a “doctor’s knocker” – like on the white door above – these were used to mark the doors of physicians long ago so that in an emergency you could tell where a doctor lived even in a strange town. I love historical quirky things like that, so when my sister-in-law offered to visit the shop for me, I asked her to check out this one in person.

Another one caught my eye too, though, and it’s the one she said was much nicer in person: this “English rose” round knocker. The provided photo really isn’t doing it any favors there, which is why I had initially been looking at the other one more seriously. But my sister-in-law visited the shop and decided to buy it then and there and send it over as my Christmas present, since my husband’s parents were coming over for Christmas, she asked them to pack it and bring it over – it definitely weighed down their luggage, but I’m so glad they brought it!

Although the bolts to mount it are too long for our door, so I really need to shorten them (or buy shorter ones) I went ahead and mounted it right after Christmas. I just laid a piece of paper against the back of it and used a pencil to mark the two places I would need to drill for bolts. Since I really REALLY did not want to mess up the placement of the knocker, I made a color copy of it (just laid it on the scanner bed of our printer/scanner/copier and hit “Color Copy”) for a 1:1 model of it I could reposition lots of times on the front door with tape.

When we got it where we wanted it, and had the holes marked well, it was just a matter of drilling through the door. Again, since this door has a dumb plywood panel as its middle, rather than some gorgeous piece of antique wood, I wasn’t too worried about going through the door.

And drill I did! I really need to get some larger drill bits for our drill, because as it was our largest wasn’t quite large enough and I had to keep wiggling it around to make the hole bigger, which took forever and seemed like a pretty inexact way of doing it.

Nonetheless, I was happy with the results!

knocker installed

When my sister in law bought it the knob-store owner told her that it was cast from a mold of an old Tudor-era door knocker, and that’s why the bottom rose looks worn, because the original one was worn down from years of use. Who knows, but I liked the story. Best Christmas present ever!

The door almost felt done, but when we removed our storm door our mail carrier became concerned because our old mail-slot was very small – about a 4.5″ opening – and he was worried about leaving larger mail outside without the storm door to hold it in. So, because I didn’t want to reattach the ratty storm door, or buy and hang another one, I decided to look for what our options might be for ordering a larger mail slot.

After a little internet research and Pinterest window shopping, I ended up looking at the selection from Signature Hardware. They had at least a few options in various styles for old houses, and the prices were fairly reasonable for solid brass door “furniture.” Since our goal was to have a LARGER opening, the styles were a bit more limited, but we ended up liking this one quite a bit:

post slot from Signature Hardware

It had the larger dimensions we needed and the color seemed somewhat close to the knocker we already had. I noticed in the comments that it was somewhat confusing to install but thought I could probably handle it.

Ha, ha, ha.

While this is a very PRETTY mail slot, and there were instructions available to print from the website, the installation process was incredibly difficult.

You have to cut a hole for the mail to go through, so using our jigsaw I enlarged the current hole. This part was pretty nerve-wracking because it was in the thick, old, wood part of the door rather than the thin plywood part. However, what REALLY made it hard was that the hole had to be WIDER at the top so that the post-flap had clearance to fold in, but narrower in the middle so that the mounting bolts could grab into it. It was NOT well or simply designed at all. Because I was worried about accidentally making the hole too LARGE, I ended up slowly, slowly chipping away at it, holding up the mail slot, chipping away a bit more, holding up the slot again, etc. I ended up hand chiseling quite a bit of the part around the top, which took SO much longer than I had imagined. But finally it was up, albeit in the middle of a big mess of 103-year-old sawdust everywhere.

mail slot installed

I still feel like it could be a slightly better fit, and would like to get a larger drill bit to counter sink the spots where the plate screws in just a bit better, but it’s very stable as is and sometimes good enough is good enough for now. Additionally, the big inner flap is a nice bonus over our old one, which only had a flap inside the front door. This one is large enough for even wide manila envelopes and slim packages to go through. A big change, and we haven’t had any complaints from the mail carrier yet. (Phew.)

post holding mail

The added weight of the brass mail slot even holds outgoing mail, which was never an option before. Kind of neat.

So here’s the door now, knocker and mail slot in place:

front-door-after

Note that strong afternoon sun, the reason the original wood frame was so damaged. Hopefully this new look will last us a long time.

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One great moment I almost forgot about from the house painting process:

The side supports for our front steps had been coming apart for years and were in pretty terrible shape:

ImageThis was not the great moment.

Eventually, of course, we’d love to redo the front steps in a beautiful way, and also redo the sloping path to the sidewalk to match. I have a Pinterest board full of inspiration ideas like this one for that project, but unfortunately ours was a budget of realism already stretched, rather than Pinterest dreams.

So, since this poor beat-up little side support and its twin are actually not at all load-bearing or important to the house’s structure, we were thrilled when our painter offered to just clear out the rotted bits, frame up a little piece of wood inside, and patch it all back together so at least things looked whole again.

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Aside from the dead February landscaping, much better I think! Thank you, enterprising painter!

But the great discovery was what he pulled out when he was rebuilding it: a piece of the original trim boards, painted a vivid emerald green!

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We even joked about its similarity of the Pantone 2013 color of the year, Emerald.

It’s fun to imagine what this house must have looked like, long ago, before the stucco, with its pea green siding (discovered during the chimney rebuild in 2008) and this emerald green trim. Maybe something like this? Oh for a crystal ball.

Other house colors we discovered along the way were mostly in the white-cream-tan-yellow-orange family one would traditionally expect with stucco around here. Here are a few shots we got along the way:

Trim colors through the years:

palimpsest_paint

House body colors (on top of the stucco – the green was all under it) through the years:

palimpsest_paint2

And just as a reminder, here’s what it all looked like before and after our most recent paint job.

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As I wrote about last time, as the painting process was getting underway, we have been looking forward to having our house repainted for years now.

We are so grateful to say it is now completed!

A true before and after

Final color choices were:

Main body of house (stucco exterior): Benjamin Moore Mesa Verde Tan (AC-33)

Trim (white): Benjamin Moore Bavarian Cream (OC-123)

Foundation / Porch floor: Benjamin Moore Clinton Brown (HC-67)

Porch Ceiling: Benjamin Moore Blue Hydrangea (2062-60)

Front Door: Sherwin Williams Naval (SW 6244)

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When we first walked through our house four years ago, several rooms had wallpaper or paint colors that weren’t to our taste. It’s to be expected, really. And like everyone says, you have to have the vision to see past colors you dislike and look at the bones beneath.

The bones were good.

But the wallpaper? The wallpaper was bad. How bad, you ask?

Initial visit to our house

This bad.

We imagined that the dining room would be one of the first rooms we’d repaint, because it seemed like such an “easy” payoff. Big windows, a neat floorboard pattern, a built-in china cabinet, and a chandelier that, while over-the-top for sure, was original to the house and had a certain ragged glamor to it. Yet we never got around to it.

We had paint chips hanging from a nail on the wall. We even scraped a little of the wallpaper off one weekend, to see how hard it would be. We scraped a patch of the popcorn ceiling and sent it to the lab.

And then we just… stopped. We did other rooms. We worked. We watched lots of Netflix. We had a baby. And still the dining room remained in all its ridiculous glory.

The wallpaper border, when viewed closely, shows a rich variety of wildlife: birds, insects, hermit crabs and a horned tadpolish creature a friend once termed “fetal goats.” Not something you see every day, really.

Closeup of old wallpaper border

Unless you’re us. We saw it EXACTLY every day. For four years. But at long last, after far too long, and due almost entirely to the hard work of my father-in-law who was visiting (and swears he enjoys this stuff), we can finally say that the dining room is quite different now!

Dining Room Before & After

Dining Room Before & After

So the basic steps of the transformation (again, all credit to my in-laws, especially for the hard initial steps of scraping!)

  • Put down plastic and tape it to the baseboards.
  • Put very hot tap water into trigger spray bottles.
  • Spray a 3′ x 3′ patch of popcorn ceiling, move onto a second one, and then move back to scrape the first. (Side note of caution: We had our ceiling texture tested for asbestos and other evil things not long after moving in – don’t skip that step because you do NOT want to be breathing in all that bad stuff if it’s in your ceiling. The $50 the test cost is nothing compared to the chance of possible medical bills and heartbreak years down the line.)
  • Scrape the popcorn texture off with your putty knife lying almost parallel to the ceiling. Be careful not to gouge through because patching is no fun.
  • Patch the inevitable few gouges with joint compound.
  • Sand out the gouges and any weird spots in the ceiling.

If your popcorn texture is like ours, it leaves a chalky residue behind. We tried washing this off, sanding it, scrubbing it, etc. but sometimes it still causes the first coat of primer and paint to peel off.

Dining Room Project

This is not a happy moment. Not at all.

The good news was that when it all came down, it brought the worst of the chalky residue with it, so the next coat stuck. We used high-bonding primer from Lowe’s and Behr Ceiling White paint from HD.

For the wallpaper:
Seriously, wallpaper is different every time we remove it. In this room, here’s what worked.

  • Score the wallpaper with a scoring tool.
  • Put very hot tap water into trigger spray bottles and add a few drops of dish soap (this was the inlaws’ idea, and it seemed to work).
  • Spray the scored paper and let the water really soak in for a while while you keep spraying other parts of the wall.
  • Scrape off the wallpaper — ours was super old and came off in annoyingly tiny bits. But it did, eventually, come off.
  • Scrub the wall well to remove the wallpaper glue residue as much as possible (we used microfiber dishcloths for this, rinsed in hot tap water.)
  • Use joint compound to smooth any gouges or weird spots in the walls — in an old house, there are always weird spots — and sand smooth.

The people before us had painted a pink stripe UNDER the wallpaper border — probably to keep the blue paint from showing through? Who knows. Nothing a little high-hiding primer couldn’t handle!

Dining Room Project

This stuff is very helpful for putting dark colors to rest – we’ve used it in the foyer, too, and it really saved some time when we were painting that burgundy trim white. I’d say one coat of this is equal to 2-3 coats of Kilz2 latex primer, for color hiding at least.

Once the walls were primed it was time to pick a new wall color. With such a big shiny light fixture dominating the room, we wanted something that would blend in to the background and let the woodwork and lighting be the main attention-seekers in the room. We tried a few pale colors:

Dining Room Project

Left to Right these are:
Mild Mint by Behr, Lincoln White Sash by Valspar above Spring Melt by Martha Stewart (color matched to Behre Ultra), Valspar Luna, and Valspar Churchill Hotel Ecru.

They looked different in different parts of the room, and (as always) in daylight vs. lamplight, but we ultimately settled on the color-matched Spring Melt, because it was a nice pale grey/green/blue and we thought it looked kind of timeless and clean and light. Again, it’s a much paler color than we would usually go for, but we wanted the lighting to be the noticeable thing about the room, not the wallcolor.

And so, again, with the amazing help of my in-laws, we finished it up… two coats of paint on the walls, two or three on the trim, and all the cleanup.

But so far we’re feeling pretty good about how it turned out.

Smooth ceiling with the paint finally sticking properly:

Dining Room Project

Walls painted, in lamplight:

Dining Room Project

Walls painted in daylight, and the furniture back in!

Dining Room Project

We still have some finishing touches to do — notably finding some stuff to hang on the walls which look so much EMPTIER without all that busy wallpaper going on. But so far, so good.

Honestly, it will be really nice (kind of weird, but really nice) to be able to have people over and talk about something at dinner that is a topic OTHER than the walls. ūüôā

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What used to be a rather dark bedroom with pretty intense wallpaper and green shag carpet has now, through the combined efforts of my in-laws, our painter/handyman friend, and some work of our own, become the bedroom for our baby boy.

The wallpaper steamed down in one afternoon, but choosing the paint and putting together the furnishings took longer — this was a labor of love from October 2011 until just before he was born in late February 2012.

How nice to find hardwood floors under that carpeting, as we’d hoped!

So much labor put in for our little guy by his grandparents. We are grateful for their hard work!

And we are SO grateful to have that wallpaper gone! I kept saying to everyone who would listen “Even if we change our mind about the wall color, we will NEVER have to deal with this wallpaper again!”

Steps for this room:

  • Steamed wallpaper
  • Patched walls
  • Primed walls (Kilz 2 latex)
  • Painted walls (Valspar Brown Buzz, trim in Behr Cotton Fluff semi-gloss)
  • Scraped popcorn ceiling
  • Patched/sanded/painted ceiling (Behr Ceiling White)
  • Replaced light fixture with a new ceiling fan (twice because the motor on the first one was faulty)
  • New smoke detector
  • New 2″ faux wood blinds (custom cut for weird-width windows)
  • Hung curtains & rod
  • Twin Bed moved in from our old guest room
  • Twin Bedding from Walmart, TJ Maxx, and Target
  • Crib from Amazon
  • Bedding from PBK and Amazon
  • Rug & pad from Overstock
  • Dresser: thrifted — tightened up by a carpenter friend and waxed by my father in law
  • Storage cabinet from IKEA
  • Chair from our living room of our first married apartment
  • Ottoman built by our carpenter friend and upholstered by his wife
  • Bookcase – free castoff from a friend – we planned to paint it but ended up liking the red
  • Paper lantern from BlueQ
  • Puff balls via Etsy
  • Artwork by Google Maps, Etsy sellers, and our vacation photos – thrifted frames spray painted
  • Wall hanging from my husband’s room when he was a little boy
  • Books and toys from our generous friends and family

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