Sunday, November 14, 2010

Caulk, Caulk, and More Caulk

Let's just gloss over the fact that I haven't posted in 11 months, why don't we? I can't promise I'll return to churning out regular blog posts, but there is so much to update. I've painted the living room, dining room, built-in bookcase, and kitchen... then painted the kitchen back to the original color. I've purchased a new coffee table and entertainment center, an under-the cabinet microwave oven for my tiny kitchen, super-duper organized my built-in and closets, painted a fairly gross bedroom room closet, and started overhauling the mudroom.

However, today I did what I've been putting off for three years: caulking. The two big containers of kitchen/bathroom caulk and window/trim caulk have been mocking me for months. I'm not sure what got into me today but I worked for about 7 hours straight. (I work slow, ok?)

During the winter, the master bedroom is about 5-7 degrees cooler than the rest of the house. We have gas hot water heat. (The pipes are in the slab flooring.) Wonderful heat system except that the valve to the master bedroom is turned half-way off. During the last boiler servicing, I asked for the technician to turn it on 100%. The valve wouldn't budge. We have new windows so I figured the room was as warm as it would get. When I held my hand near the trim today, I felt a LOT of cold air. Not good.

I like to tape off to make the application easier. But I'm really disliking the Frog Tape. It would NOT stick to the walls. It was really strange. It worked when I bought it 6 months ago. It's not like I stored it in a hot or cold location. Three windows down and we'll see if the temp discrepancy keeps more at the 2 degree mark rather than 7 degrees! (The "outside" thermometer is keep in the living room.)

After I finished in the bedroom, I dragged my feet to the bathroom. The outside bottom of the tub gets so gross! I can scrub but it never gets clean!

I'm sure there was a better way to do it but I pulled up the old caulk with needle-nose pliers. Then scraped with a tool that looks similar to a flat-head screw driver. It will gouge the shower tiles but thankfully not the flooring tiles.

After vacuuming, I taped the area off.

I applied the caulk and here's my special secret to smoothing out the caulk: my fingers. Dip your finger in water and drag across the caulk. Wipe off the excess on your finger onto a paper towel. After finishing the area, remove the tape immediately.

Do not use this tool:

I had it and never liked it. I don't know why I didn't toss it. It makes it worse than if I hadn't done anything.

It takes a while for me to get the hang of getting it smooth.

But when I do, it gets better.

See, MUCH better!

(I realize my camera isn't the best quality. But trust me, I'm no longer embarrassed if guests see this.)

Since I had the caulk out, I figured it was time to tackle the bathroom sink. I would bleach the heck out of this any time I was expecting company. For three YEARS! Why didn't I do this sooner?

See how gray and nasty it gets? (I am really embarrassed by this.) Don't mind the ick around the faucet. I have no idea what causes this. I can use a Magic Eraser and Bar Keeper's Friend (the sure-fire combo) and it still won't budge. Eventually the caulk scraper removed it.

I taped around the sink. That was easy. A little tricky behind the sink but nothing a bunch of 1-inch long pieces of tape wouldn't solve. I couldn't tape on the countertop and keep the line even.

I decided to just apply a very thin line of caulk and hope for the best. It worked. I barely had any excess to wipe off. Then I carefully wiped around the sink with a paper towel. Viola!

I hope this helps someone that may be putting off caulking because it seems a little overwhelming. It really is fairly easy for beginners and it an important step in keeping bathrooms mold-free and your house more energy-efficient. Now I'll kick back with a beer and watch tonight's Boardwalk Empire. :)

P.S. Anyone have any tips for regrouting? The floor tile desperately needs it and I have no experience with it.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Vacation Challenge

I am on vacation this week! Whoohoo! (Although taking it in January seems a bit Pam-esque from The Office. lol) My challenge? Complete as many half-finished house projects as possible. Without spending a dime. Gulp. The reason for the second part of the challenge is because letting me loose in Lowes is not wise. I'll come home with an armful of tools (and a couple gallons of paint) for some new project. And the truth is, I have everything I need for these projects that I started one (or two... or three) years ago.

My current project: the built-in bookcase.

I never finished painting the bottom half when we moved in. It might not be noticeable, but some of the older paint is looking pretty dingy. I never touched the interior and it smells musty. So far one coat of Kilz primer is drying and it already looks (and smells) better. Now the trick is keeping the nosy cats out while it dries.

The picture doesn't do justice to how "blech" it really is.

With one coat of primer up, you can start to see the the old flat color was really a dull beige. I can't wait until I slap on some semi-gloss bright white and organize it all nice and pretty. lol

Saturday, January 9, 2010

It's the Little (Lame) Things that Make Me Happy

When I replaced the medicine cabinet, I worked on some new ways to organize. It... worked. But wasn't ideal. It got messy fast. I originally purchased the Ikea Semvik tumblers to store cotton balls, cotton swabs, and other miscellaneous items.

You would think it'd be pretty easy to remember which tumbler contained which items. However, one household member just couldn't retain that information. I thought I was smart when I printed up some clear labels. But the tumblers show fingerprints and get dirty fast. When I'd wipe down the containers, the printing would slide right off. Another clear label on top of the printed label and viola! Problem solved. Until the tumblers started to look... rusty.

Enter the unbreakable acrylic tumblers at Target for $2.50 each. Normally I'm not a fan of clear storage. I don't like looking at clutter. But really, who is going to be looking in my medicine cabinet except for me and Matt, and uh, I guess my blog readers? (Unless you're one of those snoopy guests. lol)

Basically, everything has to fit in my medicine cabinet. Nothing is stored in 21 inch wide vanity because it is pretty yucky under the sink. It's old and needs to be replaced. And this is good practice for when we replace the vanity with a plain old pedestal sink. So I tell myself, anyway.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Banjo Countertop, Be Gone!

I've decided no new projects until I finish the ones I have started. That is my biggest downfall: no follow-through. I usually give up when projects are about 80% done. "Oh, I'll get back to it later" and then I never do.

Do you know how long the bathroom has been missing its wallplates on the lighting and fan switches? Yeah, about a year! That's a safety issue too. :( It's not that I haven't tried. I just could not get the screws to line up for some reason. But today, I conquered all! Or at least the wallplates.

Now let me show you around the rest of the bathroom. When we bought the house, we were blessed with this beauty of a medicine cabinet. Even better, the shelves were practically rusted through.

Don't mind the paint swatch on the wall. At one point, there were seven different patches of colors up on the wall. For a year. We ended up with Sherwin William's Kilim Beige. It was just leftover paint from the hallway. It's best represented in the wallplate picture above.

Please also don't focus on my nemesis: the banjo countertop that extends over the toilet. We'll eventually replace with a pedestal sink.

I still have some tile edge pieces to finish. See what I said about unfinished projects? I'm not in love with the light fixture but we were really limited by the space. Our ceilings are too low to fit in something pretty like this:

Trust me, we tried. The light doesn't reflect right. It needs to shine out, not down. But we'll keep looking. In the meantime, these $18 lights work just fine for now!

Stay tuned for when I show you around the rest of the bathroom in two follow-up posts: organizing the linen closet and organizing the medicine cabinet. Who knows, maybe I'll even treat you to more of the banjo countertop, complete with the cut-out for a box of tissues. Lovely.

Project Cost Breakdown:
Lighting: $18
Medicine Cabinet: $88
Paint: free (leftovers)
Lightswitches and plates: $4

Total cost: $110

Friday, January 1, 2010

A Day (Or Months) Late

I should have posted a follow-up to my 2009 resolutions yesterday. But I guess today is as good as ever! Last year, I posted a very loooooong list of things to do around the house. But we'll get to that in a second. Let's first talk this year's resolutions:

  • Finish 2009's list
  • Blog once a week!
I used to love it then it began to feel like a chore. I made a concentrated effort to stop spending so much time online. It was nice! But I do miss updating with projects and I'm very behind on my Google reader. Like 2000 blog posts to read! lol

Ok, so let's see how well I did with the 2009 list, considering I pretty much did NOTHING to the house in the last few months.

Living Room/Dining Room
1. Replace all outdated electric outlets
2. Hide the cords in the entertainment center
3. Paint the baseboard
4. Replace damaged floor boards
5. Attach quarter round
6. Replacement blinds for backdoor
7. Decorate entertainment center
8. Rug to help anchor the space
9. Organize entryway closets (one for hanging items, one with shelves and baskets)
10. Paint interior of entryway closets (Um... one down, one to go)
11. Finish painting exterior of built-in
12. Prime and paint interior of built-in (and start using it to store things!)
* Wish list: flat panel TV (come February!), new couch and chair, more grown-up coffee table

1. Replace GFI outlets with matching ones that I bought a year ago
2. Replace damaged floor boards
3. Attach baseboards and quarter round
4. Replace ugly fluorescent light above sink to something more modern
5. Hook up the garbage disposal that was installed nearly 18 months ago
6. Start planning for new Ikea kitchen cabinets and countertops in 2010 Now I just need the funds! lol

Laundry Room/Mud Room
1. Prepare walls for painting (sanding area where cabinets were removed)
2. Paint ceiling
3. Paint walls (same color as living room)
4. Install tile Halfway there!
5. Organize space for shoes, coats, hats, etc.

1. Replace outdated eletrical outlets
2. Repaint with satin finish
3. Paint baseboards
4. Hang pictures

Master Bedroom
1. Replace all outdated electric outlets
2. Repaint
3. Purchase comforter and duvet cover for new bed
4. Install closet organizer (already purchased) Decided against this idea
5. Purchase matching lamps for nightstands
6. Paint doors and baseboards

2nd Bedroom
1. Replace all outdated electric outlets and light switch
2. Install new carpet
3. Remove 50% of items and give to Goodwill Hah! Removed close to 90% of the items!
4. Install shelves (already purchased) What the heck was I even talking about here??
5. Paint doors and baseboards
6. Prime and paint interior of closet
7. Find a better way to hide litter box
* Wish list: Bed for guests (Hmm, guess I'd have to move the litter box then!)

3rd Bedroom (a.k.a. Man Room)
1. Decor for walls
2. Paint baseboards and doors
3. Give 75% of stored items in closet to Goodwill
4. Paint interior of closet

1. Finish flooring in linen closet
2. Paint walls
3. Recaulk tub Hallelujah! Silicone caulk is the guaranteed way to go. Even the bathroom-designated latex caulk isn't worth it. Silicone is a little messier but WAY better.
4. Replace toilet Wasn't on the 2009 list but was on the Ultimate list. The leaking toilet just forced us to do it this last year. And I love it! Well, as much as you can love a toilet.

1. Plant grass in bare spots
2. Add additional ornamental grass to front yard
3. Plant ground cover on side of house Changed this to hosta and halfway done!
4. Finish weeding and mulching retaining wall
5. Clear overgrown weeds from back fence LOLOLOLOL No longer on the list. It was just groundcover but I'll PAY to have someone do this.
6. Dispose of the ginormous tub of river rock
7. Paint exterior of workshop
8. Scrape and paint all trim
9. Replace both water spickets One down, one to go!

Whew! I got a lot done but I feel like I failed because there's still so much to do. (I know I'm just too hard on myself!) But the house improvements are never ending anyway, right?? :) I hope everyone had a great holiday and you'll be hearing from me soon!

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Dust Bunnies are Multiplying Exponentially

There is a reason why my house is a mess and I haven't posted in ages. We have a new addition to the family. No, no babies. I am becoming the crazy cat lady.

I swear, I only went to PetSmart to pick up cat litter! Deceptively, they have kittens from local shelters in nearby window cubbies. I recognized one from a couple months ago. She was very needy and would rub all over the Plexiglas window if you held your hand up. After I read the description that she'd do best in a household with another active cat, I knew she'd be right for us. And roughly 15 minutes later, I was bringing home a kitten. lol

The transition had me quite worried. We separated her in another room and were slowly acclimating the other cats with her. Linus guarded the door 24/7. Lucy would just hiss. But after some time, everybody just loves each other!

Maybe now I'll finally get to hanging my dining room light fixture. (Three months after I was anxiously awaiting it to be delivered.)

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Flipping It Around

For the last year, I've debated flipping the living room with the dining room. The current layout, which is L-shaped, isn't very efficient. There's a LOT of wasted space in some areas and very tight quarters in others.

Current layout:

(Click to enlarge)

Layout via

See that space behind the loveseat? It needs to be somewhat open to access the built-in. I couldn't push the furniture against the adjoining wall due to TV placement. Overall, the current set-up was making the best use of the space. I even tried moving things around via Floorplanner and even the graph paper method.

After we had some new (smaller) living room furniture delivered last week, I decided to try the living room/dining room switch. Perfecto!

Here's a sneak peak of things to come (in its initial stages):

There's still a lot to do...
  1. Change ceiling light fixture.
  2. Purchase white coffee table, end table, and paint entertainment unit.
  3. Decor for end table and back wall.
  4. Add texture and lighten up the area via throws and rug.
No pictures of the dining room yet until I get my new dining room light. I found the perfect one for us, considering that the electrician won't be coming out any time soon. (It can be easily converted to hardwire.) So purty, isn't it?

I was unsure of entering into the house into the dining room. But it doesn't feel that way at all. And it's soooo much more open and airy with ample space to walk around. Much more entertainment-friendly!