Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Building Rememberies,.

Yesterday I had to travel for work to attend a candidate forum. On a whim I decided to take Luca with me. I figured having a buddy for the 6 hours in the car (3 each way) and dinner in a small town couldn't suck. And she felt pretty damn special. So: win, win.

We left my mom's house (and an almost-napping Mo) to hit the road about 3. This particular trip took us through some reservation land and some farm land and it was one of those smack-you-in-the-eye-sockets beautiful days in Arizona.

Among the awesome topics of conversation, brought to you by the number 5 (as in years) and the letter L (as in _uca):

"Mom, how did the Earth get to be?"
"Mom, tell me everything you know about the moon?" (and then when I told her people walked on the moon: "Was that you and your friends?")
"Mom, let's think of baby names for the little brother and sister I want. Twins."

"Mom, do you know, like, anything about science? Why don't you tell me ALL the things you know about science?" (pretty sure I was being judged here)

Eventually she decided to 'read' her book. I think she's decided that she is destined to be smarter than I, so she's getting a jump on the whole deal by teaching herself to read.

And then she fell asleep. And the cuteness that is little kid napping, complete with puffy lips and big eyelashes made me think maybe she's onto something with her twins idea. True story.

The event itself was boring for her and marginally interesting for me. We entertained ourselves with Wiki Sticks, which now lead the pack as far as I'm concerned in the whole 'entertain your children quietly without a mess' field. She created a fishing game with the sticks, and then we built a village together.

After the forum, we went to a diner and had dinner and a chocolate milkshake. Required fare for any 5 year old road-tripping and getting politically savvy, right?

On the drive home, she was wound up on over-tired and excessively-sugared adrenaline and wouldn't stop talking. No, seriously. For like 35 minutes straight she just jabbered on and on about what happened at story time last week and that one bracelet she got at Peter Piper 2 years ago and what an epic disappointment I am at knowing things about the moon and how her daddy like 'gangsta music' such as 'that song about sexy and I know it'.

Just before she passed out at 11:30 pm an hour away from home, the quote of the day happened.

"Mama," she said. "I got to come with you today and Rohan's already home in bed. And that's because I am 5 and he is 3. I can listen gooder and behave when you ask. And, I have a gooder remembery. I do. Have a gooder one. A remembery."


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Master Bathroom Renovation, the Pictures.

Our new view from the master bedroom.

Restained vanities (Minwax Dark Walnut), new counters (American Standard Newbern from Home Depot) with new faucets (Glacier Bay from Home Depot), new towels (Target Home Blue Crab bath sheets and Target Home Trout Stream hand towels). The mirror is the same one we had before, but we raised it up about 4 inches to acommodate the higher vanities. 

The refinished light fixtures = love. In the corner here you can see our toothbrush holder, which is an old Ball jar. We have a ton of these, all from back before the 1950s. My grandparents live on a very old property in nothern LA and one year Grandpa found hundreds of old glass containers buried at the far end of their back yard. He saved them in a shed, and when he died my Grandma wanted to clean the shed so she asked us to take whatever we wanted. We have a few dozen really cool and unique old glass jars and containers, and I loved how this one fit in here.

The ceiling, door, and trim were all painted Behr Bright White in high gloss. I love bright white high gloss.

This is where the shower wall meets the door. We decided to tile all the way over to the door just in case water gets outside of the curtain. Better waterproof than sorry. You'll also notice I didn't do the best job every painting those door hinges. I like this picture because it's a good close up of the grout and the accent tile AND the paint color. The grout was my husband's choice and I threw a FIT about it because it's GRAY and I wanted WHITE. And it was the hugest pain in the entire bathroom, in part beause it was epoxy grout which is notoriously difficult to work with and in part because gray on white meant we had to be meticulous or mistakes would show.

When all was said and done, I still wished we'd bought white but I actually don't hate the gray. It brings a little more life into the shower and ties into the new faucets, light fixtures, and other accessories. The color is Delorean Gray from Custom Building Products at Home Depot. The link looks a lot darker and bluer than it does in real life. It's a pretty true mid-gray in person.

Those accent tiles are their own story. Originally we bought the small green tiles with the idea of making a row of them and then doing some equally-spaced square tiles above, tilted on an angle so they are diamonds and not squares. We picked up about 10 of the tiles you see above, which were actually square before I 'customized' them by cutting them into subway tile shape. The tiles were on clearance, and we bought the 10 the store had expecting it to be enough and then it took several weeks to get to the place where we wanted to start the accents. Once we had the row of small green tiles in place, I nixed placing the squares on an angle. Honestly? It felt very sparse and outdated to me. I wanted something more one-of-a-kind.

I ended up sitting on it for a few more weeks as we slowly added a few rows of white at a time. When I couldn't sit on it any longer, I knew I had to make a decision. I spent several hours measuring out spacing and taping tiles to the Hardiebacker with painters tape to see if I liked the look. I hated every combination I could create with those square tiles, but I LOVED the tiles. So I decided I needed MORE and then I could do something different with them. We went to 3 Home Depots with no luck. At the last one, a really nice lady offered to ask her manager if we could buy the samples that were grouted to a sample board and hung on the wall. Assuming we could remove all the tiles on there and they would be useful, we'd have 9 more tiles. She took my number but I never thought I'd hear from her again.

Two days later, she called. She couldn't sell me the floor sample, but she had located 14 more tiles someone had returned, now on clearance for $0.74 each. Did I want them? I did, but after inspecting them a bit and discovering some had been placed and grouted, then removed from the grout and cleaned to return (and thus had some damage) we ended up with 11 of them.

I took them home and started playing around with configurations and landed on the one above. I cut each tile in half (face down is the best way, as it reduced chipping) and laid them out and it was a perfect fit in terms of the number of tiles we had exactly matching what was needed.

Once I had the tiles all in place, I hated the two horizontal accent lines. I sat on this for over a month not wanting to grout it into place because grout would make it feel permanent and I was sure I was going to hate it.

And then one day, I looked in the bathroom and fell in love. I love the colors. I love that it's totally 'us'. I love that there is no bathroom in the world exactly like ours. I was sold.

And above we have Exhibit 2 of the My Husband Is Right Sometimes Too. I came home from work one day to find this shower curtain laying across our bed, attached to that new shower curtain rod (both from Target) and I was annoyed. I had this image in my mind of a white, bright shower curtain and here was THIS thing with stripes...and a few true blue stripes at that. Our bathroom is decidedly NOT true blue. I immediately revolted, moaning about how it was sure to not match and it was too blue and why did HE get to pick it out and and and...he told me as gently as possible that he loved it and wanted me to see it in place before judging. SURE it would be a horrible fit, I smugly agreed.

And he was right. Would it have been MY first pick? No. Not even now, knowing it looks good in there. But is marriage about ME getting MY first pick all the time? No. Only MOST of the time. ;)

The shower curtain is Target Home Aquamarine, and the floor rugs are Target Home in Trout Stream.

And then there is the wall color. The wall color was tricky in that we had green and blue and white and gray happening in here and figuring out the best match was tough. We had a bajillion samples and then one day the whole family went to Home Depot and looked together. My husband found a few he liked and we were comparing them to some tile samples we had from home and feeling like any of them COULD work, but none of them were super exciting.

I had grabbed a Martha Stewart Metallics collection sample or two before, loving the silver and pearl colors. Darrick wasn't too into either of those, but I found myself gravitating to that section again and suddenly grabbed a new color and added it to the mix of samples we were debating. It was an immediate winner for us both so we bought it and never looked back.

The color is Martha Stewart Metallics Tide Pool, and it's heaven on earth. The trick with this paint is that you have to follow their directions and not give up after one coat. Because after one coat, it was streaky and really green in most lights, though it photographed decidedly bright turqoise.

After a second coat, however, it looks amazing! You have to use a lot of paint (this bathroom is maybe 12'x12' and we used nearly a full gallon) and be patient and meticulous, but it's 100 billion majillion times worth the effort. As you could see above, it picks up some of those blues in the accent tiles in the shower. It also goes well with the green tiles, which have a bit of a mother-of-pearl sheen themselves in some lights. And it changes quite a bit depending on your angle and the type and brightness of light in the room, from definitively blue to aqua to teal to a sea glass color. The sheen is subtle (think a pearl finish rather than a reflective metallic) which I think is perfect on textured bathroom walls in a smallish room. All in all, I am in LOVE with this paint.

So there you have it. The master bathroom renovation in pictures and lots of words. I have plans to put all the details and costs together, more for my own curiosity than anything else. Ballpark, given the amount of work we did ourselves and how much we managed to reuse rather than replace, I think we spent about $1800-2000 from start to finish: ripping down to studs and subfloors and building back up again. No matter what we spent, however, the fact is simple: we LOVE this bathroom and it was a major accomplishment for us all around!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Master Bathroom Renovation, the Steps.

We still have one small step left, but it's not an essential one so I am calling this bathroom renovation complete.

Do you have any idea how AMAZING it feels to say that????

Let me rewind. When we bought our house, the bathroom looked like this:

I'll be honest and say I never LOVED it, but it didn't really bother me. On our list when house hunting was a big tub we could soak in, and this bathroom had it. It also had saltillo to match that in the other bathroom and downstairs. I always found it odd that the previous owners painted a dark brown set of stripes on that one wall and put in oil rubbed bronze fixtures while leaving the sink and shower faucets builder silver and the vanities honey brown. But all in all it was an en-suite master bathroom with a big tub and I didn't HATE it, so I made do. Truth be told, on the list of home updates and renovations I wanted to get done, this wasn't even ranked.

And then, on New Year's Day 2012, I gave the kids and bath and a few minutes after the tub had drained Darrick went into the garage to get something and saw water dripping from the garage ceiling, right below the bathroom.

So began our first ever complete bathroom renovation. We've done tile and paint and replacing faucets and fixtures before, but never a complete strip down (to the studs in some places) and rebuild.

The first step turned out to be removing the tile because it sat in front of the tub apron so it had to come out for the tub to be removed.

Once the tile was out, we pulled off the surround walls, and then we were able to pull the tub out with no effort at all.

Which is a big, fat lie. That tub was a complete pain to remove, resulting in me frantically going to get the jack for my car to try to lift one end while my husband Hulk smashed the sucker out.

And we started the process of removing the long countertop that bridged the two vanities. I loved that space below the counters when we first moved in, dreaming of uses for it. But eventually it had turned into a big gaping place for trash, empty toilet paper rolls, and dirty clothes to pile up and be ignored. So we had to remove the backspash and decide what to do with the counter and vanities.

After debating various ways to remove it in an effort not to destroy it so that hopefully it could be sold on Craigslist or donated to the ReStore, we realized we couldn't remove it without it being damaged. So it got the sledgehammer treatment just like the tub had.

This same weekend, we pretty much gutted the tub and shower area and started the work of fixing the plumbing. We still naively thought we'd be able to fix that, pop in a tub, tile, paint, and be done. We're so cute when we're naive.

This is also when I decided for sure to stain the vanities darker. Our original plan was to remove the doors and drawer fronts and leave the vanities in place, but we later changed our minds and removed them to build a base that would make them higher.

I also decided at this point to refinish the lights and fixtures in brushed nickel, since I'm not really an oil-rubbed bronze kind of girl. I still think it's one of the best choices we made, in addition to changing out the globes to lighter ones.

This was also the timeframe when we bought our tub (Habitat for Humanity ReStore purchase, new in the box) and started to prep the tub and shower area by moving the showerhead up about 6 inches and putting up Hardiebacker.

Then FINALLY we had the tub in, Hardiebacker up, and we were ready to start tiling the shower surround. This was a weeks-long process as we did it when we had a few hours here or there and it required a lot of care.

In the meantime, Darrick cut out some old rotted subfloor, replaced it, fixed the pipes below the floor that go to the toilet, and figured out that subflooring on a second floor bathroom means several layers.

Pretty soon, we had shower tile done and faucets put back in place, and then it was time to choose paint and install a new toilet and pick out accessories.

Finally, we installed tile base'boards' and painted the ceiling, door and trim pure bright white last weekend. And this weekend? A final coat of paint, fixtures re-hung, accessories in place! Unbelievably, we're done enough to call it done!

Yes, there are more pictures. And more details, including paint color and accessory information and a cost breakdown. But for today, there's this huge rundown of all we accomplished in the past 6 months and a feeling of complete joy.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Little Checkmarks.

We are officially at the 'Devil is in the Details' phase of this bathroom remodel. And you know how everyone has those people in their life who geek out about the minute details and then those people who love the big picture? I'm definitely more naturally a big picture girl, and then I lose steam on the details. It's not that I don't like details. In fact, I've bee known to get a bit on the obsessive side about certain details, running down a rabbit hole faster than Alice on 'shrooms.

But with this bathroom? The details are KILLING me, man. It's not the design details or even the construction details. It's the little crap on the to-do list that you just keep putting off until it can be put off no more.

We attended to some of those this weekend, with consensus between the both of us when Sunday night rolled around that you could hardly tell what we'd done. I mean, WE knew, but it was all stuff no one else was likely to ever notice. Even the BIG project we undertook looks fabulous but also blends in so seamlessly that you'd think it had always been there:

You see them? I call them tile baseboards, though technically that name is a misnomer since clearly they are made of tile, thus NOT boards at all. Either way, there they are and it feels like the always were. It's important to note that these pictures were taken while the grout was still wet, so it actually dried to match the grout on the floor surfaces perfectly. Which is pure kissmet, seeing as how my husband couldn't find the same exact color in regular grout, only in epoxy which he in no uncertain terms informed me he would rather staple his balls to his thigh than use for this project, so it was pure luck that he found something that ended up so damn close to perfect.

The dirty details on installing this aren't that impressive. We had a full box of floor tiles left, so we simply used the tile saw to cut them into thirds. My mother in law, the detailiest of all details people, came over to help and used the same goop behind these tiles as we used for the shower walls. She cleaned the floors really, really well and then matched the tiles up so the grout lines would perfectly mirror those on the floor. Buttered the back, stuck them in place, and used spacers under the tiles and between each one to properly place them. After the full width pieces were done, we marked all the cuts and placed those. About an hour after she finished, we went back through with the grout. She filled it in and my husband and I took turns cleaning it off the tile surfaces and cleaning the grout lines and that grout up top. Our goal was to make it as smooth as possible and to keep the heigh consistent where we could. On the walls, the top of the grout will be covered with paint. Should we decide we need to on the vanity fronts and sides we can cover the grout with matching silicon.

This area right here is between the two vanities and will have some sort of shelving filling it with a space for a laundry hamper and possibly a trash can. The sides of the vanities need to be cleaned up a bit, and the walls are all getting another coat of paint hopefully during the week.

Why did we decide to use tile instead of wood? A few reasons. One, we had the tile already. Two, it is much more waterproof (obvs.) than wood in case we ever have a leak or flood up here. And three, it is a better physical barrier against bugs. This bathroom is upstairs, so bugs have never been a problem. Other than that ASSHOLE scorpion I found in the tub once. True story: I'd been tiling the shower walls for little snippets of time for several days. I had a towel down on the floor of the tub and a stepladder in there for the high places. The day I was done, I moved the towel out and there, under the towel I'd been on barefoot for probably 10+ hours total was a dead scorpion. Meaning that jerk had been ALIVE in that tub at some point and probably been squished to death. ::shiver::

The other question might be why we decided to tile in front and on the sides of the vanities. We'd considered skipping that, but we thought it looked cleaner to do it there. Plus, when we built the risers to make those vanities taller they looked really nice, but after moving them in and out of place several times and doing other work in there they started to look less pretty. We were going to find wood to put up around them, but honestly I liked the idea of tile everywhere and I didn't want to deal with cutting, sanding, and staining wood. So...laziness = why we did it this way.

Here's a picture that's pretty true to life in terms of color, except that the vanities are not black which they appear to be. But this is how the color of the walls (Martha Stewart Metallics Tide Pool) and tile looks in normal daylight. I am in LOVE with the color as it perfectly brings out the greens and blues in the shower accent tiles. It actually sort of changes color depending on the light, so sometimes when I photograph it, it is super green and other times it's super blue. Either way....LOVE. I read a lot of review online about this paint, but didn't find it to be nearly as much of a pain in the butt to use as others said. Maybe I got lucky? It does need a second coat, which I hope to accomplish this week. I also LOVE the new WHITE ceiling. It was 'builder white' before and had weird blotches that were yellowed like maybe someone enjoyed sitting on the pot and smoking cigarettes or something. Super gross. So now the ceiling, window sills and door/door frame are WHITE. I also spray painted the door handle to brushed nickle.

Anyhow. More pictures to come later when I get the paint done, put up fixtures like the towel bar and toilet paper holder, and lay down some pretty accessories.

Updated To-Do List:

- Call insurance and file claim
- Remove baseboards
- Remove toilet and cover hole
- Remove tile
- Remove subflooring below tile
- Remove flooring BELOW subflooring.
- Remove tub surround (also involves removing showerhead and closing off that pipe)
- Pull out and discard tub (also involves removing and covering drain into floor)
- Have insurance assessor look at damage and determine if it's going to be covered by insurance
- Cut away water-damaged drywall in garage ceiling
- Put in new insulation and replace drywall.
- Potential repair/replacement of subflooring in bathroom
- Potential refinishing of cabinets
- Sand, stain, buff, and poly cabinets, doors, and drawers
- Build risers to increase height of cabinets
- Buy new counter tops and faucets for cabinets
- Move sink plumbing on both sides to accomdate taller cabinets
- Move, replace, or cut down mirror to accomodate new taller cabinets
- Replace layer of plywood on subfloor, sealing together with Liquid Nails

- Install Hardi Backer over floor plywood with mortar and screws
- Install new tile
- Grout new tile
- Fix pipes below floor level for toilet
- Replace toilet flange and put in new toilet
- Removal of current counters and cabinets
- Removal of hardware (towel rack, light plates, etc.)
- Spray paint bathroom hardware to brushed nickel
- Buy new globes to cover bathroom lightbulbs
- Spray paint light fixtures to brushed nickel
- Spray paint cabinet hardward brushed nickel
- Clean ceiling to prepare to paint
- Repaint bathroom ceiling and walls
- Move existing drain and pipes for bathtub to accomodate new height of tub

-Move showerhead up 6"
- Build support box for tub to sit in
- Installation of new tub and surround
- Buy and install new waterproof drywall for shower surround
- Tile new shower surround
- Tile front of tub- Hook up plumbing to bath and shower
- Paint room- Reinstall fixtures on walls
- Reinstall bathroom lights
- Installation of cabinets (either refinished old ones with risers or new ones)- Paint and install new baseboards OR use tile as baseboard
- Installation of countertops (either current one or new)
- Put in new faucets
- Add new shower curtain and bath mats and toilet paper roll
- Look into storage options in room


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