We woke up a bit after eight today to the third morning in a row of sunlight streaming into our bedroom. This is such a novel, wonderful experience. Since moving into the house, we’ve had only a handful of days that any direct sunlight made it into the room, but between taking the trees down, the clouds disappearing for a few days, and the angle of the sun at this time of year, the light is amazing and lasts for about two hours. What a great way to wake up! (So much better than this!)

This photo was taken from our closet, partly to show the sunlight, and partly to show our “new” mirror:

The wall of our closet has been so empty since we moved the shoe closet over a year ago. The craigslist cabinet helped, but when we deconstructed the old bathroom, I kept the mirror and painted the frame black. I was afraid that glossy black would be too much of a contrast with all of the pale, blond shelving, so I found paint that matched the wood and used the mouths of old jars to stamp circles. I’m very pleased with how in came out. Here was the mirror in its prior incarnation:

I love its new look and spot!

Saturday Bathroom Progress

Kevin finished painting the bathroom last week, and I’d been mentally debating the color. It looked so much darker and just *yellower* than I’d been envisioning.

Above the tub (which we’ll be having refinished – white instead of that flat blue):

We took down the towel bars and face plates:

See? Isn’t that yellow? Qualms aside, since it didn’t seem worth repainting in a paler shade, I pulled down the blue tape, moved our heavy duty floor lights, and was amazed at the difference. We have our lovely yellow back. The blue tape must have just struck some sort of chord that made the yellow look supersaturated. I was also really pleased to see that the yellow coexists with our existing vinyl flooring without making it look dingy. Replacing the vinyl (and therefore moving the toilet) wasn’t ever on the docket, but I was concerned about that color combo.

We mounted the medicine cabinet – so pretty, and such a challenge as its interior is the exact width of the drill.

We had one of the best craigslist experiences ever. The old vanity had been sitting in our hallway for many weeks, so I decided to list it, the matching wall cabinet, and the matching medicine cabinet in the Craigslist free section. Within an hour I’d gotten an email from people hoping to take it away that night, and two hours later, it was gone. We were giddy when they drove away. The couple was cute – they’re getting married this spring and hoping to sell both of their 1BD places to move somewhere bigger. Since the market’s soft, they’re doing as many DIY cosmetic improvements as possible and they were delighted with the new bathroom set. I’m glad it’s going to such a good cause – I hope they find buyers.

Once the old vanity was gone, Kevin did a ton of work with the sawzall to cut holes in the back of the new vanity cabinet and cut a piece of plywood for the counter to rest on. He glued it all together, we got the vanity in position and screwed into the wall, and he started working on the plumbing and the backsplash as the clock ticked past midnight. Here was the progress right before I headed for bed:

We still need a light fixture, but otherwise we are so close to being done. 🙂 And after many months of having a vanity in the middle of the fishroom, we can’t believe how spacious that room seems without it. The walk from the bedroom to the kitchen used to require dodging two vanities, and now the path is so clean and empty. 🙂

Wall art

A fun mail day: the first package I’ve ever received from Mexico.

We were mystified at first, and then realized it was the bird prints from Etsy that our sisters gave us for Christmas!! They’re so lovely. Here they are gracing our coffee table, where they’ll stay until the bathroom wall is ready for them.

It shouldn’t be too much longer. Kevin has been spending impressive amounts of time priming, texturing, and repriming the bathroom walls. (He’s even getting up early to work on it before work, so that he can keep the schedule tight. Dedication.) A mid-conversation photo of him and the gleaming white textured walls.

This weekend, we finally chose a paint color, and we can’t wait to see how it looks up on the walls.

So the birds shouldn’t have to wait too long!


The sky from the backyard at 4:14 PM:

We still have a long way to go until the days are a reasonable length again, but it’s heartening to know that the amount of daylight will increase steadily for the next five and a half months.

In other news, Kevin got the horrid light fixture down and patched the walls!

There are still several rounds of spackle to go, but it’s already a vast improvement.

And the gramma is now swimming around the tank, though he cuts his explorations short the moment that he realizes someone else is in the room. This was his hiding spot for the first few days, tucked up against the bottom of the tank next to this big piece of PVC.

He’s since found a much less visible spot, so I’m glad that I got this picture even if it’s not the best angle.

More ringing out the old

Kevin did good work this afternoon removing the old vanity from the bathroom!

It’s so nice to have it gone. There’s an older layer of vinyl flooring underneath, but it can stay an archeological curiosity, since the new vanity will cover it completely. Whew. (The state of the floor was one of the great unknowns, since replacing it would necessitate moving the toilet, which wasn’t on the list. It’s a huge relief that there wasn’t some terrible problem lurking under there.) So now, a bit more wall repair (probably about five days worth, with the spackling x3, texturing, and primer coat), then we can paint our yet-undecided color, and put up the new vanity, mirror, and medicine cabinet!! If we’re speedy, it will probably be a 2-3 week project? Fingers crossed.

Another step in the right direction

Our new vanity is here!! I went to pick it up yesterday, and now it’s happily hanging out with the fish. Cherry, finish color, door style, and sturdiness are perfect.

(Please ignore the paint collection at left and the assorted fishtank buckets at right. I didn’t think to move them before taking photos or frame the shot differently. Oops. At least it’s representative of our decor.)

Here’s the inside – you can see our pretty drawers and their upgraded tracks with their awesome glide.

Any opinions on what paint color would be perfect for the walls around this?

House Progress

Yesterday was one of those success stories that you fantasize about. Both of us were sick of having had certain home renovation items on our list for OVER a year. We’d done research, we’d saved money, the holes were punched in the wall, and yet the project was still “in the planning stages”. There are actually several projects that fit this description, so with 49 minutes until the relevant stores started to close, we chose the two most dire (lights for the dining & living room, and a vanity for the main bathroom), and in a moment of wild decision-making headed north to the cabinet store. This apparently set off a chain reaction of shopping & home improvement awesomeness.

I’d been a bit hesitant about this store because the prices were so, so low. (One of those “don’t test it in case it’s not true” scenarios.) It’s a tiny minimal operation on a dead-end warehouse sort of road, which could either be awesome or horrendous. We were really impressed with the quality of the cabinets when we saw them in person, and the one we chose (it was perfect) was about ½ of our budget and about 40% of the prices of any of the other reasonable alternative options I’d found. Cherry, perfect door detailing, and nice glides on the cabinet drawers. Awesome. We were offered granite countertops with undermount sinks for $300, but the colors weren’t great so we decided to wait on that piece of things.

We tried Home Depot and Lowes for countertops – expensive and really crummy. I’m glad we checked so that we can enthusiastically cross them off the list. I know of a bunch of stone /granite places, esp south of Seattle, so we’ll try there before we jump for anything.

A break: We stopped at Pete’s Wine in Bellevue – missed the tasting but still were able to stock up on plenty of fun bottles. It was a good pause (and right next to our wedding ring store – always good for karma), and for the first time we were able to use our new, free 6-botttle bag from QFC for our purchases – a fine addition to our “green” canvas shopping bag collection. 🙂

The standard bathroom remodel seems to require matching your mirror and your cabinet. Our place didn’t do mirrors. I’m really happy about that. I don’t tend to love the standard “matching” mirror styles, and they are wildly expensive for what they are (four small pieces of wood and a mirror for $200+? Really?). I’d found a few mirrors that seemed possible at Pier 1 Imports (of all places!), and one of them turned out not only to be perfect but to be $20 off. We’ll take it! (And how amazing to have something that’s a bit more creative and fancy-free.)

At home (in my room for the moment), from 8 feet away:

The more I look at it, the more I love it. (Both photos and in person – it keeps getting happier.) The leaves are enameled, so it there’s a silhouette from afar and a great color interest close-up – it’s an interesting effect as this can be seen from our entryway/the main crossroads of the house (at 18 feet away).

From 3 feet away, with all of the color:

What’s left for the bathroom?

  • The vanity top.
  • New lights.
  • A toilet paper holder.
  • Actually installing the vanity, plumbing, etc. (My uncle/ godfather sent the most wonderful anniversary card in June that basically joked if you can paint a home without divorcing, you’re probably in it forever. That one stayed on the kitchen counter for months and months. My guess is x2 for installing your own bathroom sink without total meltdown.)
  • Paint (somewhere in the cream or yellow range) once we’re done the drywall repairs.
  • And hopefully, someone to refinish the tile and tub – goodbye to the hellacious aqua?

The goal is still to do a sub-$2000 remodel, and we’re on our way, especially with the potentially woah-expensive vanity + mirror costing less than $575 with tax. Woohoo! If we can bring a 1980s bathroom up to snuff without going over that budget I’m going to be very pleased.

More bathroom demolition

I tried to pry the wood backsplashes for the bathroom sink off the wall when Kevin was at PDC, to no avail. In addition to all of the screws, which I did remove, they were glued quite thoroughly. So when Kevin got home from work on Wednesday, he was barely in the door before I had a crowbar in his hands. Luckily he always seems up for demolition and didn’t seem to mind the non-downtime.

The glue was stronger than the surrounding wall, so we definitely have drywall replacement in our future. In some ways, it’s really not a bad thing since those two walls are so damaged already and we already have the drywall and materials sitting in the garage. Better to do it right, even if that wasn’t the original plan?

When the cat’s away, the mice further deconstruct the bathroom

Kevin’s in LA all week for PDC (Professional Developers Conference), and about five minues after he got on the airport shuttle, I was full of project plans for the house. I write to-do lists constantly, and I’ve had “repair mbr, closet, BA walls” and “paint MBR, closet, bath” on every single list for at least eight months. I’m so ready to be done with those line items. The biggest problem, of course, is that we need to sleep somewhere else for two days while the room ventilates and the paint dries. So, when Kevin left I only needed to displace one sleeper, and the renovation plan was set for the week! (I should note: Kevin totally approves of this work, it’s just that neither of us have started it yet.)

Of course, once I started with the joint compount, I found many other places to use it. The major one is the main bath, and while repairing the known wall damage is great, I was holding my breath about what we’d find under the big mirror. We were pretty lucky – four 1″ wide holes, plus the holes from the wall anchors that held up the mirror, so all well within the realm of my new-found joint compounding skills.

I unscrewed the two wood backsplashes for the vanity, but they won’t budge, so that will be a task for Kevin and his crowbar.

The thing of joint compound we had in the garage is amusing. The stuff is Barbie Pink (it dries to white – useful), and so slathering it on the walls doesn’t really feel like a legit DIY project.

I’m finding that I like joint compounding WAY more than painting – it’s fast, satisfying, and the cleanup is instantaneous. MUCH better than the priming/painting nonsense! Too bad that the whole edging/rollers stage is next in the process!!

For the next few days, the major potential blocking issues is figuring out how to move our bed (by myself??) in time for painting… hmmm?

And now we’re committed

We have two bathrooms – one off of the master bedroom that was beautifully renovated by the previous owners, and one off of the main hallway that serves as a main/guest bath. Here’s the view from the tub mere moments before I took a drill and removed the medicine cabinet and above-toilet cabinet.

Now we have a big hole in the wall and an unpainted patch of drywall, respectively.

Our plans are to replace the vanity with something a bit more sleek and modern, replace the mirror with something a bit more proportionate, paint the walls (after repairing a slew of holes, dents and major scrapes), put in a new medicine cabinet (Kevin bought one today that’s perfect!!), and get someone to resurface the tub. (We’d been looking to do one of those tub liners, but the more research I did, especially with the Better Business Bureau, the more leery I felt. Since the tub’s scratches are all superficial and the tile is in good shape (I just don’t like the color) resurfacing looks like a good option, and about a fifth of the price.)

We’re planning to leave the floor, toilet and trim alone. Not to jinx things, but right now, it’s looking like we’ll be able to make the changes we want for just under $2000 – not bad for a bathroom remodel.