Designing my Kitchen: Inspiration for Phase II and a Phase I Plan

Designing my Kitchen: Inspiration for Phase II and a Phase I Plan

I would love to gut and completely reconfigure my kitchen, but right now my savings are focused elsewhere! So in the meantime I’ve begun Phase 1 of the kitchen renovation. This Phase is to hold me over until I can do a Phase II gut renovation and really move things around. Phase I includes a lot of cosmetic updates that have a big visual impact, but smaller financial impact: removing the sheet vinyl, refinishing my hardwood floors, painting the cabinets, and painting the walls. But while I’m elbows deep in those projects, I’ve still got kitchen planning on the mind. I’ve been pinning tons of inspiration of old kitchens and kitchens with old vibes, so when I’m ready to renovate, my vision for the space simply needs to be detailed out. In the meantime, I’m ready for Phase I to transform the space so it no longer looks like this hot mess!

Since I ultimately want my kitchen to speak to the age and historicism of my 110 year old home, I spent a lot of time looking for images of 1920s kitchens. This one below shows so many elements I’d love to bring into my own kitchen. Can we just talk about high backed kitchen sinks? I know that inset sinks are all the rage these days and they’re FAR easier to clean than a drop in sink which sits on top of the counter, but can someone please explain to me why high-backed sinks ever went out of style? The splash guard alone is so amazing! Never worrying about water getting behind the sink and damaging the grout / caulk where your backsplash meets the counter? Count me in. I have been on the hunt for the right restored sink for a while now. I love the aspect of the built-in dish drain rack too! So cute! I will probably place mine on top of the counter rather than having exposed legs though since storage is always an issue here at Berrybrier. Another wonderful thing about this picture is it shows a glass hutch in a kitchen. Something I loved about the kitchen when I first moved to Berrybrier. I’m also very curious about what the cabinet on the left held since it looks very similar to modern day pull out trash drawers!

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This is just a sketch below, but again, it really drives home some of the aspects of early 1900s kitchens that I want to incorporate in my future kitchen and preserve in my existing one. Here’s a high-backed sink shown placed on top of a counter with a cabinet below. I’d choose a closed lower cabinet for myself (my cats seem to think it’s such a fun game to play in open cabinetry), but the almost-symmetry here interests me. Again, the glass hutch makes an appearance, here as a duo framing the window. I love it!

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When I bought Berrybrier, one of the most charming things in the entire house was the glass cabinets in the kitchen. I adored them! They struck such a lovely vintage note and as a designer, I was so excited to have some shelving to style out! Within just a few weeks of living there, I filled the shelves with my things I used most frequently (note these aren’t styled at all). Even with the rest of the kitchen in chaos, I wanted to be able to use these dreamy cabinets. So seeing those kitchen above with their glass hutches makes me want to keep this aspect in a future kitchen. I loved the idea of a hutch with glass doors way back when I lived at the Duplex in Portland, so this is a nice continuation of that theme.

Okay, let’s get into some modern inspiration now. I loooove this image below which has so many amazing take-aways! First, the trim color obviously makes me ten kinds of happy since I love a bold trim paint. Second, the pot rack over a small island is exactly the kind of smart storage solution I need in my own space. And finally, look at that hutch. I mean, god help me, that thing is gooorgeous! I love the paneling on the lower doors, the beadboard, the accent color, the fact the the glass doors are sliders. They seem to not have a ton of storage needs however, since the cabinets hold a collection of vintage ware rather than every day necessities. While we’re taking design tips here, please note the picture hanging above the door. Such a cute and creative way to make use of high ceilings! I am 100% doing that in my kitchen now and for Phase II!

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This image intrigues me with the wood counters on wood cabinets look. It feels so vintage and folksy doesn’t it? This type of simple kitchen cabinet feels like it gets to the heart of my house. It’s not fancy, but it strikes a note of casual, antique charm. Should I do wood cabinets with a buncher block counter? Butcher block counters would be super affordable and this makes them feel so fetching in a non-farmhouse-y way.

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My kitchen has the 9′ ceilings and since it’s a smaller space they feel even higher. I’ve alway dreamed of a library ladder in my kitchen (or library!) and this feels so practical for upper storage too. If I could find away to make this work (and be reasonably affordable!) in my Phase II kitchen I would just about die every time I walked in and saw it! The down fall of these is that they take up a lot of space and constantly need to be shuffled around and out of the way. They work best on straightaways, like the one here in this galley style kitchen, so with my kitchen split onto three walls, it might not make sense. But! I admire it just the same and take a lot of other inspiration from this picture. Again, we see sliding glass cabinet doors on the uppers. We’ve established that I am HERE for that! But have you noticed what else repeats? Stained wood cabinets with wood countertops! Am I doing this you guys?! I really love this stylistically. Is it super practical? Probably not. Will I ever be able to install crownmouling without a butt load of caulk and paint to make it look right? No… the cabinets and crown themselves would definitely need to be professionally installed. Not exactly a moment for savings there. Hmmm…

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There are a lot of very formal traditional kitchen out there, stunning ones, and I love them all. But that kind of traditional formality doesn’t really work in my more modest house, which is why I’m looking for more casual traditional inspiration. This image below tiles that together well. I love the elements like the v-groove backsplash and the simple inset shaker style cabinetry. The knobs and bin bulls are simple without intricate ornamentation and the shelf above the range utilizes an affordable, simple wooden bracket.

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This kitchen is stunningly gorgeous and the deep green painted cabinets are calling my name. The woodwork here is a bit more formal and complex, but the hardware remains simple, which I like. I’m also a sucker for an upper cabinet that comes down to kiss a countertop. Such a simple, stunning detail. The green tied with copper and brass accents makes a strong argument for painted cabinets as well! Marble countertops would be a wondrous luxury, but one I’m unlikely to afford anytime soon.

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My kitchen is not quite big enough to have a proper island, and I don’t love the modern concepts of islands in every kitchen. Older kitchens had freestanding tables, sometimes counter-height, but often with chairs. In my space, however, I don’t have space for a true dining table. But an old wooden counter-height table with a few stools that could be tucked underneath would be a great place for guests to perch while I cook. Considering the current favored place to sit is the stairs, this would be a nice upgrade! This kitchen appears to be a bit wider than mine, but has a similar layout with a skinny table through the middle. I love how this table ties this recently finished kitchen in and makes it feel like part to the past. It’s clearly a well-loved antique and is the showstopper of the whole space. Maybe I can find something like this for my own?! It would be an amazing touch. Or is it possible to build something with this much character using reclaimed woods?

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Since marble countertops on the perimeter are more of a pipe dream than any sort of reality, maybe the island is a better place to make that dream come true. A remnant slab could make a great small, freestanding island top! This one sits on a rustic, reclaimed wood base which almost looks like something I could actually build.

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Or, to simplify, there’s always the option to buy a freestanding island. There a lot of metal islands with marble top readily available online. This one comes with shelves for storage, which would be a wonderful addition since I live with someone who seems to own every baking utensil, pan, and toy. As a packrat myself, I’ll admit I never seem to have enough space for my cooking items either! A freestanding island or table of some sort is definitely a component of the Phase I kitchen renovation.

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Then there’s the stairs. I have to admit, it’s been a year since the kitchen floors were finished and almost a year since the stairway was completed, but I never finished restoring the wood on the kitchen steps! I was in such a hurry to redo the floors I didn’t want to waste any more hours working on the steps that looong weekend. And then I just kept putting it off. A few weeks ago my roommate was gone for a long weekend and I planned to finish the steps while she was out, but then I was in such a rush to work on some other things and realized there was no point in stressing myself out even more trying to squeeze in refinishing stairs. So where the stairs enter the kitchen they are still half-stripped, half-sanded; and the landing still has sheet vinyl on it! I’ll get on finishing up that project…eventually. But let’s talk about what the stairs could look like in Phase II. I’d really love to open up the stairwell to the kitchen and add a wood railing instead. It would make the stairwell feel so much bigger! I could raise the ceiling above the stairs in the kitchen so the header height was more than 5’9″ and not having a tight U-turn framed with walls would make bringing furniture to the second floor much easier. For reference here’s what it looked like in February 2018, before the kitchen floors were refinished. This is a screenshot from the video I shared last week of the whole house during this crazy time! That door in the right of the picture used to be at the stairs, separating the stairway!

This picture is my inspiration for what the kitchen stairs could be in Phase II! I love the mix of the wood railing with the painted post and balusters. The dark risers look a bit like mine too, right? This little stairway is simple, yet stunning! I love the details of the small art pieces and open space on the walls too.

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Part of Phase I will definitely be a hutch. Since I have this one I brought with me from the Duplex, it just might finally be time to paint it to work best in the new space! I could paint it black to match the cabinets and then add the same cabinet hardware as the cabinets and I could add a fun pop of color on the inside like this below. If you scroll all the way up, one of the first kitchen inspirations has a pop of color inside the hutch too. I think this is just so fun. And for those of you worried I’m painting an antique, I am definitely not. My hutch is almost definitely from the 1980s!

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So, that’s a whole lot of ideas and inspiration, what am I actually doing for Phase I? Well, I made you a mood board, so check it out below! First up, all the cabinets will be painted Benjamin Moore’s HC-190 Black. I’m going to add reclaimed V-groove wainscoting that I was gifted from my Uncle Scott’s Uncle Dan and Aunt Sherry who live in Portland and work in construction. It’s exciting because this wainscoting doesn’t look brand new, it’s aged and full of marks and history. SO MUCH BETTER than brand new. The image on the mood board is from Emily Henderson’s Portland Master Bathroom renovation project. A gorgeous shot that really shows how a deep color can bring this wainscoting to life. It’s going to look even more amazing painted Benjamin Moore’s 1498 Forest Floor, which is the same color I painted the bathroom that’s off the kitchen and will continue to use on the trim throughout the rest of the house. The final color is Benjamin Moore’s Palladian Blue which is the color I painted my pegboard which I made for the kitchen at the Duplex. I’ll be utilizing the pegboard again in my new kitchen and I think it’s such a fun and unique combination when used with the moody dark green! I’ve also replaced the cheap hallow core slab backdoor with an antique half-lite door to let more light in to the kitchen. The door will also be painted Palladian Blue. I’m debating also using this color on the inside of my hutch! Either that or a pale, pale pink / calamine lotion color.

Wainscoting Inspiration | BM Palladian Blue | BM Black | BM Forest FloorIsland | Bin Pull | Knob | Hinges | Refrigerator

There’s more though: my fridge (which came with the house) bit the dust in June 2018, so I replaced it with a black one which ties into the black of the the kitchen cabinets, allowing the fridge to blend in rather than stand out like a stainless steel or white one would. Plus, black appliances are back, haven’t you heard?! I love this marble topped island from Crate and Barrel. It’s simply gorgeous and ties in a bit of an old world element, doesn’t it? I’d buy it in a second if it wasn’t over $1000. Plus my dad got a slab of butcher block and is building an island / baking table for my sister which will likely land in my kitchen for the time being. I’ve been hunting at all of the Rejuvenation Factory Sales for new hardware for the kitchen and snagged a bunch of these knobs and bin pulls in unlacquered brass for a steal! I bought as many as were available as I’m hoping to hunt down some cabinet door latches at one of their future sales and reuse all this hardware in the Phase II kitchen. FYI, the bin pulls I got aren’t quite these, mine are no longer sold, but these are equally beautiful. The hinges are from Hardware Hut and also incredibly affordable (though let me tell you, they’re about half the size I thought they’d be! Always, always check dimensions!). So that’s the Phase I kitchen plan! It’s been chugging along and hopefully my pictures can be recovered so I can show you the journey I went through along the way.

Have you ever done a Phase I renovation to tide you over for several years until you could tackle a much larger renovation of the same space? This one is such a transformation since the space was quite dilapidated – despite the charm – when I bought Berrybrier! Please tell me your thoughts on my direction. Are you on board for this look? What would you choose from the inspiration photos for Phase II? Should I eventually do wood cabinets or painted? So much to think about, are you excited? I am excited!

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February House Tour!

February House Tour!

This post is about a week late. I had a bunch of issues uploading this file to youtube! I thought it was related to storage on my computer since my startup disc was almost full. I keep all of my photos on an external hard drive. When I went to delete some excess photos that were duplicates of what I had on my hard drive my computer froze and I ended up accidentally wiping all the photos from my hard drive. And I mean…. ALL THE PHOTOS. I’m trying to have that restored right now. I went to get my laptop looked at too and found out the whole reason I was having trouble updating was related to not having updated to the latest operating system. Doh! Fingers crossed I can still recover all the photos. It would be pretty sad to lose all the progress shots and before pictures of this crazy house, not to mention all the personal photos. Luckily, just a couple weeks ago I did create a new House Tour page which you can find in the main menu, which will show you all sorts of before pictures. Hopefully I can get my photos back and add even more before shots to that page. In the mean time I’ve switched to a cloud based storage system and will be backing that up to an external hard drive as well. Oh technology! Oh what an idiot I am…

Anywho, let’s chat about this house of mine. As those of you who’ve been paying closer attention know, this blog is about a year behind real time. Turns out when you’re DIY renovating an entire house primarily alone, you have very little time to blog about it. Which is why a lot of that is happening now! Luckily, I still managed to document most of everything I did and I found this great gem on my computer to share with you today. It’s a February House Tour! From 2018!

Let me tell you, I do not miss last year. I am horrified by last year. I cannot believe last year was just a year ago. My eyes hurt from this video and not just because you’re about to see some of Shaky McShakester’s worst camera work. My eyes hurt because this house was a complete and utter mess just a year ago. Things are better now, don’t worry too much after watching this.

Before you click play though, I really must apologize for three things. First, the horrendous camera work you’re about to see. I clearly should run an earthquake simulator and not a blog. Secondly, when I filmed this, I was in the midst of getting over a bad cold, so excuse the out of breath and sniffly sounds. I could only breathe out of my mouth at the time! Finally, I filmed this as a real life tour. Which meant I didn’t clean up the table or move the vacuum cleaner. This is what the house really looked like on a given day in February 2018.

But overall, despite how utterly insane this video is, I love looking back at this and seeing how far the house has come. This video is a little snapshot in time of how things were in some of the hardest days of renovation. And the best part? I survived!

For those of you who stopped watching because you got camera sick or just hate the sound of my voice, I took some stills from the video to share as well. Some of them are a little blurry, so forgive that, but I think you’ll enjoy the content this way too! I also put together a new “House Tour” page up in the header menu so you can check out how things looked when I bought the house as well!

The house was a disaster in so many ways. Mostly there was just random stuff, unopened and left around waiting for me to “move in” to my house I’d been living in for six months. Oh yeah… did I mention this is the better looking part of the six months of living here? Before this it was even worse!

The Entry and Living Room were probably the best looking spaces in all of Berrybrier last year. First, we had a sofa kindly donated from our first cousins once removed, Mary and Ted. I’d picked up the hall tree on Craigslist shortly after moving in and it created a nice place to stick a coat, though I have since come to dislike it as it always looks super messy and isn’t all that functional. TBD, but things are likely to change up there soon. My fiddle leaf fig tree was trying to kill itself when this video was shot, but don’t worry, I’ve since coaxed it back to life.

Since the kitchen renovation was on pause while I finished up the bathroom, the refrigerator got to live in the living room. Yes, this was an interesting look for sure. But it certainly made snacking easy! Before my sister, Bronwyn, moved in to the house in January bringing her two pink lounge chairs, there was absolutely no living room furniture other than the wood arm chair in the foreground and a camping cot with a sheet thrown over it to the right of the fridge! It was truly and unpleasant place to sit or live. Really, just quite the opposite of what you want your living room to be. On the bright side my German sentence writing magnets were organized by parts of sentence.

The Dining Room was tasked with serving as kitchen, pantry, storage unit, and dining area all at once. It did none of those things well as often happens when multi-tasking! I did all of my cooking in a single toaster oven. The real oven was just used for storage since there wasn’t a 220 outlet in this room to plug it in!

I used my bookshelves and my pantry cabinet to store all my food. The only thing we used in the kitchen was the sink!

And the kitchen itself was not great. Pre-floor refinishing it served as a storage and tool room with no real function or organization system Have you noticed the theme of casual chaos throughout this house yet?

I also filmed my backyard through the kitchen window. You’re welcome. It actually looks better here then it does now. Oh that’s so not good! This is the year of the back yard though, so don’t fear, I have big plans to transform this space soon!

My master bedroom was… not masterful, that’s for sure. My $25 Craigslist bed my parent’s picked up enroute to visiting was holding up okay and I’d thrown my old nightstands next to it, but this wasn’t ideal for anything. But did it work? Yes!

Of course, the other side of my room was used primarily for storage. Those boxes contain (almost exclusively) my library of books. Do I have too many books? No! I love them all and I’m not giving any of them up. Don’t even suggest it!

My Master Bathroom was, at this stage, probably equally as bad as my kitchen. It was tiny. And gross. And an extreme of both of those things. Pretty much everything in here needed to go!

Upstairs, things were looking much better! Bronwyn’s front bedroom had been patched, primed, and painted and looked lovely in it’s new shade of blue. She’d put together an IKEA Hemnes bed and was using a pretty, old chair as a nightstand while finishing up the rest of her room and waiting for the rest of her belongings to arrive.

The back, formerly blue bedroom had been painted the same taupe as the stairwell, and sat pretty empty other than a few storage boxes covered with an old sheet!

So there we go, a snapshot of one year ago. Who’s glad it’s 2019? ME!!!!! Has anyone else lived through a major renovation like the one that was going on at Berrybrier last year? Could you ever tolerate this living situation for six months? What about eight months? Does anyone else need a paperbag to breathe into right now? I think my heart is palpitating just remembering this! And if you’ve ever had a complete and huge technology fail, feel free to tell my your horror story so we can commiserate!

Installing a Vintage Medicine Cabinet

Installing a Vintage Medicine Cabinet

I grew up in the same house almost my entire life. It’s the only house I ever remember living in. My parents bought it when I was one and a half and they still live in that house today. I had a bedroom in the center of the house with no outside windows except for a skylight, which sounds a lot drearier than it was in reality. My room was always light and bright and I never had to close the curtains to change. My room was right next to the bathroom which had been redone in the 1950s. It was all green and black tile with floral wallpaper and an old sink. There was even some neon orange accent tile that some previous owner then painted black, but by the time I was in middle school the black paint was chipping in a few places exposing the orange. There was this great vintage mirrored medicine cabinet in that bathroom. It may have been original to the house. It had a lovely arched top and two hinged, adjustable wings which was just perfect for checking out your hair before the middle school dance. I loved that medicine cabinet! It was so great for looking at your hair from all the angles, because it had two hinged, mirrored sides.

When I went away to college, my parents decided to renovate that bathroom in the middle of my junior year. It was going to be a gut renovation and they were transforming the space to look far more aligned with their Spanish Mission style home. They removed the mirror and all the old tile and the old sink and gutted the entire space. The bathroom is a lot different now. There’s a skylight that lets in tons of natural light and it’s got lovely new Mexican accent tiles that work really well with the house. There’s also a giant tub which is awesome for those of us who enjoy laying in scalding hot water for long periods of time.

After they renovated, I didn’t really think about the old bathroom again. Well as I headed home after Christmas 2017, my dad ran out to the garage to get something I “might want” and came back with the medicine cabinet from the old bathroom! He’d saved it in his garage for several years since the renovation and wondered if I wanted it for my new bathroom. Yes! Yes, I did! The medicine cabinet was made of wood and while it was in good shape, all the paint was flaking horrendously. I was able to peel it off in big sections, easier than you would an orange.

Anything that could fill that gaping hole above my sink was going to be a vast improvement and this was just icing on the cake. I just couldn’t wait to have a place to store my toothbrush and see my face when I washed it! Plus I really needed a good excuse to finally put away that hammer.

When I got back to Portland, I took the mirror and gave it a good long sanding to get off all the old flakey paint. I wore a mask and sanded outside just in case there was lead paint, even though the first couple of layers did not test positive for level. I wiped everything down before bringing it back inside… and then I left it on the floor of the kitchen for a few weeks.

It became Malary’s pearching place for a little while during the finishing touches of the rest of the renovation actually!

But eventually I taped off the mirrored bits one night and set about priming it with some of the dark tinted water lock paint I had left over from priming the bathroom. There wasn’t much of the wood you’d see from the front of the cabinet, just the pair of strips between the main panel and each side panel. But the backs of each side panel and the whole inside of the cabinet definitely needed a couple of thick coats of paint to refresh everything and provide a nice clean surface for all my toiletries.

A coat of the primer went on quickly and I followed it with two coats of the black paint I’d bought to use on my kitchen cabinets. Painting went quickly, since there wasn’t much surface to cover, but it was a bit difficult to get in all the areas rotating the sides back and forth as I went. I followed the paint with a layer of Safecoat Aqualac to make it a bit more durable and to provide a more wipeable surface. on the interior.

It only took an hour here and there across a couple of days before the whole thing was done and it just needed a couple of screws to hold it on to the studs in the wall cavity to secure it properly. I used my impact driver which I am obsessed with. I then caulked around it and touched that up with wall paint to blend things together. Now that bathroom was really looking like a legit space. Nothing like filling in a giant hole in your wall to make something feel more complete!

And I really do love having this piece of my childhood in my new bathroom. I had wanted to use a vintage mirrored medicine cabinet in the space from the start and this one was just perfect! Possibly more perfect than anything else I could have ever found, honestly. I really did luck out with this piece! I love the rounded detailing of the top of the cabinet and the little etched flowers. Plus the tilting sides are perfect for getting ALL THE ANGLES of your face.

I think the cabinet adds just another little layer of history to this bathroom, making it feel more like an authentic space in the house. And that’s the whole goal right? Return the original character to my house. My parent’s place was built in the 1930s, which is probably when my house was renovated to include an indoor bathroom (it’s highly unlikely that it was built with indoor plumbing when construction was completed in 1909), so the era of the mirror feels spot on!

I’ve begun to play around with the bathroom art and I found this storage shelf on Wayfair that squeezes perfectly into the corner of the bathroom and provides some desperately needed storage in this small space. Of course, I’d ideally fill it with ALL THE PLANTS. I’ll show you a styled out version of the space when I’m close to the reveal!

The bathroom has come a loooong way from the disasterland that was here before and for that I am so grateful. It had taken 3 months to get to this point and I could almost taste the finish line, but there was still more to go! I hunted far and long for the perfect shower curtain before I finally found this one which is actually a tapestry I am planning to convert to a shower curtain that extends to the ceiling. It just means a battle with my sewing machine so I’m procrastinating that… still. In the meantime, my old shower curtain does the job just fine.

The medicine cabinet is a little change in terms of the overall vibe of this room coming together, but I am just so dang excited to check it off the list. It’s so much more functional, it’s a piece of my childhood and it’s got the perfect vintage flair that makes this bathroom look old.

Do you ever incorporate old pieces into new renovations to stick with the character of the home? Do you like that bit of history it adds to the space or what would you do? Let me know in the comments below!

Priming and Painting the New Bathroom

Priming and Painting the New Bathroom

Happy 2019 y’all! I’m so excited for this new year and I definitely have quite a few goals for the year! I’m hoping to get this blog caught up to the current renovation stages over the next few months and then dig into some fun new stuff. I definitely want to hear more from those of you who read this blog too! Let me know who you are by commenting on this post! Or share with friends and family who might be tackling similar projects. I’d love to continue to grow the readership of this blog so I can continue to put more effort into posting for you guys. And trust me I have a lot to show you!

When we last left the bathroom it was looking like this with a newly tiled and grouted floor and fully drywalled walls! This felt like a huge amount of progress considering just a few weeks earlier it had been gutted down to the studs.

Well after finishing the floors, I laid rosin paper over them to protect them and taped and mudded all the drywall and now it was ready for paint! Finally, finally, finally, this room was looking good and I was *this* close to being able to shower at my own house again! I knew I wanted to do a dark green color for this space and it had been one of those early on decisions I made for this room. I’d even included the paint color in this original design palette I made for the space. Benjamin Moore’s Forest Floor 1498 is bold, dark, and delicious!

I picked up primer and paint from my local Benjamin Moore store: Dick’s Color Center in central Portland. I used my favorite no-VOC, indoor/outdoor primer for the ceiling: Zinsser’s Bulls Eye Zero.

But Dick’s recommended a different primer for the walls which I could color tint to match my paint selection. This stuff had more water protection (good for a steamy bathroom!) and by tinting in a dark color, I’d have fewer coats to paint on top. Insl – X Aqua Lock primer is not no VOC so I wore a mask while painting to avoid the fumes.

I’m no stranger to painting, so this project was a nice and relaxing change of pace from many of the other things that I’d been doing for the first time at Berrybrier. I started by priming the whole ceiling and while that dried, I took out my brush and started cutting in the primer on the walls. I usually just cut in by hand without taping because I find that taping takes forever and I have a steady enough hand. On a priming layer, the steady hand barely matters since I will all be covered with paint anyways. Boy, was it so fun to coat over the bare drywall and see the space really come together!

I did decide to tape off the brand new shower surround though since I would need crisp clean lines there and I threw some trash bags over the showerhead and shower water valves the plumber had installed after the permit was finalized. I did not want to get paint on those newly install fixtures!

There were lots of other fixtures that were not installed yet (like the medicine cabinet and light fixtures) which allowed me to roll right over the edges of the drywall without fussing with cutting around anything. Not having any lighting installed meant I was still using my work light as the only source of illumination in the space which creates some weird lighting!

I also waited to install all my trim work so I could continue rolling to the lower part of the wall and around the windows, thus avoiding cutting in at the trim. Cutting in takes way longer than rolling so it was nice to save that time. I did leave the drywall exposed in those spots rather than painting what was about to be covered.

I also didn’t put too much attention into get perfect paint lines where the walls met the ceiling since I still had to paint the ceiling. That helped speed things along too.

When it was time to get out the roller for the primer, boy did the room feel like it was really truly a bathroom again! The tinted primer was SO similar to the paint color, just more matte and slightly cooler in tone. It was actually really pretty! Conveniently the room was so small I was able to roll up the walls as far as I could reach through the entire room and then do the bit above the shower before moving my ladder to the center of room to roll the top 8″ inches of the remaining space. Nice to be able to do that whole top bit without moving the ladder!

Here it is fully primed and OH MY GOD, ARE YOU EXCITED?! BECAUSE I AM EXCITED!! This room was looking damn fine and this cool green hue was helping me forget the previous magenta pink color real fast! Thank god for that! Below you can see a peek of some of the old wallpaper that was in this space in the space where my future medicine cabinet would be installed too. Isn’t that fun? No idea why it’s applied to the back of the lathe and plaster of my bedroom wall though; any ideas?

While my primed walls were drying, I took out my measuring tape and began to determine cuts for the baseboards in this room. I was prepared for my usual method of measure five times and cutting three. I wanted to do some gnarly baseboards in this space that would look more original to the 1909 house. As far as I can tell the only original trimwork at Berrybrier is the baseboards in the upstairs room which can’t even be original since the upstairs was converted from an attic to living space sometime in the early 1900s. However, the rest of the house sports trim from the 1960s or 2000s so the upstairs bedrooms example is better than anything else!

I nabbed this shot from the upstairs back bedroom with my iPhone and then headed to Woodcrafters, a local woodworking store hoping to match the profile or find something similar. I was doubtful I’d find an exact match and I knew I’d never get the same look of many many years and layers of paint, but I hoped for something similar that would at least envoke the same tone. These baseboards are made of three pieces: 1×8″ flat stock with a 2″ decorative moulding on top and a quarter inch shoe base at the bottom. These were all old mouldings too and the sizing of each board was exact whereas now a 1×8 is actually 3/4″ by 7-1/4″. I was fine using modern boards, because I sure don’t have the cash to buy exact replicas! I based the trim around the door on the window trim which I was reusing, replicating the 5″ flat stock at the sides with a 6″ flat stock header.

I ended up deciding to skip the shoe base in the bathroom because I really didn’t feel like dealing with yet another surface to wipe down and clean in that room. I found a similar trim piece to the decorative moulding at wood crafters and picked up some 1×8 flat stock as well. I took all my measurements for the room and then went to cut my trim only to discover my chop saw only cuts about 6.5″ bevel cuts leaving me to hand saw the other 3/4″ on all my boards. UGH. But with such a small room, there weren’t many cuts so I knocked it all out in less than an hour. I dry fit all the pieces and then placed them on top of all the boxes of bathroom stuff (light fixtures, plumbing fixtures, toilet, etc) that were all stacked in my kitchen and began priming them.

My kitchen looked like a chaotic crazy mess at this point, especially considering the crazy town, half-sanded floor disaster. All the boxes did create a convenient work surface though! You can see below I painted the flat stock and the trim piece for one short wall section. Once the decorative moulding is placed on the flat stock, caulked, and painted, you’d hardly know they weren’t one larger piece!

Now a lot of trim is MDF these days, but I really prefer to use finger jointed pine for painted trim since a) it holds up better to water, b) isn’t a bunch of sawdust held together with toxic glue, and c) has less toxins and off gassing. It’s easy to paint tim when it’s not on the wall like this too. No worries about getting paint anywhere! Just have to remember to paint your boards in the direction they’ll be laid in the space: vertically or horizontally.

It was nice to be able to ping back and forth from the trim to the walls and ceiling while they dried. This project happened in early December 2017, so dry time was a little slow in the winter cold humidity. I prefer painting in Spring and Autumn on warm days that aren’t too hot so you can start your second coat of paint just an hour after the first coat is done since things dry more quickly!

I always use the same type of paint: Benjamin Moore’s Natura. It’s the best paint on the market. It’s no-VOC with no-VOC paint pigments and it’s formaldehyde free as well. It has next to no fumes and goes on super smoothly. The darker paints are a bit thinner than the light colored paints, but both are easy to apply. It’s NOT CHEAP. But it’s worth it to me.

The first coat of paint went in on top of the primer in the bathroom and it was SO HARD to see what had been painted and what was still to come because the colors were so similar. I ended up applying two coats of paint and after that looking at wall sheen to see any spots I missed and need to touch up. The first coat looked a little rough, but it was so exciting to see the full transformation come together!

I actually taped off the ceiling for the first time to see if that would help get crisp lines in this room since I wasn’t planning to do any crown moulding. In the end I actually think it did more harm than good. I ended up going back to touch up a lot of it afterward where leaks had happened or layers of sections of tape didn’t line up right and the line jumped.

When the whole room finished the second coat it was such an amazing feeling. This room had been such an adventure from the start and each set felt so BIG and DRAMATIC. Every time I finished something I felt like jumping for joy and I couldn’t stop smiling. I think one of my favorite things about DIY is the obvious progress you see with each step as things improve and look better and better!

Soon enough the room was painted and I was able to slip in a couple of light fixtures. AND MORE IMPORTANTLY I COULD FINALLY SHOWER AT MY HOUSE AGAIN! I demo’ed the bathroom in late October and now it was mid December and I could finally live and sleep at my house again. I was ECSTATIC!

That was nothing with out trimwork though! My trim boards had all been primed and had one coat of paint. They were ready to be installed! I borrowed Erik’s – my neighbor – nail gun and some of his nails and got to work. The nail set he let me use was great because it came with three sizes. I was able to use the 2″ brad nails on my flat stock and the 1-1/4″ nails for the decorative moulding piece. If I’d used quarterround in here I’d have used the 3/4″ nails for that.

This was actually my first time using a nail gun and I was really nervous. Especially after Erik told me he once had nailed his hand with a framing nail gun. Thanks for that helpful tidbit of information! In the end the nail gun was SUPER easy to use and I loved it! It became my second favorite tool after drum sanders (which will always be first since they saved my kitchen floors!). Just line up the board where it needs to go and nail it in. I aimed for the floor plate and the studs where I could, but lightweight trim holds fine to drywall too!

After that? A WHOLE LOT OF CAULKING. Now I could make a lot of jokes about caulk, because, well, obviously it’s hilarious. But I actually really hate caulking. It’s one of my least favorite DIYs, which is unfortunate because I have had to do SO MUCH CAULKING at this house!

It was difficult to get into the space between the window trim and the shower wall to caulk so I ended up finding a good trick. I bought a small amount of flexible tubing and a tiny clamp for a few bucks and clamped the tubing to the end of the caulk bottle like so.

This allowed me to get into this tight spot much more easily. Also I apparently make very intense faces while caulking. You can see how the caulk filled the clear tube, but the flexibility of the tube allowed me to get the caulk right at where the trim met the wall.

Then it was just a matter of wiping the excess caulk with a wet finger (the part I hate the most since it’s messy). I used to bring a small container of water around to do this, but have since learned that it’s much much easier and neater to use a wet sponge to wipe the excess caulk. So, ignore this technique I’m showing and go get yourself a sponge! Also yeah, I did bring a plant into this bathroom at this phase to make it look pretty mid-renovation! Also I hung my old shower curtain up temporarily, since this bathroom was finally useable again. That was a HUGE step!

Installing the baseboards did mean pulling up the rosin paper and see the room really come together for the first time though and that was exciting enough to counter balance the hell that is caulking! I caulked all the seams as well as where the tile met the floor for maximum water resistance. I took this shot with my iPhone after I’d caulked most of the trimwork. Yowza! It was looking good in here!

Up close you could see a whole lot of caulk and spackle filled holes though. Not great. Luckily, a quick coat of paint was all it would need to make it all come together.

It’s just amazing what a coat of paint does isn’t it?! Crisp, clean, and complete.

I’m going to leave you there today, but this room is SO CLOSE to done! At this point, all I had left was installing plumbing fixtures and lighting and the medicine cabinet. And then – just the fun stuff: final styling and decorations!

Have you ever gut renovated a bathroom yourself? How did that process go for you? Was each stage an exciting next step or were you headsdown waiting for the finish line? Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear more too about what you’d like to see more of this year or what kind of posts you like to read. Do you want me to get into more nitty gritty details on DIYing or do you want to see more styling posts about quick and simple things? Or do you not really know and maybe just want to say hi? Love you guys, thanks for reading! Here’s to 2019

Tiling Prep and Relocating a Heater Vent

Tiling Prep and Relocating a Heater Vent

Gotta keep chugging through this bathroom renovation to get to the pretty afters ya’ll! It’s a big change! But before I can show you that fun stuff, let’s go through the nitty gritty of the renovation. This is a real life blog. Let’s look at the ugly.

Before I could go much further in my bathroom, I needed to get a few things done. Post-insulation, my next step really should have been to drywall, but that was going to take more than just one set of hands, so I turned to the next item on my to-do list: prepping for tile! The original disgusting and uncleanable sheet vinyl floor was doing no one any favors. It wasn’t as bad as the kitchen (which was somehow disintegrating), but boy was it gross.

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Here’s a close up picture from demo so you can appreciate it EVEN MORE! IMG_0154

It was gross and it wasn’t staying. I had debated one hundred different mini-hex tile patterns before setting on a much more simple option from Home Depot. This shot of the overall bathroom palette really showcases the tile too. That high contrast has me all kinds of giddy!

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Before tile, comes prep though. It was time to conquer those vinyl floors! For that I headed out for more supplies. I picked up the following at Home Depot one evening.

First I cleaned out the bathroom of tools and random junk and swept the entire space to start with a clean slate! I measured my concrete board and cut of the excess length using a box knife again. If I could go back I would have used a circular saw and speeded things up, but at the time I didn’t own one. By going over the cut a few times with a box knife I was able to create a weak point which allowed me to then snap that section off.

Land of Laurel | Cutting HardieBacker

Then I had to cut a hole for the toilet. First I measured where that lined up on my sheet of concrete board and drew an outline. I took out my drill and drilled some holes in each of the corners.

Land of Laurel | Drilling Hardiebacker

Then I took out the box knife again to cut the rest of the hole out. Spoiler alert: I still snapped the HardieBacker in an unfortunate place that wasn’t my intention . Oh well! Just another seam to cover! That first piece was fairly easy to lay down in place though, but before I could move on to the second piece, I had some other work to do!

I originally planned to place a pedestal sink in this room and that sink was going to go right where the oddly almost square heater vent was. Well that wasn’t going to work! When I filed my mechanical permit for my new bathroom vent fan, I added on two quick HVAC ducting tweaks to the permit. This was one of them! I picked up more supplies from Home Depot (I was averaging 2-5 Home Depot visits per week for all of November and December!): a 90° angle turn register box, a couple of flexible angle pieces, and some foil duct tape (actual duct tape!). I used a small battery powered circular saw (borrowed from my neighbor Erik of course!) to cut a new hole the size of the register box in the floor and through the subfloor. Because there is a crawl space beneath the bathroom, I was able to climb around in there and use the new ducting pieces to extend the existing ducting about 1 foot so a new normal sized duct register would be closer to the bathroom entry wall and parallel to that wall.  I secured it all together with the foil ducting tape (NOT regular duct tape!) but waited to attach the register box until the HardieBacker was done.

I was exceedingly proud of myself for extending the ducting too! But then came the hole patching part of this job. I was trying to avoid going back into the basement crawlspace, because it’s gross down there and I hate it, so I was determined to patch the floor from above. I used some clamps I already owned to secure a couple of scrap wood boards in place and aligned with the level of subfloor. Then I just used my drill to tighten some screws through the floor and into those boards.

Land of Laurel | Patching Hole in Floor

I cut a piece of plywood to the dimensions of the missing floor and then screwed that into the new supports as well as an exposed floor joist. An easy floor patch! It seems crazy to put in this effort to move the vent 3″ over, but by turning the vent 90″ and using a modern size I was able to save a lot of floor space. This would have allowed me to have a pedestal sink too, but I later switched to a wall mounted sink and in this spot now lives a big basket of toilet paper.

Land of Laurel | Patched Hole in Floor

Once the floor was patched and the new register vent in (combined a two hour project), I was able to finish laying the HardieBacker! I cut the board to size and noted where the new vent location was. I made sure to dryfit the board before I grabbed the thinset again. I used the flat side of the float to glob a bunch of thinset onto the floor and then smeared it all around.

Land of Laurel | Spreading Mortar

It covered the floor patch job pretty easily and helped mitigate any change in height between my patch job and the existing floor. I then spread the thinset all over a 2 foot deep section of the floor until it was about 1/8th inch thick.

Land of Laurel | Thin Coat of Mortar

A quick switch to the square grooved side of the float allowed me to then make some nice lines in the mortar. This helps to establish some suction once the HardieBacker is laid on top. My grooves didn’t have to be perfect or straight, they just had to be there! See how you can no longer tell where my floor was patched? That’s the end goal! I had laid the piece by the toilet the night before and then returned then next day to do the remaining section. You can see above where I accidentally broke the backerboard trying to cut the toilet hole! Whoops…

Land of Laurel | Making Grooves in Mortar

Once the floor was covered with thinset grooves I was able to take my sheet of backerboard and lay it on top pretty easily. I left the boards in place and allowed the mortar to dry overnight, before returning the following evening to finish up. I took more mortar and smooshed it into the gap between the sheets of HardieBacker, wiping away any excess. Then I cut strips of the mesh tape to length and gently smoothed it over the mortared seam with my hand. The goal is to close the gap and then smooth the thinest layer of mortar over the tape. You can see below too that all this went down before the plumbing inspection was finalized so my new shower pan was full of gross water!

Land of Laurel | Taped Hardiebacker

At this time I also took out my drill and screwed the special HardieBacker screws into the floor. The screws kindly came with a special drill bit so I didn’t even have to worry about that. The HardieBacker needs to be screwed in every foot so further strengthen it’s connection to the subfloor. You can see how many screws that adds up to quickly! Unfortunately, I have the arm strength of a 2 day old newborn child and I couldn’t get any of the screws to recess into the HardieBacker! It was so frustrating, because this is essential to having a nice flat tile floor! I went over to my neighbor Erik’s house where he was working on his kitchen and borrowed his impact driver for an hour. With that, I was able to get all my screws in place with minimal effort. Seriously, ladies and gents, go buy an impact driver. If you ever need to screw anything in, a drill is just not up to the task! It’s better for making holes not filling them. The impact driver prevents me from stripping all my screws and makes screwing things in much easier. After seeing the difference between using my drill and Erik’s impact driver, you can bet your bottom dollar I bought myself an impact driver the next day. Shout out to Jeff Senn at Home Depot who spent a good hour with me debating the best model and brand of impact drivers. I landed on this Milwaukee combo kit which threw in a hammer drill and had some extra oomph to make up for my baby arm muscles. I’ve yet to use that hammer drill though, so perhaps I should have gone with a single tool…

I wasn’t done with the floor underlayment after I got all those screws drilled in though. I had measured during my dry fit of the second board where the new vent location was, but waited to cut it out a until after the HardieBacker was installed. Now it was time to knock this off the to-do list as well! I clued in this time and used a larger 1″ drill bit to make bigger holes in the corner of the vent this time and then cut from those. Then I cut it off from there with a circular saw borrowed from my contractor neighbor Erik.

Land of Laurel | Drilled HardieBacker

It came out much more quickly than using a box knife, I’ll tell ya that! then I got out a good ole hammer and some baby brad nails and drove them through the register box into the wood subfloor, securing it all together.

Land of Laurel | New Floor Register

Luckily it all worked out and then new matte black vent cover I picked up from Home Depot fit perfectly! I was more proud of this duct work than any other work in the bathroom thus far. It felt so very adult to do this quick switch! Woot woot! This room was coming together now!

Land of Laurel | New Vent Opening

And just like that, I felt I could walk barefoot in one more room at Berrybrier! Not needing shoes to protect your feet from gross bathroom floors is pretty amazing, let me tell you! Now this room was ready for tile and drywall and all the other bathroom renovation steps. It felt so good!

Have you ever prepped for tile? Thinking about getting started? You can totally do this. It’s EASY! I was shocked by how easy it was!

Adding Insulation to the Bathroom

Adding Insulation to the Bathroom

Now that you’ve seen the big transformation of the exterior of the house, let’s get back to the ugly, shall we? The bathroom was chugging along here at Berrybrier, slowly but surely. My progress was actually pretty good considering I ran home from work every day, stopped eating dinner for November and December, and got straight to work from 5pm to 9:30-10pm during the week and pretty much all day on every weekend. It was a backbreaking schedule I wouldn’t recommend! But, I desperately needed a working bathroom so I could, you know, live in my house!

So after the electricians finished their work and the plumber did his rough in, I insulated the bathroom straight away! Insulation cost about $50 bucks at Home Depot, but I ended up with WAY more than I needed. There are other projects around I can use it for (the dormer, the small powder bathroom off my bedroom, etc), so I don’t mind the excess. I’m tempted to hire someone to blow in insulation in the exterior walls down the line, but it’s not in the budget right now. I’m up for trying to make this house as warm as possible, one room at a time! Alas! What do those of you with old uninsulated houses do? How do you keep warm? I didn’t turn on my ancient heater until late November 2017, when I got really desperate and until then it was so COLD in here!!

Back to the insulation though: this is easy. Like, the easiest. You can do this if you have one hand free. Insulation is designed to be the standard width of the distance between studs (which are set at 16″ on center) and stays in place with friction. It really takes no time at all to whip out a wall, especially if it’s a full height wall without obstacles. The steps are über simple!

  1. Wear long sleeves, pants, gloves, and a respirator mask.
  2. Measure height of space needing insulation.
  3. Cut insulation
  4. Stick insulation in between studs.
  5. The end! You’re done! You just insulated something!

It was super quick to knock out the exterior wall of the bathroom. I used a utility knife to cut the insulation shorter around the window. I’ve since learned that this cheap tool makes cutting insulation EVEN EASIER, so if you pick it up at Home Depot, it’s well worth the $10 bucks. The insulation knife cuts all the way through the insulation at one time while the basic box cutter take a few slices on the same line to cut through the paper and the backing. The pictures I have of the space aren’t great. They were mostly taken at night with my work light illuminating the space since the electrical wasn’t done!

Berrybrier | Insulation.jpg

The ceiling takes a little more work and requires at least two hands because you have to hold the insulation up and secure it. I used my staple gun to shoot staples into the ceiling joists securing the insulation. I also left some extra room for the electrical for my future can light. I erred on leaving more room around the electrical than I should have. The new electrical is fine to have butted against the insulation, but I gave the old electrical a wide berth. I do not want any house fires! I did use extra smaller pieces of insulation to fill in all the spaces around the walls of the bathroom, hoping that added insulation would help keep this space warmer!

Berrybrier | Can Light Location

Overall insulating the bathroom took one evening to complete! A short project with obvious progress is always pretty great. You can see above that my door way does not have the proper 4×12 header it would get these days. It’s an old house and this wall is not structural, so I left it this way. Plus I had bigger things to conquer, like drywall! And tiling! And cleaning up the disaster that was my kitchen…

Berrybrier | Kitchen Mess

Yeah the kitchen became the tool library / trash room / storage room and it was absolutely insane looking. For months. This room looked horrific from September 2016 to March 2017. Next time someone yells at you for leaving a dirty shirt on the floor, point them to this blog. They haven’t met crazy messy yet!

Have you insulated a room before? Worked on a bathroom reno in house you were living in? How did you survive?! My neighbors did their only full bathroom recently and they told me they’d been showering at the gym for 4 months!

New Roof For Berrybrier + a Dormer!

New Roof For Berrybrier + a Dormer!

Even before I bought Berrybrier, I knew the house needed a new roof. The listing actually mentioned this and – despite not seeing any leaks after a strong rain during escrow – it clearly needed to go. It was a hot mess of a roof in a city where waterproofed roofs are pretty dang critical. This was no DIY project my friends. It was time to bring in the professionals!Berrybrier | Roof.jpg

Although it’s not currently in vogue, I knew I wanted to replace the roof with another light colored shingle roof. The Portland summer sun is hot, hot, hot! When it bakes down on the house the upper floor becomes an oven of trapped heat. The lower level of the house manages to stay cool if it’s just a single hot day or even two hot days in a row, but any more than that and the house gets sweltering. A light colored roof can do wonders in keeping a house cooler. I picked Owen’s Corning’s Sierra Grey which I knew would go well with the exterior paint color I had in mind.

There was one other thing that I wanted to do when I replaced the roof though: add a dormer. The layout of the upstairs bedrooms with the stairwell made the house a perfect candidate for a dormer right at the top of the stairs. You see, when you walk up the stairs at Berrybrier there’s a large landing between the two bedrooms and across the landing from the stairs is a little door to a storage space. You can see the little crawl space door at the top here.

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Well a simple dormer added at the location of this crawl space could launch a huge amount of potential for Berrybrier. Adding a room in this space with a window would also allow more light into the stairwell. The future potential though is huge. A bathroom at this location would not only add incredible convenience to the upper floor bedrooms, but it would also turn this house into a 3 bedroom 2.5 bathroom house effectively doubling its value from my purchase price. Equity, baby! It’s important!Berrybrier | Crawl Space

I went about interviewing roofers shortly after I bought the house and trying to draw up plans for a dormer to get approved by the city development department. That was stressful! And then there was the whole manner of finding someone who could build the dormer too. A couple weeks into my search I mentioned my need for a roofer to Erik from next door who – of course – had a guy. A few days later Rigo was at my house and he said he could build the dormer too. Woohoo!

After inspecting the roof, Rigo was able to tell me that it had the original cedar shingle roof below two layers of asphalt shingles. This meant, I needed a complete tear off of all three layers of roofing and a new layer of plywood sheathing before the new roof went on. Of course, this is about triple the work of adding a new asphalt single roof and thus about triple the cost. Oh the joys of homeownership!

Berrybrier | Roof Shot

Off to the computer I went drawing up plans for a dormer addition. It took me about a week of a couple hours work after my 9-5 job to complete the plans. I was able to go to the Portland Development Bureau’s homeowners’ night and get my drawings looked at after working hours. It’s a busy Thursday night at homeowners’ night and after waiting two hours I thought I would have to go home without a permit. Luckily, they squeezed me in right at the end and approved my plans quite quickly! Even better, Rigo and his crew were able to start work the same week I finally got permits for the addition of the dormer!

The first thing they did was rip off the entire roof! It was the very bitter end of last September at this point, but 2017 was a hot, dry summer and we managed to avoid any rain. I know, hard to believe it’s Portland, right? They spent about just a couple of days with a crew of 4 or 5 guys to rip off all three layers of roofing. The sheathing then took another couple of days. They layered waterproofing over the sheathing very quickly. They split the roof side by side and did demo, sheathing, and waterproofing on one side before moving to the other. This kept an assurance that just in case it did rain my house wouldn’t end up flooded! I wish I’d gotten a picture of this crazytown Frankenstein roof, but the guys did it so quickly while I was at work a basically blinked and missed it!

They did all of this work on the roof in the existing plane of the roof before on Saturday October 7th in the morning a crew showed up and cut a GINORMOUS hole in my roof! It was amazing to watch them just take a bunch of saws and just go at it! Here’s all the guys smiling once the hole was complete and they were ready to start the next phase of work.

Berrybrier | Whole in the Roof

Within just a few days, they’d built the shell of the dormer and completed the roof! I was amazed that just four days later the dormer went from a dream and a hole to an entire new room! From the outside, it looked like it belonged. I wanted an addition that looked intentional, like it could have existed from the beginning and this one had that vibe. Sure, it was only a shell that first week – just enough to keep the water out – but it felt right!

One thing I wasn’t in love with though? The dark black roof vents on the opposite side of the roof. They looked jarring against the light grey shingles and stood out way too much for my liking. I asked Rigo about them and he was quick to let me know they also made light grey ones (like were on the old roof) and he could switch them out in a couple of weeks. Yay!Berrybrier | Black Vents

Back to the dormer though! A quick couple days later and the dormer was sided and trimmed out to match the house. The guys finished up work on the interior of the dormer, adding appropriate studs and structural elements. The only remaining item was the window… which was on back order until November of course! Brrrrr! The weather was starting to get cold now and there was still a gaping hole in my house! A normal person would have selected a different window that was more readily available. But not me! See those green aluminum exterior wood interior windows? I was duplicating that in the dormer, no matter what!

Berrybrier | Dormer.jpg

This was a long phase of a crazy looking house, but wrapping up the new roof was a huge relief, despite the $12 grand now missing from my bank account, I felt like I’d really gained a sense of security knowing water wasn’t going to start pouring in one way or another. The dormer came in a 4k plus an almost $500 window. Both were huge investments in the house, the dormer obviously was an optional add, but the pricing felt right and the timing was good to ensure everything was waterproofed together.

Waiting on the window proved to be the most difficult thing due to the weather. The house was freezing! I slept in my sleeping bag in order to stay warm. The house felt like a stranger at this point because so much was going on. See that picture above? The windows were all taped off for painting, the new electrical meter and service had been rewired by the city, everything was happening all at once and boy did I have a thousand things to do! More on that soon…

Demo Day! Goodbye Bathroom!

Demo Day! Goodbye Bathroom!

We demo’ed the bathroom! It’s all gone now. Actually it’s been all gone for many months and I’ve just been too busy putting it back together to actually blog about it. 🤣 Anyways, I thought I’d give you the run down of the demo days and some excellent after pictures… of my filthy demo face. Overall this was my second time demo’ing a bathroom and I have to say it went vastly better than the previous time as I did not end up in the hospital with a cornea infection. Yup. That happened a few years ago when I helped demo my parents master bathroom and it hurt like a motherf***er! But that was last time and this is this time. Let’s concentrate on Berrybrier today!

Let’s start with how the bathroom started out. Do you remember this magenta madness? The bump out above the mirror floated there like an overly long soffit that just might fall off while you were on the toilet. There were only about 12″ between the sink and the corner of the tub for you to slink by to get to the toilet. The shower head was not operational, but someone had used it previously which is why everything was rotting. Everything was filthy. I can’t even talk about the floors, but I will say someone decided to wrap the flooring vinyl up onto a teensy counter by the sink. That tub was amazingly comfortable and taking baths is my favorite, but this tub was ginormous. WAY too big for such a tiny bathroom.

Demo day got off to a slow start as I was exhausted and slept until 8am; which isn’t really even that late honestly. My mother was still staying here and she had planned to have a visit with our cousin Mary that am. So I slithered out of bed half comatose and made myself some toast and jam and was munching away on that sitting in my bathrobe when Mary arrived. Let me clarify: Mary arrived in work clothes ready to help with demo. Somehow my mom had missed that memo and here I was totally unprepared to start with lots of helping hands. Ofph! 🤭

Once the confusion was sorted out, I threw on some proper clothes and we got to work. First we removed the mirror on the back wall and Mary and my mom tackled the weird wooden tub surround.

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They were removing the decorative molding and flat panels so we could see properly what was going on beneath it. We’d already drilled enough holes in it to know that it was not a clawfoot. Cue the ugly crying. But! This worked out because knowing it was a clawfoot would have caused me to try and save it and this bathroom is just WAY TOO SMALL for a bathtub that large.

Underneath, you can see this tub was barely supported from the upper lib, nothing was supporting it below. We eventually wedged a furniture dolly beneath it in hopes we’d later be able to roll it out of the bathroom that way.

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After that, we moved on to tackling the removal of the sink and toilet. Since none of the water shut off valves in the bathroom actually functioned, this involves turning off the water at the main. Eek! Which in turn meant my house no longer had a functioning shower or a bathroom or even running water in the kitchen. Yay! Also… I had to google how to remove a toilet. Thank god for the internet, it’s basically teaching me everything these days.

The more we removed, the more we found, like this cute swans wallpaper!

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At this point, things were looking… better?

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Seems like a good time for a simple, easy task like removing the little corner Ikea cabinet, right? Well, that came down quick, but we also discovered some gnarly mildew behind the Ikea cabinet! At this point, Mary had to leave, which was extremely understandable. Ha!

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After Mary was on her way, it was time to turn our attention to the elephant in the room: the overly large (but extremely comfortable) bathtub. In order to move that tub anywhere, I had to disconnect the plumbing. Well… the pipes I needed access to were in the wall, so I had to do a little demo in the half bathroom as well! I removed the faux wood paneling from two of the bathroom walls with a mini crowbar and hammer in less than 15 minutes and what to my wondering eyes should appear? A miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer hole already cut into the wall! This is probably why that paneling went up!

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I made the hole bigger with my hammer, grabbed a metal blade for the sawzall, and started cutting. Bing, bang, boom and the tub was no longer connected to the house! Yes that is the toilet in the foreground of the picture below. The half bath is VERY TINY. It’s basically a quarter bath, but don’t that to him, he’ll get all offended.

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Once it was disconnected, it was time to try to get this tub out of the bathroom! With enough prying of the tub with a spare 2×4 we were able to raise the tub high enough off the supports to get the furniture dolly wedged nearly all the way under the tub. Once that was done we were able to a remove the rest of the rotting wood surround and supports and the bathtub was freed! I know this is a terrible photo below, but you get the idea.

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We wheeled the bathtub out of the bathroom, taking out the door frame in the process and left it in the kitchen, because that was as far as two people could move it alone. Now that bathtub stayed in my kitchen until early February when my Aunt Stephanie and Uncle Mike came to visit and helped me conquer a few tasks around the house. The two of them, plus my sister and I were finally able to move it out of the house lifting together! But don’t let me get distracted, back to demo day 1: after the tub was out of the bathroom and into the kitchen, though, it was time to go to sleep. We were exhausted.

The next day was lathe and plaster demo day! We spent the entire Sunday taking out as much of the lathe and plaster as possible. It was crazy town and filled the floor with debris. We filled 7 contractor bags full of lathe and plaster from this little room, despite me keeping a ton of the longer pieces of lathe!

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Seriously, you think that it’s a small room, but oh. my. god. The whole room was 2 feet under lathe and plaster. We filled SO MANY BAGS! All stuffed and weighing a bazillion pounds, full of lathe and plaster!

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Once the lathe came down, we found some not so great things, like exposed knob and tube wiring. And knob and tube wiring that just ended in the plaster after someone removed some sconces… Yeah, not good. Luckily, electricians were scheduled for just a few days later!

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Once the floors were swept clean of all the debris and the little discoveries were made, we were even more tired than the night before and we were absolutely filthy. Oh, and my mom was so ready to fly home he next day to her comfortable bed and house that requires no demo. She was ready to relax!

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I was also filthy, but very much excited for the projects ahead! I knew that this was a huge step, but a super exciting one because soon I’d have a fully functional bathroom and it was going to be so freaking pretty!

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Of course… finishing that bathroom took me about 2 months longer than I thought it would and in my incessant push to finish, I neglected this blog. But don’t worry, y’all. I still took pictures and am here to overshare.