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!Continue reading “Designing my Kitchen: Inspiration for Phase II and a Phase I Plan”
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…Continue reading “February House Tour!”
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.Continue reading “Installing a Vintage Medicine Cabinet”
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.Continue reading “Priming and Painting the New Bathroom”
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.
Here’s a close up picture from demo so you can appreciate it EVEN MORE!
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!
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.
- 2 sheets of HardieBacker concrete board
- 3 gals of Simpleset pre-mixed mortar
- 1 box of special screws for concrete board
- 1 cheap flooring trowel
- 1 roll of mesh seam tape
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
- Wear long sleeves, pants, gloves, and a respirator mask.
- Measure height of space needing insulation.
- Cut insulation
- Stick insulation in between studs.
- 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!
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!
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…
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!
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!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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!
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…
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.
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.
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!
At this point, things were looking… better?
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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.