Sunday, February 23, 2014

New project coming?

Why yes there is! We've been remiss from our writing duties due to all of our renos being completed in early 2013, but a new circumstance has changed our renovation lot: Andi is pregnant! Guess what that means... baby's room!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Andi on Apartment Therapy!

As you have noticed, we haven't posted in a while. A long while. Mainly, we were project-less, waiting to start our final reno - the kitchen. While we planned and waited, Andi applied for a blogging gig with Apartment Therapy. And she got it! She will post updates on our kitchen reno on Apartment Therapy weekly. As they come out, we will also post links to the blog here.

It just so happens that the first blog has posted! Here it is in all of its glory:


Monday, July 9, 2012

Back on the Renovation Wagon: The Master Closet

We’re back! After a winter of skiing and puppy-raising we are ready to do some more renovations.

In May Dean and I demolished our master bedroom closet. The closet was from Victorian times when women owned 2 pairs of shoes and 3 dresses. Not so functional for me. Dean had to use the closet in the guest room, and my clothes were packed in the master closet like smooshed bugs. 
Before: A small but pretty closet
Before: The master closet had a small footprint but was 14 feet tall.
 How can a closet be too small to fit both Dean and my clothes, but so tall that it generated two pick-up trucks full of rubbish for the SF City dump?  It is a contradiction that we had to ponder after Day 1 of demo.

Demo of plaster walls is dirty work. It looked like we took a 5 lb bag of gray flour and threw it all over the room.  Plaster dust also makes your skin dry and your hair go to dreadlocks in about 20 minutes.  In short, a delight. The plaster and lath all chipped away easily enough using the heel end of a hammer, then I tackled the dust with plenty of Pledge, multiple moppings with Murphy’s Oil Soap, a wet-dry vac. I get the feeling I still may be sneezing in 6 months though. That dust is pervasive.

We also got a surprise view into our neighbor’s backyard after we demo-ed an interior closet wall and found that an exterior board was missing on our building. We called a carpenter to deal with that pronto and were glad—it started raining later that day.

With the demo behind us, Dean built the frame for the new closet the following weekend. Dean designed the closet himself and I am superbly happy with his vision. It is 8 feet wide by 10 feet tall and 2 feet deep. It has a long-term storage cubby on top for seasonal stuff. We took some square footage from the bedroom to accommodate this bigger closet, but decided it is worth it. We also splurged on two sets of custom 8-foot tall double doors to maximize the space.
After: A closet big enough for two people!
 I was super impressed with Dean’s framing for the closet—very sturdy and professional. Maybe he can share his tricks in a technical blog later. One design trick that I really like is that Dean measured the width of the doorway into the room, and made sure to keep all passageways in the room at that width or wider, so nothing would feel cramped after the bigger closet was constructed.

Dean and I try to learn from our mistakes and not be cheapskates. After gutting and renovating various rooms in our home, we have come to acknowledge that we will never be good at drywall finishing. The walls always come out looking a little wavy and odd, leading us to hide imperfections with an aerosol spray can of “orange peel wall texture.” I don’t recommend this product but it is available at Home Depot if you need it.

Recognizing past shortcomings, we took a friend’s recommendation for a plaster and drywall pro named Jimmy from Ireland. Jimmy came by the apartment and said, “Is that a Wheaten Terrier? They’re all over Ireland,” and charged us $1,000 to do all plaster and drywall finishing on the closet and other damaged areas. He had it done in two days.  What a luxury! Something got completed and we did not have to do it.
My side of the closet. Everything has a place.

Construction costs always are surprising. I can say that the custom walnut Elfa closet system that Dean designed at Container Store is worth every cent of the $1,341 cost (plus $300 for installation). Look at my pull-out jewelry drawers! Look, I have room to buy more shoes! 

All in all the project took 3.5 weekends to complete, plus some time at night, and cost a total of $4,500. We are very happy, and ready for another construction break.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Rory and Guest Room

Dean and I are taking the winter off from renovations to ski and enjoy our new puppy, Rory. But I still cannot resist the urge to tackle a home project from time to time. Before the holidays, the dismal guest room was just begging to be updated.
Rory, our Wheaten Terrier, is 4.5 months old. He makes our home very cozy,
Before. The paint was chipping off of one wall, so I decided to strip the whole thing. This is mid-project.
The “before” photo is particularly gruesome because the guest room was a construction staging area during the bathroom renovation. In addition, one of the walls was water damaged from an old leak from our upstairs neighbor’s bathroom. The leak caused historic wallpaper and the 5 layers of paint on top of it to buckle and crack. I spent about 15 hours scraping the wallpaper off one wall to make it smooth. (BTW, I found that soapy water in a spray bottle worked just as well as pricey wallpaper solvent to loosen up the old paper).

My budget for the whole room was $750 and I didn’t quite make it. But I came close.
I have a hard time choosing my favorite elements: the dhurrie rug, red bed and light blue walls are all great.
I painted the walls light blue, using the leftover paint from our half-bath (Farrow & Ball’s Borrowed Light). I repainted all of the trim in the same white we have used throughout the house—Halo by C2 Paint. If you want to spruce up a room but don’t want to make huge changes, I recommend repainting the trim. It makes such a big difference and only takes a few hours. Cost for paint was $0 because we already had it on hand.
The white glass Ikea lights hung by the bed have an amazing glow.
I looked far and wide for an 8-foot square rug. It was important to find this size rug, as the guest room is 10’x11’ and a double bed and an antique armoire take up much of the square footage. The rug will only be visible in a limited area beside and at the foot of the bed, so it had to be the perfect fit. I found that has excellent rugs with the best selection of sizes. I choose and brown and ivory Moroccan wool dhurrie rug made by Safavieh and paid $269 with a coupon.
Winter cabbage, San Francisco books and quarters for the bus on the bedside table.
I bought an old pineapple post bed on craigslist for $50. The original bed seemed to have a varnish on it so I choose a paint-and-primer-in-one from Behr in the color Apple Polish. Cost for paint was $15.

The sheets and a comforter are also from Overstock. I picked the best-reviewed linens with the most reasonable prices. The Supima cotton ivory flannel sheets cost $53 and they are so cozy and rich-feeling. I highly recommend them. The zinnia fitted sheet that I used to cover the box spring was from Garnet Hill—I have had it for years. The blue blanket is also an old-but-loved linen that I bought at Selfridge’s department store in London. Total cost for linens, including down comforter: $98.

The bedside lights are two Ikea pendants from our storage room that were intended for the hallway, but did not work out. I had a lighting guy re-wire the pendants to plug into a socket and turn on with line-switches. It is nice to have hanging lights at the bedside because they do not take up space on the bedside table. Cost: $115.

A new mattress and box spring was $300. That included delivery and tax was waived.

The storage armoire and nightstand are antiques that I already owned. I also hung artwork that I already had—including a framed .25 cent buffalo target from a hunting store. Even less expensive, the artwork above the bed is a creased piece of white paper that Dean and I made after seeing Ed Ruscha’s work in the Museum of Modern Art New York.
The storage armoire is large but holds so much stuff--bed and bath linens for the whole house and other miscellany.
Hopefully this is a restorative and stylish retreat for our friends and family when they visit our city by the Bay. I still have a few more finishing touches to do, including searching craigslist for another bedside table. We hosted a non-stop stream of guests over the holidays and they all liked the room. I also slept in there once too, because it is too cozy to resist.

Total cost: $847.

A Winning Reno?

Andi entered our li'l ol' bathroom in This Old House's 2012 Reader Remodel Contest!

Please rate away dear readers. Rate it like it's the desired score of your child's aptitude test. I don't know if this helps our chances of winning or anything, but, hey, what else have you got to do? I bet you expected a 1000+ word essay on hardwood floor refinshing or something, so you should have a few minutes extra to spare.

There seems to be no limit to how many times you can rate each reno, so attack it like a spam robot! (I have...)