Monday, September 20, 2010

Beta Project Complete!

Our utility room is complete! We removed the old vinyl floor, laid the new Chartreuse Marmoleum tile, painted the room (Drizzle and Heirloom Silver), attached a new fiberboard baseboard, and installed a new metal threshold for the exterior door. Total project cost: $2,650.00 (including appliances) over 6 weeks (mostly weekends).

The completed utility room.
After we found out the bathroom washstand was on hold until January, we decided to make the utility room our beta-project for our home renovations. In all, we learned many lessons regarding DIY renovations and we thought we’d share them with you all.
Utility Room Lessons Learned:

1.     Understand the process. When installing the Marmoleum, I wasn’t totally aware of how much adhesive I would need to lay the linoleum tile. The adhesive tub was professional-grade so there were no "directions" on the container. So I slapped it on like it was mortar on a CMU block. After I laid a couple of tiles, I was terribly frustrated because they wouldn’t stay in place. And I couldn’t step on them unless I wanted to tile surf across the utility room. I realized then that I used too much adhesive, so I pulled them up, one at a time, scraped off most of the excess, and laid them down a second time. When I was about 75% done with the floor, I glanced at the tub of adhesive and read that the tub offered enough adhesive for 1,000 sf of flooring. Well, I had used half of the tub on about 50 sf. Needless to say, I used way too much even after I toned it down. It wasn’t until weeks later while watching The Antonio Treatment episode “Design Club” on HGTV did I understand how much adhesive you need—not a lot. Basically a skim coat. I used enough to be considered a thin-set grout. For days after completion we cleaned e xtra adhesive that squeezed out of the seams.
2.     Understand your materials. During our transport of materials from Home Depot to our new apartment, one of the baseboard trim pieces went missing. For the life of us we couldn’t figure out where. So I had to go back to Home Depot (another day) and buy another piece of baseboard. I forgot to bring a sample piece with me, but how similar can baseboard be? Answer—very similar. I bought a piece that I thought was correct until I got it home and held it up to a piece of baseboard already installed. (I bought this baseboard instead of this one. Can you see how I messed that one up?) Needless to say I made a third trip to Home Depot to purchase the correct baseboard so I could finish the trim. On a side note, don’t trust the hardware store. On my third visit, I couldn’t find the baseboard that matched my sample. I searched and searched, checked product numbers, and asked employees for help and still couldn’t find the right baseboard even though I was told they had them in stock. After about 45 minutes of tearing my hair out I realized that since the Vintage and Sierra baseboards were so similar, even Home Depot confused them and stocked them together. I found the Vintage baseboard stacked behind the Sierra baseboard.
3.     Understand your tools. I bought a miter saw with a 7.25” blade thinking that it would cut through 5.25” baseboard trim. After I tried to make one cut, I realized I was totally wrong. 7.25” blades are made for 4” trim and 2x4 studs. Luckily for me Home Depot allowed me to return the once-used miter saw and exchange it for a bigger one with a 10” blade.
4.     Understand your appliances. We trusted the experts at Home Depot to inform us as to the correct accessories we needed for our new washer and dryer. We were told that the delivery and installation guys would have everything required to correctly hook up and stack our new appliances—everything except a dryer vent. So we bought an 8-foot flexible dryer vent duct that they recommended. When the dryer arrived and was getting installed, the installers took one look at our flexible dryer vent duct and told us that the manufacturer of our dryer, LG, did not warranty the dryer with the type of duct that we bought. Lucky for us, the installers had the correct duct and they installed it for us and I returned the flexible duct.

The completed utility room from the other side. Note the storage solutions!
Our first renovation project was certainly an experience. We made many mistakes along the way but we feel we’re more experienced for the next project.

The new threshold.
The troublesome baseboard.
The new shelves with a hanging bar.
Again, since the bathroom renovation looks to be in the first quarter of 2011, our next project might be a new powder room and office nook. We’re also painting the main public spaces so look out for potential blog post about that!


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Help! Ugly Chandeliers

Our living and dining room have matching, unattractive chandeliers. The fixtures are old—circa the discovery of light bulbs. Despite their heritage, they are undeniably ugly.

Our friend Julie suggested spray painting them for a more modern look.  Has anyone ever done this? If I spray paint the living room chandelier white, it might blend into the ceiling. And I am contemplating a darker hue of sea green, to match the upper walls, for the dining room chandelier.

What do you think of this idea? Or do you think the chandeliers are too unattractive to salvage, and should be replaced with something better?

Living Room with chandelier. Maybe the chandelier is too small for the space in addition to being ugly?
Dining room chandelier. We are in the process of painting to room. This chandelier is identical to the one in the living room, and is hung too high, compounding its innate aesthetic problems.


Example of a white spray-painted chandelier from the Internet.

Pink spray-painted chandelier from the Internet.

Blue spray-painted chandelier from the Internet.
Let us know what you think! Are our chandeliers salvagable? Or should they be sold to an antique store and replaced?


Monday, September 6, 2010

Loving the Loveseat

My loveseat upholstery project is moving along. Thank you, Labor Day!

A few weeks ago the loveseat was stripped, springs were tied to a tight base and back of webbing, and I covered the whole shebang with burlap. I then took pause to debate fabric.

Thank you to all who offered input on fabric. I ended up choosing the dark horse, a zig-zag linen that I found on for $7 per yard! The price was a big draw—the other fabrics I considered were $30-$40 per yard. I have always had a thing for zig-zags, ignited by an early love of Charlie Brown’s yellow tunic. My total fabric purchase was $41, including shipping, which was unbelievable. In my mind, this almost makes up for the $200 custom cushion.

In the past few weeks I embalmed the loveseat’s arms in cotton batting and tightly stapled a white cotton fabric over the whole situation. I cut a piece of foam to the camelback shape and stapled it to the seat back, then repeated the cotton/ fabric process.  The cotton pads the loveseat frame and the white fabric keeps the cotton contained, providing a clean tight surface for the final layer—the upholstery fabric.

Process shot. Right arm covered in cotton, foam on seat back. Note all of the paint tests on
our living room wall!
Cotton gets covered in fabric
After a day at the beach, I came home and covered the arms and seat back in the zigs. This involves
cutting the fabric in a few key spots, and stapling like a banshee.
Today I started stapling down the zig-zag faric on the arms and seat back. I am thrilled to say that the whole project is visually en fuego. Very graphic and fun, like my inspiration loveseat from Domino.

Loveseat in the "Domino Book of Decorating"
that inspired me.
Next weekend I am going to take the cushion to my upholstery teacher Gina’s studio in Alameda. She lets me use her professional-grade sewing machine to make cushion covers.  Summary: On the upholstery front we are cookin’ with grease.

Pale Moon is second from left. I don't know how great the color rendition is on your monitor, but mine sucks.
Pale Moon is brighter in real life.
Dean and I have decided to paint the living room in Benjamin Moore’s Pale Moon. It is a yellow that simply glows at night under our chandelier—in every way it reminds me of the elegant halo around the moon. In the natural morning light, however, Pale Moon is cheerful. Between this zig-zag sofa, our famous donut painting, and the yellow walls, we might not need to drink coffee in the morning—we can just walk into the living room for a jolt of energy. I am going to keep everything else in the room extremely neutral so it does not become a travelling circus for the eyes.

Mr. and Mrs. Chow have their first dance.
On another note, this weekend was a great poster child for a renovation/life balance. We were so happy to attend our dear friends’ Wilson and Erin’s wedding at the Golden Gate Club at the Presidio. Wilson and Erin are our true mutual friends—they introduced Dean and me two years ago! Congratulations to the Chows!

We also managed to go to Baker Beach to enjoy the gorgeous weather, paint up a storm, organize the storage room, got to yoga, and watch about 8 hours of college football (like I said, Wilson is in town). Hooray for three day weekends!

Dean is putting the finishing touches on our gorgeous new laundry room. He will write about that soon.