Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Show You The Door

The grossest area of our apartment was the laundry room. We took care of that. This brings me to the second grossest thing in our apartment: the front door. These are defining features:

The front door with the dirty curtain.
·          Dirty smudges everywhere that we cannot wipe off
·          A jagged mail slot (cut with a hatchet?). Also dirty.
·          A dingy curtain, dabbled with what appears to be soy sauce and also exhaust from the street
·          Numerous broken locks hanging on it

Key descriptive terms are “dirty” and “unsettling.” In the threshold where we welcome guests and pass through after long days out in the world! It will not do.

The jagged mailslot and dirty door,
after I started painting it in C2
Paint's Nightspot.

We took the door off the hinges (well, Dean did it. The door is about 9 feet tall and weighs a hundred pounds).  I taped off the window, removed the hardware, and painted it in high gloss deep blue (C2 Paint in Nightspot). It is very elegant and unexpected.

I went online to find a metal plate to frame the jagged mail slot. We did not want to cut a bigger slot, nor did we want our Sunset magazines and frequent flier statements to get caught on a plate that was too small. It was very difficult to find in 8.25” x 1.25”, and the few I found were $75+. I prefer to spend that amount of money on sushi and haircuts.

So I went back to my fav spot: the salvage yard. There, in a giant box of mail slot plates, I found the right size for $1.50. It needed a coat of paint because the metal was not shiny, nor did it look like it ever would be again. But that was fine by me. I painted and installed it and it looks sleek.

The final step was curtains. Dean and I prefer window coverings to be inconspicuous, allowing the architecture to shine.  However, all of our neighbors have white curtains on their front doors, and we wanted our door to be visually congruous from the outside.

A finished door with faux frosted

After: Mail slot with painted frame.
We picked a product at Home Depot called Light Effects Textured Window Film. It is a plastic film that gives the illusion of frosted glass, but you can remove it at any time because there are no adhesives used to affix it to the window. There are many similar products that are permanent, but we wanted a low level of commitment. Because, again, we were not sure how it would jive with the neighbors’ doors until tested.

We applied this product by cutting a piece to the exact size of the window with a straight edge and razor blade. Next we sprayed soapy water on the window. Then we put the custom-cut plastic film on, and smoothed out bubbles with the edge of a credit card (or a putty knife, if you want to be professional about it). It looks pretty good!

Question: Do you think it is visually cohesive with our neighbors’ doors? There is some debate in the building, but everyone seems ok with it.

The door from the outside, on the left. What do you think of the frosted glass?

The unrenovated hinges :(

The final step in the door renovation will be to do something about the hinges. They are painted over and, while still functional, need to be freshened up.

Throughout the house I have removed hinges from built-in cabinets. I boil the hinges in water with baking soda. Layers and layers of old paint easily comes off in globs, much like the consistency of dead vampires on True Blood. Then it is a cinch to polish up the hinges with Brasso, and re-attach them to the cabinet, fresh and shiny.

Dean is a little concerned about removing the hinges from the front door. If we do not re-attach them with precision, the door will not open and close well. We noticed this problem on one of our china cabinet cupboards after I boiled and re-attached the hinges, but it is not a critical because we rarely open that cabinet.

Has anyone ever re-hung a heavy door after removing the hinges? Any tips? Or should we just paint over the hinges and call it a day?


Monday, January 17, 2011

Powder Room Progress

I have been ignoring my loyal readers of Project: Nest. I blame the holidays and writer's block (read: laziness). The new, and more frequent, blog posting begins today!

Soon after after Andi's last blog post, we found out that our plumbers were stuck at another job site and postponed the work on our project until after the holidays. I hoped to have fixtures installed before our guests arrived for our Christmas shindig (you know, to show off a little bit). Oh well. Since the plumbing was delayed, we had to delay our electrician as well. Electricians generally prefer to do their work after the plumbing is installed because plumbers are like bulldozers and plow stuff out of the way of their pipes if needed.

Yet there was still work to be done. I demo-ed the plaster on the wall where the sink will be hung because I need to install a backing plate for the sink. (A backing plate is a dimensioned lumber member that spans from stud-to-stud that I can bolt the sink to using lag bolts.) I certainly don't want someone ripping it off the wall in the midst of a drunken escapade during one of our wild parties. Because we have SO many of them. I also installed the door frame, enclosed the powder room in gyp board, and built the bathroom soffit with the help from Project: Nest friend Chris May--our first returning character!

Chris's and my handiwork.
The powder room is ready for wandering Christmas eyes.
Christmas came and went and we had a wonderful time hosting Andi's family. Our apartment proved very capable of handling families during the holiday season and will undoubtedly host many more Christmases and Thanksgivings. And maybe a New Year's Eve party or two. And a Sweetest Day card exchange.

The hired plumbers showed up for work on January 3. After our walk-through of the project, and some exploratory drilling for pipe placement, we realized that we were not on the same page financially as the plumber. Apparently the plumber did not bid the job as we asked him to and we did not understand his quote well enough to pick up on the discrepancy. A miscommunication, really. But we had to part ways with him because his revised quote became significantly greater than the other quotes.

So we hired a different plumber: Nigel Mulgrew Plumbing. Nigel, the charasmatic Irish-born faceman of the company, and Mervyn, the smiley, efficient, Guatemalan plumber, began the work January 12 and are a fantastic team. They (meaning Mervyn and his helper Julio) have done excellent work so far. Mervyn has installed the waste and vent pipes in our unit. Additionally, our upstairs neighbors decided to expedite their own powder room, and Nigel was happy to increase the scope of the project, so Mervyn has installed their waste and vent as well.

The waste and vent pipes in our garage.

Our neighbors' waste line and our vent line in our utility room. Our vent continues up into our neighbors' unit and connects with an existing vent line in their utility room. Their waste continues down into the garage and connects with the existing sanitary sewer.
The waste and vent pipes in the powder room. The rag is stuffed in the waste pipe for the sink.
While Mervyn hung the pipes, I finished hanging the gypsum board in the exterior of the new wall, taped, mudded, and sanded the wall. Not an easy thing to do well, but Andi and I think we did ok (she helped me sand). I installed metal corner strips to protect the delicate gyp board corners and taped and mudded them in place as well.

Feast your eyes on our gyp board finishing skillz!
I also hung the new door. Earlier, Andi and I visited Building REsources (where we also donated our old door and frame) and found some brass screws, hinges and a door strike for the new door. I used a wood chisel to mortise the hinges into the door frame--almost perfectly (I was a little bit off on the bottom hinge so the mortise is a little large). Finally, Andi and I patched the plaster around the new door by installing gyp board inside the gaps between the demo-ed plaster and new door frame and mudded and taped the areas that might not get covered by the new door trim. We made a visit to SF Victoriana, a shop that specializes in Victorian trim and ornamentation, to buy trim for the door, but they don't have our trim in stock. We will have to have it custom made.

Does anyone know of a good carpenter that could make our trim?

The rescued $75 door in all of its glory.
The mortised hinge.Finally, I got the architectural permit! It was freakin' expensive. $382.14 for me to sit in their office for 2.5 hours and have 4 different people look at the plans for a grand total of 15 minutes. This is why the San Francisco Department of Building Inspections gets bad *yelp ratings.

Check out our wonderfully expensive building permit drawings. Now we only have to pay $250/inspection.
Oh yeah, we bought the toilet too.