Do-it-yourself ideas, bargains and resources for all around your home.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Hurry! $600 Home Depot card giveaway!

Over at the Confessions of a Pioneer Woman site, Ree is giving away a $600 Home Depot card. All you have to do is leave a comment on her post. But you only have until 8p Wednesday (tonight) to do it. So get to it!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Caulk singles now at Lowe's.

A while ago I posted a link to get a free GE Caulk Singles. I received mine (but haven't used it yet) and just got an email that you can now buy these at Lowe's. As you can see above, they'll be available in more stores next month.

I also went back to the GE Caulk Singles website and found a host of tips. Click here for some expert advice.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Lowe's workshops for kids.

If we didn't have my brother's wedding to go this weekend, I would definitely sign my kids up for this week's Lowe's Build and Grow workshop. How cute is that baseball game? I'd take the girls and we would make it and give it to John for his birthday next month. But I think my brother's wedding will take precedent.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Vinyl tiles under the sink.

The June 2008 Good Housekeeping has a great idea for the area under your kitchen sink: add self-stick vinyl tiles to the bottom on your sink cabinet. This will protect it from the spills and mess that inevitable happen there. I'm pretty sure we still have some plain black tiles leftover from the previous owners and I think I may try this.

Among the other good ideas from the article:
• Install a pullout basket for storing cleaners, dishwashing detergents, etc.
• Attach a wire basket to the inside of the cabinet door for sponges.
• Use a riser shelf (normally used in upper cabinets) to expand the vertical space (tuck smaller items, like garbage bag boxes, underneath and put taller items, like a bucket, on top).
• Add a lazy susan in the front of the cabinet for frequently used items.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Walgreen's $10 off $30.

Walgreen's must have been happy with the way last week's coupon did. Click here to print this coupon, which is good for Friday, May 30 only. I've already made my Walgreen's trip this week, so I believe I'll pass on this one. But it's good to see another pop up.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Recycling for dollars.

I just stumbled upon, a website that gives rewards points for your household and business recyclables. The service isn't available where I live (our recycling is picked up by the city), but oh how I wish it was. I've signed up so I'll be notified if it does come here.

Every week when we put out our trash, we have a filled recycle bin, along with two small trash cans of additional materials. Our large garbage bin (also provided by the city) is never full anymore. I look up and down the street and maybe see three or four recycle bins set out. None are even close to being filled.

I don't understand why more people don't recycle. Especially when, in our area, all you have to do is put your stuff out on the curb. You don't even have to separate paper from plastics. When we redid the kitchen last year, I made sure to include a pull-out trash cabinet that has two cans. The front one gets trash, the back one gets cardboard, paper, plastic and metal. When I pull out the cabinet, all I have to do is think about which can to drop the item in. Easy peasy. Even my girls know which one to use.

Are there any good reasons for not recycling?

Friday, May 23, 2008

Party tip: chill drinks quickly.

We just finished hosting Margret's first grade class end-of-the-year party, and I think it was a success. Nineteen of the twenty kids came (one had a death in the family) and we had maybe half a dozen siblings and another 6-8 parents. One mom brought her small moon bounce, which of course was a big hit. So was the wagon I pulled out of our shed. It seems like every kid took turns pulling every other kid in it. They played on the playground, blew bubbles, dug around in the sandbox, twirled hula hoops and drew with chalk. We let them decorate bags, then each kid got two whacks at the pinata.

Lunch was pizza and chips, along with juice bags and water and ice pops. And then the greatest thing happened. The ice cream man showed up! Okay, we called ahead of time. But the kids looooooooooved it. About 20 minutes before the kids had to go back to the classroom we brought them inside and made them put on shoes and gather their stuff. I got to give each kid a hug and tell them I enjoyed getting to know them this year.

Wait. I think I was supposed to be giving you a party tip. Oh yes. When you are having a party and need to chill a bunch of canned drinks quickly, put your ice in the cooler (or other large container) and add water. Then sprinkle a handful of salt into the mix. Dump the cans in and they will be chilled in about 30 minutes. Cool, huh?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Walgreen's $5 off $20.

Need to pick up a few things for the house? Click here for a Walgreen's coupon that gives you $5 off a $20 purchase. But it's only good on Friday, May 23. Check your weekly flyer and see if there's anything your family needs. And pay attention to items that say "Register Rewards" in the ad. When you buy those items, you'll get a coupon back for $ off your next purchase. You might also check your coupon stash (if you have one) and the Walgreen's EasySaver catalog (found in the store by the rack of weekly flyers). It has coupons on select items and info on rebates. You can use a Walgreen's coupon and a manufacturer's coupon on the same item as long as you meet brand/size/limit requirements. Even better, you can sometimes get a rebate back that makes the item free or close to it.

Once you have all the stuff you are going to buy, make sure the price without coupons is at least $20. Then hand the cashier the $5 coupon and then the rest of your coupons.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Planning on leaving your house?

If you've got a vacation coming up, you may want to check out "Don't Forget Your Toothbrush." You'll find checklists for a variety of types of travel (beach vacation vs. a cruise vs. a driving trip). I haven't made a list, but we have a few trips coming up and I'm going to give it a shot.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Bed Bath & Beyond coupons.

My friend, Roxi, posted on my other blog about the fabulous Bed Bath & Beyond coupons. You may get these in the mail or in your Sunday paper, and maybe you have tossed them because they have expired. Don't do it!! They will take expired coupons and they will take a coupon for each item you are buying. And, they will take Linen N Things coupons also (LNT has filed for bankruptcy and may still be taking B3 coupons; in any event they are closing stores in some areas but keeping a few open.).

I love B3 and frequently go there when I need a household thing: bath towels, kitchen rug, plastic cup for the bathroom, canvas bins for our closet, etc. If you aren't getting the coupons, you can sign up on the home page under "email sign up". I keep a few coupons in my purse, and the rest in my large coupon file.

Home Depot's Garden Club and Workshops.

Home Depot offers a garden club (you can sign up here) and I've heard talk of a "buy 1 get one free" deal on hanging plants available when you sign up for the newsletter. I imagine they send out other coupons throughout the summer time as well.

And this may be too late for you, but some Home Depots are offering a free seminar tonight on Landscaping and Outdoor Water Conservation. Click here for more details. I see that attendees get a $10 off $100 purchase coupon.

I went to a Home Depot workshop years ago and it wasn't very well done. But I think that the local people had not been well-prepared by the corporate team. Seems like they were sent a box of stuff without being given a program to teach. I'm sure they've gotten their act together by now, and I'd love to hear a review of this program if you go.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Free two-year subscription to Country Home.

According to Freebies 4 Mom (a website I love), you can get a FREE two-year subscription to Country Home magazine. I checked out the website and it says they will not send a bill, nor will they continue to bill you without notice for paid subscriptions when they expire.

I think I've picked up this magazine from time to time and I like it. But I'll read any home magazine just for the inspiration and ideas. I can't wait to get my first copy.

Friday, May 16, 2008

$10 off $25 at Lowe's.

I love Lowe's.

They built a new store a few years back that is so close to us so they are pretty much our default home improvement store. They also did my kitchen, which I love, so they get some extra points for that. We've bought lighting fixtures, CFLs, mulch, plants, lumber, hardware, PVC pipe and countless other things in the past year. We even picked up a push mower a few weeks back. And we used our $10 off a $25 purchase coupon to make it an even better deal. You can get one too: click here. You just need to use a Visa card, and that includes VISA debit cards as well.

And while you're at the Lowe's site, you may want to sign up for their free Creative Ideas magazine. It's got another coupon it in. And if I had a big porch at my house, I would surely be building that giant bed swing. Right this minute.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Free plants!

Spring Hill Nursery is offering $20 off a $20 purchase; click here for details. I've never used this site, but I've seen other blogs mention other deals offered and they really do come through for you. Only one offer per household and you pay the shipping. And don't forget to sign up for their newsletter.

I think I'll look around on this site tomorrow and perhaps pick something out. The girls and I picked up a $1 box of "bird and butterfly" flower mix from Walgreens and we plan on sprinkling that in the backyard in a day or two. Way in the backyard. Little girls need room to run.

I love caulk.

I especially love free caulk. Click here to get a sample of GE's new caulk singles. Mine arrived yesterday and I'm eagerly looking for a reason to use. I've already done my sink backsplashes, but if yours need redoing, this would be a great product to use. According to the website you need just one packet for this type of job. Let me know if you get one and tell us what you use it for.

ETA: I've added a clickable box in the upper right.

Cleaning a glass cooktop.

My self-imposed break is over. I originally started this blog with the intention of covering do-it-yourself home projects while I worked on my home. I've got most of my projects done, but I hate not posting here. So I'm back. Now I'll broaden my coverage to bring you posts that cover home maintenance and special offers that I see (check back later for some of these).

Today's topic is how to clean a glass cooktop. When we remodeled our kitchen last year, I chose a stove with a ceramic cooktop. I didn't do much research. I looked at the Lowe's sale flyer when I was placing my cabinet order and pointed to one. William, my kitchen designer, added it to my very long receipt. I bought all my appliances then because I could save the sales tax. Apparently if Lowe's is doing the installation, you don't get charged the sales tax. Which is significant in Tennessee.

Anyhoo. We got our stove. It looks lovely. But cleaning it is a pain! I've learned to use Windex for daily cleaning (409 gets smeary). And I also bought a bottle of ceramic cooktop cleaner at the grocery store. It's a soupy, pasty kind of stuff that I don't use every day, but when I want it to really shine, I'll buff some on. Let me take this opportunity to tell you that John hates this cooktop and says I can never buy another one like it. No seriously, he hates it and tells me that twice a week. I, too, would rather have a gas range, but that's just not happening right now.

Last night, after I let a pot of milk/water/noodles/spices boil over, we had a huge mess on the cooktop. Huge. After all, how do you clean up a nasty mess when your burner element is red hot? So we let it cool off and tried to clean it after dinner. Uh. Not good. See below.

Messes like this really show up well in person. The stove looks filthy and we look like complete pigs. Can't have that. I told John I'd work on it today.

I sprayed some Windex. Then the stain laughed at me. Then I Googled "cleaning a ceramic cooktop" and most of the advice was to use a single-edged razor at a 45 degree angle. I whipped mine out and went to work. I tried using it on a dry surface (good for the thickest areas of the spill) and also after spraying more Windex (good for lighter areas). After I scrapped as much as I could (probably about 10 minutes' worth), I used the cooktop cleaner and nearly every bit came off. See below, again.

Ahhhhh. I'm really amazed that it got this clean. I've read that with some stains/spills, once they got hot again they are impossible to clean up. I've also seen the recommendation to start scraping right after the spill -- use an oven mitt to hold your scraper. I'll add that while the scraper is great, you want to be very conscious of how hard you are scraping. Do just enough to lift the spill or you'll end up gouging the surface.

Anyone else want to add any cooktop cleaning tips? Besides thinking twice about buying this type of stove?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


We woke up to 36 degrees this morning. Yikes! But I knew last night that it was going to get cold, so I brought my hanging baskets inside. I think the rest of the plantings did okay. There was frost on John's car and some on the yards across the street, but ours looked like it was fine. I guess winter needed to assert itself one last time.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Adventures in landscaping.

I did manage to paint those closet doors in the den and there is no photography in the world that would possibly make them look interesting enough to post. And we are out of projects inside the house. Since spring is here (sorta; it's a high of 52 today), John and I have turned attention to the great outdoors.

As some of you suggested, I changed the liners in my hanging baskets. The phlox still doesn't look great, but I added in some red salvia and it does brighten the whole thing up a bit. When we have had sunny days in the last few weeks, I've noticed that the baskets do get some light. But the weather has been totally weird recently, with lots of rainy and cold days. A neighbor of mine says you shouldn't plant in Memphis until April 15. Ironically, there is a chance of frost tonight (since it's only April 14).

We took advantage of the sunny (yet still a bit cool) weather on Saturday to add mulch to the front gardens. John said he only bought as many bags as he thought we could fit in the van (12) and it turned out to be the right amount (we even had some leftover for a small area in the backyard).

And we added new plantings to this area by the door. It used to have some sad little azaleas that never did much so we dug those up last year. Since we are so not gardeners, we had to wing it here. This area is mostly covered by a giant tree, so by summertime it's very shady. We picked out three light pink azaleas for the middle (contrasting the deep pink ones up against the house) and some hostas on the left. On the right side we picked out caladiums. I don't even know if I've spelled that right. Seriously, we are really not good gardeners.

But we work hard and John has a post-hole digger so now we have pretty plants out front. Now. I have some questions:
• Did we pick out good plants for our shady area?
• Is it too sparse? Or should we leave room for everything to fill out?
• Should we add anything else?
• How on earth should I take care of these plants? Just water them every other day or so?
• And finally, what to I do to the leftovers from our daffodils? Do I cut down the leaves or just leave them?

As always, I appreciate your comments and help. I really wish I knew what I was doing with plants.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Sunflowers, anyone?

Just found this link and I thought I'd share: The Great Sunflower Project.

You can get a free pack of sunflower seeds and you can help them track urban bee populations. I know of two little girls who would love to plant some sunflowers.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Okay, I thought of something.

Please, please help me with these flowers. I bought them at Lowe's about a month ago and put them in two hanging baskets on my porch. Now, I love these hanging baskets. I picked them out for Mother's Day one year. And when I'm in the kitchen I can see them. So I see them often. And I really love them.

You should know that I'm a terrible gardener. I'd like to be a skilled gardener -- someone who can walk into a yard and know exactly what to do to shape things up. But I am so not that person. I walk into my yard and go "huh?" I've mastered raking and general pruning of shrubs. But that is it.

I'm such a bad gardener that I can't even find the little tag for these plants. I think they are creeping phlox. But I could be completely wrong.

We started out strong together. I bought some Miracle Grow potting soil and planted them in the baskets. And I watered them every other day or so. I've noticed the water drains very quickly out the bottom. Which means the soil dries out quickly too. Now the plants seem to be losing blooms (the idea here was that the plants would fill out the baskets, not shrink) and there are some yellow leaves. Which I thought means overwatering. But the soil's dry. Which leads me to water them.

I don't think this is how it's supposed to go.

Of course, we have had tons of rainy, dreary weather. Maybe they just miss the sun? Maybe I jumped the gun and planted too early? Maybe I have no idea what I'm doing?

Maybe you know what you are doing and can advise me?

Monday, March 24, 2008


Okay, I'm kinda stuck.

My bathrooms are as finished as they are going to get. My kitchen is certainly done. I've scraped and cleaned every dang window. The only thing I have left on my original plan is to paint the trim. And while I've started doing that, photos of my paint drying don't sound all that exciting to post.

So now what?

I'm eager to keep working on my skills but I'm not sure in which direction I should go. Perhaps part of it was that I just had a week of both girls being home on spring break. Other than cleaning up I just didn't have time to even think about the next project.

Here are two options for now: post a comment about your project. Tell us what you are working on. Or give me some ideas for my place. I love fresh ideas.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Clean living.

We have worked hard the last few weeks to clean up our house. We have decluttered, repaired, painted, rethought storage issues, decorated and deep-cleaned. Honestly, our house looks great. And I've found that a lack of clutter has more benefits that I imagined.

I feel freer. I feel less overwhelmed. I feel like I have more free time. I'm happier. Who knew?

We put several things out in our shed. And now I'm not sure what is in there, because I don't miss anything. Last night after dinner the girls wanted to play a game (btw, we keep games stored in our kitchen/laundry area because it's next to the table where we are most likely to play). Since the kitchen was clean and we didn't have to move a bunch of stuff around to make room, we said "sure!" And it was fun.

My desk is extremely clean (I've been reading LifeHacker, LifeHacks, Unclutterer, Zen Habits, the Simple Dollar and LifeClever and have been very inspired by minimalist workspaces) and suddenly I no longer feel overwhelmed by my work to-do list. In fact, I keep thinking of ways to reduce what I need for work. Because it just feels so good to have a clean space.

Have any of you had this effect? I know that I'm always happier when I clean, but I'm surprised at how great it feels to actually get rid of stuff that I used to think was necessary. Tell me about your experiences.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Orange Glo?

John is just about to clean our hardwood floors with Murphy's Oil Soap. We love the stuff. Especially the clean smell. While he was sweeping up around me, he said he had a conversation with a co-worker about how to clean hardwood. His co-worker has just replaced her hardwood and she asked the installer about cleaning it. He said things like Murphy's are fine, but whatever you do, don't use Orange Glo.

You may have seen a commercial or two for Orange Glo. It makes claims to repair and clean damaged hardwood. According to the installer mentioned above, the product does look good going on but you'll never be able to repair any scratches or damage without ripping out the wood and replacing it. I also found a list of consumer complaints about it.

I've never bought or used this product but I'm curious if anyone out there has used it and what your experience has been. Care to comment?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


I'm on a mission to scrape the previous owner's paint slop off my windows. I started out using this:

It's a $3 razor blade scraper and is a wonderful all-around tool. We use it all the time.

Yesterday I bought this:
It's a Kobalt 5-in-1 painter's tool. I do not know all five functions, but I can tell you that it is great for paint scraping off of glass. Really great. And now I'm getting back to work.

Sign that you watch too much HGTV.

I bought an orchid. And I staged it. Sigh.

Is she really still talking about that bathroom?

So I was out shopping yesterday and just happened to wander into the shower curtain section and found what I thought would be a perfect match for my bathroom. And I bought it. And hung it up. And now I don't think I want to put up wallpaper.

I also bought a yellow rug. Which virtually disappears into the floor and somehow makes it not so ugly. I bought a new cup and new toothbrush holder. Later I'll rehang the artwork I had in there. And then I will call this room done. And you will never have to hear about it again.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Wallpaper help?

I've taken a break from the house this week. As you may have noticed. I did a big photo job during the week, and I caught up on some scrapbooking this weekend (I'm on the design team for Hambly Screen Prints).

In addition to a giant editing job I have coming up, I'm ready to get back to the house. The big project will be wallpapering the bathroom. I did this once before, in the condo where I lived before we bought this house. It wasn't terribly hard, just time-consuming. One error I made was to mark a plumb line with chalk. I ended up getting some chalk smear on the paper. This time I think I'll just use a level and draw the line on the wall. Remember, I'm only papering the upper half of the room, which is at most only four feet tall.

My paper is prepasted, so it should be easy, right? I already have a smoothing tool, and a large putty knife to use as a straight edge for trimming. I even have a friend who's willing to help. Am I forgetting anything? Let me know if you have any tips for making this job go quickly. I always appreciate your advice!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Not outside.

Gah. It's snowing. Real, actual snow. In March. In Memphis. So no outside work right now. I'm thinking about what's next for the house. There's that wallpaper I still haven't put up (my excuse is that I had a big photo job this week and have devoted most of my time to that). I'm thinking about painting and reorganizing the playroom closet. I need to reorganize the hall closets. I need to do various paint touch-ups around the house.

Since we have no major plans this weekend, I may just try to take on a bunch of little things. Or maybe I'll just make a big list of little things.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Still outside.

When nature hands you a weekend with two glorious 73 degree days, you are crazy if you spend it inside putting up wallpaper. Instead, you should go outside and spend hour upon hour of raking those leaves that don't stop falling until February. Never mind that you are the only house on the block with leaves. You'll catch up in March.

You can even get the kids to help (barely).

And after all your hard work, your yard will be beautiful and your daughter will count upwards of 45 bags of leaves. When Monday comes, along with the rain, then you can stay inside and scrape old paint off your windows.

Thursday, February 28, 2008


When our little shed was disintegrating a few years back, our neighbor told us about a carpenter who builds outbuildings. We called him up and in a few days he framed and built our barn (I think it's about 10x10). For a few extra bucks he put in a skylight so we'd have some natural light in there. He did it completely alone, which I found amazing. I have no idea how he got those walls up by himself. But the really crazy thing is that he only charged about $600. The same size building at a home center is much, much more.

Now, I did have to caulk and paint it myself, but that was no big deal because I love to paint. And as you may know, I have grown to love caulking. Although that was not the case with this project. And completely off subject, the guy has moved away from this area. I have no idea where he is now.

I bring all this up not because we need a new barn. Ours is still fabulous. Rather, I received my "This Old House" newsletter this morning (which I always read) and it had an article about outbuildings. If you are in need of your own backyard barn, you have some options. You can get plans from Better Barns that include a variety of sheds. You've got to buy the materials and build it yourself, but the charming plans are only $30. You can also buy a kit by Handy Home Products at places like Lowe's. Just about everything you need comes with, at a much lower cost than an installed version. Word is that a couple of people can build one in a day.

So just in case you are in the market for a backyard barn, I thought you might want to know about these places. And yes, I've looked at the kits for playhouses. And yes, I want to build one. But not right now. I've got to get that wallpaper up.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

No need to read this post, John.

Just go back work, sweetheart. I'm going to talk about scrapping projects or giving myself a manicure or the miracle of a medication-free birth. So no need to stick around here. Go back to your spreadsheets and I'll see you tonight!

Okay, let's hope that worked. While several men are outside my house scraping off old paint, I dropped Audrey off at school and ordered bathroom wallpaper. I'm getting #3. Yes, I know that wallpaper was the least popular choice and that that particular one was not the most popular either. But people, you are just going to have to trust me on this one. It is going to be luscious.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Really clean.

Let me tell you another thing you can do to love your house more: hire someone to paint the trim. When they take off all the storm windows, get a two-quart bucket of water and add two tablespoons of vinegar. Wipe down all the windows with that solution. Go back over the glass with some Windex and paper towels or rags. Then go clean all the storm windows. Make sure you move the screens out of the way so all sides of the glass get clean. Stand back and admire your work. Or have a drink. Because it will take you all day.

But it's worth it. Because your neighbor will tell you your sparkly windows caught her eye when she walked by. And you'll need to wear sunglasses inside because the sharpness of the outside world will sear your retinas.


We spent the weekend really decluttering the house, and oh my gosh does it look good. Everyone should immediately get rid of half the stuff in your house and I guarantee you will love it so much more. We cleared out the photographs that were on the shelves by the fireplace in the den, and moved all our books (out of the studio/living room) in there. That allowed me to put my crafting stuff on the studio bookshelves and to remove a big black wire shelf. That shelf is now on the carport and is great for holding our outdoor stuff, like the watering cans we never use and the 50 lbs. of sidewalk chalk we somehow have.

I'm still debating about the bathroom, and while my readers don't seem thrilled with the idea, I'm really leaning toward ordering wallpaper #3 this week. John doesn't love it (but he doesn't love any of them) but I have complete faith that it is the right choice. This may come down to a thumb-wrestling championship.

We've also hired someone to paint the exterior trim. We have ignored it for too long. I'm actually excited about the possibility of spring arriving now. Because once I finish all my interior painting and decorating, then we can start working on the outside. Just think, new shrubs and flowers and raking the leaves and hanging baskets and....

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Good grief.

Okay, the tile guy was not really a tile guy (he's a grout guy) but he was fantastic about answering my million questions and offering advice. Here's a freebie for you: when you take a shower, wipe down your tiled walls with a towel. If they stay dry, your grout will last a lot longer and you won't have to bleach any mildew stains. Because if you use a lot of bleach on the grout it dries it out and will have to be replaced sooner. Dry your tile and use vinegar and water to clean and disinfect.

Now back to my bathroom. It does not seem reasonable to me to pull out all the tile. It's in good condition, it's quite common in this area for this age house, and according to the guy above (who lives in the neighborhood with a house about the same age), there is probably a concrete wall behind the tile. It would also be a pain to pull out just the yellow tiles at the top and bottom of the walls. Too many problems trying to match sizes, especially at the bottom of the wall.

He did recommend glazing the tub and the one person he said to use is the guy I've already called. He also said I could probably pull out the fixtures (soap dish, toilet paper holder) and replace those fairly easily. But now I think if I replaced them with white ones it would look rather glaring. Finally, he said that barring any structural problems, we could put down a new tile floor right over the old one.

--brief aside: What was it with people in the 50s? Was it really all black & white like on tv? Is that why none of the yellows in my bathroom match? Or was everyone just colorblind? --

So I'm down to thinking that a new floor, a tub reglaze and some color on the walls is the way to go. I showed John the wallpaper last night and he doesn't like any of them. Sigh. I am so over this bathroom.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

And now from left field: wallpaper.

Yeah. I know. Hardly anyone voted for wallpaper in the poll. But it struck me some time last night or this morning that I should at least consider it. So I did a little internet searching this morning, then after I dropped off Audrey at school, I headed over to Seabrook. I knew I wanted something contemporary, possibly some type of botanical, and I had paint chip samples that are very close matches to my tile colors. Denise, my new best friend, and I went through several books and I brought home three samples:

1. Although it's hard to see, this sample has a band of pale yellow running through it, along with the slate blue and a lighter version of the brown I used to paint the vanity. It might be a little too busy and a pain to match up when putting it on the walls.

2. I found this on the internet this morning and brought a print-out to Denise. She quickly pulled out the book. I think it is so, so pretty. But maybe it will make the room too dark?

3. A few pages later, in the same book as above, we found this. The blue is right, plus it has some brown tones that work.

So. Any thoughts? A tile guy is coming tomorrow, which could send this whole project into a tailspin yet again. Feel free to leave a comment and give me your unique spin on the whole thing.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Sink vanity.

First, I want to say thanks to everyone who has voted in the poll and left comments. I've read them all and I appreciate your ideas very much. Second, I've called The Grout Medic to come take a look this week and I'll see what they say. I have another tiler in mind and I'll get his opinion too. For now the bathroom walls are dingy ivory, although I'm leaning toward painting them a light, light blue.

I'm still working on the great cabinet project of 2008. Here's John's bathroom vanity. I love the dark chocolate paint color, but it seems to be taking a long time to dry. I used an oil-based primer and then a satin latex over top. I let the first coat dry for several days and did the second coat this weekend. It still feels slightly (very slightly) sticky and delicate. Has anyone else had this problem? I've decided to just give it time to harden before we start using the cabinet part.

The last thing to get for this room is a shade, and I'm thinking a dark wood blind. I spied one at Bed, Bath and Beyond yesterday and I just need to measure.

I'll let you know about the other bathroom in a few days. In the meantime, I've gone through all the clutter and gotten rid of a small garbage bag of stuff that I don't need/use. And that is the real beauty of all this fixin' up.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


Have I mentioned that I have ugly yellow tile in my bathroom? Really? I've brought that up before? Hmm. But have I shown you the tile close up? Oh look. Up there. Ugly. Yellow. Tile.

Let me bore you to death with more bathroom talk. The plan was to replace the doors on the vanity and paint the whole thing chocolate brown. Then I would paint over the two-tone-yellow-stripe-paint job-over-wallpaper-stuck-to-unprimed-drywall. In a lovely ivory color that would soothe the eye and reduce the number of slightly different yellows in the room to a mere four (bathtub, ceramic fixtures, tile and floor). At some point in the future I would have the floor redone. And the bathtub resurfaced. Because the bathtub is yellow. Kind of like the floor, but not the exact yellow. Neither of which are the same yellow as the tile.

So far, the vanity project was a disaster. I had to regroup and just paint the old doors brown. John is working on installing them now. Last night I rolled on the ivory paint, on the ceiling and walls. And let's just say I'm underwhelmed. John called it "dingy". And he's right. How can ivory not look good? The ceiling is 100 percent better than it was. But the walls. Bleh.

I went back to Lowe's and grabbed some paint chips. And I'm thinking I may just need to try to match the blue-gray tile. That yellow is just killing me. I really don't mind the blue-gray. I'm going to contact a few companies about replacing the tile. Or even just the yellow part. It's probably more money than I'm willing to spend. But that yellow. Ugh. Killing me.

Tell me what you think I should do. I've posted a poll here and on my other blog. Help.

Monday, February 11, 2008

And I thought it would all be so simple.

Not simple as in "easy." But simple as in "direct" or "uncomplicated".

My simple project has been a huge pain. And I realize that everyone goes through this. My plan was to replace the doors on both bathroom vanities with simple (there's that word again) square pieces of wood. Something a little more modern. So we bought wood and cut it and primed it and painted it and sanded it and attempted to install it. And it looked like crap. I don't think we have the tools to achieve what I was looking for and I'll just consider it a lesson learned. Today I'll prime the old doors and paint them and we'll just go with the old stuff but in brown instead of white. I'll live with it.

While John was wrestling with the cabinets, I repaired my bathroom walls with joint compound and lots of sanding. Then I primed the ceiling and walls with Kilz2 (latex). I heard a good tip about dealing with popcorn ceilings (ugh. But I was not willing to scrape this one off). When you paint a popcorn ceiling, roll in one direction and be done with it. Don't roll back and forth because the wet paint will loosen the popcorn and it will start to fall off randomly. I did that and it worked well. And I couldn't believe how dark that ceiling was before. The lighter color makes a nice difference.

I also scraped out the old caulk around the tub (which appeared to have been applied by a drunken blind person) and put a fresh seal down. Holy moly does it look better. Here's my tip for caulking around tile: first, use caulk meant for water areas. Put down strips of tape above and below where you want the caulk to go. Squeeze caulk out. Wet your finger and smooth out the caulk. Pull the tape off right away and carefully smooth again with your (wet) finger. On the second go-round I held my index finger perpendicular to the caulk line and smoothed. This seemed to help me stay straighter.

So today I'm back in there working. First I need to start painting the old doors. I'm using an oil-based primer as recommended by the Lowe's paint guy. On top of that goes the brown latex. Once I get that in progress I'll paint the walls and ceiling a lovely ivory color. Sigh. Wish me luck.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Rethinking this.

Hmmmmm. I'm thinking that taking down the wallpaper may be a bad idea. The wallpaper was adhered to what looks like unprimed drywall. And as I'm trying to get it off, I'm gouging it. That will require a lot of repair and sanding. Plus, it's probably not good to sponge hot water onto unprimed drywall, which is one of the ways I'm trying to get the wallpaper off.

So. Before I get any farther, I'm going to stop. I'll look for any loose wallpaper and remove it. Then I'll do some wall repair with leftover joint compound I have from the other bathroom. I'll prime the walls and then I'll paint. Sound good to you?

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Main bathroom.

This is how it looks now, in all it's yellow-ness. After this weekend, it will not look exactly like this anymore.

These framed calendar pages will stay, as will the medicine cabinet to the right that you can barely see. Another wall mounted cabinet (white) gets to stay.

The painted-over wallpaper will be history tomorrow. I'll use the same Polished Ivory I've used on the kitchen and other bathroom ceilings. And I'll paint the ceiling in here too.

The bathroom vanity (and the one in John's bathroom) is getting new doors and a coat of chocolate brown paint. This vanity will also get new hardware. I'll keep that rolling cart next to the vanity, but I'll be looking to replace it with something smaller down the road.

At some point, I will get the tub reglazed. White. The yellow hurts my soul. I'll also fix some of the broken grout on the tub wall.

And sometime in the future the floor will be redone. And I'll get a new shower curtain. For now I plan to leave the yellow and gray-blue tile. It covers so much of the bathroom and is in good shape. So maybe with the other changes the yellow tile will not be so hideous. Maybe.

There's also a storage closet behind the door and I have a whole plan for that, if I can get it to work. More details later.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

And more rearranging.

Our third bedroom became the girls' playroom last year. It holds nearly all their toys and they get their own tv. It works for us. This is the way it used to look:

It's a hard room to photograph; above I'm standing at the doorway. Below, I'm over by the closet.

I truly wish someone had videotaped John and I moving that sleeper sofa with the giant rolled arms from the living room to here. It was only about 20 feet, but it took half an hour and much cursing to get it through three doorways. All I can say is that when I want something to happen, I pretty much make it happen through sheer will. Physics are irrelevant.

The new arrangement was precipitated by the purchase of this wonderful bookcase at World Market ($150 on sale). I wanted to move all the girls' books to one spot (they had been in about four different places throughout the house) and I wanted a piece with room to grow.

Ha. We filled it. With what we already had. Wonderful and horrifying at the same time. There will have to be some purging, I think.

As I pan to the left, the tv armoire is still to the left of the door, along with the Barbie dollhouse John and I made one year for Christmas.

The sofa used to be along this wall. But with a filled bookshelf (and no room for the toys that used to be on the shelf that used to be where the bookcase is now) we had to make other plans. We kept this wire rack for toy storage. It's opposite the bookcase.

And the sofa moved in front of the window. I hate blocking the window. But it's the only thing we can do right now to make the room work. And it does work better for tv viewing, since it's directly across from the tv now.

I'm still not sure about the color of the room. I will probably change the curtains. And the rug is just a $50 remnant that is stained and ugly. But the girls will probably have to get a little more careful with the crafts before I get a new one.


Up until last Saturday, this is how the girls' room used to look:

The two twin beds were in an L shape, with bedside tables next to them, and a dresser and shelving unit on the other wall.

Now it looks like this:

I bought new mattress covers for the beds and put them on, and then started rearranging furniture. Granted, our house is small. Our bedrooms are small. But I want the girls to share a room while they are young. Later, in the next house, they'll get their own rooms. But for now they share a bedroom and they get their own playroom.

We love the new arrangement. John says it looks more like a real bedroom. And he's right. I still need to get two small lamps for the dresser (the old lamp is from when Margret was a baby). And Margret doesn't mind that her bedside table is now across the room. It's still good for stashing secret treasures.

With the new arrangement, we can also open the beautiful window shutters and let more light into the room. The area above is still a bit jam-packed with crap for my taste, but the girls like having all those shelves for their dolls and animals.

In addition to new lamps, I'll also get some new curtain panels. And I have an idea to make tufted headboards, but that won't be too soon. They've lived without them this long; they can wait a few more months.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

We don't need no stinking medicine cabinets!

This photo is kinda dark, and there's a shadow from the standing cabinet, but this is the final wall after drywall repair. Not perfect, but I'm so proud of myself for doing it.

And here's the final vision. After looking and looking for the right-sized and -priced mirror, we decided to use one we already had (courtesy of my mom, from many years ago). I love, love, love the way it looks. And once I paint the sink cabinet brown (and change the door fronts) I think it will look even better.

Yesterday morning we went on a shopping trip to look for a coffee table. Instead, we got new mattress pads for the girls' beds (buy one, get one half price at Linens 'n' Things) which resulted in a complete rearranging of their room, a big five-shelf bookcase ($150 at World Market) for the girls which resulted in a complete rearranging of the playroom, and a rug for the kitchen sink area. We needed a coffee table for today's superbowl party, but we ended up just moving the ottoman from the playroom to the den. It works for now.

Friday, February 1, 2008

So close.

I'm so close to finishing up the bathroom wall (as seen below). It needed two coats of joint compound and I took the time to sand the second coat extremely well. So well that I just put a coat of primer on it and I'll paint it tomorrow (probably two coats). By Sunday noon, the mirror will be up. I swear it.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

$17 solutions, more or less.

I went to Lowe's on Wednesday and picked up about $17 worth of stuff so I could cover this gaping hole in John's bathroom wall.

When we first moved into this house, there was a large horizontal mirror across this wall that was, uh, not in keeping with our taste. When we took it down, there was this hole. So we looked for a medicine cabinet. The only one we could find fit the width, but was too short to reach the bottom. Because we were not handy, we came up with a hideous solution. Now we are crazy handy and cannot bear the thought of giant holes in our walls badly filled with ill-fitting medicine cabinets. We've evolved.

So I bought a 2x4 and had Lowe's cut it to these lengths. Then I nailed them to the studs they are next to. If I were even more handy, I would have paid a little more attention to making sure the new studs were not quite so far back in the cavity.

Because the gypsum board is set back just a little more than I wish. Yes, I bought gypsum board. You can buy 2' square sections of it, which is great for projects like this. I used a metal t-square (from my art school days) and a utility knife to cut it. Very easy. I nailed the gypsum board to my new studs.

I also picked up some self-adhesive joint tape and joint compound (I'm so glad I found the smaller tubs of it in the spackle section. I did not want to buy the giant boxes of it).

My first coat looks sort of rough, but I think I need to build up two or three layers. This morning I sanded the first layer and added the second. It's looking good. And has only cost about $17 in supplies.

On Tuesday, I picked up a 5 lb. box of Fiberfill at Hobby Lobby. With my 25% off coupon, it was a little less than $17. I used it to restuff the back cushions on my two sofas. I left the old stuff in and just added more where it had gotten compressed. I forgot to take a "before" photo, but trust me, these look sooooooo much better.

The sofas are in my den, a room that I am struggling with. It's a great room, but one without a clear focal point or style. John and I talked a bit the other night about what we like and what we don't like and I think I am leaning toward a more traditional room, but with cleaner lines. I did decide to go ahead and pick up a couple of lights for the mantle, so I browsed through the giant selection at Garden Ridge. $20 each. And I love them.