Score, 3 for price of 1

You cannot restore old homes without visiting your local salvage stores.  I’m still looking 20190608_094532.jpgfor two doors (office and basement) in a specific style (Mission, vertical 2-panel), so I make it a point to visit one of 2 stores fairly regularly, Cincinnati ReUse Center and Building Value.  This morning I went to Building Value and scored big time.  Not with doors for my house, but brand new, pre-hung doors for my future garage apartment.

My back door is a 3-panel craftsman styled door I got from Home Depot.  I had decided 20190608_200026that if I couldn’t find a 2-panel I’d buy another 3-panel.  When I saw the exact door at Building Value for $50 I jumped on it.  It only measured 30″ wide, 32″ with the jamb.  I thought that was the opening for the basement door.  It was not, I needed a 32″ wide door.

I could have made it work, but I decided to take a look at my garage plans and low and behold, the door for the bedroom specified a 30″ door.  The plan also calls for a 28″ door for the bathroom and bedroom closet and I knew they had more new doors, so I went back.  Sure enough, they had a 28″ 3-panel and a 28″ 1-panel.  I snatched both of them up.

The 1-panel door is taller than the others, but I figure it’s a closet door, so who would care.  Also, I’m not concerned with it not matching the other 2 because the 1-panel will allow me to hang a mirror on the door giving my future tenant a full-length mirror.  I bought twin size mattress bags to keep them covered and set them on a skid to keep them off the ground, just in case I get water in the basement.  What started as a search for some elusive doors saved me at least $350.

A Learning Opportunity I Didn’t Ask For

I can’t believe I don’t have a picture of what the wall looked like before I started this unplanned project, sorry.  My father was in town for some family graduations; his first time back to the house since move-in week.  He stayed in the guest bedroom and 8 days in he decided the exposed brick wall, only about 18″ wide was unnecessary and that I should drywall over it as I did in the kitchen.  He wasn’t wrong.  I’ve thought the same at times, but for me it would be a project to tackle AFTER everything outstanding was done.  Last Sunday it was moved to top of list.

I stopped at Lowe’s after church and got a great sales clerk who cut the drywall down to the width I needed, which would be the only way I’d be able to get it home in my PT Cruiser.  Like in the kitchen, I nailed one piece to the brick wall and a second piece on top of it.  That entire wall was about 36″ wide and the side that had drywall came away from the brick about 1″, but not consistently.  The top was wider and I had to use some thin strips of wood as shims to make the new drywall meet the existing wall.  I really thought my father was going to do the project, since he made it an issue, but that did not turn out to be the case.  I got both pieces hung, taped, and mud with just verbal instructions from the sidelines.  Fortunately I had plenty of plaster and tape left from the drywall crews to use.

I had appointments out Monday and Tuesday and my father was leaving Wednesday.  I just assumed he would get me to at least paint stage, but that proved to not be the case.  I had entered the “learning opportunity” zone.  I questioned how I would ever be able to create a level and smooth surface after the first coat, but he said I’d be applying three and it would work out.   Tuesday I applied the second coat, trying my best to remember what the young man had done on the kitchen patch, which resulted in minimal sanding and dust.  My father let me know that I did not come out far enough from the 1st coat in order to feather appropriately.  He showed me the technique for applying pressure to one side of the trowel.  He left Wednesday and I felt I had a hot mess I’d never be able to get right.  A full wall is much different from the small patch projects I had been doing.

I put on the third coat (below left) and then decided to sand as I could see grooves in the dried plaster from where I applied too much pressure to one side.  I was also using a 6″ trowel, probably too small for project.  Flashback to the drywall crew that left my house in a hot mess.  Mudding drywall is definitely an art.  The young man that did the kitchen barely left a thimble worth of dust for twice the size space.  I could easily fill a gallon paint bucket.  Since I could feel humps in the wall, I decided to apply a fourth coat of mud (below right).  I knew I’d have more sanding, but at that point I actually felt good about the end product.  The wall was flat and majority smooth.

I wanted to tackle the 1st floor bathroom closet door and start staining the built-in for the Memorial holiday weekend, so I was bound and determined to get this wall redo done on Saturday.  Once I got the big piles of dust up, I vacuumed the wall to get the remaining residue up and then applied Drywall Primer; fortunately I had about a 1/2 gallon left.  Following that I painted the ceiling and then put the first coat on of color on the wall.  Unfortunately, with the color I did not have enough paint, so I was forced to purchase another gallon of Passive from Sherwin Williams.  10:41 pm I put a wrap on the project minus the whole house mopping I’ll need to do to clean up the dust tracks from my Crocs.

The wall turned out as good as the “professional” drywall crew I hired, so glad I had the “learning opportunity”, but I have no interest in honing that craft.  I don’t like any aspects of drywall.  Next up in that room is changing the orientation of the bed.  My father had better ideas for that too.  More drywall work involved, but at least it will be small patches in my wheelhouse.  I’ll need help from my electrician, Mr. McGhee, to run the TV and Internet lines to the opposite wall.

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Moving Small Mountains, Literally

Mother nature has shown her wet side over the past several weeks.  I’ve wanted to take advantage of her free water after re-seeding the front yard, but needed to till the area in order to loosen the dirt and change the grade first.  Since tilling super wet soil would be next to impossible, I’ve been waiting for a rain free weekend, which has not been forthcoming.  Wednesday marked three straight days of sunny dry weather with rain returning the next day, so this was the day I decided to rent a rear-tine tiller and knock this project off my list.

It’s hard to tell from the featured image, but the area was like a rolling hill.  When the lead line was replaced last year Cincinnati Water Works dug up most of the area and did me a favor by removing the sidewalk to nowhere that cut across the front (Side Story:  20190509_161510Prior to my purchase, my neighbor decided to widen their driveway by moving their fence about two feet onto my property negating the ability to walk around the side of my house and leaving me a sidewalk to nowhere.)  It lowered the soil at the foundation and left an improper slope.

The easy way to fix that area would be with a small bobcat, but I’ve never worked one of those and a landscape company wanted $500 or more.  Tilling the area to break up the soil allowing me to shovel and move it with a wheel barrel or rake it was something I could 20190508_193617.jpghandle.  It took four men to lift the tiller into my PT Cruiser and all swore it wouldn’t fit.  With ramps I got it out and in by myself.  Out by putting it in neutral and using gravity to let it roll down the ramp; in by driving it up the ramp. Men.

I started in the area around the clump of mature trees I allowed to stay when I was clearing all the other trees from the backyard in anticipation of the garage apartment I plan to build.  I was getting such grief about cutting down so many trees that I decided to leave these, but I removed the rusted chain link fence that was not encompassed by the trees.  I also had to create dirt to fill the tripping hazard trench I created when I dug up all the flower bulbs someone had planted.  The plan is to fill bare areas with grass and then I’ll make small flower beds with mulch to make it look intentional.

I won’t address the backyard or the tree stumps until the garage construction begins.

20190509_123401I had a couple of bare spots that I made worse, intentionally, just so I could have the seed in loose soil.  Then I turned my sights on the primary area.  I called my cousin Zachary to come by the house about 2pm to help me load the unit back in the car (I called him after watching 4 men struggle, I hadn’t used it yet to know in gear 1 it moved slow enough to drive it into the back of my car).  Well at 2 pm I hadn’t made a dent, so thankfully when my aunt brought him over he stayed until his mom got off work and picked him up, about 3 hours

He helped me install most of this small retaining wall (short 8 blocks) I needed to hold the dirt that I wanted to fill in around the downspout connected to the drain (made necessary due to the fence move, I lost the space to create a natural slope).  I’ll probably need a few bags of top soil to fill it in more, but I’ll deal with that when I put the landscaping in.  I got most of the tilling and dirt hauling done with Zachman’s help.

I moved to the backyard and the area around the air unit as I needed to lower the side in front of the unit and I want to get some grass in the area.  Eventually I’ll build a deck off the back door, but until then I’m tired of my dogs tracking in mud.  Dark fell before I could get the seed down.  The worst part of physically taxing projects is being forced to stop before you’re done.  My lower back, arms, and shoulder ached and I knew I’d be stiff the next day, but rain was in the forecast.  I had to suck it up and finish in the morning.

On the wall I needed two half pieces, so I pulled out my trusty grinder and cut as deep as I could on all four sides.  I then put my chisel in the groove and hit it with my small sledge hammer, three whacks before it cracked, clean.

I used a drop spreader to apply the seed, racked it slightly before applying the fertilizer.  I am not going to put down straw.  At the last minute I decided to purchase 6 pieces of sod to place on the curb section.  It was only 3′ x 12′ and my hopes is that by seeing grass my neighbors won’t drive on it when they park in my spot.  I tried seeding that area last summer, but didn’t water it enough it keep it growing.  I had 1 1/2 pieces of sod left so I placed them along the wall to hopefully stop the soil from washing out onto the sidewalk when it rains.  With the change in slope it should happen less, but having instant grass in that area should stop it altogether.

Hopefully in about two weeks I’ll be posting pictures of a yard with grass.  I’m hoping this, along with planting some shrubs on the right side of house will give her a more satisfactory curb appeal, as painting may not happen this year.  Come on rain!

Houston, We’ve Got Air Conditioning

I don’t think I could last all summer, especially on a super humid day, but for the few warm days we’ve had thus far I’ve enjoyed sleeping under my fan.  One of the things I was looking forward to was the cross breeze I’d have due to the number of windows Iin my master suite.  I’ve gotten some of my best sleeps when I was in a place with an open window and cool air blowing in.  Spring allergies kept me limited on the frequencies thus far, but watch out fall.

I didn’t want 80+ temps to catch me off-guard, so with the concrete pad in place, I scheduled the air conditioner unit install.  The crew from Baker, Bauer & Fish completed their HVAC install on Wednesday.  I only have two pictures because I was doing yard work in the front while they worked in the back and basement, but James put in a half-day (left) and Rasheed a full-day with overtime to make sure I had air that day.  I can’t say enough about how pleased I’ve been with Tom Bauer and his staff.  I highly recommend them to anyone needing service on an existing unit or a new unit.  I will definitely use them again on my garage apartment project.

 

Not The Plan For The Weekend

This weekend was supposed to be simple, no strenuous projects.  Cut the grass, paint, and hang the 1st floor bathroom door.  Well I got the grass cut and after that was 7 hours of what has to be the most physically taxing work I’ve done in months.  I moved into the house with just the heat installed.  It was November, so AC wasn’t a necessity at that time.  My entire yard needs to be graded, but the area were the AC unit is going to be placed was particularly bad.  With every rain water would puddle in that area.  With hot weather approaching, instead of tackling the door, I tackled this area.

First priority was getting the drain pipe for the gutter deeper in the ground.  Last March my cousin Cameron and I ran PVC to connect the relocated downspout from the gutter to the original drain in the ground.  He dug down to the top of the clay pipe and we ran the PVC to it.  Unfortunately as the ground settled that pipe became exposed because we didn’t go deep enough.  We should have dug deep enough to remove the first clay pipe link.  That’s what I did Saturday.

This was one of the days I wish the weather forecast had been wrong.  I got to the original connection and was able to dig down to remove the next section of clay pipe (another 18″) before the rains came.  Digging the trench deeper, adding additional PVC to adjust for the deeper trench, and refilling the hole all occurred during a steady rain.

I was a muddy mess, so I don’t have a lot of pictures.  Before refilling the hole I dumped 4 bags of pea gravel in to help with elevating the dirt line.  I finished the project about 10p.  I was whipped and hungry.  I worked through dinner, but I was bound and determined to not have to deal with mud again the next day.  That tyvek suite has been deposited in the trash.

With the pipe fully covered now I could build the pad for the AC unit.  I have never poured concrete, so another new skill has been added repertoire.  After watching a few YouTube videos and talking with my go to handyman, Tom Milfeld, I decided to take this project on.  LADIES, we can do this.  I don’t know how many times I’ve prepared something in the kitchen that just needed you to add water and stir with no trepidation.  Well concrete is no different.  Just add water and stir.

20190428_130429First step was building a box.  My HVAC company had marked the spot with an orange box, so I’d know the location and size.  I had to go on memory because the rain and my digging project eliminated his markings.  Next step was making sure the box was level.  I made a 4″ thick frame, but in order for the box to be level the side closer to the house had to be elevated with stakes making it almost to 6″ deep.  That just confirmed how bad the pitch towards the house is and why I always got a pool of water in that area.

Quikrete’s website has a concrete calculator, so I would know how many bags to buy.  My box was roughly 40″ x 40″ and at a uniform 4″ depth that would need 7, 80 lb bags.  I bought 9 due to the deeper house side.  I got my wheel barrel out of storage, which became my giant mixing bowl and started mixing one bag at a time.  I ended up using 8.

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Even though it was Sunday I asked Tom if I could get just one hour of his time.  He arrived on bag 7 and brought the tool needed to smooth out the top.  For future reference I now know not to mix too loose.  He told me the water will evaporate and seep into the ground eventually, but he had to spend more time smoothing it out.  In a couple of days I’ll remove the wood frame.  I’m still sore and stiff, but my house is now ready to receive the AC unit.  Of course I had to leave a mark in the concrete, so in block letters I placed SGw/S – Sista Girl w/ Skills was here.

Humpty Dumpty

20170729_161028Stained glass frame was nailed to the wall
Stained glass frame broke into many pieces when removed prior to wrecking ball
All of Venus’ skills and help from Wood Shop Scottie
Helped put stained glass frame back together again.

The picture to the left was taken prior to demo.  I was able to get the stain glass out for repair without removing the frame, but when it came time for drywall I had no choice but to remove it also.  I started with a crowbar and the dried wood started cracking immediately.  I then pulled out my reciprocating saw and didn’t fair much better.  End result about 15 pieces.

Why I waited months after it came down to start putting it together I don’t know, but I didn’t start gluing pieces together until just weeks before my move.  The base of the frame was originally in two pieces; a right and left half to create the oval.  The outer trim was originally in four pieces, a top and bottom to each side, so basically my goal was to get back to 6 pieces and then down to the two halves.  I glued small pieces together first and used my pin nailer to hold them in place.  In the final stages of the project I regretted my over use of nails.  I should have invested in more clamps.  

With relative ease I got all the smaller pieces back together and I felt I was ready for stain, which I did before nailing the trim to the base.  On side the trim stayed in tack with the base except for a section where the base and trim had broken off.  The other side the base basically shattered, but the two pieces of trim stayed whole.  With the shattered half back together I was ready to reattach the trim and the top was a perfect fit.  The bottom trim did not and I assumed the weeks of separation and improper storage caused it to warp.  I did days of online research about bending wood, but ultimately decided to clamp it and slowly tighten.  When the trim met the base I filled it with nails and held my breath when I removed the clamps.  Initially huge success.  I turned my sights to the other half.

It appeared I had lost a small slither of would, so I got the brillant (NOT) idea of using 2-part epoxy to fill most of the void and then used a product called Quickwood, on top in hopes it would blend with the wood.  Quickwood is a putty epoxy that looks like a tootsie roll with the flavor in the center.  You cut off the amount you need, kneed it until the two colors are thoroughly mixed, and then press it into the area of repair. Once it was hard I sanded it down until it was smooth with the original surface.  The experiment worked and I had two halves ready for hanging, but they no longer lined up.  One side was about a half inch longer.  Time to take this project to the Wood Shop and ask Scottie for help.


I had to remove the trim again, which brought into realization that I used way too many nails.  Nails are a detriment to some tools in a wood shop so I had to work to get as many out 20190406_154320as possible.  Of course I broke a perfectly good section of the outer trim in the process.  Also the initial huge success I had with clamping and forcing the trim to bend created a stress crack on the base.  This project was taking many steps backwards.

Scottie decided my best option was to make the base one piece and had me go to Home Depot for mending plates which we screwed and glued to the back of the frame.  We also took a very sharp chisel and removed my epoxy experiment.  Turns out I probably had not lost the piece.  We used the stress crack and the re-separation of my epoxy mend to make sure the two halves met and secured the plate with screws and Gorilla glue at the seam.  He advised that I should let that sit overnight, so this project was going to take another week. 

Turns out at my next wood shop class I was a solo act, so we got to focus on the frame.  With the two sides meeting properly the next tackle was making sure the trim would fit.  Scottie has a great eye and was able to see if we shaved a little bit of one piece with a jigsaw and sand another part with the belt sander that everything would meet.  I did everything he suggested and we used two more mending plates and wood glue to secure my former epoxy spot and the new stress crack I created.  Another overnight drying period, so the finish would need to wait for open shop.

Everything dried and I finally had a complete frame.  I was good to go home and stain, but Scottie saw and knew that I could make it better by using the Quickwood to fill where I had slight separation at some of the mended spots and to fill the original and new nail holes I created.  He showed me the proper way to apply it, so I wouldn’t have to spend as much time sanding.  The trick is moist fingers to help smooth and push it into the crevices you’re trying to fill.  I was fearful of breaking it again, but I took his advice and spent the bulk of open shop fine tuning.

Once back home I added the Quickwood to a few more areas and sanded it more.  After sweeping away the heavy dust, I used a Gerson TACK cloth (my neighbor Bill hooked me onto these) to remove all the fine dust.  I applied a coat of Minwax Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner (mainly because I had it and thought it couldn’t hurt) and then applied the custom Zar color stain, again.   I just stood back in awe, it was beautiful.  I decided to add a couple of coats of Minwax Polycrylic too.  I love working with that product and can’t wait to tackle my built-in.

While that dried it was time for me to deal with the drywall around the window casing.  It protruded beyond the casing, which meant I’d have a gap between the wall and the frame.  This situation is with most of the windows in the house.  Plaster could be spread to fill where it was needed, so some areas were thicker than others.  Drywall doesn’t give you that play, so I have some windows where it protrudes and others where it recesses. 

My favorite handyman, Tom Milfeld, just happened to see me in the yard, so I had him help me trace a line around the areas with the gaps and he suggested I use my Ridgid JobMax tool to remove the drywall and that is exactly what I did.  It actually created the perfect ledge for the frame to rest in, so hanging it by myself was really easy.  After getting the frame up I also put the back boards back around the built-in bench.  I can’t be more pleased with how this turned out.  Humpty Dumpty back together again.

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All But One

My beginner wood shop classes has lit a fire.  I got all, but one of the doors in my master suite restored and hung.  After finishing the linen closet and seeing how easy it cleaned up, I decided to pull the rest out as I thought they were all in pretty good condition and would be a quick project….or so I thought.  The one remaining door, water closet, will need to be painted.  It was a salvage door I purchased from Cincinnati Reuse Center already painted and not in the best condition.  For that reason it will be the only painted door in the master suite.

20190413_003808The last storage closet door was graffiti filled and carved into. The carving was too deep to sand out.  It was filled with an ink that did not budge with denatured alcohol or graffiti remover.  Unfortunately it’s the side of the door that is exposed to the room.  Another “character” mark in testimony to what my home has survived.

First step was cleaning the surface dust off with Murphy Oil Soap water.  The inside of the door was a piece of cake.  It just needed the Howard’s Feed-N-Wax.  In addition to the carvings the other side had graffiti and what looked to be dried egg.  The denatured alcohol and 000 steel wool removed the graffiti and egg with relative ease.  I followed it with the Howard’s Restor-A-Finish Maple-Pine applied with 0000 steel wool and then the Feed-N-Wax.

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The master closet door was another salvage door I got from Building Value Cincinnati.  It only needed cleaning and waxing before hanging with the pocket door hardware.  Trimming out the pocket door was the challenge.  Fortunately I had the door jamb from the kitchen swinging door.  The door was long gone, but I saved the jamb during demo.  The kitchen was the only room on first floor with the lighter stained doors.  The craftsmen that built my home actually stained the kitchen side of the jam light and the dining room side dark.  I had to rip that piece down to the right width, so I cut from the dark side.  I then sanded and applied Zar Early American stain to match the door.

This door had a regular door knob, but I was able to find two vintage knobs with face plates similar to the originals on Ebay.  I drilled an indentation in the jamb, so the latch recessed into it allowing the door to completely close.  It will never lock.

The door separating the bedroom from the bath was also fairly easy.  There was a small patch of graffiti on each side that I was able to remove with denatured alcohol.  Once removed this door just needed Howard’s Feed-N-Wax.  The jamb for this door was never removed and the door didn’t close because the hinges were rusted, so I didn’t know the jamb and door were not aligned.  My first finish carpenter could/should have caught it when he was installing the trim in the bathroom, so because he didn’t I will live with the gap.  More character of an old home.  The door still didn’t close due to the wood threshold that was on the floor.  I took it up and considered not putting it back, but their was obvious discoloration at that spot.  I took the piece to the Wood Shop and used their planer to reduce the thickness.  Already putting that membership to good use.

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The one thing I’ve noticed is that the short hall to the bathroom is dark.  I should 20190416_211931have put a light on the outside of the closet.  I believe it will be possible to add, but for now I’m placing my favorite lamp in the corner.  I bought that lamp for my first apartment,outside of school, for a short lived job I had in Detroit.  I really didn’t have a place for it, until now.  I will purchase a motion sensor outlet (asked the Google, found it on Amazon), so it will just come on when I walk past.

The last door, laundry room, was the most challenging.  This space was a small closet that I enlarged to accommodate the washer and dryer.  The original door was only 5′ tall, in great shape, but I couldn’t see myself stooping every time I wanted to do laundry.  20190408_192417Once again I was able to find the perfect door, in its jamb, at Building Value Cincinnati (I bartered the original for it, so it was practically free).  It was obvious the door had been in a fire.  It reeked of smoke. One side was more severe than the other; the years of varnish/finish actually blistered, which probably protected the door.  I decided to sand this side of the door vs. stripping.  No pros or cons, I just thought sanding would be faster, which proved to be correct.  I had the door sanded, cleaned, and stained with the Zar Stain within an hour.

In hindsight I should have done the denatured alcohol step before applying the stain, but I just assumed this door was going to be slightly darker than the others based on the other side.  Turns out that darkness was just soot as when I wiped it with my denatured alcohol soaked steel wool it revealed a much lighter door, same shade as others.  With the small wipe I was forced to clean the entire door, which used up a few pieces of steel wool.  What came up was a mixture of soot and old varnish, but once all removed the door was beautiful.  I used the Howard’s Restor-a-Finish Maple-Pine and once hung rubbed on a coat of Howard’s Feed-N-Wax.  I was able to use the original knob and face plate.

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Here’s a warning and shared lesson learned.  I worked on these doors three days in a row, working until 2-3 in the morning the first two nights.  I have not suffered any serious injuries while working on my house, but with the laundry room door I came very close to loosing my left eye.

Hanging doors by yourself is easy when you separate the hinges.  I have been soaking my rusty hinges in vinegar (see YouTube, a DIYers Resource post) and have successfully been able to remove the pins.  The pins on the laundry room door put up a fight.  I used vice grips and got the bottom knob off, but the pin, even though the hinge had movement, wouldn’t come out.  It was about 1 am and I got the NOT so brilliant idea of clamping the hinge to a pallet (I need to install the vice grip I bought for my bench) so I could use a screwdriver and a small sledge hammer to tap it out.  Hand on screwdriver and some pretty hard whacks and nothing.  I released the screw driver and double fisted the hammer and came down as hard as I could.  The screwdriver ricocheted out and somehow flipped up and went straight up my left nostril.  Instant nose bleed, no geyser.  My hands were filthy and I had no clean rags in basement, so I cupped my hands under my nose to minimize the trail of blood to my kitchen where I washed my hands and grabbed paper towels.

It took about 30 minutes to get the bleeding under control and the leech-like clots to stop.  My face was aching, but I was bond and determined at that point to hang the door, which I did before going to bed with a cotton round saturated with Neosporin stuck up my nose.  The next morning, a Sunday, there was only a runny nose level of bleeding with less pain, so I went to church.  I did get in to see my doctor on Monday where I updated my tetnus (was two years out from needing it) and was referred to an ENT, who confirmed no serious injury.

First time I appreciated my big nose (you can laugh).  Do not EVER try that yourself.

Mama Gonna Get Her Shower

Another chapter of my past closed today with the selling of my 2005 convertible PT Cruiser.  I bought this car the year I turned 40.  I called it my mid-life crisis car.  I have been fortunate to own two cars over the last couple of decades, so this was my summer ride.  It didn’t have 73K miles on it yet as I pretty much only drove it when it was top down weather.  It was my feel good car; my take long drives with the sun on my face, wind in my hair, escape car.  I posted it for sell as a means to cover the cost of the front door.  With the funds for that not needed due to the delivery fiasco, I can apply 100% of the proceeds towards completing the master bath.  My only regret is I never took my cross country drive in it.

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We Make a Great Team

Tom returned to help me with more projects in the kitchen.  I’m trying to get the floors cleared in the living and dining rooms and a major pile in the way are the boxes with the cabinet crown moulding.  Tom will hang that for me, but the backsplash, which will go to up to the ceiling above window needed to be installed first.  I am about burnt out on tile projects (still need to finish first floor bathroom and haven’t started the master), so when he offered to install it for me I jumped.  At that time I told him I was doing a small subway on mesh tile and he said he could knock that out in a couple of hours. Well, I got the mesh part right.

MSI Bianco Arabesque 9.84 in. x 10.63 in. x 6mm Glazed Ceramic Mesh-Mounted Mosaic Tile (10.95 sq. ft. / case)After going to the Tile Shop, Floor and Decor, and Lowes I found exactly what I had in my mind at Home Depot, MSI Bianco Arabesque mesh tile.  It was only $7.89 per sheet in the store (higher price online), but I had to go to 3 different stores to get enough for the project.  TIP: unless you go to a place like the Tile Shop, that will get you multiple cases from the same “lot”, always open the boxes and check the coloring of your tile.  The first Home Depot had the full quantity I needed, but despite all stating they were Bianco different boxes had different tints forcing me to go to multiple stores in hopes I’d find enough of the one I liked.  The tile I selected looked to have a tint of blue around edges, while the other looked brown like this image.

I decided on a charcoal grout due to the dark gray, marble-like, streaks that run through my quartz counters.  I got the grout from the Tile Shop.  They carry Superior Pro-Grout Excel, which is fast setting, color consistent, stain-resistant, and features excellent crack and shrink resistance.  I also thought it would compliment my blue cabinets.  The first thing tackled was putting the knobs on the cabinet doors.  Tom had the perfect measuring gadget for that.  We still need to do the pulls, but mine are longer than standard, so his gadget didn’t work on those.  I was much more concerned with the tile.

I left Tom to work on his own, but after a couple of hours saw that my choice of tile was posing more challenges than the subway he thought I was getting.  I decided to jump in and basically from the stove right I laid the tile and from the stove left, including working around the window he handled.  He has measuring and eye balling and precision cuts down to a science.  It took about 6 hours and we actually worked together on the section above the window.  I handled all the grouting the next day.  The end results are pretty fabulous I think.  Exactly what I envisioned.

Tom also connected me with the best painter EVER!!!!!  I met Teresa Ferrari last year and she will be running a new coffee shop opening in the Camp (Camp Washington for those not intimate) very close to my house.  I had no idea she has a painting business.  She came dressed in what I would consider “good jeans”, a nice sweater, and suede boots and when she left you wouldn’t have known she spent 3 hours painting.  Not a drop on her, not a drop on the floor.  20190104_170626.jpgWell not until Milo, my dog, decided to step in the paint and track it around the 1st floor.  She didn’t tape down dozens of plastic drop clothes.  She got all the closets, the guest bedroom, the hall, touched up all the bad spots left by the other two I paid to paint, and painted the trim in the kitchen.  I am so sorry I didn’t know about her sooner.

There is a saying that God my not be there when you want him, but he’s always right on time.  After the devastating set back with my floors, Tom and Theresa have been an absolute delight and I feel brought into my life just at the right time.  I truly feel our paths were meant to cross in order for us to do something even greater together.  I think Theresa and I should apply for the First Time Flippers show.  Just throwing that out into the universe to see where it lands.

Wallpaper

I am not a fan of wallpaper.  One of the first DIY projects I tackled by myself was stripping wallpaper out of the entry foyer of my Inner Circle house.  Amazingly in the opening description in that Facebook post I called it my most ambitious DIY project ever; that was in 2012.  I think I’ve beat that now.  Anyway stripping wallpaper has to be one of my least favorite projects to do.  I definitely had no intentions to hang any at my Henshaw home, until…………………….

Follow your DreamsMy friend Joan shared that in her first apartment she hung wallpaper in her closets, so guest got a pleasant surprise when they opened them.  I loved that idea, so I started combing the Internet.  I was hoping to find something uplifting, positive, motivational, so a search for motivational wallpaper led me to a site called Murals Your Way.  That is where I found the perfect covering for inside my entry foyer closet (the only one I’m going to cover).  The artist is Valentina Ramos and her piece is called Follow Your Dreams.  It was perfect.

Since my closet wasn’t one of the standard sizes offered I placed a call to their help desk and spoke with Cheryl Alarcon.  She was an absolute delight to work with.  I ended up ordering a custom size and she provided me with this mock-up to show me the white space that would be at the top and bottom.  I ordered their SmartStick – peel and stick for smooth surfaces, but they also offer pre-pasted wallpaper and two commercial grade products.  Despite it’s size and thickness, it was easy to hang.

That closet is very narrow, not wide enough for a rod with hangers, it just had a shelf and a board with hooks that I did salvage during demo.  Using my same three-step process (denatured alcohol, Restor-a-Finish and Watco Rejuvenation Oil) I got the hook board and shelf cleaned up and installed.  Once the hooks and shelf were installed I dug out a door knob and put it in place.  That closet is for guest coats only, so I hope they’ll leave inspired.  Of course in the summer, when coats aren’t worn,  I’ll just have to show it off.

 

The only other wall to receive wallpaper is the master bath water closet.  When my parents built Inner Circle, they put wallpaper in most of the house.  When I was cleaning out the basement in preparation for the move I came across two boxes filled with remnants of all the original wallpaper.  The paper you see in the featured image was hung in the basement bathroom at Inner Circle.  There was just enough to cover the walls in front and behind the toilet, so my father hung it for me when he was here at Thanksgiving.  It fits in perfectly.