Bathroom Progress

Well we are slowly making headway on the bathroom renovation.  I’m happy to report that aside from adding a bit of quarter round to the baseboards, all trimwork and painting is done.  Holla!

black and white ceramic tile floor

Purty floors.  So much better than the blue tiles we had before.


That’s the linen closet there to the right.  We just haven’t put the door for the closet or bathroom back on yet.  But thankfully, they already have everything painted and the updated oil rubbed bronze hardware and knobs on them, so that’s just one less thing to do now.


Obviously, the next step is to put the quarter round in on the baseboards, then we can do the toilet and sink install.  I’m so ready to see the pedestal sink in there with the faucet I bought.

vintage oil rubbed bronze 4" centerset faucet

So cute.

And you can also see that I decided against the jelly jar lights and went with a single overhead light.  This required making the 2 existing electrical boxes that were there for the sconces into duplex outlets, and creating a new box in the center up near the ceiling.


The hubs was not a fan of this option, but it just had to be done.  He eventually got over it.  And now there are 4 plugs for this bathroom, rather than the one per sconce that we had before.  Which is good for future buyers and not really that important for us, since I don’t even use a hairdryer when I get ready in the morning.  Air dry all the way.

And in the photo above, it looks like the light is black, but it’s actually a lovely deep, glossy green.  I did buy the fixture from Lowe’s that I put into the inspiration board, but I spray painted it Valspar’s Premium Enamel in Gloss Montpeilier Palmetto Green.  I used gloss white enamel on the inside.

A few months back, I found a pair of vintage pendant lamps with a beautiful deep, grassy green enamel finish on them that I loved.  But they were ceiling mount, and at $60 each, not that bad of a price for antiques, but I just couldn’t justify buying them.  The photo below is a good example of the look I was going for.

Vintage Enamel Pendant

So here’s what I ended up with:

green enamel vintage knockoff barn light

And the swirly CFL bulb in it now is just temporary.  I’ll be replacing it with a globe bulb the next time I go to Home Depot.


Here’s a view of the new tub with the white subway tile surround and the new oil rubbed bronze bath hardware.  We still need to seal the grout, so it’s not bathtime-ready yet, but I’m looking forward to being able to have a nice relaxing soak in there soon!

The switch in the photo above goes to the exhaust fan/light/heater unit that was in there before.  Rather than replace it, I just removed the light cover, taped off the socket where the bulb screws in, and spray painted it with white semi-gloss spray paint (before I painted the ceiling, of course!).  The plastic was a yucky yellowish color before, but other than that, it was perfectly fine, and I couldn’t justify buying a new one (at over $100).  The switch needs to be replaced with a new white one, but it’s apparently a special-order item only available online, so it’s still on the list of things to do.

All in all, we are feeling pretty good about our progress.  We have all of the hardest parts done, and that is helping us in the final push to finish this project.  Aside from installing the sink and toilet, and finishing the quarter round for the baseboards, we still need to stain shelves and mount the brackets for the wall above the toilet, sew the shower curtain, figure out a window treatment (which I will probably end up sewing as well), put the doors back on, buy and install the wall-mount medicine cabinet / mirror, and decorate / accessorize.

We are so ready to be done and have a bathroom we can actually use again!

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Bathroom Inspiration Board

Progress on the bathroom reno is slow, and steady(ish).  Since the last post, we’ve got all the backerboard put up in prep for the tile in the tub/shower surround, and a lovely thick coating of waterproof goo, for added moisture resistance (not to mention protecting those lovely new floor joists and subfloor we just put down from any water damage and rot in the future).

For that job, we found this product at Menard’s when we were there grabbing the subway tile, mortar, grout and the rest of our supplies.

TEC Waterproofing and Crack Prevention Membrane

At $45.97 for a one-gallon bucket, this stuff isn’t cheap.  And we had to buy 2 buckets.  You can roll it on, or use a brush or trowel to smooth it on, in really thick coats.  It looks and feels just like the heavy-duty construction adhesive that comes in the caulk tubes, and sticks to everything just as bad.  We followed the instructions and did 2 coats, going in up-and-down strokes the first coat, then doing a second coat going side-to-side.  Since we finished the tub surround and had most of a bucket left over, we did the existing tile floor as well.

Which brings me to a good point: did you know you DON”T HAVE TO DEMO an existing tile floor?  You can totally tile right on top of it.  And by the way the tiles came off of the walls (a complete nightmare – hello 4 days of hammering . . .) we didn’t want to risk tearing up the floor any more than was absolutely necessary.  So if your tile is level and adhered to the floor well, then all it needs is a good cleaning, a rough sanding with some heavy-duty 40 or 60 grit sandpaper, a wipe-down, then you’re ready to start spreading mortar for the new stuff.  Apparently it’s common practice and not just a half-ass way of doing it (which is what I was worried about).  So glad we Googled that.

So now our next steps are to flush out the top half of the wall where the vanity and toilet go, so that we can run the new beadboard all the way to the ceiling.  I debated whether or not it would go all the way up, but since the hole where we removed the existing recessed medicine cabinet isn’t a common size (and is really really close to where the sconce electrical cut-outs are, I decided that running it up to the ceiling would allow me to choose whatever lighting and mirror/medicine cabinet I wanted, since I wouldn’t have to necessarily work with the existing rough-in locations.

So after making a few more selections for the rest of the shopping list, I updated the inspiration board.



I love the little brass table on wheels, and I’m hoping I can find something similar at the antiques shows this spring.  Because everyone needs a place to put their book and glass of wine when they’re in the tub.

I’m still not entirely sold on the little outdoor jelly jar sconces we bought for either side of the new medicine cabinet.  We bought Edison bulbs to go in them, and we may replace the “jar” part of the fixture (not to mention they were $4 a pop new).  I still really like the idea of having this fixture over the mirror.

Portfolio Ellicott 13″H Galvanized Outdoor Wall Light

And although we’ve already bought the 2 jelly jar sconces, I’ve still got plenty of time to decide what to do before we have to install lighting.

I’ll post more photos when we’ve made some more progress!  

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Hello 2014!

Wow, it’s been a long time.  Since October, actually.  But that doesn’t mean that things haven’t been happening around here.  I just haven’t taken the time to document any of it!

First up, we finished the Bentwood chairs I bought at a yard sale last fall.  Once I got all the paint stripped off, I cleaned them up with Murphy’s Oil Soap and water, gave them a light sanding and a good wipe-down, then used Zinsser Oil-Based primer to give them a good base coat for the paint.  I sprayed them with Rust-Oleum Universal Spray Paint in White Satin finish.  I like using the trigger-type sprayer for projects with complex curves and angles (like these chairs) since the spray mechanism gives you an even, continuous spray, even upside down.

The chairs fit so much better with the style of the dining room, and the scale is exactly what we needed in this small room.  They don’t take up a lot of visual weight, and they will never go out of style.

dining room bentwood chairs


Above is a shot of the freshly-painted chairs in the dining room, along with my newest collection of junk-store finds: plates!

plates on wall


I decided to keep a (very loose) theme of white background-with-gold-edge, and a free-form arrangement so that I can add to them whenever I find another one to bring home.  I’ve been using the Ook Plate Hanger kits from Home Depot.  They are just a few bucks each, come in different sizes depending on the diameter of your plate, and include the plate mount plus the nail and hook.  Ook hangers are great for older houses like ours, which have plaster walls (instead of drywall) because the nails are skinny and they go in at an angle, which prevents big chunks of plaster from breaking off when you hammer them in the wall.

antique plates on wall

A few other updates for this room include the painting I did of our rooster, Randy.

randy rooster paint by number


I did it in a similar style to our Big Cow Painting, creating a grid on the canvas, then overlaying a corresponding paper grid over the photo I printed of him, then used the grid lines as guides to freehand the outlines of the major color areas in the photo.

randy rooster paint by number


And one final update for the dining room . . .

We FINALLY got the old, leaky aluminum sliding patio doors outta there!

15-lite patio doors


Woohoo!  We special ordered them from Home Depot, and sprang for the pricey install fee for the store to do the work for us.  Sometimes, you have to know when to just let a professional do it, and I’m glad we did, because the two guys that came over had the old door out, the rough opening framed to fit the new door, new door installed, plus caulking and finishing everything up in 3.5 hours.  And the hubs was out of town that week, so I’m extra glad we had someone else do it for us, especially since we are in the deep-freeze Polar Vortex of January.  These babies are so much more energy efficient – no cold air leaks!  They are an overall size of 96″ wide, so each 15-lite door is about 32″ wide, which is the same as the 15-lite back door we installed in the mudroom this summer.  I also love that we were able to choose the finish of the hinges on this door, since it was a special order, so I have my oil-rubbed-bronze hardware and I don’t have to spray paint hinges (hooray!).

In other news, we began demo on the main bathroom last week, and so far we have repaired a rotten floor joist and a sizable chunk of subfloor underneath the old cast-iron tub we pulled out.  We were able to get the floors fixed and the new tub in, plus replace the existing plumbing for the tub over the weekend.

new tub, new plumbing



Believe it or not, the photo above is a welcome sight from this:


This week, we’ll be putting up backer board for the white subway tile tub surround.  I put together a quick style board so that the hubs could see what I was seeing in my brain, since he was feeling overwhelmed and questioning whether we should be doing it at all (of course we should!).

bathroom inspiration boardGlorious!  The pedestal sink and vintage faucet are already here – I ordered them online from Menard’s last week.  We bought all the white subway tile for the tub surround already, and we just need to get the black and white floor tiles.  I was having a really hard time finding a sink that was smaller than what we had in there.  The problem was a (REALLY) tight clearance between the door swing, the corner of the linen closet and the rectangular wall-mounted sink.  We’re talking a few inches, here.  Neither the hubs or I are on the large side, but we both had to shimmy between the sink and linen closet to get to the rest of the bathroom.  I was able to find this small, simple pedestal sink that’s just 14.5 inches deep at the center (since it’s round), instead of the 18.5″ deep rectangle we had before.  That puts the largest part of the sink over to the right a few inches, which helps out with the clearance issue a lot.  I can’t wait till we get the floor done then we can install it!

Will post an update when we get more done!

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Quick + Easy Fall Decorating

I’m not the kinda gal who decorates with the seasons a whole lot.  I don’t go overboard at Christmas, and I keep the same accessories out pretty much year-round.  But I do like to add a few Fall-type touches to the fireplace mantel and the front door.  (For a look at someone who goes all out for Halloween decor, check out Brooklyn Limestone’s past years’ decor and themed parties – amazing!)

A few years back, I bought a fake, feathered crow, and every October 1, he comes out to live on our mantel.

crow B&W


That was last year’s mantel.  And even though we closed on the house October 24, just one week before Halloween, I still felt obliged to put him out.



So this year, along with “Flappy”, I printed up and framed some crow silhouettes to add to the macabre, Edgar Allan Poe mood.  Here are the images I used (at full resolution if you want to use them as well).





I wanted them facing “in” toward the fireplace, so I flipped one of them in Photoshop before printing.  I just put them in extra frames that I had on hand.

Then I added our monogram to a white pumpkin with black paint pen, using the same technique I used for the antique sign of printing out my type, then using graphite or carbon paper to transfer the type by outlining it with a pen.

monogram white pumpkin


Then I added some little mini pumpkin gourds for a dose of orange to go with the black I had going on, stuck a tail feather from our rooster into the top of the white pumpkin, dropped some pine cones into my apothecary jars, and called it a day.









Man, that fireplace insert looks tons better since I painted it black this Spring.  After we were all done with building fires for the Winter, I pulled it out, gave it a super scrubbing, then taped off the glass with newspaper and spraypainted it with flat black heat-resistant spray paint.  Much better than this.



I added a teeny bit of Fall to the front porch, too.



It’s not much, but I like the little bit of color it adds to the front of the house.



And since those stupid ginormous bushes are in the way, you can’t really see the front porch from the road.  So I added a bale of straw, a huge yellow mum, and two more pumpkins next to our mailbox.  Apparently decorating along the road in front of your mailbox is a country-house thing.  Everybody does it out here, so I figured I should too.  Maybe because all the houses sit so far back from the road?  I dunno.



So I added our house numbers and “The Kieffers” onto the pumpkins for a more personalized touch.  I used the same carbon paper transfer method again on these guys.

In order to know how big I needed the type to be, I just took a scrap sheet of 8.5×11″ paper, wrapped it around the pumpkin, and sketched a rough border to define the area I wanted to use on the pumpkin.IMG_5818

The photo above shows how I did the one for the house numbers (on a scrap crow print out).  The four pencil marks are from figuring out how much of the pumpkin I wanted the numbers to cover.  Then I used Word and set my sheet to landscape orientation.  I zoomed in on the screen until my page was at 100%, then put my sheet on top of the screen so I could resize the font until it took up the space I needed to fill.  It’s a lot easier than trying to guess what size your font needs to be, printing it out, then seeing if it’s too big or too small on the pumpkin.

And as far as the chairs go, that’s a project we’re still (literally) chipping away at.  But we are on the home stretch of the stripping process, then it’s a whole lot of clean up and wood refinishing.

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Out With the Old, In With the Older

This past weekend, I tried something for the first time.  Stripping.  Stripping paint, that is.  And let me tell you, it’s as equally messy and painstaking as you think it is.

So for a long time (actually almost a year now), I’ve been meaning to replace the dining room chairs we’ve had since our last house.  We used to have a big white Parsons-style table with a white painted steel frame from Ikea, and the yellow chairs with silver metal sled bases were okay with that.  And they were cheap.  Hey, when you have to buy 6 chairs all at the same time, it can add up quickly.

dining room old chairs


After we built the Farmhouse Table last November, it was in serious need of some replacement seating.  But, as things tend to go around here, there were more important things to spend our money on at the time.  So we lived with the yellow chairs until last weekend.

Now, being the incredibly penny-pinching gal that I am, I was having a really, really hard time finding something I liked enough to drop serious (for us anyway) cash on.  Until I found these from Restoration Hardware.

restoration hardware bentwood chair


They have them in 4 stained finishes: blue, green, burgundy, and white.  For a Final Sale price of $45 each.  Plus free shipping.  I was planning to order the white stained ones, and then paint them with an additional coat of white paint so that they were opaque.  At this point, I was completely willing to modify something after purchase, since I couldn’t find anything that was perfect.  But even at $180 for 4 chairs, I just couldn’t pull the trigger.

So I hopped on Craigslist and did a search for “Bentwood chair” and found these:

bentwood chairs


Boom.  $80 for 4 chairs.  Done.

I emailed the seller and told him I’d be there, cash in hand, to pick them up the next morning at 7:30.

I got there to pick them up, checked them out, and they were all in sturdy shape.  I flipped them over and looked for a marking, but didn’t see any.  I asked the seller (an older retired gentleman) if he knew if they were original Thonets or not.  He had no idea what I was talking about, but said that he bought them from an old factory downtown where he worked when he was 18.  He said these were in the cafeteria at the plant, and they were replacing them with new chairs, so he bought these to take to college with him.  And he’d had them ever since. The white paint on two of them was thick and starting to chip, but I had been planning to paint them anyway, so that wasn’t an issue for me.  Done deal.

I brought them home and checked out the two that weren’t painted and found these markings on the bottom:





In case your eyes are bad, those indented stamps say “MUNDUS” and “MADE IN POLAND.”  After a little Wikipedia-ing, I found out that Mundus was, “A furniture-manufacturing company, active (at least) in several places in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, at the end of the 19th century and early 20th century.  In 1914 Mundus merged with J. & J. Kohn, and in 1922 with Gebrüder Thonet.”  Gebrüder Thonet was the manufacturing company founded by Michael Thonet.

So what’s the big deal?  Well, Thonet’s iconic No. 14 Chair, first produced in 1859, is a classic design in the furniture world, and the unique technology of steam-bending wood Thonet developed allowed the chairs to be mass-produced at an affordable price, revolutionizing the way wood furniture was made at the time.  His simple design has inspired generations of furniture designers ever since.

And now that our little design history lesson is done, we can go back to my chairs.  A quick search on Etsy brought up this listing for an identical chair for sale for $145.00.  Mine were a steal at $20 each.  It was a happy day indeed.



The two stained ones are hanging out in the dining room while this is going on in the garage with the other two.





See all those layers of paint?  A coat of white, a coat of cream, a coat of green, a coat of black, then finally, the original stained wood.  And this is what I’m using on them.



Kleen-Strip is the hardcore stuff, let me tell you.  If you’re trying to strip paint off of furniture, there are alternatives out there that are less toxic, like Citristrip, but I’m not patient enough to wait 60-90 minutes for that stuff to work, so that’s why I used Kleen-Strip – it works in as little as 15 minutes.  But what you get when you use the nuclear stuff is super-toxic fumes and gel that burns your skin upon contact.  So keep your kiddos and pets away, and wear dishwashing gloves, long sleeves, and shoes when you’re using this stuff, okay?

The Little Green Notebook has a great tutorial on stripping furniture with Kleen-Strip, if you want to check out her step-by-step process.  I wish I could say that my progress has been that easy, but I’m only about 70 percent de-paint-ified.

In other news, today is October 1st, so if you haven’t heard already, The Nester’s 31 Days series started today.  Click on over to check out her series (always amazing, let me tell you), as well as the link-up for all the other bloggers out there participating by writing on a single topic every day during the month of October.  There are 9 great categories that people are writing about, and it’s a great way to discover other blogs out there.

Anyone have a great tip for paint stripping to share?  Is there a secret method I’m missing?  I’d love to know!

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Weekend Plans

Hello Hello and Happy Friday!

I’ve been a little MIA this week, but that’s mostly because not much has been happening around our house.

Saturday morning, we recaulked the tub, after I spent my Friday afternoon de-caulking it.  Gross.  I’ve had some yucky experiences in my life so far (I used to work at a boarding kennel for dogs and I cleaned hotel rooms as my part-time job in high school), and let me tell you, digging out who-knows-how-old caulk from a previous owner is pretty bad.  When I removed the two vertical tracks from the tile, there was all sorts of fun stuff stuck back there.  I’ll spare you the photos, although I did take them.  I also scraped off those stupid non-slip sticky flower things that were on the tub, which took a lot longer than removing the doors did.  Also disgusting, BTW.

So we cleaned it all up, and now the tub is thoroughly scrubbed and bleached, and has a new chrome curtain rod, curtain hanger hooks, and a white fabric waffle-weave shower curtain with a clear liner.  And it feels great.  And clean.

Even though we’re planning to rip everything out in the spring (fingers crossed), I’m still going to prime and paint the wood trim around the linen closet and the two doors.  I’m getting impatient looking at two lovely white doors with trim (the office and the master bedroom) and two orangey wood doors and trim (the bathroom and spare bedroom) all in one tiny hallway.  Even if the tile’s still blue, it’ll look a whole lot better with white doors and trim.  So that’s slated to happen soon.

We’re taking a weekend (okay two) off from the home remodeling this week and next for some Karie-and-Pat Fun Time.  Our anniversary is on Monday, so we’re going to see Weezer (a band we’ve both loved forever) live downtown tonight and are staying at the Millenium to celebrate.  We haven’t stayed at a *fancy* hotel in years, and I know I’m looking forward to it.  Plus it’s connected to the Saks Fifth Avenue and across the street from Tiffany’s.  A girl can still look, can’t she?


Happy Friday and Have a Fabulous Weekend!

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Look Out, Shower . . .

Hi there!  Just popping in on a Friday afternoon to wish you all a happy-start-of-the-weekend!  Can’t stay long, because our main bathroom now looks like this:


bathroom shower door removal


Eeeeeek!  Scary, huh?

I’ve always ALWAYS *hated* (I mean really, really hated) glass shower doors.  Well guess what, our house came with two showers and two sets of shower doors.  FUN!

While we can’t afford to tackle either of the bathrooms yet (hopefully after saving this winter we can do them both in the spring next year), I can make a small change and get those shower doors outta here.  At least in the bathroom we use everyday.  This bathroom’s got much bigger problems going on (check the blue sink with a matching blue toilet and pink tile accent wall), but this was something cheap, easy, and quick I could do to help it out till we can give it our full attention.

I’ll be back Monday to let you know how it went.  Think I can have this all cleaned up and fixed before the hubs gets home in 3 hours?  Has anyone else tried this?  Was it totally worth the ick factor?  I hope so!

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