Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

Remember how we redid our half bath?  If not, you can check it all out here.  If you’ll recall, when we last updated you, we were mirror-less in the half bath.  Womp, womp.

Well, I’m happy to report that the situation has been remedied.  I decided that I could no longer make decisions.  Well, I guess I made that one decision to no longer decide.  Confused yet?  Anyways, I also figured that we should start using what we already owned instead of going out and buying new stuff.  So I went on a mirror hunt in the basement, and I came up with this:

It was the old mirror from our dining room back in Boston (and apparently it was from Bed Bath & Beyond, although I have a hard time believing I spent that much money on it, but whatever).

Anyways, I wasn’t crazy about the black frame.  But the shape and size were good, so I figured I’d try my hand at spray-painting it.  And just to keep everything neutral, I decided to go with silver.  Titanium Silver to be precise.

I then proceeded to tape off the mirror with blue painter’s tape . . .

I used a bunch of smaller pieces so that I could tuck them in along the curves.

Then, I added newspaper to cover the entire mirror so that I wouldn’t end up with paint everywhere.

Then the operation moved outside.  I set the mirror up on a large broken-down box and got my spray on.

Oh, and I also decided I’d spray some old frames while I was at it.  Here it is after one coat . . .

After two coats (I started finding frames everywhere and kept adding them in) . . .

And finally after three coats (I had to actually stop and buy another can of spray paint–I really don’t understand how people cover stuff in only two coats using one can?  Am I over-doing it or something?  What am I missing?) . . .

Pretty good, right?  And little ol’ naive me then just figured I had to let it all dry, remove the tape, and I’d be good to go, right?  So I put it all in the garage to dry for a few days so that it was good and cured.  And then I removed the tape.

And I guess from a distance it looked okay, but that dang spray paint got everywhere!  Including underneath my newspapers.  Grrr.

So out came the handy-dandy razor . . .

And the spray paint scraped right off.  Voila!

All that was left was hanging it.  Now, in retrospect, I think I hung it too high.  That seems a common problem in our house–I think it has something to do with being tall.  Oh well, at least it’s up, right?

What do you think?  It’s an improvement, at least, right?

Now our guests won’t be freaking out wondering whether they’ve got boogers hanging out of their noses.  You’re welcome guests.  You’re welcome.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering who’s the fairest of them all, well, it’s this girl.  Duh.

Half Bath: The Afters

I know you’ve missed me.  It’s okay–you can admit it.  Sorry for the delay in posting updates, but things have been hectic ever since the contractors left–it’s amazing just how long it takes to get rid of all that dust and to try to get your lives back together (operative word there is try).  BUT, it’s time to share some after pictures with you.  First up, the half bath!  Stepping into our way-back machine, let’s peruse what it looked like on move-in day:

And what it looks like now . . .

Obviously that’s not where the toilet paper will go–I just still need to install the holder next to the toilet.  Oops!

Total transformation, right?

The slightly funny thing about this picture is that my bump got in the way . . .

Totally amazing difference, right?  Of course, we still need a mirror (if you have any suggestions, let me know) and some other accessories (soap dispenser, towel holder, etc.), but I’m considering it just about done for now.  And just because I love them so much, here’s a close-up of one of the pendant lights in all its mercury-glass-glory:

And just because I like to overshare, here’s a breakdown of what went into the overhaul (a lot more detail about the decision-making process can be found here):

  • Toilet: Already installed here, it’s the Jacuzzi Maxima from Lowe’s for $149.  With an American Standard upgraded seat for $35.
  • Sink: The Kraus 19″ ceramic vessel sink combined with a Kraus faucet for $194.95 from Faucet.com (with eBates).
  • Floor Tiles: White Gloss Penny Tile from the Tile Shop at $4.75 per sf.
  • Grout: Laticrete Sanded Grout in Smoke Grey from Lowe’s (provided by my contractor, but I think it costs ~$11).
  • Cove Base Tiles: American Olean 6″x4-1/4″ Bright White ceramic cove base tile from Lowe’s at ~$2.00 each.
  • Vanity Top: Donna Sandra Granite remnant from CFM Stone in Buffalo.  All of their remnants are $55/sf installed, so this cost ~$480 total.
  • Vanity: We used the existing vanity and just painted it.  Paint is BM’s Decorator’s White in Sherwin Williams’ ProClassic paint.  (More on the painting process in another post.)
  • Vanity Hardware: All from Home Depot, knobs are the Liberty 1-1/2″ Caitlin for $3.99 each; pulls are satin nickel cup pulls (I can’t find them online, but they’re stocked in most Home Depot stores) and they cost ~$4 each.
  • Pendant Lights:  We found these beauties at a Pittsburgh furniture boutique, Hot Haute Hot, for $79 each.  The store was amazing btw–if you’re ever in the Pittsburgh area, I highly recommend it.  Lots of unique finds
  • Mirror?  Taking suggestions . . .
  • Walls:  I chickened out here.  Well, not exactly.  I just couldn’t make any more decisions, and I wanted everything done.  So when the contractor offered to paint the walls after removing the wallpaper, I said yes.  And because I couldn’t handle picking a paint color, I went with my tried-and-true favorite (which is also on practically every wall in our house): Benjamin Moore’s Decorator’s White, but in Sherwin Williams’ Duration paint.

So there you have it.

What do you think?  Big improvement?  Hopefully I’ll get some after pics of the kitchen taken this weekend so I can share next week (we’re having issues with cabinet hardware, so that’s been the hold-up–sorry!).

Kitchen Renovation Week #3

Is it any surprise that the one-week renovation turned into a three-week job?  I guess you could say it was a bit of a surprise to Mr. Bunches and I–we knew not to hold our breaths for completion in a week, but we did (foolishly) think that two weeks was a real possibility.  In fact, we were anticipating arriving home this past Monday to a final reveal (akin to Extreme Makeover’s “MOVE THAT BUS!”), but that didn’t happen.  No sense whining about it, though, right?  Right.

While this week’s earlier post was how we left things looking as of last Thursday (when we headed out of town for a whirlwind east coast tour–more on that later), here’s how things were looking earlier this week . . .

Not too shabby, eh?  Walls have been painted, pendant lights have been hung, tile backsplash has been grouted, and the ceiling has been patched.  We’re loving the stainless steel shelves, and I have to give credit where credit is due: Mr. Bunches picked these out himself.  I wanted white wooden shelves, but that would have involved a bit more work on our parts.  So thank goodness for Mr. Bunches’ laziness, eh?  Er, I mean ingenuity honey :).

And how great do the pendant lights look?  Keep in mind that all will be better once the trim and cabinets are painted white . . .

And how about our gorgeous faucet?  We love it!  (All the excruciating details of that decision are posted here.)

The laundry room also got a new coat of paint, along with a new laundry sink and faucet.  With the removal of the lower cabinets, and the trimming of the upper cabinet, we were able to push the washer/dryer back another 8 inches.  Now, that may not seem like much to you, but to me, well, it’s a little bit of laundry heaven.  Especially since I’ve grown about 8 inches out front these days . . .

And the half bath also saw progress–the new penny tile floor and cove base was put in and grouted . . .

and the faucet, sink, and placeholders for the pendants were in.  Plus, all had been freshened with a bright white coat of paint . . .

So what’s next?  Well, the big project left is kitchen flooring, and that may or may not be happening today (fingers crossed).  Also, Mr. Bunches has decided that we should forge ahead and just paint the cabinets now instead of waiting for the bambino to arrive.  So I’ve already chiseled off the trim from the kitchen cabinets, filled the knob holes with wood putty, and Mr. B has begun the process of sanding everything down.  Here’s where the cabinets stand now (you can also see that the trim has been removed in the pictures of the kitchen above):

If all goes well this weekend, we’ll be wrapping this kitchen project up with a bow!  Hallelujah.

Oh, and some of you loyal readers may be wondering what happened to our sexy range hood (c’mon–I know that’s what you were thinking).  Well, to make a long story short, let’s just say it didn’t work out:

Sorry for the crappy phone pic, but I was a bit distraught at the time.  See, the problem was that hood was only 24″ above our cooktop, which meant that it came to my chin.  Not cool.  Especially since I love to cook.  And it was also just a lot bigger than we had thought–we took down all those upper cabinets to open up the kitchen, and now it felt closed off again.  So we made the difficult decision–no range hood.  And now we’re trying to sell it on craigslist–so if you know of anyone in need of an island range hood, please let us know!

Progress: Countertops, Sinks, and Tiles, Oh My!

Just after I posted the last update, sure enough the contractors showed up and actually banged out some pretty serious progress.  Guess that’ll show me, huh?

And in the interest of brevity, here are the pics:

Notice anything new . . . ?

That’s right!  The countertops arrived and have been installed, and they are BEAUTIFUL.  If you remember from this post, we went with Silestone quartz countertops, color Niebla, from Home Depot.

Home Depot had pretty comparable pricing to Lowe’s Allen & Roth countertops (Allen & Roth is the Lowe’s brand), but the turnaround time was going to be faster with HD, so we went that route.  And, as a bonus, we had a 10% off coupon for Lowe’s, which HD happily honored for us.  Which meant the original cost of the countertops, $3,156, was knocked down to only $2,840!  Yay for coupons, eh?  The final price per square foot, installed, was only ~$60.  And since quartz countertops are considered a capital improvement, we paid no tax for them (granite is the same, but Corian and other solid surface options are taxable)!

We love the new bar overhang, and once we paint the cabinets, we’re sure those brackets will be just about invisible.

You also can see our new subway tile backsplash in these shots–doesn’t it look great?  It still needs grout (we opted for white), but we love it.

And the new sink is in!!!  It’s huge, deep, and exactly what we wanted.

You may remember the agonizing sink decision from here.

There have also been some other kitchen updates–we had 4 6″ can lights installed.  You can see two of them in this shot . . .

That big light in the middle is actually a sun tube.  And while it may not be the most aesthetically-pleasing light in the world, we do love that it gives the kitchen a ton of natural light during the day.  With four new can lights, and two pendant lights going over the sink, I’ll finally have the bright kitchen I’ve always wanted (there’s nothing quite like cooking in the dark to make you uber-frustrated).

There was also progress made in the half bath . . .

That’s right–the new countertop was installed in there as well.  It’s Donna Sandra granite.  Looks a little brown/peach in that picture, but trust me–it’s basically all different colors of gray.

And the vessel sink is just on there for placement now.  Once the walls and cabinetry’s painted, it will look much improved, I promise.

The last update is the laundry room:

Not much has changed in there except for the walls being spackled.

In the interests of full disclosure, these pictures were all from last week.  A lot has happened since–more tile, paint, a range hood conundrum, faucets, sinks, etc.  I’ll try and get another post up soon so you can see where we really stand at the moment.  But, until then, what do you think?  Do you love the new countertops?

Contractor Slow Down

Why is that contractors can’t stay on schedule?  Or even work a full 8-hour day?  It’s seriously messing with my mind.  I feel like I need to start my own contracting firm–just by working a full day and knowing how to use the phone, I would kill it in that business.  Un-frickin-believable.

Anyways, that’s my little rant.  I’m trying to keep calm so as not to rile up Mini B in my belly . . . not sure how well I’m doing though.

But, for those that are curious, some progress has at least been made.  First up, the half bath:

As you can see, they completed the removal of the ugly light box and then patched the drywall.  Not entirely sure why there’s only one electrical cord hanging down as the plan is to put two pendant lights in there, but hopefully that will get resolved.

And now, the kitchen:

They’ve finished patching all the walls and putting new drywall up.  And they’ve also removed the chair rail from one half of the kitchen, and the cove base from the floor . . .

Looking good, right?  Not quite as much progress as I had hoped for, but I’m just trying to stay calm.  Today they’ll rip out the old counter tops and the sink and get everything ready for the new counter tops.  And since I knew today would finally be the day that introduced a bunch of dirt and dust into our lower cabinets, I decided to empty them last night.  Which further makes the family room look like a bomb went off:

Oh, and I haven’t done an update post on it yet, but obviously from that picture you can tell that stripes won out in this battle.

One other area that the contractors have been working on is the laundry room.  Here’s a quick before shot:

Our plan was to have them remove the lower cabinets–we didn’t use them, and the laundry sink had been leaking ever since we moved in.  We wanted them removed so that the stacked washer/dryer could get pushed back to the wall.  See how they’re sticking out in these shots:

And now, the lowers have been removed, and the room looks like such:

Kind of scary, huh?  We’ll have a new laundry tub installed, and once the new flooring is added throughout and the walls patched, it’ll look so much more open.  Can’t wait.

So there you have it, our renovation update.

Check out the pile of supplies waiting to go in . . . sinks, tiles, paint, lights.  Awesomeness.

And in case you were wondering how much snow we got with that big nor’easter they were forecasting, well, let’s just say that I still think the best job ever would be as a meteorologist–I mean, what other job out there exists where you can always be wrong?!

There’s just a bit of snow on the lawn, and that’s about it.  Otherwise, we got just a ton of rain.  No complaints here though :)

Fit for a King

Even though life at the Bunches’ household has been a bit hectic lately (we’ve both been off traveling for work), that hasn’t completely stopped us from making some updates.  And, of course, there’s no better reason to do some updating than when you’ve got company coming.  So when I found out that some of our pals were going to ring in the New Year with us (more on that here), well, I figured we better get into action . . .

Yes, I know that this post is not exactly timely considering that New Year’s was almost a month ago.  But you know what?  We’ve had some happenings here of late so just excuse us, will ya’?  Thank you kindly.

Don’t they just look like royalty?  Kings of men, right?  And what better way to welcome Kings than with a new throne, right?  You had to have seen this coming . . . 

Pretty snazzy, eh?  It might look a little familiar from when we installed its twin, and said goodbye to our Boy Blue . . .

In this case, though, we were saying goodbye to his girlfriend, Mrs. Peaches . . .

In case you don’t remember, Mrs. Peaches was the low-rider in our oh-so-dated half bath.  And besides being low, squat, and one solid piece of porcelain, she also had the added bonus of not quite working.  Awesome.  Nothing like having a non-working toilet in the guest bath, right?  That just meant that all of our guests ended up using the master bath (because apparently they were too lazy to walk upstairs to the full guest bath, ahem-Deenie-ahem).  So, just a few hours before Fabio et al arrived a few weeks ago, Mr. B and I set to work changing out the toilet.

I’ll spare you all the toilet-swapping details; it was basically the same process noted here, with one exception: I figured that while the old toilet was out, this would be a perfect time to remove the wallpaper behind the toilet (we could get to the rest of it later).  Great idea, right?  Wrong.

As some of you may know, removing wallpaper is the W-O-R-S-T.  Yeah, even armed with a scorer, scraper, and DIF, wallpaper is still a pain in the butt.

Not only is it hard to remove, but you never know what’s underneath it.  And in this case, we struck wallpaper gold–what I initially thought was moldy drywall when I first got a peek at it, was actually yet another HIDEOUS wallpaper.

Seriously?  Who thought this was a good idea?  And what you can’t really tell from the pictures is that it’s actually shiny–yep, it’s a metallic hideous wallpaper.

See how there’s a certain sheen to it?  Oh, and while the DIF worked on the floral paper, it had absolutely no effect on this super-duper-stuck-to-the-wall-for-life paper.

I ended up even getting an estimate from a contractor for removing the rest of the wallpaper.  The contractor said that he’d recommend removing the floral paper, but leaving behind the metallic paper because it was stuck on so hard.  He even said you could paint over the metallic paper (first with an oil-based primer after patching any rough spots, and then with a good quality latex paint).  He offered to do it for $500, but for that price I think we’ll tackle it on our own.  Oh, and it was good to hear that the pros rely on DIF too–he uses the same technique of using a scorer and scraper with DIF-soaked walls; when I asked about a steamer, he said that was always the option of last resort since it often damaged the drywall underneath.

So there it is–a new toilet installed, but a new problem uncovered.  Ugh.  BTW–how do you like that fancy goldfish toilet paper holder?  Kind of goes with the mold-like wallpaper, eh?  Anyone else feel our wallpaper pain?  Any suggestions?

Our Boy Blue

It’s sad, I know, but it’s time to say goodbye to our Boy Blue . . .

Okay, no, not that Boy Blue.  Our Boy Blue:

Yep, that’s right.  The Mr. and I tackled the project that’s been intimidating us for quite some time now–the dreaded toilet change!  I’m sure you remember our Boy Blue from this post when we removed the faux potty privacy screen, right?  I mean–how could you forget him?  In all his blue glory with his white squishy toilet seat (can someone please outlaw the squishy toilet seats already?!  Y-U-C-K!).

So, after about 4 weeks of having a new toilet just waiting in the garage, we finally got up the nerve to take the plunge (get it?  plunge? nothing like some toilet puns to start your week off right, huh?).  We did a little research, took a trip to Home Depot to get the proper tools (a wrench and a new water line hook-up), and then got started.  In case you’re wondering–the research came down to YHL’s tutorial and a YouTube video from Home Depot; if you’re looking for a play-by-play, I suggest you check out those two spots for all the details.  I’m just going to go over some highlights here, but by no means is this a full tutorial–why reinvent the wheel, right?

To begin with, we had to get all the water out of the toilet.  First step: turn off the water.  Otherwise the dang thing will just keep refilling itself.  Duh.  Getting out the water involved a sponge, bucket, and rubber gloves.  Basically, every step along the way involved rubber gloves.  I’m pretty sure that goes without saying, but I’m saying it anyways–rubber gloves, rubber gloves, rubber gloves.  It’s a toilet after all.

Once the water was basically out of the bowl and tank, we took off the tank.  Oh, and we had already laid moving blankets on the floor–we knew we were just going to wrap up the toilet to get it to the garage (there was basically no way we were taking a chance of anything dripping onto our new hardwood floors on our way out the door, so we wrapped that puppy up tight!).

Once the tank was off, we were left with the bowl.

We also had to remove the water line.  It’s already done in the picture above, but here’s another shot:

All we had to do next was unscrew the bolts holding the toilet to the floor, rock it a little, and then lift.  This step was all done by Mr. Bunches.  He’s the one with the brute strength afterall.


So do you want to see what the floor looked like?  I couldn’t find any pictures of what to expect online, and I think that’s what had me the most freaked out about the whole replacing-a-toilet thing.  That and the potential smell.  Both were total unknowns and had left us crippled for four weeks.  So–was it really as bad as I had imagined?  No.  In short–it just wasn’t.  It was a little gross, and I’m only showing this because this was not a toilet that either the Mr. or I ever used since we bought the house, so nothing you see here came from us.  With that caveat, here’s what the floor looked like after the Mr. pulled up our Boy Blue:

That probably looks way grosser than it was.  All that dark brown/black stuff isn’t what you think it is–it’s just the wax ring mixed with some rust from the toilet flange.  Oh, and as for the smell?  Well, we didn’t really smell anything.  Of course, that didn’t mean that we left that hole unplugged.  Oh heck no.  We quickly plugged it up with an old towel–we weren’t going to wait for the sewer gases to seep in.

So yeah, it needed cleaning and the old wax ring needed to be scraped off.  Again–RUBBER GLOVES, RUBBER GLOVES, RUBBER GLOVES.

But, in the end, it just wasn’t as terrible as I had feared.  It wasn’t really that terrible at all.  See–not that bad, right?

Again–the Mr. and I never used this toilet.  Just sayin’.

Once our ol’ Boy Blue was outta’ there, it was time to put the new toilet in.  And here is where I’ll skip any further details and just say that you should see the links noted above.  Oh, but I will say that I now know it takes exactly 7 minutes and 38 seconds to get from our house to Home Depot.  Why do I know that?  Oh, only because I had to make 4 trips during this process.  Yes–FOUR!  I was not happy.  But two wax rings and two water lines later, we were left with this:

Isn’t she purty?!  We went with the Jacuzzi Maxima toilet in white from Lowe’s.  I loved the look of the Kohler toilets, but the Lowe’s guy talked us out of them–apparently Kohler’s toilets have gone down the crapper (that’s two toilet puns and counting) lately, and only offer a one-year warranty.  Jacuzzi toilets come with a five-year or ten-year warranty (I don’t remember which–oops).  Plus, this toilet was cheaper than most of the Kohler ones–it only cost $188 versus ~$250-$300.  And I liked the traditional lines of it . . .

Which I matched with an upgraded toilet seat from American Standard.  Remember I mentioned getting a toilet seat without plastic anchors back in my half-bath mood board?

Well, I’m so glad I did.  It just looks much nicer.  More finished.

Much better, right?  And the lines of the seat perfectly match the lines of the toilet tank.

So even though the toilet came with a seat, I’m glad we upgraded.   It was worth the extra ~$30.

Alright, so there you have it.  A goodbye to our Boy Blue . . .

. . . and a Hello to his shiny white replacement (I can’t think of a catchy name–any suggestions?) . . .

Mr. Bunches and I were pretty pleased with ourselves–this was definitely our first big homeowner DIY challenge and I think we managed it admirably.  Of course, that means there’s no excuse for not tackling replacing the other toilets in the house . . .

So are we the only ones crazy enough to replace a 50+ year-old toilet?  Have we totally grossed you out?  Did we ruin your lunch?  Sorry. :(


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