Goodbye Screen Doors

Remember these monstrosities?

One screwdriver, a couple hours, and a few close calls later, and they’re gone!

Those beasts were HEAVY! As in I-was-a-complete-idiot-for-thinking-I-could-take-them-down-myself heavy. At one point I was convinced I was going to drop it on my foot and somehow drive myself to the hospital with a mass of crushed bones. No Bueno.  In the end I was able to get them off, but then I had to leave them for Mr. Bunches to haul to the curb.  Especially the front door because it was so much bigger.  This was as far as I was able to move it:

The removal of just those doors has already brought the curb appeal up. With some paint on the trim and new windows, then we’ll really be rocking.  Stay tuned!


Vinyl Floors

The floors are in! And they look great. Dusty and in need of a mopping, but otherwise great. 

As you can tell from the pictures, we didn’t finish painting everything.  But all of the ceilings were done, and just about everything had been primed (the one exception being the wood paneling in the entryway. That paneling is killer and is going to take at least a few coats of primer before it’s ready for paint. Ugh). 

But back to the floors. We decided to install Exalt, a commercial-grade vinyl floor, in Cherry Oak.  It’s actually our own product (Mr. Bunches is in the commercial-flooring business), and besides that, we knew it would be a perfect choice for the space. It’s extremely low maintenance, which is exactly what we wanted since we’re planning to rent the house for a few years before selling it, and it’s waterproof. So no matter what happens (renters aren’t always that kind to their dwellings), we know it will look the same in 10 years as it does today. 

Mr. Bunches and Mini Bunches actually just participated in their first home show this past month and the response to Exalt was awesome.  Mini B was passing out those coupons like she was born to do it!


We had Exalt installed in the entire house except for the bathroom and it took two days (the house is about 1,100 square feet). It’s a floating floor that clicks together and cuts with a utility knife. Here are some progress shots–they started in the kitchen and worked their way around the rest of the house. 

After one day they made it almost through the entire living/dining room (you can see the stopping point in the left of the picture below).

As with all floors, the main tricky things were the transitions (when one type of floor transitions to another type of floor, usually at the entrance to a room), but luckily we had very few. The bathroom transition came out great:

We even had Exalt installed in the sunroom right over the existing tiles (Exalt doesn’t need any type of underlayment and it can go over pretty much anything as long as it’s level). 

We can’t get over what a difference just paint and flooring make to a space. It’s really made us see the end vision start to come together. 

And just for kicks, here are some side-by-side shots to remind us of just how far we’ve come. 

Kitchen cabinets are going in this week. So excited! After a lot of painting and prep, here’s what the kitchen looks like now. Can’t wait to see what it looks like a few days from now!

I cleaned the floors in there too (don’t want a bunch of dust to live forever under the cabinets, right?). Don’t they look great?! Can’t wait to see it all come together. 

Bathroom Progress

We’re about 85% of the way through this bathroom renovation, so I figured it’s time for an update. Our contractor had to head out of town for a job and, true to form, he wanted to get all of his work in the bathroom done before he left.  So he installed the fixtures, toilet, vanity, floor, and he finished the grouting and painting.  So now we have a working bathroom!

Since he offered to paint the bathroom before putting in the toilet and vanity, we had little time to pick a color. But thanks to Pinterest and Kylie M Interiors, I was able to make a quick decision: Sherwin Williams’ Sea Salt. 


I thought of doing a grey, but I’m thinking of doing some sort of greige for the rest of the house and I just wasn’t ready to make a whole-house decision that quickly. So I figured this would lend itself to the calm, neutral-but-spa-like look that I was going for. And hopefully it wouldn’t clash with the accent tile. 


Of course, then I chickened out. Or at least chickened out halfway. When I got to the Sherwin Williams store, I had them lighten the Sea Salt by 50%. I kept thinking how small the bathroom was and how overpowering the color could be when the light was low and, well, I chickened out.  But I’m glad I did. The pictures make the room look whiter than it is, but it really is a calm green-blue in person. I think if I had gone full strength, then it would have been too much. 





Now the room needs baseboards, the heating vent to be painted and put back on (that’s the big hole under the window), trim around the door, window, and closet, installation of the light and other electrical, a mirror, towel rod(s), toilet paper holder, shower rod, and I’m sure some other things I’m forgetting. 

So what do you think? Look good so far?  Hopefully Mr. Bunches will have some time over the next few weeks to get the rest of the house painted. Anyone ever rent a paint sprayer? Any tips/suggestions?

And just cuz I can’t get enough of these two . . .  


Making the Grade

I can’t remember if I mentioned it on here or not, but when we bought the flip house (I need to come up with a better code name for it–let me know if you have any suggestions), there was about an inch or two of water in the basement. 

The previous occupants had cut out the boiler before leaving and, we think, attempted to remove the water heater. But the water heater ruptured in the process and they just left it, ya know, so it could slowly leak all over the basement. 

Well, as you may recall, we hired a crew to clean out the basement and scrub it all down. We also installed a new sump pump, got a new boiler and water heater, and put in a lot of new plumbing. 



Now that the basement was dry, we could see if there were any other sources of moisture down there. Given that this is Western NY and the ground is pretty damp/wet all the time, we wanted to see if there were any issues with the walls or windows leaking down there, especially when it rains.  And so during a couple different rainstorms we went over to check it out. The good news? There was nothing major happening on the inside. The not-so-good news? We noticed that water was pooling outside against the foundation. Years of neglect had caused the ground to erode by the foundation. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:

You see how there’s a line where the paint ends? Well, the paint ends there because the ground used to be that high. The first pic is of the front of the house and the second is in the driveway on the side of the house. That shows how the concrete has dipped, a different issue really, and one we’ll tackle in the future, but it goes to the same point: instead of the ground around the outside of the house sloping away from the house, it was instead sloping towards it. And we needed to fix that.  Here’s some before shots of the side of the house (this is actually I did quite a bit of work clearing out overgrown stuff, but I don’t have a true before shot):

And here’s what it looked like once we spread out a bunch of free fill we found on Craigslist:

 Much better, right? You might have also noticed that we removed the ugly roll-out window shades that were like dirty green headbands on all the windows.  About time, eh?

More fill was put in around the back of the house as well. This shot shows a comparison between day one and after Mr. Bunches and I did some serious cleaning up, but before the fill was added:

And some shots post-fill and grading:

That was 3 pick-up trucks of fill. There’s probably room for another two truckfuls but now that the winter weather has finally arrived, it looks like we might wait until spring. For the time being at least we’ve got the majority of the areas surrounding the house properly graded away from the foundation. 

Another update that has come and gone: our dumpster! Despite hiring a cleanup crew to empty the basement, we still had a lot of junk to part with. Particularly with all the demo work Mr. Bunches did. And so we had a 30-yard dumpster delivered to the house:

And Mr. Bunches made short work of filling it . . . 

He completely cleaned out the garage. Ahhh–emptiness=awesomeness. 

The dumpster also came in handy when we started clearing out the yard and discovered all manner of treasures . . .

We completely filled that dumpster in only a few weeks and now it’s been hauled away. Good riddance, right?!

In the meantime, lots of progress happening on the inside. Update soon!


Project 5: Refinishing Furniture with Minwax Polyshades

When we first moved into our home, the nursery looked like this: Before_House_Shot_0052 We then turned the room into a guest room, by basically adding a bed and some paint.  But let’s be honest–as any of our guests can attest to, the room was never really finished.  Sorry guests! So when we decided to turn this room into the nursery, we started with this:

And while I like the functionality of the built-ins and someday when the kids are older, it will be nice to have the desks and whatnot, I currently can’t stand the way they look.  The woods are all different shades!

And while we’re being honest, it’s not even really all wood. The countertop is actually a laminate, and the rest are all veneers. So, what was I to do? I could rip it out, but then we’d have a flooring issue since these are original to the house and so there are no wood floors underneath. I could paint it all, but that would take forever and remember: I was preggo at the time I tackled this project; I could sand and stain it all to try and match the laminate, but again: preggo and not interested in a ton of work. So what did I decide? To do a sort of mix: paint the shelves and trim, and then use a cheater method to stain the cabinets and drawers to match the countertop.  First up, priming and painting the shelves and trim (I used Kilz latex primer and Sherwin Williams Pro Classic color-matched to Benjamin Moore’s Decorator’s White).


Once the first coat of paint was on, then I caulked around all the edges. Then did the final coat of paint.  The next step was tackling the drawers and doors. I didn’t feel like sanding them down so that I could stain and seal them. Just too much work. So I decided to take yet another page out of the Young House Love handbook and try Minwax Polyshades.  Remember when YHL used this method to do their new kitchen’s lower cabinets?

My goal was to have the cabinets match the color of the laminate top. So I took some pics of the top with my phone and headed off to Lowe’s.


There, I picked up some steel wool (per the directions on the Minwax can) and a can of Minwax Polyshades in Tudor, Satin finish (the same as YHL since it actually seemed that color would be a close match).   Once home, I then took all the hardware off the cabinets and drawers and used the steel wool all over everything. Then wiped it all down with a damp cloth.  I don’t have any pictures of these steps. Sorry. I then applied my first coat of the Polyshades. I bought a new paintbrush for this since it’s oil-based and I planned to just throw away the brush when I was done.  I found that this stuff goes on extremely sticky and it’s hard to get it to not show brush strokes. Even with a light hand. And even harder to get an even coat.  So be warned–it probably worked so well for YHL because they made their cabinets super dark. I’m not so sure this would look particularly good in a lighter color.  I started by doing the insides of the cabinet doors, just so I could get the hang of it before tackling parts that would actually be showing.  And I did get better at applying it. It took me only about 15 minutes to do the insides of the cabinets and all 12 drawer fronts (to allow for drying, my plan was to tackle the insides of the cabinets first and let those completely dry before moving on to the outside of the cabinets).  This stuff also royally stinks, so make sure you’ve got adequate ventilation.  Well, after one coat (and one day of drying time since dry and wet did look different), I found that the color was all wrong. The laminate top had way more red in it and the Tudor was definitely more of a chocolate brown.  Here’s a shot of one of the inside of the doors after one coat of Tudor:


And here’s another phone shot of the laminate top (this time it looks totally different than before, right? Dang iPhone):


See how it’s way more red? So I headed to Home Depot this time, where I discovered that HD carried an entirely different set of colors of Polyshades than Lowe’s. Not sure what that’s all about. But I ended up buying American Chestnut:  

My plan at that point (since I already had one coat done in the Tudor) was to just do my final coat in the American Chestnut. I figured that the blend of the two would be a close-enough match to the laminate top.  Following the instructions, I then rubbed my first coat down with more steel wool, and wiped it all down to remove any dust.  I then proceeded with applying the chestnut. I found the key was to get a decent amount in the brush, and apply it over the whole piece quickly. Then immediately go back and do long brush strokes with the grain from end to end. However, even with my technique perfected, I still found that the Polyshades went on smoother in some places than others. Here’s a pic of two drawers as an example:


I finished the drawers first since they only had one side. I decided to keep the original hardware since the size was pretty unique and I couldn’t find a replacement I liked. Plus, being the lazy preggo woman that I was, I didn’t feel like going with a different size and then having to patch the old holes and drill new ones. Plus, brass is making a comeback these days, right?


  From a distance, I think it looks pretty good and is a vast improvement over where it started.


But close-up, well, let’s just say it’s not the best. It didn’t come out nearly as well as Mini B’s dresser.



So if you want to use this on an heirloom or quality piece of furniture, then my advice? Don’t. Instead, take the time to actually sand it down and apply stain. Even if it is just veneer.  But, if it’s a piece you don’t really care about, and/or you’re looking for a quick fix, then this is the ticket. Although, while the application of the product goes quickly, with drying time it is still a multi-day affair.

And so this is where the nursery stood when Baby B made his debut:


Now that he’s been around for two months, it’s probably about time that I get on finishing this room already.  Stay tuned . . .

Step It Up

I haven’t blogged in about 10 million years.  Okay, so maybe that’s an exaggeration, but you get the idea.  So here’s a quickie–a little update I did that took two naps to complete, so about 4 hours for a regular person (that’s just for the vinyl sticker application; the rest of the steps were slowly completed over the past three years).  First, where we started when we bought the house:


And where we are today, after stripping the carpet, painting the doors and trim, painting the stairwell and upstairs landing, and adding some chevron-tastic details:


Big difference, huh?  The chevrons aren’t painted on (I don’t have that kind of patience or time these days, and I also didn’t want something that would take a lot of effort to remove if I didn’t like it); instead, they’re vinyl stickers from here.  Yep, Pot & Kettle Studios made them custom to fit my risers, and they were super easy to install.  And when I’m sick of them, they’ll be super easy to peel off.


Here’s a shot of them in black from their etsy shop:


So there you have it–proof that we’re still alive and still making some changes around here . . .



Mapping my Drawers

That post title could go in a few different directions, but let’s head down the G-rated path, shall we?  Remember this from a few weeks ago:


Well, what I didn’t tell you then was that not only did I refinish the outside of the desk, but I also added a little special touch to the inside . . .


I added personalized drawer liners using some spray adhesive and Mod Podge.  Fun, eh?  It only took me maybe a couple hours of Mini B’s naptime, and it was nice to finally use the maps I had been hanging onto from our honeymoon in Spain.  How did I do it?  Easily.

I first made some templates with plain copy paper of the exact drawer dimensions.  Then I laid those out on the maps (which I lightly, and I do mean LIGHTLY, ironed to get out the wrinkles), and used a ruler and exacto knife to cut the maps down to size . . .


I tried to make sure the maps were aligned so as to include areas Mr. Bunches and I visited in our travels.  Once they were all cut, I then just used some spray adhesive (sprayed onto the backs of the maps–NOT sprayed directly on the drawers) and smoothed the maps in place on the bottom of each drawer.  I used a bone folder to make sure there weren’t any wrinkles and that everything was all smoothness.


Because the maps were made of such thin paper, there were spots, particularly in the water sections of the maps, where you could kind of see the glue.  But it was minimal.  I let the glue dry for a few hours (with heavy books laying on top) just to make sure it was all good and set.  Then I used a foam brush to apply a light coat of Matte Mod Podge on the tops of the maps (just so they would be extra durable).  As I had been warned by YHL commenters on this post, I was prepared for the inevitable bubbling that the Mod Podge would (and did) cause:


What had been smooth was now a wrinkly mess.  But no fear, I knew that once the Mod Podge dried, all would be smooth in my drawers again (still keeping it G-rated folks) . . .


And there you have it.  Just a few hours of drying time (overnight actually), and voila!



And since it’s been almost a month since initiating our new entry way solution, I’m happy to report that it’s been a success!  We got our cart in, and it’s been working out great.

photo (10)

Fingers crossed that it continues working out well and wrangling in our mess.  And just because, here’s a shot of Mini Bunches on her recent trip to the beach in Florida (more on that soon I hope) . . .



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