Monthly Archives: February 2010

Living Room AFTER

The Living Room was, again, not one of our biggest projects, meaning it didn’t require a ton of redoing to get it where it is today. We painted, and that was all really. But, like we mentioned in a previous post, EVERYTHING needed to be painted: the walls, the ceiling, the windows, and the trim. We snagged a few pieces of new-to-us furniture when we moved in and pretty quickly set up house.

First, a reminder of the Living Room BEFORE:

Here’s the Living Room today:


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The Fireplace AFTER

Here’s a few better pictures of the fireplace as it looks today:

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The Many Phases of the Fireplace

One of the unusual parts of our living room is the corner fireplace we have. We get mixed reviews on it, too. Some of our friends think it’s great, but we’re not always so sure. Our bungalow is very traditionally craftsman style in architecture, but the fireplace doesn’t seem to fit. It’s pretty ornate: the mantle’s covered in a grape vine motif, and there’s a giant shield (like a family crest) in the middle of it.

Here it is before we painted the room at all. We knew we wanted it to sort of blend in as it didn’t otherwise fit the style of the house or our personal style. So, we started out painting the top of it the wall color, and leaving the bottom half white.

Not bad, but we still felt like it was a little off. So, next we painted the white portion a semi-gloss white. The same as we painted the rest of the trim in the room. Still, we didn’t like how it seemed to stand out in the room.

You can see the shield thing a little more clearly in this picture. It still felt too white, though.

So, next, inspired by this picture from Apartment Therapy…

…we thought we’d try painting it all black.


So, finally we decided to leave only the interior and surround black and paint the columns, mantle, and top portion the wall color.

Here’s a picture of what we were left with (I’ll post a better picture soon):

Aaaah, much better!

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My Most Dreaded House Project

Painting! Give me a cabinet to build, an electrical appliance to install…anything but painting! I don’t know what it is, but this is the one home project I can’t really get excited about.

But, luckily, we have some pretty good friends who helped us out a lot with painting our two biggest rooms: the dining room and the living room.

These were the first two rooms we actually painted (aside from the kitchen). And the walls aren’t normally that shiny, of course, they’re just wet in the picture.

The awful thing about painting in our house is that the rooms hadn’t been painted in years. So everything needed to be repainted. The ceilings, the walls, the trim, the baseboards, the window frames – everything! With six people over a couple of days, though, we fairly quickly knocked out the two biggest rooms (thanks, Neighs and Clarks!).

The new living room color is Cinderblock by Ralph Lauren, and the dining room is Ralph Lauren’s Bleeker.

Great, we’re done! But OH that fireplace…

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The Bathroom – AFTER

I started this post last night. Friday night sitting at my computer. Yep, that’s what I do. But, we just got our new camera in the mail yesterday, so we were excited to take some new pics and post them.

Here’s the bathroom before, just as a reminder:

And here it is today:

It's a narrow room, so it was hard to get a picture of the opposite wall.

That picture shows the matching handles we worked for for the sink, toilet, and shower.

And there’s a closeup of the DIY reglazing job we did on the toothbrush holder and soap dish (which we also did on two towel bars, another soap dish, toilet paper holder, and robe hook). Not bad, right?

So there you go. Not nearly as dramatic a redo as the kitchen (thank goodness!), but pleasing to us nonetheless. More soon!


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Most of the work we did in the bathroom was just reglazing, painting, and cleaning the existing fixtures and walls. We didn’t do any tearing out, except for the vanity and medicine cabinet. We actually loved the old white subway tile, basketweave tile floor, and cast iron tub and tiled-in features. It’s just that all of those things needed some reconditioning to be great again.

You can see the poor condition of the built-in soap dish and toothbrush holder here. Apparently these features are all cast iron with a ceramic glazing over them. The glazing had worn down to expose the cast iron which ultimately rusted.

The badly rusted soap dish here had rusted and run down onto the tub. Also, the finish on the tub had seen much better days – rusted cast iron spots are poking through all over it. We also removed a caulking strip that had been in all the joints between the tub and wall to reveal a pretty badly mildewed area which would need a lot of cleaning and repair.

First, we did some research on having our tub refinished. Being full cast iron, I can’t imagine how much it would weigh or how difficult it would be to try to get this thing out of here. Plus, we liked the fact that it’s nearly indestructible and incredibly heavy duty. We did some internet research and got a recommendation from our neighbor for a tub reglazer. These guys can come into your home, spray on a new finish for your tub in just a few hours, and leave with you a great new tub ready to use in a day or two.

We ended up going with Aquarius Limited for our tub refinishing, and we couldn’t be happier! A great home repair blogger in the area recommended him too, so we gave him a call. Tim came over with his son, reglazed our tub in just a few hours, and explained to us how to maintain the great new finish (wax it with car wax every six months – wow!).

Here’s the room all covered in plastic to protect it from the spray:

And here’s the brand spankin’ new tub!

Pretty good, right?

We actually wanted Tim to reglaze all of our built-in features as well (two towel bars, toilet paper holder, two soap dishes, robe hook, and toothbrush holder), but he said we could actually do it ourselves much simpler.

So, we went to Home Depot, picked up a do-it-yourself tub reglazing kit (yeah, you can actually do the whole tub yourself, but after reading a lot of reviews online, we decided against that), and set to work on all the built-ins.

This is the towel bar to the left of the sink. I’ve removed the sconces, because we painted in there during all of this, too. The process was fairly straightforward; it mostly consisted of taping off the to-be-reglazed areas, cleaning them with a TSP solution (3 times!), then brushing on a couple coats of enamel finish. It took a while, though, because the cleaning was lengthy, plus we had to wait several days between coats.

But, like I said, it was a simple project. I’d highly recommend doing this to give some tired or outdated fixtures a new look. It’s much simpler than replacing the tub or retiling the whole wall, plus we’re really happy with the results.

The only other things we had to do in here was to get a new faucet for the sink (we picked one out that matched the existing wauter faucet in the shower) plus a toilet handle to match. We painted trim and the walls (a light tan color), and we were done! I’ll show you the results as soon as I can snap a few pictures.


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The Bathroom

Kitchen done, we turned our attention to the bathroom. Luckily, this was nowhwere near as an extensive job as the kitchen, but there was a lot of work to do nonetheless.

I mentioned in an earlier post that the vanity and medicine cabinet had obviously been replaced, probably sometime in the 80s. Here’s the oak medicine cabinet with light fixture in bad (and dangerous) shape. I really liked the tiled in soap holder and toothbrush holder, but they had badly rusted out, and the avocado green color lacked something to be desired.

Here’s a closer look at the condition of the light fixture:

Right…scary! So, we needed to take this:

and update it.

First to go was the medicine cabinet and vanity. The cabinet came off easily and cleanly (after we shut off the power to the bathroom). Our friend Jason, who’s an electrician, actually came over to help with this one. We knew we wanted something a little more architecturally appropriate, but without a built-in light source. So, we scored a couple of vintage looking sconces from our local big box store and had Jason install them.

The medicine cabinet went in smoothly as did the sconces. There was actually a recessed area behind the old medicine cabinet where a much smaller built-in had obviously gone before. This made it easy to wire for the new light fixtures, and Jason was even able to give us an outlet on the medicine cabinet, connected through the cabinet’s interior. the light fixtures with the milk glass actually closely resemble the ceiling fixture in the bathroom.

Next, the vanity had to go.

After removing the cabinet doors and drawers, it actually came off pretty easily too. It had been glued to the tile wall, but after scrubbing a little of the residue from the tile, everything looked good as new.

In the attic of our house was an old pedestal sink that we’re pretty sure had come from this bathroom some time ago. It’s actually very cool, but for several reasons, we decided not to reinstall it. First, it’s cast iron, and much of the original porcelain finish had come off, leaving the sink bowl pretty rusted. Secondly, the spouts for hot and cold water were separated, meaning there was really no lukewarm option. Finally, it’s actually much shorter than a standard sink made today. For these reasons, we opted to go with an updated version of the pedestal sink.

This guy came in two pieces and was pretty easily installed. Once we bolted it to the wall, all that was left was getting a new faucet, painting, and a few other projects to get the bathroom fully functional and updated. I’ll share those soon.

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