Saturday, August 22, 2015

Kitchen Re-Do, Part Deux

Wait, what!? Didn't I already post about the newly painted kitchen? Yes. Yes I did.  Confused yet?  Well, let me just go back to the beginning when we were choosing the color.  We wanted a vintage minty green, like this one from Glamorous Housewife:


So we went with our usual color selection method of going to the Sherwin Williams website and using the color selection tool.  This has worked out really well for us in the past, with the new master bedroom, and the front porch, so we figured why mess with a good thing?  So we originally chose a color called Mint Condition, but at the last minute we changed our minds and decided to go with Aloe instead (even the name "Aloe" suggests GREEN, right?).  We were a little nervous to go with a full on minty color and the Aloe was a little less minty.  Or so we thought.

After the painter finished, we looked at the kitchen and realized it wasn't the least bit green.  It was full on BLUE.  Or teal to be more exact.  It was almost the same color as our foyer, which is a very pretty color for sure, but not quite what we were going for.

The worst part is that the color completely changed depending on the light.  In some places it looked like the green color we'd wanted, while other places is was bright blue.  But regardless of which color it appeared to be, it didn't match anything. Every single thing we tried to put in the room clashed with the walls.  Originally we decided to wait a little bit, get used to it, and then decide whether to repaint.  But pretty quickly we knew we needed to fix the color ASAP because it was driving us nuts.  And we wanted to get it done before school starts.  So within an hour of the painter leaving, we were off to the paint store to pick a new color, and feeling very defeated.

The guy at Sherwin Williams was actually really helpful.  When we explained the problem he asked us if there was any yellow in the room.  Of course our hideous linoleum floors are yellow toned! He explained that anything yellow toned (including maple woodwork) brings out blue tones.  So when choosing a color, we needed to go even farther to the greener end of the scale to make up for it.  So we chose three sample colors to take home and try out before we settled on a new color.  It was the last day of a 35% off sale, so they suggested we buy the paint we needed that day so we could get the discount and then just bring it back when we decided on a color and they would tint the paint for free.  So if you are planning on painting but aren't sure of a color yet, you can totally buy the paint when it's on sale and just come back when you're ready to add the color to it! Good to know for future reference!

Anyway, so we brought our samples home and painted them on the wall:



We painted them in several places in the room and left them for a few days to see how they looked in different lights.  Finally, we settled on a color called Jocular Green (or "Jockstrap Green" as I call it.  Because I'm mature like that). So last night and this morning we re-painted the walls that had just been done a few days ago.  Luckily we didn't have to prime, and we didn't have to do the cabinets and trim, so it actually went pretty quickly.  And NOW it looks just like what we wanted in the first place!




I made sure to take pictures before we moved most of the stuff back into the room, so it looks way cleaner than usual. :)

We still have a lot of plans for the room (shelves, floors, countertops, lighting....pretty much everything besides paint), but for the time being, we're just happy we finally got the paint color right!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Kitchen Nightmares

In previous posts I've alluded to some ongoing work in our kitchen, so it is finally time to elaborate on all of the goings-on in there. While there were things about the kitchen we didn't particularly like, it wasn't high on our priority list for a renovation, given that kitchens are insanely expensive and we had plenty of other more pressing projects. But then the ghosts of owners past struck once again and we had no choice.

When we first bought the house, the kitchen had been freshly painted yellow. While it wasn't our first color choice, it was definitely something we could live with for a while.




However, shortly after moving in, small cracks began to appear in the paint on the walls.  Over time, it got much worse and now, three years later, huge chunks of paint were literally falling off the walls. Here's an example of what pretty much every wall in the kitchen looked like:



 The strange thing is that it wasn't just the top layer of paint, it was ALL layers of paint (and in a 120 year old house that's a LOT!) coming off together, leaving bare plaster underneath.  We couldn't figure out what was going on until we realized that in their haste to sell the house, the previous owners must have just slapped on a coat of latex paint over several layers of oil-based paint without any prep work (sound familiar?).  Most likely there were already small cracks appearing in the old paint and they just painted right over the top to hide them.  So the latex paint seeped into the cracks and caused ALL of the layers underneath to come off. The worst part about this is that the layers underneath contained lead.  So in short, there were literally chunks of lead paint raining from the walls in the room where we prepare our food.

We knew there was lead in the house- pretty much any house build prior to 1978 has it. And it really isn't a danger as long as it's encapsulated under non-lead paint and isn't chipping off.  So had they just prepped properly before painting, there would be no problem.  But because once again they took the easy/cheap/lazy way out, we were faced with a huge problem.

The first thing I did was call my doctor to have my blood lead levels checked. Luckily, because I opted NOT to snack on any of the paint chips that fell from the walls, my lead levels were fine. Then I started calling around trying to find someone to do lead abatement.  This turned out to be a MUCH more difficult task than I'd thought.  It turns out that some of the bigger painting companies who are lead certified refuse to come out to Columbus because it is "too far" from Madison (despite their Angie's List profiles clearly stating that they serve our area). Others told us it would be months before they could even come out to give us an estimate.

Finally, I expanded my search area and called Fine Line Finishes. Matt, the painter, came out the same day to look at the kitchen and give us an estimate to remove the chipping paint and paint the walls, trim, and cabinets.  The price he quoted us was extremely reasonable, and once we signed a contract, he was able to get started within a week.



First he had to seal off the whole kitchen in plastic, and then he had to scrape off everything that was loose and chipping.  The only silver lining here is that since most of it was chipping off on it's own, there wasn't a ton of lead dust flying around.  Then all of those spots had to be filled and sanded to smooth out the walls before he could even start priming and painting.  From start to finish the whole process took about 4 days and we are extremely happy with the quality of Matt's work. We will definitely be calling him again when it's time to paint the outside of the house!!



We also switched out the hardware on the cabinets and decided not to replace the old ugly curtains inside the glass cabinets.


As you can see in the earlier pictures, there used to be a shelf above this counter top.


When we started getting ready for painting, I decided I was sick and tired of the decorative pieces on the shelf and I tried to remove them with a chisel.  Unfortunately, they were stuck on with some kind of impossible to remove glue, so all I ended up doing was  damaging the shelf underneath.  That was actually fine with me, because I hated the shelf anyway, so we just took the entire thing off and we plan to install floating shelves on the wall above instead.

The only problem is that now with the newly painted kitchen, the floors and countertops look TERRIBLE.  So the slippery slope continues, and we will probably have to look at replacing those things in the near future.  But for now, we're just happy to not be living in the middle of a lead paint avalanche.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Storage Solutions

Well, we've only got a week left until school starts and as usual, we've crammed a ton of work into the last few days.  We are settling into the newly painted room, and the painter just finished in the kitchen about an hour ago, so things are starting to fall into place.  And not a moment too soon, since my parents are scheduled to arrive for a visit tomorrow.

So the whole motivation behind switching bedrooms was to come up with a better storage solution for all of our clothes.  For months now, Lance has been working on an idea for a clothing rack that can go in the bedroom and will look like a nice piece of furniture instead of just a generic rack.  His inspiration was something like this one from Oilfield Slang:

Big Bertha Industrial Garment Rack

However, we've found that most racks like this cost upwards of $900, and we were looking for a more affordable solution. Up until this point the only expenses we've had for this room have been paint, primer, and new curtains* (and of course blood, a LOT sweat, and even a few tears), so we weren't looking to break the bank on a clothes rack. 

*not counting the trip to the ER when Lance's back seized up after carrying the table tops by himself...

Luckily, Lance found some old table tops that he was able to get for free, so all we had to buy were the iron pipes.  This required going to a couple of different stores to get enough pieces and I was surprised to find how much a bunch of pieces of pipe cost (though still WAY cheaper to build it ourselves). Overall, we ended up using somewhere around $200 for the pipes (I'm not sure of the exact costs, since we made some last minute changes and have quite a bit of pipe left over to return to the store). 



The design for the rack went through countless revisions, and for a couple of months now, I have been finding sketches like this one all over the house:


First it was going to have two shelves on the bottom and be L-shaped, then we decided to eliminate one of the bottom shelves to leave room to store laundry baskets underneath. Then we made it shorter than originally planned and opted out of making it L-shaped because it would take up too much space. Even today when we were putting it together, we decided to attach the top shelf differently so that it would be a little lower (ie so that I could actually reach it). The nice thing is that the pipes just screw together, so it isn't too hard to change things up as needed. 

Lance started by cutting the boards down to size- which required some assistance from his stepdad since the boards are super heavy and I am waaay too much of a weakling to help hold them steady on the table saw. 



Then he stained and put on a couple of coats of poly and attached flanges to the bottom.


Finally today we were able to put the whole thing together! 


We had to put wood pieces under a couple of the feet because of course our floors aren't level (NOTHING in this house is level or square! It makes me think of the Weasley's house from Harry Potter). 



I feel like this makes our bedroom look like a Banana Republic store :)  I'm also acutely aware of the lack of color variation in our wardrobes! We are planning to put either metal or wood bins on the top shelf and possibly on the bottom, too.  

In the closet, we also added a second clothes bar and some hooks to give us even more storage space (obviously we aren't done moving all the clothes in there yet).


Overall this has been a really good opportunity to purge a LOT of things from both the bedroom and the kitchen.  I think we will be dropping off a pretty big load of stuff to St. Vinny's this week! And now, I should go get started moving things back into the newly painted kitchen! 

Saturday, August 15, 2015

New Master Bedroom

I'm going to preface this post by noting that the master bedroom isn't completely done. BUT, as we're in the middle of a kitchen renovation we hadn't planned on (that's a long story for another post), our entire house is a shambles right now and we were anxious to just get ONE room looking even semi put-together. So I will update in the future once everything is actually done, but for now we're pretty happy with how this room has turned out.

As you may recall, what began as a simple re-painting project turned into a complete nightmare, thanks to the shoddy work of the people who sold us the house. The whole plan was to move into this room in order to fit a hanging rack for clothes so we could maximize storage space, and even though this is the smallest of the 3 bedrooms, it's the only one that has the configuration we needed.  Or so we thought......

So here's what it looked like before, when it was a guest room (the furniture is already taken out, we didn't make our guests sleep on the floor!):


The walls and ceiling were painted a really drab green color and the baseboards were painted brown but the rest of the trim was peeling white paint.  (Lance pointed out after the last post that this picture makes the room look way better than it really was, which is true.  Trust me, it was not pretty.)

So we ripped up the carpet (and the linoleum underneath), sanded the floors, scraped the peeling latex off from the moldings, treated it with de-glosser, then primed with an oil based primer and covered with latex paint.  We used Sherwin Williams paint- the walls are Chelsea Gray and the ceiling and trim are Pure White. On the floor we did a very light gray color called Rarified Air (it actually looks white) so that it would have some contrast with the baseboards, but also match the paint on the walls and in the hallway, since those floors were being painted too.  Here's the color palette we used:


This is another one of those times where I just chose paint colors based on what I found online and this color palette without ever seeing the color on a paint sample.  While that's a pretty risky way to choose a paint color, it's worked well for us in the past (like on our front porch and our foyer) so I figured why mess with a good system.



We looked everywhere for curtains, but weren't having a lot of luck. Everything was either the wrong color, or didn't come in the length we needed, etc. Finally as a last resort we checked Marshall's and happened upon these, which ended up being exactly what we needed (and WAY cheaper than anything else we'd seen).  We used the same length for both windows since the smaller window will be covered by the bed anyway, and this way both windows look like they're the same size.




The empty space here is where the clothing rack Lance is building will go and this dresser is one that Lance actually refinished. It turned out beautifully, though unfortunately I took these photos with my iphone, and the quality isn't as great as I would like. One of the issues we ran into when putting the furniture back into the room is that is was way more crowded than we anticipated.  Then we realized that the bed we used to have in here when it was a guest room was a full size, and we were replacing it with a queen size, so the scale of everything was way off.  Rookie mistake on our part, but not surprising, given our notoriously bad spatial reasoning skills. So the clothing rack Lance is building had to be scaled down a little bit in order to fit in the space. Hopefully that will be done and ready to go within the next week.

When we pulled up the carpet, we found the old cast iron floor grate, which was really cool. So we gave it a fresh coat of spray paint, and then since one of the louvers inside had a piece missing out of it, we caulked the louvers closed and then I covered the inside with shelf paper. So now if you look down into the grate, you just see a little bit of a gray and white pattern.






We still need to finish putting everything together (pictures on the walls, etc.) but for now, we are considering it to be good enough while we focus on getting everything else done before school starts in a week!


Saturday, August 1, 2015

A Prime Example

I'm just going to cut right to the chase here: there is a special place in hell for people who paint over oil based paint with latex without prepping first.  I know that sounds harsh, but after spending WEEKS on a project that should have only taken a few days, I'm fresh out of tact. And my anger is directed specifically at the people who owned the house right before us, because we are CONSTANTLY finding things that they did wrong, or where they took the cheap, lazy way out and created a lot more work and expense for us. The irony is that the guy apparently worked as a MAINTENANCE guy at UW, so there's no excuse for him- he should have known better!

As you may recall from my last post, we decided to re-paint one of the bedrooms so we could turn it into a master and add some clothes storage.  This SHOULD have been pretty simple.  We should have known better. Our house is old, so there are several layers of paint on the walls, most of which are oil-based.  If you're wondering how to tell if the paint on your walls is latex or oil, here's a way to test it.  Now of course latex is preferable, and you CAN paint latex over oil, provided that you take the time to prep properly. When you don't, the top layer of paint just peels right off like this:


And unfortunately, this was the case on all 3 doors in the room, as well as ALL of the trim (baseboards, windows, etc.). There are also metal baseboard heaters in the room, which were also painted with brown latex paint and no primer.  Here's what happened when we simply tried to vacuum it:

video

This meant that before we could start to do any painting, we had to painstakingly scrape off ALL of the top layer of paint.  And all of those little details on historic molding don't look so cool when you are scraping paint out of every nook and cranny. This whole process alone took close to a week, and all of my patience. 




Once we had the trim all stripped down, we had to use a chemical de-glosser (you can also sand, but this creates a lot of dust and we wanted to avoid that) to cut down on the sheen on the oil-based paint so the primer would stick to it.  Deglosser is a STRONG chemical that requires masks and gloves- we started off using one by Zinsser, but when we ran out of that we switched to Klean Strip, which was MUCH better. Far less noxious odor and unlike the Zinsser, you can prime as soon as it's dry (about 10 minutes). With the Zinsser you have to wipe it on, then give it 30 min to dry, and then you have to paint it within 60 minutes or the surface becomes glossy again and you have to start all over.  Either way, you can only do small sections at a time and it takes FOREVER.  In some cases, you can skip this step if you are using an oil based primer or a latex bonding/adhesion primer. We decided to double down so we deglossed AND used an oil-based primer, just to make damn sure we never have to do this again.  You can use ANY topcoat (including latex) with oil-based primer, by the way. We did use a regular water-based primer on the walls, since they seemed to have been done properly and weren't peeling. 

Here's everything (walls and trim) once it was finally painted:


Normally I am wholly against painting wood floors, however once we'd pulled up the carpet we found that the floors were in horrible shape. They'd been painted at one point, but the paint was chipped and there were gouges and rough, uneven spots everywhere.  As ambitious as we are, we had to admit the floors were just not salvageable.  So Lance sanded them down and then went through and used wood filler for the gouges and flexible caulk for the wider cracks between the boards (to allow for expansion/contraction when the weather changes).  Then we thoroughly cleaned the floors with warm water (using cleaning products can affect adherence of paint) and primed them with oil-based primer. 



Hopefully tomorrow we can actually paint the floors! I will go into more detail about what paint colors we used and how we chose them once everything is done.  Meanwhile, our painting woes are far from over, as we actually have a much bigger paint issue in the kitchen that is going to require professionals. Spoiler alert: it's the result of yet another colossal error on the part of the previous owners! 


Sunday, July 26, 2015

Slippery Slope

I think at some point every homeowner falls into a trap- the one where you start what you *think* will be a small, simple, inexpensive remodeling project and suddenly it snowballs into a bunch of other projects and ends up taking longer and costing way more than you ever anticipated.  That's where we are at our house right now: in the middle of the bedroom re-do from hell.

It started out with a simple idea- because our house is so old, we have very little closet space and at the moment my clothes are in the bedroom closet and Lance has to walk down the hall to the guest room closet where we keep his clothes.  So he devised a plan to increase our space for clothes storage by building a separates piece outside of the closet, kind of like this one by Oilfield Slang:

Big Bertha Industrial Garment Rack

The problem, however, is that our current bedroom is configured in a way that something like this wouldn't really fit. So we decided to move into the guest bedroom, which isn't really any bigger but has a better layout.  When we bought the house, the room was painted a sage green color (walls AND ceiling) with brown painted baseboards- definitely not pretty, but since it was a guest room, we hadn't bothered to change it.  But the green ceiling has always really bothered Lance because it makes the room look really dreary and somehow makes the 8 foot ceiling seem low and oppressive.


So we decided to re-paint the room, which then led to tearing up the old carpet to expose the wood floors underneath.  And since we were tearing up the carpet in the bedroom, why not out into the hallway and landing as well? You see where this is going, right? :)





Unfortunately, there were two layers of linoleum underneath the carpet. Luckily neither one was glued down. Once it had all been removed, Lance spent a couple of days sanding off all of the old cracked varnish from the floors in the hallway.  The wood in the bedroom has been painted before, and since none of the wood is in good shape, it will all be painted eventually.

We found a few interesting things under the carpet, including a cast iron register cover and some old child's alphabet cards.




Prior to sanding, we tested to make sure that there was no lead paint on the floor or trim, and were happy to find there wasn't.  The only place it was an issue was in one of the two window wells, which was such a small area we were able to remove it ourselves using a product called Peel Away. Essentially this product involves a thick, gloppy chemical paint stripper, which is spread onto the area covered with a special laminated paper, and left to sit for 12-48 hours. You then peel off the paper and the paint is contained within the stripper, so there is no dust.  (Note this still requires you to wear respirators and gloves, just in case).


Unfortunately, we found that despite the instructions saying to let the stripper sit for at least 12-48 hours, we found that after just 10 hours it had dried completely (something you are NOT supposed to let happen!) and it was completely cemented to the window well. So, after cursing and yelling for a while, we had to peel off as much crud as possible, which then led to a crack in the window glass! Eventually we applied a new layer of chemical and let it dry only two hours- which re-activated the old gunk and everything came off perfectly. The good news is that after the second application, it worked really well.  The bad news is that we now have a cracked window and are faced with the decision of having it repaired, or since the window is old and in terrible shape anyway, just having the whole window replaced.

We tried contacting several companies but have found that for some reason, no window companies (both glaziers and window replacement people) based out of Madison are willing to come to Columbus. Most of them are even rude and scornful about it, as in "We don't go THAT far out!"  Apparently 20 minutes is "That far."  I suspect they'd be more than willing to come out if it were a bigger job, but for 1 window it's suddenly "too far."  Finally we found someone who is coming out on Tuesday to give us an estimate for replacement, but we still haven't found anyone who can just replace the pane instead.

Meanwhile, we are busy painting, which has been a whole other frustrating ordeal, which deserves its own separate blog post, so stay tuned!