Thursday, July 30, 2009

Parlez Vous French Doors?

Pardon my absense over the last couple of days. The strain of working a full day at work and then going directly to the house and working til 10 is starting to wear on Mark and I. We're keeping it up, but it makes blogging a little harder.

Yesterday was a day filled with great things. Our friend Rick came over and helped us prime the guest room. He did an awesome job and the room is ready for me to paint today after work. I decided to give Lowe's Valspar paint a shot, and will be painting the room Ancient Olive and an accent wall of Brown Buzz. Very soothing and neutral.
Our friends Adrienne and Brian brought over some Z Pizza and enjoyed a meal with us at the big dining table that Brian helped Mark transport the other day. Mark and Brian also schlepped to Lowe's to pick up the eight foot french door that I had purchased earlier in the evening. It was so nice of them to lend a helping hand (and truck!). The door was maaaaassive and weighed a ton. It took the four of us to get it off the bed of Brian's truck.
The door will be replacing the horrible aluminum glass sliding door in the living room. It has a huge crack that spans the width of one of the panels. If you are shopping for an 8' french door, I recommend Lowe's. We shopped around. The door was $675 at Home Depot and originally $654 at Lowe's, but recently reduced to $599. We also had a 10% off coupon which made the deal even sweeter. The installation at both stores costs about the same as the door itself, so if you know someone who is handy enough to help you do it, you'll save a big chunk. It comes pre-framed, so it's more a matter of fitting it perfectly to the opening and making sure there are no gaps and all is sealed. The installation will happen early next week. The frame has two 3' doors and then two flanking 1' windows that are screened and swing open. It will be so nice to enjoy the evening breeze in our living room, sans bugs.
The tiling in the master will begin today and our bathroom should be finished tomorrow. Woohoo!!!!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Nothing says home improvement like...

pizza n' beer

Edward Scissorhomes

This weekend was filled with fumes, namely tar. The bathroom was hot-mopped on Saturday at 7:30am. The process was quick, but the shower base was left filled with water to ensure a water tight seal. The workers came in with a bucket of steaming hot tar and literally mopped it all over the base of the shower and about one foot up the sides. They wore gas masks. We did not... We went the day without A/C so that we could properly vent with windows and doors open. We also used an industrial fan to waft the fumes outside.The rest of the fumes were from paint and primer. I finished the office walls and ceiling. Three of the walls were painted in Glidden's Classic Key Lime and the accent wall is Glidden's Soothing Green Tea. Mark thinks it looks too much like split pea soup, so we may re-evaluate the colors once the room is put together.
Following the completion of the office, Mark and I took on the living room. We decided to go lighter than we had originally planned, with Glidden's Eloquent Ivory. It's a really nice clean color that's off-whiteish, but with the light that hits the room, two of the walls look as though they're painted with a slightly darker color.

As far as paint brands go, we've bought all of our paints at Home Depot and are using both Behr and Glidden. I'm starting to prefer Glidden over Behr. Both are great, but Glidden is cheaper and I find that it spreads easier. This may be because it is thinner, but we are painting at least two coats in every room, so a little thinner is fine. If you are planning on only going with one coat, Behr may be your best bet.
We had our security system installed on Saturday as well, so don't be tryin' to break into our house or nothin'. I was surprised at how long it takes to install. The Brinks, sorry, Broadview, (they changed the name to "establish a separate identity from the armored transport division",) guy arrived at 8am and did not leave until around 2pm.
I also tried painting the closet cabinets this weekend, but even with the special primer for semi-gloss, the paint is not holding on very well. Mark purchased a paint removing solvent that we will try on them today to get rid of the 50 or so years of paint. Has anyone worked with this before? Any tips or suggestions?
After all of our hard work this weekend, Mark and I took our first bike ride around the neighborhood last night. I love where we live! It's such a nice, quiet pocket, filled with houses that probably looked identical back in the 60's but have slowly gained their own identities over the years. I told Mark that our neighborhood reminds me of the movie Edward Scissorhands. It's not all pastelly or filled with topiaries, but that's how I picture it looked back in the day.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Today's Progress...

It's been a long day... I got to the house at 8 this morning and immediately started painting the office. I got through two walls before I decided that I wasn't down with the broken window sill and decided to pry it off. Construction David helped me re-frame the window with drywall and then I gooped it up with patching compound.
David was tasked with reframing the base of the shower because we decided we wanted to "hot-mop" the shower base instead of going with a pvc liner to water-proof it. "Hot-mopping" is when you coat the base of the shower with tar. That will be completed tomorrow morning and David will commence with the tiling on Sunday.
The appliances arrived around noon. The fridge is up and running, but the water and ice aren't connected because we have to replace a leaky water valve. We're still enjoying the fridge in all her glory -blue protective shield and all... Mark joined us in the afternoon. He helped me take apart the closets and prep them for painting and then headed to the backyard for some treed erradication. He chopped "them weeds" up good!
A couple more photos from the day.

David saved us a pink tile from the shower that was.

I strike a pose mid-mudding.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Giving Treed

No, that's not a typo. What is a treed you ask? Well the other day Mark and I were in the backyard with Construction David, thinking about all of the work ahead of us, when we got to talking about the existing foliage.

"You know what that is, don't you?," said David as we looked at a less than beautiful flowering tree to the right of our sliding door. I fumbled through my knowledge of California native trees, and came up a little short.

"Uh, no?"

"That right there is a weed!"

Yep, we have weeds that have trunks and have grown upwards of 12 feet tall. I call them treeds. I'm sure it's going to be uber fun digging those babies up. I feel a lot better knowing that they are weeds, because I wanted to dig them up and felt a little bad uprooting trees, but they're treeds, so it's okay.
That backyard is going to be some undertaking. We've got a giant palm tree stump that will need to be drilled or dug out, a pond-like thing (not entirely sure what it is/was) that has been filled with dirt, and a do-it-yourself built in grill/smoker that was not very well thought out. That's a burnt wood door flanking the side of the smoker, and an interestingly placed bungee cord on top...

This project will definitely wait until we're settled in and everything on the inside is fully functional. We're taking ideas, so if you have some good suggestions on what we can do in this space, we'll take em!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


We picked out the tile for the guest bath! We're going with Daltile octagon dot in matte white. I saw it on sale at the West Hills Lowe's last night for $2.57 per sqft! Unfortunately someone had already cleaned them out, leaving only a couple of broken sheets. Luckily, we were able to find the 45 sqft we need at the Burbank location. Just to give you an idea, this tile retails for $3.99 at Home Depot, so imagine my excitement to see it at such a great price! -Plus I think it's just what that bathroom needs.
We still haven't decided on grout color yet. I know it will look best in white, but I'm not really thrilled at the thought of cleaning it, so maybe a light grey. Do you think grey grout will just look like dirty white? I think the grout shown below is a little too dark, but it gives a good idea.

My goal is to pick up the tile and prime at least one room tonight. I have Friday off, at which time our appliances will be delivered and phone line installed, so I'll have some solid time to paint. I'm super-psyched about our appliances! Well really just our fridge. The washer and dryer are pretty vanilla, but they'll be in the garage and out of sight. But our fridge! She's a beaut, aint she?

I can almost guarantee you will never find upright celery sticks or a lemon cake on a pedestal in our new fridge, but I may be a little inspired once it's sitting in our totally dated kitchen, so all bets are off!
***UPDATE*** I was at Home Depot over the weekend and discovered that they sell the same Octo-dot tile for $2.57, regular price, not on sale. I now can't find where I saw that it was $3.99 per sqft. Anyhow, I'm not sure if you have a preference between Lowe's and Home Depot, but lately I've had better luck with customer service and finding what I need at the 'Depot. My sister, Tali, mentioned that she went to Home Depot looking for the same tile and they only had it with white octogons with black dots; however, they offered to special order the one she wanted for the same price. Talk about service.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Time Wasted and Time Enjoyed

I'll keep this short because I'm about to head to the house to work with Mark. As I mentioned yesterday, the paint in the bathroom is just not sticking -mainly on two walls. We're going to have to peel/scrape it off and re-prime with a special primer that is designed for semi and high gloss paint. Kind of sucks that I spent so much time on that this weekend. Lesson learned.

Yesterday after work, I met Mark at the house. We checked out Construction David's progress on the framing (looking good so far,) and we peeled some of the paint off the bathroom wall.

We also enjoyed a romantic dinner over our toilet. Classy, huh? It's amazing how much fun you can have enjoying a meal with someone you love over a toilet...

Monday, July 20, 2009

Bathroom Update

I mentioned that I went tile shopping over the weekend. Construction David, (he doesn't go by Dave, I learned,) picked me up Saturday morning and we went to 4 or 5 tile and stone places. Slight change of plans on the tile for our master bath. Instead of going with stone-like tile, we decided to choose a tumbled light travertine. It was tough, because I fell in love with a marble tile called crema marfil but it was just too expensive, (ranging from $13 - $20 per sqft for the staggered 2"x4"). This is what the walls of the shower will look like. The floor of the shower will be 2"x2" of the same travertine and the rest of the floor 12"x12".

The travertine is a nice compromise. Still classy and nice, but won't break the bank. Also, if you live in an area where there are multiple places to shop for stone or tile, be sure to go to as many as you have the patience for. Also look online. This travertine for example, was over $10 per sqft in a few places. We found a guy who was willing to go down to $8.50. Online I found them for $5.99, but after shipping (tile is heavy) it would have cost quite a bit more.

We also picked out our shower(s). We decided we want one shower head coming down from the ceiling and one handheld shower mounted on the wall. We can switch from wall to ceiling, depending on the mood (depending on if I'm washing my hair or not).

This is what we picked out. The stem that looks like it would come out from the wall will be replaced with a straight one so it can come straight down.

Hopefully the bathroom will be done by the end of the week. Framing starts today. Woohoo!

Linoleum Shmlenoleum

Whew! I never thought I'd be happy for the work week to start up again. It's a welcome break from this weekends tedious tasks. This weekend was spent tile shopping, priming, painting, and scraping linoleum from the floor of our guest bath. The A/C is not fully functional yet , so all of this was done in over 100 degree heat.

Some valuable lessons were learned.

1. One coat of basic primer is not enough to make semi-gloss stick to a wall that was already coated in semi-gloss. Not sure how we're going to handle this, as practically touching or skimming the wall takes the paint right off. Does anyone have any suggestions/experience with this?

2. If you're stripping linoleum, especially old linoleum that's basically melted itself into the floor, do it before you paint. The removal was an afterthought for me. Originally we were going to keep the ugly floor for the short term and tile it down the road, but it's absolutely icky and Construction Dave agreed to show me how to tile it myself later this week, so scraping commenced. Pieces of old nasty linoleum were flying everywhere and dinging the poor paint that just doesn't want to stick.

3. Touch up your paint when you're done with all of the work in the room. I touched up as soon as I removed the tape, after I painted the trim, and will need to touch up now that the linoleum is stripped. Could have saved myself a lot of time and early onset arthritis (working with a tiny brush and trying to be accurate is hard!) had I waited until all of the work was done.

4. Trim your nails before doing a project like this, linoleum is sharp, and wear gloves. As evidenced by the photo below, I did not do this. After I broke a couple of nails and got the booboo, I put on gloves. (I know my mom is shaking her head right now thinking that I should have known better and worn them from the start so my hands won't look gross. Sorry mom, you were right!)

There is still a little scraping left to do around the toilet.

Overall it was a productive weekend. I had some nice breaks that included Granny Gamenight at Debbie and Joe's. It was a blast! Joe, (who I will not refer to as "Testicle-head" eventhough that was the nickname he used in Scategories,) graciously offered to help on future house projects. Thanks Joe, (and there's your first shout-out)! Then last night I went from the house to my softball game. We won! Goooooo Four-Baggers!
Now I'm just plain pooped. This week will include more priming, painting and drywall repairing. Oodles of fun!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

In our Prime

So no photos of Mark with the sledgehammer, but I did sneak into the bathroom this evening to capture the aftermath of the demo. Our trashcan is too full, so we're waiting for trash collection to dump the rest that you see below.

Unlike homes built today, where waterproof backer board is used to support tile in the shower, (pardon my lack of proper terminology,) back in 1962, our shower was built with concrete and chicken wire beneath the tile, (much like what is used to support stucco). Needless to say, Dave sure got a workout swinging that hammer.

Tonight Mark and I started priming the living room and I'll tell you, it sure is nice painting over carpet you don't care about...

Okay. That's it for tonight. Too tired, must sleep!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Why it's Grease Stove Top!

Gogogogogogogogo. Ok. My title references are getting pretty bad -I'll admit it. This evening was spent cleaning, you guessed it, our stove top. I didn't think it would be exciting enough to warrant a before and after, but I decided to take some photos anyway.

Our friend, Construction Dave, lent me the headlamp because our kitchen light doesn't work and it was dark.

Not to totally gross you out, but just to give you an idea, the trashbag's contents, (minus the bottle of Sam Adams Summer Ale, the destroyed grout brush, and the gloves,) were all found in and around the stove top, grease drips and all.

It still needs a little bit of work, but I didn't have any oven cleaner because Mark went through three, that's right three cans on the oven. Three cans well spent though.

In other news, asbestos was abated this morning, and HVAC install begins on Thursday. The pink bathroom demo starts tomorrow and I'm super excited! Hopefully I'll get some photos of Mark taking swings with a sledgehammer...

Monday, July 13, 2009

Grout-chy Oven Lovin' (thanks Mark)

What a weekend! The pipe burst was completed on Friday and we now have a fully functional sewer line! The garage door was installed as well. It's beautiful and the quietest garage I've ever heard (or not heard, because it's that quiet)!

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday were spent cleaning, fixing toilets, caulking, cleaning, lining shelves, scrubbing, sweeping, cleaning, taping, and cleaning. I spent all of Friday on the guest bathroom. This one is not in our remodel budget, so I decided to see what can be done about the awful black grout in the shower. Photos cannot convey just how bad this was (but I'll show you anyway).

A friend suggested a solution of equal parts water and vinegar as a safe alternative to bleach (and much less harsh on the grout). I put the solution in a spray bottle and scrubbed with a grout brush. It was a grout miracle worker!!!

I then removed all of the caulk from the tub. Previous owners had used the do it yourself caulking strips that come on a roll. Only problem is they didn't remove the moldy grout from beneath. EWWWWWWWW. It took a lot of scraping to get the 1960s black caulk off (hehehe), but in the end, it was a huge success! I let the area sit and dry over night and reapplied caulk (this time with a caulking gun) on Saturday.

Check out the white grout!!!

The bathroom is now taped off and ready to be painted!

As for Mark, his weekend consisted of 8 or so trips to Home Depot and Target (I went on a couple of those runs), scrubbing the #$(*& out of our once naaaasty dirty oven that is now sparkling clean, bug fogging, wall scrubbing, door removing, and hose figure outing.

He did such an amazing job with the oven! I wish I had gotten a better before shot. The oven had to be dustbusted first, there was so much gunk in there!

Oh! And lock installing! Mark changed out all of the locks/knobs in the house. *Note to listing agent: your Supra is dangling from our mailbox still attached to the knob.

As I said, what a weekend! We had a blast though! Good music and great company. A massage or hot tub soak right about now would be nice though...

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

It's PINK.

Last night, Mark and I met with our friend Dave, who will be doing all of the work for our master bathroom. Just to give you an idea of what he's working with, here's a before shot of our shower.

Yep! That's a pink shower! The floor is currently covered in sticky linoleum tiles that we had to put down in order to get approved for the loan. Prior to that, it was bare.

The bathroom is pretty small, about 25-30 sq ft, not including the shower. There are some built in cabinets to the right of the shower that are pretty sorry looking, but salvageable according to Dave.

So what do we have planned, you ask? Well, we thought we'd keep it pretty simple and classic. We've chosen a 2x4 neutral tile for the shower and a matching 12x12 for the floor. The tile will carry all the way to the ceiling in the shower. We've decided to repipe the shower head to come down straight from the ceiling. The vanity will be a dark espresso and all fixtures will be a brushed silver.
As for paint, we found all (most) of our colors last night!!! The bathroom will be painted in Glidden's Cafe Latte -neutral and taupe-ish.
Sewer re-pipe to be completed on Friday, garage install on Friday, HVAC (asbestos, re-ducting, a/c and heat install) to start next week. Phew!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Paint it Black

We closed yesterday!!! -We have wasted no time at all. Replacing the sewer line to the street has begun today. Hopefully the garage will be replaced on Friday and all of the work will follow shortly thereafter so we can get to the fun stuff... PAINTING!!!

If you ever want to really get to know your significant other, task him or her with picking out paint colors. Apparently Mark and I do not see eye to eye on what colors each room should be. At all. Last week I asked him what color he wanted the guest room, and he said "purple and gold." I thought about it for a second and thought it could actually look really neat with one wall a deep purple with redish undertones, and the rest of the walls slightly lighter, with white trim and some gold accent pieces. I even went as far as to check out the Sherwin Williams color visualizer tool. I had it all worked out before Mark so graciously told me that he was totally kidding. Shucks.

As for our bedroom, we have white bedding with green accents, so I was hoping to paint the walls a light silvery grey like the photo above. Mark's not a huge fan of grey. Any suggestions?
I will be swinging by my soon to be home (depot) away from home to pick up swatches tonight. I guess the real fun will start once we've made up our minds...

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Bids, Bids, Bids

In case you didn't catch that, it's a play on "Bills, Bills, Bills," which this endeavor is soon going to equate to. Mark and I have diligently been getting contractors out to the house, (more Mark than I, for which I am grateful,) to get quotes on all of the work that needs to be professionally done.

As much as I would like to say we're that handy, (which we hardly are,) even penny pinchers have no place abating asbestos themselves. So here's the list of what we've gotten estimates on.
  1. asbestos abatement for all ducts
  2. re-ducting, installation of A/C and heat
  3. removal of old broken garage door and installation of new one with opener
  4. re-piping sewer line from house to street

(not to mention new carpet and paint throughout)

If that doesn't sound daunting (read: expensive) to you, can I please have whatever anti-anxiety medication you're taking?

We're quickly learning that not all Joe the Plumbers, Mike the HVAC Dudes, and Larry the Garage Guys are created equal -on many fronts. I cannot stress how important it is to get multiple quotes for each job you are facing. Granted people may say, "you get what you pay for." I get that, but when all work is guaranteed (make sure of this, and check the Better Business Bureau too!) your contractor is licensed and insured (make extra sure of this,) and you have the breakdown of what the job consists of, you can easily compare. We have seen as much as $3000 difference in some of the quotes we've received!

Unfortunately for us, money is an object here. Another smart thing to do (which Mark may disagree with me on,) is ask for the "Beverly Hills" quote and the "West Hills" quote when it comes to things like A/C, and other goods involved in construction projects. While it would be nice to have the most top of the line unit, a middle of the road one with a 10-20 year warranty may suit your needs just fine.

As it stands, we're not even close to done. We have more bids coming in, but are hoping to start some of the work next week. Until then, have a great 4th of July weekend!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

If you ever close escrow, all this could be yours!

It sure has taken a long time! Mark and I started our house hunt back in August of 2008. Here we are, almost a full year later, waiting for escrow to close. If the documents are all in by 10:30am (less than an hour from now,) we can fund today and close tomorrow. If not, we wait until Monday to close. We absolutely MUST close by Tuesday of next week, as we paid a hefty sum to lock our interest rate, and it expires on 7/7. Oh the joys.

So what's in store you ask? Well, let me just say, we've bitten off a LOT! A 7500 sqft lot to be exact. Fully furnished with one 1372 sqft pinkish stucco house that appears to have gotten little love since 1962.

We're buckled up! We're ready! It's go time!