Posts Tagged ‘renovations’

On Tuesday we found out our real estate agent had scheduled an open house for tomorrow (Saturday). We panicked. We wrote up a to do list to prove to her we couldn’t be ready. Our list was 3 pages long & this was after a week of solid work (by ourselves & anyone we could convince to help).

Well, tomorrow morning I have to run back to the house to put a last coat on the bathroom trim & pass a mop over a few of the floors. Everything on the list is done! Ok, I lie, we still need to finish up the deck outside of the kitchen but that was a task we knew we wouldn’t be able to finish in time.

Without the motivation of the deadline I’m not sure we would be at this point right now but I’m pretty damn proud of us.

We bought this house a little more than 5 years ago. At 140 years old it needed a LOT of work. I big task for a couple who could do little more than paint a wall & change a lightbulb, but with (a LOT) of help from friends & family & a can- do attitude we have made changes, some of them major, in every single room of the house.

People keep commenting that we must want to move back in now that everything looks so good & is finally finished (well, with an older house “finished” is kind of a loosely used word) but really we don’t. We are pretty darn proud of what we’ve accomplished, we’ve learned a lot & we’ve grown a lot.

We added a lot of blood, sweat & tears to the memories in those walls but we’ve also added laughter & good times. One of my favourite things about those drafty old walls was the sense of time & memory that breathed through it. Knowing that others were born & died, wept & laughed, cozied up through winter storms & threw windows open to warm breezes made me feel part of something more.

I will post some before & after pics but the after pics have yet to be taken & I’m too tired tonight to wait for them to upload anyway!


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Ok – I’m a little late in posting this but it’s been a very busy week (I’ll get to that later) but my little man turned TWO on Monday!!! It is crazy how fast time can go by.

A talented cake decorator I am not but the icing was delicious (my little man certainly thought so as that was the only part of the cake he ate).

It was a lucky coincidence that a few friends were visiting from out of town & could come over for a meal & little party. Combined with all the grandma’s & it was a pretty full house.

There were presents...

and cake...

and even a homemade crown for the little prince.

At two he is a pretty special little guy – although I am more than a little biased. Here is an excerpt from the e-mail I sent to our doctors in Costa Rica with a birthday update: “He is a joy to us (most) every day! At two he is 15 kilos (33lbs) & 92 cm (36”) tall with big hands & big feet. He runs & jumps & climbs & gets into everything. But he also loves to help us with everything from building the back deck & fixing to the toilet to vacuuming & baking muffins. He “talks” a lot but still has only a few words – I think we are at about 4 dozen in total right now – enough to get his point across. He is a very happy little boy who is usually pretty easy to live with. He has a wonderful personality with a sense humour that is developing with each day. In August we started potty training & it has gone wonderfully – we haven’t used a diaper day or night in over a month now, although I do my fair share of wet laundry!

Overall he has been very healthy with just a few colds, one case of roseola & a case of hand, foot & mouth disease all of which he weathered like a trooper.He is a wonderful eater – which brings envious comments from many other parents of picky toddlers (I realize I am VERY lucky here!) & he is still very much enjoying nursing.”

He was very pleased with his new wagon from his godparents.

We spaced out the gifts over two days to stretch out the interest & make it less overwelming for him. This was the last one - a travel carmat I made for him. The orange along the edge has pockets to put matchbox cars in & then the whole thing rolls up & goes with us.

We’re in New Brunswick now visiting friends so I will have pics from our trip up soon. Tomorrow we are going to the Hopewell Rocks on the Bay of Fundy – I am very much looking forward to that as last time I was in New Brunswick my plans to make it there were foiled & it’s been on my list of things I’d like to see ever since.

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I’ve been negligent of my blog & I apologize. Life has been crazy here lately & I must admit to feeling a little overwelmed almost daily.

And I’m realizing that my 52 project goal is waaaaay behind. To be fair to myself I do have several projects half done & several others with the photos taken ready to be posted – now to get around to posting.

So, my mother-in-law’s house is on the market but as luck would have it her dishwasher died a couple weeks ago. It was old & beyond repair (repair was attempted) & needed to be replaced. Apparently a big gaping space in the cupboards is not a big selling feature.

Last night I went over & read the directions, wrote down the parts I needed & reminded myself to put my plumbing kit in the trunk of the car (yes, I do have my very own plumbing kit – it was a Christmas gift last year!).

This afternoon (after a truly fabulous La Leche League meeting in the morning) I hit the hardware store & then headed over for the installation.

So I now proudly announce that I completed the installation in one neat little session. No runs to the hardware store, no readjusting of plumbing joints that turned out to leak, no fiddling with electrical connections. Everything went smoothly & it is now sitting shiny & new ready for action!

Hmmm….how fabulous would it be if all my projects went so smoothly?!

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We finally have air conditioning. Well, ok, we finally have air conditioning in our bedroom. The rest of the house… still hot.

Originally we had been planning on putting in central air figuring it was a good selling feature & didn’t block up the few windows we have in this house. But the more we thought about it the more it didn’t make sense.

You see, we only have two registers upstairs, one in our bedroom which is pretty ineffective due to the long duct run & one in the hallway which is also pretty ineffective due to our habit of closing all the doors to keep the critters out of the rooms. Even if we did keep the doors open it would still take an awful lot of energy to cool upstairs (where we most want it cool) & in the meantime it would be FREEZING down here.

So, we’ve settled on window air conditioners. Of course, all the windows are different sizes so we’ve purchased the smallest ones we’ve found for our room & the office but haven’t found one small enough for Diaperbutt’s room yet.

On Saturday we spent the better part of the morning getting the one for our room installed – this was after our installation fail of Thursday night. We don’t have sliding windows & so had to make our own installation plan.

But it’s in & it’s lovely.

Hopefully the next two are quicker to install.

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Our stove came with our house & was in rough condition then. As a result I have always disliked it. It’s pretty rough looking & a bit battered but I just could not justify replacing it when really all it’s faults were cosmetic – the darn thing works perfectly.

This stove top has seen better days - unfortunately they were before I owned it.

Ok – yeah, part of the problem was just built up grime – oh how I hate to clean the oven!

OY! I swear we have cleaned it before! To be fair a good chunk of this was from our renters who did not clean the oven before they moved out. Oh how oven cleaner makes me lungs burn - next time I am definitely going to try something different.

But the rings around/under the burners were beyond cleaning – I did try, several times, to wash them by hand & in the dishwasher but the finish on them was just destroyed. Plain & simple they needed to replaced – unfortunately it took about 4 different stores before I found one that carried four of the same variety – everywhere seemed to only have 2 or 3 in stock.

I don't know that wrapping the ruined metal in tinfoil helped the overall appearance or functionality.

Oh - shiny! Unfortunately I haven't been able to find new buttons for the center of the burner - the old ones were so blackened I figured it looked better without them at all.

I gambled when standing in Canadian Tire & bought the one piece ring/bowl but they don't sit flush with the stove like the old two piece ones did. As I didn't realize this until after I had destroyed the packaging removing it we will now live with this slight imperfection.

Then there were all the little repairs that needed to be done that had been bothering me for so long. Replacing the light bulb in the oven, levelling the darn thing (the levelling foot is missing so I used a folded up piece of cardboard under the back foot), reattaching the drawer slide to the drawer front (ok – I actually did some damage to the finish in doing this repair but the drawer is finally functional again!) & putting a dial thermometer inside so I could verify the temperature is correct (shockingly it seems to be right on every time). Unfortunately there is nothing I can do about the tear on the control panel cover (how the heck did that even happen?!) & one day this summer I am going to take the drawer outside & spray paint the inside of it as the metal is rusting some so despite my thorough cleaning it looks rather dingy.

After all the scrubbing involved to get this so clean I vowed not only to be more careful with messy dishes in the future I also put in place a disposable oven tray in the bottom to hopefully catch the worst of future messes.

Best things I discovered while cleaning the stove - the oven racks fit in the dishwasher & the whole top of the stove lifts up making cleaning underneath much easier.

So, just like the toilet refurbishment, with a little bit of money (I spent under $40), some elbow grease & a chunk of time (about 2 hours in total – that oven was DIRTY) we have a stove that is pretty much like new. Makes it much easier to tolerate the scratches in the finish when it’s all shiny & working perfectly!

Shiny & (almost like) new!

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Ok, so after spending 4.5 hours refurbishing the toilet we have been unhappy with the results. At some point in time “someone” before us must have done their own toilet repair. We think it might be whomever tiled the floor in the bathroom as the tile was a large part of the problem.

Whomever tiled the floor did not complete the tile all the way to the flange, but also did not fill in the whole area between the flange & the tile with cement leaving an area where the floor was a full 1/2" lower than the tile & 3/4" lower than the flange.

Now we had seen this when we did the repair back in January but we were hoping it was going to be okay the way we had it. The big problem with the state of the floor was that the weight of the toilet (& therefore anyone sitting on the toilet) was resting primarily on the flange, instead of on the floor like it should be.

Ever since we did the refurb (& before really but at that point we didn’t know why) the toilet would shift a little every time someone sat on it, but we couldn’t seem to get it to tighten down enough to stop that. To make matters worse “someone” along the way had also put some sort of plastic flange repair kit on top of the flange that had an unusual arrangement for the bolts allowing them to slide out of place really easily even when you thought they were tightened down.

So we finally decided we needed to take the toilet off again & revisit our repair. With the toilet off & in the hall, my Mom, Grumpy Bear, Diaperbutt & I spent sometime evaluating our options. I will admit I cried with frustration – some projects you just do not want to have to repeatedly revisit. The floorboards are slightly soft, the flange was not very well supported & with the state of the tile there was no way to secure the toilet properly to the floor.

The first steps for the repair were to install a proper a flange repair piece (that's the brass ring you see) so that we would be able to more adequately be able to bolt down the toilet. And then we used two applications of quick set cement to fill in the gap made by the tiles & to give the flange more support.

The problem with the first steps of our repair is they made the flange even higher above the tile & really the flange (& our ancient pipe beneath it) should not be supporting any weight.

After some scrounging in the garage we found a scrap piece of plywood that was the right thickness to bring the floor level with the flange.

Because there is some wiggle room when you install a toilet we cut the plywood just slightly larger than the toilet base so there was no chance of it not lining up perfectly (going for perfect is a high order in an old house!). It is most definitely due to Grumpy Bear’s attention to detail that this is cut so nicely.

Diaperbutt was pretty sure his help was needed. It was pretty cute to see him climb over Mom's leg & get himself settled right between her legs with his screwdriver already for action.

It’s not the prettiest fix ever but it is now really solid & we no longer worry we are slowly rotting the floor with a slow, invisible leak or risking breaking off the flange (an expensive repair outside of our abilities).

One day I will paint the plywood with a high gloss white & I think that will make it a lot less obvious. I suppose ideally we would have painted it before we replaced the toilet but as we have only one toilet in our house having it out of commission for 3.5 hours was pretty much our limit.

Now if I could just get the chain on the new flap valve adjusted properly so it stops catching after the occasional flush making me have to run back up the stairs to wiggle the handle. Hmmmm… then again running stairs is good exercise.

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I’m counting this as 3 projects & as it took me more weeks than that I think that is fair.

I had actually painted this room a few years ago, back when the dream of it becoming a nursery seemed to be becoming less & less likely with the passing of each month. I had mixed one can of leftover yellow from the kitchen with one can of all purpose white & got this lovely pale yellow. I didn’t really want to change the colour but I had none of the mix I made left so I had to make some more necessitating repainting the whole room as our renters had done some damage to the walls.

This is what duct tape does to painted walls.

Because the room is quite wee & the furniture was in it already I could only paint half the room at once with everything pushed to the other side.

I am pretty happy with how close to the original colour the yellow turned out. The blanket dolly is one I made for Diaperbutt while I was pregnant - I keep trying to get him to accept it as a lovey but he thinks my breasts are far superior!

Part two was the need for curtains. I had previously made curtains (you can see the edge of them in the first photo) but they were barely the size of the window & did nothing to cut the light. This room is south facing so we definitely needed something that would make the room at least a little bit darker, so it was off to the fabric store with me (that is a dangerous place for me to go – so many possibilities!).

Sorry for the bad photo - I guess I should take one at night so the glare from the window is not so bad (& wow do I need to clean that window!).

I made the curtains tri-layered with white on the outside to hopefully reflect some of the sun/heat out, an old red curtain in the middle (which makes the room glow red when they are closed) & this cute Canadian print on the inside. I am partial to this type of tie-back (we have similar ones on the main floor) ’cause there is no fussy tying required to open the curtains.

The most difficult part of making curtains is getting all the layers to lie nice together since it takes so much space. The floor is the only place to do it but I always seem to get a lot of extra "help" making the project take longer than necessary!

Lastly was all the finishing touches.

The lamp shade was an old one that was looking pretty grungy. Lamp shades aren't so easy to clean but I thought I'd give it a go to try to save it so I painted it with watered down acrylic craft paint. I'm quite happy with how it turned out.

The furniture is Grumpy Bear’s father’s bedroom set from when he was a child & is in pretty good shape overall. I still need to figure out how to get the stickers off the mirror but the crayon on the headboard came off nicely with a scrub brush & a little elbow grease.

As you can see from this before photo it is a nice sunny room that the dogs are partial to.

So a baby gate had to go up!

Baby gates are great for babies & dogs - wished I discovered that several years earlier! And right now Diaperbutt thinks opening & closing them is a whole lot of fun!

A rag rug on the floor, clean sheets & some blankets made by grandma’s & the room is pretty cozy.

I also purchased & assembled the bed rails with the hopes they will keep him safely in the bed through the night. The rails took me over an hour to assemble!

Charlotte, our grumpy old girl is allowed in.

And I found the perfect toy bin at Shopper’s Drugmart the other day that is blue on the outside & green on the inside – now I just need to figure out some nice “quiet” toys to put in there, unfortunately Diaperbutt doesn’t do quiet so well.

We still need to make a nicer cover for the corner behind his bed (for now the electrical is covered safely but it doesn’t look so nice).

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