Mar 31, 2014

Nursery Plans

It's official, people.  Baby Williams is a boy, and he's due to arrive in about four months.  It's time to start thinking about a nursery.

We're actually a little ahead of the game.  When Steve's grandmother moved to a new assisted living facility in January, she upgraded to a full size bed.  The full size bed that had been in our guest bedroom, to be exact.  Since all of her linens were intended for a twin size bed, we went ahead and sent everything with the bed- the linens, the matching curtains and rod, the matching dresser and night stand, and the library table.  The end result is a rather bare room- perfect for starting from scratch.  Well, almost bare... we used a gift card to purchase the light-diffusing cellular shade for privacy reasons shortly after the curtains made their way to Grandma's new place.

Nice and bright, but neighbors can't see in.

The one thing we do have in this room at the moment is a box full of crib and another box full of crib mattress.  You can get a sense of scale of how small this room really is just by looking at the boxes on the floor.

Crib stuff.

There are very few things we're sure about with baby's room so far.  Neither of us really like the idea of a theme, so we're going to aim for a color palette instead.  We've got our crib picked out, and it's white.  Steve really wants to use a tallboy dresser his dad built in baby's room, and it's a light maple color (Steve is opposed to painting the dresser).  We'll need a rocker and a changing table and some room-darkening curtains.  We want to install crown molding in there.

Closet and the door to the hallway propped open.

Pretty much everything else is up for negotiation.  We love the idea of painting a sky and clouds mural on the ceiling.  Right now we are leaning toward a color palette that is mostly grays and whites with aqua blues and a few fun kicks of orange.  We are thinking the crib will end up on the longest unimpeded wall (not the wall it's pictured against now).  I'm totally digging the idea of doing a striped accent wall, but not sure how it would look with a busy ceiling and in such a small room.  We are struggling with what to do about the fuse box (I've said it before and I'll say it again- who puts a fuse box in a bedroom??!?) and we're feeling the need to go through the closet, which is packed to the gills with seasonal items, gift wrapping supplies, and random odds and ends.

So for now, here are some of the images that are serving as points of  inspiration for our nursery.

Love how calming this room is, with the fun pops of orange. {via}

My absolute favorite inspiration photo.  {via}

Gorgeous subtle cloudscape ceiling.  {via}

Obviously I am digging the striped wall thing.  {via}
Should be fun to get our little boy's room put together into someplace functional, peaceful, and a little whimsical.

Mar 29, 2014

Rub-a-Dub Ready

Good news all- the shower in our guest bathroom, after being out of commission for FOUR MONTHS, is finally serviceable again!

Once all of the grouting and haze removal was finished, Steve applied a sealant to the tile.  We selected one that was listed as "impregnable" and had great reviews on Home Depot's website.  It worked great- after we let it cure for 2 days, we tried splattering some water on the tile... and watched it bead right up and roll off.  Even on the grout.  Sealing your tile job isn't necessary, but we had read that it will prevent your grout from discoloring and make cleaning your shower easier, so we decided it was worth the extra $30 or so to make our lives easier in the long run.  We also caulked the bottom edge of the tub as well as the vinyl flooring that runs along the edge of the tub.  It's recommended that the joint between a tiled surround and a tub is caulked rather than grouted to allow for some expansion of the tile.  We're so glad we did that, although now we're regretting using the white tub and tile caulk- it just looks a little incongruous next to the grey grout lines, so there are plans to rip that out and redo it with the same grey flexible grout-in-a-tube that we used along the seams of the tub.

Ready for action!

 Steve also installed our pretty faucet, handle, and shower head.  I love the look of these.  Some minor adjustments that will take place after the fact... the flange around the shower head was not quite wide enough to conceal the gap in our tile, so we'll be looking for a wider flange to replace it before we seal anything in place.  Our extendable showerhead didn't come with the set; it's left over from our old shiny chrome set, so we have plans to replace it with a matching brushed nickel fixture.

Some of the drywall in question.

All in all, pretty small adjustments.  However, there are some not-so-small adjustments that need to be made elsewhere in the bathroom.  Namely, having to do with the joints between the existing mudded/taped/textured/painted drywall, and the bare stuff that replaced the parts we needed to rip out.  We have been pondering what to do about this, but we think we've finally arrived at a solution that was prompted by realizing we will have a small child living with us in just a few months' time.

More of the drywall in question, and girly breakable things.

Here's our plan.  Since baby Williams will be arriving soon, our guest bathroom is going to become baby's bathroom as well.  We are planning on cloth diapering, and we recently found out that baby Williams is a BOY(!!), so we are certain that not only will that bathroom need to be more kid-friendly than our current pretty soaps on a stand and a mercury glass display on floating shelves, it's also going to need to withstand a LOT of messes.  Because of this and our puzzlement over how to seamlessly bridge the gap between the finished and unfinished drywall, we've decided to make some changes in the bathroom.  The floating shelves will be moving out of the bathroom and into the nursery.  The mercury glass collection will likely end up in our office (more on that soon).  We are planning on running bead board all the way up the walls and installing some crown, so we'll completely avoid the hassle of trying to make our drywall situation look seamless and it'll be SOOOO easy to clean.  We are also planning on changing the color palette to be a bit less girly and tie in with our nursery plans (again, more on that soon).  The best part is that most of what we'll need to make these changes are things that we already have or were planning on purchasing for baby Williams' room anyway, so our only additional cost will be the beadboard, some new door trim and base trim, and a shower curtain.

Things won't look this way for long!

Which brings me to the cost aspect of this bathroom reno.  You may remember wayyyy back in October we solicited estimates from local plumbers for simply replacing our damaged fiberglass tub and shower surround with a new fiberglass kit and connecting all of the water bits- you can read about it here.  Our estimates ranged from $1300 to $2700, and didn't include any demo, the cost of the tub and surround, or finishing (the fiberglass tub kit alone would have cost us at least an extra $600).  Since we decided to DIY, we sprung for nicer materials (an Americast tub and a subway tile surround) and the current cumulative cost of our bathroom reno, spread across four months of work, is $1400 on the nose.  That includes everything- every little item we had to buy to complete this project, from the tub all the way down to a hook for the shower caddy.  By the time we complete the finishing work in the bathroom, we'll likely come in for a grand total of around $1500 to $1600.

Was this project hard?  Heck yes- the most difficult we've tackled to date.  Was it slow?  Yes, it was mind-numbingly tedious (this coming from the girl who painted all of the cabinetry in her kitchen).  Was it worth it to have exactly what we wanted, nice materials, the confidence that comes from tackling difficult things, the ability to take a bath in our own home for the first time in almost three years, and still come in at well under the cost of what a contractor could have done it for?  AWWW YISSSS.

Mar 12, 2014

The Thick Grey Line

It's been a couple of weeks since our last bathroom update, but the good news is that we've checked off two more unbelievably tedious and time-consuming steps in getting this bath and shower ready for use.  The grouting and the removing of the grout haze has been finished!

Here's the surround tiled and ready to go:


We decided to use sanded grout because it was recommended based on the size of the spaces between tiles- we used 1/8" spacers when tiling.  Non-sanded grout is recommended for smaller grout lines.  We also considered epoxy grout because it's supposed to be more watertight and stain resistant than traditional grout, but the fact that it's WAY more expensive than sanded grout, it's not available in our local hardware and box stores, and is considered stickier than regular grout (and therefore more difficult to apply) made us decide that plain ol' sanded grout was the way to go for this project.  We wanted to use grey grout, and were aiming for something very light grey, almost silvery.  What we ended up with was a color called "Delorean Gray"- a lightish grey with no brown tones whatsoever that's available at pretty much every Home Depot on the planet.

Here's what I learned about grouting by doing this project.
1- It's really really REALLY easy.  Smoosh grout into lines.  Wipe lines with damp sponge.  Ta-da!
2- It's really really REALLY messy.  Even with putting liner in the tub, I still spent a significant amount of time scraping dried-up grout bits that fell off my float and onto the tub.
3- It requires a lot of visual concentration and hand/arm stamina but no brain power.  Hence sore muscles.
4- It goes a million times slower than you think it will.  I think by the time all was said and done I had spent about 14 cumulative hours standing in that tub, grouting.

And here's what it looked like after those 14 cumulative hours.

That's looking more finished!

One problem.  We chose the grey grout to do two things- break up the giant swath of white that wraps around our bathroom (between the tub/shower, toilet, vanity, and beadboard, it's a lot of white in there), and keep the grout from looking dingy.  We didn't consider that using grey grout would leave a very noticeable haze on our white subway tile.

Hello, haze.

From what I understand, grout haze is a pretty common thing.  Ours might more accurately be called grout haze plus schmutz.

Exhibit A.

To quote Jimmy Fallon and Channing Tatum, "EW!"

So to remove said grout haze plus schmutz, I had a party and invited a gallon of water, a clean sponge, an old rag, a nylon brush, and this stuff, which essentially etches the junk to the point where you can wipe or scrub it off of ceramic tiles:

Schmutz remover.

Worst party ever.  Sure, the schmutz and haze came off the subway tile, but only with extensive scrubbing and wiping and scraping.  And to keep from damaging the grout that was where we wanted it, each tile had to be scrubbed and wiped and scraped individually.  This part took approximately another 12 cumulative hours to complete.

But oh, the results were worth it.  Excuse me while I go pet the pretty tiles.

Clean lines. (Poor photo editing)

Finished bullnose edge.

Interior corner, lookin' sharp.

Lookin' mighty fine.  Ignore the nasty drywall, if you please.

Look at that shine!!  So pretty.

Overall, I think the grey ended up a little darker than I had envisioned, but I'm still plenty happy with the effect of grey on white, and would've gone the same route if I had it to do over again.  We are getting so close now!  I can finally see the light at the end of the five-month-long bathroom-reno tunnel!!