2018 House Goals

No preamble; let’s do this! Here are 3 big things I want to get done in 2018.

1. Fix Up the Staircase

You’ve seen this central staircase in previous posts (e.g. our half bathroom). What you haven’t seen in great detail is what poor shape it’s in! The balusters have 100 years of paint glommed onto them. The risers are beat up and the treads are poorly stained. The cove moulding is half stained / half painted – maybe there used to be a runner rug?

StairsBefore.jpg

If you follow me on Instagram, you already know that I’ve started working on this project. (I have process shots pinned to my Instagram Stories, if you’re interested.) This staircase will be a very slow slog, but what else am I going to do with my free time? Relax? Pshaw.

Cat on Stairs.jpg

That’s Doozy doing his Lucille Bluth wink.

2. Install New Moulding

Friends: I struggle with the spelling of “moulding” vs. “molding.” I prefer the former. The latter looks like a verb, but it seems like it’s more commonly used online.

Anyway, I am sticking with moulding-with-a-u, and this is the year it will happen. I want to replace the existing trim on our front door, back door, passageways, etc. I bought a brad nailer (this Ryobi AirStrike) and am figuring out my plan of attack. This photo is from today, when I was experimenting with options. (That architrave would be cut shorter, obviously.)

Moulding Mock Up.jpg

This style and scale looks much better and more appropriate for the house than the moulding you see behind it, on the doorway leading to the kitchen, which leads me to my final to-do…

3. Makeover the Kitchen

I had initially thought I would fully renovate this kitchen, which is what I mentioned in this kitchen progress blog post. Having lived with the kitchen for over two years, however, I’ve come to realize it’s not a priority for me.

Current Kitchen.jpg

Knowing me and my particular tastes, a full remodel would easily cost over $25,000 (and that’s being conservative). This kitchen isn’t a $25k+ problem I want or need to solve. The layout works well for us, the cabinets are fine, and I love the huge island. So, I plan to do a make-it-work makeover: professionally painted cabinets, new hardware, new appliances, better decoration, etc.

So, those are the big 3! There will surely be other projects along the way – including some leftovers from my 2017 list [shame] – I’ll do my best to keep the blog posts coming!

P.S. Shoutout to Megan from Roots Pizza – thank you for introducing yourself and for reading!

Customizing an IKEA SILVERAN Bathroom Vanity

This post details how I customized an IKEA SILVERÅN vanity for our newly-remodeled half-bathroom. Because this powder room is in a visible spot on our first floor, I wanted a vanity that looked like a piece of furniture we’d have elsewhere in the house.

Powder Room.jpg

As I mentioned in my Bathroom Decision Making post, I was unable to find an off-the-shelf vanity that fit both my taste and the small space. I got quotes from a variety of places for a simple custom vanity, all of which came in around $1k (for the cabinet only – sink not included). I didn’t want to spend that kind of money on such a small piece and decided to take my chances on an IKEA hack.

SILVERAN Cabinet

There are two IKEA SILVERÅN cabinet finishes: white and light brown. The white one is made up of particleboard and plastic. It’s $20 less expensive, but it feels and looks even cheaper. The light brown one is solid pine. I chose this one because it felt sturdier and would be easier to customize. I bought it when IKEA had a 20% off sale on bathroom products, which made it $88. Cheap! And, I reused the existing sink. Free!

To start, I cut the vanity’s depth down to size to fit our 14″ sink. The 9″ SILVERAN was too shallow, so I bought the 15″ version and cut a couple of inches off the side panels. I won’t go into detail on this because I can’t imagine anyone would find it interesting.

Painting the vanity was straightforward: I sanded the wood to rough up the lacquer, then primed and painted. I used Benjamin Moore’s Mopboard Black; it’s part of their Williamsburg Collection, which also includes the Gunsmith Gray color I used on our house’s exterior. I like curated color collections like this – helps me from getting overwhelmed by options.

Primer on IKEA Vanity.JPG

I wanted legs that tapered on two sides, and Google led me to Osborne Wood Products. I ordered the 5″ tapered feet. I chose the red oak option because it’s a hard wood and I figured it would stand up better to dings than some of the cheaper options would. (Did you know there’s a scale called the Janka hardness test?) Osborne offers a lot of nice furniture feet options – way more than you’ll find at a local hardware store.
Tapered Foot.jpg

The feet were a little chunkier than my mental ideal, so I shaved an inch off both flat sides with my miter saw. Craziness like this is why Jarrod calls me “Particular Palermo.” I assembled the painted frame per the IKEA instructions, and then used both glue and screws to secure the feet to the vanity.

I started by drilling pilot holes into the bottom of the vanity, safely on either side of the cam bolt (but not so wide that there was a risk of the screws coming through the taped side of the leg). Anyone who has assembled IKEA furniture knows this bolt + metal dowel combo is what makes the furniture sturdy, so I didn’t want to mess with that.

Drilled Holes.JPG

On the other side of the vanity base, I used a countersink bit in the pilot hole so the screws would be flush with the wood.

Drill Sink Bit.JPG

I used Liquid Nails construction glue and clamps to hold the legs in place.

Attaching Legs to an IKEA Vanity.JPG

After the glue dried, I drilled in my screws and then painted the legs.

Attaching Legs to an IKEA Vanity 2.JPG

I installed adjustable feet in the legs using these threaded furniture glides.

Vanity Leg Feet.JPG

The vanity is fully wall-mounted, so the legs are mostly just for show, but they do offer secondary support. I can easily twist the adjustable feet to raise/lower them, which lets me slide the rug under!

IMG_7190.JPG

The screws are barely noticeable when the doors are open. The vanity came with a shelf which I didn’t use because the plumbing didn’t leave enough room for it. This isn’t a problem, however, because there’s plenty of space for the few things I want to keep in there.

IKEA SILVERAN vanity open.jpg

I added Tolson cabinet knobs from Rejuvenation.

IKEA SILVERAN vanity.jpg

I didn’t have to wrestle with IKEA plumbing because I used the existing sink and a new MOEN faucet. If you need tips for installing IKEA plumbing, see my previous post: How I Installed an IKEA Bathroom Vanity.

IKEA SILVERAN bathroom vanity.jpg

Bathroom Sink.jpg

And that’s it! A pretty easy hack for a very pretty vanity.

IKEA SILVERAN vanity hack.jpg

Previous posts

Half-Bathroom Renovation: Day 4 and Beyond

I’m back with the second half of my half-bathroom renovation chronicles. You can check out previous posts here: Half-Bathroom Renovation is Underway! and Half-Bathroom Renovation: Days 1 through 3.

Day 4

On Day 4, I woke up very early so that I could put another (better) coat of paint on the walls and ceiling before the crew returned. I knew wallpaper would cover most of the flaws, but I didn’t want that to be an excuse for shoddy finishing work.

Bathroom Painting.JPG

When the guys arrived, they tackled all of the finishing details: beadboard, trim, etc. The weather was beautiful that week, which was great for an outdoor construction zone.

Outdoor Construction Zone.JPG

New trim and architrave above the door:Architrave.JPG

I had this photo printed out to show the guys how I wanted the window trim done, which was helpful for explaining details: mitered corners, slightly extended sill, etc.

Window Trim Photo.JPG

They went rogue on one detail – cutting angled corners for the bottom piece of trim – but I decided to be fine with that.

Window Sill.JPG

Day 4 was the last day the crew was scheduled to be at our house. They had another job booked for Friday and, with Patrick gone, were very pressed for time. They started rushing things.

Bathroom Beadboard.JPG

I won’t go into all of the small errors because that’s really boring, but here’s one example: the door was hung without chiseling out one of the door hinge slots. They simply screwed the hinge on top of the door. (I had them hang the door prior to my painting it.)

Door Hinge.JPG

The biggest problem was that the beadboard was installed crooked. The height varied by over 2 inches and the trim along the top visibly sloped.

So, at the end of the final day we were left with crooked beadboard, uncaulked trim, a door with no knob, and a handful of miscellaneous issues.

Bathroom Progress.JPG

The Following Week

I asked Patrick to come out the following week to discuss the job. To his credit, he looked at the beadboard and immediately said “This is unacceptable.” They removed and reset the trim along the top so that it’s more level (it’s still not perfect, but it’s within a margin of error that’s acceptable to me). They also re-mudded some areas to fix a few drywall issues…

Drywall Mud Fail.JPG

Not great, right?!

Drywall Mud Fail 2.JPG

At this point I figured it was best to cut my losses. We parted ways amicably and I finished the work myself – sanding the walls smooth, caulking the trim, etc. Everything’s fine now. All totaled, I think the guys did a B- job. It wasn’t a terrible contractor experience; it certainly wasn’t great, but they were very reasonably priced, so I feel like I got my money’s worth. Let’s call it a learning experience and move on!

Painting and Door Details

Painting the trim and beadboard in this tiny powder room was a real chore. It was cramped and involved a lot of toilet straddling.

Cramped Space Painting.JPG

DIY Throne.JPG

In the weeks prior to the renovation, I had purchased a wonderfully solid, vintage five-panel door for $20. It was covered in a hundred years worth of paint, which obscured the wood details. I stripped it to, yes, paint it again. Don’t you judge me! (You can judge me.)

Door Stripping.png

It was slow-going but satisfying work.

Door Progress.JPG

I removed the old mortise lock and cut a piece of wood to fill the pocket. I used some chopsticks to make it extra-tight and then filled everything in with Bondo putty.

Door Progress 2.JPG

I painted the door following this helpful Family Handyman guide.

Five Panel Door Painting.JPG

Their screw tip was really helpful: it let me paint both sides of the door without waiting for the first side to dry.

Door Painting.JPG

Wallpaper

Finally: wallpaper! I hired Midwest Paperhangers to do the job, and they were great.

Wallpaper Table.JPG

The multiple angles of this room required careful planning. This father-and-son team measured precisely and planned where seams would meet, doing calculations that would have broken my brain.

Planned Wallpaper Seam.JPG

Connel Sr. and Connel Jr. knocked out this awkward, angled room in only two and a half hours. It was amazing.

Bathroom Wallpaper Crew.JPG

Wallpaper Installation.JPG

And that’s where I’ll leave you for now! I’ll be back on Tuesday morning with photos of the finished bathroom.

Toilet Straddle.JPG

Adding Moulding to Inside Out Bi-Fold Doors

Yesterday I shared a quick post about my new entryway chandelier and rug. Now I’m back with a long post on the final change I made in this first wave of improvements: DIY Shaker bi-fold doors for our entryway closet. Here’s where we started:

Closet Doors Before.JPG

It’s fine, but I disliked that the closet doors were as much a focal point as the front door: same paneling, same moulding, same color. The focus should be on our home’s entryway, not the bi-fold doors.

Additionally, I didn’t love the exaggerated faux woodgrain – nothing wrong with it, just not my style.

Closet Door Before Closeup.JPG

I wanted a smoother finish with Shaker-style trim, which is a better fit for our Craftsman(esque) bungalow.

Reversing the Doors

There are a lot of good guides online from people who have tackled similar projects (e.g. The DIY Playbook and Room for Tuesday), but they started with plain bi-fold doors. I wanted to make do with what I had, if possible, so I decided to try flipping the doors inside out to use of the flush backside.

Closet Door Back.JPG

I started by removing the doors. Then I removed the hinges and drilled through the existing screw holes with a small drill bit. That made it easy to know where to mount the hinges on the reverse side of the door. I flipped the door over and reattached the hinges.

Closet Door Hinges.JPG

Then I put the door back on its track to see if this harebrained idea worked. It did! The inside out door functioned without problem. So, I proceeded.

Closet Door Inside Out.JPG

I sanded the doors with 220 grit to create a nice, smooth finish.

Door Sanding.JPG

Selecting the Moulding

Next step was moulding. I went to Lowe’s and Home Depot to check out their lattice trim offerings. (Note: Room for Tuesday said she used 1 inch thick poplar boards, but that felt too chunky for these doors.) Home Depot had the best options for what I had in mind.

Lattice Options.JPG

I expected to buy pine lattice, but the oak lattice was a quarter inch wider. This small difference made the trim feel more substantial.

Pine and Oak Lattice.JPG

Oak cost about $20 more total than pine, which was worth it to me to have the proportions that felt best. For the top and bottom pieces, I went a step wider and bought 3 inch poplar project boards. (I think even wider horizontal pieces would look great, too.)

Poplar Board.JPG

Attaching the Trim

I cut the trim to size, starting with the vertical pieces and then adding the horizontal sections. I used Liquid Nails to affix the trim.

Trim Glue.JPG

I also used finishing nails at the top and bottom, and at a few points in between. I held them in place with long nose pliers to save my fingers from hammering.

Finishing Nail.JPG

I sunk the nail using a nail setter. I picked up this Kobalt 3-Piece Titanium Nail Punch Set at Lowe’s and it’s been super handy.

Nail Setter.JPG

I chose to do a simple Shaker style, with moulding around the perimeter of each door and no additional horizontal pieces, because my goal was to make the doors less of a focal point. I don’t need a fancy closet. Also, this style coordinates with our nearby kitchen cabinets, and this house is in bad need of cohesion.

Closet Trim Progress 2.JPG

You need to set the trim inside the outer edge or else the door won’t be able to open. When I first read that guidance online, it took me a bit to understand why, so here’s a visual aid that maybe (?) helps…

When the door is shut, there is plenty of space between the door frame and the edge of the door:Door Space Shut.jpg

But the angle of the opening door takes up more space. You need that extra room for the trim to clear the door frame:Door Space Open.jpg

I set the moulding about 0.25″ inside the outer edge of the closet door. The “right” position depends on how thick your trim is: the thicker the trim, the more space you’ll need. Before I proceeded with painting, I rehung my first door to double-check that everything was still functioning properly.

Closet Trim Progress.jpg

Then I spackled the wood seams and nail holes, did a final sanding pass, and caulked any gaps between the moulding the door. Finally, it was time to prime and paint. Painting is, as we’ve established, the worst task in the world. I got through it, but I failed to document it.

Trim Spackling.JPG

The Finished Product

We went from white bi-fold doors:Bifold Doors Before.JPG

To slightly different white bi-fold doors! DIY Bifold Door Moulding.JPG

I used the same knobs I bought for our bathroom vanity upstairs: Amerock’s Blackrock 1-1/3″ Cabinet Knob. I may eventually swap these out for a black metal pull, but I decided to start simple.

Closet Trim and Knobs.JPG

As for cost: I could have purchased new, totally plain bifold doors for $45 each. By flipping the doors, I saved $90 and didn’t waste otherwise-perfectly-fine doors. All totaled, the wood trim cost $60, which is at least half the price of any comparable craftsman bifold doors I found elsewhere. And, I like these more than anything I found: the style is exactly what I wanted.

Bifold Doors with Trim.JPG

So, we went from this:entryway-before

To this:entryway-before-2

To this:Entryway Rug and Chandelier.JPG

But I’m not finished yet. There are three major changes left on my to-do list for this area, and they need to happen in this order:

1. New front door: I plan to hire someone to install a new door – likely this JELD-WEN Craftsman 6-Lite Primed Steel, which I’ll likely paint black.

2. New moulding: I’m going to replace the moulding around all of the doors with something Craftsman-appropriate. I plan to do this myself, and I am dreeeeaaading it.

3. New coat rack: Finally, I’m going to build a simple hook rail. I might run it across the entire length of the wall, right up to the moulding around the living room entryway. So, it makes sense to hold off on this until the new moulding is in place.

Monkeying with an external door in the middle of winter seems inadvisable, so I’m going to put a pin in the entryway for now and focus on the other projects in my 2017 House Goals list.

One Last Thing: Upcoming Reader Survey

I put together a reader survey to help me better understand who reads this blog, and how you do, and why you do! I’ll return later this week with a link to the survey and a plea for your participation. Thanks in advance, buddies.

2017 House Goals

In 2016, our house saw many sweeping, expensive changes. 2017 isn’t likely to be quite as dramatic, but that doesn’t mean I’m slowing down. I’m excited to tackle a lot of projects throughout the house – here’s a rundown of everything on my docket.

I’ve listed the projects in order of “This will definitely happen” to “I hope this will happen but who the f knows what the future holds.”

1. Fix Up Mantle and Bookshelves

Our fireplace mantle and bookcases are in poor shape: the mantle is flecked with paint, the shelves look parched, and the stain is inconsistent. I threw our books up there when we moved in, and now it’s time to fix up and thoughtfully arrange this area.

Living Room Fireplace

I got a jump on this project in 2016 by painting the previously-painted-red brick.

Cat Fireplace.JPG

2. Spruce Up Entryway

I hadn’t put too much effort into our entryway until just recently. Now I have a new light fixture and a new (old) rug, which I’ll share soon. Left to do: buy/build a hook rail, upgrade our closet doors, and improve the closet storage situation.

3. Finish Mudroom Interior and Exterior

I spent a hundred hours on the mudroom in 2016, but never showed you any of the interior and never reached a point I’d call “finished.” (You saw the exterior in the backyard post.)

4. Improve Attic Insulation and Circulation

One not-fun but important thing I need to figure out in 2017 is our attic insulation. During our pre-closing house inspection, our inspector noted that it could stand to be improved. But it hadn’t really caused any problems* until this winter, when we witnessed the symptoms of and then learned the term “ice dam.”

Ice Dam Diagram.png(Diagram from the Historic Chicago Bungalow Association’s Bungalow Maintenance 101 guide, which I highly recommend.)

In short: heat in our attic causes snow to melt off our roof, which refreezes in and over our gutters. It also creates a murderous slick of ice on our front walk and stairs.

Gutter Ice Dam.jpg

* Though our second floor bedroom can be chilly, our 2016 house utility bills were virtually identical to our 2015 apartment utility bills, which was a huge load off my mind – I had really stressed about heating and cooling costs when we first moved in. This winter is expected to be brutal, however, so I’m sure that will change.

5. Figure out Bedroom Storage

The IKEA storage drawers you saw in the bedroom post are wearing out their welcome. We need better storage solutions inside and outside the closet. I also hope to install new bifold closet doors (bifold doors are shockingly expensive, by the way – I don’t really understand why).

bedroom-ikea-dresser

6. Buy a New Sofa

You’d think this would be easy. It’s not.

7. Install New Doors

I’d like to replace:

  • Our front door with a craftsman door (painted black)
  • Our back door with a glass door (so we can see our garden from our kitchen)
  • Our half-bath door with a craftsman door, if I…

8. Renovate the Half-Bathroom

If I tackle this project, it will be my very first floor-to-ceiling renovation! Given its small size and my modest ambitions, I think (fingers crossed) it could be in the budget this year.

Bathroom

I’ve ordered a few wallpaper samples, picked out a toilet*, and started to get quotes from contractors. It will be a mix of DIY and hiring out.

* If you’re worried that I may have selected a toilet that won’t be able to flush 3 cell phones, 40 cigarettes, 20 golf balls, and 56 chicken nuggets: stop worrying. It totally can. The product video on the Home Depot site kills me. Such peppy music! Such ill-advised flushing challenges!

Toilet Nuggets.png

Those 8 goals should keep me plenty busy, and keep this blog filled with content. There will be other smaller scale projects along the way as well, including decorating our guest bedroom and adding planters to our front stoop. Stay tuned!