Archive for April, 2012
If you ever wanted to quiet that voice in your head that says “Kitchen makeover? Are you crazy? You don’t have the money for that!” – let this transformation by Erin inspire you. Here’s her letter:
I wanted to share my blog post on our kitchen remodel with you. It’s a temporary remodel, as cheap as possible, until we can afford to completely gut it and get a new kitchen in a few years (hopefully!).
The biggest purchase was new appliances, besides that we spent max $100 for paint, stenciling supplies, and a shelf above the microwave.
I also finished the floor by stenciling on it, and I love the results! I don’t know if I would have had the guts to do the floor stencil if this was our “forever” kitchen, but since this is a “live-with-it” stage until we can do a whole gut job, I went for it! I’m so glad I did!
The floor was probably the most tedious part of the entire kitchen update. It started with peeling old linoleum off of the plywood subfloor. Then it needed to be wood puttied, sanded down a bit, and finally primed and painted. This part of the process has been done for a while, but we needed to wait until the rest was done to finish the painting and stenciling part. I’m glad we waited – the floor got pretty scratched up moving things around, and it had more than a couple paint drips on it! – Erin
Chalk up another one to the power of paint, eh? We love how fresh and bright Erin’s new kitchen looks (and the painted brick backsplash reminds us of our first “for now” kitchen makeover back in the day). Oh, and she’s got more info on the makeover over on her blog so be sure to head over there too. Thanks so much for sharing Erin! I’d suggest we play the favorite part game, but I’d bet it’ll all be floor votes… although the painted cabinets are room-changers for sure.
Psst- We picked a winner for this week’s giveaway. Click here to see if it’s you.
And now for a fourth chapter of The Sandbox Chronicles. Just kidding. It’s time for some toilet talk. Remember the almond toilet that came with our master bedroom (which we recently switched out for a taller and cleaner-looking white one)? Well, for a while the old almond guy – who looks oddly white in this picture below – just sat in our entryway. What, is that weird?
The reason? We decided to try our hand at Craigslisting it. Once John found out it was an over $1300 (!!!) toilet by Kohler (more on that here) he was convinced we could get some money for it from someone in search of an upscale almond toilet. You’d be amazed what people buy on Craigslist by the way. And a few days later… we sold it! For $80! The nicest family (a man with two young boys and a baby girl) came over to grab it after work one night last week. I know it’s nerdy, but it felt so good to know that our old john was going to a loving home. Haha. The funniest part was that when they all left with the toilet and we were waving at the window with Clara (she requires that we wave at everyone walking away from our house) she said “I go in car too!” Yup, the girl apparently liked the toilet and the new family so much that she wanted to leave with them.
Although we were initially looking at the $80 that we made on the sale of the old “fancy toilet” as a nice little credit towards our new one (which was $88), a few days later we heard about a sweet local family (a single mother named Chevelle with six children) that Habitat For Humanity is helping out. And we learned that for an $100 donation we could buy them a toilet for their new soon-to-be-built house.
So we happily put our $80 Craigslist profit plus twenty bucks of our own into an $100 toilet donation for Chevelle’s family. If anyone else feels like helping them out – here’s the link. Habitat is such a great organization. We’re fans. But anyway, now that we’ve covered the subject of used (and new) toilets, let’s get on to the whole door trimming thing.
You probably remember us mentioning that the bottom of our bathroom door needed to be trimmed so it would open all the way instead of getting caught on an air vent in the floor.
Not only was it annoying that the door wouldn’t fully open due to grinding up against the vent, but we also couldn’t have a bath mat because the bottom of the door would just wad it up and push into it since it couldn’t just pass over even the thinnest options. Which meant wet puddles on the floor outside the tub every day. Which just happens to be right in front of the toilet. Do you know how gross it is to go to the bathroom with your feet in puddles? Granted they’re clean bathwater puddles, but still – your brain can go to a dark place. And if you have socks on and you walk into the bathroom: wet socks. The worst.
So this week’s bathroom door-trimming update is also this week’s Dude Get On That Already challenge, because… dude…. how have we not gotten on this sooner?
To remedy this situation, we cut down the door. It really wasn’t bad at all. First we removed the door by removing the hinge screws to slowly release it (two people = the best way to do something like this to avoid the door slamming down to the ground and scaring the bejeesus out of you).
Then John and I carried the door out to the patio where we had set up the table saw. John pushed the door against the guide next to the blade as I pushed the door slowly into the blade to get a nice clean cut off the bottom. Update: Matt very kindly taught us a safer way to cut down a door, so read about that here. Safety first!
We probably took between half an inch and a third of an inch off since it was such a tight fit before and we wanted to make sure it would clear the vent on the floor and the future bath mat that we’d be adding to solve the whole puddle problem.
Then I sanded the bottom of the door to clean up any roughness before we rehung it (since once we rehung it we’d have a hard a$$ time getting sandpaper under it to smooth that area out).
Then we rehung the door about a half-hour later by using the same screws that we removed from the hinges.
Oh happy day! We cleared the vent! Still have to do some quick paint touch ups along the bottom lip, but it’s looking pretty good.
Then I took a minute to add a doorstop on the bottom right edge of the door so the towel hooks on the back of the door wouldn’t slam open into the art that’s hanging on that side wall.
So now our bathroom to-do list looks like this:
paint the walls so they have some contrast replace the boob light paint the cream trim white hang some bathroom-friendly art craigslist the toilet and replace it with a classic white one do something to add privacy to the window nix the ugly and cluttered showerhead caddy remove the door so we can shave the bottom (and add a door stopper so it doesn’t squash the art)
- finally get a bath mat
- replace the border tile around the room (maybe in phase 2?)
- move the blue pendant light to hang centered in front of the window (phase 2?)
- replace the floor tile down, just to break things up since there’s so much of it (definitely phase 2)
John and I are still discussing when we’ll tackle things like cutting out that border tile and replacing it (along with rehanging the light to be centered on the window) so we’ll keep you posted if it’s right around the corner, and will be back with a full budget breakdown for all of Phase One if we decide to hold off on that other stuff for a little while. But enough about us. What about you guys? Have you sold any secondhand toilets? Bought any new ones? Cut down any doors?
Psst- To follow this bathroom sprucing project from the start, check out this planning post, this painting post, this light-swapping post, this art and trim-painting post, this toilet-updating post, and this window frosting and shampoo wrangling post.
Yes, just when you thought the sandbox-citement was over – it continues. We chatted all about how we built the base of the box here and how we made the lid with a locking system that secures it to the fence here – but it still wasn’t done. That’s the funny thing about DIY in general – you might expect a kitchen reno to run across 35+ posts and to last four months, but you never think that something like a simple sandbox will be a three part process. On the other hand, sometimes projects that we think will be really complicated end up being no sweat and we wonder why we put them off so long – so I guess it all balances out in the end. Anyway, when we last left our heroine, she was enjoying her freshly completed box – cover and all.
But the next day, as we disposed of all of the empty play sand bags and put two extra ones in the car to return them, Sherry noticed this warning on the back of the bags.
To anyone having trouble reading it, it says: This product contains small amounts of crystalline silica, a common mineral found in natural sands and stones. Excessive inhalation of respirable silica dust may cause cancer and lung disease. Avoid breathing dust. Wear approved respirator in dusty area.
Cancer and lung disease? Wear approved respirators? Isn’t this labeled “play sand” and meant for sand boxes with children who sit in that dusty mess and pour it everywhere? With red flag officially raised, we turned to the Internet to see why the heck a bag of something meant for children would have a warning that it can “cause cancer and lung disease.” Soon enough, Sherry came across a string of articles (like this one and this one and this one and this one) indicating that the type of play sand that we bought may not be the ideal option to have our daughter romping around in (not to mention that Clara left her first play session with clothes and hands covered in a white chalky dust which retroactively freaked us out).
Although we all may have played in sand as children and we’re perfectly healthy (or are we? I guess there’s still time to find out, haha) the way sand is manufactured and where it’s found can change. So if you grew up playing in river or beach sand, which may have been more common than manufactured “silica or tremolite” sand, that would explain why the newer sand containing that potentially dangerous stuff is an issue today. Here’s a screen grab from WebMD with a particularly helpful summary that we found:
So we decided to make a sandbox switcheroo – just so we wouldn’t have to think twice about letting Clara play in there for hours on end for years to come. And frankly, our alternative rocks.
I’ll pause to record a point in my “rock pun” column.
I don’t know why I didn’t think about this before – my sister actually had a rock box for her kids a while back (they’re now tweens/teens and are way too cool for it) but they loved it back in the day. Obviously it’s NOT a good solution for kiddos who still put things in their mouth. Clara did that until about a year old, but now routinely plays with rocks and pea gravel wherever she can find it without ever trying to suck it down (true story: at Home Depot there’s an outdoor planting bed with pea gravel and she loves it more than the playground). Clara’s also less likely to leave covered in rocks and track them all over the house than she was with sand. So I started the not-so-fun task of digging out all of the sand (and hauling it in the wheelbarrow to be dumped in the woods far behind our house – the very back of our almost-an-acre property).
I wouldn’t put it on the top of my “most awesome DIY tasks ever” list, but it wasn’t that bad. Although it was kinda sad to see it all empty and barren when I was through. Pardon the tree’s muddled shadow in this pic (it looks like some sand is still lurking but we swept that baby dry).
Then we turned that frown upside down by dumping in what I will now call my inaugural bag of pebbles. Things were looking up!
But upon closer examination, things were also looking kinda dirty.
Now, I realize it seems kinda prissy to be surprised that rocks are dirty (“Gasp! And water’s wet?! The horror!”). And if we didn’t mind Clara getting a bit dirty, well, we wouldn’t be making a outdoor play box now would we? But the pebbles were all covered in a sort of gritty dust that just kinda bothered me. I felt lazy just dumping them in so dirty when I could easily remedy the problem, so I decided to give the rocks a quick bath in my wheelbarrow.
I felt kinda silly doing this at first, but when I drained my first batch and saw how much dirty water was coming out it didn’t feel like my efforts were worthless at all.
But enough rock washing. Let’s get rockin’ and rollin’ onto the finished product.
Remember the lid is secured to the fence with metal hardware to keep things safe (more on that here).
I used around 20 bags to fill the whole box to the point where it was pretty much level with the ground around it – meaning Clara didn’t have a big step on either side, and she’d have a few inches of depth to really dig into. Oh and the bags of rocks were actually cheaper than the bags of sand at Home Depot. They were around $2.50 a pop, so it was just under $50 to fill our 25 square foot box up. Not free but worth the peace of mind for us. If only we had seen the warning on the sand before opening it, we could have actually saved money filling things up with rocks from the start. Oh well, live and learn.
We also took this opportunity to mulch around the sandbox, er, rock box (excuse me) so everything would look a bit cleaner when we presented it to Clara (she was with her grandparents the afternoon we made the change).
So how did Clara react to the change? See for yourself.
Honestly we expected a bigger “Where the sand go?!” reaction, but I guess it’s probably best that rocks instantly erased any memory or care for the old stuff.
All she cared about is that she could get her dig on.
Which actually was reassuring to see, since I worried the chunkier rocks might be harder to dig and scoop, but she’s had no problem – even with the flimsy dollar store shovel we got her. Plus she can scoop rocks with a shovel but also pick them up with her hands (not true with sand) so she seems to have a lot of fun with that. For example, she likes filling the front part of her truck with one rock carefully shoved through the window at a time. It’s the little things, right?
And luckily the rocks have proved to be less messy than the sand. Yeah, we may occasionally need a bath afterward – but the sand involved a rigorous pre-going-back-into-the-house-dust-off that the rocks have yet to require. Upgrade!
But in the end, as long as Clara is having fun – who cares how messy she gets? Oh and see those white things around the sandbox that sort of look like rocks? It sort of looks like there was lot of rock fling-age going on, but they’re just white petals dropped by our dogwood. We may be jinking ourselves, but so far Clara has been happy to keep the rocks in her rock box since we explained that’s their home and it’s where they need to stay for her to play with them.
Rock on, Beansie. Rock on.
So that’s the long circuitous story – told Hunger Games style, as a trilogy – about…
Have you guys ever done something and then decided to tweak or redo it in the final hour? Do some projects that you think will take forever end up being easier than you thought and then later you tackle some project that you assume will be super simple and that’s the one that randomly ends up being a bit more involved? Ah DIY, you’re a fickle creature, but we can’t help loving you.
Psst- Speaking of things you don’t always get right on the first try, we’re over here chatting about picking paint colors.