Cleaning, Organizing, & Eco

Move It Or Lose It

This weekend we helped John’s sister and brother-in-law move into their fabulous new home (that they just happened to design themselves) and along with some obligatory back pain we took away some pretty fail-safe moving advice. And now that we’re in the know, we figured we’d share the wealth. After a picture of their breathtaking new kitchen of course:

Moving Tip #1: Clean top to bottom. When you’re cleaning something in your new home (like the kitchen cabinets before you load in all your dishes, or a closet before you add the linens), it only makes sense to start from the top. This way any spare dirt or dust that doesn’t stick to your rag won’t end up dirtying the shelf below that you’ve already cleaned.

Moving Tip #2: Touch things once. If you’re carrying a huge box of bathroom stuff, it makes no sense to toss it into the foyer assuming that you’ll get to it later. If it’s already in your arms, you might as well take it to its final destination. Why bend over twice?

Moving Tip #3: Save the seated tasks for last. It’s much easier to rest when you’re doing stationary projects that can be accomplished in a seated position, so save folding clothes or organizing drawers for the very end of the day when you can pull up a chair or sprawl out on the floor. (Here’s one of the last projects that I completed while perched on a stool: installing dish dividers into their island’s fabulously deep drawers).

Moving Tip #4: Don’t bother unhanging clothes. Unless you’re moving across the country and have to ship your items, drop your clothes (hanger and all) into oversized black garbage bags. Instead of wrestling hangers and clothing into a restrictive box (or taking the time to unhang and rehang everything) it should only take a few giant bags and a few minutes to pack your whole closet. Then simply deposit the bags into the right room, and you’ll have everything back into the closet in about 60 seconds.

Moving Tip #5: Toss stuff you’re so over. You’ll probably move lots of stuff that wasn’t even good enough for your old house (so you sure as heck won’t be whipping it out in your new one). Even though you moved it all the way to the new place, cut your loses and toss it (or donate it) before it takes over the closets and cabinets in your new abode. From editing glassware and silverware to old clothes and even bathroom stuff as you unpack, you’ll feel fabulous about your fresh start (look at all the stuff Emily and Todd left out for the garbage man).

Now it’s your turn to share the wealth. Tell us your favorite moving tips for the next time we get roped into helping our seemingly nomadic family and friends. And stay tuned for the stunning “after” photos of their amazing new home in the coming weeks…



Bathroom Breakthrough

Ok, so here’s a bathroom update that’s way overdue. This is what our bathroom looked like when we started this whole mini-overhaul in an attempt to salvage our vintage basketweave tile instead of demoing every last cracked and peeling corner of our bathroom (warning: this ain’t pretty):


Now for a few more slightly less than pleasant “during” shots in the spirit of sharing the semi-painful process. First, we cut out all the old caulk with a box-cutter (as captured in this tasty photo):

No caulk

Then we did some serious tile cleaning with the 40% peroxide (purchased at a beauty supply store) that one of our readers recommended (thanks Gimbler!). After we let the peroxide soak in overnight, we scrubbed the heck outta the tiles the next morning and they definitely looked lighter and brighter. So it was on to the next step, which involved taping off all the places that we needed to re-caulk.

Taped caulk

The painters tape was another fab tip from a perfectly helpful perfect stranger (thanks Mary!) which resulted in perfectly straight caulk lines that look much improved. The details: caulk, smooth caulk with finger, and quickly remove tape before caulk starts to set. Easy peasy.

Caulk after

Doesn’t less dingy tile and a clean caulk line make all the difference? It also should be noted that we purchased one replacement tile for the top right hand corner where the tub meets the tile (if you scroll up to the picture where we cut out the caulk, you’ll see that there’s a huge hole where a tile should be). We actually couldn’t find an exact match, but it’s really pretty close. Plus the fabric shower curtain hangs down completely obscuring the new caulk line and that tile anyway. But it sure is nice to know that when a guest pulls back the curtain there won’t be a hairy surprise waiting for them anymore.

We also used a little more caulk to totally overhaul our gross-ish drain. Since our tub was reglazed about 8 years ago by the previous owner, the glaze was perfect everywhere except for around the drain. Observe:

drain before

But caulk is like magic in a tube. Look at the difference a little ring of the stuff can make:

drain after

And while we were at it, the old bath and shower fixtures had seen better days. They were original to the house (51 years old) and the corroded knobs and leaky faucet just weren’t up to par anymore.

old faucets

So we switched them. Well, by “we” I mean Mr Rooter. We tried doing it ourselves but the crazy old configuration of the pipes behind the wall made it necessary to call in the experts (who actually needed to use a diamond blade to cut through a 2-inch cement wall to access the old rusty pipes). We’re so glad we knew when to say uncle, because it took two experts over four solid hours to make the change. Luckily they quoted us a price before they discovered the cement wall.

When it came to new fixtures to install, the pickins were slim because we had to match the old three-across configuration of our prior faucets. But thankfully this cute retro-ish set ($136 from Home Depot) looks right at home in our black and white bathroom.

new faucets

Burger loves the mini-bathroom-overhaul (see that happy gleam in his eyes?) and so do we. Mission Save-The-Basketweave accomplished. Thanks so much for all of your help!

Burger floor pic

Update: Alas, a few years of use later made it clear that our cracked and stained wall and floor tiles just couldn’t be saved (although the cleaning and caulking tips above definitely tided us over for a while). So we embarked on a full bathroom overhaul in late 2009. Here are those details.