Home Improvement

Love Handle Removal

Happy Friday, y’all! We’re painting the foyer today (pics on Monday – woop woop!) but I realized that I forgot to share two bathroom related happenings. And one’s a giant oops moment, so this should be fun.

First of all, it’s fitting that this thing is called a vanity because I did a little surgery and removed its love handle. It’s hard to see in some of the more recent photos of the bathroom, but this one shows it loud and proud:

That slab of counter against the right wall just felt imbalanced to us, and it’s actually a pretty simple DIY project to remove it. So if you have a side-splash thing that you’re not in love with (most modern sinks these days don’t have them at all and the walls are just fine) here’s how we gave ours the boot.

First we fired up the ol’ liposuction machine manual screwdriver and shoved it under the side slab, trying not to dig into the top of the sink (remember you just want to loosen and remove the side slab, not ding up the sink underneath it). You can use a rubber mallet or even a hammer to tap the screwdriver under the panel along the top seam, bottom seam, or even the side seam like this:

Eventually it got loose enough for us to yank it right off, although we were left with four puncture marks in our wall – along the top seam – where the screwdriver dug into the drywall.

Here’s where I said to myself: Self, don’t panic. Breathe in. Breathe out. You can do this.

I grabbed a sanding block, just to get off any chunks of glue or drywall that weren’t flush with the wall. Then I got my spackle and a 2″ putty knife (I like Dap Crackshot Spackling paste, not only because the name is entertaining but because it does the job). Using the spackle knife I just smoothed spackle over the entire area that I wanted to smooth out, building it up just a smidge beyond the wall in all areas so that when I sanded it down it would be smooth and flush again.

After it dried (I usually wait about 5 hours just to be sure), I got my sanding block again. I prefer a block since it has straight edges which can help you keep your wall straight instead of ending up with something wavy and pitted. This will be dusty, and you might panic because often when you sand something smooth there are a few little low spots or dings that come through and you’re all “man, I just want to paint this and be done with it” – but RESIST my friend. Put the paint brush down.

Wipe down all of the sanding dust and then go back with your spackle for a second pass at those dings and low points. Trust me, this ten minute second step is the difference between a smooth wall and an annoys-you-everytime-you-look-at-it wall. Here are the spots I spackled again, just to get them nice and flush.

After it was all dry, once again I used my sanding block to sand them smooth. Then it was time to caulk a nice clean line between the vanity and the wall with white paintable silicon caulk (paintable is key, and for brands I like Dap). That’ll keep any water from rolling down the side of the vanity, so it’s a nice “housekeeping” step – plus it just looks nice and finished. As for application, I just squeezed a line of caulk down the wall into that crack and then used my finger to smooth it out a few times until it was clean and unassuming.

Then (and only then!) did I allow myself to grab my paint brush and touch up the wall so it was nice and seamless. This was one of those lessons I have had to learn over time. You will never, ever be in the mood to do that second pass of spackle (“gee, there’s nothing I feel like doing more than spackling and sanding this wall that I already spackled and sanded”) but it makes all the difference in how smooth it looks in the end. At least for a bugged-by-dings girl like me.

Speaking of smooth, we spilled half a quart of the Baby Fern paint that we used on the vanity (and then painted over) right onto the concrete floor in the garage. Whoops.

There was panicking. It was a hot gelatinous mess. While we struggled to remain calm we both came to the same conclusion: let’s not touch the paint at all. Let’s not try to clean it up or thin it out or add water or anything. Let’s just let it sit there, and hopefully once it dries it’ll be a thick enough glob that we can peel off like a giant latex sticker.

So we waited about a week for it to fully dry, and then we yanked on it…

Wouldn’t you know it peeled right up in nearly one piece (there were a few spots we peeled off a second later that were left behind). There initially was a big brown wet-looking mark under it, which you can see in the picture above, but we hoped that once the mass of latex was up off of the concrete it would just dry itself out and go back to being normal looking.

Well lookie here. Besides a few slightly tinted spots, it’s not noticeable at all. In fact we’ve since moved all the stuff that was framing “the scene of the crime” and we can’t even really pick out the spill spot anymore.

I still kind of can’t believe our leave-it-and-peel-it-later approach actually worked. And I’m endlessly grateful that it was so easy (even attempting to wipe that up when it happened might have taken a while and resulted in a giant mess). So when in doubt, just do nothing and wait a while and hopefully whatever problem you have will peel off like a sticker. Well, I guess that advice doesn’t work for everything, but for a giant goober of paint in the garage, it was a pretty darn good outcome.


Psst- We’re trying out a new little bonus feature on Friday posts by ending with four fun projects, chats, or questions going on over on the Forums. You know, just in case you don’t want to go back to work just yet…

by ElizabethAnn by KatyRICEdesigns by KellyLawler1 by ArtisanDesarts



The Cable Guy

One thing we were excited about doing differently in this house vs. the last one is having a TV in our master bedroom.

And while we did briefly have a TV in our last master, we never hooked it up to a DVD player or bothered to get a second cable box. Heck, I’m not sure it even got plugged in.

We’ve never been gung ho about having a bedroom TV (and we realize it can be a hot topic) but as two people who struggle to snap out of blog mode at night, we thought it would help fight the temptation to work on our laptops (which happens all the time downstairs on the sofa) if we were snuggled in bed instead. So we took the plunge and ordered two set top boxes for this house. One step closer to living the dream, y’all.

Except, once again, we didn’t get the bedroom one hooked up. In order for our alarm system to work, we needed a phone line which led to a pre-move installation of cable/phone/internet, but before moving in all of our furniture we weren’t sure where we wanted the Verizon guy to put the new cable jack in the wall upstairs. So he convinced me I could easily do it myself whenever I was ready and off he went, leaving me wondering if he was persuasive or just lazy. Either way, we had another non-working bedroom TV on our hands (well, until we hooked up the Blu-ray player for the occasional weekend movie).

I’ve never done any sort of wiring through walls, so I was pretty unsure how this would all turn out. The basic goal being to snake a cable from an existing splitter in the attic, down through the wall and out a new hole in the bedroom. Between the basic instructions from the cable guy and a few YouTube videos I felt brave enough to start drilling a few holes in our attic. But first I had to figure out where. So I followed a visible electrical wire in the attic to help me pinpoint where the wall was amidst all that insulation (the wall I was looking for runs parallel to the joists).

I also knew I was at the right place because (after some digging) I found the phone line that also connects to a jack in our bedroom. Seeing where both of these wires were threaded through the attic floor gave me confidence that I would be making a hole in the right piece of wood.

I was having trouble translating my measurements from the bedroom to the attic. For some reason I couldn’t wrap my head around adjusting for measuring against drywall in one space and an exposed rafter in another. So instead I used other fixed reference points to figure out where I should drill. For instance, I knew where the phone jack was in the bedroom and could see where its wire snaked through in the attic. So, here went nothing.

Meanwhile, in the bedroom I used a jab saw to make a small hole where I wanted my wire to come out. Crossing my fingers the whole time that this was more-or-less below the hole I’d just drilled overhead.

In order to connect my “dots,” I bought this set of glow rods from Home Depot. They’re basically flexible fiberglass poles (almost fishing rod-ish) that are stiff enough to poke through insulation, but bendable enough to snake around corners. Oh, and they glow in the dark since, well, it’s dark between your walls and glowing makes them easier to spot.

So here you can see me jabbing the long glow rod in through the top of the attic. It took a little bit of effort to jab it through the insulation in the wall, but it wasn’t long before I felt it hit the bottom.

This is the part where I should have gone downstairs to see the rod glowing nicely through that hole in the drywall. Nope. Didn’t happen that way. My “measurements” were off enough that my holes were just barely on opposite sides of the same stud. Oops. So rather than create more drywall to be patched, I drilled a couple more holes upstairs in the attic…

…til I found one that did this. It was a glorious moment, I’ll have you know.

Of course in my haste to thread my glow rod through the wall, I forgot to actually attach the coaxial cable to it. Oops again. So I pulled it back out, taped the cable to it (I’m sure there’s a more professional way to do this) and snaked it back through to its destination.

After untaping things, I pulled the glow rod all the way out leaving the cable ready to be attached in place. To do so, I used this simple wall plate that I picked up a Home Depot. The coaxial cable screwed into the backside just like it would connect to a cable box, and then I screwed the plate directly to the drywall. I figure there’s a more polished way of doing this, but this was already an upgrade from the cable-poking-up-through-a-random-floorboard that I’m used to (that’s been the setup in every home and apartment we’ve ever had).

Oh, and of course I attached the other end of the cable to the splitter that was already in the attic. It had previously sent cable into the guest room for the previous owners, but I removed that hookup that popped up through the floor in there when we installed our new hardwood floors right before moving in.

So in theory we were all set to watch cable in our room. Huzzah! But Verizon had other plans. I’ll spare you the details (it involved two trips to their store to swap out set top boxes while they struggled to get our system running due to a random glitch in our area). Instead, just enjoy these selfies I took whilst trying to capture how much I enjoyed talking to support for two hours on a beautiful Saturday afternoon.

But eventually all was good in TV land. Especially the part where we got the multi-room DVR service working. Now things that we record on the downstairs TV can be watched upstairs. Is this what it feels like to be king? I think so.

Oh, and yes I realize it seems funny to go through all of this trouble and still not have the jack hidden behind the dresser. But since we eventually plan to get a wider piece for this spot (this skinny one looks kinda weird on that big wall to us) we figured it made more sense to put the cable jack near with the other outlet on the wall. Why spread out your eyesores when you can concentrate them in one spot that will eventually be covered?

But I guess we could at least stand to get a white connector cable so it blends in a little more. Eh, maybe next weekend. For now I’m enjoying the fact that we dodged the $150 fee that Verizon charges for doing the job. All told, it was about $40 in materials and an hour or two of work (not counting those phone hours spent working out a random DVR glitch that was going on in our area) – but for my first foray into in-the-wall wiring work, I’d say it was a very satisfying project indeed.

Psst- We announced this week’s big Kohler giveaway winner, so click here and scroll down to the Rafflecopter box to see if it’s you.