Our Current House

There’s No “I” In Revere

We didn’t know how many of you guys would be dropping by today with the holiday and all, but we’ve had a sudden burst of indoor activity thanks to rain, rain, and more rain.

Last week we hoped that this post could be a full monty tiled and grouted sunroom reveal, but although we got the tile laid (and even had a chance to rub our faces on it between storms) we haven’t been able to grout it yet. Turns out we need to give it at least three rain-free days to dry out before attempting to grout. So yeah, maybe we’ll have it done by next week. Sigh.

But because we were trapped inside for the last few days, we did make some other progress – like tackling the job of painting our recently de-carpeted master bath & closet. First up was painting the cream trim white (we went with Simply White in semi-gloss, just like the trim in the rest of the house).

Part of me hates to downplay the time that task took by sharing one measly before & after picture to cover that step. It took one coat of primer and two coats of paint (all applied with a brush) and both Sherry and I got in on the action. I primed since that’s not VOC-free like the painting part, and then when that coat dried we both worked our way around the room’s copious doorways and little areas of baseboard with the paint. Then the cutting in part of the wall-painting process came along and made the trim-work look like child’s play. So. Many. Angles.

Please allow me to demonstrate with the panoramic function on my iPhone.

I’m not usually one to complain about painting (except for painting ceilings, in which case I will whine for days) but painting walls is usually “the fun part” for us. However (here comes the BUT!) I think whenever you go into any project thinking “this’ll be fast and easy” it’s a slippery slope. And after 6+ years of DIYing we should have know better, so it’s no ones fault but our own. But this was totally one of those tiny areas (seriously, the whole thing is probably around 80 square feet) that had us feeling cocky and saying “let’s just bang this out in an hour or two” and it ended up taking a few 2-hour installments over a couple of days. Womp-womp. But it’s done! Praise those sweet, unpredictable DIY Gods, it’s done.

The color we chose was Revere Pewter, which Sherry says pops up on Pinterest as a lot of people’s favorite light-to-mid-toned color. Her brain also refuses to read it as “Revere Pewter” so she can’t stop calling it “Reverie Pewter” – even when the guy at the paint desk is like “Oh, you mean Revere.”

You might remember that we tossed out this “Percolating In Progress” post with a few first thoughts on paint colors right after we moved in. For the master bathroom and our walk in closet we wanted something somewhat light (there aren’t any windows in either of those spaces) but not too light that it washed out things like the white trim, white mirror, and the white shelving in the closet. At first we debated Pismo Dunes and Gray Owl (both below) but we ended up liking the Revere Pewter swatch better, which is sort of a combination of both of them. It’s almost like a darker tone of Edgecomb Gray (less brown than Pismo Dunes and a little richer and less gray than Gray Owl).

We really liked the way it dried. Taupe-y in some lights (like this shot). Gray-ish in others (like the one below this one). It changes throughout the day, and works really nicely with the deep faded blue-gray color (Black Pepper) in our bedroom.

The rolling was pretty easy by comparison to the edging. Oh and we chose to paint the ceiling the same color as the walls in here. We’ve learned in small spaces it actually makes the room feel less cramped when the ceiling and the walls are the same tone (assuming it’s not too dark of a color) since it just makes an angular/choppy/cramped space feel less broken up and boxed in.

And just like the other rooms we’ve painted, after all the paint was dry, I used this as an opportunity to switch out all of the light switches and outlets from the old cream versions to clean white ones. This photo is a bit darker (hello black hole closet) because I had the power off, but it actually demonstrates how the wall color sort of chameleons itself in different lighting situations.

Even with the lights on, the darker color on the walls is a nice backdrop to help show off the mirror’s shape (and all of that trim that we painted pops nicely too).

We still have a ton of other things to attend to in here, but here’s a little side-by-side comparison of where we started (well, once carpet was up) to where we are now.

With the walls painted, we can now get jiggy with the floor (I don’t think I’m using that right) which is the part we’re most excited for because, well, it’s the most unattractive at the moment. And since the sunroom grout situation is still looking a little bleak (throw us a bone, Mother Nature!) all signs are pointing towards this floor getting done before we can finish the tile-job outside.

Oh, and just as we predicted in this post about our master bathroom plans (where you can also read more about why we’re down with painting this floor, how we’d like to add shelves to the vanity to balance it out, etc) we changed our minds again. After some more percolating, we worried that staining the vanity a dark blue color might not work very well with our yellow-ish sinktop, and we also thought we could have a lot more fun with the floor than going all-one-color with it…

… so now we’re thinking that a two-toned stencil on the floor and a more subdued color on the vanity might play better with the sinktop tone without robbing the room of any excitement (instead of adding interest to the vanity we’ll just shift the attention to the floor). Sort of like how a darker tone on the vanity in our half bathroom downstairs neutralized the same yellow-toned sink – and then we can add art and accessories for more color, interest, and to balance things out so the room makes sense in real life (photoshopped renderings aren’t always the perfect real-life representation).

So that’s where we are in the master bathroom. We’re around halfway done after getting to check off:

So we just have the vanity and the floors (along with re-adding the light above the sink) to attend to before we can declare that this interim update is done-zo. It never fails to amaze us how much a few days of work and some paint (along with small updates like a new mirror, some shelves, and some carpet removal) can change a space so much. So here’s hoping we have some after photos in a few weeks. Sherry’s trying to convince me that adding some more shelves and cubbies to the walk-in closet could be nice while we’re at it. I guess you never really know where one update might lead. You know what they say, if you give a mouse a house a cookie…

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OK fans. You win. I’m a fan.

Truth: Sherry was oddly into fan hunting and the idea of adding two new fans to keep our freshly-opened sunroom cool (and to create a nice mosquito-warding-off current while we’re out there relaxing), but I was NOT excited about said fans.

We actually have quite a bit of practice removing fans (I submit to you Exhibits A, B and C) – and just look at how happy it made me.

Generally we’ve had 7.5 to 8′ ceilings in most rooms with them, and being 6′ tall, I’ve always felt like they were low-hanging oversized pinwheels that were one inch shy of giving me a haircut – although we’re suckers for function, so we’ve always kept a few around wherever they were especially useful (we kept them in the sunroom and den of our first house, and the sunroom and guest room of our second house). In other words, a few got to stick around, but we’re not really in the practice of adding to our total-house-fan-number, if you know what I mean.

This is actually the first time we’re increasing our count, by going from one out here to two thanks to this wiring that we had done after we ripped out the ceiling. We knew two fans would more efficiently cool the space (and make mosquitoes say “ain’t nobody got time for that”) and thanks to the freshly lofted ceilings we hoped the fans wouldn’t feel too low-hanging or heavy. But the thought of installing new fans STILL wasn’t something that my brain could get excited about. So it settled on assuming the task would be difficult and the results would be underwhelming. Awesome attitude, self.

After looking everywhere from craigslist and thrift stores (it was hard to find two of the same kind secondhand) to more obvious places like Lowe’s and Home Depot, we settled on this model from Home Depot (which we found to have a better fan selection in general, by the way).

They were $119 each, plus a $10 downrod that we had to add to each of them since our ceiling is lofted. You may be surprised that we didn’t buy white fans, but with so much lightness in the ceiling area already we thought something dark would add some nice contrast and play off the dark floors (once they’re tiled).

Beyond just looks, we also had to be sure to buy something that was safe for use outdoors and that could be installed on an angled ceiling.

They’re not shown here on the box, but we also checked with the store associate to make sure it was compatible with light kits (check) and remote controls (double check) in case we wanted to add either of those things down the line (we’re currently planning to add sconces on the columns around the room for softer eye-level lighting instead).

Before diving into installing each one – a task I was certain would involve a few missteps and lots of upper body strain – we made sure the power was off, both at the breaker and the light switch. And then Sherry still insisted on triple-checking things with our little live current tester (sometimes outdoor wiring can be tricky – for example in our first house a few outdoor things got power from a shed way back in the woods).

Before I go further, I should be clear that Hunter doesn’t know us from Adam and certainly isn’t in cahoots with us or this post. So the gushing I’m about to do about their instructions is purely because, having dealt with plenty of sub-par instruction books in my day, it makes me downright joyful when I encounter a manual that’s well done and easy to follow (like the one for our Nest thermostats). For example, this manual included a section for double-checking that your ceilings aren’t too angled for the fan to be compatible. They even marked the corner of the page so you could fold it down and hold it against your ceiling to check the angle and be sure. So simple. So smart. Maybe this install wouldn’t be so bad after all?

Another little ingenious touch: the hardware was separated into different bags and labeled by step with a unique symbol that the manual referenced whenever it was time for that particular batch of parts to be used.

Obviously you’ll want to consult the installation instructions for your fan since they can vary, but for anyone else who is tackling a fan installation, we wanted to cover the general process for you – especially since it was something we had never done before (and I was convinced would suck). Our first task was to assemble and install the mounting bracket to the fixture box. This is basically what secures the fan to the fixture box, which needs to be braced properly for the weight of a fan. The good news was that the electricians took care of that bracing step for us when they added the two fixture boxes, so we just needed to secure the top of the fan to our already braced box.

I also liked how the instructions gave you a thumbs up at the end of each step. Nothing like a big confidence boost from a little hand icon.

The next part was actually what I was most anxious about – adding the downrod. This was where we had to modify the parts included with the fan (i.e. sub out that nubby rod with the longer one) so that ours would drop down from the ceiling a bit. For some reason I assumed this would be the point I’d screw up.

But once again, the instructions made it error proof. Basically we just removed a couple of screws and stuff from the rod they included…

…and reattached them to our new one.

Oh, and if you’re wondering how we knew what sized downrod to buy: Home Depot had a guide on display along with all of the differently sized rods. Our ceiling was a little over 9ft at that point, so we got the 12″ rod.

The fan had tons of extra wire, so it was just a matter of threading it up through the longer rod.

Then I attached the rod to the fan (it twisted in and got held in place by a screw) and I clipped most of the excess wire off.

Even this part – where I expected to be exhausted by meager upper body strength while holding the heavy fan up for hours minutes to get it in place – was no big deal at all. The little ball at the top of the rod slid into the mounting bracket with virtually no effort and within seconds my arms were free. Seriously, it was a motion that took ten seconds tops. Well, except for the added time that was required to pose for this picture (it took me a few tries to nail the “focused, but not too strained” look that I’m sporting).

With the mounting bracket doing the work of holding the fan up, it didn’t strain me at all to connect the wires (and the instructions were very clear about what color went where).

And then while I screwed the canopy in place…

… Sherry got the fan blades prepped by adding rubber washers and screwing them into each of the five metal arms.

Then up those went, finally making this fan look like a fan.

Last but not least was installing the cap at the base which is where a light kit could go eventually, if we ever decide we want one (hence all of the wires that get tucked away in there).

As much as we wanted to sit back and celebrate our first-fan-ever-installed victory, there was the minor detail of getting the second one up. The first one took us a bit longer because of instruction reading and photo taking, but I still think we got both fans up in about 90 minutes. Zero missteps. Minimal arm strain.

And, here comes the real shocker, we LOVE them. I didn’t know my heart had such a great capacity for loving fans, but I couldn’t stop smiling once they went up. Maybe it was knowing that it marked the end of working above my head for a while? Or maybe it was just how finished they made the room look (assuming you kinda held your hand over the lower half of this photo). But seriously, picture them with the dark slate-like floors that we’re putting in. Not bad, eh?

I think they’re just one of those “moments” in DIY that really hit home how far a room has come. From this…

…to now this.

We’re also relieved that our instinct to go dark with the fans was one that were really happy with. Sunny spaces like this can usually use some contrast, and these fans are finally giving the light blue ceiling and all of that white trim a little pow, if you know what I mean.

Now, if only we had finished this project about a month ago when their cooling action was actually still needed. Oh well, at least it gives us something to look forward to for next year.

New truth: I’m crazy excited to have our fans installed in the sunroom.

Secondary truth: I have no idea why the ceiling looks so light/not-blue in these photos (see the first picture of this post for a more accurate color depiction). Or just ignore the ceiling and keep oogling the fans.

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