Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Pinterest Challenge: Winter 2013 (bedroom renovation)

In honor of the Winter 2013 Pinterest Challenge, I decided to post the project I did for last year's Pinterest Challenge... but never submitted since it took about a month longer than expected to complete.

Yes, I am a slacker... in so many ways.

BUT, I couldn't resist since the YHL challenge this year is to do board and batten -- which was MY goal for the 2012 challenge. Shall we take bets on who is going to post the right way to do board and batten and who is going to post the WRONG way to do board and batten, hmmmm? I will give you a hint -- I was thinking of renaming my blog FAIL blog, but apparently that is already taken. But it all turned out good in the end. *grin*

Here are links to the Pinterest Challenge champions:
Our condo is an old factory building that was renovated sometime in the 50s into an apartment building and then re-renovated in the 80s into condos. Our particular unit had not been updated since then. And it was owned by a heavily smoking bachelor for about 10 years before we bought it. It was... icky. For the last 8 years we have been renovating it room by room (tearing each room down to the studs and rebuilding it as we went) while living in it and having kids. It took a loooong time. And finally we reached the last room in the house -- the bedroom!

And because I know not everyone is going to want to read through the saga of the bedroom renovation... you can skip down to Day 40... the reveal if you want just the before and after shots.

For those who DO want to read through the entire saga, I give you our adventure, as told through email last year:

From: Hanna
Sent: Friday, February 24, 2012 12:51 PM
Subject: Reno weekend: Day 1 & 2

Reno as in renovation… not the other, more fun Reno.

So here is the story of our renovation weekend… now our renovation week I suppose. :)

First, we started with some (pin)spiration shots:


I had my heart set on a board-and-batten detail and clean white on the walls. Something soothing. Also, to lighten the room further, I had plans to paint one of our large wooden dresser/hutch pieces:

(please note that these are the inspiration shots, NOT the finished product!)

Miracles upon miracles JD actually went for it, AND the in-laws asked to have the kids for a week, AND it was a long weekend! All the stars were aligned! And so it began… *scary music*

Day 1: Cleaning

On Sat. JD drove the kids down to the Island while I cleaned the bedroom. When you live in such a small space with four people, however, there isn’t much room to displace things. So first I cleaned and organized most of the rest of the house, then I messed it all up again by moving stuff out of the bedroom.

And by “stuff” I am being very kind.

This is the only room in the house we haven’t “touched.” No paint, no wall or ceiling redos, very little cleaning. It was the best room in the house when we moved in, and we knew from experience that when we started to do stuff to it, it would then turn into a huge project, so we did nothing. I mean NOTHING.

During “clean-up day” (Sat.) every week it was always the last room in the house to get hit. I usually work my way down the house from the kitchen… which means that the bedroom rarely fits into the cleaning day schedule, and also becomes the dumping ground for everything we don’t know what to with.

All this is to prep you for my ‘keeping it real’ shot that I took mid-way through bedroom clean-up.

Pit. Of. Despair.

Actually I think the pit of despair ala The Princess Bride looked better than this room. It isn’t usually quite this bad, but my cleaning method is to dump everything off of every available surface and go through it all on the floor. So the floor didn’t look like that… but every other available surface did.

Ummm. Let’s pretend you didn’t see that.

There we go, all “clean.”

That is another thing we didn’t do to this room. Clean. In seven years.

I vacuumed, dusted, and occasionally mopped the floor but if it was hidden behind something or under something, I didn’t touch it. Ew.

This stain was here when we moved in, as well as the water streaks down the walls:

Lovely crown molding huh? Not.

These shades were so gross when we moved in that we opted to never touch them unless we had to, and we didn’t:

We did rip some tape off the windows when we first moved in (I think it was holding plastic over the windows to keep out drafts) but most of the paint came with it so the remaining tape stayed for another seven years. And lots of random nails.

Grossed out yet? Like I said, it was the best room in the house and it was a pit of despair. You can imagine how bad our kitchen looked when we moved in if this was the best. Let’s not even talk about the bathroom.

So that was the end of Day 1. I was thoroughly disgusted with myself and feeling a bit hypocritical. I’ve sneered at smokers all these years, but was living inside this dust bunny. Smoking probably would have been healthier!

Oh, and here are some “before” shots of my dresser/hutch and… other dresser/hutch thing.

Day 2: Deconstruction

On Sunday JD started the deconstruction process. We love this part!

Easiest part by far was taking down the wallpaper. It was vinyl so it just peeled right off.

It went pretty smoothly except for one portion of the wall where the skim coat came off with the wallpaper:

And of course all the miscellaneous holes and places the plaster had given out and other icky things:

We did discover some fun notes underneath:

Oddly enough, we had already guessed that the original contractor’s name was “DUMMY” before we even started on this room.

While JD tore things apart I started sanding the dresser/hutch. Messy! But amazingly only took about 45 minutes.

Then JD started cleaning all the glue that was left behind. Nasty!

During the cleaning process we found another treasure… the word TINA emerged from the glue like a ghost.

We’ve been sleeping under her all this time and never knew. Spooky.

After he finished with the glue, he put some patches and spackle on holes and cut a spot out of the wall so that we could embed the cables and get rid of the nasty cable cover.

And that was the end of Day 2. I would go on to Day 3 (Monday) but I have run out of lunch hour. :) I’ll try to get Day 3 and 4 done this weekend!


***Here is email 2/3 that I sent out. The REAL pain fun begins.***

Fom: Hanna
Sent: Monday, February 27, 2012 1:27 PM
Subject: Reno weekend day 3: prep day

I know, I am just stringing you along. It was a busy weekend and I only had time to get the pictures modded for one day. And believe me, this day is going to take my entire lunch hour to write up.

After Day 1: cleaning, and Day 2: deconstruction, Day 3 was supposed to be prep day – the day I cleaned up from all our construction and we made everything paint-ready. AND it was the day we were going to buy and install the wood for the board-and-batten! Exciting!

Over the course of the first two days we had scoped out Lowes and Home Depot and the Benjamin Moore store so we knew what wood we were going to buy and approximately what paint colors we wanted (I was waffling).

If you remember the inspiration pic:

We needed thin strips of wood for the board-and-batten and wider pieces for the trim at the top. We quickly realized that actual wood was a no-go (the strips were $10 a pop and we needed thirty), and decided to go the MDF route (like most of the tutorials on the web).

JD was going to attempt to cut the strips himself using a circular saw and a guide, since we don’t have a table saw (the yet is implied) and the people at HD/Lowes were not giving us a warm fuzzy feeling about whether they would actually be willing to do it for us in-store.

I optimistically ignored the *DANGER! DANGER!* signal going off in the back of my head, even though when JD said “I’m going to cut the strips using a circular saw and a guide” what I actually heard was “I’m going to escape the straight-jacket and hand cuffs, inside the water-filled tank, using only a corkscrew and some duct tape!”

I had faith he could manage it.

But first came the cleaning. Again. And worse than before. Thanks to the dust of all my sanding, the dust of JD sanding down the spackle patches, and the water and detergent mix we used to get the wallpaper glue off the walls, the room was looking even more filthy than when we started (and that is saying something).

Here is a corner of the room to give you a general idea of what I was dealing with:


And we decided if we didn’t wash the windows we probably wouldn’t even need a privacy screen:

And we can’t forget the black dust of Worcester, carefully collected over the years in between the storm window and the interior window:

As I moved around the room, scrubbing and scrubbing, JD was busy with some dangerous looking things in the closet:

I don’t know what was going on in there, but it involved turning off the power several times, muttering, cursing, and putting new holes in the wall that then had to be patched. Skeery. Eventually it turned out it had to do with making this:

A little less freaky, which I was good with.

So after a few hours of scrubbing and weird electrical hijinks, we were ready to go out to get lunch and buy the wood for the board-and-batten! But before we did that JD decided to do a little more measuring and checking and… that is when the plan went to hell.

“The Plan” called for us taking the fancy trim off the top of the baseboards and then running the board-and-batten down to the straight boards.

However, when we pried one piece loose to get a look at the width of the baseboard, just to be sure the MDF strips wouldn’t hang over too far, we found this:

In case you are scratching your head, this is the gap where the wall does not go all the way down to the baseboard. This could be fixed with the careful application of very thin strips of sheetrock, lots of spackle, and about 5 extra days.


Maybe there is a perfectly good explanation on why our plaster walls do not run all the way down to the floor, but I am betting on this:

Plus there was the fact that we would also have to remove the trim from under the window:

And I came to the sad realization that I really liked the trim, and would prefer to keep it rather than figure out some kind of hack to cover the two inch gap in the wall. It was time to say goodbye to board-and-batten and come up with a new plan.

And in case you are wondering, after two and a half days of 8am-10pm renovating, I do my best “new planning” while sobbing into my pillow.

Luckily for our schedule, JD came in and lay down with me and rubbed my back, which embarrassed me enough that I stopped the girly weeping and started doing some actual thinking. Then he got up and stomped down the hall in a determined “I’m going to fix this” way, which panicked me enough that I leaped up and chased him down, terrifying visions of sheetrock and spackle and days of extra labor dancing in front of my eyes, and presented THE NEW PLAN.

The whole reason for the board-and-batten was to create enough architectural interest in the room that I don’t have to DECORATE. Which I pretty much suck at. The prospect of even hanging a picture gives me the nervous sweats. What if I hang it too high? Too low? What if it clashes with the other colors in the room? What if my mom comes over and says something like “A life-sized picture of the cast of The Lord of the Rings in your bedroom? How… interesting dear.”

See? Decorating horror.

So I needed something to break up the big blank wall on the left side of the room. Something that did not involve taking down the trim.

After staring at Pinterest for a while I had a couple options, which I presented to JD. (The selection process involved me showing him various possibilities and explaining why they wouldn’t work, until we got to the one I actually wanted. Don’t judge. It’s a process.)

This was the winner:

Oooooo. I know, right? This room makes even a random floor-to-ceiling exposed heating pipe look nice. But don’t get too excited. While the look of the whole room would be incredible, I actually mean just this part:

A thin strip of trim, around the same height the board-and-batten was going to be, with different color paint above and below. Since it was going to be so much simpler than the board-and-batten plan, we decided we would also replace the crown molding with something bigger and fancier. Because, let’s face it, this is pretty sad:

JUST IN CASE, we tore down the old crown molding to check that there were no surprises. And found this:

Another gap. Apparently the plaster wall does not attach to the floor OR the ceiling. It just kind of… clings to the lathing. After pondering it for a while from a safe distance we decided that if it had lasted 30+ years like this it was probably okay, and we could easily cover up the gap with the new, thicker, crown molding.

So we finally left the house, about 4 hours later than planned, to purchase some wood and some paint!

And wouldn’t you know? Benjamin Moore was OUT OF PAINT.

Ok, that is an exaggeration. They were out of the type of paint I wanted in the finish I wanted.

Presidents Day… apparently everyone and their sister was repainting walls in Benjamin Moore ECOWB zero-VOC paint, flat or eggshell finish.


But we got the wood, and we reserved two gallons of the paint shipment that was due to arrive at the store the next day, and we WENT HOME. JD had some fun with his saw, nail gun, and the new crown molding, and I primed… and primed… and primed. No, not the walls – did you forget this baby?

It takes about 2 hours a coat, but it is coming along! Really slowly! But I’ve passed the point of no return! That is a good thing, right?

End, Day 3. Hopefully Day 4 would actually involve paint, and our old friend DUMMY (underlined three times) would not have any more surprises for us.



***Here is email 3/3 that I sent a full TWO MONTHS after the first one, and the reason I was not able to join the 2012 winter challenge. *grumble* Luckily by now the SEVEN COATS OF PRIMER have faded from my memory... ***

From: Hanna
Sent: Tuesday, April 17, 2012 1:06 PM
Subject: Reno weekend: Day 40... the reveal

So I know you have been on the edge of your seat for the last two months, just WAITING for this email. I had a draft email of this all typed and then…. it took me a really long time to finish the darn hutch. Going back to my draft I realized that I was sooOoo over the saga of Day 4 of the renovation so let’s do some highlights and skip ahead to...

Day 40... the reveal

  • Choose colors: China White, White Dove, and Cloud White. Too much white?
  • Put up trim!
  • Caulk the trim!
  • Hit myself on the head with a big tub of caulk and fall off a ladder!
  • Lie on the couch while JD finishes doing everything!
  • Let JD, the painting machine, finish everything just in time for us to move the furniture back about 20 minutes before the grandparents finally return the kids
And now, through the magic of really bad before pictures, I give you the miraculous before and after!



*angels sing*

Some other views…

The hutch:

The closet (ignore the laundry basket pile o’ shame and tower of empty boxes):

Some ceiling views, slightly out of focus since I had a “helper” by that point:

My loving helper:

Fickle wench.

And in case you thought I spent the whole month and a half just lounging in my new bedroom, not sending you pictures, here are a few more things that got done during the last month (although I did the lounging thing too).

I killed JD’s car!

He built me a new closet system!

And put up a new dining room light fixture! (Ignore the perplexed look, he’s totally got this)


And I organized the kids closet! (“Stuff and pray” is the new organized, I swear!)

Hold back the blocks Darth Vadar, you’re my only hope!

Oh, and I also did this, though possibly only Jenny will know what it means:

So there you are. All major home renovations and car purchases are DONE (*knocks on wood*).

Until we have a new place.

And can start all over again!

Love y’all!
- Hanna