Sunday, January 24, 2016

Snowmageddon 2016 - First Blizzard in Our New (Old) Home

All last week we were hearing and seeing reports about an upcoming blizzard. I must admit, I didn't believe any of the forecasters when they said "this is the big one". Compared to a lot of other states, PA's local forecasters are notoriously terrible with predictions. I've seen these "monstrous storms" move to our south, dissipate completely, or turn from a predicted 20 inches into a small coating of 2-3 inches.

Well for once they were right. For once.

Friday night it started in a mild manner with a gentle snowfall that barely coated our yard. However, by the next morning we woke up to see a heavier downfall and about a foot of snow!

All through the day it kept going with the rate of snow falling picking up by the hour, not to mention the wind. We never lost our power, thank goodness.


By Sunday morning the snow had stopped and we had beautiful blue skies...as well as a little over 30 inches of snow!


It was wonderful to get outside - cabin fever was killing me! After a little while of playing it safe and sticking to where it'd been shoveled, I couldn't help diving into the waist deep snow. Not everyday one gets to do that after all!

Our cars had been nothing but snow mounds before digging them out, poor things.


Of course, some shots of our snow-laden home:



See how far up the windows the snow came from the porch roof?!


It feels like it may take till Spring for all of this snow to melt! I'm rather hoping this is our one and only storm for the winter and it just mellows from here on out. Fingers crossed and here's hoping!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Painted Living Room - It's Not Supposed to be Purple

After all our progress with our floors and then the bit of a break from house projects the holidays provided, this past weekend we were ready to jump back in with the next project: painting our living room.

For the most part, I feel rather confident when it comes to picking paint colors. I have a good eye, and can usually see any bad undertones in a swatch (greens, pink, etc). Karl as well. Together we've been a force for paints to reckon with.

But if there's one thing I hate, it's picking paint colors for walls. Sure, I know what color I'm looking for, but when I put the sample on my wall, is it ever what I wanted? NO. Decidedly no.

I've even had a sample paint color look brown on one wall and purple on the other IN THE SAME ROOM.

Arrrrgghhh.

Why can't it be as easy as using milk paints, where you get the color you expect?

If I pick up a medium-gray milk paint, it will be gray. Fancy that.

With latex paints, first you have a bajillion greys to choose from, and that's just from one make. Sherwin Williams, Behr, Martha Stewart, Benjamin Moore - they all have too many...and too few that work.

So you can understand my frustrations when after a ridiculous amount of hours at paint stores later I think I've finally narrowed it down, tried several small samples of colors on the wall and left them up for days, picked one, and then the color mocks us by turning out not to be a nice warm grey, but lavender.

Can I get an amen from other aggravated painters?





The color here was Sherwin Williams Alpaca...and Al-packa-it-up and out the window for its traitorous streak.

The weird thing is this is how it even looks in the pan - looks more grey in it, right? What the heck?



Back to the drawing board...


Thursday, January 7, 2016

We Can Live On Our Main Floor Now! (Floors Got Stained)


Happy 2016 y'all! Hope everyone's year is off to a good start.

So far ours has been a gain in square footage - for the first time since we moved into our home 2 months ago, we are able to exist on the main floor!

With the exception of our kitchen, we have been living with all of our worldly possessions on the 2nd story. One bedroom is a makeshift office with boxes, another is storage for more waiting-to-be-moved downstairs boxes, one we're using as a temporary bedroom, and the last one...


...has been our walk-in closet-dining-office-tv room (aka dorm room).

While we've thoroughly enjoyed walking upstairs balancing plates of food or having to go back downstairs again to retrieve the forgotten salt, all good things must come to an end.

We've been working on a lot of projects downstairs to get it ready for living in, such as tearing out our built-ins and scraping off wallpaper, but the biggest project has been our poor floors that have seen better days.



entryway

They were orange in color, scraped and scuffed, the finish was coming off...


...and the stain didn't even match between rooms.

Another problem was that no finish had ever been applied to the middle of the living room.


1. the middle that had no floor finish
2. the area we started a test sanding
3. the non-matching floor stain between the living and dining rooms

After days of our floor sanding and more floor sanding sagas, our heroes stainers came a few days before Christmas and stained and sealed our floors all in 2 days time!

Can I just say how amazing it was to sit back and let a pro handle a job?

Let's see some of that new floor action:


it matches now!




Oh what a wonderful difference. It feels so good to have our hard work pay off!



For those of you wanting all the nitty gritty info, we used a water based stain and finish, which indeed lived up to our expectations of being low on fumes and dried very quickly; we were walking in socks on the floors within 4 hours after the finish was put on. Pretty amazing. They did 2 coats of stain the first day, then 3 coats of the finish the 2nd day.

The color is "golden brown". If you look again at the samples we had, it's the one on the top middle:


It compliments the dark baseboard trim perfectly and we're so happy with it...and so happy to be done!

We could have waited only 3 days before putting down furniture, but we decided to give it a full week to cure before getting the couch out of our kitchen (cause what's a few days more of shuffling around our couch while trying to cook...you know we loved it!).


It's starting to look like a home!

Here's to getting our first major house project done! This coming year we will have many more projects as we tackle each room...it's gonna be crazy. Glad y'all are along for the ride with us!


{Pin It for Later!}



Note: if ever you need floor sanders/stainers in southeastern PA, contact me and I'd be glad to give our floor guys' info! These floor-stain guys were outstanding. Not only did they do a great job on the floors, but they worked with us, listened to our concerns, were on time and courteous in speech, budget-friendly and made sure we were satisfied with the floors every step of the way.


Friday, December 25, 2015

The Floor Sanding Sagas - Part II

Note: Hi all! This post was intended to go up this past Monday (21st), but as things were a bit cray-cray with work, the wonderful floor stainers, busy holiday week, and living out of a suitcase for a few days, it's just now going up. Hence, read this as though it were Monday. Also, since in the real world it's not Monday, Merry Christmas y'all and see you in the new year with tons of pix showing our newly stained floors!! Wahoo!

(If you haven't read Part I of our floor sanding saga, catch up here)

A deadline is sometimes the best kick-in-the-butt you need to get something done. Right now we're kicking it into gear with getting our floor sanding done as we've scheduled to have the floors stained on Tuesday. As in, the 22nd. As in...tomorrow.

Yikes.

Let me back up a sec here though and explain why we decided to go with professional floor stainers versus doing it ourselves. It came down to 3 simple reasons:

1. They're professionals
2. We're not
3. We don't want to mess it up

If we were doing a bedroom (which is in our future) we would do it ourselves, but being that these 3 rooms (entryway, dining, living) are a huge area (our whole main floor minus the kitchen), not to mention it's the part of the house that will get a lot of use, we figured it was worth the investment rather than the risk.

So, as of now, 'twas the week before Christmas and all through the house...

...not a piece of furniture could be seen, no not even our couch (because it's now in the kitchen...)


...and plastic sheeting had been hung over all doorways with care...


...and getting stuck in them made you fear Shelob would soon be there...

...Aaaanyways...we've been sanding all this past weekend and have been making steady progress. However, the two remaining rooms needing sanding, the dining room and entryway, have been our toughest with uneven boards, a terrible oil-based finish that kept clogging our sandpaper, and nails.

Oh, and a past owner's horrible use of a rotary disc sander where they seemed to have held it in place for too long EVERYWHERE and made deep grooves in the wood - grrrr.


We went with a local tool rental company this time rather than Home Depot and were able to rent a drum sander and edger together for a phenomenal $65/day total! On top of that their sandpaper was 3x cheaper, so we saved quite a bit this weekend. After this, I'd recommend seeking out local rental companies with good service in your area if you take on a floor sanding project.

It's a good thing the sandpaper was cheaper, because THIS is how much sandpaper we went through for these floors, with 80% of it being from taking off the former finish.


The stubborn finish and uneven boards were so bad in the dining room that we even had to go down to a whopping 20-grit to get it off. This was how it looked after our first pass with the 36-grit before trying the 20:



Crazy and not ideal to have to go that rough, but it worked. Once the finish was off we could move through the other grits of 60 and 80.

To get some of the crazy nicks or lower floor boards Karl improvised and used the edger to smooth out these areas that the drum sander couldn't get, and I worked some smaller areas by hand.

For corners and underneath the radiators I've been using my Mouse sander with 50-grit and even hand sanding with 60-grit, both which have been pretty effective.


But oh boy, did we ever get some bruised and nicked knuckles while sanding underneath the radiators! ...and dust is everywhere.


All worth it of course.




We're so close to done!

Before I forget, here's a spoiler of the floor stain samples the company put down for us to choose from. We kind of knew what we wanted but actually surprised ourselves with the one we chose.


Once again, have a Merry Christmas and see y'all next week!



Shared On: thatdiyparty

Thursday, December 17, 2015

This Is Why Wallpaper Is One of the Deadly Sins {& Video}

[catch-up by going here for "before" photos, and here for the demo day in this room]

If you are considering using wallpaper, for the love of all that is good, DON'T. 

Those pretty wallpapers that lure you in with cute songbirds and gold geometric designs are devils in disguise, tempting you to fall prey to their guile - don't fall for it!

Because this is what happens:


Either you or someone else will pay for your wallpaper sins.

And this room has four layers of sins wallpaper.

Cause apparently even the past owners saw the error of their ways, but rather than acknowledging and taking down their mistake, they covered it up with another.

...and another 

the first and oldest layer added by the original owners and my fave out of them all

...and another 

2nd layer of wallpaper

....and another. 

even the hot water pipes couldn't escape being wallpapered

Then added paint out of desperation.


This wall has, unsurprisingly, been my project this whole week.

There have been benefits however:

  • uncovering each layer of paper has been a look into each era of this house - very cool!
  • I've been catching up on podcasts
  • there's been lots of 'wax on, wax off' and 'paint the fence' moves going on here, so soon I'll be ready to fight the school bully


Remarkably, the method I've been using for taking down the paper has been a simple solution: half and half of hot water and vinegar in a spray bottle and a plastic scraper.

Yup, that's it. It works amazingly well.

I even got a bit brave and made a video:


Stripping Wallpaper with Water & Vinegar from Draven on Vimeo.


Quick snapshot of progress over the last few days:





20,378 hours later, this is what it looks like now:


...and this is what my plastic scraper looks like now:


It used to have a straight edge.

A light at the end of the tunnel for sure with the walls. I'm also slowly working the glue off as you can see on the bottom-right side of the most current progress pic using a cotton tshirt rag and, you guessed it, hot water and vinegar.

Tack up another win for this water & vinegar combo for not only cleaning, but now... stripping wallpaper and glue.

Soon we'll be turning our attention to the plaster. We have horsehair plaster and lath, and it's in pretty awesome shape. Only areas along corners and edges such as around the window need patching, as well as the places where nails were from the shelving. The plaster is completely raw and was never painted, so we'll have to use some Kilz primer on it before painting. If anyone has experience with patching horsehair plaster or Kilz primers, I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!






Shared On: bragworthythursday, creativityunleashed, thatdiyparty, totallyterrifictuesday, makeitprettymonday, inspirationmonday

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