Archive for November 2008

kitchen - almost there...

I think I've made you all wait long enough. Even though we're still not completely done with the kitchen, we made really good progress over the weekend and I am too excited about it to not share some pictures. Here is where we were on Friday:

On Friday night we started staining the floor as soon as we got home from work. We put down one coat of stain on the floor, went to a late dinner, and came back and put the second coat on. It was a late night, but completely worth it because we needed to let the floor dry overnight so we could paint on Saturday.

We watched the OSU game on Saturday (well, I watched, Mike gave up/got angry and started priming the kitchen in the third quarter). Here's the kitchen with the floor stained and the walls primed:
We were able to get 2 coats of paint on the walls on Saturday too. Then, this morning, we got up and put the first coat of poly on the floors. We ran some errands, came back, and put the second coat of poly on. We should be able to put the last 2 coats on tomorrow night, and then let the poly completely cure while we take a break for Thanksgiving. Here's what the kitchen looks like right now:
I love how the floors turned out, and I am also really liking the wall color. We're planning on bringing some more color in with some of our kitchen accessories, so I went with a nice medium gray for the walls. It looks much better in person, it looks like of washed out in the pictures. I even like the red door now! And for you super observant people, we painted the window but haven't gone back to scrape the paint off the glass yet. And the bottom of the dishwasher has primer on it, woops... but since we're more than likely getting a new dishwasher soon, we're just leaving it alone for now. The dishwasher was the one appliance we didn't really look at when we bought the house or during inspection, and of course, it's broken.

There are still a lot of little things left to do, but we're getting there. We have some open shelves that we want to put on the wall between the door and window, and some other shelves for the wall that the radiator is on. We also need to put down some type of baseboard. We have 2 cabinets in our basement that we had in our apartment that we're planning on painting white and using for extra storage. But it's finally coming together and we're so happy with how it's turning out.
Random fact about our kitchen: We had to buy 19 new outlet/switch covers for this room. 19! Needless to say, we just went with plain white plastic ones. We still need to go back and switch out the switches (ha) for white ones, but there's no hurry on that...


good mail day

Along with writing this blog, I also really enjoy reading other blogs, esp. those about home renovation. I love to see what other people are doing to their homes, get ideas, and be inspired. Plus it helps me stay motivated to keep working on our house! A few weeks ago I commented on one of my favorite blogs, 86'n it, because they had some super cool house numbers. A couple of emails were exchanged, and look what was waiting for me in the mailbox when I got home from work on Friday!
I am so excited! Thanks again Nikki! I can't wait to hang them up outside!

And, to make the weekend even better, look what we got in the mail on Saturday:

When we first moved Lowes had sent us an ad for their new homeowner reward program. Basically for the first 3 months of buying a home, for every $500 you spend at Lowes, you get a $50 gift card. Our promotion period ended at the end of October, and we've patiently been waiting for our gift cards. They came just in time, we still needed to get the rest of the handles for the cabinets and some other things to finish up the kitchen. It's also a little scary to think about how much $$ we actually spent at Lowes in the first 3 months of home ownership though...

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In honor of the game tomorrow against Michigan (booo...) I made buckeyes last night! I've made buckeyes for the OSU/Michigan game for the last few years and I refused to give that up this year just because the kitchen isn't quite done. Luckily all you really need is the microwave and some basic kitchen supplies.I'll confess though, that picture is not of the buckeyes that I made. I forgot to take a picture, plus, my buckeyes did not look that perfect. I took some into work, no one here knows what a buckeye is so I felt the need to educate them. Even Mike took some into his work, even though he likes the other (wrong) team, he still loves to eat buckeyes.

Progress is being made on the kitchen. On Wednesday night we put 2 coats of poly on the floor where the fridge sits. Yesterday morning I put a third coat down before work. Last night we painted behind the fridge and started to work on the window, the frame needs some attention. So tonight we should be able to put the fridge in place and then continue to work on the rest of the floor.

But tomorrow, we're taking time off to watch the game :-)

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happy 4 months house!

Yesterday was our 4 month anniversary of home ownership!!! It's crazy to think that we've been living in and working on the house for 4 months. Sometimes I feel like we've been here for forever, and other times I feel like we've just started. To celebrate the occasion we did something I've been waiting to do for over 4 months...
We unpacked our first few boxes!!!!! YAY!!!

I'm kind of embarrassed, but we have lived here for 4 months and until yesterday, had yet to unpack a box. That combined with the fact that we started packing about 2 months before we even moved has left me really missing some of my stuff! If you remember, we closed on our house, worked at it for a week, moved, worked on it while living in it for a week, and then went on vacation. So, at the time, we just packed a couple of giant suitcases with clothes, toiletries, sheets and blankets. The plan was to just live out of the suitcases for a few weeks until we could unpack, but those few weeks turned into months.... and here we are today. Now, we've opened up a random box or two to get out something we need. A few months ago I took all of the boxes and organized them into piles so at least it's been fairly easy to find things. I thought that might help us to start actually unpacking them too. Guess not. But last night, we unpacked probably 7 or 8 entire boxes of kitchen stuff. It was a big moment. It actually felt kind of weird to be putting our stuff into drawers and cabinets... (newly painted drawers and cabinets!)

We quickly realized that in this kitchen we have more upper cabinets than we did at our apartment, but not very much base cabinet space. This is our only base cabinet. I think we're going to have to reorganize and put some of this stuff into upper cabinets. Tonight we're going to continue to unpack kitchen boxes and work on the floor. Hopefully we'll be able to finish up with the kitchen boxes, I have another little project planned for tomorrow night where I'll need kitchen supplies...

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Weekend recap - Sunday

Several people have already asked me why we were cutting birch plywood down into 2'x2' squares, well, here's why:
This is our new kitchen floor. Originally, before we found out how bad of shape the luaun was in, we were planning on just removing the carpet, painting and sealing the luaun, and living with that for awhile. Once we realized we needed to replace the luaun, we started looking around at Home Depot and Lowes. We found that we could get 1/4" birch plywood for only $5 more a sheet than luaun. Since we only needed 4 sheets, we decided to go ahead and upgrade to the birch ply. And to make it a little more interesting, I decided to put it down in a 2'x2' square checkerboard pattern (rotated the grain). Sunday was a busy day, but we got the whole floor down and patched all of the screw holes. Sunday and Monday night were spent debating if we should leave the floor as is and just poly it, or if we should stain it (and what color) before putting down the poly. We came to a decision... but I think I'll wait to show you what we are doing for the "after" photos :-)

I also made a new schedule yesterday. I'm always making lists and calendars, I find that it helps me stay organized. Plus, I tend to forget things if I don't write them down... Anyway, the new schedule is pretty ambitious, but it has us finishing up all of the major parts of the kitchen before we take a break for thanksgiving next week. So hopefully, by early next week, we'll have the cabinets all put together, the floor finished, and the walls primed and painted. We will still have a lot of other little things that we will need to do (some type of baseboards, finding and hanging shelves, fix the dishwasher, etc), but I'll be feeling pretty good if we can at least be that far. Plus, at that point, we would have a functioning kitchen.


Weekend recap - Saturday

Maybe I should back up a little before I tell you about Saturday's work, and tell you about Friday night when we were all (supposed to be) sleeping. You see, Trevi (cat above) likes to get into anything and everything. I think he's mad that all of his cat toys are still packed up. In addition to the normal things cats will play with (blind cords, yarn, milk rings, small bits of wallpaper from the kitchen that likes to float around our house) he has become obsessed lately with paint rollers. That's right, paint rollers.
He likes to carry them around the house, bat them around, roll them down the stairs... He discovered this awhile ago when I had the extra rollers sitting out in the living room. He would just kind of move them around the living room. Now we have cleaned up the painting supplies, and the extra rollers are in the basement. On a shelf. Away. On Friday night, he somehow got this roller out of the basement, brought it up two flights of stairs, and played with it in our bedroom. He likes to bring it to me so I can throw it for him. Cause, you know, cats normally play fetch with paint rollers. I finally got out of bed and took it away from him, but it's kind of hard to hid a paint roller when you're half asleep. When I got up in the morning, he had at least moved it to the bathroom and was playing with it in there. Crazy cat.

Anyway, on Saturday we went to Home Depot and Lowes and bought supplies for the floor repair. We came home and finished putting Kilz on the floor.

That's actually why the cat is in the dog cage in the first picture. He kept walking across the wet paint. Like I said, he likes to get into things. Oh, and no, the dog cage is not normally in the middle of the living room, but the dogs are usually gated in the kitchen while we're gone during the day. We had to set up the dog cage temporarily while we finish up the kitchen. It does make a nice large work surface though:
What? Normal people don't live like this?
How about like this? With their stove in their entry way? The fridge would be there too but it didn't fit through the doorway. Besides, the fridge doesn't like to be moved around a lot. It proved this when the water line for the ice maker broke and sprayed water all over the kitchen.

But back to the kitchen work. The plywood is on the dog cage because we spent the rest of the afternoon on Saturday cutting 4 sheets of 4'x8' birch plywood into 2'x2' squares. It was easier to mark it all out in the living room before taking it to the basement to cut it down.

Saturday night we went to a Thanksgiving potluck with our friends and ate lots of super yummy food. And played Cranium (our team won). See? We do have fun, I promise it's not all house work. Just mostly house work. Although we did come home from the dinner and spent another hour or so putting floor leveler on the uneven spots...
We left the floor leveler to dry overnight, and found small paw prints in it in the morning. Gee, I wonder which of our pets decided to do that??

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Weekend recap - Friday

On Friday night we did what we do on most Friday nights... Ran a few errands (including picking up a circular saw we borrowed from friends) and got back to work on the house. Someday we'll go out to dinner, go see a movie, or something slightly more normal. But we've been extra motivated to finish this kitchen project up, esp. now that the end is in sight! We spent the rest of the evening removing the luaun from the kitchen floor. Underneath we found what we thought was just very gross particle board...
But then realized it was more carpet pad that had been glued to the particle board, making the top surface even more gross. So yes, for those of you that have been paying attention, that means that there was carpet in the kitchen at some other point. That carpet pad didn't really come up off the subfloor since it was glued, so they put down luaun, more carpet pad, and another layer of carpet. We removed all of the luaun, any large pieces of gross carpet pad that we could, and then had to go back in and remove most of the screws with pliers since they were so rusted we couldn't get them out any other way. Fun times.
This is what we were left with.
Then we put Kilz primer down on the entire floor. This picture is actually from Saturday morning, we ran out of Kilz about halfway through the kitchen on Friday night, but since no hardware store is open at midnight, we had to wait until Saturday morning to finish. And if there is such a thing as 24 hour Lowes or Home Depot, please don't tell me, it's best if I just don't know about these things. We used 2 entire gallons on the kitchen floor (keep in mind it's only about 11'x11') but now we feel much better about cooking food in there...

And yes, I am aware that I used the word "gross" about a dozen times in that post, but that's really the only way to describe the kitchen floor :-) Gross.

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why you shouldn't put carpet in a kitchen:

Last night we removed the last of the carpet in the house! While not pink, green, or bright blue, I think the kitchen carpet was by far the grossest carpet in the house. There is a reason why you really shouldn't put carpet in your kitchen...

In addition to finding more dead mice under the stove, and large amounts of rat poison that had somehow gotten under the carpet, we also found that there is a lot of water damage to the luaun and particle board around the sink and dishwasher. This sets back our plan of putting the cabinets together this evening and starting to finally unpack kitchen boxes tomorrow... I don't know what I was hoping for with the carpet removal, I knew that there was a good chance we'd find some water damage, and really, it's not nearly as bad as it could have been. We decided that we needed to do this now though before we started repairing the walls. Oh, and for those of you who have been impatient with the cabinet pictures, you can see some of the painted cabinets above :-P The trash bag is there because the cat seems to really like to sit under the sink, and it's kinda gross under there. Anyway, I think the new plan is to remove the top layer of luaun and see how far down the water damage goes. If it pretty much is just on the top layer, we'll just replace the luaun. I'm really hoping that's all we need to do. I have an idea for an inexpensive floor finish that we might use, we'll see how that works out. I think that we might go ahead and put the cabinets together this weekend anyway, I'm excited to see how they look.

After all the mess and ugliness that we put in our poor house, I decided that I needed to bring in something pretty:
These are actually from my office. Every day the security company has fresh flowers put in the lobby, and they give the flowers from the previous day to one of the tenants. Yesterday afternoon I was the only one in the office when they brought the flowers up for us. Technically, I think the idea is to leave them in the office for everyone to enjoy... but 3 of the 7 people I work with are out today anyway, so I decided to take them home last night instead. Besides, someone should get to enjoy them over the weekend, right?

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How to remove wallpaper, in 12 steps:

After all of the difficulties we've had with the wallpaper in our kitchen, I thought I'd post our step by step process. Note - this is not how we've removed all the rest of the wallpaper in the house, just the extremely stubborn kitchen wallpaper. It might not be the best method ever, but it's what worked best for us. And we tried several different methods. I'm posting this so if anyone else is having similar issues, maybe they can try our method and see how it works for them. Or, more likely, so that those of you that actually read our blog can just appreciate it even more when we finally get paint on the kitchen walls :-P

1 - score the wallpaper lightly in the area you're working with a wallpaper scorer tool. The more the better, but don't press too hard. You just want to score the wallpaper, but not the drywall underneath. Not sure of it's exact name, but it looks like this:

2 - wet surface with mixture of DIF wallpaper remover and hot water. We used the concentrated DIF, mixed per the directions on the bottle. We used a large bucket and a sponge to apply the DIF to the walls. Let sit for 15 mins.

3 - wet surface again with DIF mixture, and start peeling away the top layer of wallpaper. For us, we could just peel the top layer with our fingers b/c the edges would start to come up after it had soaked in the DIF mixture. Our wallpaper was very paper like (unlike the vinyl wallpaper in other rooms) and would rip into small pieces. It also came off it 2 layers - the top decorative layer, and the bottom paper layer with the glue. This step just removed the top decorative layer.

4 - soak wall again with DIF, let sit for 15 mins.

5 - time to scrape. We used two large putty knifes, but found that the slightly smaller one (maybe 3") worked the best. This was by far the worst part. The paper with glue would just come off in tiny little pieces.

6 - repeat steps 4 & 5 as many times as needed to remove all of the wallpaper.

7 - after repeating steps 4 & 5 many times, we were still left with a lot of glue and small bits of paper on the walls that we just couldn't scrape off. Mike suggested using a SOS sponge, and it was the best idea ever. We still used our DIF mixture, but this time, we'd use the sponge shown below and wet the surface again with the sponge side, let sit for a few mins, and then scrubbed with the SOS side. Surprisingly, this didn't take very long in the grand scheme of wallpaper removal, but it made a huge difference. The SOS side got off almost all of the leftover glue and paper bits. The walls are all white and clean now! Oh, our total DIF purchase for the kitchen was 4 bottles. On the back of the bottle it said you would only need one for a room that size.

8 - we haven't gotten this far yet, but the next step will be to fill in all the holes and patching the areas where the drywall paper came off with the wallpaper. This happened a lot in some of the more stubborn areas of the wall.

9 - sand walls, we like to use just a sanding block.

10 - repeat steps 8 and 9 as needed until the surface is smooth.

11 - prime walls. We like to use Kilz.

12 - paint walls!

So there you have it, our 12 step process. Hopefully this will help someone else out. Although, if I had to do it all over again, I think I might just drywall over the wallpaper, hehe...

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maybe I should go away more often!

I've been avoiding mentioning on the blog that we've been having a plumbing issue for the past month or so. I think that I thought if I didn't mention it, it would go away or something. To sum it up quickly, there was a leak in the main water line, maybe caused by the copper pipe break-in that happened prior to us owning the house, we wanted the previous owner's insurance to pay for it b/c they dealt with the original claim... ugh. But, I think we've finally figured it all out and have it fixed. The reason why I mention this now is that while Mike stayed home over the weekend just to make sure everything was ok, and I went to Chicago to visit our friends. I couldn't really expect him to do much work on the house while I was off having tons of fun, so I only requested that he finish painting the kitchen ceiling and maybe start sanding the cabinets if he got really bored...

And guess what!?! When I got home last night, I saw that he had not only painted the ceiling, but he had also sanded, cleaned, and primed all of the cabinets. And, he was finishing up putting the first coat of paint on all of the cabinets, doors, and drawers! The kitchen already looks completely different! The cabinets look so clean and bright! I love the color. And no, I didn't take any pictures yet. I think I might make you all wait until we're done painting the cabinets and walls, and put the new hardware on before I give you the after photo. Maybe it's not very nice of me to make you wait, but I like the added drama, it makes it more fun. :-)

But since I do feel bad not posting any pictures, here is my new love from the weekend, a candle from Anthropologie that smells amazing. I kept walking around the mall after I bought it and opening up and smelling it. Delicious. I almost feel bad for burning it, I hope that it smells as good then and that it lasts a super long time.

I also got some other new fun things for the house, I do love Ikea. I'll make sure to post some pictures of what I purchased soon. And thanks Mike for all your hard work over the weekend, it kind of makes me feel like I should have bought you more of those cookies you like from Ikea... I guess I can at least share my new candle with you.

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kitchen wallpaper done!

Saturday we made good progress on the wallpaper removal. It's been such a slow process, the paper is so old and brittle, it just comes of in tiny little pieces and in several layers. And the ceiling wallpaper was put up with some kind of super thick glue that required extra scrapping to remove the glue, even after the wallpaper was down. Poor Mike did the whole ceiling by himself, but he did a great job!
Notice anything else different in the picture?? That's right, we changed out the light fixture! No more plastic fruit fixture for us. We got this fixture a few months ago on a sale table at Lowes. I don't really like it that much, but it takes 2 75-watt bulbs and it was cheap, simple, and has no plastic fruit, so it met the requirements. The kitchen is a lot brighter now, which is great. The fixture was a huge pain to put up though, having installed several light fixtures before we didn't think it would be a big deal. We still have knob and tube wiring in certain areas of the house, and lucky us, this was one of those areas. We did something wrong the first time we installed it and caused one of the wires to melt inside the fixture, woops. It's up and working now though, and at least we've figured it out because I'm sure that we'll want to install some other fixtures in areas where we still have knob and tube wiring...

I thought this was funny, when we were putting up the new light we noticed that the ceiling is a newer drywalled ceiling that has been installed about an inch below the original plaster ceiling. When we looked up into the hole, we noticed that the original ceiling had also been wallpapered! Can you see it in the picture? It looks like green flowers or something. Was this a trend that I didn't know about?? I guess the previous owners really liked to have wallpaper on their kitchen ceilings!
In order to properly remove all the wallpaper, we had to move the fridge. I was really tempted to leave the fridge and work around it, and let future Mike and Katie deal with it, but I thought I'd probably be really mad at myself later if I did that. I think I've mentioned this before, but there is a window behind our fridge that eventually, someday, we will uncover. When I moved the fridge, you can see where they installed an outlet right in the middle of the window! That's daylight that you can see around the outlet. Luckily there is still glass in this window... Under the fridge there was a dead mouse, I made Mike deal with that. Gross.
Here's the trash compactor that we removed. We put it out for the bulk pickup this week and someone else has already taken it. Not sure why someone would want a very old, very dirty trash compactor, but whatever. Maybe the same person who took our old shower doors? It's funny what people take when we put out our bulk pickup items. No one has wanted our blue, green, or pink carpet scraps though. Anyway, we had to take the countertop out here b/c it was really just sitting on top of the trash compactor. Someday we're planning on making a simple cabinet base to put back in this area so we can put the countertop back on. We need all of the counter space that we can get!
Look! No more wallpaper!!! The whole kitchen is wallpaper free! It was a big moment, we finished on Sunday night. I think Mike almost cried with happiness. Wallpaper removal is his least favorite thing. And the kitchen has taken over a month to get to this point. You'll also notice that I started removing cabinet doors to start sanding and priming, stay tuned for that project...

Happy Election Day, don't forget to vote!

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so much candy!

On Thursday we moved the kitchen stuff that we've been using into our dining room. We wanted it out of the way so we could continue to remove the wallpaper. It's kind of weird to use the microwave in the dining room :-)
We also made good progress on the wallpaper removal on Thursday:

On Friday, when I got home from work, I saw some of the neighbors outside getting ready for the trick-or-treaters. I started talking to them and quickly realized that we did not have enough candy for the amount of kids that the street gets on Halloween. Mike and I ran out and got more candy, but we still completely ran out after only about an hour! I've never seen so many kids! It was a great night though, we enjoyed sitting outside passing out candy and talking to our neighbors. Later that night we went to a great Halloween party, but we forgot the camera so we didn't get any pictures.
I hope that you all had a great Halloween!

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