Friday, November 30, 2012

Well that only took 4 months

Back in July, two weeks after the kitchen remodel was done, our air conditioner crapped out. We spent the next two weeks trying to suck in cold air from the hallway outside the apartment, which was unsatisfactory, to say the least (July in DC: horrible cesspool of suck).

At last, on August 3, one day before our kitchen-warming party, the 50-year-old unit was taken out and replaced, destroying the ceiling in the process. Obviously, the air conditioner replacement people were not about to fix that.

Here are the incredibly stupid "access panels" before the destruction. There was no way a normal-sized human could ever get up there to make repairs, much less remove the entire unit.
Ceiling: destroyed.

And that's pretty much the way it stayed until this week. Hideous, gaping hole, right in my living room. It got so that I didn't even see it anymore.

But then the nice men came and fixed it!

They set up a pretty awesome containment zone so that dust and asbestos didn't get all over the apartment, unlike the ceiling destroyers who left me with inches of carcinogenic dust on every possible surface.

Fixed! With a single access panel that swings down, allowing actual access to the unit.
Amazingly, this process took 2.5 days. Two-by-fours, drywall, spackle, popcorn of two varieties, paint, and god only knows what else transformed the hole into this nice smooth surface. You can still see where the hole was. It was never going to be perfect, but it's perfect enough.

And with that, my living room is finally, finally done.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Closets: My secret shame

The nice thing about closets is that you can shove a bunch of crap in them, shut the door, and forget all that crap exists. This is also the bad thing about closets. Looking into any closet in either my condo or my cabin is to gaze into the abyss. Part of the problem is that I have a husband who can't bear to part with anything. Ever. So in my Quest for Clean Surfaces, what tends to happen is that the stuff that doesn't get shoved out the door gets shoved into a closet.

Well, I'd had enough of that with the linen closet in the condo. I just couldn't take it anymore. And since I'm still attempting Financial Recovery from the Lost Summer of Endless Remodeling, I had to come up with a cheap plan. The domino effect of remodeling is that once you have a really nice room in your house, like a brand new kitchen or bathroom, the old and shabby state of everything else comes into stark relief.

Here's the before. It's a disaster. The top two shelves are taken up with cassettes no one has listened to in 15 years, and a bunch of Tom's precious treasures. Some of the papers were 12 years old or more. Feel free to play Spot the Linens.
The first thing I did was buy some new shelves. I got these at Lowe's, "stain ready," and just needed to lop about 4 inches off of each one so it would fit in the space, because of course, the nonstandard size of everything in my apartment even extends to the width of the damn linen closet.
Two coats of a stain/poly mix later, and they look like this. I'm not super pleased with the stuff I bought. It had to be applied with a brush, and it ran over the edges and pooled up in unflattering ways. On the other hand, it's not like they're going to be on public display, so I didn't stress too much about it.
This is what I used. I was too lazy to go to the Lowe's next door to the WalMart, which is what I should have done to get the stuff I really wanted.
Which is this. I love this gel stain (which I used on the window trim and all my light switch covers), and wipe-on poly is my boyfriend. I didn't have enough gel stain to do two coats per side of the shelves, which is why I ended up with the inferior stain.
Everything cleared out. So shabby.
Icky old shelves thrown away, and two coats of Benjamin Moore Aura paint, the same paint I used in the bathroom. The light green color doesn't come through in the photo at all, but it's so much nicer and cleaner. And the best part was that because I painted the entire interior of the closet, ceiling included, I didn't need to tape.
Better! Wood makes everything warmer and more inviting.
Order is restored! I feel like this is a grown-up linen closet now. No more cassettes or decade-old tax returns (all of which, by the way, has now moved to the floor of the steps). I'm going to get a blanket bag for the blankets on the floor so they can stay clean and moth-free.

So: A couple of days of staining, four or five hours of painting, and I would guess under $50 of cash expended. Not too bad! I plan to Elfa the hell out of the coat closet and the bedroom closet, and eventually I'm replacing all the gross interior doors, maybe with something fancy like this. But for now I'm happy with my new little linen closet.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Rather pleased with myself

I finally finished the kitchen at the cabin. This is a project that started during Memorial Day week, where I painted all the cabinets. Then the condo kitchen remodel went into full swing, and I just couldn't bring myself to finish the cabin kitchen.

Until two weekends ago, when I finally sucked it up and primed the walls. I have to say, wood paneled walls are not the most fun thing in the world to paint. But at least I was only dealing with two walls.

At this point I was pretty sure I'd made a terrible mistake, but clearly it was already too late to turn back.

After one coat of primer things were looking up, but there was still an awful lot of paneling showing through. I'd read horror stories about multiple coats of primer not stopping the paneling from leaking through.
But my beloved Benjamin Moore came through again! Two coats was all it took.
That was exhausting.

Then last weekend I finished the paint job. More proof that I am not afraid of color:

Twenty minutes in and I was already happy.
Although it looked like the aftermath of a grisly Tweety Bird massacre for a while.
Two coats of paint later. Let me once again extol the virtues of Benjamin Moore Aura paint. It's expensive, but it's SO very worth it. And I still have more than half a can left over. Color: Hannah Banana. How could I resist?
We bought a shelf from Ikea that fits very nicely in the blank space on the wall. A little puck light over the sink adds some warmth.
So! From this...
To this. For under $200. Not too shabby, I say.
We will be replacing the hinges with silver ones, and I am pretty sure we're going to resurface the crappy counters with this, eventually, but for now I decree the cabin kitchen: DONE.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Bathroom: DONE

I've recently decided that I'm going to refer to these past couple of months as The Lost Summer. The week before Memorial Day was lost to the bathroom remodel. I lost Memorial Day week to painting cabinets at the cabin, and the entire month of June to the kitchen remodel.

I don't remember exactly when the massive "derecho" hit the DC area, but during that storm a huge tree came down at the cabin, cutting off the driveway. We saw it and have managed to not deal with it for the last three weeks or so. Major heatwave hasn't helped. This is also why the cabinet kitchen has seen no progress.

It's a lot bigger than it looks.

The first half of July was lost to organizing. And then, just as I was getting ready to hunker down and start actually using my new kitchen, our AC died. We're in our second week of trying to suck cold air in from the exterior hallway with a fan. Fingers crossed that it gets fixed as scheduled the end of this week!!

So because I am insane, I figured that now would be the best time to paint the bathroom at the condo. I spent the day Saturday vacuuming out disgusting vents, spackling, and starting the taping process. Sunday I spent sanding, taping, and painting. And sweating. A lot.

I used the lightest color on the same paint chip as the kitchen color. It's a light green that verges on white and is super subtle.

Kitchen on the left, bathroom on the right.

The main selling point for me is that I didn't need to use primer, despite the fact that I was going from a super high gloss to a matte paint. I can't stress enough how awesome this paint is: Aura by Benjamin Moore. It's expensive but totally worth it.

I really, REALLY hate high gloss paint.
I have never figured out the function of this vent. Apparently back at the dawn of time someone tried to cover it up, then tore the cover off and left a nasty residue of some kind, and I just never bothered to paint over it until now.
Discoloring from some long-ago wall hanging.
I've very much been looking forward to putting in my new switchplate covers. A ridiculous amount of taping was required to paint a not huge amount of wall.
As I said, it's subtle. But it's matte! And it covered everything over.
New slate covers to go with the faux slate floors.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

All together now

So! It's been a couple of weeks, and we're finally all put together. As predicted, there were multiple trips to Ikea and the Container Store, but I think we're finally set. Naturally, the very second I was ready to finally bake a damn cake the air conditioning crapped out on us. It's supposed to hit 101 today, and finally the AC repair guy is supposed to come and assess the situation. I want cake!


We got art put back on the walls.

We found this awesome chalkboard/mail and key storage thing at Ikea for $15. It is, miraculously, the exact right size to cover up the hideous breaker box panel.
My black and white wall looks so much better against the green than it ever did against my old dirty "white" walls.
My favorite piece of art in the world has escaped the confines of the bedroom because it fits perfectly between the fridge and the pantry. Glare be damned.
And my colorful little prints pop much better now too.
I am now unbelievably organized.

The cupboard above the pantry. Not even half full.
The Mighty Pantry. It doesn't look like it but there's also a ton of space left here.
Mixy things.
Boozy things.
ALL plates and bowls and mugs in the same space. I never thought I'd see the day.
My big-ass Fiesta silverware fits! And no more big ugly knife block for us.
But the crowning glory is, of course, the deep drawers. Pots and lids all fit. YAY.
GAH! I can't even stand it.
This started out as the baking drawer but somehow an ice cube tray and the Le Creuset and the colander snuck in there.
And all the glass bake ware.

Lovely, no??

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Day 22: Th-th-that's all folks!

Microwave is finally in, handles are on everything, bumps and scratches are taken care of, and now we'll spend the next several days cleaning up and putting things back together. I have no doubt there will be trips to Ikea and the Container Store.

Microwave! I was worried that it would overwhelm the space but it seems to be doing just fine. Also: it totally works.
Oooh, the "extend-a-vent," to catch steam from the front burners.
FINALLY, handles on the fridge and the pantry.
And as requested, a shot of the inside of the pantry. All those drawers slide out, and they're two feet deep, plus there's the two shelves up top. It's so much storage space my brain can't even comprehend it.

So there you have it. In 22 short (and also very long) days, we went from this:

To this:

To this:

I'm sure I'll do another post when the kitchen is well and truly settled, with drawer dividers and stuff back on the walls, but it won't be a daily occurrence. Thanks for following along!

Oh, and a huge shout out and thank you to Carlos, Guido, and Victor at Impact Construction. They were awesome from beginning to end.