Home Improvement Part 4

Home Improvements, Part 4

This is part 4 in a sequence. If you want to begin at the beginning, you can go to Part 1. The following shows the contents for this and adjacent parts.

Part 3 (separate page)
  • Fence repairs
  • Hurricane Doors
  • Master Bath Renovation (start)
Part 4 (this page) Part 5 (separate page)
  • Garage Roof Repair
  • ...

(initial section posted 7/16/11)

New Mailbox

This actually happened a while back, last year sometime I think, before I started the master bath stuff. Yeah, it's a little thing, but I'm kinda pleased with the result so I thought I'd post it.

The house has one of those streetside mailboxes. When we moved in, it had a wooden mailbox that was a design that I liked. But, as I've mentioned elsewhere, most wood tends to have problems with the wetness here in Florida and tends to rot and fall apart pretty quickly. So it was with the mailbox. We'd replaced it once with a similar model, and now the 2nd one was needing replacment.

So this time I decided I wanted something different. So I went looking for one of those fancy mailboxes in the shape of a critter, like a pelican or manatee. Unfortunately, the ones I found that I liked cost way more than I wanted to spend. But, in my searching I did find some really cute mailbox flags with critters on them. So I decided instead to go with a plain mailbox (in plastic) with a fancy flag. So this is what I ended up with, a jumping frog on my mailbox:


Master Bath Renovation - Cabinets

OK, so back to the present (more or less). Back in Part 3, I had put new tile in the master bath, which had made me aware of how badly the room needed repainting, and I was trying to pick out a color. In the process, I also got to thinking that maybe I should take the opportunity to do something about the cabinets (shown below) as well:


There was nothing really wrong with them, but all the fixing up of everything else got me to thinking about what I might want in a bathroom if I was starting from scratch. And I realized that although I liked the countertop just fine, I would really like to have wood cabinets.

So, I'd been hearing a lot about refacing as a way to freshen up the look of your cabinets without all the expense, time, and work of getting complete new ones. So, I found a company that would do this and had a consultation (interestingly, the guy was from Westport, CT). What they do is get whole new doors, and put veneer on the side and front parts of the cabinets. There's a wide variety of colors/finishes to pick from, and you also get to pick the shape of the doors. So I went ahead and picked out a contemporary door shape that I liked, along with a wood-look finish called "cognac" that went very nicely with the new tile. They'd also install new door/drawer handles, but I was on my own to get the hardware from any place I wanted. I ended up getting the handles from Target--I wasn't even looking for them at the time, but just happened to see them and thought, "Wow, those are nice!"

So, it took a while for the doors to be made and to schedule the installation, but finally I had what looked like brand new cabinats:


(next section posted 7/18/11)

Master Bath Renovation - Faucets

Not surprisingly with all this other work going on to spruce up the bathroom, I also figured I should replace the faucets on the dual sinks. They were showing their age (see pic at left); The chrome and the plastic handle were looking a bit grungy and getting hard to clean.

So, I went to Home Depot and got 2 nice faucets. I've been going with a brushed nickel finish and a contemporary design on things (shower head, door handles, etc.), so I stuck with that. (I was pleased the one I liked best was also one of the least expensive ones they had.) They went in in a fairly short time (see pic on right). It wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be.

So below is a summary picture to date, showing the tile, refacing, and new faucet. I still need to do the painting of the walls, but at least I have the color picked out now, and purchased, so I'm pretty much ready to start.

(next section posted 7/31/12, updated 8/1/12)

Master Bath Renovation - Painting

Wow, it has been a while since I updated here... Let's see if I can pick up where I left off, which was painting the master bath.

There was a lot of prep work needing to be done on the walls, because they were kinda uneven because of previous wallpaper removal. So I was doing a lot of sanding, cleaning, spackling, etc. In the pic at right, the wall at left is in the middle of this process. You might be able to see some of the irregularity, especially near the light switch. You can see the freshly painted ceiling, and how I didn't bother to make it neat along the edge, because the walls were coming next. At the back, you can see where I was testing some colors above the door. Below is a closer pic of that:

As I mentioned, it took a while to pick out the color. The old color, which you can see in both pics above, was presumably beige but actually looked kinda pink. I knew I wanted something different, definitely not beige. The new tile gave me the idea of something woodsy, so I was thinking maybe something like a lichen color. Then I got to thinking that maybe I should go really different, and try something more intense, but I still liked the idea of green. So, I saw a really nice shade on the chip, bought it as a sample because I was waiting for the gallons to go on sale. But after I put it up on the wall (shown in the pic above), I decided it was really TOO intense, and I was really glad I'd only gotten the sample size.

So, I started trying lots of samples--less saturated, more blue, more yellow, lighter, darker, etc. (You can see one of the chips resting on the door trim in the above pic.) I finally settled on one called "Restful" that was probably pretty close to my first idea of the lichen color :-)

There was also trim that needed to be done, around the door leading to the outside, the door leading to the bedroom, and both sides of the door separating the toilet/shower area and the vanity area of the bathroom. And while I was at it, the doors themselves needed painting too (except for the one leading outside). I decided to go with a basic white for the doors and trim, to match the trim around the window on the hurricane door. Because of the way the trim was relative to the walls, I did part of it before I painted the walls, and was going to do the other part later. The doors themselves could come last.

So finally I was able to get started on the walls. What a big change from the old beige! It went pretty smoothly... until I took the masking tape down from the door trim. Some of the old paint came peeling off with it! I knew I was putting latex over latex (I had checked), but apparently the previous "professional" painters had put latex over oil. Sigh. I had wanted to get all the painting completed before I went out of town for 2 weeks in early September. I was able to get the walls done, but the trim and doors were going to need quite a bit more prep and rework before they could be completed.

So finally, what with other things I had going on through the Autumn, it was around December before I finally finished the last of the painting. Here's some pics:

Top of door to outside. Basically the same pic as above. Not sure it shows the new paint color too well, but you can see the fresh white trim around the door, and how it may actually be a brighter white than the trim around the window on the door.

Bottom of door to outside. Put here mainly so you can see how nice it looks compared to the water damage picture from before we started.

Toilet area (obviously). Compare with previous toilet area pic.

Top of doors in vanity area. I think this shows the color best, and you can see how nice the white trim looks around the doors.

Right side of vanity area. This shows some of the freshly painted door between the two parts of the bathroom.

Cabinet/sink area. Compare with previous cabinet area pic. The previous one didn't actually show the old wall color.

Tub area. This is a similar shot to the earlier tub shot but shows more of the back wall in its new color. It also shows the new curtains in the window. More about them below. The butterfly on the wall used to be in the guest bathroom, but I figured it was more appropriate here, with the woodsy theme, than there, which has a sort of ocean theme.

So, about the curtains. I had to take down the old window treatments, which were lavendar-colored mini-blinds, in order to do the painting. I really didn't like them, so I didn't want to put them back up. Since I wasn't really sure what to go with next, I decided to get compression rods because they're so easy and it's easy to change your mind. I happened to find a set (I needed them for 2 windows) very reasonably priced at Tuesday Morning.

In keeping with the woodsy theme, I was thinking of getting curtains with a leafy print on them, and I had been looking various locations (including fabric stores) and just not finding anything I liked. Then, on another trip to Tuesday Morning, I saw some green animal print curtains, which I decided to pick up just in case. That turned out to be a good idea, because I still haven't found anything in a leafy print that I like. I did have to shorten the animal print curtains to fit the window, but they do look quite good there.

So, I did manage to get the bathroom done by the December holidays, which was good, because I had another project I really wanted to start then...

(next section posted 8/3/12)

Wallpaper Removal - Front Section

About 1/2 the walls in the South Wing are wallpapered (probably more than that if you go by area covered). At times, over the past 15 or so years, the wallpaper has started to peel off in various places, and I've had to paste it back up again. That's worked fine, but it's also an annoyance.

The wallpaper in the kitchen is smooth, but the wallpaper in the living/family areas is textured. It's very nice wallpaper, but the cats like the texture for scratching. (My previous cats, Nike and Brooks, were both declawed so it wasn't an issue with them. However, the current cats, Mimi and Holly, that I got in 2006, do have their claws...) The pics at right show some examples of the damage.

So, I had determined a few years ago that the wallpaper would have to come off. I was actually planning to hire someone to remove the wallpaper and paint the entire living/family area back in the summer of 2008. But, that was the year the economy went sour, and I got forced into retirement, and I decided I should probably defer it. But I knew it still needed to be done.

So it happened that while I was involved with painting the bathroom, the wallpapered wall next to the front door started peeling again. That wall had always been the worst offender, and there were some major sections of wallpaper wanting to come off. Plus, I still needed to do the patching and painting of the wall with the front door and the front door trim (after the installation of the front hurricane door). There was only one section of wall between the wallpapered wall and the front door wall, all 3 walls were fairly small, and there were mirrors on either side of them, so it was a containable bit of work. I was feeling pretty confident what with all the work I'd been doing in the bathroom, so I decided that I could handle doing it myself.

The biggest issue is that this was in the area I use for my dance "studio." My girlfriends come over every week for dance practice, but this job was surely going to take more than one week. So I really wanted to be ready to go on it over the December holiday break, when I could get a couple of weeks of pretty solid work in without having to worry about having the space usable for practice.

And so I did. The pic at left is part way through the process. (You may note the curtains in the window, needed for privacy considering this was the front of the house. I got a cheap compression rod for the purpose, and the curtains themselves are the pieces I cut off of the bathroom curtains.) Alas, it turned out to be more work than I expected. Some of the wallpaper did not want to peel off easily. Fortunately, I have a fabric steamer that worked pretty well to help loosen the stubborn bits. But there was still a lot of smoothing, sanding, cleaning, and other prep work to be done for the door trim as well as the wall that had the wallpaper removed.

The painting was the easy part. I wanted to have basically the same basic light beige that I had elsewhere in the house. However, the last few times I'd gotten the color by computer matching, and each time it got a wee bit darker, and I didn't want to keep doing that. So I picked a color called Autumn Equinox from a chip, which looked nice and was a little lighter.

So, the project wasn't done until a couple of weeks after dance practice resumed in January, but the worst of it was done by then, so the inconvenience was minimal. Once the paint was up on the wall, I could see it was actually significantly lighter than I thought it would be, but it's OK.
Here's some pictures:

Top of door. You can see the freshly-painted trim and the new wall color. Compare with the "before" pic of the front door.

Middle wall section, also showing part of the previously wallpapered wall (at left) and the door wall (at right).

Left side of previously wallpapered wall.

So, that little project is done, but it was harder than I thought it would be with the wallpaper removal. There's still more of that to do in the rest of the living/family area, but I don't think I want to do it on my own again.

Also, while I was working on this, another issue came up...

Continue to Part 5


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