Home Improvement

Home Improvements

Part 1 (this page)

Part 2 (separate page)

  • Outdoor interlude
  • Painting Phase 2
  • New carpets

Part 3 (separate page)

  • Fence repairs
  • Hurricane doors
  • Master bath renovation (start)

Part 4 (separate page)

  • New mailbox
  • Master bath renovation (continued)
  • Wallpaper removal (start)

Part 5 (separate page)

  • Garage Roof Repair
  • Pool Stuff
  • Misc

Part 6 (separate page)

  • New Driveway
  • Misc

Part 7 (separate page)

  • Wallpaper removal (continued)
  • New Roof
  • Pool Resurface

Part 8 (separate page)

  • Closet Repairs
  • Window Treatments
  • House Painting
  • New Fence

Part 9 (separate page)

  • Guest Bathroom Refresh
  • ...

(initial section posted 10/11/05)
I guess you could say the home improvement started when we got rid of the carpet. It was old carpet that had been there when we bought the house 20 years ago... It was white carpet, at least back then, which I guess looked good in the model but sure didn't live well in real life.

We decided to re-do the entire house in ceramic tile, and picked out a large (c. 18") light-colored mottled-type tile called "Cellini Almond". I also picked out a border (c. 4") to mark the step down into the living room. The contract was signed in mid-June and it was to be a two-phase project: the "south wing" of the house (the living and kitchen areas) would be first, and the "north wing" (the bedrooms) would be later.

Alas, I didn't have the foresight to take "before" or "during" pictures... but here are some "after" pictures showing what the tile looks like.
Tile and border. Tile and border in corner, with baseboards.

Tiling: Phase 1

The preparation for each phase would take some planning, because I work from the house as well as live in it. I spent the next week moving almost everything from the south wing into the north and into the garage. Work began on June 28 with a couple of guys coming in with jackhammer things along with hammers and chisels and ripping out the old tile. It was noisy, dusty, and hot (all the windows and doors were open because of the dust). I was glad I had a door on my home office to muffle the noise and keep out the dust. By Saturday (after a couple of minor glitches) the tile was completed, but I had to wait after the long weekend for the guys to complete some final cleanup and put-back. Here are some "after" pictures of the south wing (the rest of the house is still somewhat "in process" at this time, so there's a bit more stuff laying around than quite normal).
Step down from kitchen to living room. Another view of same.


At right, looking down the hall at the other step down into the living room. The picture is a bit dark, but note how the lines between the tiles are totally continuous despite the step down.

Tiling: Phase 2

The prep work for the north wing took 3 weeks. One week was moving stuff back into the south side. Then it took 2 weeks to get everything out of the north side and into the south side and the garage. The extra time was in part because I have a lot more shelves loaded with stuff in that part of the house, and also because my bedroom and office are in that part of the house and I needed to plan enough to maintain their functions.

Finally, work started on July 25. Again, a couple of glitches, but the guys were finished midday on Friday. So the tiling was done, and so began the work of putting stuff back.

But, not so fast... I was about to see the domino (also known as "molasses and bread") effect. With the rooms denuded, I had noticed that most of them needed painting. The master bedroom was OK, having been painted perhaps 5 years ago; it just needed a few spot touchups. However, the guest room and my sewing room had not been painted since we moved in, and although the office had been painted, it really needed a fresh coat. Also, we'd had the baseboards painted in the rest of the house, but never in the back rooms, because they were too full with furniture and stuff. So, now that they were essentially empty, it was a clearly good time to do the painting.

(next section posted 10/14/05)

Painting: Phase 1 - Office

I chose to do it myself, since I did not have a good experience the last time we hired someone for that. And I do kinda enjoy painting. Deciding to carry the same basic neutral color scheme through the house, I purchased the paint (thank you, computer matching!) I then started with the office, because it was a priority to make functional again. This room had 2 wallpapered walls which I thought were OK and decided to leave as is. I debated whether I should do the inside of the closet or not, and figured I might as well, otherwise it would never get done. So, after a weekend, I had it done. Here are some "after" pictures:
View into the closet (stuff in closet is actually from another room). You can see the tile, the baseboards, and more or less see the inside of the closet. I had to remove the closet doors for the painting, so I figured I should take the opportunity to paint them also; they're being done sort of asynchronously with the rooms. View toward hall, with the left closet door painted and replaced. You can see the tile going out into the hall.

Alas, after getting up close and personal with the walls, I decided the wallpaper wasn't in terribly good shape after all. However, I was getting antsy about getting the room functional and getting the extra furniture out of the south wing, so I decided to defer that domino. Gonna need a "phase 2" for the painting.

Painting: Phase 1 - Guest room

The guest room had 3 wallpapered walls, one of which had some significant damage (a gash had been made in one wall, which had been spackled over). So it had to be dealt with. The wallpaper seemed in decent shape otherwise--it wasn't peeling or anything--so I figured I could just paint over it. I wanted to try using a "faux" technique; it's supposed to be good at disguising flaws in walls (like the spackle blob).

The first weekend I did the un-papered wall, along with the inside of the closet and the baseboards. Went pretty quickly with just the one wall.

The next weekend was for the faux. I'd never done this before, so it would be an adventure. I chose to try the "sponge on" technique (because it seemed easiest), using the same basic almond color from the other walls in the house as the base, and a color similar to the baseboards to sponge on. The result is at right (actually, the real color looks redder than the picture).

It looked kinda interesting, but it turned out MUCH darker than I expected. I really didn't want to have 3 walls that color. What to do, what to do... I went back to the paint store and got a color 2 shades lighter. I then went and did the remaining 2 walls with that color, and was much more pleased with the results. Here's what that color looked like:

It had taken 2 coats of base coat to fully hide the pattern in the wallpaper, and then my arm got sore doing the sponging, so it took me 4 weekends rather than the planned 2 to get the room done. Plus, I was still anxious to get the extra furniture and stuff out of the south wing, so I decided not to re-do the dark wall at this time. Another domino deferred to painting phase 2. Anyway, here's some pics of the painted room (partly refurnished, still some extra junk around):

(next section posted 11/4/05)
So, by this time it was Labor Day weekend. The dance workshop season was starting, so I wouldn't be able to work full weekends every weekend. I had originally thought I would be able to do the hallway in the North wing (which also desperately needed painting) as part of phase 1, but it was becoming apparent that was overly ambitious. Another domino deferred. Now I just want to finish the remaining room (and the closet doors) and get the furniture moved back, and the boxes unpacked, before I go on my vacation in November (which will mark the end of phase 1).

Painting: Phase 1 - Sewing room

This room had 1 wall that was built-in type shelving, which wouldn't need painting. There was a wallpaper border on the other 3 walls, which I'd have to remove. Here I actually have some "before" pictures.

In the pic at right, you can see examples of staining on the baseboards and wall, showing why they needed painting so desperately :-) (You can also see the new tile.)

View toward the top of the door, showing the wallpaper border that was to be removed, and a bit of the sloppy paint job the previous paint guys did around the door. Same basic view, only lower, showing new tile and baseboards needing painting.

Removing the old wallpaper border was a process, and left the area with some irregularities, but I was planning to put in a new border that should disguise most of that. The basic painting took one weekend. Following are some interim pics, following the painting of the walls, but before the painting of the baseboards/trim:
The door again, showing the fresh paint job. A look into the closet.

Everything was looking so fresh and clean, that I got to thinking... the hallway in the South wing was showing a bit of wear, even though it had been painted not so long ago. Another domino, sigh.

After the painting, it was time to put up the new wallpaper border. This turned out to be harder than expected, because even though the border was presumably "pre-pasted", it wouldn't stay stuck to the wall. We ended up having to paste it down, and then it was fine. Came out looking pretty good, I think.

(next section posted 1/22/06)
Well, it took me a while to get any "after" pictures, and because I had already put a lot of stuff back into the room, I was limited to what I could show, so at right is it. You can see the freshly-painted wall, some of the fixes to the previous poor paint job around the door, and the wallpaper border. Below is a detail of the wallpaper border; note that it has camels on it!

The reasons it took so long to get those pictures are 1) Hurricane Wilma came by and caused some major distraction, and 2) the aforementioned vacation, which took up most of the month of November. Those are the same reasons that I wasn't able to finish everything I wanted to in Phase 1 yet. Here it is, mid-January, and I just finished painting and installing the last closet door last week. I did manage to get all the major furniture moved back, but I still have a few boxes that need unpacking.

In addition to Phase 2 of the painting, other upcoming projects include: redecking and rescreening around the pool (partly a Wilma issue); tree removal and pruning (Wilma issue); master shower remodel; and some assorted other fixes.

Continue to Part 2

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