August 12, 2012

Upstairs Renovation Before & Afters

We recently finished the upstairs renovations! I'm using the term "finished" loosely here, since we still have a lot of paint touch ups, outlet covers to put on, floor patches to be made, artwork to hang... you get the idea. In other words, it's not really done. But I thought it would be fun to look back and compare photos of the house the first time we saw it to where we are now. Going through these, I think our mission to simplify and brighten has been successful!

Here's the upstairs hallway looking east. Can you believe the photo on the left didn't scare away us two little DIY newbies? Four years later, and here's what we have now (on the right). Much less claustrophobic, isn't it?

Here's the hallway looking in the other direction. On the left is how the house looked back in 2008, on the right is our work in progress. We moved around walls and doorways quite a bit; the new hallway is a couple of feet wider and much shorter to make space for a real laundry room (through the doorway at the end of the hall) rather than just a laundry closet (which used to be behind the double doors in the left hand photo). Et voila!

On to the office. When we first looked at the house, it was being used as a studio/workshop (left). Since we've lived here, it's gone from plaster dust pit and spider hangout, to workbench/tool storage area, to the beginnings of an office with a quirky leaded glass window (just like I pictured it). I still have to paint the window frame to the right but I'm dragging my heels on that one.

And finally - the guest bathroom! This is such a huge change, it's hard to believe it's the same room. On the left, the bathroom as we first saw it, and on the right, the big reveal!

And a couple more angles... 

Amazing how much brighter it is!

March 31, 2012

Guest Bathroom Update

Normally, my long absences mean that I'm tired of spending my weekends covered in sawdust and splotches of paint, and that I've most likely retired to the sofa. But not this time! We've actually been so busy finishing up the bathroom that I didn't want to lose my motivation by taking a blog break. After we had the drywall done, we started painting right away. We had considered using beadboard or Lincrusta below the chair rail we installed, but decided to keep it simple (and cheaper) and just stick to paint. Choosing colors always seems so difficult, but I think we got it right on the first try this time. The bottom is Benjamin Moore Horizon and above the chair rail is Benjamin Moore Ice Mist (isn't ice mist by a less romantic name just freezing rain?). Both are subtle light gray/blue/greens, and the trim paint is custom tinted white to match the medicine cabinet and hutch. Here's our progress from laying the floor, getting fresh drywall/plaster, painting, and reinstalling the fixtures.

And here's where we were at the beginning of this weekend!

Isn't it peaceful? Notice how Ryan found the bottom of the window sill and reinstalled it? I'm not sure why the previous owners removed it in the first place, but at least it wasn't thrown out. I still have some painting to do (the window) and I've been working on all those little details (like a toilet seat), so another update is soon to follow!

March 3, 2012

We Have Walls!

Drywall is one of those things that we could do ourselves, but it would take five time as long and the end results wouldn't be nearly as good as what the pros can do. So, two weeks ago, our drywall guys (who did our bedroom, master bathroom, and laundry room a year and a half ago) came back to finish the upstairs. They actually remembered our house, and were really excited to see what we'd done with the rooms since they'd last been here; their compliments and enthusiasm made us mentally re-hire them on the spot. What can I say? We're suckers for people who love our house as much as we do (or at least people who put on a good show about it!).

Pretty much since we moved in three years ago, we haven't had walls upstairs. First, we knocked down and moved all of the walls in the front of the house, and once those were rebuilt, we took down the walls in the back of the house to reconfigure that area. It's been a long time of creepy plastic sheeting, piles of 2x4s, and sawdust everywhere - it would have made a great set for a horror film! Anyway, to actually have the construction stage finished is huge, and we're really pleased with how it all turned out.

The hallway looking east

Hallway looking west

The office

And the guest bathroom

Isn't it starting to look like a real house (and less like a construction junkyard)? Stay tuned for painting details!

February 12, 2012

Leaded Glass Window

The mystery of the framed out rectangle in the wall between the guest bathroom and office might be explained by these photos.

We're putting in an interior leaded glass window! Our house only has a few exterior windows (because we live in a rowhouse with two shared walls), so the more light we can get through to the interior of the house, the better. We happened to have a window in more or less the exact dimensions that we needed, but it was in pretty rough shape with broken leads and cracked glass panels. In my non house renovation life though, I happen to be an objects conservator (I fix broken museum artifacts/artwork), so it was all in a day's work to remove the old glazing, secure the loose glass with a few new glazing stars, reshape the loose leads, and mend the broken glass.

We stuck it into the framing yesterday, but I still need to actually re-glaze it and paint the frame. Here are a few pics of it (in case you can't tell, the window has two hummingbirds on it), as well as some Photoshop drawings for my daydreaming purposes. The office:

And the bathroom:

Don't mind the wall colors in the bathroom, I just went with the paint that's already there. As you can see from my extremely accurate bathroom drawing, the window is high enough that we won't have to worry about peeping Toms, and actually, the height matches the transom windows over the bedroom and laundry room doors (which can be seen from the office) and the transom over the bathroom door (which is just a few feet to the right). So it all looks nice and cohesive.

Just one more quirky feature that we're really excited about!

Bathroom photos found here and here.

February 11, 2012

Wall Framing

Major progress on the guest bathroom and office! We knocked up the walls and did all of the electrical work over last weekend. The space is really starting to look like two actual rooms now, and we're so excited for drywall.

Here's a little before and after looking towards the guest bathroom wall.

Wondering why there's a framed out rectangle at the top of the wall? We have big plans for that space - stay tuned.

The next shot is from the top of the stairs looking towards the double doors into the office. We're planning on having French doors there (you can see one of our $17.50 French doors from Community Forklift in the background of the left hand photo). On the right is a little Photoshop magic so we can all envision how gorgeous it's going to be!

February 4, 2012

Bathtub Switcharoo

Our new clawfoot bathtub from Vintage Tub & Bath is here, and we couldn't be happier with it! The switcharoo between the old lead-infused tub and the new one happened on Friday, and apparently, it took seven moving guys to maneuver them up and down the stairs. Yikes! I'm glad that I wasn't here to see it. All in all, it sounds like it went smoothly, and the parade of little dings on the stairway wall is a small price to pay when we're talking about this beauty!

Ooh, ahh!

What shiny feet!

Right now, it's in the middle of the bathroom so that we'll have room to build the walls, drywall, and paint, but eventually it'll be moved against the wall opposite to the medicine cabinet.

We were a little nervous about buying something like this sight unseen, but we can happily report that it looks great and appears to be really high quality (at least to us non-tub experts). All of the drains, supply lines, faucets, and shower parts also feel heavy and well made. Online shopping success!

February 3, 2012

Weekend Tile-A-Thon

Every morning this winter, as I've walked by our guest bathroom project, I've had a moment of panic as I've imagined taking one wrong step through the open floor and falling through the ceiling. But no more! Not only do we have a new plywood subfloor and the cement board down, we have an actual tile floor!

The tile-a-thon started with a trip to the Tile Shop, where we debated between porcelain basketweave and octagon/dot tile.


Buuut... since they only had the octagon/dot in stock, we decided to go with that.

I'm not sure that laying a subfloor is very exciting, so here's the quick version. We leveled the existing floor joists (either by chiseling bits off or gluing shims down)...

Hung a few new joists perpendicular to the original ones to give extra support under the bathtub and sketchy spots...

Glued 'n' screwed down the plywood...

And finished the job with a layer of cement board.

Notice how the seams between the pieces of plywood and the seams between the cement board don't line up? It's important to do it that way so that there aren't any weak spots that could lead to cracked tile or grout. Also important - taping the seams with fiberglass tape and covering them with a layer of thinset. This final step ensures that you're laying tile on a strong subfloor that won't shift or buckle at the edges when weight is placed on top of it (for example, a bathtub that weighs 710 pounds when filled).

Next, we laid out our tile to figure out how we wanted it oriented and where we would need to make cuts. We preferred the tile set diagonally (as viewed when entering the bathroom), which was great because it meant making about a thousand fewer cuts around the edges. And surprisingly, our walls are also fairly straight, so that also saved us from slivering little bits off all over the place. The only finicky cuts were around the pipes and the threshold. 

Here it is, our brand new guest bathroom/pizza parlor!

After all that work, we decided that it kind of looks like we should have a wood-fired pizza oven in the corner and a couple of those tall red plastic soda cups strewn about... hopefully it will look less like Mama BaƱo's Pizzeria and more like this lovely bathroom found on Pinterest once all the fixtures are in!