Monday, December 30, 2013

Another shower tile job

The next shower surround had a couple specific goals: larger tile (less cutting and less grout) while still keeping the bright white subway tile-like deal going; modern vibe.  I had this pin for a shower idea that I was looking at.  Here we are working on it.  We had a quick weekend of babysitting so we cruised up, tiled like mad, and made this progress.  We finished the job to the point we needed to without Noah around.

 I had the pleasure of working with this upgraded tile saw - up at standing height!  It worked great for me and helped get a much closer cut in the corners of the shower.  Can you see the loaner saw down in the corner?  I did ALL my other tile jobs so far with that little guy.

 We selected to do a glass mosaic on the end where the plumbing comes out with the thought that it would be a nice accent and much easier install with removing little tiles and cutting the back webbing, rather than trying to get a 4 inch hole in the middle of a 9x12 tile.  There were challenges with the mosaic, but overall, it was a pleasant way to approach the plumbing column.
 Mmm, pretty!
 We nearly finished the back wall and the plumbing end on day one of setting tile.  Not bad for a couple novices.
 The vertical bricking also added some new challenges - gotta make sure it goes up straight!  Please excuse the funky worklight shadows in the pictures.  We don't have any lights in this bathroom (to be installed after painting is complete) and it's in an interior area...
 We taped off the tub (fresh each day) to try to keep it clean from falling mud chunks.  That worked fairly well.

 Second day we finished setting the tile in the morning and grouted the back wall after dinner.  Before heading home on Sunday morning, we were able to quick get the rest of the grout done.  This shower surround went up about a hundred times better/easier than the last one.  We got our groove going, had a babysitter, and used a much more powerful tile saw.  We were also strategic in our tile selection and used the "better" thin-set.
 A few more pictures for fun!

 I'm the official cutter, while Brian is the mudder.  We work together more on grout, but he applies and I'm the wiper.  This time the grout wiping was really easy (shh, don't tell!), I just wiped my sponge over the tiles and had a nearly perfect line.
She's looking good!  Noah has now seen the tile and he says he prefers the other bathroom, which is good because we call it his!  He's not down with my modern vertical tile mosaic.  That's okay, he also wishes for blue carpet in his room!

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Phase 1 complete

An alternative title for this was "Building Furniture with a Lego man".  Noah had an absolute blast putting together the IKEA furniture that we got to finish off "his" room at the Superior Condo.  Warning, we work in a very cluttered and full space!  We're in the middle of phase 2, so we're short a bedroom and worked right in the living/dining area for building.

In addition to putting the furniture together, we had a few other things that needed to happen.  We go this lamp from the neighbors when they came on their "purge and paint" trip.  I had mentioned we were going with more of a coastal look than northwoods forest.  We liked everything about the lamp except the fringe.  I cut it off.
 Take your time and cut very close to the shade.
 Almost there.
 Look at that pile of silky fringes.  It's too bad the base doesn't light up somehow too.  It's a nice lamp, though and works well in Noah's room.  You'll see shortly.
There's more building to be done.  We had to make shelves/towel bars for the bathroom.

 There they are, all put up.  The install was kind of a pain in the neck, but it's just what I was looking for.  Now there's a spot for a few of your vanity top items that won't fit on this small sink, and a full rack for extra towels.
 Whew, she's come a long way!

 And now for the bedroom...
We used IKEA Hemnes bedside tables - the little narrow ones.  We've had those lamps floating around here for awhile now, I believe they were from Home Depot.  I like that they are touch-on and have 3 levels of light.
 Photo bomber!  He's got his "ear-mupps" on.
 Here's the little dresser corner with the hand-me-down lamp and a waterfall picture - not local, but an IKEA cheapy.  We want to put as little as possible into the space, just enough to make it functional and pretty.  Noah always makes it more homey when we come by leaving his buddies or cute stuff on the shelves.
 He wasn't happy about how I selected to put the lamps and kleenex box on the bedside tables...  He wanted his "rock collection" rock in just the right place.

 And here's an outside view.  The most calming thing you could look at - big lake and a few trees.

 Back to the bathroom. The shower tile with glass stripe.  Come back soon, we'll have another fun bathroom tile job posted soon.
 I had to stand in the shower to get this shot :)  And, by the way, the tan towels aren't staying, they're what we had to put on the shelf for now.  I'm thinking about getting a bulk of white towels for the place.
Thanks for visiting!  What do you think?!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Putting together a gallery wall

After 3 months of staring at this blank wall and the pile of frames and pictures on the floor nearby, I put the little one to bed early and got my gallery on.  Actually, the fact that Brian had finished painting was part of the deal, we had some stuff on the walls, then he took it down to patch them all up (they were in pretty random spots for the size art we bring to the place) and give it a fresh coat of paint because this was the only room in the house that was not "freshly painted" when we moved in.  Freshly painted gets quotes - that's another story.  There is painted trim throughout the house, except in this room.  The estate had all the walls painted, but not the trim, and the trim is pretty rough looking.  We'll get working on that one of theses days.  Gotta decided where to start and what colors to use.  Don't want to paint anything that's getting dramatically changed sooner than later...
Back to my gallery wall.
Before, big empty wall above the desk.

Layout testing on the floor, quick paper cutout to model the light.

It's up!  I've missed having my clock on the wall.

Figuring out the mantle next door, progress.

The whole corner is looking better, still has a ways to go.
I have ideas about that weird TV hole on the left side of this picture.  I want to get a giant, light colored canvas print (DIY art?) to put over that opening.  I want to do some work to lighten up the feel with all that dark wood, without touching the dark wood.  I think it's darker in these pictures since I was doing this work (and photos) late at night, the wood feels a little brighter than this in real life.
We stuck with white paint for these upper walls because of the dark wood.  We want to keep it light with all the dark wood and few windows.  This room is "done" for now.  We've updated the light fixtures, changed out the door knobs, added the carpet, hung some pictures...  Feeling pretty good about this one.
I considered putting pictures on walls in several other rooms, but found that to be very challenging due to really hard plaster.  Any suggestions??  That plaster is hard stuff - I bent a nail trying to get a picture hung in Noah's room...

Monday, November 4, 2013

Tile job

We had a whirlwind work weekend at the condo.  (yes, it was a couple weeks ago)  We spent the entire visit working on the tile.
Before I get into the tile job, let me just show another discovery.  We pulled the baseboard trim down for the tile job (much easier to get a clean edge).  Under the paneling, peaking out taunting me was this splendid wallpaper.  Ugh, wallpaper.  
Good thing we're keeping the paneling on this side!  Painted -- it's not staying orange!

 We selected a different tile for this side.  It's a little more modern, and presented a new challenge because we haven't worked with such large tiles before.  We started by cutting a few pieces and fitting our layout together in the entry area.
As before, I was the cutter and Brian the mudder.  He claimed his job was more challenging this round because those larger tiles are harder to get set level.  It's a 3-D game.  Generally we have set much smaller tiles which have a smaller notch in the trowel and less mud to smoosh around (technical term there).  The smaller tiles don't have much play in the depth direction.  Another difference, was that these more modern tiles have a very square edge profile, so a corner poking up would be noticeable.  Usually we work with tiles that have a rounded edge profile, so you get a smoother transition from tile to grout to tile, thus hiding any minor height variation.  So, he whined and moaned about how hard those large tiles were to work with, but it looks fabulous in the end.  And, how can you improve your skills if you don't try new challenges, right?!

We had a challenging, tight workspace for this job.  We wanted to base our layout off the primary entry, so that looks good.  (we check that it won't look stupid or have an awkward size piece at the other 2 key locations - the front of the tub and the transition off the tile)  We did manage to get a piece in our layout that had to be cut like a U, do you see it in there?  I cut that.  It's perfect.  It was cut on a low powered saw that isn't supposed to be used for tiles greater than 12 inches or porcelain. Made it work.  Brian owes me a big-girl tile saw before I'm asked to cut again, otherwise, we'll trade jobs! :)   

We prepped Friday, tiled all day Saturday, and got up early to grout before driving home on Sunday.  Should have probably waited longer from laying the tile until grouting.  The directions say you can grout the next day, but if you grout too soon, all the moisture in the thinset doesn't have a chance to escape and it can cause your grout to get a white, chalky look to it.  We have this in the corner where we finished the tile job (and duh, started the grout job).  It's a bit disappointing to work so hard and look at it in the end and say hmm.  Our charcoal grout looks great in the entry area (minus all the haze that we didn't have the time or muscles to clear out before we walked away that weekend) where it's a dark charcoal against the modern gray/black tiles.  Pictures are really challenging in the dark entry area with all that orange wood-tone surrounding the space.  It's going to look so good when it's all painted up. 
Prep for paint is next, those walls need it!

Ooh, I should give you a sneak peek of the vanity set we bought...  Of course, I can't find it.  At a minimum, they changed the price, and wood finish options.  Here's what I think it is, it's at least the look...
I chose a floating vanity to fit into that funny little spot.  It has a glass top just like the last one, but has a different flair to it.  (I'm pretty sure the wood is more black than brown as shown here)  Slightly more modern, where the other side is a bit more transitional.  That's the joy of phase 1 vs phase 2.  We want it to flow like it all belongs together, but not be the exact same on both sides.  
Stay tuned, the boys are going up to get her ready for paint this weekend.  I also had a shopping spree to get the phase 1 bedroom and bathroom furnished up and declared finished.  "Final" after shots coming as soon as I can get there to place everything and "fluff" it.  And take the pictures!  

What's your favorite part of the process?  Demolition, building, or fluffing?  Choosing building materials or choosing furnishings and decor?  I would rather choose building materials any day, choosing furnishings makes my hands clammy.  Fluffing is my favorite part, though, because then, not only is the work done, but all the stressful selections have been made and you get to enjoy it!
**Fluffing is more widely recognized as "staging", whatever.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Eye tricks to define the space

Our new house has the very awkward, large family room.  It's combined with a big bookshelf and desk area that is more of a home office than family room.  It's good to have these things all out in the open so that we can observe each other's computer use and work and play together.  Anyway, I'm getting off topic...
The ceiling is vaulted on the family room half, but it's still a little awkward in terms of space layout.  It's hard to clearly define the large open space.  Let me just jump to pictures. Here's my solution.
Big fuzzy rug to define the space better.

Still a work in progress, but much better.

Looking down to the back entry.  It's actually reasonably tidied up.

Mmm, fuzzy texture.  It's so soft under foot and warms the space up well.
It's feeling more homey now that we have a family room space that we live in.  I love the texture with all the smooth wood and leather couch.  There is officially no eating and no legos on the new carpet!  Is this house tweaking, or just settling in?!

Sunday, October 27, 2013


When Noah declared that he was going to be an Eagle for halloween, I nearly had heart failure.  How would we pull that off??  I'm a fan of costumes that are practical and re-useable.  Stuff like cowboys and builders - grab a good hat and wear jeans with a particular type of shirt.  Then the jeans and shirt will just go into his clothing stash for the rest of winter.  Can't do that with an eagle.
We subsequently were invited to a neighborhood halloween parade and since we've recently moved, we want to make sure we meet neighbors.  And, they are going in costume to a nursing home for school another day.  3 uses convinces me that it's worth some time to put together.  I should be praising God that he wants to be an eagle rather than a monster!  So, I fixed my do-I-have-to attitude and got my crafting on.  
Thanks to this eagle, I had a good bit of guidance to make the costume.  First, I cut out a ton of white and brown feathers.  We bought a brown hooded sweatshirt to base the costume off, and a pair of brown pants to wear it with - this satisfies my need to include the costume in his wardrobe for the rest of winter.  I also got him to behave nicely in the fabric shop with me for me, so that was a bonus.  We bought 1 yard of brown felt, a half yard of white felt, and a quarter yard of yellow felt - a fairly orangey yellow.  I cut out a big bunch of feathers, and while cutting figured out that if I sewed them onto the sweatshirt, I wouldn't be able to keep that in his closet or I would have to rip out all the seams for the feathers.  I'm not sure what the model I looked at did, but she claimed no-sew, so I think she glued her felt feathers onto the sweatshirt.  I ended up cutting a large rectangle for the back, 2 narrower ones for the front and a pair of large triangles for wings.  I sewed layers of feathers onto these rectangles.  I also copied the hood of the sweatshirt in white felt and sewed on the white feathers and beak.  I just used safety pins to attach the parts onto the sweatshirt...  A picture's worth a thousand words, right?!
Eagle in progress, first few rows of feathers attached.

Pile of feathers ready to attach.

Another row done.

My model checking my progress.  I need to get some feathers up by the shoulders yet.

Head assembled. 
 I ended up hand-sewing the top layer of feathers because I didn't want the very obvious line of stitching going across them.  Now that it's done, I realize that it's not likely anyone would see that - my boy moves much too fast, especially when he's excited.  And, he's excited to be an eagle!
Still need to get the front covered up a little better.

I wish that sweatshirt didn't have those white stripes on the sleeves.

Perfect animal from the back, my model was happy to lay down "spread eagle" for me!
Happy costumes for childhood fun.  Next year, mom says she has something that will fit him from my childhood stash.  I think there are more "retro" costumes available on the other side as well.
When do we start the deeper conversations about beliefs around this one?  We'll just keep it light for another year or few.  Those conversations will have to start when scary costumes are asked for.