Down to the Nitty Picky

This is what our remodel has been reduced to. Because of previous battles and total opposite styles in taste and décor, our never-ending long suffering remodel of this money pit called our home, Mitch is now consulting my opinion on even the minutest detail. Believe me when I say that when we first started this arduous journey, I didn’t think our marriage would survive. We argued constantly about everything. The biggest stumbling block to our relationship was the master bath. We totally gutted it down to the studs and started over from there. The only fixture that stayed in its original spot was the toilet. And that was only because of the difficulty in moving the drain. We, meaning Mitch doing the labor and me being the creative genius, have moved from room to room bringing this hodge podge house into some kind of homey updated house.

Now we are down to the last two bedrooms, laying bamboo floors and rebuilding the closets. We fought over the placement of the closets and we removed them because of poor original construction. People back then used whatever material was available and no building code was followed. I finally gave in to Mitch’s idea of dividing the one closet into two with a wall separating them and with doors opening into each room. Mitch had a genius idea of making them cedar closets which for those rooms is very practical as well as a unique idea. Those rooms are on the old side of the house, which was originally built in 1928 and added on to in 1934, which means that side of the house is not as tightly constructed leaving room for mustiness and the possibility of mold. So the cedar closet was a stroke of genius. The only thing left to argue about was what type of door to install for each closet, bi-fold or sliding, solid or louvered. Louvered bi-fold won (my idea). I bought wooden knobs thinking simple easy plain, no fuss, no muss. It wasn’t until Mitch opened the doors up to remove the hardware and prepare to be stained, that he found that each door had its own wooden knobs.

When it came down to the stain, that was another dilemma, the knotty pine planks are all eighty years old and I’m pretty sure that the stain used back then is long gone, even if we knew what the color was. Mitch went on the hunt buying about a dozen small cans of stain to try and come as close as possible to the original color. A friend suggested that we go to Sherwin Williams with a piece of one of the existing boards and have them create a matching color. Mitch stained the doors, the knobs (all four of them) and the trim. When it came down to putting the knobs on the closet doors, he called me in the make a decision, which knob did I want on the doors. I looked at the knobs and laughed out loud, they were so similar. The only difference was a slight rounded top on one and a flat top on the other. I asked if he was serious and said that he could pick, to which he said no way, I had to pick.

Which one do you think I should pick, you know they are so very different.

knob picture

Rule Number One – Change the Batteries

Rule number one – when you buy batteries to replace the dead ones in the indoor shock collars for the dogs, it’s always a good idea to actually change them.  I bought the batteries for the collars the very next morning and as is always the case, I got busy multitasking and totally forgot to change out the dead for the freshly charged batteries.  We had dinner plans that night with my best friend and her significant other, who were in town only for the weekend, so I was busy trying to get everything done for the day and prod Mitch along. 

Mitch is busy working on our latest renovation project since the bathroom finally was finished.  The latest project is totally gutting the dining room and sheet rocking the room ceiling and walls and covering the hard wood floors with bamboo.  Mitch is not a social butterfly, hermit fits the description better, so getting him to stop the rehab and get cleaned up in a timely fashion, is like prodding a giant tortoise to walk faster.  Not going to happen.  So while I’m prodding, nagging and giving him the Look, I completely forgot to change out the batteries.  We go to dinner and have a great time, because once I finally get Mitch out of the cave and into the light, he opens up and enjoys himself.  He’ll even grudgingly admit it later, maybe.   

We get home to barking dogs waiting for me to open the door and once inside, I’m overwhelmed with the wave of destruction the dogs have waged on the kitchen.  In the living room an empty butter container that had housed an unopened pound of whipped butter that one or more dogs had taken from the kitchen table and consumed.  Yummy, eating a pound of butter.  I can’t wait to see which dog ate that.  Farther in the living was a plastic jar of honey or what was left of it.  The lid had been chewed off and the top of the jar had been chewed with about one quarter of the honey eaten.  I picked up the empty butter container, lid and the honey jar and walked into the kitchen to survey the damage waiting for me.  The recycle bin had been opened and contents strewn about.  Why, it’s not like anything in there was edible.

The trash can was knocked over again with trash all over the floor.  Orso also left a wonderful gift in the guest bathroom off the kitchen, he peed on the tile floor.  Lovely.  Surprisingly no one looked at all remorseful.  Imagine that.

The trashcan will now be removed and a smaller one will go under the sink.  God help me if they figure out how to open cabinet doors.  The butter and honey get put up higher, just like living with toddlers and the recycle container will be emptied more often and left outside when I’m gone. 

Oh yes and I am going to change the batteries in the collars right now.

The Great Bathroom Remodel Comes to a Close – Finally!

 On April 16, 2011, the first day of our vacation, we started the most labor intensive remodel of our master bath and on January 14, 2012, we are finally finished.  It only took two days shy of nine months to gut and totally revamp the eight foot by ten foot room.  I had this improvished model of reality that the remodel from start to finish would only take one maybe two weeks.  I had no idea what taking out the bathtub, the vanity and removing one closet would entail.  By some sheer miracle of faith, we are still married (to each other!).  There were times I didn’t think the room would ever finish or that our marriage would survive.  The only thing left to do is hang some decorative pictures, even though Mitch looks completely baffled when I mention that, as to why anyone would hang something other than a robe or a towel in a bathroom.  This has been the crux of our differences. 

But I must say that the bathroom looks awesome.  Much better than it did, with the ugliest vanity on the face of the planet.  No more is there a faux wood grain counter top.  Gone is the chipping porcelain sink.  The two pedestal sinks look so clean and contemporary.  Banished is the cramped, closed in space.  The custom cabinets made by Smithville Custom Cabinets look rich and warm, giving us ample storage.  The outdated hanging lights attached to the ceiling are gone and recessed lighting floods the room.  The tile floor looks so much better than the old linoleum and using the same porcelain tile as a baseboard was a stroke of genius, if I do say so myself.  It really does look very nice, though Mitch says was too labor intensive compared to regular wood baseboard. 

I took pictures of before, during and after, but you have to actually stand in the room to fully appreciate how hard Mitch worked and what an accomplishment he made.  I kept a spreadsheet of all the money spent on the remodel and we completed the project in at just under five thousand dollars.  Mitch did all of the work himself, with the occasional help from a few friends.  Otherwise the cost would have been much higher.

The Gutting of the Bathroom Day 9

Day eight was demolition day.  We cut a hole in the living room wall adjoining the bathroom.  This was done in order to get the icky tub and vanity out of the room and to get the new tub in the bathroom.  Mitch finally broke down and let me use some of his power tools.  He let me use the sawsall and it was fun.  We cut up the old ugly bathtub and carried it out in pieces to the El Camino to wait for the city clean up day and go away forever.  Mitch removed the cracked cast iron sink from the vanity and it went to wait with the bathtub.  I personally hauled out the “lovely” faux wood grain counter top out to the truck.  We dragged the vanity out of the bathroom to the living room, but someone with a lot more “lead in his pencil” will have to help Mitch get it out of the house.  It is really heavy.  Mitch didn’t want to cut it up, not sure why.  I would have. 

We were able to remove the huge honkin mirror from the wall and carry it outside without breaking it.  We carefully laid it on top of the old station wagon mirror side up so that the birds will see themselves flying over head.  Mitch removed the sheetrock from the walls that will hold the new tub.  It’s surprising how big the room is empty. Eight foot by ten foot, as big as some tiny bedrooms.

Day nine Mitch’s vacation is over and had to go back to his real job.  I think he’s really glad to get back and get some rest.  This means that this is going to take longer than we (I) thought.  So for now, we have to shower in the basement bathroom.  Woo hoo.  Sadly, my vacation is over too.  I have to go back to work tomorrow.  But we’re still married.

The Gutting of the Bathroom Day Six

Day Six scraping the ceiling didn’t go so good.  Imagine that.  Because of the confined space, the bathroom had extra thick popcorn texture sprayed on it.  Scraping the ceiling is one of those projects where the doing doesn’t sound so back until you actually start the doing.  Then you remember that it really sucks, but once you start scraping, there’s no stopping, you have to finish the whole room. 

After I had finished, Mitch looked at the ceiling and pointed out a spot that he thought still had a little too much texture.  I wasn’t so sure, but thought that I would see if I could get a little more off.  I got a little more off alright, the sheetrock was too wet and I scraped off the texture all the way to brown paper.  And it wasn’t a little spot that came off, no I scraped off a big honkin strip of sheetrock.  Thinking there was nothing else to do, I started stripping off all of the sheetrock top, really soaking the textured paint.   What a mess.

Now not only have I scraped off too much, but I have a big horrible mess on the ceiling and on the floor.  Mitch tried to come in and help, but he quickly lost patience and fled to the garage to pull nails out of the salvaged boards.  Therapy I think.

The ceiling has to dry, then we’ll smear sheetrock mud over the whole ceiling, after that we can texture the ceiling again.  Just what we wanted to do, right.  I’ll let you know tomorrow if we’re still married.

The Gutting of the Bathroom Day 5

Day Four hit a snag. Big surprise. Mitch started to remove a one foot section of sheet rock from the end of the remaining closet and found the water supply vent pipe. The original plan was to remove the door from its present location which makes it a very shallow closet, cut off one foot from the end of the closet and move the door to the end, making the closet deeper and giving the room a more open feeling. Well not now. Moving the vent pipe would entail a very extensive, expensive and time consuming operation.

Mitch was really reluctant to tell me for fear of me going ballistic. Just one more reason to hate this house. No matter what I want to do, we have to alter and adjust our plans. I’ve thrown so many fits over the past five years, when we first started on this renovation path. But this time I surprised him and just shrugged my shoulders and said, “Oh well, we’ll just leave the door where it is and forget about moving the pipe.

He didn’t realize it probably helped that I had gone shopping earlier and bought the faucets, mirrors and fixtures that I liked without any interference, then came home and had two glasses of wine. I was feeling very relaxed.

Day Five today I’m going to scrape the nasty popcorn ceiling off, which is lots of fun. I have to stand on a ladder, wear a mask and goggles and stretch in the most contorted positions to scrape sections of the ceiling. Get down, move the ladder, climb the ladder, stretch, scrape, get down, move the ladder and on and on. You get the picture. Lots of fun, want to come and help?