Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Moving Right Along

With the bathroom finished, all we have been thinking about is our next project - the basement. Life kicked in and time has been lost. A mini vacay to Va. Beach was taken, baby showers and bridal showers galore have taken over, and visits from family have been had. Things are on their way to calming down, but summer's end is approaching fast and so is my free time! 

We have one small hang up in the basement that is also taking away from starting - a hole. The previous owners seemed to have a 20 gal fish tank in the wall. Before we can start painting, I want the hole taken care of. My philosophy is, if you don't fix it first it won't get done. It shouldn't be too hard to fix: measure, get some dry wall, drill, putty and tape, but like most things I am sure it will be easier said than done. 

We will be measuring the annoying hole this week and gathering materials for the patch. After that, it's on to painting. That's really all we're doing in the basement is paint. It's almost a disappointment since the bathroom was such an overhaul! 

We are pretty sure that the paint will make a very dramatic statement down there. Right now the walls have been painted a deep burgundy color with a contrasting tan. The colors are not hideous, but they are not conducive to the environment down there. There is very little natural light in the basement. There is a door leading to the side yard, but it does not let in a lot of light. As far as unnatural lighting goes, there is a small dome light on the ceiling that is a sad excuse for a light. To ease this we have added a floor lamp which helps brighten the space. 

Along with paint, we'll be adding a new light fixture and more floor lamps. With smaller spaces it's best to light those corners. Bright corners give the appearance of a larger space. Dark, unlit corners make the space seem much smaller than it is. We will be brightening up the room with lighter paints and adding an accent wall. There will also be some fun details, with the help of Sharon, Joe's mom. 

We've got the motivation for this project to begin, now I just need to find the time! 

Saturday, July 9, 2011


Seven hours, 25 minutes, and only one cut thumb later, the bathroom floor, and the bathroom itself, is finito! Now, this time frame and casualty list is only the time it took to complete the floor of this 27 sqft space. We decided to go with a 12 x 12 tile. We chose TrafficMaster Ceramica Resilient-Vinyl Tile Flooring. This is a vinyl tile that has the look of ceramic at a fraction of the cost. Unlike other peel-and-stick vinyl flooring, this flooring gives you the option of grouting it. We chose to grout to give the tile a more realistic ceramic look.

In preparation for the new floor, I decided to tear up the old floor. This turned out to be a bear of a project! I think I stated in my last post, this step will definitely be skipped when we redo the kitchen floor. The reason for taking up the old floor was there was some water damage behind the toilet. I started pulling and from there I couldn't look back. My mom called at just the right moment and I enlisted her to help! In the end it was better that we took up the old bathroom floor because of the damage. This helped the new floor lay much nicer. 

Getting rid of that yucky old vinyl...

Ready for the new floor! 
As I said earlier, it took seven hours to lay the new floor in the bathroom. This is about three hours longer than I thought it would take. It's only 27sqft!  Again, I was saved by mom. She came over unannounced at the moment of truth- when I actually had to start cutting the tile to fit around hard objects. With her guidance and smarts, I was able to cut and lay the tile around the toilet, vanity and door frame - three very tight spots. When the floor was all laid, I was quite pleased with the results.

In the beginning...
So close, most of those tight space taken care of!
I was very anxious to get the grout down once the floor was laid. We had to let the new tile sit over night to let the adhesive cure, see we're learning the language ;-). The total time to add the grout took 25 minutes. This was more shocking than how long it took to lay the tile! I want to give a shout out to whomever came up with pre-mixed grout. Thank you for your smarts! My parents had ceramic tile laid throughout their kitchen, mixing the grout, as I remember was time consuming to get the right consistency. All I needed was a 2" plastic putty knife and a sponge. Unlike ceramic tile where you apply the grout over most of the tile, you need to be careful to avoid this with vinyl tile. I only applied the grout to the seams and wiped up any excess with a damp sponge. This was the one time, so far, the 1,2,3 steps held true!

Done, without the grout and 1/8" spacers still left ...

Grouted and ready to go! 
I have to say I am so excited to be done with this project. There are a few minor details left, like some shelving, but nothing that will prevent us from moving on to the next room. So we are dubbing this project as finito!


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Almost There!

The bathroom is almost complete! We spent the better part of this weekend taking out and tearing down an old, rusty, moldy, stuck on sink, toilet and medicine cabinet. We put in the new toilet, vanity sink combo, hung the new mirror, and new light fixture. None of this could have been done without the help of Joe's dad, Mark. I should almost take out the use of "we" and say Mark did all this. Mostly Joe and I were there as spectators along with Joe's mom, Sharon. Let me just say we are sooooo appreciative of him coming over and wasting two days to complete all this work! It looks fantastic, or so we think! 
Before: wood topped toilet seat and bulky oak vanity  made  for poor flow in the room

After: smaller white vanity and toilet help open up the space. The white really helps light bounce off creating a more open look.

We started with the toilet which wasn't too awful to remove, but it wasn't easy either. The floor screws were rusty and some trouble to remove. Taking out a toilet is not as easy as one would think. I won't go in to all the boring details, but let me say what I thought was easy as 1,2,3 turned out to be as easy as 1,2,3............25! After the toilet it was on to the vanity!

This was another project that seemed so simple. I read a lot about removing toilets and vanities on the internet and everything just looked so simple. Nothing over 5 steps. Rule #2 of small, or any home, improvement, don't believe what you read on the internet. The old vanity had four walls, one on each side. The back wall was the hardest to remove. It had holes cut for the pipes and the rest was solid. This was a bit of a problem, tight spaces don't make it easy to do demolition. It did get completed, and I think the sweat was definitely worth it. Although I'll have to ask Mark if he thinks so! 

We decided to reuse the old faucet on the new sink. There really was nothing wrong with it and the style went with the rest of the decor. Doing this helped us save around $50 for a new one. When you're working on a tight budget it's always smart to reuse. Not only is it more friendly for our environment, it's more friendly for your wallet as well!
Before: Small medicine cabinet with vanity lights. Not a lot of reflective surface with this small mirror. This makes the space appear even smaller than it is. Vanity lights are dated and don't provide adequate light. 

After: Hanging the mirror horizontal provides more reflective surface to help the room appear larger.  Mirrors can be your best friend in a small space! The new light fixture provides more light and flows with the shape of the mirror.
All of this took place on day one. On day two, we took down that horrible medicine cabinet, hung the mirror, and installed the new light. Again, most of this was completed by Mark. A bonus to DIY projects is having someone who actually knows what they are doing! Even though Mark was the one doing most of the work, he really was a good teacher. I know I learned a lot and I sure hope Joe did, too. I think the next bathroom install will be something Joe and I could handle on our own, with Mark on call of course.

The last item on the bathroom list is the floor. I tore up that old linoleum in preparation for the new tile. Tearing up 19 year old linoleum is not so fun. This step will be skipped when it comes time to do the kitchen. Once the floor is done the bathroom will be completed! I cannot wait for this project to be finished so we can move on the next one.  

Enjoy these next photos. Next time you see this bathroom it will be complete! 

Monday, July 4, 2011


I know it's been said a hundred times before, but it is a tried and true statement, stick to your budget. With any home improvement project, budgeting is one of the most important parts. Without it things can get out of hand. A bonus of the budget is when the project is complete there is no buyers remorse involved while you are enjoying the finished product.

Joe and I have set a very strict and tiny budget to go along with our tiny bathroom. I really should extend this statement and say that this tiny budget also includes redoing the floor in the kitchen, refinishing the cabinets, adding a back splash, as well as painting the dungeon, I mean basement. Budgets can be hard to stick to and have a tendency to grow as you are making your way through your project. Here are some things we have learned about budgeting and being  frugal shoppers.

1. Price check. As I am sure most of you know, price checking is a very smart step in becoming a savvy shopper. With today's technology this is easier than ever. You can practically compare any item of choice between any major store and find which has the best price. This really is a great way to help you stay within your means. It is also a great way to help you explore options you may not have thought about before. While price checking the sink/vanity for the bathroom, that I was just so sure I couldn't live without, I found one I liked even more. As a bonus because of this price check I was able to add an extra $50 to our budget! A score for sure! $50 to help with those forgotten items like the toilet paper holder, or the faucet connectors.

2. Only take what you are willing to spend. With so much plastic floating around these days it is super easy to charge, charge, charge! It's almost like a battle cry at the register, "Charge!" The trick is to avoid this as much as possible. If you don't want to blow your budget only bring what you are actually going to be spending with some room to cover taxes or miscellaneous items you may not have realized you needed. This will help curb any impulse buys. Impulse buys can cut into your actual project, and while that light fixture may look pretty, you don't need it if you didn't budget for it.

3. Bring a strong focused shopper with you. Luckily Joe is not easily swayed by pretty shiny objects like I am. He is great at keeping us on track while humoring my path less taken ways. It usually ends badly for our wallets when I am left alone. He's like my conscience reminding me that I really don't need back splash right this moment!

4. Lastly, always bring a list. Having exactly what you want in front of you keeps you focused and less likely to get something you don't need. When you can see what you are buying before you buy you are not going to want to spend extra. A list gives you an idea of what you will be spending before it's spent. Remember folks knowledge is power!

Many of these tips are tips I am sure many of us out there know very well, but it is always good to have a reminder every once in a while. Don't be afraid to use these in other areas as well.

Happy shopping friends :)