Friday, December 28, 2012

Surprisingly Motivated

Now there is a title to start a post with! But seriously, with number of ugly events of this past fall that hit my family, I've had little motivation to work on the house. Being unemployed at the moment, you'd think it would be the perfect time to get some simple work around the house done but I haven't (in part because the job hunt and small business side projects are eating up my day time hours).

Well, that lack of motivation changed a bit yesterday. For a while now, I've had a couple of projects on the back burner (projects that keep me from wanting to bring in an appraiser to look at the place for eventual refinance). One of them I don't have the aptitude to manage solely on my own (the bathroom) but the other I can easily get out of the way.

Yesterday I started work on finishing the hall closet. Its a small task but the cramped space did actually make getting in there and slapping joint compound on the walls daunting. Very little elbow room. All that remains for the first coat is the ceiling, which I might get to later tonight assuming I get the first floor picked up and vacuumed (preparing for a LAN party). Once that is done, I can do the second coat next week, sand it, prime it and see about putting in the floor (I had flooring left over from removing the adjacent bedroom's closet, which should be plenty for what I aim to do). I am going to try to get it done by the end of the week and, if my employment status does not change, I'll start in on finishing the bathroom closet.

This year was the first year I have had a Christmas tree as an adult. With Jay and his kids living here, it felt right to have one for the kids at least. I'll be picking up pine needles well into next year. It did end up looking good but I think I'll need to find a different spot for it. The corner it was in was the best place for it to be in the room but its proximity to the heat dried the tree out fast - if another tree is bought for next year, I think it will be placed next to the porch door, well away from the heat though less conveniently positioned.

While I was cleaning up the pine needles, I also decided it was time to put a door stop on the porch door. I noticed a dunch in wall from the door handle and figured it was time to install the stop, considering I'd bought it months ago.

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Living Room

With the one year anniversary of my house purchase fast approaching, I made a vow to get the living room functionally complete by that point (NOTE: I changed it from Complete to Functionally Complete, aren't I clever?). Happily, I was able to get the living room to that point and have a party to celebrate being a home owner!

Thanks a ton to my Mom and Dad and Jay for helping out on bringing this room together. There are still a few things to do on it but those things won't keep the room from being enjoyed!

Things left to do, because what house project is ever really finished?

  • Install Track Lighting
  • Purchase, Stain and Install Molding along ceiling, fireplace and over heating
  • Purchase and install blinds and curtains
  • Build/Purchase and Install a Mini Bar and Liquor Cabinet
  • Build and Install a Storm door (similar to the ones on the front and back door) for use as a rail-driven sliding door to close off the living room (additional zombie fallback barrier maybe)

Friday, October 26, 2012

Small Task Journal - 10/26/12

On the bright side of being laid off, I now have plenty of time to devote to working on the home renovations! That's it Matt - keep looking on the bright side! I kid, I kid (weeps softly).

Anyway, on the serious side of things, the living room is nearing functional completion! Over the course of the week, the floor has been sanded and stained. It's a little darker than I originally wanted but once the final coat of polyurethane is on, I think it will grow on me.

Speaking of polyurethane, the second coat is drying as I type this. In order to do the floor proper, I had to rent a square buffer/sander from Home Depot (they are making bank off me...) to scuff up the floor between coats.

After the first coat had dried, I hit the floor with the buffer. And that's when I got a little worried. The richness of the stain seemed to vanish. I knew this was going to happen and that the next coat of poly would bring back the color but it still worried me in the time between buffing and applying the poly.

Tomorrow morning, I'll be hitting the floor with another pass of the buffer and then applying the third and final coat. I'll have to be motivated earlier in the morning than I usually am on Saturday mornings so that I can be done with the buffer and return it as soon as possible (perhaps convince Jay to get started on the third coat while I am driving the buffer back).

Once the floor is done, I have to install three lights (2 wall scones and the track light) and cut and paint the quarter-round for over the heater (I'll need to buy some more, I don't have enough). I'm also going to try to get CAT5 and COAX wires run in the basement to support the new location of the router and the cable box. If all goes well, I should be able to move everything into the living room Sunday morning!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Small Task Journal - 10/22/12

After spending the past couple of weeks painting and touching up painting mistakes, I've finally done something on the room that feels like I amounted to something. I took the day off today for a Doctor's Appointment (one of my sinuses needs a makeover) and decided to spend the rest of time I wasn't at that doctor's office working on the living room.

What does one do when one has a sinus condition? Clearly, the answer is "Sand a floor with rented machinery!"

This morning I opened up the container of putty I had in the basement since last year to start filling in holes left by the carpet. Once that was done, I picked up the Drum Sander and in the late afternoon got to work sanding down the living room. That went surprisingly fast and I was able to return the drum sander and pick up the edge sander before they closed up shop (for some reason, I was completely refunded the rental on the drum sander, not sure why). I brought the edge sander home and finished off the heavy parts of the room (I'll still need to go in and sand some spots by hand tomorrow).

While at Home Depot getting the edge sander, the cashier kindly informed me I was using all the wrong grits for the sand paper. Not wanting to go through the rental and effort again, he suggested I use a satin finish on the floors instead of something glossy. This will make the Living Room the odd-man-out compared to the rest of the house but I don't think I mind that too much considering I'd rather have fewer reflective/shiny surfaces in the room anyway.

Tomorrow I will be touching up spots by hand, vacuuming and cleaning the room and either Wednesday or Thursday I'll be laying down the base coat.

At this point, I've separated the remaining efforts for the room into Must-Have and Would-Be-Nice categories. The floor is really the only remaining Must-Have. Trim on the top of the heater and molding on the ceiling are Would-Be-Nice. I also need to pick up some blinds for the room - I am thinking of going with some bamboo Roman shades. Home Depot had some nice options. I also need to install the new track light (easy) and find something to at least cover the scone boxes on either side of the fire place (maybe the lighting store in Franklin will decide to be open during hours other than my work hours?).

As for additional work on the room, I still need to figure out what to do for curtains. Sadly, the Curtain Store (that's its name) was not open today. I want to get some nice shelving for the room and possibly a bar and liquor cabinet but I don't need either of those for the end of the month.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Small Task Journal - 10/21/12

Things are slowly coming together. This morning I finished the last major paint effort on the living room (the beams in the ceiling). Painting the ceiling and the beams over yesterday and today made me realize that I really had the effort order on painting backwards. I really should have done all the ceiling work first - because now I have to do another touch-up pass on the walls and some of the trim due to white ceiling paint splatter (and a few missed trim paint spots).

Happily though, with the ceiling done, I can move ahead later today and tomorrow with the floors. I have to go to Home Depot later today to buy myself a sander, sealer and polyurethane to finish off the room. Tomorrow I plan on visiting a few local stores for lighting and curtain/blinds to see what people with a better design sense than me suggest. I am completely uncertain about curtains and not sure how I should handle the bay window (one big set of blinds/curtains or something for each window so that I can still use the bay's shelf when things are closed up).

The molding for the ceiling and trim along the sides of the fireplace and over the heating elements need to get done but those pieces will be painted first and then installed to save some headache. Also, if they don't get in by Sunday, its not the end of the world.

Its nice to see the room coming towards the home stretch. There will still be more to do on the room after Sunday - but that is mostly in terms of setting up shelving and maybe a bar (or at least a liquor cabinet.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Small Task Journal - 10/17/12

I've been stalled a few days on getting some minor tasks done. Originally, I had planned to get a lot done on Saturday but had to shelve those plans as a date got reschedule (and then... cancelled). Because of that, my motivation wasn't really there on Sunday but I got a little bit done towards the end goal.

As of this moment, the trim has been painted and both walls and trim have been touched up on spots where paint bled or tore from the wall when I was pulling the tape. I do have to hit a couple of parts of the walls with another coat as the prime is showing through in some parts.

This evening, I dug out some heavy blankets and stuff them in the windows while I worked on painting the bottom window panes. I am going to try to get both coats on by the end of the night and get the panes back in the window tomorrow morning.

The ceiling got a little attention tonight as well. There was a hook hanging from the ceiling that was annoying me so I asked Jay if he had anything to remove it. After trying various pliers and grips, he just snapped it off. I suppose that works. With the hook out of the way, a couple of holes in the ceiling were patched and drying.

At this rate, I am hoping to have the window panes and ceiling painted by the end of the week.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Small Task Journal - 10/11/12

This week, I've been trying to do something in the living room each evening. This usually means I get home around 5, get started on some project between 5:30 and 6 and wrap up my effort around 8. It helps me feel like I'm accomplishing something and keeps me from just being in front of the computer all evening (though, I do need to spend some time there to work on Cam and Mel's tattoo designs).

Last night was spent putting another coat of Normandy Blue on the walls of the living room. I have the floor covers down the night before and all I needed to do for prep last night was tape around the various casings. Ava was all about being there in an overseeing capacity, asking many questions (often repeating some) about what I was doing and why I was doing what I was doing. She was chased out of the room when I started painting.

The coat of paint went up quickly and easily. Most of the walls just needed a quick second coat to fill in spots where I had put the paint on too thin on the first pass. The sections that had primer on them I went a bit heavier on. Happily, I had bought the second gallon of the color and was able to finish the room with plenty of paint left. Tonight, I plan on getting a start on painting the casings. That should go pretty quickly.

As of now (not including my plans for tonight), I have the following left to do on the room:
  • Prime Windows
  • Paint Windows, Window Muntins, Casings, Baseboards and Ceiling Beams
  • Paint Ceiling
  • Install, Prime and Paint molding around ceiling
  • Install, Prime and Paint molding around heating elements and fireplace
  • Clean, Sand and Seal Floor
 Looking at that list, it still looks like a lot but each of those except for the floor are pretty simple things. I am hoping to have this list cut in half by the end of the weekend.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Small Task Journal - 10/9/12

The nice thing about deciding to do a one-year sort-of Open House at the end of the month is that it has motivated me to do work in the living room. Granted, by the time I get going at night after work, it is already decently late so I don't have much time to get work done, but I am working on getting to the goal.

Yesterday evening was spent working on priming the remaining walls that needed a new coat of primer as well as getting the easy faces of the woodwork prime. The hard stuff is still there to do (inside the casings mostly) but I am going to try to get that done over the weekend. This evening, I had started out planning on getting the walls re-painted but go distracted with dinner and emails so what I actually accomplished was not amazing by any means (laid down tape/drop plastic, took outlet face plates off and installed an empty plate for one of the outlets I have no intention of using).

It is actually a good thing I didn't get to painting tonight as I discovered a need to rewire one of the outlets - I managed to trip the breaker while plugging a light in, which leads me to believe I need to rewire things and double check the ground (and maybe clip the extension box around the outlet a little).

Tomorrow, once I get the outlet fixed up, I'll dig into painting.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Small Task Journal - 10/2/12

I am trying to get myself on track to have the living room done for the 1 year anniversary signing. I want to be able to say, on October 28th, "Yes! It took me a year but I finished ONE ROOM!"

This means that September is going to be full of work. The big tasks are out of the way and now its just details to be done. The walls are insulted, the sheetrock is hung, the windows are installed and the trim is up.

For my first Small Task entry, I'm going to cover the little bits I did yesterday and today:
  • Put in the screens in the Window casings in preparation for removing the windows for priming and painting soon.
  • Primed two of the four muntins for the two windows (I call them grills... but some people get annoyed at me when I do...)
  • Sanded the bottom of the bay window where water from plants (previous owner) had caused the existing paint to bubble up. Also, applied putty where needed on the bay window.
  • Jay pitched in and went around the trim with the putty filling in the deeper nail holes and gouges from my amateur efforts at hanging woodwork.
Not related specifically to renovations - I did also pick up the pool toys and put them in the shed (have to remember to get out there and bring the Super Soakers in before the frost). The pool is going to be closed tomorrow and I didn't want the folks doing the closing to be tripping over things. I wish I had more time and better weather this past week to vaccum out the pool as well - but September's been rough and I'm willing to pay them a bit more to not have to deal with that headache myself.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Barely a Journeyman

It has been quite a while since I posted an update on the renovation efforts. That is due in large part to a lack of motivation on my part. This summer has been somewhat miserable heat wise which provided little motivation to work on the house (but plenty of motivation to be lazy around the pool).

Now that the summer is pretty much on its way out, I was able to motivate myself to get some renovations underway. Mom and Dad were planning to come down to visit around my birthday and offered to help me install a new pair of windows in the living room while they were visiting. To prepare for that, I had to make sure that the walls were sheet rocked, primed and painted. As I've mentioned in other posts, I had difficulties picking the colors for the walls I am working on. I get nervous about how the whole room will look in that color. I did decide on a color eventually - going with a color called Normandy (it is kind of a Battleship grey/blue).

(Not the actual color as it looks on the walls)

Mom and Dad were down starting on my birthday (Thursday) and Dad wasted no time in diving into a project. One of the light switches was giving me problems in the living room so we spent the afternoon figuring what wires went to want outlets and everything got wired up! Some of the wall did have to get taken apart in the process, but nothing a bit of primer and paint won't fix.

All day Friday and Saturday was spent installing the two new windows and getting the detail trim around the windows and doors in the living room installed. Thanks to all of their help, I am one step closer to having the living room completed (and at least partially competent at installing windows, we'll see how well I retain everything when I go to install one on my own).

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Is it weird to say the work on the house has been going both slow and fast?

In the middle of April, Mom and Dad came down for a project weekend. I suspect Dad was wanting some bigger projects to be ready to roll than what was accomplished but I am over all happy with what we managed to get done. By we, I mean more Mom and Dad than me - the weekend before was PAX and I was suffering through a combination of lack of sleep and some bug I had picked up, presumably, at the convention.

Despite being under the weather, I did get a good amount of the sheet rock up on the walls in the living room. Over Saturday and Sunday, Mom, Dad and I got the joints taped and compounded added. It has taken me until just now to get the second coat on the joints. While here, they did some work on the bathroom upstairs (the shower is now sealed and usable) and Dad addressed an issue with a burst pipe out by the pool (a pool service was coming the following week to open the pool for the season and I needed the pipe fixed). I do feel bad about all the work the did compared to what I did, i should have pitched in more - taken some Day-quil and OJ and pushed through the cold.

Dad and I took a trip down to Lowes on Sunday to pick up a few supplies and get some estimates on windows. This trip gave me a lot of the information I was having a hard time getting - first in how I should measure the windows and second in what I should be looking for. Compared to the quote I had received from Home Depot, what Lowes was offering was a better deal (price was a lot less without the install too) but I need to go to Home Depot to see how they compare on just windows.

The past couple weeks have been me trying to get my weekend routine as a home owner figured out. How often do I need to mow the lawn? How much time do I dedicate to pool maintenance? What do I need to do to keep the lawn, plant beds and pseudo-garden alive? I think I've gotten at least a template figured out, I haven't had enough weeks to see how well it runs.

Speaking of the garden, with the risk of frost gone, the planters are now out on the stone wall at the edge of the pool. The peas have started to grow up and are the biggest of the plants now. Broccoli sprouted last weekend and there were a couple of shoots of spinach today. Everything else hasn't show much of anything yet - some may take long to germinate I suppose and some may have been planted too deep. We'll see what the weeks ahead have in store for everything.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

And so the gardening begins...

With the last week being unseasonably warm and this weekend playing at being just spring time, I decided to break out my green thumb. We'll see if it proves to be competent at gardening or merely gangrenous.

I haven't done a lot yeah, but I have started the cleanup of the front yard. There are a few piles of leaves, sticks and other tree debris scattered around now waiting for me to pick them up and bring them to compost out behind the backyard.

The newest additions to the landscape have been planted. I bought six blueberry bushes, a pair of raspberry bushes and a ton of strawberries for the front yard.I know it might be a bit early, as there is still a chance of frost looming, but its been nice enough and the plants seemed to be managing well enough outside at Home Depot (both the strawberries and blueberries were blooming).

My bucket of Heirloom seeds arrived last week and yesterday I bought a few different planters so I could start getting some of those seeds growing. The bucket has a pretty wide variety of plants but for the first go at this garden, I think I am going to play it safe and go with more basic veggies (tomatoes, lettuce, a few squashes). I'm also going to see if Luke and Ava want to pick some seeds to plant as well - give them something to do here other than playing Team Fortress 2 or watching Elmo sing the same songs over and over again.

My last purchase, that I haven't done much of anything with yet, was a package of wildflower seeds. Not quite sure what I want to do with them yet but they seem like a good low-maintenance solution for filling in portions of the property that look empty.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Garden State

Ever since I bought the house, I've been running through my head what I want to do with the property outside of the house. I pretty much decided that, with a few small exceptions, I wouldn't be touching any big landscaping projects for the first couple of years here - focus on the inside. However, there is a lot of opportunity here to do some amount of gardening.

Since it's been getting warmer, I've been looking at the yard and flower beds and thinking about what I could do with them. I'd really like to be able to get rid of the ornamental plants all around the house and find interesting, attractive, provisional plants to replace them with (in addition to having a traditional garden plot in the back corner of the back yard). I just recently bought a "Bucket O Seeds" - which has a ton of different types of heirloom garden seeds.

Front Yard
  • There is a bed the runs the length of the retaining wall from the top of the stone steps to the end of the driveway. I am thinking that would be a good spot for a line of blueberry bushes with creeping strawberries to act as a cover fill.
  • Around the boulder in the front yard, I am considering some sort of thorn berry. Either Raspberries or Blackberries. I prefer Blackberries, but Raspberries are less vicious with their thorns so that may be the deciding factor.
  • The brick steps at the end of the retaining wall either need to be torn up or turned into a planter bed. Not really sure what I'd want to go in there, but a low growing herb that obeys boundaries might be a good idea there.
  • The beds directly in front of the house are probably going to remain untouched. There are several big rhododendrons along with some sort of ivy covering the ground. I would like the ground cover there to be something other than the ivy but I am not sure what would be good.
  • The "Heart Shaped" bed at the end of the driveway is another mystery. It has a tree at the end but I am not sure why type - we'll see what it flowers with. I wouldn't mind getting a fruit bearing tree in there - would be nice to have apples at the end of the drive. For ground cover, was thinking of some sort of flower mixture but again, if I can get something there that bears fruit, I would prefer it.
  • The back right corner of the back yard is going to be the "official" garden plot where I'll be planting various veggies. It gets a lot of sun, so I'll have to be careful about not planting some of the more light/heat sensitive stuff back there.
  • The back line of the property would also be a decent place to plant some grapes. Get some trellis for them to grow on and get the potential benefit of them acting as a privacy screen at the back of the property.
  • My next door neighbor warned me that he's spotted woodchucks in both his and my backyard in the past, so I'll have to keep an eye out for them.

Nothing like a New Chimney

It's been over a month now since the contractors came and repaired my chimney. They did a great job of it and were, happily, very unobtrusive about it. Even when I was here while they were working, noise was minimal and anything that needed clean up was localized.

Now, the chimney is nice and crisp looking and, most importantly, attached to the side of the house! As part of their work, the contractors replaced a handful of roof and siding shingles and then gave the entire exterior wall a wash and a fresh coat of stain/paint. It looks great.

As another plus - they brought a dumpster that they couldn't even begin to fill 1/10th of. This meant I got a free rubble run and was able to get rid of all the carpet and refuse from the bathroom that I had stored in the shed and what I had torn out of the living room up to that point. I got very close to filling the entire thing on my own.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

There Goes My Bonus

For the past few months, I've been taking care to spend money on only the immediate needs of home improvement. I wanted to see what my finances were going to shake out like, especially after the holiday season. February is the usual review season at work and this year I was treated to a bonus. So, with bonus in the bank, I figure - why not spend it all on house stuff.

With the living room and bathroom underway, I went out this afternoon to look at the components I needed to buy to finish off those spaces (or at least proceed on them). The bathroom is my big purchase focus while the living room is the easier "little things" buy process.

Today, I bought my first toilet (I will eventually need to buy one or two more). I also spent some time looking for acoustic insulation for between the living room and the rest of the house. Unfortunately, Home Depot did not have what I wanted in stock for that. I will be checking out Lowes tomorrow to see if they have something other than drywall sheet-sized sound barrier insulation. I also picked up some paint for the bathroom - a grey/green color that should play well off the white fixtures.

I stopped into Bob's Furniture to see what other things I might want to pick up. They had a great looking pub table and 8 chairs for $1000 that I am considering to replace my current dining table (which can barely seat 4). I was also looking at a nice refrigerated wine/liquor cabinet they had as a start on the mini-bar I want to put into the living room. The bars they had weren't great for my needs, however, so that looks like I will either be going with some other store for the bar or making it a post-"Walls are done and painted" do-it-yourself project.

A contractor from Home Depot will be here on Monday to give me some estimates windows. My first-and-foremost interest if finding out how much it will cost me to replace the windows in the bathroom and living room. This house is in a weird situation as far as windows go. They are original-to-the-house single pane. They casings let cold air in like nobodies business (especially in windy weather). I'd like to get windows replaced with more energy efficient options but I am not sure Anderson (which is Home Depot's primary brand) will offer windows and casings that can color match my exterior without breaking my bank account. But we'll see what they have to say on Monday.

Tomorrow, I will be spending more time out on the road looking at what Lowes has to offer. I am hoping they have the brand of acoustic insulation I am looking, otherwise I will have to order online. I want to get more of the wall in the living room taken care of (which, even just insulating 1.25 walls has improved the heat retention in that room) and maybe even replace a few of the outlets with something more modern (modern cables do not seem to grip the plugs in the walls very well).

Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Modest Case of Motivation

For a while, I've been a bit stalled on getting projects done here at the house. I attribute some of that procrastination to the sense of overwhelming that each room presents. The bathroom has things in it that I have never done. The living room, while simple, doesn't feel like something I should work on until other things are done (because it is easy). Getting past the style/color block I had with the bathroom and deciding on some colors has helped move that along. Next I need to get some estimates on windows for that room and the house in general.

Happily, the contractors have started work on the chimney (well... nearly finished by the time of this writing) and that has helped motivate me to start in on some other projects. I am really happy with the work that has been done to the chimney and that side of the house - its coming along nicely and the contractors have been amazingly quiet and out of the way.

They recycled as many bricks as possible which means the chimney isn't going to be a two-tone column of bricks. It also means that the dumpster they brought was nice and empty. I was able to move all of the demolition refuse I had from the office, bathroom, living room and carpet into it - nearly filling it all.

I mention the living room - and that's because I've started the renovation on that room at Jay's suggestion (basically, do one night a week of house tinkering). Since the living room has no drywall in it, it's a nice and easy project to start in. It also is pretty good as a piecemeal project - I can pick a single wall and do just that over the course of the night.

Continuing the handyman trend I've noticed from the previous owners - one of the paneled (uninsulated interior) walls was torn down and a surprise was discovered. A piece of drywall with the words "Insolate this wall" - spelled just like that.

Work is moving along in the living room. Today, I finished pulling out the paneling on the fireplace wall, plucked the remaining nails, pulled up the last stubborn bits of the baseboard and hung insulation along the entire wall. I still have a bit more to do on that wall - mostly just getting some more spray foam and filling in anywhere that I feel cold air coming in through.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Ruminations on Bathroom Design

The bathroom has, for a couple of months now, lingered as a project that I was worried about going further on. A lot of that has to do with the rabbit hole that is the overall design of it. I suffered similar concerns when I was repainting the dinging room a brick red - I don't know what it is going to look like and the thought of developing a color scheme for the room was both daunting and terrifying. Perhaps this is just showing how far away from art I have gone in my career - there was a time where I don't think something as simple as picking a color would have stopped me dead in my tracks. Maybe it has to do with the semi-permanence of a decision like that of redesigning an entire room. But, as the "winter" continues on, I find myself becoming more and more motivated to actually finish the job.

This afternoon, I spent some quality time with Home Depot, looking at possible toilets and vanities (with a salesman attempting to derail me towards a kitchen renovation). In general, I know what work remains in the room, I just need to get the ducks in a row and make some decisions on what I want the space to look like.

One of the biggest tasks for the bathroom is the window. All the windows in this house need to be replaced eventually and this bathroom is probably going to be the first. Because of that, I need education on windows. Unfortunately, because the windows (and casings/frames) are so old, I will need to do a full replacement as I don't see a world where I will be able to just drop new double hung windows into the existing casings. I was hoping to find someone knowledgeable in regards to windows at Home Depot but I had arrived during the window of time where the window expert was out to lunch. So... with that stalled, I gathered up what literature was there and went off to ponder the remaining fixtures.

Next up on the list, and probably the easiest for me to decide on, was the toilet. My parents have nothing but good recommendations for Kohler's toilets so I spent my time looking at those. I marveled at how one specific color of toilet somehow managed to be $30.00 more than what looked to be the same specifics but in white/cream. Either way, I've decided on a chair height, elongated bowl Kohler. Sometime around the next paycheck, I will probably be dinging my bank account for one and storing it in the basement or "demo room" until I am ready to install it.

I did spend some time looking at various vanities. The vanity/counter-top/sink combos were appealing but most were just a little shy of what I was looking for exactly (either I didn't like the color, or the design or the dimensions). I looked through some of the custom order catalog available to see what was there. After a while, I decided that I really needed to sit down and think about color scheme before making a decision on the vanity. A lot of them offered white or pink-granite-wanna-be counter tops but I didn't want to really go forward on those unless I knew what color I wanted to paint the walls.

After the trip to Home Depot, armed with some ideas and fresh memories of what was available, I sat down with my dear friend Photoshop to do some photo-tweaking to see what I could come up with that would work well.

As a baseline, the tub/shower unit was white to begin with. With that in mind, I made the decision to make the remaining fixtures (vanity counter-top, toilet) and trim follow suit. Next up was finding a color that works with white fixtures. Searching Google specifically for "GOOD COLORS FOR BATHROOMS" yielded a number of garish options that I don't think I will ever be brave enough to paint a wall with... ever. But a few suggestions pointed towards subtle blues, greys and greens.

One of the constantly repeated mottos of bathroom design that a number of articles and blogs recited was "light, bright and airy" (though there were a few more bold suggestions in the mix as well). With the "light, bright and airy" theme in mind, I worked up a few different color ideas that I might like to try. Of course, there was always the fall-back of "creme/eggshell" but, while safe, I feel like I should be at least trying something that is a bit more interesting, if not more bold.

Personally, because each of these colors are more muted, my comfort level with them is much higher than the color I chose for the living room.

On the left, the blue-grey is probably the darkest of the three ideas I played with. I am a fan of blue but I am not sure how I would feel about the entire room being like this. A number of the vanities I looked at had a nice rich wood-brown color to them that I like and with the walls being darker and the vanity being dark, I don't know how well they would work together.

In the middle is a neutral slate color. It is dark enough to make it and the trim stand out against each other. It should work well enough with a wood-colored vanity but, like blue, it feels dark.

The last one is a sea-foam/sage green. It is the brightest of the ideas I played with and I think it will make both white trim/fixtures and dark wood-work (like the vanity and perhaps mirror frame) stand out well against each other. While bright, it is low contrast (like blue and grey), which gives me a bit more piece of mind.

There is one more piece of the puzzle that I haven't really thought too much about - and that is the floor and ceiling. Giving the floor a bright, stark linoleum or tile might make the walls pop more. The ceiling is probably going to remain white regardless. For the floor, I have been considering a nice patterned tile look - something more towards the standard beige/creme color that was my ultimate safe zone.

So - for the few of you that check this, what are you thoughts? Blue? Grey? Green? Does going with something more "traditional" for floor color make sense?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A few weeks ago, I bought a refurbished snowblower from one of Jay's co-workers. The rig itself is not entirely elegant looking and, considering how little (aka - NO) snow we had gotten for the season to date, it has been sitting in the shed by itself - untested.

This past week, New England has finally decided to allow it to be winter. It wasn't the grand dumping of snow that we got last year, but it was enough to make me have to consider snow removal. The first snow storm was handled for my by some phantom plow guy who rolled through at 5:30 in the morning (which, nice of it was of him to do that, I had barely gotten much sleep and a 5:30 rumble from the driveway wasn't entirely welcome).

Today saw more snow and like the last storm, it was light, fluffy and dry snow yielding about 4 or 5 inches. Again, not much and it would definitely get out of the way of a car but better to deal with it now than before it melts a bit and turns to an ice surface. Once the bulk of the snow appeared to have stopped, I went out to try to make sense of the snow blower and clean up the driveway.

Originally, because the snow was light, I was planning on just shoveling it all. But that idea went right out the window by the time I had finished clearing around the garage door. After a few false starts and an unnecessary use of the electric starter, the snowblower was happily growling along - flinging snow off the driveway. The driveway itself is not in the greatest of shapes, so there were a few parts where the blower bucked a bit and made a pain of itself but otherwise the effort was a success.

I do not need find a better storage solution for the snow blower. At present, I am keeping it in the shed but there isn't enough room for it and all the renovation waste - which makes closing the door to the shed unviable. Come spring, I think I'll store it under the pool shed and see if I can get the old shed torn down and something new built in its place.