Mechanical Failures (AC, hot water heater, and heaters)

The last 45 days have been busy on the house but it’s all structural and mechanical.

For example, the 18 year old water heater failed and we ended up replacing it. Water Heaters are really heavy and while we did replace it ourselves, we ended up using a winch to get it into place.

We learned an important lesson: DO NOT ORDER ONLINE FROM LOWES! We ordered this hot water heater they stated was in stock. Once we called to arrange pick up it was NOT in stock. They agreed to do a charge back on the credit card which took FIVE DAYS to get cleared off! Meanwhile, we were rushing around moving money in order to buy this unit so we could take a damn shower!

We also didn’t qualify for any rebates from Oklahoma Natural Gas which was a bit of a bummer. Although when we do taxes it might give us something back (we shall have to see) due to the Energy savings.

OTOH, the new hot water heater has been great! It makes tons of hot water! Lots and lots! The water is softer (we have hard water) for some reason we can’t figure out and the towels and clothes smell so much fresher! The old hot water heater must have been processing the water in a musty way we weren’t even aware of.

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Before the hot water heater bailed on us, we replaced the dishwasher. The new dishwasher replaced the old and very noisy 18 year old one that had kept limping along.

After researching and reading reviews, there were many more complaints than I thought were needed for an appliance that wasn’t very sophisticated. If you get your dishwasher home and don’t like it, immediately replace it while it is under warranty! There seems to be lemons out there as well a lot of variables on what people like (for example, I consider our new dishwasher very quiet, others have complained about it being noisy).

Whatever you buy, I would recommend a 3-5 year warranty for sure as the electronic circuit boards go out, making it an expensive repair.

The only issue with this dishwasher is that it takes a long time to do its full cycle. OTOH, its much larger on the inside (with no central tower on the bottom drawer) and gets the dishes amazingly clean! I really liked the price too – as I was not going to spend $1,000 on a dishwasher! It has a stainless steel front and is the first changeover in the appliances (all will become stainless steel).

We installed the dishwasher ourselves. Be aware that generally, you need to buy a new dishwasher hook up hose and connectors when you do this so figure that into your installation. In our case the old electrical hookup also failed so new wiring was run to another electrical outlet box that was convenintly near by.

One thing I do like about reading online reviews, is many people give really good tips on how to install, handling common problems during the installation and advice that can help make the job go much easier.

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Right before Fourth of July, both AC units failed us. The upstairs AC was replaced 3 years ago and was still under warranty. The problem was they didn’t have the fan part. So that took over a week to get fixed and involved a LOT of aggravation!

We ended up replacing the entire downstairs AC and heating unit which had been our plan to prepare to sell the house all along but it just happened a bit sooner than we had expected. The fact that all the mechanicals have been replaced should be a selling point!

That leaves only the upstairs heating unit to be replaced prior to putting the house on the market in 3 years.

Hopefully, since this is a huge upgrade on energy saving, we will get some sort of tax break come next spring on installing these units. I’ll just have to see at tax time.

As you can imagine that was a lot of ka-ching to put down but it had to be done. It’s one of those not-so-great things about homeownership. It’s also not very glamourous so hence why there are no photos! 😀

Getting a Beamed Ceiling look for less money and effort

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The next step in remodeling the family room was to put molding in the coffered ceiling. A traditionally beamed ceiling would have looked fantastic in our formal living room where ceilings are 10 foot high and there is plenty of light. Not so great in this darker room, where a coffered ceiling makes the ceiling feel lower.

Let’s face it, neither of us wanted to go the expense either that boxed beams would require. Even doing a faux look (like at this blog) would have taken more time and money than we wanted to do.

However, this room lacks definition and with it’s huge coffered ceiling we knew some sort of molding would take it to the next level. The molding we decided upon makes the eye go upward and defines the ceiling but doesn’t lower the ceiling visually. I guess you can call this the poor man’s beamed ceiling look.

Before we begin, we installed recessed ceiling lights, and marked off all the lines for molding with chalklines. The ceiling should was painted the final color before we started this project.

Be aware that white molding looks best against a darker wall color. Here we are using Valspar’s allen + roth Rock ar720 from Lowes; this color is being used throughout the downstairs to make the space look larger (vs. using different colors in each room).

To prep for your project, measure your room and mark on paper where you want your molding to go: even and equally spaced squares work best. Our ceiling dimensions:  135″ x 201″.

You can tell from our rough graph that the squares aren’t perfectly even in their dimensions but the difference is minimal and not noticeable from below. Black lines mark 1×4 placement and red indicates the 1×6 boards.

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Mark out with a chalk line which will be erased or covered by projects end. Take a stud finder and be sure to locate where you can attached to studs in your ceiling. No studs for nailing up boards? We worked around that and will show you how too.

Materials for this project: a saw (we used power miter saw and circular saw), a nail gun and compressor is a must, chalk line, liquid nails (our project took two tubes), finishing nails, toggle bolts to mount in areas without a stud to mount boards (plan a bolt for every 4 feet approx.), paint for your molding, foam paint roller with tray, fine sandpaper block and wood putty. Drop cloths may also be needed; our floor had been removed in anticipation of replacing it.

Lumber for your project: we used white primed MDF boards (1×4 for inside squares and 1×6 for the outer border), in this blog post. Depending on what you want your own project to look like you can finish it off differently – this is just an example of what we did.

For example, the look in this post with no additional trim or crown gives an appearance similar to Board and Batten. However, our next post will show additional trim we used for a second layer.

For this project we started with primed white, MDF boards, because MDF is cheaper and the look of real wood doesn’t matter since we are painting. Because it was primed white, and I’m painting it white, painting went faster. If staining, go with real wood.

Boards were painted twice more to get even coverage and sanded lightly between the first and second coat because sometimes MDF (or any wood) has slight blemishes. If you paint before being mounted it saves a lot of hassle and just means final touch ups.

General Tips:

Before mounting the board up, make sure it is cut on both ends of the board to fit the space. You will want a tight fit – no gaps! This may take adjustment especially if you find that your walls and ceiling are not straight, which is typical of older homes or homes who have settled.

Speaking of which – ceiling molding will not look good up on an uneven, damaged, warped, wavy or crooked ceiling. Go with plaster and paint to repair these types of ceilings/walls.

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You may also have to work around fixtures. We had to cut around this ceiling vent which could not be moved. Also, shown is the corners where we went with mitered edges; other boards (see below) butted end to side.

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We also had to put in  board for the ceiling fan, allowing an area for electrical and hanging of the fan.

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Mounting to ceiling areas with studs: This is the easy part. Using your stud finder, mark the location of studs with painters tape. This helps as a guide for using your nail gun.

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Cut your board to fit, run a line of liquid nails on the back of the board, mount and nail into place. Be aware that liquid nails won’t be strong enough to hold a board in place on their own – nails or bolts are also needed.

You will need a helper on another ladder or step stool, while you finish nailing or screwing in the fasteners. This really is a two person job, not only for holding the other end of the board but to also let you know that the boards are visually lining up.

Mounting to areas without studs: Using our stud finder we found some areas would not have studs where boards would be mounted. This required the use of toggle bolts.

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On a long board we chose two areas to drill spaced out holes (ours was 1/8″) with a countersink hole of about 3/8″. Counter sinking a screw or bolt can be done with a  power tool and a specialty drill bit.

Another way is drill a shallow hole with the large bit (3/8 inch), then switch to the small bit (1/8″) and finish drilling through the board. The large bit leaves a V-shaped depression in the hole, so it is easy to line up the small bit to finish off the hole.

Hold up to the ceiling and mark the ceiling with a pencil or scratch it with a screw tip. Take down the board and drill a larger hole in the ceiling (about 1/2 inch) at your marked areas; the larger hole allows the toggle bolt wings to collapse and push through. On the inside of the ceiling the wings open giving your board support.

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Insert the screw in your board, apply liquid nails in a wavy pattern down the board, and mount. We used our power drill to screw down the bolt. Shorter sections and smaller boards (the 1×4) did fine with only one toggle bolt; our longer sections required two toggle bolts.

Use wood putty to cover holes, lightly sand after it is dry, and touch up with additional paint. At this stage we are finished with the first layer of molding. You can stop here if you wish for a simple board and batten look which would work well with an updated country, farmhouse or home with transitional décor.

Because there is a lower entrance to get into this room and I don’t have a wide angle lens these were the best photos of the ceiling I can could take today. The project looks a lot nicer in person!

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We will be installing additional molding so look for a new post after the next weekend with the details on trimming out your boards with additional molding for a layered and more detailed look.

Retrofitting recessed ceiling lighting in the family room

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We have a large family room which is one of those awkward and bland rooms that is a decorating problem child. One of it’s major problems is that it’s often too dark and needs even illumination, so the first major project for this room, working from the ceiling down, is installing recessed ceiling lights.

Before you begin it’s easier to paint the ceiling vs. doing it after installing the lights and future molding. Since the project will have white ceiling molding we went with matching ceiling and wall paint (Valspar’s allen + roth Rock ar720 from Lowes). This color is being used throughout the downstairs to make the space look larger (vs. using different colors in each room).

TIP: if using molding, the more contrast between wall and molding colors the better your end project will look.

Before you begin this type of project, grid it on paper and than check stud locations as well as electrical. We planned on pulling the power for the lights from the ceiling fan which would mean the future replacement fan would have no light. This made it a pretty easy project, electrically speaking.

On our plan here black lines is where molding will be placed; red lines show how the electricity was run.

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In our room, it turns out the ceiling fan was not centrally located, thus measurements had to be adjusted. Depending on the age of your house you may find some surprises like this too.

When choosing your lights, consider: how much room is in your ceiling; the amount of light you want; the type of light; how big a diameter the exposed light ring you want; how tall the can unit for the interior ceiling space; and if it will be on a dimmer (some lights don’t dim).

We needed a low profile canister light so it could fit in within the existing ceiling structure which had no attic access. The light we chose came from Lowes.

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We had a central ceiling fan that had power for a light and a fan. The first thing we did was remove the old fan and from the electric for the fan light, and ran a line of electricity through the ceiling in a grid pattern. The holes we made to run the electrical line will be covered with future molding.

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The 12 box grid we marked out with a line of blue chalk line. You can tap in a headed nail on one end and run the line from it to the other side to easily snap the line. When the project is done, a brush wipes off the chalk line.

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Each of the smaller squares will have a centered light. Make two diagonal chalk lines from corner to corner to make an X in each box. The center cross X will be the location of the recessed can unit.

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You can use a “hole saw bit” that attaches to your power drill to cut out a circle pattern in drywall. This punches out the circle smooth and easy where you can insert your can light. It also helps as access to run your electric without making too many unnecessary holes.

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Most of the electrical wire was easily tucked between structural interior beams (behind the drywall) and the fiberglass battings. However, we did do a half inch notch in four beams at four different locations. If you do that be extremely careful that you do not impact the structural integrity of the beams. If in doubt, ask an expert before proceeding!

Be sure to cut the power from the main box before you wire to the live line. Our 12 recessed lights used Halogen light bulbs and wired to a wall mounted, dimmer switch that we used to replace the old on-off switch for the fan light. When selecting a switch make sure it is rated for the amount of power you plan on hooking it too.

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This project takes a moderate level of knowledge about wiring and electricity. However, if you know enough to wire a ceiling fan you probably know enough to do this project. 🙂 I will be doing better photos of the entire room once the project is complete.

The smaller fixture units are more classy/trendy than the old and larger can lights. Best of all, being on a dimmer we have control – make it bright for visitors or dim for the big movie night.

LOVE THESE LIGHTS!

Love this Quickie Steam Mop for hardwood and ceramic floors

On my quest to get the house into some sort of order – from the shambles it usually looks, the next cleaning tool I bought was a Bissell Powerfresh Clean Mop. There is a Sharp version in this price range, but Bissell got overall better ratings. I especially liked that Bissell fluid container could be re-filled and that it stands upright when not in use (the Sharp does not).

PRICE

It was initially listed cheaper at Target than Bed Bath and Beyond, and it was on a 10% off sale so purchase price was $90 with free shipping. Bissell routinely goes on sale so keep an eye out for deals. Again no freebies on this AD FREE BLOG! 😀

This was my first time ordering from the Target website and sorry not impressed. After buying, the only email I received was one telling me I would be told later when it would be shipped so two days later I have only a delivery range of dates and no tracking number. Not cool, Target.

USING IT

This is not a broom or vacuum – floors need to be swept clear of debris for this machine to be effective in cleaning your floors. Also, it does not suck up water like my old Hoover Floormate did although it would be effective on small liquid spills but so would a dishcloth.

It is easy to assemble – takes one screw and you are ready to go.

One thing I liked about this steam mop was I could fill it directly from the sink (or in my case, a distilled water jug). From reading the Sharp reviews you had to Jerry-rig the canister to be able to refill it. This wasn’t something I wanted to bother with doing. Remember, I hate housework and need quick and easy.

Heats up fast! You’ll be ready to go in less than 2 minutes. It has three options on how hot the mop can get – experiment and see what works best on your floor. I use a light or middle setting for my wood floors and use the hottest on the ceramic.

Unlike the Sharp steam mop, this mop can sit upright when not in use, so stores better. Always be sure to turn it off when done to prevent heat damage to the floor where it is sitting.

WATER TANK

I personally love that it uses water – not chemicals – to clean my floor. Distilled water prolongs the life of the machine and the cost is minimal if you compare it to floor cleaner. My area has heavy mineral content in the water, so I definitely want to use distilled water.

There is an option for a scent disc to be put into the mop head but I found it gave minimum scent (if you love heavily scented products like Febreeze or Lysol, this product is not like that) so I doubt I’ll buy that product insert again.

I’ve started using a suggestion on an Amazon review: to one gallon of distilled water I add 1/4 teaspoon of Essential Oil (Lavender, Eucalyptus, Orange, Rosemary, Pine, Tea Tree oils are good ones to try as long as they are not blended in oil – check the label), with 1 Tablespoon of rubbing alcohol. Shake the jug well before pouring into the tank. It should release a nice scent into the air as you clean!

CAUTION: Do no overuse or you could get streaking. Do not use essential oils containing oils like Jojoba (such as found in Vanilla and Rose Essential Oils) or you can clog your machine and streak your floor.

MOP PADS

The mop comes with two cleaning pads which can be washed and reused. One pad is for hardwood floors (100% white) and the other pad is for ceramics or where you want to scrub (it has a blue chevron pattern on the bottom).

I bought two extra pads as this will give me the greatest flexibility in having one clean as I don’t do a white-wash every day and I have over 1,000 square feet of floor I use this on. Be sure to buy the Bissell brand for the correct steam mop type (the Freshmop doesn’t fit the other brands of Bissell’s steam mops). People have complained about Bissell look-alike pads so buy the Bissell brand for the best fit.

When finished do NOT leave the covers on the machine! These become very damp after use and need to dry out or be washed or it develops a mildew smell.

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Remove the cloth, mop head cover and immediately rinse and squeeze until water comes clear. Spray with a Resolve carpet cleaner, and set aside to be tossed in the washer with Oxy Clean. Don’t use bleach. After use, they will never be white again. If this bothers you go back to the Swiffer with disposable mop heads (which I think is like taking a huge step back in technology, like forgoing an oven and using a camp fire to cook).

mop_pad_covers_bissell_steam_mop_new_cleanedThey can pick up a lot of lint so if washing with other items, you might want to tie them up in a pillowcase or use a mesh laundry bag like you find for washing lingerie.

PROS

Very lightweight and easy to use. Would be perfect for someone with disabilities, back issues or someone who is restricted in their ability to move about. Because it is lightweight, I found it easy to take it up and down the stairs.

The cord is crazy long – I was able to do the huge L-shaped area of laundry room, bathroom, kitchen and breakfast room from just one plug in. The cord is not retractable but winds on the exterior of the unit.

The mop head swivels 180 degrees. It makes it fantastic for moving in and around baseboard, cabinets, furniture etc… It even moved around the toilet for me to clean most of that floor! LOVE THIS FEATURE!

The water in the tank goes a long way! I was really pleased at how much floor I got done and even went two sessions before having to refill it.

Floors dry really fast – ceramic floors faster than hardwoods.. It will leave some dampness on the floor and maybe because the water was hot, but the floors dried faster than just traditionally-mopped floors. If you live in a high humidity place it may take longer (but so would mopped floors) to dry.

TIP: On hardwood floors I found it streaking when I had it on the highest steam setting and when the mop head was saturated with water. If you find it streaking, try a fresh mop head cover that is dry and/or go back to the lighest steam setting.

TIP: if you need the floor to dry fast use the lightest steam setting. The higher you go on the steam, the more water that is applied to the floor, the longer it takes to dry, and the more chance of streaking on hardwoods. I had no streaking on ceramics and even at the highest setting, the ceramic dried fast.

CONS

HATE that there is no power-down switch and you have to unplug from the wall to stop the power. HATE, HATE, HATE! Before unplugging, move it back to the original light setting as it does seem to power it down somewhat on the top setting.

Trying to pull out the water tank can be difficult. It fits in snuggly and it can be hard to get enough grip to pull it up and out.

Some people have reported floor streaks after using. Use the lighest steam setting on hardwood floors to reduce or eliminate streaking (see Tip above). Another problem is your mop head cover may just be too wet, especially if you are doing a lot of floor on the heaviest steam/wet setting. Try a fresh pad and return to the lighter steam setting and see if this eliminates the problem.

Overlap the paths of your travel and go with the grain (if doing hardwood floors). Also, if your floor has a product on it (wax, chemical cleaners) it may remove this and cause streaking during the first few cleans.

While this has a carpet feature, I wouldn’t think this would be very effective in cleaning a deep pile rug. Without a scrub brush and a chemical tank, I don’t view this as a rug cleaner despite the water and steam. Might be okay on low pile carpet and rugs.

Overall, on clean-ability, this is a great steam mop to use on a regular (3x or more a week) basis on mildly dirty floors. While it doesn’t “scrub” your floors (so heavily stained floors may need more) I found it a great mop for keeping the kitchen tidy on a daily basis.

Between the Sharp Navigator cordless vacuum and this little baby, the floors have already started looking so much better!

Dealing with Pet Fluff and Hardwood Floors

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After installing the wooden floors downstairs, it became quickly apparent that the fluff from two dogs and three cats was way out of control. If using a broom or dustmop to gather pet fluff you will spend as much time trying to get the dustpan to the trash with all the dust bunnies as you will in sweeping!

From a blog recommendation, I bought a Sharp Navigator Freestyle vacuum from Bed Bath and Beyond with my 20% off coupon for about $86. Yes, I bought it – no freebies for this AD-FREE blog!

USING IT

So far I give this an A+ for daily housework – I’m using it almost every day and definitely every other day.  If you have pets and need something quick to clean hardwoods or ceramics on a daily basis, this is a great choice!

EASY AND QUICK FOR DAILY CLEANS! LOVE IT!

This is pretty easy to assemble with just one screw. It’s CORDLESS and it is LIGHT!

Initially, I gave it about 4 hours to get a complete charge; you will need an area where you can leave it plugged in. It looks like it shuts off the charging unit once the vac is completely charged which is good because if you overcharge these types of batteries you can damage it.

It has two settings: bare floor and carpet. I have used this only on concrete flooring, hardwoods and ceramic. I personally doubt the suction would be strong enough for a deep pile carpet but would probably be okay for low pile carpet and rugs, though I do not consider this to be a hard use vacuum (see below for more details).

What I don’t know yet is how long the filters will last. Also, how hard it’s going to be to find those replacement filters.

PROS:

This is awesome for daily and spot cleans! Just grab, go and vacuum and put away. No bending to plug in, searching for outlets, moving furniture to get to an outlet, or struggling with moving the card as you vacuum. I LOVE IT!

HUGE pluses were cordless and lightweight. Managing a cord is a huge pain in the neck as the cord never allows me to do the room without transferring plugs. Easy to take up the stairs unlike huge clunky vacuums.

Other pros include the handle height which is comfortable for me at 5’5″ and husband 6’2″. Other vacs have too low a handle and hurt hubby’s back after use. I hate short handled brooms!

Bagless so you just open the canister and shake debris out. Emptying the cartridge is a bit tricky until you figure it out. When you push the bottom button in, push down on the tabs that are at the bottom of the canister (they go opposite directions).

Suction and maneuverability is pretty good. I found the hinging of the upright handle/canister area to the floor sweeper to be a little hard until after a few uses when it limbered up. Now it works fine and is easy to maneuver.

CONS:

The biggest issue from reading reviews is that the battery doesn’t retain a charge or isn’t powerful enough to do the job. I’m keeping my receipt for 90 days but so far haven’t had an issue myself. I’m cleaning about 800 square feet of floor space.

Suction is not strong enough to pick up screws, pennies, paperclips – it’s ideal for fluff and dust. This is a daily, pick up quick vacuum not a heavy duty wet-vac.

It doesn’t have any hand tools so you can’t use it to on furniture or baseboards. Do not look at this as you would a regular full-use vacuum. I plan on buying a different vacuum for my upstairs deep pile carpet.

If you run it up to a hard edge, it doesn’t get the suction right up to the edge.

I found trying to clean out the brush of the floor sweeper area a bit difficult to get into. It would be nicer to get in there and fully remove debris like string that isn’t sucking all the way through (you can do it but it isn’t as easy as belt vacuum cleaners).

This is just one of several cleaning tools I plan on buying in the next 60 days. In the future, I’ll be buying a vacuum for the hardwood stairs, a steam mop (for hardwood and ceramic floors), and a new heavy duty, carpet vacuum for the upstairs, carpeted bedrooms.

EDITED TO ADD: My heavy duty carpet vacuum cleaner has died so I ended up trying out this cordless on carpet after all. If your carpet is lightly dirty it can work pretty well!! However, it still doesn’t like big chunks of fluff, dirt, paper bits etc… Yet, I am impressed and being a much lighter vacuum in weight, I will use it for quick clean ups in the bedrooms after all!

Adapting drawers for herb and spice jars

The three drawers in the island will eventually be replaced when we build a new island. For now though, I needed a way to keep my herb and spice jars easily sorted.

These French Quarter bottles (Target’s Archer Farms spices) were too big to fit into the drawer with the old organizer, so we came up with this easy and quick solution: a piece of scrap quarter round, trimmed to size, and glued into place. One drawer was warped so a few tacked in finishing nails kept it in place.

This works with any bottles that have a neck as it is the neck that rests on the wooden bar. It angles the jar so it is easier to grab and it keeps them from sliding around in the drawer.

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Bargains no more

You probably want to read about some amazing deal I found: like a fantasy $10 dresser I redid and sold for $500. Personally, the reality is that those deals are getting harder and harder to find – if not impossible.

All the popularity of painting furniture on Pinterest, Facebook and in junk/vintage booth stores has made it rare to find “deals” anymore. Even average furniture has gone up in price on Craigslist and so I am not here to tout bargains. I actually am a bit tired of having to buy something only to spend weekends getting it back into some sort of shape for my home – it’s one reason the blog has not been so busy this last year as I’ve had re-decorating burnout…

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I did find two matching lamps for the Living Room – they are the Mercury Glass style (I did try the Mercury glass spraypaint featured in many Pinterest pins and the reality is that it was crap and not at all professional in end product).

If I had bought similar ones on sale at Hobby Lobby they would have been about the same price though these are a bit better in quality. I am also no longer spending money at Hobby Lobby due to them breaking the law and trying to shame women working at below a living wage into being baby machines (or maybe breaking the law in New York advertising fake bargains from China – or maybe breaking the law in Oklahoma by holding secret meetings with government officials).

They would have cost me twice as much if bought at Pier One and these are about the same quality as Pier One lamps. But a steal? No.

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I also found two matching end tables for the Living Room on Craigslist. Again, no real bargain at $120 for two. However, these are high quality pieces, nothing wrong or damaged with them, with hardware I won’t have to replace. It’s also a huge problem trying to find two matching tables – generally you find an end table with a matching coffee table (not what I wanted as it didn’t work with the room’s configuration).

I will be painting them as soon as I replace the couch and chairs. While the black and white striped curtains, the black chair, wall color and floor will remain the same, the sofa and the chairs will be changed. I may go with a gray couch and patterned upholstered chairs or gray chairs and a colorful couch. Not sure.

The chair here? Craigslist for $80. Why so high? Because it’s real leather not fake vinyl. The springs are excellent and while I might put a wax on the wood, I’m not repainting it. It’s pretty much ready to go.

Nothing wrong with dumpster diving or finding a broken dresser to fix up – but even broken things are Craigslist are going for twice what they did two years ago (I saw a dresser missing two drawers priced at $100! Really? and the ad stated – “redo like on Pinterest”).

On the bright side – it means the economy is improving. The downside is that the days of scooping up treasures next for nothing is pretty much gone.

The Downside to Hardwood Floors

This blog post has been updated. Click here for the latest info!


Don’t get me wrong – I love my dark hardwood floors but now that I’ve lived with them for a year, I’ll tell you some things that you don’t want to hear.

1.) They scratch easily. Yes, don’t buy whatever the floor salesman tells you about how tough they are. I have a natural wood floor upstairs and a dark one downstairs. The dark one scratches more easily and shows it.

Dealing with it: all your furniture MUST HAVE felt foot pads installed. You can find them at Lowes or Home Depot for little cost. If you don’t put these on you will regret it. And forget your kid driving a tricycle through the house like they show on the commercials!

2.) Dark floors show dirt. You will need to clean them everyday or every other day, especially if you have pets or kids.

Dealing with it:

Option 1: Dustmop. A popular Pinterest post is showing this dustmop you can buy from Target and how amazing it is to clean hardwood floors. Yes, it is definitely easier and better than a broom. Don’t even bother with a broom. The dustmop head is washable so that is good.

However, if you are dealing with pet hair or a lot of dust/fluff it won’t do. It just pushes everything up in the air. And irregardless, you still have to use a dust pan.

Option 2: After working at a vet clinic, which had these stick vacuums in the rooms, I am sold on these if you have pets. No dustpan to use, and they are lightweight – lighter than a broom and easier on your back. Disadvantages are that they have a small container for dirt and they don’t have a nozzle like a regular vacuum.

Basically, it’s a Dustbuster with a long handle – if you have pets and hardwood floors – trust me buy it!

Option 3: Cordless Vacuum Cleaner – a CLEANING DREAM! Read about it here!

cleaning_hardwood_floors1

Kitchen breakfast bar converted to shelf unit

I’ve always hated the breakfast bar in our house. It was never used and always in the way. In the re-design this going to become a bookshelf and display unit. We played around with several ideas and some of the inspiration photos you can view in my Pinterest board for Kitchen (2013), specifically, this shelf design in the kitchen by Ross Chapin.

Supply list:

3: 1x12x12
3: 1x2x8
1: 1x4x8
1: 1x6x8
trim decorative molding
base molding for kitchen area
kitchen_breakfast_bar_before_1
kitchen_breakfast_bar_before_2
First, the breakfast bar countertop is removed and one side trimmed down to the new countertop level. We marked out with green painters’ tape on the ceramic floor the footprint size of the shelf unit.
kitchen_bar_to_shelves_001
Because it would have been impossible for us (with our skills) to redo the back to match the original (see end of breakfast bar) we covered it with beadboard. Eventually, the end of this cabinet unit (where the white outlet is on the right) will also be covered with beardboard and all painted the cream chalk paint color.
kitchen_bar_to_shelves_002
The next step is to start building the frame of the actual shelf unit. These boards are Poplar, a nice compromise as oak would have been very expensive in the size of boards we were working with (and would have been painted in the long run) and pine would have been too soft. There are two upright boards, and three long horizontal boards (one not visible in the photo below) on the floor.
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The left end board has been nailed to the wall. To make these types of units go easily, I highly recommend buying or renting a nail gun. Using a nail and hammer just doesn’t make it go together easily and with less effort as a nail gun and compressor.
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Here you can see the inside placement of boards to allow for the bottom shelf to rest upon, and for the edge to be hidden by the front horizontal board.
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The bottom shelf rests on the boards and is nailed in place.
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On the inside of the uprights, a small piece of wood is placed for the next shelf to rest upon.
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At this point, you can only see it if you look under the shelf. A long, horizontal bracing piece was also placed against the back of the unit to support the shelf. A front piece of horizontal board allows for a smooth profile.
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None of this support is noticeable from above. Two vertical boards are nailed on the front to make a smoother profile:
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The vertical board are not the same height – their shorter size allows a horizontal facing board across the top of the unit.
kitchen_bar_to_shelves_inside_cut
Another view of the end of the to show how the boards were fitted together
kitchen_bar_to_shelves_end
The inside uprights, that divided the top shelf into three units is set behind the facing boards. It is nailed in at several points, including the front, the bottom and toenailed in at the back with hand hammering.
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The completed, unpainted unit:
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I’ll put some before and after pics once I get the unit painted. I also hope to get a better diagram of how the boards came together so that will posted at a latter date. I’m not sure when we can afford new countertops as they will be a major expense. My next big investment has to be a new downstairs AC unit not pretty granite countertops! 🙂

Cabinet doors for the kids bathroom

Husband did make me some new cabinet doors for the overjohn cabinet and the sink base cabinets for the kids bathroom as part of the major remodel (we had installed a new ceramic tile floor, new lighting, new counter, new board and batten walls, and a new toilet. If you search here, you can see the entire blog posts list for bathrooms). Those were painted and mounted this weekend. One of those – long dragging out projects that no one wants to do but needs to get done….

kids bathroom sink cabinet after

kids_bathroom_bathroom_cabinet_before_after

I wanted them replaced because I didn’t like the builders standard arch cabinets and wanted something that better matched the theme of the bathroom which was rectangular. I was going to buy them but the shipping alone was more than the doors! I talked to someone building them, but again thought it was rather high. Husband came to the rescue and just made them.

The overjohn cabinet went from arched wooden doors to painted white rectangular frames with frosted glass inserts. The frosted glass echoes the new mosaic backsplash tile which has a combination of frosted glass and marble squares.

kids_bathroom_overjohn_cabinet_before_after

kids bathroom over toilet original cabinet

No construction pics as I wasn’t in town when he built them.

To wrap it up we need to get two towel rings, one for each sink and a towel bar in the bath area. I want to get some bath mats but that pretty much wraps it up with a hamper. This is were builders and architects don’t think things through – this bathroom is really too narrow for a hamper, but a hamper we must have so it will go in the main area and be a bit of an eyesore. When designing rooms PLEASE think of function! Where will furniture, lamps, needed accessories go??