Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Project House Update: Repainting and Recessing

Yes, I am still alive. I've just been busy. In the irony that is blogging, the more busy and exciting life is, the less of it gets recorded. It's going to get worse before it gets better, so let me try to spend the next few days catching up.

For the Fourth of July, Dan and I took a week of vacation time. Since I'm stressing over money because of Dan's shop construction, we knew we wouldn't be doing any traveling this year. So, with our time off, we decided to stay in town and get some things done on our to-do list.

Now, you may know that I post a yearly to-do/status list of our entire house. If you were to look at that last version of the list, you'd find none of the projects we actually did.

Several years ago, when we moved into our house and started fixing it up, we got the bold idea to paint the front three rooms of our house vibrant yellow. Fortunately, we talked ourselves out of painting the front living room yellow once we'd painted both the entry way and the dining room. We accidentally used semi-gloss instead of matte and hadn't swatched the yellow before painting so we quickly grew to dislike it. However, in true stubborn fashion, we also refused to repaint because it would be admitting we were wrong.

I finally broke on our first day of vacation. We had some house guests for that first day and when one of them asked what we'd be doing with our time off, I spewed, "Repainting the entry way and dining room," much to Dan's surprise.

Projects like painting two rooms should be easy, but if you've ever done house projects before, you know how these things spiral. The first day was simply moving all the furniture from the rooms, removing switch plates and light fixtures, and popping off all the baseboards.

The last time we painted, we left the baseboards, but since then, we've removed them in the corresponding rooms, so these ones needed to go. One day we'll get around to installing baseboards in the whole house. (As Dan says, "Once I have the shop, it will be easy.")

Day Two was patching holes from the baseboard nails, sanding and smoothing the paint line between the walls and the edge where the baseboards used to be, and working on the recessed lighting.

Yes, that's right, recessed lighting. Dan remembered late on the second day why we hadn't decided to repaint earlier. He made the argument that our dining room needed more lighting and since it would tear up the ceiling to run the wires, he wanted to do it all in one go. He quickly talked me into the idea and I had to quickly talk him out of six light fixtures since four would be plenty {Sidenote: to whatever website Dan found that said you should have recessed lights every four feet, screw you. My dining room would look like a grocery store if you were correct.}

He sketched up the lights locations, mapped out the studs, and started carving into our ceiling to pass wires through studs. I'm so grateful how handy he is with all of this electrical stuff. The initial plan only had him cutting two holes to drill and run all the wires, but he needed three in the end. All of this also meant a fun new tool for Dan so he could perfectly cut out the circles for the light kits.

Also, Dan decided to fix anything in these rooms that had been poorly thought-out by the previous owners. For one, our dining room has this giant empty wall where I've always wanted to put a big piece of statement art, but there was a security system speaker mounted right in the center of it. So, he punched a hole in the wall and ran the speaker into the room on the opposite side.

Secondly, our doorbell. The unit was large and it wasn't very loud. It had always gotten under Dan's skin that our house has an intercom system, but the doorbell wasn't part of it. After some online research, he found a $50 part that would let us hook the two systems together. He wasn't 100% sold on it, but we decided to gamble and rush ordered it. I'm so glad we did. You can now here the bell in every room of the house. For now, we just used a blank outlet plate that matches the wall to cover the hole from the old doorbell chime.

At this point, all of the days started to blur together, but it was many trips to Home Depot and Lowe's for supplies, for paint, for light fixtures, for painter's tape and liners, etc. It was time-consuming with a lot of edges to cut in, but it was a pretty stress-free project. We both agreed on painting the entry way the same white as the hallway and the dining room the same green/gray as the front room. We just put on some podcasts and spent our days painting, then our evenings swimming, and our nights relaxing.

It was a pretty great little vacation and at the end of it, we had this to show for it.

As a summary, here's all the big and little things that changed in those nine days:
  • Repainted the entryway white
  • Repainted the dining room the same color as the front room
  • Installing and wiring four recessed lights with a dimmer
  • Relocating the security system speaker for a smooth dining room wall
  • Upgrading the doorbell to ingrate with intercom system so the bell can be hear all over the house and the chime unit is no longer necessary in the entryway. 
  • Removed and patched all the baseboards
We're still on the look-out for some nicer light fixtures for both rooms, but for now, it's enough of an improvement to keep us happy for a very long time.