Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Project House Update: Electric Boogaroom

It's another installment of "Look At All The Crap We Had to Get Done Before New Floors"! Because we can't keep anything simple and love to over-complicate everything, this is the story of the new outlets in the floor.

It's always been a wish-list item for us to have outlets in the floors in the centers of our living room and our den. Given how we wanted the ultimate lay-outs of the rooms, electronics would reside in the centers of the rooms, away from the walls. We use our laptops on the couch in the living room and the desk in the den will be home to a desktop computer. Up until now, we've run extension cords across the floor, but that's honestly dangerous. I am just too clumsy to not trip on that eventually. 

Dan had the foresight to realize that once the new wood floors were installed, we would never have floor outlets. It's not like we would rip up the beautiful new floors to have them installed. So, if it were ever going to be done, it had to be now.

The hardest part of the whole endeavor was finding the right person to do it for us. It was kind-of electrical work, but the real bear of it would be cutting a trench in the foundation to run the conduit for the wiring. We lost a week, and ultimately had to push back the floor install date, because no electrician would get back to us. We reached out to the general contractor who built the shop and they waaaaaaay overpriced it. We came back offering half and they agreed.

It was over ten hours of cutting and jackhammering (which was a fun day of working from home for me), but it got done. 

Once the floor is all done, Dan will install the pretty brass face-plates and we will have outlets in the floor like a conference room. 

Monday, August 28, 2017

Project House Update: Tub of Lies

This is the story of a woman who thought she knew what she was doing and gummed up the works. Though, like any fairytale, there's a happy ending.

When we started planning out the blue bathroom renovations, a task we quickly agreed upon was the removal of the wall. Originally, the bathroom was two spaces: an outer chamber with the sink and mirror and the inner chamber with the toilet and bathtub. It would probably have been a practical bathroom arrangement for kids who share a bathroom. Older kids, like tweens and teens where one wants to shower and the other wants to do their hair. However, because the inner chamber is so small and cramped, it didn't fit our lifestyle for the next five, ten years. We don't have tweens. We'll probably have babies. Babies who will need to be bathed in the only tub in the house, in a small, dark room. we pictured ourselves having to kneel next to this old tub in this crowded space and it became an easy decision: the room needed to grow.

That was an easy decision for us, but a more difficult decision came in the form of what type of tub we wanted. I have always dreamed of having a vintage, relaxing bathroom and a big portion of that was a claw-foot tub. Dan liked the appearance of them, but he had concerns about the practicality. We went back and forth and couldn't find a compromise. We didn't have any good resources to determine the correct direction, so I had an idea. I posed the question to Apartment Therapy. It took a couple of weeks, but they posted it. Here's my original question:
My husband and I are planning our guest bathroom renovation and we are at an impasse as to what type of bathtub to choose. I'm all-in on a clawfoot tub. He is not. My argument is based mainly on aesthetics, his on functionality. The bathroom will have a vintage feel with a gorgeous tile floor, so a clawfoot tub would not only fit with the look of the room, but allow us to use more of the pretty tile under it...
However, it's also the only bathroom in our house with a tub and will eventually be the bathroom our future kids will use. My husband is concerned with lack of edge/shelf space for bath products and the potential amount of water splashing and overflow from the gap between the the tub and the walls.
Since we don't know anyone personally with a clawfoot tub, I pose this question to you: can a clawfoot tub be practical with children or should we stick with our existing built-in tub?
And comments poured in. It was great. The comments mostly fell into two categories: people who had fond memories of club foot tubs as children and people who tolerated them as adults. As we got more and more opinions, it became clearer and clearer that Dan was going to win. I caved and we moved forward with a built-in tub, not a stand-alone tub.

We were in agreement that we wanted to remove the wall and install a new built-in tub. Now, I'm going to skip ahead a bit to something I found out later, just for some context. A lot of homes are built with this small, inner chambers because of how bathtubs are built. 90% of bathtubs are designed to be surrounded by walls on three sides. These small chambers surround tubs on three sides and everyone's happy. However, we wanted to remove one of those walls so it would now only be surrounded by two walls. It would just sit in the corner. And remember how I said like 90% of tubs are built for three walls? Yeah, this was going to cause a problem, but I didn't know that yet.

Once we were in agreement, I started hunting for tubs, without knowing what I was looking for. I didn't know the difference between corner stand-along tubs and corner built-in tubs. Here's the difference:

Image Source
Built-in tubs come with these lips/ledges that you tile over to keep water from flowing down behind the tub. They are made for tubs you intend to shower in.

Without that knowledge, I create a huge list of beautiful corner tubs. Dan asked me if I had found any tubs that would work for us and I ignorantly told him that I had found a bunch. No need to worry, let's start the renovation. And before I knew it, he was knee deep in drywall and the room was without a wall.

That's the point that he looked  at my list and had a mini-heart attack. Almost none of the tubs I loved would work. They were lip-less. We had torn apart the room on my assurance that I had found tubs that would work and I was wrong. Laptops in hand, we searched and searched  and found a handful we thought might work, but the numbers were not in our favor.

Many looked like they might be tight enough to the wall so we could try and tile tight to prevent water from getting behind it, but it would be a gamble. Also, Dan found some add-on kits that act as the lip that you can turn a stand-alone tub into a built-in, but we didn't want to have to trust it. We were down to three tubs that were meant to be installed in corners like we needed and two more fell off for being too long for the room. We were left with one tub. Good thing we liked it because it was what we were stuck with.

I left Dan to order it, since he knew all of the configuration details, like where the drain needed to go. In hindsight, I should have known better to let him buy something unsupervised because he added all sorts of bells and whistles. Jets, a heater, a. recirculating pump, this thing is pimped out. And he didn't tell me about any of it. He got in trouble for that one.

And like most of our projects, once we received it, it sat. It sat in the shop for almost a year before we moved it into the house. Not the bathroom, but the guest room because we needed to use the trailer it had been sitting on. But now that things have escalated, it's in place!

To recap, when we decided to finally redo all the floors, it created the flow chart to end all flow charts. Before the floors went in, we wanted to repaint the green living room and kitchen, but before we painted, we wanted the drywall fixed. And if the drywall guys were going to be here to fix the kitchen, they might as well just drywall the blue bathroom at the same time. And to drywall the bathroom, the tub needed to be installed. It was all very "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie".

It's been plumbed and glued in place! We finally have a beautiful new tub! Who knows when I will actually get to bathe in it, but it's there!

Here's the run-down of what's remaining to do in blue bathroom.
  • remove carpet
  • remove dividing wall
  • remove old bathtub
  • order new bathtub 
  • remove drywall
  • re-drywall room
  • remove old vanity
  • install penny floors!
  • Electrical work
  • Plumbing work
  • install new vanity! (We purchased the vanity many moons ago. Like everything, this has its own story behind it. We'll get there.)
  • Install bathtub
  • Tile bathtub surround
  • Swap in new toilet
  • Paint
  • Hang mirror and lights 
So much is happening! The floors have been ongoing for over a week now. They were supposed to be done in five days. But before I get to that story, there's a lot of other items on that chart to cover. We've been so busy and I am looking forward to this all finally being over.

Friday, August 18, 2017

An Inch and a Mile

I go through four stages with my hair.

  • First, it's short and cute and I love it. I style it and I feel put together and awesome.
  • Then, I get tired. It's too short to braid and put in a bun and I hate having to pin the little bits that aren't long enough to make it in a ponytail. I can't keep up the styling and I decide to grow it out. 
  • After a bit of time, it starts to grow out and I can do things with it again. Buns that I think look like chignons, but probably not. Braids that fray by the end of the day. Messy ponytails when I'm sweaty. 
  • But with a little more time, it's fairly long and it starts to get in the way. It gets to be heavy with the length and all illusions of volume disappears. It's way too long to try to style and I can only do one braid, two buns, and two ponytails, so I start to feel boring. But I tough it out for a few months more because it's almost long enough to donate and repeat the whole process. 
And that's what has happened in the past and it's happened again. I've been actively tolerating my hair since March. It's been too long. Long to the point that I would end up laying on it when I slept and waking myself up when I tried to move and failed. I really thought I could make it through the entire summer because it's much easier to put hair up when it's longer, for me, but I couldn't make it.

Ten inches gone and donated to Locks of Love.

I'm still really feeling the short hair. I'm trying to be better at taking the time to deal with it, but we'll see how long that lasts.

It took 40 months to grow that ten inches of hair. I don't know if I'll be able to pull that off again, but I'm glad that I was able to for the second time.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Project House Update: The Floor is Lava

If you've ever given my yearly list of projects a detailed look, you would notice that one of the jobs for almost every room in our house is 'new floors'.

Few people believe me when I talk about how bad the floors are if they haven't seen them. When we moved in, the ENTIRE house was carpeted (minus some bad tile in the entryway and some bad pergo in the breakfast nook). Original to the house, 1983 carpet.

It was in the kitchen. It was in the bathrooms. It had a tile border around the edge so that nothing ever sat level. It was thread-bare at parts so the cats could pull at strings in it.

It's been on the list for quite a while mainly because Dan and I couldn't agree. We both agreed it was terrible, but we couldn't agree with what to replace it with and the timeline to replace it.

Our house has a very craftsman feel. It got a gorgeous wood ceiling and we've leaned vintage with a lot of our design choices. Because we live in the Southwest, it's very typical for houses to be almost completely tiled, or even stained concrete. Those are nice looks, but not for us and our house.

I've always liked the idea of wood, but it worried Dan. Neither of us had ever lived in a house with it, so we didn't know how difficult it would be to keep it nice. As a compromise, he was on the 'wood tile' bandwagon.

No offense to anyone that has wood tile, but it's not for me. Maybe the technology will get there someday, but there's not enough variety in the tiles to seem natural and the grout lines are too thick and noticeable.

And that's where we were. Dan fully committed to wood tile and me fully against it. And we stayed there for many years. I think he thought eventually I would come around or the tiles would become better looking. But the opposite happened. I got him looking at engineered woods and bamboos and he came around to my side of things. We just had one problem: the kitchen.

Our kitchen is very functional, but it's also very dated. The plan has always been to completely gut it at some point in the future. And part of that gutting would be removing all the cabinets and installing new floors under them. Dan didn't want to rip out the old carpet, install new floors, and then find out when we redo the kitchen that we can't get any more of the material to install under the cabinets.

Once the idea of new floors was fully seeded in my brain, I came up with a solution. If we were going to redo the floors in the rest of the house, it would only increase the cost by about $500 to have them install the wood in the kitchen as well. Now, that's not chump change, but I would pay that to be done with carpet. And, in the future when we redo the kitchen, if we find out that wood in the kitchen was a bad idea, we can redo it again. I just needed that carpet gone!

And my plan worked! He was on board! It was full steam ahead on new floors! We looked for a few weeks at the big box stores and couldn't find that perfect solution. It wasn't until we tried a store that just specializes in floors that we found our perfect match! It's a lovely reddish wood that matches the wood in our ceiling. It's got a distressed look so any damage we do should be hidden. And it comes in a variety of widths for a more organic feel.

So, over Fourth of July weekend, we pulled the trigger. We bought enough wood floors to be a small car. The euphoria was amazing...for about an hour. That was until we realized all we needed to get done before the floors could be installed. The only way I could keep sane was to make a flow-chart (nerd alert) to track it.

The posts for the next couple of weeks, if not months, will be going into these things more, but right now, it's full panic mode. We've got less than three weeks until floors are installed and things are way out of control. The results are going to be amazing, though!