Wednesday, November 28, 2012

All Day Long

Somewhere in the world there are houses in which people decide to fix something and it takes only a little while and everything goes perfectly.  My house is not one of those houses.  But really, where's the fun in that?

Last Saturday Charlie and I decided to replace the yucky vanity in the back bathroom with a nice new one.  He said, "You know this is gonna take all day long."  I said, "I know, but finding out why it will take all day is the joy of it."

I already knew that the shut-offs under the sink don't really shut off the water, but Charlie wanted to find this out for himself.  I may have mentioned once or twice that my bathroom is 39 inches wide.  The old vanity was 18" deep.  That meant that my 6'2", 200-lb. guy had about 21 inches of space in which to work.  (By the way, I really, really wanted to get a photo of him wedged in between the wall and the vanity with his head stuck under it but he threatened to never again make me fried taters, so I put the camera away.)

The shut-offs proved themselves a miserable failure again, so we headed down to the basement to look for the main shut-off to the house.  By "headed down to the basement" I mean of course that we corralled the animals in the bedroom under fierce protest, hooked the rope of cotton clothesline to the basement trapdoor, and then used the boat winch bolted to the wall to crank the door open.

We walked down the steps and..."Oh dear God, what is that stench?!" I squealed.  Charlie had his hoodie over his nose and mouth.  "Dead rat, I think," he said.  We looked all over the basement for it and couldn't find it.  I'm sure it's back in the dark recesses of the dirt crawlspace somewhere. I sprayed Febreze around down in there, and I can tell you that those commercials for Febreze where the people are surrounded by nastiness and cooing about open meadows are a dirty lie.  Anyhow, we found two water shut-offs.  One of them leads to the outdoor spigot and the other looks like it leads to the other outdoor spigot but actually seems to serve no purpose at all.  So we went outside and shut the water off at the meter.  I earned the daggers look from Charlie by saying, "Please don't drop my channel locks down in there".

Then we came in the house, shut the basement door, let the animals out, and went to the hardware store to buy new shut-offs.  When we came home, we found this:

Louis evidently has some psychic connection with the sink which causes him to know immediately when the water's off and makes him believe he will die of thirst before it's back on.  He could just get a drink out of the giant water bowl in the laundry room, but the water's colder and tastes better right out of the tap.  He sat in the sink patiently waiting for the water to be turned back on.

Meanwhile, Charlie tore out the old vanity, threw it out into the yard (it broke into pieces when it hit the ground), and then asked me if I have a crescent wrench.  I do not.  Apparently that's something you really need when you're working on plumbing.  He called WTB to ask if we could borrow one, but he wasn't home, so we borrowed one from his aunt across town.  By now, it was lunchtime so we ate and then Charlie replaced the shut-offs.

Now we know what's under the
vinyl flooring:  plywood subfloor
He pointed out that right then would be a good time to put up another strip of beadboard wallpaper, since nothing was in my way.  So I cut the strip of paper and turned on the kitchen faucet so I could use the sink as a wallpaper tray.  And no water came out, because of course the water was still shut off.  Duh.  Charlie went out to the meter and turned it back on, I filled the sink and hung the paper, and Louis got his drink.

After that, Charlie carried the new vanity into the bathroom, attached it to the wall, and discovered that the old trap kit wouldn't work.  (I don't know exactly why--it was too long or too short or something.)  We made another trip to the hardware store.  On the way there, Charlie asked me where the new faucet was.  I said something intelligent like, "Ummmm..." and Charlie said, "How did you forget to buy a new faucet?"  Which is a really good question and one I wish I knew the answer to.  I had my little heart set on a faucet with an oil-rubbed bronze finish and the only one the hardware store had was really expensive, so we had to make a 40-minute trip (one way) to a big box store to get one.

It took hours longer than it probably should have, but at the end of the day I had this:

A pretty vanity that's standard height.  (Esther, the previous owner, was 4'11" so the old vanity had been cut down for her.)  Also, a faucet that doesn't drip, a sink that holds water, a pipe that's not clogged, and shut-offs that work.  I also have a wee bit less floor to stencil, since this vanity is a little larger than the old one.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


This month my friends and I have been doing "Thirty Days of Thankful", but instead of giving thanks for what we consider the big things, like family and faith and good friends and such, we've been giving thanks for ordinary things that we tend to take for granted.  Hence, my list has things on it like furnaces and internet access and replacement window glass.  (For real, glass is on my list.)  And really, the fact that we take those things for granted is, in itself, something to be grateful for when much of the rest of the world doesn't have regular access to them.

Anyhow, today I'm thankful for one of the things that ought to be on my list but isn't:  beadboard wallpaper.   Yup.  Wallpaper that looks surprisingly like the real thing.  It's brilliant.  Of course it costs less than the real thing (about $25 or so for a roll), and it's so much easier to put up than beadboard.  Even easier than those big sheets of what Mare calls beadboard plywood.  He's a restoration purist and won't call that stuff beadboard.  He'd have apoplexy over this.

I looked at a couple of different brands of it, and what I recommend is the allen + roth brand that's sold at Lowe's.  It's fairly thick and seems more durable than the other brands.  It also looks more like the real stuff than some of the other brands.  The walls in my bathroom were a mess.  Some previous owner had used vinyl flooring as wainscoting.  Ick.  When I took off that ugliness, the walls underneath were drywall that had never been taped and mudded.  I'm not sure exactly what happened in this room, because the top third or so of the walls seems to be plaster, but everything below that is drywall.  If you look closely at the photo, you can see the horizontal line under the wallpaper where plaster meets drywall.  Baffling.  The beadboard wallpaper is thick enough to cover most of that mess.  I'm seriously thinking about covering the yucky paneling in my laundry room with beadboard wallpaper.

But first, I have to finish this room.  The wallpaper isn't painted yet (it comes bright white like that, and it looks nice enough that you really could leave it that way) and I need to put up some chair rail too.  Then I need to finish painting the ceiling (which is also wallpapered, with stuff that looks a bit like tin ceiling) and put in the new vanity and hang the towel rod back up.  Oh yeah, and I need to finish that stenciled floor.  Still tapping away at that...

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Patience Is A Virtue

I may have mentioned that patience isn't my strong suit.  Welllll....I think I'd better learn some patience.

Because this...

took me about three hours to do.

And that was after I figured out that using any kind of roller wasn't going to work.

First, I tried to use a foam roller, which some of the tutorials suggested.  It worked fine on the piece of cardboard I used for practice, but didn't cover well on the floor at all.  Then I figured since that part of the floor was already ruined, I'd try to use a paint roller with a very fine nap.  That covered well, but the paint seeped under the edges of the stencil and looked awful.  So I wiped the teal paint off the floor as best I could with a wet paper towel and then re-painted the floor with two coats of the white.

What does work?  A stencil brush.  It works great.  It takes a thousand times longer than a roller would, but it works great.

A couple of people asked about the durability of the floor.  After I get all this stenciling done, the floor will get two coats of Varathane Crystal Clear to protect it.  Remember that cool paisley floor I loved?  Carrie from Lovely etc. did that--in her living room and dining room, no less!--and was kind enough to blog about it again seven months later to report that her floors still look beautiful.  That's reassuring, since I'll be spending 30 to 40 hours tapping a little tiny stencil brush on my bathroom floor...

Thursday, November 15, 2012

I've Lost My Mind

I went to the big box store yesterday and looked at vinyl plank flooring.  I had every intention of ordering enough for the bathroom floor.

But instead I came home, lost my mind, and started painting my bathroom floor.  Actually, that's somewhat inaccurate.  I came home, cleaned my bathroom floor, sanded the finish off of it, cleaned the floor again, scrubbed the floor down with TSP, and let it dry thoroughly.  All the tutorials I've found on the interwebs say you have to do all that before you start painting.  What they don't tell you is that all that stuff takes a really long time to do.  (Even if your floor's not as dirty as mine was.)  I started out sanding with 100-grit like the instructions say and realized I'd qualify for the senior citizen discount at Golden Corral before I got finished.  So then I used really rough sandpaper left over from refinishing the floors (it's probably 80-grit or even 60-grit) and I put it on my multi-tool.  That didn't take too long.  What took forever was running the shop vac, then mopping, then letting it dry, then sanding, then running the shop vac, then mopping, then letting it dry, then scrubbing the floor with TSP and letting that dry.  Patience is not my strong suit.

Pawprints in the primer
After I finished all that, I put on two thick coats of primer.  I used Zinsser 1-2-3 Primer because it's really thick and it covers well.  The pattern in the vinyl floor is navy blue, so I wanted to be sure it was all covered up.  Also, thick coats of primer help hide the texture and pattern of the vinyl floor.  I brushed it on rather than using a roller so I could get plenty of primer down in the texture of the floor.  I was just about done with the first coat of primer when the dog chased one of the cats into the bathroom and then back out.  That was not a fun clean up.  You can tell in the photo that one coat is covering pretty well, but I used two just to be sure.

While the primer was drying, I went to Lowe's and bought a quart of Valspar Porch and Floor Paint and had them tint it to Fish Story, which is a dark teal.  (I love paint names.)  Incidentally, my mom was with me and happened to be wearing light teal colored shoes, so she helped me pick out the paint color by comparing the chips to her shoes.  (I love my mom.)

Background color
When I got back home, I swept the floor just to be sure nothing had been tracked in by the fur-babies in my absence, and then I painted on a thick coat of Valspar Gilded Linen.  That's the same color I'm using for the ceiling and the trim in the bathroom.  I'm planning to stencil the floor, so this whitish color will be the lines of the design and the teal will be the main color of the floor.  I'm debating whether or not to put down another coat of this color before I start stenciling.

Second coat or no, the stenciling will start tomorrow.  I think I'd better do it in the daytime when there's more light and when I've had plenty of rest, because math is involved in the placement of the first stencil so that the whole pattern doesn't go wonky after that.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Very Small Disaster

There are lots of leaves in my yard.  Billions, I estimate.  There are still more leaves on the roof of my house and in my gutters.  I've been doing my annual woe-is-me thing about this in the hopes that Charlie would take pity on me and do something about all those leaves.  However, when I whined to him about it...this schidt is not what I imagined.  Read on.

Charlie had the day off today and declared it Leaf Removal Day.  He cleaned out the gutters at White Trash Bob's house, at the house of the Ex-Mrs. WTB, at WTB's rental house, and finally at my house.  So there he was, on the roof of my house with my electric leaf blower, blowing the leaves off the roof and out into my yard.  (The logic of this escapes me, but whatever.)  He was on the roof at the front of the house, above the parlor. Meanwhile, I slept in my warm bed at the other end of the house, blissfully unaware that a very small disaster was about to happen.

Charlie was walking across the roof with the leaf blower when the extension cord caught on the porch roof.  So he yanked on the cord to free it.  Then he yanked on it again.  Then he heard an awful scrrrrrrrrrrape and had just enough time to think, "What the hell was that?" before he heard glass breaking and realized that he'd knocked the ladder sideways.

Charlie peered over the edge of the roof and saw the ladder at a horrible angle some feet away.  It occurred to him that he was now trapped on the roof of the house.

Then he leaned farther out over the edge of the roof and took a closer look.  The ladder was poking through one of the stained glass windows on my front parlor bay.  "Jaynie's gonna kill me," he thought.  And then, "I better call WTB for some help."

Glazing compound is the only
evidence of the accident.
WTB arrived from across the street in short order, pulled the ladder free from the window, and set the ladder back up so that Charlie could climb down.  Together they assessed the damage.

"Jaynie's gonna kill me," Charlie said.

"Not if she doesn't know about it," WTB said.

"How's she not gonna know about it?!  The ladder poked through the middle of the window!" Charlie said.

"Yes," WTB countered, "but she's asleep, isn't she?  We can take out the broken window, buy a new piece of glass, fix the window, and clean up the mess before she wakes up."

Charlie grinned, "That just might work."

Some hours later, I woke up and chattered along happily to Charlie about how much I'm looking forward to my days off and how pleased I am that he cleaned out the gutters.

"You're the best!" I said, and gave him a big hug.

"No, I'm not," he said.  "I'm really not the best..."

"You are!" I insisted.  "You are the best.  Just think about all the stuff you do for me."

Then I noticed that Charlie wouldn't look me in the eye.  My Spidey-sense began tingling. "What?" I said.  "What happened?"

"Dammit," he sighed.  "I can't lie to you."

Now ordinarily, I'd say that's a good thing...but when he told me the truth about what happened while I was sleeping, I sorta wished that he was capable of lying.  Or at least, of lying by omission.  I would really have preferred not to know that he poked the leg of a ladder through the middle of a window that's been in my house, unbroken, since about 1887.  I almost cried when I saw the pieces of wavy glass in the trash.  On the other hand, as ladders-through-windows go, this wasn't nearly as bad as it could have been.  Only the clear glass in the middle was broken.  The art glass panes around the outside are still intact.  At least Charlie didn't fall off the roof or go through the window himself.  And I have an honest man and a repaired window, both good things.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Down The Rabbit Hole

The last 57 times I've checked the weather forecast for my days off (Wednesday through Saturday) it predicted the same thing:  sunny or mostly sunny all four days and not a chance of rain.  This is good paint-scraping weather.  I will be scraping paint.  I will.  Honest.

But while I'm scraping paint, I'll be thinking about what to do with my bathroom floor.  Right now it looks like this:

It's not horrible, but I don't like it.  Also, it's been there for a couple of decades by my estimate and it looks pretty dingy, even right after I scrub it.  (Which, admittedly, hasn't happened in a while.)

Now, this is where I stop to make y'all aware of something:  Milah is a genius.  And an enabler.  A genius enabler.  Or, an enabling genius.  Either way, she's really smart.  She thinks of things I wouldn't, and then she tells me about them so that I start to think about them too.  Milah suggested vinyl plank flooring, which is water-resistant, durable, and inexpensive.  I like it.  I had about decided on this for the bathroom floor:

TrafficMaster in Hickory
Image via

It would look really good against the white beadboard (which I will tell you more about later) and the robin-egg-blue walls.  It reminds me of this inspiration photo I pinned to one of my Pinterest boards about a year ago.
See more gorgeousness at House of Turquoise

I like that floor...but I don't love it.  Then I remembered that Milah had also said it's possible to paint vinyl floors.  I googled images of that and fell down into a very large rabbithole.  Now I'm in love with the idea of painting the ugly vinyl floor in my bathroom.  These are my favorites:
Love the fishscale and the colors.
Image via Lovely Crafty Home

I like that the stencil looks like a bigger version of
hex tile.  I'm not brave enough to use this leaf green color.
Image via Apartment Therapy
This is actually painted subfloor, but it would
work on vinyl as well.  I adore the stencil but
is it too busy for my little bathroom?
Image via Lovely Etc.

That last image led me to the Cutting Edge Stencils website, which has tons of gorgeous stencils that would work on floors as well as walls.  (Another rabbithole, right there.)

So what do y'all think?  Should I go with vinyl plank or paint the bathroom floor?  Which stencil would you go with?  Colors?  

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Two Seasons

"There are only two seasons--winter and baseball."
--Bill Veeck

I have to agree with Mr. Veeck about that.  The end of baseball season means the beginning of winter.  I hate winter.  I despise winter.  I loathe winter.  Winter has cold weather and ice and short days.  I have to wear shoes and socks in winter.  There are no fresh peaches in winter.  No tomatoes either,  or corn on the cob or good strawberries or any kind of melon.  No wrens singing in my yard, no honeybees, no daylilies.

No building permits either.  Mine runs out December 19th, and every day that I get to work outside on the house I think might be the last day of that.  I won't miss my wrists and arms hurting after a day of scraping paint, but I'll miss being outside, seeing my neighbors, hearing the saws and hammers of everyone else's projects.  Last week there was enough good weather to make some progress on the house, and I'm hoping for the same good weather this week.  Before that permit runs out (and the good weather with it) I need to make as much progress as I can on the west side of the house.  That's the side of the house we started back in....May.  Good grief, has it been that long??  It's finished except for a 15-foot-wide section (where the paint's incredibly hard to strip) and a little bit of trim.  I'd also like to get the clapboards replaced on the back of the house before winter, and my neighbor Chris would like to get rid of 20 or so salvage clapboards that he's promised me but that I haven't picked out or paid for yet.  That's a lot of work to get done.  I'm not making any promises or bold declarations about what I think will be accomplished.  Too much depends on things I can't control, like weather and arthritis and the help of others.  I'll try to remember to post photos of what's being done, but if y'all don't hear from me you'll know I'm out there trying to beat the weather in between working night shift and doing that other thing called Life.