Thursday, May 31, 2007

You've come a long way, crapper!

We're taking some vacation time (and incorporating the long-awaited pilgrimage to IKEA to pick up the rest of the parts we need for the kitchen project), so we thought we'd leave on a high note, with the then- and now- photos of the bathroom. We are really, really feeling almost done now! So here they are (drum roll...)

Yes, that is the SAME VIEW! The final stages will be next, in a couple of weeks...

Thursday, May 24, 2007


Last week I finished my PhD, so that meant just one thing: time to take a few minutes off and finish the bathroom! Without guilt, finally. So here's how we celebrated (after some fun with friends, we're not that weird!)

First, we had to pull out the old pink toilet - which we're keeping because it's fabulous and we designed the whole neutral color scheme around it. But we had to pull it out, assess its underbelly and re-plumb it (and deal with the floor), and get it cleaned up to go back in. And custom order a brand new pink toilet seat with chrome hinges - yes, they still make them (thankfully). With the toity, the last, last, final, sole-surviving silver and burgundy PLASTIC marbled 70s tiles came out. Yee-haw!

Next Ken coached me through the whole wax ring thing. Apparently ours was quite clean, but I guess they can be pretty covered with dookie. Ours looked pretty shocking until I learned that it was just icky wax, then it was OK (with gloves on and a surgical scrub afterwards!). Interesting little invention. The toilet will be getting a brand new waxless ring this time, the downstairs one worked great and they're better for wood floors.

Next we pulled out the old, icky subfloor and of course found some joists that needed to be sistered, so we fixed those up. Oh, and speaking of pulling up the floor, Ken attacked the radiator moving project and got it all plumbed & ready in its new, far more rational spot. Who the hell puts a radiator smack in the middle of a room, anyways? Duh!

Then we realized that, after pulling all the guts out of the toilet, it was leaking the rest of the tank water all over the floor. Duh again - and then we used the handy-dandy wet vac feature to clean it out. The only reasonable caption for this photo is: Is this what PhDs do?

OK, so we laid a new subfloor and some plywood substrate for the parquet teak floor.

Then plastered the end wall to prep for tile

Then back to more tiling, almost the last wall section! Note the way cool ebay find: a built-in vintage porcelain toilet paper holder that went in great and looks awesome. A favorite, and for $3, who can argue?

So we've been busily intalling the teak parquet, and it's almost done - just a few teeny areas to fill in. So - what color stain (if any) to use...? Votes, anyone?

Monday, May 21, 2007

New Feature - before and after

Hopefully this works - I've finally figured out how to upload pdfs, so we can share with you our gallery of before and after presentations - they're all pdfs, and should come up in a list of links just to the right.


More later - adventures with the Pink Toilet happened this weekend. Sarah's initiation into the world of the Wax Ring.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

More trash to treasure: the $2 kitchen island

As promised, here's the story of the $2 kitchen island (technically, Ken reminds me it's now $6 because we spend $4 on felt for the feet!)

We saw a picture in a magazine of a great arts & crafts style trestle table that we thought would be a fantastic island/bar in our kitchen - it was small so it would fit our plan & space. We've been trying living with an island for several months (using the old, too low, too big table temporarily) to see if we were island people. We thought it might be a pain to constantly walk around it, but instead it was so convenient & comfortable we decided to go with the island plan.

We started by trying to get a really cool, old cast iron barrel stand we found at a construction site in town - they were re-doing an old factory. The guy got greedy and wanted a lot of money for a mostly broken, rusty piece, so we gave up on that. Then we decided to use a sewing machine stand (also cast, period style) as the base. Not only did ours show up here broken after we found one we wanted, but it ended up being too small for the piece of wood we found for the top.

OK, backing up to the wood: we wanted a big slab, not strips of wood. Ken's friend who does carpentry happened to have a 20" wide, 2" thick, ~40" long slab of pine that had been sitting around for years, and let us have it for free. We took it to the local cabinetmaker for planing along with some other project wood (we don't have a plane, let alone one wider than 20"!) and it came out great.

So now we had a table top and were unhappy with the base option (look for it at this year's yard sale!). We went back to the magazine picture and realized that we could just build the base from other pieces of pine, now that we knew the slab was pine too. So, off to the garage to find some wood. We used joists left in the garage by (perhaps) the orginal builders for the legs, and cut some capitals and feet from good old 2x4s, hand planed to sharpen the edges. We remembered that we saves all kinds of large screws from the piano deconstruction, and we had free hardware. Amazingly, there was just about a perfect amount of hardware.

We used $2 of cull wood from the big box store, which happened to have a pile of 5/4 lumber months ago that we stockpiled, to create the stretcher bars (with through tenons, since we learned how to cut them as part of the pergola project) and shelf, and then just sanding, filling, sanding, staining, and voila! New kitchen island.

We got a couple of stools from the local liquidator for half price,

and made a little table runner with the design from our future backsplash tiles and a scrap of linen, using fabric paint (neat stuff, never used it before).

Then the big expense: sticking on felt feet. The table is done, and ready for us to bring the rest of the kitchen up to speed!