Category: Before and After

Refreshing a Gilded Mirror

For our anniversary a few weeks ago, Chris and I went antiquing.  Yes, antiquing.  What, that’s not your idea of a romantic anniversary date?  For us, doing anything without the baby is a romantic date.  Gracie was with her grandparents, so we were free!  We headed over to Temecula, hit up Old Town and a few antique stores, and then spent the late afternoon wine-tasting.

We found this awesome antique gilded mirror at The Antique Barn.  The Barn is a huge antique mall with gazillions of stalls filled with treasures.  It’s pretty overwhelming unless you know what you’re looking for.  I knew we were looking for a mirror for the foyer, but I was disappointed that there were few mirrors that were interesting, in good condition, and yet also the right size for our entry.  Finally, after about an hour of poking our noses into every dusty warren, we came across this beauty.

It’s lying on my lap in this photo…so never mind those disembodied jean-clad legs sticking out.

It was perfect — the perfect size, and interesting but not too ornate.  The gilded wooden frame was in good condition, and it was just $40!  Sold.

I knew that I wanted to touch up the gilding, so after we brought it home, I ordered a Krylon Gold Leafing Pen online.  This pen was so easy to use, and the bright gold color was perfect.  It really looks like gold leaf, not paint.  And one pen was enough for me to touch up the entire mirror!

I mostly just touched up the highlights, leaving the crevices a darker, duller gold. This really helped the relief of the design to stand out more.

And there she hangs in our foyer. Obviously we still have quite a bit of work to do here. The walls and wainscoting badly need to be repainted and we need to get a sleeker, narrower console table. The one we currently have was actually a vintage sewing table that we painted and refinished. I love it but it sticks out too far into the space, creating a tripping hazard if you want to go down the hall to the right of the front door.

So there you are! An easy peasy touch-up that brings a tired-looking antique mirror back to its former glory!

Living Room Progress!

We’ve been hard at work on getting the living room livable (mostly because I’m sick of having all the junk that was IN the living room scattered about the house), and I’m pretty happy with the progress thus far:

There is definitely a lot of work to be done still, but it is starting to come together! Remember, it used to look like this:

In the last week we have:

1) Painted the ceiling, walls, and wainscoting
2) Finished installing the recessed lighting
3) Moved in a sofa, rug, two side tables, and a rocking chair

Not too bad considering we had a 6-month old in the mix and we had to do most of the work during her naps or after she went to bed! Let’s look at it again!

We found the sofa on Craigslist for $225. Not super cheap, but it’s almost new. The rug is from IKEA. It is the VALBY RUTA, and it is in our opinion one of the best deals at IKEA — it is soft, feels pretty thick, has a beautiful pattern (not too floral but still pretty) and it’s almost 6×8 all for just $79.99!

The Moroccan-esque side table was an estate sale find, and the mid century modern table in the center is one of the best things we’ve ever found thrifting! You can’t really tell from this photo, butI love how the sides of the table top swoosh up on either side. And it was just $15! The rocking chair is the one I used to have in the nursery. This is not its permanent home; it’s just staying there until we get a couple of chairs for that area.

The biggest challenge with this room is that it is super super long. To give you some perspective, here is the other end of the room:

Can you say awkward? Our eventual plan is to put two armchairs where the rocking chair is, and to put an upright piano where the armoire is right now. We definitely need more storage though (see how unsightly our recent Costco purchases are, sitting in the corner?), so we’ve been throwing around the idea of a large cabinet or buffet somewhere.

The room would lend itself well to being a combination living-dining room, but we have no need for a formal dining area, and we already have a nice breakfast nook in the kitchen. Oh, and also, we can’t put anything big against the wall to the right (not pictured) because it’s the walkway between the kitchen and the front door.

Oh well! There’s progress as well as a few challenges! That’s fine with me. I’m just happy the room doesn’t look and feel like a cave anymore!


We’ve been working on the living room…

For a while after we had the baby, we didn’t really do any work on the house. It was livable, and we were too busy trying to survive being hit by the bus that is having a first child. But Grace has since gotten easier to deal with. She sleeps through the night, is happy and playful during the day, and is a great napper! (Crossing my fingers in hopes that I didn’t just jinx myself). So we’ve started working on a few other things that needed attending to…

Such as the cavernous living room that had hitherto been a repository for all of our moving in boxes, Chris’ tools, random bags of junk, old shoes, and a couple of wetsuits. It was kind of embarrassing because it was the first room people saw as they walked in the door, and it was full of junk. But because the lights didn’t work (the previous owners had installed can lights but they were not wired yet!) and we were planning to paint, the room had fallen by the wayside as we got engrossed in more pressing matters.

What pushed us to finally get started on the room was a microfiber sectional that we found on Craigslist. I had been scouting for armchairs online, and when I saw this couch, it was in such great condition and was such a great price that I jumped on it. I’ll show pictures of it once we put it back in the living room. But it was a shame to have a beautiful couch in the living room and SUCH a mess, so we got our butts in motion and started on this room.

This picture gives you an idea of how cavernous the room truly is.

It is a super long room and there is only one window, so it already lacks light. To make matters worse, the walls and ceiling had been painted a really dark mocha color, which made the ceiling look really low and the whole room rather claustrophobic.

You can’t really see in these pictures, but the whole room, including the ceiling, was textured with very very thick, gloppy wall texture. So it really did feel like you were in a cave. The lack of working electrical lights didn’t help either.

I like the wainscoting though, and I thought with a fresh coat of light paint, this room could really look great. So we hauled our butts over to Home Depot and came back with several gallons of primer, ceiling paint, and a gallon of Behr Silver Drop in eggshell.

I really wanted to do the complete opposite of what the room looked like before. We painted the ceiling a bright white, and the walls a very pale gray to bring some more light into the room.

We still have to paint the wainscoting (it was primed but not painted), and then we’ll be ready to move the furniture in!

I’m a little bummed that the window has that wooden valance over the top of it. It wouldn’t be so bad if it only didn’t stop right at the width of the window, but as it is, any curtains hung there would completely obscure the window. I’d love to remove it, but the wall is not textured underneath and we’ll have to match the molding…too much work right now, so window treatments will have to wait.

Anyway, there’s your sneak peek of our living room situation. Can’t wait to start furnishing it! We’ve got the tan microfiber couch to move in, a Persian-esque rug, and a couple of side tables that I love. I’ve also got my eye on a couple of leatherette club chairs from IKEA, but may have to wait a couple months before we get those…

I just love seeing progress, don’t you?


Laundry Room, With Walls

Last time I posted about framing out the new laundry room and tiling the floor.  Now, the laundry room is ALMOST done.  In fact, it is done except for the obvious cosmetic touches of taping off and texturing the drywall, adding baseboard trim, and painting.

Here it is after we finished grouting.  After this, we put up more drywall and fixed the cruddiness of the wall to the left.

We grouted the tile after letting it cure for a couple of days.  Adding the grout was pretty easy, and there are lots of tutorials for it on YouTube.  Basically, you mix the grout with water until it’s the consistency of a stiff buttercream frosting, and scrape it into the cracks using a rubber trowel.  After scraping off the excess, you go over the whole thing with a damp sponge to smooth the lines and remove any extra.  We went over the tile again with a soft damp cloth to remove any film on the tile.  Then after it dried, we sealed the grout to keep it clean and nice.

I think it looks pretty good considering it was about the cheapest porcelain tile they had at Home Depot, and considering it was our first time.

After the tile floor was done, Chris and his dad put in the drywall.  The most challenging thing about the drywall was first supporting all of the copper pipe in the wall, and measuring and cutting the holes for the plumbing to come out of the wall.  We had to make sure that there was enough room around the pipes to attach the fixtures once the drywall was up. Then, there were a few new electrical outlets that needed to be wired as well as a 3-way switch for the light.  Fortunately, Chris’ dad is pretty experienced at electrical, and Chris is learning quickly, but it’s not a DIY that I would do if I didn’t have someone experienced helping me.

So that’s about where our little laundry room is right now.  I apologize for the grainy pictures–it’s a bit dark in there right now.  And obviously it hasn’t been prettied up with paint and decor yet.  But you get the idea.

Our water heater, washer and dryer, and a new laundry room sink fit in there perfectly.  Eventually, we’re planning to build cabinets above the washer and dryer and enclose the bottom of the laundry sink in a cabinet as well.

It has been nice to have the laundry room wall and ceiling closed up, as cold air had been seeping into the house through the attic and other construction zones.  The finished half of the house is much warmer now.

Which is good because Baby Brownie is on her way sometime in the next 3-4 weeks!

Oh me oh my!

Laundry Room Progress and Our First Tile Job

The last couple of weekends have been a race to get the laundry room finished.

Just so you have an idea of what we were working with, here’s a before pic:

I know, it’s extremely icky.  The hallway led into the master bedroom, and on the left was the laundry closet with broken louver doors, LOTS of dirt and grime, broken vinyl tiles, and “popcorn” texture ceiling.

After scraping the ceilings, removing the tile, and taking out the closet frame, we decided to close off the doorway to the master bedroom and enlarge the laundry closet to make a laundry ROOM.

The master bedroom is also being enlarged and there will be a different entrance to it, so we didn’t need the current doorway.  Also, removing the doorway allows us to enlarge the master bath.

This meant that Chris and his dad (aka Jamie, our secret weapon) spent the last couple of weekends rerouting the plumbing, moving the water heater, putting in faucets for the washer/dryer and laundry room sink, as well as new drains.  They also had to move the attic trapdoor so that it would be right in the center of the laundry room (instead of half in the master bedroom).  They framed in the new attic trapdoor as well as a new “plumbing” wall.

Chris got to work with a blowtorch, which was fun and very manly/sexy.

After the plumbing was done and the new wall framed, it still wasn’t looking pretty, but you could definitely visualize the new laundry “room”.

We got right to work tiling the concrete floor.

We thought the laundry room would be a good place for us to do our first tiling job, since if we mess up, at least it’s not a room a lot of guests will see.  Even as novice tilers, though, we found that tiling wasn’t very difficult.  Of course, having Chris’ dad as a teacher helped a lot.

First Chris and Jamie chalked out a line on the bare concrete floor, that was squared with the walls and would act as a guideline.  Then Chris applied the thinset, scraping it against the concrete floor to ensure that it adhered well.  Then, he evened it out with a notched trowel:

Then he laid the tile up against the already-set tiles.  I handed him a few plastic spacers, and he used the spacers to push the tile out with 1/8″ space for grout.

He pressed the tiles down with a scrap 2×4 to level them all out evenly.

The tiles on the sides of the room had to be cut, so Chris measured them out using another tile as a guide, and marked them with a tile marker.

Chris’ dad already had the tile saw, so Chris got to play with another cool new tool.  I’m happy to say, we did not ruin even one piece of tile!

The tiles along the sides were applied with the same principles as the whole tiles, except with a smaller notched trowel.

Coming up next time, the fully tiled floor and our next project, installing the drywall in the laundry room!  I’m looking forward to the ceiling being finished so cold air doesn’t keep blowing into the house through the attic!  Finishing the laundry room will effectively seal off half of the house from cold air and construction dust/debris from the master bedroom, which is a top priority for us with the baby coming so soon.

6 weeks left till D-day! Oh my.


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