Wednesday, January 25, 2012

everyone has some dirty laundry

We can do ours in less dreary environs now!

We finished the painting, cleaning, and organizing of the laundry facilities, and now instead of a dreary corner of the basement it feels like an actual room.

Some shelves and a folding table, a fresh coat of paint, and some handy retractable drying racks mounted on the empty wall make this a pretty great space. Well, for a laundryroom.

I'm not sure how useful this panoramic file will be once blogger does its auto-resize, so here is a large version incase you're into that sort of thing.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Spin Cycle

The laundry room does not need to be painted.

Its not about need though. Its just a little thing. As we try to recover from the holidays, or was it thanksgiving, or was it HausFrau's family visiting, or was it the truck load of stuff my parents sent to me? Yeah. It just keeps going. Anyway, we're trying to police up the messes and piles and get back to the getting on top of it we were doing a great job of before summer ended. We got shelves up... we just never got everything on the shelves. Piece by piece though, we're at least making better use of our space, and being as judicious as we can at any given time about what stuff to keep and actually find a place in the space for. We reminded ourselves last weekend that our laundry room is a joke. We threw around some ideas on how to better use the space, and set to cleaning that room out- which it sorely needed. We never cleaned it when we moved in, and we'd never cleaned it since.

As we started to visualize a few simple things we could do down there, it occurred to us that half of why that room is so dreary, is that its ugly. The former owners never finished it beyond their typical cack-handed drywall and joint compound job that is not unlike a frosted cake. Here, even worse than in the rest of the house. So, we covered up the machines, and I sanded the place down as much as was reasonable considering we're not actually finishing the room at this time. Aimee got most of it primed Sunday and I finished it today. We're going to use up a 1/2 can of a color we originally painted the rabbit room, and then painted over. Hopefully it'll be bright green by tomorrow night.

We're only painting the drywall, so about 1/2 the room will still be cinder blocks, but just having it be somewhat more together will be nice. Then its time to find or build a folding table, some shelves, and a drying rack, and it'll feel a little more like a room... rather than just a corner of the basement.

I actually wouldn't mind putting a carpet remnant in too, but I'm not sure if we care that much just yet. Maybe if craigslist has something decent to offer.

Anyway.. sometimes its the little things, and this will be a little thing in the grand scheme, but I bet it will make us happy.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Mending Fences

Our gate was a rotted piece of crap. So I took it down and chipped it last spring.

Then I cut lumber for a new one.

Aimee helped me assemble it.

And when we hung it, it was solid, square, and swung smoothly on the first try!

Inspired by my success at that, I knocked down the dumb section of the rear fence that served no purpose. I Ieft the other half of that run, as currently it forms one wall of the rabbitat. Until we decide what we're going to do with that area as far as a patio or a shed goes, I'll leave it there to pen in the bunnies when they're out for a run.

After that we started sanding and stripping the fence on the whole front and south sides of the house. That was super annoying, but we kept at it off and on over the summer until the whole thing was scraped as clean as was worth doing considering the age and condition of a lot of the wood.

We even managed to get it all painted sometime in september, before the rains started. It looks about a bazillion times better now.

I can't find the pictures I took of that, and its raining, so I don't want to go take more. Watch this spot if you really want to see some nice white fence sections that have now been rained on for 3 months!

Of bathrooms

I just realized I didn't write a single entry here in 2011. We were not without projects, but I never got them collected. I'm not sure that it matters, like most things... it only does if you decide it does. Since I'm sitting here on a day off, making mental lists of everything I wish was different about our house, maybe remembering some progress that we actually made this year will help me from getting too depressed about how much I feel we've not done and how we've let our inertia impede our progress. Maybe it'll be motivational going forward? Maybe its just procrastination. Either way. . . we did some stuff this year. Here is a glimpse.

I don't even remember how it started... I think we just decided to paint the bathroom. While we were at it, we took out the metal track that was still attached to the walls and tub from the crappy sliding doors that were originally in the bathroom.

The door tracks left some weird anchors in the tub surround which needed to be dremeled out and the holes filled with putty.

Luckily we have very little else in the bathroom aside from our medicine cabinets and a few light fixtures, all easily removable.

And after that its just taping, priming, and blueing

We were quite happy with the results, and having made a small step in the right direction against the legions of ugly brown paint that currently inhabit our house (see earlier post) really was exciting and refreshing. Then a week or so later, we found water in the basement. I looked around, thinking something had leaked in the floor, through our basement door (as has happened during massive seattle rain storms), and was very confused and couldn't find the source. Then I noticed the door jamb was damp. And the wall was damp. And. . . the . . .ceiling ? was damp? Uh oh. Out came the clawhammer and saw.

The ceiling was damp because there was water dripping down from the upstairs bathroom plumbing. Through trial and error we determined that it was only when the shower was engaged. The extra pressure built up when the shower lever was engaged would cause water to egress through the gaskets in the faucet knobs, and out the back, where it just ran down, fell through a whole in the floorboards for the pipes, and was pooling on the drywall ceiling of the basement, and soaking it all.

I tore out all the drywall and insulation and slowly began to realize I was going to need to learn some plumbing skills of some sort. After poking around and considering various means of getting access to the shower pipes and fittings, we decided there was no way we were going to cut a whole in our hallway wall and create an access panel there. Putting it all back together would be a huge project. The only other option was to tear out the tub surround. Over the next few days I fussed and trialed and errored, and learned about plumbers tape, and gaskets, and stems, and stuff. There was more than one aborted attempt at putting it all back together, but we eventually got there. The piece of sheetrock I had to cut out of the wall behind the surround was a curious shape, but at least I left room to access the faucet joints in my replacement piece, should we need to get in there again.

As long as we had pulled out the yellowing and ugly shower surround, we figured we might as well reward ourselves with a newer replacement. We didn't opt for anything fancy, but at least its not a decade or old more and disgusting looking.
Installing the surround turned out to be its own set of challenges, but eventually we came up with a system of braces and dowels and 2x4s that held the rather heavy wall pieces in place while the adhesive set. Aimee went to town caulking all the seams, as she is by far the better of the two of us at it.

As long as we were tearing everything apart, and in anticipation of a visit from my parents, we added some more towel bars to the bathroom door as well. I'd had been scratching my head on this for a while as most of the doors in our house are cheap, rather shitty hollow affairs from Home Depot, and thus hard to put anchors in. I solved this by drilling into the door and shooting a generous amount of hardening insulation foam into the hollow space. Once this hardened, I could drill into and give the anchors something to push against. So far, no towel bars have fallen off.

Another addition I made was a little set of cubbies in our window well. Our bathroom has very limited storage, and so I thought this would give Aimee a place to stack her little bowls of jewelry as she prefers to take it off in the bathroom at night. They also added a little variety to the space, and gave us a place to put little doo dads, statues, and Lego people who occasionally visit our bathroom.

We also decided to take advantage of a sale we saw for Flor tiles, and give those a shot in the bathroom, even though they technically don't have a 'damp enviornment' tile type yet. Hopefully they won't wear out really quickly, as they look great, and really make us happy.

One last little touch we came up with was some portholes in our shower. One sea turtle, and one sea dragon. They are totally silly, and after all the hassle and days without a shower, adding something lightheared and goofy to our house really made me feel better. This is the kind of stuff I like about having our own place.

While we hadn't intended to anything more than give it a fresh coat of paint, we're really happy with the more lively and jovial space that we've managed to create for really a pretty minimal amount of work. It makes me smile everytime I get up in the morning, which is really about all you can ask for.

Also, its really nice to have good friends a few blocks away who have a second shower. And a gym membership. And showers at work.

Flor tile pattern
Adhesive porthole stickers


I also found a way to recycle the old tub faucet that really made me happy. I was glad to be arting up the neighborhood a little, but some jackass stole it from the utility pole in front of our house.