Dressed to Impress

Everyone loves a good 'Before and After', and I hope I don't disappoint.  After a few finishing touches, like our DIY'd mirror from our last post, we're finally ready to show you our finished (well, for now) Guest Bedroom. 

Before we get to the good stuff, let's remind everyone what it looked like in the beginning:

The room had floor to floor carpeting, a homemade 'cedar' closet, sagging ceilings, and a headache-inducing ceiling fan.  And that was just at first glance. 

After replacing the ceilings and completely gutting the closet, we refinished the floors, fixed the cracked plaster walls, painted all the trim white, and added some 'Mindfull Gray' to the walls and moved our furniture in.

Usually I would immediately start to decorate with accessories, but this room came together pretty slowly.  We added the blinds and roman shades, then the white bedding.  The rest of the room came one piece at a time over the last few months. 

Overall, I'm pretty happy with the outcome.  And, although I promised Mike that if he let me buy the DwellStudio for Target pillows for the bed, I wouldn't build a headboard, after looking at the photos, I can't seem to stop thinking that's exactly what the bed needs!

So I'll stop my gabbing and finally show you the after pictures you've been waiting on:

Not only is the room our dressing room and guest bedroom, it's also one of Benelli's favorite rooms.  He loves to sleep on the bed, admire himself in the mirror:

And sit in the chair and look out the window:

Disclaimer: These photos were not staged.  I simply snapped the photos while he was running around the room, doing his own thing.

Mirror, Mirror, (Leaning) On the Wall

For those unfortunate enough to remember the state of our house before we moved in, might remember that our guest closet didn't always look like this: 

Instead we bought this, cedar plywood and all:

After gutting the closet we were left with two mirrored sliding doors.  Any sane person would toss them and call it a day, but not two LEED AP's and DIY freaks like Mike and I.  We saw potential.

After three or four months down in the basement, we finally had enough of the garage done to start working.  Although I would rather paint my walls bright purple before I would install mirrored closet doors, I do see the practicality of having mirrors near your closet.  Something our guest room/dressing room is lacking at the moment.  So instead of paying nearly $200 for a floor mirror, we built our own.  We started by removing the metal brackets around the edges and ended up with a mirror 2 1/2' x 6 1/2'.  Mike bought some maple 1" x 4"s and got to work.

He built a simple frame and biscuited the joints and then routered out a recess in the back, so the mirror sits flush. 

Then, after some sanding the frame was ready for some stain.  We all know Mike's aversion to paint and any thing that needs to be applied with a brush, so this is where my mad skills come in.  We started by picking up some stain and poly at Home Depot.  We knew we wanted a dark stain, something to offset our faux leather chair on the other side of the closet, so when we looked at the color charts my eyes immediately went to the bottom.

Since our floors are 'Dark Walnut' and 'Ebony' had too much of a black base, we fell in love with 'Jacobean'.  As we were searching for the can, both Mike and I had a moment of hesitation.  We knew we recognized the name 'Jacobean' before, but couldn't figure out from where, and even wondered why we hadn't chosen it for our floors, since we loved the color so much. 

Fast forward to the first coat and it hit me.  While we were choosing colors for our floors, we had asked for the dark Jacobean.  When I asked Mike to relay this to our refinisher, he said that he doesn't use Jacobean at all because it is so difficult to use and never turns out right.  After the first couple of coats on the frame, I knew exactly what he meant.  It was off.  It didn't spread evenly and even pulled off in the corners.  Leave it to me to think I could stain better than a professional.  

That is not the quality (or lack) of the photo and my point and shoot, the stain would not penetrate in the corners.  No matter how long I would leave it on before wiping it off it would not stay.  By the second coat I stopped wiping it off and it still looked thin in the corners.

Though it didn't go on with the ease that I was expecting, and required five coats, the finished product isn't too shaby. 

And in the end, it looks almost identical to the dark walnut of the floors, (which isn't a bad thing).  Hindsight is 20/20.

Building Blocks

After tearing down the old garage, the only evidence left of the burgundy trim was the trim around the basement windows, seen here in the "Truss Truck Accident Report" photo:

Not only were the windows ugly, they also had no dressings and everything in the basement could be seen by anyone that walked by.  This was especially bad when Mike stored his tools in the basement during the garage build, not to mention whenever I would run downstairs and change in the laundry room after washing my favorite pair of jeans.  Let's just say I got really good at dressing in the dark. 

Mike and I knew we wanted to replace the old (and non-efficient) windows for some fancy glass block windows.  We really lucked out when, during our door-shopping trip to Building 9, we found these bad boys for sale:

Not only were they the right size (fist pumps), came pre-made with a vent, they were only $60 a piece!  We were fully prepared for a $100 plus cost per window.

The first step was to remove the old window and sills. 

Then Mike had to use the partner saw to cut the opening a little, because although the windows were the right size, window openings that are 83 years aren't exactly the most square. 

We then dry-fitted the window in the opening and used plastic shims to level the block, (sorry no photos, as there were only two of use, we had our hands full).  We then mixed up some grout and used a bag that looked like an cake icing bag to squeeze grout along the edges to hold the window in place.

After the window received the grout and a good cleaning we left it over night and the next day we mixed more grout up to create a sill. 

We did this for all 4 windows in the basement and the difference is huge!  Not only can I get dressed in the laundry room without fear of public indecency, but taking out all of the wood trim actually allowed more window and in turn more light.  We probably won't notice the energy savings since we haven't lived here in the winter yet, but I'm sure it's going to help out too!

Here is the same angle as the first picture to show how nice the basement looks without the maroon trim.

This is Not a Garage Post

The truth is our lives haven't been consumed with the completion of our garage, it only seemed like that.  I actually was able to finish a couple projects in the last few weeks and am finally getting around to sharing.

One of the most dramatic changes (and probably the least expensive), was painting our front door.  Because the door is covered by the porch, I wanted to make sure it didn't fade into the shadows.  From the moment I saw our house I knew that with the beige siding and black trim, a bold red door would be perfect.  Mike was less (okay, not at all) enthusiastic.

Before I painted, we had to finish the trim.  As embarrassing as it is, this was the state of our front door, (and back), for the last couple months, yes months. 

To complete this project, Mike borrowed a metal break to make the custom bent aluminum trim.  This was done by measuring the aluminum, cutting it down to size, then locking it into place in the break.

Then Mike grabs the handles and lifts up, creating a 90° bend.

We continued to bend and flip over until we got the desired profile.  Here's our work in progress:

After bending all the pieces needed, Mike installed the trim around the door.

After the trim was in and the J-channel was installed, the siding was put back in place and the job was 50% done, and already looked 100% better.

After living with some paint chips for a couple weeks and checking in on different times of the day to get all the different lights, I finally decided on Sherwin Williams Brick Paver (SW7599) which looked a little like burnt orangish red, because it was bright enough for a pop of color, but not too red. 

I started by washing the door with a TSP and water solution, then I simply used a paint brush (I wish I could have rolled, but the oil-like paint left weird roll marks), and applied that paint.  The deepness of the red required 3 coats, and the temperature (in the 40's and rainy) did not help the drying at all.  We actually had to leave the door open overnight twice because it was that tacky.  Eventually it was dry enough to add the final coat and Mike, being the genius he is, added Vaseline to the edges so that we were able close the door without the risk of pulling the edges up after re-opening. 

I quite like the new color and Mike doesn't hate it, which is good enough for me. 

Garage Build Twenty-Ten | Part DONE

It's official, on Sunday we opened the garage for business, er, use.  During the last two weeks we've been busy finishing the details, like soffits, trim, siding, gutters, and doors. 

After a two-week curing time for the driveway we were able to schedule the garage door install.  During that waiting period, we sided and added the soffit and fascia.  And for someone who has never sided before in her life, I can tell you it's not that hard.  Like fitting together pieces of a puzzle, vertically, and giant pieces of a puzzle, but you get the idea. 

We started on the side next to the lawn, which only took a couple of hours and set my expectations pretty high.  Mike and I built scaffolding with some 2x4's and sawhorses to make reaching the higher pieces easier, and aside from my unexpected fear of heights (yes, it was only about 4 feet off the ground, but you try shimmying across two 2x4's as they bow), it was pretty easy.  No guessing at weird angles, no 14' high nailing.  Just making sure the joints didn't line up.

Then we moved to the back and my excitement deflated a little.  The bottom 5 or 6 pieces went up pretty much the same, but then we had to go higher.  This took a lot of climbing up the ladders, nailing in place, climbing down, moving over 2 feet and repeating.  Needless to say I was happy to be on solid ground by the end of the day.

The next day I woke up bright and early, okay, maybe not so bright and not really early.  But I was up and no matter what Mike might think I was willing to work.  The thing is, I was putting my coat on when I casually looked out the window and noticed our neighbor, Chris, helping Mike out.  Maybe I removed my coat and ducked out of site.  Maybe I putzed around the house for a couple of hours and maybe walked outside when I noticed the guys were putting the last couple of pieces on.  The point is, I was ready and willing to help.  It's not my fault if my neighbor is stronger and taller.  I sat out for the sake of our garage.  We all have to do our part.

After the siding was up, Mike added the fascia, which was a pretty easy job and thankfully he was able to do on his own.  I don't want to step on another ladder unless I'm climbing out of my house on fire.  

The next step were the gutters.  Being that both Mike and I work, it's sometimes difficult for us to make it to suppliers in time before they close.  In this instance, I was on a jobsite down the road and was able to leave a few minutes early to make it to MBS before they closed for the day.  This seemed like a simple task, Mike had called and told them I would be there to pick-up the supplies, screws, clips, braces, and 2-29' sections of gutters.  Wait, say what?  Yes, that's right, Mike sent me to load 29' pieces of gutters into our extended cab Toyato Tundra.  When I told the guys in the shop, they actually laughed at me.  I think one actually clutch his belly, I'm not kidding.  After 43 calls to Mike telling him I'm going to beat him over the head with his 29' gutters, he showed up and the laughing ensued.  We finally bit the bullet and decided to redneck it since we were less than 5 miles from our house and besides one wide turn, it was a single straight shot home.

Against Mike's protest, I did get photographic evidence.  I only wished we had a third party to take a video of the trip as Mike stood in the bed holding the gutters, especially when he started yelling at me for "flying" down the road when I hit my max speed of 32 mph.

After the gutters got to our destination in one piece, we were able to install them, again with the help of our tall neighbor. With the gutters in and the garage door installed while we were at work, we were good to go.

We did have one hic-cup with the final inspection, most notably, the glaring red sticker of doom that said we were "'disapproved' reason: locked".  As I was enjoying the drive down my fresh driveway pulling towards my shiny new garage, the sticker stuck out like a sore thumb.  Of course I immediately called Mike, and of course some swearing ensued.

An advantage of working in the construction field is having a master list of building inspectors cell phone numbers.  This definitely came in handy at this particular moment.  After schooling politely reminding the inspector that an interior inspection was already approved with our Rough Inspection and only the gutters, siding, and doors were needed to inspect for a final approval, not to mention the personal items that we had already placed inside the garage, Mike explained that he did not have to leave the garage unlocked.  The inspector then bowed down to Mike's superior knowledge, okay maybe simply said she would change the status of the inspection and our permit would be closed.  Even though we never got our friendly yellow "approved" sticker, it's still nice to be completed!

Now a trip back in time to look at the transformation from the very beginning:

And finally, the big reveal:

A HUGE thanks to everyone that came out and helped along the way through this process:

Chad, Justin, and Judy,
Brian, Jana, Michelle and Keith
Dave, Ray, and Jeff (and Sarah for letting Dave come over so often)
Kyle (and his mono)
Steven, Gary and their helper Bookie (and Melissa for letting us borrow her family for the day)
Chris (our tall neighbor) and Cindy (for letting Chris come over all the time)
The Upson Crew: Kyle, Tony, Tony, and Kevin

And everyone else who commented, followed along on the blog, and anyone who stoped by!  We definitely wouldn't have been able to do it without all the help, Mike and I are so grateful!

And if you missed anything, and are interested in reading all the trials and triumphs from the beginning, check out the posts here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.