Monday, April 30, 2012

Now where will I surf the internet?

You may remember this space thieving desk awkwardly placed in the corner of our kitchen.  I can just picture the builder thinking to himself, "Yep, this is exactly where I would surf the internet."  What a mind reader..

Our kitchen doesn't actually have very much storage, so we saw pantry potential in this obnoxious waste of space.  The plan is to first remove the cabinet from the wall and relocate it to the garage for Titus to store his man things.  Then, Titus will extend a wall from the edge of the drywall on the right to the pink wall.  On the new wall, there will be a nice six panel door which will open wide to a logically placed pantry complete with spacious white shelves.  We will keep the counter desk and drawers and use them for the toaster and other small appliances so they don't have to sit visibly on the counter.  I planned to do virtually nothing to complete this process.  

With a small amount of help from me, Titus removed the upper cabinet from the wall and we brought it out to the garage.  Then, Titus removed the linoleum from this section of the floor since we would be removing the rest later for new floor and this would allow the new wall to sit on the subfloor.  He then framed a wall with 2x4s all the way up to the ceiling.  Sorry no pictures, but I'm sure everyone has seen a framed wall.  

After that, Titus taped and mudded the new wall.  Since the ceiling is vaulted around the pantry, he actually had do fill a fairly large gap at the ceiling with mud which looked very difficult.  I continued to not help.  Taping and mudding is a very difficult process which most people like to leave to professionals.  Titus has a few past experiences with this so we were confident in his skills.  

After three coats of mud we were ready to go buy a prehung door at Home Depot.  Once we got that beast home we discovered it was too small to allow the desk drawers to open so we went back and bought a wider door. 

Titus then sawed down the frame of the door to the height it would need to be to allow the door to swing over our future flooring.  Now that the door was ready for installation, Titus used shims between the frame of the door and the newly made wall 2x4s so the door would hang level.  It is important for the door to hang level otherwise it will swing open or closed on its own.  Then, Titus had me hold the door in place so he could screw the frame of the door to the wall through the shims.  This is the only part I helped with, so I made sure to complain.  After each shim location had been screwed securely into the wall frame he busted off the extra part of each shim and the door was finished being hung.  Here is what the shims look like: 

Below is the beautiful new door after the mud was primed.  You need to prime over the mud to seal it for painting.  After priming the mud Titus painted the inside of the pantry Behr Ultra Pure white left over from our bathroom cabinet painting experiment. 

You will notice cabinet painting prep has also started...

The outside walls were painted Silver Sateen to match the entryway and dining room.  Unfortunately the pink wall was also covered in Silver Sateen.  I am still mourning the loss.

The true test of mudding success is after the wall has been painted.  This is when any small mistakes or uneven surfaces would become glaringly obvious.  Lucky for me Titus rules, and the wall looks perfect!  Plus look at Titus' amazing mud job on the difficult angled ceiling line.  What a pro!

To complete the pantry, we bought melamine shelves at Menards and used 2" MDF boards left over from a past board and batten project for shelf supports.  Titus made sure to screw the MDF shelf supports into studs so the shelves could hold thousands of pounds of food.   

Then, we filled the shelves with our health food.  I  used old coke boxes from Titus' mom to group corresponding foods together.  The top box stores flour mixes like pancakes, and all the syrups and oils.  The bottom box stores our jars, sauces, and weird oils like grape seed oil. 

It is extremely nice to be able to slide out a whole box to find the weird oils, instead of move a bunch of glass bottles around trying to find what we are looking for.

Another awesome feature of the pantry is the ugly desk we left up which stores our toaster and electric tea pot.  We plan to use this counter space for all our small appliances, such as our blender and juicer.  Currently we have our knives and Jacque's belongings on it for easy access as well.

You'll notice that Titus altered the left drawer to work with the newly added wall and door.  He cut the drawer to be smaller and filled the old frame space with some wood.  The drawer basically looks like it was cut in half and put back together:

The door is currently removed from the frame since it still needs to be painted white.  We also need to add the trim to the outside of the door.  Until then, we have a super functional and logically placed pantry.


Friday, April 27, 2012

Unintentional marathon

Yesterday was a good day.  Our softball team won our first game of the season (4th win in 4 years), the NFL draft was on (Titus' love affair), and our entire upstairs trim has been painted.

I was super pumped to get rid of the orange trim all over our house.  I figured painting it would be a real synch.  Trim is tiny right?

For this bout of painting I was scheduled to complete the upstairs window trim (for the duration of this post when I say "upstairs" I will mean our top floor and the room trio) and the front and garage doors.

Digression:  The previous owners had painted the front and garage doors the same color as the walls.  This is one of the many incredibly poor choices they made.  If you are unsure whether or not you are supposed to paint the inside of your exterior door the same color as your walls, you aren't, it is rarely attractive.  Not only did they paint the doors, but they painted the inside frame of the two windows on either side of the front door, as well.  Another a poor choice.  This meant when I made the equally bad decision to paint our trio neon yellow, I had to paint the doors and windows neon yellow because of the previous owners big mistake.  See what I mean?

Moving on... In total, I would be painting seven windows of trim, the sliding glass door trim in the dining area, and the doors in the entryway along with their trim.  This would cover all the trim in the upstairs other than the interior door trim.  Since the downstairs is closed off to the rest of the house, its trim was allowed to stay a orange a little longer.  Now time to pick a paint color, keeping G.I. Joe's advice in mind.

Late last year, I did a trial cabinet painting in our bathroom using Behr Ultra Pure White.  Somehow pure white was actually too white and created a plastic look.  With this in mind, we went off to the Home Depot paint department to pick up every single sample variation of white they had, which was about 100.  Over the next three days, we slowly narrowed down the whites while they incubated under the dining room ceiling light as we had learned to do.  Finally, we apprehensively selected Behr Swiss Coffee.  I don't even know why I attached this color example, because it doesn't even look like the color we used.

I learned later that Swiss Coffee is one of the four standard whites used for trim in houses.  I could be a contractor.

We went to Home Depot to visit my favorite paint guy who mixed us a gallon of semi gloss Behr Ultra in Swiss Coffee.  Apparently I failed to mention this before, but when we paint walls, we always choose an eggshell finish since a glossy wall paint is a little too grandma for me.  However, word on the street is that trim attracts all dirt, or in our case dog hair, so semi gloss is the way to go for ease of cleaning.

While at Home Depot, we also picked up a small foam roller which everyone claims has a totally smooth finish (they are lying, but it is the smoothest finish you can get with a roller).  You also need a brush for painting the trim, but we already had our beloved angled Purdy brush.

Then, we rolled down to Ace Hardware to load up on Benjamin Moore's Fresh Start All-Purpose Primer, which is the best primer I have ever used.  When picking a primer, you mainly want to verify that it has a stain blocker.  I've tried Kilz Original which is oil based and requires that you wear a gas mask if you want to continue living.  After that death-like experience, I went to the opposite extreme and tried Kilz Clean Start which has zero VOCs.  The "green" thought was nice, but "it's the thought that counts" isn't applicable to primer.  This stuff couldn't block a stain if its life depended on it.


At this point, normal people would move on to sanding the trim.  Sanding is dusty, it takes time, and I hate it... so I didn't do it.  Instead I used Krud Kutter Gloss-Off, which smells funny.  I just poured some on a rag and rubbed it on the trim.  It claims to grab the paint or something.  At the very least it cleaned my orange trim.

Finally I got to start priming.  For each window, I primed the outside window casing first with my angle brush.  Then, I primed the perimeter of the actual window inside the frame.  Last, I used the foam roller to paint the part perpendicular to the window. It is best to brush/roll the primer on and try to not go over it again, because the primer is sticky and this is what tends to cause brush/roller marks.

To do one coat of primer on the seven windows, one sliding glass door, and the exterior doors took me about four hours.  Maybe I should have expected it to take this long, but I didn't.  It wouldn't have been so bad, but once the primer had dried, I saw the gross orange leaking through the primer.  This meant I would need to do another coat of primer before I could even consider actually painting, and who knew how many coats of paint it would need?  

The bad news kept coming... As I looked more closely at the trim, I noticed that not only was the orange leaking through, but there were a bunch of spots where the trim was not completely flat against the wall, which had created paint caves.  It is hard to explain, but there were gaps between the trim and the wall, so when it was painted, it became super obvious.  I tried to get a picture showing one of these caves:

By this time it was Friday at midnight.  My bedtime is 9pm and  nobody would mistake me for a night person.  So, I headed off to have a couple priming nightmares.  I woke up around 7am and couldn't stop thinking about the gaps in the trim, so I got up and filled them in with some caulk.  Please pronounce that word correctly.  Just because it sounds the same as a naughty word doesn't mean it's OK to mispronounce it.

Two hours later the windows were caulked, and I was ready for primer round two.  Another four hours of life passed and the orange was mostly gone.  It didn't matter, the next coat was going to be paint.  

Following the same procedure as priming, I began painting a coat of semi-gloss Swiss Coffee on all the trim and doors.  Remember not to go over the paint too many times, because that will override the paint's self leveling attributes and you will have more brush and roller marks.  I nearly died of joy when the paint had dried and I discovered that, thanks to two coats of Ben, one coat of coffee was enough.  

The grain of the wood is still visible if you look closely, but at a glance you would never notice.   Plus, the fact that it is real wood and not MDF is actually a good thing, anyway.

Nothing is complete without a before and after:

Even though the yellow is fluorescent, the gray actually looks brighter.  Isn't it ironic?  Don't you think?  This transformation made my life happier, therefore the twelve hours of life I will never get back were totally worth it.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

You can remove your sunglasses

The least attractive part of our room trio is arguably the fluorescent yellow walls, which I embarrassingly painted myself.  The current wall color is Quiet Veranda by Behr from Home Depot.

See, it doesn't look neon on your computer screen, so I swear I wasn't completely out of my mind.  From this neon tragedy I learned that it is necessary, at minimum, to look at the paint swatch in the lighting of the room it will be in, but preferably buy a sample and test it out for a few days on your wall.  I guess now I know... and as Titus and G.I. Joe would say, "Knowing is half the battle."

Now, for the other half of the battle... actually picking an appropriate color.  For two eye burning years, I thought about what color would be best in the trio.  Neutral seemed like a good choice, however, I have learned that I'm not a fan of anything in the beige/brown/yellow family, so those were out.  That is when I discovered the beauty that is gray.  After a disastrous round of painting my bathroom gray, I found that gray is one of those colors that looks different in every room.  It might look gray in Home Depot, but in your bathroom it is bright blue.  Keeping that in mind, I spent an hour in the Home Depot paint department and picked out two grays.  The first one I loved the very most was Ashes by Behr:

I had seen it in a million blogger's rooms and it was the most dreamy gray of all time.  I forced myself to buy the tiny sample instead of 18 gallons like I wanted.  Then I thought I should diversify and buy one more sample gray just to satisfy G.I. Joe..  I went for a lighter still lovely shade of gray called Silver Sateen by Behr:

I painted both samples on our dining room wall behind the spot our clock hangs in case we ever wanted to cover the samples up.  After a couple weeks of incubation under the amber shades of our dining room table chandelier, I made the unexpected decision to go with Silver Sateen.  Ashes was pretty much amazing, however, it was just too dark for our already dark house.  The Silver Sateen even bordered on darker than I was going for, but by this point my patience were completely depleted.

We sprinted to Home Depot to find out that Silver Sateen is actually only available in Behr Ultra which is their more expensive "Paint Plus Primer" variety.  I'm not a huge Behr Ultra fan, primarily due to the fact that, in my experience, it does not have superior coverage compared to their less expensive Behr Premium paint.  My favorite paint man said the color just wouldn't be the same if we went with the Premium since the base of the paint is different, so we splurged the extra three dollars and went with Behr Ultra in Silver Sateen.

Now that I had two fat gallons of luxury paint in hand, I was finally able to start painting the trio.  When painting, I first cut in along the ceiling line with an angle brush.  Cutting in is prissy painter's term for using a paint brush to paint along the edge of the ceiling.  I used to make fun of Titus for calling it "cutting in," but apparently people actually say that.  For this step I use my lovely 1.5" Purdy angled brush.  I then paint around the doors, windows, and baseboards with the same angle brush.  I don't ever use painters tape for painting because it actually peels your paint off the wall when you remove it, which is incredibly depressing.  Trust me, to paint a good line buy a good angle brush and use your coordination.

Next, I roll the rest of the wall with a Purdy roller.  I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you need to buy the more expensive rollers.  The previous owners of our house used the cheap rollers, and every time I paint I have to sand little pieces of cheap lint off my wall that their cheapskate rollers left.

During this round of painting, I chose to only paint the entryway and dining room, since the kitchen will be getting destroyed soon.  These two rooms with their tall walls took about 3 hours to complete.

Jacque would like to reveal our lovely new Silver Sateen which is now painted above our neon eye sore.  The Silver Sateen is only painted part way down that wall due to the future installation of board and batten where the yellow is still screaming.  Plus, it is a small reminder every day of how much more awesome our new Silver Sateen is.  Side note:  this is where Jacque spends 88% of his time... staring at the door into the garage waiting to play frisbee.
Here is how the Silver Sateen looks next to our weird carpet roll that runs along the railing of our living room.   As you can see, in some light it almost looks blue, but I like blue so I'm good with that.

We expect it to look even more amazing once the trim is painted white.  Until then, we are just happy our eyes are starting to heal. Since everyone loves a nice before and after here you go:  (We would show you a wider picture, but that would spoil tomorrow's surprise)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

List this

We have compiled a list of all the tasks we are setting out to accomplish.  Everything on this list, other than installing countertops, will be done by us. That is our potentially overconfident plan, at least.  If some sort of disaster were to occur we could always contact a professional.  The only task we have ever really done before is painting the walls, and the rest we plan to figure out along the way. 

1.  Paint the window and door trim and baseboards white
2.  Remove the “garage door” on the bottom of the cabinet to the left of the sink.
3.  Remove the wood piece above the window connecting the top cabinets
4.  Paint the cabinets white
5.  Build a pantry where the useless desk resides
6.  Spray paint or replace the gold cabinet door hinges with nickel hinges
7.  Replace the light above the sink
8.  Get new countertops
9.  Replace the hideous linoleum
10.  Refinish the stairs to match the new floor
11.  Refinish the railing with darker stain to match the floor and paint the spindles white
12.  Add trim around the base of the cabinets instead of quarter round
13.  Paint all the walls
14.  Make new curtains for the sliding glass door
15.  Paint the existing or buy new stools that actually fit the peninsula
16.  Install a backsplash
17.  Install board and batten on stairs
18.  Buy a stainless stove to match the other appliances
19.  Remove the hazardous windows in the dining area that open into the downstairs
20.  Buy an appropriately sized rug for the entryway
21.  Buy a waterproof rug for the entryway closest to protect the laminate against Minnesota winter
22.  Create some sort of wall decor in the dining room
23.  Get new decor for the closet plateau

Questionable to dos:  
24.  Bring in some sort of seating in the entryway for the guests to sit on for shoe doings
25.  Get new light fixtures for above the table and in the entryway

Our overall goal is to lighten this beast up, and ground it with a new darker floor.  We also want to add more cohesive and functional decor.  Here is a kitchen I used as inspiration:

 [found here]

We don't have a super tight timeline or goal for finishing this project.  We will work as much as possible, but not to the point where we want to die since we would both like this to be a somewhat enjoyable experience.   Both Titus and I are programmers all day so there aren't boatloads of time to work on projects each night after work.  Best case scenario we get it done in one month, but I am thinking it will be more like 1.5 to 2 months to completion.

As for the budget... Titus and I are debt free believers.  Therefore, this project is sponsored by our very own savings account.  Our goal is to spend less than $7,000.   We think this is totally doable since we will be doing all the work ourselves.

I'm quite certain we will need your prayers.  Ready, set, go!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

You'll burn your eyes out.

Presenting to the world:  Our entryway/kitchen/dining room.

As noted before, I am able to slash all those rooms together due to our house layout.  Our home is a modified split level, which means you walk in to a middle floor which includes our entryway, kitchen and dining area.  Half a flight up stairs is our living room which overlooks the three slashed rooms.  Half a flight down stairs is our... well, downstairs.

With no further ado...

Exhibit A:  Our entryway as seen from the living room.  On the left is our entryway closest, complete with its very own ceiling plateau.  I know what you're thinking,  where else would we put that giant picture of Jacque and his nemesis,  the pheasant?  Honey oak trim, of course... because wood should be orange?   And the paint... oh the paint.  I wish so badly I could attribute this eye piercing color to the previous owner, but that would be denial.  This yellow color read more like a cream color in our bedroom, however, with the amber shades on this light fixture the color is full out neon yellow.
The entryway as seen by the kitchen.  Here is a section of our massive honey oak railing.  The stairs up to the living room are oak.  Honey oak.  I love that they are not carpet because this is where Jacque sits and sheds waiting for us to let him outside to play.

Exhibit B:  The dining area.  Located directly behind me as I take the above picture. Not a terribly large space, but it fits our table nicely. The sliding glass doors go to our deck.  That green sphere you see is left over decor from a bridal shower I had at my house a mere nine months ago, so you can understand why it's still up.

To the left of our table is a set of obnoxiously building code breaking windows that creepily look into our downstairs family room.  The windows open into the downstairs, therefore small children are not safe in our home.  Pretty cute plant in the corner, huh?  Hasn't been watered in years.

Exhibit C:  The kitchen:  Located to the left of the entryway.  I LOVE that pink wall, especially for my bachelorette pad days.  I swear the picture simply doesn't do its brilliance justice.  Too bad it clashes with the orange builder grade cabinets.  Notice the sweet spotlight above the sink hidden behind the curvy cabinet connector wood.    Also note the far left cabinet has what Titus calls a "garage door" on the bottom.  It opens up like a mini orange toaster garage.  Oh and the countertops... powder blue with a honey oak trim.  The sink is white ceramic.  And by "white" I mean perennially stained orange/red from the rust in our water.  I'm not 100% sure what I was thinking with the top cabinet decor.  And, don't mind our one white appliance.  That oven is my hero.  It's a double convection oven which is a cake baker's dream.  I refused to replace it until we could buy its equivalent steel twin, so I guess the ugliness is somewhat self inflicted.
A view from the fridge... The living room that overlooks our room trio is surrounded by a honey oak railing which connects to the railing up the entryway stairs.
To the left of the island in the picture above is the wall opposite the fridge, sink, and oven.  It was hard to lean back enough to get a wide enough angle for this picture... On the left is a useless, space thieving desk accompanied by a pantry type set of cabinets built straight into the wall on the right
 There you have it.  All in all these rooms are not completely terrible, just not our style.  I tend to be drawn to bright and airy rooms.  Since the window on the pink wall in the kitchen is our only south facing window we don't get much direct sunlight into the house.  Therefore, one of our goals is to lighten this beast up.  Next up... our to do list.  Then the fun begins!

Monday, April 23, 2012

A house is brewing.

Why the blog name “The House Brewery”?  You may assume we like to dabble in beer brewing, or possibly have an overwhelming love for coffee.  Seems logical, however, those who know us are aware that neither Titus nor I make it a habit to consume either of those popular beverages.  What it really comes down to is that our last name is Brue.  It would have been nice to call it “The House Bruery”, but that is just plain hard to remember, not to mention my intolerable hatred for intentionally misspelled words.  So, “The House Brewery” it is.
Our DIY chronicle thus begins.  The adventures will mostly consist of small updates to our standard builder grade house circa 2002.  These adventures will consist of activities such as painting, light fixture changing, small furniture builds, and d├ęcor updates for example.  We are by no means trained professionals in anything that we do.  We like the thrill of figuring out how to do thing ourselves, mostly through some google searches and simple logic.
Our first brewing adventure will be our entryway/kitchen/dining room.  You may wonder why I felt that it was appropriate to slash all those rooms together.  Our house is a modified split level, so the floor that you walk into is an open space consisting of those three rooms.  Therefore, their design will be one cohesive element in our house.

We invite you to follow along on our home brewing journey!