Almost ready for human habitation

There was quite a big break in here as I took a vacation in Mexico with my friends. Prior to leaving, though, I finished up a few crucial items. The kitchen floor needed help and ripping up the current flooring isn’t an option. So, we’re off on a painting spree again.

Kitchen floor with old vinyl. Now that I’ve stripped wallpaper, painted the walls and replaced the sink, I’m finished with all the projects that would do damage to the floor. (I hope.)
I hired this cat to model the new floor. I couldn’t afford one of those snazzy girls they put in car commercials. The cat came cheap.


Of course the kitchen furniture and appliances needed to relocate to the living room for a couple of days. The best part of living in remodeling is what a pleasure it is to put everything back in place.

I also painted the bathroom floor and the foyer. In fact, I backed out the door, paint roller in hand to leave on my trip.

Foyer floor gets a new face. Not sure if I’ll leave the walls red. I like the color, but it’s kind of beat up and I don’t have the means to touch it up.
I finished up the paint on the cabinet that had been languishing in the garage and put the microwave on it to free up space on the counter.
The dining corner. Am I Blue.

The dining corner was really dark, as there’s no overhead light. So I found these $2 wall-mount laps to mount above the table. Since there’s a (rare) outlet in that corner I could just plug them in. I also found a cool print of a sailboat scene that stays with the blue/nautical theme throughout the house. Susie’s Periodic Table of Vegetables, of course remains there — a clever poster of veggies A to Z. A couple of pure cotton tablecloths make good covers (Two: one on the table, one in the wash) for the oak table.

Although the bedroom floor isn’t finished, you can get an idea how the painted wood floor will look fresher.

I took a piece of pegboard — used to hang tools next to the workbench in the basement — gave it a coat of paint (yipes. is there anything in my world that isn’t painted??) and hung it next to the stove. Still used for tools, but a different kind. The light is mounted on a box made from one of the drawers from the kitchen counter. The light needed to have an integrated switch because there is no wiring for a wall switch. I found two of them. This one’s mate is above the bathroom vanity — although that one now has a wall switch (GFI to meet code).


And the luck continues

The angst I felt at disconnecting the kitchen sink was duplicated today when I plunged headlong into the bathroom sink. This time I was going to

The bathroom sans sink.

be prepared so I went to the hardware store before tearing into the plumbing. Since I bought the kitchen sink product — that magic supply line/shut-off valve that worked so ingeniously — I returned to the same store to buy the gadget for the bathroom. Alas, they only had ones that were very very long and since the bathroom is very very small, long wasn’t going to cut it. So I tried a different hardware store where I’m happy to say, Al from Ace Spooner has competition in Mike from DoItBest. Always good to have a Hardware Guy in every town.

Some things are just scary.

Mike knew exactly what I wanted to do, but sent me home for pictures before he sold me the assembly. I had considered taking pictures before my hardware foray, but the teensy space under the bath vanity wasn’t conducive. So, I went home to get the pics Mike requested, and while here I ripped out the cardboard vanity to get a better look at the guts of the thing. Yipe. It was far from pretty. I did get some good pics though of the scary looking pipes protruding from the wall (won’t bore you with those) and Mike was delighted when I returned with them. He sold me all the proper parts and I came home and installed them. (I did ask Mike if he was willing to spend his lunch hour solving my plumbing problems, but he declined.)

Then I repeated the trot-to-the-basement-turn-on-the-water-DASH-up-the-stairs routine and once again there was nary a drop of moisture in the bathroom. Irish Luck, I tell ya. So now I just need to install the new sink, but first I need to prime, paint, patch and remove the 1.5 foot of wallpaper border (loons). Meanwhile, brushing teeth in the kitchen isn’t so bad.

Yes, the bathroom was green. And while green is among my favorite colors, it wasn’t working in this 5’x5′ space. So prime and paint.
So, here’s the updated bathroom with a new clean blind, open shelving, fixture and paint job.
The vinyl floor got itself a coat of paint, too.

There was badder news on the bedroom floor project. I started to wash the floor in preparation for a coat of Zinsser and the substance that’s on there acts really weird. It’s kind of fuzzy and some of it warps up onto little pills like you get on cheap sweaters. So THAT’S not going to work. But somewhere in the inner recesses of my befuddled mind a tiny voice reminded me that Zinsser had a different product that could go over almost any icky surface. ( Let’s paint the moon! but first we’ll prime it.) So, I ordered a gallon of Zinsser Gardz from Amazon and we’ll see if that doesn’t mop up that project. I’m so clever!

Apparently you could prime the Mojave desert with this stuff and paint will stick.


Of mystery lumber and a large dose of Irish luck

I knew I would need a bottom shelf for the workbench and I could tell that there had once been such an animal. But it wasn’t anywhere on the premises. My intention was to build a shelf that would not only stabilize the structure, but add storage. I found these mysterious beautiful boards in the garage that looked like they belonged to a really, really long table. Like seven feet long. (I’m trying to imagine a seven-foot table in this house.) Of course, I didn’t care what they looked like, since I would paint the shelf white.

Until I saw this. I guess I need a closeup, but the bottom shelf here is a piece of dark wood (mahogany?) that fits perfectly between the legs of the table and sits on the cross pieces. While it’s a bit worn, (character) it’s beautifully rounded on the front edge. And straight as a string (wait. it will warp now that it’s living indoors!) So, I just stuck it there and put some pots and bowls on it.

I was kind of ready to see some of the decor that’s been living in my mind these past couple of weeks. I can’t install the upper shelving until the paint dries ? so I decorated the lucky-found shelf.

This episode: Doing dishes or Cup in the sink

The the bottom of the top. This is the underside of the kitchen counter. Note the 1×3 bravely trying to straighten the terrible bend in those beautiful boards. You know how you see carpenters put in one screw and think to yourself “What the hell is he doing? That will never work.” but then the screw sucks those two boards right together with nary a crack of daylight between ’em. Well, I’m not a carpenter. Those screws didn’t even consider sucking up that warped board. This also gives a view of the little toggles that held the table together. They fit into grooves in the “apron” of the table. They are attached with really old flat head screws which tells me the thing was built awhile ago.

Sometimes you just have to admit defeat. Personally, I prefer to lay claim to a new style. So the new fashion in kitchen counters is The Cup. Apparently that’s the term for when a board warps sending the edges skyward while the middle stays earthbound. I called it a dish in the board until I read a few woodworking forums. Regardless of terms there’s a bend in the counter. It’s a big bend and there’s no hiding it. So, methinks, I’ll just put the clips on the sink and pull that baby straight. Nope. For now the sink will remain cupped.

Paper towel and electrical tape to protect my scraped knuckle. Note to self: put band aids in the toolbox.
Adventures in Plumbing.
Plumbing is like puzzles. You take all the parts from the package and make sure they fit together. And don’t leak.
In my humble opinion, getting water IN is a hundred times easier than getting it OUT. Course it goes without saying that fresh, clean incoming water is much more pleasant than the stuff you’ve already used for. . . whatever.

See the towel? It’s gone now. Meaning that there’s no leak.

Watch this!

Bravely running water in the sink. Hip. Hip. Hooray for running water. Double hooray for the fact that it leaves the house without getting the floor wet.

If you are the person. . .

. . . who invented berber carpet, you are hereby on my What-Were-You-Thinking list. The good news is that the bedroom is the only one that’s carpeted. The bad news is that it’s berber. The badder news is that there’s a substance stuck to the hardwood. Glue? Paint? Oatmeal? Baby Pablum?* Egg white? Whatever it is, it has no intention of breaking off its attachment to the hardwood.

The honeycomb pattern was left by the foam rubber carpet pad.

Unlike regular carpet that has short little tufts, berber is constructed of loops created from one incredibly long piece of whatever carpets are made of. Unfortunately, when you cut it, the loops come up in what looks like strands of ramen noodles. Yards and yards of tough curly strands totally resistant to cutting. And, I suspect that the loops harbor all the debris they could collect over the past 20 years.

But I digress. The most fun of the day was this:

Ready for prime time. Don’t worry. I moved the fridge. It’s in the living room. Very handy.

Who can resist a clean shiny white floor?

*When I was growing up, we fed babies a Gerber thing called pablum. The baby of the moment seemed to like it ok. If not, you would mix in a bit of applesauce and he/she would gobble it right up. It was made by pouring from the cardboard box via the little tilt-out metal spout a bit of flaky substance (think instant potatoes), adding warm water until it was the consistency of, well, maybe porridge. You would then feed it to the baby. However. Woe the baby feeder who did not wash the pablum dish immediately because if it dried on the dish, it would require a hammer drill for removal. Best toss the dish. But even WOE-ER the baby feeder who did not have a wet cloth at the ready to remove said pablum from the cheeks of the baby. Pablum dries to the consistency of concrete. I am sure that on the rare occasions I see my youngest brother, I can still detect bits of pablum among the stubble on his cheeks.

PS. I’ve heard that the Great Wall of China has lasted all these years because there may have been egg used in the mortar. This is just speculation, but could it be. . . baby pablum?

I love hardware stores. And the people who work there.

Wednesday had me in Spooner for a meeting so I took my two jigsaws (Eugene had one here + mine) into Ace Hardware, where my favorite Hardware Guy – Al – helped me pick out a couple of new jigsaw blades. Al has probably retired from something very useful which makes him even more useful as a Hardware Guy. Last summer he helped me plumb my shower. As a matter of fact, he saved me from buying 10 feet (yes, feet) of 1/2-inch pvc to completely replace every stick of plumbing in that bathroom. He showed me this little pvc connector that allowed me to do the job with around 10 INCHES of pipe. It’s been True Love ever since.

So, Al said the blades I already had in the jigsaws were plenty sharp, but I think the trick was using a reverse cut blade. I have no idea why. Physics isn’t my strong suit. It also helped that I planted my hand on top of the saw to keep it from rattling my brains out. It cut pretty well after I eliminated that bouncing.

Although cutting that top was one of the most difficult tasks I’ve done, apparently I didn’t take any pictures of my foibles. Good thing there’s a large lip around the sink to cover up the crooked cutting. I did a lot of measuring and thinking because I was afraid the sink would be too deep from front to back, but it fits perfectly.

There’s one of those little clips in the foreground. Just watch me try to reinstall them. HAHAHAHA

A zillion cuts later, it finally fits. I trimmed off slivers of maple until the saw went on strike.

And now for the booboo of the week. See that minute crack in the top on the other side of the sink? That minor split came completely apart just as I finished the cut. Waaahhh. Yes. Yes, I swore.

My version of fixing this mishap was to take a couple of pine 1×3’s and reinforce the top from the bottom. Does that make sense? Sure it does. Screw a couple of boards to the bottom spanning the crack and presto! your split will go away. Nope. That didn’t even THINK about working. I couldn’t hold the two top pieces together tightly enough to make the crack go away. If only I had four arms. (That has occurred to me many times recently.) I also spent a good deal of time looking for screws that would penetrate both pieces, but not go through. Difficult to wipe off a countertop with screws sticking out. So, I bought some long clamps and glued the thing together and left it overnight. Overnight is a good thing. Not only does glue dry in that time, but when you’re ready to toss the entire thing out the window — or better yet jump up and down on top of the project in question and yell (this leaves boot prints on the future kitchen counter, by the way) — overnight works miracles.

It worked. The piece stayed together and seems to be ok except for a notable dish in the middle. I think those old boards have wanted to warp for years, but were restrained by the toggles. We’ll see how that warp acts when I clamp down the sink.

So, today I painted the wall for the last time, painted the floor, painted the cat. Oh. No, I didn’t paint the cat. I painted the future shelves that will go on the wall.

Found this in the basement. Long enough for two shelves. Almost too beautiful to paint, but alas, it needs to match the rest of the kitchen.
Former cabinet drawers will be shelves above the stove.

And, I painted what will be the island.

This is the Ikea table I bought the other day. It has adjustable legs so can be a coffee table, a bar or, I hope, an additional kitchen counter since this kitchen has a dearth of counter space.

And finally, I used a different color! I know. You’re sick of white, right? Well look at this!

The bookcase is blue. But just on the outside.

And here we are at the weekend already!

What a week

Man, the week went fast. Fast and fun. Here’s the last of the cabinets. Since there’s no shut-off at the sink, I need to turn off the water throughout the house, which means no shower. Or even washing my hands after handling the sink drain gunk. :/ So, I finally got the nerve to shut everything down. Unhooked the water supplies, undid the drain, unscrewed the teensy sink clips that hold the sink to the countertop. This means squeezing myself into the space under that cabinet — made more challenging by the fact that there’s a vertical post in the middle of the opening — and lying on my back, in the twilight that reigns under most sinks, find and unscrew the pesky little things. There were about a dozen. One fell on my forehead and left a mark.

Presto. Sink comes out. Formica counter comes out. She-man breaks it in half (with my foot) and drags it out to the garage. Countertops are weak where the sink is cut out. Besides, they’re made out of cardboard and glue. Don’t give my foot more credit than it deserves.


Note the wall around the stove. That had formica glued to it. The formica came off with no problem. The glue? That’s not going anywhere. Nothing that Magic Zinsser can’t cover, I’m sure.
After I removed the upper cabinets (well. . . helped them fall off the wall), the lower ones went on strike. Here you can see one of the cabinets marching out the door. See ya!

Here’s the way the floor looks under the cabinets.

Yipes. Cabinets hide a world of ick.

If only there wasn’t asbestos under those layers of vinyl, I would rescue that hardwood floor.

Pipes are terrifying.

Yike.Well, now that the water is off and I’m all gunky, I’m committed to the kitchen sink project. I bought this incredible invention at the hardware store.

I literally stuck these things on the tops of the hot and cold copper water supplies coming from the basement. Then trotted downstairs and turned on the water. CHARGED back upstairs to save the kitchen from flooding. But to my surprise there was nary a drop. I mean not even damp.

At 77″ long, the workbench allows the stove to be on an angle so it’s not quite as awkward to use the oven.

AND, with the water turned on I was now able to shower and wash my hands. Both of which I needed badly.

I went to the lumber yard and bought a 4×8 sheet of underlayment (quarter-inch plywood) and since it wouldn’t fit in my car at that size, a nice young man cut it into 17″ pieces. I laid this down over the hardwood butted up against the vinyl. Is it level with the vinyl? No, that would be a miracle. But this part of the floor will be under the new cabinets. Trust me. This will work.

Quarter-inch plywood fits over the hardwood between the wall and the vinyl. All three layers of vinyl, the bottom one probably being asbestos.
I love covering up scary-looking things.

Now I can finally get to priming and painting the little section of floor where the sink and stove will be. But first I needed to prime and paint the wall behind them.

Primer covers all kinds of mysterious stuff. I’m not really sure what that brown gook is.

Wall is primed and painted, baseboard installed and floor painted.

Baseboard is just 1×6 pine. Whoops! I forgot to factor in that wall to the left. So, I’ll need to grab another board for that.

Next I need to cut a hole in the workbench top for the sink. This is a mighty task as the workbench is made out of some hard wood. Hardwood. I suspect maple. And my little jigsaw doesn’t really like hardwood.

Monday, Monday. Can’t trust that day

Huge oops when I realized I’d put the workbench back together wrong 🙁 Came apart again easily enough and I pushed (and pounded) it back together the right way. That was after working for 45 minutes at putting it together the wrong way — which is why it wouldn’t go together easily. Sheesh.

So I primed the whole thing with the Magic BIN primer that covers everything on earth including grease stains. Not sure how that works, but I love it. Besides, it’s made for impatient people since it can be recoated in 45 minutes.

Primer to cover up all the stains
Those towels? They’re protecting the wood from the c-clamps that are holding that broken leg together while the glue dries. Unfortunately I neglected to prime that part 🙁
Went together better when it was upside down. Note the mallet. Yes. Yes, I beat on the furniture. The kitchen looks kind of messy. Huh.


Ready for the second coat tomorrow.
The ugly truth about kitchen sinks. They’re all kind of icky.

No shutoff valves at the sink, so I’ll need to shut off the main to install them.

Spruced right up with a coat of paint.

Time warp times two

So every now and then you have a day that things just get done. It seems it contains more hours than the typical day. Between those days are typically 364 days during which things don’t seem to progress at all. Well, yesterday and today were BOTH time-warp-more-hours days. Yesterday, the workbench got itself upstairs and started getting cleaned up. Then, since it wasn’t snowing and/or 20 below zero, I decided to make a Spooner trip, as the Restore there is big and usually full of good stuff. I think my Buy of the Day was this sink:

$35 and still in the box. SO glad I measured the bathroom before I left.

I won’t say what I was THINKING about doing for the bathroom sink. But this was too good to pass up. I also got a great Ikea table with adjustable legs — it goes from coffee table to bar height — that I’d like to use for a kitchen island. And lights. A few ceiling fixtures that will fit nicely — one for the kitchen and one to replace the broken light/fan in the bedroom.

Still looking for a vanity light for the bathroom. The current one has a switch and they’re hard to find. I may need to install a switch in one of the lights I have.

Since I was down that way, I stopped at Libby’s to pick up some stuff. I had a nice navy shower curtain languishing there that will look nice here. Also wanted my circular and jig saws. I finally grabbed the speakers for my desktop. Difficult to watch YouTube videos without sound, so how would I learn to put a switch in a light or install a shut-off valve in the kitchen?

AND. . . I got my car stuck. It snowed quite a bit this past week and since my driveway isn’t plowed, I use Marie’s next door. Well, there’s a SOLD sign on her house and an unplowed driveway, but I have 4-wheel drive. I parked on the level part just in front of the big garage, but alas, I got stuck turning around. Tried to get out, then went for help to Merle and Linda Knott’s. Merle and his brother-in-law, Bob managed to pull me out with their little vehicle and a rope. It was nice to see the Knotts who were quite surprised to see me mid-winter.

I wish I had a picture of Libby’s thigh-deep in snow. Very pretty. (Like I don’t already have a thousand pictures of Libby’s thigh-deep in snow.)

Even after all that, I still got back to Hayward before 4 pm.

Then today turned out that way, too. I woke up at 5 am and couldn’t wait to keep going with that workbench. So, I coffee’d up and started slathering on the stripper. My intention was to just get off the damaged finish and places where it was painted for some reason. I ended up taking it down to bare wood in most places. The wood is nice — either oak or maple, but it’s pretty beat up and despite the endless farmhouse/distressed/reclaimed furniture on Pinterest, to me it looks like old beat up shit. So I spent a great deal of time compulsively removing the old finish, then washing it all down with tsp (substitute).

Meanwhile, I made an early-morning run to Walmart for curtain stuff — I bought the only white twin flat sheet and the only pack of 8 grommets. So, we’ll see what I can do for curtains (about which I’ve been obsessing).

THEN, to L&M where I found everything I needed to make my day complete. Steel wool, f’rinstance, which I needed to clean up the workbench.

This is the one leg that came apart. The “4×4” is hollow — so one 1×4 came undone. I’ll have to glue it.
It’s a really well-made piece.

And here it is leaning against the wall all cleaned up and ready for paint.

It was still early afternoon, so I took the green shelving unit off the bathroom wall.

It’s green.
And fits just about anywhere
Friends with the fridge
and leaves a nice open space in the teensy weensy bathroom
Is that. . .? OH NO!!. It’s wallpaper.
Then I found this sweet thing in the garage. Buried in cobwebs.

A coat of paint and it’ll be great. Besides, there’s no bottom shelf and it fits perfectly over the heat vent and still allows the heat into the room.

And I still had enough time left to take a shower, process all these photos, pet the cat and write all this exhilarating stuff. Definitely a time warp.

But wait, there’s more

Here’s the rest of the basement. Talk about a man cave. This is just a cave. With rocks and everything.

Yep. It’s a basement.

Coke and Judy — who were somehow roped into attempting to clean this cave — are having nightmares looking at these photos. It’s worse in real life.

The rock gives it character.

See that workbench? That’s a future kitchen counter.

It’s a bit untidy, but nothing the shop vac can’t take care of.