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Friday, September 12, 2014

Friends - Floor tiles and more

My good friends, Chris and Lu, have been hard at work getting their back entrance/laundry room floor prepared for new flooring.  In my last post, they started the process by getting their existing flooring tested for asbestos.  A loyal reader asked in her comment how one would know that they should test for asbestos and where in the home can it be found.  GREAT questions!

Let me step back and tell you what 'asbestos' is.   You can read the Wikipedia  article which is quite extensive; however, the basic info to know is that it is a naturally occurring mineral that is hazardous to human health and is known to cause a type of cancer known as mesothelioma.  Yup, not good.  

One of the groups of asbestos fibers is called 'Serpentine'.  One of the minerals in that group is called 'Chrysotile'.  According to Wikipedia this mineral is found in the following products and materials:
  • Chlor Alkali diaphragm membranes used to make chlorine (currently in the USA) [2]
  • Drywall and joint compound
  • Plaster
  • Gas mask filters pre 1960s
  • Mud and texture coats
  • Vinyl floor tiles, sheeting, adhesives
  • Roofing tars, felts, siding, and shingles[47]
  • "Transite" panels, siding, countertops, and pipes
  • Popcorn ceilings, also known as acoustic ceilings
  • Fireproofing
  • Caulk
  • Industrial and marine gaskets
  • Brake pads and shoes
  • Stage curtains
  • Fire blankets
  • Interior fire doors
  • Fireproof clothing for firefighters
  • Thermal pipe insulation
  • Filters for removing fine particulates from chemicals, liquids and wine
  • Dental cast linings
  • HVAC flexible duct connectors
  • Drilling fluid additives
You'll be happy to know (being sarcastic here) that bans on the use of asbestos have been revoked over time and you can't count on it only being in homes built before 1980 as some literature indicates.  Some companies have phased out the use over time, but it is still being used today.  Asbestos becomes a hazard when it is airborne.  So the answer for when to test might be any time you plan to remodel.  Sorry, but that is your safest bet. 

I felt that all the above info was important enough to tell you and thanks to a loyal reader for asking, but I know you really want to move on to pictures and progress!  So here we go:

Color Palette

Lu picked her colors from Sherwin-Williams (Daydream SW6541 - top/Briny SW6775 - side), then picked her floor tile from Menards.  She chose to use self stick vinyl tiles for the ease of installation, but more importantly, she needed to cover a cement slab floor that was far from even and she needed a surface that will be easy to clean and withstand traffic in and out of the house.  Another big factor was that the cat boxes will be in this room presenting challenges all cat lovers endure.

It can be helpful to use your flooring choices to drive your color palette since flooring can be expensive and paint is quite the opposite.  Lu and I discussed color first because one of her main goals was to brighten up the room and paint color was going to be key.  Note the Daydream color does not appear to be as violet as it may on your screen.  A north facing window tends to dull colors, so this looks a bit lighter in Lu's room.  Briny will be used as an accent, on some cabinetry, and window trim.  Daydream is on the walls.

Tile Patterns

I found a website that shows many, many options for tile patterns and provides a way to estimate how much tile to purchase:  Lu purchased her tile at Menards for $0.63 per tile.  She bought 3 boxes for a total of around $85 which is plenty to cover her 98 square foot space.  There are 45 pieces to each box.

What pattern do you choose with so many choices?  Of course, it will depend on the pattern already on each individual tile, whether it is solid or busy, geometric or organic, but it also can change how big or small your room appears.  Lu chose to install her tile on a diagonal which will make the room look wider upon entering it.  This website has some great tips and pictures to show you the impact a pattern can make:

Testing out a diagonal installation


Although Lu's self stick tiles do not require grout, she is entertaining the idea of grouting some gaps she noticed when all was done.  I'm recommending that she finds a non-sanded premixed grout that is flexible.  I've seen some acryllic products that are online, but I think more research is needed.  I would also recommend that she do a test on an extra uninstalled tile to ensure it doesn't discolor or otherwise damage the tile.  This website appears to have some good instructions on how to install and grout 'grout-able' vinyl flooring:  Lu started her tile in one corner of the room and used paper to make templates for the partial tiles she needed on the edges and corners.  Since I wasn't there to take step by step pictures and the website mentioned above has some good detail, I won't elaborate on the process here.

I think this is coming along nicely, don't you?  This hasn't been easy.  Lu has been working through this renovation with 2 injuries to date - Burn blisters on her fingers from a fire pit mishap and 2 very large swollen bruises on her right shin from playing with her granddaughter - yet she is determined to get this done.  Yay, Lu!

On this cold, rainy, and dreary day in Wisconsin, I invite everyone (especially Lu) to sit back, relax, and enjoy...

christmas animated GIF
See you in two weeks!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Friends - Hard work continues

This challenge is much different from my last one.  I was doing all the work on my last challenge.  Since my friends live about 40 minutes away and I still have my non-designer day job, this challenge is one that I can only advise and offer help on sporadic weekends. 

My previous post left my friends with the remaining insulation installation.  They finished the same night I left with 1/2 of a panel left to spare.  Great job on their part for estimating this extra but necessary step to finishing off this laundry/entry room.

I joined them again at a later date to start drywall installation.  We started with the ceiling which has the most angles and was the most difficult due to the weight of the material.  With such a small room and 2 out of the three of us over 6 feet tall, we did not consider building a drywall support. 

This might have eliminated some sweat!

After about 6 hours of work, we had only about 6 panels up on the ceiling.  We were quite aware that the walls and ceiling were not square.  We also had enough drywall to make a mistake or two on our first attempts.  Early on we all appreciated the fact that this is a job that should be done by professionals.  When two people take measurements twice and both of those people take part in cutting the material, you would think you will have a near perfect shape to install.  NOPE! 

Let me remind you of how the ceiling looked before...

If only we thought to save the paneling that was removed to use as a template!

Several swear words and hours later...

This is the corner where the washer and dryer will live.
Chris and Lu finished the remainder of the drywall installation and a coat of joint compound over their week of vacation that followed.  There were quite a few large gaps to fill, so additional joint compound was needed.  One lesson my friends reported learning: don't use plastic corner beading where paper corner tape could be used.  It worked fine on outer corners, not inner.  This proved very difficult to cover with the joint compound.  Had I been there, I might have suggested something like this for inner corners:

Nevertheless, they got the job done including putting up a plywood backing for a future shelving install.  We won't have to search for a stud to secure the shelf with this plywood in place.

Wood panel in preparation for shelving to come

First layer of 'mud'


While Chris and I hung the drywall on the ceiling (and hours after) Lu worked on removing the old tiles off the floor.  She started this only after the tile material tested negative for asbestos.   I didn't get a chance to find out which kit they used, but this one is from Home Depot:

Additionally, they needed to repair the cement slab that cracked in the corner.

In two weeks I hope to get back to helping Lu and Chris, either painting or building storage.  I know they want to get their laundry room back in working order as soon as possible.   In the meantime, see my home office challenge update below.

An update on my home office

Would you believe I found an area carpet and I'm still on budget?  When I completed my home office (see final post for The Challenge), I had only $28 left.  I went shopping at Menards for a light for my friends' laundry room and found a very shaggy 5 x 7 area rug with all the appropriate colors for my office.  It was under $25.  I snatched it up with no guilt.  It adds a bit of luxury underfoot.

Have a happy and safe Labor Day weekend, and as usual, let me know what you think.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

A friend in need - indeed!

Intro to a New Challenge

Now that I've completed my 3 room, 9 month, $3000.00 challenge successfully, I'm ready to move on to another.  My best friend for many, many years has provided a doozy!  She and her husband (Lu and Chris) have a beautiful old small farmhouse/Victorian style home.  The back entrance serves as their laundry room and also houses a small freezer, 2 cat boxes, recyclables, and various day to day household items.

This space is dark and small.  It is an added on porch with a slanted roof, 5 windows and doors leading to the exterior, the kitchen, and the basement.  The walls and ceiling have dark brown paneling.  The windows have trim painted dark forest green.  The trim work around the doors has never been completed.  The floor is a cement slab that has seen better days - we think!  There is a history of bees and squirrels roaming around in the ceiling, hence the expanding insulation oozing through the seams of the panels.

My friends deserve much better.  They are hard working, caring individuals.  They lead very busy lives working and caring for their family and friends.  I've done many and various projects with Lu.  We feed off each others' creativity and have a blast working together.  For this project, they will be doing much of the labor without me.  The budget is around $750.00.  Take a look at the space as it is today, then we'll discuss goals.

West facing windows

Window to kitchen and door to the right goes to the basement

Ceiling angles will be a challenge

Exterior door straight ahead and kitchen door to the right

Hanging clothes area needed for drying

Water, electrical outlets, and dryer exhaust present their own challenges


A couple of main goals are clear - light up the area and provide storage.  Additionally, I have proposed ideas for improved functionality, such as, a place to sit to take off wet shoes and boots, coat hangers, an electronic station to charge phones, and shelving to house recyclables and other household items.  I provided a Pinterest board to serve as a tool for communicating what I understood my friends wanted, what suggestions I had, and as a vehicle for them to let me know what was right or wrong or needed tweaking.

Getting started

We started with a space plan to ensure we incorporated as much functionality as possible without overcrowding the room.   Or should I say we created a space plan to eliminate the overcrowding already in the room.  The room is just under 100 square feet and "L" shaped.

Chris did not think he needed anything in the room.  It was to be all about what Lu wanted.  (Happy wife, happy life - we love that!)  As we analyzed how the room is actually used, we found that marital bliss can be enhanced when there are places to store those every day items and even those transitional items that need a temporary home while in use.  Here are some of the pieces we plan to build for the room and their functions:

  1. Two low cabinets with doors that will house the litter boxes and also serve as benches.   The doors will have holes large enough for the cats to enter to do their business.  (IKEA will help here.  See picture below.)
  2. One cabinet to house 2 kitchen trash can size bins for rags and dirty work clothing.
  3. A set of shelves over the bin cabinet.  The top of the cabinet may serve as an electronic charging station.
  4. A set of shelves behind the washer and dryer. 
  5. A set of shelves at the entrance to hold recyclables and more.

'Ikea Hackers'

The Real work begins

Lu and Chris started the demo by removing the paneling.   They found the insulation was not in the best of shape.  This is the best time to bring in new insulation.  I joined them for this effort.  It took a while to get our groove.  Lu and Chris - both 6 feet tall or more worked on the ceiling while I put in some of the wall insulation and beefed up the wood in the area between the 2 x 4's along the floor in anticipation of anchoring drywall and base board.

Next up will be installing drywall.  The only drywall experience I have is the patching I did with the challenge that started this blog.  I don't think any of us have done an entire room.

Have you remodeled a laundry room?  I'd love to hear about your challenge.  Please comment.  If you have trouble commenting on this blog, let me know via Facebook.

and friends!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Challenge Completed (but not the end!)

This challenge started 9 months ago and I'm calling it successful.  I now have 3 rooms I am proud to share - my foyer, the main bath, and my home office.  I planned, then changed plans.  I shopped for deals almost non-stop, an effort I will do over and over as I love a good bargain!  Weekends and evenings were sacrificed.  My home gardening chores were vastly reduced to date - sorry neighbors.  Thankfully, my husband and daughter have supported my efforts throughout the challenge and beyond.

For the final review of the first two rooms, see these posts:

Here are the 'BEFORE' pictures:

Finally, it's time to reveal the last room, my home office.  Come on in.  Pardon the lighting as it was casting shadows all over and I'm not a photographer.

Those teal magazine holders were a bit of a disappointment in a couple of ways.
  1. My shelf space is actually about one half inch too short to store magazines in these holders.
  2. I bought a spray paint kit to use my own paint as spray paint without using my large paint sprayer.  Bad choice.  My paint started out too thick, then thinning it made it runny.  I tried numerous rations, but eventually the sprayer never pulled any paint through and I ended up using a sponge brush to paint the magazine holders which started out black.

Woodstock, our cat, has definitely taken ownership of the clean surfaces and loves to nap on the window bench cushion.  I'll have to catch a picture of her on the window seat for a future post.

My daughter's beautiful art.

Would I change anything?  Yes.  There is a decorative element above the cork board that I will replace.  I will need to stain the chip on the desk.  If I find art that is a better match for the room, I'll switch out Harmony's bridge which I love.  I may reupholster the guest chairs or slip cover the black chair.  I will be adding buttons to 'quilt' the display boards to the left and right of the cork board.  Other than that, I'm happy with the space.

I wouldn't call this challenge completed without reviewing the goals for the Home Office: 
  1. Goal #1 - Make this mess disappear!  DONE!
  2. Goal #2 - Make this office look professional. DONE! At least I think so.
  3. Goal #3 - Make this office inviting so that it is used as an office rather than a dumping ground. DONE! It even has the approval of Woodstock, our cat who has lounged on nearly every surface.
The challenge included scope, time, and budget.  I went down to the wire on time, but all three rooms were completed in 9 months.   As for budget...someone said in the beginning that you always go over budget on decorating projects.  In the end, I was budget conscious but I spent what was needed.  I just went through all my expenses, entering the last of them in my budget spreadsheet without watching the total line.  I was thinking I'd be over, but no more than 50 to 100 dollars. 

The end result:

I am so pleasantly surprised that I actually have some money left!  Kids - you can't do this at home...that is, you can't if you don't have scrap wood and collect miscellaneous screws, brackets, material, and accessories. 

This challenge is complete.  Opinions and comments are welcome.  It's the only way one can improve.  I plan to continue blogging with more projects - my own and those of willing friends, so I hope you'll stick with me and tell others to tune in.  In two weeks I'll introduce you to my best friend of too many years to reveal!  She wants my help in redecorating her laundry room which also serves as her back door entrance which is heavily used by family and friends.  It's going to be another challenge, but after this experience I'm up for it!

Thanks to all those who have encouraged me along the course of this now completed challenge.  I've appreciated the comments, personal discussions, and suggestions for color and other decor.  I am so excited to work in my home office...REALLY!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Home Office - Valances and Curtains and Lights - Oh My!

You've likely heard Judy Garland chant "Lions and Tigers and Bears - Oh My" when she walked the yellow brick road in The Wizard of Oz.  These last two weeks I've been walking down the path to the end of this challenge.  Specifically, I worked on Valances and Curtains and Lighting.  One of my primary goals was to hide our bookshelf clutter behind flowing white curtains.  Mission accomplished.  Here's what I did:


I used anchors and screws and wood (oh my - sorry couldn't resist!) to install a frame for my valances on the ceiling.  I attached some wood vertically from the ceiling to the book shelves below set back just a few inches from the valance frame.  I'll need this to add the curtain rod brackets for the floor length curtains described below. 

I used a pretty organic printed fabric for the front of the valances which basically drove the color palette of this room.  I lined it with a plain teal color fabric.  I covered cording with the same teal fabric to add a neat edge at the top.  I didn't have enough material to add cording all around.  I need to save some for the window bench cushion I plan to sew.

I installed the valance with velcro.  I used the sticky back 'hook' side on the wood frame and the sew on 'loop' side on the fabric.  The valance is about 18 inches long and about 93 inches wide in the front with a 17 inch return to the wall on the right side.  I have a shorter return on the left side since no one will see that end. 

Velcro pinned to liner at the top under the cording.


I planned to have full length curtains on both the window and in front of the book shelves.  After making the curtains for the bookshelves with 120 inch wide white fabric, I ended up with only enough to make cafe style curtains.  I'm liking them.

Curtains over shelves

100 inches long - I needed to measure and cut on my living room/foyer floor.

Both sets of curtains needed to be easy-breezy to open and close.  I hand sewed 42 wooden rings purchased at a St. Vinny's store in Madison to the bookshelf curtains.  I used clip on rings for the window cafe curtains.

One thing I am fortunate to have for my sewing machine made hemming curtains very easy.  It is a special blind hem stitch foot.  I followed instructions on how to fold the fabric and just sewed along the fold.  The end result was a machine sewn hem, with just an occasional stitch along the front side barely showing.


I bought this light some time ago and in a prior post showed you that I spray painted it to make it a touch less 1980's!  It is installed!  There are 6 candle type light bulbs and one bulb pointing down.  With everything on, I can heat the whole house!  I've unscrewed every other candle bulb and thankfully, with a turn of a switch I can only light up those.  That's where I leave it, so the wall switch just turns those on.  Another turn and both the candle lights and the bulb pointing down are on.  One more turn, and only the bulb pointing down is on.  A final turn and all lights are off.  It turns out that the bulb pointing down is a very good option to be on when reading fine print or sewing detail stitches.

Light off

Light on

One more blog post for this challenge.

In my next post, I'll hopefully be able to pull this room all together with accessories, wall decor,  and budget, along with before and after pics.  I was able to work mostly weekends on the first 2 rooms of the challenge, but this room being done during summer hours has pushed me to work weekdays.  It's all good because I already can't wait to use the office on a day to day basis as it was intended.