our English Tudor remodel: prep work

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Embarking on an exterior remodel is a lot like painting a room in that the tedious prep work is what seems to take the most time.  Its not exactly what you’d call the glamorous side of the project!  The crew has been meticulously pulling off our gutters and the old rotting boards at our roof line and applying fresh new wood so that the metal for the soffit and fascia will have a solid surface to which it can adhere.  They’ve been braving temps in the high 90s as well as the cold front that came through (and along it the 55-60 mph winds).  Work actually ceased when the high winds came through because the area at the back of the house is like a tunnel and it was too dangerous for them to be up on the ladders working. Continue reading

a delightful hideous mess

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Our curb appeal went from bad to worse these past two days as the crew started ripping off the Tudor style boards.  Most of it was rotting and beneath the boards was even more yuck.  Its really a delightful hideous mess!  It was suddenly obvious where the 1980s contractor cut corners, so there is going to be a bit more prep work than originally anticipated.   Isn’t that always the case with remodeling?

Here is the house right before the crew began working:

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I guess it doesn’t really look so bad until you get up close and personal.  A lot of work was completed on Day 1: Continue reading

interrupted

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Most building projects don’t go as planned, do they?   Whether its a DIY project or one professionally orchestrated, there is always at least one glitch.  We hit our first one at the end of the first day.  Thankfully it was only a minor inconvenience.  The crew was clearing away old cables and wires attached to the back of the house.  Stuff that hasn’t been used for at least a decade.  They accidentally snipped one good one though, so we didn’t have internet access until yesterday afternoon.  We enjoyed a spontaneous computer and WiFi fast for twenty four hours!

our English Tudor remodel is about to begin!

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It is really amazing to me that we have lived in this 1980s English Tudor for over four years.  How did that happen? Oh yeah.  We have three Sprouts that keep us on our toes.  Fun times to be sure!

When we purchased the house, it already had holes and rips in it.  The exterior is basically some sort of textured particle board that some genius thought would be an economical solution to stucco.  So, we have a lovely patch on the front of the house that is peeling and then several holes and rips on mostly the back side.  The silver lining on this dark cloud is that we’ve had a great backdrop for some rockin’ Halloween parties the past few years!  And, over all, the house does have a lot of charm despite its current disheveled appearance.  Continue reading

renew your grout on a shoestring budget

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We’ve lived in this 1980s Tudor style house for several years now and the grout on the main level continues to be my nemesis.  The tile covers the entryway, kitchen, dining area, laundry room, and powder room.  It was disgusting when we first moved in and I buckled down to clean it with vinegar and baking soda back then.  It worked and looked so much better!  However, the grout needed resealing.  If we had an unlimited budget, I’d replace it to be sure.  But since that is not a reality, I’ve continued to clean it periodically with the baking soda and vinegar, Bar Keeper’s Friend, and a host of other cleaning methods.  I even got a steam mop in hopes of making the process easier.  It didn’t.  The main problem is that the kitchen gets disgusting fairly quickly.  We cook a lot and its a main traffic area as well.

Thankfully, I stumbled across Grout Renew recently.  For about $13 a bottle, this stuff is amazing!  Its a polyblend that renews the grout and acts as a sealant.  The process is a bit laborious but well worth the time.  I used a short bristled craft paint brush instead of their recommended toothbrush application because the craft brush gave me more control.  And, after painting each grout line, I used a piece of toilet paper and quickly wiped the excess that oozed on the tile itself.  The polyblend dries more rapidly than I’d anticipated and wiping the excess as you go is a lot easier than scraping the dried polyblend with your fingernail later on!

the powder room floor before Grout Renew
the powder room floor before Grout Renew

 

here you can compare the old dirty grout lines with the fresh Grout Renew lines
here you can compare the old dirty grout lines with the fresh Grout Renew lines

The Grout Renew comes in several colorways.  I’d recommend picking two or three that you think may work.  You can always return what you don’t use.  And, instead of buying the recommended grout cleaner, I used a more economical and eco-friendly solution that I use on furniture before painting it: two parts Dawn dish detergent, two part warm water, and one part white vinegar.  It works like a charm.

I’m super pleased with our results.  It makes the floor look cleaner, brighter, and newer.  I haven’t steam mopped it yet, though.  I’m trusting that Grout Renew will tolerate that well too.

the grout lines above the blue painter's tape have been treated, the lines below are the original grout lines
the grout lines above the blue painter’s tape have been treated, the lines below are the original grout lines

phase 1 of the music cabinet redux

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Despite being able to barely carry a tune myself, I married into a wonderfully classically musical family.  And our children, thankfully, are following in their father’s footsteps.  Hence, we are beginning to accumulate sheet music with more to come.   Accumulating excessive piles of music on top of the piano, however,  just isn’t going to cut it around here.  So, back in January, I was trolling our local Goodwill and finally found an inexpensive piece to hack for a music cabinet.  I’ve been on the hunt for months!  For a mere $25 I scored this vintage entertainment center that looks like it was for one of those “box” TVs.  Do you remember those?  The ones with a dial?  The piece was in fairly decent shape with the exception of a bit of trim that needed to be glued and nailed.  I love the bowed front and the metal grill at the base.   The construction is solid and all that is needed is to have a backing added and the interior modified with shelving.  With our busy family schedule, I’m going to have to wait on the modifications but after having such a success with Vintage Market and Design furniture paint on our pantry doors, I couldn’t wait to paint again!  I’m hoping the entire piece will be done by summers end, but phase 1 of this project is officially complete.

I selected Peacock, a beautiful deep turquoise, to bring out the hint of turquoise in an art print we have hanging in the room.  Because I wanted more of a distressed look and didn’t have the extra money to buy the VMD waxes, etc., I just applied one coat of paint in a crosshatching pattern.  However, because the cabinet top will get more wear with music cases and who knows what else, I applied a second coat there.  After the paint dried and cured 24 hours later, I applied the protective clear coat and switched out the door pulls with some discount knobs from our local hobby store (they were two for one and only cost me $5).

We are already using the piece to an extent.  Piles of music as well as the boys’ music bags live inside the half finished cabinet.  And, as I’d suspected, the viola has found a nice resting spot on top while the cello comfortably leans against the side.  Once the cabinet is completely done, I’ll have to pull out my designer’s wand and find some cool mirrors or artwork to hang above it.

 

 

swooning over VMD furniture chalk paint

Thanks to a dear California friend, I am now officially enamored with Vintage Market and Design’s furniture chalk paint.  The gesso, chalk and water based paint is tinted with natural earth pigments and thus has low VOCs, no toxins, and no odor.  Whats not to love?  And, the fact that I have little or no prep work for refurbishing wood, metal, glass, rigid plastics, and even fabric certainly makes it swoon-worthy in my book.  And, to top it all off, VMD is much cheaper than its competitors and has 75 colors to choose from.

After seeing some amazing photos of my friend’s refurbished thrift store furniture, I decided back in the Fall that a low risk project was due.  Our kitchen still has its original 1980s pantry doors which, to say the least, were looking quite sad.  Beyond sad, really.  I figured that if using the VMD paint on them was a flop that it wouldn’t be a tremendous loss.  We could eventually get new doors.  The prep work, if you even want to call it that, was a cinch.  All I had to do was to mix 2 parts Dawn Dishwashing Liquid, 1 part vinegar and 2 parts warm water and then wipe down the doors.  In order to add a pop of color to our mostly neutral kitchen and to coordinate with my inexpensive handmade art work above the pantry, I chose VMD’s Barn Door (which also nostalgically reminded me of all of the barn door red paint I’d used back in Montana to paint our, um, barn doors!)  After two coats of paint followed by the Clear Coat sealer, the doors were done and certainly improved.   Viola!  Now I’m slowly working on hacking an old cabinet I found at Goodwill so that the Sprouts will have storage for all of their sheet music.  Stay tuned for updates!

 

"before": showing your pantry can be as embarrassing as revealing a messy closet!
“before”: showing your pantry can be as embarrassing as revealing a messy closet!
base coat
base coat
as with any home project, painting the doors snowballed into a complete pantry makeover...I finally labelled my whole food bulk items, and bought cheap racks and baskets at a local discount store to further organize the space.
as with any home project, painting the doors snowballed into a complete pantry makeover…I finally labelled my whole food bulk items, and bought cheap racks and baskets at a local discount store to further organize the space.
I love how the paint coordinated with my fabric art from our quilting store back in Montana (don't you just love those funky chickens?)
I love how the paint coordinated with my fabric art from our quilting store back in Montana (don’t you just love those funky chickens?)
in case you're wondering about the hanging object to the left of the pantry, those are my "prosperity hens" made by a women's cooperative in India....
in case you’re wondering about the hanging object to the left of the pantry, those are my “prosperity hens” made by a women’s cooperative in India….
the jury is out...VMD is absolutely swoon worthy!
the jury is out…VMD is absolutely swoon worthy!