Signs of Spring

The birds are chirping in the morning and little green buds fill the trees in our yard. These welcome signs of spring are happily bringing with them warmer temperatures and brighter sunshine! Finally!

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So, I was inspired to create my own signs of spring using this old pallet that had carried our new bathtub when it was delivered.

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Figuring out how to take it apart was a chore. Finally I gave up and asked Tony to tell me how to use the jigsaw so I could just cut out the pieces I needed. He gave explicit instructions. “Plug it in. Push here for power. Cut.”

“Ok,” I said, “seems easy enough,” and I went out to cut 14 pieces. After some sanding they were ready for paint.

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I used my Silhouette Cameo (coolest toy ever!) to cut out some stencils and bought some bright colored paint.

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After painting I went over the whole thing with a quick coat of stain to bring out the rich wood color.

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Some holes drilled in the top and colored wired created the perfect hanging mechanism. I ended up with 11 signs in all, and it was tough to decide which one I should keep and which should go over to Simply Reinspired for selling. Unfortunately, I forgot to take photos of them all before I took them to the shop! I guess you’ll have to head over there if you want to see them at 108 W. Cedar St. in Olathe!

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A Speakeasy Style Birthday Party

2014 was a big year on the birthday front for me: The Big Three-Oh! When I arrived home from work that day, Tony whisked me off to a favorite local restaurant, Simply Reinspired, for a little shopping and a surprise Island-Themed Ice Cream Cake. Yum!!

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The big celebration took place a week later when we hosted a Roaring Twenties style Murder Mystery Party. And what better location than our old house?!

Cleaning up the construction zone was a big job, but I intentionally scheduled the party toward the end of Spring Break so I’d be able to take on the overwhelming task! Decor for the party was pretty minimal, but I did strategically place the boxes of tile and cover them with sheets so they’d look more like tables! I also painted the big box that our shower came in to hide our tool shelf for the mug shot photo area. Here are a few photos of the set-up (Thank you Aaron for taking these photos while I was getting dressed!)

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In researching for the party, it was fun to learn that speakeasies often served their beverages in coffee and tea cups so that when raids occurred, the beverage containers were less conspicuous!

Everyone got really into the costume aspect of the party, and it was so fun to see the different outfits and props people came up with! You know, I’ve never been a fan of fringe, but now that I’ve gone flapper for a night, I get it. Ladies, let’s bring back the fringe!

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Uh-oh! A murder occurred! We had to trade information to figure out who among us was the killer. Thank goodness we had help from the P.I.!

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There aren’t many raids at Rosie’s. With the Mayor and the Chief of Police in attendance at the party, you’re generally safe, but it was fun to take Mug Shots anyway!

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There was lots of great food, some intrigue, lots of laughter, and I think a good time was had by all!

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Thanks to everyone who was able to come help me celebrate the dawn of my next decade!

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Porch Swing from Old Doors

It all started on the first Saturday of Spring Break. The temperature hit the low 70s with a light breeze, which felt almost balmy after our frigid winter. Tony was in the backyard reading on his hammock while I was on the front porch sanding down the leaves of our dining room table, preparing for our upcoming party, and thinking to myself that I wanted a place to lounge and read. (I’m not welcome on the hammock, at least not when Tony’s on it. Besides, it’s too hot with two. : ) So, I asked Tony to help me make a porch swing out of old doors.

Our house is very open now, but we know it wasn’t always that way. As with most houses built in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, ours was originally built with doors between each of the rooms. Most of those original doors are stored out in our shed, having been taken down many, many years ago. I’m relatively confident that most of them wouldn’t fit nowadays anyway, due to all the settling that’s occurred. So I have no desire to try and put those doors back up, as I love the openness of our main level, but we also have no desire to get rid of them. In fact, we want to repurpose as many of them as possible! Thus, it seemed like a great idea to create our porch swing from two old doors!

The result was even better than what I’d hoped for!

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How did we get to that point? I did some research online and found lots of great photos of swings and porch beds constructed from old doors. However, I was surprised to find, there were very few tutorials out there. We found one here, but it didn’t have any pictures, so it was hard to visualize some of the instructions. Besides, the doors we had available had different dimensions than the ones listed, so we had to make some adjustments anyway. I’ll do my best to explain it here.

Materials List:
2 doors
circular saw
chalk line
6 eye hooks
2 S hooks
6 carabiner clips
a bunch of 3 or 4 inch nails
2 L Brackets and several 1.5 inch screws to attach them
6 nine inch chair legs (optional)
palm sander or sanding block
paint and sealant (I had polyacrylic on hand, but polyurethane might be better)
2 eye hooks (to hang the swing from the porch ceiling)
2 long lengths of chain (to connect to the porch ceiling hooks)
6 lengths of chain (to hold and stabilize the swing)

Steps:
1. Choose your doors. You need them to be solid core doors. If they’re not finished, you may want to stain or paint them before use; just know you’ll need to touch things up after you cut and sand. Tony had sanded this one down for our new bathroom door, but it was too big. I knew I wanted this to be the swing’s back because I loved that patina!

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We had a couple other doors that had been taken from our old Master bath, and which we won’t need anymore, so we used one of those. It doesn’t look like the other door, but I knew I’d cover it with a cushion anyway.

2. Determine the size swing you want and cut the doors accordingly with the circular saw. You can use the chalk line to help ensure you cut a straight line. During this step, think ahead to how you want your swing finished. I knew I wanted a deep swing seat so I could take a nap on my swing, but I didn’t think about the cushion dimensions! I ended up finding these deep seat cushions at Target, but I had to do a lot of looking!

20140323-130545.jpg You’ll probably want to cut off on the hinge side of the door, since there will be a hole to hold the latch mechanism on the other side. You’ll use the smaller piece of this long thin cut for the arm rests.

Cut the swing back at a straight 90* angle, but cut the swing seat door at a slight angle (10* or so) so you have a more comfortable swing. When they fit together, it should look like this:

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3. Attach your 2 doors together with the 3 or 4 inch screws. The eHow page suggests every 6 inches or so, but our door was a little different. Because of the inset panels, we had to use shorter screws, so we spaced ours just a couple inches apart.

20140323-131359.jpg This would also be a good time to attach your L brackets, which will further stabilize your swing. You’ll need to bend the brackets slightly, if you angled your seat back, before attaching them with 1.25-1.5 inch screws.

If you’re going to seal your chair, this would be a good time. Don’t forget about the arms and supports too. It’s harder to paint them when they’re attached.

4. Cut your armrests and support pieces. Make sure you cut the armrests at that same angle as the seat so they match up with seat back. Then line everything up your support pieces. We decided to use premade chair legs to give the swing a little flair, but you could use other scrap pieces of the door instead. Sand and paint, if needed, the armrest and attach the supports/chair legs to them.

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Attach the whole piece (armrest and support(s)) to the chair seat with long screws from underneath and to the chair back with long screws from behind.

5. Attach your Eye hooks and hang your chain. Two hooks should go in each side of the seat, one at the front and one at the back.

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Put an additional hook at the top of the seat back. Then connect the shorter chains to the eye hooks using the carabiners. Gather all the chains together and connect them to the S hook. Now you’re ready to hang your swing from the porch ceiling.

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Enjoy your awesome and unique swing!!

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Beautifying a Half Bath – Wallpaper, Paint, and Paneling

All our prep work over the previous weeks (see here if you missed that) allowed us to nearly complete this 1/2 bathroom remodel in just one long weekend (Thank you Snow Day!) Most of the prep work was Tony’s realm: plumbing, installing flooring, removing toilets, etc. Now my work would begin, and the first step was the ceiling.

When Tony replaced the old metal pipe there was a lot of jiggling from the saw, which created some major cracks in the ceiling. Upon further inspection, I saw there was also some weird texture to the ceiling and I was telling Mom how much I was NOT looking forward to painting it and how I’d love to put that tin stuff up there, but it’s too expensive…. Then genius struck, and she suggested we use the paintable textured wallpaper that I’ve come to LOVE!

Bright and early that weekend we started with the paper. The sink and toilet had previously been removed for the new floor installation, so Tony set up the scaffolding for us. This project would have been really difficult without scaffolding. It wasn’t a necessarily easy project to begin with, but the scaffolding made it miles easier! The first task was just measuring and cutting the paper, leaving 3-4 inches extra on each side. Since our room was really long and thin, we decided to use shorter strips and go side to side. This was an excellent idea when it came to hanging!

Then we took a little break to attend yoga class. Mom and I have found that starting a major project like this with a yoga session is highly beneficial!

After yoga, though, it was back to work! We laid all the strips of paper out on the counter to apply the paste. The paper itself was prepasted, and it had worked really well for my previous projects (Kitchen Cabinets and Pantry), but the woman at Home Depot suggested using a can of paste instead. This made sense, as we’d be pushing this up over our heads and didn’t want wet glue to fall down on us.

20140321-001035.jpg We “booked” the paper and let the glue set for 10 minutes, as directed on the package, and tried to figure out how to go about this.

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Applying wallpaper, in and of itself, is not a particularly challenging task. You line up the first piece straight and just base everything else off that. But that was our problem. Nothing in that room was straight… Let’s be fair: Nothing in our whole house is straight! So what would we compare it to? If we’d been thinking, we would have used Tony’s chalk line to really prepare for hanging that first piece. We didn’t do that though. We just winged it. As a result, our first piece came back down and went in the trash, but the second piece was nearly perfect! Tony inadvertently helped us when he refused to take down the light that was hanging by a chord from the ceiling. I said, “but what do I do when I get to that point? I can’t cut a hole in the middle of the paper!” since I’d been planning to start at one end and work toward the other.

He replied, “Start in the middle instead! Then cut your hole on the sides.” This was another genius statement, which, of course, annoyed me immensely at the time, but ended up being extremely fortuitous.

Lessons learned about papering a ceiling: 1.) Use scaffolding. 2.) Start in the middle of the room. 3.) Enlist the help of a friend!

With that first piece up, it was pretty smooth sailing for most of the ceiling, as the paper is made to line-up really well. I do have to say though, that papering a ceiling is definitely a two person job. I could not have done this alone. We’d both stand on the scaffolding holding the paper while I lined it up with the previous piece. Then Mom and I both would smooth the paper from the middle. This had to be done quickly or the paper would fall right down on our heads. Then we each pressed firmly into the creases at the edge where the wall meets the ceiling and would go back to the edges of that sheet, pushing extra glue in with a sponge brush. I imagine it would have looked rather comical to someone watching us try to maneuver around each-other on the narrow scaffolding. Luckily for us there wasn’t anyone there, so there aren’t any pictures – darn!

Once we got to the laundry end of the room though, we had to make a shift. In order to reach the far edge of that wall, I had to actually sit on top of the dryer . This made me rather uncomfortable, as it didn’t seem particularly stable, but it worked out fine!

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The wallpapering process was tiring, particularly for our necks and arms as we spent so much time looking and pushing up, but it was so worth it! The paper looked so good as it was, I decided just to leave it white. I knew our efforts had been successful when my dad stopped by and said it was “awesome!”

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I did trim the paper around the perimeter of the room with an Exacto Knife, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to get the edges really straight, so I also went around the entire edge with a bead of caulk and my handy caulk tool after all the painting was done. That extra little step gave the paper a finished look and ensured I wouldn’t have to install crown molding!

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Here you can see just how crooked these walls are! Look at the left corner compared to the right.

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Replacing the ceiling light was a little more challenging though. Thankfully for me, anything electrical is back in Tony’s realm, but he wasn’t too happy about putting a chandelier in a bathroom to begin with. He doesn’t really see the point. I look at the chandelier, purchased at a local antique mall, and think, “How can you not want a chandelier in every room?” Anyway, he wasn’t nearly as excited about it as Mom and I were. And he was even less excited when he realized the previous light was literally hanging from the wires that powered it. It looked like someone had shoved a screwdriver into the sheetrock and just ran some wires through. That meant Tony had to create an actual hole and install a real electrical box. Just as with the floor-dissintegrating-around-the-toilet that started this whole bathroom re-do, it was a good thing that we realized the problem before it actually became a big problem. Wires just shoved through sheetrock – talk about a fire hazard!

There was still another issue though. In most houses the sheetrock is thin enough that the electrical box in the ceiling and the wires in the chandelier just hook up and you screw the chandelier in. It’s pretty straight forward. But in this old house, we have sheetrock on top of plaster on top of lath – almost an inch and a half of material between the box and the place the chandelier sits.

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A trip to the store for three extenders fixed the problem, thank goodness, and now look at my amazing ceiling!

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Painting was a snap, then it was time to install the board and batten with my new favorite tool – the nail gun! We were keeping the existing baseboards, which I’m pretty sure are just a 1×6 board, so I used 1x3s for the battens. Each one had to be measured and cut individually, since our floor is so uneven!

20140321-004823.jpg Then I placed a board horizontally at the top and a smaller one horizontally about 8 inches below the top piece. The shelf that caps it all off is just another 1×3 set perpendicular to the top piece.

The next step was to caulk like crazy!

20140321-005124.jpg Even the smoothest plaster walls can be extremely uneven, and these weren’t smooth at all. This was my Frankenstein wall, held together with plaster screws and a lot of joint compound. The caulk worked wonders though, and after a final coat of paint, it all looked like one piece. A friend of Mom’s came over and thought the wainscoting was all original to the house!

Tony put the pedestal sink back in, but with a new faucet, and I added a little shelf to the corner to hold the lotion bottle.

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The shelf is made from scrap pieces in the same way as the upper shelf around the perimeter of the room: one board fits flush on each wall and another board sticks out on top of it, attached with nails from the nail gun.

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That curtain hides away our washer, dryer, and a foldable hanging rack. And since it goes all the way to the ceiling, I can store big packages of TP and paper towels up there, freeing up space on our little storage closet!

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On the other side you can see those great shelves Tony put in for me! The boards are just simple unfinished shelving, cut to size, of course, but they stained beautifully! The boxes at the top hold extra detergent, fabric softner, etc… All the laundry related stuff that you don’t use very often, while the detergent and dryer sheets I’m currently using are on a little shelf hidden behind the big long curtain – exactly where I need them!

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We still need to finish off that last 5% or so… essentially just the shoe that attaches to the baseboards to hide the laminate edges, and that curtain below the shelves is temporary. My dad is making a custom cabinet door to hide away the plunger and toilet brush. But even without all that done yet, this former “eyesore on the face of our house” (Tony’s words) is now a beautiful extension of our kitchen. Just look at what a warm view people see from the back door! Every time I walk in and see this view instead of the old green with holes in the wall, it just makes me feel good.

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Let’s look at the before and after shots again:

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I think Nancy said it best last week when she said it doesn’t even look like the same room. Thank goodness!

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Make It and Love It
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Beautifying a Half Bath – Paper Removal, Plaster Repair, New Floor

I mentioned not too long ago that our half bath/laundry room went unexpectedly out of commission when a simple toilet switch-a-roo resulted in a disintegrated floor. Remember that?

Well, progress has been made, my friends, and boy is she beautiful! Of course, we’re stuck in 95% done land now (as we are and have been for weeks with the upstairs bathroom as well), but I just can’t wait to show off our work.

This is our bathroom before. It was pretty hideous. Tony called it the scar on the face of our house! When we moved in these big white holes weren’t there. That was from the insulation instal. We didn’t bother fixing them for a while as we knew this room would be getting a makeover… We just didn’t realize it would be literally floor to ceiling!

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This photo was looking from the doorway to the right. The room is long (almost 10 feet) but skinny (under 5 across) with the door almost directly in the middle. They’d already taken the toilet out, which is the only way I was able to open the door all the way! In the right hand corner you can just barely see the sewer pipe. Tony replaced the original cast-iron pipe (Remember that original for us is the nineteen-teens!) with new PVC, so the new pipe is white. That pipe was fully exposed and the toilet used to be directly in front of it but at an angle.

This was the other direction, where the sink and washer/dryer were located.

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We’d painted the window trim, frosted the window, and added the old hanging window during out kitchen update to let in more light, but it was still a dingy, dark, and clearly very dirty little room! No one can blame me for not wanting to do laundry, right?

We lived with the room like this for nearly a month, but in that time we did a lot of prep work. Mom and I took down wallpaper.

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I learned how to repair plaster.

20140315-082720.jpg Luckily only the outside wall is plaster, but it had one major crack and several small ones. Not to mention all the holes which had been partially filled before the old wallpaper had been put up. My online research revealed that plaster pulls away from the lath, which is what causes sagging and cracking, so I ordered these washer screws online to fix the problem. Tony used the drill to locate the lath behind the plaster, then I used a long drywall screw with the washer-thing on it to attach the plaster back to the lath. It was amazing. Once the screw hit the wood you could see the plaster just suck back in!

Then we mudded the whole thing…. like 5 times.

Tony and Dad installed a new laminate floor. This was tricky though – not the actual install, but the idea of putting down a new floor. Our only access to the cellar is in this room. There’s a big trap door that takes up most of the middle of the floor (you can see the handle in the photo below), so we had to choose a flooring option that could be glued down, as it needed to be affixed to the door. Also, the door is really heavy. There’s no way I could open it. Tony even has trouble! So, we couldn’t put anything heavy down – tile was out. The previous owners had a carpet down and it just rolled up when you wanted to get into the cellar. I personally didn’t mind the carpet, but Tony’s trying to talk me into a dog, and a hard, not-100+-year-old-wood floor would be a good place for the dog to be while we’re away in case of accidents. So, we found a laminate at Lowe’s.

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The new floor looked so nice – all one solid piece! It was almost painful to have to pull out the razor blade and cut right through it around the door frame!

Then, finally, Tony and Dad built a false wall at the right side (toilet side) so they could hide away the sewer pipe. They were going to built it straight across, but the pipe’s only located in the right corner, with a little curve near the top and the bottom so it can fit around our stone foundation, so I convinced them to include a space for some open shelving and a cabinet with a door to hide away toilet brushes and plungers.

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With all this work done, I could get started with the fun part – the painting, paneling, decorating, etc. The details of that process will have to wait for another post, but I’ll leave you with a sneak-peak.

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A Little Up-Cycle and A Link Party!

I’ve been searching around for one of those mason jar lotion dispensers. When I couldn’t find one at a price I deemed reasonable, my infinite cheapness kicked in and I started looking into making my own. Cutting that hole in the top seemed worrisome though. After checking a few more stores and striking out, I came home and noticed the old syrup bottle that I’d just cleaned out. Turns out the pump from my favorite Suave lotion bottle, Lavender Vanilla, was a perfect fit!

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And the purple pump fits the blueberry syrup label perfectly. Now I just need to spray it with a clear sealant to protect the label. I’ll do that once the temperature raises about 50 degrees!

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This it probably the easiest project ever, but I always like something that reuses materials that would otherwise go in the trash!

And here’s the link party part:

As the focus of this blog has shifted, I’ve been thinking about trying to grow it into something more than just a hobby… Or at least into something that would get me some free samples! That means I need to grow my readership, so when another blogger I follow decided to have her first link party, I thought that I’d better join her! I submitted my recent post about the “Keep Calm and Carry On” sign I just made for the kitchen. Part of the deal, then, is to link back to her website as well, so head on over to check it out on the “Make It and Love It” blog!

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When the husband’s away, the wife will…

build things, of course! Last weekend Tony and his brother drove up to South Dakota to say goodbye to a dear friend. Thankfully, we’ve now learned that Grandma Hocket is not in fact dying, and her grim prognosis from the doctor was perhaps just an infection. Who knows! We’re all extremely glad for the news, but nonetheless, Tony was away all last weekend.

Before he left Tony taught me to use another power tool! I’d proven to be rather adept with the miter saw, so it was time to learn to wield the nail gun. Those are the two tools I’d need to use to put up the baseboard and board and batten in the new bathroom. Tony and Dad had just about finished all their work up there (installing everything and mudding/sanding) so this is what I started with when Tony left:

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It took nearly an hour just to wipe all that dust off the walls! Then it was time to prime the mudded parts of the wall and repaint everything with another two coats. The vanity got an update from a biscuit white to gray. Finally, then, I could put up the board and batten that I’d so been looking forward to doing! As usual, I did a lot of research on Pinterest before embarking on this project and took a lot of advice from this blog. Initially I thought I’d use 1x2s for the battens and 1x4s for the base and cap boards, but after seeing her post, and talking to Tony, we decided to use tall baseboard and chair rail instead. Going that way was more expensive, but not anything obscene, and it would tie in better with all the beautiful curves and details that are a part of each room in the house. That also meant we needed to use lattice cut wood, as she did in the blog above, so that it would be thin enough to match up nicely with the baseboard.

The first step was to level the baseboard and “shoot” it in. That required both my hands, and an occasional foot or knee, so I wasn’t able to get any photos. Mom helped me nail up the battens by holding the wood with both hands while I maneuvered it according to the ruler and level, then nailed it in. Again, all hands, and sometimes a knee, foot, or forehead, were required for these tasks, but here’s what we ended up with! 20140209-180235.jpg
That afternoon Dad came over to help me tile the backsplash for the sink.

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I’d never tiled before, so I knew nothing about using a wet saw to cut tile. To be honest, I didn’t really want to learn! There are some things that I feel it will be advantageous NOT to be able to do! : ) Dad did a great of putting everything up though, and my job was to use a toothpick to dig out the excess mortar that squeezed up between the tiles.

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Now all I had to do was attach the top rail pieces, which were all painted and ready to go, caulk all the nail holes and add a final coat of white paint. Then our new bathroom would finally be done! There was one thing holding everything up though – a door. A good bathroom definitely has a door, wouldn’t you say? And that’s where we hit the road block. You see, we had the door ready to go. It was an old one that had been stored out in our shed. We don’t know where it came from in the house, but I was excited to use something original in our new room.

After Tony got home he spent hours the next day sanding the old door.

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Isn’t he cute?! As you can see, this baby was in rough shape!

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By the time I got home from work Tony was nearly finished sanding, and the door was feeling smooth and looking fabulous! I wasn’t sure if I even wanted to paint it anymore. People are paying a lot of money at antique stores for doors that look just like this one did.

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Tony took the door upstairs so we could see how it would look. But it didn’t fit. It didn’t fit by like 4 inches. Apparently there was a little measurement issue? Thus, the roadblock. I couldn’t finish the board and batten because we couldn’t trim out the door, because it didn’t fit! So our almost beautiful bathroom has been in this same state all week. I don’t know if you can tell, but the mirror is still in its box.

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Look on the bright side, Lindy. At least it’s all useable now! No more stumbling over piping to get to the shower, then going next door to wash your hands!

And I’ve since found the solution to the door problem too. The front bedroom has this little half closet whose use we cannot determine. It’s only about 6 inches deep, so clearly hanging a wardrobe in it will not work. Anyway, that door is the perfect size! So now I’m optimistic that the boys will be able to fit out that doorway and install the door so I can finish my trim next weekend. Hopefully I’ll have some real after photos to share very soon!

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