8 Trips to the Hardware Stores (and other tales from Memorial Day weekend)

Why is it that, no matter how simple you think a project is, you always end up going to the hardware store 2, 3, even 6 more times than you ever thought you’d need? Well, this weekend was no different for us. Psyched for a productive long weekend, we thought we’d try to tackle a big chunk of the next kitchen steps. The project: paint the kitchen walls and ceiling… maybe start laying the flooring vapor barrier and even start the flooring. The anticipated list of supplies:

  • ceiling paint
  • wall paint
  • paint sprayer
  • masks and goggles

The plan:

  • Pick the wall paint color
  • Prep the room
  • Purchase a paint sprayer
  • Paint the ceiling
  • Paint the walls
  • Start on other steps

You know what they say about best laid plans… It all started on Saturday afternoon after a long day of relaxing (let’s just say that part wasn’t exactly in the plan, but after some friends came in from out of town, we enjoyed our Friday evening a bit more than anticipated and needed some recovery time). So Saturday afternoon, we looked at the paint swatches that I’d pulled weeks (likely months) ago, and we narrowed it down to four by comparing them to the countertop sample and the tile that we’re planning to order. The four final choices were:

  • Behr Mystical Sea (430E-2)
  • Behr Herbal Mist (440E-2)
  • Behr April Mist (450E-2)
  • Martha Stewart Living Spring Melt (MSL114)

As you can see, we had a bit of a theme going. So we went to the store that evening (Count=1) and got the little sample sizes for all four colors so we could see what the colors actually looked like on the wall. Can you guess which is which? Here’s another picture of the samples in different light: The next morning, when the paint patches were dry, we took another look. After debating for a few minutes, we unanimously decided to go with option number 2, which was… Spring Melt by Martha Stewart Living.We picked this color because it seemed to blend nicely with the countertop samples and tile, without going too yellow or blue and not too bright to overwhelm the space. Since the first Home Depot we went to for paint samples didn’t sell paint sprayers (the store is a smaller urban store), we went to another location here in the city to buy the actual paint and the sprayer (Count=2). Unfortunately, not only did they not have the paint sprayer that we wanted, (I should have done more research on where to buy it), but the location we went to also didn’t have enough of the Glidden Duo paint that we were hoping to color match to the Spring Melt. Not to be discouraged, we simply drove up the road and went to the other Home Depot for the paint (Count=3, a trifecta of Home Depot visits in less than 24 hours). Since they still didn’t have the paint sprayer we wanted, I ordered it from the Lowe’s store while I was standing in the Home Depot – I have to say, I loved technology at that moment. Since we were headed out to the burbs that afternoon for a family graduation party, and could pick the sprayer up on our way, we decided to go back to the kitchen and begin all the prep work, so that we could come back that evening and paint after the party. We taped all the outlets and switches, covered the doors and windows in plastic and suddenly remembered that we needed to move one of the alarm pieces over to the left about 6 inches to allow room for our cabinets. Wah-wah… Figuring we could tackle that project Monday morning, and then paint the walls later that night, we headed out to pick up the paint sprayer (Count=4) and enjoy the graduation party. The next morning, we realized that our contractors had managed to walk off with our drywall knife, so another trip the hardware store (Count=5) made sure we had the right tools to cut a hole in the wall, move the alarm, and cut a new piece of leftover drywall to fit. Then it was time to mud the patch into place – fortunately we had some leftover joint compound mixture that our contractor had left; unfortunately, we mixed it before watching the video online and made it a bit too watery by the directions on the back of the bag. Wah-wah… so off I went to the Crafty Beaver (Count-6) for some joint compound, and a larger putty knife while I was at it. After all of that, we got the patch mudded and were ready to paint the ceiling… and wouldn’t you guess it, the sprayer we bought didn’t work. So off I went back to Lowe’s (Count=7) to return the first sprayer and pick up a new one (the Graco Truecoat Plus). Once I returned, the new sprayer was up and running within minutes and we got started spraying away on the ceiling. About halfway through the room, we realized that one can of ceiling paint just wasn’t going to do it (paint sprayers definitely use a lot of paint!), so I got back in the car and headed to the Home Depot again (Count=8) to pick up another can or two of ceiling paint and another can of wall paint. After a few more passes with the sprayer, the ceiling was painted and the room already looked just a little bit better.

Tonight, I sanded down the patch around the drywall and reapplied the joint compound as a skim layer, and it should be ready to be sanded again tomorrow.

Hopefully we can tape off the ceiling and get the walls painted Wed or Thursday evening, so we can prepare to lay the floor this weekend. Not exactly according to schedule, but really, at this point, who can say we’re on any true schedule?


Muddying the Walls

It’s still not much to look at, but the contractor step of the kitchen is nearly finished! Here’s a peek at the progress as of this afternoon (stealing a peek through the plastic):


And a few more tonight, after the workers left for the day:




The laundry nook:


A little bit worse, a little bit better (Kitchen Dishin’)

This weekend we took the next step in our kitchen remodel, after a break last weekend to attend a friend’s wedding in Virginia. We got the last remaining scraps of the old flooring up from under the walls, and laid the subfloor.

We needed to find 1/4″ plywood subfloor pieces, since we wanted to find the right depth between the joists and the top of the cork flooring to come up even with the rest of our hardwood flooring throughout the apartment. It’s fairly thin, and we couldn’t get it with tongue and groove because it was so thin, but it should work out well.

We did have a bit of an adventure getting the plywood, since we couldn’t fit it inside or tie it on top of our car – we had to rent a UHaul and drive it back and forth – it took forever. But we got it and got it all done working into the early hours of the morning.

And while it doesn’t look like much, it is actually a bit better:

But before we got to that point, we had to make it a little bit worse:

This week, the contractor is working on tearing up the rest of the old pantry and laundry room entrance, and building the new ones! SO EXCITED!

Oh, and because I haven’t shared the photo with everyone, I wanted to share the photo that inspired the pantry we’re developing, courtesy of Pinterest: (source: http://www.closet-shelf.com).

I love the french doors, and I’m hoping that I’ll be able to do some cabinets on the far end, even though I won’t have enough room to do it on the long wall. Can’t wait to show you all the finished product… once it’s final, of course.


Making it Worse, Before it Gets Better: Kitchen Edition

Quick note to begin: I know I have a year and a half’s worth of backlogged projects to blog about, but I am going to get started with current stuff now, and then work my way back to recapping previous projects.

And now on to Making it Worse, Before it Gets Better: Kitchen Edition!

We have officially torn up our kitchen!

After months of no progress due to insane work schedules and lack of motivation, I finally couldn’t handle living in our condo with half of our stuff in the kitchen, our appliances in the dining room and nothing where it was supposed to be anywhere in our condo. (I know, took me long enough, right!?) So I decided to do something about it. I took out ALL of the supplies from the kitchen and set up a schedule for the kitchen remodel.

The week of April 9, we took photos of the cabinets, the oven/range and the microwave and posted it all on Craigslist, to see if we could sell some of it. Then, that weekend, we set about unscrewing (and in some cases ungluing) the cabinets from the walls, disconnecting the microwave and the oven/range, and arranging times for people to pick up the items from our kitchen.

As luck would have it, we were able to sell ALL of it!

And so last week, our kitchen sat completely empty, until we were able to start the next phase of demo – tearing up the hardwood floors!

Our good friend, Carl, came over and helped us painstakingly tear up each and every board in our kitchen, most of which had two flat, serrated nails driven in to attach them to strips of board underneath a tar paper. We had to move the washer and dryer into the dining room (Sad!), and found a few holes along the way, but by the end of the day on Saturday (4/21), we had torn up all of the flooring.

That morning, I had looked into ways to dispose of the wood once we had torn it all up, investigating options like the Rebuilding Exchange (who would only take it if we de-nailed it, which was NOT going to happen), Habitat for Humanity Re-Store (who would take it if it could be re-used (most couldn’t be), and didn’t have drop off times on Sunday), and a dump site in Melrose Park (which would have cost us $50). We also listed it on Craigslist and Freecycle.com for free, to see if anyone might be able to use it.

By the time we had torn it all up, we hadn’t received any bites from Craigslist or Freecycle.com, so we loaded all of the wood into our neighbor’s truck (thank you, Joel!) and prepared to take the scrap wood to the dump the next day, despite the $50 charge, just to get it out of our way!

But, as luck would have it, we had a few offers come in over night from people on Craigslist who were interested in trying to salvage the wood. I called up one that looked particularly promising, and we were off Sunday morning to drop off the wood at his house, where he was hoping to use pieces of it to patch a portion of his own kitchen floor. We unloaded it into his garage, and while Dan played golf with Carl, I worked on cleaning up the last of the scraps and garbage that we found under the flooring (broken light bulbs, lighters, pieces of tape measure, scraps of wood, etc.). And by the end of the day on Sunday, our kitchen looked more like this:

Next steps:
– Speak with the contractor about a few questions we have about laying the subfloor, the pantry and the laundry room
– Get the subfloor laid and prep for the contractor to do the pantry and electric work.
– Get samples of the countertop and make decisions about tile and paint!

It’s still going to be a while before our kitchen is completed, but I’m really excited to be seeing progress and I can’t wait to see the final results of all of our hard work!

Looking On The Bright(er) Side

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged about the lights in our condo – mostly because we’ve not made much progress. But over the past two weekends, we’ve slowly moved forward in this department. First, we purchased a flexible track lighting system for the kitchen, so it went from small black fan that hits the cabinet door to beautiful aimed spotlight and bright light in every direction:



But we didn’t mind the small black fan – it was much more updated and modern than the rest of the lighting had been in our condo when we moved in, so we decided to repurpose it and move it into the guest bedroom. So that light went from plain blah white builder ceiling fan and light to slightly cuter black and white ceiling fan and light:

20120716-164130.jpg After
It may change yet again, someday, but I think that it’s a little more fitting there in the guest bedroom, with the black and white and blue motif than it was in the kitchen, and since that room is fairly small, it doesn’t miss the larger fan!

As I look at the lighting more closely, I’ve restarted my search for a ceiling fan/light for the living room. More on that to come.

Fireplace Edition

So I think I’ve decided on my next big project. I’m going to finally tackle the hideous fireplace. I’d love to do it soon, because I’d like it to be done before we start using it again. And if today’s weather is any indication, we’re going to be busting out some wood logs pretty soon! (Brrr!!!)

So, even though it looked pretty nice last Christmas:

I’ve decided that this Christmas the fireplace should actually match the walls… and the rest of the room! So I’ve been debating tiles and think that I have finally settled on the “idea” of the tile that I want.

I’m looking for a glass and travertine/stone mosaic tile in a mix of tan colors, with a bit of a dark brown or burnt red accent. And I want it to be in the long rectangular pattern, rather than half-inch squares. I like the sparkle of the glass, but I like the texture of the stone, so I think the combination will look great. Plus, thanks to my mom’s pretty awesome idea, I plan to put a matching travertine stone on the hearth and the threshold so they match but aren’t exactly the same as the tile around the fireplace.

Unfortunately, so far I haven’t been able to find exactly what I’ve been looking for. I’ve been able to find things that are close, but not anything that’s exactly what I’m looking for yet.

Too Light:

Too Orange:

Too Pink:

Too Green:

Too Tan:

Guess I’ll just have to keep looking!

The Balcony Issue

We’ve been waiting and planning and waiting and planning for our balcony to be torn down and rebuilt. And the day is nearly upon us. The balcony issue has been looming on the horizon since we moved into our condo, but the contract is signed and the work is nearly ready to begin.

I’m hoping that it all goes smoothly once it finally gets started. We are in the process of deciding what light fixture to put on the balcony once it’s finished. I am thinking I’d like to put in an outdoor ceiling fan. I’ve heard they’re good for keeping bugs away, in addition to that nice little breeze when you’re sitting outside eating dinner.

I’ve been looking around and haven’t found the exact ceiling fan that I want yet, but I’m going to keep looking and I’ve enlisted my mom to help!

Update: I found a fan! My mom found a link and then I did a search for one of the fans that was on that link and ended up on a site named Bellacor. After taking a look around, I stumbled on this fan, and the site had one on clearance for $101 because it was a return, which has been double checked and confirmed that it’s in new condition, but is cheaper because it’s been opened. At a savings of more than $55, and right in my goal price range of around $100 for both the fan and the light, it’s perfect!

Make Your Own Clock

A month or so ago, hubby was getting a hair cut and I decided I really wanted a smoothie. On my way to Jamba Juice, I stumbled across the Chiasso store that was in the same stripmall that I hadn’t realized was there. I was wondering around and actually found a bunch of really neat things. One thing I kept coming back to, however, was this ronaldo clock:

I loved the fact that it had the fun stripes in the “wood” and the photo frames added a level of personalization to the clock. What I didn’t like, was the $40 price tag (Items are cheaper in the store than they are online). Especially when the one in the store had screws sticking out through the front of the panels.

So I decided to do what I do and do it myself! Since I was already buying panels for my wall art project, I bought one more, slightly thinner, 2’x2’x1/4” panel, which I cut into a variety of squares and rectangles.

Which I then stained with the same Minwax Red Mahogany stain. I then printed and cut photos from our Costa Rican honeymoon to add that bit of personalization I liked about the inspiration clock. I also purchased a clock kit from the arts and crafts store. They didn’t have any with silver hands, so I also grabbed a silver paint pen (a staple from my sorority days) and colored the gold arms silver.

In another moment of inspiration, based on a passport art project from Brooklyn Limestone, I added a copy of our honeymoon passport stamp to one of the boards. A little more Modge Podge, some screws, the installation of the clock in the middle, and drawing lines for the clock later, I have an extra touch of our honeymoon in our bathroom:

Cute Touches

Yesterday was an absolutely GORGEOUS day in Chicago. It was nearly the most beautiful day of the year, at least that I can remember. Hubby was stuck at work ALL day, so I decided to take a bike ride and do a little shopping along the way. 🙂

I stopped at some of my favorite stores along the way – World Market, which I wrote about yesterday in my Table Testing post. While I was poking around, I also ran across these:

For only $10, I picked up one in white to put on the hubby’s side of the bed for his phone since he doesn’t have a radio station like I do. It blends right in with the bed and fits perfectly in the bookshelf, so I’m hoping it will help keep him organized and also keep the cord from falling through the hole!

I also stopped at the new Pottery Barn and West Elm stores. At West Elm, I saw this capiz shell chandelier that was dark capiz shell (photo on the left),. I’ve been looking for something in this shape (long or wide, depending on how you look at it) for our dining room light fixture because I want it to light up over more of the table and echo the shape of the table and the room.

I found the chandelier on the right a few months ago in a lighting store, and I loved it, but it was quite a bit more expensive than I’d like, around $500! So I’m still looking. The capiz shell one for $269, is nice, and the darker version would go with the gray walls from the dining room (I’d looked at the lighter shell version before), but it doesn’t have the same modern feel to contrast with the traditional paint job and molding that we’ve done/plan to do in that room. But a fun piece, nonetheless!

I had hoped to find more of this fun fake coral at Pottery Barn, hopefully on sale since it’s out of season now, but they only had the larger pieces which were just a little too big and heavy for the bedroom and still quite a bit more expensive than I was hoping for. Guess I’ll keep searching for my fake coral and kicking myself for not buying a piece when I saw it in the store the first time!

My next stop was Restoration Hardware – which isn’t nearly as much fun to shop anymore, since they don’t have ANYTHING you can buy in the store (besides a few robes!) SO disappointing for shopping – there’s really no point in having the store any more unless you find something in the catalog you really just can’t decide on and need to see in the store. Otherwise, you can pretty much just shop online or in the catalog.

But as I was leaving Restoration Hardware, I noticed that the Z Gallerie store I didn’t think existed anymore was definitely still open – HOORAY! I made an immediate stop to check it out. Inside, I found these adorable lanterns on a HUGE clearance sale:

I picked up one yellow and one orange of the smaller ones, to put next to the similarly-shaped pieces I purchased from World market a few months ago (my photos on the right, ZGallerie photo on the left). My total spend? Less than $9!!!

While I was there, I also looked at their large gallery of artwork and found several pieces that were quite interesting, including this one (excuse the poor iPhone photo, I didn’t set it up properly):

They looked like they were real tiles that were mounted within the frame, or at least reproductions of the tiles. I think I could do something similar with coasters or fun one-of-a-kind tiles if I can find them. Definitely something to keep in the idea file!

After that, I rode my bike the rest of the way downtown, enjoyed more gorgeous weather, said hi to the husband at work and took the bus home! All-told, it was a fairly successful and fun trip!