Interior mega-update: Part Two

Mega-post, continued!

1) Counters

So Jeff cut my new Ikea countertop for me, which I appreciated: my skills with the band saw are still a little rudimentary. When I got it down to the house, it looked like this:
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While it was outside, I tried out the two colors of tung oil on it to see what looked better. I was Team Dark before I started, but once I put the dark oil on, I realized it was absorbing differently into the different woods used in the butcher block and coming out all splotchy.
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A similar thing happened on the loft in the upstairs window frame: I did the trim in dark tung and the oil absorbed differently all over the wood (I think because the trim wood is compressed): it still looks kind of splotchy, even after a bunch of coats. So, lesson learned: I think the dark tung works better when you’ve got a single piece of wood, like my beams and stair treads. I am going to use it on the window seat today though, so more dark tung is happening, I promise.

So I ran a line of silicone over the top of the cabinets (to help adhere the countertop), hoisted the countertop up on top of the cabinets, and…

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Oops.

It turned out that there was a little tiny bit of stair runner wood that wasn’t perfectly flush with the rest of the runner, and that 1/8″ was enough to keep the counter from going in smoothly.
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I tried my tried-and-true trick of “when in doubt, put a towel on it and bash it with a hammer”, which mostly works, but in this case just left me with a hole in the wall.
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Double oops. And I cannot lie: there were definitely a few minutes where I was jabbing at the hole with a screwdriver hoping that if I made it bigger, the counter would slide down. Nope! So instead, I pulled the countertop off, put some wood filler in the hole in the wall and gave the countertop its first coat of tung oil.

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Pretty! I have noticed that the lighter tung needs a bunch of coats to really sink in: you’ll see in the Day Two pictures that it looks lighter (because the first layer has soaked in). But ultimately, when it’s all saturated, it’ll look like it does here.

2) Fan, redux

Fan blades are up!
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[Don’t tell anyone, but I am starting to dig this fan. It is so squatty and adorable!]

Also, I got some Howard’s Feed & Wax and went over the stair runners and beams, since I wanted a slightly shinier finish on them and they were getting pretty matte as they dried. I loooooove that Howard’s: I use it on furniture all the time, and I’m going to use it on the counters once they are all oiled up.

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[ignore That Light]

Day Two! Jeff came down and helped me with Countergate. He ended up just cutting into the corner of the countertop, and once he did that, it fit perfectly. I sanded and painted the hole in the wall, we got the countertop on, and then, since he was there, we hooked up the sink and the faucet and got the plumbing all set. Hurrah! Here’s the finished product:
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Gratuitous picture of my new on-demand hot water heater, which Jeff installed while I was gone. So tiny! So not an enormous tank!
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Jeff also had a surprise for me: the countertop I bought was too wide for the cabinets (which I knew: it was in the Ikea as-is for half price, so I bought it), so Jeff cut it down, but then he used the scraps to make a little countertop for the other side (he just cut them down and glued/clamped them together). And it is gorgeous and perfect, and now I only have to buy one more 31″x25″ piece of countertop, so that saved me a hundred bucks. Doesn’t this look good? You would have no idea that it was made from scraps.
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4) Then, we talked through the stair cubbies and horizontal bookshelves. Jeff took some measurements and is going to build the boxes for the cubbies while he’s recuperating: we’re making with doors on both sides so they’re accessible from under the stairs and also from the uprights of the stairs themselves (this will let me enclose that area if I want). I am going to build the bookshelves all by my lonesome, but I feel better about doing that now than I did before (today I have to measure and buy LOTS of lumber).

When Jeff left, I primed the uprights then painted them with a really heavy duty enamel paint (for ease of cleanup): it’s Benjamin Moore Advance, in the same color as the walls. It was super thick, almost ganache-like in texture, and it promises a very hard, durable surface, so I will let you know how it wears.

Primer: When You Want Things to Look Just a Little Bit Horrible
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Paint!
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These guys will eventually be front doors for the stair cubbies. One of my projects for today is to measure and cut some of the leftover bamboo for the floor: that’s going to be the stair treads.

5) Upper cabinets!
OK, so here’s the thing: because the upper cabinets (which, if you recall, I felt pretty ‘meh’ about) are some kind of melamine/MDF inside,the holes from when they got screwed to the wall are pretty big and obvious (if you’ve ever tried to nail or screw a piece of Ikea furniture, you know what I mean.) This makes the cabinets functionally unreturnable, so now my options are a) move them to a different part of the house or b) work with them where they are. Right now I am going to give b) a shot, since no matter where I put them, I think I’ll want to paint them. So my plan now is to take the doors off, prime and paint them (I’m going to use the same white enamel I used for the stair uprights) and use them as open shelving: I think I am going to turn the one closest to the living room into a little bar shelf, which might actually be cool (I hope?) So I started by priming them. The primer is having a hard time adhering to the weird melamine, even though it’s all-surface primer, so I put one coat on and today I’m going to try another coat and see if that first coat helps the adhesion. They look bad now! Hopefully they will look better? We will see.

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6) Backsplash!

So a few weeks ago when I was at Gersons, I saw a couple of packs of mosaic tiles (pretty cool ones: they’re natural stone and glass) for two bucks apiece. I didn’t know if I’d be able to use them or not, but I picked up six packs anyway since they were so cheap.

Cheap! Proof!
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Once I got the counter on, I realized they’d fit almost perfectly between the countertop and the window frame. Yay! So I got some ceramic tile adhesive and glopped it on the back:
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And started sticking them up! You’ll notice a little gap between the top of the tile and the window frame: that’s the almost perfect part. I might get some horizontal stone tiles to fill it in: I might also just decide not to worry about it, which seems easier 🙂
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You will also notice that that gap seems to disappear as I put more tiles on. That….is true! And I don’t know why, except maybe something somewhere is crooked? Regardless, not worrying about it (maybe I will just fill that in with grout.)
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When I got to the end part under the stairs, I had a little bit of room to fill in, but the tiles themselves were too big. However, I did have those little rows of glass tiles, and upon closer examination, they were all separate from each other and just held together with a little cloth backing. So I just got some scissors and cut them apart from the other stones:
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And made a little triangle at the end! I AM BASICALLY EXACTLY LIKE MCGYVER, YOU GUYS.
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I have to grout them still (I have never grouted anything before: it sounds…exciting?) and seal them, because they’re natural stone, but I am pretty pleased with it, and the whole thing, including the glue, cost $16.
And now I am heading back to do more projects. Think good thoughts in the direction of those cabinets!

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Interior mega-update: Part One

Oh, friends, I am OVERDUE for an update! Quick recap: I recently got back from a two-week long job interview in Utah (verdict: we shall see) (also, hi Ashley!) and got home to discover that my mom and Jeff had been super-industrious while I was away. So first, let me show you all of the things they did, and then in the next post, I will show you the tweaks I have made since.  Because there’s a lot going on, let’s just jump right in, shall we?

Floors!

My bamboo floors, which I got for cheap and have been so excited about, are all installed. Look how pretty, even under a thick layer of construction dust!
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The color of the living room floor up close, which I looooove [Oh, PS, here’s another thing that got done: all of the molding is in! No complaints there: I love it, though I dread having to paint it]
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The batches I got appeared to be from pretty different dye lots, and the living room bamboo is darker than the kitchen bamboo. Had I been here, I probably would have just mixed it up and had alternating light-dark pieces all the way across the floor. Left to his own devices, Jeff decided to make the living room all dark and the kitchen lighter (Jeff: “Well, I wasn’t about to make it tiger striped!“. Fair enough!) I actually don’t mind the two different colors: I just decided to think of it as ombre and that was that.

I would like to find an alternative for that gold-colored metal threshold Jeff put in between the living room and kitchen floors: I understand the efficacy, but do not love the gold stripe down the middle of the floor, so if any of you brilliant DIYers have an idea about that, please do share!

Fan

The fan is up. Er, ish.  Jeff was having some trouble finding the right bolts for the blades: I got the fan from Gerson’s, and it apparently came sans bolts (spoiler: I called the company and found the right bolts and it’s now all A-OK.)

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I need to start hunting for a better light fixture shade: that one is unobjectionable, but I would love to find a cooler shade (since I am still a touch averse to the fan-light combo).

The stove

The eagle-eyed among you will look at the picture below and note that the stove in the picture is not the awesome little boat stove I got for free from my boss and talked about on my very first day of the build. While I was in Utah, my mom called me and said, basically verbatim, “The boat stove isn’t going to work because it is the wrong size at least I think it is the wrong size, Jeff explained it to me and it made sense then but it was very confusing, but anyway, it is not going to work and it is probably going to explode anyway, so I think I am just going to get a regular stove and I need you to just agree because I am way too busy and I just need to be able to make a decision, OK?” So I, in the middle of working on a presentation for my job interview, and exhausted from all the Utah-ing, just said, “Mom, do whatever you think is best”. And that is how I ended up with the stove before.

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I actually kind of love it, honestly.  A sweet, Energy Star gas stove (which can be hooked up to either propane or natural gas, depending on what I have access to) with four burners that is narrow but will fit an actual sheet tray and comes with a broiler and a warming drawer? Yes please.

Also it probably is not going to explode.

I was a little leery about the stove being right under the loft–the initial plan was to have it be on the end of the counters, clear of the loft–but Jeff pointed out that since you REALLY don’t want a stove under the electrical panel, the only alternative would be to have it sitting in the middle of the living room, which, no. He is very certain it’s not going to be an issue, and in any case, I can run the vent fan on the micro, so I have decided to feel OK about it.  My biggest worry now is that I have to explain to my boss why the boat stove that he drove all the way home for me from his boat in Mexico is not in the house.

The kitchen light

Before I left, I bought a small, low-key kitchen light (which will ultimately contain a Happy Light). While I was gone, Jeff decided the light I bought was way too small and that I would go blind with such a tiny light and told Mom she had to go pick out a bigger fixture from Lowes. Mom looked at everything Lowes had, ruled out 98% of the lights there for being hideous, and decided that the following was the best one there.

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I may still have to tweak this, because it is…..kind of hideous? I believe my mom that it was the best one there, but it is still godawful.  Also, it is so big that the cabinet door hits the shade when you open it.

The bathroom!

Supertoilet is in, and the way-better-than-you’d-think fiberfloor is now adhered to the subfloor.
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Shower is all done. Look! A shower rod (which will soon contain a cute Ikea shower curtain) and a showerhead! Also some tung-oiled walls that look great, if I may say so.
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And look! My extra handheld showerhead that I installed at dog-washing height!
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And my pretty little sink, which is technically not a new thing, but which I continue to love.
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For a bathroom the size of a coffin, it is about as awesome as it can possibly be. I mean, in Phase Two I want to figure out a way to tile the shower, but no big deal otherwise.

The cabinets

Cabinets happened! This is a place where the budget, which is getting very narrow, came into play: I wanted Jeff to make me cabinets, because his cabinetry work is incredibly beautiful. While I was gone, we decided that we could not afford to have him do that, which was a bummer. This meant stock cabinets, which meant Lowes, because Mom and Jeff were doing the picking and were not going to go out and look in all the crazy stores like I would have done.  I sent Mom in with instructions to find the absolute plainest, least decorative ones they had (I am kind of into cabinets that look like this: not necessarily the color, but the geometric/unadorned-ness)

Here’s what I ended up with:
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(sink side)
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They are not the pretty handmade cabinets I was imagining, but they are fine, and they are what they are.  There is a lot of storage, and they are big enough that I can put in drawers and lazy susans and get them really optimized for what I need. And I love that cute little triangle shelf Jeff built in under the stairs.  I am not crazy about the upper cabs, and if I had been here I would have opted not to get those and build open shelves in instead.  However, because they were there and un-returnable (because they’d been installed), I decided to take the doors off, paint them the same white as the walls and use them as quasi-open shelving anyway. In Phase Two, they will probably go, but for now, I am going to Tim Gunn them and make them as cool as I can.  And the lower cabs are getting stained gray, and I think I am going to do a cool-looking thing on the doors, which I will tell you about as soon as I figure out if it’s going to work.

In the next installment:

1) Countertops
So remember how I was all excited to get those Paperstone counters, and how I was going to get those cheap remnants? I was trying to arrange them while I was in Utah, and got them all in my online shopping cart, and then when I went to check out, found out that the shipping cost was more than twice the cost of the actual material, resulting in a cost of about $600. As budget’s a consideration right now, I just couldn’t justify it, though it was very sad because I love that stuff. So I started thinking about Richlite (another recycled paper composite) and started trying to track down local non-remnant Paperstone, and then I started thinking about stainless steel (like a restaurant) and started looking into restaurant supply stores, and then on Sunday, Jeff told me that he had to go in for surgery on Tuesday, so if I wanted him to miter out the corners for the sink, he needed that countertop on Monday morning”. So I stopped thinking about all of the products that I loved that needed a week for shipping, and then I started thinking about what was immediately available, and then I got in my car and drove back to Horrible Phoenix, went to Ikea and got an enormous piece of solid wood butcher block. Butcher block was actually my first countertop idea, so even though I don’t like it as much as Paperstone, I still felt pretty good about it. I got it to Jeff, he cut it and mitered the sink hole, and tomorrow I get to learn how to install it.

I had initially thought I was going to go with gray countertops and wood cabinets, but now that I am going to have wood countertops, I am thinking of maybe gray cabinets. Or green. Or blue. Who knows. I am going to tung oil the butcher block, so tomorrow’s decision is a) dark tung oil (like the beams) or b) light tung oil, like the bathroom walls. Feel free to weigh in!

2) Bedroom closets. If I can find some stock closet/dresser/bookshelves that are the right height, I’m going to try to do what Young House Love did here. You like?

Phase Two is, of course, this.

3) Floating bookshelves, which I have only just begun to think about.

[Thank you for reading that mega-post! Comment away if you have suggestions]