How to make a two minute, two ingredient sugar scrub.

Homemade sugar scrubs are all the rage now, so of course I make them, too. But I am cheap and lazy so I make the easiest, least expensive version I can. And it’s fab! You just need some sugar (I’ll go into the different kinds in a minute, here) and some virgin, raw coconut oil (the non virgin, processed kind is ok, but it won’t have the nice scent we want for this scrub). Oh, you’ll also need some kind of plastic container to put it in.

sugar scrub ingredients

You just need some sugar and some coconut oil for a nice sugar scrub.

Put some of the sugar into the container- I usually fill it about half way. Then add the coconut oil- stirring in a little at a time until you get the consistency you want. If you add too much, just add some more sugar.

Stir the coconut oil into the sugar

Stir the coconut oil into the sugar

Ta da! You have a yummy sugar scrub.

You can make it whatever consistence you like- softer and more moisturizing, or stronger and more abrasive

You can make it whatever consistency you like- softer and more moisturizing, or stronger and more abrasive

You can use any kind of sugar you have around, different sugars give a different texture.

White Sugar: Softer, more liquidy. A good all around scrub for face and body. Not a lot of scent, just a nice vanilla, sweet scent.

Brown Sugar: Slightly more abrasive, with a very nice caramelly scent. Another good all around scrub, might be slightly abrasive on the face, especially if you have sensitive skin.

Evaporated Cane Juice: About the same abrasiveness as the brown sugar, but with a less caramelly scent.

Turbinado or Raw Sugar: Slightly caramelly, sweet scent, too abrasive for the face, but great for body skin, rough patches and dry feet.

It’s hard to believe something so simple can smell so wonderful and work so well, but it does!

 

 

Our budget-friendly Colorado Springs kitchen renovation for less than $5,000


The kitchen when we bought our house in Colorado Springs

The kitchen was in pretty rough shape when we bought our house in Colorado Springs.

Cool metal cabinets painted with not cool housepaint.

Cool metal cabinets painted with not-cool almond housepaint. With fancy plywood baseboards.

 

We bought our house as a HUD foreclosure in early 2011, and it had some issues. The kitchen was kind of a mess. It didn’t have any appliances except for the dishwasher. It had some old metal cabinets that had been painted with house paint. Junky baseboards, crappy laminate countertop, particleboard “backsplash,” peeling lead-based paint and terribly uneven wall texture. Oh, and a huge hole in the ceiling from a leak that had been fixed, but not patched. Although Mike was a little intimidated by this whole scene,  I was happy. I wanted a new kitchen done my way, not a new kitchen that someone else had done to their taste. I thought we’d probably rip the whole thing out and start all over.

We had planned to redo it over time — which we figured would be within about a year of living there. We had spent most of our original budget on other things, like gutters and other repairs. So we only had about $4,000 left, and that wasn’t even close to what we thought we needed. We needed time to save more money and to really figure out what we wanted in there.

We thought we’d have some custom cabinets and countertops made to match the original ones that were still there (and our next door neighbor’s — who had 90% of her original kitchen still intact). We also wanted to incorporate this cool vintage stove we got. Beyond that, we didn’t have too many ideas upfront. But when Mike got laid off in December 2011, we decided that we should either rent or sell the house, and the current kitchen was not going to cut it for either of those scenarios. We still only had $4,000, and were really not inclined to do too much custom work since we weren’t going to live there. But we really wanted a custom look, and we wanted it to look nice.

In order to get our loan, the bank made us put money into a special account and make certain repairs within two weeks of closing escrow. One of those things was to fix the ceiling and paint the kitchen. We thought we were going to take the whole ceiling down (along with the walls) because the texture was so uneven at some point, so we wanted to just do a quick and cheap fix for the bank loan.

In order to save money, Mike evened out the jaggedy holes so the drywall guy could just do a quick and dirty job to satisfy the bank.

In order to save money, Mike evened out the jaggedy holes so the drywall guy could just do a quick and dirty patch job to satisfy the bank.

 

While we had the ceiling open, we had an electrician come in and add some recessed lighting above the sink

While we had the ceiling open, we had an electrician come in and add some recessed lighting above the sink.

We also thought we’d paint it in something fun like orange or red, just temporarily! And we had the brilliant idea to try to strip the paint off the cabinets and get down to bare metal for a sort-of industrial look. None one of those ideas worked out too well. The whole lipstick on a pig thing, I guess. We lived with the sloppy red paint, the ill-fitting stove, and the half-stripped cabinets for months, and probably would have for a lot longer if we weren’t forced to renovate.

There's more than one way to strip a cabinet. Unfortunately, neither the sander, nor the copious application of Jasco worked on ours.

There's more than one way to strip a cabinet. Unfortunately, neither the sander nor the copious application of Jasco worked well on ours unless we were willing to devote most of the next six months to the project. Both methods got the house paint off, but not the baked-on original factory finish. Yay, now we have half-stripped yellow cabinets.

But look how cool they would have looked! My dad did this one, he is a lot more patient than we are.

But check out how cool they would have looked! My dad did this one, he is a lot more patient than we are.

Next up was choosing a paint color. Fun. Which color goes best with half-stripped yellow-metal cabinets?

I don't remember exactly what we were thinking with this, except maybe "it's only temporary!"

I don't remember exactly what we were thinking with this, except maybe "it's only temporary!"

The final touches of our temporary kitchen:

My brothers helping me ship the cool vintage stove from L.A.

My brothers helping me ship the cool vintage stove from L.A. They were happy to do it!

The stove was too big to fit between the bottom cabinets. But anyway, Ta-Da! Our awesome temporary kitchen.

The stove was too big to fit between the bottom cabinets. But anyway, Ta-Da! Our awesome temporary kitchen. And also: Orange!

Oh yea, here's the original kitchen hutch we wanted to copy for the rest of the cabinets. Even tho it needed work, I did make it look pretty cute for my photography sessions, tho!

Oh yea, here's the original kitchen hutch we wanted to copy for the rest of the cabinets. Even though it needed work, I did make it look pretty cute for my photography sessions!

Ok, So, it becomes December and Mike gets laid off and we have to get serious about this kitchen! We developed a plan.

We would try and reuse the cabinets. They were in really good condition mechanically, and kind of cool and unique (and according to Google, can be pretty valuable) and since they were metal they could be stripped and powder coated, which as it turns out, is a pretty eco-friendly way of coating things. Plus we’d save a lot of money not having to get new cabinets, and we’d help save the Earth by reusing them. We searched high and low and finally found Industrialex in Colorado Springs who would strip and powder coat them for a really good price.  I’m not really sure how they stripped them, but I think it was some kind of blasting.  Probably bead blasting or a gentle type of sandblasting? Their website isn’t that great, but they’re located at 171 Talamine Court, Colorado Springs, CO 80907 so if you need something powder coated just go over there and they’ll help you out. We did have to take them out (for the second time) and haul them over there but Industrialex delivered them to us when they were done. At this point we resigned ourselves to not being able to make that cool old stove fit in our space, so we bought a brand new stove that was a standard size.

The powder coating process coats the entire thing, inside and out, making it all look brand new. We also polished the original Beauty Queen logo and put it back on.

The powder coating process coats the entire thing, inside and out, making it all look brand new. We also polished the original Beauty Queen logo and put it back on. This white metal looks really sharp.

Since we were now going for resale, we wanted a pretty generic kitchen, but with some trendy style. We did the white on the cabinets and chose white subway tile for the backsplash. We didn’t have much of an idea on countertops, so we spent a week visiting about 20 different local stores, show rooms, and stone yards, as well as Lowe’s and Home Depot. There are tons of different countertop options! I have always loved marble (way too expensive for this project) and also really liked the science lab look with the soapstone countertops. But soapstone is very expensive and not really that great for a kitchen. We looked at “green” countertops, we looked at quartz, and a million different kinds of stone. Finally we found a piece of honed  Absolute Black granite with a custom edge at Colorado Springs Marble and Granite. It was a piece that they had installed in some fancypants house in The Broadmoor, but three days later, were asked to remove it by the homeowner who hated it. I’m not sure what she hated about it, it was a pretty nice piece of stone.

It took some fumbling around and of course went way over the original timeline, but eventually it did get installed and looked really nice! Part of the delay was our fault. We didn’t realize that the cabinets had to actually be installed before they would template. They wouldn’t template on the cabinets, then let us take them out to be powder coated. They wanted the powder coating to be done and the cabinets reinstalled before templating. We fussed around with a different powder coater who used a stripper in Denver (who wound up not being able to actually strip them for us, but couldn’t tell us that until he had them in Denver!) for a couple weeks before finding IndustrialEx (who did the stripping and the powder coating and charged 1/3rd the price). But then once the countertop people did the templating, they measured wrong and it took another eternity for them to be able to fit us in to re-template.

I was so excited when they finally came to install the granite (about a month after it was supposed to be).

We used Colorado Springs Marble and Granite, who had a great remnant for our kitchen project.

While the kitchen was all torn apart with the ordeal of the cabinets, then the endless waiting for the countertops, we patched, skim coated, and painted the walls along with getting the ceiling redone. We finally got rid of the hideous fluorescent light, which meant round two of the ceiling — we ultimately didn’t take down all the walls, just skim coated them. But the ceiling needed to be taken down and redone in a few spots.  If I would have done this renovation to live in, I would have chosen a more exciting paint color. But we were doing different shades of grays throughout the house, so we continued that in the kitchen. We used Benjamin Moore Genesis White.  All Benjamin Moore‘s paints are low-VOC.

This soffit had been menacing Mike since the day we moved in so you can imagine the glee that filled the house on this day.

This soffit had been menacing Mike since the day we moved in so you can imagine the glee that filled the house on this day.

 

But oh no! What's this!? The electricians used the soffit to run the wires for the recessed lighting!

But oh no! What's this!? The electricians used the soffit to run the wires for the recessed lighting! And as we feared, the soffit installers from long ago removed part of the molding- gone forever.

A quick Google search and a couple of YouTube videos later and Mike managed to replace the whole wire so that it went through the wall instead. Initially, we figured we’d just splice in a length of wire to run it behind the wall, but that isn’t up to safety codes, apparently. So the whole wire had to be replaced. He also fixed some other weird electrical things that showed up as we were prepping the area for the backsplash.

I don' think this is how it's supposed to be.

I don't think this is how it's supposed to be.

Fixing the electrical

Replacing the outlets with GFCI outlets.

Fixing the electrical

Replacing outlets.

Fixing the electrical

Cutting away plaster to access outlet wiring.

Fixing the electrical

Romex through studs instead of draped behind the backsplash.

combining the switches

The main kitchen light also had an outlet on the same circuit but a foot away for some reason. We combined them into one fixture.

 

Then he spent days and nights scraping, sanding, patching, and making presentable the rest of the walls and ceiling.

As much as the soffit menaced Mike, the hideous flourescent fixture menaced me. Hurrah! It's gone!

As much as the soffit menaced Mike, the hideous flourescent fixture menaced me. Hurrah! It's gone!

Scraping, sanding, patching, skim coating all the walls was a full time job for about a week. I provided moral support, sandwiches, and facebook updates.

Scraping, sanding, patching, skim coating all the walls was a full-time job for Mike for about a week. I provided moral support, sandwiches, and Facebook updates.

There was still the matter of the hutch that we had sort of been ignoring. Someone had put some crappy, sloppy mosaic tile on it at some point, and that had to go. But what to replace it with? Our neighbor has wood on hers, so we decided to go that route. We were going to get a piece of butcher block from Ikea and cut it to fit. We started out by getting rid of the tile.

Chipping off the mosaic tile revealed the original wood countertop beneath! Glorious!

Chipping off the mosaic tile revealed the original wood countertop beneath! Glorious!

Mike showing that lame mosaic tile who's boss.

Mike showing that lame tile who's boss.

After Mike removed all the tile I sanded it and stained it. It looked really good. That was an exciting project.

After Mike removed all the tile and the metal edging, I sanded and stained the wood top. He put up drywall on the back. It looked really good. That was an exciting project.

 

This was our kitchen for about 6 weeks.

This was our kitchen for about 6 weeks.

We were still waiting for the cabinets and the granite after all this, but were feeling pretty confident about how things were going on our end and all the new skills we’d learned.

Things were really humming along now and we could see the end in sight…

The cabinets were kind of carved up when they installed the dishwasher before we bought the place. So there was no side panel on it, just some lame piece of particle board duct taped to the counter. We wanted to get a real side piece and install it properly so we went to Home Depot to get one. The people who owned the place before us also didn’t bother to remove the cabinets when they redid the floors so the cabinets were sitting about 1/4 inch above the rest of the floor, on top of layers of linoleum and other flooring. If we were going to live there we would have addressed this, but since we weren’t, it didn’t seem like a huge deal. Until we went to buy and install that stupid side panel. The granite people said it needed to be installed before they could install the granite, why, I have no idea.

Anyhow, let’s just say that the stress of job loss, having to move from the house we just bought, months of having the kitchen torn up, trial and error of what seemed like the simplest projects, along with the general pain in the buttness and draining wallet of remodeling caused a huge meltdown in the cabinet aisle of the Home Depot over the $35 dishwasher side panel that was 1/4 inch too short. That’s when we decided to call in the Big Guns. I have no doubt that we could have finished this kitchen project by ourselves if we wouldn’t have been under such a time constraint. But by then, it had all become a little too much for people who had never done anything like this before.

We did eventually buy the stupid side panel after leaving Home Depot in a huff. But it looked ridiculous when we installed it.

We did eventually buy the stupid side panel after leaving Home Depot in a huff that first night. But it looked ridiculous when we installed it. Check out the box it came in, just sitting there mocking us.

The "Big Guns" my contractor brother Brian came out to help for a few days

The "Big Guns." My contractor brother Brian came out to help for a few days.

We just had a few annoying projects left:

  • Install the vent hood
  • Replace the missing molding from over the door that was behind the soffit and add baseboard molding
  • Fix some of the electrical that Mike was unable to figure out
  • Install an overhead light fixture
  • Address that stupid dishwasher side panel!
The vent hood is installed

The vent hood is installed.

Salvaging the trim molding from a closet window to use in the kitchen

Salvaging the trim molding from a closet window (lucky that was available!) to use in the kitchen. Replaced with new plain molding.

And installing it in the kitchen.

And installing it in the kitchen.

Lookin good!

Lookin' good! This pencil pic is for Sandy Ward. Enjoy, Sandy!

Brian finished fitting it in and added some missing parts by using Bondo, and the missing molding piece was done. Like it was never missing! Later, Mike repaired the weird hole in the door.

The rest of the projects, along with a few other random things for the rest of the house and we really were almost done.

We were so happy with the powder coating on the cabinets that we got all thje heater vents done, too. Here's one of them before.

We were so happy with the powder coating on the cabinets that we got all the heater vents done, too. Here's one of them before.

 

We painted the hutch with Benjamin Moore, but I can't remember what color!

We painted the hutch with Benjamin Moore, but I can't remember what color! We also stripped all the old paint off the hardware on the hutch and all the hinges and door knobs throughout.

We kept our secondhand fridge because it was in good condition. It was just missing its kickplate which I tracked down online.

I bought a cute overhead light fixture for $5 at Habitat For Humanity Restore.

We kept the sink and faucet, which just needed to be scrubbed and polished.

Finally the countertops were installed.

I was happy with how the granite came out.

I was happy with how the granite came out.

So the very last thing we needed was to have our favorite tile guy, Tim, come do the subway tile. I like subway tile, but the main reason we chose it here is because we had a bunch of it left over from the bathroom project.

Tim The Tile Guy installing our subway backsplash

Tim the Tile Guy installing our subway backsplash

And behind the stove.

And behind the stove.

 

We got a new metro shelf that fit properly in the space.

We got a new metro shelf that fit properly in the space by the main door.

 

Added some artwork, and brought back in just some of my favorite kitchen stuff, and stored the rest of it to keep the space clutter free.

Added some artwork, and brought back in just some of my favorite kitchen stuff, and stored the rest of it to keep the space clutter free.

Ready to sell!

Ready to sell!

Although I would probably do a few things differently now, overall we were really happy with how it came out.

Although I would probably do a few things differently now, overall we were really happy with how it came out.

The numbers (approximate)

  • DIY drywall, patching, etc.: $75
  • Professional drywall: $500
  • Recessed lighting: $600
  • Other electrical: $80
  • Failed attempts to strip cabinets: $30
  • Paint and stain (both times): $140
  • Cabinets powder coat: $300
  • Vent powder coat ($75 for the whole house, 7 of them): $10
  • Granite: $1,000
  • Tile installation (we already had the tile leftover from another project): $350
  • Vent hood: $400
  • Light: $5
  • Metro shelf and butcher board top: $250
  • Stove: $475
  • Fridge kick plate: $25
  • Flight for my brother to come out and help: $300
  • Misc. and unaccounted for: $200

Total: $4,740

So I guess we were pretty much able to do it very close to the $4,000 we originally had.

 

 

The Paint Gallery: A-plus

Fact: Paint makes things better.

And over the last few months, we painted a lot. In fact, I think it’s possible that we painted virtually every interior surface of our entire home.

Don’t worry. We’re not going to go over the painting thing in earnest here (we did that already). We just wanted to give a shoutout to the fine folks at The Paint Gallery.

If you’re ever in need of paint or paint supplies, this is the place. The Paint Gallery is a licensed dealer of the Benjamin Moore brand of paints, and if you care about quality, we highly recommend this paint. Also, the workers there are very, very helpful, willing to talk to you at length about the project you’re working on. They helped us pick colors, gave us suggestions for techniques and tools, and gave us sympathy because we were overworked and sad.

We used to get our paint at Home Depot, but the Paint Gallery has such better customer service, the atmosphere is better, and the paint is superior. Of course it does cost just a little more, but over the course of an entire house, it probably wasn’t more than $100 more expensive. Totally worth it for the customized attention and better paint.

The Paint Gallery in Colorado Springs is the best spot in the city for your painting projects.

The Paint Gallery has virtually any color on earth available to sample.

 


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A post about painting

When Mike got laid off in December, we decided we needed to move. But in order to move, we needed to sell the house.

Colorado Springs is a pretty city with nice people, clean air and no traffic, and it’s close to nature and camping and fishing. But the political climate is ultra ultra conservative, which is not our thing at all. Plus, there are no jobs. I might have been able to eke out a living doing restaurant and real estate photography, but since the wars overseas are pretty much over, my glamour photography business is over, too. We need to be in a bigger city where I can find more clients and Mike can have access to more job opportunities.

Since we bought the house in fixer-upper condition, we had to get to the fixing up. We started with painting.

The whole house had been painted apartment white, the walls, the moldings, the doors, windows, cabinets, hardware. All of it. The same color. We wanted to freshen it up and give it a custom paint job.

The bathroom paint

You can see that whoever had this place before us painted the entire thing off-white. Not sure why anyone would do this, since it really doesn't make anything look better. To freshen it up, we chose a light blue for the wall above the trim and installed some beadboard, which was painted to match the trim. Don't be lazy: Remove the toilet tank and paint behind it.

So yea, this post is about painting and what we learned along the way.

  • Prep. I know you’ve heard it before, everyone has. Prep is 80% of a good paint job! Honestly, prep is 80% of life, isn’t it? It’s the most tedious part of the job, which is why so many people (us included) tend to half-ass it. But I can tell you, there really was a huge difference between the times we properly prepped and the times we didn’t.
    • Move everything out of the space you’re working in. Yes, everything. If it can’t be moved then cover it with a dropcloth or two. If you really want to do a good job, tape the dropcloth down so you aren’t always tripping over it. There will be drips and drops, there will be accidents. Someone (who will remain nameless) will probably knock over an  entire cup of paint at some point. Also, you will have a lot more room to move around and not have to be so careful to not knock things over if they’re out of the room.
    • Remove the hardware. All of it. Hinges, handles, doorplates, doorknobs. There’s a special place in hell for people who paint over hardware. Don’t do it. Cleaning all the old paint off the hardware is kind of time-consuming, but it’s easy.

      Hinge painted over

      People who paint over hinges don't deserve hinges. Also, either replace all the screws or don't replace any. Seriously, previous homeowner, what were you thinking?

    • Cover the floors. Yikes, I know, that’s a lot of work, plus you’ll probably have to spend a bunch of money on dropcloths or floor paper and tape. But if you don’t, you’ll get paint on the floor. You will. You just will. Then later when the rest of your house looks awesome you’ll be on your hands and knees scrubbing the dried-on paint spatter that you got all over the floor when you were painting all those weeks ago. D’oh!
    • Decide if you’re going to paint just the walls, or the walls and trim, or everything including windows, doors, ceiling.
    • Figure out how much sanding, spackling, and patching you want to do: It depends on what condition everything is in and how perfect you want it to look in the end. The more fixing you do, the better it will probably look, but there is a point of diminishing returns.

We patched holes and cracks in the walls and ceiling and lightly sanded the trim. But Mike did a ton of sanding, scraping and patching on the doors because they were in pretty bad shape. Now is when I am probably supposed to tell you to be careful about breathing in any lead-based paint dust and blah blah blah. Just use some sense and don’t be breathing in dust of any kind. Also, don’t lick it, either. Since our house is 100 years old, the walls and ceiling are mostly plaster, which is a huge pain to deal with. For significant cracks, gaps, etc., we used plaster patching compound, which works just like regular spackle.

Clean and sand. Sand and clean. On doors, we used wood putty to fill in any gouges or other trouble spots. And again, sand and clean, clean and sand. (We sometimes caulked after we painted, which worked fine because our trim color was the exact color as the caulk, LOL, YMMV.)

    • Decide whether you need primer:  We did one whole room with water-based primer and it didn’t seem to make much difference as far as coverage (we still had to do two coats of paint, or at least touch up a second coat in that room as well as the rest of the house) so for the rest of the house we skipped the full primering. But in the areas we patched we did use oil-based primer (at this point we also stopped using water based primer at all- the oil based stuff isn’t as stinky as I thought it would be, it goes on easily, and it covers so many more problems than water based does) so that the wall paint would go on better and the result would be more even. The patching materials are sometimes porous and won’t look the same as the rest of the wall if you don’t use a good oil-based primer before painting.

If you’re painting over raw drywall or plaster or wood, use some primer. Also, if you suspect there has ever been water damage go ahead and use some oil -based primer. We painted one whole section of our hallway without using primer, and a few days later noticed there was some old water staining coming through the paint — even if a leak has long been repaired, like ours, the water staining still comes through the paint for some reason. We primered it with oil-based primer and painted it again and it was fine. But we were lucky it was only in one small area.

If you’re painting a dark color you will need several coats of paint, you can just go ahead and use a tinted primer as one of those coats. It can’t hurt and might make the paint go on better, depending on the condition of your walls. Finally, if you’re painting regular latex paint over oil-based paint, you’ll need to primer. You can tell if it’s oil or latex by rubbing a cottonball soaked in rubbing alcohol over a small section. If the paint comes off onto the cottonball, it’s latex and you don’t need primer, if it doesn’t, it’s probably oil and you should primer first. Latex doesn’t like to be put over oil paint and will eventually flake off and do other strange things.

Painters coveralls

Somehow, paint gets everywhere. Everywhere. Hair, arms, eyes, floor. You think, I don't need to change my clothes because I'm just going to touch up this one little spot. In 10 minutes, you're coated in semigloss, and your "good" jeans are now work pants. Next time, we're wearing these.

    • Material: We experimented with a variety of brushes and rollers and eventually settled on a few sizes of Purdy and Proform brushes. We went through several crappy brushes before realizing that the expensive brushes really were better. We painted virtually every surface of this house, and the good brushes are still with us. So get some good brushes! Except for when you use primer! Use crappy brushes with primer. Water-based primer can clean up with soap and water but your good brushes will never be the same. Oil based primer cleans up with mineral spirits which is a pain in the butt and they never get really clean anyway. We used cheap brushes for oil based primer and then threw them away.

You will hate yourself every minute of painting with a cheap brush. Same with rollers. We used a lot of cheap ones from Home Depot, but after awhile, we gravitated toward pricier ones simply because they lasted longer and had better coverage. Whether there’s a huge payoff at the end for the extra expense, I don’t know, but it for sure makes the work easier and more enjoyable. For our rougher walls, the ones not covered in wallpaper, a roller with a heavier nap worked better. We also went through several pans, cups, buckets, paint sticks, etc. For dropcloths, we used old sheets and couch covers. Next time (god help us), we’re going to invest in a set of painter’s overalls so we don’t ruin so many of our real clothes (and by “real clothes,” I mean pajamas).

    • Paint. You can get paint at Home Depot if you want but I will tell you now that it isn’t the best paint out there. We chose to spend a little more money (maybe $150 more for the entire house) and went to a Benjamin Moore dealer. They have pretty colors, and the paint is excellent. Excellent paint goes on smoothly, has good coverage, and drips less. If you’re getting a lot of drips, you’re using crappy paint.  And you’ll need two coats no matter what paint you use, even if the ads for Home Depot tell you that their paint will cover in one. It won’t, so put that out of your mind. And if you use a dark color you will probably need more than two coats, possibly even up to five. So my advice is, choose light colors. If you’re doing more than one room and painting the trim, make sure you use the same trim color throughout the whole house so that you have some sense of flow and consistency.

Also, it helps to have somewhat of a plan for all the walls in the house, even if you aren’t going to do them all at once  so that they all look good together when you’re done. We like eggshell finish for the walls and semigloss for the trim. A scrubable paint is awesome, and all of Benjamin Moore’s paints are scrubable, even the eggshell and flat finishes. Benjamin Moore sells small samples of all their paint colors for like $2 each, so that’s also a plus. To avoid The Paradox of Choice just try and choose from 3-5 colors for each room. Choose your basic color (gray, blue, green, beige, whatever) and then get a few samples of that color and make it work with one of them! The Benjamin Moore samples are big enough to paint large swatches on each of the walls, which you should do so you can see how it looks throughout the room. Also go ahead and wait a day or two if you can so you can see how they look in different light.

      •  If you’re doing the ceiling, do it first. We used “ceiling paint” which comes in a huge bucket. It doesn’t matter if you do the walls or the trim first after that! I always thought you were supposed to do the walls and then the trim, but you so don’t need to do it that way. We found it easier to do the trim first. Trim is harder to paint neatly than walls and we messed up a lot, getting the trim paint on the walls. Then when we painted the walls, cutting in the paint against the trim was much easier to do from the wall side than the trim side. Plus since we used light colors when we did mess up, it didn’t show too badly. Then we did the doors and windows last. Windows are a whole other subject — we didn’t really do a great job on ours but there are tutorials all over the internet you can read to learn how to do it. Also don’t paint directly from the can. For one thing, it’s heavy and you’ll be wanting to hold it. For another, the paint can start to dry out and crap can fall into it. Use a large yogurt container or buy a plastic container for this purpose when you get your paint. They’re about a buck each. We bought 5 of them and used the hell out of them. They were probably in the top three best purchases we made after good brushes and good paint. We tried using tape (regular masking tape, blue painter’s tape and even that new Frog Tape), but we could never get it to work right.  There was either seepage under the tape, or the tape pulled off the dry paint. So we found that painting the trim first and using a steady hand when cutting in worked the best. Saved time, too, because we didn’t have to put all the tape up, then take it all back down.
      • Take care of your brushes and rollers, rinsing them out frequently. After just a little while, the brushes and rollers get gummy, so it’s worthwhile to take a break and get them cleaned up. Water based paint cleans up with soap and water. You can wrap a used brush in plastic wrap and put it in the freezer if you need to step away for a little while and don’t want to clean the brush. You’ll need to wait for it to thaw out before using it again.
Overall, the total cost ran somewhere between $800 and $1,000. Of course it took some time to do it ourselves, but it paid off when the house sold for nearly asking price after just 10 days on the market. We think the custom paint job had something to do with it.
Custom house painting

Purple. Couple things about dark paint: It's hard to get a good, even coverage, so it will need two or three coats. Also, dark paint tends to expose every single flaw or blemish, and on 100-year-old walls, there are a few. Best to stick with light colors.

Historic house painting

At some point, someone in the past tried to strip the paint off the trim. You can see that after just a little while, they gave up. Why did they give up? Because getting paint off of wood is really hard. Virtually impossible unless you devote your life to it. Chemical strippers like Jasco will work with limited success, but they're toxic and messy. Razor blades and scrapers work a little, too, but they're time-consuming, and it's easy to gouge the wood. Sanding is OK, but it's hard to get all the little cracks and crevasses. We compromised by scraping and sanding until it was smooth enough, then we painted over the old paint. This room is a good example of what a difference trim color can make.

Historic house painting

While it's worthwhile to lay hands on your walls and to pray for them, you will still actually have to get out a paintbrush and do the work.

 

Another DIY adventure: The bathroom renovation

When we first toured the house that would eventually become ours, Adrienne pointed out that the bathroom would need to be “redone.”

I asked what was wrong with it, and she gave me a look. The look scared me, and I said, “I mean, except for all the obvious stuff, of course.”

So after settling in, we got started “redoing” that bathroom.

Step One was getting rid of the plastic shower surround that was installed around the tub. Aside from being yellowed with age and kind of gross, one big section was put in upside-down. We needed tile. Black and white tiles, to be precise. (Adrienne assures me that the black-and-white scheme was not for the purpose of coordinating with the cats.)

After the tile, we installed beadboard wainscoting. For more information on wainscoting — maybe even more information than you ever wanted — the This Old House people have an awesome slideshow. We had a choice between paneling or individual slabs, and we chose the slabs because we thought they looked better, more traditional.

Add a little paint, clean up the hardware, hang a few brass hooks that were nearly impossible to find, and you can consider that a redone bathroom.

Bathroom renovation, Colorado Springs Craftsman

See that soap tray on the main panel there at the top? Yeah, the one that can't hold any soap because it's upside-down? This is one of the things that was wrong with this bathroom.

Bathroom renovation, Colorado Springs Craftsman

Since the place was vacant when we got it, it had been winterized by the friendly HUD folks. Not sure who did the painting, but it was a single yellowish-white color on everything. Looked like a spray job.

Bathroom renovation, Colorado Springs Craftsman

After yanking out the disgusting plastic paneling we needed to prep the walls for tile, which meant removing the damaged plaster. Our tile guy, Tim, was a gem to work with, and he let me do the demolition. I love demolition.

Bathroom renovation, Colorado Springs Craftsman

Here's what I thought going into the project: I'll rip this plaster down, then the tile guy will come in and tile. Easy. Days later, I'm still busting my hump trying to pull this godforsaken plaster down and I'm thinking it might be best to just wall off the damn bathroom and just start using a bucket and the outdoor hose for washing off. The problem, it turns out, is that this plaster has some kind of steel mesh that can't just be pulled down. It has to be cut with a grinder and pried off. Miserable.

Bathroom renovation, Colorado Springs Craftsman

This stuff right here. Steel. Or something. Whatever. Might as well have been titanium. The plaster on this stuff was virtually impossible to take down. Took days. I cursed a lot and cut myself on it no fewer than eight times. A tip for anyone thinking about taking this kind of project on: Rose-pruning shears work really well on this, but there are people who object to having her fancy rose shears being ruined on steel mesh. FYI.

Bathroom renovation, Colorado Springs Craftsman

It occurred to me pretty soon after starting the demo that Tile Guy Tim knew exactly how awful this was going to be and "worked with me" on the demo because he knew our budget was tight. Well-played, Tile Guy Tim. Well-played.

Bathroom renovation, Colorado Springs Craftsman

After the tile job. Looks pretty good with the circa. 1920s fixtures, I think.

Bathroom renovation, Colorado Springs Craftsman

There was a lot of consternation about whether to put the thin black liner tile there, but after a LOT of discussion, we think we made the right choice.

Bathroom renovation, Colorado Springs Craftsman

Tile Guy Tim doesn't have a website. If he did, we'd share it with you and recommend his work. Despite his skillful avoidance of the demolition, he was really great to work with: showed up on time, every time; answered calls; put up with someone's changes of heart about very small things; worked quickly and cleanly. And affordably. He went with us to the tile place to look at some options. A-plus transaction. Would hire again. If you need a tile guy, we still have his number. Why he doesn't have a website is a mystery. Come on, Tim, get on that.

Bathroom renovation, Colorado Springs Craftsman

Because the beadboard came in 8-foot pieces, we moved the trim down to 4 feet so we could just cut the slats in half and save a little cash. Of course this also meant that we had to repair some damaged plaster under the old trim. And by the shower, there was a section of Durock cementboard that needed some attention.

Bathroom renovation, Colorado Springs Craftsman

I used my supersuperior ingenuity to repair this damaged corner by using metal cornerbead and then just mudding the hell out of it. Genius!

Bathroom renovation, Colorado Springs Craftsman

There were some spots, too, that needed some wood putty.

Bathroom renovation, Colorado Springs Craftsman

Another profoundly damaged corner? Cornerbead!!

Bathroom renovation, Colorado Springs Craftsman

The beadboard was fairly easy to install. Adrienne's dad did most of it, and I stood around a lot talking about things he's not interested in.

Bathroom renovation, Colorado Springs Craftsman

While we were doing all this work, we figured we might as well raise the sink a few inches so the taller people in the house don't have to hunch over it uncomfortably when we need to wash our hands. Didn't realize you could just unbolt the bracket from the wall, move it up a few inches, and reattach it. If I had known how easy it was, I would have been raising sinks all my life at every house I've ever lived in.

Bathroom renovation, Colorado Springs Craftsman

I find that the best carpentry is done in pajamas.

Bathroom renovation, Colorado Springs Craftsman

While I was painting and installing beadboard, Adrienne was cleaning and polishing all the hardware. Here's a doorknob and plate before cleaning.

Bathroom renovation, Colorado Springs Craftsman

Here's one after cleaning. Still has a good amount of patina, but some of the details are coming out more. Also, thanks to Henley's Keys downtown, we have a skeleton key that works!

Bathroom renovation, Colorado Springs Craftsman

A "Before" hinge, showcasing one of my biggest peeves: Homeowners, please stop painting over hinges. Really, knock it off.

Bathroom renovation, Colorado Springs Craftsman

See, doesn't that look better? Of course it does.

Bathroom renovation, Colorado Springs Craftsman

Keyplates before and after. Not too shiny, but not too grungy. Just right.

Bathroom renovation, Colorado Springs Craftsman

Adrienne's method for cleaning the hardware was pretty simple: Boiling water and salt mostly. Then a light polish afterward. She's written about it before: http://www.oinkety.com/?p=4133

Bathroom renovation, Colorado Springs Craftsman

Finding good vintage brass hooks is a lot harder than it sounds. Took us forever to find these damn things.

Bathroom renovation, Colorado Springs Craftsman

This is my favorite hook. It's on the back of the door. It's a sad realization in life when you see it in writing that you have a favorite hook.

Bathroom renovation, Colorado Springs Craftsman

And here's my least favorite hook. We don't like it because it's weird. But since we won't be living here much longer, we put it up as a sort-of jab to the next owners. Take that, next owners: That's right, a weird bathroom hook. How are you liking your dream home now?

After the painting and the putting back together of everything, the bathroom does look much better. We used Benjamin Moore paint (Cottonball for the trim and Icing on the Cake for the blue walls).

After the painting and the putting back together of everything, the bathroom does look much better. We used Benjamin Moore paint (Cottonball for the trim and Icing on the Cake for the blue walls).

Bathroom renovation, Colorado Springs Craftsman

The finished bathtub/shower area. Thanks, Tile Guy Tim!

Got a cute shower curtain from TJ Maxx and we were done.

Got a cute shower curtain from TJ Maxx and we were done.

So there it is. Our bathroom, finally finished. Only thing missing now is a toilet paper holder. We love this one, but I can’t spend $245 on a toilet paper holder. It’s just not right.