Thursday, August 20, 2015

I'm Considering Doing Something Stupid

Sooo... long term, we always planned to have a country house to get out of the city and relax on weekends and in the summer. While I love Chicago, I grew up in a more rural area and sometimes I just crave the open space, fresh air and nature.  This hypothetical country house would be an old farm house with loads of character that needed some TLC because...of course... it's us. We would have some land, but not too much - maybe a few acres?  And we would purchase it a few years down the road when we had kids and our current house was completely renovated.  Of course that doesn't stop me from scanning the MLS every few months to see if our perfect country house pops up.  It's all fun and games when faux-house hunting find this:

Um, what?  Are you KIDDING!  I just. can't. even.  The white clap board?  The gothic-esque style?  The transom window above the front door?  The stone porch!?  I die.

I saw it about 2 months ago when it came on the market.  It's a bank owned foreclosure (which is why I'm okay with showing a pic of the house - if someone was living there, that would be totally different).  It's in the middle of nowhere, but within 2 hours of the city which is the perfect distance.  The mortgage on this thing would be the equivalent of a car payment, and not even a luxury car payment.  I showed it to my husband and my mom and we all ooh'd and ahh'd over it and then kind of forgot about it.  Then I got an email alert this week (cause you know I saved it to my favorites) that they dropped the price - by $15k!  That's a HUGE reduction on an already inexpensive house.  Here are the stats:

Year Built: Pre-1900, with an addition that looks like it's from the 1920's.
Bedrooms: 5 bedrooms
Baths: 1 full bath, 1 powder room
Sq Ft: 2600
Lot: 1.6 acres

I need another project house like I need a freaking hole in the head, but I just can't help myself!  This the ongoing struggle in my head.

Me: This is something that you would keep forever, so if the renovation takes 10 years, that's totally fine.

Me:  Seriously, focus on one renovation at a time.

Me: When will you even come across another house like this which so many original details intact?

Me: Yes, you can afford to buy it, but where will you find the cash to renovate this when you are pouring money into your current project!?

Me: See point one, it's doesn't have to be fully renovated right away!

The struggle is real my friends, the struggle is real.  Well, in any event, we all set up for a showing on the 29th so I guess we will see what happens.  Who knows - it could be total falling apart crap and boom!  the conversation ends there. We will see...


Monday, August 17, 2015

More Dining Room Updates...

So I am not done with the dining room yet.  This is because I decided to devote 3 days of my life to skim coating the dining room walls.  Man, am I soooo glad I did. What a difference it made!

Admittedly, I did a horrible job documenting the skim coating, but I still thought I would skim (pun intended) over the the process.  Basically, skim coating is putting up a new, thin layer of joint compound over your walls.  This can be necessary in a few instances, like when you remove wall paper and it damages your walls, or if you have a texture to your walls that you wish to cover up.  Skim coating is typically quicker, easier, and cheaper than installing new sheetrock.  In my case, I have plaster walls that had a number of cracks that I patched.  The patched areas are smooth and they contrast with the texture of the walls.  My walls aren't purposely textured, but after 90+ years of paint jobs, there was a rather pronounced texture to them.  

When we renovated our bedroom and the living room, we did not skim coat.  Every time I turn on a lamp or the light casts in a certain way, it brings out the imperfections and textural inconsistencies in the walls.  Some old house flaws I find charming - lumpy walls is not one of them.  When I did the hallway, the walls were so damaged from plucking off pieces of painted over wall paper, that skim coating was a must.  And the walls came out gorgeously.  I seriously run my hand over the hallway walls to marvel at their smoothness multiple times a week - it's a problem.  Every room moving forward will be skim coated and I will be circling back to the bedroom and living room at some point to skim coat those walls as well.

Anyway, enough rambling. Let's talk about the actual process of skim coating.  I did the "easy" version (which spoiler alert - isn't all that easy).  There is a more "traditional" method using a hawk and trowel, but I am not skilled enough for that.  I used a tool called the Magic Trowel and I love it.  It really does lessen the amount of skill required but you still need to be patient as it does take a little experience to get the hang of it.  Here is the gist of the skim coating process!

Tools/Supplies Needed:
  • Joint Compound (I recommend the dust control version, unless you like to be surrounded by a cloud of drywall dust)
  • 3/8"-3/4" Nap Roller Cover (the more damaged the walls, the thicker the nap)
  • Paint Roller
  • Paint Tray
  • Mixing Paddle Attachment
  • Drill
  • Water
  • Magic Trowel (you can find it here, also is sold in select Sherwin Williams stores)
  • Sanding Sponges (Medium and Fine grit)
  • Pole Sander (with Fine grit paper)
  • Wet Rag(s)

Step One:

Add about 1 cup water to a 5 gallon bucket of joint compound of your choice and mix thoroughly with your drill and mixing paddle attachment.  You are looking for the consistency of melting ice cream.

Step Two:

Scoop a few scoops of the thinned mud into your paint tray and load up your roller.

Step Three:

Roll the mud onto the walls.  I have found it works best to apply the mud in 4'-6' wide areas, working across the bottom coming back to doing the top of the wall.  Once your mud is applied to your first section, take your Magic Trowel and wipe the blade with a damp towel and then start at the bottom edge of the wall and literally wipe the trowel upward maintaining a light pressure.  Repeat until the entire working section is smooth.  Then move on to the next section and repeat until all of your walls are covered.  Depending on how much texture you are trying to cover, it may take more than one skim coat to get the job done.

Step Four:

Wait for the mud to dry.  I use premixed compound and it was humid, so I waited a good 24-36 hours before sanding.  Once the mud is dry, take your pole sander and go to town sanding every inch of the walls.  After that, turn off the over head light and set up a lamp close to the wall so that it casts shadows on the wall.  Use that as your guide to find any areas that require more sanding.  Do not skip this step.  If you do, when the sun shines in just right or a lamp is put in a certain corner, you will find these imperfections and it will have defeated the purpose of the skim coating!

Step Five:

Wipe down the walls well to remove the dust and then apply primer and paint.

Now that my walls are ceiling is done, I am moving on to the trim.  After scraping away the varnish on all of the trim, I applied primer.  I always prime before I do any caulking or patching because the primer makes any imperfections more apparent - the natural wood finish tends to camouflage things in my opinion.  

After priming, I spackled the proverbial crap out of everything.  

The sun was shining in through the window so I wasn't able to get a shot of that trim, but it was just as pink and spotted as the baseboards.  THIS is why I can't leave my wood natural.  It has been so abused and damaged over the years that it takes this much spackle and patching to make it look good again...  Sigh - at least it's still there and (mostly) original.  I got the spackle sanded down last night, so on to reinstalling the crown moulding, caulking and then paint!  Wahoo!

In other exciting news - I got over my irrational fear of electrical work and installed the dining room chandelier!  It took me 10 minutes.  Not sure why I was so intimidated.  I love the light fixture though. I think it's just the right size for the space and it has just the right vintage look I was going for without being too formal.

Well that's all for now.  So close, but still a lot of work left.  I would LOVE to enjoy a completed dining room by the end of next weekend.  Let's see if that can happen!


Monday, August 3, 2015

Dining Room Progress

Progress is being made on the dining room!  I am please to say that I have finished the drywall and plaster repair in the dining room.  While I have done more plaster repair than I care to remember, this was my first stab at finishing drywall.  I have to say, I think it went pretty well.

Three coats of mud and some sanding later...

...and I had a giant mess!  In all seriousness though, sanding joint compound is one of the very least enjoyable activities.  I used dust control joint compound this time, which I have never used before.  It seemed to perform and apply very similarly to regular joint compound, except with the sanding.  I was able to get most of the drywall joints mudded pretty smoothly, so there wasn't a ton of sanding needed except for one or two spots.  I noticed that this joint compound gummed up my sanding block quite a bit so I had to shake/tap off the excess mud sticking to it pretty frequently.  The mud was definitely dry as I finished mudding last weekend and then sanded this weekend.  On the plus side, the dust falls straight to the floor so you don't have the typical drywall dust snowstorm that gets everywhere - it stays pretty contained.  So the question here is whether or not the annoyance factor of sanding the dust control joint compound is worth the more easily contained drywall dust?  In my opinion, absolutely.  Having the mess just stay in the area where I was working rather than flying all over the house saved me way more time in easier clean up than cleaning off my sanding block constantly.

So ceiling primed and ready for ceiling paint - check.  Plaster cracks repaired and walls primed - check.  It would be soooo easy to just get the crown put back up, trim painted and then paint the walls, but since I am a home improvement masochist, I am really thinking about possibly skim coating the walls.  I skim coated the walls in the hallway (I had to because they were damaged and uneven thanks to removing painted over wallpaper - read more about that good time here) but they are gloriously smooth and perfect.  We didn't skim coat in the living room and bedroom and when there is a lamp illuminating a wall or when you focus on a certain area, the texture imperfections bug me.  Like, a lot.  So, I can break out more mud and take another 3-4 days to skim coat a few layers and sand and have gloriously smooth walls.  Or I can stop being a crazy person and keep this project moving...  Hmm...

In other news, the radiator cover got a few coats of fresh white paint and is looking real pretty!

And I spend like 2 hours yesterday getting this baseboard and basecap installed around the bump out.

The baseboard was a breeze; it's just mitered cuts.  But the basecap?  Oh man... It's so challenging not just because of the angles, but also because I only have so much original basecap to work with from walls that were demoed.  I can't just go to Home Depot to buy this stuff, so I have to use the pieces that I have.  Which means, I am holding a 3 inch piece of wood while slicing it at a crazy angle and trying not to lose a finger.  

Well, that's where things stand for now.  Hopefully I will have some prettier updates to share in the next week or so!  I can't wait to get this dining room finished.