You’re so Vain, Vanity

Our main bathroom is taking shape.  Yesterday you saw Saturday’s progress, but on Sunday, more bathroom magic happened.  Ben started working on the vanity.  After finding a remnant piece of quartz for sixty bucks, we nailed down the width of 43 inches.

With the linen closet ready to rock, we could start the vanity.  Right off the bat, Ben and I agreed we wanted an open design similar to the basement bathroom at our first house.  I even made a to scale Photoshop drawing.

Ben had 3 1/2 inch square oak posts already, so we used those for the legs.  For a modern look and sleek clean-ability (a must with two little boys!) we chose the Archer sink by Kohler.  But we had a little problem.  The sink is almost 20 inches wide, our top is 43, and our legs are 7 inches wide.  43 – 20 – 7 = 16 inches.  Divide 16 by 2 (we wanted a drawer on each side of the sink) and you get 8 inch wide drawers.  That’s the outside dimension, now take away an inch for glides and another inch for building materials and you’re left with a 6 inch drawer.  Too little space to make it worth building drawers.  Boo.  On the upside, this made building the vanity a little easier.  Instead of cutting several pieces to make openings for the drawers, Ben used 2 by 6 boards to frame up the top.

To secure the boards, Ben drilled long screws to hole the boards to each other and the studs in the wall.

But not before making sure every part was level several times.

Then Ben nailed the legs to the cross boards, using filler pieces where our floor isn’t completely level.

Tile floors don’t work to hold the leg bases down, but shelves stabilize nicely.  Knowing we won’t have drawers, I adjusted my plans to include two shelves instead.

For maximum stability and strength, Ben cut plywood (not MDF) to size and notched out the post corners.  To cover the ugly plywood edge and add even more rigidity, he tacked on an oak face.  We shouldn’t have to worry about the boys using the shelves as a step stool.  In our humble opinions, the easiest and sturdiest way to support shelves is with cleats; thin pieces if wood which the shelf rests on.  Ben added two short ones to each leg and a long piece along the back wall.

One shelf down, one to go.  Through the power vested in me the internet, I give thee a second shelf.

And a peek at the counter and sink.  Oh look, here’s another.

And I snapped a ton of pictures of the cutting and polishing process for those requesting a granite post.  Check back for that tomorrow.  After a weekend of work, this is what we accomplished.

And a little action at the tub.  Ugly framing covered and a pretty granite sill on top.

Have you ever built a vanity?  Do you prefer the look of an open style or the option to tuck items away in a cabinet?  Who’s excited for the stone cutting post?

Tile on the Floor

I’ve said it before, progress on the bathroom is slow.  We’ve got a million and ten projects we’re working on, some more pressing than others.  First removing the water heaters to make room for the geothermal.  Then installing a new dishwasher.  And a whole house fan to keep us cool.  All necessary things that have taken focus off the bathroom.  Such is life, I guess.  In the video tour, you caught a glimpse of the newly installed floor tile.  So here’s how we got to that point.

Before we could install the tile, we had to determine the layout.  We knew we wanted a brick pattern and preferred the look of it running parallel to the door.  Then, Ben measured the distance between the wall and the bath tub.  Centering the middle of the first tile on this portion looked best, instead of centering the first tile over the entire room length.

More of the room is this width, not the full 8 foot span.  Ben marked the center of the tile with a pencil, making it easier to line everything up.  After nailing that down (figuratively, of course) Ben measured and cut the rest of his pieces.

Including this hole for the floor vent.

Sometimes tiles are finicky and break while cutting.  Well, not these.  Ben said these tiles are crazy strong and a dream to work with.  A happy Ben means a happy tile job and very little complaining.  And, this is his best toilet cut out to date.

Turns out a paint can is the perfect template.  Knowing this is a small space, Ben pre-cut and fitted his tiles before mixing the mastic.

Install was crazy quick because of this.  Seriously, I watched him set the first few, walked down the hall to clean up a few things, came back and saw this:

Sure it helps that the tiles are 1 foot by two feet, but it went fast.

The following morning, V helped me pull out the 1/16 inch spacers and I got to work cleaning the floor.  Wetting the mastic with a rag makes clean up super simple.  Then I used a utility knife to scrape the higher sections of mastic out of the grout lines.

Bring on the grout!  And a toilet, please.

Airing Things Out

Montana summer is near, and we love enjoying the warm weather outside.  And we want that warmth to stay outside.  In our first house, keeping it cool wan’t too difficult.  Ben super insulated the walls and we had a functioning geothermal to cool.  Well, the mountain house has neither and we’ve got loads of large windows and southern exposure.  It heats up in here.  Luckily, our nights cool off nicely this time of year. Ben came up with a genius idea to tide us over during these in between months; a whole house fan.

After some discussion and weighing our options, we decided to remove the ugly fluorescent light in my office to make room for the fan.

The electric from the light made install easier.  Removing the light was easy enough, then Ben located the roof rafters using a stud finder.

Typical install involves cutting the rafter to make room for the fan.  Not cool with us.  Something about tearing out part of a structural element seems wrong.  Instead, Ben used the fan template and cut the sheet rock around the beam.

Here’s the big guy now.  The fan, not Ben.  🙂

Ben used 2 by 4s to build a brace around the outside of the opening, then put the fan in place.

I’d love to give you a detailed tutorial of everything he did, but I wasn’t in the attic.  However, I can give you this shot of how it looks from afar when on.

The fan sucks warm air from the house and puts it in the attic, which also pulls the louvers up.  The beam across the middle blocks the center louver from moving, so Ben cut it loose from the rest.

When off, the louvers kind of look like a vinyl fence.  Still, it is a far better look than the huge oak encased light of yore.

Even better, when on, the fan does a great job pulling the cold outside air through the open windows.  If we close everything early enough, the house stays cool throughout the day.  What a smart man I have.

Just Keep Tiling

That’s Ben’s motto these days.  We’ve had the main bathroom shower surround tiled for over a week now, but little projects keep popping up, preventing further progress.   Instead of waiting longer to share, here’s where we’re at now.

Tile from tub to ceiling makes the 8 foot ceilings feel taller and opens the space.

A functional tub is great, but the lack of grout means the boys can’t splash during their bath.

I’m in love with this tile.  It’s a nice gray/cream color with subtle pattern, but nothing that jumps out.  Our floor tile is in and has sat in the garage for a week, while our bathroom floors look like this:

In our down time, we like to relax while watching a show on Netflix or Hulu through our Play Station.  Not a single cable jack exists in this house.  Through wireless internet, the connection is terribly slow, stopping several times to load.  Finally, Ben had enough of it and rigged up a temporary fix.

Cable comes from outside, at the end of the pool room, under the deck (the original owner’s plan), into the floor in my office, up the wall and over.

And we need an actual entertainment center.  But we’ll have to finish the basement, re-roof, install the new geothermal unit, and I’m sure do several more things before an entertainment center can reach the summit of our huge to do list.

After signing closing papers yesterday morning, the boys and I ran errands, including a stop at Joann’s and TJ Maxx.  Picked up another pile of fabric and I’m half way through with this sewing endeavor.  I spied a cute golden yellow and white rug at TJ Maxx.  For $19.99, I figured I could find a home somewhere.

Right now, it’s at the French door off the deck, but I’m considering using it as a large bath mat in the main bathroom.  Not completely sure yet, but I think it’s adorable (and surprisingly soft!).

What’s at the top of your to do list?  Bathroom renovations starting soon?  Need a new roof?  Working on a painting project?  Share with us.

Earn Your Stripes

I know, I know.  Stripes are a huge trend and I’m the last to jump on board.  But I love the look, so I did it.  Back when we made the offer on the mountain house, I immediately thought of a green wall color with white and gray striped curtains in the boys’ bedroom.  Green because it’s V and E’s favorite color.  And stripes because they’re bold without being girly.  You saw my 20 yard pile of fabric on Monday, and I’m happy to say we’ve got hanging curtains as of last night.

For the past week, we’ve lived with white mini blinds and old hardware from vertical blinds.

The blinds blocked some of the incoming light, but not enough to let the boys sleep past 6:30.  I love curtains, the look, function, and ease, so I decided to make blackout curtains, hoping for precious sleep.  I bought 10 yards of white blackout liner and 10 yards of a plain cotton liner to use as my curtain.  Joann had drapery fabric on 50% off sale, so the blackout cost $3.49 per yard and the cotton liner was $3.99 per yard for a total of $74.80 for four 54 inch wide floor to ceiling panels.  To get started on my sewing endeavor, I first cut the fabric into 7 foot 4 inch lengths.  Once I had four of each fabric, I pinned the manufacturer straight lines together.

Using a known straight edge helped me keep the curtain panels as square as possible.  After I smoothed out the fabric, I rolled my long edges over twice, keeping a one inch margin, to make a clean back edge.

I did this to all four sides, then started sewing.  And sewing.  And sewing.  I was the energizer bunny of the sewing world that day.  Two Everett naps later, I had my four panels ready for ribbon.  Most often, I make a rod pocket when I sew curtains.  But the thick blackout fabric doesn’t bunch much when pulled to the side, so I needed to fix that.  Curtain clips are an option, but I’m too cheap to spend 28 bucks (four packages at $7 each).  Instead, I used white grosgrain ribbon I already had in my stash, not to be confused with a ‘stache; I don’t have that kind.  I cut my ribbon into 6 inch lengths, then pinned the edges over twice to prevent fraying and to add strength.  Five ribbon loops per panel was perfect for my hefty fabric.

One ribbon loop on either end of each panel first, pinning in the corners.

To place my other three, I skipped measuring and folded my fabric in half, marking center with a pin.

Pin first, then sew three strips, the first forward, second in reverse, and last forward.

With those ribbon loops, the curtains became functional.  Finally time for the fun part.  After folding the edges over twice, my 7 foot 4 inch panels became 7 foot panels, which is perfect for 12 inch wide stripes.  A yard stick made quick work of marking my stripes.  Starting from the top of each to make sure the stripes lined up, I made tick marks at each foot.  Just a light line and I started edging with my paint.  Then I realized my paint dried too quickly and it was going to take an eternity this way.  I busted out a roll of plain masking tape and tested the crispness of the line it made.  Lucky for me, the tape worked perfectly.  So I started using the tape for a crisp paint line, running it along my pencil line.

To ensure a tight seal, I used the end of my paint can opener to really press the tape down.

To get my gray stripes, I used a can of Pewter Tankard, left over from painting the inside of the drawers of our first home’s kitchen.  While at Joann buying fabric, I looked at Fabric Medium.  I decided against using it for a few reasons.  1.  I needed a one to two ratio of medium to paint.  2.  Each 2 ounce bottle cost $2.99 and I’d probably need 4 or more bottles.  3.  I’m painting curtains, so a rough texture won’t be a problem.  No one is sitting or sleeping on it.  So I started painting with my plain latex paint and a brush.  Pouncing along the tape line helps prevent paint bleeding, too.

Working in one foot sections, I edged along the tape, then quickly filled in working from the edge toward the center.  It took about 4 hours to tape and paint twelve stripes (three on each panel).  Vincent and Everett colored near by, occasionally stepping over to see my progress and chat.  I painted two stripes per panel, moved them to the floor to dry and started on the next.  I worked through the panels until my first dried and I painted the last stripe.

I finished painting and remembered I couldn’t use the curtains that night if I didn’t have rods to hang them on.  Originally I wanted to use galvanized plumbing, but parts were more expensive than I anticipated.  Each fixed five foot rod would cost about 30 bucks.  Maybe I can find an adjustable curtain rod I liked more under $30.  The boys and I made a Target run, where I found this Umbra rod I liked.  Our Target only had one, so we looked for another simple option.  Then I saw this one with two in stock.  We grabbed them and headed home.

Last night, Ben and I hung the rods after tearing down the old vertical blind systems.  I didn’t bother patching the holes because we don’t have paint to touch up.  That will happen when after scraping the popcorn off and repainting.  Each bracket is 10 inches outside the window trim, allowing the curtains to fully open.  Here are the new striped curtains:

I did some furniture rearranging to make opening and closing the curtains easier.  Neither window is centered on the room, which is annoying.

V’s bed is about 6 inches away from the wall now, and I turned E’s crib, putting the long side along the window wall.

I smile when I walk in there now.  Oh, and the blackout fabric makes the room super dark.  Mission accomplished.  It’s worth mentioning that the painted curtains aren’t soft and supple, but they sure are pretty.  Even Ben thinks they look cool.  That’s saying something!

I really can’t wait to get a few coats of Refined Tan on the walls, but for now the swatch will do.

How about a before and after?

One thing checked off this room’s to do list, about 846 to go.  Are you on board with the stripe trend?  Where have you added stripes to your home?  Which trend are you loving most these days?  Hate the most?