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Category Archives: Remodeling

Painting the Mantel and Fireplace Black

Painting the Mantel and Fireplace Black

To create some drama in the living room, I decided to paint the mantel and fireplace black. A quick fix for an unattractive and lackluster mantel that makes my life so much better. I like drama in my decor, and very little in my personal life.

The details are pretty basic: use a good primer (Kilz or Bin Zinzer) and then use a good paint to go dark (high quality dark paints require fewer coats). I used Behr Marquee – Totally Black in my house. It’s the same color that I am painting many of the doors, inspired by Daniel from Manhattan Nest. The paint exceeded my expectations, BTW – I highly recommend it – I think it only took two coats to get full coverage, which is really impressive for dark paints.

The flesh toned color of the before was really not going it for me – see below. Yuck. Boring. Yawn.

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And here is the after – WAAAH-BAM!

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I love the black mantel and fireplace together with the brown leather chairs and bright white walls. Also, the black in the curtain hardware speaks to the black in the fireplace. I am really getting on board with the idea that every room needs at least a little black.

Go paint something black in an almost all-white house. It will make your life so much better.

Love,

Rachel

PS. Fun fact – the all-white afghan on the chair to the right of the fireplace in the pic above was made by my mom. She crochets all the time and her work rocks.

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Music Studio and Guest Bedroom

Music Studio and Guest Bedroom

One might wonder where has all the red shag carpet in the world gone? Let me tell you, it has gone into our attic. Yep – here it is in all its red shaggy glory!

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Oh, and in case you were wondering where all the wood paneling went, that also resides in our attic. Lots and lots of red carpet and wood panelling made this attic feel creepy, smell funny, and basically made this space feel uninhabitable.  It was not pleasant to be up there.

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You can see I have taped off the radiators here in preparation for what’s to come.

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The attic space is divided into two smaller spaces – in the photo above, on the right side of the picture, you can see part of the thin wall that divides the two spaces. Eventually the whole attic will be turned into the master suite and that wall will be taken out, perhaps with a small den.

Anyway, I wanted to surprise Victor for Valentine’s Day by making him a music studio for all his many instruments, and also creating a calming place for him to meditate (the Hindu word for it is “puja”).
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So I primed and painted all the wood panelling white (Behr Ultra White – same as the rest of the house). It needed primer first because the wood was dark and in some places bled through.

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Then, I ripped out all the shag carpet, and painted the tiles beneath the carpet a lovely yellow (Citrus – Behr). I was channeling Scandinavian brightness.

To prep the floor I used deglosser. I didn’t want to sand it because I thought the tiles might be asbestos. Then I painted on a coat of Bin Zinzer shellac primer, which is a great primer – it’s a pain to clean, but it’s good because you can paint with latex paint over the shellac (something you cannot do with oil-based paint).

For the yellow, I used Behr Porch and Floor paint – the guy at Home Depot didn’t really want to tint the floor paint this yellow shade for me, because he wasn’t sure it would come out the right color (the floor paints come in grays, browns, blues, mostly). But he did it anyway. And it worked out just fine.

You really need to give the paint a full 72 hours (96 hours if you can wait that long) before you start putting furniture on it. But the finish seems to be very strong and is holding up well to everything that we are putting on the floor.

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Victor has a full drum kit, but I was incapable of putting the whole thing together (I didn’t want to break anything). So I just put together enough of the drum kit so that Victor would get the idea – he got it.IMG_1813

I already had all the art, Victor had bought the couch when we lived in DC and my parents gave me the rug, so with the exception of paint and caulk, this makeover costs almost nothing. I think in total I spent less than $300 completely transforming this space. I’m looking forward to the future when I will vault the ceilings up the rafters, but for now, I’m very happy with how it turned out.IMG_1814 IMG_1815

This puja is on the “bedroom” side of the space (pictured below). The Indian doors are something my parents and I picked out years ago when we took a family trip to India to visit my brother. They are exquisite and really heavy. I’m pleasantly surprised by how nice they look with the yellow floor. The doors serve as a nice back drop for the puja. And the poof  I got from Homegoods for $50, I think. It is the perfect height for Victor’s meditation needs, plus I just think it’s super cute.

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Obviously I still need to buy new bed linens, get some night stands and hang art, but overall, I’m so happy with how this space turned out. The best part is that the house now feels so much larger because this previously unusable space is now bright, cheery and fun to be in.

Love,

Rachel

House Progress – Our Bedroom and Restoring Old Wood Floors

House Progress – Our Bedroom and Restoring Old Wood Floors

Despite my lack of blog posting, I have been a busy bee working on the house.

I wanted to focus on creating cozy bedroom spaces that were (almost) completely finished so that we could have nice retreat from the chaos of the rest of the house.

When I first moved in, everything (EVERYTHING) was painted a yellowish flesh-tone. The floors were in decent shape, but very dry and in need of some love. The doors were a weird grayish/greenish wood finish.
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First things first, I wanted to deal with plastering the ceiling in the bedroom. The ceiling was covered with ugly old ceiling tiles. I applied mesh tape to the seams and then plastered with the pre-mixed wall mud from Home Depot. I was unable to get the ceiling perfectly flat, so I just went for a subtle texture. The subtle texture also helped to disguise the seams between the ceiling tiles.

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I had to apply two coats of mud, waiting a few days between coats for it dry (Seattle is a little chilly and damp). Between each coat, I knocked down the high plaster spots.

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I also removed all the old curtain hardware, patched holes and replastered some cracks in the walls.

Once the ceiling was plastered and dry, I painted everything flat white. The ceilings, the walls were both painted flat white. The trim and doors were painted the same Behr Ultra White, but this time in semi-gloss.

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Then, to perk the floors back up I applied a coat of Restore-a-Finish in dark oak, which is a little darker than the current color on the floors, but it helped disguises scratches better than the golden oak color. I applied the Restore-a-Finish with steel wool, and rubbed with the grain to help clean the floor.  I wiped off excess Restore-a-Finish with a rag.  Next, I applied a generous layer of Howard’s Feed n’ Wax.  It’s a slightly citrus smelling wax, and I really like this stuff. You apply it generously with a rag, and then come back twenty minutes later to wipe off the excess.  I actually ended up buffing and wiping the floors down twice after apply the Feed n’ Wax, because the rags kept coming off with residual Restore-a-Finish. After the second buffing/wiping, the floors looked pretty darned good. This whole process took quite a long time, and I really wish I had invested in knee pads before undertaking this project. You live, you learn.

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Oh, also, my dad installed both quarter-round and picture molding (not pictured, likely because I am lazy).  The quarter round was added where the baseboards meet the floors because there had been carpet, and the area right next to the baseboards was in rough shape. The quarter-round hides the imperfections and just makes everything look so much better and more finished. That was also painted semi-gloss white. Everything was caulked for a seamless look before painting. I also painted the door white, also not pictured.

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The picture molding was added to mimic real picture molding in the living and dining rooms. This house is plaster and lathe, which means that if you start putting nails in the walls willy-nilly to hang art (FYI, I like to hang art willy-nilly. It’s the only way I know how.), you will screw up your walls pretty quickly. So I wanted to use caution. The bedroom picture molding is not true picture molding because it doesn’t hold picture rail hooks, but the plan was that you could nail into the picture molding and use that to hang pictures, without putting holes directly in the delicate plaster. So far it’s working.

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Both the front and back bedrooms (the two bedrooms on the main floor) received all of this treatment. Except the back bedroom – the ceiling plaster was almost perfect in there, so I didn’t plaster over any ugly ceiling tiles.

I still need to get some yellow curtains – they will be so bright and cheery. I also intend to replace the single-pane windows and to add trim to the windows as well. I believe there used to be beautiful window trim, but the previous owner removed the original trim in the 1950s or 60s to make it more modern (when he redid the kitchen), which is truly a shame. I bet is was gorgeous, craftsman style. Tear.

But at this point, I am so happy with how the ceiling turned out. I also love how white and fresh this bedroom feels. The white walls and ceiling, with the white doors and white bedding. It just makes me so happy. I added a little bit of black and a tiny bit of color, and the crisp white of it all just hits all the right buttons.

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So that’s the latest update for you, dear readers, complete with unmade bed shot, so you get the idea.

Stay posted as I slowly get more things finished around the house.

Love,

Rachel

Big News, People. House-sized News.

Big News, People. House-sized News.

You. guys. It’s. Finally. Happening.

It needs a new paint job, obviously, but how cute is this?

It needs a new paint job, obviously, but how cute is this?

That’s right. We bought a house! Like an actual, honest-to-goodness house with walls and basement and attic and a front door and windows and a garage.

It’s in Seattle and it’s almost 100 years old and has coved ceilings and so much charm! So so much charm that I can hardly write a normal sentence.  The ceilings are tall – like 9 or 10 feet. Can we say big chandeliers, anyone? (Well, not huge, but you know, relatively big.)

The living room and fireplace. Windows on the left face the street.

The living room and fireplace. Windows on the left face the street.

The dining room has a great window!

The dining room has a great window!

I’m supposed to get the keys either tomorrow or Wednesday, just in time to answer the doors for trick-or-treaters. I already bought the Halloween candy and will lug it around in my truck until I can get into the house.

From kitchen towards back of the house. The cabinets are from the 50s but are in incredible shape.

From kitchen towards back of the house. The cabinets are from the 50s but are in incredible shape.

From the kitchen into the dining room. I need some new appliances.

From the kitchen into the dining room. I need some new appliances.

So stay tuned because there is some big stuff a-brewing here on Suits and Aprons with all the good home repair things I have in store for this gorgeous, old, charming, craftsman-ish house. I say craftsman-ish because it’s not entirely craftsman style on the outside, but the inside has arched doorways and coved ceilings which are just awesome.

This is the front bedroom. it's small, but charming.

This is the front bedroom. it’s small, but charming.

The back bedroom - looks right out onto the solarium.

The back bedroom – looks right out onto the solarium.

Here are the pictures from the MLS listing. As I get into the house, I will start posting more before and after pics.

Upstairs attic will become the master bedroom.

Upstairs attic will become the master bedroom.

Other side of the upstairs closet.

Other side of the upstairs attic.

This is the bathroom in the basement. It needs a lot of work, but it has potential and it has a WINDOW. And it's there.

This is the bathroom in the basement. It needs a lot of work, but it has potential and it has a WINDOW. And it’s there.

Upstairs bathroom - check out my sweet turquoise tub and toilet. In great shape.

Upstairs bathroom – check out my sweet turquoise tub and toilet. In great shape.

Oh, and check out the sweet solarium it has in the back. In Seattle, you really need a solarium – a place to absorb the limited sun that we get.

THE SOLARIUM! That's right, a solarium. Because that's what fancy people have.

THE SOLARIUM! That’s right, a solarium. Because that’s what fancy people have.

As you can tell, it needs some love, but I. Am. So. Freaking. Excited. That. My. Face. Hurts. From. Smiling. AHHH!

So that’s what’s happening here, dear readers. Soon I will walk you through all my remodelling and updating plans.

Here is a brief list of things I want to do:

1. Paint house so it’s no longer mustard brown. Maybe dark gray with white trim?

2. Paint kitchen cabinets white. Maybe black/charcoal lower cabinets? Brass hardware. Paint counters to look like marble. New lighting.

3. Paint almost everything flat white.

4. Polish/seal floors. They are in surprisingly good shape but need either Restore-A-Finish or Danish Oil to come back to life after 50 years under carpet.

5. Do the Apartment Therapy Style Cure in the dining room. SAY WHAT?! That post is coming up soon.

6. Paint fire place surround black, I think?

7. Do something awesome with solarium. I have no idea about this room, but it’s exciting. I want to fill it with plants and a cozy place to drink coffee in the morning. Not sure quite how to get there.

8. Attic: Rip out carpet, get rid of low-ceiling tiles to vault the ceiling. Add third bathroom. Obvi, the attic will take some time. And money that we don’t yet have, but we will. Eventually I also want to make it bigger by adding two dormer windows. Again, this will depend on finances. May be a few years…

9. Fix the turquoise bathroom. Needs new floors. I cannot afford to replace the tub and toilet, so I’m going to celebrate the vintage turquoise fixtures and do some fancy design tricks that maybe make the turquoise look intentional. Because it totally was intentional. I wanted a house with turquoise fixtures from the beginning.

10. Eventually rip out door between dining and kitchen and replace it with an arch that matches the arch between the dining and living room.

11. A million other things that I want to happen.

Who wants to come visit and stay in my guest room?

House-sized hugs!

Rachel