I’m delusional

So. Remember when I said that the dining room walls weren’t that bad? I do. Laugh at my folly.

Patching the screw holes and taping the seams in the new drywall was super easy. Whew. It sands so seamlessly.

Then came the scraping of the damaged plaster on the ceiling. And, you know, the hundreds of small holes and hairline cracks, and deep cracks between the new drywall wall and plaster ceiling/walls.

Water damage:

Water damaged plaster
Water damaged plaster

To repair that water damaged area, I mixed up some Durabond 90. I like the Durabond for applications like deep cracks, or the first layer of skim coat. It shrinks less, and chemically reacts, so it hardens faster in thicker applications. The downside of this, is it’s such a hassle to sand down. I wish that I would have been a little less hasty, and smoothed things out a little more. My arm will be paying for it later. I used screen mesh (which was recommended on the Old Town Home blog, and useful!). The issue was the area size. I was home alone, I couldn’t keep the mesh up and grab my joint knife/mud at the same time, it kept falling on my face/hair like a big wet mud blanket. Cutting it in half made it much more manageable. But, I was pissssssed by the time I was done with that. Also, sweaty and gross.

durabond 90 on ceiling
durabond 90 on ceiling
durabond 90 on ceiling
durabond 90 on ceiling
first skim coat with screen mesh and durabond 90 on water damaged ceiling
first skim coat with screen mesh and durabond 90 on water damaged ceiling

I then filled the larger cracks, and seams between the drywall and plaster walls with the durabond and tape. filled gaps between plaster and drywalls wet durabond 90 on ceiling drywall

Today, I spent about an hour (although it seemed like an eternity) filling in hairline cracks and screw holes with pre-mixed all purpose joint compound. Super gross and creepy, I found mystery hairs stuck to the ceiling? I don’t want to spend too much time contemplating how that happened.

I got another skim coat on the mesh on the ceiling. dried 2nd skim coat on screen mesh/ceiling

There are still some larger cracks on the ceiling that need tape and mud, but, that was just beyond me today.

Here’s where I’m at.wet joint compound

dried joint compound on ceiling
dried joint compound on ceiling



It looks better, right?! RIGHT?!

Excuse me while I go cry a million tears into my bucket of joint compound.

How to paint your crib / toddler bed

So, my house keeps being like: Yo. Remember how you left me with 50’s green walls and hundreds of holes?

And I’m like: Shhhh. Netflix and wine.


The one area where I did pull it together, was for my daughter’s 4th birthday. She was very specific with her present requests this year. She wanted to paint her bedroom door purple, and she wanted to paint her bed pink. You guys, she is my little daughter through and through.

She is still sleeping in the Graco Lauren crib that I purchased when I was all fat and pregnant, 4+ years ago. Although, we converted it to a toddler bed a ways back. The factory espresso finish wasn’t in great shape, and I agree with her that pink would be much better.


So naturally, we had a girl’s shopping trip to the hardware store for her to pick out her paints. She chose Benjamin Moore Hot Lips (for the bed) in the Satin Advance line.

Benjamin Moore Advance Hot Lips
Benjamin Moore Advance Hot Lips

Benjamin Moore Advance


I disassembled the bed, and moved it into a room that I had put plastic all over the floors and wall.

Make sure that you keep track of all the loose screws and bolts. I used a small box with a lid.

Organized screws and bolts for the bed
Organized screws and bolts for the bed

I then used Goo Gone to remove any stickers (like on the back, I kept the ones on the base that say ‘left’ and ‘right’), and used 220 sand paper to smooth out the spots where toddler Rylan chewed on the bed. You know those chewed spots.

Chew marks, you know
Chew marks, you know


Sanding the chew marks with 220 sand paper and smoothing it out
Sanding the chew marks with 220 sand paper and smoothing it out

Since I couldn’t find my TSP anywhere, I used some water and dish soap to give everything a wipe down. Give it a couple of hours to dry before primer.

Here’s the girl, with her bed:

Here's Rylan with her toddler bed, pre paint
Here’s Rylan with her toddler bed, pre paint

I love oil based primer. I know, it’s smelly and the clean up can be a hassle, but there isn’t anything else like it. It sticks to everything, without sanding, which is a major bonus. I decided to try Kilz primer in the spray paint, because I knew that I had lotsssssss of coats to do, and I wanted to get the priming done quickly.

So. I bought a can and started spraying.

Kilz Oil based spray primer
Kilz Oil based spray primer

Then, I ran out.

This is where 1 can of spray paint will get you (only one side is done)
This is where 1 can of spray paint will get you (only one side is done)

TWO more cans of spray paint later, and I was done.

I do not think it was especially cost affective, because I already have about 5 cans of different primers and there’s a lot of waste with the spraying, but it sure was faster than painting with a roller/brush. One thing of note with this primer, was it had a lot of texture, almost fibrous. I wish I would have been more conscious of it, and sanded it with 220 before paint. Now, I know.

I used a paint brush, and a mini dense foam roller for the flat parts and to smooth out the brush strokes. I painstakingly painted each side, giving 16+ hours to dry, then turning it over and painting the other side. I did this for 2 coats, sooooo 4 days (about 1 hour for the first coat each side, and then 30 minutes for each side for subsequent coats.) Also, sanding between coats with 220 sandpaper, then wiping down with mineral spirits. I equate sanding between coats to, you know, poking out my eye. It gives such a smoother finish though. So, sand between coats.

First coat:

Benjamin Moore Advance Hot Lips
First coat Benjamin Moore Advance Hot Lips

Benjamin Moore Advance Hot Lips

After that, I wised up ya’ll. I loosely assembled the bed again, for the 3rd and final coat.

3rd coat of Benjamin Moore Advance Hot Lips
3rd coat of Benjamin Moore Advance Hot Lips

The thing about the Benjamin Moore Advance paint, is it takes a long time between coats, and 3-5 days before the painted object should be handled. That was not an issue for me (Rylan slept on her mattress on the floor, crack den style). It theoretically gives a very durable finish, but I haven’t had the pieces in use long enough to test it. Another thing of note, the Satin finish is much shinier than a normal satin finish. It will be less shiny if applied with a foam roller, and more shiny if applied with a brush. Or, so I have found.

While it was drying, I remembered that I had picked up the Ikea Tofsviva Duvet for her on a whim, a couple months back. I personally do not mind tone on tone, but lo and behold, the pink in the duvet almost perfectly matches Hot Lips. Whaaaaaat. Get out of here, world. Also, get out of my brain, Rylan. And, also, you all are welcome that this mother/daughter duo solved the conundrum of what color perfectly matches the pink in the duvet.

Ikea Tofsviva duvet Benjamin Moore Hot Lips
Ikea Tofsviva duvet and Benjamin Moore Hot Lips

Of course, now that I have spent hours of my life painting THIS bed, I have decided that I should probably start looking for a bigger bed/bedframe for her, and giving her a big girl room.

All in all, a very inexpensive way to make a big change. It was about $27 for the paint and $15 for the spray paint primer.

Here’s the after:

Ikea Tofsviva duvet Benjamin Moore Hot Lips
In her room, all dried and put together

Ikea Tofsviva duvet Benjamin Moore Hot Lips



Lots of effort, and minimal return

That’s the kind of day that I’m having.

I spent hours this morning, in the dining room, cleaning walls, scraping at damaged plaster, mudding holes and it still looks terrible. And green.

I guess that’s the thing about the first coat, lots of effort and minimal visual return.

Progress! I mean, if you consider making work for yourself as progress

This weekend, I got the sudden urge to tear down drywall, while I was drinking coffee.

So, I did.

I removed all the drywall in the dining room. It was at about this point that I was all “Ahhhh! What did I do?!”

See - dust and debris everywhere!
See – dust and debris everywhere!


I make poor decisions.

Then, I spent several hours with a drill, removing hundreds of screws. And I have concluded that I am worse at screw removal than the average person.

Action shot, courtesy of my 3 year old daughter
Action shot, courtesy of my 3 year old daughter

The walls are not in terrible shape, actually. They need a very, very thorough cleaning. Most of the damage is from the screw holes from the drywall.

Now, I’m trying to convince myself to not just embrace the green, and to prep the walls for new paint.

As of right this moment, green is in the winning. Retro dining room

I did get the second coat of Benjamin Moore Dark Harbor (25% darker) on part of the kitchen wall. The color is so amazing. I’m glad that I discontinued the hunt for the perfect gray and went the opposite direction. I found the color accidentally, by googling Benjamin Moore colors – and this picture popped up:

untitled (1 of 1)From http://design-crisis.com/tag/dark-harbor/

I just knew that I had to get that color in my life.

Here’s how it looks with the brick, and walnut floor:

Benjamin Moore Dark Harbor
Benjamin Moore Dark Harbor and walnut floor
Benjamin Moore Dark Harbor and Sherwin Williams Snowbound
Benjamin Moore Dark Harbor and Sherwin Williams Snowbound


Craigslist, you’re a cruel mistress

Am I the only one who takes craig’s list posts and interactions so personally? I have only had a couple of purchases with it, but, they were fairly easy and successful. I caught the bug.


Yesterday, I hopped on Craig’s list to search for a mid-century modern credenza, just to see what was available.


I saw this one:





$125? A steal, compared to the other $500+ ones. I immediately emailed the seller, then, received a work Out Of Office reply. They wouldn’t be in until the next day. Ok, no problem. The listing was pretty old, so I assumed it would not be available, and I prepped myself for it. Instead of actually doing that, I refinished it in my head, I picked out the perfect color of paint in my head, I styled it in my head. It. HAD. to. be. mine.


I didn’t even KNOW that I wanted a mid-century modern credenza. I mean, I knew, but, I didn’t KNOW. You know?


No? I understand. That makes two (at the very least) of us.


Anyways. I waited until 10 am, without a response, to kindly send a polite follow up email. I did not receive an Out Of Office reply, so I know that the seller did receive the email. It’s like the purest form of rejection. I might possibly be a tad on the dramatic side. Maybe.


While I was waiting, I searched for dressers. This one popped up:



$50.00?! That’s even cheaper. I don’t like it AS much as the other one, but I could still spruce it up. I now envisioned this one – repainted/refinished and happy in our house.


I emailed the seller.


2 hours later, a response that it was sold. Still nothing on the other one. Like, not even to say it was sold? THEN TAKE DOWN THE LISTING. YOU LEAVE NOTHING BUT PAIN AND DESPAIR.

Now, I am obsessed, and this has to happen. I informed my husband of this, after about 434543631 text messages to him about these two pieces of furniture, and he incredulously asked “NOW you’re obsessed?” – to which I let him know that I was blasé before, obvs. Now, the real crazy is going to start.

Kitchen plans – loose ends

On some level, I know that a lot has happened in the kitchen. It still feels so unfinished, probably because it really is. This whole thing has been a multi phase process. We only got the first couple of cabinets, because we weren’t planning on removing the wall yet, and wouldn’t know exact measurements until we did. We were trying to be responsible and save and pay with cash for the work and materials. We did a pretty good job, for awhile. Well, after the floor, jacking up the house, and removing the wall and all the miscellaneous (omg. so many random expenses) – way over budget. As I’m sure most people can relate to.

The credit cards are cut up, and the next year is dedicated to paying off all debt and saving, again. So the remaining cabinets are going to remain a fantasy, for awhile.

But! That’s ok. It gives me an opportunity to wrap up loose ends. And work more on DIY.


  • 3rd skim coat
  • drywall seams
  • sand, sand, sand
  • prime
  • paint walls and trim
  • chair rail
  • base shoe
  • hack ikea cabinet (another post, when I finish)

So. The list will continue, but it will be more helpful with a visual. The wall that was drywalled and will have tile backsplash – needs to be drywalled. again. Yes. I guess our cabinet was 1/8″ too wide or something, so the contractor decided to just remove the drywall there. Yeah, thanks for that, guy.


1 step forward, 1346564 steps back
1 step forward, 1346564 steps back

I have a panel of 1/4″ drywall in the garage for this. The other issue is that the space between the outside walls is only about 2″. The light switch box is too deep, and sticks out too far. I ordered a shallow one, and will switch it out when I re-drywall it.

List continued:

  • switch light switch box
  • drywall
  • tile the backsplash and up the side wall
  • grout
  • get grout and cap pieces (side note: decide on cap pieces)

Someday list:

  • More cabinets (new sink/dishwasher cabinet and cabinets depicted in below illustration)
  • A ceiling – now I just sound spoiled
  • crown moulding
  • door frame moulding
  • Pantry
  • ugly radiator pipes (I don’t want ugly radiator pipes, but I don’t judge you if that’s your thing)
You like my mad paint skills?
You like my mad paint skills?


I have been working on the new drywall, so things are making progress, maybe?

I forgot how to kitchen

I lived with a partial kitchen, no sink – but a stove, or no stove – but a sink, for a long time (about a year). It seems like every couple of weeks I was disassembling it more, and removing more (all) wall cabinets. Why? Because I am a glutton for punishment.

Here was the kitchen on a GOOD day:

Terrible befores, make for Good afters.
Terrible befores, make for Good afters.

Yup. No prep space, no landing spot next to the stove.

It was very stressful planning out a new layout for my kitchen. I am not a designer, I didn’t want to PAY for a designer. I am talking about a lot of sleepless nights, before I paid for our custom cabinets, and a whole lot of sleepless nights afterwards. The people over at gardenweb would probably tear my layout apart.

But, you know what? My kitchen.

And also. Can I remind everyone, 1 huge window and 4 doorways, a radiator?

I did keep in mind adequate space for walkways around our peninsula (42″+), and so far it’s worked really well.

The biggest change that we made was moving the cooking to the center, in the peninsula (it’s connected to the wall on one side – semantics). It. Is. Awesome. It’s the little cooking epicenter, it has the Induction cooktop, oven, butcher block for prep work, the trash can, and spice pull out. There’s enough room behind the cooktop that my soon-to-be-4-year-old can sit back a safe distance, but also lean forward to help me stir (while supervised).

Moving the fridge into the kitchen was pretty good, too.

The drawers across from the peninsula have the pots and pans/Tupperware.

Soft close. Holla.

Here’s what the cabinets look like as of today:067085 070 068

Can we just talk about the behemoth of a fridge surround? It’s 107″ tall, 31 3/8″ deep and 36″ wide. My outside doors are not that wide. I carefully measured my INTERIOR doors, and they were wide enough, so I ordered the cabinet. Only days before the cabinets were to be delivered, did it occur to me to measure the exterior door. Oh. Em. Gee. Too small. How am I going to get the cabinet IN the house? It’s ok, if I remove part of the doorway jamb, it will squeak through.

Yeah, turns out that I was not familiar with pre-hung doors? I guess it’s all one solid piece. I have lived in 100+ year old houses for the past 20 years, and door frames were put together of individual pieces of molding. In a fit of frustration and panic, I beat the hell out of the door frame with a hammer and a crow bar. I did this:

There's supposed to be another strip of wood and about 1/2" thicker
There’s supposed to be another strip of wood and about 1/2″ thicker

The cabinets show up. There’s a brace on the back of the fridge surround to keep it stable. It doesn’t fit. Tears were shed. Curse words hurled. Luckily, it could be stored in our garage.

For install, our contractor was able to remove the whole frame, so that it could fit through the door. I was the only one home when that happened. It was me, and him, and we had to get that thing from the garage, through the back yard and through the door, and lifted up into position. I am tiny, 5’2″ and rail-thin-kind-of-tiny. Boy, was my body sore the next day.

Turns out that it was good that our ceiling was torn out, otherwise, the geography of getting the cabinet up, would not have worked. Small victories.


There’s still so much to dooooooooooooooooo. At least it feels like progress.

The wall came down, but in a good way

And what a change it made!

So, I showed the wall before, but a reminder:001











Then, the rest of it was demo’ed out.

Two temporary walls were put in place:

To keep my second story from falling down
To keep my second story from falling down

Studs removed

The beam and posts:beam and posts

Then framed (to make it similar to the existing large doorways between living room/front room/dining room):

What, doesn't everyone have an oven in their dining room?
What, doesn’t everyone have an oven in their dining room?

Finally, drywall!:

It needs some paint
It needs some paint

I have to fill the holes/seams, then primer and paint. So. Exciting.

A bonus (for me) – Here’s what we were doing when the wall was being removed, a dance recital.

Rylan - 3 years old
Rylan – 3 years old

Yellow walls and plaster showers

Before we had the new floors installed, we did some more gutting of the kitchen.

I tore off the wall drywall, to expose gross, yellow walls. Like, nastayyyyy walls. Like, painted-in-the-50’s-and-never-washed-and-used-for-wiping-grease-off-of-your-hands.

There was drywall on top of the plaster, on top of the lath – on the ceiling. That’s essentially 1 1/2″ thick of ceiling. After pulling down the drywall, it was apparent that there had been some severe water damage (I can assume from the bathroom), and the ceiling wasn’t in the best shape. Down came the plaster. And indeed, it did.

Luckily, I was in the pantry tearing up tile (that’s a pretty good excuse, right?) and was not the one with rocks crashing down on my head. My sweet husband got that honor. Then, down with the lath.

We had the janky wall, that used to have the doorway in it, re-framed and dry walled.

The plaster/wire mesh was removed with an angle grinder
The plaster/wire mesh was removed with an angle grinder

Turns out, there used to be some wainscoting, or at the very least, chair rail in the kitchen. I wanted to honor that in the remodel, so I started to tile. And I will cap it off with some chair rail. The tile is just a standard 3×6 white subway tile from The Tile Shop – The Imperial Bianco Gloss  to be exact. I didn’t originally think that I was going to do subway tile, but, here we are. If only in part, so I could avoid skim coating that part of the wall. Skim coating is kind of the lamest. tile wainscotting

Since I am planning on using white grout, I didn’t stress being too perfect with my tile layout. I’m planning on doing the tile behind the little counter and up the rest of the wall, too. You know, some day.

Since we had the ceiling torn out, it was a good time to install some recessed can lighting, add another light and move the main light (since once the wall cabinets were installed, the center of the room was going to change). We also had another light switch added by the butler stairs doorway. No more walking through the whole kitchen when it was pitch black, to turn on the light. Although, it’s been a couple months with it there and I just realized that I still haven’t used it much. I need to get my life together.

I cannot believe how much of a difference that 4 can lights and a little wall sconce can make in my life. I lurveeeee bright rooms, and those are going to be so awesome in the gloomy Minnesota winters.

It should be noted, that I am comfortable swapping light fixtures or outlets, but I don’t mess with wiring. An electrician took care of that for us.

Soon, this blog will be up to date on what HAS happened, and I will have to actually finish things. What a novel concept.