Powder Room Progress

Name that plumbing piece!

Hey mom, guess what I was doing while I was on the phone with you Friday night?  I was on my back on the floor in the powder room, wrestling with the nuts that hold the supply tubes onto the water pipes.  Those suckers were TIGHT and grody.   I spent most of our phone call on unscrewing two nuts.

But I am getting ahead of myself.

I was stoked to find a house with a half-bathroom that was downstairs in the public part of the house.  It’s a luxury you come to appreciate when you are used to only having one bath.  I was not stoked that the bath came with dated shell wallpaper, a vanity that can kindly be described as interesting (and unkindly, candidly, as a hideous DIY hack job), and a set of oak toothbrush and cupholders on the wall.  Ew.  These two photos are a good example of these “features.”

Faux-wood countertop with odd metal trim on the corners? Got it. Painted white front and hinges? Yup. Odd, 23″ square shape? Check.

Shells as far as the eye can see. Dizzying! I have no complaints about that closet though, that thing is awesome.

And then there are the roommates.  Did I not tell you this house came with roommates?

Larry is dead.

It did.

Sorry about that.  I should have warned you, but warning you isn’t really my style.  I’d rather ambush you with pictures of dead roaches in spider webs.  You are welcome.

So.  I wanted to remove that vanity.  I really, really, really wanted to remove that vanity.  Really.  I loathed it.  It was hideous.  But it has so much potential!  My mom has a really wonderful tiny half-bath in her house, and it is a little jewel of a room.  Small bathrooms can be really nice.  And this one is going to be really nice, some day.   In order to get it on its way, I had to remove the vanity.  After reading up online, I decided to go for it.  I went in here . . .

It is really difficult to take a picture of the inside of a cabinet.

The light makes the paint look pink.  It’s not, it’s white.  This, as they say, is where the magic happens.  Thanks to scouring the internet, I could identify the pieces inside this cabinet.  There is the U-thingy, also known as the trap, the shut-off valves for the hot and cold water, supply lines leading from those up to the sink, the sink drain coming off of the bottom of the sink, and then the contraption that makes the plug to the sink work.  See?  Not so scary.

All of the directions I read said I’d need to use a razor blade to cut the caulk around the edges of the vanity, but when I inspected my vanity, I didn’t see anything to cut.  Hmmph.  I also read some tutorials that included directions in removing the sink from the vanity top, and then taking the top off of the vanity.  That seemed like an unnecessary step to me, since I wasn’t replacing a sink.  I was going to chuck the vanity.  Meh.  This really wasn’t hard.  I shut off the water to the sink at both cut-offs — righty, tighty, lefty loosey, don’t forget.  I put a bucket under the trap and the cut offs and unscrewed the trap from the drain pipe and the pipe coming out of the wall.  A little bit of water came out right into the bucket, how satisfying!  Then I grabbed my wrench, hunkered down on the floor, and began slowly, ever so slowly, loosening the nuts connecting the supply lines to the water.  This really should not have been that hard of a process, but, like many plumbing projects, it was made difficult because I was trying to work in a small space, with crappy light.  It was also made difficult because they were crusty as hell.  I finally got them off, though, and bent each line up and out of the way.  Then I tested my theory – that being the theory that the top of the vanity wasn’t caulked to the wall at all, by yanking on the edges of the sink.

I like it when I’m right.

Success!  That thing wasn’t connected to the wall at all.  I guess that’s why they built up that peculiar backsplash.  Because I am hella strong, those nails you see sticking up were no match for me.  Grrr!

I think this counter top and sink look much better out here in the living room.

Look how grody it is inside this vanity!  Clearly, there had been a leak at some point and no one ever did anything to fix the wet conditions that resulted.


Enough of that.  Next step was to wiggle that vanity and see if I’d be able to just pick it up, and I could!  I had to wiggle it a bit to get the water pipes to fit back out of the hole cut out of the back, but eventually, I was able to get that puppy out of the corner and into . . . the doorway.  Why the doorway, you ask?

Damn you!

I mentioned earlier that the vanity was 23″ square, and that is true.  I forgot that the toilet paper holder was clapped to the side of this thing, and wouldn’t you know it, that was just way too wide to fit through the doorway.  The door opens into the bathroom, you see, so I had a dilemma.

Decisions, decisions.

You can see in this picture that the vanity is sitting in the doorway because the pipes from the wall are in the background.  Well, I could take the door off of its hinges, or I could take the toilet paper roll holder off of the cabinet.  Surely, that would be the easier route, right?

Me Hulk! You, busticated!

Well, or not.  I popped the metal shiny bits of the TP holder off of the side, but the little brackets it sad on were still just a little too proud to fit through the doorway.  It was only 3/16″, but it was an important 3/16″.  I grabbed a screwdriver to unscrew them, and I couldn’t move them at all.  I could have used my drill with the screwdriver bit, but it was at the other house.  So I hit it with a hammer!

I’m not gonna lie.  That was fun.  At first I thought I could just bash the back end of the screws holding the TP holder out and then use my needle-nose pliers to pull the screws the rest of the way out, but those screws weren’t budging.  I did notice that the cabinet was starting to pull apart, though, so I went for it.  It was just nailed together, not screwed, so it actually came apart really easily.  I took it out of the room in a few pieces.

I guess I’m really committed to that pedestal sink now, huh?  🙂


Tiny Update

1.  I need work gloves.  The calluses I have from lifting weights are not at all helpful when I’m using a wrench or dragging crap around the house.

2.  I need a screen door for the sliding door.  I’m sucking mosquitoes in from the outside when I leave that door open, but without that door, and without the HVAC working, it’s really stuffy inside the house.

3.  If you use a broom to sweep up a dead cockroach, you might find that it is so old it is dessicated and it flakes into pieces rather than behaving like a good dead roach and just going along where you wanted him to go.  On the upside, that carpet is getting pulled out, flakes of dead roaches and all.

4.  My next-door neighbor, Ms. Hinton, told me that the downstairs bedroom used to be the washroom (laundry room).  When the old carport was turned into the dining room, the current mudroom was added.  That explains the “extra” door to the outside in the downstairs bedroom.  Ms. Hinton also met Maverick and Goose tonight and wanted to know if they were good with children.  I said they were, so long as the children weren’t toddlers, because that’s the truth.  Toddlers scare the dogs, but they love babies and kids over 3.  We chatted about motion sensor lights – she loves hers and noticed the new one I have.  Well, it’s not new, but newly active since I turned it on.  Ms. Hinton is active in the neighborhood’s Citizens Advisory Council (CAC), which is wonderful.

5.  The dogs are not so great at being assistants, but they are good company.  Goose tried to taste the paint for the front door and ended up with a blue dot on her muzzle.  Guess that means she’s on special this week.  The door looks wonderful, and I think 3 coats of paint were enough!

I was hoping to get to work on installing the pedestal sink today, but that didn’t work out.  That plan was contingent on my friend Dave being able to come show me how to do it, and he had to do stuff for work. Stupid work!  Always getting in the way of the fun stuff.  I have now read or watched about a dozen tutorials on the internet about putting in a sink, though, and I am beginning to feel good about the project.  I need to take my level over to the new house and check out my floor situation.  If the floor isn’t level, it will need to be leveled before I install the pedestal sink.  How, you ask?  I don’t know.  It’s a mystery!  But it will all work out in the end.  It always does!  I keep hauling tools from my old place to the new place and I have found myself at one place with the wrong tools more than once.  Ah, the problems I have as a real estate mogul.

The more I look at that vinyl in the bathroom, the more I am wishing I had budgeted to get it replaced when the kitchen vinyl was replaced.  I am going to ask Steve if it’s possible to add it without breaking the bank.  It might just be.  If not, I’ll get create – watch out!  The floor is discolored and strangely yellow.  Not THAT kind of yellow, at least I don’t think so!  I should see what steam cleaning it with my trusty SharkVac does for it.  That thing is awesome for vinyl flooring.

I did a fun project at my (old) home this week.  I took a dresser I’ve had for a while and repainted it.  To repaint it, I used the paint I had around: leftover blue from my bedroom and leftover black from a bookcase.  I used the blue straight for the top drawer, and for each of the four other drawers, I added a little more black paint.  Then the body of the dresser I painted a darker shade of gray than the darkest one.  It came out pretty funky and fun, I think i like it.  I picked up new knobs for it at Target – $10 for 10 knobs.  I’d love acrylic knobs, but they were way more money than I wanted to spend on this project.  I think I got the dresser for $15-20 at a garage sale a few years ago – it wasn’t a huge investment.

Again, pardon the cruddy cell phone picture!

Fun, right?  I love torturing innocent furniture.  I even have a Pinterest page for ideas about doing just that!

Little Changes

I still haven’t taken a better front door picture for you, but trust me, it looks awesome.  It is a cheery happy delightful bright blue color from Benjamin Moore and I forget the name right now but I will look it up for the fantastic door picture.

A reminder of the kitchen when I bought Elephant Culo:

Cheery view out the kitchen window, valance over the sink.

Cabinets over the island block the view from the kitchen into the den.

Then, on Monday, Steve got started with a few little carpentry things.

Look at that view! You can see Russia** from the kitchen!
**Russia = the fireplace

OK, well, you can’t really see the fireplace because the den is really dark and there are no lights on in there, and even if they were on, there are no lightbulbs in the fixtures  – tee hee – but if the walls weren’t dark oak but instead a beautiful cool grey color, you’d be seeing the hell out of Russia.  My fireplace.  Same difference.

Do you see it? Up there, between the cabinets? Over the sink? Basking in the sunshine?

Please ignore the brass boob light in the middle of the kitchen.  Something must be done about that.

Hello pretty shiny lamp! You are the light fixture I’ve been dreaming of. Be mine.

Then this happened!  This is my gorgeous mini-pendant fixutre from Lowe’s.  It also doesn’t have a light bulb in it.  Note to self: buy light bulbs.  But isn’t it GORGEOUS?

I am swooning.  Now I want to fix that brass boob light, like, right now, except I’m not sure what to do with it.  I’d really like to have lights over the peninsula now that the cabinets aren’t there anymore, but I need to not spend money I don’t have on electrical work I didn’t budget for.  I might be able to just deal with the boob light for now, IDK.  I might just avert my eyes and focus on the beautiful light in my window, instead.

Three Pictures

Goose’s butt radiates light in the mornings. She’s a very special dog.

I picked a granite for my counter-tops today.  Quelle exciting!  Pardon the picture quality – per usual, I’m using my cell phone.  I don’t really know much about picking granite.  You are supposed to talk about whether a piece has movement, and by movement, they mean giant veins of different colors.  The more of those big veins you have, the more expensive your rock is.   I like the way the little specks look, though, and when you don’t have a massive expanse of counter, some of that movement is wasted.  My aunt’s house has  huge island, I want to say it’s like 15 feet long and at least five feet wide – now that is a place to showcase a big slab of rock.  My modest kitchen?  Eh.  I still think this stuff is pretty.

Kashmir White. Please to notice the rusty-red colored sparkly bits. These will be a nice way to camouflage any blood that is spilled while prepping dinner. Yummy. 😉 (Dexter anyone?)


Look! Movement! And sparkly bits!


I’m running out of things to say about this large shiny piece of granite. I like it. Some nice folks are going to turn it into a counter-top for me. I look forward to that being really awesome.


A Saturday List

Lots of fun things going on today.

1.  I went to the Southern Ideal Home Show at the state fairgrounds which, despite its grandiose name, was actually pretty fun and didn’t take itself too seriously at all.  I went with my partner in home improvement-related crime, Katie.  Well, the part with interior-focused trades was fun.  All of the vendors in the exterior-oriented building, with sheds and spas and water filtration systems, were really into the hard sell. Turn off!  My favoritest vendors were:

* FinishPros, who refinish furniture, cabinets, you name it.  Their website has lots of beautiful before and afters.

* Closet Factory – custom closet designs make me weak in the knees.  Vicki told me they will come and measure your shoes, y’all!  To make sure they give you precisely the amount of space per pair you need, so that you get as much bang for your shoe buck as possible.  Oh. My. Word.

* Shelf Genie – gliding shelves for inside your kitchen cabinets, or pantry. Or anywhere, really.  I hate awkward cabinets that make it hard for you to store things.  Look at this magnificent fix for what they call a double blind cabinet — think of an L-shaped corner cabinet.  see, you pull the slider in front of you towards you, and then the slider to the left, where there is ordinarily useless space, glides over to the right.  GENIUS!

I also liked that the saleswoman I talked to was completely up front with me about what these puppies cost.  $250 per pair of sliders installed, so a double blind setup like the one in the picture would run $1,000.  Good to know.  Ahem.  Cough.  That will be something to save for.

Anyway, if you want to go to the show tomorrow, it’s open from 11-5 and I have a coupon for buy one, get one free admission.  Otherwise it’s $9/ticket.  So shoot me an email if you want my coupon!

2.  I bought a pedestal sink that I found on Craigslist today.  It was $40 and came with a nice brushed nickel Moen faucet.  Sweet!  Next up: learn how to demo a vanity and install a pedestal sink.  Downstairs bathroom, I have my eye on you.  I was totally going to put this project off until some time in the future since new pedestal sinks are $100 for cheapos and up (without faucets), but my friend Dave of Let’s Pretend fame found one for $20 (!) and inspired me.  For what it is worth, those things are not nearly as heavy as they look.  Maybe if you all are good internet denizens, I will post a picture of my sink hanging out in my den on the floor tomorrow.

3.  I brought the doggles over to the new house.  The gate is broken, so I had to rig the garbage can to keep them in the backyard.  They loved the yard!  I have been a little concerned that the dogs would go nuts when there was activity in the park behind our house, which would be a real bummer because there are softball fields, tennis courts, you name it over there, and they are well-used.  Today there was one sweet little girl riding her scooter around the parking lot while her dad watched.  She stopped when she saw Mav and Goose running around to say, “Hello, puppies!”  The dogs just stopped, gave her happy panting dog grins, and then continued trotting around exploring the new digs.  A good sign!

4.  I lugged all sorts of goodies with me over to the new digs.  I bought a motion-activated light off of amazon, and that made it over there, although I haven’t figured out where I want to install it.  At the front door or near the driveway/walk?  Decisions, decisions.  It might be nice to have one in both spots, eventually.  I also brought the pile of drawer pulls and knobs that I got for free over – sheesh they weigh a ton!  Unfortunately, the drawer pulls don’t match the width I have for my current drawer pulls, so I will probably freecycle them.  I’d love to get some that look like the one pictured here, but I’m not keen on having to countersink the pulls.  Surely there are better options out there!  Well, the easiest options is leaving them as is, for now, which is what I shall do.

5.  I moved my brand new ladder in, and used it to help me take down the light fixture in the dining room.  I also put up a new fixture, that chandelier I bought from the Habitat ReStore and spray painted.  The power isn’t going to get cut on until Monday, so I won’t know if I installed that bad boy correctly until then.  Oh, the anticipation!  I’ve changed out a light fixture before, though, and it’s really not hard.  Hopefully this one will be all systems go!  I am also going to take down the light fixture in the breakfast nook.  It is really oversized for that space, it’s quite odd.  I’m going to take both old fixtures to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore and donate them.  🙂  I have my eye on this ridiculously reasonable fixture for the breakfast nook.  Opinions?

Are you as excited about lighting fixtures as I am?  I’m ridiculous.

6.  I discovered that the windows in the dining room have been painted shut.  UGH.  How do I fix that? I tried swearing and pouting, and neither of those methods worked. I guess I need to google that.

7.  I tested the paint on my front door with a little rubbing alcohol.  You just use a rag with some rubbing alcohol on the paint, and if a little bit comes off, you have latex paint, you get to pass go, and you get to collect $200.  If nothing comes off, you have oil paint, and you have to get a fancy primer before you can paint the door, and it’s an additional stinky step.  But since I don’t have oil, tomorrow I will sand and paint my front door!  Yay!  I’ve picked a bright blue color with just a hint of green.  I’m also going to go flea marketing tomorrow with Mamacita que Bonita, so who knows what trouble we will get into!

Hope you all are enjoying the lovely fall weather!

Let’s pretend!

I have a friend, let’s call him Dave, who has a house that he has just bought and is lovingly bringing it back to its former glory.  His place is a wee bit older than mine and a wee bit rougher.  I mean that in the nicest possible way, though, house, so please don’t be offended!  Anyway, I finally got the chance to feast my eyes on this house tonight, and I am in love.  It has great bones, so many fireplaces I couldn’t count them, and all of the potential in the world.  Dave was telling me that he couldn’t picture his kitchen renovated.  We stood in the room, brainstorming, and I could see his kitchen renovated 1,000 different ways!

I got home and decided to play around with renovation ideas.  Behold, my magnificent MS Paint rendering of Dave’s kitchen as is.

The little blue rectangles are windows.  Oddly, the window on the left is a full height, so it is really LOW.  What looks like a door on the right is really a doorway into the main hallway int he house.  The box at the bottom left is a HUGE pantry.  The box at the bottom right is a full bath, accessed from the hallway.  The filled in black boxes are old chimneys.  They are drywalled off.  This picture doesn’t do a good job of showing you that the hallway is open to the dining room between the two walls there.  Maybe this next picture will help.

Dave is planning on getting rid of the bathtub in the bathroom and converting that to a half-bath.  Don’t worry, a different bathroom is going to grow a tub.  I also am planning on having him take out the entire pantry as it currently exists, so that the dining room and kitchen are open to each other.  Does that make sense?  If not, hopefully it will make sense when I show you the ideas I came up with.  These are, of course, all just for fun.  I have no idea what these ideas would cost, or if they are all possible.  Well, except for demolishing the wall between the kitchen and the dining room – I know that is possible because Dave already knows that’s not a load-bearing wall.


Are you loving the bright color choices?  Are you loving the jenky MS Paint designs?  I know I am.  I found out after I sent this to Dave that he is partial to side-by-side refrigerators, so the fridge will need to be scooched over a little bit to accommodate the fridge doors.  The chartreuse green is used for areas with upper and lower cabinets.  The kelly green is for areas with lower cabinets only.  This keeps the current flow through the kitchen to the dining room and hallway and would keep that openness by adding a bar height counter top where the wall to the dining room used to be.  It’s much clearer in this image that the kitchen is open to the dining room, too.  I have dreams of beautiful pantry cabinets with GFI outlets where Dave and his wifey can hide away all those counter space hogging appliances – toaster, coffee maker, et cetera.  I left the wall above the stove cabinet free because I thought a nice big feature range hood could go there.  Nice, right?  I thought the skinny cabinets by the chimneys could redeem what was otherwise dead space by providing a spot to keep those pesky food containers and lids for the one on the dishwasher wall and by providing a spot to hide the trash or recycling for the other one.  There is never a good place to keep that tupperware crap!

VERSION 2: SHUT THE (side) DOOR (way)

I am really having fun with this now, so I tried to get a little creative.  I kept what I liked best from Version 1: sink centered under the window (I didn’t put it in my earlier renderings, but it’s oddly to the right of the window now), big opening to the dining room with that bar-height counter top, and using those slivers of space that the chimneys create.  I thought about it, and decided that building a pantry out with sheetrock and plain old ordinary shelves would probably save a lot of scratch and provide just as much storage.  So I added in a new pantry in the space gained from ditching the bathtub.  I decided to close up the hallway, which might not be an idea Dave ends up going with, but hey, it’s fun to play around with, right?  I got the idea from my kitchen in my current house. It has two doorways, which is strange for a room that is all of 10×10, and I ended up putting a dog gate in one doorway to keep the dogs from tearing into the kitchen with their dirty paws.  I don’t miss that doorway at all!  Plus, if Dave goes with this option, it opens up a host of other options with his back hallway and the laundry room and bathrooms off of that hallway.  He might even gain enough space to tuck a little home office or even a home workstation over there.  You, dear readers, will have to trust me on this, because you haven’t seen the house.  But I have.  So trust me!  Oh, and the rug in the center of the room is for the family dog!  Got to think of the dog, right?

Version 3: Fantasy Island

This design could be subtitled: Wherein My Pants Get Fancy.  I am not sure if getting rid of the chimney near the bathroom is possible, but it sure would be nice.  You could still build a pantry in that corner with the chimney there, but it wouldn’t be nearly as functional.  This design is pretty self-explanatory.  I ditched the half-wall between the kitchen and dining room in favor of an island.  I really like islands.  I anticipate you’d want a couple of bar stools to sit on the side of the island closest to the half bath wall, so I didn’t put anything along that wall to ensure that there would be enough room to move.  the rest of the layout isn’t anything too fancy.  The only strange thing I put in here was a lower cabinet that would partially block that really big window.  It feels a bit blasphemous to cover a window, but dangit, that huge window is not functional, and that is also blasphemy.  There is a vent in front of that window, too, which is easy enough to move (says the girl who doesn’t have to move it).  Really, this plan has a lot in common with Version 1.

Alright, internets!  What do you think?