Category Archives: Home Improvements

Renovations Continue

117

We purchased a home in mid April knowing we’d have to invest blood, sweat and tears … and lots of dough.  However, it is so true about renovations taking longer than anticipated and costing more than imagined!  We keep telling ourselves that we are in the home stretch, meanwhile someone keeps moving home base!  😉

Our house was built in 1988 and was in desperate need of updating and replacing most major systems.  The house has two A/C units and one crashed a couple months ago.  That was Expense #1 that was unanticipated so early on.  Then the well equipment was in dire need of replacing, so we did that.

We’ve completely gutted three bathrooms and the kitchen, as well as tiled the entire lower level of the house, kitchen, laundry room and bathrooms.  We did the majority of the demolition work ourselves, however hired a contractor to do the rest.  So far, the master and powder baths are nearly completed.  Soon the contractor will return to finish the downstairs bathroom, which will be for the kids.  As it stands now, we share the master bath.  *Sigh*  I will be posting before and after pictures in subsequent blogs so you can see the complete transformations.  I’ll detail all the work we’ve done as well.

We painted the entire 3,400 square feet of interior space ourselves, most of it done prior to moving in, which was a blessing!  We painted most of the interior antique white, however, my sewing/craft room and my husband’s office are both painted in sage green, which is such a peaceful color!  We hired professional painters to transform the exterior, which was a very tired gray blue color.  What a transformation it is too!  The body is called palomino tan with dark red front doors.  It turned out even better than anticipated!  Praise the Lord!!  What we thought would be a week long painting process has turned into Week 4 now due to all the rain we’ve gotten!  The painters were frustrated and so were we that it dragged on so long, but only God controls the weather.  So, we just roll with it.  🙂  (pardon the pun)  haha  We actually seriously considered painting the exterior ourselves initially, however the high pitch of the A frame roof was just too great!  You’ll see what I mean in future pictures.  🙂

A number of our electrical outlets were non-functioning so we hired an electrician to swap out all of the outlets and switchplates in the house to modern outlets, rockers and slide dimmer switches (versus the old round knobs).  I’ll post pictures of some of those soon too.  That has been a huge undertaking!  It sounds like such a small thing but we have more switches than you can imagine and many or, should I say most, are 3-way switches (which are expensive!).  It is a small detail to swap these out but it really does make a huge overall impact.  We’re so glad we decided to do that.

This really is a nice house.  It just needed a lot of attention.  My husband and son plan on installing wood flooring throughout the first level with the exception of the marble tile entry way and the porcelain tile in the kitchen and laundry room.  We live in Florida and there aren’t technically basements in our great state, however our house is built on a hill, so that’s why I refer to the lower level as downstairs and sometimes I even call it the basement.  (although that’s not entirely accurate)  I’m from the north, what do you expect?  haha

I’m pretty sure we will have home improvement projects lined up for the next couple years.  We give ourselves lots of “pep talks” regularly, though.  We’re going to get through this, we say.  We look at each other and remind ourselves that once these tasks are completed, they won’t need to be repeated.  Oh, we try to look at the bright side … and we really are so very blessed!  But, sometimes, like when the water supply won’t flow into the house  AGAIN … well, it’s times like those that beg the question, “Did we make the wrong choice?”  😉  In the end, I don’t think we did.  Although, I’m pretty sure we had no idea how grueling this process would become and how long it would drag on.

Literally, we have met problems/challenges/opportunities for personal growth at every turn!  Take for instance, our double wall oven situation.  The company just swapped out the old double wall oven because it arrived badly dented and brought us a new set.  We thought, “Oh good!  At least this chapter will be closed.”  No such luck.  They delivered the wrong set on Monday, which promptly heated up the newly installed set of cabinetry drawers directly below the oven.  It’s things like this that keep us on our knees and clinging to the promise that God will help us in time of need.  🙂  If you’re wondering where things stand with the oven situation, a new set will be delivered in two weeks.  We will definitely inspect the oven insulation before installation!

And the pool … well, that is another subject for another day!

Stay tuned for more renovation news and progress reports!  Oh, and pictures too!

Blessings!

P.S.  Anyone else out there doing renovations?  Tell me, there’s a rainbow at the end please!

Leave a comment

Filed under Home Improvements, Renovations

Projects of late

102

Painted front steps last July

 

Just thought I’d make a quick post of what I’ve been up to the last couple weeks.  Of course, physical therapy remains part of our regular routine, so we work our lives around it.  The kids and I continue to go three days a week.  We definitely can see progress as it’s been five weeks now since our auto accident.  But, we’re looking forward with great anticipation to the day when we can say we are without pain!  And, so, we press on …

And now to the projects …

Our house was built in 1977, thus projects abound!  So much of our house has received cosmetic updates, however I think with an older house, projects will continue until kingdom come!

We renovated the kitchen last month and are still waiting for one last cabinet to be installed above the refrigerator.  They ordered the wrong size initially, so once that’s done, the installation will be complete.  We plan on painting at some point down the road when our shoulders and backs no longer hurt.  We want to paint a taupe color.  The sickly salmon color that adorns the walls now is awful.

In the spring, we replaced 3 of the 4 – 1977 colored toilets.  Who knew such a menial update could mean so much?!

Last week our A/C decided to flare up and had to have some maintenance and repairs done.  Thankfully, it wasn’t huge.

Over the weekend, my dear husband scraped up all the old caulk in the upstairs master bath and applied fresh caulk.  What a transformation!  Why is it that we delay such routine tasks?  I don’t know, but I like the finished product!  He also fixed my daughter’s closet door knob, which has been broken for nearly four years!  He fixed my son’s closet door knobs last month.  It’s the little things in life that mean so much!  I cannot stand things that don’t function properly, so these little things are significant!!

Dear husband and I made a “Projects To Do List” over the weekend and we plan to divide and conquer.  Some of the smaller tasks, the kids and I can handle; whereas some things only my husband can do … Such as: re-grout our bathroom tile, caulk the crown molding and repair the porch door screen.

The kids and I cleaned up the back porch and replaced the pillows (we’d stored away until post-pollen season) on the wicker furniture.  We’ve enjoyed eating dinner out there the last two nights under the ceiling fans.  Very peaceful.

005

Back porch – I’ve updated pillows since this pic but you get the idea.

 

Yesterday the kids and I organized the garage!  Whew, what a lot of work!  How I thank God for the kids’ help and, in particular, my son’s strong muscles and height to lift things and reach the high shelves! (My right elbow is still hurting so that limits my movement, which is challenging because I want to do so much!)  We loaded up donations for the Salvation Army, donations for a family of eight and filled a large trash can!  After playing Tetris with boxes and the garage shelves, my son used the blower to clean out the garage floor.  I watched this YouTube video on applying an epoxy coating to the garage floor and was so tempted to do that here!  Dear husband and I have talked about it in years’ past, but one day we might just do it …  It would be so much easier to keep clean, thus minimizing dirt and dust getting tracked in the house.  There are definite benefits.  That’s one idea for the back burner…

We have this huge outdoor Rubbermaid bin that was completely filled with balls of every sport, most of which the kids no longer play with.  So, we filled a large black trash bag last Friday with an assortment of balls and outdoor toys and donated to another large family we’re good friends with.  Their kids were overjoyed!  That makes cleaning up so worth it right there!  My son even gave them a couple Nerf dart guns he doesn’t need.  Happiness all around!

While Operation Organize Garage is complete for now, there is further room for improvement.  Phase II will be in progress soon…

Today’s mission is to spray weed killer and power wash the front porch and brick paver sidewalk.  The back patio will be for another day.  I painted the front steps last July so I think power washing them will brighten them up a bit.  They were a drab color before we moved in and I painted them a taupe color, which looks really nice.  The two pots of red geraniums on either side of the front steps are thriving nicely.  They must be hearty!  I haven’t killed them yet!  😉

Does anyone else have four, large artificial trees in their home?  We have three Ficus and one banana tree!  That’s a lot to contend with!  They’re spread out in different rooms but dusting them seems to be a task I’d rather postpone.  That’s one of our next projects…to take them outside and dust thoroughly!  Dusting the blinds in each room is also on our list… Oh, how I do not like to dust!  Haha!  Divide and conquer …

Speaking of which, I better get to conquering!

 

Past projects:

 

115114

Painted 2 sets of back steps last July

 

And, to see the before and after pictures of our recent kitchen renovation, check them out here:

 

https://englishrose2014.wordpress.com/2014/06/01/our-kitchen-remodeling/

 

 

 

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under Home Improvements

Our Kitchen Remodeling

Before Remodeling

Before Renovations …

If you’ve been following my blogging journey for a while here, you already know that we live in an older home.  It was built in 1977 to be exact.  The house really has a lot of character and charm, but the kitchen really needed updating.  The cabinets and drawers were self-destructing and our silverware drawer had taken up residence on our kitchen counter for a couple years.  The kitchen faucet recently began to leak and the kitchen was just screaming for attention!  Ah!  We’d been wanting to update ever since we moved in a little over three years ago, but finally, it was time!  Yay!

 

kitchen 1

Our New Improved Kitchen!  Real wood cabinets and granite countertops.  We reused the cabinet handles and drawer pulls we had since they had recently been replaced.

 

kitchen sink

Stainless steel sink w/pull out sprayer faucet.  The installers have to come back soon to install soap dispenser into granite.  (They forgot.)  Loving the deep sink on the left, especially for baking dishes, etc.  No more caulking around the sink.  Love the undermount!

kitchen granite

Close up of granite & cabinets.  Love how easy it is to wipe up messes on the counters and it just looks fabulous!  This old house deserved a stellar kitchen!

We scheduled the remodeling to take place the day after we returned from visiting our son.  The kitchen cabinets were delayed by a day, however, so they began work on that Tuesday.  The timing could not have been worse as we had a serious car accident that Sunday night and all of us were in a great deal of pain, but the end result sure is lovely.  We were without a kitchen sink for several days, which meant lots of paper plates and carry out.  The kitchen was a bit discombobulated.  We emptied all of the kitchen cabinets and drawers before we left for our trip.  We had boxes of dishes and pans in the dining and laundry rooms.  Our dining room table was completely covered with yet more dishes.  It looked like we were moving!  You don’t realize what you have until you remove everything from the cabinets!  (A few items went in a box for the Salvation Army.) Finally, it was all worth it, in the end!!

Next project is painting the kitchen a taupe color and removing that hideous black fruit border.  Lastly, our thoughts are to replace our bisque appliances with stainless steel.  We’ve priced them at a number of places, but have decided we’ve spent enough money for the moment and will wait.  We also have the thought to search out (minimally) scratched appliances that have been marked down.  We’ve done that in the past (and been pleased).

I’ve lined most of the new cabinets with Duck brand chocolate colored non-adhesive shelf liner:

non adhesive shelf liner

The installers also have to return to install the cabinet pull outs for the pan and Tupperware cabinets.  We had those in a former house and I love the ease of use.  We added several cabinets so this will increase our storage space, which was much needed as our kitchen is small to begin with.  No pantry here, except that I do have a closet in the laundry room (next door to the kitchen) that we use to store large appliances and some pantry items.

A really neat feature of the new drawers is the “soft close” design.  You can push them most of the way closed and they will close the rest of the way gently and quietly, thus less wear and tear on the drawer.  This is especially helpful with kids!  😉

One thing I recently learned is that I can’t use my nifty vinegar and water household cleaner on the granite!  Apparently since granite is porous, the acid will remove the sealant and cause etching.  So, I’m going to mix up a spray bottle of dish detergent and water to use for now.  I refuse to pay $7 for a bottle of special granite cleaner when soap and water will do the trick just fine! We are going to apply a granite sealer to provide a waterproof barrier and help preserve the shine.

It is a good feeling knowing that we paid cash for our kitchen renovations.  We will definitely enjoy our new kitchen for as long as we live here and future owners will as well.  One benefit of a new kitchen is that we don’t want dirty dishes to sit in the sink at all.  We quickly load them in the dishwasher or wash them by hand.  I love it!  🙂

9 Comments

Filed under Home Improvements

Home Improvement Update

Well, we’ve been pretty busy around this place lately.  As I previously mentioned, we replaced three toilets a few weeks ago and my husband did a bunch of repair jobs around the house, which makes this wife very happy!  And we just had a valve replaced and other work done on our HVAC system to the tune of $809, so prayerfully, this will help make our electric bill more palatable.  January’s electric bill was $719, February was $597 and March was $556.  Triple ouch!!  That hurts just typing those numbers!  Hopefully those insanely high bills are behind us.  Our family has grown rather fond of eating afterall …

We recently had a contractor come out to give us a quote on replacing all of our windows (all 25!) and are waiting to hear what the final figures are.  (We’ve received several quotes and they want an arm and a leg!) At a minimum, we will have the kitchen window and frame replaced as the wooden frame has been rotting for some time.  He’s also going to give us a quote on power washing the siding and roof, which would be an awesome improvement.  So, we’ll see how reasonable he is.  This contractor was referred to us by a good friend of mine, who just had 17 windows replaced, and she was very pleased.

We’re focusing on spot cleaning the carpet throughout the house this week.  Fortunately, we have more wood floors than carpet, but the bedrooms are carpeted.  My daughter is actually pretty talented at getting stains out with baking soda and lemon juice, which is very helpful.

I declared 2014 a year of simplicity and have been purging like mad over the last few months.  My teenage son’s room was on my recent “hit list” and, boy, did I have my work cut out for me!  First, I got the back hoe … Okay, maybe not, but was tempted …  I completely filled a kitchen trash bag with garbage and two other kitchen trash bags with donation items for the Salvation Army.  Mind you, it hasn’t been that long since the last purge in his room!  I decided to remove an old bookshelf from his room and put it on Freecyle.  The shelf needs new support pins.  But, more importantly, my son needs fewer items in his room in order to maintain some sense of organization.  The shelf just winds up being a great landing spot for junk, so it’s for the best.  No worries, he has other furniture.  What a transformation!  There actually is carpet in his room!  So, purging is part of our overall home improvement plan as well.

How is it that we wind up with so much stuff?!?!  It honestly perplexes me.  I hold onto way too much little stuff.  Lately as I’ve considered parting with more, I’ve realized that it’s hard getting rid of things that were given to me.  I’m not even referring to family gifts or heirlooms or anything that special … just stuff.  Nonetheless, I’m getting better at releasing items to good homes and have been a weekly contributor to the Salvation Army for the last couple of months.

Here’s to more home improvements in 2014!  What’s on your list?

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Home Improvements

Home Improvement Weekend

I am so proud of my husband getting a number of projects done around the house this weekend!!  He was on a roll unlike anything I’ve seen in a while, I must say!

Yesterday he installed our new doorbell, which was a great blessing after being without one for several weeks.  Wonder why we haven’t had any company for a while??  Haha … just kidding.

He also installed a new bathtub drain stopper (the kind you push down on) in the master bath as our old one never worked right since we’ve lived in this house and then gave up completely several months ago.  So, now I can put that Bath & Body Works Japanese Cherry Blossom bubble bath to good use!  Sounds divine!

Another thing that has been in disrepair since we moved in over three years ago is something so simple, yet has somehow not ranked at the top of our project list until now.  The toilet paper holder in the master bathroom.  Something so small, yet so vital.  My husband installed a new, shiny, chrome holder and all is well with our world once more.  🙂

A project in the master bathroom for another weekend is replacing the drain stopper in my sink.  We have a vanity with dual sinks, his and hers, but my drain stopper has never worked.  See a pattern forming here?  For all the beauty and charm this house possesses, we have our work cut out for us.  I digress …

And, yesterday, after church, my wonderful and highly skilled husband  installed new massager shower heads in the upstairs two bathrooms.  It’s the kind you can remove from the base or remain stationary.  Definitely an upgrade from the former shower heads!  I’ve mentioned in a previous post that our house was built in 1977 and has two of the four bathrooms with original tile work.  The upstairs hall bath has a mustard yellow theme and the upstairs (former) master suite has a pale green theme.  Charming in 1977, I’m sure.  Not so much in 2014.  😉  But, we’re working on improving things around here, bit by bit.  Last week, we had three new toilets installed, so bye-bye to the mustard yellow and pale green commodes!

Several pale green and white tiles (2″x4″) had fallen off the former master suite bathroom walls, so my husband put those back up as well.  Yay for progress!  This is my daughter’s bathroom, so she’s very happy about the improvements.  New toilet, new shower head, fixed wall tiles.  Next weekend, hubby will caulk her shower.  The only other area I’d like to address in her bathroom is purchasing a small acrylic shelf to install above her vanity.  The previous shelf fell off the wall as it had been attached with only adhesive backing.  The glass shelf was much too heavy for that.  As I said, we inherited lots of projects …

After my love finished all of that, he went outside and spread Scott’s Turf Builder on our lawn, tossed the football and played basketball with the kids!  Whew!  What kind of vitamins is he taking?  Haha.  Productive weekend!  I love it!  We’re expecting rain on Tuesday, so that’ll be good for the grass.

While he was outside, I swapped out the ancient electric wall plate in the upstairs hall bathroom for a fresh white plate we had on hand.  Next week I’ll get a couple light switch covers – one for the hall bath and one for my daughter’s bathroom.  At the moment, hers is a dolphin, which she doesn’t much care for.  (can’t say I blame her)  It is very rewarding to see so much progress around this place!  The best part about it is the fact that dear hubby is able to do the home repairs himself rather than hiring a handyman or plumber.  He always jokes after completing one of his “handy jobs” around the house – “That’ll be $175.00, ma’am!”  I always tell him I’ll pay with my good looks! 😉

We have some other upcoming projects in mind… For one thing, our HVAC guy informed us last week that we need to have a valve replaced and some other work on our system to the tune of $809!  *Ouch*  And, that’s including our 15% discount on our current maintenance plan.  Not good news.  Unless you count the fact that it will once again run at optimum efficiency after the repairs, thus, reducing our electric bill.  That is the major upside to this huge pill that’s difficult to swallow!

The other major renovation we have contemplated for some time now is our kitchen.  It’s a small pass through kitchen, almost galley style, but it’s in an L shape instead.  Small nonetheless.  We want to replace the ancient pressed wood cabinets and formica counter tops with light cherry wood cabinets and granite counter tops.  Ooh-la-la!

We currently have two bowls catching small leaks under the kitchen sink, but once we replace everything (including the kitchen sink), they will be a distant memory.  Ah, this old house …  Have I mentioned the window frame around the kitchen window has been rotting since before we moved in and really needs to be replaced??  We’d really like to replace all of the windows, but would you care to venture a guess as to just how many windows we have?  If you said 25, you’d be correct, my friend!  Yes, we have 25 stinkin’ windows and the lowest quote we have gotten is about $12,000.00.  The other window companies weren’t nearly as competitve in their pricing.  That’s another matter for another day  …

Yes, this home ensures no roots of boredom grow around here!

What home improvement projects are on your list this year?

 

6 Comments

Filed under Home Improvements

Home Improvement Projects!

It’s springtime!  And spring is synonomous with home improvement, isn’t it?  It is around here anyway.  The natives are restless from a long winter and anxious to get some things done now that we are beginning to thaw from an arduous winter.

Our house was built in 1977, and while it possesses many fine qualities, there are some issues to be reckoned with.  In our nearly twenty years of marriage, we’ve only owned new houses up until three years ago.  We’ve done more interior painting and installing wood floors, tile and lighting fixtures than we’d care to reflect on in years’ past, but a house this old has a mind of its own!  Take, for instance, a simple thing like our doorbell decided to give up the ghost.  My dear husband attempted to repair it, but noticed an inner part had been damaged beyond repair.  So, we ordered a new one ($19.99) on Amazon.  The configuration of the new receptor is much smaller now, so we would have to try to match up the old wallpaper border if we hung it where the previous one was.  But then my husband had the bright idea to put the old one back on the wall for now (no wallpaper repairs necessary) and we’ll hang the small one in an inconspicuous place.  I thought that was sheer genius!

Shortly after moving in, our kitchen drawers began literally falling apart.  I’m pretty sure they’re the original cabinets and drawers and are made of some hideous pressed wood on the sides, which is warping by the minute.  Right now we have two drawers out of commission.  The cabinet/granite guy came out again yesterday to re-measure, and if he and my Negotiator Husband agree on the price (which I think they will), we will have a new and improved kitchen soon.  Goodness knows, we need it.  I’ll post pictures when and if it happens.  We have a walk through kitchen, the smallest we’ve ever had, with virtually no pantry.  We’ll be adding two upper cabinets, which will offer much needed additional space.

We have four bathrooms.  Yes, 1, 2, 3, 4!  That’s a lot of bathrooms, considering I grew up in a humble home, where at one point, 7 people shared one bathroom!  And, somehow, we survived!  But, I digress… Four bathrooms.  My daughter’s toilet has never behaved properly since we’ve lived here.  My husband has gone to specialty plumbing stores in an attempt to purchase parts and, invariably, it doesn’t work out.  He’s pretty handy too.  This toilet is blue and definitely circa 1977 .  We’ve wanted to replace it but have held off.  Our first quote was over $400 for a plumber to replace it.  I called another plumbing company last week to get a quote and they said $618!  Can you imagine?  For one stinkin’ toilet?!  I hope it was gold plated at least!

Then last weekend, the day before my sister was due to visit, the upstairs hall toilet decided it needed some attention and repairs.  This one is mustard yellow.  Definitely 1977.  What was up with all the colors back then?!  That bathroom needs a complete remodel, but that’s another matter for another day!  And then we have the master toilet, which is white, but older, although not quite 1977.  It sits very low as a previous owner had polio and must’ve been made to accommodate him.  It’ll be good to replace it. The downstairs hall toilet is relatively new, so it’s fine.

Initially my husband and son ran to Home Depot yesterday to purchase a toilet valve kit, but then he got the idea just to replace them.  Yep, all three!  The Lord was truly with us, though.  We got a multiple product discount, making each toilet $78, plus a break on the installation fee.  So, a total of three toilets installed for $600!

They wanted to charge a haul away fee of $35 for each toilet, but my thrifty husband declined.  (Yay for him!) His initial thought was to haul them to the landfill himself, but we may put them on Freecycle or ask a home improvement friend if he wants them.  Then, our disposal cost is $0!  So, we’re pretty thrilled about our overall deal!

It seems lately a number of things have gone on the blink around here!  We just had our garage door repaired to a tune of $450, which was lowered from the initial quote of over $650! (thanks to my wonderful, negotiator husband!) Last week I discovered a leak under the kitchen sink.  It’s only a slight leak, fortunately, but will no longer be an issue once we remodel soon.  We’re getting an undermount sink with granite countertops.  I’m so excited that I’ll have a sprayer hose that actually works!  What a concept!  😉  Our current sprayer has never worked since we’ve lived here.  Truly disappointing.

This Old House … Ya gotta love her!  Our house has a lot of charm, really, it does.  It just demonstrates the fact that houses require a lot of upkeep and constant care.  I’m really surprised that the previous owners didn’t upgrade the upstairs’ bathrooms, but I think they rarely used the upstairs once their kids were grown.  So, it wasn’t a focus.  They did, however, do some updating on the main level, which is part of the charm that sold us.  If we stay here long enough, the windows are next!

Our unspoken motto is:  “We never pay full price.  Ever.”  No matter what the project is, we try to do it ourselves first.  If a professional is required, then we comparison shop until we find the right price.  The right price is the price we are willing to pay.  Our budget dictates being as frugal as possible, especially since we are a one income family in a high cost of living area.  We would never sink more money into an investment than we anticipate realizing in the future.  That goes for any investment, particularly a house.  It’s called wisdom.  For example, if we didn’t think the kitchen was an ideal room to invest money in, we wouldn’t proceed. However, since we know that prospective homebuyers focus on the kitchen first and bathrooms second, those are worthy investments.  We are always thinking in terms of resale.

Do you have home improvement projects in mind?  If so, care to share?

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under Home Improvements