Archive for July, 2008

Almost moved in…

I haven’t posted in a while, since we’ve been packing up and moving, but I promise I’ll get to the kitchen counter tile soon! It turned out wonderfully.

I’ll have to post in future about our experience of moving with a “PODS” (portable on-demand storage) container. Word to the wise: make sure you keep the spare set of keys to your padlocks in a safe place. I made the mistake of putting the keys AND the spares on the same key ring–which we now cannot find (went missing yesterday). Since we can keep the POD until August 3, we’re not at the panic stage yet, but I’m not exactly the type to sit around and wait for something to happen, so tomorrow will be “Treasure Hunt Day” for the whole family until those keys turn up!!!

Off to rest before we dig for gold…

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Lighten up that living room!

When we started out with beige vinyl wallcoverings and brown wood trim, the living room was rather dark. I knew this large area was going to take a tremendous amount of time to redo, so I yelled for help and brought in a dear friend who has assisted me with countless home dec projects. We’ve painted more rooms together than I can count! The first order of business was to remove all the switch plates and outlet plates and thoroughly wash down the walls with warm, soapy water. That done, we laid our drop cloths carefully to cover the carpet and pulled out the five-gallon container of Zinsser’s Bull’s Eye 1-2-3 primer I’ve written about before. Before it was all over, we’d primed the walls and trim three times to thoroughly cover both (that dark wood trim especially needed all the coats). This process took about three days total, but we did this over a couple of weeks as we had time, allowing each coat to thoroughly dry.

Once the primer was dry, we pulled out the white semi-gloss interior trim paint and put two coats of it on the crown moulding and beadboard. When that had dried, I taped off all the trim so I could paint the buttercream color on the walls without ruining any of my previous work. It took surprisingly little paint to do that, even though I needed two coats for a nice, solid finish. You can see the amazing difference! The room is now light, open, and cheerful. In this photo you can also see the white ceiling fan my husband installed. The only tricky part in painting this room was keeping paint off the carpet at the bottom of the beadboard. Neither of us thought to just tape off the carpet (I figured that out later in the office!), so I used a wallpaper squeegee to help me keep paint off the floor. I’d just push the squeegee up against the wall on top of the carpet and paint the section immediately above it. It worked well, but it sure was labor-intensive! Taping off is far easier. Below are pictures going around the rest of the room so you can enjoy the full effect:

It was so exciting to see this come together so beautifully! I’d already brought over some furniture from our current home, so I decided to set up an entryway table and hang some plates. This is my inspiration photo from Country French Decorating. Obviously, this is in a much more formal, traditional home than a double-wide trailer (!), so I’m toning it down just a tad but keeping the inspiring colors and basic design idea. I found fabric nearly identical to what was used for the tablecloth in this photo, but I don’t have time for sewing right now, so that’s a project that will have to wait. This time around, I simply wanted to get the plates up on the wall with the table beneath. I don’t have wall sconces, and those would be a bit over the top for our living room anyway, so I left those out as well. Below is a picture of the area in the living room where I decided to place my entry table and the plates. I’m using the area between the batten strips, which will nicely frame this arrangement:

Since I don’t have a tablecloth or table skirt now, I went ahead and placed a favorite basket of lavender on the lower shelf and set my silver tea service on top:

Next, I measured between the batten strips so I’d know how much room I had and could make an estimate of how many plates would fit nicely. Then I laid out my plates on the floor, experimenting until I came up with the arrangement I liked:

Now it was time to place hanging hooks for the lower two plates. I wanted to hang them first so that I’d be sure the plate arrangement hit the wall above the tea set. I set the first hook by eye, then measured the distance from it to the nearest batten strip:

Now I knew how far from its batten strip the second plate needed to be, but I wanted to be sure it was even vertically as well, so I measured from the top of the first hook to the chair rail:

The spot properly marked, I tapped in the second hook and hung both plates:

From this point, it was not at all difficult to find the center and eyeball the spots for the remaining platter and plates. I did use my tape measure a couple more times to make sure plates were level (a laser level would have been a wonderful help, but I managed!). In the end, I had a pleasing arrangement of china on the wall over my entry table:

At left you see the edge of the white bookcase I’ve since placed in the room.

When I get around to making the table skirt, I’ll be sure to take more pictures. Oh, and after I snapped this one, I ended up swapping the smaller, dark blue plates with the lighter, larger ones just above them! It’s fun to play around until things look right.

Next time I’ll be sharing the adventures of tiling over laminate countertops in the kitchen. It’s much easier than you’d think, but be prepared for a bit of a mess!

New floor in a snap!

I knew right off that the white linoleum in the kitchen, sunroom, and laundry room would have to go. We’ve owned a home with a white kitchen floor before, and I knew from experience that we’d be mopping daily if we left the white linoleum! So I started researching our options. I didn’t want to lay ceramic tile down, but I really love the look of tile, so I checked into peel-and-stick vinyl floor tiles. I found tons of designs on eBay at incredible prices, but I found once shipping was added back in, the price came out to over $1.50 per square foot, which was higher than Lowe’s price of 88 cents per tile. I still thought 88 cents was a bit high for vinyl tile (almost the same as ceramic tile in the same size), so I kept looking. We have a flooring “liquidator” place nearby, but their prices were higher than Lowe’s also! No luck there. So I just figured I’d wait. There was no rush, since I wanted to finish painting before laying down any flooring. I finished up trim paint in the living room and put two more coats of primer on the sunroom (a wonderful helper had already done the first coat). This room, while small, proved a bit of work to prime, as it had narrow, flat trim below the ceiling (and we didn’t want to hit the ceiling, which didn’t need repainting). With crown moulding, it is much easier to miss the ceiling and hit only the moulding. This room also has sliding doors with retractable blinds that couldn’t be removed easily. That meant painting carefully with a brush behind the blinds:

Finally, the batten strips in this room seem to stick out a bit more than those in other rooms, and the roller couldn’t easily get paint right up next to them, so I had to cut in all that paint by hand:

When I ran out of primer and had to stop back at Lowe’s for more, I was very excited to find the Cryntel vinyl tile I liked was 50% off! That meant each tile came in at 44 cents–just as good as the eBay prices but without the shipping! This is the “Sandstone” color, which is similar to ceramic tile I’ve loved in our old house. It’s the color of dirt, so dirt won’t show easily! 😉 I went ahead and purchased enough tile to cover the kitchen, sunroom, laundry room, and large laundry room closet. I needed just under 350 square feet to do everything. As always, you’re supposed to add 8% for waste, so I decided to purchase 375 square feet of the tile. Lowe’s had just that in stock with one box left over! I was so glad I’d just “happened” to be in the store that day and had thought to check in the flooring section. While there, I also grabbed some ceramic tile to test out on the laminate countertops for a future project. The flooring tile sat around for over a month and a half before I got to it, since life got busy and I had no time for the trailer during the last half of March and most of April.

After finishing the kitchen cabinet re-do, I went ahead and de-waxed the linoleum floors as directed, using two parts ammonia to one part water. After letting this dry and air out thoroughly, I thought I’d just put down a couple of the peel-and-stick tiles to see how they looked. My helper from church and I measured to find the center of the kitchen. Normally, you’d mark the center by snapping a chalk line, but the white linoleum was already in a one-foot-square grid pattern, so we measured and found that the exact center of the room was only one and a half inches off in the grid. It would be a piece of cake to use the grid to lay the tiles perfectly square, so we opted to do that instead of starting at the exact center. I’d thought we’d just put down a few tiles to “see how it’s going to look,” but, before we knew it, we’d tiled half the kitchen!

This really was a cinch. The tiles have paper backing that you simply peel away to reveal the sticky adhesive beneath. You press the tile firmly to the floor, laying an “L” shaped pattern to begin with and filling that in to keep things nice and square. Once the tile is in the right place against its neighboring tiles, you firmly roll it flat to the floor with a rolling pin (I used my old faithful retired after years of service in bread making!). Here you can see my helper rolling a tile:

This job is actually so easy that my children later got in on the act. Here’s my daughter helping Mommy “rolling pin the floor” (as she said!).

We continued working for a total of fifty-five minutes and had the entire kitchen finished except for the edge pieces abutting the cabinets, floor vent, and carpet (those would have to be cut by hand, and I didn’t have a utility knife with me that day):

What a thrill! The kitchen really would be more user-friendly with its new floor, and I couldn’t wait to see it fully come together. But that would have to wait a few days until I could get my hands on a utility knife and scissors. At left is a shot taken closer to the dishwasher that shows the floor more clearly. You can see that I’d only need small rectangles of tile near the cabinets to finish up there (slightly larger ones to go beneath the dishwasher and stove). Going around the vents and the carpet curve at the living room would take a bit more doing. In the meantime, I still needed to finish painting the sunroom, since I didn’t want any of my buttercream paint dripping on a new floor! After the initial two coats of primer (long since dried), the color paint went on very nicely, as you can see here:

Four days later, my two oldest sons and I laid the rest of the full tiles in the sunroom and laundry room. Because those rooms are much smaller, they were done in a wink. Then it was time to get to work custom-cutting tile to fit around the cabinets, door jambs, and vents. I’d read in one how-to online that it would help to make a cardboard pattern to fill in the smaller spaces. So I cut my first pattern to fit next to the cabinets on the far right wall next to the fridge:

Next, I took the pattern and laid it out on a whole piece of tile, then scored firmly along the side of the pattern with my utility knife (in the second picture you can see the score line):

After scoring three times, the piece easily broke along the score line:

All I had to do then was flip the tile over and cut through the paper backing to get the tile to come apart cleanly:

Now I was ready to place the tile and roll it to stick:

Going around some cabinets was a bit tricky, and I actually found it easier to use scissors instead of the utility knife:

The curve of carpet that separates kitchen and living room was another challenge, but I found the utility scissors worked nicely. I did end up with blisters on my thumb and one finger after cutting tiles that day–ouch! But it really was worth it to see the final results, as these pictures will demonstrate:

My oldest son and I placed the last few cut tiles in the sunroom and utility room to finish, then stepped back to admire our handiwork:

This was well worth the grand total of six hours (including breaks for lunch!) that it took to get our new floor down. We are absolutely tickled pink with the results. And the final cost, including the ammonia I purchased to clean the floor? $167.44. Another bargain basement do-it-yourself project!

Next time I’ll show the results of the living room paint job and share some decorating photos that have inspired me. See you then!


About the Queen…

Amanda Livenwell is the pen name of a stay-at-home mom who shares the adventure of living large on one income in, yes, a double-wide trailer! Join our family as we say goodbye to suburbia, trim down, and start saving to build our own home. We're going to talk about doing it yourself, living beautifully on less, making do or doing without, and counting it all joy in the process. We'll cover prep-work and painting, refacing kitchen cabinets, flooring on the cheap, tiling over laminate, upholstering furniture, and just rolling up our sleeves in general. If you love home improvement, this is the place for you. Let's get cracking!

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What Inspires Me Most!

"She seeks wool and flax, and willingly works with her hands. She girds herself with strength, and strengthens her arms. She perceives that her merchandise is good, and her lamp does not go out by night. She stretches out her hands to the distaff, and her hand holds the spindle. She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness." ~ Proverbs 31:13, 17-19, 27

"Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings;he will not stand before unknown men." ~ Proverbs 22:29

"The soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing; but the soul of the diligent shall be made rich." ~ Proverbs 13:4

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