Monday, July 30, 2012

Baby's Got Back...

...all the crap she's been storing with us since she moved out.

Yep - that's right, we are finally free of every last scrap of elementary school artwork, the family china she couldn't possibly live without, and even her old car.

I think somewhere there may be angels singing - I hear they do that when an adult child finally takes physical possession of everything he or she has left behind, "because my apartment isn't quite big enough."

Actually, in my daughter's case, that might have been true. She and her fiance have spent the last two years in a studio apartment just blocks from Fisherman's Wharf. It was a good thing the view was big (of the Golden Gate Bridge) because the apartment definitely was not.

After scouring the Bay Area for larger abodes to begin their married life in, they happened across a charming 2 bedroom in Walnut Creek. This hidden gem not only boasted actual bedrooms with doors but even had a balcony! Walking distance to local restaurants and the BART - well, what's not to like?

We were delighted to help them settle in to their new place (and hand-deliver the aforementioned crap of ages).
This is her "Moving sucks! I need my mum!" face.

We were also delighted to help test out the local eateries...Sushi, Turkish, BBQ, and the most amazing breakfast place sadly are all located too close to burn off any of the calories one consumes there.

Bring on the raki!
But even more fun than eating out (hard to believe) was the chance to shop and decorate their new digs!

Of course the lines at IKEA weren't helping things move very quickly...and yes, I am pushing TWO carts!
Weeks before we arrived, the apartment manager had asked them to select a color for their accent wall so they'd picked a lovely shade of grey to complement their contemporary furnishings.

But come moving in day my daughter noticed that her new "accent" wall was less of an "accent" and more of whole new language. It wasn't the color so much as the size of the wall itself. It was huge. And even with all their furnishings in place there was still a gaping blank spot that fairly cried out for a large piece of furniture.

You can almost see the tears on that left side can't you?

"We need a china cabinet," she emailed me Thursday afternoon (no doubt thinking of the family china I was schlepping across two states).

"They're very expensive," I typed back knowing that they are saving for their wedding next spring.

"I looked online," she wrote...

"And?" I asked.


So I suggested Craigslist thinking that maybe she'd have time to look over the weekend when we were visiting. Within minutes, my techno-age daughter had sent me 11 links to second hand china cabinets she liked that were currently listed for sale.

After a flurry of texts she'd settled on one that met all her criteria: cheap ($60); local (less than a 20 minute drive); and suitable to burn if the refinishing didn't go well (it's solid wood).

Here's our starting point:

The glass was long gone from the upper doors and some cat had re-purposed the piece as a personal scratching post.
Then team Brandon-Erica-Mum flew into action refinishing the piece with a little Rustoleum Cabinet Paint magic. Personally, I think the results are stunning even if they took four days, ten sets of gloves, and half a bottle of aspirin to achieve.

Brandon did a great job on spray-painting all the hardware.
The rest of the apartment turned out pretty slick looking too...

The living room flows together with the new rug and Erica's artistic wall decor arrangement.
The dining area is small but flooded with light and perfect for four.
Erica's new spice rack looks terrific and only took about 6 hours (GAK) to finish after washing the tins, making the labels, and then filling them with the spices while trying not to inhale anything too peppery!

The kitchen is newly renovated and full of storage options once we added some extra shelves.
The new quilt I made them fits perfectly as a bedspread - it will be regular quilt sized if they decide to buy a king bed.
A pretty screen hides the color-sorting laundry baskets and new shelving in the closet makes putting things away a snap!

Dave set up the office spending hours getting all the computers and printers to play nicely with each other.
Finally the balcony was clear of boxes, the BBQ was ready to light and the table awaited an evening meal.The best part of the whole trip though was spending time with the kids!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Come Back Shane

I like to soak in a bath for hours. I've always liked it. In fact, when I was young, I can remember placing a board across our tub so I could do my homework while in the bath.

Good baths are important - the Romans thought so - and the Turks are darn near famous for theirs...but ours? Well lets just say perching in a large cake pan would be a similar experience. So I had to replace see that don't you?

And new bath tubs don't have to be expensive...(most are of course but they don't have to be)

But they have to fit.

So after securing Dave's vague nod of approval (I've learned to ask while he's focused on doing something else that he'd love to get back to asap) I started chipping away tile and haunting bath dealers.

Look how shallow that old garden tub is - you can't even get your belly wet in that one!

I was the Goldilocks of the tub world.

I sat in big ones, little ones, deep ones and shallow ones. I lounged in curved ones, squared ones, and a few that looked more like art than basins. I became well-versed in acrylics and enamels and even stone manufacturing processes.

I visited luxury bath galleries where they run your credit before letting you in the door and I visited the local builders supply stores in search of the perfect fit. Why I even climbed up on the shelves at Lowes to slip into a tub display 4 feet off the ground (they shouldn't leave those rolling ladders unattended).

And then I found it.

The perfect tub.

At 22" deep it promised a lingering soak. It had armrests and a gently sloping back designed to cradle me while almost whispering soothing words. It even had handles that I could use to pull myself out after my muscles all turned to was called the Jasmine.

And that's pretty much where the romance ended because in order to make the Jasmine a permanent part of my world I needed to remodel my entire bathroom. Anyone who has ever remodeled a bathroom knows that romance is the last word to describe the month's long nightmare of disruption.

Enter plumber. Shane is great. He's the kind of plumber you can trust to fix what's wrong quickly and inexpensively. The kind who when called out to replace some rusted open angle stops casually mentions that he has time to chop up the old offensive tub while he's here...

He's a wily one.

So we chopped up the tub and he gave me a punch list of what I had to do in order to make the Jasmine mine.

Removing that old tub was with exposed insulation for 3months...not so much!

So I did it.

The first wave required re-tiling the vanity counter and backsplash. I also re-worked the cabinetry to create a new look and a spot to conceal the trash can. I selected the sinks and new faucets and then cleverly left the country leaving Dave to make the call.

"Come back Shane!"

My friend Nancy and I combined new tumbled marble with the stone mosaic she had left over from another tile project.

Nancy's not much for pictures but she let me capture her grouting gloves.

I love the new look!

Pretty baskets on the new oak shelves I retrofitted hold extra TP.

The trash can is accessible but tucked away. I love the new vessel sinks and faucets!

So Shane came back and installed the new vessel sinks and faucets.

And then the Jasmine was delivered. Dave went to pick her up in the trailer and when he brought her home we moved her right into the bedroom where I slid in while holding my breath.

The fit was perfect and I couldn't wait to install her. So I made the call.

"Come back Shane!"

So Shane came back and we measured the height of the drain connection and the tub sides and four more measurements that made no sense to me. And again I was given instructions on how to build and tile the tub deck.

Okay so you're supposed to by an "alcove" tub with a flange and apron front when you are installing a tub in an "alcove" - why be ordinary? Why follow the crowd? Why not make every stinking project five times more complex than it has to be? Now that's a motto I can live by!

So I stripped away more drywall and evened out the opening so the Jasmine might actually fit in my alcove...and then I discovered that the wall behind the old tub was leaking. So I made the call again...

"Come back Shane!"

Shane came back and determined that the leak was not plumbing related at all - it was a faulty roof flashing enter the roofer...and the contractor to replace the glass block window that was rotting out of its opening as a result of the leak...a "quick" 6 week process that ground the entire project to a halt.

I took this pic during the rain to show the roofer the problem - now wonder that window rotted out.

Here's my tub deck and first set of tile.

Imagine the torture of walking my past my lovely Jasmine soaking tub every single night as she sat waterless smack in the center of my bedroom. Her very presence was a siren song reminding me of the bath I longed for...course it could have been the bruise on my thigh from running into the dang thing every time I crossed to my side of the bed...

Finally winter arrived and so did my new window. As the silicone set, I rushed to build and tile the new tub deck and made the call...

"Come back Shane!"

Shane returned and in less than an hour installed the Jasmine...using vice-grips and an open copper pipe we filled my luxury tub and watched the water turn was a red-neck meets spa moment...

The redneck spa experience...

You see I couldn't have a proper faucet until the entire tub surround was tiled. So I set to work. The tile guys at the supply place had advised that wall tile is really hard to get straight and the best approach for a person at my skill level is to do three rows at a time, wait a day, and repeat.

On the first day, I lifted a 50 lb bag of thinset and threw out my back...a week of pills, therapy and whining later, I tiled the next set of rows pressing Dave into porter service for bucket after bucket of thinset and grout.

I'm smiling because I'm heavily medicated with back pain pills...

Finally the tile was in. The grout was in.  It was time to make the final call...

"Come back Shane!"

And so he did. Shane installed the faucet and spout. Then I installed the pretty girly towel racks and curtains.

I love the new vanity and sinks!
I love the new lighting fixtures - this is the view from the bedroom.

And I LOVE my new tub!

And then I soaked.