The Floors are Officially DONE!

You may have already thought the floors were done, but ohhhhhh no. There was one. more. step.

Those stairs

I cry. Especially that last one. YOU CAN SEE THE WATER DROPS.

When we fixed the floors in our second go-round of staining we avoided sealing the stairs because we knew they needed a bit more tough love and more than an additional coat of stain to fix those puppies.

But when we did the second coat on the rest of the floor, we sanded the stairs A LOT, and after the second coat really set in things were looking improved

(that above pic is where the water drop was)

It certainly looked a lot better, but I got the sandpaper out and went to town for a 3rd round of stain to try to make it even more improved

The third stair over by the front door didn't need any additional coats because we realized towards the end of our first round of staining the mistake we had made so we were able to nip any problems in the bud on that stair.

After sanding I cleaned both stairs off with the sponge

And after waiting for everything to dry I screened the area lightly to knock down any raised grain and then broke out the tack cloth and got all the little dust particles off. Then the stairs were ready for their third round of stain

When the stain had set in enough I came back with a clean cloth and rubbed out the excess stain, paying close attention to darker areas and spending a bit more time to rub out the saturation (hello camera strap. Trying to take a picture while also trying to rub out stain was a little difficult)

After letting things sit for a day or so we were finally able to see how things looked after three rounds of stain, some hard sanding and paying close attention to darker areas

Problem area 1: before


Problem area 2: before


And problem area #3 (the dreaded water drop): before


So much better, yay!!!!!! Of course afterwards I coated those suckers in 2 coats of poly and now we can FINALLY check floor refinishing off the list!

Our guess on the to do list was that refinishing the floors was going to 3 days (1 day to sand, 2 to refinish)

That clearly didn't happen. But at least it's done now :)


Artwork Up and Hutch Spruce Up

It's amazing how much putting artwork on the walls make me feel like a grown up. Since I planned out the artwork for the front room back in OCTOBER we've gained 2 additional pieces to go on the collage wall. The first is a line drawing of our house our real estate agent gave us

And the other was a surprise from Chris. If you know us at all you know we're both sports crazy. Baseball is my #1 sport and football is Chris' (though I really like it too). And though the 9ers are Chris' favorite football team, we both also really like the Packers. The fact that they're publicly owned is super cool and when we were on our 11 week baseball road trip we even actually toured Lambeau

So when Chris announced to me that he recently purchased ownership in Packers' stock in our name I just about crapped in my pants

For a sports fan like me it was very romantic :)

But now that we had 2 more pieces of artwork, my planned collage had to be modified. I brought out all the artwork and shuffled it around the floor of my art room and came up with a new layout

Then I moved all the artwork into the front room. I knew at what point from the floor and left wall the Mos Def concert poster should be at

But after that I just said wing it. I sorta held things up and eyeballed placement while Chris marked where we should nail things in. For being not exact at all, I think it looks pretty good

(clearly we have paint touching up to do at the bottom of the wall)

But if you'll notice from this old pic of yore, we had this hutch...

I decided it needed a spruce up since it's been sitting in the laundry room for 3 months

And now that the floors are done and they've been sitting neat and tiddy for about 2 1/2 weeks now, some of the more heavy stuff can finally make its way back in. We bought the hutch about 2 1/2 years ago at a local salvage place for around $20 (I think). We cleaned it up, painted it white and slapped on some new hardware. I planned to leave it pretty much the same except I thought a different color on the top would be fun.

I cleared it off, dragged it to my art room, and cleaned it to get it ready for paint

I didn't want to pay anything to spruce it up, so I debated a few of our existing paint colors: the dark gray on the detail walls of the front room, the yellow of the front door (it's an exterior paint, though that doesn't really matter when taking exterior inside) and the bright turquoise of the future chairs. My top choice was the darker gray, but the turquoise shade for the chairs is Kelly-Moore water/oil hybrid so I know it'll take a beating really well, so I went with that one.

Onto the top it went

It got two quick coats and I called it done. After things dried I dragged it over to the front room and carefully lifted it into place and set it down

I wasn't too sure about the drawer hardware, especially the top drawer, but again, I wanted this spruce up to cost FREE.99 so I resolved that things were fine

Plus, I'm trying to get out of being too matchy matchy, so I told myself it was okay. I was also a little nervous of how the turquoise would look up against the gray wall with the white and yellow frames right above it

But I surprised my matchy matchy self and I really like the layered look of all the colors.

The last step was bringing in the goodies we keep on top: our change container, candy we bring to movies, and this box I made in woodshop in 8th grade we keep extra dinero in

And the project is complete (at a cost of $0)

Not too shabby.

Then we moved on to the next wall with our super awesome newly built home made frames :) And now our new posters have arrived too

They look so crisp, clean and colorful. The prints are super great quality, I love them

I shimmied things around on the ground to find a layout with spacing that I liked

My plan was to have the frames fill the wall pretty completely

When I broke the news to Chris, he wasn't too much of a fan. And I have to say after talking about it with him my idea started to make me pretty nervous. The prints are large and with 9ft. ceilings in this room there was about 14-15" on the bottom and the top before the frames hit the floor and ceiling. I though it would look good because the wall next to it had nearly floor to ceiling action with the hutch and artwork above it so it would provide a nice balance. But Chris' apprehension made
me apprehensive. We still went for it though

After lots of measuring, lots of leveling and lots of tweaking our lines were pretty damn close to perfect

And how do they look on the wall?

Filling up just about the whole space?

Awesome! It might not be for everyone and some may say things are too low, but I gotta say, it works for me! And Chris likes it too. Though he does say it's strange that a frame is low enough to hit into his knees...

Now We've Just got to Grout

With the herringbone in Chris and I were excited to get the rest of the surround tiled. Originally I wanted these tiles (2x8) to be installed vertically, but we ran into some layout issues. First off, those skinny strips of surround on either side of the fireplace opening were about 7 inches wide

And if we ran the tile vertical we'd be left with a little dinky piece on one of the rows

In addition, the lintel that separates the two skinny strips on either side of the fireplace opening from the area right above, would create some unnecessary grout lines

We resolved that it might be best to run the tiles horizontal. So we measured out the area above the lintel at 44" and found that if we ran the tiles horizontally that one full tile would be on one side and exactly 1/2 would be on the other, so running a subway pattern horizontal would fit exactly. Awesome

I laid out all the tiles

It was helpful because we were able to see all the tiles at once to see the variation...

...as well as the tiles that were more simple...

...so that when we put the tiles up we could make sure to mix things up so similar tiles weren't grouped too much together.

Then it was time to get started!

(We recently discovered that Chris has minor skin cancer - basal cell carcinoma - which is what the bandage is for: he had a patch of skin removed and he just got the results and they came back free and clear! Chris of course opted to remove the stitches himself instead of going back to the doctor to have them do it. Sometimes I don't know what to do with him.)

Full tile on one end, nice little halfsy on the other

That top area went really quickly because there were so few cuts, and the ones we did have were really easy because I just cut them straight in half

Now, the sides of the mantle were a bit more difficult. We treated it as an extension of the top area but we needed to start from the bottom (so that the tiles wouldn't slide out of place if we started from the top and worked our way down), so laid at how many tiles tall that section would be

And we measured giving a full tile at the top to see what our bottom tile would have to be cut down to

Also, this section was was slightly too narrow for a complete tile all the way across (and two half tiles on the other rows) so we had to measure to see how wide our full pieces and second "half" pieces needed to be

I cut down all the "full" pieces and those outside "half" pieces to the correct width. And then Chris tossed them up there

Then we repeated the process on the left side

We noticed a slight problem as we were working at the bottom of the left and right sections. On the right side the tile overlaps each other

And on the left side there is a small gap

We were totally frustrated with ourselves that we didn't notice it when we did the mud job, but upon closer inspection if you look at the the amount that the white stone protrudes in front of the wood on the left side while on the right side it's recessed we realized that things were originally a little wonky and unfortunately we didn't catch it before. If we had done a thicker mud job on the left side it wouldn't have fixed things because at that point the tile on the left would protrude very far in front of the wood right next to it, whereas on the right side it's just slightly recessed. It's sort of a mind fuck. Either way, we'll have to figure out how to make it less noticeable when we grout.

My frustration quickly went away when I saw all the pretty tile up though :)

And how does it look with the herringbone you ask?

Fucking awesome! I can't wait to grout!