U-G-L-Y Floor: be gone!

Oh roll vinyl. Why they continue to sell this crap I haven't the foggiest idea, but this house was the worst roll vinyl offender ever. First, the stairs. The upstairs bathroom has the same stuff- but it's in fair enough shape that we decided not to mess with it at the moment. So now that the stairs are redone and the bathroom has new baseboards the biggest mess is our kitchen and front entrance.

TL; DR: TrafficMaster Ceramica is the BOMB.

Let's start with the front entrance:
This, admittedly, isn't all THAT bad in the grand scheme of things. The issue here is mainly that it IS roll vinyl, and that it's 12 years old. And yellow. It doesn't look that yellow in that picture, but believe me- it is. The pattern was also way to busy- even if those were tiles, tiles that small have one spot: the bathroom. The sheen had worn off it (cause of course nobody ever waxed it) and it generally just looked dingy. And if something is NEVER going to look clean, I have a hard time motivating myself to clean it. The same vinyl is in the kitchen/ back entrance/ pantry/ half bathroom- but in MUCH worse shape.

Hubs and I have hemmed and hawed over what to do about this floor for the last year. I've had several contractors come in and give me quotes on tile installation- and even with relatively cheap porcelain or ceramic we were looking at about four grand to have both this little front space and the kitchen space redone. OUCH. I know that doesn't sound like a ton- but for the market we're in, it is. I looked into poured concrete- and that was even worse. After consulting with our realtor, she agreed that putting that kind of money into the floor was unlikely to get us a return on our investment, although she also agreed that something really needed to be done about the ugly floor. In the event that we got unexpectedly posted out of here (always a possibility) our house really couldn't afford to be "awesome, except for that old flooring..." Remember the point of this house has always been to improve it's aesthetics, receive a big return on our investment, and be able to buy our dream house at our next posting. Could we attempt the ceramic installation ourselves? Possibly, but we weren't confident enough in our abilities to make the tricky cuts. And to get half decent tile it was still going to be close to two grand. More roll vinyl was not an option.

So long story short, around Christmas Hubs was in Home Depot and stumbled upon a display for TrafficMaster Ceramica resilient vinyl tile. Yes, that's just a fancy name for peel and stick vinyl tiles. But this stuff had something the others don't: it's groutable. That's right. Peel, stick, GROUT, and all done. He spent some time feeling the samples in the store, and then came home and made his pitch: It looks like ceramic tile when installed with grout. Even if you FEEL it it's hard to say it's not ceramic because it has actual grout lines, not printed ones. It comes in a bunch of different colours. It's able to be installed without a tile saw- just cut with scissors and utility knives. No mastic.

I went with my Mom the next day to look and sure enough- this looked like the answer to our dilemma. It's also CHEAP. Like- it'd only cost us 600$ to do the whole kitchen and front cheap. So that was our new plan: peel and stick vinyl. When I got my tax return this past year we went straight to Home Depot (which is the exclusive retailer of this stuff) and looked at colours. We decided to order the "Natural Concrete" colour (it was between this and the "Dark concrete"...but with our kitchen we thought the lighter would be better.) We chose 12x24 tiles with the intention of doing an offset brick pattern. It took six weeks to arrive.

So back to the front entrance. This was Hub's baby. He sat and measured out the space and laid it all out. He washed the floor, sanded it with high grit sandpaper (just to rough it up and make sure the sheen was REALLY off that gross old lino) and he washed it again. Yes, this stuff can be installed right over top of the old lino! Then once it was all dry the moment of truth came- and he began to peel and stick.

Peel and stick. Peel and stick. Measure, peel, and stick. There were some interesting cuts in there around the door frame (which he did with his trusty utility knife and some kitchen scissors), but for the most part all he had to do to cut them was to score and snap. So every once and a while throw a measure, score, snap, peel and stick in there. We made the executive decision to not remove the baseboards in this area because we'd just installed them last summer (with my Mom!) and there is a tricky area around the step into the living room that didn't look like it was going to come out easily. Instead we used a spacer and put a grout line around the trim and figured since we're using white grout it wouldn't be a big deal.

Here's what it looked like once it was all laid, but before we grouted. Big improvement right?! The back of the box suggests using TrafficMaster Stain Proof grout, but it's not kept in stock at Home Depot in Canada. We could order it, but we felt that was unnecessary when there was a whole aisle of grout sitting two feet away. After weighing the options we settled on Fusion Pro grout in Bright White. Fusion Pro is like the best of both worlds- it's premixed and has the working time of cement grout, but the stain, mould, and mildew resistance of epoxy grout- no part A&B to mix with only 90 mins of working time though! We felt it was the best option because it's low maintenance- no need to seal it and reseal it every two years. And in an entry way and kitchen with white grout you'd have to stay on top of the sealing or else risk lots of staining! It is a bit pricey- about twice the price of normal premixed SimpleGrout...but once we factored in the cost of the sealant and the fact that we'd have that cost (and have to remember to do it) until we sold the house, that cost quickly evaporated. Fusion Pro it was!

 And here it is grouted with the closet doors back on! Doesn't it look fantastic? It looks just like normal tile- but it cost SO MUCH LESS. And the installation took only a few hours- Hubs started at 9:30am and was done four hours later with everything cleaned up and the doors back on! And he was kind of feeling this out since it was his first time- I know the kitchen will go faster seeing as he's got the hang of it. I am so thrilled with it. I can't believe this morning it was ugly yellowed lino full of pock marks! I can't wait for the kitchen to get started since that's where the real mess is. As big a change as this is, it's going to be tenfold in the kitchen.

If you've made it to the end of this post- congratulations! You deserve a medal. Are you considering using groutable vinyl tile for your floor project? I'd love to hear about it! I'll make sure to update you all with the kitchen progress once we get that under way!


Bathroom Reno- complete!

The bathroom is done the bathroom is done! I LOVE my new bathroom. EVERYTHING fits in it! It stays clean! Because everything fits in it!

So as you can see- I painted the walls! No more ugly butter yellow! Not that I have anything against yellow in general- but this yellow had seen better days. The colour on the walls here is Burnished Clay by Behr. It's funny- this colour definitely changes based on it's surroundings. My parents have it in their basement and it looks much more beige. In my bathroom it takes on an almost purple hue- probably because of the blueish floor. I don't really care- it's so much fresher!

The other big change in that picture: hello human-sized medicine cabinet! That one in particular is the Godmorgen single cabinet from Ikea in brown/black. For the size the price of it simply couldn't be beat- 90$. Once other priorities are taken care of I think I'm going to add a big chrome straight handle to the front to give it some interest, but it's perfectly functional the way it is.

LOOK AT ALL THAT STORAGE!! Hair products, netti pot and saline mix, qtips, medicines- all safely ensconced in the cabinet, where they ought to be.

This is the view of my vanity now. Excuse the netti pot and tissues- I had a wicked sinus infection and putting them away was just not worth it. However do you notice something? That's all that's on the counter: what I immediately need! Where the ugly medicine cabinet was, and then the hole, I've now got my recessed shelving that I talked about in my previous post that again- holds STUFF! So much stuff. Vitamins and hair products and face cleansers and y'know- stuff I use daily. The rod holds my hairdryer caddy and a cup that holds my toothbrush, toothpaste, and Clairsonic brush. Basically- everything has a spot!

Here I'm sitting in my bedroom looking through the pocket door. This was before we got the baseboards in- but they're in now! I found the amazing laundry hamper at HomeSense for 30$ and the hooks above at a store called Wunderkammer in Ottawa (you can't see but they look like deer heads.) Spot for dirty laundry and towels? Check. Also note our new fancy dual shower head- best thing ever.

Above the door I added a shelf from Ikea. These shelves are fantastic because you can cut them to length and the brackets cover the cuts. The shelf is exactly the width of that space. The woven baskets I again got at HomeSense for 7$ each. They hold things that I need to have in the bathroom but that I don't use on a daily- or even monthly- basis. Stuff like extra soap, pads (currently pregnant!), makeup sponges, etc. The idea was to get some stuff out of the vanity cabinet so it wouldn't become so cluttered that things would get lost in there. It's fantastic! I also clearly keep extra toilet paper up there. There's a small folding step stool that sits in the vanity cabinet so I can get up there when I need to.

We replaced the ugly seashell fixture. Pretty isn't it? Much more modern and it adds some sparkle to the space.  At some point I plan to frame out the mirror, but it's not a pressing need.

I also added a shower organizer to the back wall. This one is teak and I found it- yeah- at HomeSense. It's hanging on a knob that got ousted from the kitchen, which is screwed into the wall with a hangar bolt. (*I could only find these at Lowes. Bring the knob you want to use cause there's lots of sizes. They're typically used to screw in furniture legs- the associate who helped me had no idea what I was asking for before I told him this.) I find this a lot easier to use than hanging it on the shower head, and it wouldn't fit anyways with our new dual one. It's very steady!

And that my friends is my bathroom refresh! It's just so much more functional now. It FEELS cleaner just because it's less cluttered. And yeah- it's easier to keep clean because it's less cluttered. I now feel like this bathroom is viable to be used by a family of three. There's room for baby boy to come now! It's amazing how just having the RIGHT kind of storage in a small space can take it from completely unusable and stressful to relaxing and functional!

Next up I'm going to be posting about our NEW KITCHEN FLOOR! We're re-tiling with TrafficMaster Ceramica 12x24 groutable vinyl tiles...and it's going to look fantastic!


Bathroom Reno!

Hello! I know I haven't posted in about a year- but it's been a BUSY year! Since last August we've painted the kitchen and cabinets (still waiting on our new floor), painted our guest room, painted our nursery (that's right- I'm seven months pregnant!), and finally FINALLY redoing the main bathroom. I'll get to everything else soon- I promise- but today I want to talk about my new bathroom.

So- our house has only one full bath. There's a powder room on the main floor (thank god) but we've only got the one shower/tub. Because Hubsbeast tends to wake up with the birds, showers at night, and doesn't want to disturb me (bless him)- he tends to use the powder room for his man-grooming and the full bath has become "my" bathroom.

Now the previous owners had three boys and two adults using this bathroom. As a result they seemed to just try and fix issues like lack of storage with the quickest and cheapest possible way. Unfortunately, that way was not functional at all. Observe:

What "my" bathroom looked like on a regular basis.

So in that first photo you see the vanity. That hole in the wall holding my hair products used to be a recessed medicine cabinet which was the ugliest, most useless cabinet ever known to man. I didn't even take a picture of it before I tore it out of the wall. It was mirrored, which was annoying being perpendicular to the big mirror. It also had fixed moulded shelves which fit absolutely nothing of substance. In fact, when I went to pull it out- a year after we moved into the house- there was absolutely nothing in it. That's how useless it was. And if you look at the counter top clearly I was hurting for accessible storage.

In the second photo you see our toilet/bathtub situation. Our bathroom is a very tight L shape- and those two itty bitty cabinets that were on the wall made the walls come in on either side of you and made it feel even tighter. And again, they didn't fit anything!! There was nowhere to hang our towels but that little towel bar squeezed in under the cabinet on the left. The tub also had no built in storage- meaning all my products ended up lined up on the edge there.

Yes, it's a double entry. The pocket door goes to our master, and the normal door goes to the upstairs hallway. Yes, please don't judge- but that is a pile of dirty laundry behind the door. It always ended up there because I would roll out of bed and into the bathroom to shower and...I'm to lazy to walk back into my bathroom to strip. That's really the long and the short of it. As you can kind of see we had an over-the-door hook thing sitting on the door to try and give us a bit more space but it never really sit straight and would impede the door from fully closing.

Now, beyond the storage and space issues in this bathroom there was the physical condition of it. Flat. Paint. Who paints a bathroom with flat paint?! Apparently the developer of this house, because it was abundantly clear that this room- like every other room in the house- hadn't been painted 12 years. And I'm starting to realize after painting every door in this house that they were hung with possibly one thin coat of flat paint, if that. So yellowed, so scared, so ugly.

So that's what I was working with- and after living with it for a year I was completely over it. I knew if I left it till after my baby boy shows up in two months it would never get done, and it would only get more cluttered once we introduced baby paraphernalia.

First things first- I pulled out that recessed cabinet in a flurry of pregnancy hormones and frustration one day. It was only being held in by four screws and once out I was happy to see it had been properly framed. The hole was rough, but after consulting with my Mom I had a plan of attack. I measured the dimensions of the back and the sides and marched off to Lowes in search of nice plywood I could get cut down. I found a 7$ sheet that all my cuts would fit on and a very helpful Lowes employee cut the boards to my dimensions. It should be noted that the Lowes board cutter is not for super specific cuts- but I wasn't worried about it being off by 1/4 of an inch because it was all going to be getting painted out the same white as the trim so I could compensate for imperfect cuts with my old friend paintable caulk.

Since all that was along the back of the recess was drywall I couldn't put nails through the back and just glued it in with No More Nails. The sides were done with both No More Nails and finishing nails to keep them tight. Once everything was in I caulked the heck out of it!

Since I ensured the sides were level with the drywall all I had to do was backfill the gap between the boards and the drywall with drywall compound- which took three coats, sanded in between. Once it was smooth and you couldn't tell there'd ever been a gap there I painted the WHOLE BATHROOM. But I'll talk more about that in my next post. As you can see I used cove moulding to make the supports for my shelf, again held in with No More Nails and finishing nails to ensure the shelf could hold some good weight. I very scientifically chose the height of the shelf by placing my can of hairspray in the recess and using Hubs' laser level to determine where it needed to rest. The whole point of this recess was to get the products I use every day up off the counter- so it was imperative that I could fit all my stuff without having to fight with it or it'd end up right back on the counter. Cause I'll admit it- I'm LAZY.

And this is what that wall looks like now! The inside of the recess is painted out the same white as the trim- crisp and clean. I've installed a magnetic strip below it to hold bobby pins and tweezers and such. An extendable makeup mirror from Ikea fits between the doorway and the shelves- which gets my old makeup mirror out of the lower cabinet. The bar below is from Ikea, as is the little cup hanging off it- which holds my Clarisonic brush, toothbrush, and toothpaste. My hairdryer caddy is also currently hanging off the bar but I'll show you soon what we're doing so that it can live in the cabinet below, corral the cords, and I can add another Ikea cup or two for *gasp* my husband's and baby's supplies!

Which means that this wall went from being useless, and my counter being so cluttered you couldn't even see it- to holding absolutely everything that was clogging the countertop in an organized and accessible manner. It's the ultimate in a place for everything and everything in it's place!

I can't tell you how much better I feel not starting my day walking into all that clutter. And wait till you see how much more storage I added, and it still feels bigger than it did before! I promise not to leave you hanging again!