Monday, December 31, 2007

Paint! The Dining Room has Paint!

There's nothing more satisfying than rolling some clean, new paint onto an old wall.

I started with the ceiling, like you're supposed to, rolling on the white paint with my roller attached to a broom handle. It was going really well until the roller pad started to shift off of the roller. I thought I'd push the pad against the ceiling to get it back onto the roller. *SNAP* Broke the broom handle. Roller hits the floor. Good stuff huh? Clean up on aisle 4!
After I finished painting the ceiling (and floor!) I started on the walls. I picked out this khaki/tan color for the living/dining areas and even though I was concerned it would be too dark, I'm actually really happy with it.

Progress pic:
Finished product (just imagine crisp white trim, chair and crown moulding):
If you've read previous posts, you'll know my problem with the trim. It was all replaced in this room back when it was converted to a duplex. The wood is inferior in quality and I wanted to make sure it wouldn't look too bad if it was painted. I painted a little swatch with ceiling paint to see how the wall color would look with white trim.
I'll have to take a sander to the trim's varnish first to make a surface the paint will adhere to. I like the wood with the khaki, but it'll be more cost effective to just paint it rather than replace with good quality wood. The living room retains its original fir woodwork, so I'll be able to have the nice wood with the khaki there. Compromise, right?

There are a couple areas on the walls that need another coat of paint, but after that I'll be able to attack the trim and finish up. I'm thinking that room will become the living room while I redo the real living room next.

I'm almost at the end of winter break and I'm nowhere near as far as I had hoped to be. I guess that's just an old house for you. It eats your life!

Dining Room: Texture and Primer

I found a great new (to me) product that I'm so excited to share! I discovered these cans of aerosol orange-peel texture. The size of the texture is adjustable so you can make anywhere from small to medium to large splatters. There are two different kinds, one that shoots out white texture, or one that shoots out blue texture that turns white when it dries. I could see paying the extra fifty cents for the blue stuff if you have vision issues, but I really didn't see the need for it myself. I just thought I'd try it because it looked like a fun gimmick. It did work nicely for taking pictures. I don't know if you could have seen the white texture as well as the blue against the off white walls.

The only drawbacks were the price and the smell. They were a bit more expensive than sand texture would have been, costing about $13 a can, but so far I only had to use 2.5 cans of it. It's SO much easier than the sand texture, so I was happy to pay it. The smell was the other issue. I would have liked to be able to open up a window but I didn't want to let in the winter so I just tolerated the fumes.

Here's a photo of the giant crack I repaired on the North wall:I decided it would be a good idea take an action shot. I hope you like it; I over-textured that spot just for your benefit.
After I finished the texture, I primed the walls and ceiling. The ceiling hadn't been primed yet in that picture.
I just finished painting the ceiling, and I'm really pleased with how it turned out. I'm probably going to paint the walls now.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Painting Prep in the Dining Room: Motivation

Now, this is what I call motivation!
My roommate, after hearing me complain about the perils of sanding and how much I didn't want to start it again tonight, placed a delicious Summit Extra Pale Ale under my sander in the dining room right across from where I was sitting and watching tv. Mmmm... of course to get to the goodness I had to put that sander in my hand. It worked! I hate sanding joint compound, but my little treat for subjecting myself to such mindless and torturous labor has been Summit EPA every time so far. Why would this be any different? (only a couple, Mom!) For those of you who aren't anywhere near the Minneapolis/St. Paul or surrounding areas, Summit is a brewery that was started in St. Paul MN by a guy who grew up in... where... Wahpeton, ND!!! That's my hometown of about 8500 people. I'd support his efforts even if the beverage was gross but luckily for me it's SOOOO good. It's actually my favorite, and you'll find me ordering it quite frequently. It stays pretty local, but if it makes it up to me I'm sure it has to have a pretty good radius out of the Twin Cities. I know my MPLS readers get it, but do you get it in Wisconsin Jeff? Kelly in IA? If so, try one for me!

Anyways, back to the dining room. I finished sanding the walls and ceilings tonight. I used some drywall sand paper which has a kind of grid shape. Much like a window screen. Using this works really well because the open squares allow the dust to fall out and not clog the sand paper. The disadvantage of using this kind of sandpaper is that it leaves some ridges in the joint compound. I'll have to go back with a wet sponge and smooth out the ridges tomorrow.

I finally bought some tape and hung up some tarps over the entrances to the dining room. Dust control, woah! Finally I'm able to do some sanding without everything that's ever come into the house being covered with three inches of dust. Here are a couple photos of the tarps up. Boo dust!
Finally, when I finished sanding I was so excited to be done, I made a dust-angel. I feel like it's in the holiday spirit. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Merry Mud-Mess!

After a great Christmas with my family, I returned to the house of dust this evening and got back to work on the dining room. More mud was the call of the day. I re-mudded the patches on the ceilings and walls to prepare them for their second sanding tomorrow.


I'm going to cry tears of joy when I get to priming. Paint? I'll just pee with excitement. I just want to get this room done.

I know the living room will be much easier than the dining room. The stairwell? The tears there will NOT be ones of joy, but I'll be so happy when that's done. It's really the ugliest part of the first floor right now. Like a giant zit on your senior picture!

Just a Little Late

A couple hours late, but still my best wishes for your holiday season!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Just Call Me Dusty

After work today I decided to sand down the dining room ceiling and walls.

As it turns out, the only thing more miserable than sanding walls is sanding ceilings. Yuck.

I need to go back and hit a couple areas again with mud, then do a second sanding. Texture, primer, paint, then done. I say done in very relative terms.

I need to go buy some tape ASAP because it seems there is none to be found in the whole house. I have tarps I wanted to tape over the openings to the room, but I couldn't find any tape. As a consequence there is dust all over the kitchen and living room now. Not nearly as much as the dining room though. Please see photo below (note the dust in the air floating through the house):I made the mistake of sitting down and leaning back on the couch without changing clothes first. Nice huh?
Tomorrow will be entertaining a trip to 'the Depot' as well as some Christmas shopping.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Basement Evils

Today I ventured down to the basement to see if I could try to fix my dryer. About half way through disassembling it all to take out the faulty heating element I decided to give up and just hire someone to do the job. I'm sorry, I just don't have the patience for that right now!

But, while I was busy screwing parts back together, my roommate started taking a shower upstairs right above me. Not a problem you'd think, but subsequently I began taking a shower too. Yes, maybe I need one, but I'd prefer to take mine on my own schedule. What was once a small leak at the shower's drain seems to have lead to a bigger problem here. I took a little video so you can understand my situation. Sorry for the poor lighting conditions.

It looks like replacing that shower stall might just be moving up to a sooner project. I'll be caulking soon, if nothing else.

I'll also have to tell the roommates to not take showers while the dryer guy is downstairs! Gotta love the house...

Monday, December 17, 2007

Painting Prep: Living & Dining Rooms

Well, I finally got around to starting the work that needs to be done in the dining room.

I, like most American 22 year old male college students, spent my Saturday night scraping loose paint off of a dining room ceiling. Oh, what an adventurous life I lead!
Look at that mess!
Check out how big that pile of paint chips is! (note feet for scale) (fyi, size 10) I also finished scraping off the residual joint compound from the walls and ceilings where I removed the extra walls. Here's a photo of the living room ceiling, ripe for sanding. The job got a lot easier once I started spraying water on the walls and ceilings before I started scraping. The joint compound became much softer and easier to scrape off.

Step 1: Spray water onto unwanted joint compound.Step 2: Scrape your heart out.Step 3: Repeat.

Woah, tangent! OK, back to the dining room. Today, after one of those five hour Sunday afternoon naps, I made a trip to 'the Depot' for some more joint compound. I patched up the holes in the ceiling left from the paint that chipped away. Now all I need to do is sand, re-mud where necessary, sand, texture, prime, then paint. Is this considered the home stretch yet? I filled all of the nail holes in the walls, but I still need to repair two big cracks. I just want to paint already! I've had the dang paint for months, gah!

I'm kind of up in the air about what to do with the trim in the dining room. The trim was all replaced (poorly) sometime before I got here. The wood is stained, but it is of an inferior quality. You can see stain on the oak flooring in all of the dining room pictures from when the p.o. stained the inferior wood. Yet another reason to thank the p.o.! The windows were painted at some point, but I can tell the wood was originally stained like the living room. So what do I do? Should I (a.) paint the inferior wood white like the rest of the house, or, (b.) use the inferior wood elsewhere in the house and replace it with better wood stained to match the living room. This option would require me to strip the windows.

Either way, the picture rail needs to be replaced. I've already removed it all from the walls. This piece shows the original stain color. There were a couple chunks of it missing from where walls went in during the duplex-ing process. I'm planning on using the old stuff I removed somewhere else in the house, but I'm not sure that I want to use the same picture rail back in the dining room. What if I was to switch it out for some crown molding? Would that be a bad idea? I just think that the crown molding might look more finished than the picture rail. The picture rail was about a quarter inch down from the ceiling which I didn't think looked very good. That little quarter inch gap lead my roommate to say that I should 'replace that crappy crown molding'. If I was to put the picture rail back up I think I'd pull it down a half inch so you can tell it isn't just 'crappy crown'.

Decisions, decisions. Let me know, loyal reader, if you have any opinions. I'll have plenty of time to think about it all while I'm mindlessly sanding ceilings and walls. Good times.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Christmas Tree Rookie

I forgot to water the tree for almost two days! I'm a bad tree parent.

I got home from work, threw my coat over the arm of the couch, and looked over at the tree. The thought of how long it had been since it had been watered flashed into my mind and I freaked out. I actually ran over to the tree to check how much water was left. 'Cause two more seconds of time without water would be catastrophic. I couldn't really see how much water was left so I, like an idiot, shoved my hand into the tree stand. Yup, had full of sap. Apparently water goes in the tree, sap comes out. It created this nice film of clear sap on the top of the water which I inserted my hand into. Awesome. No, sap doesn't wash off your hands well.

My roomie had a small Christmas party last night and, apart from people setting their drinks on my piano... grr..., everything went pretty well. I'm thinking that I'll need to host some sort of get-together next semester when the walls and ceilings get redone. Basically when I'm not completely embarrassed by the house.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Pines & Paintings

Today was a day sans work, sans class. Can't you already tell this is going to be a good post?

My main mission today was to get the house ready for my roommate's small Christmas party she's throwing tomorrow night. We still need to do a little cleaning and de-cluttering, but other than that things are about ready to go. I really wish this party was coming at the end of winter break so everyone had some nice, clean, painted walls to look at. Oh well.

First thing on my agenda today was to pick up a tree. A REAL Christmas tree!

I have NO idea how that fit in the trunk of a Pontiac Grand Prix. Since I have these amazing 9' ceilings I got an 8' fir of some kind. Sorry, I forgot what kind already. Whatever it is it makes the house smell amazing. Lets see your plastic tree do that!

And with ornaments please?

Aahhh, that's nice huh?

I also got a wreath for the door out front. It occurred to me that the white lights on white strings on my white house didn't really do much for the festive holiday spirit during the day.

Since all of the walls downstairs look like crap, I used those paintings my roommate made last year to disguise the imperfections (as much as possible) and turn this place from 'construction site' to 'warm, welcoming home'.

I still need to replace that light switch cover.

Fireplace and TV walls.

Good-bye mister stick-man smiley.

Dining Room. This room is pretty much dedicated to her paintings of a particular nude model who she chose to paint in green. She's somewhere in the ballpark of 80 years old. I think it's kinda funky, although I'm sure my mom wouldn't approve! I actually had to draw this same lady in one of my drawing classes for about a week. Mmm... I am feeling this HUGE urge to purchase some blinds since this room faces the neighbor to the west. Did I mention the neighbor to the west is a pastor? Yeah, I'm not sure how much he'd like this view.

I also put up this shelf quickly to put my glassware on before the party. The kitchen cabinet shelves are about an inch too short to fit the taller stemware on, so this was my best option. They had been on top of the fridge until now, but I think this is a little better.

We're going to do some checking around tomorrow for a cheap-o dining room set. Thrift store shopping anyone? We'll see what I can come up with.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Tis the Season

...for freezing off all fingers and toes while displaying your pension for cursing in front of the neighbors. Ok, so it wasn't that bad. It was cold though. Isn't it nice? I can't decide if it's good enough the way it is or if I should add lights around the windows on the second floor. It seems like I decked out the porch, but disregarded the fact that there's a second floor at all. I would like to put lights up along the top roof line, but without a taller ladder (than 6 feet) I'm pretty much out of luck. I could pretty easily throw another string of lights to circle the upstairs windows to draw some more attention up. Yay? Nay? Why do I really care? I don't know.

I finished my studio project on Friday and had my critique. How did it go? Hmm... well I've had better. One critic in particular really laced into the project and repeated his problems with my project again, and again, and again. This was so frustrating because I knew that I screwed these things up, acknowledged this, and he still kept talking about it. The worst part about it was that I could have done much better. AND the project was about PRESERVATION!!! That's what I want to do with my career and I go and blow the project. My problem was that I was worried too much about preserving the original structure and didn't think enough about how it would function today. A learning experience I guess.

One final on Wednesday, then the winter break is mine to get some work done on this shanty! Goals for the break you ask? Here's the list:

* repair walls in living room, dining room, stairwell
* paint walls in living room, dining room, can you guess? yeah, stairwell.
* repair ceilings in living room, dining room
* pain ceilings in living room, dining room
* finish repairing, then install storm windows flanking chimney
* get dryer repaired
* install doorknob on NW bedroom door (sorry roomie! I'm sure he's been waiting)
* paint upstairs doors and trim
* buy snowblower

There are a couple of other things I'd like to do, but I don't think I'll have time. We'll see. I'm excited to get the walls done because my roommate's an art major and has a whole bunch of paintings to hang up. I'm planning on getting a tree tomorrow. My roommate's throwing a Christmas party on Wednesday, so I'm thinking a tree's in order. Oh, and some cleaning. Lots of cleaning!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


Doesn't mother nature know I'm stressed out right now? What's with this? We got another good 5 inches of snow today. Add this to the previous 6ish inches and you'll understand why I'm questioning why I'm not living about five states south.

My studio professor moved back the deadline for my design project until Friday (vs. Weds) so I had some time to go home and sleep. I parked my car in the back yard because my roommates had already driven back there and if they could get in and out without any problems I should be ok, right? Well, some SNOW happened. This much:After finally getting some sleep, I had to go to work tonight at 5. In the process of trying to get that car to the street I had some difficulties. Try an hour of difficulties. Gah! Usually it isn't too much of a problem to power that car through snow because it's got some pretty good power, and I'm a fairly good winter driver. When you take into account that your roommates have been driving on the driveway for a couple days and packing the snow down to ice, then add snow up past the bottom of your car doors, things become more interesting. If you try to punch the gas, the ice causes you to turn sideways, but if you don't go fast enough you can't get through the snow and you get stuck. At one point I could see the side of the house in my rear-view mirror... not good.

When I came home from work I found that my neighbor had brought his snow blower over and cleared out the driveway. How nice is that? I'll have to return the favor once I get a snow blower of my own. I'm really not going to have time to go snow blower shopping until after my project and finals are done. Lookin' at around Tuesday next week.

If it snows again before then, someone's getting hurt.

p.s. Am I not paying for getting the street cleared with my property taxes? I got stuck in the middle of my street again. This was at 9:30pm, when it stopped snowing around 3pm. What's up Fargo? Our taxes are almost twice those of Moorhead,MN just across the river and they can get their streets cleaned off. If I get stuck one more time more than five hours after snowing ceases, you bet I'm calling the city!

Monday, December 3, 2007

What's this Cold White Garbage?

Saturday. 6am - 10pm. Snow.

Saturday. 7am-3pm, 5pm-10pm. Nate. Work.

I hadn't moved my car since 7am and when I left work at 10 I got stuck in several places in the parking lot and stuck IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STREET TWICE in front of my house. Apparently Fargo forgot how to plow streets and parking lots. I'm sitting in Studio right now working on my project so I can't take any good photos, but here's a photo of the parking lot outside from a 4th floor window.
You can't really see the damage, but we got about six inches of standing snow in one day. I have yet to shovel out my 100+ foot driveway. The next big purchase for this guy? Snowblower. I found a couple on craigslist for $200-$300, so you better believe one of those is coming over to play! Anybody know some minimum requirements I should be looking for? I really don't want to get one that sucks and is going to take me all day to clear out my snow.

I have yet to get the fireplace wall's storm windows back up or decorate the house for Christmas. I'm so glad I get to do this all in the snow now. Just another lesson on the evils of procrastination? I'd say so.