What to Do When You Start to Hate a Project

I feel like by this point I have posted to death not only about the closet project, but more specifically, how much I hated it. I rambled a bit about our struggles in this post and this post.

dsc_1682Unfortunately, this is a hazard of the trade when it comes to DIY. Sometimes it seems like we’re bombarded by “after” photos on Instagram, and have pinned a ton of dream closets on Pinterest (millions), which makes it all the more frustrating when you’re stuck in the middle of the project and that final reveal seems so far away. Therefore, I really wanted to get a bit more in depth about what to do when you start to hate a project, and how to get through to the “after”.

  1. Be realistic – I am no Joanna Gaines (oh how I wish I was), and I KNOW THIS. I am much too short and blonde to ever be her, plus she has more skill and design sense in her pinky finger than I will possess in my lifetime. So, I do not attempt Joanna-level projects. Can I rip a house down to the studs and beautifully rebuild it? No. No I cannot. Knowing your limitations and skill level are so important when dreaming up projects, because understanding what may be difficult for you, can prevent you from ever getting into a project you hate in the first place. It seems so easy on HGTV when they transform a whole house in an hour with commercials, but that doesn’t mean just anybody can pull it off. As Max and I improve our skills we tackle larger projects, but I am eternally grateful we didn’t start with a huge kitchen renovation, or we may never have done another one! Don’t bite off more than you can chew.
  2. Make sure you have a sanctuary – Renovations and projects disrupt your life, no doubt about it. Max and I often have at least one room in our house torn apart, and it can be chaotic. If you saw open heart surgery half-way through it would look like murder, right? Which is why it’s so important to be able to shut the door and escape the project for a while if you need too. I know the scale of some projects makes this impossible, but I always try to have the rest of my home in order so that I can relax there, away from the stress of the tornado-room. IMG_6472
  3. Get those finishing pieces – Nothing motivates you to finish a project like having that final piece of artwork or pretty pillow or coffee table tray in advance, just ready to go in the finished space. Buying some of these pieces in the thick of a renovation can be the pick-me-up you need to get through to the end of the project so you can see how they look in the new room.
  4. Take photos – Even if you don’t have a little blog to post them to, and even if they’re taken on your phone in terrible lighting, taking pictures along the way can be huge in terms of motivation. When things seem bleak in the middle of a project, take a peek at that before photo to see just how far the space has come. And when it’s done, compare again so you can be extra proud of what you accomplished.
  5. Know when to walk away -…know when to run. Sorry, I’m getting off track here this has nothing to do with “The Gambler,” but I have found as Max and I worked on projects that were getting really frustrating, that it really helped to know when to put the tools down and walk away (not forever obviously, or things would never get done). When we’re fighting, or things aren’t working out, or we make a costly mistake, sometimes its best to just call it quits for the day, apologize, and watch a movie. You don’t do good work when you’re angry. Max gets rougher in his handling of materials and tools the more frustrated he gets. Walking away saves us from breaking things, making more mistakes, and hating each other along with the project we’re working on. dsc_1569
  6. Have fun – We DIY because we love it. Just because one project doesn’t go how we expected doesn’t mean it isn’t something we enjoy. It’s important to always take a step back, especially when you’re knee deep into a project, and acknowledge that this is something you like to do. Either that, or just hire it out.

Let me know if you have any questions.

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THE CLOSET IS DONE

THE CLOSET IS DONE AND I AM SO HAPPY. Never have I been more excited to complete a project, but this time not only am I pumped about my new shoe shelves, I’m also just so glad it’s over.

This one wasn’t easy.

Any yet today, after I finished painting the ceiling and Max hung the hanging bars and the trim, it was finally completed.

We then hung some mirrors in my jewellery and vanity area and I popped this wood tray in that I bought a couple months (MONTHS) ago at Homesense.

There is something about looking at an empty closet that is so exciting. As someone who loves organization I couldn’t wait to jam all my crap in there.

But first I took a few more pictures of the empty room.

And the way it relates to the bedroom and bathroom.

And how Max got those hanging bars in there. He ended up having to use these painted blocks because the brackets were curved at the top.

And for the longer bars he drilled a hole through the centre piece of wood since there is actually one bar all the way across. He also had to trim the metal to get it in there. This way they are screwed right into the wall rather than just the MDF.

And then I filled it up.

My favourite part is all my shoe shelves. This is such a huge improvement over my old shelving.

I also put this little stool in which we can pull out when we need to reach the top shelves since we’re both pretty short. This is important because my purses are up there!

The rod on the far end is for hanging longer items like dresses and robes.

And I folded all my sweaters so they don’t stretch out and added all my jewellery.

I have a special shelf for my taller boots.

And a place for my hamper. I may want to switch that out (this one isn’t great quality) for something with more texture.

I also want a belt hanger for Max and maybe some new buckets (that’s where he keeps underwear and socks) that have more texture (I’m thinking something woven or jute?).

Overall I’m just so happy this is finally done and we can finally move on to the next!

Let me know if you have any questions.

The Project That Never Ends

Well I am finally back with a closet update, and I so wish I could tell you that this project was completed months ago and I’m just now blogging about it, but unfortunately this is in real time.

Building a closet is hard, okay?

When I left off we had completed the demo and were excited to get to work on a bunch of custom shelving. I chuckle at our naïveté.

We started on the right side of the closet, where most of the hanging rods will go because this area had way less shelves and we figured it would be a good way to ease ourselves in.

I ended up choosing a four box design, with Max and I each getting half. Hanging bars across all four boxes with pants on the bottom (one side for me and one side for max) and hanging tops on top (one side for me and one side for Max). Make sense?

I also made a long shelf on top for my purses.

Routing worked well but it makes a huge mess and Max had to take every piece to his Grandpa’s shop to do it. Hence why this took SO LONG.

Finally I was able to caulk and I could see it all coming together. The bad news is, this was just the first (much smaller) side.

We started on the left side by fixing our first piece of MDF to the wall as we had with the first side. This ensures everything is sturdy and also helps with the built-in look.

At this point I’m gonna skip ahead to having the left side almost complete because let me tell you this was terrible to do and I don’t want to relive it. Essentially the boards are all held up by the routered joints but until the entire length was completed there was nothing to keep it upright. Yes it fell. Yes we damaged some MDF. Yes we changed some of the shelf heights to make it easier. And yes, we had to fill in the routed edges for the old layout.

You can see that in the above photo.

But eventually we got it all together, keeping fights between Max and I to a minimum. And I was able to caulk the left side, finally.

Hallelujah finally a part of a project I actually enjoy.

And finally I was able to paint. It took three coats and many, many, hours of Max and I brushing and rolling but it is looking much better and I’m glad we’re onto the “pretty” part of the project.

Stay tuned for the big reveal, as well as for my post on what to do when a project sucks and you hate it. Because let me tell you, after four months of closet mayhem, I’m an expert.

Let me know if you have any questions.

The Closet Project Begins

Closets are very important to me. I have a lot of crap and I love organization, so nice big closets are a necessity.

My closet in the apartment was huge because it was in the space above the stairs and entry to the basement apartment. So when we were house shopping I wasn’t exactly willing to downsize.

To get a walk in closet in a master bedroom is rare where we live, as most homes are bungalows. So when I saw this closet I was psyched.

It is a bit awkwardly shaped and doesn’t have a lot of storage, just a bar and a shelf.

I lived with it for a while and added some shoe shelves and such from my previous closet to make it work.

But I always wanted a pretty, totally built in, dream closet.

When Max got a router from his grandparents for Christmas I took it as a sign and moved all my stuff out and we demoed it.

We picked up a bunch of MDF and I drew up some plans.

My goal is to make enough storage in here so that Max can move his stuff in too, it is currently in the office closet.

Unfortunately we don’t have the right size router bit so it is on order and as soon as it comes we will be off to the races and I will be sure to update.

Let me know if you have any questions.

A Built-In Mudroom Bench

There is an awkward nook in our garage entrance mudroom that I never really knew how to style.

It is immediately to the right when you come in the door and so I stuck a little ottoman there and along with hooks that were there when we bought the place, called it done.

It never looked great.

Plus then I added more decor to the rest of the room, hanging my Moravian star light fixture, painting the ceiling navy blue, and adding a gallery wall and new rugs.

So it was time for the little awkward nook to catch up to the rest of the room.

I came up with a plan for some built-ins, a floating bench and of course some shiplap.

And I provided this lovely sketch to Max who got right to work.

He built a frame 18″ off the ground, with all the side pieces secured into studs and a centre brace to prevent sagging.

And then we covered the top and front with this beautiful pine.

Max then got started on the shiplap, which as is elsewhere in our house, is just strips of mahogany underlay. This is a super cheap way to get the look. We used five inch boards.

Next I stained the bench Special Walnut by Minwax and sealed it with poly, and once that was dry I taped it for caulk and paint.

I used this paintable caulk and got all the nail holes and seams.

And then I painted it Blank Page by Beauti-tone.

We finished it off with some hooks custom made by Sam’s Fabrication. It is so hard to find hooks that are simple, sturdy, and inexpensive. It cost the same as buying hooks off the shelf as having these made.

Then I added some pillows. After much debate I decided I love emerald green now and that it goes well with the navy ceiling.

We also added some baskets underneath for texture and a wedding photo above the hooks.

I love the way it turned out and this space looks so much more intentional now.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Future Plans for the Main Bath

Max and I recently decided that the next project we are going to tackle is the garage workshop.

Which is painfully boring. It is a garage after all.

It is absolutely necessary for us to finally finish our workshop, especially with winter fast-approaching. We really need a place where we can work on projects and plus if the garage doesn’t get organized soon I will likely develop a hernia. Unfortunately this is not going to be the prettiest project we’ve done. And it’s not really going to require a lot of design and decorating on my part.

So in the meantime, I can dream about future projects.

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I have talked about all the problems I have with this main bathroom in the past, HERE, and I painted the mirror black HERE. And while I had a lot of ideas as to changes I wanted to make, it was about damn time I made a real plan.

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I think one of the main problems in here is the wall colour. I had thought that the vanity needed to change, but it turns out it was the walls. I was trying to blend beige and grey too much, and I needed everything to get a little bit cooler toned in order to match better.

In this spirit of simplifying, I will paint the walls Blank Page by Beauti-tone, and leave the vanity as My Favourite Sweater by Beauti-tone. The vanity in my design plan is just a representation of my painted vanity, I will not be switching it out, just putting a new topper and faucet on.

For further cohesiveness, I want all of the hardware to be black. And right now I’m thinking hooks instead of a towel bar, which Max says he prefers because they are “easier”

I also am sticking to my black mirror, but changing the shape to a circular mirror that I already picked up from Homesense.

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Another one of the larger changes will be lighting. You can see the vanity light right now is off centered and just in the way. I would love a sconce on either side and am eying these from Wayfair right now.

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I already have the shower curtain, so the last thing I need is that beautiful cement tile. Unfortunately it is only available in the states so I may have to figure out a creative way to get it (or go for a shopping trip across the border).

I’m excited to turn this bathroom around and make it something I love. After I finish the boring garage project.

Let me know if you have any questions.

 

Tile Reveals – Powder Bath and Master Ensuite

Oops I didn’t post for two months!

It wasn’t purposeful, it really wasn’t. At some point I just realized it was necessary to put the blog on the backburner while I got married and went on my honeymoon in order to not lose my mind. Because executing a wedding is hard. I need a nap just thinking about it.

The good news is soon I will have wedding pictures to share here.

Until then, I wanted to share a bit of an update and reveal as to all the tile work I had posted about starting back in the summer. Despite not posting about it, the physical work was completed in fairly short order. And I’m OBSESSED with the hex tile I chose.

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In the powder room we completed two rows of subway tile above the chunky white countertop we installed not long ago. I used grey grout (Delorean Grey) for some contrast and some caulking in the same shade finished off the edges. The wraparound of this tile is great for splashes, which is good because this bathroom is most used and often used by guests.

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In our master ensuite, we completed the floor tile in this beautiful black and white hex pattern.

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I love how white and clean it looks now compared to the old linoleum. A new white vanity top and white toilet also helped with the overall brightness of the room.

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In this bathroom we also installed a backsplash along the back wall only. It can go a little higher given the mirror placement in here and I finished it with the same grout and caulk.

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Now I can’t wait to change out my shower and get all the beige officially out of this room.

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The black tiles match the black vanity (Black Cat by Beauti-Tone) perfectly as well.

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I have some fresh new hammam towels in here as well.

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I am so excited to have one of my four bathrooms so close to being totally completed!

I still hope to find a new light for this space, it still has a dreaded boob light in the meantime.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Wedding Invitations Are Out!

If someone asks you to marry them you better think long and hard about how bad you want to because let me just tell you, wedding planning is the worst.

Luckily I really want to marry Max.

But the latest horrific wedding planning item was getting invites out. It took me three to four full nights of work to get these assembled, tied, sealed, addressed, stamped, and mailed. And it hurt my back.

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Our invites are all from Precious Invitations and match our Save the Dates, which I posted about here. I loved Precious Invitations and couldn’t recommend them more. When I had an envelope mishap, they expedited 50 new ones to me within two days. Great customer service.

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Our invites basically consist of three cards, the invite, reception card, and RSVP. I tucked the two smaller cards under the large one with a jute string because it would have cost a million dollars to get envelope backs (an extra flap of paper to tuck the smaller cards into).

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And I also tucked the RSVP into the RSVP envelopes to keep it looking classy.

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I used our stamp on the RSVP envelope as well as on the back of the large invite envelope as a return address.

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And then I ruined my poor little fingers writing addresses on each of them.

Needless to say I am glad it is done.

On to the next task (there are many).

Let me know if you have any questions.

 

The Master Ensuite Reno is Underway!

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Awhile ago we got a new vanity top, painted the vanity, installed a new faucet, a new mirror, and painted in the ensuite. More recently I added some art. And it looked really great from one angle. But there were still some glaringly ugly features remaining after that Phase 1 makeover.

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Like the floor. And the almond toilet. So when I found some hex tile on a recent trip to Thunder Bay I decided we should commence the Phase 2 reno.

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I started with a backsplash for this vanity because I had subway tile left so why the heck not.

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I ended up doing just the back wall here and went three rows high because the mirror was higher here.

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Then we removed the toilet. This was not difficult but it was HEAVY. Max just unscrewed it from the floor and unhooked the water, flushing it to empty it as much as possible.

Then you’re supposed to put in this powder to gel up the remaining water so you can carry it out without making a mess. We never got that memo. And we had no powder gel stuff.

So Max lifted it up and I pulled a garbage bag up around it and the water pouring into the bag and it was gross.

But it didn’t drip once on the floor.

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We cleaned up the wax ring and put a paper towel in the hole so no sewer gas can come up into the house. And then we started to remove the linoleum.

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And it was the worst. Almost all glued down and needed to be scraped. We would score the linoleum and then use a multi-tool with a blade on it to pry it up.

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And in just four plus! hours it was gone. AND THIS ROOM IS TINY SERIOUSLY.

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We then installed cement board (1/4 inch thick) on to the subfloor to prep for tile, using mortar and screws to secure it. We finished the whole room in cement board and are ready now to start tiling soon!

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Let me know if you have any questions.

 

How to Tile a Backsplash (It’s Super Easy!)

I apologize some of the photos in this post are dark. My flash died (the speedlite I rave about) and I need to get some new batteries!

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A little while ago, when we replaced the countertop and faucet in the powder room, which I talked about in this post, I decided a subway tile backsplash would be great in here. We ended up finding subway tiles on the shelf in Home Hardware (unheard of!) and then we just had to borrow a tile saw. Which turned out to take much longer than anticipated.

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But we did it.

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I started by papering off the vanity so that I didn’t get mortar all over it.

The only other things I really needed for this job were tile spaces (I used 1/8) and mortar.

I already had grout, a grout float, grout sponge, and tiling trowel from a previous floor job.

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So, not knowing what we were really doing, we checked to make sure the vanity top was level and used that as a guide to start placing tiles. I would mortar the wall and Max would back-butter the tiles.

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We would just stick the tile on and put a spacer between each one. As I went I peeled back the paper where I has finished and there was no more mess so that it didn’t get stuck under the tiles.

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We only had to cut a few tiles, and Max would just measure and then bring it to the tile saw.

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Most of our cuts were for the corner and were relatively easy.

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I decided to do a brick pattern and therefore did the top row staggered by 1/2 a tile. I also decided two rows was my maximum height given the space the mirror takes up.

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Above is the finished tile job before grouting.

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I put down painters tape to avoid making a mess and then did some grouting! I love grout because it makes everything look so clean and finished. I think it is the difference maker in a tile project.

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I just smush the grout in with my grout float and wipe it with a sponge.

And that is where I left off! I still have to caulk it (I bought caulking that matches the grout colour) and reinstall trim but that will have to wait until we do a couple other tiling jobs because I only have one tube of the caulk for three different areas!

Let me know if you have any questions.