The Time Katy’s Mom Gave Us a Door

Sorry for my absence, internet!  We took a short break from house projects because Tony threw out his back lifting a giant tub of paint and was in horrible pain for several days. The silver lining was that this break allowed us to get caught up on the second season of Broad City. Dang that’s a funny show.

My brother recommended Broad City to me around the same time he recommended the podcast Throwing Shade. Both are incredible and if you want more NSFW humor in your life, check them out immediately. My bother has impeccable taste.

I’ve got some big house news to share today [drumroll plz]: WE HAVE A WORKING TOILET!

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It turns out that the only thing better than a functional toilet is a functional toilet you installed yourself! That’s right, people, Tony and I installed this toilet by ourselves and it flushes and everything. What?! Apparently we’re a real life plumber dream team. Life goal achieved!

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Speaking of being an amazing house renovating dream team, remember when our kitchen looked liked this?



Well. There’s been some improvement:

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(Ranarp pendant from Ikea)


Yes, that is a fully drywalled, mudded, primed, and painted kitchen. WHY DO YOU ASK? Lately I’ve been having this strange feeling that we might one day be able to prepare and eat food in our kitchen. It’s odd, I tell you.

This past Saturday, Tony’s parents came over and Tony’s mom primed the living room with me. This just shows how mean Tony and I are because that’s the biggest room in the house. Sorry, Kathy! Also, thanks for your help!

Tony’s dad worked with Tony on the kitchen doorframe. I forgot to blog about this before, but when we bought the place we noticed that the  doorway  from the foyer to the kitchen had at one point clearly held a door. The other door in the foyer is a beautiful French door, and I remember thinking on closing day that it would be awesome to one day find an old French door for the kitchen doorway, too.


the door between the foyer and living room

Literally one day later, I got this text message:



How’s that for amazing? YES we wanted the door and YES Katy’s mom is an angel who gave it to us as a wedding present. Thank you, Jill (and Katy and Geoff for hauling the door over)! Our house is full of the world’s best wedding presents.

The door is exactly the right height for the existing doorframe, but it is maybe an inch and a half too narrow. My first thought was to widen the door. It turns out that’s a dumb plan because (a) the glass panes would be off center, looking weird and (b) it would very likely  crack along the seam because the door is super heavy. Fortunately, Tony and Tony’s dad are smart dudes and they realized they could just build out the doorframe a little bit on one side, thereby narrowing it to perfect door size. Last weekend they carefully removed the moulding and built out the frame. Soon they’ll replace the original moulding and install the door and no one will be the wiser.

You can see the doorframe in question in these shots:



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It might seem like a radical act to narrow a doorway, but this is a funky doorway anyway. You can maybe tell in the above photos that it is weirdly close to the cabinets, and the placement of the cabinets ensures that only about two-thirds of the doorway are functional. Here’s a floor plan, because I know how much Kristina appreciates them:

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In a modern house, this would not be up to code. But we’re working with an old house and funky doorways add character, right? In any case, narrowing it by a couple inches on the side by the cabinets is not going to reduce the doorway’s functionality in any way, so we’re all good. Plus, I take a sick pleasure in the fact that Tony and I are making a doorway in our house narrower while everyone on House Hunters is demanding open concept at every turn. It’s the little things, you know?

Up next on the agenda is skim coating and painting the ceilings, which seem like good things to finish before we tackle sanding and staining the floors. We also want to get the closet in a semi-functional state with a clothes bar and maybe a shelf or two. Then we’ll refinish the floors and move in. What!? We might actually do this by our self-imposed deadline of September 15th. (Funny thing: remember back in this post when I said we’d move in by July? Ha! Ha ha.)


Posted in Bathroom, foyer, Kitchen, scandi style | 6 Comments

Tiling with Drake

While tiling the bathroom over the past two weekends, Tony and I listened to Drake’s 2011 album, Take Care, approximately fifteen times. It’s an incredible album, and I would highly recommend listening to all of it, over and over, during your next repetitive task.

How happy Drake and Lil Wayne are in this video is about how happy we are now that our bathroom floor is successfully tiled:

Tiling is a  hard job. It requires multiple steps, several of which have to be completed very quickly before the mortar or grout dries. This is the second time Tony and I have tiled a floor and, while it was undoubtedly smoother this time, I would not describe it as easy.

Part of the problem is step one: meticulously measuring and cutting the tile to ensure that it fits perfectly in the room. Tony and I really dislike measuring, and we’re not that good at it. We survived, though.

After cutting the tile, it’s time to mortar. I still don’t really understand why mortar and grout are two separate things, but they are. Mortar is what holds the tile to the subfloor (in our case, concrete board) and grout is what fills in the gaps between the tiles. Once you mix mortar, you’re on the clock to quickly spread it and lay the tile before it dries. I didn’t get any pictures of this step. I recall it being quite frantic, though.

(Shout out to Kristina for providing the mortar and grout sealant for this project! Such  incredibly useful wedding presents!)

After the tile is set, you have to wait 24 hours for the mortar to dry. If you’re sloppy with your mortar, as Tony and I invariably are, some of it will smoosh up between your tiles, filling the area where the grout should be. Since the mortar won’t exactly match the color of the grout, you need to chisel it out. Yeah, it’s annoying and, yeah, we chiseled.

Finally it’s time to grout. This step is weird because to do it right you have to temporarily destroy the floor, like so:

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Sorry for my shirtlessness. We don’t have air conditioning and it’s hot as @#^$!

Basically you pat big blobs of grout down, to fully cover all the tiles and the gaps between them. Note the blob of grout to the left of my head in the above shot. Then, you use the side of what’s called a “grout float” to scrape away as much of the excess grout as possible without disturbing any of the grout lines. Here’s me using the float to fix the blob of grout that used to be to the left of my head.

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Again, this is a time sensitive project because you don’t want your grout to dry before you’ve finished.

After you finish scraping excess grout, you wait 15 minutes and then use a damp sponge to wipe away more of the excess grout.  You won’t be able to completely remove the thin film of grout from the tile without screwing up the grout lines, at least not on tile this tiny. That’s something you’ll confront in the next step!

After waiting another 24 hours, your grout is dry and you can get to scrubbing your tile. There’s nothing fancy about this step– all you need is some soap, water, and a scrub brush. In this picture you can see that, in addition to getting grout on the tiles, we also got quite a bit on the baseboards, too.

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Pre-scrub, left; Post-scrub, right

After that, the last remaining steps are to sand the grout off the baseboards, tape them, and give them another coat of paint.

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Speaking of paint, you might be wondering what paint color we picked after the last post. Well, we really screwed up. After painting our test strips and blogging about it, we decided we liked Oxford White. We bought several cans of Oxford White paint. Then, everyone voted for Gypsum. Tony suggested I just lie and say that we painted the room Gypsum, but what if someone reading this has extremely sensitive eyesight and a perfectly color-accurate computer monitor? What then?! Fawn Loggers, I’m sorry I didn’t heed your vote. I guess this really is a dictatorship.

The good news is, I really like Oxford White (it’s so bright!) so this dictator is very happy.

Oh, one other thing I need to tell you about the bathroom: way back in this post I said that we were going to put square tile on some of the bathroom walls. Well, we decided against it. Basically we weren’t sure whether it would look cool and it seemed like unnecessary work and expense.  We might put square tile in the kitchen, though. I do still really love how it looks. So scandi style, am I right?

Since it isn’t a Fawn Log without a before and after, here’s a before of the amazing bathroom light fixture with wallpapered ceiling:


And the after against that dang Oxford White (huge ups to Tony for installing this light. He’s a regular electrician these days!)

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The only things left  to do in the bathroom are installing the toilet, tub, and sink, building some shelves, and posting a fabulous reveal here.  There are a couple bathroom things I’m dying to show you, but in an effort to build the excitement, I’ll hold off on posting about them until the reveal. I hate waiting for things! I’m so excited!!!

Posted in Bathroom, scandi style | 4 Comments

Help us decide?

Help us decide what color to paint our bathroom.

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First picture is of the three options (in case it’s not obvious, the tile is just set on the floor to give you an idea). From left to right the colors are Cream Delight, Gypsum, and Oxford White. Tony and I are not Cream Delight fans. Next picture is of our two favorites with the door of the sink cabinet for color comparison. 

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Gypsum–left; Oxford White– right

Gypsum seems to match the sink cabinet better, but Oxford White is a truer white. Which should we choose? Please cast your vote in the comments.


Posted in Bathroom | 4 Comments