Grout! Caulk! Paint!

grout

A little while ago, Max and I were discussing the prospect of drywalling our own ceilings in the dining room and front parlor.

Me: “I don’t know, I think it would be kind of hard, but not that hard. I bet we could handle it.”
Max: *heavy sigh*
Me: “What?”
Max: “You’re already doing it.”
Me: “Doing what?”
Max: “This is just going to be another one of those things where when you write about it on your blog, you’ll be all like ‘I thought it would be so easy but it turned out to be really hard and everything is hard and woe is me.’ You really have to stop being so negative all the time. You’re such a Debbie Downer.”
Me: “OK, number one, I am not a Debbie Downer. Number two, I’m saying right now that I think it would be hard. I’m admitting up front that it will be hard and unpleasant, so it will come as no surprise when it is hard and unpleasant. And number three…yeah, I guess I do that sometimes.”
Max: “Like all the time. It’s your schtick. It’s your entire narrative. It’s boring.”
Me: “But that’s how things are most of the time. I want to be realistic.”
Max: “Well, I’m just saying.”

So clearly Max has a serious gripe with my blog, which in turn has inspired a mini existential crisis about why I am the way I am and why I am delusional at the start of projects and then, consequently, quickly overwhelmed, and why I subject myself to the same cycle over and over again and then additionally photograph, write, and broadcast it for the wilds of the Internet to observe and scrutinize. Have I no shame? Have I no dignity? I’ve been blogging for over four years, serious Old House Rehabbing for almost one, and evidently I am too thick of skull to have figured out much of anything in that time about the way I think and operate.

NEWS. FLASH.

I’M BREAKING THE CYCLE.

(at least for this post. I make no promises regarding the future.)

I don’t know what it is. I don’t know if it’s the promise of spring/summer after this truly horrendous winter. I don’t know if it’s the promise of easily and accessibly washing our undies. I don’t know if I’m just getting used to this whole reno thing and therefore more realistic and therefore less convinced that I can renovate rooms in 2 days. I don’t know if it’s just because this room is really small. BUT what I do know is: the laundry room has really been a fun little renovation. There haven’t really been any major moments of agony and/or despair. I have no major regrets thus far. The pace seems reasonable. I am engrossed in the process and having fun.

IT’S LIKE A WHOLE NEW ME.

grout1

So, pretty much, here is a semi-lousy update with semi-lousy photos artfully shot with my iPhone of the progress in the laundry room. Things are really coming together! I think this will probably be my last update before the *big thrilling reveal*, since I don’t want to give it all away before it’s all done.

I grouted. Grouting is a mess. It’s really not very hard. You just read the instructions on the package.

You want to use non-sanded grout for grout lines this little. This is TEC Powder Grout (the color is Raven). It’s basically like smearing black peanut butter all over your walls and then wiping it off.

The thing I’ve learned about using black grout is that you really need to put a little extra effort into making those grout lines nice and crisp. The hardest part of the whole grouting process is getting the hang of rubbing the excess grout out of each individual grout line enough that they look uniform and clean. I learned this time around that getting the final grout haze off with a microfiber cloth (instead of a sponge) is much, much easier. After everything is dry, I like to go over all the grout lines one last time with my finger covered in a microfiber cloth, rubbing each line back and forth a couple times to get the edges of the grout extra-crisp. I think the trick to using subway tiles with black grout in old houses is really thin grout lines, since it more closely mimics old fancy subway tiles. It just looks more natural. Take it from me.

Or don’t. I don’t care. You do you.

caulk2

After the grouting was all done (and my unfinished wood moldings were sufficiently stained black…I told you, it’s messy!), I started priming the moldings! I used my favorite Zinsser BIN Shellac-based primer (two coats), which should block any oils from the wood from bleeding through the final coats of paint.

After I primed but before I painted, I caulked all of the places where the moldings meet the subway tile, so that everything will look fancy and finished. For caulking like this, where the entire surface won’t get painted over, it’s a good idea to use painter’s tape to get a really crisp line. All you do is run your tape (make sure it’s really stuck, just like you’re painting!), then apply caulk, then smooth it with your finger, and then immediately remove the tape. Do not wait until the caulk is dry because you will be so sad.

caulk1

I used paintable silicone caulk, which is great! With silicone caulk, you definitely want to wear latex gloves if you’re touching it with your fingers, like to smooth it. The silicone should hold up much better than latex, which I only like to use for caulking gaps in moldings and stuff before painting. Since this caulk will be partially but not fully painted, it’s better to use silicone because it’s cleanable and should stay looking good for years. I’ve learned that unpainted latex caulk usually catches dust and dirt and looks super crappy within a couple of months, and easily scrapes off unless it is sealed in with paint.

window

I had to basically work on the room in two halves since I had to push the washer and dryer back and forth, but so far I’ve gotten all of the moldings on the left side of the room painted…and they look SO GOOD. I’ll take better pictures later on, but seeing the moldings painted (especially the window and door frame!) makes me so, so happy. I kind of can’t believe that I made them and that they don’t look at all crappy. They aren’t a perfect match to the original moldings in the kitchen, which is just fine. The point isn’t really to fool anyone into thinking they’re original (although I doubt anyone would think otherwise unless they were looking really closely), but to make the room feel like it belongs in the house, and to give it back some character that has presumably been lost over the course of previous renovations. They really make the room, for me anyway.

doorframecorner

The moldings on the other half of the room are patched, caulked, and ready for paint! I used caulk (latex) rather liberally, which makes the moldings look like one piece and keeps everything from looking quite so brand new. I have a little drywall repair left to do around the door frame (I had to patch in some new drywall and tape/mud it after the doorway was made a bit smaller), but then I can paint the walls! We originally painted this room the same color as the kitchen (and the upstairs office…the only two rooms I’ve painted in the house…let’s not talk about that…), Casa Blanca by Clark + Kensington. As much as I really love the color, I do want to experiment with something just slightly more grey. I really do think I want to paint the majority of the house white, but finding the perfect white that won’t read too stark or two yellow or too something might make me lose my mind. I feel like a bit more contrast with the trim and the tile will go a long way in here, and it’s a good opportunity to see how another color looks as I consider the larger spaces like the dining room and foyer and stuff.

So! Here’s what’s left:

1. Finish priming and painting all moldings.
2. Finish repairing drywall.
3. Paint.
4. Create, print, and frame art.
5. Make oversized ironing board for top of machines with removable fabric cover.
6. Purchase pretty containers for detergents, powders, etc. Label said containers.
7. Hang hooks on walls.
8. Sand, repair, prime, paint door. Find glass for door. Install door on two-way swinging hinge.
9. Make and hang shelf.
10. Rolling storage cart?
11. Change light fixture? (maybe…maybe not…)

Is that it? I think that’s it?

EASY PEESY.

(maybe.)

This post is in partnership with Lowe’s! Lowe’s has generously provided funding for this project, however all designs and opinions are my own.


95 Comments

  1. We come back because you are a good writer. Good writing needs conflict. You create your own drama and it’s awesome. Never stop.

  2. No chance you want to paint the wall a color in this room? I do love an unexpected shot of color in a little room — like powder rooms and closets. Picture little flashes of color showing through the swinging door when someone comes through it into the kitchen.

    • I don’t think so…it might make more sense when things are more finished, but there’s going to be a lot of different textures and finishes going on in here when it’s all said and done, and I think neutral walls will help keep it all cohesive. I also just want the room to feel appropriate to the function…after all, it’s a utility space, so even though I want it to be pretty and everything, I still want it to be clean and bright and utilitarian, you know? But we’ll see! This kind of stuff can always change as things come together. I always have to feel it out! :)

  3. THAT’s the way subway tile should be done.
    Also, I agree with India. But also, good for you for listening to your partner.

  4. Also, is it weird that I think the room looks kinda lovely with grout smeared everywhere? The unfinished wood is a nice warm touch, and the smeared black grout on white tile is an awesome graphic pattern with a lot of movement.

    Obviously not a realistic permanent way to have your room, but beautiful nonetheless.

  5. It’s looking so impressive! I like the look of the white tile + white walls + black grout. Can’t wait to see the final reveal. We just painted our bathroom this weekend, and did fresh white paint over old white paint. It was really hard choosing the perfect white shade, especially something that will look good in natural light during the day and artificial light at night. Your window molding looks great painted – like it’s been there all along. :)

  6. I love, love, love this laundry room. I love the subway tile, the moldings, the appliances. I will pay you to let me come over to do my wash, and I live in California!

    That said, I have a question about the doorway you made smaller to fit your lost-puppy rehabbed door. Did you measure your washer and dryer first? In case, you know, they ever need to be removed for service or replacement? I ask because I once worked for a builder-developer. When we built condominiums, our plan checker was obsessed with making sure the appliances would fit through the interior doors, because she had once worked on a very large building where the owner decided to save some money by using smaller doors, the kind you see in apartment bathrooms. No one saw the problem with that until several dozen washers and dryers arrived on a trailer truck, and could not be installed because they were too wide!

    • Oh no! Hahaha. Yes, the doorway is still plenty wide enough for the machines to fit through, I promise!! :)

  7. It looks so, SO good already! A question: as someone without a lot of experience with caulk (and who lacks the ability to say that out loud without sniggering like a fifth-grader), could you explain why you went with latex caulk for the doorway moulding instead of the superior-sounding silicone you used for the baseboards?

  8. Looking good! May I be so bold as to suggest Benjamin Moore Moonshine for the walls? It’s a nice neutral light gray, not too brown, not too purple, looks great with white trim/subway tile, just an all-around hardworking, good-looking color.

    • Daniel, would Moonshine be an acceptable color for our condo walls?

      • UGH, I hit send too soon. I haven’t even seen the color–just love the NAME.

      • I think you need lighter! That place wants to be white and bright.

      • Just have to say that it’s adorable that your mom comments on your blog. Hi, Mom!

  9. I love your schtick! I also love the amount of useful information (silicon caulk!) you pack into such an entertaining narrative. If all how-tos were written like this, I’d probably be better at doing everything.

  10. Well, I certainly wish I’d read this before we grouted our bathroom floor with black grout. I was afraid I’d remove too much grout and now I have to painstakingly go back and use steel wool to try and straighten the lines. Can’t wait to see the final reveal!

  11. I’m only leaving this as a public comment/PSA because you told me to. ;)

    If you want to increase the lifespan of your caulk, you should always prime first—then caulk, then paint. Bare wood will absorb moisture from caulk, causing it to crack and fail.

    Bonus points: When installing new wood trim, back-prime it first before installing it. That will decrease the chances of it warping over time.

    OK, I’ll be quiet now!! <3

  12. For what it’s worth, I don’t find you to be a Debbie Downer AT ALL (although I could see how the endless cycle of hope and despair could take a toll on your personal mental state, and maybe Max’s :)). One of the reasons I love your blog SO much (besides the fact that I love your house and taste and I think you sound hilarious and charming!) is that it’s so HONEST. Paradoxically, it actually makes me feel MORE empowered to take on DIY projects of my own, vs. blogs where they don’t really show the process and everything looks so perfect and easy and you’re like “well, clearly I lack their amazing skills so I should just never attempt anything ever.”

    I think a good analogy is that sometimes when I think about having kids I get stressed out and think, HOW does anyone have the time and energy and how do you keep track of them and keep them safe and just ahhh I struggle just caring for myself?!? But then I look at my parents and I’m like, hey, they’re just normal people that I know in real life, they’re not superhumans, yet they very successfully raised two awesome children to adulthood! If they can do it, I can! NO BIG DEAL. Your blog makes me feel the same way, like you are not a professional rehabber but a normal ambitious human that I feel like I could know in real life, and you attempt things and struggle HARD at some of them but you always make it through. Very inspirational :)

    (PS I started stripping paint off chairs for the first time this weekend and holy fuck after like one hour of scraping I never wanted to look at a chair again. I am new to this journey!! :))

  13. This looks so dang good already. Can’t wait for the full reveal!

    Also, I love (and by love I mean “greatly sympathize with”) your dramatic existential crises posts. It makes the rest of us poor slobs — who are likely to break down in tears over projects nowhere near as complicated — not feel so alone. (Plus you are hilariously self-deprecating and can get away with it.) Please keep the realness coming!

  14. Daniel, I’ve never had any impression of you as being habitually negative – I have no idea what Max is talking about!

    HEY MAX!!! WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT, MAN???????

    Daniel, just keep doing what you’re doing. We’re all hooked on your madness, your genius, and most of all, on your writing!

  15. Clearly, your writing is beloved by many! I would prefer honest reports of ups and downs in a project to faux cheeriness. I agree with Rachel that seeing the struggle behind a stunning end product can make DIY seem more approachable for newbies. I am always so happy to see a new post by you in my feed!! xo

    • I also agree with everyone else. Your writing style is perfect in that you relate to us real people, ups and downs. Love the blog, your tone and style.

  16. Agree with the posters about “drama” and your writing… both of which drew me in the first place (back in the days of the apt in Manhattan)

    your unique style prevents the drama from overwhelming the story – and after all NO RENOVATION ever goes the way expected – so thats drama right?

  17. Your writing is a joy to read; you’re honest and hilarious. Keep it coming!

  18. The drama is fun to read on a blog. As most of your readers are saying, I also love the way that you write and that you tell it all, the good, the bad and the ugly. However, Max has to live with you, so his experience is very different from ours. You did well to listen to him, at least for one post. ;)

  19. What size grout lines did you do? 1/8″ or 1/16″?

    • Subway tiles like this are actually self-spacing, so there isn’t any need to use spacers! I don’t know the measurement of the resulting gap, though. I’m guessing 1/16?

  20. I see your writing more as truth. I get annoyed with the before and after posts on many blogs that make it seem like a magic wand of happiness was waved and little mice came running in to get all the final details right. Rehabbing is hard work!

    Also, saw this today on Remodelista http://www.remodelista.com/posts/rehab-diary-before-and-after-beadboard-ceiling
    Having not been in your place in person it’s hard to fully imagine in the space, but I think it’s a pretty ingenious idea instead of drywalling everything!

    Keep up the good work!

  21. Love this laundry room! Grays are so hard too, IMO. But paint in general is so fickle depending on light, so hope you find a great gray!

    I think sometimes our spouses get overwhelmed with our DIY thoughts – we kind of live and breathe and eat them…they…notsomuch. Maybe that’s what happened to Max, I don’t know. For example, I have a stream-of-consciousness list of projects large and small for our house that is about 45 items. I mentioned to my hubs, and it ‘scared’ him – I could see the overwhelm. While he’s very willing, and interested, and involved, while I can think and plan and mull things large and overwhelming like that, he does much better focusing on smaller chunks, smaller ideas. And I instead overwhelm some other friends with my thoughts (but they get to go home, so it doesn’t freak them out).

    Your writing is fun and informative – don’t change a thing!

  22. What kind of glass are you considering for the door? I’ve seen a few bloggers use wired glass and it looks pretty cool (http://theletteredcottage.net/hallway-door-makeover/). Can’t wait to see your reveal.

  23. For what it’s worth, I love your writing style. I also think the cycle of delusion and despair is so REAL. DIY often involves moments of despair, when you feel so very much in over your head. The delusion allows you to ignore those memories and jump into the next big project, instead of being paralyzed by the thought of getting in over your head, again.

  24. Dear Daniel,
    I strolled through Lowes yesterday deciding which ‘smallish’ project would have a major impact on our lives. I think I’m going to do kitchen cabinet pullouts. It would change how my kitchen functions. I have so many things that need to be done to my house and have really lost my ‘I can do it’ attitude…until I found your blog. I mean, geez, it’s all overwhelming. I have completely fell out of love with my house but I can’t see myself living anywhere else. So, thanks for writing this blog,

  25. Wish you were closer to VT (mostly so I could barter yard and garden work at Gay Gardens for a personal tour :-D ). Here’s a swell 15-pane butler’s door with dual-acting hinges already attached, sold from the pretty little ski town of Waitsfield: http://burlington.craigslist.org/mat/4454147981.html
    Yah, I know you have a salvaged door and refitted the doorway for it, but THIS one already HAS glass AND hinges AND the metal push plate instead of knobs….

  26. Keep writing. Keep taking photos. Keep working on your house and sharing. You are real, factual and really interesting as well. Love the photo of the corner of your window frame and the grouted tile.
    Joy

  27. Compromise is the key to any healthy relationship…but so is knowing when to stick to your guns, and your writing is great. Style, delivery, pacing, it’s all great. Of course, the process that produces that greatness might not be so fun to live with, so Max might have a point there. Can’t tell you how to live your life, it’s your life. But I can say that I love this laundry room. Framing the window was a good idea, and it looks fantastic. Wish I had the patience to replicate things like that. It’s the little details that take a good product into the great category, and you’re pretty damn good at that.

  28. I love your honesty and your whining. And your blog. And your house. (and your dogs).
    I’m so jealous of both the frustrating horrible projects and the fast, smooth & easy ones. I’m in a rental and most of what I can do is done. My mom just started renovating an old house upstate, but I’m too far away to help, and she’s making all kinds of decisions that I never would have made myself. Decisions that hurt me. She’s basically ripped out all the original plaster to put up new drywall, and ripped out all the original windows to put in energy efficient one, and done all sorts of things that I know you would never do. I’m starting to take it personally.
    Every time I talk to her about the progress I come running to your blog to see someone doing it right. So thank you.
    I can’t wait to see the finish laundry room! I’ll be patiently waiting at the laundromat.

  29. Haha, I’m glad you finally get an easy one! And don’t let Max spoil your blogging endeavors—obviously, we’re all still here reading and commenting so some of us find value in your overwhelm. I think it makes us all feel better about our own slightly less ambitious DIY-overwhelm cycles, you know?

    For what it’s worth, I love Maria Killam’s blog for paint undertone help, as well as her ebook. She’s working on another ebook all about picking the perfect whites out, so maybe you should spring for that when it comes out—they’re pretty affordable, she always does sales promos every few months, and I think you’ll find them a very helpful resource if/when that “find the perfect white” phase starts to overwhelm you.

    Good luck and nice grout work; you’re inspiring me to make our master bathroom’s inherited pink-beige porcelain tile bullshit less ugly someday!

  30. I think the delusional optimism is a necessary trait to facilitate the monstrous undertaking of renovating a house. I always assume i can do something myself. Sometimes, after 6 years when it’s still not done, I realize that i can do it, but i’m just not getting around to it so i should pay someone else to come in. It may end up harder than you thought. it may end up a crushing defeat. But I’d rather go into a project with the confidence (no matter how false) that I can do this job. You don’t want to be the person who calls an electrician to swap your white light switches for black light switches. Do you?

    For what it’s worth, I also think that all old houses need black light switches and outlets. They look awesome and they were the standard when electricity was introduced so…the look the most authentic (I think).

  31. Hi!

    Any reason why you decided to bring the tile up higher than in the kitchen (or is that just a funny angle in the last picture?)?

    Also,ditto what everyone said about you being awesome. Change? Nevvarrr!

  32. Is that a wine glass on the kitchen counter in the one picture? That’s how I take on a project. Eagerly waiting for your next post!

  33. I really felt your pain when you were working on your gutters and when you were so upset about your kitchen floor. I like hearing about the emotional journey. You always pull out and get on with things–I admire that so much.

  34. I love your writing and it makes me smile.

  35. I did laugh out at this, a bit more at the comments than at the post, to be honest.. You were doing this as a joke, weren’t you? I expressed such deep ardent admiration just on the previous post, and since I am surely not alone – I don’t buy that paragraph of incredible self-doubt and Max’s own blog is such a brave example of being open and vulnerable that I don’t buy that conversation would make any sense in the way people are reading it!! You guys are quite awesome! Just keep doing whatever you are doing!!

    PS: we humans are normally unreasonably optimistic, that is why we dare and that is how we achieve the most incredible things that we do! we love you for being a bright example of that!! (look here for more details about that: http://www.amazon.com/Subliminal-Unconscious-Rules-Behavior-Vintage/dp/0307472256)

  36. Benjamin Moore French Canvas! The most beautiful grey/green/white. I am into reading your blog- melodrama and all. You are an enchanting writer and I love reading about someone else finding out how horrible projects are, as I just lived that home rehab story for the last 3 years.

    • That is amazing! How have I never heard of this before? I’m totally getting one. Daniel, you have the most helpful commenters.

  37. but your suicidal rants are so entertaining and leave me feeling much better about my reno fails. love your work Daniel and always will! :-)

  38. As an old house owner, I’ve had the experience of being knee deep in plaster thinking “What the hell have I done???”, so I love reading your usually hilarious take on the same thing!

    Drywalling ceilings is hard. It will be worse in an old house where the joists aren’t spaced evenly, and you have to use 5/8″ drywall if the joists are too far apart. When you redo an old ceiling, you may have to install nailing strips along at least a couple of the edges. Renting a drywall lift is an absolute must. Also, another thing to keep in mind is that mudding overhead is WAY more difficult than working on walls. I had gotten pretty good at finishing, and I was upset that it didn’t immediately translate to good work on ceilings.

    Can you do it? Absolutely! Just plan for it to take weeks and be pretty exhausting. Just like every other project!

  39. I love your epic “I thought this would be easy, but it wasn’t, it was the seventh circle of hell, and I thought it would break me, but it didn’t, and TA DA!!!!” posts. It’s nice to read an honest post for once about how hard it really can be. (And yes, there’s the twisted thrill at “thank god he’s doing it not me!”).

    So don’t change. Just, maybe, be a little bit more realistic on timelines ;)

  40. You (and Max) are awesome and hilarious. I always check to see if you have posted before I read any of the other blogs I follow. As far as paint goes check out Resene’s ‘Black White’. It reads as white until you look at it next to actual white like the ceiling and trim. When I worked for a trendy architect that is what he always used. We painted our whole flat in it, and have just painted the house (which used to be a bowling club) that we are waiting to move in to with it to. Our delusion is thinking that we might have been able to move in last Christmas! Today we had lights installed :) I’m hoping we don’t have too much angst when we cast concrete counter tops for the kitchen… could be a DIY recipe for disaster.

  41. First of all, I love your blogging style (though Max gets a bit of sympathy since my late husband was much like you in the ups and downs of his personality). You do give a much more realistic view on how HARD it is sometimes with an old house.

    As far as the ceilings go, if you can find a drywall person who will bid just the installation (not taping or mudding), that might be a compromise you AND Max can live with. When my son and I did the ceiling in the nursery at his house it was with plaster buttons and just the repairs, skim coats/sanding etc was exhausting and the room is the smallest one in the house (1920s A&C story and half “bungalow” – if you can call something with two fireplaces, five bedrooms and three bathrooms a bungalow….) Actually putting up drywall overhead is a two person job even with a lift. I’d leave that part to the professionals.

    But whatever you do, I’m sure we’ll be rooting for you! (And wish me luck, I have to replace the wall switch in the bathroom this weekend – it gave up the ghost with sparks yesterday and I now have no power in there because I shut it off at the breaker. Getting ready for work this morning was interesting. I have now taken a shower by candle light and put on my makeup over the kitchen sink…..)

  42. Your blog is great! However, LIVING the blog, as Max does, probably gets a little, ummm…tedious, perhaps? But we all love it. Thanks. Laundry room & millwork looking fabulous.
    I’ll leave you with three words to consider: taxi yellow ceiling? POW
    (ok that was four. sorry)

  43. If youre looking for a good white, look at Harwood Putty from Ben Moore. It has a vintage chalky quality that worked really well in our 1883 home. The Williamsburg Collection they put out is fab!

  44. Any chance you will make a little tutorial on the oversize ironing board thingy? I am curious about it and if it is part of the big reveal then I know you will have to skim over the details since there will be so much pretty to look at and talk about!

  45. Personally, I’m loving Max’s role in this whole schtick! Every great crazy character has to have the one voice of reason in the plot to keep them in check. That way we, the readers, can just enjoy the crazy without too much concern that the train might actually derail itself because, even if it gets out of control, it’s OK, Max will handle it! No pressure on us.
    My kitchen is all white cabinetry with subway tile and in a fit of haste I painted the walls a very pale blue that I thought looked “grey enough”. For months, I hated that color and thought it looked like a baby boy’s nursery. But now, a year later, it’s my favorite room color. The color is Fragile Blue by Valspar. It does read much darker and bluer on the computer screen, though.

  46. Can’t wait to see the big reveal! I enjoy your writing & the honesty you use to describe the process of getting there.

    (I’m sure it may be tough to live through the renovations – but hang in there, Max! It will be great.)

  47. Max should be punished, 30 minutes on the naughty chair for you Max! We love Daniel’s style, it’s dramatic and fun and instructive! Hoorray for that!

    Love how it’s turning out!

    • I agree. Max should be punished.

      30 minutes on the naughty chair, EVERY DAY FOR A WHOLE WEEK.

      And Daniel, make sure you choose the most uncomfortable one (from your very extensive chair collection).

  48. Echoing everyone else – part of why I love this blog is because you keep it real. It makes me feel like less of a mess when I screw up when DIYing. Can’t wait to see the end result – LOVE this room so much.

  49. Donn’t listen to Max. I bloody adore your tone, maybe because I’m the same way, except not as amusingly so. If your writing wasn’t so real and personable and hilarious this would just be another blog.

    And, you are so right on the unpainted caulk. I know some very famous bloggers who have generally poor workmanship and design sense, who caulk after painting. You can tell they never clean.

  50. Don’t ever change! I love how you write,and express yourself! This is realtime Reno…..it is always harder,and takes longer….and you are not whinning ! Lol

  51. Ok Max, you’re adorable but wrong.

    I love how you are super optimistic, and then how you vent about that optimism being crushed by cruel, cracking, peeling reality and THEN you get OMG-you-guys excited and proud after buckling down and just fucking getting it done. It’s a roller coaster and thoroughly entertaining, informative and motivating for me to get more stuff done.

    So yeah, ain’t nothin’ wrong with you boo.

  52. I appreciate your intro conversation. Wendy and I have had many similar. I tend to the early minimizing of effort only to be overwhelmed by my anal retentive ways hat results in my missing every estimate I’ve ever fathomed, past, present, and future. I like to think I’ll learn and be better in the future, but I fear it’s a hardwired trait that will haunt me throughout my existence. But those are the breaks.

    Needless to say, the grout looks great, and you obviously have a good technique. We’ll be grouting soon enough (fingers crossed) in the bathroom, and I’m definitely going to use your microfiber on the finger technique for our shower tile.

    And finally, 511s fit nicely. A little snug to start but good to go after a little wearing in.

  53. Firmly in the “Don’t change a thing about you” camp. This blog is perfect, and thanks to your talent and persistence, your house will be, too. What a rescue!

    I’m thinking about your padded ironing (and folding, I guess?) surface–such a good idea, but are you sure you want to make the cover removable? That seems potentially tricky and annoying, when you could easily staple the fabric over the wood and padding like a dining chair seat, and, when it starts to look worn or grubby (probably not that soon) just do it over. For ironing, you really need a taut surface underneath. Just a thought.

  54. Yeah, but it’s funny (laughing with you, not at you, funny) when you take on a project that any reasonable person would recognize is going to take months of work and you think it’s going to take a weekend and then are faced with the realization that it’s going to take months, but you persevere and git ‘er done and write about it drolly.

    If we wanted someone to chirpily say “it’s so easy, nothing you can’t do on your own” while tackling some sort of monstrously complicated projected, we’d read Martha Stewart.

  55. Never change Daniel :)

  56. A few years ago Project Runway had an episode where the husbands told the designers what their wife’s style was and I asked mine what he would say about me. He said, “She only wears brown, black and white boring clothes.” I was like, “Gasp!” and “Wha?!” After coming down from the rage I realized he was right and started expanding my fashion horizons. I still think I have a long way to go but now I get several comments from people saying how much they love my style or my ability to dress in bold colors and try out new trends. There was really nothing wrong with how I dressed before (like there is nothing wrong with your writing now, I love it) but I was able to elevate and improve. My point is, listen to what he says (spouses know us better than we know ourselves sometimes), mull on it and make changes over time that you feel comfortable with and are still authentically you, because you evolve into your best self that way.

  57. Aww, Daniel! I personally love your dark sense of humor and Daniel Downerisms. Renos aren’t all sunshine and rainbows coming out of your butt! Preach it. Also, loving the wine glass action on the kitchen counters. Wine is life.

  58. I’ve been following your blog for a few months now and really enjoy your writing voice. Maybe it’s pessimistic to some, but I’ve never felt that way. Looking forward to the big reveal!

  59. Well, we don’t live with you so we don’t see the whole emotional process, but as far as your blog goes… we read it to CHEER OURSELVES UP! Your accounts of the real ups and downs and struggles and successes of the projects you undertake are funny, entertaining and real. Your blog is THE BEST. We love you the way you are. Please don’t change!

    • And anyway, do you mean to tell us that if you were our actual GBF and not just our imaginary one, we’d get sick of your unbalanced drama:fun ratio and avoid your phonecalls?? I don’t want to believe it. I WON’T GODDAMNIT!!

  60. Well, on the one hand, it can get a bit old having exactly the same dramatic arc over and over (overly optimistic, crushing reality, pull oneself up by the bootstraps and get-r-done). However, I’m not sure that messing with a formula that is working is a good idea. I mean–if it isn’t broke, why fix it?

    Well, okay, there are a lot of things in the house that aren’t broken, but you are fixing them–so perhaps this is a style issue that could be resolved by experimenting with a wider range of dramatic arcs. One might try “we need a fix but cannot come up with anything–we puzzle over it for a long time–we begin to despair over the lack of solution–someone has inspiration which we try and all ends happily”? (On the other hand, if Max ain’t happy, can anyone be happy?)

    But, really, about that soffit. Given the crookedness of your window, you will want to check that soffit very carefully. A soffit is sometimes used to cover up an uneven (or not level) ceiling above cabinets. You could even have the same distance between the floor and ceiling, but if the whole floor is sloping and the ceiling with it, when you install your cabinets level–the cabinets might not be level with the ceiling.

    You did say that most things in the house are level–and that’s good–but be careful about removing the soffit. It may be there to cover up a multitude of sins. Don’t plan to hang any cabinets all the way to the ceiling unless you have very, very, very carefully ascertained that you can hang them level and they will still be level with the ceiling.

  61. I love your posts. They are real. Don’t change your voice.

  62. Your blog is NEVER boring, and in fact it is usually very funny. Your darkest entries have me in stitches (about fixing up your house or apartment, I mean. Obviously if you wrote something dark about one of your dogs I would cry.)
    You’re a fantastic writer. If you wrote a book I would buy it. In hardback. Full Price.

  63. What??? No new blog? No ODE to MOM? I’m so disappointed. Just kidding. I love you.

  64. I would love to hear the old Daniel back! The woeful drama followed by rainbows are what make for the interesting read! Its like a masala Bollywood movie without the song and dance routine (well, maybe a little bit of song and dance). Point being- we love the way you write! Come back!!!!

  65. I’m obsessed with that first picture

  66. Love your blog too. But please don’t say Debbie Downer! It’s offensive to all the Debbie’s!

  67. I love how you write about home diy – I’ve been in the middle of our bathroom update ie half gut half save as much as we can – that I thought would take a long weekend maybe a week – flash forward one month later the subway tile is up and we are able to shower at home again finally! But it’s still not done done. Any way I like that you tell it like it is – we have all been brainwashed by hgtv and this old house to think it will all be easy and fast.

    Second I want after shots of the laundry room! Or at lest where ever you left it before you jumped into the new pantry. I need closer , please ??

  68. Hi Daniel,
    Just out of curiosity, what are the measurements of your tiles? I went out for samples yesterday and came back with three different sizes! One I think is too big for a kitchen and is longer -100×300 which is 3:1 like a real London Underground tile. The other two are 2:1 like yours are but in two different sizes. The bigger of the two somehow looks like its not the right proportion even thought the actual measurements say different! xx

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