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*
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.