Friday, February 27, 2015

In which we have been taking care of little things, painting. and thinking a lot

While working hard on the apartment, and since we do this about once every few years, we sometimes need to remember how to do things, like the easiest way for us to tile and things like that. It is a good thing that I write these blog posts because they are like notes that one cannot lose.  I have been rereading some old blogs (I have had four others before this blog) to learn what products I used on the slate tile floor before that worked well, or what mistakes we made along the way with cabinets, etc.  Have you looked at any of our other blogs?  Like the blog for Sunny Side  or for The House Up The Hill, or even my old foodie blog MaineFoodie?

Progress on the Ocean House apartment is coming along.  We have two bedrooms and two bathroom painted, the carpet installer came to measure and we are humming away there.  The first floor bathroom floor has been laid, and we are anxious to grout it and move on.  Greg has been having dust problems, so he mopped the entire apartment last night, getting up more plaster dust.  We finally got the 7 sheets of 4 x 12' 5/8" drywall out of the building, which was huge for us.  Thanks to Whitecap Builders for getting the stuff out finally.  It took five of them to haul the sheets away.

We want to do some cool things in the apartment, unfortunately, our minds and our wallets are on different pages.  I wanted to do this to the bathroom on the first floor, but our wallets couldn't justify a $1000 piece of rough cut slate
Been racking our brains to think of something cool that isn't an $800.00 Home Depot vanity.  We both hit on the same idea while brainstorming yesterday afternoon.  We'll have to see how it looks today, but I think we found our cool idea.

  My great-grandparents were auction goers in the summer time and one of the things they purchased was this cherry high chest base, thinking that it was a dressing table perhaps.  It does date to the 18th century, and was probably made in New Hampshire. Originally, it would have had another chest on top of it.  It belongs to my sister, who had no room in her house for it, so it has been sitting in our living room for the last decade or so.  The other day I asked if we could have it and repurpose it.  So, yesterday it arrived at the building and I took the two old boards off the top.  We will cut the drawers back to fit the pipes, add a new figured maple plywood top and perhaps a copper bowl on top for a vessel sink.  Greg scoured Etsy yesterday for handmade sinks and found 18 pages of them..who knew??  My favorite is this one:
It might be a little tall for most people, but there are two other bathrooms with "regular" sinks.  This is going to look great in the first floor bathroom.  Greg finished installing the floor and cleaning the tiles.  Now its time for the grout portion of our project......I think the colors are fantastic. 

I've decided to be uniform upstairs, all the rooms save for the bathrooms have been painted linen white.  Three floors of the Ocean House are now painted this color!  It is a cozy, finished, simple, and neutral color that works really well with the low pile carpeting choice we made.  All the rooms upstairs have at least one coat of paint on them as of yesterday!  Whoopie!

I have been choosing colors for the bathrooms and the one at the top of the stairs is going to be very cute and old fashioned looking.  This is the smallest bathroom, but has the best view from the commode of anyplace in the house.  We are tiling the shower in white tiles that match the floor.  The walls are a deep blue, that unfortunately, kind of match the color of the big blue building in front of us that you can see through the window in the photo below!

I do love working here as the views are incredible from almost every window.  Here is our view from the master bedroom. Not too shabby!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

In which we use a Revolutionary New Product!!

Greg and I have spent the last month either in stores, doing online research and ordering of tile, bathroom fixtures, floor coverings, etc. or working at the building to really start the process of building the apartment.  We have actually purchased all the tile for the three different bathrooms and the tiles for the kitchen.  Finally found carpeting that both of us like and we think complements the overall vibe we are going for in the space. I think renters will be pleased with the results.  

As I have mentioned before, we are trying to figure out the best way to sound proof between the first floor of the building and the apartment.  After doing a lot of research online, I found that one of the only products that will work well for us is a "revolutionary new product!" Of course it is......Essentially a 1/8" 3-layer foam that one can simply staple to the floor, the product is called Thermoquiet and it has the same sound deadening qualities as homosote.  

I ordered 1 roll, enough to do 500 square feet. It arrived in the mail and we were dumbfounded and figured it wouldn't work.  We can play catch with the roll it is so light....

and thin....Where the heck do you put the three layers?? 

 There is one layer for sound, its the gray layer that goes against the floor...there is a middle layer that is a fire retardant, and then the blue upper layer, which has an R value of 3.01....not a lot, but enough to help seal the floors, and almost about as much as an inch of pink insulation (3.14) all in an 1/8". All that AND it acts as a vapor barrier.....I was beginning to be a believer. 

Greg got excellent advice from their tech when he called before install. One thing this project has taught us is always ask for advice when unsure of something.  The tech said that with a 3/4" mortar bed, one can tile right over the foam.  We didn't want to put that thick a bed of mortar under the slate, so we decided to put down a layer of 1/4" hardie backer board down and then use a thinner medium bed for the tile.  It seems to have worked as the voices below are muffled rather than seemingly right next to us when we are in that first floor space.  
So off we went!  I didn't get a photo of just the thermoquiet on the floor, but it 

What is good about the product for us is that it can go on top of the subfloor and underneath the finish layer, be it carpet, tile, or hardwood.  We wanted to keep the first floor ceiling open to the beams, so we knew we would run into some expense soundproofing from above.  This product runs just under a $1 a square foot and we'll use it throughout the first floor under the carpeting pad in the living areas and under the porcelain tile in the kitchen!   

While Greg was laying out all that, I was sealing the slate tiles and laying them out.  I like to seal slate tiles before putting them down because they are so porous that the grout just gets sucked into the tiles and it won't come out. The sealer helps keep the tiles clean when grouting. getting errant grout and haze off the tiles is so much easier.  What we have enough of is time, so we can afford to do things this way.  If we had to pay someone to do all this, it would be far too expensive. But, we also want the apartment to be worthy of a stay, and what I have learned is beds and bathrooms have to be really good and renters will return again and again. 

there were tiles everywhere!  We need somewhere around 93 or so for the bathroom floor, more because Greg likes to lay them out on the bias. 

Greg spent a few hours making notes and measuring and futzing around with designs for the floor.  This is where his training as a pattern maker and designer shine through.  He was also able to come over to my slate sealing studio and make piles of like tiles.  (HD tiles are notorious for their color differences between tiles, which we like a lot, but which most people don't like at all.)

Then he started laying out.  Note the nice wall changes with the light.

 We are putting in a wider grout with these tiles, which I think works with the proportion of the room and the tiles.  

After a few hours, the main tiles are in place.
I think all the colors are stunning

 Just as he is in his studio upstairs, Greg is the ultimate craftsperson.  

Friday, February 13, 2015

In which we keep calm and carry on.

Oh my, so much going on.  We get alternately overwhelmed and then get calm about stuff.  Greg and I have been mulling over interior decor for the apartment as that will guide our completion of it.  We have a lot of ideas going on between our two heads, and one is gelling, but it hinges on a lot of stuff that might be hard to pull what else is new in our mad dash lives?? I always come back to something Greg said once when life was really getting to both of us.  "Life is never dull with us, and its one hell of a ride!" As long as we can maintain this philosophy along with the one about "its only paint,"  then we should be good.  

Yesterday found us everywhere but the building until the fading light of day.  We went and picked through a barn of weathered wood and mouldings to see what we could find that might go well with the exposed support posts on the first floor of the apartment.  Rather than hide the posts under layers of white paint, we want to glorify them by adding other weathered boards as stair treads, window casings, etc.  This will go along with our idea to make an industrial kitchen out of steel shelving units and rolling drawers (this concept almost had us beat, and still may...we just got some examples of the steel shelving in to see if it might work....I like the idea of stained and polyed poplar counter tops.

We made the mistake of picking the wrong color for the first floor bathroom...threw us for a loop  "should we keep it or paint over it"  Luckily, our friends at Sherwin Williams helped out and took the color we had, reduced the concentration by 50%, and gave us the perfect new color that doesn't scream "New Orleans Mardi Gras!"  but rather, is evocative of Bonwit Teller's old shopping bags from my youth.
This first floor bathroom is ready to tile and I think should be done and ready for water in the next week or so.  Hooray!  The colors of the tiles are awesome and I can't wait to see the room put together.  Once we get this small room done, it will help me so the whole project finished in my mind rather than wanting to just walk away and leave the upper two floors to time....

In our travels yesterday, we did pick up the white and black tiles for the small bathroom upstairs.

It will have that very old fashioned look complete with pedestal sink and matching white octagonal tiles for the shower.  While the first floor is supposed to be industrial and chic, I want the second floor to be cozy and inviting, a sanctuary in which to nest.  

Headed out of town for the day on other work, but back tonight.  Greg might do some experimenting with our industrial design later as he figures out whether the shelving components will work or not.  

Keep calm and carry on!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

In which we talk finishes.

We've been having fun over the last week or so, picking tiles and carpeting and other finishes for the apartment.  We picked one tile we liked for the bathroom and then couldn't find anything to go with it, then picked something and brought it all home.  We kept saying to ourselves that it went together....but finally, after having the tiles shipped to us, we decided they were not a good match.  Hell, we have two other bathrooms, but we have different plans for those.  

Sometimes, you just have to realize you made a mistake and take the white tile back.  

But, we are keeping the groovy slate tiles.  We got some winner colors!

Greg and I couldn't stop thinking about another tile that we'd seen.  "what about that tile with the lavender glass"  one of us would say.....or "that lavender glass tile would work, we should just go get that."  So that is what we did.  

The glass tile is gorgeous.  We picked out a lavender wall color to match and the bathroom should be good to go.  Now, of course, we need to find that four foot long piece of rough cut slate to act as the bathroom sink countertop and we'll be in business!

I love this tile, its awesome!

I've taken better photos of the tile for the kitchen.  We are going industrial chic with these grey and silver porcelain floor tiles coupled with a grey stone backsplash above a stained gray wooden countertop.  Slick as snot!!

Most of the apartment will be carpeted.  We have found a few samples that we like, most of which are not in the photo below.  I am partial to the sample in the foreground for the bedroom floor of the apartment.  It makes me think of golden retrievers and tennis games.  I think it will be comforting to our renters to have such cozy carpet upstairs.  And, it is 71 cents a square foot!  Even better!  We have a red version of this carpet in our bedroom and it has lasted really well with the two of us and three dogs over the last 10 years.  

In other news, we have a long way to go!

But, the hardy backer board is almost finished in all the bathrooms!

Most of it is just piles of stuff that we haven't room to put anywhere.


On my way to finish the purple bathroom.  

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

In which we start to shop for the apartment

Had a great shopping excursion yesterday after washing out at the auction preview....Lots of junk out there!!  We went to our favorite store, Mardens, to see what bargains could be found.  They had a lot of flat carpeting remnants that would work well in two of the bedrooms.  The remnants are nice quality and come in around 45 cents a square foot. not too bad.  There was a lovely white wool berber carpet, but it was only 10 x 8', not useable for us.

We actually have the carpet below in red in our bedroom and have had it there for about 10 years.  The blue below was the same carpet that the Edge restaurant in Lincolnville used.  

This beige one reminds me of Stark carpeting that you see in all the mags.  

Both Greg and I really liked this steel colored carpeting for the whole downstairs common area, save for the kitchen and the mud room.  It would certainly not show much dirt for awhile!!

This is a beautiful stained maple flooring that we thought would look awesome in the mudroom with the carpeting above, but when we got it out in natural light, the two colors didn't go well together.  Lesson here is check all products out from under the showroom lights!

You may think we are nuts, but we did find tiles for the first floor bathroom.  The white tile has copper threads running through it and will be used just in the shower.  The irridescent tile band has the some of the same brownish copper tones as does the slate tile.  It looks very pleasing together and the slate floor tiles have GREAT colors...kind of Monet water lilly colors that do not fight the white of the shower tiles.  We were a bit taken aback by the increase in price of the slate tiles.  $1.48 a square foot rather than $1.00 a square foot in 2010.  We love slate tile floors, the price is right and the look is great.  Grouting is a bitch, but sealing the tiles first make the grout clean up so much easier!  

 I have to go to yet another auction preview today, so we will hit Lowes and HD again down in Rockland for toilets and sinks.

There is an auction in few weeks that has these dining room chairs and matching table.  I don't think we'll be able to afford them, but I love these for the apartment.

Monday, February 2, 2015

In which we have decisions to make.

Spent part of yesterday de-icing one of the heat pump compressors at the building.  With all of this snow and other weather, the two compressors that are closest to the corner of the building are getting snow in the fan mechanism.  The fans either stop working or they start to make a mechanical noise because of the ice buildup in the case itself.  We are looking into covers made specifically for these units.  We came up with a quick fix yesterday that will probably work for this winter.  We just need to cover the units with a board to ensure that the snow and ice do not touch the units themselves.  

Spent another part of yesterday researching sound deadening materials that would go over our subfloor and under the finished floor.  We think we found the perfect thing that not only provides sound deadening to 46 decibels, but also has an R value of 3.2 (not much, but it might help a bit) and a fire retardant layer to further ensure, (along with everything else) that the building does not go up in  flames anytime soon!  We have ordered a roll (500 square feet of coverage for about $350.00.  It all sounds too good to be true, so we only ordered one roll of the material, which can be used under carpet, hardwood, or ceramic tile.  Greg and I had a good discussion of what we would put down where...carpet in the common areas and bedrooms to help with noise, and tile or hardwood in the mudroom and kitchen.  

I have to head up to Fairfield for an auction preview tomorrow, so we will use that time to visit Home Depot, Mardens and Lowes to see what they have to offer us.  Then, if I can find something online that works and ships for free, I might just do that.  The best thing we do is educate ourselves a lot first before deciding what finishes to use on our properties.  We think they come out rather well mostly!  

Sunday, February 1, 2015

In which we slowly move towards working at the Ocean House again.

What a week for weather!  As I write this is is something like 4 degrees out on a day between snow storms.  Life is busy here, but I did find a few hours to go and prime the sprinkler pipes white to make them disappear.  Not as long a job as I thought it would be, but just so boring that I am falling asleep while writing about it!  It has been good for us to "live" in the apartment for the last couple of days so that we can come up with a furnishing and flooring plan.  

We do need to do something about soundproofing between the floors.  We have some ideas, but need to pass them by someone who knows more about this than we do.  We will carpet most of the first floor of the apartment, mostly for cost, but also because the sound barrier between the retail business on the first floor and the apartment is so needed.  I have found a cellular sound barrier that is made to go under carpet matting, so I think we will be ok on that front.  

Greg is well on the way to completing the downstairs bathroom.  We have to go searching for the tile we will need for the shower and the floor early this week, so perhaps by next weekend we will be able to install the first floor sink and toilet.  Then I think finishing and furnishing a bedroom is in order so that we could actually stay overnight (only needing a electric kettle for morning tea).

We are thinking about EVERYTHING, what to do in the kitchen, what to do for stairs from the first to second floor, how to finish off the mudroom....I suppose it would be easier to have a plan in mind BEFORE starting the finishing work, hell, we don't even have paint colors in mind yet!  We do have fun though when one of us sees a pleasing treatment.  We were in LLBean the other day and love their treatment of the stairway in the outdoors building.  People think we are nuts when we start taking photos of tile we like in a public bathroom, or of stair treatments in major retailers around the world!!

The stairs today

I wish we had had the forethought to save the weathered boards from the barn to make into kitchen cabinets.  I see a kind of industrial loft like kitchen in shades of gray with open shelves below and weathered cabinets above.  Perhaps it is a pipe dream, or perhaps we know a retired Contractor with a barn full of old wood who has left the country for a few months and left the barn unguarded! 

Greg mentioned leaving all the woodwork downstairs natural color, which would give the common areas a Tudor look, something we kind of wanted way back when we took the old walls down and the space looked like this: (Oh my, this was so long ago---May of 2013)  I originally said no, that we should paint the baseboards and the window trim to match the walls, so they disappear, but I have spent a few hours contemplating it and am warming to the idea.  Sometimes treatments like that can look like a cheap ski house rental, but I bet we can make it work.  

The same space today

I just cannot wait to see what we do with this place!