Re-creating a Closet (or two)

by Rachel Blackburn in ,

It's funny how renovation projects have a domino effect.  In order to fix a funky floor plan in the guest bath, we are ripping out a hall linen closet and demo'ing and reconfiguring Caden's bedroom closet, both of which have to be done before we can finish renovating Caden's room.

The hall bath is shaped kind of like a "s".  The hall coat closet backs onto it on one side, and the original master closet backs onto the other side.  It's awkward.  

When we talked to our realtor about 86-ing the hall coat closet, she wasn't all that keen on the idea.  Apparently coat closets are actually used here in Portland.  I, being from Southern California, have never really seen the need for a coat closet.  I hang my hoodies in my bedroom closet thankyouverymuch.  Oh well.  If it'll sell the house, we'll keep the coat closet.  But it has to move, because that bathroom layout is hard to live with.

The hall had 2 closets: the coat closet and the linen closet.  We decided to make the linen closet the coat closet, turn the original (small) master closet in our room into the linen closet, eventually absorb the hall coat closet into the guest bath and build a giant walk-in closet in our room.  Problem solved.

It just makes Caden's room a little more complicated to renovate.  





This is Caden's room: 

Lovely wallpaper, don't you think?  I think it's lovely.  It peeled off over the course of 2 evenings, one spent pulling satisfying large chunks off the wall by hand (wallpaper that is so old it's crackly is great!) and another spent with the steamer.  Lovely wallpaper.

Phase 2 was staining the ceiling.  That took 2 evenings.  It could have all been done in one day if Michael's arm hadn't been in danger of falling off after the first night.  It's all good though - he could move his arm again 2 days after he finished.

Phase 3 was demo'ing the closet and hall linen closet, since they back onto each other.  

The kids had fun playing peek-a-boo with that.

The master bedroom is on the left, Caden's room is on the right.

The master bedroom is on the left, Caden's room is on the right.

How many kinds of wallpaper can you see in that shot?  Hint: there would have been one more if we hadn't pulled the rose wallpaper down already.  Total count of wallpaper prints in the 3 rooms we've touched so far is now up to 7 with the discovery of one print hidden under Caden's baseboards and another hidden in his closet.

Next came rebuilding the closet.  Framing and drywall are the name of the game.  So is white noise, because our white noise kept the kids from waking up as we worked on the room in the evening.  They can sleep through a chop saw in the next room if the white noise is on.

Currently Michael's still working on drywall.  It's going slower than i had hoped, but honestly that's a good thing.  It means we're getting more sleep and spending more time with friends and family than we are working on the house.  

We'll keep you posted as we move along with this room!  It's going to be be-YOU-ti-ful (to quote Caden) when it's finished!

Emmy's Room: Before/After

by Rachel Blackburn in

There is nothing quite as satisfying as seeing before and after pictures once a project is complete.  Realizing how far a room came, how much time, effort and money went into it, and enjoying the newness of it all is so much fun!  

We've started on Caden's room, so he and Em are roommates for a little longer.  Decorating will wait until we have more rooms done - I'll post pictures when we get to that.  Pinterest is full of awesome ideas!

Without further ado, Emmy's Room: 

Time/budget: 3 weeks of evenings and Sundays, less than $500.

Still to be done: refinish floor, paint and install baseboards, decorate.

One room down, 8 to go!

by Rachel Blackburn in

Emmy's room is (mostly) done!  Good enough for the kids to move in at least.  All that's left is to finish spray painting the closet doors (more on that in another post), install them, refinish the floor and put in the baseboards.  

It feels AMAZING to be done with our first room!

The kids moved in tonight.  Emmy seemed pleased with her big-girl-bed arrangement, and Caden is looking forward to working on his room.

Michael and I are looking forward to sleep.





- Final tally of odd things found in Em's room -

Telephone wires EVERYWHERE, even up and across the ceiling!

Hooks, hooks, and more hooks.

A wallet-sized photo of Captain Kirk.  Guess that kind of fits us though...


- Total time for this project -

About 3 weeks' worth of Sundays and evenings.

How to Remove Wallpaper On The Cheap (And Eco Friendly!)

by Rachel Blackburn in ,

This house is full of wallpaper.  I’m sure you’ll hear about it many times - my apologies in advance.  

When we decided to buy this house, I went to my BFF Pinterest and did some research on wallpaper removal.  I also talked to friends and family who had removed the stuff.

The result?  I was sure this was going to take FOREVER!

We went to Home Depot to pick up wallpaper removal stuff.  I had a pinterest-approved list - chemical wallpaper removal gunk, tool to punch holes in the wallpaper to make the chemical stuff soak in and scrapers. 

Then I was introduced to a magical device: the wallpaper steamer.

This thing is cool.  It was $50 and required no chemicals - water only.  The chemicals would have cost us about $150 for one room alone!  

Talk about cost savings.  

The steamer worked great, but I would call this a two-person/no kids around job.  One person steams, the other person scrapes.  Plan on lots of quality time to talk while steaming.  Do this after your kids have gone to bed or while they are being babysat - the steamer can spit really hot water from time to time.  

So, how did we do it?

Have one person steam the wallpaper.  We found 15 seconds on each section to be ideal in our situation.

The other person comes behind and scrapes the wallpaper using a plastic scraper.

Repeat.  Many, many times.  It took us 3 evenings (maybe 8-10 hours?) to do one room.  


A few things we learned: 

Get all the backing off.  Every last bit.  If you don’t, it will cause problems with your paint job afterwords.

If you happen to build up enough steam in the room from working on the wallpaper and your wallpaper is old enough, it will start to peel away from the wall without your having to apply direct steam to the wallpaper.  Big chunks come off - very satisfying!


In the end, this job was not as awful as I thought it would be.  In fact, it was pretty satisfying.  I recognize that not everybody’s wallpaper will act the same way and in some instances, the chemicals will be necessary, but try the steamer first - you just might be pleasantly surprised!