julia's living room furniture

Renovating {not new house}

Our house didn’t see many projects in 2015 (1!) We bought new chairs and eventually turned the furniture a quarter turn, got a couple pieces of artwork framed and hung, but that’s about it.

julia's living room furniture
That basket near the sofa? Goodwill!

Until Thanksgiving week. We found a contractor to get our kitchen closer to completely finished. Background: our kitchen renovation began in 2012. Part of the renovation was a new refrigerator. (Huge energy saver, I highly recommend replacing old refrigeration units.) When dh measured the width for the refrigerator opening at counter height, he had no reason to believe that the opening would measure different at floor level. So when the time came to slide the new fridge into its hole, it wouldn’t go.

Problem: The studs behinds our walls are twisted. Nothing in this house is plumb.

 I am not lying. Every wall that we have touched is proof that nothing here is level, vertical, or even. Our refrigerator wouldn’t fit in the opening at floor level.

So, we ripped off the sheetrock of the pantry to get it to fit. (The alternative was to have the fridge in the middle of the kitchen.) The refrigerator couldn’t be pushed all the way to the back of the opening for the doors to work. Not ideal, but the best we could do at the time. Mr. TellBlast and I weren’t really wild about removing then rebuilding the wall. We just didn’t want to think about it. After several attempts to get contractors to show up and give an estimate, we finally found a contractor who would correct the wall and finish it up well enough for me to paint. Such a happy feeling to open the door. Every day, I’m proud of the contractor.

Keeping the momentum once New Year’s passed, we’re in the process of replacing the tub surround in the master bath. DS1 and I began removing tile from the plumbing wall, carefully.

removing tile from the tub surround

Once we got that wall done, we could bring on the power. My friend, the Dremel Saw-Max:

dremel saw max

When I finished, with DS1 as a terrific support team, DD2 thought maybe the dust from the walls, now in my hair, was a preview of what I might look like with gray hair. Here I am before I got too dusty:

master bath julia dremel ladderI want to pause here to say that during the clean-up, I discovered that quite a bit of time had passed since the last time I cleaned the light fixtures in the master bath. Or maybe I had never cleaned them since moving here in 1999. This is my thought: Go clean your ceiling fixtures — fans and lights — before things get ickier. Do you really have frosted lampshades, or are they actually coated with grime? My fixtures were so dirty that dusting was not enough — I used warm, soapy water. Really, clean your stuff when you finish reading this.


So the Saw-Max worked like a hot knife through butter. I highly recommend it with safety goggles and ear plugs. It is much easier to manage than a circular saw. Scoring the paint at the corners between the ceiling and walls was also a big help. Also, having a tall son is a help.

I was nervous about removing the drywall from the exterior wall — we’ve uncovered many issues behind walls — but I never felt a draft and I checked at different times of the day under different weather conditions. So that was positive. Here is the bathtub with no walls:

juliecache's master bath without a tub surround

And now here it is with new backerboard, a good stopping place.

master bath wall board

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