Tag Archives: during

the glitz the glamour

It may have taken us a few months but we have managed to find our good work flow.

While Dale is breaking his back lifting sheets of drywall, kitchen cupboards, power tools, skylights etc.  I strap on a pink respirator mask and glasses, get up on ladders and scaffolding and scrub away at flaking paint, cobwebs, creepy crawlies and bad plaster.  Later returning over and over and over again to sand and apply coat after coat of  drywall mud to make everything all pretty and fresh looking again.

Turns out I am better at mudding and taping than Dale.   I have that perfect level of OCDness that makes sure I work the mixture and get all the bubbles out while also feathering out the edges just right so I don’t have to do much sanding later.

hallway ceiling

This is a pretty mild case. Basically a large patch of water damage caused by holes in the roof letting water seep down between the attic walls and end up here on the second floor landing ceiling. The last owner put plaster over it all instead of fixing the problem and so what was left for us was lumpy, stained, peeling  and cracking.  Since the ceiling is now dry and the holes have since be repaired it was best to use the scraper to chip most of it off, sand down the rest and smooth over a nice skim coat of plaster that I will sand down after it dries.

The second ceiling patch I had to work on was WAAAAAAY worse.  It looks like a big ol chunk of the ceiling came down in this back bedroom due to some hefty leakage from above (this room is located under the former attic bathroom)…yucko.


I don’t think the former owner was very handy as he did the worst patch of all time.   Problem number one, he cut out all of the lathe in the ceiling so there was no support for the HUGE piece of drywall he used. Problem number two, he didn’t cut out enough of the failing plaster around the hole choosing instead to smuck on the durabond 90 (problem number three) thick and waffely to ‘hold it’… and left it like that, unpainted, unsanded, seams untaped, unfinished. Nice. Needless to say we tore it out and started fresh.

Durabond setting-type joint compound is much harder than your traditional drywall joint compound, and much harder to sand. You want to apply it in thin, smooth-as-possible coats to make sure you don’t leave yourself with a lot of unnecessary sanding in the end. Sigh…I guess no one told the last guy that.  The old ‘patch’ was applied so thick and messy and was set like concrete so Dale had to use his grinder to get it off.  There is no need to use something so heavy duty on a zero traffic spot like a ceiling.  Not fun.

This is our repair after 2 coats and I know it looks bad, but it’s gonna be great with one more sand and a thin finishing coat.  Trust me!

back large bedroom ceiling

We had some HUGE holes to fill up there and it will probably take a few more goes before it’s done and level.  What we use on these big gaping holes is a heavy duty metal mesh to bridge the gaps and allow the plaster to hold on to something.

metal mesh for patching holes in the ceiling

The mesh is pliable and you can stuff it in and the wire edges grip right onto the uneven edges left behind where you cut back to the good plaster.   Be patient, don’t over apply your mud thinking you can fill it all in one go.  It usually takes me 3 messy fills before I can get sanding and applying finishing layers.

When it’s a regular drywall seam that needs bridging we tend to only use paper tape  rather than the sticky mesh tape. I find the texture of the mesh always shows through and it’s not really worth all the bother. The paper tape is really easy to apply anyhow and you can rip it off easily to fit the seam when you are on the top rung of the ladder in some awkward position.

Paper tape is easy to work with so no worries.  You just have to have a thin layer of compound down first then you press it in and apply another thin layer on top. easy peasy! Working the compound is another story, but you will find your technique.

I like this stuff.

the mud of choice!

dust control, the mud of choice!

when you sand most of it drops right to the ground (unless you are working directly above, in which case it drops right on your head.  Also, don’t even think about using a fan in the room when you are sanding.  All the dust will swirl around and land right in yer eyes.  Makes for a VERY sweaty job, but at least you will be able to see.    Remember, with applying mud, less is more!

take 5

there’s no room for ‘pretty’ on this job-site

I find you need to wipe off your face and the inside of your mask ALOT! So here’s a tip on how to stay cool and comfy with all that dust and sticky heat.

I took a men XL shirt and cut myself a new neckline. Don’t sweat it if you cut off too much, it’s not a fashion show.

new neckline

I also removed the bands from the sleeves and cut a line diagonal from the seam upwards then a second cut straight across  the top fold as shown in the picture.  Now you have fluttery cap sleeves with an added bonus!

where to make your sleeve cuts

Those fluttery bits will  give you a built in ‘hanky’ on each shoulder that is dust free on the underside and super easy to find for the ol face (and eye if you didn’t listen to the part about not using a fan) wipe down.  Using men’s XL shirts gives you a loose fit that should help shield you from all the falling dust and have you cool by keeping the material away from the body.

Another thing the experts don’t tell you…  this dust is DRYING, as in Sahara desert dry.  I wear rubber gloves to keep my hands from being destroyed and keep my hair up in a bun soaked through with conditioner and the dust still does a number.   Most of my face is covered with the respirator mask (buy a good one!) and safety goggles but i still need to slather on the moisturizer after I shower to get the dust off.   Invest in some moisturizing soap while you are at it as well!

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slowly chipping away

What with the broken and sprained toes, extreme heat and summer flu Dale and I are not really at our renovation best, but the show must go on. We had planned on cleaning up our huge scrap pile in the back yard, broken cupboards, old plaster and lathe, nail filled boards, garbage bags full of crap, basically a total eyesore.

worst backyard ever

worst backyard ever

There was no way Dale was going to be able to manage that with a broken toe, and no way I was strong enough to lift that crud on my own. It didn’t look like cleaning the backyard was going to be possible…until we got the bright idea to hire a day laborer. God bless Kijiji!  It’s pretty easy to find someone who can come help out on short notice for all sorts of trades and jobs.

Dale put in a call the Wed before and Sat morning both the dumpster and our guy was there!  We supplied all the tools we thought he might need; crowbar, prybar, hammer, safety glasses and gloves and he brought the muscle.  Demolition and clean-up isn’t fun for anyone so the less  boredom and micro-managing the better!   I like to make sure there’s lots of water and cold drinks handy (no one wants to have to ask for a drink all the time), a radio to help pass the time, a place to wash up and  a good lunch.

While our handy helper was outside getting things cleaned up we decided to tackle some of the less grueling jobs while waiting for the plaster to dry.

The narrow stairwell to the third floor poses some challenges and we have to make furniture choices based on what can go up there.  With that in mind we had gone to IKEA earlier in the week and picked up a KIVIK sofa.

kivik sofa bed from IKEA

The back and arms are completely detachable so we can totally fit this up the tiny stairwell.  The bed is a queen size and super comfortable and there is storage in the arms for all the bedding!  Plus it’s slip-covered which is always good when you have animals.  Best of all, it was on sale!

If you know Dale and I you also know we love a bargoon.  Ikea has 3 great ways to save money, lemme share.

Method one, find the As-Is department.  Every store has an As- Is section where bump and dent materials can be found.  Stock moves fast, is replenished daily and is already assembled!    This sofa was a display item and we were able to get it for 60% off.  The store usually removes all slip covers so the sofa’s look pretty shabby and forlorn, but 90% of the time you will find the matching slipcovers neatly wrapped up with the curtains and bedding in the same As- Is department.  If you are patient and know what you are looking for chances are you will find it within a month by looking here.  I find things in the flat pack boxes offer the best savings, since they aren’t already assembled and no one really has the patience to figure out what those names mean it’s pretty likely that you can find the closet or shelf or bed of your dreams by being that patient one.

Method two, shop on Wednesdays!  Every Wed each Ikea will feature some items drastically marked down.  Each store features something different so check out the locations online under Wacky Wed.

Method three, there is another discounted section called “now or never”.  This is where discontinued products go for final clearance.  The Ikea near us has a tonne of these amazing oak cupboard doors right now for rock bottom prices.

ikea fagerland doors

If you’re not so keen on all that wood, these doors would also be great  for a painted kitchen look.

Ikea also sells stone countertops, sinks, faucets, appliances and range hoods in the as-is, and who’s kidding who, you know you are going to scratch or ding it anyhow during installation, ha.

tiny room

big sofa, tiny room

Here’s the sofa all put together again in the small front bedroom.  We picked up that amazing 30’s patchwork handmade quilt at the Lakefield outdoor market held ever Sunday Morning.  We’re finally going to be giving up sleeping on the air mattress and start calling this room home until we start to work on the attic loft.

While I was cursing IKEA assembling the sofa, our helper was making quick business of the backyard and finished in record time.  He had packed the dumpster remarkably well (you have to stack and pile things neatly rather than just whipping everything in willy nilly if you want to make the most of your space) and there was loads of extra room in there for the rubble we knew we were going to pull out of the rear stairwell.

Dale had been busy taking all of the interior doors off, removing the hardware and hinges and we just needed to get them all outside for painting in our clean and tidy backyard!  Goodbye nasty yellowed wood, hello crisp, clean and glossy white!

painting doors

8 freshly painted doors

We have a Wagner airless spray gun and while it uses a lot of paint, it does give amazing smooth coverage in just one coat.  We bought ours on clearance from Home Depot (make sure all the parts are in the box and the filters aren’t used and clogged though before you go home) and oddly enough saw another one at the Lakefield Outdoor Market  for $100 (pre haggle, no tax).  There are good deals to be found.  Our tarp came from Princess Auto, hands down the best place to buy deeply discounted hardware  items that you don’t necessarily need to last.

head painter

Head painter

How happy is Dale to have some space to work in the yard again? and even better to not have had to clean up all that trash and scrap himself? Almost as happy as I am to get out of the house, sit down and put my feet up!

take 5

site supervisor

oh we are quite the handsome twosome these days….

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cottage bound for Canada Day!

Like everyone else I will be heading to the cottage for Canada Day, but not before spending a portion of the holiday sanding and mudding at Rubidge.  How can I not after all the hard work Dale put in?

When I left Monday morning to head back to my city life (and day job) Dale stayed behind to try to push forward and make a dent that was noticeable.  He knew I was feeling very discouraged after wrastling with fans all weekend and not seeing much progress.

Wow!  I am grateful!

greyroom before
greyroom before

greyroom mud


That man of mine also got all of the fans up and working, dry-walled the back bedroom, dry-walled the bathroom ceiling, installed a new bathroom ceiling fan, finished the tub, removed the laundry hookups in the kitchen and rebuilt the wall, rewired some new outlets in that grey bedroom and replaced all the missing baseboard and trim in the rest of the house!  Hot Damn!

bathroom trim



So yes, it’s the least I can do tomorrow before we continue on to our holiday.


back bedroom

FYI….You might have noticed that we are using Blue (waterproof) drywall here there and everywhere alongside the regular stuff in our patches and wall repairs.  The Peterborough Home Depot puts all damaged drywall on sale for 50% off.  Since we usually crush corners and/or have the full sheets cut it down for us to fit in the pathfinder anyhow, this is an amazing deal, and why you are seeing a mix and match.  YYYEaaaahhhh deals!

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the old fashioned way

On Monday Night it was time to lug the cupboards out of the front bedroom and into the kitchen.  Drywall was up, the last of the peeling paint was scraped free and Dale had finished off  laying the last of the kitchen floor. Some of the pieces round the pipes and back stairwell were a bit of a pain, but nothing a little adhesive couldn’t manage.

see Dale smiling?  That’s because he doesn’t know what’s to come….


Just because we bought IKEA cabinets doesn’t mean we have to use their on-line layout software does it? Bah, what’s the fun in that?!  What ever happened to doing things the old fashioned way?

Just shoving things around the room till you are exhausted happy with the layout?  hahahaha


Okay so not the best idea, but we couldn’t wait. There comes a point when you need to get over the demolition hump and do that last push to make you feel like you are getting somewhere with your project. We needed to see the kitchen realized before we locked the doors and headed back to the city.

This kitchen is a bit of a challenge because it has 5 doorways and 2 windows to contend with, but we managed to make it work…





And the debate is still on as to whether or not to put in our 1800’s cabinet on that wall between the stairwell and the bathroom or leave it empty. So beautiful, so sensible for storage, but a real beast.

Storage unit
What do you think?


We are going to go with floating shelves above the counters, and so far are planning to use subway tile for the back splash since it went so well upstairs…not sure if we will go for a clean white tile or something in a natural tone that picks up on the flecks in the stone of the counter top.

I’d be happy with this sort of a finish, and I am pretty sure we even have that hanging light kicking around in storage someplace, ha.

image via apartmenttherapy

Did I mention Dale has to pull up part of the flooring and move the plumbing/drains and electrical to the opposite side of the room to realize my vision?

He took it in stride with a “it’s not a big deal, lets do it!”

Love you Honey!

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the haunted attic…

My brother-in-law is a Hvac genius and our ‘Go To’ guy for furnaces. We are often each others guinea pigs, but sometimes Desmond gets the short end of the stick.

The Berryman House was a nightmare with only a 3 foot crawl space and trapdoor in the floor to cram the furnace through, ug.

The Ridley House had a 7 foot ceiling, but by the time we got around to installing the furnace and on demand water tank every bit of room down there was crammed to the rafters with the contents of Dale’s former office space, double ug.
I was sooo happy to show off the HUGE and empty 8.5 foot basement at Rubidge and let him do his magic in a great space.  The old beast of  a boiler was taken out and we decided to finish off the rest of the installation the following day.  We headed off to the luxury of the Quality Inn (and running water) while Des decided to rough it out on the foldout bed and get a super early start.
front yard from porch.  It's since been landscaped
No one had spent the night yet so we didn’t realize the craziness going on up in the attic.  Poor Des had a sleepless night of noisy twisting metal, thumps from upstairs, crashes and bangs.

Haunted?   Sounded like it….haunted by the ghosts of cruddy owners from the past more like it.  ha.

Basically the old roof had holes everywhere, and once the new roof went on the wretched pigeons, who were determined to keep living up there, started pushing at the gaps in the cruddy metal fascia and soffits forcing their way into the third floor space and making a horrible noise all night long.  Who knew?

Now the new soffits and fascia are on, those determined buggers are still circling round the roofline, but there’s no getting in…move it along bub, there’s no room at the inn.

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dark trim makes a house look expensive

We showed up on Monday to new dark Eaves and Trough!
Dale’s mantra…dark trim makes a house look expensive, and I have to admit he’s on to something.
The Trough-it guys are going to come back to finish the porch detailing once we replace some of the dodgy fascia boards,  that gap in time means we will also be able to keep an eye out for buckling and separation in the installed trim.  Dark metal is a bit tricky that way, and you should be  aware of potential movement with temp changes.   If you are going to go this route, choose an installer who has worked with dark coloured trim before and try to schedule your install  in the cooler months when the metal will be constricted.

Here’s a great link I found from the UK … it points out some crazy stuff about using black and what to keep an eye out for.
So for now the house looks like a bit of a Frankenstein monster, but just imagine how lovely it will look with a combo of Farrow & Ball Railings and Off-Black on all the window and porch trim…
future paint scheme
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crazy bout subway tile

I am obsessed with subway tile.
LOOOOVE IT and can’t get enough!

Look how good the tub surround turned out!  Don’t you just love it?
The hand glazed bricks are slightly varied in their shades of white and the resulting random pattern is quite lovely. Dale picked up the tiles from the Stone Tile clearance outlet for $1.14 a square foot. AMAZING!  We picked a matte finish 3×6 field tile style based on info we learned about historically authentic subway tiles from this site.

There was hardly any waste once I got the hang of the tile saw and realized tiny chips from the edge weren’t the end of the world, the grout covers them lickity split.
We got a little ahead of ourselves and mixed up the mortar before researching what we needed to use for spacers…whoops. Thank God for the I-phone, google and this handy tile setter FAQ.  These fellas seemed to think that no spacers are actually needed for 90% of modern subway tiles, so we dove in spacer free.  And it worked! We got all the tiles up on the wall in 4 hours…cleaning up all the hardened mortar took another hour…sigh. Note to self, wipe and clean as you go!
mid grout
I did the grout in the powder room floor so I guess that makes me the official grouter.  Dale put me in charge of this job while he finished installing the kitchen floor.  Second note to self, don’t mix the WHOLE box of grout, a little goes a long way….whoops.

Confession time, I really enjoy grouting. Yup…fave reno job so far….maybe taking a weekend off to go the the cottage between setting the tiles and filling the tiles helped a bit as well, grin.

The bathroom has come a long way, a couple more passes at sanding and mudding and we will be ready to paint!



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This is actually an improvement

To clean a mess you’ve got to make a mess…or so I am always telling Dale.  Well he’s one upped me on this one.

Basically I was banished from the bathroom until the dust settled, and then the grand unveiling of the grand un-doing began.

not only was that wretched outdated vanity gone

but so was all the cracked plaster, broken tiles and nasty flooring.


Best of all, the dirty ugly green tub and it’s mildewed liner was gone, and Dale also found the time to put in a fresh new toilet!
This all doesn’t look like progress but trust me when I tell you it is.  Now the walls are pulled down to the lath we can get to work putting it all back together.  Often it’s easier and cheaper to start from scratch if you don’t have much faith in the previous owners handiwork.  Taking walls out gives you a chance to see what has actually gone on before you got there and also allows for pretty easy customization so you can move forward with exactly what you want instead of limiting your choices to working around junk and trying to make everything fit.

In this case we were able to remove some pipes that weren’t in the greatest spots, install electrical outlets, shore up the sub-floor and make sure everything was level and even before we put down the new flooring.

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