Friday, February 28, 2014

Photographing your projects (or whatever)

As you can tell from this blog, I am NOT a photographer! I probably could be if I put forth the effort, but when I'm working on a project the last thing I want to do is make sure the lighting is just right and set up a tripod! So all of the photos here are almost from my cell phone (Samsung Galaxy S4). Somewhere I have a Cannon digital camera that is a few years old, but my phone probably takes better photos at this point in technology! (Some of the OLD house photos are from 2004, so those are obviously not cell phone photos!)

I am probably the LAST person on earth to figure this out - but I just recently learned that the panoramic function on my phone takes amazing photos of the inside of a house!

I usually use it for things like this:
The Great Smoky Mountains - everyone oooohhh and aaaahhhhh with me!

But recently I learned that I can also use this function to better show a space INSIDE, as well.

While at our rental house, I took these photos. (Don't our tenants decorate beautifully?!)

Normal Photo:

Panoramic Photo:

Ok ok, so I missed getting that pretty tray ceiling in the panoramic photo, but you get the idea, right?  Here is another example in the living room:

Normal Photo:

Panoramic Photo:

What what?!?! I know, right?  Such a huge difference!

And one last not-nearly-as-dramatic photo of the upstairs bathroom:



Notice the weirdness at the top of the door? That happens if you don't keep your phone level! Oops! (And yes, I love her shower curtain, too!)  This is a very small space, but the panoramic function allows me to show all of it in one shot!

So anyway, how do you do this? Easy. Stand still and pivot!

Stand in one place - start at one wall, hold the phone level, and pivot around the room. Try it - it's amazing!

Those that are saying "well DUH, Gretchen!" right now..... well, I guess I'm just slower than some. ;)  We are getting ready to put the rental house on the market and you better believe the photos will be panoramic ones!! 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The kitchen is done!

Done diggity done! (Can you tell I'm happy??)  Last we heard, I was still searching for the perfect gray paint for the kitchen re-remodel. I finally landed on "Coventry Gray" by Benjamin Moore and that one was a winner! I had Lowes mix it for me in their paint (Ben Moore is EXPENSIVE!!) and the final product is stunning!

I know you can't really see the new light in this pic, so let me show it to you:

I actually got two of them - one for each side of the space. I got them from Amazon, but they were part of the "warehouse deals" section and were both open box. No big deal for me and they were about 40% off the regular price! (If you haven't learned it yet, I am CHEAP and don't like to pay full price for ANYTHING!)

It's hard to believe how far this space has come since I bought this house almost 10 years ago. And it's hard to believe it took me THIS LONG to finally finish it! But it is D-O-N-E done!  Now what project is next???

Butcher block countertops

If you've read my blog before, you know that I have beautiful new granite countertops in my kitchen. Then why in the world am I talking about butcher block now?? Because it's not for MY kitchen, it's for the kitchen in the rental property that we own.

When my husband and I got married, we both owned a home. We moved into mine, and rented his out. After 5 years as a rental, we are finally going to attempt to sell it and hope we don't lose our shirts.  (Edit: It didn't sell and we rented it out again for another year!) But first we are doing a few simple upgrades. Hence the new countertops!

It currently has blah white laminate.

It's tiny and white and BLAH!  Look at that horrible faucet! The size was perfect for the bachelor that my husband was when he bought the house, but not ideal for a 3+ bedroom house that a family might look to buy! So we've got to spruce it up!

The plan for the kitchen:
1. New countertops
2. New light fixture
3. Cabinet hardware (notice there is NONE in there currently?)
4. New sink and fancy faucet

Here is all is -- got the faucet, cabinet pulls, and light from Amazon. The sink is from a local bargain place for $80 (over $200 retail!!). 

After a trip to both Home Depot and Lowes I realized we needed to find a cheaper way to get this done. Crappy laminate was going to be over $500 and that was with installing it ourselves!  For that tiny kitchen?!?!  We got a tip from a neighbor that a local discount home store had great prices on butcher block so after much Pinterest research, we went to check it out and came home with two beautiful pieces - 36" by 96" for $109 and 26" by 96" for $89. The price was right!! Hubby cut them easily down to size and sanded them - and here they are (don't mind all of the junk in my basement. I'd like to make up some excuse for why it looks like that - but it always looks like that!):

According to the world-o-Pintrest, step one was to condition the wood. Wow did that make them beautiful!

Step two - stain. I am using "special walnut" by Minwax.  To be honest, after the first coat of stain they don't look that different than with just the conditioner.... but they are darker, I swear!

I ended up doing two coats of stain. The interwebs tell me that the Waterlox I intend to use for sealing them will lighten the color a little bit, so I didn't want them coming out too light in the end.  Here they are after two coats of stain and one coat of Waterlox:

I almost wish I'd gone even darker! But in the end, I think they will look fantastic in the kitchen of the rental house!

As I said I'm using Waterlox at the suggestion of the internet. I think I'm doing it wrong, though.  I read two blogs that said they used the "Satin" finish. I do not want them to be super glossy, so that is what I ordered, as well. However, after getting the can in and reading it, it looks like you're only supposed to put ONE coat of the Satin finish on - OVER multiple coats of the glossy finish.  I'm not doing that, and I know some other blogs did not do it that way, either. I have since figured out that this is why I'm getting some bumps and bubbles in my finish. Crap!  They still LOOK beautiful, but they are not as smooth as they should be. So anyone reading this -- use the regular finish (gloss) and then the satin! Or skip the satin all together - it makes bumps!

I ended up doing three coats of the Waterlox satin on the tops, and one coat of Waterlox on the back just to seal the wood. I did three coats on the back around where the dishwasher goes because it releases steam that damaged the previous laminate tops. Hopefully that is enough to ward off water damage!

This weekend we are going to install these bad boys....

To be continued! Click to read part 2 of this project!