Monday, September 28, 2009

Installing the New Dishwasher

(Isn't it so pretty?)

We needed to get a working dishwasher in the kitchen. Since the one that came with the house didn’t actually work (thanks for letting us know it broke, seller of our house). So we measured the width, depth and height of the space in our cabinets. Then went shopping for a replacement that would fit. Notice I did not say that we actually measured the dimensions of the replacement. This will come into play later (thanks GE).

OK so all the shopping is done and we brought the new dishwasher home full of anticipation like kids on Christmas morning.

If you are reading this as a how-to, I STRONGLY recommend that, if possible, you run your old unit on rinse cycle before beginning the replacement process. (More on the importance of this in a moment).

The removal of the old dishwasher was fairly easy. Before doing any work on an appliance always disconnect the power. Since ours is hard-wired that involved finding which one breaker, of the four that supply the kitchen, was connected to the dishwasher. Or, what the hell, kill all the power, we didn't need it since we will be busy with the dishwasher. Plus how long could it take?

Now we moved onto turning off the water.  If your home was not hand-built by a European gentleman, you should probably have a shut off near the unit.  Since our home was built by a European gentleman, we did not have such a luxury and needed to turn off the water to the entire house.  If you also need to do this operation, make sure to drain the water by turning on the faucet in the lowest point in the house. 

Now that you have no power or water running to the dishwasher the unit is safe to un-install. Some units attach under the counter and others, like ours, have side brackets that attach to the lower cabinets. Either way a few screws and the dishwasher was ready to pull out. We pulled it out gently and carefully, taking care to not break any of the hoses or wires attached. Hopefully, you will have te same experience and will be able to pull it out far enough to make disconnecting the 3 things easier: electrical, water supply and drain line.

A caution note about the drain line. If your drain line is run as a “high drain”; meaning it goes up first and then down to house drain, have some towels or a bucket handy to clean up the sewage that falls out when you disconnect that. When you are done gagging you should have a unit that is ready to be removed. (Gagging will be greatly reduced if you run the dishwasher on the rinse cycle to flush out the nasty smelling water and any food reside from the hose.  This is a tip we learned the hard way...after all our gagging.)

Now for the replacement washer. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just take it out of the box and plug it in? Yeah I thought so too. Anyway, follow all the prep steps for your particular unit. If your washer is bolted to a shipping crate don’t throw away the bolts. You’ll need those later. Take care when setting the spring tension for the door. For some reason there are plastic pieces in between the springs and door hinges. If you break one it will cost $3.95 plus S&H. Ask me how I know.

OK, so all prep steps followed and your new washer is ready to hook up. Our instructions were pretty easy to follow. The only cheat I used was to put a little (two wraps) Teflon tape on the supply fitting. Hopefully you have enough length in your supply, drain and electrical lines to connect them before you slide the washer under the cabinet. I would recommend connecting them in this order: Drain then Supply. Once you’re all hooked up cross your fingers turn on the water and check for leaks. After verifying you are not leaking water, now hook up the electric. I may be overly cautious with the electric but I’ve been shocked enough to know I don’t like it.

Now follow the checklist in your instructions to make sure your washer is working properly. If all is well then its time to slide the new washer under the cabinet. Unless of course your “24 inch” washer is actually 24 1/8 inches wide. (thanks again GE). I will expand more on this later.

Once you have the washer under the cabinet you need to make sure it sits level. Our instructions said to use a ratchet to adjust the height of the feet (aka useless shipping bolts). I cheated again and used a small pry bar to lift the washer into place and spin the feet by hand. After the washer is level only thing left is to put on the bracket and toe plate. Viola, new dishwasher without installation charges. Easy, right? Yeah, whatever.

OK for those who want to see the gritty details. Our new washer was actually 1/8” larger than advertised and consequently 1/8” wider than the hole in our cabinet. I used a cordless circular saw with a carbide wood and nail blade to shave it back a bit. I found that setting the depth of the cut really shallow for the first pass gave me greater control. Trying to make a thin shave like this with a single deep pass proved problematic. The reciprocating saw made a very rough cut and splintered the face of my cabinet so I went back to the circular saw.

If the washer had actually been the right dimension, had we not broke a piece and needed to order a new one and wait for it to arrive in the mail, had our cabinets actually had a square opening and had we a shut off right near the dishwasher, installation would have been a breeze. 

Tip of the Project: Use a small pry bar to lift the weight of the washer off the feet and then adjust. This will not only save time but lots of headache trying to reach the feet with a ratchet or wrench once installed under cabinet.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Outfitting the Fireplace Without Breaking the Bank

We have a working woodburning fireplace in our family room.  (Sqwee!!)  However, it was a blank slate.  Literally.  

See what I mean. 

The previous owner needed to take out the firebox due to an ill fit resulting in a potential fire hazard.  So we didn't even have a grate to hold the logs.   We also didn't even have a damper door for the flue (no wonder we were having so many bugs in the house in the evening).  The adventure of getting that figured out will be in another post. 

Back to the fireplace.  We have some major changes planned for the family room,  however we didn't want to wait for those to happen before we could use the fireplace.  Craigslist was again the place I went, trying to find something that would work and at the same time wouldn't stretch our wallet.  And just like with the chair, I hit the jackpot.    A fireplace set for $30.  The set included the log holder, fireplace screen, tool holder, shovel, broom and poker in a black wrought iron finish.

Add the log grate for about $32 and for just over $60, we were all set for the cold fall nights (and maybe some s'mores).

Tip of the Project:  Don't forget to check Craigslist, garage sales and other non-traditional sources for supplies for your home to save money.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Redone Bedroom Chair a.k.a. That Place We Will Throw Our Clothes

Every bedroom needs a chair.  For sitting and putting on, and taking off, shoes.  For a quick read of a magazine.  Or for their actual purpose (you know what I am talking about) to be that thing you throw your pants on at the end of the day.

I went right to Craigslist to find a chair since we haven't made a final decision on a new bedroom set and I didn't want to spend too much. 

And Craigslist came through with this beauty for a whopping $5.

I liked the lines and the previous owner had stripped/sanded most of the finish and/or paint off so the prep work was quick and easy.  Just a it more sanding was needed.

Priming was done with that fabulous primer in a can, Kilz Odorless Oil-Based Primer.  This has been recommended by many a blogger.  I can add my own plug to the list.  The spray can application makes it a breeze.  My only problem was that since the wood was so old and dry, I needed two cans of primer to get good coverage.  Once primed, I let it dry overnight and then gave the chair a quick sand in several places that felt a bit rough. 

Then it was onto painting.  I had a quart of Benjamin Moore Midberry Brown left from painting the cabinets in the bathroom of our old home.  I love the color.  It reminds me of a rich extra chocolatey mocha coffee drink.  (mmmm, chocolate).  Here is the chair painted and waiting for the glossy finish to dry.

The next step was recovering the very "attractive" leather seat.  Two layers of batting and a brown, cream and green patterned fabric later, the seat looks brand new.

Put them together and what do you have?  A fabulous chair for our bedroom. 

And with the colors I chose in the fabric, if we go in another direction I can move the chair to the green bedroom or even the office.

Tip of the Project:  Let the paint dry overnight before spraying with the final clearcoat.  Then let the clearcoat dry overnight before securing the seat to the frame.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Picking a Paint Color - Such a Dilemma

This is what most of the walls in our house look like right now.  (This is in our office.)  Paint swatches taped up, samples painted on the walls.  Trying to pick just the right shade of blue, green, tan, brown, cream, greige, whatever. 

Luckily, we have made and/or are close to making some decisions related to our paint colors.  Phew.

Unfortunately, that means the hard work of actually painting is about to begin.  

Wish us luck!

Tip of the Project:  Use painters tape to tape paint swatches to the wall to avoid damaging the paint already on the walls.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Pantry Love!

Our house has a pantry!  And it is a walk in pantry to boot.  It was love at first sight.  You see, I am so excited to have an actual pantry.  In our old house, the pantry was a bookcase secured to the wall on the landing of the stairs to the unfinished basement.  Well, there was a lazy susan in the only under-the-counter cabinet but it was hard to access and didn't hold much.

However, there was a big problem with my new pantry which was threatening my budding love affair.  Someone, in what I can only imagine was a caffeine induced frenzy while being snowed in, had covered the walls from floor to ceiling and wrapped most of the shelves in the ugliest contact paper I had ever seen.  All I can ask is why on earth you would use a contact paper that has gray and dark green in a tiny closet with a small light?  It makes it dark and depressing and you would never know if things are clean.

Here is a close up of the contact paper.  Ugh and ly are the only things I can come up with.

My solution, strip all the contact paper off.  I don't have any actual before pics since I was in a frenzy to get that stuff peeled off.  This is the best I can do. 

I removed all the contact paper, filling a large garbage bag, and wiped down the walls and the shelves with an adhesive remover, Goo Gone. I love this stuff. It seems to disolve that sticky residue with ease. Once that was done, here is what I was left with. Pretty scary stuff. But I especially love the blue-ish paneling that was used for the walls instead of drywall.

I then used two coats of Kilz primer and two coats of stark white semigloss paint.  I resecured several pieces of loose hardware and reinstalled the shelves.  Once the interior was complete, I painted the inside of the door with chalkboard paint.  What better place for a shopping list than the pantry itself?  The only thing I still need is the chalk tray Hubs said he would make me.

Here is pantry filled with all the things that had to live in tubs while waiting for me to get done with the panty.

I am in love all over again.  And what a transformation.  I am hoping that this is a sign of what great changes we can make to our new home.

Tip of the Project:  Goo Gone is great for removing sticky residue from surfaces.

Welcome to Our Work in Progress

We closed on our "Forever Home" on July 31.

When we made our offer, we were following the key rules of real estate - location, school district and buying the worst house in the best neighborhood we could.

Every room needed cleaning/help/work/updating/paint/you name it and the yard needs help/work with water, seed and weed control. If that isn't enough to take on, turns out the previous owner considered himself a bit of a "handyman." What that means for us is that we will need to fix his fixes most if not all were done on the cheap/the quickest/ the easiest/the way that used the most gum and duct tape. However, the layout is perfect for us and the bones are great. The house is built like a fortress with a totally brick exterior, 1-inch thick subfloors and generous room sizes. However, it is liveable so we will be in a work zone for the forseeable future.

Join us as we document the updates, projects and renovations along with tips, tricks and reviews of the products we use while we work on claiming our space in a way that is totally our style.