Skip to content

Master Renovation Update

June 26, 2013

For a renovation that was scheduled to last 3 months, we are now approaching the 6 month mark.  Yikes!  What can I say we have lives and jobs and sometimes things don’t go exactly as planned.  That being said.  I have an update to share!  We have been moving quite quickly during these last few steps and I can finally see light at the end of the renovation tunnel.

Back in April we finished up with the drywall and had started mudding.  As of now, we are completely sanded, primed, and dare I say it, PAINTED!!


I forgot to take pictures on the Nikon but luckily I take tons of shots on my iPhone that we periodically send to family.

master bedroom paint

The biggest decision in painting the master bedroom was h0w to paint around the load bearing beam we installed.  We decided to paint it white so that it could (hopefully) blend in with the ceiling.   I grey I chose (on a whim when I was at The Home Depot) is slightly darker than what I had hoped for so she’ll most likely get another paint job in a lighter shade.

master bedroom paint

master bedroom paint

photo 4

One of the biggest accomplishments (in my mind) was getting the foyer area mudded, sanded, primed, and painted….and plastic removed.    This area took a very long time because we kept forgetting about it.  We would work in the bedroom and bathroom and completely forget there was another area that needed attention.  So FINALLY, we fit the foyer into our plans and I painted it to match the existing color.

foyer paint

photo 7

It feels good to finally have a sense of accomplishment in this renovation, even if we still need to add a door to the foyer coat closet, some floor trim and crown (oops!).    Before the paint even dried, I immediately torn the plastic off the living room wall and moved the furniture back into the space.   The sideboard and decorations all sat covered in our living room for 5 months.  It felt like Christmas morning when I uncovered them!

foyer paint

So….one thing at a time.  …and now that the bedroom is nearing completion it’s time to jump start the master bathroom into gear..that space is still an open area waiting to be schluter’d (as in the Kerdi Schulter System- how we plan to lay the tile),  tiled, grouted, and everything else….

DIY Hidden Tab Curtains

April 22, 2013

The sunroom in our new home is directly off our kitchen and has an access door to our master bedroom. Since this area is so close to our master bedroom, it has become the ultimate dumping ground for everything master-bedroom-renovation-related. At any one time you will see probably 8 pairs of work gloves, three measuring tapes, carpenter pencils, and a pile of disposable masks on top of various power tools, extension cords, oh, and don’t forget the three inches of dust sprinkled on top. It’s quite the couture look, let me tell you.

So, as part of my “let’s clean up the clutter” rampage I started to clean up the clutter.  I found an empty bucket to dump all the work gloves, masks, and tape measures in. Power tools went back into the actual work area and extensions cords got wound back up. I mopped the floor and fluffed the cushions but didn’t bother to dust….at this point in the remodel process it’s really not worth the time.

sunroom before

sunroom before

The wicker furniture was left to us by Ryan’s parents. It was originally white.

2nd new sunroomI got on a painting kick when we first moved in and spray painted the entire wicker set brown (original house tour here).   When we were in Florida (mentioned here) we found a wicker trunk at a consignment store for $65.  It’s in really good condition and once it gets painted to match it will be a handy place to store my outdoor cushions.  Awhile back I picked up a blue and white ikat rug at Homegoods but besides that I haven’t really done anything with the space nor had I planned on doing anything anytime soon…..but then I discovered the perfect fabric….

On a random trip to Wally World I passed the “craft” section (by far the most pitiful excuse for a craft section) and a fabric caught my eye.  Hesitantly, I walked over to it, opened the bolt and was in love.  It was blue, grey, and white ikat, similar to my Homegoods rug… I never  expected to see such a contemporary pattern a Walmart (Walmart fabric seems to be reserved for camo, cartoon, and anything tacky). Then comes the typical Walmart experience:  I rang a bell, waited 5 minutes, rang the bell again, then went to another section, found an employee who called another employee and i finally got one yard of fabric cut with the hopes to make an awesome pillow for my sunroom.

sunroom i-kat fabric

When i got home with the fabric I discovered that is coordinated perfectly with my Homegoods ikat rug.  It’s almost the exact reverse of the rug which is a blue background and white pattern.   I went back the next day and bought an additional 6 yards because this fabric deserved to be more than just a pillow.  Hence, how I ended up DIY’ing some hidden tab curtains for the sunroom.  Oh, and as if there couldn’t be anything better…I forgot to mention the fabric was $1.50 a yard??! Crazy cheap. Like $9 for an entire pair of curtains cheap…Ikea can’t even compete with that.

Ryan golfs every Sunday morning so I had a few hours to myself to get get these babies made.  I surfed Pinterest and found Cathy from Fiscally Chic’s tutorial on hidden tab curtains and got to work.   (Oh yeah. Ryan shot a 72, I know you were wondering…).

fiscally chic

Cathy’s tutorial was great but I altered it slightly by not using a sewing machine.  My sewing machine/craft room is busy being buried by our old bathroom cabinets, bedroom furniture, and various other items we need to store during the master bedroom remodel, so I opted to use “heat and bond”hem tape where the only equipment required is a hot iron.

heat and bond

I went with the hidden tab because I like the clean look of the casual pleats.  Pinch pleats are really too formal for the room and I can’t stand a rod-pocket drape.  Here is a great guide to different types of window treatments from the blog As the Curtain Hangs.

Drapery Types

And one more tidbit on curtains and drapes…they are not the same.  Curtains are light and airy and often sheer, whereas draperies are lined and more formal…so in my case, I am making curtains.  Van Wilder would say “write that down.”

After a quick swiffer to the floor, I laid down my 6 yards of fabric and cut it in half.  In hindsight, I should have looked at the pattern first to make sure both panels lined up, but the fabric gods were looking after me and all was well.

sunroom curtains

Next I set up an ironing station on the floor by laying down some old towels and got to work.  My favorite assistant, Ninka, watched diligently as I ironed my fabric into curtains.

sunroom fabric Nink

The first panel took me around 2 hours to create but the second one breezed by in under an hour.  Its funny how it always goes faster the second time around.  If you are interested in an actual tutorial on how to make these hidden tab curtains, follow the link above to Cathy’s blog or you can always google search it on your own.  I’m sure there are thousands of them.

Before I could hang my freshly pressed curtains I had to hang my rod (this was the first time I ever hung one completely by myself= proud).  I picked one up at Homegoods for about $25 bucks.  Unfortunately this room has an awkward soffit on the left side of the window so I was forced to hang the brackets directly on the window casing.  It’s not my ideal place to hang a rod (a few inches from the ceiling is ideal), but desperate times called for desperate measures.


sunroom rod

When it’s all said and done I think it looks pretty darn good!  The curtains move focus from that weird soffit and off-centered windows and give a punch of color that this off-white room needed.  I added the ikat rug beneath the trunk and called it a day (for now).  Color me happy I love the new look of the room.


sunroom curtain

sunroom curtain


The casual pleat of the curtain adds enough interest but nothing over the top.  I can’t wait to accessorize the space with a lamp and some tchotchke’s once the master bedroom renovation is complete.  There’s no point in doing that now since the dust and tools are guaranteed to make their way back in before long.  Speaking of which we are moving along on the master, but it’s going slowly.  Hopefully I will have an update on that space soon.

Drywall and Mud and Electric, Oh My

April 9, 2013

It’s been a redonkulous-ly (that’s a word- it’s totally in urban dictionary)  long time since our last master bedroom update…42 days to be exact.   In 42 days we having finished framing:

master framing

…built a temporary wall and installed a load bearing beam (in three pieces):

master beam

photo 3

photo 4

…hung some drywall:

master drywall

master drywall

master drywall

master drywall

…went on a 10 day vacation to Florida:

vaca_florida 2013

vaca florida 2013_polo

…tapped and mudded:

master mud

…and added tons of can lights and wires:

master light

master light

That pretty much sums up the last 42 days.  This renovation is taking a wee bit longer than planned, but then again don’t they all?  Now that it’s warming up here in West Virginia we’ll be itching to get out on the boat any day…so needless to say we better start kicking it into gear!!

On a side note, this is our first spring at the new house.  I went out back today to play with the dogs and discovered this:

back yard

I always wanted a spring flowering tree at our first house, but never got around to planting one.  WELL I’LL BE! I have one two here and I didn’t even have to plant them!  Super psyched.  Oh, and while I was out back admiring my flowering trees I was able to capture both pups in one shot…a major rarity.

pups back yard

Big ol grumps….probably a side effect from all the deer poo they’ve been eating….or maybe they are just ready for all this renovation to be over too!

Surrounded by Studs

February 26, 2013

Not only am I referring to Ryan and all his friends that have helped in this remodel process, but I am also referring to the framing that’s been happening in Casa de Bauer!  We are (almost) completely framed in the master, walk-in closet, and bathroom.  But before we got there, we had to knock out the walls so we could build new ones….makes sense, right?  Ryan and I worked carefully around the electric to dismember what was left of the original six closets and hallways.

removing walls

I kept joking “it’s a good thing I’ve had a tetanus shot” because those 2×4’s were covered in countless rusty nails.  Miraculously( Michelle = clumsy) I haven’t been stuck…but never say never!  At first we tried to do the ‘green thing’ and remove the studs carefully so we could re-use the boards, but we decided we were spinning our wheels and wasting too much time just pulling out nails.  On the plus side, we did manage to save a good amount of studs before we started scraping them.


When it was all said and done, we were left with a large empty space.



While removing the carpet we uncovered old white (what looks to be asbestos) floor tile from 1960.  Because we plan to lay carpet in this area we are not concerned the tile may be asbestos.  It’s when you want to remove/break up the tile, that you have a problem.  We are just going to cover it up, so bada bing, bada boom!

Over the past few days we have been slowly chipping away at the brick load-bearing brick wall (mentioned here) in the existing master.  We were offered help by two of our friends, so we of course we accepted.

brick wall demo

David swung the hammer while Brian shoveled the heavy debris into the wheel barrow.

brick wall demo

brick demo

We are lucky enough to have a dumping area on our property so we didn’t have to pay for brick removal.  The wall couldn’t be demo’d (is that a word?) in one night so Michelle was nominated to finish the job while Ryan began framing.  I don’t think Ryan thought I had it in me, but I did pretty damn good if I do say myself!  I removed the rest of the brick and moisture barrier on the right side.  I was told to leave on the left side of the wall because that is technically the original exterior corner of the house and the brick was stacked differently.

brick wall demo

If I don’t get ‘guns’ (aka arm muscles) from swinging a 16 lbs sledge hammer into brick, I don’t know how I will.

But anywho, while I worked at growing my biceps, Ryan and Al (the carpenter we hired to help us post-demo) got into a groove framing out the space.  In less than a Saturday afternoon the whole room was almost completely framed out…woohoo!

master framing



*Excitedly* I announce, we now have a  framed hallway, walk-in closet, and bathroom..  I won’t lie, I may have let out a squeal or two in excitement.  This renovation is finally starting to take shape.  We can totally see a future in this space – laying in bed on a lazy Sunday morning, putting away laundry in our large walk-in closet, getting ready for a black tie event…and no, there isn’t a baby cradle.

Next on the list: installing the load bearing beam and finishing up some little electric!  You may have noticed our electrician (electric is something these DIYer’s don’t touch) has already had his hand in this space.  His name is Bob and he thinks Michelle is crazy.   I don’t think he has officially said the word, but I think “overkill” is what comes to mind every time he walks in our house.  In my defense, I just want to cover all bases…Hopefully wiring will be finished sooner than later….his hourly rate is starting to add up!

Crouching Homeowner, Hidden Beam

February 4, 2013

…As opposed to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon….that’s what it felt like after being hunched over for two and half hours in our attic tonight.

attic beam

Last week he had the architect come back by to assess the “situation” in the Master Bedroom after demo (found here).  He suggested installing a 26 foot beam in the attic for added support where we are removing interior walls.  After picking up a butt load of lumber and twice as many brackets at Lowes, we were ready to start the next step of the Master Bedroom renovation…p.s. Lowes in Cross Lanes was cheaper than the Lowes in Charleston, go figure.

lumber master bedroom

Ryan bought two 16 foot 10×2’s and two 10 foot 10×2’s.  The goal was to double up the boards to create a support beam for the joists in the attic.  He cut one and half feet off the two ten foot boards with the circular saw.  We alternated the pieces by length and nailed it all together to create a glorious albeit extremely heavy 25.5′ beam.



Nailing both 2×10’s together took a little lot of muscle work.  I wore out quickly so Ryan had to take over my half (ok, mine was more like a third, not a half…and he still had to take over- apparently I’m a weakling when it comes to 3″ nails and a hammer).


When it was all nailed together we realized we were stuck with a 25.5 foot, 4 inch thick HEAVY beam that needed to be moved to the other side of the attic….and there was only two of us.

attic beam Master

Ryan put the back half of the beam on an old skate board he found in the attic with hopes we could slide the beam to where we needed it to go.  Michelle took it one step further and put a found 3 foot piece of PVC pipe under the front part of the beam…whala!  It was perfect.  Our almost 26 foot beam carefully rolled across the entire attic ceiling until it reached it’s home.  Obviously I don’t have pictures of this since it was just the two of us, but picture crouching thirty-something year olds, a$$’s in the air and a few foul words thrown back and forth…

We carefully hoisted the beam into place (trying to avoid falling through the ceiling) on top of the joists and flipped it into place.  Ryan secured the beam with metal brackets.  It took 10 nails a bracket…times 35 brackets.  He was able to complete 17 brackets before his back went out (unfortunately this not abnormal).  I fed him a cocktail of 2 Advil and 1 Alieve to relieve the pain.  If all goes as planned we will be able to finish the remaining brackets tomorrow.  I tried my best at throwing nails into those brackets, but I exerted all my energy pounding those 3″ nails into the beam.  I should be of better use for the brackets tomorrow.

Plaster + Demo = Lots of (Heavy)Trash

January 31, 2013

Before we started demo in the master area Ryan called several of his buddies in hopes they might want to help.  Amazingly three of them came over with bells and whistles.  I think the word “demo” for guys is like “shopping” to girls…just sayin’.

The first step before destruction was removing all the doors, door jams, and trim.  The trim included window/ door casing, baseboard, and crown…which we found out we have tons of…literally tons.  The guys carefully removed each piece and did their best not to break or damage the wood.  We piled all the trim in the work area of our basement.  Our goal was to save as much trim as possible so we can reuse it once we have the new walls built.

master bedroom



We thought removing the trim would take five minutes.  Let’s try like 2 hours.  Seriously?!  Talk about taking the wind out your sail.  I ran to get the guys some lunch and when I returned we were finally ready to start knocking down walls.  Demo started in the easiest area…a 1990’s closet addition.  The dry wall peeled off fairly easily compared to the rest of the plaster walls.  Neither of us had really worked with plaster walls before and quickly learned it’s not a walk in the park.  It is so heavy and when you hit it with the sledge hammer it crumbles apart, causing lots of dust and a messy/back breaking removal process.



Next up was the wall between my closet and the butler pantry in the adjacent hallway.  Our Friend Ryan R. worked diligently to take this one out, and in no time he was able to see Ryan B. on the other side of the wall.


The guys kept swinging away as I snapped pictures and before we knew it we filled our first truck load of debris in about an hour.  At this point several of the guys had to head home to their wives, kids, and their own projects but Ryan and Ryan kept working and went to dump the truck.


While the boys were gone (for what felt like several hours) I continued to pound at the plaster.  The dogs continued to hide in fear of all the loud noise.   I only discovered two unexpected surprises inside those walls.  Two venting tubes that run from the basement to the attic.  Luckily it won’t be a huge issue.  We can work around the big  vent by boxing it in with drywall (it is located in the closet) and the smaller second one can easily be moved to another wall.

The most aggravating area to demo was the hall between the ante room and the master area.  This hall has four closets which means the plaster had to come off not only the outside of the walls, but the inside of all the closets as well. To state the obvious: we worked very careful around the electrical and plumbing.






The most intimidating portion of this whole remodel is this load bearing brick wall.  When the house was originally built this area was a sunroom/screened-in-porch.  In the 1990’s the porch was converted to interior space and became part of the master bedroom.  They dry-walled on top of the brick, built some walls, and installed a window….hence why we have a load bearing brick wall inside out master bedroom.


We tried our best to bag the plaster as we went so we didn’t overwhelm ourselves at the end of the day(s).  We also invested an air purifier and plastic sheeting.  The sheeting is tacked and taped to all the doorways in the foyer area.  Our goal is to keep the dust to a minimum in the rest of the house.   While we still have dust everywhere, I can only imagine what it would like like if we skipped this step in the process.




The removal of the vanity from the dressing room went fairly smoothly.  Ryan pried at the tiled countertop in several places then ‘pop’,  off it came.  He removed one of the sinks before hand, but the caulk around them was just ridiculous, so the second sink remained in tact and went down with the ship.  We had hoped to donate them both to Habitat for Humanity, but some things are better left for the trash.   We unscrewed the cabinets and they were also moved to the basement.  I plan to refinish and reuse these cabinets in my basement craft room.  Luckily the mirror came down in one piece (score!)…I had disaster written all over that one, sorry babe!DSC_2065



Naturally, the next step was to hammer out the shower tile.  You gotta love the sound of tile falling off the wall and hitting the floor in pieces.



And then we did the same to the other side of the shower…still gaining joy from the breaking sound when the tile hit the floor.


I’ve estimated that we’ve used somewhere around 125 contractor bags so far in our demo.  Its unfortunate that plaster weighs so much.  We can only fill each contractor bag about half full…which seems like a complete waste of expensive trash bags if you ask me.  Someone (maybe me?!) should invent “half trash bags”.  If half-sized trash bags existed I wouldn’t feel like I’m wasting so many bags!  Maybe they already exist and I just don’t know about them…


The other day Ryan removed the commode and the wall tile in the old bath.  We plan to build a wall for the shower and turn this little area into a water closet .  I was amazed how the tile just fell off the wall with a little tug of the crow bar….complete 180 of the experience we had at our first house when we remodeled our guest bath.


It case you couldn’t follow what we are doing in the mess of photos above, here is the demo plan and the ‘before’ and ‘progress’ side-by-sides:

master demo


dressing room



michelle closet


ante room

ante room2


With the plaster down we finally have a realistic look at what we’re working with.  We decided to call architect Aric Margolis  back to the house and have him check the bones, just to be on the safe side.  He informed us the wall we are removing in the hall will need extra support in the attic.  We have to add a 26′ foot beam, but luckily it will only be visible in the attic and wont affect the room visually (unlike the load bearing brick wall which will be replaced with a visible beam the length of the room).  Once Ryan gets the attic beam in place we are safe to start knocking out the studs and begin building new walls.   ….Just another day in the Bauer house.

Before there was Demo….

January 29, 2013

It’s been ten days since we began demo on our master bedroom (first mentioned here).  The plaster part of the demo is 90% complete.  All that’s really left is the removal of the brick load bearing wall and knocking out the existing studs..  But before I reveal the awful disaster zone we currently call home, I’ll show you what it looked like before destruction….also know as B.D.  (not really).

The floor plan looked something like this:

master floor plan

I took these before pictures the night before we began demo so half our stuff was already moved (like our clothes) into a spare bedroom.  So….these are ‘sorta what our bedroom liked like before’ before photos.


Master Bedroom

Master Bedroom

Master bedroom

Dressing room:


Dressing room/vanity/bath (behind the door):



Not-so master bath:




Michelle’s closet (notice the “One Shoe Can Change Your Life” plaque?  It found a new (temporary home):


Hall to Master (3 closets in this area!):




Ante room/wasted “hall” space outside 2 of the guest rooms:




Foyer/Hallways to the bedrooms:



Unfortunately(?) our house looks nothing like this anymore.  Did you ever see the Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck movie “Gigli”?  Yeah, me neither, but I suspect our house is a bigger disaster than the movie.

We moved our bed, dressers, tv, etc…into a guest room down the hall (aka Heather’s room), which is fortunately a very large room.  Our goal is to only live in this awkward state for the next 2 months….wish us luck on that one!