Introducing my sunroom

There’s a room in my house that I’ve rarely talked about. It’s one of the best rooms in my house. In fact, it’s the first room that I entered when house hunting. I was instantly smitten. The sunroom is truly lovely with it’s huge windows, vaulted ceiling and skylights.

sunroom

My Golden Girls room.

In a house surrounded by trees, it stays pretty bright. It’s my favorite place to hang out in the winter when it’s snowing. I won’t even pretend that it’s finished, but it makes me pretty happy right now. A Target clearance rug pulls the room together and makes me feel that the room is a bit safer for wet feet coming in from the pool (though you can still hear me yell to be careful every single time someone enters the house.)

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The dog spent a lot of unsupervised time in here so the walls need to be repaired and I might eventually repaint them as well. The dog crate still lives in here for now. Most of my plants spend the summer in here because there is so much light. I want to add more plants until it’s a jungle.

The seating came from craigslist and is great in this room. There is also a chair that is currently in the basement because I haven’t brought it back up yet. The cushions don’t bother me, but I can’t get over how much I love the swingasan cushion that is currently in there, just chilling (I can’t leave it outside in a forest or it would be ruined.) The swingasan will probably move in here too.

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The bar cart came from my favorite flea market. It looks great in the sunroom, but it’s a little inconvenient for mixing drinks so I don’t keep my liquor in this room. It’s great for a party or for storing pool necessities. The hooks are so necessary for hats and towels.

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The pool is outside this room, accessed by the deck. Eventually the overgrown green area will be my garden. We have a few more trees to remove. This area was really cute over the past few years, but our neglect has finally just made it overwhelming. The pool is nice though. An in-ground pool would never work with our hills, plus I’m not sure that it would be worth the cost in a place where swimming can only occur 3-4 months of the year. We love our above ground pool. It was a craigslist buy and worth every single penny that we spent. Lately, we’ve been able to spend evenings in it as well and there are bats that visit it nightly. After spending so much time last year slaving over building the deck, it feels really magical to enjoy it.

The unseen wall of the sunroom is home to a semi-plumbed sink with the world’s longest garden hose attached to it. It was really useful for watering plants, but when we replaced the sprayer, it was too powerful for the plants. Eventually, I want to rip it all out in a rage and replace it with a wet bar.

How to survive a kitchen makeover

Last backsplash post, I promise! Everyone knows that a major kitchen makeover takes some planning and sacrifices, but small makeovers take planning as well! Today, I just want to sum up a few things that I wish had known and planned for before starting this mini kitchen refresh. The tile backsplash ended up taking much longer than I had hoped, so here are a few tips in case you are planning a mini kitchen refresh as well!

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Tips for a kitchen makeover

  • A kitchen makeover will take longer than you think. Take the amount of time you think, multiply it by 3, then add a week. That might get you close to how long it take. Even a small renovation takes time. It takes time to shop, it takes time to paint, it takes time for paint to dry. Illnesses happen. Life happens. Sometimes, you’re just not up to working.
  • Make a makeshift kitchen area. Yes even for a small kitchen refresh! I never realized how much I used my toaster until it wasn’t plugged in anymore. Also, plan easy meals or lots of eating out. I live in an area with very limited delivery options, so we ate out a lot. I wish I had bought plenty of easy meals and made a temporary kitchen in the dining room. Also, buy paper plates. You can be eco-conscious when you’re done.
  • For a larger kitchen reno, I would suggest having it done AFTER the outdoor kitchen that you’ve been dreaming of. Maybe we’re alone in desiring an outdoor kitchen, but we want one really bad. We want this house to be the dreamiest, most lovely house ever because we spend tons of time outside so it makes sense for us. We realized that when we eventually do a major kitchen reno, we would want our outdoor kitchen done first so that we would have a place to cook and eat. Also, a summer time-frame makes this idea work better. Grilling in the snow does not sound fun.
  • Stock up on coffee and wine. You’ll need the coffee in the morning and the wine in the evening. You’ve deserved it!
  • Even the nicest couples will hate each other at least once. Renovations are exhausting and add eating crappy foods to that and people lose their tempers. You’ll survive. Try to keep your murder-y thoughts to yourself.
  • Just when you think you’re done, you’ll realize that you’re not. Because every tiny project snowballs into bigger projects! Better buy more wine!

How to tile a backsplash: Grouting

The end is near at this point in the backsplash tiling process. We’ve prepared the walls and we’ve installed the tile with thinset, letting it dry really well. Today, we can talk about grouting, plus you can learn how to fix it if you mess it up like I did!

HOW TO (1)

Part 3: Grouting

Tools:

  1. First, we’re going to get the area as clean as possible. I used a shopvac to remove any loose, dried thinset pieces. This also showed me that some of the tile pieces were not adhered as well as I had thought. So I reapplied thinset to those pieces and let it dry for another day. Sad, but necessary.
  2. With a nice clean surface, you’re ready for grouting your tile. If you mixed it yourself, you want the consistency of icing.
  3. Use the rubber float to apply the grout, using a diagonal motion to shove it firmly into the cracks. I like the smaller float because by this time, my hand was claw like and everything hurt. It also was easier to maneuver than the larger one, because backsplashes are not very large.IMG_1907
  4. Use the float again to remove the excess grout on the surface, being careful not to remove it from the cracks. Using an “S” shape pattern works well to remove all of the excess grout. I’ve read that working on 10 minute increments is a good rule. ***

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    Remove more grout than this!

  5. After applying grout for 10 minutes, stop and grab the sponge and fill a bucket with water. It helps to have more than one. I used empty buckets that we had in the garage. You can buy empty buckets as well. They come in handy all the time!
  6. Wring the sponge out so that it’s not sopping wet and start wiping the tile down, rinsing it in the bucket as necessary. You’ll have to rinse it a lot! Use the grout scrubber on any stubborn spots. Smooth the grout lines as you go, being careful to not remove too much grout. It should be fairly firm at this point.
  7. When the water is gross, switch to a new bucket. Pour the old water outside. You don’t want it in your drains.
  8. A little bit of leftover haze is normal and can be taken care of easily.IMG_1912
  9. Continue until the grouting is done. Don’t rush this part. I’ll tell you why in a moment. Trust me. Use the 10 minute rule!
  10. When you’re done, wipe off the layer of haze with a microfiber cloth.

***What I did wrong***

The aforementioned claw hands were part of the problem, but I was also tired of not having a kitchen. Ironically, if I had done it correctly, I would have had my kitchen back the next day.

I grouted the whole thing, and then went back to wipe it. My grout package said to let it dry for 30 minutes, but it was a really warm day, so I think it dried much faster.

I also did not wipe enough of the excess grout off in the initial grouting stage. Womp womp womp….

So it dried and was difficult to remove. But not impossible.

How I fixed the dried on grout

Tools:

  1. Scrub off what you can with the grout scrubber. Soaking it in vinegar helped, but be careful of this. Vinegar can stain some tiles, so use caution.
  2. Use the wooden stick for really stubborn spots. I think I waited too long for this part. It might work for you.
  3. At this point, I was exhausted and certain that this was the job for power tools. I went to the store to look for something to attach to a drill. They had nothing, but they did have buffing pads for a dremel. So I bought a few packs and came home.
  4. These worked well, but I used them up quickly. Buy twice as many as you think you need. So like 4 packs.
  5. I got it to “good enough” with this technique. Be careful not to “polish” too much. I was concerned about taking the finish off of the tile. A few turned a funny color, but they always washed off just fine.
  6. Then I started washing the tile down with a wash cloth. I dipped it in vinegar and this seemed to take off the rest with some light scrubbing.
  7. Wipe it with the microfiber cloth.
  8. Voila! Tile job not ruined!

Finishing up

Tools:

  1. Caulk where the edges meet the countertop and anywhere else necessary, like along the windows or cabinets. I used white to match the white grout. If you mess up, you can let it dry and then scrape it off.
  2. Let caulk dry.
  3. Apply grout sealer. This part was really easy. I wiped a generous amount on, using the squeeze bottle to make sure that I got it really well behind the sink and stove where I make the most messes. Let it sit for a few minutes and wipe off the excess with a clean rag.

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    Still so much to do, but the tile sure looks lovely!

It still needs a few pieces of wood trim to be complete. I decided to add wood trim in my “problem areas.” I’m a big believer in not making work harder than it needs to be. It might not be “right”, but I would rather it be done and “good enough” than be curled up somewhere in fetal position crying. My method is not for perfectionists, because I’m not one. I’m a “get stuff done” kind of girl.

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Anyways, instead of agonizing over cutting tile into perfect 1/4″ pieces, I decided to beef up the trim around my window instead. It’s a win-win situation because the trim is pretty wimpy.

 

As hard as this project ended up being for me, I still think of tile fondly. It’s like having a baby. It sucks while you’re doing it, but eventually you want another. (Except I would much rather have tile than more babies.)