More Floor Work

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This is my view while I drink my coffee in the morning.

Having a clean and orderly home makes me happy, and all it takes is a bit of effort.

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Here are my simple tools.

And a few of the before and after photos.

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Inside the hall closet.
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And after.
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Threshold to my bedroom.
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And after.

This morning as I drank my coffee, I admired the patina of the restored wood. Aaaaah.

Bathroom Cup Holder

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Can you spot all the bad design in this photo?

Let’s see- That towel bar was actually useable when there was a pedestal sink in the bath. When it was replaced by this cabinet model the towel bar became unusable and worse, protrudes into the space over the countertop, making it awkward to use that space as well. And don’t get me started on the recessed soap dish/cup/toothbrush holder. This poor design should never have been manufactured. If you put a cup and toothbrushes in it, you can’t reach the soap!

Remember the QuakerStylist methods of interior design? First we declutter, then we clean, and then we add some nature. I shook things up this time.

I started this project by spraying the toothbrush/cup holder with vinegar and scrubbing to get the calcium and ick deposits off. Then I removed the plastic soap tray, because I was never going to use that thing. Pump soaps are less likely to harbor the bacteria from the hands of previous users, so I prefer those for handwashing sinks. I tried multiple products to clean the portion of the metal recess underneath the plastic tray. Turns out that was a waste of time, as the silver finish has been worn/corroded away leaving the brass underneath poking through. Lucky for me, I like this mottled metal patina. Once I got the nasty thing cleaned up, I tried to decorate it.

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First effort.
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Second effort. This one is not sustainable. There is no natural light in the bathroom, so any living plant that does not thrive in a moist cave, is going to die.

Forgot to mention: After I removed the towel bar, there were some holes in the tile (about 0.5cm x 2cm) that I filled in with black silicone caulk. Black does not reflect light, so the caulked areas are not very noticeable. If they really bug me in the future, I have a plan for them.

Both of the “pretty-it-up” efforts above left me uninspired as they felt like I was just putting lipstick on a pig. Sooooo- I pulled the whole she-bang out of the wall-

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Sometimes it has to get worse before it gets better.

And then I removed the offending cup/toothbrush tray [which should never have been manufactured in the first place] and  put the metal recessed thing back in the wall. To me, it looked like a tiny grotto. So I found a tiny Buddha to enshrine there.

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This is a version of the “Joyful Buddha” which is my favorite one.

It may seem disrespectful to place a sculpture of a holy person in a bathroom to some persons. I think that the Joyful Buddha would find it amusing. And if he does not, he can let me know in meditation that I need to reform.

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A close-up of his Holiness.
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Long view of the sink and surroundings.

I may not leave his Holiness there indefinitely. If I find a fake cactus or Ganesh sculpture that I think fits the space better, I will retire him to a more venerated location.

Entry Hall

I decided the entry hall was boring and needed something. Which is not my usual reaction to a blank wall, so I sat with the feeling for some months to see if it would pass.

I thought about adding a chair (to put on boots) but there is a chair two steps away in the living room.

I settled on two hooks which can hold coats or a purse or a shopping tote and hat.

I like that these objects are both decorative and functional.

Bathroom Tile Project

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Sloppy painting, sloppy caulking and dirt have been accumulating for some time.

From the moment that I moved into this apartment last February the grime and careless workmanship of the tile repair bothered me. I knew that tackling the tile and grout was going to be an intensive task. I undertook some easier ones elsewhere in the apartment first, so that I could have some success under my belt before I took this on.

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It turns out some of those tiles were only being held up with paint and edge caulk.

And it got worse before it got better. I scraped out the filthy grout before gluing the cleaned tiles back in place.

After the glue set, I laid down fresh grout.

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So much prettier!

And the corner that set me off–

 

Why There Is No Blog Post This Week

Well, okay, there is this….but there is no real content.

That is because I have been busily working behind the scenes to create content. Like the cleaning/repair/re-grouting of the bathroom tiles. I have devoted a couple days to this project and will likely need one more before it is done. And I so wanted to wait until I had Pinterest worthy before and after photos. They are soooo satisfying.

One of the other big things I did this week was put in an offer of a hot mess of a house. It hasn’t been condemned, per se. But the city basically told the owner to either fix these structurally unsound things or sell off. And they decided to sell off.

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Southern exposure–one and a half stories of solar gain!

Here in one photo, you can see all that attracted me to the property–the collapsing deck and stair, the defunct hot tub, the cheap, disintegrating siding, the native species weeds in the back yard.

What really attracted me was the location in a walkable city, in a market that has been increasing in value in recent years, the above mentioned one and a half stories of southern exposure, a highly rated school district and the price, which was set to ensure the interest of rehab flippers.

And one of those flippers may get the property. So for now, I wait, and rest up….because if my offer on the property is accepted, I will be working hard to gut/rehab it for several months.

Just think how many blog posts I can get out of this wreck of a house!

A Serene Home

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My closet today.

A few years back, when I was getting ready to sell my home of 15 years, my mother lamented– “But you have created such an oasis of calm and peace here. How can you even think of leaving it?”

I replied, “I have that calm and peace within. I carry it with me. I can recreate it anywhere.

That said, the past year has not been calm or peaceful. But I still carry those feelings within me. And it is time to recreate it here.

As I have written before, I love the location of this apartment in a walkable city. I love being on the second floor up in the tree canopy. We are three blocks from the Metro train, which my son takes to school.

What I do not love is that the building manager smokes cigarettes in his workshop in the basement and the hallways smell like an ashtray. Also, the lady in the apartment below me is hard of hearing and in the evening I can hear her TV blaring. Ever the minimalist, I have solved two problems with one appliance: the air purifier. It cleans the air and the white noise of the fan cancels out the TV noise.

So how do we create “serene?” First we declutter. Then we clean. Then we add some nature elements.

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Here is the floor of the northeast corner of my bedroom. See the paint and scuff marks?

As a sometime renter, I have noted that most folks do not have the same standards for cleanliness that I do. To be fair, none of my roommates or husbands did either. So, I have always understood that cleaning to my standards was a beauty requirement that I needed, but others have not. No judgement. I’m just taking care of my own needs here.

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Same corner after a couple scrubbings and a wood restore product.

I’m not going to lie to you, this was a significant time investment. But I had recently attended an art show with a friend and we both loved a particular piece that had been created with a 24″ x 18″ piece of paper and a sewing needle. The needle had been used to poke holes in the handmade paper in a complex and beautiful pattern. I estimate that it took hundreds of hours of human labor to create.

And I asked myself, “What beautiful thing do I want to create this week?” And the answer was, “A serene home.”

You may see more serene home post in the coming weeks as I manifest that calm and peace from my heart to the apartment.

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Close up of His Royal Highness. He is made of jade and sits atop my dresser for now. I am told that he is a Feng Shui prosperity toad. I think that he is adorable, and if he increases my prosperity or romantic prospects…well then, Yeah!

Plant Curtain Fail

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Dining area and window

I’m not a big fan of metal blinds. They are not pretty, they are hard to clean and they are…well…hard, not soft like curtains.

I like the view from this window, up in the canopy of the tree and there is not a strong need for privacy. The only folks who can look into this window from outside are the next door neighbors, if they are standing on their stair landing during the months that the leaves are gone.

So, I thought I would experiment with a plant curtain-using plants to obscure the outside view to the inside.

I took down the venetian blinds. I bought some new pots and plants- Sansevieria Trifasciata and Sansevieria. I moved some chairs out of the way and pushed the table up to the window.

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Meh.

I didn’t like it. So I moved everything back. I switched up the plant on the table and gifted two plants to my son who lives nearby (one of the new Sansevieria Trifasciata and an elephant ear plant that was just struggling.)

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A morning’s work for naught.

The left over plants got moved to the elephant ears former site.

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I like this little vignette.

Sometimes you just can’t see it until you see it.

Kitchen Tile Make-Over

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Here you can see the original “decorative bottle” tile from the 1960’s and my planned replacement stickers.

There were a lot of things about this kitchen that I was not really wild about when we moved in. And maybe if I owned the place I would have been tempted to remove a wall and replace the cabinets. But as a renter, I am seeking the most frugal and sustainable ways to make it workable and perhaps a bit more attractive.

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What is not to love? The color. The stylized representation. The faintly disturbing idea that these bottles are from the Mod Squad’s evidence room.

Some of you may love these retro mid-century ceramic tiles. However, you do not live here. And I do not like them. So out they go.

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It took longer to write this blog post than to put these stickers on the wall.
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Voila! And if whoever comes after me does not like them, they just peel off.

If any of my readers wish to try a similar product, just do an internet search for “temporary tile stickers.” If you want this specific product, go to StickPretty. These tiles come in many color and pattern variations. I do not get any reimbursement if you buy them.

Squirrel Guests

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My hand is there just to give you a sense of scale.

As I mentioned before, when the weather gets very cold, the Saint Louis Friends (Quaker) meeting house is a warming shelter for homeless folks. And it seems that we are a warming shelter for squirrels as well.
They have chewed through a couple of the window sills, gotten into the walls, and in a couple rooms chewed through drywall to get to the stored food, or just a warmer place to spend the winter. This is not the first year this has occurred. So I checked with our pest management company who monthly sprays for roaches, mice, spiders. They do not treat for squirrels, nor guarantee that squirrels will not invade, whatever treatments they do. [Oh for the days that I lived in the country and the coyotes would eat cats, lambs, baby pigs…oh…wait…and human toddlers…I rescind my longing for “the good old days.”]
Anyhoo…I have been working on a compassionate squirrel management plan that does not involve electric wire around the perimeter of the building. The pest management technician [who does not wish to be named] says that moth balls are an effective treatment because the squirrels do not like the scent. Hmmm. Duh. Nobody likes the scent of mothballs. Also, said pest management technician told me not to leave the moth balls around indefinitely due to them being carcinogenic. So.
I devised this ingenious contraption of a plastic netting to hold the moth balls, on a long string to lower it into the wall where the squirrels have set up residence.

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Ingredients.
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Hole in sill–fixed!!!
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The next day. Apparently squirrels do not read English. Plan B???

Kitchen Cabinets

The kitchen cabinets before we moved in.

One of the biggest problems in the kitchen is the lack of natural light. And these dark, dirty cabinets soaked up what little light there was.

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Amazing what 3-4 coats of paint and some new hardware can do.

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And here is what it looked like in transition.