Monday, March 14, 2011

When it rains, it pours

When we bought our house, we bought it with the knowledge that the vendors had done some extensive waterproofing to the East wall of the house.  Many of the houses we looked at in the area had wet basements, so we knew this could be an issue, but took comfort in knowing that the problem had already been dealt with at our house.  We knew the exterior had been done by the vendor and a neighbour.  Then, within the year before we bought the house, they had also hired a waterproofing company to do the interior of the same wall - adding a membrane to the inside wall and directing any water down to a trough below the floor.  I was a bit unclear as to why they would have to do the interior after having done the exterior already, but an email from the vendor stated:

"We had a downspout draining at the side of the house by the door. We think that's why the water came in. That downspout has since been moved. We only got the interior done because we were reading  that basements that had been lowered (the basement has been dug out previously) could get moisture under the footings and we wanted to prevent any problems.  There has been no water or moisture ever since."

There is only one section of that interior wall that wasn't done - the portion that is in the TV room.  I presumed this was because they had not had any trouble with water in that room.

Well, on Sunday, in the midst of our little bathroom makeover, we noticed that the carpet in the TV room was a bit damp in one spot.  We initially thought it might have been some water spillage from the wallpaper trough.  We also feared that we had damaged a bathroom pipe while replacing the toilet, as the damp spot in the TV room is just on the other side of the wall from the toilet.

But today, when we returned home from work to find the basement REALLY wet, we realized it is a leak.  Not fun!  We've had some mild weather, lots of snow melting, and also some rain, so this is obviously runoff from outside.  The carpet and under-padding are soaked through, so we've had to pull them back.  We've set up fans, heaters, we've sprinkled baking soda everywhere to soak up some of the dampness.... and we've been going nuts with the ShamWows trying to get the water out of the carpet.

We've put a call in to the company who did the waterproofing - the portion they did throughout the rest of the basement is under warranty.  Of course, I doubt that will help with this new leak, but we'll at least start with them since they have some knowledge of what's been done to the house.  They may also be able to shed some light on why this one section is the only room not done on the interior?  But first, we have to wait for them to return our calls - voicemail states that they are on March Break!  And there is rain in the forecast this week.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Mini bathroom reno

After a complete weekend of work, we have a newly improved 2-piece washroom in our basement.  And it all started with a Christmas tree. 

When we moved into our house, one of the things that I really hated was the toilet seat in the basement bathroom.  The whole bathroom really just feels like a cubby hole with a toilet and sink in it.  But the seat itself stood out to me as looking like it belonged in a public washroom somewhere.  Notice how how it's not a complete ring, but has that gap at the middle 

So I shopped around for toilet seats, but found found that thanks to a City of Toronto Water Rebate Program, you could buy a low-flow, dual-flush toilet for only marginally more than a toilet seat.  Well that got me thinking about crappy the whole toilet really is (no pun intended!).  It didn't flush fantastically. 

So, when we bought our Christmas Tree from Home Depot in December, they gave us a coupon to save $30 off any January purchase of $100 or more.  Hello new toilet!  We picked up a Glacier Bay dual-flush that was getting good reviews.  One nice thing about it, is the flusher is on the side rather than on top of the tank - so we can still put a box of Kleenex on the tank as is customary in our house.

It took us a few months of having the box in our house before we finally decided to install it this weekend.  But before we did, I pointed out to Matt that it would be nice to decorate the washrooom and make it a bit classier and more welcoming (if there is such a thing as a welcoming washroom?), while the toilet was out and space was less of an issue.

I've always been told that little powder rooms are the one room in a house where you can get away with something really bold.  You can always close the door on it, and it's a small space, so not too overpowering.  So I knew I wanted a bold, fun wallpaper.  After some deliberation, I chose this:

It was either going to be that, or a similar damask that was cream & white instead of the bold orange & orange... Matt and his Dad both voted for the orange, and then AFTER the fact, opted to tell me they had some doubts about the colour... But we all liked the end result, and it is more upbeat for this guest bathroom, which is beside the TV room, and is the more "fun" part of the house.  Why be so serious with cream and white, right?  Now, you can also see in the photo of the toilet above, that there is a pipe that runs up the corner of the room.  I had Home Depot scan the wallpaper, and they created a colour-matched paint so that we could paint the pipe!
I felt that if we only updated the walls and left the existing floor, the full improved effect would not be achieved.  Existing floor:

I had seen this very cool vinyl plank flooring at Home Depot, that is very thin (a requirement since we have limited height in our basement), and thought it would be a much cooler option:

 It was SO easy to install.  It is peel-and-stick, and can be cut with an exacto knife!  There is a boxed-in trough or pipe of some sort that runs along the far wall of the bathroom, where the floor meets the wall.  I knew it had to be painted too, so we painted that part to match the floor (in an effort to give the illusion of more floor space... the room really is tiny).  Did I mention we only needed one box of the vinyl planks to do the whole room?  I doubt many people can say that!

Installing the new toilet was a learning experience, and went pretty smoothly!  Luckily Matt's Dad supervised, as he's done this before.  He's a great teacher though, and has a hands-off approach, really letting us learn by doing.

I was tempted to change the sink, but the one in there really is perfectly fine and classic, and changing it was completely unnecessary.  The whole point of the project was to get a new toilet seat, so I didn't feel the need to increase the budget any further.

And here is the finished product!

The toilet paper will now be located on the left, and the white metal roll is being replaced with something a little classier.

I would have loved to replace the mirror - but it's staying for now.  It is a built-in medicine cabinet and it holds a TON.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Here, have a seat

Well now that we have a new table, we also needed some chairs to sit on at that table!

I had shopped around Toronto, and seen many I liked.  But I kept going back to these chairs, which are a nod to the Eames Eiffel Chairs.  Whereas the Eames chair exists only in molded plastic (I believe) this twist on the chair has a padded/upholstered version.  I really liked the dark grey wool version, with wood legs. 

We caught these on sale at Morba, but were leary about buying these without having received our table yet.  We knew we would want a version of the chair no matter what, but couldn't yet commit to the colour.  So we placed the order so that we could get the sale price, but with an arrangement that we would not finalize the order details until after our table arrived.  The store agreed that once we got the table, we could pick up a floor model for a 24-hour loan, and if we liked the colour, we could go ahead and finalize the order, or, change it to a different colour. 

Well we really loved the chair when we brought it home the day we got the table!  The dark grey upholstory looked amazing beside the slate-coloured steel legs of the table.  And the room, which is a bit echoy, will benefit from the paddedness of the chair.

Of course, when we returned to the store to finalize the order, we learned that they are having major issues with their supplier, and that there is now a shortage of the chair!  While they previously thought it would only be a few days to get the order in, they were now hearing it could be months!  This seems to be the theme, since the table also took weeks longer than expected.

Luckily, the fine people at Morba pushed on for our cause, and after only a 2-week delay, we now officially have 4 of these great chairs!  Things are coming together!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

My clothes finally have a place to call home too

Before I start - let me preamble this by saying this post is NOT about my wardrobe, which I do realize is in dire need of purging.  I am fully aware that I keep every white blouse and red t-shirt that I've ever bought, because I tend to buy more generic clothes than trendy clothes.  And why part with items that are still in good shape and not necessarily out of style? 

Over the past 6 months, I have been endlessly pricing and researching custom closet options.  The closet in our master bedroom was in a sad state when we moved in. 
The biggest issues:
  • It's a long closet (which is a plus), with two mirrored sliding doors, which I sort of hate.  It means you can only ever see one half of the closet at a time.  The doors are also heavy and come off the track easily, because  the top track and bottom track are not aligned properly.  My preference would have been for swinging doors - about 4 - so that you can open up all or none, to see however much of the closet you want at a time.
No matter where you slide them, the doors are always in the way.
  • It's not very deep.  One half of the closet has hanging rods which are only 11" out from the wall, and allow hangers to fit behind the closet doors.  But the other half of the closet had a rod 14" out from the wall, which causes the hangers to hang past the track of the door... causing a real mess every time I try to push the doors to that half.
No hanger clearance
  • Pure lack of shelving space.  I have a LOT of t-shirts, jeans, knit tops etc., that I prefer folding than hanging.  But this closet had an extreme lack of shelving space.  And my real pet peeve is that the little shelving that there is, is right in the middle of the closet, and no matter which side of the closet you move the doors to, the shelves are always at least partially covered.

I had meetings with California Closets, Komandor Closets, Closets by Design, etc. etc. etc.  We investigated swinging doors, bi-fold doors, and all kinds of great interiors.  I also investigated do-it-yourself closets at Solutions.  The biggest issue with all of these (apart from costs, which are in the thousands of dollars), is most of them couldn't give me hanging rods 11" out, like the existing ones.  I think Komandar had a solution for that, but only if we tore out the wall above the closet and really reconfigured the whole wall (and our bank account).

So today, while shopping at Home Depot, we checked out their closet solutions too.  We wanted a temporary fix, because things are starting to fall apart.  AND, as you can see from the photos above, I have clothes all over the room.  It really is driving me nuts.

We found this Martha Stewart closet, that sort of resembles what I wanted to achieve in the long run:
Ideally, what I've been looking for, is 3 sections:  A left shelving section, a right double-hang section, and in the middle, a full-hang section, for dresses.  These could be tucked in that middle section that is always covered by one door or another, since I look at long dresses left often.  Plus, the hangers could be pushed to whatever side is open.

When we looked at this Martha Stewart option, we wondered if we could move the two long dividers to the left for the full shelving section, and then move the two short dividers to the right for the hanging rods.

The pre-drilled holes for the hanging rods are, as per usual, 14" out from the wall.  But Matt talked me into believing we could drill our own holes wherever we want.

So we brought this configuration (along with a few extra long shelves) home, and decided to be weekend warriors.  It took a LONG time for us to find studs.  We also had to run out just before Home Depot closed for the night, to buy a hacksaw (to cut the rail that this all hangs on).  We also had a LOT of holes to patch.  And I'm wishing we painted the closet before installing.  But once the end is in sight, it's hard to slow down!

And we did it.  Ta-da!

Pretty much exactly what I wanted, but for about $300, instead of $3,000.  Of course, I still have the doors I hate, but that suddenly seems like so much less of a problem.