Thursday, June 12, 2014

Bathroom Renovation: Days 4 and 5

Wow! We've made some serious progress this week! Days 4 and 5 of the bathroom renovation were packed with exciting new elements. on Day 4 the contractor installed the new fan, and started installing some of the new plumbing fixtures, as much as they can at this point. They also framed in the new wall to create an opening into our new shower.

We grouted the bathroom floor, and tried to do a little cleaning up. Here are some photos from Day 4!
A sneak peek at the opening to the shower and the base for the new shower knob!
It's the little things, people...
The new bathroom fan...
Where our new shower head will eventually hang...
The newly grouted floor...

Up close and personal with the newly grouted floor...
Day 5 brought possibly one of the most exciting moments so far. You see, during this renovation, we've been confined to a guest bedroom that is packed with excess furniture from both our bedroom and the other guest bedroom, while this project and all that goes with it has been spread out over three rooms. On Day 5, we got our wall back in the guest bedroom.

Before we could get the wall back though, we had to lose the entire wall...

A view from our bedroom, through the bathroom, and into the guest bedroom!
A view of the missing wall...
And finally...the wall..

The guest bedroom walls are done in this paneling, so naturally we replaced it with paneling. We'll be painting it as soon as we can (because let's be honest...that is not attractive), but in the meantime, we're thrilled to have a wall.

We ended Day 5 by cleaning up the guest bedroom and it felt pretty nice to get one room back in order! Cheers to the weekend and being a few steps closer to completion!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Bathroom Renovation: Day 3

This post is going to be a lot of pictures...mainly because at this point...I'm exhausted...

We arrived at home this afternoon to find our crew hard at work. They'd moved the plumbing, installed the new light switches and ran the new electrical for our fan, outlet, and new light fixture.
A look at the new pipes for the new shower!
Never have I been so excited about light switches...
After we arrived, they started working on bringing our floor up to the right level so that we could tile and at about 7:45 we got to work! The space was pretty small, so it didn't take us too long to get through it, but we did have to make some interesting cuts...which always spices things up!

Beginning of the first row...
Putting down a layer of thin set.
Tile cutter...excuse the towel, the saw was spraying water at
him since we opted to remove the blade cover.
*NOTE: We realize it's there for a safety measure, but it was holding us up...
and no fingers were damaged during this project. 
A full row done!
The nice thing about tiling a small space you progress pretty quickly once you get past the initial row and the initial cuts! We used 6" X 24" tiles that we purchased at Lowe's. This bathroom will have grey and white fixtures (floor, shower, vanity, etc.) I have yet to select a color for the walls, but it will not be gray or white. I'm hoping to paint it a light blue or green and bring a little color into the room with a shower curtain.

Installing the last few pieces...

All done...don't mind the insulation...
As usual this project was great wifey/hubby bonding time.
I must admit, Adam and I make a pretty good construction team. Maybe when we retire we'll flip houses for fun! In the meantime, we're keeping our day jobs and just incorporating the occasional evening and weekend renovation project.

Tomorrow we expect the fan to be installed, the wall between the shower and the guest bedroom to go up and the shower and pan to be waterproofed. We're getting closer! Our contractor tells me the sheet rock will go up over the weekend and the toilet and sink will be installed on Monday! So excited!

Once the contractor is finished, we have a little checklist for ourselves that includes: trim (crown, base, and shoe molding), painting the bathroom, tiling and grouting the shower (by far the largest and most time consuming item on the list) and lastly, moving in! I can't wait to get to the part where we're hanging the shower curtain and organizing the bathroom! We're getting there!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Bathroom Renovation: Day 2

Bathroom Renovation Day 2 showed some serious progress. I was thrilled when I got home yesterday to find that what was a terrible mess, was now a stripped-down, and cleaned up version of our gutted bathroom. 
Where the toilet once was...

Where the sink and the wall used to be...

A view from the closet doorway into what will become the shower!

They made a lot of progress on Friday! The door to the closet was removed and the closet was gutted. The wall between the bathroom and the closet was removed to reveal the soon-to-be shower. The tile floor in the bathroom was removed and filled in with backer board and the gray toilet was finally moved to the flat bed trailer in our driveway with the rest of the debris.
Top Left: Before, Bottom Left: Day 1, Right: Day 2

Top Left: Before, Bottom Left: Day 1, Right: Day 2
So, what's left? In the next week or so they'll be closing up the closet doorway and creating a solid wall in the guest bedroom. New sheet rock will be hung in the bathroom, Adam and I will tile the floor, the contractor will do the pan and waterproof the shower area, the new toilet, sink, and light fixture will be installed and then we'll be in charge of painting and trimming and tiling our new shower. There is still a lot to be done, but this progress makes me excited! We're getting there!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Bathroom Renovation: Day 1

The hubs and I bought a cute little "fixer-upper" five years ago. We absolutely love our house and were excited that we could move in right away, but still have plenty of things to work on over time. If you've been following this blog, then you know we've done some semi-major improvements like renovating our sun room and taking it from a dull and not so great room, to a cozy and livable space. About a year and a half ago, we knocked out part of two kitchen walls to open up our kitchen into the living room and dining room. 

We have been lucky that in all of our projects (minus the fence building and some hardscapes in the front yard) we've been able to do the work ourselves, with the help of our families. This next project is a slight exception. We currently have, or really had (before today) a three bedroom, 1 1/2 bathroom house. The half bathroom served as the "master" bathroom and was by far the ugliest room in the house and one that I vowed not to touch until we were ready to take it to the studs. Yes, it is that ugly...

Well, that day came today. We've hired Hometeam Renovations to help us with some of the work, because let's be honest, we cannot afford to be without this bathroom for months...and that is how long it would take us on our own...

We are converting our half bathroom and a closet into a tiny, but very functional full bathroom. I warn you before you look at these pictures...the "before" is pretty darn hideous...but the after (not pictured yet of course) is going to be much MUCH better!

Here is the progress from Day 1!

Don't ask about the blue toilet seat because I don't know...and like I said, I vowed not to touch this room until we took it to the here we are...

As of this afternoon the vanity and sink had been removed and the mirror had been removed, leaving a hole into the closet. Hopefully, when I get home tomorrow afternoon, the wall between the bathroom and the closet will be gone too!
The ruins. 
Though our house is in a serious state of disarray and we are sleeping in the guest bedroom along with all of the stuff we moved out of the other guest bedroom and our bedroom...I am really excited about this progress. I am looking forward to watching that ugly gray toilet ride away on the flatbed next week, surrounded by pepto-bismol pink tile.

Adam and I will be doing the tile work in the new bathroom ourselves, this includes tiling the floor and tiling the walls and floor of the new shower. I'm still working on the "look", but we're thinking white subway tiles in the shower and a gray tile that looks like wood for the floor. We've got two sinks to try out, and we're hoping the sink with the vanity works, but we're working with a pretty small space, so we'll have to see! I can tell you one thing for sure though...there will be no pink or baby blue in this bathroom!

All-in-all, I'm excited! Progress!

France: Day 7

Our last day of our trip to France was spent soaking up all that is Paris. We started the day off bright and early at the Eiffel Tower. It was really cold and windy at the Eiffel Tower so we made our tour there pretty short. A word to future travelers to Paris, make sure that you make reservations to ride an elevator to the top of the tower. The view is spectacular, but if you don't make a reservation, the line is painfully long.
A view from the bottom.
The view from a bridge as we walked toward
the Arc de Triomphe.
After leaving the Eiffel Tower, we made a quick coffee stop to warm up and eat breakfast. This was by far our coldest day in France, but aside from the cold, it was beautiful! We got a little lost took the long way to the Arc de Triomphe and got to peek in the windows of some neat shops along our walk. When we finally arrived, it did not disappoint. Like most of the monuments in Paris in the winter (and often during the rest of the year) part of the Arc was covered in scaffolding, but it was stunning nonetheless. It truly is a sight to behold, a huge carved archway that is sitting in the middle of an enormous traffic circle. There is a stunning view down the Champs-Élysées from the Arc. 

This is probably my favorite picture from our trip. I love the
detail against the bright blue sky!
Since it was our last day and neither of us had done much in the way of shopping, we decided to take a stroll down the Champs-Élysées to see what we could find. I love this block, not only for the beautiful shops, but the street itself is beautiful. It is a broad avenue with big, wide sidewalks lined with cafes and stores and lots of fun things to see and do. We did stop in a few shops...and I may or may not have purchased a bag that resembles a small suitcase. It was a fun surprise purchase and definitely an investment piece I'll hold onto for years to come!
My favorite stop on the Champs-Élysées.
One happy shopper!
And we couldn't pass up a trip to Ladurée. Ladurée is a famous Parisian tea room. We would have loved to have stayed for tea, but it was very crowded. Instead, we opted for an assorted box of macarons. We saved them until we got back to our hotel and then immediately wished we'd gotten a bigger box! These macarons are amazing! I want to try and recreate them! My favorites were the rose and the pistachio.

The famous Ladurée

From Top to Bottom the flavors are: Chocolate, Rose, Pistachio,
Vanilla, Lemon and Raspberry.
We ventured off the Champs-Élysées to find Adam's favorite European store, Hackett. He discovered Hackett in Ireland last year and loves their clothes. He added a few items (including a quilted vest that matches the quilted vest he got last year...just a different color) to his wardrobe. After our little shopping adventure we were pretty tired, so we dropped our bags off at the hotel and headed to find lunch. 

French food is amazing, but we are Italians at heart. We found a tiny little Italian restaurant tucked in a small street just a block from the Tuileries and decided that a break from French food was much needed. We split an insalata mista and then I had Spaghetti alle vongole and Adam had gnocchi bolognese. It was fantastic and truly probably one of the best meals we had on our I said, we're Italians at stomach heart.

After our fabulous meal, we headed off to the Louvre. We spent the rest of the afternoon leisurely strolling with the masses through the Louvre. We took our time visiting the Egyptian, Roman and Etruscan exhibits, the sculptures, and the Denon wing, where we saw hundreds of works from the Italian Renaissance. We had a great time wandering around and seeing all of the beautiful art. I majored in Art History at Wofford, and during our time at Wofford together, Adam and I took an art history class together. Well, we ended up in an art history class together. So we studied  Renaissance art together for a semester...we had a blast quizzing each other in the Louvre and finding paintings that we studied together. 

The Pyramid entrance to the Louvre.
After yet another great day in Paris, we headed back to the hotel to begin packing up. We had one last little hoorah that night. We walked to a great little restaurant near the Louvre and had one more fantastic French meal.
Tuna Tartare
Pomme frites
Foie Gras
We had an incredible trip to France. It was so nice to spend a week, just the two of us, exploring some new places. We drank wonderful wine and ate delicious food and all around enjoyed everything! We're so blessed and lucky that we've been able to travel so much! Cheers to another awesome trip on the books! We're looking forward to our next adventure!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

France: Day 6

On Day 6 we woke up early, grabbed a quick breakfast (Adam had a chocolate croissant and I had a bag of chips...random) and hopped on the train to head to Versailles! It was a pretty cold and dreary day with no rain, but a constant drizzle. Not to worry though, we brought our raincoats and umbrellas and enjoyed the day!

We started out with a self-guided tour of the interior of Versailles and then walked around the gardens.

The chapel.
With all of the gold all over Versailles, one can sort of imagine why the French were so upset with the French royalty during the time of the French Revolution. Versailles is beautiful, but it is certainly not subtle. Though every part of it is absolutely stunning, it is say the least!

A view of the gardens from inside.

The (crowded) Hall of Mirrors
Though this was not my first visit to Versailles, it was my first time ever seeing the Hall of Mirrors. The first time I visited, several years ago, the hall was being renovated and everything was covered up. I was very excited to see it this time, and it certainly did not disappoint!

After touring the interior, we decided to brave the cold drizzle and walk around the gardens. Unfortunately all of the fountains were being renovated so they were empty and in one case (The Latona Fountain), even the statues had been removed and shipped off to be restored!

Doing a little map reading.
The Fountain of Apollo
After our tour of Versailles, we hopped back on the train and headed back to Paris. We arrived just in time for a nice lunch. We ate wonderful vegetable soup and salad. It was nice to relax for a few minutes!

Pureed vegetable soup.
Adam's chicken caesar salad.
After lunch we tour San Chapelle. If you aren't familiar with San Chapelle, I must recommend that you read up and include it on your next visit to Paris. It sits in the middle of a building complex, now La Conciergerie and is completely tucked away. If you don't know to look for will miss it! San Chapelle is a tiny little Gothic style chapel . It was commissioned by Louis IX to house his relics. It is not the easiest place to photograph as it is very long and narrow, and seems to almost always be under renovation. But this chapel is absolutely stunning. The walls are essentially made of stained glass. And the colors and beautiful. San Chapelle is without a doubt my favorite place to visit in Paris.

There really are no words to describe it's beauty and our pictures don't do it justice...I guess that means you'll have to see it for yourself!

After touring San Chapelle, or really just standing in awe in San Chapelle, we took to the streets to do a little window shopping. Paris has excellent shopping and has a great range of prices, but I can't help but window shop on Rue Saint-Honoré. I say window shop because this is the high fashion shopping district of Paris. Though we did not purchase anything, we really enjoyed walking around and taking in the sights.

As usual, this was followed with a cappuccino and nutella crepe break.

After our snack break, we headed back to the hotel to rest up before dinner. We'd had a pretty long day so we decided to ask the concierge at our hotel to recommend a great French restaurant nearby. He recommended a great place only three blocks from our hotel!

Adam set out on this trip with a list of foods to try. He was determined to try escargot and beef tartare. Now I'm a big fan of beef carpaccio, which is also raw beef...just presented in a different way, but beef tartare was new to me as well. We split a bowl of French onion soup and then each had a raw beef entree...I had the beef carpaccio and Adam tackled beef tartare. 

French onion soup!

Beef carpaccio topped with parmesan and arugula. 

I was so proud of Adam for jumping right in there with the beef tartare and we were both surprised to find that we enjoyed it! The tartare was wonderfully seasoned with garlic, capers, mustard, onions and other spices. To be honest, it tasted a little like my meatloaf...just, obviously, raw.
Beef tartare
We had a wonderful meal and headed back to the hotel to prepare for our last day in Paris!