Tag Archives: home improvement

a kitchen corner

CAM00611Welcome to my kitchen corner.CAM00616Shelves and cabinet = Ikea.

CAM00607CAM00610Bob Marley Mug.CAM00619

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Grout Haze

GROUT HAZEI’ve been working hard to clean up my remodel so I can show you, but one problem I was repeatedly plagued with was grout haze.  As we discussed, I put in porcelain plank tile.  The grout left a residue which dimmed the shine and color of the tile.  I cleaned it once on my hands and knees with Mrs. Meyers and a scrubby sponge = still hazy. ON YOUR KNEES BIATCH I went back over the floors with Mrs. Meyers and Swiffer a second time = better, but still hazy.  Finally, I broke out the distilled white vinegar.  Is there anything distilled white vinegar can’t do?HEINZ DISTILLED WHITE VINEGAR A bucket of hot water + vinegar + hands & knees = finally clean floor.  Sometimes, I make things too complicated.  White vinegar does what other cleaners can’t.  Relax. The smell dissipates quickly.  Vinegar is natural, non-toxic, widely-available, and cheap.  Don’t bother with expensive cleaners aimed at clearing grout haze, white vinegar and a little commitment is all you need hunny.GROUT HAZE BW

Demeter Clarc Tidy Tip: Smooth-Sided Toilets

AMERICAN STANDARD SMOOTH SIDED TOILETSome of the filthiest and most difficult areas to clean are the bends, folds, and bolts of the toilet.  I confess, I hate cleaning this area so much.  It feels like no matter how many times I go over it, I uncover more dust, dirt, hair, and grime.  Why is it a harbor for mystery pubes?  So gross.  Truly, it is one of my most despised cleaning tasks. GROSS DIRTY TOILETTOP FLUSH SMOOTH SIDED TOILETWhen I remodeled recently, I opted for a smooth-sided toilet.  The shape eliminates all those little areas where disgusting funk collects.  With this style commode, a good once or twice over and the gunk is gone.  SQUARE SMOOTH SIDED TOILETSmooth-sided toilets are a skosh more expensive than the cheapest entry-level traditional style thrones, but how many toilets are you going to buy in your life?  When considering the number of times you will perch here as well as the frequent cleanings, it makes sense to spring for the modern smooth-sided one piece.  AMERICAN STANDARD SMOOTH SIDED TOILET

Cunty Contractors

CONTRACTORS BEWARE

Many fervent and observant daily devoted readers (I love you forever) know I am amidst a remodel.  DC ain’t This Old House so I didn’t want to bore you with an excessive discussion of decorating details.  We are almost at the end of the project.  Now my contractors are all fussy because they are behind and I won’t pay them until the job is 100% complete to my satisfaction per the contract (I wrote) we all signed.

CONTRACTOR AGREEMENT

Whether you fancy porcelain plank or not is irrelevant to what I am about to share.  When dealing with “professionals” who promise the world for the lowest bid up-front and then fail to deliver, here is a little of what I’ve learned and hope can benefit you.

Write a contract. 

Structure the work in phases. 

Pay when the work is complete.

Be specific about what you want, but remain flexible.

Supervise to make sure the work is done to your specifications.

Don’t let them up-charge you on materials; source supplies yourself.

No matter how much the crew complain, bitch, or beg, don’t deviate from the contract.  Hold your employees accountable. 

Pay on time. 

Don’t unnecessarily impede progress. 

Assume delay.

Don’t unfairly withhold final approval. 

Praise and thank generously.  PLUMBESS

Porcelain Plank

PORCELAIN PLANK ROOMThis flooring isn’t wood.  It isn’t vinyl, laminate, or pergo either.  This floor is porcelain tile designed to look like wood.  Strange and tricky, right?PORCELAIN PLANK TILE GOLDENTypically, I’m not a huge fan of decor mimicry.  If it looks like wood, I expect it to actually be made of wood.  These porcelain planks may be the exception.  This tile is so gorgeous, rich, and textured that it doesn’t even read like an imposter.   PORCELAIN BATHROOMI am currently in the midst of a remodel and I really wanted to use the same flooring in the entire space.  Even though it looks warm and luscious, most wood flooring is expensive, unsustainable, and not adequately water resistant for kitchens and bathrooms.  The petro-derived vinyl, even the new “luxury vinyl” looked cheap and screamed FAKE WOOD.  WOOD PLANK PORCELAINWhen I discovered this porcelain wood plank on ultra discount, it felt like flooring destiny.  Why not use this little improvement project to experiment with some interesting new materials?  My guys install the porcelain plank this week.  I’ll keep you posted on how it turns out and if we encounter any (inevitable) install issues.   PORCELAIN TILE BATHROOM

organiZING

After some healthy snowfall, I stayed in today and spent several hours organizing.  As much as staring at a heap of clutter induces anxiety, cleaning up the mess feels equally, if not more, stress relieving.Today I focused on the office.  To the extent I can, I try and go paperless, for the trees and to reduce the management of physical paperwork.  However, one cannot transact all biz electronically.  Set up a home filing system so you have a place to put the records that must be kept.  Deal with paper as it comes in by sorting it into categories for recycling, shredding, requiring action, and filing.  Invest in a filing cabinet.  Document storage furniture can be pricey new, but there are always an abundance of options on craigslist and 2nd hand stores that are more economical.  If you do want to spring for a new one, these from CB2 are pretty enjoyable.

 

salvage

I’ve been meeting with professionals to consult on a building project.  Even though I’m at the very beginning of the process, talking to these narrow-minded folks is frustrating.  When I tell them the intended budget – which I assure you is not wildly unrealistic, they look at me like I’m morphing into a giant blueberry.  One of the main goals of the project is to use reclaimed, recycled, and locally sourced materials.  We don’t want to kill anything to build the structure.  Waste is plentiful in this world, so why not literally build something constructive out it?  I’d like to gently remind the condescending experts that sustainably can function, and it can do so economically.  Every home in this collection of photos is made from majority reclaimed, recycled, or repurposed materials. So it can be done.  The challenge is finding the genius with the skills to effectively execute the vision and the creativity to inexpensively source materials. Not all of these dwellings may appeal to your personal taste, but you have to tip your hat to the ingenuity and resourcefulness that went in to constructing them.

easy fixes for big impact

The media latched onto Madonna’s alleged tour contract rider request for a new toilet seat at each venue as if it were the most extravagant thing in the world.  In truth, you can pick up a new toilet seat for next to nothing.  If yours is nasty, replace it.  Changing a toilet seat is simple and cheap, and so there really is no excuse for having a worn, discolored or decaying throne.  The house I just moved into has wooden seats.  Best believe those came off right away.  I personally prefer a white seat, but a clean seat in any color or pattern will do.How do you really get yourself or your shower clean without a detachable shower head?  Masturbatory importance aside, a detachable shower head is a must.  Much like a new toilet seat, a handheld shower is easy to install and is completely DIY.  This fix is a cheap investment in exchange for a major upgrade in luxury.

The final fix is a little more involved, but also well worth it under certain circumstances.  First, why does every kitchen sink leak?  Today the all volunteer in-house maintenance crew came and switched out the kitchen faucet from a shitty, standard, non-hand sprayer variety to a super modern style.  Like the shower, I find a hand sprayer essential to effectively cleaning the kitchen sink.  When he put the house on the market, the owner did a crappy glamor install on a new faucet instead of a proper job and it gushed water from beneath.  Thankfully, my super skillful and handsome handyman fixed it all up and now not only does it not leak, but I have a hand sprayer pull out that I really need to be happy.

moving moments part one

Ya’ll knew it was coming, here are a few of my best packing and moving tips.  First things first, before you bring in a single box, clean your new place from top to bottom or pay someone else to clean it.  Please don’t move into another’s filth.  Sanitize the space and clear the energy.  Burn a sage bundle bitch.5)      Moving yourself?  Get a bigger truck than you think you will need.  Extra space is a luxury.  Pick too small a truck and find yourself stressfully sacrifice-sorting as you load cargo to the gills.  If renting a truck, spring for the insurance. 4)      Speaking of sorting, before you ever get to the truck, mercilessly cut from your collection.  Give your friends first dibs, and send the rest to charity.  At least the most useless 25% of your shit needs to go.  After giving friends a bunch of free stuff you won’t feel so bad asking them to help you help carry the sofa.  3)      Most major retailers give away boxes for free.  That’s no big secret.  So don’t skimp on purchasing accessories and packing supplies.  Paper, wrap, specialty boxes; get what you need to properly prepare your belongings to survive the journey.  The cost of proper packing supplies pales in comparison to the heartache of opening a box upon arrival and finding a fractured heirloom.  Get a variety of box sizes, and don’t pack them so heavy you can’t carry them up and down stairs.  Protect yourself with proper planning. 2)      Take care of valuables yourself.  Handle special or sentimental items personally or risk possible destruction.  No one will handle your most precious baubles as tenderly. 1)      Get plenty of sleep and take time to eat.  Once you arrive to your new home unpack as quickly and completely as possible.  Don’t stop working on your new home until everything has a special place.  If you just shove things in drawers and closets without care the place will remain an unorganized mess.  Arrange everything carefully from the start and maintain a tidy home with ease.