Thursday, October 7, 2010

Proof That I Am Not A Licensed Contractor

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You know how sometimes you get an idea for a project that seems nice and easy but yet oh so needed? And you think that it will be a fairly quick one, taking just an afternoon or so?

Yeah... me, too. That's why you still haven't seen any pictures of the wee ones' new homework room. It was on my goal list for this past summer - something I figured would be pretty easy to do. I'd take out all the old toys they never play with and find new homes for them. The rest could go into the basement to be played with there. Add a couple of desks, some photographs of the wee ones, organization units, and a painted on whiteboard. Voila - gorgeous homeowrk room for the wee ones where they can focus on working without any distractions.

Ahhhh. The serenity of it puts me at peace just thinking of it.

Sorting through the toys? Well, that got done easily. All the toys that the wee ones don't regularly use went into a couple boxes. Then the wee ones saw the box and took out most of the toys. I put them back in. They took them out. We negotiated and the majority finally stayed in the box. Sooo the box moved to the dining room until I found a new home for the toys. They've since moved into the basement. #Fail

I also went through the bookshelf and removed the baby books and some of the books I own that I don't plan to read again. That created much more space in the bookshelves to organize the wee ones' books. Step one? Mostly done.

After much searching, I finally found desks and chairs for the wee ones, which I assembled myself (only having to take the second desk apart twice because I put pieces together upsidedown because I "didn't need to read the directions the second time around"). Step two? Check!

I also mounted the photos of the wee ones. Mister Man's mounted over his desk and Little Miss's over hers. I found filing organizers that are also now attached to the walls so paperwork doesn't pile up on the desks. Organizers to keep their writing utensils under control - done. Step three?* Yep!

*Note: I've since figured out that this wasn't really step three. It goes back to this whole project not being quite as expected. Oops.

The whiteboard was next. I had a grand vision of using most of one wall as a painted on whiteboard (because, seriously - have you ever priced out a large whiteboard? Ouch!). To keep the markers from going everywhere and getting on the non-whiteboard portion of the wall, I saw a border made from quarter rounds.

I found the paint and bought the necessary supplies. I looked at the quarter rounds and discovered that they have prefinished ones, meaning I wouldn't need to paint them, too. Bonus points: dry erase markers would wipe off the material they were made from. Of course, I still had to figure out the exact size of the area I wanted to paint before I could have the nice people at the store cut them for me.

I figured out the size of the area, and my dad offered to help me make the border. He bought the quarter rounds (it turns out not the one-half inch ones I was looking at but instead the three-quarter inch ones - which plays into this shortly) and decided to cut them himself since he has that kind of saw. He came by a few days later to put up the border.

The quarter rounds have one side that is flat (a right angle from the side against the wall) and one side that is rounded. My idea was to have the rounded part on the outside and the flat part on the inside of the border, figuring it would be easier to wipe clean from the inevitable marker wipes. My dad cut the quarter rounds so that the rounded side would be on the inside of the border. Not a big deal.

He also brought a nail gun to use to attach the quarter rounds to the wall. It turns out that his nail gun only holds one inch nails. Remember the quarter round is now three quarters of an inch instead of a half inch? Let's just say that one quarter inch of a nail into the wall isn't sufficient to hold the border well. We nailed. And nailed some more. We used a giant regular nail in the middle of the quarter round to hold it in place. Using a level, we made sure the whole thing was square (go us!). And we nailed some more. That half-inch quarter round is looking better and better right about now. We finally got it attached using many, many screws and nails. It now needs to be painted to make it look "normal" again. Step four? Phew, done.

I had been planning to paint the whiteboard the same day the border went up, but the border took about two hours longer than I'd anticipated, so I wouldn't be able to get all my coats on the wall before taking Mister Man to Tae Kwon Do. No big deal, I simply did it the next day.

Shockingly, the whiteboard painting went pretty well. I had a tarp down to protect the carpet, but I hardly needed it. Except for the spot where I stepped in some with the heel of my foot that went unnoticed until the next morning by which point it was impossible to remove. The pedicure I received today finally removed the majority of the paint. I even had enough leftover paint to paint a whiteboard on the side of my fridge cabinet (you know that icky non-wood sticker paper they put on the sides of cabinets that turns pink over the years if it's exposed to the sun? Yeah... mine's now a whiteboard).

I sanded the side of the fridge cabinet and painted. Since it was a darker color, it required more coats, so it was a thicker application than the whiteboard in the homework room, but it wasn't a big deal. I still had paint leftover, so I left it in the drip pan thingie but put it outside on the deck. Smart me knew that leaving it in the house or garage would mean someone would somehow get into it and/or spill it.

The next morning, I removed the tape from around the whiteboard paintings. In the homework room, it all came off nicely, except for a tiny piece on the top that I pushed under the quarter round since I couldn't pull it off (shhh, don't tell1). In the kitchen, there were some places where the paint stuck better to the painter's tape on the edges than it did to the sticker paper on the cabinet. Boo. It left a little bit of a ragged edge if you looked carefully at it, and I didn't like that. I decided to just use White Out or something similar to fill in the edges.

When I went onto the deck to throw away the remaining paint, I discovered it was still liquid. Hmmmm.... So I found a watercolor paintbrush of Little Miss's and very carefully washed it and proceeded to use that to fill in the missing edges on the kitchen cabinet. It worked beautifully. Two coats later of that, and I was done with the whiteboards. Step five? Finally complete.

I put the remaining paint on the deck again, hoping that it would dry out that day since it was warmer. I then promptly forgot about it. The next afternoon, I was opening the curtains to let the sunlight in and saw the drip pan. Upsidedown. On the deck. I ran outside and yes, the paint had not dried before it flipped over. It did manage to dry while on the deck. I could get some chunks up and off but not all of them. Fortunately, my bench scraper (I love my kitchen tools) managed to get off the majority of the paint. Majority, not all. Apparently we're staining our deck again in the spring, although I'm hoping lots of rain will help the supposedly water soluble paint dissolve.

It wasn't until later that I thought to look down below the deck. I sort of wish I hadn't. Does anyone know a good way to get dry erase paint off concrete? My poor patio.

Of course, that doesn't mean the homework room is quite complete. Now that it's mostly together, it really needs a coat of paint to make it look finished. I've gone to the store three times to pick up different paint samples to try out. None of them is quite the right shade of green. In fact, the one I have hanging in there now I'm going to have to take down because it turns a particularly hideous shade of brown in the late afternoon lighting.

And then there's a friend who suggested I do complementary colors painted around the picture frames that are hanging there - and I absolutely love that idea.

And since there's no overhead lighting in the room, I need to get some lighting installed before winter comes and the wee ones are trying to do their homework in the dark.

Plus, the baseboards have gotten sort of beaten up the past couple years. When I paint the quarter round border, I really should touch up those, too.

Yep, there was my nice one day project. It's been a month and a half, and right now I'm stuck until I can finally find that right shade of paint. I'm still trying to figure out what jinxed me with this one - I'm guessing it's where I mentioned the word "easy" in conjunction with it.

All that said, I'm sure I haven't learned my lesson yet. After all, I have this little weather worn picnic bench outside. It would be so easy and quick just to sand it down and refinish it. Right?


septembermom October 7, 2010 at 6:01 PM  

Michelle, I'm impressed! You're one handy girl, especially next to me. Love the idea of a homework room. I know your kids will love it. Good luck with the rest of this "one day" project :)

anymommy October 8, 2010 at 12:28 AM  

Awesome. I love the feeling of a project done. But, no pictures of the room??

Pat October 10, 2010 at 8:23 PM  

Somehow, home improvement projects always seem to take longer than you think they will! I'm impressed at all the work you've done! It sounds like the rooom will be a delightful place for your kids to do their homework.

Maybe a power washer will get the paint off your concrete.

Michelle October 11, 2010 at 9:18 PM  

Kelly - Handy? Ha! I am enjoying the homework room, though. My challenge now is to choose the paint and get it up!

Stacey - Ummm yeah. No pictures of the room because that whole done project thing? It's still not done :)

Pat - They do, don't they?! I lvoe how you put "delightful" and "homework" in the same sentence there.

Melisa with one S October 17, 2010 at 8:46 PM  

I got the shakes reading this.

Michelle October 24, 2010 at 10:04 PM  

Melisa - Why does this not surprise me? On the plus side, I chose a paint color for the room yesterday!

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