Terrific Broth

The life of two scientists, creating a small home, in big mountains

Terrific Broth

Tag: Small upgrade (Page 1 of 2)

Let There Be Light

IMG_1431

Howdy, friends and family! We had another winter storm and it is really cold! One good news is that even though the weather is significantly colder, we still paid 20% less for heating in January compared to last December. I think the attic insulation we recently added is doing its job!

The weather really slowed down our office renovation – we can not do wood work inside with windows and doors shut, and the garage is pretty cold to work in now. Unsatisfied with the lack of progress, we revisited our office to-do list to see if there is anything we could work on without making sawdust:

1. Frame the new opening between office and living room
2. Patch the hardwood floor
3. Drywall and trim around the new opening
4. Hang doors
5. Install new lighting and window treatment in the office
6. Build baseboard drawers for the bookcases
7. Trim out the bookcases
8. Build a new desk w/ storage cabinet
9. Enlarge office window (phase II)

It did not take long for us to identify the obvious choice: the lighting! We have been wanting to try the PS 2014 lamp from IKEA, and Slav’s room seemed to be a good spot for it.

IMG_1234

While browsing lighting in IKEA, we also found this sleek Barometer track light. Slav was leaning towards using this track light in the office since PS 2014 does not give out too much light.

IMG_1233

Office lighting

We assembled both lights. The PS 2014 comes in many pieces but was fairly easy to assemble.

IMG_1372

IMG_1380

Here is our old overhead lighting in the office, which is apparently called “nipple light” in US.

IMG_1230

Slav took it off and found the ceiling above it was not painted. So I cleaned the ceiling with some TSP solution and sanded it a bit, then gave it a coat of white paint.

IMG_1367

The existing ceiling color reads a bit more flat, probably due to the age of the paint. We plan to paint the whole main floor down the road so a bit difference in texture did not bother us.

IMG_1377

Slav is right, the PS 2014 hung way too low in the office. Not only Slav, but also I have to duck when passing it. So track lighting it is.

IMG_1381

The new light looks much better. The brass color is masculine, fits the color of the bookcases, and the smooth and modern lines balance the rather traditional shelves very well.

IMG_1401

A pretty big difference between the “nipple light” and the new Barometer.

IMG_1232

IMG_1406

Bedroom lighting

With the track lighting installed in the office, we decided to hang the PS 2014 in our bedroom. Slav got to take down the second “nipple light”.

IMG_1363

IMG_1357

The bedroom light left a more obvious mark on the ceiling. It took two coats of paint to cover the yellowish ceiling.

IMG_1368

I painted with a brush and intentionally left the brush mark to match the ceiling pattern.

IMG_1369

It dried to almost the same color.

IMG_1378

Slav hung the PS 2014 and we were very impressed with the effect it gives.

IMG_1397

Make you think of the Star Wars movies, right? This lamp is popular for IKEA hacks and the most creative I’ve seen might be this “death stars” project.

IMG_1394

You can use the two strings on the bottom to adjust how much it opens:

IMG_1393

IMG_1396

And it leaves the prettiest pattern on our ceiling:

IMG_1417

It hangs pretty low, but we do not mind since it was mounted directly above our bed. It is also a fairly dark light. We used a 95W equivalent LED bulb, and even with the lamp shades fully open, you should not read under it.

IMG_1412

However, it is perfect for bedroom use. When the lamp is mostly closed, you can turn it on in the middle of darkness without hurting your eyes. I usually goes to bed a lot earlier than Slav. With this light, he could turn it on without waking me up.

Garage lighting

We also recently upgraded our garage lights – about a months ago? It was too small of a project to report, but it actually made a big impact. Gosh we are on such a lighting rush now!

The garage lights are actually the ones that really needed an upgrade. We changed all the light bulbs in the house to LED as soon as we moved in, but the old garage lights are these tube lighting and they do not take LED bulbs. They were not only inefficient and dark, but also dirty and covered with rust.

IMG_0727

LED work lights are not cheap, but we really wanted LEDs so we took the holiday sales and got these.

IMG_1616

Slav mounted all the new lights flush to the ceiling beams – the old ones were suspended on chains (!!!). Mounting the new light higher also helped to hide loose wires. They made the whole garage look neater and more pleasant to be in.

We are very impressed with these lights. They are very bright. We got four with the assumption that we might need to add additional task lighting over the work benches. But in fact, four of these lights brightened up the whole garage (18″ x 24″) without any dark corners (mounting them higher also helped).  These lights made it possible to work in the garage at night, even on the work benches without other task lighting. We also picked warm white (2700 Kevin), so although these light are bright, it does not feel cold or sharp.

With all the new lighting in the office, bedroom and garage, we have upgraded 50% of lighting on the main floor. We are still searching for additional light source for the living room (the only room without overhead lighting), and we cannot wait to upgrade the lights in our kitchen and hallway. But for now, it makes us smile everything we turn on the bedroom light and see the “star”.

IMG_1431

The Magic of Caulk – Small Upgrade Take III

You’ve heard me say this, sometimes small upgrade can make a big impact to a room. We have done quite a few small upgrades ourselves and we love how they instantly changed our lives (here and here). This time, we tackled our kitchen and bathroom, and our target is the old, dingy caulk.

IMG_6302

IMG_6303

Yeah, they were pretty bad. We are disgusted by the look, and more importantly, caulk is supposed to close the seams to seal areas and corners that are susceptible to mildew and mold damage. When they crack and become discontinuous, they can no longer to keep the area around sinks and tubs watertight.

IMG_6581

IMG_6579

The part we are mostly worried about is the seam right below the bathroom window. Somehow the window sill was installed wrong with a slope going outwards, so water sits there and we are so worried that the water gets into the wall.

IMG_6305

And the caulk here could no longer prevents water from seeping down into the wall.

IMG_6583

When you think that our master bath is bad, here comes worse.

IMG_6812

IMG_6810

These are taken around our kitchen sink:

IMG_6807

And here is how bad it was around the backslash:

IMG_6811

IMG_6574

If it was not dingy and moldy, it was missing:

IMG_6578

So when Slav finally got a couple days break from his work, he stripped off all the old caulk and applied a new layer while I was at work.

IMG_9166

IMG_9167

IMG_9161

IMG_9160

Slav even caulked the gap between our counter top and the stove:

IMG_9169

Everything is SO. FRESH.

IMG_9158

The kitchen became 100 times brighter – without changing a light bulb! And the bathroom? With white tiles and fresh caulk, it is like a heaven:

IMG_9173

IMG_9178

IMG_9179

IMG_9174

The window seam now looks like this:

IMG_9177

IMG_9175

Slav also ran a line of caulk around the edge of each window, where the glass panels meet the metal trims to seal the cold draft.

IMG_9182

Quite a change, isn’t it? Who would knew that fresh caulk can have such an impact? I have been talking about painting the bathroom walls a lighter color since our moving day. But with white doors and bright new caulk, the blue walls actually look lovely. It is such a easy and quick way to make a big change!

The Small Project Continues

Hi friend! Happy Monday! We had another busy weekend here in the ranch house. We got a fire pit off Craigslist and picked up some free firewood in the area. Loading, splitting, and stacking firewood took a lot of time! Slav definitely got his workout in this weekend.

I, on the other hand, am recovering from the first week from work. Not working for 5 months really made a difference on my energy level, and driving 45-minute each way has taken a lot out of me. My did manage to take the Basic Life Support (BLS) and got certified! The BLS classes at my work are offered by American Heart Associations (AHA) and teach people how to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and how to use automated external defibrillator (AED) on adults, children, and even infants. I hope that I would never have chance to use my training – because that would mean someone is in trouble – but if there is an unfortunate situation, I could potentially save someone’s life!

Without my help, Slav still did plenty of updates on the ranch house. Some are big and some are small. I adore small updates, which could really make our life easier (I’ve shared you some before here). So I am excited to share the second round of small updates with you today!

1. Upgrade the backdoor lighting

Since we moved in, we have improved the function of the back entrance a lot by installing a new storm door. Demoing the old patio and metal covers and building a new concrete patio certainly helped too. However, the porch light next to the back door was till this giant stadium lighting:

It is 600W (!) and lights up not only ours, but also our neighbors’ backyards.

IMG_7922

Because of its blinding power, we tried very hard not to use it. Slav finally could not take it anymore and bought this light from the Habitat for Humanity:

IMG_7928

It can be mounted in three ways. We decided to honor the wall mount tradition. Since it was never used, all we needed to do was to install a LED light bulb (also from habitat for Humanity, for only $1.50 a pop!).

IMG_7930

And this was what it looked like 20 minutes later:

IMG_7966

Easier on the eyes, right?

2. Moving Dog leashes to the garage

As I told you before, our kitchen is a high high high traffic zone. From basement to the main floor, from garage to the living space, going out of the back door… to get anywhere, you would have to pass the kitchen. So it quickly became a messy drop-off zone. To keep the kitchen neat, I decided to find everything a designated place. That means shoes off in the garage, keys and wallets goes to the front entry, etc. This week, we moved the dog leases out of the kitchen to the garage. Our kitcken immediately looked cleaner, from this:

IMG_7920

to this:

IMG_7935

The leashes are now hanging on two hooks next to the garage-kitchen door , on the garage side:

IMG_7931

I picked up these two lovely hooks from IKEA last time we stopped by:

IMG_7932

IMG_7933

I wanted these hooks years ago when they first came to the market, and finally had an excuse to get them! Yay!

3. Hang the closet door in Slav’s office

When we first moved in, we took all the main floor carpet out. And we removed the closet doors in the bedrooms to make things easier:

01 start from bedroom closet

After we removed the carpet, we did not bother to put back the closet doors. In our bedroom, we hung a pair of IKEA curtains instead of the doors:

IMG_6674

But in Slav’s office, it looked like this for quiet a few weeks:

IMG_6665

The closet is organized, but it still made the room look busy. So we decided to add the doors back on:

IMG_7939

As you could see, I painted them white to match the wall color. Eventually we will reverse the closet to face the bedroom and dry wall this side, so I wanted to create a feeling that there is not a closet from the get-go. Now when we walk into the room, our eyes no longer land on the clothing in the closet, but more focus on the desk and the computer. I hope it will help Slav to be more focused when he works here.

4. Switching out all the baseboard vents and grilles

We have 6 baseboard vents and two return grilles on the main floor, and they all looked like this:

IMG_7688

IMG_7689

Two baseboard vents

IMG_7686

IMG_7687

Return Grilles

Since we were in the process of installing a central AC, we replaced all the old metal vents and grilles with these plastic ones from Lowe’s:

IMG_7685

Slav spent a couple hours switching them out. The old metal ones were rusted and some screws were stuck. So it took some force to wrestle the old vent covers off. There was also a lot of dust tucked in these vents! So Slav vacuumed them all out. It made me feel so good knowing that we are no longer breathing these dust!

IMG_7748

New vent in the bathroom

IMG_7750

New vent in the kitchen

IMG_7745

IMG_7746

New return grilles in the living room

The crisp and bright white vents and grilles certainly made the floor look a lot worse. LOL. That is the story when you renovating an old house, anything new just makes the old stuff next to it 100 times worse! I am not bothered by the floor as much as Slav is, but we definitely want to refinish all the floor on the main level soon. More furniture we have here, more difficult the refinishing would be. So before we start knocking down walls or work on any build-ins, we will have to work on the floor first!

Here you go, four recent small updates! We are discovering small stuff to do everyday and I will come back to tell you more when we have a few done. Don’t you just love these small upgrades? Have you done any lately in your home?

 

Page 1 of 2

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén