I truly feel like a dog chasing its tail.  Since accepting the close date of November 19 I don’t think I’ve been to bed earlier than 1:30 am; frequently at house til 3:30 am.  When my cousin Alex can’t go let my dogs out, I’ll pull two shifts.  Arrive about 8 am, work till 4-5 pm, leave to feed and let out dogs, and return around 8 or 9 pm to resume work.  I’m exhausted, but progress is being made.  Here’s an update:

New Mailbox. 

20181108_172537Simple project. I wanted to have a mail slot added to my new front door, but since that is weeks away and would have to be added on site by my installer (manufacturer won’t do it)  I decided to search the Internet for a locking mailbox and I found this one on Wayfair.com.  It was easy to install and matches my light fixtures.  I wish everything could be this simple.

Doors, Painting, and Drywall. 

20181025_110322I brought a finish carpenter back to hang the last two door jams.  One was straight forward, original door and jam, but the entry foyer door was more challenging.  The original door was beyond repair, but it was the same size as the door that led to the upstairs space, which I decided to remove.  Same size, but different swing and hinge locations.  He worked his magic and I now have a functioning entry foyer closet.

The carpenter also jumped in on painting, which was not a great choice as his painting skills did not match his carpentry skills.  He put one coat of paint on the ceiling in the entry foyer, dining room, and office; Sherwin Williams Incredible White and the first coat of Krypton on the dining room walls.  My friend Joan helped me put first coat of Passive on the Office walls and the second coat of Krypton in the dining room.  It’s nice seeing real colors on the walls.  Since the frame around the windows is the same dark color as the molding I can see that the colors will work with them.  The HGTV Urban House that used these colors had painted trim throughout, so I was a bit concerned.

I’ve completed all prime paint now too, so hopefully by Friday of next week the whole house will be painted.  I move in the next day, so I sure hope so.

Brick Sealing

During demo I revealed brick in the master bath and closet, kitchen, and 1st floor hall.  It’s a soft, Chicago brick that was constantly dropping dust and crumbling; I knew it would need to be sealed if left exposed.  During the drywall install I made the decision to cover the brick in the master closet and master bath.  Prepping the brick for sealing was a task I didn’t have the time or desire to do and in the bath area it recessed about 1/2 inch from the drywall, which would have posed a challenge when installing the vanity.

20181022_160255I should have made the same decision about the wall in the kitchen.  I scrubbed the whole wall and it seemed the more I scrubbed the more it’d crumble.  I looked at several brick sealers and decided to go with Radonseal’s Lastiseal Penetrating Brick and Concrete Sealer.  I bought a gallon jug, which should cover 150-225 sq. ft.  The wall was 27 sq. ft.  Easy application process.  I bought a pump sprayer with a fan spray, put down plastic to protect floor and sprayed from bottom up.

The instructions said a second application may be needed and it certainly was with this wall.  A brush of my hand revealed more dust and crumbling mortar.  A second coat reduced it some, but not entirely.  I ended up applying the entire gallon bottle.  I contacted the company and they were very surprised such a small area needed so much.  I shared this picture and they said I should have tuckpointed the bricks first.  The wall looked and felt solid after the full gallon, so I believe their product worked, eventually, but his comment did give me concern looking ahead.  My stove would sit in front of this and I wondered if cleaning food splatter would be an issue.

The vast majority of the wall would be covered by cabinets, microwave and stove, so I decided to cover the wall.  Bold decision given my posing deadline and past experience with drywall crews.  Fortunately my friend Joan came to the rescue with a great referral and a young man, Ryan Fabel, joined the journey.

I hung the drywall, but Ryan did the finish work. Once before I mentioned that someone told me his drywall man could finish an entire house and you’d have only a handful of dust.  When Ryan was done you couldn’t fill a thimble with dust and the wall was as smooth as silk.  I found the man to help me hang the last sheet of drywall in the guest bedroom.  Given that is taking place after my floors have been refinished I am elated by his skills.

The only exposed brick will be in the hall and it was the most sound of all locations.  I scrubbed it to remove most of flakes/crumbles and it only took two applications of the LastiSeal.  I almost wish the brick stayed dark as when the product is applied (right side of first pic), but it returns to its normal color when dry.

Master Bathroom Floor Tile

My soaker tub has been sitting in its box in the master bedroom area for months.  It had to placed in its proper home before the floor refinishers started.  I hoped to have it actually hooked up so Ryan could do the drywall, but I needed to get the tile laid first.  I found the tile on Pinterest and fell in love.  It’s an Italian porcelain tile made by Isla Fascino Italiano and is their King Wood collection.  I got excited when I found it at JP Flooring locally, but man was it expensive.  Not to be deterred I surfed the net and found it at Mission Stone & Tile at half the cost of JP Flooring and FREE shipping.  SOLD!!!!

20181101_134155The pressure to not mess up this tile was immense.  I started with finding my center lines in width and depth with my trusty laser followed by a dry run with 1/16″ spacers.  I bought that size for the first floor bath and it turned out the tile for that has built-in spacers.  They were not a good size for this tile, so I pulled the plug about 1 am.

I returned the next day with 3/16″ spacers (blue vs. green) and went to town.  I selected Desert Sand grout from the Tile Shop in Oakley with the help of a great sales person, Cari Branden.  The walls surrounding this tile and in the shower will be a basic bone (color) subway tile.  It looks fabulous and I can’t wait to see it next to my restored hardwood floors and with the tub resting on top.  Unfortunately my plumber’s truck broke down and this didn’t happen prior to Bob and Trish Roland of Roland Hardwoods starting the floor restoration.

Their work is projected to last five days, Monday – Friday.  I was able to do some work, but now they are staining and coating the first floor, which means I can’t be there until for the floors are dry.  I’ll use that time to pack up Inner Circle and REST!



  1. Venus, you truly are amazing. How in the world did you learn to do all this? Would you ever want to change careers and act as an agent for others renovating older homes? Or is it a labor of love?

    BTW, did you know that Wayfair will soon be opening a showroom/store off Houston Rd. in Florence? I think it’s to open fairly soon.

    Enjoy the holidays in your new home.


    1. At this point I wish I had more money and less skill. I’ve hit the brick wall and not having fun anymore. Thanks for the tip on Wayfair. I need some rugs.

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