Sunday, March 11, 2012

Living Room Remodel Part 1: Installing Baseboards

<---- Remember this?
While sitting in my living room early one morning, looking through various remodel blogs and photos, I decided we needed to tackle the living room. While we have wanted to replace the baseboards throughout the house for some time, I thought, why not take it one step further and install board and batten? So, I asked Jace for a few weekends of his time, and here is the story of our remodel.

We followed the following outline of steps for this project:
1. Baseboards
2. Chair rails
3. Stair woodwork
4. Board
5. Batten
6. Paint and Electrical.

We started off with the basics, our 1980 home has 2 inch wood baseboards without design. Just plain ol' simple wood. Simple wood that's been kicked, beaten, painted, bumped into, and abused over the past 30 years. It was time to go. I also really, really, like the look of board and batten, and felt it would give the most focal room of our house a much needed breath of new life.
As you all know, the first step to any good remodel is to make a HUGE mess. This happens to be my favorite part--- trashin' the place! This part is always fun, taking down the artwork, sconces, window treatments, not stepping on the dog. You know, the usual.

My first step was to paint over the pretty green wall I had-- Sorry soothing green wall.. I'll revisit you when I re-do the laundry room, but for now you must skeedaddle....
I decided on "Wheat Bread" and "Polar White" Behr Ultra Premium paint. I swear by this brand, and have used it in every room I've painted. It has the paint and primer in one, and generally makes every project easier. I didn't bother taping off the lines, and just painted roughly the same height throughout the room.

The next step was FUN.
 Removing the old baseboards.
Here's how to do it:
1. Take a utility knife and remove the old caulking seal along the top of the baseboard.
2. Using a putty knife, gently pry off the baseboard along the length of the board, taking caution to not pull off any wall with you. (I did this in one small section... my bad!).
3. Jace swears by the nail punch method, which is essentially the same first step, then using the nail punch and pry bar.
4. Remove your baseboards and chuck em'.

Installing the new baseboards was a breeze: 
How to install new baseboards:
**Wear safety gear! Jace is demonstrating the latest fashion: Safety glasses and a mask**
1. Measure twice and cut once using a miter saw. Measure out the lengths you will need for your walls. I recommend measuring, cutting, and installing as you go, rather than cutting all at once. This will help you in your corners, and to maintain equidistant lengths of board, so you don't end up needing a small 5 inch piece. Those can be tricky to install.
2. Cut all of your non-corner pieces using a straight cut.
3. Cut all of your corners using a 45 degree angle. Again, measure, cut, go look at the joint you've created, fit the pieces together, and cut again. You may find, like in our house, that you don't have a flat, straight walls. Yes, that's right... we had crooked walls, chances are- you do too. This meant some angles had to be cut at 43 degrees, others at 47 degrees. We didn't know this could be a possibility, and slowed us down for a minute as we reassessed the wall. You want the tightest joint possible, so reassessing your cuts may be needed.
4. Mark all your old holes above where your baseboard will be going, so you use preexisting holes. This makes installation a lot easier.
5. Line up your piece that you are installing flat onto the base of the floor. This means pulling up the carpet a bit.
6. Using a nail gun, (we used a fuel-cell powered one, and did not have to deal with a compressor: awesome move on our part- and much easier). Line up the markings to where you will be installing the new finishing nails, and hit the trigger to release the nail. Install your nail about an inch above the bottom, depending on how large your baseboards are.
"Say hello to my little friend..."

7. Using your finger, place a small amount of white caulk on the hole you've just created, and wipe off the excess using a wet rag.
8. Once the caulk has completely dried, sand down any excess, tuck your carpet fully in, and paint the baseboard. We used a left over plank while painting, and tucked in a plastic sheet throughout the length of the room, instead of taping. This way, we were able to fully paint the baseboard without damaging our carpet.
I also recommend using a satin or glossy finish paint here, as eggshell will scuff and be hard to clean and remove.

And Voila! There's the finished Baseboard, installed, gorgeous, beaming, and waiting for board and batten.....

Homemade Vanilla Extract

A few weeks ago, Jace and I received 8 vanilla beans in our Bountiful Baskets food co-op order for the week. Since we never know what we're going to get, I was challenged to find something amazing to do with these delicious pods. I'd never dealt with vanilla beans before, and was somewhat intimidated to make an extract, but had a gorgeous bottle, just waiting for some love.

Homemade Vanilla Extract:
1- Small Bottle of GOOD vodka (you can use the cheap stuff, but again, isn't the point here to make yummy, better-than-store-bought extract?
1- Pretty, air tight, clear bottle. (The prettier the better).
5-8 Vanilla Beans

Step 1: Slice the vanilla beans lengthwise and remove the beans from the pods. The vanilla beans I had did not have large beans, so I ended up keeping most of the beans in there. If you choose to do this, just be prepared to strain through a cheesecloth in a few months once your extract is ready.

Step 2: Place your beans into the bottle. 

Step 3: Using a funnel, pour your vodka into the air-tight bottle with the beans.

Step 4: Label for 4 months later. (The extract takes about 4 months before it is fully cured, so labeling helps you remember when it is "good". Within one week, your bottle will smell of pure vanilla, so you can't just go off of smell :)

Step 5: 4 months later- enjoy. You also just saved yourself a ton of money, and have pure, real vanilla extract. Start baking!

Simple, easy-peasy,  and super yummy.

Until next time,