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Hello, Goodbye, and Hello Again

Posted Jun 28 2012 12:00am

Hi, I'm Shelley...remember me?  If you don't, I wouldn't blame you a bit...I almost feel like a stranger on my own blog, it's been such a ridiculously long time since I've posted anything.  I could list all the reasons, but it would be a mile long and I'd only come across as a whiny baby, so I'll just say this:  The past 3 months have been among the hardest, most emotionally taxing and physically exhausting time periods of my life.  There.  That about sums it up!  I need to apologize to all the very kind people in my life who have emailed me in the last few months, wondering how I'm doing, and I haven't responded to them.  I was entirely overwhelmed, and didn't even know where to start or how to sum up all the crazy events that have happened, so my default response was to put it off until tomorrow.  And you can guess where that lead, right? 

So here I am, finally with both feet in North Carolina, FINALLY finished with the remodeling/painting/prepping/moving out of our place in Virginia.  I've been back and forth between the two states several times, as we've moved into our house here in NC to get our kids in school the last little bit of the school year and, at the same time, finish some huge projects on the house in VA.  Much of the time Steve and I have been in separate places (he still had a bunch of work to do for his job in DC, plus the fix-up house factor) so that has added to the fun.  We all managed to survive, however, and now it's time to step back and bid adieu to our beloved house (and all our wonderful, incredibly inspiring friends whom we will miss dearly!) in Virginia. 

Soooo....I expect you'll want to see some pictures if our Virginia house that we've been working so hard to finish, yes? 

I'll start with the rooms that you've never seen, with accompanying "before" photos, and then throw in some pictures of the rest of the house at the end (just to have our entire house re-do's in one post).  And I'll try not to cry when I see the compiled collection of photos representing all the huge amounts of work we have done to that place, only to leave it behind (sniff sniff) ...


This is our master bathroom.  It's on the small side by modern standards, but since we knew we were leaving it didn't make any sense to go to the expense of reconfiguring plumbing to create a large bathroom suite.

Master bath2

Here's a "during" shot, after the old tub rusted through and leaked water down through the ceiling of our living room.  Steve had great fun with the Saws-All when he cut that tub in half in order to remove it.  He also replaced the water-damaged subfloor and the wallboard around the tub.  Alas, I can't find any photos of the original bathroom, complete with old flowered wallpaper and lots of tiles falling off the shower wall to reveal a blackened, moldy mess of rotten sheetrock.  It was Awesome.


It's a little more awesome now, even if it is still small, eh?

MB shower

 I did all the tile work all by myself...and let me tell you, it was FUN! 

I'm lying. 

I hadn't done much vertical tile work before, which was a little bit more challenging, but the biggest issue was the size of those tiles!  They're only 8 inches high, but they're 20 inches LONG which turned out to be a real nightmare because those walls were insanely crooked, bowed, and skewed.  Not a big deal when you're working with small tile, but when you have 20" of inflexible material sticking out because the wall curves and bows, and your layout pattern is the halfsies brick-layer style, you have a problem!  I think I spent at least 3 days of my spare time working on setting the tile in that shower.  Of course, the inset tray/shampoo shelf slowed me down a wee bit too.  That was one of those "Oh, how much longer could it possibly take to install a shampoo niche?" situations that really did take MUCH longer than it would have because of some boo-boos that happened along the way.  Glad it all worked out okay, although I would sure do it differently next time. 

Since it was such a small space, I installed 2 large robe hooks (from the hardware section, NOT the bathroom section = much less expensive) instead of a teeny towel bar.  Besides, it's much easier to throw a towel over a hook rather than carefully place it over a small bar.

MB floor

 The floor in this bathroom is, without a doubt, my FAVORITE part of this whole bathroom.  No, that's not wood, it's tile.  Big, gorgeous tile that looks like weathered wood and even has texture embossed into it.  I LOVE this tile!  FYI, I bought it from The Tile Shop, a chain store in Virginia and who knows where else.  I'm so sad about leaving this tile behind, in fact, that I've resolved to install it in my new kitchen here in North Carolina to replace the absurdly ugly and poorly installed laminate faux tile currently (dis)gracing my kitchen floor.  But that's way down on my list.  And I digress.

  Kid's bathroom

I don't think I ever showed you pictures of the kid's bathroom!  I actually did this bathroom before any of the others, because the countertop was falling down and mold was everywhere.


I cut out the moldy parts of the sheetrock, replaced it, and created a vanity sink by cutting into an old dresser (which I painted) and adding a sink and a tile backsplash.  The drawers needed to be cut away in the center to make room for the underside of the sink + plumbing, which I did but then I never got around to repairing the drawers...for 3 years.  (sheepish grin)  Steve ended up fixing them after I had already left for NC with the kids, along with tons of other "we'll do it later" projects that we hadn't gotten around to doing until the month before leaving.

Kid's bath2

....And here we have another bathroom project!  This one is in the basement. 

Basement bathroom

In anticipation of your inevitable question, "Why on earth did you remodel all those bathrooms if you knew you were leaving?"

Answer:  Because they were falling apart and rusting out and causing water damage and plumbing problems and rotten floors...not to mention the mold and ugliness factors!  We might be transferred back to DC area, so we decided to keep the house and rent it out for now.  Which means those bathrooms HAD to be dealt with before we left.

We were only using half our bathrooms for most of the time we lived in the house because they were so bad and we hadn't gotten around to fixing them up until that phone call in December informing us we had to move.  Moving always provides a nice kick-in-the-pants for completion of house projects, does it not?

Basement bath before

Here's another "during" photo....I'm really bad at taking "before" shots, can you tell?  At this point we had already ripped out the tile floor and the cabinet and leaky toilet.  Steve ripped out the tub and tile in this bathroom too, due to a rusted out tub.

Basement bath 2

Here's a shot of the new sheetrock (in the middle of my patch job) after Steve ripped into it to reduce the amount of crazy plane-changes in the ceiling (ductwork all over the place).  There was also a nice big hole where they brought all new electrical wiring into the basement after we discovered the existing wiring was faulty (circa my studio remodel last year).  All sorts of fun!

Basement bath2

I carried the same Allure Ultra flooring into the bathroom from my studio, and Steve installed faux tile walls around the new tub (twice!)  But we won't get into that story. 

We ended up keeping the funky retro shower head in place, it's a great conversation piece (because, after all, everyone needs an icebreaker in a basement bathroom).  Don't judge the bad paint job above the shower wall - I hadn't repainted yet after Wall Install #2.  You probably didn't even notice until after I pointed it out, huh?  C'mon now, I'm sure somebody did!


Sink view

Okay, while we're on the topic of bathrooms, here's the powder room that we redid a couple of years ago.

Vanity before

Again, another rotting bathroom with a gross floor that literally flexed/caved every time someone used the commode due to a long-neglected toilet leak.  The subfloor had to be replaced down to the joists, so Steve ripped everything out and replaced the subfloor so we could install new tile, baseboard, fix the sheetrock, and make everything all pretty. 

Big view

I'm going to miss this bathroom - I love all the black and white.


This was a project I have dubbed Stairway To Insanity.


Because I really, truly, almost went insane doing it.

Basement during

Basement before

If you remember, this was the staircase leading down into the basement.  The stairs were already there, but there weren't long diagonal pieces of wood on the ends of the stairs like normal.  Some steps were directly against sheetrock, some were open, and some were butted up against badly damaged sheetrock (or new sheetrock that was installed with gaps up to an inch surrounding the steps).

Stairs detail

Sooo...I concluded that the best solution would be to fit carefully cut pieces of trim around each. and every. step. to hide all the mess around the ends of the stairs.

I still think that was probably the best thing to do, but *Hot Diggety Dog* that was a HUGE project.  Mostly because all the walls were (surprise) bowed and crooked and misaligned all over the place, and the treads weren't solid pieces of wood so nothing was level or plumb.  Which means that the pieces of trim didn't just fit nicely into place.  Oooooooh, no.  :-)  I spent an entire week cutting, installing, sanding like crazy, caulking, and painting all the trim on those stairs.  The day I finished was a very happy day, indeed....if I drank alcohol (which I don't), it would have been a champagne moment for sure.


Okay, now for the projects you've already seen:  My studio, of course.  I still can't believe I had to leave that place behind.  Tragic, especially because there's no space to do something similar in our new house.  But ANYWAY.


Here's the same space, before removing the built-in cabinets and discovering all the wiring issues that necessitated a complete demolition.


If you haven't read about this Project with a capital P, click here .


This is how it was the day we moved in...

Studio11  email

...and how it looked after replacing walls, floor, closets, adding french doors, recessed lighting, and all that other good stuff.


Kitchen cabinet corner

And we mustn't forget about the kitchen!  This was the very first thing we ripped into.  I'm so glad we did, at least we enjoyed a gorgeous kitchen for 3 years! 

Kitchen cabinets BEFORE

Kitchen wall BEFORE

For the whole story, please click here .

Kitchen wall


  Kitchen breakfast nook

 Farewell, cute kitchen with the really deep cabinets to store lots of stuff.

Front room

Goodbye, large formal front room that displayed my Christmas pretties so well.



Hasta luego, my dining room that so perfectly displayed the trappings of every holiday.

H Dining lights2

  Dining room

Goodbye, Wall O' Plates.

Dining window


 Farewell, new front door that we replaced last year.


Goodbye, basement that we just finished!  Click here for that post.


Basement1 email

Oh - and I have no pictures of this, but goodbye to the entire upstairs bedroom area that I spent three L*O*N*G days painting all the trim and doors for!  I had never gotten around to painting the trim upstairs (it was really stained and ugly) and none of us had closet doors the entire time we lived there (because I removed the old, horrible brown-faux-wood-contact-paper-covered ones the first week we moved in).  So in the last few weeks Steve installed 4 sets of paneled bi-fold doors (so 8 bi-fold doors = 16 individual door planks) plus the 3 paneled doors leading to the walk-in closets and the bathroom of the Master Bedroom.  Which means they all had to be painted.  Two coats.  And after I painted all the trim, I had to cut back in with the wall color everywhere.  Love it, love it, love it!  Okay, so I didn't love doing it, but I love the end result.  It looks really fresh and clean upstairs now, what a difference white trim paint makes!  Too bad I waited until 5 days before the renters moved in to do it, eh?

Back path

So long, lush backyard that I worked SO hard to make all nice!

Back gate

Old gate other side

This is the SAME corner as the photos above, before I built that flagstone patio and before we hired a company to install the fence and gate.

Back patio


Old stairs other side

These are the same backyard steps, before and after.

Back steps

  Backyard steps

This is a different set of steps, leading down off the patio from the other side.

  Back steps2

Here they are again, looking up instead of down.  I had intended to trim back all of the azaleas before I left, but I simply ran out of time.  I hope our renters can keep them trimmed....maybe I'll drive back up there soon and spend a day trimming the bushes back at least for this year, so they can see how it needs to be done.  Am I being a control freak?

Back steps3

Back wall

Back steps

The 2 photos you see above are the same area.

Back steps4

Old stairs looking up



Remember the mess on the other side?  The 4 photos above are different views of the same spot.  I took a sledghammer to the rotted boardwalk and added a bunch of stonework and 3 terraced garden plots along the south side of the house.

Door front

 Farewell Virginia house!  Goodbye, all the wonderful people I was so fortunate to know up there!  We will miss you dearly, thanks for all the memories.  Sniff sniff...

New house

Hello, North Carolina!  Looking forward to our time here! 



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