Saturday, October 8, 2016

Half bath tour

Our bathrooms are finally almost done with all the finishing touches. All the major pieces were already in place but the finishing touches are what makes a bathroom. I'm still missing some picture frames above the toilet but that can wait.

Our down stairs bathroom is so tiny. It literally can barely fit a small 30 inch vanity and toilet. There use to be an unpermitted shower on the side of the bathroom but we demolished it and converted it into a walk in pantry. More on our pantry on the next post.

Of course here are the before, during, and afters.

This is the dark bathroom when we first bought the house. The shower was behind the door. 

Heres an in progress picture. We gutted the whole room down the studs. Re did the plumbing, tiled, and drywall. 

Heres the after:

I got rid of all dark colors in my bathroom. Everything is light and bright to make the space feel bigger. 

The floors were tiled by me. We used a light gray wood look tile I found at a local tile shop. I spent roughly $100 for enough tile to tile two small bathrooms and a walk in pantry. 

Binh got his touchless flush toilet. I finally patched up the hole for the plumbing and repainted the wall to cover up the patching. 

We got our handyman to install new lighting and patch up previous can lights inside the bathroom. Now we have a nice shiny and bright light with a clear glass globe. 

Everything took so long to put together because I was ordering the towel bar and toilet holder. All items were ordered on amazon. I wanted a specific look in chrome finishes. The towel bar had to be cut down to fit our small bathroom.

I choose to frost our bathroom window to keep it simple and bright. I made a quick faux roman shade to add some interest to the window. 

Heres a closer detailed shot of our vanity. It has chrome knobs with clear handles. 

We ended up spending $4K on both bathrooms due to some unexpected mold and plumbing issues. 

I can't wait to finish up the upstairs bathroom and share about our new tub.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Saving money at Home Depot

Today I wanted to share how I save at least 20% at Home Depot. I go to Home Depot so much that I feel that employees there know me as the small asian lady with two kids. I go there that much and every time ask so many questions. It helps that they have the orange Nascar double carts to keep my kids occupied.

The first step to saving 10% off at Home Depot is to apply for a movers coupon from UPS. If you apply for a change of address and pay $1 online they will send you a 10% off Lowes coupon. Its via email so you don't even have to get out of the house. I've had great luck with using it by showing the coupon to a Home Depot cashier. I've been using the same Lowe's coupon for about two months. UPS will also send you a movers packet that includes a physical paper coupon for Lowes. I've only came across one new Home Depot cashier that wanted an actual paper coupon.

The next step to getting another 10% off is by using For those new to raise, its a website that sells discounted gift cards. Home Depot gift cards are usually at the 6-11% discount. I have it set on notifications if theres a gift card thats within the discounted range I will get notified. The only con is the Home Depot gift card can only be used for in store purchase. Online only purchases will not work. Here's my referral link for raise. My referral code is knguyen139

On top of getting the 20% off, I use Its like You shop online and get a small percentage back. I believe Topcashback gives purchases 1-2% cash back. Here's my topcashback referral link. If you have any type of credit card, use it to get another 1-2% cash back. I get 1% cash back on all Discover purchases. So long story short, I get at least 22% off at Home Depot. The only con about saving money is you have to plan out your savings. It takes time to get the raise gift card in the mail.

Saving 20% doesn't seem like much at first but if you are doing renovations, it adds up fast. For instance, Binh wanted the touchless Kohler toilet. They cost $218 each and we purchased three for a total of $650+. Overall, I know I've saved at least $300 just at Home Depot.

Aside from talking about ways to save money I wanted to share Binh's new toilet. Binh's favorite pastime is hiding in the toilet with his phone, laptop and chargers so a comfortable toilet is very high on his priority list. I let him pick out whatever toilet he wanted. He picked Kohlers highline touchless toilet. It's elongated, comfort height, white, and has touchless flushing. At $220 a pop they weren't cheap but thanks to gift cards and coupons I've been able to have some deep savings. In addition, there are rebates up to $100 on toilets. I submitted a rebate but have yet to confirm the amount.

We completely remodeled the first floor half bath. There was an unpermitted shower but we removed it and reverted it back to the original layout. The unpermitted shower was behind the door. We demo everything and took down all the dark tiles.

We had to redo the drywall, plumbing, and flooring. 

And here it is today. Its not quite complete because I still have to install the backsplash, caulk, dress up the window, add a mirror, and add decorations to the wall. 

I invested in a nicer faucet. I love the shiny chrome and details of this Ultra faucet. I'll provide more details on where I got it from on the final reveal. It goes really well with the white vanity and carrera marble top. The color scheme is exactly the same as the upstairs kids bathroom but this bathroom looks so much better in photos because it has a window. 

Once again heres the before and after. 


Saturday, August 13, 2016

Longest bathroom reno

I'm back today with some updates on our bathroom renovation. Last time I left off, everything was pulled out and I had just tiled the floors. We came across some mold and plumbing issues that painfully costed us $1500. We had to redo the plumbing to accommodate a tub since it was originally a shower and completely redo the subfloor because it had mold. Then I had oral surgery. So everything had to be delayed.

Here are some quick pictures I snapped. The kids bathroom has no window and is tiny so I decided to stick with light and bright colors to try to open up the space.  The floors are a nice light gray wood look tile. I got them at a discounted tile store locally for $1.50 sf.

For the vanity, I choose a white with marble top to brighten up the space. Since the vanity is the first thing you see when you walk into the room, I wanted to get something a little more fancy. I didn't want to go custom since that would cost a lot so I searched CL and found this brand new vanity for only $450. It's sold online for over $1000. Heres the specs from HomeDepot. vanity. It has fancy crystal knobs and soft close drawers. 

Up next on my shopping list was a new white and shiny tub. I wanted a nice and deep tub and found a new one on CL for $140. Its sold at Home Depot for $350. Heres the info for anyone interested. bathtub

After tub was put in, it took forever to start tiling. I enlisted the help of my cousin to put in the niche and make the difficult round cuts for the faucets. I choose a white carrara marble tile to brighten up the space. I bought them from Home depot at a discounted price. Here's the info for those interested. 

 For the niche, I debated for a long time on what I wanted. Binh wanted a bold backsplash that stands out. I wanted a simple and classic look. I felt that the room is already so small and adding more color and contrasting details will further crowd the room. In the end, Binh let me do whatever I wanted. I'm glad I choose something simple because it goes well with the marble. 

For the toilet, Binh had a special request. He once saw a touchless toilet at a model home and he had to have that toilet. Since Binh's favorite pastime is hiding in the toilet with his laptop, phone and chargers, I gave in to his request.

Here's the actual room layout. Its very strange. The toilet is on the left, vanity right in the middle and tub to the right. I'm hoping that bringing in a big white mirror would further brighten things up. 

I'll be back very soon to update on the final touches of this bathroom. Our handyman is coming tomorrow to install the faucets, shower trim, and caulk. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Dining room table part 1

I've been browsing craigslist lately to look for furniture to add to our new home. I finally found a large dining room set for $90 about 10 minutes from our house. With our first home, we had a large heavy formal dining table and formal living room that nobody ever used. The chairs for our formal dining room were so big and heavy they never got moved. This time around, I wanted something useful I could use everyday. Since our new house has no formal living space, I knew I needed a bigger table. This table can sit eight comfortably. Its big, heavy, sturdy, and has great details.  

These are the stock pictures from the craigslist ad. 

Our bathroom renovation actually hit a major roadblock. We had mold and plumbing issues.  The plumber gave me quote for $1400 to repair the sub flooring, convert a shower to tub layout, re-plumb the drain out for the tub, build the frame for the tub, and redo some illegal electrical wiring in the bathroom. Long vent short, my $2K budget is down the drain. I'm guessing my total budget will come out somewhere between $3K.

Since I couldn't work on the kids bathroom right away, I decided to demo the powder room downstairs. A powder room is just another fancy name for a half bath. :) Everything in that room is gutted. I'm proud to say that I gutted more than half of that room myself. We are expecting to finish up that bathroom by mid next week.

Back to my dining room set. I first filled minor cracks with wood filler. I let it dry and lightly sanded it down. You can see int he picture below where I filled them in.

Next I primed with Zinsser cover stain primer. I painted the whole set three times in case I have bleed through. Below is the primer and how the dining set looked after one coat of primer.

This is how the table looks today with three coats of primer and two thin coats of paint. For the paint, I wanted something very durable since we will be using this table a lot. I decided on Benjamin Moore's advance paint in satin in a slightly off white color. I was told if you add just a tint of color to the pure white, it will cover better. This paint when fully cured will be very solid and won't peel/scratch easily. It will take about a whole week to fully cure.

Here's how the chairs looked without the seat cushions. I'm planning to add upholstery to the backs therefore I left the backs original.

I'll be back in a few days to finish up the dining room set. I ordered some upholstery supplies online so I'm on a standstill with the the dining set.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Latest update

I'm finally back after a long break. The reason for my disappearance was because we sold our first home and have closed escrow on our second home. Yep all that happened in a year. We move as fast as snails around here.

Jan 29th, 2016 was a bitter sweet day for our family. We officially left our first home. It was the home that we brought both our girls home from the hospital to, threw so many birthday parties, first home Binh and I lived together in. We ended up selling almost everything inside the house except for our mattress, TV, and the kids toys. Here are some pictures that I took of our home when we listed it for sale.

Now that we finally closed on our second home, I can't wait to start sharing new DIY projects. Our second home is the total opposite of our first home. Its a two story, older, much smaller, and needs lots of updating.