A $3 Disposal Upgrade

August 04, 2011   //  Posted in: Kitchen   //  By: Emily   //  2 responses

This is going to be gross, but I think it’s something that a lot of new homeowners in fixer-uppers face. So I’m going to proceed, but consider yourself warned.

The double sink in my kitchen couldn’t have been that old; it was equipped with a disposal that I believe to be the original that they installed when they overhauled the kitchen, so it might be 7-8-10 years old, but no older than that. It was fit with the expected rubber guard to keep spoons and fingers from falling into the blades (and prevent disposal regurgitation).

Sorry, I just used the word regurgitation. I told you this was going to be gross. You see, my disposal’s rubber guard was disintegrating. That’s all it was; it wasn’t moldy, it wasn’t covered in food like this photo makes it look, it wasn’t unsanitary so to speak… it was just run down. And the flashlight used for the sake of taking a picture appears to have maddened it.

Don't vomit. It's clean, just disintegrating rubber.

I Lysol’ed and bleach-sprayed it every time I cleaned up the kitchen, so I was never overly grossed out, although now thinking about it I’m vomiting in my mouth a little bit.

Sorry, really gross. But it gets better and IS SO EASY. Believe me.

That disposal seal was attached to the whole disposal unit, and despite trying to remove it from above, I wasn’t able to pry it out. What did work was removing the disposal itself (with the power turned off, if that’s something I need to remind you of), taking the disinigrating rubber seal out, and reattaching the unit beneath the sink.

The new guard? A $3 universal replacement you can find at any home improvement store. Fully (new) rubber, it stays put both when you’re pushing food through it, or grinding food beneath it, but can be extracted, cleaned, and replaced as easy as can be.

An updated disposal guard. Clean, whole, convenient.

It’s actually an easier solution than having a built-in disposal guard, I’ve decided; I can totally remove it from the drain when I’m playing eggshell basketball or dumping leftovers that I’ve accidentally let spoil down the shoot without having to touch it with my own hands. Between the removable guard and the hand sprayer, I’m set.

For the win. Easy peasy. 10 minutes and $3. Enjoy. And you’re welcome.

Fireplace Freshness

August 03, 2011   //  Posted in: Living Room   //  By: Emily   //  13 responses

Back with another painting post. Between yesterday’s post on the foundation, and previous recent posts on the radiator, the garage + garage door, the glassblock window frames, the striped stairs, and the Orla Kiely napkins I’m up to my eyeballs with the whole painting thing, especially considering how much I dislike washing paint brushes, even if I have been employing the vinegar tip that I wrote about.

This time around, the fireplace was the target. The hearth, actually. It was filthy. It was peach. Or tannish. Or actually very much like my natural skin tone. Peachy.

Fireplace hearth before.

How did I manage to leave it chipped-paint-my-skin-tone-peach (with fire singes) for 2.25 years? Unknown. Even Pete regularly reminded me that the only thing I had to do to the fireplace was paint the dirty base, and he was right, because I had let it go… slash ignored it… for much too long.

Close-up on hearth grossness.

I had painted the brick encasement within the first 10 days of moving into my house. And I told you about that too, so go here if you want to read about that.

But this time, it was the peach I was after. And you know how much I love using paint that I already have on hand, so it’s probably no surprise that I used some of the last of the porch and floor paint that went down both in sunroom, basement stairwell, and front entryway, as well as on the stair stripes last month. How stinkin’ resourceful am I?

Turns out it looked pretty great on the brick hearth too. No shockey.

Painting in progress. Coat #1 of 2.

It took two coats, and as you could tell I only taped around the outer edge of the brick to protect the hardwoods. It turned out lovely, and so far so good when it comes to dog toe nails scratching it up.

We haven’t done anything formal to cover up the flue that lets ash fall down to a trap in the basement, but the gas lines from the insert are still tucked in there, clearly marked (and now safely capped). To cover up that access point, I’ve resorted to rotating different decor pieces into the space. Like a Pottery Barn serving platter. Or a basket of driftwood.

Or both, stacked.

Improved fireplace hearth with unexpected insert.

Maybe someday to be replaced by logs or books or candles or a little jungle of potted fireplace plants. But for now, and maybe through the weekend, driftwood reigns.

Pottery Barn Platter + Basket + Driftwood

I haven’t painted the inside wall brick yet because the post-fire ashy color conceals most of what I didn’t like about the original brick; plus, I haven’t bought high-heat paint yet to do the trick, which also reminds me to admit that I’m fully aware that this floor paint won’t stand up to flame if I ever decide to light ‘er up, but at least it’ll be easy to refinish if it ever needs it. And even if it gets ragged out by natural wear and tear, at least the gray fits in with the house better than peach.

Something I Never Imagined I’d Be Painting

August 02, 2011   //  Posted in: Curb Appeal, DIY   //  By: Emily   //  8 responses

It’s amazing what an afternoon’s work (and can of special paint) can do. Here’s to tackling something that most people would overlook or ignore (including myself). I mentioned last week when I wrote about the glassblock window frames that another project was sneaking into my shots. And that project is… not-too-exciting-but-still-nice-booming-drumroll…

The painted foundation.

The poured concrete foundation of my home is fortunately in very good shape (for being 70 years old). It doesn’t rise very high out of the ground, instead only exposing about 8″ of itself all the way around the house between the soil and the siding. In the front yard, for instance, only this much of the foundation peeks above the soil. I won’t go as far as to call that a flower bed.

The chipping foundation on the front of the house. And a dying azalea.

What are the odds of that azalea coming back to life? It’s taken a turn for the worst.

The thing is, at one point the plain concrete foundation had been painted black. I have a feeling it was in the early 90’s, when the shutters on the then white house were also black, and a painted black staircase led to the front door. But in those past 2 decades, the base of the house has endured it’s share of weather. Especially the foundation along the driveway, from which the black paint had almost been entirely removed and the cement itself is a little more roughed up than in other areas. From this angle, the you’re getting glimpses of the unfinished (but now finished) glassblock window frames, the cracking driveway and the unpainted foundation, which is kind of like a triple-dog whammy of embarrassment for me. And all that after showing you the deceased azalea… rest her little soul.

A rough, exposed foundation.

But let me defend the foundation situation for just a sec: If I take a minute to do some calculations, snow must have sat in the driveway for 4 months out of the year for 20 years which means the black paint was possibly frozen for 80 months or approximately 2,440 days. Brr. So it’s no surprise that the paint has been peeling and fading away, whether they used the right paint or not; repainting it just to neaten up the foundation and general appeal of the exterior of my home seemed like a good (and easy) project to take on.

Armed with a rough scrubby brush, paint scraper, and power washer, I went to town on the foundation and lower siding (anyone else purposefully plan misty projects for 90-degree days?). In some areas, I had been able to scrape all of the remaining black paint off, and if it had been so effortless all the way around, I probably would have left it neutral and natural cement instead of painting it. But because it didn’t work out quite that way, I formulated a plan to paint the foundation the same shade as the trim, the not-quite-white-but-close Silver Leaf that I used on the garage trim and door a few weeks ago.

I had plenty of the latex-based exterior Silver Leaf paint to use, and the foundation wouldn’t need much anyway, but a brief investigation told me that I shouldn’t use latex on cement (nor should I prime it, which I had also planned to do anyways in the mindset that sealing things up makes for a happier existence). Latex was banned (so to speak) for breathability and possibility of peeling reasons. I should also note that different rules apply if your foundation is brand-spankin’ new, so it’s worth your time to see what’s right for your house if the foundation was constructed in the last year.

The many advising sites I looked at (none of which I can recall because I didn’t bookmark them) recommended sticking to a masonry paint with my 70-year-old foundation, and the folks at Home Depot recommended one by Behr that I was happy to find priced at $19, even less than of a traditional gallon of Behr paint.

Masonry, Stucco, and Brick Paint from Behr. Tinted Silver Leaf.

They even managed to tint it to match Silver Leaf, even though it hadn’t been one of the colors listed in a paint coordinating stick-to-these-colors-or-be-disappointed-with-our-tinting-abilities pamphlet.

I gave the powerwashed and scraped foundation a few days to thoroughly dry before I painted, but as I began, I was pleased how easily the masonry paint went on the cement. Much thicker than I expected; I only needed one coat, and I’m sure that’s the first time I’ve ever said that.

The overall change is minimal but really nice. Fresh. So fresh and so clean-clean. Check out the side of the house how (with the glassblock windows all done too, hurray). Only embarrassing driveway cracks to take care of this fall.

Driveway foundation repainted.The front of the house looks white-years better (little purposeful pun because of the white paint). Lame. OK. How about a little before and after?


The chipping foundation on the front of the house. And a dying azalea.And after:

Updated foundation on the front of the house. And a still dying azalea.

Oohs, ahhs. And the azalea is still as dry as kindling.

Anyone else finding themselves doing odd spring cleaning like repainting foundation in the summer breeze? Just me?