Dining Room Day 2+: Patching

So on Day 1 we demoed out the bookcases and most of the baseboards and then patched in some drywall over the now exposed lath board. Today we started taping and mudding all the drywall seams.

I started with a self adhesive mesh tape on the all the flat seams and then covered them in a layer of joint compound. I used the mesh tape because that’s what we still had from patching smaller areas.  It’s not actually recommends for larger areas.  Oops.* You can see how gappy the join is between the 2 pieces is here.


For joint compound we’re trying out this stuff since it comes pre-mixed (lazy) and claims to be dust control.  We’ll see.  If we were working on a much larger area I may have gotten the stuff you mix yourself, but we’re trying to keep things as simple as possible.


After the flat seam got a layer of joint compound I tackled the inside corner.  The first video I watched recommend a corner trowel, but I have a about 4′ worth of corner… did I need to buy a specific tool?  Really?  Then I watched this video of how to tackle an inside corner without a corner trowel.  Ok, I got this.

For corner seams you need the paper drywall tape (really need).  It come pre-creased so you just have to rip a piece as long as your corner and fold it in half so it fits right inside the corner.


This stuff is not self adhesive so you will have to put down a layer of joint compound first.  Be generous but not gloopy, and if you’re worried about how much you’re putting on err of the side of a little too much.  I ended up with a small bubble since I didn’t lay down enough joint compound in one spot.  Oops.


Once you’ve added a layer of joint compound on each side of the corner, press the tape into place with your fingers so it sticks.  Next, take your putty knife and scrape down along the tape with a firm even pressure.  This will more solidly adhere the tape and sort of squeegee out any extra joint compound.  Then do the same thing on the other side of the tape.

If you’ve decided to forgo the corner trowel to save yourself $6** you’ll just have to work one side at a time.  Now you’ll layer joint compound over the tape like you would on all the flat seams.  Wait for your first layer to dry before tackling the other side otherwise your putty knife will just muck up the nice smooth joint compound on the first side.  Like everything else in drywall it will probably take several coats, so one side, dry, other side, dry, and repeat.

We’ve got some fun depth changes and assorted crappiness happening here so I’ve been working away on getting everything feathered out.  This video was super helpful in getting a technique down.

After a few evenings of work it’s starting to look pretty decent, but I definitely have a little more work to do.



*There’s actually some conflicting info about which tape you should use when… but the general consensus is that the mesh is ok for small patch jobs, especially with plaster (but should be used a quick setting mud), but paper tap should be used for pretty much everything.  Research first people.  I think we’ll be ok though… I’d be a little more worried if we were doing the whole room.

**Yeah, I know, it’s the principle of the thing.

Day 1: Dining Room Demo

After deciding on the Dining Room as our next project we detoured a little bit in January to follow along with Apartment Therapy’s January Cure.  I think this was a good call to allow us to refocus a little bit on the house as a whole and tackle a couple of smaller projects.

So, the dining room…. it will be a project, but we have a plan! We started by removing the bookcases.

The first one came out really easily.  Despite all the screws it wasn’t actually attached anywhere so we just had to pull it out and haul it into our garage (without getting impaled by any of the screws).


The second bookcase was an entirely different story. This guy was actually fully built in.  We unscrewed any screws we could find (2) but there were still nails holding it in place.  The nails were sunk deep enough that we couldn’t pry them out so the bookcase wasn’t budging.  Demo time.


After some quality time with a crowbar, a hammer, and some brute strength the bookcase was in shambles.


And eventually we were left with this (and a bunch of suspiciously pointy scraps of wood so we are totally prepared for a vampire invasion!)**


Awesome, right?

We already knew there was some wall damage behind this one.  One of the side trim pieces popped off a while back so we could see some exposed lath board so this wasn’t a total shock.  I had kept my fingers crossed that the wall behind the bookcase would still be ok… nope.

The weird thing going on here is that the main walls were drywalled at some point so what you’re seeing here is a combo of drywall and plaster.

I demoed out the remains of the plaster (which is remarkable satisfying by the way) and Matt tackled the baseboard. The baseboard did not want to budge, but we need to replace all of it (patching would have been nearly impossible).  I had to go make a hardware store run in the middle of it to get a large crowbar so we could get some more leverage now.*


Now that the demo was done we had to start putting it back together.  We had picked up some drywall*** and started cutting it down to size.  Somehow whoever drywalled the first time managed to make wobbly cuts all around this opening.  How is that even possible? You get a straight edge, a utility knife, score, snap, and voila! Straight line.  How do you mess that up?


Our patching got a little wonky along the bottom because of the way we had to cut down the drywall to get it home in the first place, but that will all get covered up by new baseboards anyway so I’m not going to stress about super smooth finishes down there. Evening out the rest of the wall will probably take us a while though…


*The cashier asked me how my day was going and looked mildly frightened when I responded with “Well, hopefully better now!” while wielding a 3′ crowbar

**Don’t talk to me about sparkles.  I really want the t-shirt I saw that said “Then Buffy staked Edward.  The end.”  Also, this is totally worth watching.

***FYI a 1/2 sheet of drywall barely fits inside a compact car and people will probably laugh at you while you try and wedge it inside (especially if you’re already mildly panicking because it started to rain) and you may slightly damage the rubber seal around the door frames.  Thanks for volunteering my car Matt!

A Little Dining Room Progress

I know I’ve announced the Dining Room is our next big project, but I’ve spending January focusing on Apartment Therapy’s January Cure since it’s nice to spend some time doing a whole house refresh + clean. I haven’t been completely slacking on the Dining Room though.  This week I made use of my media downtime assignment (which I mostly failed out by the way….) to work on curtains for the dining room.

Yes, I’m just going to need to take them down again once we start painting, but it looks nice for the moment and the hard part (getting the holes drilled in the right spot) is done.


Anyone who spends a lot of time googling decor advice/reading design blogs/perusing Pinterest can probably tell I broke one of the most common design “rules.”  But rules are made to be broken and I’m a rebel.

What is usually recommended when hanging curtains it to hang them higher  and wider than the window frame.  Wider, check.  Higher… not so much.  But here’s the thing, the logic behind this piece of advice is to make your windows look more dramatic and you can use it to fake a bigger window or a centered window.  The problem is that I think there’s an underlying assumption that you’re hanging curtains in newer construction–dinky moldings, average ceiling heights, that sort of thing.  Here we’ve got nicely tall ceilings, big, and some lovely window trim.  If I had hung the curtain rod higher than the window it would get squashed in the space in between the top of the window molding and the crown molding.  It would also hide our window trim.  No beuno.


Instead I opted to hang the rod across the the “blank” area of the trim so the fancy molding peeks out over the top. It’s still nice and high, but not overly competing with the charm of our trim, which is one of the reasons we picked this house out in the first place.

Moral of the story, there are no hard and fast design “rules.” There are a number of really good suggestions out there that will make sense for a lot of people, but if it’s just not working for you, don’t fight it, no matter how often it pops up on Pinterest.*

The curtains are super cheap IKEA VIVAN panels (no longer sold apparently) that I spruced up with some curtain rings and chunky finials.  The sheers are from Target and just held in place with inexpensive tension rods.**  I opted for sheers again like I did on the kitchen because we’re on a busy-ish street and our windows are about 2 feet from the sidewalk so some semblance of privacy is nice.

Both the curtains and sheers needed to get hemmed so I pre-washed everything first. It’s usually a good idea to pre-wash anything you may need to wash again in the future since there can easily be some shrinkage.  Even though I can’t say I wash my curtains with any regularity, they can get dusty (and furry around the bottom in our house) so being able to toss them in the washer and not worry too much is worth the added step of pre-washing.  In my opinion pre-washing > hand-washing.


After everything was washed and dried I ironed it all nice and smooth and hung up a panel to mark my hem height. My personal preference for curtains to have them just skim the floor.  I opted for a wide hem so I didn’t have to cut any of the fabric off (in my experience these curtains don’t rip straight at all), I just doubled the fabric over to make a nice smooth hem and give a little weight to the bottom to what are pretty light-weight curtains.






You can either run it through a sewing machine or hand stitch.  Hell, you could use some fusible webbing and I won’t judge you–if someone is inspecting your curtain hem when it’s within a few inches of the floor they’ve got some issues.  I haven’t decided which I’m going to yet.  I’m leaning toward hand sewing because it’s more subtle, but then I’m also lazy…. (no lie, those pins may stay in for a little while).

In unrelated news, I should be getting a new camera this weekend (!!!) so hopefully the picture quality will improve around here.


*You know what else Pinterest suggests?  Self-tanning with coco powder.  Yeah…. if you ever start feeling Pinterest envy, just remember that one.

**So Target only had one in stock when we were there earlier this week and it’s on the other window and not hemmed yet.  This one is a little short because it’s from the bathroom in our old Apartment, but you get the idea, right?

Up Next: The Dining Room

So we’ve tackled the Kitchen and the Bathroom, now it’s time to move on.  I was pretty sure I was going to end up working on the bedroom or living room next, but I kept waffling over which one to pick.  During a discussion with my mother-in-law I realized that my ideas for both those rooms hadn’t fully gelled yet, but I did have a good idea of what I wanted to do with the dining room.  Problem solved!

So, the dining room.  It’s…. functional.


It also probably wasn’t designed to be the dining room, hence the built-in bookshelves. They’re not functional for a dining room (too narrow for good storage, too tall for a buffet).  This room also has a very unfortunate acoustic tile ceiling.  That will need to go, along with yet another unattractive light fixture.

Now for the plan:


The fugly ceiling tile will get covered up with faux tin panels. This not only add some visual interest to the ceiling, but it also means we won’t have to worry about the state of the ceiling under the existing tiles.

We’ll also switch out yet another questionable light fixture. The bookshelves will also get demo-ed and replaced with free-standing buffets (not necessarily the one shown, but the plan is for something similar). One of them we’re pretty sure is basically free-standing, but the other is definitely more attached and doesn’t have plaster all the way behind it so that will be a joy to patch.  After the bookshelves come out we’ll then have to replace all the baseboard molding since I think it will be near impossible to find a perfect match to patch it with.

For the walls I’m thinking of going dark–the same color I used on the kitchen cabinets.  The room gets a lot of natural light and will also get with trim, white buffets, and white curtains so it should end up dramatic but not overwhelming.  Or I’ll regret it all and repaint immediately.  Sometime you just need to take a chance with bold.

Our existing dining table (a simple black shaker-style) will be staying for now, but I would lovelovelove to replace it with a parsons table some day. I am however hoping to swap out our cheap IKEA chairs with some Eames shell chairs.

I’d like to add a rug in the dining room as well, mostly because it’s the one room where the wood floor isn’t looking so hot so I’d like to draw some attention away from the wood.

The artwork is still up in the air, but I found these prints at IKEA awhile back and really like the colors and abstract-y fruit/foliage pattern.  I have an idea to spruce it up a little bit too… but I need to see how the rest of the room starts coming together first.