Category: Workout room

What a difference paint makes

NOTE: We accepted an offer! While it will always be bittersweet to leave this place, we do so in full confidence that the new buyers love it as much as we do. (They sent us a letter. I cried.)

It’s probably not a surprise that the process of interviewing for, thinking about and ultimately accepting a role that would relocate us happened over the course of many, many days. During the very necessary interim period, we faced a major choice in the downstairs renovation: finish it the way we wanted or finish it to sell. In order to put that decision off until the future became more clear, we started making changes to other areas of the firehouse. It was a list of “If we move, we’re that much further ahead and if we don’t at least we have made some of our untouched spaces better.”

First up on that list was the master bathroom. It was a good target because all it needed was paint and virtually anything would be better than the light blue it was already sporting.

Before:

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After:

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We wanted to go with gray to tone down the blue in the tile (which the old paint color highlighted) and to tie it into the master bedroom. We coated our bedroom in Behr’s Dark Cavern about three years ago, which is apparently long enough for Behr to discontinue a color. In lieu of going with a lighter shade of that, we opted for Behr Silver Bullet.

Ultimately, it reads a bit too dark in this space, but I’m splitting hairs because it looks so much better overall! We opted to paint the trim around the tub to give it more of “built-in” feel and less of a “LOOK AT ALL THE WHITE TRIM” vibe. That’s all this space needed besides art, a fresh coating of caulk in the shower and fixing the GFCI outlet that never worked (because the previous owner ran a wire that stopped mid hallway and was helpfully marked “master bathroom,” but not helpfully connected to an outlet. I just can’t.)

At this point, we still didn’t have a clear answer on move vs. stay. So we decided to tackle the “4th bedroom.” It has always had quotes around it because it’s never been used as a bedroom and, as previously mentioned, good friends of ours didn’t even know this room existed. Basically it was a sometimes organized storage space with no windows, very little light and a furnace dominating the room (you can see it at the top left of the photo below). To get this space ready to sell (or just happier to look at if we stayed), we needed to repair some peeling plaster on the ceiling, give it a paint makeover (the ceiling was teal), install a new fan and light (and center it between the air ducts), and install new floors.

We had a few decisions to make regarding the paint and the floors. Initially, we dubbed this whole project: Project Greige…. as in, we have to go with a “sell-able” color and grey/beige is popular. After looking at a lot of greige swatches (and losing a little bit of our souls) we decided we just couldn’t do that to the firehouse. Instead, we opted to go for a light gray that we would like in our extra bedrooms and could continue through the downstairs spaces if we did renovate to sell. We grabbed a bunch of swatches and settled on Behr White Metal, which happens to be one shade lighter than the Silver Bullet we used in the master bath.

Floors were another adventure, but let’s look at a before/after set first!

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We installed a new fan and LED light kit, along with a light in the closet (not pictured) which made a huge difference in the space. We also wanted to cover up the furnace, but not totally enclose it and screw over the next owners. The best solution we came up with was a huge curtain. It does a great job of not drawing your eye to the ceiling and also won’t be in the way for any maintenance that is needed. (Thanks to my mom for her seamstress skills!)

We also put in new floors! And that is a story in itself. Originally, we wanted to match the floors in the workout room. They weren’t particularly nice, but at least we wouldn’t be introducing another floor type to the building. (Feel free to scroll down to the next pic to see what we were working with.)

We looked online with little success and decided to pull a piece of the floor to take to Home Depot. The option that came the closest was some of the cheapest, ugliest, still doesn’t super match floor I have ever seen. We kept wandering the aisle looking for something else… anything else. In doing so, we noticed a clearance palette of some really pretty, dark brown engineered hardwood. It’s a perfect mid-century tone and we instantly said “Oooh we wish we could put this in… but then we’d also have to re-do the workout room…” I’m sure you know where this is going…

We decided that having some hardwood floors in the firehouse would only help with the value. So we bought enough for the 4th bedroom, workout room and downstairs living nad dining rooms. (You may remember that the epoxy floor downstairs space we irrepriably damaged when we left a piece of treated plywood on it for too long. Oops!) If anyone in St. Louis happened to also fall in love with Home Legend Wire Brushed Forest Trail Hickory engineered hardwood at the clearance price of $1.53 a square foot, sorry not sorry but we cleaned out all the stock in the metro area… and bought a few boxes online at full price.

So that’s the story of how we decided to put down new floors in the workout room. It also (desperately) needed paint… because the sea foam green/dark purple/light purple combo wasn’t working for anyone. The benefit of putting down new floors is that we could spray in this space and not have to worry about protecting the floors. It also made it much easier to paint some of the “WHY DID YOU PAINT THAT” items, like the duct work, which was sporting green stems and purple vents… because who doesn’t want to highlight their HVAC in contrasting colors….

This space also got a coating of Behr White Metal, including the small amount of exposed brick. Sorry exposed brick purists. It made more sense and I’m in love with how it turned out.

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Truth be told – at this point, we hired painters to help speed some of the renovations along, and I regret nothing! I have never felt so fancy as when we had someone else painting spaces in our house. Besides being a luxury it also made sense considering the amount of work we needed to be done. At this point we knew we were MOVING!

I’m so happy with this change… so happy that it makes me think “maybe we should have done this sooner.” More on that later. Besides the paint and floors, we did some plaster repair, replaced the light kit on the fan and finished some trim work in the closet and around the door.

The awesome bathroom was up next. It is one of the least photographed spaces in our home. Probably because until about a week before listing it had a drop ceiling with damaged tiles (from a fixed roof issue) and missing tiles that allowed an ugly fluorescent light to hang below it. I never took proper before photos of this space, and I regret it. Aaron replaced the ceiling tiles, added recessed LED lighting and fixed the duct work. The difference is incredible! I can’t show you that, but what I can show you is the awesome dark blue paint we picked.

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BAM!

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I love this color so much. It really draws your eye to the beautiful stone, and thanks to the new lighting the space is bright despite the darker color.

That completed ALL of the rooms in the upstairs and it was so weird to be completely finished with an entire floor of the firehouse!

The kitchen needed a little prep work, like taking down the exit sign and conduit, but this transformation is mostly thanks to paint and I basically can’t….

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GAH! It looks so good. That yellow glazed brick was making this room so, so sad. If you haven’t caught the theme yet, the paint is Behr White Metal. It makes everything in this room look better – the cabinets, the countertops and the floors.

And so, do I wish we would have done this earlier? We’ve gotten that question from quite a few people. The answer is yes… and no…

Yes, because OMG look at that kitchen! And the workout room feels like a chic Ney York City loft.

But, actually, no… because I stand behind our rationale for tackling spaces one at a time and doing them to completion. We took a long view because we were in it for the long haul. Painting a space just because seemed a bit like a waste, let alone paying for and installing new floors and lighting. The captain’s bedroom is a good reminder that when we do a space from top to bottom is sings. It wouldn’t be nearly as beautiful if we had simply painted.

So while I’m happy that we touched these spaces (which needed to be done just to sell this place as finished) I don’t see our ultimate vision. They fit with the look of the firehouse, but they don’t feel like us. A coworker asked if it has been emotional to let go of the firehouse. It has. But projects like this – finishing spaces but not feeling like their ours – have helped us (or at least me… Aaron is still recuperating from many, many weeks of work. I’ll ask him when he wakes up) begin to see this place as someone else’s home.

So fresh, so clean

NOTE: We just realized that after proofing this post last week, each of us thought the other one had actually hit “publish.” Ooops!

Isn’t it amazing how motivating a party can be? It’s almost like it gives you a fresh perspective on your space. In our case it brought on a lot of “People shouldn’t see us living like this!” It’s one thing to share on the interwebs, but leading people through the sheer chaos on our first floor was not something I was interested in. For weeks before the open house we sacrificed our Sundays to cleaning and organizing this place. And in a crazy whirlwind the week before the premiere, we finally managed to turn this space into something presentable.

So here’s a little before (from our 6-month recap) and after montage for the spaces that saw the most change

Studio

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Even though it feels like progress has slowed in the studio, this comparison tells a different story. Hello viewing room and Aaron’s floating office and art! (More details coming soon.)

Dining room (formerly studio storage)

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We kept saying all of the stuff in the dining room has a home. Thanks to finally erecting some shelving (more details soon!) we were able to clear out most of this space.

Originally, we planned to move the table from the kitchen to this space, but then we took a good look around. The lighting is depressing. There is unfinished drywall everywhere. And there’s barely any natural light, especially in the winter evenings. So we swapped our plans, keeping the table in the kitchen and moving some of the extra kitchen bits (mostly small appliances) out to the dining room.

Living room (former toolbox)

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I don’t even know what to say. Basically the toolbox/workshop exploded in this area and there was nowhere else for everything to go. Aaron organized it all and we transported it to the basement. (I’m missing a picture of the basement because there’s a light burned out and it’s really dark. Trust that it doesn’t look nearly as bad as this “before” shot.)

Captain’s bedroom

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It’s amazing what a little bit of organization and unpacking will do. Some things were moved into the closet (a novel idea, right?) I corralled all of the decor and pushed the furniture to the walls so the space is a bit more open.

Workout room

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This room really deserves it’s own post because I took out the stage (in the top picture the mirror is leaning against it) that was hogging way too much floorspace. Based on the listing pictures, we surmise that it was a child’s bed with a cubby underneath. To us it looked a lot like trash, albeit well-made trash.

One Sunday when Aaron was laid up with the remnants of the flu, I unscrewed the stage, kicked out the drywall and dragged most of it downstairs, only pausing for this Instagram.

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It was a bad blogger moment, but I was riding the high of demolition. THEN Aaron said “Do you want to just toss the drywall out the window instead of dragging it through the house?” Um, YES! Hell yes! It was like a real live demo show up in here… except one where I still had to drag the remnants to the dumpster.

This was followed by another “just call me the queen of DIY” moment, I used a sawzall! Without injury! The pieces of the stage were too big to fit in the dumpster so Aaron gave me a lesson sawzalling and I went to town. Ok, so I really just cut each piece into thirds so it would all kind of fit into the dumpster. In related news, if this whole photography and blogging thing doesn’t work out I really feel like we could monetize a YouTube channel of me trying to put large objects into the dumpster. Even whilst trying to wrestle something into that bin, I think, “This is ridiculous. You’re so uncoordinated and awkward.” It has to be hilarious for the neighbors… although I hope no one is actually watching.

So things are cleaner, more spacious and less embarrassing around here. We’ve been so busy that I’ve got a backlog of posts coming your way… as long as we remember to actually publish them…

Building floors in the pole closets

The firehouse came with 5 pole holes and just one pole. (I feel like there’s a potential dirty joke in there, but haven’t had enough wine to figure out exactly what it is…)

Because 4 human-sized, holes that will literally let you fall to your death is too many for one residence, they were near the top of our repair list. They zoomed up even further when we realized that they would be easier to work on while we had the rented scissor lift in our possession. As a bonus, finishing the bottom side would allow for an even coverage of paint on the studio side.

Three of the holes had questionable floors. If you put just a bit of weight on the floor, you could definitely feel it give. We assumed low-grade plywood was to blame, but we found out it was actually due to large metal plates. Seen here above ground:

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We left one of these plates intact in the 4th bedroom because there was literally no way to get it out thanks to furnace pipes. That space will always be a closet so there’s no chance for someone to hang out there. The metal plate will do for that area, but we wanted a bit more support in the other bedrooms where we have plans to remove the pole closets.

Let’s take a look at what we’re working with. Looking up from the studio:

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Looking down from our bedroom:

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Imminent death:

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Aaron started by attaching 2″ x 6″ ledgers to 3 sides. The glazed brick is hollow so there was no reason to add a ledger there because it wouldn’t be structural.

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The floor is solid concrete so he used a hammer drill to make way for heavy-duty concrete anchors, which hold the ledger boards in place.

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That is the official hammer drill face…

Actually, he did have a bit of a scare on the very last hole. In the midst of drilling one of the holes, sparks flew back out of the hole and a run of lighting in the studio went dead. Thank god for circuit breakers. Apparently, there was conduit in the concrete ceiling. The firehouse has so many treasures and secrets… Luckily he was able to identify which circuit was compromised and was able to disable it before the break. So it’s all good now, but it was not a good day in firehouse work.

Anyways, from there he basically built a mini-deck in each opening, squaring up the corners and adding joists.

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This floor isn’t going anywhere. Looking up from the studio:

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He added drywall on the studio side. Eventually the top sides will get insulation and plywood, which will sit flush with the concrete so we can run new flooring over it … whenever we get to that… in like 5 years…

Also, eventually we’ll drag those metal plates to the dumpster… it’s only been 3 weeks since this was done… have I mentioned this blog is a judgement-free zone?

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Final shot looking up from the studio.

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Only 2 more posts until I show you the rest of the space. Two more posts! Two more posts! Ok… now I’ve had enough wine…

 

Tour – Second floor

Let’s get on with the tour. In case you need a reference, check the floorplans

So you’ve just come upstairs. This is the view looking down. We don’t have a ton of pictures of the stairwell yet, but it’s pretty basic: three sets of stairs, two landings, needs painted. The railings are original and have a ton of charm. 

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Welcome to the second floor living area. This room is really long and a bit odd thanks to the multiple doorways. To the right is the captains bedroom. Further down the wall is the awesome bathroom.

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Looking back into the space from the hallway.

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The Captain’s bedroom will eventually become a guest bedroom (and suite if we finish off the bathroom that you’ll see in a minute). Of course, before that happens we’d love to change the paint scheme from burn-your-eyes-out orange with blue accents. This is the view standing from the bathroom. There’s a closet and just beyond that the pole closet hiding the fire pole.

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There’s not much to see in the bathroom because all of the fixtures are gone. No sink and no toilet. This space is low on our priority list, but guests will be able to use the most awesome bathroom ever down the hall.

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Boom! Awesome bathroom. This is the best shot I have of it so far. Clearly it’s rocking 4 standard sinks, a slop sink and, oh yeah, that’s a urinal. Aaron is extremely excited. I had no idea that a majority of men dream of having a urinal in their house! Score one for the firehouse! On the other side of the room are four stalls – 2 toilets and 2 showers.

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The green and purple bedroom will be the workout room/secondary guest room. Once we breakdown the stage/bed platform/kid’s play house we’ll have plenty of space for the treadmill, weights and a to-be-purchased futon type piece of furniture.

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I call this the “4th bedroom” and I think that’s generous. There’s no window. The space is tiny. Oh and this:

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Yeah, that’s a mammoth furnace. Who wouldn’t want to sleep right next to that? (My hand is raised!) For now, this room will be a catch-all.

The master bedroom has some layout issues. It has a total of 4 closets. Here you see a real closet to the left and former pole closet to the right. Why these aren’t integrated into one storage area, we’ll never know.

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Ditto on the other side of the room, except that pole closet door is hiding a person sized hole that opens to the studio.

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And there’s this lovely (sarcasm) feature: a half wall. Despite my threats to rip this thing out ASAP, it’s literally the only place where we can put our bed. So it’s staying, but that won’t stop my from giving it the stink eye every day.

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I decided the master bathroom is the MOST finished room in the entire place. No holes (that we’ve noticed) and everything seems functional. The only problem? It has zero style. It’s safe for now, but I’m sure I’ll be starting a “Dream bathroom” board on Pinterest soon.

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So that’s the second floor. Any burning questions? Any guys who are seriously jealous of the urinal?

In case you missed it, you can click on the Take a Tour tab at the top to see the first floor.