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OK, here we go!   The journey to update this vintage 1980 townhouse is in full swing!  And not without a few funny things along the way.  You know, I admit I’m a little nervous when it comes to home improvement projects.  And I may be a tad OCD in that I like things the way I have them arranged, whether neat or organized clutter.  So when I have to uproot things and temporarily move them to other places to get jobs done I get a little wigged out.  I had forgotten how much I am like this as it’s been a few years since I did anything major beyond interior painting in here, which was when I did not have as much stuff in here as I do now or was perhaps a little more laid back in general.  And when I had my large back deck rebuilt a few years ago it was not as big a deal, as the guys could come and go to do their work along the side yard, not troop through my house.

As I mentioned last week, part of my anxiety has to do with the fact we’re starting these projects at Personal Ground Zero.  Meaning, right smack in my bedroom and master vanity.  But I’m actually glad for this method now that we’re underway, as the living/dining room areas down on the main level are going to take even more prep work than we’re doing right now.

Well, maybe that’s all relative.

As you’ll (hopefully) see by the pictures I’ve uploaded, we started with the Ugly.  No, not the fun of painting, but rather the ugly of removing the old, scary fluorescent lighting fixtures in my master vanity.  That plus a run to the Dump and a first attempt at scraping off the heavily-painted-over popcorn ceilings.  These popcorn ceilings are everywhere in the townhouse except for the kitchen and bathrooms, so removing them here will be a good test for how it will go elsewhere.

I went to Home Depot late Friday night to pick up a few last minute supplies, things like a ton more drop cloths and a small shop vac.  Safety goggles and ventilation masks.  Gloves.   

When L arrived on Saturday afternoon he showed up smiling with a beautiful pizza-from-scratch in hand and a toolbox, ready to get started.  Aha!  Man Help with dinner too!  So the day started off with what we joked as Caveman Repair.  Because seriously, people, those fluorescent light fixtures, wood framing and metal brackets bolted to the wall in the master vanity were installed as if in preparation for nuclear war.  L tried removing the wood framing intact but it turns out the Caveman Hammer Destroy method was best.  Debris raining down and all.  Sure, one of the wall mirrors is cracked now but honestly that is cheap stuff and no biggy.  I freaked out a bit when it happened but realized it’s not Heirloom and is easily replaceable.  Breathe, breathe.  Sure sounded loud when it cracked however!

After removing all of that crap plus other stuff in my garage and the two of us making a run to the Dump (an adventure in itself….was it OK for me to toss a dozen fluorescent lightbulb tubes down in the big hole there?  Yeesh, hope so) and a quick run to Fred Meyer, it was time to chill out with dinner and watching some hockey.  With leftover homemade pizza, made from scratch by L.  OK, I pride myself on being a good cook, but when it comes to baking and reheating food in the oven that is not my forte. I tend to make entrees on my cooktop with a lot of quick sauteeing.  So, I tried reheating the pizza on a warm temperature in the oven but it was not warm enough.  And I didn’t want to risk the dough getting tough.  So at L’s suggestion, I put it under the broiler for a few minutes.

Problem was, I put it too close to the heating element for way too long.  4 minutes later, we had the stuff of sitcoms going on in my kitchen.  Grey smoke, bad smell, and a carbon-coated thin crust pizza.  I can’t tell you how horrible I felt…it would be one thing if this was some take & bake pizza, but this was a scratch pizza! 

So we ordered in Chinese and it was all good, save for my bruised pride.  L crashed on the couch that night and in the morning I made us breakfast and we got right back to business.  Removing the rest of the master vanity light fixture framework and taping the area with drop cloths to start the popcorn ceiling removal process.

I have no doubt by the time we’re done we’re going to have a lot of expertise to share with others.  And I’m grateful for my neighbors too, as we got to borrow a garden sprayer (perfect to spray the ceiling on low pressure with water to soften it before scraping – and much less taxing on the wrist than a spray bottle), plus a square drive tool which was required for some of the light fixture frame removal (nope, 6-point allen wrenches were a no- go). 

One thing I will say is that while this process is a fucking pain in the ass, the results are going to be incredible.  A smooth, finished ceiling and fresh coat of paint on the ceiling and walls.  I can’t wait.  The pictures in this post show the master vanity light fixture removal, the popcorn ceiling closeup (remember, Carter was President when these townhomes were built), a shot of the bedroom with the mint green wall that will be a new color once the ceiling is scraped, and the Man Help in action.  For which I am most grateful.  (My) Charred Pizza Fail and all.

Until next week – more pics to follow!

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