Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Has it really been that long??

LL says:

Wow. Has it really been that long since we posted? Yikes. Well, life takes over and renovations take a back seat. Sort of. We have taken a break from breaking our backs renovating. It's hard!! Especially when we have jobs to do and bands to play in (more on that later). 

In the spring, it came to our attention that the side of our house needed repairing. Which meant ripping the siding off, reframing, re-insulating, replacing the windows, laying concrete and ignoring the problem for months on end. Ha. I would rather go swimming in lakes, hang out with friends on patios and go to rock shows. We managed to have a fun summer, but the side of the house was open to the elements for a long time. We finally boarded it up and are still on the daunting task of re-siding. It is winter here in Vancouver, therefore copious amounts of rain. Which means, who the heck wants to put up siding in the cold rain, and not get paid for it?!! Not I butterfly. Which is exactly why I went to rock shows. Well, my own rock shows.

This year I decided to focus my efforts towards reclaiming my youth and started a 90s alternative rock band called Dating Myself. We wrote/recorded/released an album in 10 months, and played a couple great shows. You can listen to/get the album (on cassette too) HERE.

So with my attention focused towards rock and NOT concrete, the renovations have taken a back seat. But have no fear, we have plans to continue with Lez Renovate, posting videos and keeping you updated in the new year. 

One fun thing of note is that we have been featured in Home Decor & Renovations! You know, that magazine you can find everywhere at transit stations and home reno places? Yeah. You can also see the article on the e-zine. Click HERE and follow these directions to find us on page 32!

1 – Select Home Décor and Renovations

2 – Select British Columbia
3 – Select Home Décor and Renovations

In the meantime, Christmas is around the corner. We have decorated the house, the gift shopping is underway and I find myself reminiscing about the holiday videos that we have made in the past. Like the time we chopped the tree down in our front yard. Lets go down memory lane together!

Have a fantastic holiday and we will see you in the new year!!! 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Bathroom reno after shocks

We swore up and down that we were 'finished' the bathroom several times. Then the mirror fell off the door. Then the toilet paper holder pulled out of the wall. Then CoolJ swore mightily and finally caulked around the base of the tub. And patched the paint with feathery strokes. And finally took some AFTER pictures.

A reminder of the before:

18 months of hiding rot with duct tape, doubleyuk

east van's ugliest plywood/tile vanity

We started demolishing our bathroom at 11:44 am, June 17, 2011.

Luckily you can't see CoolJ's behind smile

I hoped it this bathroom reno would take about 30 lesbian working days. I think hanging the frigging toilet paper roll took me 10 lesbian days. Did I mention we started June 17, 2011?

I hoped the budget would be about $1500. Mint.com tells me I recorded
$4,792.79 in category "Home Improvement - Lez Renovate Season 3"

To be honest, we do not keep the sharpest of records of what all we spend on every trip to HomoDepot. So of the 38 (!) trips to HomoDepot in the last 51 weeks, not all was spent on Season 3 bathroom (we did buy some lightbulbs, garbage bags, and bbq rocks after all). But, in short I am haemorrhaging money into this house and I won't really work out the painful details until I do my taxes. Late. Did I mention we could use a sponsor?

Here are some of the highlights of actual inputs to this bathroom reno:
  • $89 on a new toilet after someone broke the previous one by not following directions
  • almost $500 (!) hauling away the garbage. Plaster and lath is very heavy and we pulled out the ceiling & 3 walls of that junk. God knows that poisons we inhaled. We did carefully sort all our garbage into the categories required by our local dump, saved some in my junk pile, and used both craiglist advertised haulers and a friend with the local Modo Car Co-op membership
  • $1059 on plumber and the fixtures. Given that the mild-mannered plumber sweated and swore  for hours to get the corroded toilet drain pipe out, and that it is no longer flowing uphill into our bathroom, and that we replaced a good chunk of plumbing stack, and he had to build up the tub so it would be level, I thought this was a bargain
  • $509.66 at the tile shop, including about $250 in tools that we have already used again in helping our friend. I will have you know that I only paid  $2 /square foot for the gorgeous tiles on the floor, marked down from $13.32/foot
  • $535.36 on the NuHeat in floor heating. $0 on electrician because NuHeat has a good customer service hotline (which I called 3 times) and we have a dear friend who is an electrician who helped us finalize the electrics
  • $400 something on roof refactoring by the bicyling roofer at time of installing a bathroom exhaust vent
  • lots of nickels and dimes to death
I'm sure you have already watched the Bathroom Guts and Glory Seaon Finale Video:


In any case, here are the after shocks showing what we got for 51 weeks and$4,792.79. A pretty sweet 26 square foot Peachland Beach Bathroom.
If only I had a long ladder I could take a shot from outside

Cabinet from Jacks Used Building supplies ($25)
Mirror from a loading dock junk heap

Who needs storage for anything more than magazines? (Craigslist sink & faucet $50)
ValueVillage magazine rack ($2.99)

I picked these flat river rocks one by one from a heap at the landscaping yard. $2.31

Recessed medicine cabinets in the wall with shutters from Restore ($5each)
Vinyl tablecloth from Dressew for the liner

Anyone recognize the 'barnwood' ?
 It's cedar I grabbed from an emptied storage locker

Thanks Lou for the help to make this dream come true

Just like at the beach

An Ikea hack. This is my family boating near Peachland Beach, circa 1980

Thanks a lot for following our (mis) adventures in bathroom renovating. As our pal at the tile shop says "it will get a lot faster next time." Is it true? Does it get faster? How about cheaper? Promise me it gets cheaper next time!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Lez Renovate On Location

Happy Monday! Hope your weekend was swell. I got to mow the lawn in a tank top and shorts, which is always nice, followed by MANY tasty sangria's. Fun times had by all.

But this past weekend is the not the topic of conversation for this blog post. No. It is the fact that I, LL, took my renovation knowledge on the road and helped artist friend, Louise DeGagne, surprise her girlfriend with a brand new kitchen back-splash. You may remember Lou from Season 3 of Lez Renovate. She helped me build some acoustic baffles:

Remember that? Awesome.

Anyways, since I have tiled a few things now on Lez Renovate, it just goes without saying that I would be the perfect person to help Lou with what she needed. We had everything handy in the tool shed, so it was easy to begin the process.

This is the original backdrop, a piece of artwork that Lou made. It wasn't doing the trick so it needed to go.

Remove everything off the wall and move the tiny stove. Tiny gas stoves are so cute!!

Here I am putting up subway tiles (they are so IN this year!). And we had to screw a piece of wood on the wall before the cabinets to hold up the tiles, sans slippage.

We decided the top should have some accent tiles so in classic Lez Renovate fashion, we raced to Lower Mainland Tile to receive a miracle. And miracle receive we did. They stocked just enough little square glass tiles to do the job. Thumbs up!

Accenting the tiles with a metal border really makes the glass pop wouldn't you say?

Then we had to wait for the thin-set mortar to dry. The next day we just whipped some grout together, smeared like crazy and voila!!

Make sure you accessorize!

New cabinet gives the wall a fresh new look!

Close up of the beauty.

So there you have it. Lez Renovate, on location. In classic Mike Holmes form, you are supposed to shake the hand of the man client and kiss and hug his wife. Since Lou's girlfriend wasn't home (and that would of been weird if I kissed her) we just gave each other high fives and scheduled a beer night. 

That's what I call teamwork!!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Lez reflect: bathroom reno before and ... before

Dearest readers, 11 months and two celebration parties later, we were about to share the bathroom renovation before/after pictures to the blogosphere.

We hoped you would by now gawking at our skillful tile work that repaired the rotting shower surround, and scheming how to create your own recessed shelving bathroom cabinets. We hoped you would be spotting us on other reno blogs like Better After and Bath Tastic on DIY Network. We want you all to come over and take the virtual tour of our Peachland Beach theme bathroom.

But no. Because we are back to the BEFORE stage when CoolJ noticed that the mirror slid off the hollow core door of our bathroom. Another curse on the previous owners who removed all the solid doors from this house! Luckily it slid slowly.

I was peeved. Because the confidence of the sales person was great when he promised the best way to attach a mirror to a hollow door was using 3m exterior grade double sided tape. Wrong. Managed to peel off a good chunk of the blended garbage that hollow doors are made of.   I even WEIGHED the mirror to be sure it did not exceed the load limit. Harumph.

So back to the Before of the only mirror where these 2 lezzes can check our faux hawks and pixie cuts (respectively) and inspect our outfits before leaving for the coffee shop or food co-op.
Every simple job requires dozens of tools & parts
Had to find a new way to get the mirror to stay put. Three hardware stores later, 7 trips to my shed later, I am smiling at my own  groovy nerdy lesbionic reflection again.

Here's the trick to hanging a framed mirror on a hollow core door.

First, get some of the appropriate toggle anchor bolts. We first bought the wrong ones (classic) - they are different lengths, for different thicknesses and types of material. I found a great article at a website whose name I both hated and loved, where the "natural" (love) "handyMAN" (hate) explains with good humor the differences between different types of molly bolts and anchor bolts. Clearly I am not a natural handyman, but at least this handy dyke managed to get the g.d. mirror to stay

Next we used LL's custom approach to the hardware isle -gazing around for a Miracle Product while I, CoolJ claim it could not exist. She found it in the flush mount hangers. Perfect. Screwed one side into the anchor bolts in the hollow door (after much pounding, grunting and pressing to get the g.d. anchor bolts to go in and flip open). Then screwed one upside down onto the mirror frame. Oops.

See the clever hanger thingo at the top
Finally got the hangers hung.  Then had to scrape the old tape off the door. Sand. Prime. Paint. Because of course I had to move the mirror up a smidge.
I used some of the tape for good measure, to prevent the mirror banging around. Whew. But now the long weekend is over and it's too late to get all duded up for the Sunday night grrl dance party. Better look sharp for work tomorrow morning.
See the clever thingo who got the g.d. mirror back on the door

Canadian renovators - did you spend the long weekend making repeated trips to the hardware store? What if you live in a small town like my sister - it is a 140Km trip to the nearest hardware store! I would be in trouble!  Anyone have a better way to deal with hanging a mirror on a hollow door? Have you just used PL300 construction adhesive and called it a day?

Friday, April 27, 2012

Lez Finish Season 3 - VIDEO

Holy crap-a-doodle! We are finished the bathroom renovation. Yep, actually finished. Season 3 of Lez Renovate is coming to a close. But have no fear friends, we have plenty of headaches ahead!

In the meantime, check out the season finale!

So what is going to happen now? Well, we are going to lay around in our bathroom for awhile and then we have to get started on one of 2 things. Fix the hole in the side of the house or the dilapidated porch. Both nervous making. We'll keep you posted.

And thanks to everyone who has followed us on our journey! We would be nothing without you folks. Have a fantastic weekend!


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Are we at Peachland Beach yet? Or is that just grout in my eyes?

Hey friends
You may be wondering where we have been for the last month. We have been in our EFFING BATHROOM, that's where.

Sheesh. We started this bathroom reno in June 2011, with the design goal to make it feel like you are visiting Peachland Beach. And to finish during the summer. I won't lie to you. It has been TOUGH. And taken 10 months. A few highlights:

In July we stayed up til 2 am several times to finish the shower tiles, but couldn't get the tiles up in time to have the plumber comeback to install the taps.  DIY minus points, as my mom, sister, and our beloved toddler nephew came to visit us that weekend and had to birdbath in the kitchen sink.

In August, we had the toilet in and out a few times, including while LL had the flu. DIY minus points.

In September...CoolJ had to consult video footage with our electrician friend saying "ok forward, stop. Is THAT the wiring you ran" because of some misunderstandings regarding how to power the in-floor heat and the additional art/lamp. DIY BONUS points for figuring it out, getting up in the attic with an actual electrician, and hooking up the fan and light fixture.

In October, it was a near miss with the in-floor heating. Hooked it all up 3 months after installing the gorgeous bathroom floor tile and river rock (and resolving the afore-mentioned electrical confusion).
Nearly a DIY crisis: the thermostat immediately flicked to Ground Fault Interruption Mode to save our lives. Removed and checked the wiring and discovered the error! Huzzah! The heat is on.

Come November, we were onto decor: faux-finishing some recycled lumber to resemble the weathered dock of Peachland Beach,  installing shelving and mirrors, and started on the recessed shelving for the bathroom cabinet. Managed to refrain from smirking when the "I'm New!" hunk at homo-depot paint department kept calling it "Fox Finish," without irony.

For New Year's Eve we had a celebration of the finished bathroom. But we hadn't quite dotted the i in "DiY".  As one guest succinctly put it - "I thought it was done. You still have the toilet paper on the back of the toilet."

Through January - April 2012, we've started planning another MAJOR project (probably to kick off in 2014, at this rate, but I think it will be right up your alley hint hint).

Sheesh. Tough crowd.

This week after getting 2 of the wrong size plexiglass cut, I finished a cool Ikea-Hack that I learned about from local Vancouver artist Louise deGange.  Seeing her gorgeous "Birch" pieces at the EastSide Culture Crawl 2011 showed me precisely the technique to realize one of the design visions I'd had from the outset. Behold her gorgeous acryclic painting on an Ikea Glyllen lamp! My piece is like this only in that it has a lamp...
birch lamp. mixed media (lx on) (private collection) from http://louiseadegagne.com/visual-art/birch

But listen. We did it! The memories are already starting to fade away and we've (pretty much) finished our bathroom. LL is preparing the final video for you to enjoy and we are (soon) ready to hit the Peachland beach!

Thanks for sticking with us! Coming soon: a full budget, before and afters, and the big reveal video.

As our friend from Lower Mainland Ceramic Tile said "The next one will be faster and easier." So if you live in Vancity, get in touch. CoolJ is going to be spending some of summer 2012 helping a friend with her bathroom lezrenovation. Isn't she lucky to have access to my precision measurements and time management?

One final question for you all: which shower curtain do you think looks better with the white tile,

What DIY bathroom renovations would you now take on? What do you think should be left to the pros?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Lez Board It Up - VIDEO

It's Friday. Woot. Get excited. Get really excited. You get to sleep in after a long hard week, maybe have some burgers and brew with friends and finally finish the bathroom. Oh wait, that's me. What are you up to this weekend? Well, lets start you off with a new video featuring the talents of visual artist, Louise Degagne. And guys, she's pretty awesome.

You see, Lou came by to help Cool J bring her visualizations to life. As you know, the bathroom has a lake beach theme. And what do you have at a lake? A dock of course. And what better way to enjoy the warming memories of laying on a dock by putting one on your wall. Take a look:

Now, how fantastic is that? So, the bathroom reno is coming quickly to a close. Stay tuned for the season finale where we reveal the bathroom in all its beachiness glory!! In the meantime, have a great weekend.

And sleep in.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Lez shop local

The BC Home and Garden show last weekend was a bit of a LezRenovate bummer. First, we were surprised that Lez Renovate was not selected featured as celebrity guest hosts. But even worse, the dozens of exhibition vehicles ousted CoolJ from discount parking near  my Day Job all week. That was the final straw & so we lezcotted (like boycotting but a bit different) the big corporate show.

Anyway, the weekend was taken up with fruitless trips to the Industrial Suburbs searching for supplies for a very cool IkeaHack CoolJ learned from a dear friend, talented artist and scene painter, Lou DeGagne - who helped LL construct some baffling sound baffles in Season 2. You'll meet Lou again soon, and learn more about her awesome hack as we prepare the lighting fixture to conclude this epic bathroom renovation.

The key lesson learned, however, was one that I learn again and again: small local businesses are almost always the best choice for the DIY newbie. Because: 

1. An established shop is likely to have experienced trades people hanging around on a Friday afternoon

In our last video, you saw the gorgeous floor tiles we installed, and glimpsed some of the helpful advice we got from our local tile expert, Doug K at Lower Mainland Ceramics.

But the bonus about that place is not only that I got design tips and several hours of technical advice from Doug and his colleagues, but also valuable life lessons from the tile setter pros he works with. 

This gang was both entertaining and informative. They told me lots of stories about the various snotty clients they'd worked for over the years, and I confirmed what I'd learned about working with tradesmen: they probably do know what they are doing. 

Watch Lez Lay it Down  - the latest Lez Renovate video
If you argue with a pro based on what you learned in a 4 minute YouTube video, you may just get your job done your way.  That is, instead of the CORRECT way. Sure, the customer is always right, but if it is my youtube-inspired opinion on how to tile a shower surround, vs that of a tradesperson with 20 years of experience and a portfolio, this is one of the very few times in life when I will not insist on being right.

Bonus: Trades horror stories inspire safety on the DIY worksite. Here's how it went when I bought the diamond blade for the angle grinder, to cut the tiles that go around our much-beleaguered toilet:

Tile setting Dude #1: Oh sure, you can just hold the grinder with one hand, and hold the tile with the other and zip those curved cuts right out.

CoolJ: Erm. Have you seen the tiny size of my forearm? I think I might use a clamp to hold the tile so I don't zip my finger right off.

Dude #2: Ha ha. Oh yeah. Hey do you remember that time Charlie almost disemboweled himself when the blade came off?

Charlie: Oh heh heh. That was a close one. Do make sure you tighten the screw on the blade. I'd check it twice.

CoolJ: Gulp

2. The local guy is local.
As in, you don't have to waste your Saturday driving to 40 minutes each way to get lost in the frigging industrial suburbs. The local glass shop just up the street from my favourite thrift store, can probably order me anything I might need (a 1/4 thick piece of plexiglas at 20cm x 56 cm, for example). Why I didn't just call the local guy on Friday and pick up on Saturday after thrifting?  I don't know. But I do know I would not have gotten lost for an hour on the way, nor wasted my Saturday afternoon if I had bought plexi on Commercial Drive instead of driving to PoCo!

3.  The small shop/tradesperson has to care about customer loyalty and referrals. 
As long as I don't organize a large-scale consumer boycott (or lezcott, for that matter), it does not matter a whit to HomoDepot if I never shop there again at 9:56 pm. But we picked the tile shop because a friend said they solved his tile emergency. We hired the plumber through a colleague's brother, and we hired the electrician through our much-trusted Contractor Advisor. When we first got our place and I cracked a water pipe during our basement renovation, I (foolishly in this case) waited a week for a plumber used by  friend to come, rather than call one out of the phone book.

In any case, my fear of being swindled is diminished by a referral from a friend, and my delight is immense to recommend a skilled tradesperson to a friend.

4. Local shops create a small town feel in the big city
I grew up going to the Beaver lumberyard with my Dad in Westbank BC. I wish LezRenovate could shop at a Beaver Lumber. Sometimes we make do with Dick's but that is another story.  The Beaver was owned by the family of a girl I went to school with. I got my first 1980s perm in a woman's basement family room-cum-salon.  I bought retread tires for my 1977 Honda civic from Hugh's tire shop, behind the barbershop on Main St.  In any of these settings, my parents would chat with the other shoppers, who they knew from town, and my dad loved especially to kibbitz with the proprietor and try to get a deal.

And now as a grown up Lez Renovator, it is fun to shop in the village in the big city.

I've sat and heard all about one of my suppliers' shoulder operation. It was a bit gross and I almost fainted, but it was great to get to know the guy. At local shops, I sometimes get a little freebie thrown in with my order.  I get help loading my car. I get to know the people who live and work in my neighbourhood, and that my friends is great fun. How about you - are you doing all your shopping for DIY materials at 9:45 - 10:00 pm and therefore can only shop at the box store? Or have you seen the benefit in making local contacts? It takes a village to renovate a 83 year old bungalow!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Lez Lay It Down - VIDEO

Alright, you asked for it. You got it. A new video! Holy cow. It has been awhile, I know. So, because you are so patient and loyal, here is the newest crazy, zany renovation antics from your favourite lesbian renovators!

Lez Lay It Down - 3.10

This week on Lez Renovate, LL and Cool J remove the toilet for the umpteenth time and install flooring into the new bathroom. 

We are super close to the big reveal! So stay tuned.

Friday, January 27, 2012

How to tile around a window - lez resolve the latest crisis

 At the end of the last video, your intrepid DIY tile setters were sweating and strained in the last moments of tiling around a tiny window ledge in our shower.

If you like dramatic tension, or tunes that remind you of Luscious Jackson, you'll want to watch the video AGAIN, because when it comes to laying tile, you just have to do it.

Here's how it went down:
The Tile Miracle
LezRenovator #1: "Have we measured to see how this is going to fit?"
LezRenovator #2: "yeah, it's fine. We'll figure something out when we get to the window."

As we got closer to  the window, we realized that we had not "mathed it out" quite right: we had about 1/2 inch of space to make up. We thought of putting a thin trim piece, but an hour in the tile store  & we found nothing to our liking that said "Peachland beach" without being too seashelly.

As tempers were getting hotter and a PDA (public display of aggravation) was imminent, Doug the Tile Guru at Lower Mainland Ceramic Tile had an Aha! moment and ducked into his secret second storeroom. After a few minutes of clanking about, he produced a Minor Tile Miracle: edging pieces, typically used on a counter edge. Hurray! Perfect to tile around our tiny window in the shower, hide the 1/2 and save us a huge headache.
Of course we had not measured, so we had no idea how many pieces we would need. Mr Tile Miracle let us take the whole box, counting how many we used and paying him on Monday. Have I mentioned how much I love local business owners who go the extra tile (ha ha) for their customer??

With only a few miscalculations we managed to get the edge pieces stuck around the window.  A fun fact:  eyeliner pencil works brilliantly to mark tiles for cutting if you don't have a grease pencil handy.   I wonder if grease pencil works as eyeliner? With only 1 more trip to the tile shop for more grout, we finally got'er done.

Total project cost: $438.82
This includes
  • about $200 in tools (diamond blade for the grinder & the tile cutter)
  • tiles & grout (including the extra tiles we kept in case we need to make repairs later - they will be of the same production lot and therefore seamless in color)
  • spacers
  • edging and wall-specific mortar

Total labour: at least 100-125 lezrenovator hours

Doug's quotable quotes:
"Well, my guy probably could have done it in 8 hours, for about $500 plus material. But good for you! You'll be a lot faster next time."
Yeah, next time, right LL? Tiling is messy, time-consuming, and in our case, was full of surprises.

Must say,  we did a good job and really appreciated getting to know the folks at Lower Mainland Ceramic Tile. The advice about techniques, and material was so helpful and kind. Which is good because we needed that relationship once we got to tiling the floor.... Sigh. See it all in the next episode.

How about you? Have you tiled a shower or kitchen counter or a floor? If you need a tile cutter you can borrow ours. If you need advice, you can borrow our expert, Doug!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Lez Lay Some Tile - VIDEO

So we have been busy recovering from the holidays and now are just back into the swing of things. This week, we revisit last summer, when we first put up new tile in the bathroom. And, it was a pretty big job. But, we got it done. Take a look at the video:


And we have to thank Doug at Lower Mainland Ceramics for the saving the day, a few times. We went running to to him with crazy tile problems and he would fix them with a wave of his magic wand. More on him and his awesomeness in the next episode.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Happy New Year!

LL says:

It's a new year. A new year for renovations and a new year for videos about renovations. We are working on the latest installment and will have that posted soon. But in the meantime, lets talk about resolutions.

Did you make any resolutions? Like lose weight, call your mom more or start a band? Enough about me.

Maybe you made a resolution to pick up tools more or finally start that bathroom renovation that you have been putting off. Well, believe me - its easier than you think. First off, picking up a tool is a cinch. A saw? Easy. A screwdriver? Easy. A jackhammer? Well, not so easy but you will feel uber strong after that!! And once you get a hang of your tools, you'll start using them and before you know it, your bathroom will be demolished.

That is what happened to us! We were procrastinating about the bathroom renovation for so long and one weekend we just decided to wield a hammer and demo the whole thing. It's quite cathartic, I recommend it.

That's what the new year is all about. Getting rid things that are annoying and/or holding you back. And a dirty, gross, moldy, falling apart bathroom was definitely annoying! It felt good to rip it apart and throw it out. Cleansing. Like a good Wild Rose detox.

So, go to it! Rip up your old laminate floor and replace it with hard wood, paint your living room, build a bench to store all your sewing supplies, build a porch from scratch, repair the foundation in the corner of your house where it has been rotting since 1979 and build a new shelving/storage system for all your CD's and massive speaker system.

Oh, and call your mom more.