Home Improvement Weekend: November 2018

Let me prepare you: this is a long post!

I had a few things I wanted to do around the house and decided that the first weekend in November would be the perfect time to do them.

Here’s some background info. I bought a 2 bedroom, 1 bath condo style co-op almost a year and half ago. For simplicity’s sake, I’ll be referring to my place as “the condo” from here on out. The differences between condos and co-ops are irrelevant for the purposes of this post. And for day to day living in general.

The condo is about 800 square feet and was move-in ready. The things I’ve done and will do are decorative and functional, not structural. Previously, I had someone mount a couple TV’s and put in some shelving.

So let’s jump in. I’ll start with the easiest thing and move to the hardest.

Project 1: Laundry closet

The laundry closet needed a curtain. It always looks messy in spite of the fact that I keep it neat and organized. Determined to get started on my improvement weekend, I went to Walmart on Friday night and bought a tension rod, curtain rings, and a shower curtain.

The tension rod turned out to be too short; I had just picked up the cheapest white one they had. My bad for not reading the label. One of my Saturday errands was to go back to Walmart and get the correct size.

photo of the laundry closet before and after
laundry closet before and after

I include this very simple “project” just to demonstrate that simple things can have a huge impact.

Project 2: Kitchen cabinet handles

The week before, I had ordered new handles for the kitchen cabinets. The existing handles were perfectly fine, just not my taste. After looking at Home Depot, Lowe’s, and online I settled on these from the AmazonBasics line in polished chrome.

side by side photo of the old kitchen cabinet handles and the new handles
old hardware vs new hardware

While shopping for handles, you’ll find two measurements. One for the handle length from end to end and one for the distance between the screw holes. I decided to stick with handles that had the same distance between the holes as my existing handles. That was 3 inches in this case. If I had gone with something with a different screw hole measurement, I would have needed wood filler and paint to cover the existing holes.

Handles come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and prices. I could have easily bought handles that cost $20 a piece or better, but that wasn’t necessary. The ones I got are heavy and the exact style I wanted. Tip: count the cabinets multiple times. You don’t want to discover that you bought too few or too many handles. Second tip: my power screwdriver allowed me to complete this project with a lot less elbow grease.

Project 3: Painting accent walls

This was the big project of the weekend; painting accent walls in my dining area and bedroom. The weekend before, I went to Lowe’s and picked one each of the purple paint cards from the Sherwin Williams color gallery display. The accent walls were always going to be purple; I just needed to decide on a shade. I settled on Lavender Fields in the eggshell finish. FYI: my walls are Popular Gray in eggshell finish.

open can of paint to show the color
Lavender Fields by Sherwin Williams

On Saturday of improvement weekend, I went back to Lowe’s and bought the necessary supplies.

Things I bought:

  • Can of paint
  • 6 piece painting set: included 2 paint rollers and covers (1 large and 1 small), trim brush, paint tray
  • 2 rolls of painters tape

Things I already had:

  • 2 drop cloths (a plastic, unused mattress cover left over from my move and an old sheet)
  • stick to use with the paint rollers (both my broom and mop handles can be unscrewed, yours probably can too)
  • latex gloves

Prep work

The prep work was definitely the longest part of the painting process. As anxious as I was for the final product, I’m glad I did the work because it definitely ensured a great end result. The work included removing outlet covers, using clorox wipes to wipe down the walls, and applying the painters tape.

before picture of bedroom
bedroom before
before photo of the dining area
dining area before
picture of bedroom wall with painters tape
bedroom wall with painters tape
picture of dining area with painters tape
dining area with painters tape


Finally! I started to paint in my bedroom and used my mop handle with the larger roller brush. The first coat definitely takes the longest. Once I got as close to the painters tape as I could get without going over (with a couple small mishaps), I moved on to using the trim brush.

Then on to the dining area. I used the smaller roller without the stick. Multiple websites said I should wait between 2 – 4 hours before applying the second coat; I opted for 4.

Wait time

While I waited for the first coat of paint to dry, I replaced the kitchen cabinet handles (previously discussed) and did some touch up painting where my gray walls had been scratched. I also painted some canvas squares to use in my office or bathroom. Those rooms are small and I don’t want to make them feel smaller by painting a dark wall. This is a way to bring that color in.

photo of the squares I painted for the office/bathroom
canvas squares, purchased at Michael’s

The finish line

After the 4 hour wait, I did the second coat in both rooms. Then I cleaned up, showered, and carried my tired self to bed. I slept on the futon in my office to avoid the paint fumes. In the morning, it was breakfast and then removing the painter’s tape. In hindsight, I would not have waited until the paint dried completely to remove the tape. Even still, I’m extremely pleased with the end result.

picture of the finished bedroom wall
finished product: bedroom wall
picture of the finished dining area
finished product: dining area


Wrap up

So that’s it. Another set of items off the to-do list. I’m very happy and ready to tackle future projects. I recently visited with a friend whose a former landlord\roommate. She showed me some things she has done to her home since I last saw it and we had a great conversation about not having to do everything all at once. You can take your time with the house projects. That’s the way I’ve approached the improvements. This has made them more manageable and means that I can pay for things cash.

Thoughts? Questions? Comment below.