The Brellis House


Category Archives: Home Improvement

Home repair, improvement, remodeling, decorations.

Happy Fall!

Posted on September 26th, 2011 by Susanna

Can’t believe it’s already fall! It’s starting too cool down, which means less mosquitoes and more bonfires!

fall bonfires

My mini project of the weekend was to build a box. You see, the recessed shelf we built in our bathroom has pretty narrow shelves, and I looked high and low for baskets or boxes or any kind of container that was tall and narrow. No success. So, as is typical of us, I decide to come up with something from scratch. First brainstorm was to cover a shoebox with fabric, which worked really well.

But then DIY wooden boxes started popping up in my internet surfing and I really wanted to give it a try.  So we went to Lowes, in their nice little craft wood section, and found one lonely warped piece of wood. Of course it was the only one of the size and type we wanted, Dan didn’t want to get it, but I insisted. So I brought it home, cut it up, stained it, put on a clear coat (leftover from our hardwood refinishing project). Easy peasy! Now  I just have to wait for our Lowes to get some more of that wood so I can make some more. Sorry we didn’t get many pictures of the process.


staining bathroom boxbathroom box


We’ve been spending a lot of time in the bathroom lately…

Posted on August 15th, 2011 by Susanna

I’ve wanted to do a summary post of all the work we’ve done in the bathroom.  It all started with this:broken toilet tank

Our toilet randomly cracked in half. Thank goodness we were home, because the water would have kept flowing and flooded our whole house (and we had just refinished our hardwood floors the previous weekend!).  Our guess is that it cracked partially because the person installing it had tightened the bolts connecting the tank to the toilet too tight (which is a common offense apparently, one we very carefully did not commit when we finally installed the new toilet), and partially because the whole toilet was sinking into the floor (since a previous wax ring seal was not so good, water leaking had weakened the floor boards- also a common occurrence).  Shortly after searching for a replacement tank with no success we removed the toilet and it now adds a nice tough to our deck:

toilet on deck

After taking out the toilet we started ripping out the tile on the floors, walls, and shower surround:

bathroom duringshower tile removal


We had to rip out all of the water-logged plaster behind the shower tile (did we mention- another reason we took on this bathroom remodel was because we had to hang a shower curtain against the tiled wall because water was gushing through the crumbly grout between the tiles and through the wall into the basement). We also tore out the old cast iron tub (with lots of help from cousin Kevin- Thanks Kevin!). shower during

We then replaced all of the rotten floor boards and put down cement backerboard:

bathroom duringbathroom flooring

We then installed the tub (which was INCREDIBLY difficult- it took like 2 weeks just to install the tub) and put up cement backerboard around the tub:

tub during

One of the surprisingly easy things we did was install the ceiling exhaust fan and a recessed light over the tub (kudos to my fantastic electrician of a husband!)bathroom light and fan

Then we were onto the fun stuff!  After buying a very cheap wet saw from harbor freight (despite being warned about cutting porcelain tile) we quickly learned how to cut and lay tile- very exciting and surprisingly simple!bathroom floor tilebathroom floor during


After carefully laying the tile, I grouted (best part of the process) and it was done:floor groutNext we prepared the shower surround by painting on this awful cancer-smelling pink goo to completely waterproof the wall:


Once that dried we were able to tile. This proved to be much more difficult than the floor. We had a pretty hard time getting the mosaic sheets to not have obvious gaps between the 12×12 sheets.

shower tile


tub knobsshower niche

After installing our new toilet and sink, we’ve got a functional bathroom, but there is still much to do:

bathroom during

Our to-do list currently looks a bit like this:

  • Hang mirror
  • Install chair rail trim
  • Set all nails and putty
  • Paint all trim and door
  • Finish caulking around toilet, sink, tub
  • Recessed shelf (more about that later)

And some crafty-type things I need to make

  • Shades for bathroom light above mirror (any ideas? anyone?)
  • Make baskets for the recessed shelf (I don’t know that we will be able to find the exact dimensions we need)
  • Curtains for window? and curtain around plumbing to sink?

Still a lot of work to do! But we’re really excited about our bathroom because it will be the first room in the house that is completely finished. And after this project we’re moving on to other rooms that only got half done.



First post!

Posted on July 31st, 2011 by Susanna

It’s my official first post! We’re starting this blog to document our adventures in home renovation. We’re slowly chipping away at remodeling every room in our house. Our plan is to add posts about past projects as we have time.

Well, it’s been a long productive weekend. More work on the bathroom- we’re determined to finish it completely, rather than make it liveable and move on to the next project as we’ve done with so many other rooms in the house. I’ve rooted around in our pictures trying to find a “before” picture and am in disbelief that we really don’t have many! I found one from our home inspection before we bought the house:bathroom house inspection

And one during demolition:

bathroom duringbathroom before

And now some “almost after” pictures:

shower afterbathroom after- knobs

More pictures and details to come!  How was your weekend? Does your cat like to sit in the tub? Let us know in a comment below!