Saturday, November 27, 2021

My house and Feng Shui.

I used to own a Feng Shui store. Dragon Horse in Sidney BC. I loved that store so much. It was amazing and fun. I still have a soft spot for all things Feng Shui and personally practice the traditional Chinese way. It is a wonderful opportunity when you buy a new house to know what the correct Feng Shui layout would be so that you can take that into account when making changes. My house faces south. It doesn’t get better than that. My front door is recessed and you can’t see it when walking up to the house. Bad. Front and back door are not in a straight line. Good. Chi meanders around the house. Good. You also have personal good and bad directions. I have our lists and you can then set up where at tables you sit, couches and sleeping directions. I tend to be really loosey goosey on the couch/sofa part as I tend to just plunk down where convenient at any moment. But the bed direction is very important. 

I cannot wait to get my Asian art and Feng Shui pieces up here. I love the energy and colour of them. 

This coming Chinese Year of the Tiger is going to be a good one. 
So I am preparing for that. 

Saturday, November 20, 2021

What I’ve learned. Removing wallpaper 101

After two months of removing a massive amount of wallpaper, encountering several different types of ‘wallpaper glue’ (I suspect actual glue may have been added to dining room wallpaper paste) tons of staples and struggling to get it all off, I’ve learned a few things. Mostly… it is very hard work. There are no shortcuts. And I wish I had figured it out earlier on as I would have been done in about three weeks at most. 

This paper was in all but two bedrooms in my 2000 square foot house. 

If you google wallpaper removal, or wallpaper glue removal, there are dozens of differing opinions on how it should be done. And often what expensive products you should use. Mine is very different from theirs, but I tried them all before I figured it out. Here is my technique. 

Tarp along the wall. Use tarps for every step. Then peel off the vinyl layer of wallpaper. Water etc. really didn’t help. We just pulled. 

You will be left with a thick layer of paper backing from the wallpaper. Take a garden sprayer, use plain water in it and spray. Do a smaller section of wall at one time. I would say, about five feet. I would start with a quick spray over the whole section. Quickly grab my big peanut shaped sponge and wipe it before it runs everywhere. Then I go over it again with the sprayer, quite a bit more water this time as it will soak in better. If you have a buddy, get them to use the sponge as you spray. Once the paper is quite wet, let it sit for about five minutes. Take a ‘drywall taping knife’ and start scraping off the paper. I used both 4” and 12” ones depending what was working best at any given moment. I found it worked best taking it off in strips of about 4”,  but sometimes depending on the glue used, great big sheets could come off at once. It was a total crapshoot. Even parts of the same wall could be different. 

Washing off the glue residue: Why is this so important? When the glue gets wet it turns into slippery ‘eel snot’. Gross but that is what I was calling it for two months until I figured it out. Can you imagine trying to paint over it? Because the glue is completely water soluble, first time you put the cloth in the pail of water to rinse it, you are moving that slippery thick glue onto the area you’ve cleaned. I did one wall six times. Fresh water several times with every single cleaning. Frustrated was not the word. It was still quite thick with glue. 

So here is my method. Moisten the wall. Let it sit for a few minutes. Take your 12” scraper and push and drag it on the wall. Some of the glue I found was substantial on the scraper. In this case I used the scraper first and took off the bulk. I only had to do a few sections this way. Most of them had little to no real bulk. I went to my local Ace and bought cheap rolls of what look like blue j-cloths. There were 22 in a roll for under $5.00 so I bought three. I put them in a clean bucket and moistened them in the sink. Tossed them around until they were wet, but not dripping wet. Eyeball a 2x3’ section of wall, take two cloths fold them together and wash section. Turn over cloths and use clean side and do it again. Grab two more clean cloths and repeat. When you have a whole section of wall done, have a bowl or pail of half water, half white vinegar solution. Take two clean cloths and dip in vinegar and wash the same way exactly but you don’t need to do the second set of cloths. Just once and fold and use other side. Feel the wall to make sure the glue is gone. The odd time I would grab another set but very rare. Part of the process is not to go way over the edge of the section you are working on or you will drag that slippery glue back onto your clean section. You get really good at this and it is a lot faster than it sounds. 

Never let anything touch your clean cloths. Do NOT wring any excess water in there or you will get slippery glue onto them. And have another pail handy to toss the dirty cloths in. I would stop when I ran out of cloths and put them in the washer. Just plain soap. Don’t dry them, just put in the clean cloth bucket add the same amount of water needed for wall washing and away we go again. 

Wallpaper gone and walls clean. Next up… painting. 

Tuesday, November 09, 2021

Switching the whole house over to LED lighting.

I had no idea. It was a comment made to me when I was in the dining room working at the table. My frugal friend said, ‘that chandelier is going to take a toll on your hydro bill, why don’t you dim it a bit.’ I looked at him like he’d grown another head. He then said, ‘it is using about 400 watts right now’. I looked up, did the math and realized he was correct. I brought up my hydro company website and they had a cost calculator. Using the chandelier a few hours a couple times a week translated into about $100.00 per year. I immediately realized too that in a 2500 square foot house, lighting is a huge expense. I did a bit of research and found that LED lighting uses about 1/10th of the actual hydro for the same amount of light. I immediately ordered ten 60w equivalent dimmable chandelier bulbs. They arrived and I put one in and was taken aback. It was SOOOOOO wrong. It was bright beyond belief and a very hot jarring bright white. Ten of them would be unbearable even on a dimmer. (I can’t believe I didn’t take a photo.) So I took them back immediately. I realized also that Daylight meant a very blue light rather than the incandescent warm light we are used to. The other fixtures I had purchased with LED’s built in were clearly on the warmer side of the spectrum. I got a crash course in LED. 

Right away I ordered 25w equivalent chandelier bulbs which use about 2 watts of actual power. They are 2700k which is a much warmer colour. The bulbs arrived. The colour of the light is perfect. The brightness, perfect. There are two issues with the way the bulbs look. The visual. The old ones looked just fine. These ones have painted print on three sides of the glass bulb about half way up the actual bulb. Check it out. And also note the size and bulk of the silver band that unlike the last ones is too huge to hide. The larger wattage bulbs I had that I returned, had a silver band that slid under those white plastic candle covers. 


So I used my trusty scraper, a new blade and a little Windex to use as a lubricant and the ink stamped on the bulbs came off. Thank goodness. If you do this, really take your time and you won’t scratch the glass. 


Monday, November 08, 2021

Old chandelier cleaned and realigned

My house came with a chandelier in the dining room. There was much discussion amongst those who saw it about whether it should stay or go, should it be painted, etc? My decision was to keep it, not paint it for now.



The chandelier was quite dirty and dull. The white ‘candle covers’ were very dirty. It looks to me like it was sprayed with chandelier cleaner instead of washed. So I dismantled the chandelier, my sister and I realigned it so the upper crystals hang in the middle of the lower rather than right beside the lower arms, and I washed everything thoroughly. Many of the crystal hanging wires were facing backwards, stretched right out or bent so badly that I redid about 80% of them. Some needed undone completely and re-wired. I have a great feeling of satisfaction right now. 

I’m going to do a bit of a chandelier makeover and will do a follow up post when it is finished. The parts have been ordered. 

Wednesday, November 03, 2021

A room of my own… sewing, crafting and a desk. Part one.

I have always wanted a room of my own to just go hang out in, sew, do some journal writing, work on my computer… you know what I mean. That has finally come to pass. I love it. Here is the epic journey, from wallpaper, bad lighting, closet door to the ceiling…to this! We are getting there. 

As with most of the house. Striped wallpaper. 

Wallpaper and closets right up to the ceiling. Very confusing. 

Wallpaper removed and very bright yellow paint revealed. Lots of patching to do. 

The closet has been closed off to give it to the master bedroom. 

Last of the yellow paint!