Living Room Remodel

After five and a half years I decided it was high time to make the living room more livable, especially since it’s a room I spend copious amounts of time in. If I had an unlimited budget the number of things I would do to this house would expand exponentially, as it is I do not have such a budget.

Since moving into the house in 2009, a few things have been done to the living room. Initially we replaced the drywall, baseboards, carpet and carpet pad due to the flood and for the longest time that’s where I stopped. The walls were painted brown and the baseboards white but that’s as far as I got.

So in imagining this room and what I’d need to make it feel “finished” I started at the top.

Well, technically I started by clearing out everything in the room.

photo(3)a few hours later:

photo(4)It was a little difficult getting everything arranged in other rooms but once I was done it was time to prep:

photo(5)I started by covering the walls in plastic sheeting. I got it from the shed at my grandparent’s old house, thinking it was a roll of trash bags. My uncle was tossing it in the trash when I said “I could use that” and use it I have. Since the plastic adheres directly to the painted walls and baseboards I used green frog tape.

However, I was attempting to scrape at the edges so in many places the tape came loose, from the dust, disturbing the seal, whatever. I ended up securing it in several places with my staple gun and then prying out the staples with a flat head screwdriver.

photo(7)On the floor I went with resin paper which is tougher than brown wrapping paper. Also at 3′ in width I could use much less tape on the seams.

This paper was taped together with packing tape, a reallly old roll that I’ve had for years. I hate using it on packages because there’s a weird logo on it. So it was perfect for this project. Except it didn’t stick well. So if you’re doing this I recommend duct tape. Seriously.

The doorways were the hardest part since I had to cover the door to the garage, the front door, the hallway opening and the opening to the kitchen. The front door and garage door were left exposed, I figured I’d rather clean them than deal with a front that ripped every time I went in or out. The hallway and kitchen simply got huge panels that overlapped.

The mantle also got wrapped and with the exception of a few cords for lights, the whole room was soon looking very Dexter-y.

photo(8)With everything wrapped I brought in the tools:


  • Scaffold
  • 6′ ladder
  • step stool
  • water bottle
  • spatulas
  • empty trash can
  • goggles
  • face mask

Before getting started I decided to clean off the ceiling fan in the dining area – it was pretty dusty – and take off the cover for the skylight.

photo(10)I’d emptied the room on Wednesday and Thursday, then began prep on Thursday. I was ready to begin with scraping early on Friday, hoping to get all the paint up by Sunday evening.

But before I could actually get started I had a little setback. At 4am Friday I woke up to intense pain, the middle and pointer fingers on my left hand were stiff and moving them produced sharp stabs and throbbing pain.

My chiropractor did some light therapy and I spent several hours holding a frozen water bottle. By 4pm I was able to bend my fingers without too much pain so I got started.

When I do projects like these I like to have a distraction so while working I listened to the Kathy Reichs book Break No Bones on my iPad. I left it in the hallway on one of the bookshelves so I could hear but it wouldn’t get dusty.

Here’s where I was after just a few hours:


Through Friday afternoon and evening I was able to get over half the room done, one of the hardest parts was making sure I didn’t rip up the resin paper when moving the

After I worked around the room scraping I went back up the scaffold and sanded the rough spots (which I couldn’t do until the drywall dried after being sprayed down). This is by far the worst part for me because that fine dust gets everywhere and quickly covered up the goggles I was wearing. Which meant half the time working without goggles and getting lots of minute specks in my eyes.

It was miserable.

By 4pm on Saturday I had sanded a third of the ceiling but was completely dried out due to the dust. So I took a break to pick up the ceiling paint I needed at Home Depot.

Cleaning up

Once the bulk of the ceiling was scraped and sanded, I began the clean up process. Still wearing the mask, I swept up most of the gunk into a trash can so I could later bag it up and move it to the trash outdoors.

Side note: Why is it only when I have projects like these do I forget to put the trash cans out? Oh, right, I fell asleep early before trash pick up day.

Next came the final patching and sanding on the ceiling. I wanted to keep the surface as smooth as possible so I went over this very carefully with the sanding blocks (120 grit) but didn’t do much spackling. There were several spots throughout the room where 3-5 small holes were in the ceiling, badly covered up. I got them as smooth as I could and decided to see how well the paint would cover.

Last job before was getting as much of the dust as possible off the ceiling. I used the leaf blower positioned straight up and it pushed the air up and down, creating billows of dust clouds so the tiny specks of terror would settle on the plastic sheeting or on the floor.


While I toyed with the idea of using my spray painter, I was more than a little concerned about drippage, especially since the resin paper had been torn in several areas. I didn’t want the over spray on my nice carpet so I went back to the old brush method.

Here’s the paint I always use:

BehrCeilingPaintAnd yes, I get the 2 gallon size because you will need it again. I promise. I love that it covers super well, you don’t need to prime the surface and it dries pretty quickly.

Because I have the tendency to experience fluctuating blood sugar levels, I decided to start my Sunday with a hearty breakfast and lots of water. Staying hydrated during these projects is always a challenge for me and I hate getting dizzy on the scaffold.-

By 6pm on Sunday I’d done more than half of the room. Just like when I was scraping, I started with the western half, not only because it was larger but there are fewer obstacles with just the ceiling fan in the way.


Monday, I must admit, was a bit of a slow day. I’d found while doing that far corner by the garage that I had not sanded well enough. So the sanding block made a reappearance, I swept off the ceiling and then commenced painting when the dust had mostly settled.

I also spackled over the drywall screws which go right down a line.

photo(16)I was able to paint most of the dining room area and so there was just the middle section (and tallest peak) to do after Monday:

photo(17)Tuesday was a complete wash. Instead of painting or cleaning I worked on the business, did some laundry, dishes and attempted to keep the kitchen functional.

Oh and I remembered to put out the garbage cans for pickup on Wednesday so: win.

By Wednesday afternoon I was back on the scaffold. Again. This time I used the roller brush and extension arm and then followed behind with the brush to get into the corners. It went MUCH faster that way and I was able to get the right thickness so the drywall didn’t peel at all.

photo 4With that done I quickly tore down the plastic, rolled up the resin and followed behind with the vacuum to catch the spills. The whole space was still rather dusty though so I used a mop down the hallway, in the hall bathroom, across the fireplace tile and in the dining area to get it up.

Then I steam cleaned the carpets again to get the dust out of the fibers. Can you tell in this pic which section of the carpet has not been cleaned?

photo 1It was about this time I remembered that I had not cleaned off the fan blades in the dining room. D’oh. At least I didn’t turn them on. So I brought the ladder back in and cleaned that off before declaring the room “clean” once more.

photo 3There are a few spots that need touch up but they’re so small I don’t need to keep the plastic and resin paper up. Plus in the corner right by the hall and bookshelves there’s a section I couldn’t easily scrape so I need to finish up there. I’ll move the bookshelves first though.

So that was my week… dusty and dirty and painty… next up is adding a light in the living room so I can see at night and touching up the wall paint in here.

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