Home Improvement Expert Danny Lipford

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Living Room Remodel for Your Home


Watch this video to see how we remodeled a living room by installing a gas fireplace, prefinished hardwood flooring, and decorative faux finish. ...More




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Living Room Remodel for Your Home

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Our living room renovation included:

  • Installing a gas fireplace and wood mantel.
  • Replacing the carpet with prefinished wood flooring.
  • Installing tile in the foyer with marble accents.
  • Applied a faux finish to the wall and ceiling in the foyer.
  • Adding a faux marble finish to the columns.

Read episode article to find out more.

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Danny Lipford: Not a bad looking living and dining room but it needs just a few changes and definitely needs and update.

Announcer: Today’s Homeowner with Danny Lipford, the voice of home improvement, with projects tips, and ideas to help you improve your home.

Danny Lipford: This foyer and living and dining room really have some nice features, I can tell someone put a lot of thought into creating this area. I mean this step down into the living room creates kind of a feeling of a larger area than it actually is, also interior columns are a nice accent for just about any room in the house and I can tell someone spent a lot of time building this double pocket octagon ceiling, I know that takes quite a while for all the framing and the trim work that’s involved in that.

But I question the thought behind this fireplace, it just doesn’t seem to fit in, well actually I’ve been questioning this decision since I built my house 15 years ago. I never did quite like this particular fireplace even though at the time it seemed like the perfect thing for this room. What I’ve always wanted is a more traditional fireplace, so I plan on completely removing this and putting in a new fireplace with a nice mantle that should be a lot more appropriate for this room.

You know many times you start out with just a little simple idea like this and the project grows and grows, well that’s exactly what’s happening here. We’ve also decided to completely remove all of the carpet and replace it with hardwood, replace the old composite marble on the foyer floor with something a little bigger and a little more modern looking. And certainly we’re planning on upgrading the wallpaper that we have here, probably just remove it and maybe a fresh coat of paint.

Now, what makes this interesting is my wife and kids have told me it better be ready for the holidays, so stick around and see if I can make this deadline.

We’re just getting started on the renovation of my own foyer, living, and dining room; and the most tedious part of any project is really getting all of the breakables that you have in those rooms to a safe area outside the remodeled area. Now, a lot of homeowners just don’t spend enough time thinking about how long this is going to take, or where they’re going to store everything once they remove it from the remodeled area.

Now, we’re planning on packing all of these breakables up and moving them downstairs to a safe area until every bit of the work is completely done. This is also the point in a project that a lot of damage can occur to furniture or some of the sentimental items that you may have in your house, but once all of these breakables are out of this area we can really move full speed.

Once the demolition starts, the guys also take a lot of care removing the moldings, because this stuff will be reused after we make changes to the walls and ceilings, and every piece we can save will help out the budget. Removing the old recessed light tray, and getting rid of the old fireplace really opens up the living room. And doing away with the niche and the bumped out wall it’s set in really makes the foyer seem larger, too. This place is already looking pretty different.

Obviously it’s a little too late to turn back on this project, but with everything removed from here I can get a really good idea of some of the things I want to do. Now, one of the things I’ve got to figure out is this fireplace.

Now originally fireplace would’ve lined up in this direction. The new fireplace will be a little more traditional and will face this direction. So I have to work with a fireplace contractor and try to figure out how we’re going to offset it and still be able to route the vent up into the original chaste. That’ll take a little figuring there.

Now, pretty much everything is gone from this area, including the two columns, one that was here and one that was over there. And we removed these to make it a lot easier for the flooring contractor later in the project to install the marble that’ll go on the upper area, and then the hardwood that’ll go down below. And we’ve put in a temporary post just to make sure there’s no settling at all.

Anytime you have any columns, whether it’s inside or maybe out on the front porch, it’s a good idea to remove them if at all possible, so that the flooring can continue under them. It’s just a better way to do it.

Now it’s time to get in to the real tedious work and that’s removing wallpaper. Now just saying that might make a few of you cringe if you’ve ever tried to remove wallpaper, because you just never know how easy or how hard the wallpaper will be to remove, but we’re about to find out.

I always like to use a pump up sprayer to apply a mixture of wallpaper remover and hot water to the walls. But before I begin spraying I score the paper with a utility knife in horizontal lines every two to three feet up and down the walls. This makes it easier for the solution to seep behind the paper as it drips down the walls.

If you have a raw edge, that’s a good place to start just peeling the wallpaper back. It’s not uncommon for the top layer to come off and leave the backing behind. So if this happens, just re-soak it, wait a little bit, then remove the rest of the backing. Also, be careful not to gouge the walls with your scraper.

It’s not real hard work, but it’s tedious, and soon it pays off. Of course the last step in any home improvement task is the clean up, but that’ll be fairly easy here. And actually this whole project was fairly easy to remove all of the wallpaper. Thank goodness I had the sizing on the walls.

Took a couple hours and a little bit of elbow grease, but everything is ready for paint, other than repairing a few little dents and dings here and there that we’ll take care of when we install the rest of the drywall. After that, and a little bit of trim work, we’ll be ready to paint, but first we have to deal with this fireplace challenge, that’s coming up next.

Announcer: It’s time for this week’s Simple Solution from home repair expert Joe Truini.

Joe Truini: Every interior painting project starts by putting down a drop cloth to protect the floor, and that’s particularly important in a room like this that has carpeting. Now, there’s two basic types of drop cloths, there’s clear plastic sheeting, which is very thin and tears easily and plus it’s really slippery. And there’s canvas, which is very durable and pretty thick but it’s also porous and sometimes when you spill paint on it it’ll soak through and get right on the floor.

So what I’m using here is a vinyl table cloth, which on the backside has a felt surface that prevents it from sliding around and on the top surface it’s covered with completely vinyl so paint won’t soak through.

Now, a vinyl table cloth like this I picked up on sale for less than ten dollars, which is a lot less expensive than a professional canvas drop cloth and only slightly more than a plastic one. And what I really like about it is you can just roll it up and save it and reuse it time and time again.

Danny Lipford: As you can see we’re right in the middle of an interior renovation on a home that happens to be mine. This is my living room and my dining room, and we decided to do a lot of upgrading on this interior space and my wife and kids assure me that it will be ready for the holidays, so we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us.

Right now our main focus is getting our fireplace in so that we can move forward with all of the other drywall work that needs to be done. Now originally we thought we wanted a fireplace right in here. Now the original fireplace occupied this space, but we wanted to have a more traditional fireplace and thought it would look good here and then route the venting out through the original chaste.

But once we started measuring we realized that the fireplace would come to here, the hearth would come to here, that’s occupying way too much of this room. So we decided to put it back in this little area, but as the case, as is the case many times when you’re doing any kind of remodeling and you’re changing something, one change will lead to another.

Well, when we realized that the fireplace would go all the way over into this window, means we’re going to have to move that window, means a lot of extra framing and a little bit of brickwork on the outside but it should look perfect right here. But the first thing we had to do is choose the right fireplace.

There are a variety of options to choose from so it’s important that you know your space limitations, the type of fuel you want to use and your budget before you get started with that decision. Eventually Sharon and I found a gas unit that we felt would work perfect, but the real test would be making it fit into our unique situation. Rob Gabel is the guy who hopefully will make that happen.

Danny Lipford: Well Rob, I know we selected a fairly large fireplace. Will it work with this existing chaste?

Rob Gabel: Oh yes, it’s going to be a bit of a challenge and it’s a good thing that you chose the fireplace that you did, because it gives us our most of any options.

Danny Lipford: OK. Now, I know you have a lot of safety considerations when you’re installing any fireplace, but what’re some of the clearances that you have on the firebox itself as well as the lining?

Rob Gabel: Yes, since this is a direct vent fireplace, it can be vented horizontally. And we will be running this one horizontally, coming from this direction and then turning back into here. And we’ll have to maintain one inch clearance on the side of the pipe and a three inch clearance on top of the pipe, because it’s so much hotter at the top side of the pipe.

Danny Lipford: OK. Well, what about the firebox itself, can we get right up against the wall here?

Rob Gabel: We’ll be able to come extremely close, but we will have to put a flex line at the end of this soft copper in order to make a nice transition into the unit to keep it tied to this wall.

Danny Lipford: So the gas line for this unit actually comes in from that side?

Rob Gabel: Yes, it will be coming in from the right side.

Danny Lipford: OK. Well it sounds like, it’ll work in this particular area. Well, that’s great because, hey, I see my crew out there now.

The first big chore for Rob and his guys is getting this monster in the house and down into the living room. The vent pipe sections are stacked up in the chaste before the fireplace is moved into position, and the transition elbows are attached to connect the fireplace to the vent. The plumber makes the gas connections, and Rob is ready to test the burners before adding the accessories and ceramic logs that give the fireplace its realistic feel.

With the fireplace situated, the framing can start around it to complete the enclosure. That also means we have to start relocating the window by removing drywall inside and bricks outside. Once the window is relocated, the drywall can start going up over the drywall, and all of the voids caused by the changes we’ve made. The drywall is finished and finally we can re-hang all of the trim.

I’m very pleased with the selection we made on our fireplace. Even though it’s a fairly large one, it really doesn’t take up near as much room as I thought it would. It sticks off the wall here about eight inches, and of course the south side wall had a little offside in it. And over here we have like a two-foot space. But still it looks so appropriate for this room and a whole lot more appropriate than the original fireplace that just never did really fit in.

Now another thing we did that’s very important to try to make everything look like original construction is that when we relocated the window to make room for the larger fireplace, we made this margin here the exact same as we had in the original construction, so that all helps to make all of this look like it was part of the house when it was built 15 years ago.

Well, at this point all of the trim is pretty much complete, and we’re ready for our painter to come in and really do his magic on all of the walls and ceiling and trim as well as the doors. Then we’re ready for a lot of floor work and as part of that floor work we’re going to do a little advanced floor prep to help that process along.

While we start on that, check out this week’s Best New Product.

Announcer: Let’s join Danny at the home center to check out this week’s Best New Product. Brought to you by The Home Depot.

Danny Lipford: Improving bathrooms is at the top of the list for many homeowners, and one of the most common upgrades, replacing a faucet, just got easier. In the past installing a faucet meant you had about 14 pieces scattered across the floor, with the new speed connect system from American Standard there are fewer installation steps and only four parts instead of 14. That’s a third less parts, so fumbling with or maybe losing pieces isn’t an issue. Fewer parts mean you can install a faucet in a fraction of the time.

This one doesn’t even require tools or plumbers putty. Now that’s an obvious bonus which is great for working in those really tight spaces. Because the speed connect’s drain stopper is preset, you don’t need to make adjustments during installation. Speed connect faucets are available in a variety of styles and prices so you’re sure to find something you’ll like. We found several from $39 to $119.

Announcer: For more information about the products featured in this segment, visit our website at todayshomeowner.com.

To get current reliable information on improving your home, visit us online at todayshomeowner.com. You’ll find details of on air projects, weekly contests, and streaming video to help you improve your home at todayshomeowner.com.

Danny Lipford: Our renovation this week is going pretty smoothly, which is a good thing because this is a renovation of my living room, and my wife and kids tell me it better be ready in about two weeks in time for the holidays.

Now, we have a lot of work left to do, with all the painting and the floor work, but a lot has already been done by removal of what was a fairly dated marble composite floor in the foyer. Then we had an old white carpet that had been down 15 years, but the main motivator here was to eliminate a very awkward, basically ugly fireplace that I installed all those years ago. We replaced it with a more traditional looking fireplace which really just kind of serve as the focal point of this whole room.

But right now we’re trying to prep this one wooden step that we have that steps down from the foyer into the living room, and we’ve decided to install the same tile that we’re putting here on the step. So in order to do that, we’re having to put this cement backer board on, and we’re gluing it down with a construction adhesive and putting screws in it so that it’s a very stable surface for us to install all of the tile.

So this should work out great, but I’m going to go ahead and let the painter get a head start on it. Our painter, John, is painting the trim first because he wants to use a spray gun instead of brushing on the paint. This is often hard to do in a remodel because of the overspray, but it certainly speeds up the work when you have lots of molding with details, like the dental work on this crown. After that he can cut in around the trim with the wall and ceiling paint to create nice clean lines before rolling on the rest of the paint, which by the way is very bright.

The wood floor goes down next in the living and dining areas and what a cool look it’s going to give this space. I love these prefinished floors because the results are so immediate. You just put down the glue and tap the board in place, and you have a finished floor. No sanding or staining or waiting for sealer to dry, just wipe it down and move on.

The mantle arrives next and goes in just about as easily. It’s a single piece set over three mounting boards with nails shot into the sides to secure it. This place is really coming together. When I found out what colors my wife and the decorator had chosen I was a little skeptical, because I had never thought of painting a ceiling red. But now that all of it’s done, it really does go together very well to create that nice elegant look we were looking for. And the hardwood floor goes right along with that.

You know a lot of times areas like this in your home—a living room and a dining room—tend to be a little more formal than the rest of the areas, and that’s exactly what we wanted. And nothing defines elegance more than a very nice looking foyer floor, and you can see we’ve got a great start on one here.

Now before Tim, our tile man, was able to put down any of the tiles, he had a lot of floor prep that he had to do. Not only did we scar up the surface of the slab when we removed the other tile floor, we also found quite a dip right in the middle of the foyer itself, so Tim had to do a lot of work in filling all of that up. But once this is finished it’s going to be a great looking floor.

Tim started yesterday with the bullnosed tiles that capped the edge of the step. This was important to do first because the pieces on the top step define the perimeter of the upper landing. For that area we chose an 18-inch by 18-inch porcelain tile. But Sharon and the decorator decided to add a little pizzazz by having Tim inset darker marble accents in the pattern between the larger tiles.

This is a great look but it does take more time because of all the cutting and the layout that’s involved. If you’re doing it yourself than plan on another day or so with that saw rental. If you’re paying a pro like Tim, expect the price to go up. Our tile work is almost complete, all Tim has left is a little bit of clean up and a little more grouting, a little more drying time and all of that will be off our list.

Now, John our painter, is working on our columns to try to do all the prep work necessary so that he can apply a fresh coat of trim paint, that way tomorrow our specialty painters can take over, because they’re applying this unique marbleized finish over each of the columns.

Now, they’ve already finished the faux finish on our ceiling area of our foyer, and they plan on doing the same treatment on our accent wall here. Now, that will be after they finish the tedious process of fauxing the double octagon ceiling we have here in the dining room.

Now, we only have just a few days left in order to complete this, Carol how do you feel will we be able to complete it?

No problem, Danny. Give us a couple more days, and we’ll be done.

Danny Lipford: Great, great. That’s good, because after they get completed with everything we have to bring in furniture, put down rugs, hang things on the wall, Christmas tree, and a few stockings on the mantle, but I think we’ll make it.

Announcer: Let’s head outside for Around the Yard with lawn and garden expert Tricia Craven Worley.

Tricia Craven Worley: Choosing stepping stones is a lot like picking wall covering for your house, it’s very individual and there are lots and lots of selections. You know stepping stones are a very inexpensive way to create a path through your garden, a lot less expensive than say pouring a whole layer of concrete.

Now stepping stones, you want to have them be level with the ground, and I suggest that you put them where you want to lay them out. Outline them, and then after you move them cut out to the depth that they are, you might put in a little bit of sand to level it and then put the stone in this way nobody’s going to trip.

Now, stepping stones of course, I think it’s a good idea to match them to the architecture of your house. You might be using brick or flagstone or pavers or in this instance a really nice, aggregate that’s in the concrete. Now, here there’s a path that’s created going up a rise, it’s very, very effective and very nice way to create a path in your garden.

Announcer: Today’s Homeowner with Danny Lipford is brought to you by The Home Depot: you can do it, we can help. Ryobi Power Tools: professional features, affordable prices. Simonton Windows: we make lasting impressions, and NuTone: life, style, home. Additional support for Today’s Homeowner with Danny Lipford provided by CentraLite lighting control solutions: simple, reliable, affordable.

Danny Lipford: My living room renovation and update’s completely finished and just in time. The whole Today’s Homeowner crew’s coming over tonight for a little Christmas party. Now, that’s something that we do every year, but boy will they be surprised what this place looks like now.

This space hasn’t really been updated in the 15 years since we built the house, and the funky fireplace I put in back then just never did fit in. The new fireplace is perfect, it gives the room a warm homey feel with just a touch of formality. The new wood floors don’t hurt the look either and their much nicer than the tired old carpet that was here.

Removing the light trays really opened up the area and I’m even warming up to the bright faux finished ceilings that accent the dining and foyer spaces. Now, speaking of the foyer, that old tiled floor was OK, but this new tile is just what it needed for the simple but slightly formal look we wanted.

My family and I are very pleased with the outcome of this renovation, and my wife and the decorator did a great job picking out things to really tie it all together. I plan on spending a lot of time right here over the next few weeks, and I hope you and your family have a wonderful season. I’m Danny Lipford, we’ll see you soon.

Next week we’re moving the minivan out to transform a carport into a fun space for the whole family.

Announcer: If you’d like to purchase a videotape or DVD copy of this weeks show visit our website at todayshomeowner.com or call us at 1800-946-4420.