Remodeling and Disposing of Your Dining Room

As COVID-19 or normal nest-fluffing activities prompt us to make bigger and more comprehensive changes to our house, the dining room is typically considered as an afterthought.

We set it, we forget it.

Silverware pun aside, the formal dining room often receives little love. We do a lot of daily eating in and around our expanded kitchens, and the idea of having company for dinner is still a rare treat.

But when it is time to re-do the dining room, here is a guide for how to handle each part of the redesign.

The table – many dining room designs and redesigns focus on the table. Appropriately so. The table makes the determination for whether you will eat in the dining room at all. Is it too big? Is it too formal? Is it covered with the bills, or a vexing jigsaw puzzle?

If you dispose of your dining room table and chairs: think of St. Vincent DePaul or some other local agency that employs folks to resell furniture. If it is functional, there is likely another life with another family. If your table was damaged to the point of unusability, only then should it be thrown in your Big Daddy Dumpster.

The china cabinet: was it part of a set with the dining room table? Then it’s got to go to make room for the replacement. If not, try to determine if it can be redone in a way that complements your new look. And what about the curios that are stored inside? Are they heirlooms whose story you know? Keep them, if not …

If you dispose of your china cabinet and contents: Determine if it is functional. If so, donate it. There is simply no sense in throwing away working furniture in a country with a 40% poverty rate. If it’s broken or unusable, BDD!

The carpet: It’s the focal point of the space only in that it must work with the table. But it gets heavy use, especially on the corners where people step on it while traveling from room to room. If the whole room is getting re-done, the most likely casualty in this war is the carpet or rug.

If/when you dispose of your carpet or rug: There really isn’t a second life for carpeting or a rug. It’s time to consider renting a dumpster for your project, it just got big.

Window treatments, art, and wallpaper: Sorry, they’re gone. They served their purpose, but they were unique to that space and time and design. For the most part, they’re difficult to remove in a way that preserves them. And no one can use them again.

When you dispose of your window treatments and wallpaper: Dumpster. MAYBE your art can earn a second life at a furniture reseller, but they will have a say in that. Be willing to make the trip knowing that you will return with the same full trunk you had when you set out.

Remodeling (and Disposing of) a Bedroom

Bedrooms are our most personal expression of who we are when we can fully be ourselves. Here, we place homages to our values and our aesthetics. We transition from posters of our favorites musicians to paintings of our favorite scenes, or expressions from the minds of our favorite classical artists.

Often we are working in the bedrooms of our children as they transition from one age to the next, moving through different phases of self expression.

Then one day we must grasp the possibility of this space without them, as they take off into the world.

When our children are young, redoing the room typically means paint and rearranging furniture. When they fly from the nest, the transformation needs to be more radical.

The bed: What will this space be next? If it will maintain its use as a bedroom, but now for guests and even the welcome (temporary) return of our progeny, we keep the bed and simply accent around it.

If your vision does not involve a bed: Donate it. In almost every situation, there is a family who can benefit from a hand-me-down bed. As long as it holds together, you have all the parts, and it is not too badly damaged, St. Vincent DePaul or a similar agency will make your life easier by taking it off your hands for a modest price. The mattress, however, is another issue altogether. Your municipality may have special requirements for the donation / disposal of mattresses, and it may be required to be thrown away.

The dresser: The advice here is pretty clear. No, it’s not easily converted into something else. Nothing says “my home office is really a bedroom” like keeping the dresser. So don’t.

To dispose of the dresser: Always start by exploring the donation route. Working furniture can live a long time, why not help it avoid the landfill?

Curtains, art, and wallpaper: This room was great for your kids. You’re not your kids. These were unique to their location and are hard to remove in a way that allows them to be used again.

When you dispose of curtains, art, and wallpaper: Try and get your kids to take them with them. Maybe they have some great memories attached. It’s clear, you’re either going to throw this stuff out now or you’re going to throw it out in 20 years after storing it that whole time. Dumpster.There just isn’t a second life for them.

Remodeling (and Disposing of) Your Living Room

Once upon a time, the living room was the gathering place of friends and family. Every part of our time at home seemed to center on a space so important to our home that we named it after our primary task: living.

Today, much of the work of a living room has been turned over to the family room or den, a space carved out or given over to a large screen TV, movie-quality speakers, and multiple game devices and streaming services.

Our living rooms have become more formal. They are our house in it’s Sunday Best clothing.

The decision to redo the living room should keep this in mind. Here’s a guide to how to decide what to keep, and how to dispose of the rest.

The couch: Every living room has at least one multi-person couch. Large, dramatic, with distinct features that helped form the character of the room, sometimes it is the first decision made in a space, and all others happen around it. Is it in good shape, though maybe a little work. A good re-upholstering is often expensive, but slightly cheaper than a whole new sofa. But it is is heavily scratched or dinged, perhaps from a pet years ago, or another piece of furniture placed too close, it needs to go.

If you must dispose of your couch: consider giving it to a second-life furniture outlet like St. Vincent DePaul. Often these places will send a truck and a couple burly folks over to your house, and for a small price you can save yourself the big work, and know it’s going to a second home.

The carpet: The carpet in your living room was the most used feature especially on the corners or pathways where people walk while passing through. If it is not worn, and If the colors still work for your new vision, keep it. Otherwise, it’s got to go.

If/when you dispose of your carpet or rug: There really isn’t a second chance for carpeting or a rug. Think about renting a Big Daddy Dumpster for your project, it just got big.

Comfortable chair: This was likely, at some point, matched to the couch. It should face the same fate. Keep it and reupholster it if you can.

If you must dispose of your comfy chair: Donate it, unless it is too badly damaged to re-use. In that case, throw it in the dumpster.

Window treatments, art, and wallpaper: I hate to say it, but they’re the most likely casualties of the decision to remake your living room. They did what they needed to do, but they were unique to their location. For the most part, they’re difficult to remove in a way that preserves them. And no one can use them again.

When you dispose of curtains and wallpaper: Dumpster.There just isn’t a second life for them.

What Size Dumpster Do I Need?

One of the biggest challenges in doing a major remodel project around the house is finding the right size dumpster. This is because there are so many variables.

There are lots of sizes to choose from.

They are built on a scale that is difficult for the average person to visualize.

Most people rarely need to rent one, so we have no experience.

It is hard to imagine how big your project will look when it is dumped in a dumpster.

We are going to try to demystify the process a bit.

Garbage Bags

You’ve probably already looked at the website of a local dumpster dealer and you’ve seen a picture of an average scale human standing in front of an average scale dumpster.

This is meant to be helpful. Really it is. However, we seldom think of our garbage as being scaled with our body.

Instead, we are much more familiar with the size of a garbage bag. We handle those frequently. We have a sense of their size.  So in order to help you visualize it, we are going to explain it in terms of garbage bags.

Your dumpster choices will be marked in terms of “cubic yards” or “yd³”

On average, 1 cubic yard looks about like a medium size dresser, or about 6 trash bags.

Your smallest dumpster choice, the transition point where it makes more sense to rent a dumpster than to put it out in your own trash can, is 10 cubic yards. So this is about 60 trash bags.

  •             10 yd³ = 60 trash bags
  •             15 yd³ = 75
  •             20 yd³ = 120
  •             30 yd³ = 180
  •             40 yd³ = 240

Pickup trucks

OK so maybe garbage bags aren’t how you think. Maybe you are a do-it-yourself kind of person who understands what it means to throw a shovel in the back of a pickup truck, or what it means to load the pickup truck with mulch or dirt.

And besides, it does get pretty challenging to think about size in terms of 60 garbage bags.

Let’s measure in pickup trucks.

  • 10 yd³ = 3 pickup truck loads
  •             15 yd³ = 4-5
  •             20 yd³ = 6
  •             30 yd³ = 9
  •             40 yd³ = 12

This is an especially helpful measure when you are imagining each of those pick up truck loads being driven to your local dump. If it’s right around the corner three trips is no big deal.

However, if you’re like most folks who are doing a big fix-it-up project around the house, the local dump is NOT right around the corner.

And the further away it is, the more time and effort it adds to your project to haul everything there yourself.

Now you’re loading, driving, unloading, driving back … multiple times. And this is time added to the work of demolition or removal.

Many people might even choose a 10 yd³ dumpster to avoid that pain and hassle of even one or two trips to the dump.

Also, you should round up, and get the next biggest size if you are unsure. No one is judging you for not wanting to make any more trips than you have to. Or making no trips at all.

We hope this guide helped you with your project.

Keep Others From Using Your Rented Dumpster

We know what happens. We might, if pressed, even admit that we’ve done it ourselves.

Sometimes things get thrown in the dumpster by someone other than the owner or renter.

It’s no big deal when a member of the working crew throws their Wendy’s bag in there, or someone passing by on the street does the same.

But having strangers illegally filling a dumpster that you rented can be an expensive a time-wasting event.

So how do you prevent it?

Here are some suggestions.

Location: where are you place your dumpster will influence how much outside debris gets placed in it. If it is possible for you to move the dumpster away from the property line and against the building, that is an ideal situation. Removing from sight from the street is even better.

You should work to put it as much on private property as possible. It’s unavoidable that a dumpster placed on or near a public right of way is simply going to collect a little bit of community trash. You can reduce that by placing it in the yard instead of in the street, for instance.

You can make the call if saving some unwanted refuse is worth the dead spot in your yard.

Signs: sometimes it helps just to post simple easy to read signs that explain to people it is illegal for them to put trash in your dumpster. It can be helpful if you know the local municipal fines for doing this.

Signs can be especially helpful if they point out that the site is monitored. Of course, it can help even if you are just claiming that, even when a spot is not monitored.

Fencing: if your dumpster is going to be in place over a long period of time, or perhaps dumped and refilled multiple times, it might be tempting for other work crews in the area to dump larger and larger loads in it over time.

Putting fencing around your dumpster does several things to prevent illegal dumping. First, a good fence makes it clear that dumping from strangers is unwanted.

Second, it just makes it physically harder to get large loads into your dumpster, because now they have to go over a fence.

Third, if you can allow some space between the dumpster and the fence it can make it almost impossible to place anything heavy in the dumpster. This is important because typically charges are added to your final fee based on the weight of the trash in the dumpster. And while we’re not talking hundreds of dollars, we know that this weight and these fees can add up.

Get proactive: Does a neighbor up the street also have a project going on and no dumpster? Knock on their door. Tell them what you’re planning on doing and ask them if they want to get involved and perhaps share the cost of renting a dumpster.

Identifying and heading off potential conflicts down the road can be beneficial for your bottom line and for neighborhood harmony.

A Quick Guide to What You Can’t Put in Your Dumpster

We get versions of this questions of this version all the time:

“What CAN’T I put in my rental dumpster?”

Of course, there is a list of items included in the rental contract, but you want to know the answer before you make the decision to rent a dumpster. So here’s a quick guide to what you can’t put in your dumpster.

First of all please note, this is a list of what you can’t put in YOUR dumpster.

There is a much shorter list to what you can’t put in someone else’s dumpster: everything. You should never put anything in someone else’s rental dumpster. If you do this, you are subjecting yourself and them to possible citations and fines.

The list of prohibited items falls into a couple of different categories.

Home interior:

The following home interior items should not be placed in your dumpster.

  • Mattresses
  • Couches
  • Upholstered chairs
  • Beds
  • Paint / paint cans
  • Televisions
  • Household cleaners
  • Light bulbs
  • Refrigerators
  • Large appliances

Each of these items likely have specific rules in your community for their disposal. In some cases this is because the items can be reused, usually decent furniture fits into that category, and televisions you’ve replaced not because they weren’t working but because you’ve upgraded. Keeping them in use and in circulation saves landfill space and saves another family money.

In other cases the items can’t be disposed of because they are themselves toxic or they contain toxic ingredients. Placing them in the landfill those poses problems to your environment including the drinking water for your community. Your community likely has rules and procedures for disposing of hazardous ingredients.

Garage or lawn and garden:

These garage, lawn, and garden items should not be placed in your dumpster.

  • Pesticides
  • Lawn chemicals
  • Weed killer / herbicides
  • Engine oil or lubricants
  • Propane tanks (even if you’re CERTAIN they are empty)
  • Tires

In each of these cases throwing out the indicated item is a risk to the environment and the people who handle or work at your trash processing facility. In some cases, including engine oil and lubricants, proper recycling means that they can be useful again. It might take an extra step, but reusing and reducing waste goes a long way towards helping the community.

Large item removal

Many municipalities offer the service of removing large items for you. Often you have to call ahead to schedule a pickup of the item on a specific day. This might not be your normal trash pick-up day, because the schedule is handled separately and sometimes is handled by an entirely different company or contractor.

Most communities require you to get it out to the curb which doesn’t require any more or less work than it would’ve taken to get it into a large dumpster. Some communities will even offer the help of someone coming into or up to your house to help with the removal process.

How Do I Dispose of Something with Freon in it?

Freon is the copyright name of a range of chlorofluorocarbons or chlorodifluoromethane used for a generation to cool refrigerators, freezers, homes, and automobiles.

 

The discovery that these chemicals depleted of protective layers around the earth led to their widespread phase-out, intended to become a full ban in 2020.

 

Many of us became aware of it only as our various mechanics and repair specialists told us we would have to replace our systems, or flush them and replace them with different coolants.

 

In some cases, replacing the refrigerant is not an option.

 

 

What do I do with my old appliance that uses Freon?

 

The good news is, if your appliance is still in good working order, there is no need to make an expensive repair or purchase. The phase-out allows for these systems to be replaced over time.

 

The bad news is, at some point your system will stop being cold. Your repair person will tell you that they cannot purchase or recharge the Freon because it simply is not available.

 

(And if they offer you black market Freon, you need to know that it is a violation of federal law to purchase or use it. Say no.)

 

You will have to transition to a new coolant, or to a new system.

 

 

Transitioning to a new coolant

 

In the best case scenario, your existing appliance will be able to be upgraded with a new coolant. The properly trained technician can safely drain the old coolant and they will handle the disposal. This disposal might show up as an additional charge on your bill, but consider it just part of the cost of the transition.

 

This repair should be done by someone who can demonstrate but they were trained according to EPA Section 608. This is the law that regulates the US compliance with the Kyoto and Montreal protocols that created these phase-outs.

 

Now you know that the material will be safely disposed of.

 

A new coolant will be injected and your system should be back to normal in no time.

 

 

Disposing of an old appliance

 

In some cases they won’t be able to change coolant and you will have to dispose of your appliance. The same laws that phased out Freon also mean that you can’t simply put that item at the curb or in your Bid Daddy Dumpster.

 

You still have options.

 

First, you could purchase a new appliance. In most cases, the same store that sold you the new appliance will for a reasonable fee dispose of the old one. In most cases this is the simplest and most economical choice.

 

Second, you could research your local regulations for dealing with Freon and drop your item off. This might mean loading the appliance into your pick-up truck and taking it to a specialized location (perhaps one that is near or attached to your local dump.) This site will have its own protocol for proper disposal of the Freon and it will likely have additional uses for the remaining parts.

How Do I Know It’s Time to Remodel My Kitchen?

When you were walking through your house, deciding whether to buy it, you made dozens of instant decisions and plans for what you’d like to do with the space.

 

But now a few years have passed, all the major changes in the house have been done. Time has begun to take its toll.

 

Maybe one day, the kitchen cabinetry simply looks old or scratched. The appliances were once a set, but due to fading or hard use they no longer look like each other. Or maybe the sink has just never worked in that spot.

 

How do you know when it is time to do a full kitchen remodel?

 

These questions will help you come to the right conclusion.

 

Kitchen Use

 

First you want to assess how you use your kitchen.

 

This might sound odd. You know how you use your kitchen!

 

However, this actually changes over time. Your kitchen use can be affected by the number of people who live in your house, the level of activity during the day, whether you work at home, whether you travel for work, if you have pets, and a variety of other factors.

 

A helpful way to start this conversation is by filling out this HGTV questionnaire about how you use your kitchen during an ordinary day: https://www.hgtv.com/content/dam/documents/Kitchen-Day-in-the-Life-of-100.pdf

 

Once you have considered those questions, take a look around.

 

 

Cabinets and Countertops

 

Do you have enough cabinetry and countertops? Are your cabinets and kitchen supplies near where you use them the most? Is there enough space to do the work you need to do?

 

If you answer all of these questions “yes,” this is good news. You might need to merely repaint or repair the cabinets instead of doing a full remodel.

 

If not, consider reviewing your floorplan and hiring an expert to assist your remodel. Replacing cabinets and countertops will be hard work. Getting the right mix of materials and the best use of space will require expert help.

 

 

Appliances

 

Do your appliances meet your daily needs? Does your refrigerator use a coolant other than Freon?

 

If you answered these questions “yes,” this is a good sign. Being able to continue in your remodel without having to replace appliances will make the work easier and a lot less expensive.

 

If there are available amenities that you would like to add to your kitchen, like a door ice dispenser, or a super silent dishwasher, your upgrade becomes more challenging and expensive. You will need to decide whether to donate or dump your current appliances.

 

If they work but are dented, scratched, or faded, your appliance retailer will likely haul them out for you, for a small fee.

 

If you are replacing it because it does not work, then you might want to think about your dumpster needs for your remodel.

 

 

Plumbing and electrical fixtures

 

Is your kitchen sink beautiful and in good working order? Is it in the right place? How about the bank of outlets that power your mixer, toaster, and coffeemaker?

 

Getting involved in moving the plumbing or outlets can be the costliest and most complex part of a kitchen remodel. It is advised to not undertake these moves without very good reason.

 

You want to have the best design for the room where you make your meals and often spend a good part of your day. If these changes will make every day better, then it might well be your best investment.

How Do I Know It’s Time to Remodel My Bathroom?

With the possible exception of your kitchen, your bathroom is the most abused room in your house.

 

Think about what happens in there. Really think about it.

 

The bathroom endures periods of intense heat and humidity. It is alternately the dirtiest and cleanest place in the whole house. You use harsh chemicals for almost constant cleaning. Spitting, rinsing, brushing, applying and taking off various products to yourself and your fixtures.

 

No room knows you as well as your bathroom.

 

So you know when it is time to remodel.

 

But what should you replace? And what can you just change?

 

 

Are fixtures in the right place?

 

Answering this question is the key to the size and scope of your bathroom plans. If your fixtures are essentially where you’d like them to be, then your remodel should be relatively simple.

 

But if you were thinking you’d always like to have the sink in a different place, it is a whole new ballgame.

 

Well there are many bathroom repairs you can achieve on your own, one that involves moving plumbing and electricity is likely not one of them. Hire a remodeler.

 

 

Are your fixtures old or ugly?

 

Good news. Replacing the sink, faucets, and even your toilet are do-it-yourself projects for the moderately experienced home owner. These can be heavy jobs, and at key points will require help.

 

This help will include getting the items into the right place, and disposing of the old fixtures at the curb or in a rented dumpster.

 

This work is always complicated by the age of the existing work. If your sink or bathtub faucets were replaced or repaired recently, you might find flexible water pipes, which are easy to maneuver and re-attach.

 

If not, your work will be harder, but still in the “moderate” range.

 

Even replacing a shower head can take an afternoon and change how you feel about your bathroom in the years ahead.

 

Wallpaper or paint?

 

Because of the constant changes in temperature and humidity wallpaper is generally a bad choice for the bathroom. While there are some wallpapers specifically made to handle this sort of abuse, the number of corners, narrow spaces, and limited room to work seem will discourage all but the heartiest wallpaper hangers.

 

Most homeowners and remodelers prefer to paint a bathroom. Easy-to-apply and waterproof, a high quality semi-gloss paint will provide the mix of economy and durability that most owners will value.

 

Sometimes a new coat of paint is really all that your bathroom needs to feel new and welcoming again.

 

 

Cabinetry and hooks

 

Years of abuse can take their toll on your mirror, cabinets, and hooks.

 

Some of the simplest repairs in the restroom might be selecting beautiful designer hooks. The range of options these days is almost endless, as you can see here at Wayfair.com, and your bathroom can have a style and flair that adds whimsy and a sense of style to every day.

 

 

What do you think? Where will you start your bathroom makeover?

How do I know if this is trash? – Under the Porch Edition

That smell, you realize, is coming from under the porch. Something has gone under there to die, and accomplished its mission, if your nose is to be trusted.

But why would it go under YOUR porch? It’s not like there are places to hide …

Oh, wait. Yes.

You’ve been throwing things under this porch for hmm … going on a decade now.

That’s a LOT of stuff. You can’t even see what is making the smell.

Time to clean. But how to decide if items you find should be kept, donated, sold at a garage sale, or thrown away?

Read this quick guide!

Old concrete

Are these concrete blocks that are complete, whole, and in usable shape? Keep

Wait, that’s a lot more blocks than I thought. Maybe someone else can use them for a specific project? A lot of middle-sized to large communities have one or more organizations to help with just this sort of thing. Donate

I thought these would be useful but they are really just chunks of concrete. Maybe I could use them as filler for … well, maybe I could make something up? Trash

Tools

“I own a wheelbarrow?” Have you been doing yardwork for years without it? Did you replace it? I thought so. Donate

Is it rusted through, either on the wheel brace or the container portion? It’s not able to do anyone any good. Trash

Hand tools

Still sturdy and, with a little love, it could go to work again? These tools that can get oiled up and put to good use for another generation. Maybe you’re not the one for this task. Donate

Covered in rust? Unmoveable? Showing physical signs of decay? Trash

Lumber

Oh, yes. You remember these parts from that fence project. Or was it the garage? Either way take a quick look at them. Are they warped? Are they damaged from the water? Trash

Are they stained? This might be okay if you need them as a replacement part for something that is painted. Are they in mint condition? Keep

That small stack over there? The odds and ends you are keeping just in case you come up with a project. Really? How long has it been? Are you coming into a whole bunch of free time sometime soon? No? Really, not even a pandemic is enough to turn the average person into a woodworker. Trash

Odds and ends

Old trash can lid. Is it aluminum? Recycle   Another other material? Trash

You have held on to these toddler toys for years, but in addition to Father Time, safety standards have also crept up on you. These won’t be safe or in good condition when you have grandkids. Trash

That old sled … might actually be useful. Is it in working condition, with no holes or warps? Keep

Nothing is more fun than a neighborhood garage sale and clean-out week. Go together and rent a dumpster, and drop a hint to your hoarder neighbor.

 

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