The Surznick Common Room

Friday, February 3, 2017

How to Remove Wall Trim


We bought our house 8 months ago today and as you know, we've been working pretty hard to turn this 1950s ranch into the home we've always dreamed of. We got lucky with a pretty blank canvas - white walls and beautiful hardwood floors in almost every room - however, we aren't very thrilled with the existing trim and swapping it out has been one of the highest impact changes we've made.

The trim was in decent shape, but had a few flaws: 1) The quarter round and the actual trim didn't match in color, 2) We just didn't like the style. Even with a fresh coat of paint, we knew we wouldn't be pleased with it, so we started yanking it out in preparation for installing fresh, new trim.


Never removed trim before? Don't worry, we hadn't either. But it was an easy process and you can do it too!

Here's what you need!
- Ground covering (builders paper or drop cloth)
- Utility knife
- Putty knife
- Hammer
- Rag
- Pry bar
- Pliers
- Saw
- Large utility trash bags

Here's what you do!
- Lay your ground covering to protect your floors (especially if you have hardwood) and keep your space clean.
- First, take off the quarter round - If you're not keeping your trim, simply hammer your pry bar into the seam between the quarter round and the trim to loosen it up. If it's super tight, you may need to force a putty knife in first, before you can properly fit a pry bar in. If you are keeping your trim, use a rag behind your pry bar to help keep the trim nice. If you're keeping the trim, but are removing the quarter round to refinish your floors, simply pound the pry bar in at the seam between the floor and the quarter round. This will also loosen it up for removal.


- If your trim is old, chances are good that some of your nails with either break off into your floor, or your quarter round will splinter around the nails. Here is where your pliers come in, to remove any broken nails from your floor.
- After cleaning up your quarter round trash and any broken nails you may have come across, prep your trim for removal.
- Using your utility knife, score the seam between the wall and the top edge of your trim. This will ensure that the finish on your walls doesn't tear with any trim removal, and will give a slight gap that you can start a pry bar or putty knife into.



- Starting at one end, hammer the straight end of your pry bar into the top seam, pulling away from the wall to loosen the trim.
- Again, as your work your trim free, be careful about the paint on your wall. You may want to cushion the space between the pry bar and wall with a folded rag. In our case, our new trim is significantly taller than our old trim, and we'll be repainting, so we weren't too worried about slight marks on the wall.
- Work slowly and evenly across your entire trim length, working both the top half of the trim, and further down to loosen the lower pieces. This will prevent your nails from bending too far, or you blowing out too much of the drywall or plaster that the nails are driven into.


- Chances are good some nails will stay in your wall. Use your pry bar, pliers, or hammer to remove any left over nails.
- Clean up. Depending on your plans with the old trim, prep for disposal or reuse. (This trim is in pretty bad shape, and the nails are way too long to efficiently remove, so we pound all of the protruding nails down flat to the board, and cut the trim into about 12 inch sections to be bagged up and thrown away.)
- If you're planning to reuse the trim for a different project, just be sure to take care of all your nails before working with it (obviously.)


And that's it! Now that the easy part is done, it's time to care for your wall surfaces and plan out your new trim installation. But that's a different post...

Sarah & Nick

Monday, January 30, 2017

Surznick Reads: January 2017


The first month of 2017 is already coming to a close, which is a bit hard to believe if you ask me. We have a lot of good books lined up for the year, but we had a bit of a slow start. We're going to keep up this feature anyway, even though we're showcasing less books than in years past. So without further ado, our first Surznick Reads of the new year!

Sarah's Reads!


Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer
From Amazon.com: "Like many young Americans, Jonathan Safran Foer spent much of his teenage and college years oscillating between enthusiastic carnivore and occasional vegetarian. As he became a husband, and then a father, the moral dimensions of eating became increasingly important to him. Faced with the prospect of being unable to explain why we eat some animals and not others, Foer set out to explore the origins of many eating traditions and the fictions involved with creating them. Traveling to the darkest corners of our dining habits, Foer raises the unspoken question behind every fish we eat, every chicken we fry, and every burger we grill. Part memoir and part investigative report, Eating Animals is a book that, in the words of the Los Angeles Times, places Jonathan Safran Foer 'at the table with our greatest philosophers.'"

I just read over Nick's review of this book from November and can find little to add that he hasn't already said. I've been thinking about 'Eating Animals' constantly since finishing it last week. Even as a vegetarian, much of what Foer outlined in this book was eye opening and new to me, from traditional animal husbandry to the sheer number of factory farmed animals per year. What sticks out to me the most is the extreme impact that the meat industry has on the environment (25% of global land use, land-use change, and forestry emissions are driven by beef production, including conversion of forests in the Brazilian Amazon.) 'Eating Animals' is now 7 years old and the Earth has been continuing to warm year after year. The meat industry isn't helping things get better, though there are more sustainable ways to eat meat. All in all, I'm not here to push a vegetarian agenda, but this is a book I would encourage everyone to read, vegetarian or not.

My Rating: 5 Stars


Nick's Reads!


Absolutely on Music: Conversations with Seiji Ozawa by Haruki Murakami
From Amazon.com: "A deeply personal, intimate conversation about music and writing between the internationally acclaimed, best-selling author and the former conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. In Absolutely on Music, Haruki Murakami sits down with his friend Seiji Ozawa, the revered former conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, for a series of conversations on their shared passion: music. Over the course of two years, Murakami and Ozawa discuss everything from Brahms to Beethoven, from Leonard Bernstein to Glenn Gould, from Bartók to Mahler, and from pop-up orchestras to opera. They listen to and dissect recordings of some of their favorite performances, and Murakami questions Ozawa about his career conducting orchestras around the world. Culminating in Murakami’s ten-day visit to the banks of Lake Geneva to observe Ozawa’s retreat for young musicians, the book is interspersed with ruminations on record collecting, jazz clubs, orchestra halls, film scores, and much more. A deep reflection on the essential nature of both music and writing, Absolutely on Music is an unprecedented glimpse into the minds of two maestros."

I realize that to many people this book probably sounds like a total snooze. It's not. It is a bit tricky to explain, but the passion with which these two discuss music is infectious. Whether you're an orchestral music buff or not, anyone can get behind the conversation between renowned author and famous music conductor. They're funny, profound, and inspiring. I received this book as a gift from a friend, and it was the perfect gift - just two old guys geeking out together over a shared passion for music. Some of the more technical aspects of Ozawa and Murakami's discussions may be lost on some readers (and were certainly lost on me), but many of their overreaching themes and the discussion surrounding what it means to make true art was incredible. This is a great read. If you're looking for something inspiring that may be out of your normal reading zone, I definitely recommend this.

My rating: 4 stars

Here's to another month of good reading! We hope you are all enjoying some good books too. Share what you're reading with us below!

Sarah & Nick

Friday, January 27, 2017

Gifting Art with Minted


Valentine's Day is around the corner, as I'm sure you know from all of the pink and red filled candy aisles at the grocery store, and many people are starting to think about what to gift loved ones for cupid's holiday. Nick and I have never been much for V-Day gifts or even a special dinner (other than heart-shaped pizza), but if we do exchange gifts, I want it to be personal and meaningful.

When Minted reached out to us about their Valentine's Day collection and giving art as a gift, I couldn't believe that it hadn't crossed my mind before. No one ever really thinks to give art as gifts, but as new-ish homeowners, I just love that idea so much. We have so many blank spaces to fill in our home and I'm sure others do too. The idea of giving someone a piece of art that they can hang and reflect on for years to come is so much more meaningful than a box of candy or a teddy bear.

We're in the midst of a few projects right now, like the bedroom, dining area, and guest room, and we're definitely going to need beautiful art for each space. For Valentine's Day, Nick and I are each going to pick out a Minted print for each other - I'm excited to see what we pick! (We'll update this post once our prints arrive so you can see too!)

Below are some of my favorite individual art pieces from the Minted Valentine's Day collection:

Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha - This would be great in a gallery wall or above a desk, perhaps to brighten someone's work day.
Forty-Six - If you know my obsession with keys, this one will come as no surprise to you.
Pretzel - Pop-art pretzel, what's not to love?
French Dreams - I know so many people that have visited Paris recently - this would be perfect for them.
Shining Statement - This floral piece is so gorgeous. It would be pretty above a bed!
Summer Tanagers - I love abstract pieces that you can work into any room or gallery well. This watercolor print is so cool.

By the way, one of the best things about Minted is that you can order your prints already framed, which makes this gifting process easier than ever. If you're looking for something super personalized, Minted offers a Minimalist Quote Keepsake, where you can completely customize a print with a photo and quote of your choice. You can learn more about this and all of Minted's awesome Valentine's Day gift ideas here (I really love the custom map prints too!)


From now until the 30th you can take 20% off all foil Valentines cards and gifts, and 15% off all other Valentines cards and gifts with code BEMINE.

If you're interested in purchasing art for a loved one this Valentine's Day, make sure you order by the cutoff dates below to receive your pieces in time!
  • Ground Shipping: 11:59 pm PST on February 1
  • Priority Shipping: 11:59 pm PST on February 4
  • Expedited Shipping: 11:59 pm PST on February 5
  • Rush Shipping: 11:59 pm PST on February 6
Happy gift giving!

Sarah & Nick

This post is in collaboration with Minted, but all opinions and favorite pieces are our own. Thanks for supporting the companies that support the Common Room (can't wait to show you our new art!)