Tag - DIY

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» DIY: Our Kitchen Renovation
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» DIY: Sliding Barn Door
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» DIY: Shiplap built-in: The look without the commitment
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DIY: Bathroom Vanity Update
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DIY: Cosco Stool Refurbish
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DIY: Sliding Barn Door
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Road Tripping with Kids
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Goodbye 1980s Bathroom
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DIY: Subway Tile Backsplash Tutorial
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» DIY: Kitchen Makeover for Under $250

» DIY: Our Kitchen Renovation

Our home has been such a work in progress. When we moved in we knew we were going to change everything but would need to do it slowly and of course… cheaply. When I walked into our home with my realtor/friend I told her to put the offer in within just a few minutes. I could see huge potential and I could see this becoming our home. Forgive the poor quality of the before photos! I didn’t have my iPhone 7 back then, ya’ll!

Before the renovation the kitchen was cut off from the entire house. It was still a large kitchen but it isolated me or whoever was in there from the rest of the home. I dreamed of a large, open space that contained a dining, sitting and kitchen area. The structure of our home posed some issues here. We didn’t have a large budget to work with and the wall separating the dining and kitchen was load bearing and also had the weight of stairs mixed in. Removing that or opening it up would be thousands upon thousands. No thank you. Every day I looked at the kitchen from different angles. I even asked contractor friends. I still got the answer… you’re talking about a lot of money hereIf you look below you’ll see the kitchen on the day we moved in. Shiny black, but solid wood, cabinets, a space waiting for a fridge and decent quartz counter tops. Oh. And red walls. Which probably looked stellar with someone else’s decor… but not mine. AND that soffit above the cabinets. Dry wall and soffit as far as the eye can see. The wall on the right (where the fridge goes) is the wall that divided the kitchen from the next room, picture #2. This room was a den/living area with faux wood beams and fireplace and lots of track lighting. This room was so dark despite the two sets of French doors.

Before:

The wall before coming down

 

The den on the opposite side of the kitchen wall

 

The opposite side of the kitchen. This leads into the bonus room and the dining room. The dining is where you spy the bit of chair rail. This is now my office and sitting area with a nice big couch.

One day as I was standing in the kitchen, it hit me. Why fixate on the location of the dining room? We could take the wall down between the den and the kitchen and create the open area we wanted! This wall was not load bearing. Additionally, because I had no budget for an actual new kitchen… why not move and repurpose all the existing cabinets? They were in good shape and very solid. Of course all these ideas hit me AFTER I did my mini $250 renovation. Thankfully I only lost the tile on wall I was planning to take down. You can read about that little detour here.

So here’s what we did in a nutshell. And yes, we did call in some professionals as well as doing a lot ourselves. There were some shady things going on with the electrical before we called in the professionals. It’s always lovely when you find out that the contractors that did the upstairs bathrooms renovations (before we bought the house) cut through the floor beams and just left them. PTL we didn’t end up with a shower or bathtub in the middle of our kitchen! We had our fair share of HGTV phone call moments and things to fix that cost more than we were expecting. Lesson #1 in home remodeling… always over-budget because you will uncover crazy things when the walls start coming down.

What we did:

– Removed wall separating den and kitchen, created column to encase plumbing pipes after wall removal, added hardwood floor where wall stood previously,

– Added additional can lighting to replace track lighting in den, removed gross faux beams

– Painted red brick on fire place, painted EVERYTHING

– Removed and rearranged cabinets, make an island from a portion of the cabinets, found contrasting granite at scrap granite yard

– Refinished ALL wood floors in house (they were a different color in each room),

– Painted cabinets, installed backsplash, converted electric range to gas. We also added extra moulding to the top of the cabinets. They looked strange after removing the soffit and that really helped dress them up.

– Removed soffit above cabinets, repaired drywall 1,000 times

– Added cabinetry for microwave area

After:

And here we are today. The column marks where the wall once was. We opted to encase the plumbing with a column rather than spending thousands and thousands trying to move it. It was a budget win, and I like the detail. We also added a light switch and outlets which is very handy with the island. We added bead board to an existing cabinet, pulled from the old wall, and the island with seating for 5-6 was born. Someday, the black ovens will completely die and I’ll get new stainless ones… but not today.

Here is another angle from this perspective. I love the clean lines of sight. I love that we can gather here. I love that a painting from Ethiopia and baskets from Uganda all found their way into a space that boasts Farm House above the door. I love that those stools were $40 at Home Goods as well. LOVE a bargain. Ya’ll do too right??

Now here we are, looking from the opposite end. I didn’t remove my fridge crap for you guys. Wanted to be mostly real. Although there is usually a bit more crumbs and dog toys or whatever to be found on the floor. What I love about this view is the budget chair and table. The distressed(ish) blue chairs are leftover from a previous table set. The upholstered chairs were $60 each on World Market’s end of year sale. The farm house table with metal top was a shocking $175 at World Market’s end of year sale. I am cheap to the core, so I pick up things and build my style over time. I sometimes pick something up and don’t figure out how to use it for a good two years.

There is a lot of walking (or running) space in this room. It’s really airy and now that it’s not brown you can really feel all the natural light. I painted the fireplace in this room because the original brick was not a pretty red. Otherwise I would have kept it original. The shelving unit was brownish mustard poop and now it has a shiplap treatment and is a nice, snowy white. And it houses little treasures from Africa, Haiti, China, South Carolina and wherever else we’ve ended up.

This view highlights the working room I have in the kitchen. I can now have lots of people (kids) busting around in here with me. No problem. The open cabinetry area holds a microwave… and currently all of our water bottles. I try not to fuss with stuff like that and just give easy access for the kids to make their water bottle each day for school and sports. The rugs are simple and can be thrown in the wash on a weekly basis.

Here you can catch a glimpse of the bonus room, which we recently finished with a shiplap treatment. It took me awhile to agree to this… but man, I just love it so much. There is also a sliding door that divides the rooms, it’s featured in this post. I told you I wanted to keep it real, do you like the mad stack of water bottle mess down there? And oh man, that black stove hood and double oven. Not pleasing to the eye… but they work right? Someday…

There you have it! We went from this:

To this:

And we did it without incurring any additional debt. We saved a bit, we made decent choices and reused a lot of what we had. Why spend a ton of money on a renovation when in 10 years someone is going to move into this house and blog about how they had to paint over all my light grey and add a wall because why would someone ever want such an open house (lol). It’s all relative friends. Enjoy your home, make it yours… and don’t break the bank.

» DIY: Sliding Barn Door

Our bonus room renovation project has been a long time coming. It was the room where we stacked stuff, kept the dog kennel and even stored our recycling containers. When friends came to visit I generally tried to keep them far away from the dreaded bonus room. In an effort to lighten up this room we recently added shiplap and painted it white. This move started a series of additional improvements to the room and I’m happy to report we are super close to an entire room reveal. The latest addition to the room, today’s feature, is a sea-glass colored sliding barn door. Here’s how we did it!

Part 1- Building the door

This is the second sliding barn door in our house. This time around, we searched Google and Pinterest for design ideas and got quite overwhelmed with the options. Our good friend Andrew, gave us a simple base plan and promised we’d love it. So we took his word and started with a 1/2″ birch plywood (4′ x 8′) sheet cut to the door size we needed. From there we were able to customize the finishes on the door easily. The instructions from National Hardware’s sliding barn door kit (more on the actual kit below) guide you on what that final size needs to be. We bought additional 1″ x 6″ pieces of various lengths for our trim. Yes, I know. My sketches are clearly amazing, I’ll make sure to start signing them like Joanna Gaines. Certainly someone will make a published book out of them one day.

Building the door was a very smooth process. I laid the birch plywood board out in the living room, I chose to work inside due to the chilly weather, and measured to determine what cuts I would need for the frame. This went quickly and I then used a combination of liquid nails and screws to attached the framing to the birch plywood. The dogs were, as usual, very curious and tried to lend a paw through the process.

I then attached the diagonal cross board, after measuring the placement area, with wood screws and a bit of liquid nails for good measure. After the boards were screwed in I immediately began to apply the first coat of paint. I chose an economical chalk paint by valspar for this project and I was really impressed by the quality compared to my typical Annie Sloan choice. The seaglass color was absolutely perfect!


Once the first coat was dry I took a hammer, crow bar and other various items and basically beat the junk out of the pretty door I just created. I really didn’t want a shiny new door in this room and I searched half of Nashville looking for something old. Unfortunately the size we needed just couldn’t be found. So I improvised and got a work-out while I “distressed” the door. After the door was good and beat up I mixed a gray and brown stain with Annie Sloan wax and rubbed the door down. This added a gritty look and highlighted the dinged-up areas nicely.


Part 2- Installation

Installation was fairly painless. National Hardware provided a great kit with instructions for this project. It includes the track, rollers and stopper hardware necessary for a quick and easy installation. They also offer a door handle and pull that we did end up using. The templates included take the guess work out of drilling the holes into the door.

I painted a header (National Hardware recommends a 1×6) to install into the new shiplap. The track for the rolling hardware is screwed into this beam. This provides a stylistic touch and security to the door system. Make sure you have your level for this step as you don’t want a door that slides open or shut on it’s own. Calvin and I took turns managing kids and working on installation. As you can see the kids kept busy in the kitchen with snacks and mess-making while we worked.


Once the beam is up, the track is bolted securely into the beam. The beam and track went up easily and the door slid effortlessly onto the track.

Conclusion

If you’ve been wanting to do this project but unsure of the cost and difficulty level, you have nothing to worry about. Building the door is easy (do all your measuring and math before you leave the house) and with two people, installation was a breeze. I don’t have any other hardware kits to compare against but the National Hardware system had clear instructions and the pieces were all sorted and labeled nicely. For two people, I would say this project would take about 3 hours, including the door creation. This doesn’t include the paint drying and the interruptions from kids who are constantly hungry and wanting to help hammer and drill things. Total cost for this project is $255

Our Material List (based on 39″x83″ door opening):

(1) 4′ x 8′ cabinet grade board
(2) 1″ x 6″ in. 10′ board
(3) 72 in 2×6 header board
(20) wood screws (for door)
(20) drywall screws (f0r header)
1- can of valspar chalk paint
Liquid Nails for Wood
Paint brushes and old t-shirts for stain/paint
National Hardware Satin Nickel Sliding Barn Door Kit
Door Materials: $85
Hardware: $170

Tools That Will Help:

Drill
Saw (we used a table saw)
Hammer and Crowbar (for distressing)
Socket Wrench
Drill Bits

 

 

 

Disclaimer: The folks at National Hardware kindly provided the sliding barn door hardware for this review. As always, the opinions are my own.

» DIY: Shiplap built-in: The look without the commitment

We are all tuned in to Joanna and her shiplap ways. But honestly, I’m a bit daunted by the idea of doing an entire room in shiplap. We all remember what happened with paneling right? It was cool… until it wasn’t and that stuff isn’t fun or cheap to pull out and replace. So despite Joanna and her charming renovations I’m not convinced we should all shiplap with abandon. That said… I did really want a bit in my house. It fits the style of my home and the decor… which my good friend has described as coastal farmhouse with an international flair. That was really kind of her. Mostly, I have a mix of old things I’ve painted with treasures from my travels to other countries. I’m eclectic at best.

Any-way, as I pondered where to add this bit of shiplap my eyes landed on the built-in section of our current dining area. I say current, because I’ve moved our dining space a few times since owning this house. When we moved in the built-in was a poop-ish colored mustard brown. I painted it a creamy white. A few months later I added chalkboard paint on the back of it. It’s kind of been a disastrous work in progress. Here is a before shot after all the creamy white and chalkboard paint attempts. Mostly, I was just trying to get by with it while I dealt with bigger projects like bathrooms that were pea-green and carpeted. This seemed like the perfect solution for a shiplap nod without a huge commitment.

To save money I went to Lowe’s and had them rip a sheet of plywood underlayment into 5.5 in strips. If I were doing shiplap on walls I would go a bit wider but I based this on the measurements I took between the shelves. I spend just $17 on the wood for this project so it was a very low-cost high reward situation. The installation itself was very easy. I simply used a level to check each board, nailed them in, using nickels as spacers between the boards and continued until the space was filled in. I really wanted the shiplap to look rustic on the back of the shelving so I left twice as much space at the end of each board. Most shiplap seamlessly flows into the next board, adding more space before placing the adjacent board gave this a heftier feel, in my opinion. Once all the boards were nailed in I painted the creases and then followed up with a roller to give the boards a smooth coat of paint. It took 3 coats of paint to cover everything well. One last tip, I used a zip zag of liquid nails on the backs of the boards to prevent any bowing.

If you are looking for a one day project to add just a hint of shiplap to your home look around… you may find inspiration in the corners and shelving of your home. Just a little goes a long way! Here is the finished project! Well, mostly finished. The angled section at the bottom will soon be cut and refashioned to make a hinged door that will provide enclosed storage space. Right now it’s a magazine display area… no time for that. Stay tuned for a little update once the hinged section is added.

P.S. Don’t judge me if I lose my mind and commit to shiplap in an entire room. Because once you have a little shiplap you forget about your reasons for not shiplapping every darned thing in your house. The charm of shiplap might just be too hard to resist!

DIY: Bathroom Vanity Update

A little goes a long way. When we moved into this home three years ago, the bathrooms were newly renovated but lacked the personal touch and character that I desired. The bathroom “character” project has been very patient with me. I purchased gorgeous marble back splash tile almost a year ago ($3 per sheet clearance at Home Depot!) I had just completed our kitchen back splash and was in the DIY mood. The week we had planned to take care of this three-hour project, one thing led to another and we ended up with our kitchen being a total hazard zone. I tend to just pull the trigger on things. This Wall removal craziness was one of those things. Sure! Let’s go for it.

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But that’s another blog post for a later time…

Back to the bathroom. Unlike our downstairs master bathroom, we have two restrooms that were remodeled at some time before we moved in. This made it hard since we couldn’t just tear the whole thing apart and start fresh. I couldn’t justify or afford something like that. The cabinets were new and good quality but the finish wasn’t holding up at all.

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So we decided to enhance what we already had. When a project needs freshening up, paint is always in the equation. I chose a steel gray color for the vanity and these Franklin knobs from National Hardware in pewter. This paint is practically bullet proof. I dare the kids to try and mess it up.

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The pictures don’t do it justice at all! Now that the vanity is done, I can’t wait to add the back splash. I’m so happy with the color and how it pulls the gray tones out of the existing tile. The back splash and second bathroom reveal will go down over Christmas break. Moral of the story in home renovations… a little goes a long way.

Disclaimer: The folks at National Hardware kindly provided the cabinet hardware for this review. As always, the opinions are my own.

 

DIY: Cosco Stool Refurbish

Four years ago, roughly, I found a yellow retro cosco stool at a flea market. It was $5 and needed some love. I took it home and we most definitely gave it some love. We stood on it, sat on it, painted with it, hung pictures with it and used it for visiting toddlers in lieu of a high chair. Finally, four years later I took 10 MINUTES to give it some true TLC.

Step 1: Locate the FOUR tabs on the underside of the seat. Use a butter knife (or any flat, strong object) and lift the tabs to release the seat top. (yay for tabs!)

Step 1: Locate the FOUR tabs on the underside of the seat. Use a butter knife (or any flat, strong object) and lift the tabs to release the seat top. (yay for tabs!)

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STEP 2: Lift the old seat from the base and remove the vinyl. Save the foam if it’s in good shape.

Step 3: Use material of your choice (upholsteryfabric) and rewrap the seat, being mindful of the edges. Uses hot glue or spray adhesive for extra hold. No staples!

Step 3: Use material of your choice (upholsteryfabric) and rewrap the seat, being mindful of the edges. Uses hot glue or spray adhesive for extra hold. No staples!

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Last step: Fit the seat base back on the stool and close the tabs on the underside of the seat. Done!

And here’s a quick look at the before. Why did I wait four years!??

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DIY: Sliding Barn Door

What a week. Back to school and home improvement are in full swing. I’m a big fan of this project because it means we FINALLY have a bathroom (see bathroom reno here) door in the master bedroom. It took us some time to commit to the barn door but I’m very happy with the results and the convenience of the sliding door versus traditional door. We did choose to build and design our own door after pricing out several options. Hopefully this will inspire you to tackle some long awaited projects and design choices.

Part 1- Building the door
I headed to Lowe’s with Calvin and our youngest. We had a rough sketch of a door design and we needed to check out the wood selection for possibilities. We chose “whitewood” 1x10x10 boards which we cut to 82 inches long. The instructions from National Hardware’s hardware kit (more on the actual kit below) were good but we still took our time measuring and thinking through where the sliding track would drop the door and the distance we wanted between the bottom of the door and the floor. So basically, to get your length you measure from the hanging slider to the floor and take an inch and a half out for your floor clearance. We chose additional boards (2x6s) for our cross pieces. These were cut to 36 inches long. A trip down the hardware aisle produced a modern/rustic handle and I quickly chose a weathered gray stain by Rust-oleum that I’ve become completely obsessed with.

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Building the door was a very smooth process. I laid the boards out on a large table applying beads of Liquid Nails Wood between each board.

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I then attached the cross boards, after measuring the placement area, with wood screws. The wood screws should enter through the back of the door to ensure a clean look on the front. It is advisable to use a clamp or some other device while the glue dries, but I’m a short cut person and decided to quickly screw in the cross boards to hold everything together while the glue dried. It worked out great, I’m not sorry.

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I did not screw in the middle cross board because it needed to be stained and have a handle added before becoming a permanent part of the door. I traced the location and set to work with the stain and drilling holes for the handle.

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Once that portion was completed I began to work on staining the entire door. The Rust-Oleum stain I chose is a one coat stain, and it does indeed work very well for that method. However, I like to add details to the staining process. I brushed on the stain and rubbed it in. Then I used my sander to round the edges of the cross boards and top of the door. I also gave the entire door a quick pass with the sander and then rubbed another coat of stain into certain parts of the door to achieve the character I wanted. Once the door was finished I screwed in the center cross piece with handle attached. (I also cleaned off the stain residue with finger nail polish remover… it’s a messy process ya’ll)

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And then there was a door. A modern/rustic barnwood door. Once the stain was dry (1 hour!!) I applied 2 coats of clear polyurethane giving 4 hours between coats and lightly sanding as well.

Part 2- Installation

Installation was fairly painless. National Hardware provided a great kit with instructions for this project. It includes the track, rollers and stopper hardware necessary for a quick and easy installation. You can also combine two sets to create double-sliding 3 ft. doors, which we did not need.

National Hardware

I stained a header (National Hardware recommends a 2×6) to install above the molding around our bathroom door. The track for the rolling hardware is screwed into this beam. This provides a stylistic touch and security to the door system. Make sure you have your level for this step as you don’t want a door that slides open or shut on it’s own. Calvin and I took turns hanging with kids and working on installation. My hair just screams Saturday morning project.

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Once the beam and track were installed we added the rolling hardware to the door. They provide a template that makes drilling the holes into the door really simple. After installing the rollers the door slid easily onto the track and we screwed the guides into the floor, very simple.

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Conclusion: If you’ve been wanting to do this project but unsure of the cost and difficulty level, you have nothing to worry about. Building the door is easy (do all your measuring and math before you leave the house) and with two people, installation was a breeze. I don’t have any other hardware kits to compare against but the National Hardware system had clear instructions and the pieces were all sorted and labeled nicely. For two people, I would say this project would take about 3 hours. This doesn’t include the paint drying and the interruptions from kids who are constantly hungry and wanting to help hammer and drill things. Total cost for this project is $255

Our Material List (based on 36″x80″ door opening):

4- 1x10x10 boards cut to 82 in long
3- 36 in. 2×6 boards
1- 72 in 2×6 header board
20- wood screws (for door)
20- drywall screws (f0r header)
1- can of Rust-Oleum one coat stain in weathered gray
Liquid Nails for Wood
Paint brushes and old t-shirts for stain
National Hardware Rolling Door hardware kit
Door Materials: $85
Hardware: $170

 

 

 

 

 

Disclaimer: The folks at National Hardware kindly provided the sliding barn door hardware for this review. As always, the opinions are my own.

 

Road Tripping with Kids

We recently made the long drive down to Charleston, SC where most of my family lives. We make this drive a few times each year and many times we leave daddy at home to work while we play. This means one adult to lots of children. I’ve tried many things to get us all there without massive meltdowns or fights in the car. Here are a few things that make our ride go smoothly:

Snack Bags: Each child is given a snack bag with their name on it. The snacks are healthier versions of typical junk food snacks. Still fun, but without extra sugar or food dyes… minus the Nutella dippers, those are obviously NOT low on sugar. They receive the entire bag and are responsible for rationing their snacks throughout the trip. This teaches them to be responsible, make choices for themselves and keeps me from having to hand things out while driving. My snacks, usually popcorn (479 Degrees GMO-free popcorn is my fav!) or something salty, are taken out of the original bags and placed in resealable ziplock bags. It reduces mess and spills and fumbling around with a bag while driving.

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Activity Bags: The activity bags contain things like new blank notebooks and new markers or crayons. I found scented markers for $2 a box and that made the bag extra fun this time around. I also include a book and a small toy or novelty. As we drive I give the kids writing/drawing prompts. “Try to draw a picture of our van, what does it look like driving down the road?” Or, “Write a couple of sentences describing what you see as we pass through this town or rest stop, what do you think the people like to do here?” We only have two that are writing sentences, so the others draw pictures or just doodle. I am hoping that as they get older they will embrace the idea of a travel journal, we shall see.

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Screens: We do limit screens but they definitely become an asset on car trips. After the snacks and activity bags have lost their luster and we’ve passed through the “time tunnels” in North Carolina and sang 25 car songs and taken some short naps the kindles are allowed to come out. Thanks to Great Grandma and Christmas we have four kindles at our disposal. They will generally play or read on the kindles for an hour or so until one of them falls asleep again or gets car sick. That leads me to my next must-have.

Pod Casts/Radio Shows: This is obviously a personal choice but for some reason talk radio, a good podcast (This American Life or a recent Sermon series) really keeps me awake and alert and also in a good mood. Music starts to become background noise after a few hours, as much as I love it. I also feel like I’ve invested time in something or benefited when listening to a podcast or sermon series.

The Portable Potty: This is my final tip for no-hassle car trips. Small children have no timer on their bladder and we have used the portable potty more times than I can count. It’s so much easier than hauling four cranky kids into a restroom. It also saves a lot of time. In fact, on occasion I have swallowed my pride and used the portable potty. When all the kids are sleeping peacefully after hours in the car I’m certain you would use the Portable potty too. Just don’t forget the toilet paper!

Goodbye Normal readers, we want your input! Please comment with YOUR best road trip secrets.

 

 

Goodbye 1980s Bathroom

This post has been a long time coming! We actually finished the bathroom months ago and I’m just now sitting down to share with you. The bathroom has really become one of my favorite rooms. It’s simple, clean and its design prohibits clutter. Hallelujah!

Here are the before shots of the bathroom. Not terrible, but it did have carpet on the floor and avocado colored tile, soooo. Yes. It was time for an upgrade. It’s hard to convey the sink situation in pictures. The counter top was some kind of almond colored wonder that absorbed the color of EVERYTHING you allowed to sit on it. Blue bracelet, blue counter. Yellow soap dispenser, yellow counter. You get the picture. The sink itself matched the avocado shower and was recessed. This caused water to hit the bowl with force and splash out the sides, get on the carpet, smell bad… you see where this is going.

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We knew there were certain aspects of the remodel we could not do ourselves, plumbing, electrical etc. But we found if we were willing to do a little demo, paint, trim and tile treatment we could accomplish the renovation and stay within a VERY budget price. I designed the layout, selected the toilet (Calvin replaced the toilet with help from a friend!), sinks, paint, trim and tile. I chose clean, well priced fixtures and used barn lighting to tie the entire thing together. We chose to install medicine cabinets to hold our items rather than having a cluttered counter top.

First, everything was pulled out of the bathroom. This lovely wallpaper was hanging out under the paint. Then the drywall was smoothed and bead board was installed.

First, everything was pulled out of the bathroom. This lovely wallpaper was hanging out under the paint. Then the drywall was smoothed and bead board was installed.

Then the hexagon tile flooring was installed and twin pedestal sinks, light fixtures and medicine cabinets entered the picture.

Then the hexagon tile flooring was installed and twin pedestal sinks, light fixtures and medicine cabinets entered the picture.

The tile in the shower was transformed next! Love it!

The tile in the shower was transformed next! Love it!

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And finally, everything came together and it’s so peaceful, and calm and old school and NOT cluttered.

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DIY: Subway Tile Backsplash Tutorial

It’s DIY Friday! Is that a thing? If not, it should be. I posted our kitchen before and after pictures earlier this week and now I’m ready to reveal the super-complicated-very hard tutorial for the tile back splash. Not really. It was so easy, friends. Just a little patience and a lot of tile and mess will give your kitchen an updated look.

Project Cost: $210 (yours may vary based off of tile choice and kitchen size)

Total Time: 14 hours including set up and clean up

What We Used (and how much):
1. Speed Square
2. Wet Tile Saw (saw not included in project cost)
3. Measuring Tape
4. Tile Spacers (1/8″ for subway tile)
5. Pre-Mixed Grout (1 Gallon, various colors)
6. Ceramic Tile Adhesive (1 Gallon)
7. Subway Tile (2″x4″ in our case, various colors)
8. V Notch Wall Trowel (3/16″ x 5/32″) (aka Adhesive Spreader)
9. Red Rubber Grout Float (9.5″x4″)
10. Grout Sponge (3)
11. Microfiber Sponge (1)
12: Ceramic Tile Caulk (1 tube)
13. Scrub Daddy (for cleaning!)

How We Did It:

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First, we lined up our tile, starting in the corner, and measured (remembering to account for grout space) each piece we would need to cut to get started.

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Then we measure using this handy dandy tool (aka Speed Square) and made a mark (with a crayon!) to guide us while using the wet saw.

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We didn’t have a stand or table for the wet saw so it looked like we were doing beginner yoga poses as we bent over the saw trying to make straight cuts. I was a little intimidated by the wet saw but it turns out wet-sawing is super easy. You just guide it along patiently making sure not to push it through too quickly. Calvin cut most of my pieces because I enjoy being the “project manager.”

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We aren’t big fans of mixing stuff (seen too many HGTV fails) and I was hoping for less mess and less work so I spent a few more dollars and bought the pre-mixed versions of tile adhesive and grout. There are so many great grout colors now! I counted 17 alone at Home Depot. Our grout color is called Earth.

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With our tile pieces cut to size and my adhesive spreader in hand I began the project. I did lightly sand the wall before applying. You simply spread the adhesive onto the wall with the smooth side of the trowel and then makes grooves in the adhesive with the notched side of the trowel. It looks very pretty. Then carefully stick the tile onto the wall and press with a clean grout float. This helps the tile adhere evenly. As you can see, we removed the outlet covers (make sure you turn the breakers off, too) and tiled right around them. Make sure to tile around the screws so that you can loosen and remove the outlets if you ever need to. In order to put the outlet covers back on, flush with the tile, you will likely have to loosen the outlet boxes and pull them forward a bit.

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So much messiness here. Don’t worry, it all comes off the tile. As you can see, we placed grout spacers under the bottom row as we went. This creates a space for the grout and caulk along the bottom. We also used tile spacers when we cut tiles or tiled around the outlets. You want to make sure the spacing and pattern stays the same throughout. Pay attention to your pattern and lay things out on the counter as you go to avoid pattern mistakes. You’ll also notice that there is a line on the right side. I used a level to draw a line where the tile needed to end. It was like my little finish line. At this point we measured and cut the tile that would complete this row.

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Notice the bottom row beneath the outlet covers. We cut the tile slightly to fit around the screws. Don’t tile over the screws. Trust us.

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After the tile is up, looking pretty, use a damp sponge to wipe off the excess tile adhesive. Don’t scrub, the tiles can still shift if the adhesive hasn’t dried. Save the scrubbing for later when everything has set. The tile needs to set for 24-48 hours before grouting. We waited about 30 hours and then went to work.

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Remove all spacers from the tile before grouting. Then, holding the float at a 45 degree angle spread the grout and press it into the spaces between the tiles. You need to clean as you go. So do a small section, then wipe the grout away with water and a sponge. You’ll need a large bucket of water to continually rinse and ring out your sponge. We, unfortunately, don’t have pictures of the grout cleaning… because it was wet and messy and iPhones don’t jive with that scene. I promise, just get your wet sponge and wipe over the tile in a circular motion. The grout will stay in the cracks but come off of the tile. Once everything has been grouted double check to ensure that all cracks, lines etc. are properly filled. Then the grout will need to set about 4 hours before removing the grout haze. They make grout haze removers but we used water and white vinegar and it worked perfectly.

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After everything was clean and dry we used Ceramic Tile Caulk on the ends of the tile rows and bottom, where the tile area meets the counters. You could also use sanded tile caulk as well. This will need to set for several hours again, so order take out for the third time and you’ll be set.

I had a great time with this project and it made such a big change in our kitchen. If you’ve been procrastinating just go for it! It’s a great, inexpensive change to start out the New Year.

Are you planning a back splash project? I would love to hear about it or see pictures! I’ve already got a stack of tile I found on closeout waiting in the upstairs bathroom, we can tile along together.

» DIY: Kitchen Makeover for Under $250

We purchased our current home 2 years ago as we anticipated the homecoming of our fourth child. It truly is my version of a dream home. Colonial style, traditional touches throughout and a cozy sitting room with a fireplace. When we moved in I waited patiently and did little updates as we could, which is totally out of character for me. I can be a bit of a bulldozer with projects and sometimes I end up with things that I don’t really like. So this time, with this house I love, I was much more careful with my decisions.

The kitchen project was a must, I spend 75% of my time in there. It’s the hub of the house. Which is exactly what I want. A kitchen remodel was not in the budget and really not necessary. The cabinets were sturdy and changing the layout of the kitchen wasn’t a priority. I decided that paint, back splash, hardware and more paint were the keys to lifting the mood in the dark kitchen. Here are the before pictures.

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I chose to use Annie Sloan Chalk paint in Old Ochre to repaint the cabinets. Originally I decided to go for the two-tone look and left the bottoms black but recently painted the lower cabinets with Old Ochre as well.

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Mass Chaos I tell you. It’s worth it in the end but I don’t love being the mom that keeps saying “please don’t touch anything in the kitchen” all day long. But hey, it’s one day and we got to eat Blue Coast Burrito since the kitchen was out of commission and it was $1.99 kids meal night.

Now it was time for the back splash fun to begin. A full tutorial will be up on Friday but for now I’m just going to share the beautiful results. We chose a simple white subway tile and grouted with Earth colored pre-mixed grout. I’m in love with the results. (and the black ovens… well… they are on their last leg so I’m stalking the whole town for a crazy good deal)

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So, once again, I’m spending all my time in the kitchen. But I’m really really enjoying it right now. I can’t wait to share how we accomplished this look on Friday, hopefully you’ll be inspired to pick up a paint brush (and a grout float) and have some fun!

And just for kicks, here is one more side by side view of the before and after:
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