Sunday, August 2, 2020

Kitchen Update: Giving the "Builder Grade" look the boot!

Since we moved into our new home, just over a year ago, I have been updating the kitchen little by little. We started out with very dated light fixtures, tiled countertops, and a whole lot of oak. Also, while the original oven that came with the home looks nice, it was a samsung with fried wiring, and once it finished preheating, it would shut off. We both prefer a gas oven & range over electric anyway, so the first thing we did was took the opportunity to switch over from electric to gas.

Next, I tackled painting the cabinets.  We opted to keep the existing cabinets because they're in excellent shape, and we just couldn't justify ripping them out and trashing them. Plus, I knew I could make them look great 😉

I removed all of the cabinet doors & hardware, and then gave the frames a light sanding. For the doors, I used liquid sandpaper in order to get a good de-glossing prior to priming. I used valspar bonding primer, topped with valspar cabinet enamel. I had the enamel for the bottom cabinets tinted to , and opted not to tint the top, at first.

Next, I updated the light fixtures. The pendent lights off to the right in the dining room are the Pottery Barn Donovan 5-light pendant. I made the matching single pendant over the kitchen sink and the three pendant light in the kitchenette using a second Donovan 5-light pendant set. I just ordered the single and triple base's on Amazon and rewired the lights so that everything would match.

Finally, I replaced that awful florescent drop lighting in the kitchen. I happen to be pretty good at electrical work, so this was pretty simple for me. I shut off the power and ripped out the current lighting. Mapped out the location of the new LED recessed lights, cut the holes, ran the wiring, and did some patch work.

Ta Da - we have recessed lighting! I also installed TP-Link smart Wi-Fi light switch dimmers and we love them. We have TP-Links smart switches all over the house now!

Next up: Crown Molding! I prepped the top cabinets by adding an additional 1 inch of wood along the perimeter of the top of the cabinets, to give the crown molding more support.

My molding was pre-primed, so I just measured (twice!), made the cuts, nailed it in with my Ryobi air-strike nailer, and caulked it.

I didn't have any more of the plain white cabinet enamel for the molding, but I wanted to tone down the bright white anyway, so I purchased another can of valspar cabinet enamel and had it tinted to "White Label" by Sherwin Williams. I wiped the cabinets down with mineral spirits, and then went right over the previous coat of cabinet enamel and it adhered just fine. I did remove all of the doors and hardware again since painting the doors while laying flat helps them to coat evenly. I also have great success with those little foam rollers.

Next, we selected and ordered our new counter-tops. It took a while for them to be prepared for install after we placed the order, as the COVID-19 shutdown hit shortly after we placed the order. Once we received confirmation of the install date, we ripped out the existing counter-tops.

Ripping them out ourselves was a lot of work, but the DIY removal was also a pretty big cost savings.

The new countertops are LG Viatera Minuet Quartz and were installed by Desert Eagle Stone Yard. They did a fantastic job!

That cost savings on the DIY countertop removal made me feel a little better about splurging on the Kraus workstation sink, accessories, and matching faucet,

How awesome is it that the strainer, cutting board, and drying racks sit in that lip in the sink? We make use of this feature all of the time!

We waited until after the counter-tops were installed to commit to our backs plash. We went with MSI Greecian White Arabesque Pattern Polished Marble. If you're installing your own backsplash, do yourself a favor and spend the time taping plastic down to protect your beautiful new counter tops. Things are about to get messy!

With marble, there is a lot of color variation in each sheet, so you really have to plan your layout and make sure you don't have a sheet that is too heavy or too light in its color variations. We ordered a bunch of extra so that we would have room to play around with the pattern, and select the sheets that we liked the best.

I used a cheap SKIL 7-in Wet Tabletop Tile Saw to make the cuts. It's all you really need when working with small mosaic marble tiles. Once I was done installing the tile, I had to wait a day to caulk and grout. I also took this opportunity to update all of the outlets as I had to cut the power anyway to add the electrical box spacers to account for the thickness of the tile. I also used screw-less face plates, as I pretty much installed them all over the house, each time I updated a light switch or outlet. They make for a really clean finished look against the back splash. 

When working with marble, you want to use unsanded grout. I went with MAPEI white, and added Grout Maximizer in place of water. I also have stone sealer which I still need to apply.

So far, we  love how the kitchen is coming along. We have quite a few things left on the "to-do" list. Eventually, we plan to replace the floors, as we don't love the color of the current floors. We also want to paint the walls and ceiling, but we will probably need to hire painters whenever we do that, as we have 30+ feet walls in the dining room and living room, and the back kitchen wall runs all the way through into the living room. During a pandemic, we're not really interested in hiring people to come into our house to do work. We ordered the counter tops back in February, before any of us knew how bad things were going to get.

One of our upcoming projects, however, will sort of tie into the kitchen, as we got rid of our second dining room table have all of the materials that we need to convert the half wall in between the kitchenette and the living room into a breakfast bar. We will be giving the back of the peninsula and breakfast bar a ship lap look with updated trim. We're looking forward to hopefully starting that project next weekend!

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Laundry Room Refresh

When we purchased our home, our laundry room had very sad half painted cabinets on the wall that didn't even run the length of the wall. There was just an odd gap on the right hand side. Unfortunately, I didn't take a proper before photo, but trying to salvage these cabinets just didn't make sense. I ripped them out shortly after we closed on the house and put them to the curb.

I had my eye on this wallpaper for a while, and just couldn't find the right home for it. It's just a peel and stick style and I thought it would be worth a shot for the laundry room wall. I also ripped out the original builder shelf and installed a white melamine coated shelf down lower to line up with the back of the washing machine.

I really wanted open style storage cubes, so I found some wall mounts on Amazon, and got them solidly mounted into studs. 

I added a melamine shelf between the two bins at the top and bottom, as well as a piece of trim at the top to give it a more finished look.

I also added a piece of primed trim to the bottom shelf to give it a more finished look. I then caulked and painted the trim bright white to match the melamine.

Between the washer and dryer, I had the smallest little gap to work with. I happened to come across this little bathroom storage unit that fit perfectly, so I ordered it, not thinking to measure the height. Whoops!

Easy fix though, I grabbed some scrap wood from the garage and mad a little pedestal for it to sit on, and painted it white to match.

Finally, I found proper storage cubes that didn't clash with the the wallpaper, and a little throw rug to cozy up the cold tile floors.

I'm thinking I'd like to rip the tile trim out and replace it with standard white trim as well, as I just feel like that will be a cleaner, more finished look. I'm also really not a fan of Samsung appliances, and am planning to get the matching LG dryer, as that LG washing machine is awesome!

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Cotton Face Masks

100 Masks Donated

My Mission:

First & foremost: all of my masks are free, and I am not taking orders. As I have batches ready, I will be delivering them to local grocery workers, and I have also been shipping them back to friends and family in New Jersey. I'm just trying to do the right thing (as time permits - I do have a full time day job!), and help out where I can. Again, I'm not taking individual requests or orders for masks, but there are plenty of people out there on Etsy selling these masks.

DIY Mask Tutorial:

I'm not going to reinvent the wheel here. If you're looking for my pattern, see the free tutorial and pattern that I used from Cricut linked below. If you have a Cricut Maker it will cut the masks for you, and it is AMAZING! Otherwise, they do have a PDF version available for printing. These masks are great because they have a pocket for a filter! I have also been serging all of the raw edges of my mask, triple stitching, and top stitching to make them super durable, since they really should be washed after each use.

Adult Large: approximately 11" (27.9 cm) across & 6.5" (16.5 cm) tall 
Adult Small/Medium: approximately 10.5" (26.7 cm) across & 6" (15.2cm) tall 
Youth: approximately 9.5" (24.1 cm) across & 5.5" (14 cm) tall 
Small Youth: approximately 8.5" (21.6 cm) across & 5" (12.7 cm) tall

How to Wear your Mask:

If you can see the opening for the filters, it's inside out! The top strap is intended to go over over the top of your ears around the back of your head. The bottom strap will go below your ears behind your head and can be pinned, stitched or tied to fit.

Yes, I did use patterned fabric for the liners of some masks with solid on the exterior. This was intentional. Here is an example, on this mask, the side that faces out is plain black, and the liner is Ninja Turtles.

How to Care for your Mask:

I am making my masks with 100% cotton. As you can imagine, with craft stores in Colorado being completely closed, getting your hands on fabric quickly isn't easy. Most of your masks are made from a combination of fabric that I had on hand, paired with 100% cotton sheets (unused!!) that I am purchasing from Target.
  • Hand or machine wash with hot water & soap
  • Lay flat to dry, as they could shrink in the dryer

Why Wear a Mask?

Follow the CDC link below for more information about cloth masks. Masks are not a replacement for social distancing. Stay home as much as possible to keep each other safe and healthy! Support our front line & essential workers, be kind to your neighbors, and let your friends and family how much you love them.
CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Bungalow Kitchen Update

In 2013, I lived in a small bungalow in NJ. At that time, butcher block countertops with subway tile back splash were all the rage. I ordered two of the better quality 8 foot maple butcher blocks from Lumber Liquidators. My aunt owns a flooring and tile business in PA, and helped me pick and order some beautiful calacatta gold marble subway tile for the backsplash. A friend of mine let me borrow his wet saw, and off to work I went. 

Kraus makes this beautiful stainless undermount sink that I ordered online. I remember being super impressed with the packaging too. At this point, I couldn't tell you the specific colors that I used on the cabinets and walls, unfortunately. I bought two builder grade cabinets for each side of the stove and luckily found matching trim and hardware, and was able to make them look just like the rest of the cabinets. I also added some crown molding & trim to the top cabinets.

I wish I had written a blog on this back then and kept track of the budget and colors and all minor details, but I'm grateful to have my before and after pictures. I was so proud of this little kitchen that I brought to life 😍

During... (It always gets worse before it gets better!)

Before & After....