Posts Tagged ‘Renovation’

We bit the bullet and finally painted our kitchen cabinets after four years of living with yellow maple cabinets. Hallelujah! No, better yet, praise the good baby Jesus, no more nasty cabinets! We’ve been toying with the idea for some time now, and the time was juuuust right as a good friend of ours was starting his own finishing/custom millwork business and was looking for a job. Lesson #1: it pays to have friends.

This is a picture of our kitchen before we bought the house. This is a picture that also induces nausea in me in about .25 seconds. Not too long after we moved in, we swapped out the horrendous hardware, put in quartz countertops and DIYed a tile backsplash.

The kitchen at that point was certainly livable, but not quite exactly what we wanted in the end. We always talked about painting the cabinets, but just didn’t think the finish would be nice enough for our taste. Lesson #2: it pays to pay someone else to do something well. Once we decided to go forward with hiring our friend Wes to refinish our cabinets, things moved quickly. We cut the costs down by doing the prep work on our own, and Scott helped Wes reinstall the cabinet doors at the end of the project. Lesson #3: it pays to think outside the box to save a few bucks. We also talked with Wes about options for paint and came up with the best solution that would 1) fit our budget and 2) give us the professional finish we were looking for.

Our first step was to remove all hardware from the cabinets, and then remove all of the cabinet doors for sanding. This picture may or may not have led us to reorganize our cabinets. I don’t know how people live with open storage in a kitchen!

We numbered each cabinet and each door so after the painting was completed, we would be able to put the puzzle pieces back together. Our finisher instructed us to lightly sand each cabinet door, front and back, with a special sanding block (below). Since our cabinets aren’t real wood, we didn’t want to use a heavy sand paper and end up ruining our cabinets. A light sanding would be enough for the paint to adhere and would keep our cabinets looking lovely.

After sanding and wiping down the cabinets, our finisher took our doors off site to a spray booth and sprayed two coats of tinted primer (i.e. our paint colors) and one coat of water based polyurethane. Lesson #4: sprayed finishes trump rolled paint by a landslide. He also sprayed the sides and undersides of the cabinets that would be visible in the house (after taping off all of our cabinets, countertops and backsplash).

The industry standard for these pieces of your cabinets behind the doors (above) is called edge banding – basically, a heavy duty sticker that you put over these pieces of the cabinet. I was fine with the stock color for white, but the gray wasn’t tickling my fancy. What can I say? I’m an obnoxious designer. So we returned the edge banding for the base cabinets and sanded, hand painted, and added polyurethane to these stripes of exposed cabinet. Now I won’t see a slightly different color when I open and close my doors, which makes me infinitely happy. Lesson #5: be sure to think through the details so you’ll be happy with the end product.

Once all of the sprayed/painted parts in the house were dried, we were ready to install the doors and new hardware, purchased from Lowe’s. I looked into hardware all over the place, but decided to go with something that we really loved from our big box store – and there isn’t anything wrong with that! I like to explore all my options and find the best bang for our buck, and this hardware was definitely the best solution.

We obviously decided to go with the two-tone look, and we couldn’t be happier with our selections. We went with Benjamin Moore’s “Cloud White” on the upper cabinets and Benjamin Moore’s “Storm Cloud Gray” on the base cabinets. Now, for a bunch of pretty pictures:

I really wish these pictures would show you how beautiful the finish on these cabinets are. They’re like freakin’ butter. Our finisher said “just feel them” when he was finished, and I honestly haven’t stopped petting my cabinets since he left. Does the kitchen feel so much fresher/lighter/cleaner/more awesome? We’re pleased as punch, you might say. :) Next up: a rug, window treatments and possibly new lighting? Once we start we can’t stop!

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Happy New Year, everyone! Care to see pictures of my Christmas decorations/gift wrapping nine days after Christmas? No? Yeah, that’s what I thought. I had pictures all ready to blog over the break and what did we do? Left the laptop at home. Fast forward to time at home and time with friends in town, and the Christmas blog post just never happened. Ah, such is life.

But what I will tell you is that we have FINALLY decided to paint our kitchen cabinets! To say I’m excited would be a vast understatement. This is what our kitchen currently looks like, in its perpetual state of un-doneness.

With stock, yellow-y maple cabinets a-plenty, our kitchen just isn’t doing it for me. We upgraded the countertops and backsplash a while back (with the intent of keeping the cabinets as is) but the more I live with them, the more they grate on me. Or, I should say, the more clear it is that they just don’t fit with our design aesthetic.

Luckily for us, we have a good friend who is in the wood working/finishing biz and has agreed to help us re-finish our cabinets, the professional way. We considered doing it all ourselves (i.e. rolling the cabinets) but decided to spend a little dough to have the cabinets done correctly (i.e. sprayed with a super fancy paint spray gun). Here are a few ideas I’ve been pinning for inspiration (all images from Pinterest):

Obviously I’m thinking two-tone cabinets, but I’m (of course) second guessing myself. I’d like to find a picture with black appliances to put my mind at ease, but I think I may just have to take a giant leap here and hope for the best. Any thoughts? We’re hoping to paint the cabinets sometime this month, so stay tuned!

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This is the story of how I saved a couple bucks, realized what smart friends I have, and convinced my husband to get on board with pink furniture. How could these three things all possibly be about one little weekend project? I’m not quite sure, but that’s how this post started and I’m sticking to it.

For the past few months, I have been obsessed with researching new night stands for our bedroom. OBSESSED. I searched every (reasonably priced) furniture store I know of, checked every local antique store, and even spent hours on Pinterest (shocker) searching for inspiration or something that would be the. perfect. thing. for my master bedroom. You may or may not remember, but I was starting to tire of my sad little Ikea night stands, in these pictures of yore:

Kind of nondescript, right? Sure, when I purchased them 5 years ago, they were my first Ikea purchase and I was pretty excited at how great they looked for a whopping $30 dollars. But, they just weren’t cutting it for the updates we were doing in our bedroom, and it was time for a change. Hence, my extensive search.

After months of searching that only led to really expensive options or night stands I just wasn’t wild about, the lightbulb turned on that maybe I could reuse my existing Ikea night stands. Don’t I (and all other bloggers) preach about the wonders of paint and how they can dress up even the most drab of furnishings? Yes, of course, paint! Why hadn’t I thought of that before?

(imagine here a before shot of my nightstands with casters, followed by lots of action shots of me refinishing these tables. Bad blogger.)

Yes, the Ikea casters were not only very boring (i.e. lacking any architectural details) but they also had casters. I knew that if I was going to keep these nightstands in my house, I had to give them a proper foot. With cheap plastic casters, they were the ugly duckling of the house and I knew it was time for an upgrade. So the renovation started with lots and lots of research on furniture feet, which eventually led me to $2.00 bun feet at Lowe’s – the perfect proportions for my simple nightstand.

As for the finishing, I went to my coworker for advice, since her husband is a professional carpenter/finisher/jack of all trades. I was a bit hesitant to re-finish these cheap pieces of furniture, but I figured if there was a way, my expert friend would know it. Not only did I get great advice (for re-finishing cheap, wood-ish Ikea furniture), I got a plethora of great information and tools to use during my project. Seriously, it pays to have friends that are experts in fields you aren’t! First, I started with sanding the night stands so that a primer would actually stick to the laquer-esque finish. Then, I applied one coat of oil-based Kilz primer (oil based sticks to everything, especially your hands), sanded slightly, and got ready for the paint.

Yes, I have pink nightstands, and I love them. I’ve been working on neutralizing my bedroom (to be revealed at a later date – oh, the anticipation!) but I knew that I wanted some fun pops of color to keep things interesting. I pulled some paint swatches, most of which were in the terra-cotta family, and went to the husband for final approval. He wasn’t pleased. He said something along the lines of “I’m not having pink furniture in my house” and suggested I do something lime green or a crackle finish. After such comments, I had to re-iterate that I am a designer and he should trust me on this one – especially considering the alternative (see heinous suggestions above). I painted one, even coat of my new salmon paint, sanded with a fine, brillo-like sanding pad (from my professional, finisher friend) and painted another coat. At this point, my husband understood and got on board with the lovely, pink paint.

After the paint dried for a day or two, I applied two thin coats (sanding in between, of course) of water-based polyurethane to give a hearty finish to our night stands. We let the poly dry for a good two days before moving it back into the room and putting our belongings on them. Sure, the night stands could stand a little bit of styling (or some baskets to conceal my explosion of un-read books) but I’m so excited with the very inexpensive improvement. These certainly aren’t my forever solution, but for now, they’re just dandy. Dandy and pink go together quite well, right?

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Back in Black

Operation “fix up this house” is still underway, despite the fact that we decided to stay put. We had our house appraised recently to see if our hunch was correct, and unfortunately it was. The appraisal had “terrible market” and “wrong time to sell” written all over it. Ah, such is life. We figured we weren’t immune to the economic downturn, but you can’t hurt a girl for trying, right?

Despite the semi-bad news, we still wanted to do a few easy projects around the house that had been on the list for a good long while. One of these was painting our front door. A super simple project, but something that we couldn’t do during the blistering cold months of winter. Why did we need to paint the front door so badly?

Oh, that’s why. Bleagh. And what’s that odd shaped swoosh of nasty whiteness on the bottom right?

That’s from a slug. A SLUG. One of the very unfortunate side effects of summer in this here neck of the woods are slugs. They hang out on our front stoop and sometimes make their way up onto our door frame (even typing this is making me nauseous) and one time, onto our door. If you’ve ever tried to clean a slug skid mark before, rest assured that I can sympathize with you. They literally DO NOT COME OFF. Not only are slugs disgusting, the “presence” they leave behind is even worse. Moving on.

We picked up a quart of exterior black paint and a mini roller, and got to work on one sunny afternoon. We made a little “doggie barricade” with some dining room chairs to keep the pooch from messing up the paint job, but we barely had to keep Charlie away since the project was so quick. The one coat of paint we applied dried in about 15 minutes, and we used a hair dryer to dry the edges so we could (almost) close the door to keep any dust/bugs out of the house.

What do you know? 15 minutes of our time gave us a door that looked like a million bucks. Well, maybe closer to 100 bucks, but a door without a slug mark is a gold mine in my book. Just check out the close up now.

Ah, slug free. We got such a kick out of our mini project that we decided to paint all of the doors in our house – that’s three total doors with one quart of $5.00 paint. As my husband would say “well, butter my butt and call me a biscuit”.

Yes, ladies, he does use that phrase on a regular basis. And yes, he’s taken. :)

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*Editor’s Note: my dear friend told me that she was perplexed why my last post was about scones, when clearly there were pictures of light fixtures – and not biscuits. I’m so glad that I have friends that can teach me about echolocation and behavioral ecology, and that I can teach them that a wall mounted light fixture is in fact a sconce, and not a typo.*

January is turning out to be the month of mini updates to the abode. We’re enjoying our (much appreciated) bonuses and trying to figure out the best way to invest that money into something that we’ll get a lot out of. We thought long and hard about redesigning our closet so that it was more functional (some terrible sketches may have been involved), but in the end decided to put our hard-earned dollar into something we could take with us.

This was the dresser we had been living with since we said I do. You might be thinking that this looks like a mighty fine dresser (despite the bat’s wing escutcheon plates*) but looks can be deceiving. We were literally busting at the seams in this bad boy. The drawers were a bit shallow, not to mention rickety, and we were quickly outgrowing our hand-me-down furniture. We even made several trips to Goodwill to get rid of items we didn’t need, but for some reason the dresser wasn’t cutting it for our combined wardrobes. Luckily for me, I have a husband that gets his kicks buying new furniture, so we started the dresser search.

We knew that we wanted something with a dark stain and simple lines, and this Pottery Barn beauty seemed to fit the bill. We visited the store and promptly fell in love with the roomy drawers, but were not in love with the price tag. Almost $2,000 for two chests?! We just couldn’t justify spending so much on something so simple – especially when we found something so similar for half the price.

Well hello, Pottery Barn look-a-like. It’s so nice to meet you. We decided to check out Haverty’s, since we found our sectional there and were super happy with the reasonable price. Once we saw this dresser that had the clean lines and dark stain we were looking for, at half the price, our decision was a no brainer. We ordered up two of these beauties, and in five to ten business days, we were the proud new owners of a ton more storage space.

We flipped the room around a bit to have the dressers flank the window where our bed used to reside. We realized that after 3 years, our bedroom was feeling a bit ho-hum – and this switcheroo was just the change that we needed to make the room feel like new. Plus, mister Charlie’s bed is now in its own little nook, which he is absolutely smitten with.

Now, as you can see, the wall where our dresser used to be in unbearably bare, while the other side of the room is busting with eye candy. We’ll eventually move our photo collage to this newly open wall, but that’s another post for another day.

And, mister elephant has found a new place, which is no longer in front of the television, making for a very happy husband. Next up, our budget friendly rug purchase that is making my husband grrr with frustration, but making me feel like I live in an episode of Sarah’s House. Confused? Stay tuned.

*that refers to the hardware that’s on the drawers. There’s another bit of useless trivia for my dear friends that have no clue what I’m talking about 95% of the time.

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Lipstick on a Pig

Also know as “the most boring post ever written”. I’m not really sure why I’m posting this, other than the fact that I hope someone can benefit from this super easy idea to add a little lipstick to a pig (does that saying crack up anyone else?).

I have a little secret to share. We might be selling our house. Keyword being might. We got a wild hair a few weeks back and decided to do some research to see if selling our house was possible and, most of all, beneficial. Since then, we’ve been immersed in meeting with realtors, talking with mortgage brokers and crunching the numbers to see if this venture is something we’d like to dive into or not. The verdict is still out, but I’ll keep you up to date on our (super-huge, very adult-like) decision.

All of that info leads to this post: how we spray painted our outdoor sconces. Luckily for us, our house is almost in show-ready condition, but there are a few things that we wanted/needed to tweak before we could put the ol’abode on the market. Even though we haven’t made the big decision, we decided to get a head start on a few little weekend projects to spruce up our place for any potential buyers.

These were our sconces before. The word you’re looking for is bleagh. Our sconces were old, dirty and just plain sad-looking – the last think you want a potential buyer to see when they first approach your house.

Check out the layer of bug film on the glass and the cobwebs that have imprinted themselves onto the once black finish of our sconces. We decided to save ourselves a few bucks and just spray paint these fixtures with some outdoor spray paint (flat finish) rather than replacing them with something new.

We started by taking off the top of our sconces, and then used a razor blade to score the area where the base of the sconce was attached to the house. After the sconce was able to be removed, we disconnected the power (always remember to turn off the power at your circuit breaker first) and pulled out the glass panels that were screwed into place. We used a steel wool pad to clean both the sconce and the glass, and used a little elbow grease to get everything as clean as we could. Two coats of spray paint later, and we ended up with this:

Looks brand new, no? We were shocked at how much of a difference a new coat of paint (and clean glass) made the front of our house pop. We added some clear caulk around the fixture once it was back in place, which was just the icing on the cake.

We took our standard sconces from drab to fab in a little under an hour for only five dollars – why hadn’t we done this before? We have a few other little projects on our list that we’ll tackle whether we decide to put our house on the market or not. Any little afternoon projects like this that you’d like to share?

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Mini Updates

I’ve hinted about a few things that we’ve done to the abode recently, but they just didn’t seem blog worthy enough in my book. I’m basically just buying new things and repainting some rooms (for the 50th time) but after several reader requests, I decided to share the goods with the blogosphere.

First off, I decided to paint our über green living room. My husband and I were talking about how, although we love color (and especially green), we were growing a bit tired of such a vibrant color in our main living space. Maybe we’ve matured dramatically from 25 to 26 or become more dull in our old age, but we’ve slowly been gravitating towards more neutral colors in our house.

Quite the departure, right? The reason I’ve been hesitant to post this change is because it’s not completed. Shocker, I know. Nothing is ever complete in this house. I love the new paint color, but the room is almost too neutral for me now. I’m dying to DIY some drapes that will bring in a necessary pop of color, but those are still in the planning stages (ie. swirling in my brain).

We decided to paint our kitchen the same neutral color (Sherwin Williams – Ancient Marble) to make the two rooms feel a bit more cohesive and a bit larger. This is the new color that I’m using as a backdrop for kitchen cabinet decision 2010, so feel free to weigh in now that you’ve seen what we’re up against.

You’ve seen the new bedspread in the master bedroom, which leads me to another little update in the house. We moved the rug from our front living room into our bedroom to have something cushy underneath our feet when we wake up, and we’re loving every minute of it. This rug swap was definitely the right move, but it left us with an empty hole in the living room. Enter, lovely yellow rug.

Ever since I saw this rug on Making It Lovely, I knew I had to have it. I reminded me of the Pottery Barn moorish rug that I’ve kicked myself for 3 years now for not buying – and with a lovely price, I purchased this bad boy immediately. I love how the yellow plays off of the gray wall color, and ties in with the subtle yellow and orange accents throughout our living room.

Oh, and we got a new roof. Crazy, right? Our roof had some leaks in the past and it was well past its prime, so we did the adult thing and paid some nice roofers to spend a very long day in the extremely hot sun for our hard-earned dollar. I won’t bore you with a picture of our new onyx black shingles, but I will do a post later with the things we learned through the whole (extremely thrilling) roofing process. Enjoy the newest additions to the abode!

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I’m you’re all too familiar with our kitchen. The cabinets are just dandy, the countertop and backsplash are simply stunning, and the floor is, well, disgusting. Our kitchen (and master bathroom) flooring are the bane of my existence. I loathe them. They’re dirty, dingy and building standard – oh, the shame! The previous owner installed this monstrosity and then proceeded to turn the grout a yucky brown color, thanks to owning a dog-sitting business out of the house. You thought that grout was supposed to be brown, didn’t you? Nope, it’s dirty. Welcome to my shame fest.

Here is our kitchen floor before this weekend. I’m totally airing my dirty laundry here, but you really have to get a good visual of the before so you can appreciate the after that much more. We’ve always hated this dingy flooring, but didn’t see the point in replacing it (since that would involve pulling out our perfectly good cabinets). We’ve researched a lot of grout cleaners and grout stains over the past year or so, but just weren’t convinced that anything was worth the time/effort. Boy, were we wrong. We popped into Lowe’s this weekend to research another upcoming project for this spring, and happened to drop by the tile section to pick up some grout sealer. We started to look around at the grout products and saw a grout cleaner that caught our eye. We were looking for something to do that afternoon, so said “why not give it a go?” All those years of research were thrown out the window on the whim that the first product we spotted at Lowe’s would solve our dirty-grout problem. Go figure.

We brought home this cheap-o bottle o’ acid (sounds scary, right?) and a scrub brush and decided to try our hand at cleaning our nasty grout. We needed to crack the windows in our house and use some rubber gloves, but the rest of the job was fairly simple. We mixed this solution with some water to dilute it and then scrubbed the wash along the grout lines. After letting it sit for two minutes, you scrub the dickens out of your grout with a scrub brush and let the magic happen.

Wait, what? We have white grout?! We were incredibly shocked at the amount of dirt that came out of our sad little grout lines, especially since we’ve been trying for almost 3 years to clean our floor with bleach and typical cleaning products, to no avail. If you’re in need of some serious cleaning power, we would highly suggest using this product or something similar since it kicked our grout’s dirty little butt right out of the kitchen – and with minimal effort to boot.

This side by side comparison makes me scream with glee and vomit a little in my mouth, all at the same time. It’s amazing what years and years of use and a lack of grout sealer can do to a kitchen floor. We used this product in our master bathroom as well and the results were jaw dropping. The grout isn’t perfect (it is old and worn, after all) but it’s WHITE. I never thought I’d see the day.

Have you found a similar product out there that just made you say wow during the process? We couldn’t believe the results this little bottle of heaven produced. Share the goods!

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Meet my sad little chair. Old girl has been with me since college, when I found her at a flea market and slapped some royal blue paint and cheap-o yellow fabric on her seat. Since neither of these colors plays a big part in my current abode, I felt the need to give her some new clothes and dress her up a bit so she didn’t feel out of place next to our new bed or the womb chair. Her current state was pretty embarrassing, right? So I took a screw driver and some pliers and went to work.

The demolition of the chair fabric was probably the hardest part, but once I got started it went along pretty quickly. I made sure to keep the fabric in one piece so I could use it as a template for the new seat fabric, once I gave this girl a fresh coat of white paint.

For this paint job, I decided to forgo my paintbrush, and pick up some semi-gloss white spray paint from my local hardware store. With the little details on the legs and the canning on the barrel back, spray paint was the way to go. Just be sure to do this outdoors in a well ventilated area and away from anything that you might not want bits of white paint to get on (including yourself, or your dog).

After my paint dried, I laid out my new fabric (I decided to go with a different pattern than I originally thought, still from Calico Corners – this one was much more “me” in hindsight) and placed my old seat fabric down as a template. I bought a whole yard of this new fabric so I could be sure I got the right gray-to-chartreuse ratio to my liking. Once I cut all the way around my old seat fabric, I made little slits in the fabric where the chair legs would go. This way, I could lay the fabric on the chair and cut my way around the leg holes as I went. I felt that if I cut the pattern exactly how the old seat fabric was, it wouldn’t fit exactly the same and I would be short on fabric. That’s just my luck.

Once I finagled the fabric around the legs and shape of the seat, I started nailing it into place, starting at the parts that were the loosest and hardest to get taught. Believe it or not, I got this tip from my husband, who helped a friend upholster a seat cushion on this boat – who knew? I pulled the fabric down pretty tight at each nail spot, and worked my way around the chair – a few nails at each chair leg, and then at the leg diagonal to that, and so forth. I learned it was best to not start nailing at one space and work your way all around clockwise, since you’re constantly pulling and tweaking to make sure the seat is tight. After my nailing was completed and I had used a screw driver to help me really jam those suckers in there, I cut off the excess fabric and hot glued my trim piece over the nail heads.

And voila! After a couple of afternoons worth of work, my sad chair had its much needed facelift. I love how the new fabric is basically different shades of neutral gray, but with a few great pops of yellowy greens. Along with the white paint, it was the fresh start that my old chair certainly needed.

Plus, with one yard of fabric only putting me back $17.00 (on sale!), a trim piece for $3.00 and $3.00 for spray paint, this project was not even 25 buckaroos. A new chair would have put me back at least $100, so I’m pretty happy with my little weekend makeover. What do you think?

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Gate Rehab

Apparently when Scott and I are apart, we’re super productive. If I didn’t like him so much, I’d suggest we spend more time apart so we could get all of our little house projects completed! While I was having a girl’s weekend in Las Vegas, Scott and our frequent house-helper Todd worked their magic on our dilapidated deck gates.

The gates were literally falling off their hinges and breaking apart at the seams, as you can see in this old picture. They were in desperate need of some TLC, so luckily for me, the hubs obliged.

The boys reused the vertical slats and hardware from the old gates, but bought some new lumber to construct the rest of the gates. A power saw, some nails and two motivated dudes was all it took to take our shabby gates to new and sturdy in a matter of hours.

Now, as you can tell, the gates aren’t quite finished yet. We pressure washed our deck a while back (and by we, I mean Scott) and were planning to refinish it once we figured out what to do with it. We’re considering staining it to match the areas that weren’t pressure washed (ie. the arbor) but this might be the perfect opportunity to do something different. Should we darken the wood up a bit to have a modern, dark wood look? Maybe a whitewash or some crisp white paint? Any thoughts on our big deck decision are more than welcome!

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