Well, here we are, chest deep in the murk of our DIY kitchen makeover dream (that never ends). We’ve painted the base cabinets a beautiful iron ore using a $40 sprayer and a DIY spray station. We’ve replaced the countertops with quartz and installed them ourselves, saving a TON of money. We’ve added tile from floor to ceiling on two of our walls and backsplash which resulted in major impact for a low cost. And now we’re on to the upper cabinets.
I know, I know… I ALREADY covered painting cabinets. Why grace you with another super interesting tutorial?
Well, for one, I wanted to show you that you CAN have a professional looking cabinet with nothing more than good paint, brushes, and rollers. And two, I can’t use my sprayer when it is 20 degrees BELOW zero. Yes, it’s that cold. The arctic chill has made its cruel home in Minnesota, and that cold has settled into the very depths of my sad, summer-missing soul.
So let’s get to it!
Just like the base cabinets, remove the uppers and LABEL the hinges in whatever system you want, just make sure they go back where they came from. This really will save you a huge hassle later on. Next, like the base cabinets, use your fancy, or non-fancy sandpaper, 150 -220 grit, and going with the grain, sand off that exterior sheen. One cabinet door should only take 5-10 minutes for both sides so don’t freak out. Just get it done. Remove dust and thoroughly clean with a degreasing cleaner and make sure the cabinet is completely dry. I used the same primer for the uppers as I did for the base, which was tinted grey for the deep charcoal color on the base cabinets. This was a little silly on the uppers since they will be painted white, but no matter, the primer is meant as a binder, and the paint will cover it. Use your angled brush and paint a thin but even layer of primer and watch for drippies. Primer has a flat sheen so it goes on very easily and dries quickly. Once dry, sand with a fine grit sanding sponge. Sanding should take 30 seconds or less, you just want to smooth out the finish and remove any dust or debris that may have settled onto your painted surface. Wipe clean.
Onto the paint! There are a lot of good options out there, Annie Sloan with a durable top coat or General Finishes Milk Paint are two of my favorite recommendations, but please don’t go with a wall paint. You will never regret spending more for a project of this caliber. If you want to choose from a vast amount of colors, which I do, I’d go with my favorite paint for this type of project, Sherwin Williams Pro-Classic, which I did. As I said before, this paint is created for high traffic areas and is made for trim and cabinets specifically. It self-levels, so with the right brush and multiple light coats, brush strokes are invisible, and while it takes a little while to cure, you will eventually have a finish just as tough as wood with polyurethane. A gallon can run around $75 so I usually wait for it to go on sale. Sherwin Williams has lots of good sales. I got mine for 40% off. I chose the color “Whitetail” to match my trim. I also made sure I had a good small angled brush and a small paint roller. I highly recommend Purdy, with the mohair glass finish roller.
About the sheen. Some of you may remember that I started my base cabinets out with a satin sheen, and, in my opinion, it just wasn’t glossy enough for kitchen cabinets. So I ended up taking down the cabinet doors I had just put up and added three sprayed layers of topcoat, which also happened to be in satin, but were definitely glossier than the paint. This did the trick and at least, since July, (back when it was warm…) they have been very easy to maintain and clean. I wasn’t going to make this mistake with my upper cabinets. I bought the semi-gloss. A semi-gloss or gloss is a little harder to work with than a flatter paint, but doesn’t need a top coat and dries to a hard finish. So for a big project like a kitchen, weigh your options and choose thoughtfully.
Another thing that is really important, you want to find a way to raise the cabinet door while you are painting it. They sell cute little cones for this, but I usually use four of my food canisters or four matching mugs and lay the cabinet door on its back. Then, using my angled brush, in the direction of the grain when possible, I quickly hit the recesses, first dabbing in the corners and spreading it out smoothly. The layer should be thin to medium thickness. Most importantly, make sure there’s no pooling in the recesses. Always fan out your brush strokes so you don’t get a paint line. Do the recesses quickly, under a minute so the paint won’t start to set up. Once finished I use my roller, and roll out the main parts of the door and smooth out the edges. Then leave it! One thing to note with this paint, you do not want to over work it. Lay it on quickly, fix any areas that pool or drip, and leave it to its self-leveling magic. Your first coat is going to look like crap. Accept this and don’t try to fix it. As long as there are no pools or drips, you are fine. You just wait!
And I mean wait. This isn’t chalk paint folks. I waited over an hour before I touched it again. I gave it a very quick 10 second sanding with a fine grit sanding sponge. Then I wiped off the dust, and did the same thing again. Start with the recesses, make sure there’s no pooling or drips, move fairly quickly, and then smooth it out with your roller. And because it is white and I was covering gray primer, I did one more coat, same as above. Then I waited and flipped it over and did the same thing. If you notice any accumulation of paint along the edges of the unpainted side, quickly remove it with a chisel or razor before you begin painting.
Important: If you are going to be painting the other side of the cabinet (with one side already painted) When laying your dried, painted side on whatever you are using to raise it up, put a towel between the painted surface and the risers. You never want to put anything directly on paint that hasn’t cured. It could leave indentations or even worse, take up some of the paint. The towel will keep the painted surface safe. Good towel!
Once you go through the tedious process on the other side. Put those babies up, no top coat needed! Then stand back and enjoy because you just crossed another thing off your never ending DIY Kitchen Makeover. And boy does it look PRETTY!
I can say now, with all confidence, that I am whole-heartedly weary of working on my kitchen. I have the base cabinets done, the countertops installed, and now comes Phase 3, the backsplash. That’s the thing about these DIY projects. People say, “I don’t know how you do it, I just don’t have the patience”. And I think, neither do I. And honestly I really don’t. But what I do have is this astonishing ability to convince myself that whatever project I’m about to embark upon will somehow be a breeze. A Saturday afternoon of hard work that will be followed by a plethora of delights. Who wouldn’t work one measly Saturday for all those delights? And then it’s a downward spiral. After all, you can certainly order and install a countertop, and decide you are done right there, but what you can’t, or at least, really shouldn’t do, is paint a 36 inch section of base cabinet and decide you are throwing in the towel. You just have to keep on going. And we all know how one project tends to produce another.
I am deep in that whirlwind. And there’s no getting out until I’m done. And I will never be done.
Way back, (it feels like a lifetime ago) when I proposed the idea of updating our kitchen to my husband, I broke it into baby steps. Obviously, for financial reasons, the countertops/sink were the part I needed to sell the hardest. Once they were agreed upon, the rest just became white noise to my husband. I had mentioned several times that I wanted to do a modest white subway tile backsplash. Something classy, simple, clean, easy to care for, and CHEAP! So about the time that I was ripping out the old backsplash and repairing the wall for the new tile, I casually brought up the fact that what I was “actually” going to do was tile from the floor to the ceiling on two of the walls. This revelation was met with a “Jessie, PLEASE don’t.” followed by a lot of reasons that sounded like white noise to me. (It goes both ways). Mainly, it was an unnecessary amount of work and it might end up looking like a hospital laboratory. But the designer I like to pretend I am invited Ryan to once again, trust me, I already KNEW exactly what it was going to look like in my head. And it was going to be good. Maybe EVEN great. So he exited the room with a sigh, and I could only gather that he was absolutely delighted by the idea. We’ve been married long enough that I can tell by the tone of his sighs on how upset he is. If it’s really low and growly, I’m certain that can only mean good things for me.
Let the tiling begin!
Before I get to ahead of myself, let me explain what I did to prepare the wall for the tile. Using a variety of chisels and scrapers, I plucked out the old glass mosaic tile. Thankfully, it came up ok. Next, again with chisels and scrapers, I removed whatever chunks of mortar were left on the wall. The paper layer of drywall was gone in most areas. In order to fix that issue I applied a skim coat (a very thin, flat coat) of mortar to the entire wall that was exposed. I let it dry overnight and lightly knocked off and sanded any major ridges. Now it’s ready for tile.
The subway tile was fortunately on sale at Menards at 17 cents per piece. The cost was a little more for bull-nosed pieces which I only used in a few small areas. I bought two 100 pc. boxes to start off with, along with some gorgeous glass accent tile, grey mortar, a cheap forked trowel and 1/8 inch spacers. I started right after work. I used a hand cutter to begin with, but even with the few cuts I had, it was a bit of a pain. Eventually, we borrowed a high quality tile saw from a friend and I would highly recommend you do that. And if your friend has a crappy tile saw, you should rent a NICE tile saw. (Unless your project is very small). We have owned two tile saws in the past, cheap ones. And there is a HUGE difference. Rent yourself a sliding wet saw, you won’t regret it. It cut tile like butter, louder and wetter, yes. But oh so smooth.
Now I’m not going to get into huge detail about how to tile. There are many good comprehensive tutorials out there and honestly, it’s a very forgiving process that is much easier than it looks. What I will say, is that you get yourself a good level and use it like your life depended on it. Wherever you decide to start, I started at the base of my countertops (with a spacer underneath) just make sure your first row is level. From there, check with the level often, horizontally and vertically. You are usually working with spaces that are not always square so be prepared to make micro adjustments using your spacers or anything else that might work. If it’s level, it’s going to turn out good. You’ll also need a good square to make sure you are marking the tile straight for your cuts.
Another thing to note. Mortar and grout are NOT the same. In a pinch, you could get away with using a little mortar in place of grout (if the colors happen to match) but not the other way around. Grout has no adhering properties. It is meant to fill space between tile, period. I know this because I had to look it up when I ran out of mortar with only a few STINKING tiles remaining. And yes, I had to go BACK to Menards, AGAIN, in my “tiling clothes” all covered in wet saw gravy and mortar sludge to get more. It was a very difficult thing to go out looking less than my usual fabulous.
Totally joking, I go from scrubs to paint clothes to pajamas most days. Menards is especially used to me looking like ragamuffin. It’s probably their pet name for me.
I had hoped it was Ladybug.
Now, the one thing I dislike more than placing the tile is grouting. I think it is because once the tile is in place, the work looks deceivingly almost done. But don’t underestimate the grout. It takes time, and it’s messy. And annoying. Do you like to wipe and rinse and wipe and rinse, over and over? Oh, you do? Ok well, then maybe you would like grouting, but I don’t.
I broke the grouting into little sections of around 6 square feet. Mix the grout to a semi-runny cake frosting consistency, let sit for 10 minutes, give it a quick stir and you’re ready to go. Using a grout float, squish the grout into the gaps holding the float at an angle (so you don’t gauge the grout line with the float) Once the gaps are filled, use the float to squeegee the tile surface to make it as clean as possible. Again, holding it at an angle. Let it sit until the grout has set up a bit, like 10 minutes or so, then grab your big ol’ damp sponge and wipe, making sure your grout lines are smooth and clean. The less water you use, the better. (too much water can weaken the strength of the grout) Don’t worry about the haze, it comes right off. Once dry, I used a paper towel to buff it all away.
I bet you think you’re done then huh? You placed the tile, you grouted, you sealed the grout (I used a grout with the sealer built in to the mix, but if not, it’s just a wipe on sort of thing) And it looks like a finished masterpiece. Right?
Almost. It is important you allow room for expansion and contraction in your tile. You do this by using caulk. So the gap where the tile meets the countertop, DON’T grout that! If you already did, pluck it out and learn to read a whole tutorial before you begin your work! This gap must be filled in with caulk. Get a caulk that matches the color of the grout. Cut the caulk tube at an angle and, using your caulking gun, run a thin bead of caulk along your line. Dip your finger in water and run it against the bead of caulk to smooth it out, wipe off any access (I use a small sponge), and let dry. You are done. Make sure to caulk where the tile meets trim of any kind and where it meets the cabinet or in my case, where the tile meets the ceiling.
For those of you using colored grout, here’s another trick. If you have areas that end up uneven or choppy looking, ex. Where the tile meets the un-square ceiling. Instead of using your colored caulk that matches your grout, use the color of your ceiling to disguise the ugly line. Same with where the tile meets your trim, in a doorway or windowsill perhaps. Just use a caulk that matches the color of your trim. It will blend it right in.
Man, when I write this, it makes it sound like I did this in one afternoon. HA! Between the tiling and the grouting, it was four afternoons. Only instead of “noon”, it was more like first thing in the morning until late at night. AND throw in a few instances of after work until evening. Oh and one 5:30 am in my pj’s before church, cause mama just couldn’t sleep when she’s “this close to being DONE!” (I’m mama in this scenario) And I haven’t even finished all the caulking yet…..
And there you have it. I think, out of all the projects so far, this one has the most impact for the least cost. In fact, for all of the tile, accent tile (which cost almost as much as all the subway tile!) mortar, grout, caulk and supplies, the cost came to about $200. That is money well spent if you ask me. So please, ask me, and I’ll tell you it’s money well spent.
Stay tuned for my next tutorial, hand painting the upper cabinets.
Good news! This one is bound to be short. Or shortish. Unlike my last post on painting my base cabinets, this one is not even a tutorial really, it’s just me rambling on about countertop choices. But if you are in the market for a new countertop or like reading stuff, it may be worth your time.
So for years I have tried to find a suitable countertop that I could just make myself. Why? Because I’m incredibly cheap frugal, and because of the pride I get from doing something on my own. But mainly, it’s the cheap thing, and the irresistible challenge of trying to make it look like it’s not. And in my years of DIY I have learned that with certain projects, that goal is sometimes hard to achieve.
Here were my top DIY countertop choices:
Concrete: I’m talking the whole shebang. Custom molds, edging, bracing, mixing, polishing, acid staining and sealing. We actually made concrete counters in our old house. They were heavy, they were messy, and they didn’t turn out “exactly” as I had hoped. Mainly, they were a lot of work, and required a decent amount of materials and tools to do a top notch job. They also can be a bugger to seal.
Concrete overlay: Either over the existing counters, or more likely, over a new plywood base (because I didn’t like built in backsplashes in our existing countertops) This also seemed like a lot of work. It would require a ton of sanding and polishing inside the house, and then there’s the whole sealing issue again. Check out a favorite blogger of mine and her tutorial for a concrete overlay.
Wood: Why not? It’s beautiful and I could do it myself. But my kitchen gets such heavy traffic… painting, and projects involving solvents, and even some cooking, so even with 20 coats of poly, or epoxy I could picture it getting scratched, yellowed, chewed through and yucky, or having water issues. Also, Ryan said no. Here’s a great example of a wood countertop.
Paint and epoxy: Again over our existing countertops. I have actually done this as well on my old kitchen island, and honestly, for a cheap, plywood island top, it came out pretty close to looking like granite and it cleaned very well. But man, getting that epoxy perfect is tough, and I was distraught over how many bubbles and imperfections were on the surface. Also, if I wanted to go with a light color mix, it would be especially noticeable when the epoxy started to yellow over time. And again, I really wanted to get rid of the built in backsplash. So I nixed that idea pretty quick. Here’s a great tutorial on the process of painting and using epoxy on your existing counters.
So this whole, I gotta find a cheap countertop that I can do by myself no matter how much work and time it takes went on for several years. Until fairly recently. This last year it has become much clearer to me that my time is valuable and why not focus my attention on things that are important to me, and also things I am good at. I thought, “Jessie, not EVERYTHING needs to be DIY, not everything girl.” And I starting considering that perhaps I could splurge on a real countertop if I could find an incredible deal.
I took my idea to Ryan. I presented it as an “opportunity”. My key points were as follows:
It would increase the value of our house. People LOVE nice counters. And we needed to replace ours sooner or later, why not upgrade?
It would be a countertop that is low/no-maintenance, and stain resistant Then I pointed to the coffee maker sized brown stain next to our sink. I threw in a disgusted look for good measure.
New sink! Which is a must. (More on that below)
I would do…. like….. ALL the work and it would be the beginning of the whole kitchen makeover! And I would blog about it, and you know, some bloggers make a ton of money and they retire from their day jobs and just blog about their pretty houses and their pretty projects and the crazy hijinks they get themselves into. (maybe I should have left out the hijinks part, boy does Ryan hate my hijinks)
It would be GREAT to have an updated kitchen. It “might” even bring the whole family together, you know… all four of us cooking and laughing and dusting flour on each other’s noses for giggles?!
So, after that stunning presentation and hearty bow, Ryan must have needed some time to take my words and ponder them in his heart, because he went right back to watching TV. But I wasn’t worried. He does that. A week later, when we were knee deep in a lively discussion involving finances, he brought up the countertop like it was something we were going to do.
In all the years I researched DIY counters, I also read dreamily about other countertop choices. I fell in love with soapstone, marble, granite, and some beautiful composites, but my most practical yet still fabulous pick would be quartz. Why? Because it is practically zero maintenance, bacteria resistant, stain resistant, heat resistant and oh so pretty! In fact its one drawback, is its price.
And that’s not good for this cheapskate.
But I thought I’d look into it. After researching several manufacturers and installers in town as well as big box companies like Lowes, and Home Depot, I found that prices ranged from $60-$98 per square foot installed. With approximately 42 square feet (which didn’t even include my island) and a undermount sink, we were looking at $3,100-4,700.
Or were we?
So I did what I always do, I took it to a DIY level. In all of my research, there is one place in town, (that I know of), that will let you install the countertops yourself. And of course I should have known it was Menards, my home away from home. So I went to their website and printed off their countertop measuring guide, I measured, re-measured, and had Ryan measure the existing countertops, and noted where we would want a finished edge.
And then I waited. I waited because I knew, in my heart of hearts, that these countertops were bound to go on sale. And you know what, they did. I can remember the exact moment.
I was enjoying a Moscow Mule at my in-laws house over the 4th of July weekend. And, I’m not sure if it was the mule talking, but I swear I heard a faint but distinct whisper, “Hey you… looky there.” And there it was, just inches away from me, resting patiently on the coffee table, awaiting my wandering eye. A Menards Ad.
On that ad was a picture.
That picture was of a countertop.
That countertop was my countertop.
That countertop was on SALE.
And I’m not even kidding, the moment my eyes met the word “sale”, fireworks went off… literally, outside!
Probably because it was the 4th of July.
But I took it as a sign. I might actually pull this off.
So after the 4th of July festivities, Ryan and I took our sheet into Menards where they put all of our measurements into a program. We discussed edge choices, and where to put the finished edges, sink options and cut-outs. We decided to go with a under-mount sink for an additional cost and ogee edges. And we put it on our Menards card. The whole thing INCLUDING the 31 inch sink came to $2200. (not counting the 11% off rebate which was ALSO going on, ka-ching!)
Now a moment about the sink. This was, in many ways, an even bigger deal than the countertop. At the time, we owned a 24 inch sink. 24 inches split in two. (that’s… 12 inches you know) A pan doesn’t even fit in this sink. We use pans often. We eat meals. A small sink, is not a good thing for a family that cooks and has a lot of messy hobbies. And don’t get me started on the color. Cream. While initially very nice looking, it had become a bit ombre over the years, cream on top, brown at the base. I paint, I tile, I’m messy! (Ryan and the kids are gross too) This sink was BADLY stained. In fact, It was so bad, I actually got a can of comet, with a bow on top, for Christmas. (I can take the hint)
So the 31 inch STAINLESS steel under-mount sink was kinda a big deal!
Remember when it was cool for people to say “I’m kinda a big deal” all the time? HATED that.
Sorry, I digress. Wow, and I thought this wasn’t going to be long…
So we put in the order for the countertop and sink, and I started searching and reading. Ok, I had been searching and reading long before that, but I read with more intensity. More gusto! I wanted to find other people who have installed this countertop, how they installed it, and what they thought. Unfortunately the internet was limited on this exact product. But here and here are a couple.
With Menards, after you put in all your measurements, they send them off to a magic place somewhere, and in a week or so, you get a life-sized template that you lay over your existing counters. This will have your finished edges marked and your exact dimensions. Once you approve this template, the countertops will be made to these exact specifications. This part scared me because Ryan had already opened the templates, checked them, and packed them up before I got home, and said they were good to go. And of course, he is more qualified to say this than I, he’s a contractor for goodness sake. Seeing him work a tape measure with such precision can make this girl swoon. I just wish I would have been there. So after 4-5 calls and texts to “make sure” that he was comfortable with me approving the template. I went online and said, “GO AHEAD, those templates are spot on!” Or something less British sounding.
Fast forward another week and a half, and I get an email that said they were in.
THEY WERE IN!!!
So I’m like… we need men, a lot of men! And a trailer! And should we turn up the heat? Turn it down? And while I was planning in a frenzy of how we could possibly get these countertops home, Ryan went and picked them up by himself. They were packed upright on a large wood frame that Menards forklifted into the back of our truck. Ryan cautiously drove them home, and then forced my 15 year old daughter and two of her friends to help us unload each countertop piece by piece into the house. They were unbelievably heavy. We put cardboard down on the ground inside and leaned the countertop upright, on edge. It is VERY important that when you are unpacking and carrying the countertops sections that they always remain on edge. Too much pressure could make them snap. It is also important that the countertop becomes acclimated to your house temperature. (This is especially important if the countertops were allowed to get cold) Letting them sit overnight should do the trick.
We installed the countertops in pieces, starting with my 9 foot long section. We were able to use a cart to wheel it over to the general area. And then somehow, by superhuman strength, my husband, daughter and I lifted it into place. Seriously, it is SO heavy. Over the course of the week, we installed the remaining three pieces and the undermount. Everything went according to plan with no issues.
While I did read up online about tips for the install, we mostly just followed the instructions that were given to use from Menards. Here’s some important tips.
As I said, leave them on edge until you are putting them in place, never lay them down flat.
Make sure your cabinets are ready for them. I mean level, strong enough to support the weight, and securely fastened to the wall. Any unlevel spots in the cabinet could cause stress on a section of the counter, which could cause it to crack.
Have adequate help. I would suggest less 15 year old girls and more burly men, but that’s just my opinion. But for real, they crazy heavy foo.
Research, research, research! Read reviews, tutorials, ask the professionals! Installing this type of countertop is totally doable, but make sure you know what you are doing.
Coming next: the backsplash, although, I don’t think you can call it a backsplash when it covers the whole FLIPPING wall! Oh, I wear myself out…
I am not even the slightest bit exaggerating when I say that this post took over a year to complete. Let me explain. It all started several years ago with a couple of crazy kids (myself and my husband) who had just moved into a new house. In our former house, we had no space for a dining room table, but now, with this new house, it was time to go shopping. The person that I am now would have looked for something used that I could fix up, but the person I was then wanted a bar height table with 6 chairs within the hour, and pre-owned bar height dining sets were harder to come by several years ago, so we went to a local furniture store, and purchased a floor model at a discount, because… it was literally on the showroom floor. It came with four chairs, and we ordered and PAID for two more to be picked up at a later date. Fast forward almost two years, and we still hadn’t picked up those two chairs and the more time that passed, the more concerned I became that even though we had paid for them, the chairs would no longer be waiting for us. Because…you know, two years. And I was correct. When we finally went in to pick up the chairs, the local furniture store (let’s just say it has the appropriate word “Con” in it’s name) strangely had no record of our purchase of not only the chairs, but the table as well. They did however, have records of all of the other items we had purchased from the store including two couches several there years prior to buying the dining set.
While I do think the whole thing was incredibly shady, and was disappointed we were out $240. I had to accept part of the blame. I no longer had the receipt and let’s face it, I had waited almost two years to pick up the chairs. My procrastination and lack of proper documentation has bitten me in the butt. And it left a scar, a big en.
Fast forward another year or so to the fall of 2013. I had been cleaning up after a dinner we hosted in which I crammed 9 people into the corner of my dining/living room. We used four regular and five makeshift chairs and while everything went okay, it occurred to me that this area of my home needed an improvement. Space was an issue, I couldn’t allot for more, but why not build a banquette seat here? We wouldn’t have to buy more chairs (which I refuse to do anyway), and it wouldn’t take up any more space. AND… AND…we could put crap underneath. Genius. Seriously Genius. So I thought, meticulously about this, day and night for about 5 months. That is when I decided to present the idea to my wonderfully talented husband Ryan as something he could build as a birthday gift for ME!
He actually seemed quite open to the idea which is so unlike him and my ideas.
Shortly after I presented this genius idea to my husband, things got busy and my July birthday came and went. Then, there was beginning of school for the kids, and the 2014 Junk Market to keep us occupied. But once those things passed, Ryan got started on the banquette with almost no urgent prodding from me at all.
So we had a seat we could sit on, but unfortunately, that is where the progress stalled. For a year. I’m not sure why, seriously, we get really busy, and we try to pay attention to our lovely children so, yeah, it stayed as a plywood, ripped up wallpaper mess for over a year.
A year…year….year…. (this is an echo)
But I had a plan. Late June of this year, I noticed the telltale signs around my forehead that I was once again, going to age soon, so I decided to go for a twofer. I asked for the banquette seating to be finished as a gift to me. Again. I really wanted it done. So a few weeks ago when I was celebrating my 36th birthday at the lake with my beloved family, I received a nice little card with a sum of $$ for spending on whatever I wanted, AND… dum dum dum… the promise that while I was in Duluth for an upcoming annual trip with my mom and sis, that Ryan would finish the building of the banquette. Yes!!! There was a time limit! Why hadn’t I thought of that?
And so, I spent the next week, pre-thanking my husband for the banquette (which also served as a friendly reminder) and set off for Duluth. I spent the weekend with two of my most favorite people in the world, and came back to a fully built banquette. What a homecoming. Hooray!!!
But now my work began. Not only did I want the banquette built, but I also wanted to paint it, upholster the seats (which open up), add a painted plank wall to the back, trim it all out, remove the wallpaper fuzz and repaint the remaining wall, add an adorable shelf, some clever art work, you get the idea. So right after work all week, I worked on the banquette.
Monday’s task: fill nail holes and gaps.
Tuesday’s task: sanding and painting the bench seat.
Wednesday’s task: installing the plank wall and filling holes. (I also did a great deal of staring that day)
Thursday’s task: sanding and painting the plank wall.
Friday was the biggest day of all. I got off work early, bought the cushioning and fabric, button kit and all the trim pieces I needed. Then, for the next two days, I finished the seats, and installed, filled and painted all the trim. I asked Ryan to dig through his “pick-ins” for a cool sign to hang over my shelf, and he nailed it. (I mean literally, because he had to build a frame for this cool cardboard trolley sign he managed to find) But it does add a much needed pop of color. Nice job Ry.
Saturday night, we had a gorgeous banquette. Yes, the new, clean finished look of the banquette seat certainly brings out the fact that I already need to refinish my table top, but that’s for a later day. A much later day. Like never.
For now, I’ll just enjoy the banquette, it’s just one of those things where you get excited to go into your living room. I LOVE that!
Now for the big announcement…. as some of you know, my husband Ryan is my picker. The cool “junk” in my stand, that’s all him. He is the one that finds a majority of my pieces at sales, auctions, etc., but his specialty is what he calls “backroad pickin'” where he finds the best, one of a kind junk and collectibles. He has a really good eye for what’s trending, what’s authentic, and what is just cool. I am often disturbed by the random knowledge he stores in that brain of his when it comes to certain types of antiques. (he especially loves vintage clocks and advertising pieces, you know… “man cave stuff”) On August 22, we will be setting up shop at the Fargo Flea Market to debut his finds. Yes there will be some de-uglied stuff as well, so look for my sign, but what you can also expect is a mix of high end vintage and the usual junk that’s just for fun. It’s going to be a great show. Hope to see you all there.
Warning: The following post contains the true story of me making stupid choices. These choices resulted in a lot of work and unnecessary annoyance for everyone involved.
So remember back a month or two ago when I posted the most disconcerting photo of my laundry room and wrote something crazy about doing a “mini makeover” over the weekend….? You know, just sort of whip it out quick-like? Well, I’m happy to report that while, there are always more things I want to do, it is in a stable enough place to finally post my results. But before I do, I need to take you back a week or so prior to that announcement to explain what inspired the makeover in the first place.
What you need to know about my laundry room….
It is a teeny, tiny room, connected to my kitchen.
It houses all my cleaning supplies, washer and dryer of course, the kitchen cabinets and microwave we removed from our kitchen (when we opened up the space into the living room) AND…. the litterbox and supplies for my hairy, super hairy cats. They conduct their finest business in there.
People (meaning you, who pick up items from my house) can see this room, along with my other messes and unfinished projects everywhere. The cats, the mean hairless rat-dog…. There’s a lot of shame to go around, but my laundry room is especially embarrassing to me.
All of the dials on my dryer had to be operated with a needle-nosed pliers. Also, the dryer setting was stuck permanently on permanent press (how fitting). But what made the dryer intolerable was that it made a very shrill, high pitched wailing sound the entire time it ran, which was for many hours. This added noise tension often resulted in my family yelling at one another for no good reason, spontaneous sobbing, and me coping the only way I know how, eating shredded cheese directly from my hand, like a sassy horse.
It didn’t start out that way, the dryer. It went from a silly, and dare I say, adorable little squeak a couple years ago, to the howling noise of present day. And often, we were so used to it, we’d zone it out. That is, until someone would stop over while the dryer was running and say something like “How are you still sane?” ….. It does get one thinking.
We must be killer mentally strong. Your welcome, kids. (They’ll thank me someday).
So, for a while now, I’d been keeping an eye out for something different, but affordable (cause I’m cheap, frugal)… and recently, I found just what I had been looking for. An online auction house was auctioning off BRAND SPANKIN NEW appliances, all of them LG, many of them high end units. So I went to work. I started a log of every serial/model number, retail price, style, and rating. I read endless reviews, watched YouTube videos and was well-informed before the start of the auction. There were three interesting units that intrigued me, these were washer/dryer’s in one. No! Not two units on top of each other, no sir…. I mean….. It washes and dries your clothes in the same chamber. Automatically. YES, this is a thing! Let’s call it “the magical appliance that will save me from having to rewash my laundry because I didn’t get it in the dryer in a reasonable amount of time”. Mildew, you have met your match. The negative reviews were… REALLY negative, but in general it rated around a 4.2 out of 5. Not terrible. AND it would free up a whole dryers worth of space in that tiny room, which would be fantastic.
The night the auction arrived I sat transfixed to the computer screen and watched in anticipation as the bids went up. With a few minutes remaining, the only affordable choice was my third pick (its bids, “strangely” didn’t go up the way the others did). The reason it was my third, was because the model had been discontinued. But hey, none of these units would be covered under warranty anyway, so it didn’t bother me. I should mention now, there was a little… teeny, tiny thing at the bottom of every photo in this auction, something about that they strongly recommended that all units be inspected in person, and that many of the appliances may have scratches and dents due to shipping errors. But I couldn’t easily make the inspection times, and well, I figured they “had” to say that right? And I’m cool with a little scratch anyhoo. It’s character.
With my heart pounding I dramatically put in my final bid with a boisterous “boom!” and refreshed the page like a madman while giving my uninterested family 10 second updates. To my utter joy, I got the washer/dryer unit for $300!! It was the most I ever paid for something sight unseen (although it did post several photos) and I was a little nervous, but hey, even with a few scratches, it was new. It can’t be that big of a gamble. And come on… I just got a really cool $1500 appliance for $300! Jackpot!!!!!
So that same night, after the kids were in bed, I went to work emptying out my entire laundry room. This new appliance called for a makeover! By Friday night after work, I had the contents of my laundry room strewn all over my kitchen and was ready to get crackin.
I stopped at Ace on the way home from work and picked up a glorious taupe color to paint the walls and I asked for a quart of the best paint/primer they had. “Spare no expense!” I proclaimed and waved my hand the way I would imagine a Queen would if she were really authoritative. Turns out, Ace’s best paint/primer in a QUART is $22…. Whaaaaat? But no worries, think of what I saved on my washer/dryer. I was feeling like a golden pot of the purest gold, and ready to take on the world. (Anticipating home improvement projects have that effect on me).
So I get home and start painting immediately, to excited to change out of my work clothes, and sure enough, it’s going on very nicely, very nicely indeed. Unfortunately, after the first coat was finished I noticed some holes that needed to be filled so I decided to do the right thing and spackle over the holes. Then I painfully waited for the hole filler to dry, sanded it down AND….
repainted the whole wall again!
No problem. Moving on. Except… after the second coat, I realized that I didn’t like the way there was no wall texture over the spackled nail holes, so again, wanting to do the right thing, I went and got my texture spray, and sprayed those areas, which really got texture, just about everywhere. And then I got to wait, some more.
Then I got to repaint most of the wall, again! Hooray. (I’m saying hooray a little sarcastically here) Yes, this was annoying, but no worries, I was still so, so pumped about my new purchase.
It was about that time that I got a call from Ryan, and when I asked him enthusiastically how the pickup, and the laundry unit looked, he could only say “not good”…, and the tone of his voice told me he was not messing with me. Sure enough, a few minutes later, he pulls into the driveway, and upon inspection, my new, super fancy, washer/dryer literally looks like it had rolled off a train down a steep, pointy mountain and off a cliff, into a cave of some sort. A gross cave. Both sides were caved in considerably, there were scratches everywhere, but the main concern was that the area surrounding the door where one would “hope” to have a good seal, was dented in about 3 inches. I was embarrassed and disappointed, and $300 is over a “dressers worth” of work, which is a lot of work to me. (I think in terms of dresser currency) And I had just thrown it away. Squandered it all. And, “Helllllooooo…. I’m in the middle of a laundry room MAKEOVER here. No way “Howly” dryer and his ugly washer wife was going back in there.”
Also… an annoying side note. I currently had the entire contents of my laundry room, the original washer and dryer, along with my “new” washer/dryer unit, (which was turning out to be a total ass), sitting in my kitchen. Add a dresser into that mix too. Because I seem to always have a piece of unwanted furniture in my kitchen. That is waaaaaaay too much stuff for one room.
Thankfully, Ryan was kind and didn’t rub it in, he went to work taking off the front of the washer/dryer and pounding the major dents out. If we could get a good seal, maybe we would still be in business! I put on my hypothetical blinders (told you I was a sassy horse) and went back to painting, at least I was almost done with that. Makeover… ON!
Until I ran out of paint. (Are you starting to feel the downturn of my golden evening?)
And now Ace was closed. So instead of waiting until the next day to buy another $22 quart of paint. I decided to run to Menards and do a color match with the dried paint on the lid. (And yes, my inner voice was screaming at me that this was a bad idea). Since it was late, the “experienced” paint person was gone, but someone was kind enough to attempt a color match for me. Unfortunately, after 3 attempts at tweaking the tint on a new quart of paint to match, I gave up and went home, and ended up repainting the walls, for the 4th time with the new color of paint that was just… soo, soo close to the shade of the first three coats, only not close enough.4th time’s a charm in my case.
During one of the Menards paint tinting attempts, on a whim, I decided to grab some lumber, because, why not make a built-in cabinet instead of those ugly bracket things I have in there. Then I can hide all the cluttery stuff I have on my shelves. And hey, I can totally do that myself right? (That was my inner dialog, it always sounds so reasonable and makes everything sound so easy)
So while the 4th coat on my wall was drying, I decided to “whip up” a floor-to-ceiling cabinet while Ryan continued to play with the washer/dryer. Once I got the lumber cut, I glued and assembled it on my kitchen floor, (it’s cold in my garage!) in between my three washer/dryer appliances and kitchen island, dresser, and piles of crappola I had everywhere. It was an annoyingly tight fit. Then I painted the cabinet white. I used my go to trim paint which is high gloss, and is very durable and cleanable. Unfortunately, it takes forever to dry. But between painting the walls, and the two coats I put on the cabinet, I was able to install the cabinet (minus the doors I had yet to make) and finish the walls by 12:30 am. Which is the next day.
So you’d “think” I’d had enough, but you’d be wrong.
I awoke with a new, inspired addition to my plan. I thought that, on the wall behind the washer/dryer, I’d just, “real quick” install a horizontal white plank wall. I already had wood for it, it just needed to be painted, cut and installed. Oh… so easy.
Long story short, that took all day and a good chunk of the next. And again, mainly because the stupid paint refused to dry. And my laundry room is tiny, and it was just a frustrating process. And I still had all those appliances in the kitchen. I also removed the old trim and put in new, white painted trim, which we have slowly been doing throughout the house.
One thing that bothered me in my makeover room was the ugly space over the wash/dryer. (Yes, Ryan got it to work, with a few minor glitches we have to deal with. And some… ahem… cosmetic issues). I didn’t like the look of the cords. So I made a little shelf to hold laundry soap and added a paper towel holder, just for fun. I also added a small hanging rack, and a cool industrial curtain rod, because I couldn’t fit a normal sized curtain rod in my space with the cabinets there. I got a new curtain panel at Target to match the rug I already had.
Over the next week, I made the doors to the cabinets, which I love, and because it was the first cabinet I have ever made by myself (yay!), I bought latches to keep the doors closed because I knew they wouldn’t stay closed on their own. (and they don’t) These I bought on Amazon, and in searching for the cheapest set that still had good reviews, I ended up accidentally purchasing them from China, and had to wait 6 weeks to get them.
Oh, the waiting!
So that is it. I still have to deep clean the drips off my floor, but like I said, it’s stable. And deep cleaning may not ever happen. Ever. My house is no “Pinterest house” it is real and it is usually messy. Sometimes gross. But usually just messy. I chose to leave the laundry in the bins in my photos because, they will never be empty, so why lie, and I was too lazy to empty them anyway. I am proud of my laundry room mini makeover, I love my cabinet especially and everything it hides. My washer/dryer is doing the job of a washer/dryer, and did I mention it plays the most delightful tune when it is done? Gotta love that.
And yes, I know the microwave is weird in there. I deal.
Some gems of knowledge I learned along the way:
I NEED to stop saying I’m going to “whip up”, or “whip out” a project. It’s never that fast, or that easy. Why am I so easily fooled by these words?
High gloss paint dries so much slower than the paint I use for furniture. It is painful and unacceptable. I just need to walk away and let it do it’s job.
Fill in your nail holes and texturize BEFORE the FIRST coat of paint. And duh… I knew this, I just don’t always follow my own rules for my own house (oh, and did I mention I ended up using the same nail holes anyway? Yep)
DO NOT PAINT IN YOUR WORK SCRUBS. Seriously Jessie, you paint walls like a pig. Embrace this.
Whenever possible go inspect your auction items in person, so you won’t be in for a rude surprise when your purchase totally sucks.
Just wait and get the exact paint you need, whenever possible. Don’t risk a color match on a completely different brand of paint, with an inexperienced color mixer. Patience…. Also, if you’re going to paint a wall four times, it might be wise get a gallon in the first place.
It is annoying to install an unnecessary plank wall in a small area behind a washer/dryer. Just paint it next time. You can barely see it anyway. (although, I do love the plank wall)
Don’t order hardware from China unless you are willing to wait, which I am not.
That project was annoying to relive in writing.
So now, I’m going to be taking a break from home improvement projects, I got to get my butt in gear for the Junk Market, which is just around the corner!! Man life is busy. Have I mentioned my daughter is in JO volleyball? (some of you will understand)
Oh, and, if you would indulge me in shameless self-promotion, I have entered two pieces into the General Finishes paint contest. (which is turning out to be a popularity contest it seems) General Finishes has some of my very favorite products of all time! If you get a chance, click on the link and vote, no registering, or anything, I promise. (ahem… this gorgeous piece is available at the studio right now!) Here is my second entry, you are allowed to vote for as many as you’d like. And it’s worth taking a look at the other entries, (for inspiration only of course… no voting!) Kidding… there’s some good competition, no shortage of talent out there, that’s for sure! Thanks for voting, and thanks for reading. And if you get a chance, please subscribe to my blog!
You guys are always the goldest of golden followers, thanks again.