One Room Challenge Week Four: The Dreaded “M” word

Week Four was a bit of a beast in our basement kitchen renovation.

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On the positive side, I was able to get the walls painted. I chose Sherwin Williams Alabaster in Eggshell, the same paint that we used in our guest bedroom, and it makes the room look so much better! Unfortunately, that was about the only thing that got fully completed due to some fairly major snags we hit.

Over the weekend, we started working on the counter tops. My plan was to take off the counter top on the peninsula part of the cabinets and replace it with butcher block. It’s a bigger job so Justin was willing to help me and it went much quicker with two people addressing it!

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I’ve never really thought about how laminate counter tops are installed before, but it turns out they are fairly easy to remove. The counters were screwed directly into the cabinet, and then there were two angled ledges connecting the narrow counter on the side to the wall that were screwed into the wall through a piece of paneling. We just used a small rechargable screwdriver (without a doubt our most frequently used tool for small home projects!) and got everything unscrewed.

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Justin took a razor blade and ran it along the wall to peel off the caulk that sealed the counter to the wall. After that, it was just a matter of lifting the counter off! This was the easy part of the day.

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The first problem we ran into was discovering that the base cabinets here were not installed square. It’s barely discernible to the naked eye, but it ended up being a big problem. The butcher block counter I want comes pre-made at 36″ wide and 72″ long. From the wall to the left corner of the cabinet, 72″ will give a small overhang. From the wall to the right corner of the cabinet, 72″ doesn’t even quite reach the end of the cabinet. So frustrating!

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As you can see from the above picture, there is empty space between the cabinet and the wall. The previous owners just used a piece of paneling on the front of the cabinet to make this peninsula longer, so we decided to remove that frame and move the base cabinet a little closer to the wall so the counter top would be long enough. We won’t miss the lost inch of counter space and it will make things much easier and cheaper than buying a custom made top.

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We set off to remove the front of the cabinet’s paneling and quarter round trim. This would have needed to be done anyways because the top of the paneling got damaged in removing the cabinet – not a big deal since it’s inexpensive and easy to replace. The quarter round came off fairly easily with a crowbar. The paneling was a bear to remove because not only was it nailed to the cabinet but it was also glued and they used tons of glue! It was a frustrating and slow process but we finally got it all removed and also removed the wooden frame they had created between the wall and cabinet.

As we were doing this, I started thinking about possibly adding a thin sheet of beadboard paneling to the wall so we wouldn’t have to move the cabinet. The vertical lines would add visual interest and give us the extra space we need for the counter to at least go past the edge of the cabinet (without much overhang, but I can live with that). We also assumed that the paneling still on the wall (previously under the extra counter) was glued down and would cause some damage in removing. Beadboard might solve both problems: cover the damaged wall and make the counter tops long enough to cover the cabinets. We started to remove the paneling.

This is when things took a huge downturn.

Our assumption that the paneling was glued was correct, but it was way worse than we imagined. They used so much glue that the walls were very seriously damaged when we tried to rip it off. Huge chunks came out! And not only that, but we hit the dreaded four-letter “m” word: MOLD.

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We immediately knew that we had to pause this project and get a professional in here. We are not equipped to handle removing mold and replacing drywall and we want to make sure it is done right. We already have a call in to a professional and are waiting to hear back on a quote from him. Until then, this part of the project is on hold.

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This is definitely not the news we wanted, nor is it the progress point we wanted to be at right now. It’s discouraging and affects our timeline, but this is just the reality of renovating. We’re hopeful that we can get the drywall guy in sometime this next week to address this situation but until then, we just have to hold off on the kitchen. We spent the rest of the weekend relaxing as a family, although I did start shopping my house to test out some decor pieces for the space. If you caught my Instagram stories, you know I spent time restoring this thrifted copper planter to it’s former glory. It’s going to be a great decorative addition to the kitchen! ORC-3

While my project is on pause, I’m going to enjoy browsing the progress that other people are making on their rooms. The fun part about the One Room Challenge is so many people join and are trying to finish their own rooms – it’s so fun to watch the progress and cheer others on in their own projects. You can check out all the other rooms here. Hopefully I’ll have good news to report next week and be able to get back to work!

 

 

Macie is Seven!

Long before I was a human mama, I was a dog mama. And today, the girl who made me a dog mama turns seven.

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SEVEN!

I can’t even believe it. To celebrate, today’s post is all about my Mace Face. Macie Girl. Macie Bug. My sweet Macie!

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Before we got married, Justin and I knew we wanted a dog. When two of Justin’s good friends bred their labs and offered a puppy to us as a wedding gift (they knew we wanted a dog), we said YES. So Macie came into our lives exactly one month into our marriage and has been with us ever since.

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Macie has always been full of energy. The “puppy” phase with her lasted about 2.5 years – she was just go go go from the very start. She loves tug of war, fetch, and going for any type of run/walk/hike/outdoor adventure.

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She is also a huge lover of water. If there is a body of water around, she will happily jump right in and swim to her heart’s content. Sometimes we have to make her come out of the water and rest for a bit because I get nervous that she’ll wear herself out without realizing it – she swims so much.

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Macie definitely follows typical birth order personality types 😉 She is incredibly obedient and smart. She is a huge people-pleaser and has always worked to get approval. She is the dog we can have off leash or without the electric fence collar without worry because she will listen to us and stay where we tell her to stay. As a puppy, she crate trained like a dream and has had the run of the house since she was like 8 months old. Justin has taught her several tricks over the years and she’s done super well with them. She’s one of the most intelligent dogs I’ve ever met and I don’t think that’s just my parent pride speaking (although I guess it could be haha).

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You know in The Little Mermaid when Ariel sings “I want to be where the people are”? If Macie had a life mantra, that would be it. She loves people and wants to be right in the middle of the action. Wherever we are, she is there too.

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She is on the smaller side for a lab and thinks she’s a lap dog ha!

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She wants to be the first one greeting a guest at our house, she wants to sit right next to me on the couch, she wants to follow us around the house no matter if we’re going inside, outside, upstairs, downstairs – she is up for anywhere as long as there are people. If I happen to go outside without her, she protests loudly. She just wants to be around us. I was super thankful for this when Justin had to work night shifts and I was home alone. Macie would snuggle next to me on the couch and curl up next to me in bed so I didn’t feel like I was alone. And when I say snuggle, with Macie, you either get an adorable little curl up…

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…or her classic flop. It cracks me up every time!

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Macie has transitioned to her big sister roles so well.

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First, when we brought Scout home, she did a great job of adjusting to another dog being around. Macie is definitely alpha and Scout is beta and they get along so well. When we got pregnant, I wasn’t entirely sure how Macie would react to a new little human around but she adjusted like a dream. I have never once worried about her around my babies.

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She will snuggle next to them, let them crawl all over her, humor LJ as he attempts to play fetch with her – she is just a dream big sister.

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Macie meeting LJ for the first time – she was so excited!

She takes everything that LJ does in stride and just let’s him love on her and it is the sweetest relationship. They love each other!

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We absolutely adore Macie and can’t imagine life without her. Happy seventh birthday to our sweet and spunky girl!

 

One Room Challenge Week Three: The Great Cabinet Color Debate

Another week has gone by, and it’s time for another update on my basement kitchen renovation for the One Room Challenge!

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This week was finally the week to decide on a cabinet paint color. I wanted something moody and dark and I had several paint samples leftover from when we painted our guest bathroom, so I started with those. After painting swatches on the cabinets, I narrowed seven color choices down to two: Dark Pewter and Quarry Rock (both Benjamin Moore colors that I had color-matched at Lowe’s). I really liked both colors, but could not decide between the two. I threw up a poll on Instagram to see if that would help me decide, and 2/3 of voters chose Dark Pewter.

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I loved how rich and deep Dark Pewter was, but it felt too blue to me. I loved the green tones in Quarry Rock, but it wasn’t quite dark enough for me. After spending all day Friday looking at them both in different light, from different angles, Justin finally said “don’t rush this!” and encouraged me to sleep on the decision.

The next morning, I still couldn’t decide. I came to the conclusion that this either meant that I couldn’t go wrong and either color would work OR it meant neither color was The One and I should keep looking. Ultimately, I realized that I had hesitations with each color and was trying to force a decision just so I could get started painting sooner. I planned to paint as much as I could over the weekend, and while all the time spent choosing a color was delaying my plans, I also didn’t want to spend a ton of time painting only to realize the color just wasn’t right. The color samples I had were all originally chosen for a different room, so of course nothing was feeling quite right in the kitchen. I needed to look for a color based specifically on the room I was in, not just from whatever was leftover in another room.

I went back to the drawing board, except I had a fairly clear direction that I wanted: a dark, moody color that had green tones (basically, the perfect blend of Dark Pewter and Quarry Rock). I got three more samples to try out and one immediately stuck out to me – I could just feel that this was it. This was The One! I had no reservations, no hesitations, and was so glad I didn’t settle because I wholeheartedly loved…

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Rock Bottom from HGTV by Sherwin Williams.

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Top to Bottom: Dark Pewter, Quarry Rock, Rock Bottom shown with the lights on and next to the window – I tested the colors in every possible lighting situation!

Rock Bottom is the perfect blend of Dark Pewter and Quarry Rock and is just what I envisioned for the space!

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It’s dark and moody with green undertones but it doesn’t feel too green. It plays well off the existing colors in the kitchen and gives just the right amount of drama. I’m in LOVE.

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The base cabinets are all finished and I’m working my way through painting all the drawers and drawer fronts. Honestly, I hoped that by this point I would be done painting everything, but I’m so glad I didn’t let the pressure of a self-imposed timeline force me into a rushed decision. I know that I would have always been a little disappointed with either of my first two options so the extra time for deliberation and searching was totally worth finding a color I love!

Now on to the great counter top debate…stay tuned. 😉

If you want to check out other rooms that bloggers are renovating for the One Room Challenge , you can find them all here.

House Tour 2020

May 18 is an anniversary of sorts in our family: it’s been one full year since we’ve lived in our house!

I thought it would be fun to do a complete “house tour” and document what every room in our house currently looks like one year into living here. Some rooms have been completely remodeled, some have only had minor updates, and others have yet to be touched (one hasn’t even been unpacked yet).

A small disclaimer: I wanted to show what our house really looks like and how we’re using it in each stage of life, but I obviously did clean up before taking pictures. I didn’t want to make it look like a picture perfect model home because that’s not our reality, but just as I like to clean up before guests come over, I also cleaned up before virtual guests come over. 😉 That being said, I decided not to stage rooms (for example, I chose not to do things like add pillows to Vi’s crib just for the picture) since that’s not really how we live right now, so it still feels very authentic and true to our life.

My plan is to do this every year as a way to see how our home changes over time. I love seeing the evolution of a space and how the rooms in our home adjust to our growing family. Here’s what our home looks like in May 2020, one year after moving in.

Basement

Guest Room

The guest bedroom in the basement was one of my top priorities to address when we moved in. When not in a pandemic, we have overnight guests frequently (1-2x each month) and I wanted a comfortable space for them to stay. The room did not have a window and felt very dingy and dark, so we set out to add a window and make it feel light, bright, and cozy all at the same time. I would still love to swap out the overhead light and replace the carpet eventually, but I’m thrilled with this room’s transformation! Read more about this room’s renovation here.

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Guest Bathroom

The guest bathroom was the first room that we completely gutted and remodeled. New flooring, expanded tile shower, new lighting and fixtures – even though the layout didn’t change, it feels like a totally new space! You can check out more details in this blog post.

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Entertaining Space

Most of the basement is one huge open-concept living space. We bought this house with the hopes to do a lot of entertaining down here, so I’ve been putting in some effort to freshen it up. I am by no means done with this space, but a little bit of paint and removing some decorate trim has made it come a long way (blog post on our simple basement update here).

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And in the interest of full disclosure, here’s what our “entertainment center” situation currently is. I’m brainstorming alternatives to the bent folding table, but for now, it works. I know I’ll be glad to look back on this in the future when we have something different there to see how far we’ve come. 😉

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The space behind the couch will eventually have a table and chairs for hosting meals and game nights. Justin is actually in the process of making a table for this space, but until it gets finished, we keep our treadmill and the donation piles from my de-cluttering spree here (I know I said I would show our reality but I’m still cringing over showing spaces like this ha)!

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The basement kitchen is my current project for the One Room Challenge, and even though it’s in a major state of disarray, I’m very excited for the progress happening here (see my most recent update post here) – it’s going to look so good when it’s finished!

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Rounding out the open-concept space is this area to the right of the kitchen. Someday we plan to put a ping pong table here but for now, it’s a workspace for painting and storing furniture that we plan to sell.

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Mudroom

The last part of our basement is the mudroom in between the garage and the living area. As you can see, it needs work. I envision a combination workout space + some cubbies for storage eventually but for now…it’s just a bit of a catch-all (cringing again!)

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Main Floor

Laundry Room

The laundry room is really more like a laundry hallway. The washer and dryer are squeezed into a small space between the garage and a bathroom. Eventually, I would love to take out the bathroom and expand the laundry room but those plans are far down the road. Other than moving in our washer and dryer (which barely fit!) this space hasn’t been updated at all.

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Full Bathroom

Directly to the right of the laundry room is a full bathroom that we haven’t made any changes to yet. Normally, this bathroom doesn’t get used – the only exceptions are when we have many guests stay with us or in the middle of a pandemic. Since Justin works in healthcare, he uses this bathroom to shower when he comes home from work. It’s super convenient since it’s right off the garage and only used by him. As you can see, LJ and I wrote a few little notes to encourage him when he gets home. 🙂

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Powder Room

The powder room on the main floor is the only room that wasn’t painted brown when we moved in. We haven’t done anything to it yet, but it’s nice to at least have a little pop of color!

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Office

One of the rooms that got me the most excited about this house is our office, although right now it’s a disaster zone. I joke that it is our Room of Requirement because if you’re looking for something random, it’s probably in there. All of our unpacked boxes of books and decor are stored here and it’s kind of a makeshift office/extra guest room for an air mattress if needed. It doesn’t look like much right now, but I have plans to make it into a dreamy office + library – imagine those French doors opening up into floor to ceiling bookshelves and a cozy reading chair tucked in by the bay windows! I’m hoping we can start that renovation in the fall.

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The dining area off the kitchen also had a ton of potential (those windows!!), but we haven’t put any work into it yet. It currently just has a simple hand-me-down table and chairs and a few faux plants, but someday, this room is going to shine!

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The kitchen next to the dining room is another room that we haven’t put any work into. We’ve brainstormed a few ways that we’d like to change the layout a bit and update the appliances, but since that is a project that we’re several years out from, we’ll likely do a “phase one” renovation and at least update the wall color and maybe paint the cabinets.

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The previous owners used the room connected to the kitchen and living room as a dining room, but when we looked at the house I knew it would be the perfect playroom. It was the first room we updated (see that renovation post here) and I’m so glad we did because it gets used every. single. day. We still plan to update the trim and baseboards, but we’ll wait until we’re ready to do it throughout the whole first floor.

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The living room is yet another room that we have put zero effort into. We plopped down the furniture from our last house and called it good for now. Again, so much potential (more dreamy windows!) but in our life with two little ones, this casual arrangement works best for right now.

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Rounding out the main floor is the staircase off the living room (again, so much potential there!)…

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…and my favorite seven square foot space underneath! See all the details of this little nook’s transformation here.

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Top Floor

LJ’s Room

While no extensive work has been done upstairs, when I was 8 months pregnant and in full on nesting mode, we did get the bedrooms painted (they were all previously brown like the rest of the house). LJ’s room got some color-blocked walls and simple decor that feels just right for a little boy’s room.

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Vi’s Room

Vi’s room was painted white and recently got a little scalloped accent wall to make it feel more girly and fun. I also finally got some art up on the wall (notice I’m still waiting on one picture) and the room is much cozier.

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Kid’s Bathroom

The kids’ bathroom has had a very minimal amount of work – all we’ve done is take down the sliding glass shower door and replace it with a shower curtain. Other than that, we haven’t touched this room.

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Master Bedroom

All we’ve done in here so far is paint the walls, and the room is definitely lackluster. Again, so much potential here (more bay windows!) but right now it’s just simple and functional.

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Master Bathroom

The en suite bathroom has gone through a phase one renovation. We eventually want to gut it and rework the layout, but for the time being we just updated the flooring, painted the walls and vanities, and switched out some fixtures. You can read about that renovation here.

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Outdoors

The property is one of the biggest reasons we bought the house, so we’re thankful for a few outdoor lounge areas. The previous owners left a porch swing on the main level porch, which is perfect for enjoying a peaceful evening looking out over the pond. I’d love to add a few plants to this space too!

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Our walkout patio on the basement level has room for a table and chairs and I also created a little lounge space in the corner of the patio. This year I’m hoping to add a few end tables string lights, and potted plants to the space.

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That’s our home. It’s a work in progress, and we love the process of transforming it into the home of our dreams, but we’re not waiting to enjoy it until it’s “done” (I mean, is a house ever even done?) We are enjoying it every step of the way and choosing to love where we live at each stage. ❤

One Room Challenge Week 2: Updating Tile Floors with Paint

We’re on to Week Two of the One Room Challenge and I am so excited with how things are shaping up so far in our basement kitchen!

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Here’s a reminder of where this kitchen started:

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And here is what it looks like right now:

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I joked to a friend that I’m in the “getting worse before it gets better” phase. The kitchen definitely looks a bit chaotic, but I’m really excited about the progress so far.

After ripping off some decorative trim from that half wall ledge (where our foundation is), I got primer on the walls. I’m still deciding between two potential colors as the wall paint color, but I felt like that orange was sucking away my brain’s ability to be creative and visualize a new space. Just making the walls white for now made a huge difference and makes me feel like I can breathe!

Justin and I also worked together to take down the single cabinet that was on the wall in between the sink and the window. Removing that made the space feel so much more open and I know we won’t miss the slight decrease in storage.

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As you can see, I’m currently in the middle of painting the cabinets. All the drawer and door fronts are off and everything has a layer of primer. I have some color samples to test out for cabinet colors and hopefully will be able to decide on a color and get them painted this weekend.

Now that the floors are fully cured and have had time to get used a bit, I wanted to share the process of how I went about updating them and how they’re holding up so far. I’ll share what I specifically did, but it was pretty much following the tutorials mapped out by Angela Rose Home and Making Pretty Spaces. Check out their blog posts for more information!

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I first swept all the floors and then went over them with Krud Kutter and an old dish cloth (I used a textured one to help scrub away debris).

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After I was sure the floors were as clean as I could get them, I taped out the border of the floor and started painting the floor with base coat. I used Rustoleum’s RockSolid 2-step interior floor coating system for this project and chose Steam Gray as my base coat. I got this paint system at Home Depot because I wanted to order a second can with a tint and they mixed it up for me.

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I used a small angled brush to outline each tile and make sure to really get in the grout lines.

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Then I went back over the tile with a roller (I used a 3/8 inch nap). The instructions say only one coat is necessary, but after letting the first one dry overnight, I ended up rolling a second coat for extra coverage and durability. I then let the entire floor dry for 2 hours before going back to map out my pattern using delicate surface Frog Tape. I had found this inspiration image from Whitney Parkinson‘s instagram and wanted to recreate something similar with tape.

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I tried out two different ways to achieve the look I wanted and ultimately went with the one on the left (more on this later).

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On the advice of Angela, I wore white socks for this entire process because the paint stays tacky until the top coat is rolled and I didn’t want little toe marks. I marked out everything with tape (it took a lot more tape than I expected and I had to do a curbside pickup for five, yes five, additional rolls to finish everything). I got a second can of base coat and had it tinted to Haven Gray for my second color and applied it with a 2.5 inch angled brush.

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Since I could reapply the second coat in two hours, I worked in sections. I’d tape off one section and paint, then go to another section and tape and paint. Then by the time that was done, I could go back to the previous section and do the second coat. I worked in small enough sections and in a route that meant I could get two coats of paint on without stepping on the wet paint. This allowed me to get both coats of paint on within one day, working in the early morning, at nap time, and in the evening after my kids’ bedtime.

As I applied the second coat, I peeled off the tape right away. I like to do this when the paint is still wet because I think it helps keep the tape from peeling paint or getting dried and stuck.

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Once the pattern was finished, I let the second coat dry for 2 hours. I then went back through and touched up a few little places before letting it dry another 4 hours before applying the top coat (step 2 in Rustoleum’s system).

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The top coat goes on clear and comes in semi-gloss or matte finishes. I chose matte since I didn’t want a shiny surface. It is supposed to be very quick and simple and should have taken me no more than 15 minutes to apply with a 3/8 inch nap roller. Unfortunately, some small bits of dog hair got in the paint when I trimmed out the edges of the floor (learned my lesson: do NOT dip your paintbrush directly in the paint can! Pour it into a small container and use that!) so I had to spend a lot of extra time going over the coat with a baby wipe to pick up the stray hairs. All in all this step probably took an hour.

Once the top coat was applied, I was done! You can walk on it after 24 hours and replace furniture after 72, but a full cure is 7 days. Part of the reason I did this early was to give it the full week. And now, it looks like this!

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I’m really pleased with how easy this whole process was. It took time to tape out the pattern and apply the second color, but in general this is a super easy, very beginner friendly project and a great way to update outdated tile.

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The pattern isn’t quite perfect. There are slight variations in angles and triangle sizes due to tape placement varying a bit throughout, but Justin and I both agree that it’s perfectly imperfect in a way that makes it seem intentional.

In terms of holding up, I am really pleased! When we went to take the doors off the cabinets, one slipped from Justin’s hand and crashed to the floor and not one speck of paint chipped off. Definitely passed the durability test!

I’m thrilled with the product and happy with the end result…although one thing keeps nagging at me.

Remember when I was choosing between two different taped out patterns? I chose the one with the smaller tiles because I wanted the pattern to feel subtle. I didn’t want to overwhelm the tiles or have the pattern scream TRIANGLES (if that makes any sense?) plus my inspiration image used smaller triangles (although I also recognize that the tiles themselves were smaller too).

The more I look at the tile, the more I don’t like how much white space there is. It seems to dominate, and while it does look nice, it pulls apart the pattern between tiles and doesn’t quite pull off the look I was going for. I decided to go back over a few tiles and make the triangles slightly bigger to see how it would look and I chose the few tiles by the door that I know will always be covered by a mat in the future.

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See how the three tiles in front of the door, and the first line in the second row of tiles have slightly bigger triangles? This is the size they would have been if I went with the other taped out pattern I was considering. Truthfully, I like this better! The size seems better for the tile and I think it would have made the overall pattern look more like I had envisioned. Having larger triangles doesn’t overwhelm the tile like I worried it would. I would absolutely be willing to go back over everything and just make the triangles slightly bigger throughout the flooring but, I also noticed that the variations in triangle sizes and angles are more obvious with the bigger triangles. With less white space as a  buffer, the imperfections are more evident and I don’t think I like that.

So all that to say, for now, I am choosing to stick with the pattern I already have on the floor. If I could go back in time, I would have gone with the other taped pattern to make bigger triangles to fit proportionally with the size of tile and just been very precise with taping out. As things stand, I’m choosing to be happy with the way the pattern looks now. I still really like it and am happy with the improvement!

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I’m a long ways from done with this room, but I’m so excited for the progress so far!

 

 

Mother’s Day 2020

I’m still smiling after this past weekend. It was just the best!

Justin had the day off Friday and he spent the whole time working outside getting all the yard work done so that he would have the entire weekend free to be with the kids. He came in with a bouquet of flowers Friday afternoon – he said he wanted to give them to me early so I could enjoy them the whole weekend. So thoughtful!

Sunday morning, after Violet woke up and I fed her, Justin took her and insisted I get back in bed to sleep in a bit. Sleep is truly such a gift these days and I so appreciated the extra time!

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When I finally got downstairs after sleeping in (and getting my bowl of cereal delivered in bed), I came down to the sweetest gifts.

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Heartfelt cards, a few yummy treats, and a rubber tree I asked for. Just perfect ❤

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Both Saturday and Sunday were a wonderful blend of time to myself and time with my family. Justin encouraged me to do whatever I wanted, and he fully took over the meals and taking care of the kids. I got to spend time working on a few projects (re-potting my new plant, finishing off a DIY frame, and getting more work done on the basement kitchen) and relaxing by catching up on reading, listening to podcasts, and just resting.

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I also got some snuggles and fun moments with my kids, and it was extra enjoyable because I felt refreshed and taken care of.

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I think part of the reason this was such an enjoyable holiday for me was because I talked with Justin in advance about what I wanted. I told him I would love some time to myself. I also said I didn’t care if we ate take-out or if he made meals, but I did not want to have to prepare a meal (we got take-out Saturday and he cooked a delicious dinner on Sunday).

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And I took the guess work out of gift-giving by saying I wanted a plant from my friend’s small business. I gave him the website and directed him to the exact plant I wanted. He asked if I could just order it and I said no, then it wouldn’t feel like a gift. Haha!

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There was a time where I wouldn’t have been so clear with my expectations. I would have just wanted him to surprise me with something but not been specific about what I wanted. It was stressful for him and frustrating for me if I felt disappointed by whatever he chose to do. I finally realized that it might not feel like a romantic notion to say “here’s what I would like” but it makes things SO much better. He was thrilled to know exactly what to do and not have to guess or worry and I was happy to have my needs heard and met. I felt so appreciated and loved and the fact that it wasn’t all a “surprise” didn’t affect me at all. He still threw in a few unexpected treats that I wasn’t expecting and that all just felt like an awesome bonus. I thanked him several times for a great weekend – he listened to my desires and made it happen for me. I felt so well taken care of!

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There was a time when I wasn’t sure when I would be a mom. After our first pregnancy was ectopic and ended in a traumatic rupture and the removal of one Fallopian tube, I felt so hopeless and sad. I prayed so many prayers and cried so many tears with each passing month of not getting pregnant. I do not take a moment of the life I have now for granted and I’m so profoundly grateful for these babies who call me mama. Mother’s Day is now a joyful celebration for me, but I still remember the time when it wasn’t. If this holiday is a struggle for you due to longing or loss, you are not alone and I was thinking of you yesterday too.  I truly hope that my journey can give you hope that your story isn’t finished ❤

One Room Challenge Week One: The Plan for the Basement Kitchen

The One Room Challenge (ORC) is a bi-annual challenge where twenty featured designers choose a room in their house to focus on renovating and finishing in a six week timeline. Because of the pandemic, this year’s challenge got postponed to May and the timeline is extended to eight weeks. The ORC always encourages guest participants to join in and I have decided to participate this time around!

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I love that this is not a competition, but a way for everyone from top interior designers to little amateur DIYers like myself to inspire and encourage one another as they work to transform a space in a focused amount of time. I’m excited to join in and work on renovating . . .

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. . . our basement kitchen!

The Space

We love to entertain and host events, so this basement space was a huge selling point for Justin and I when we bought the house last year. The basement level is mostly comprised of a large, open-concept living space and this kitchen, although it does also have our guest bedroom + bathroom. There is potential for this level to be its own living quarters as an in-law suite or space for an adult child living at home, but for the foreseeable future we will use it as a gathering space for hosting friends and family. To the right of the kitchen is a door leading directly to our patio and pond, so it is definitely going to get a lot of use, especially in the summertime.

Truthfully, there are a lot of things I would love to change about this kitchen. The half wall + ledge along the refrigerator side of the kitchen isn’t ideal but it has to be there because it is part of the house foundation (that side of the house is built into a hill, while the other sides are not). I have a several ideas for larger projects that would make this space more functional and visually appealing and would love to completely re-work the layout, replace the tile, upgrade the appliances, the whole shebang. Since this not our primary kitchen though, I just cannot justify allocating a substantial budget to remodeling the space. It doesn’t make sense to pour a ton of money into a full remodel when there are many other rooms in the house that I want to address that we’ll use more often.

That being said, since this will be a major entertaining space, I don’t want it to feel dated. I want it to feel cozy and welcoming for our guests. I want it to feel like a reflection of us and fit in with the rest of our home. I want to freshen it up and make it shine, I just don’t want to spend a fortune doing that.

So I’m putting my own little spin on the ORC and issuing myself this challenge: incorporate budget-friendly cosmetic upgrades and DIY changes that are high impact but low cost.

The Plan

Flooring: I actually have already worked on the flooring and upgraded our boring tan tiles using the power of paint! I used a Rustoleum system that required 7 days to fully cure, and I wanted to get that out of the way before I started working in the kitchen so I completed this last week and the floors finished curing yesterday. I plan to write up a blog post on the process I used so look for that next week, but in the meantime, here’s a peek at the new floors:

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Cabinets: The cabinets are in good shape, but I don’t love the wood tones. My plan is to give them a dramatic face lift by painting them a dark, moody color and upgrading the hardware on them.

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I also want to make the space feel larger by removing the awkward single upper cabinet to the left of the sink and replacing it with artwork or possibly a small floating shelf.

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Walls: That burnt orange needs to go!

Countertops: This is the item that is the most up in the air. I really dislike the counter tops, but my options for upgrading are limited with my budget. I may try a simple upgrade like painting them, or I may go for a DIY counter top option using butcherblock or even concrete. Or perhaps I’ll just learn to deal with them as is. I need to wait and see how the rest of the kitchen comes together before making a decision about them, but I would really like to do something.

Remove trim around the half wall: The half wall + ledge extends through the whole length of the side of the basement, and while there’s nothing I can do about its existence, I can make it look a little more modern by ripping off the decorative trim on either side of the ledge and creating a cleaner, more streamlined overall look.  I’ve already removed it from the living area ( wrote a blog post here about the process) and I plan to follow the same steps in the kitchen.

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Replace window trim: I want to change the look of the windows with a chunkier trim to match what we did in the guest bedroom and plan to enlist Justin’s help with this. 😉

Finishing touches: Different barstools, some artwork, maybe a patterned runner . . . just a few little touches that finish off the space and make it feel complete and not like an afterthought kitchen.

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The Challenges

Two big challenges with this project: the budget and the fact that I’m a stay at home mom to a 2.5 year old and an 8 month old. My goal is to spend $1500 or less on this entire project. That feels like a lot but is actually not much $ for a kitchen renovation. I really believe I can make a big impact on this space without blowing a ton of money! I think this will also challenge me to learn to love the space we have – it’s not going to be a brand new, shiny kitchen that was gutted to the studs and replaced with the best of the best, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be a great space when I’m done!

The fact that I’m going to attempt to do this as a stay-at-home mama to two very small children is no small thing. My kids are both in pretty needy stages of life, and they are definitely not at a stage where I can leave them unattended for more than a few minutes. The current pandemic means I don’t have the option to have my babysitter come over or swap childcare with a friend. This makes it tricky to get things done, but not impossible. I have built up confidence over the last few small projects I’ve tackled (our DIY date night, our basement updates, the height wall in the garage, this dresser makeover, the secret nook under the stairs, the scalloped accent wall in Vi’s room, the painted tile floors in this very kitchen) to feel like I’m ready to take on a bigger scale project with my kids at home. I know that I can get things accomplished in the small windows of time throughout the day, particularly if I utilize time well during nap time and after bedtime. I just need to stay flexible and keep my expectations managed: there will be days I can’t make a dual nap happen or someone wakes up early or is feeling sick and needs extra snuggles, etc. so I will just need to roll with the punches and know there will be days where I don’t accomplish much in the kitchen.

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I’m really excited for this project and hope you’ll follow along with the transformation over the next eight weeks! And you can also see the other participants and their rooms by checking out the One Room Challenge blog. I think this will be fun!