DIY Painted Counter Tops

I’m still pinching myself over the basement kitchen transformation I shared earlier this week – I am so in love with the new look of the space! One of the things that made a huge difference in this renovation was updating the counter tops. Today I’m sharing the process I used to take these counter tops from a lackluster dated pattern to a clean, fresh marble look. The process seemed intimidating at first, but it was actually surprisingly easy to do!

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After installing the butcher block counter top for the island, I decided I wanted to keep that as an accent look and not continue butcher block all the way around the kitchen. I looked into replacing the counter tops with a faux marble laminate, but the estimate came back at around $1800-2000 and I was not about to spend that much on this renovation. I decided instead to proceed with the same simple, budget-friendly tool I had already used to update the tiles, walls, and cabinets: paint!

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The previous counters were brown and had a pressed leaf patterned look to them, which was not exactly the look I was going for here.

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I ordered this marble paint kit for just under $200 total with tax (and free shipping), and while that it not an insignificant amount of money, it is a heck of a lot cheaper than $2,000. I appreciated that the kit came with everything I needed to complete the project except for painter’s tape, which I already had.

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The first thing I needed to do was remove all existing caulk around the counter top and sink area and scrub the counter with an SOS pad. After wiping it down and taping off around the counter with painter’s tape, I was ready to paint. I used the included sponge brush to edge and the roller to cover the counter top with their white base primer. I applied a base coat, waited four hours, and applied a second coat.

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At this point, I realized that the counters were VERY white. The rest of the kitchen has a lot of warmer tones and the starkness of a cool, bright white counter top was just too much. I waited until morning to see how it looked fully dry and in natural light, and it was still a touch too bright. I had enough base primer for one more coat and I decided to veer from the kit’s instructions and try to tint and tone down the color a bit. I used baby food jars to try out different combinations of paint using the base primer, my wall paint, and the included gray paint for veining.

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I finally settled on a proportion of base primer + gray paint that felt right, crossed my fingers, and mixed up the combination in a larger scale with the rest of my base primer.

 

The change was very very subtle but just enough to take us from Colgate Toothpaste advertisement white to a slightly less shocking white hue. It was really hard to document the change on camera, but if you look closely in the corner where the counter top meets the backsplash, you can see a little bit of the original white that I missed when I put on the second coat. I was much happier with the slightly subdued new shade! I applied one full coat with the new color and made sure to touch up every area before letting it dry overnight.

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The next day I was ready to create the veins for a marble look. I put everything I needed on a paper plate so it would be easy to move along the counter top and not drip paint where I didn’t want it. For this step, I used the gray veining paint, small artist brush, spray bottle filled with water, angled brush, and a paper towel for blotting.

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I would highly recommend watching this video tutorial produced by Giani before attempting this step. It was so helpful to me to see exactly how veins are produced and the type of veins that look natural. The thought of drawing veins was intimidating to me, but it actually was quite easy. I just used the tiny brush to draw a slanted line, sprayed it with water to make the paint bleed, and then feathered the wet paint out to give it a lighter, blurred look. I used the paper towel to dab extra moisture and also soak up excess paint to achieve a faded look.

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I finished the major veins first, then drew on the edges and backsplash, and finished with “ghost” veins, which are smaller, more faded veins. I tried not to do too many, as I wanted a somewhat simple and clean look. If I ever started a line that I didn’t like, I could just spray more water on it, wipe it off, and try again! As long as the paint was wet, it was very easy to work with and fix. The kit also came with a white highlight paint to add texture by lightly dabbing on the paint with a sponge. I used this maybe in 3-4 places where the gray lines were a bit thicker, but I did not really utilize this optional step.

After letting all the veins dry four hours, it was time for the final step: epoxy. We first taped off every surface and appliance and attached the included plastic drop cloths to the bottom of the counter with painter’s tape to protect the cabinets and floors from any drips.

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Epoxy can be finicky and messy, so I would recommend this step happen when you have dedicated time to focus. While it can be done by one person, I would highly recommend doing it with two people. Justin and I worked together on this step after our kids went to bed and I was so thankful to be able to tag team! The instructions recommend setting aside four hours for this step but it only took us two hours working together.

The kit includes epoxy resin + activator in three small batches. This is because once the two are mixed together, you have about a 30 minute window to apply before it starts to set and harden. Smaller batches allow you to get good coverage with each section without rushing too much to try to cover the entire counter.

Justin mixed up the first batch of resin + applicator (it needs to be stirred continuously for exactly 3 minutes and 15 seconds before applying). He then poured it over about a 7 foot stretch of counter in a Z formation (the kit recommends a 6 foot run, but we needed to stretch it just a little to cover everything). He used the included brush to apply epoxy to the backsplash and edges and I used the roller to smooth it out over the counter top. Since brushing took longer than rolling, when I finished with the rolling, I would start mixing and stirring the next batch of epoxy while Justin finished brushing. By the time the epoxy was adequately stirred, he was finished with his section and we started on the next one. We continued this process over the whole counter, and we had to continuously go back over our work to check for drips, pools in the corners, and missed sections.

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Once we were totally satisfied with how it looked, we went to bed (it was past 11 pm). I needed to set an alarm to wake up in an hour to come down and remove the tape – you need to give it enough time for the epoxy to set but not fully harden before removing the tape. At that time, I also smoothed the drips along the bottom edge of the counter and went back to sleep. When we woke up, it was finished!

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The high gloss shine definitely took the look to the next level! The epoxy takes 48 hours to harden for light use and 7 days to fully cure. After about 40 hours (I got impatient haha), I went over the counter top edges and around the sink with a clear silicone caulk to finish it off.

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We did have some friends over for an outdoor, socially-distanced picnic two days later and we used the counters to set food on and they held up perfectly. It was fun to see people’s reactions – they couldn’t believe the counters were painted!

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The counter tops are far from perfect and there are a few areas where I wish I had done a vein a little differently, but overall I am so happy with how they turned out! Will anyone ever think this is real marble? Of course not. But it does look like a new laminate and I think it really upgraded the look of the counters without a high cost. Win!

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One thing I would do differently if I were to do this again is try to complete the epoxy step during the day. We did it at night after the kids went down because that’s when we both had the time to focus, but I wish we had asked my mom to come watch them during the day so we could do it with good, natural lighting. With only artificial light at night, there were a few places where we didn’t see a tiny missed spot with no epoxy or an imperfection like a small piece of lint that settled in the top and we didn’t pick out. These are very slight surface imperfections, but I think we would have caught them under natural light.

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Another benefit to doing it during the day is – you are awake to monitor the drying. I went to bed after taking off all the tape. At the time, I ran the brush over all the bottom edges again to make sure they were smooth and had no drips. Overnight, the epoxy continued to drip down a bit and it caused a bumpy, uneven look in some areas underneath the counter (in the picture below, look at the counter above the left corner of the dishwasher). We still hope to be able to sand these little bumps down for a smoother finish, but if I had done this during waking hours, I could have just lightly gone back over it with a brush every 30 minutes or so until it hardened to keep the edge nice and smooth.

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Overall, I’m really happy with the process and I’m thrilled with the outcome.  I found this to be a fairly easy DIY and I would definitely recommend this brand of paint kit for the job. They also have less expensive kits that give a granite look that I also think could look really nice in a space. If there’s a counter top in your house you just don’t like but you’re not ready to fully replace, painting is a perfect way to refresh a space without a ton of time or money. Go for it!

 

 

 

 

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I would HIGHLY recommend using a paint kit. I used this one but

One Room Challenge: The Finished Kitchen!

After two months full of renovating, I am absolutely thrilled to say that THE BASEMENT KITCHEN IS FINISHED!

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I started this project as part of the One Room Challenge and due to unexpected delays (hello mold) and a week off for our family vacation, I got it done just as the challenge ends today. Whew!

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Before I dig deep into the finished space, let’s revisit where we started two months ago.

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We were thrilled that the house had a full kitchen in the basement for guests and entertaining, but it was definitely a little lackluster and a lotta orange. I set out to transform this kitchen while sticking to a small budget of $1500 max, and while I knew the space had potential, the final result is even better than my wildest dreams.

The first project I tackled was painting the tile floors. I used a special paint made for flooring from Rustoleum and a whole lot of painter’s tape to create a simple patterned look and I love it! To read more about the process, you can check out this blog post. So far, the paint has held up really well and only needed some small touch ups after the drywall guys were not careful moving the stove.

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Next up were the cabinets. Justin and I first chose to completely remove the single cabinet that was in between the sink and the window. We still have plenty of storage and this really helped open up the room a little bit more. It actually seems bigger without that cabinet blocking the way!

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After removing all cabinet doors, drawer fronts, and hardware, deglossing and priming every surface, and debating color choices for a few days, I finally painted them Rock Bottom by HGTV Home by Sherwin Williams. It’s the perfect moody gray/green chameleon color and I love it so much! I chose a high quality paint so I only needed one gallon (and I still have paint to spare). You can read more about the painting process in this blog post. I did place these bumpers behind each door and drawer to keep the painted surfaces from sticking to one another and pulling off the paint. So far, everything has held up well!

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As for cabinet hardware, I wanted to change things up a bit from the previous look. I wanted the door handles to be single knobs instead of handles, so I used wood filler to fill in the extra holes and then painted over them – the holes are now practically invisible unless you know where to look for them. I found these knobs for the doors and these bin pulls for the drawers and I love the combined look!

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When it came time for counter tops, I had to make some big decisions. In order to stay within budget, replacing all the counter tops was not an option, but I knew I wanted to at least replace the top of the “island” (it’s technically not an island but just go with it). The previous owners had created extra counter space by wrapping the laminate around to the wall to create a small ledge. While I can appreciate the function of this, I wasn’t a fan of the look, and I knew we wouldn’t miss that bit of counter space. Plus, without the ledge in the way, we would have room for three stools instead of two and that was going to be way more functional for our purposes anyways. There was no way to remove just that extra ledge of laminate, so we removed the whole thing and created an accent island look with a butcher block counter top.

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We got the butcher block counter top from Menard’s and I ADORE IT. It is exactly what I hoped for and I love the look so much. We did hit some major hiccups through this process though and it became quite the saga (mold behind old paneling, wonky cabinets that needed moving, tile needing to be cut away…) If you want to read more about how this transformation took shape you can read about it in this blog post.

Since I couldn’t replace the rest of the counter tops, I decided to paint them instead. I ordered this kit to create the look of marble and while it certainly isn’t cheap, it came with absolutely everything needed to complete the project and it was still MUCH cheaper than replacing (the quote for new laminate came back at nearly $2000 including install, while this paint kit was just under $200. I’ll take that savings!)

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I plan to write an entire blog post hopefully later this week that shows the process of painting the counter tops, but for now, I will just say that it was not at all as complicated as I expected and while it is far from perfect, I am very happy with the results. It really feels like I have new counters!

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Now, no one would walk in to this kitchen and think that I got real marble installed, but I really do think it looks convincingly like I got new marble laminate. It is definitely better than the brown, pressed leaf pattern that was there previously so I am counting this as a major win. Stay tuned for a post with all the details!

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We also replaced all the baseboards and window trim in the kitchen. I wrote all about the DIY window trim we (okay, mostly Justin) installed and you can read about it here. I just wanted a simple trim that framed our gorgeous view of the outdoors without distracting from it and this was perfect.

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The sink faucets got upgraded as well. There were previously two faucets: the main one for filtered water and the little one for unfiltered well water (preference for the previous owner). The main faucet was replaced by this gorgeous matte black one, which I bought from the new and used options for a small discount, and we closed off the well water faucet hookup and installed a matte black soap pump for dishwashing soap instead.

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I tried not to buy a ton of new decor for the space and instead shopped my own house for plants, art, towels, and other decor to put the finishing touches on. With the exception of this vintage floral print from BFF Print shop, I already had all of the framed artwork. I loved taking off the extra trim and using this ledge (where the house foundation is) as a functional place to stack lots of art and plants. It feels extra special because the artwork is all personal!

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From left to right: a print I picked up in an adorable bookshop in Venice, Italy, Justin and I on our engagement hike, a recipe written by my great-great grandmother (and namesake!), pineapples symbolize welcome and are a nod to my favorite TV show – if you know, you know!, a little print I hand wrote, and a picture from my travels to the Himalayan mountains in India)

Overall, I could not be happier with how this kitchen turned out. I poured tons of hours and a lot of hard work into this and really had to stretch myself to solve some problems and come up with budget-friendly DIY solutions. I also have to give a huge shout out to Justin for all his help with many of my projects – he is so awesome! I’m so proud of how we made this kitchen come to life AND I’m extra proud that we stayed within budget. The grand total for this entire renovation was $1,494.27!! I am doing a happy dance over here!

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I could go on and on about this space, but I’ll leave you with this. If there’s a change you want to make to your home, I encourage you to go for it! There were a lot of things with this project that I had never done before, and it can be intimidating to try new things, but you don’t know what you can do until you TRY. And while I stand by the fact that you can transform a room without a huge budget, even a teeny tiny budget can make a difference. Have $100? Try swapping out cabinet hardware. Have $30? Try painting the walls. Have $5? Scour your local thrift stores for a piece or two of decor to spruce up your space. It doesn’t have to be the biggest, fanciest, best renovation possible. I have been discouraged before watching people transform rooms and they gut it down to the studs and completely remodel everything. While that’s great, and I certainly hope to do that with a few rooms in our house, it’s very expensive and therefore not always a realistic option. But even if you can’t do everything, you can do SOMETHING. And each little thing you do can help you fall more and more in love with your home. ❤

Sources + Budget Breakdown

Flooring

Rustoleum Home Floor Paint (Steam Gray & Haven Gray base coats; Top Coat): $160.44

Delicate Surface Painter’s Tape (6 rolls): $57.59

Misc supplies (rollers, Krud Kutter, etc.): $31.22

Cabinets

Kilz 2 Primer (already had – I buy a 3.5 gallon bucket at a time because I use this for so many projects!)

Liquid Deglosser: $8.53

Showcase Paint (in Rock Bottom by HGTV HOME by Sherwin Williams): $41.71

Hardware (cabinet knobs, drawer pulls): $99.90

Bumpers: $6.69

Paneling for island: $22.02

Counters

Butcher Block: $212.93

Giani Marble Paint Kit: $192.55

Misc Materials

Lumber for Window Trim: $36.02

Baseboards: $32.36

Wall Paint (Sherwin Williams Alabaster in Eggshell): $28.86

Window + Baseboard Trim (Sherwin Williams Alabaster in Satin): already had from previous project

Dish Soap Pump: $23.53

Faucet: $64.96 (bought from new/used)

Caulk: $7.89

Wood Filler: $5.33

Brushes: $12.79

Rollers: $4.98

Decoranything not listed below was either thrifted or I previously owned!

Counter stools: $284.60

Rug: $83.67

Clock: $25.48

Hand Soap Dispenser: $10.18 (used antique gold rub n buff to change silver to gold!)

Goldenrod faux plant: $20.04

Vintage floral art Print: $15 digital download + $5 printing

GRAND TOTAL: $1,494.27

*Note: we did not factor in the cost of having to hire drywallers to repair the mold because that was a repair our home needed (multiple areas of drywall needed repaired, not just in the kitchen) and that cost came out of a separate home maintenance fund. This is why it’s so important to have money set aside as a homeowner – you never know what will pop up!

 

 

One Room Challenge Week Seven: Final Details!

With just one week left in the One Room Challenge, we are down to just finishing up final details in the basement kitchen!

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One of the biggest changes this room has seen was the updated “island” (which if we’re being technicalis really a peninsula) with a butcher block counter top. Monday’s blog post was all about the process for installing and sealing the butcher block and I’m incredibly happy with how it turned out.

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As I stated in Monday’s post, even though I had hoped to also address the rest of the counter tops during this challenge, they are going to stay for now. I felt like I was trying to rush into a decision just for the sake of the ORC timeline, but choosing something I love is more important than finishing within this pre-determined window. I’m waiting on an estimate to come back for an inexpensive laminate or my other option is to paint them, but in the meantime, Justin and I both agree that with all other aspects of the kitchen improved, we don’t mind the old counter tops nearly as much (but they’re still going eventually ha!)

Another thing that got me really excited this week was the arrival of our bar stools.

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I searched and searched and searched for something that worked in this space and met all our many requirements. Justin didn’t want a back but I did, so we compromised on finding ones with a lower back. I wanted clean, simple lines with just a touch of detail: modern, yet classic. Not too bulky so we could fit three across comfortably. Oh yeah . . . and we did not want to spend $200-300+ per stool (this part was actually the hardest requirement – bar stools are so expensive!) Finally I found these and they are perfect!

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I love the thin metal frame and the simple line detail. They complement the space just right and they are pretty comfortable too! And now that we don’t have that strange extra counter running along the wall, we can fit three across instead of two which makes it more functional for entertaining. Remember when it looked like this?

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I’m so glad those days are done. 😉

Justin has been working on a lot of other little details throughout the space too. This week he finished swapping out all the old beige light switches and outlets for white ones (such a little thing, such a huge difference) and last night he was able to swap out our old sink faucet for this gorgeous matte black one.

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I also went around yesterday and touched up the painted tiles. These tiles have held up really well so far against normal foot traffic, but there were two areas that have sustained damage. The area in front of the island got nicked when we were moving the base cabinet and needed a small touch up, and then the area in front of the stove got really destroyed by the drywall guys when they moved out the stove.

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This was super frustrating because I was able to carefully move the stove back into place by myself with no damage to the floor so I feel like to men should’ve been able to do it too. Sigh.

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I ordered a set of small brushes and went around last night touching up each area and it is back to looking great!

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There are only a few items left on our to-do list in this kitchen, and most of them can be summed up in this picture:

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Just a few pieces of trim and baseboards, some touch up paint and caulk, and we’re adding a dish soap dispenser where the small spigot used to be. I also have a few pieces of artwork and decor I want to arrange and then we’ll be done with this renovation. I can hardly believe it – we are so very close!

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Next week, the ORC challenge will end and final rooms will be revealed from June 25-July 5. I will actually be on vacation with my family next week, so I will have a big final reveal post when I come back from vacation. In the meantime, you can check out other room reveals on the ORC Blog!

DIY Butcher Block Countertops

Over the weekend, Justin and I teamed up to finish a big project in the basement kitchen: our new butcher block counter top!

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And because I’m a sucker for a good before-and-after, here’s a refresher on what this looked like before we started:

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My parents took LJ for the weekend so we had lots of time to work on this project. If you caught my Week Four Renovation Update, you know that actually removing the old counters was pretty easy but we then realized the cabinets were not installed square to the wall. That would have been okay, except the pre-made counter top we bought was not quite long enough to reach one corner of the cabinet since it was angled further away from the wall. This meant we were going to have to move the old cabinets closer to the wall.

To provide more counter space, the previous owners had used a panel in front of the cabinet to make the base seem larger. We wanted to keep as much counter space as possible, so we decided to only move the cabinet enough for the counter to reach the end with a little overhang. Once we finally got the cabinet off and out of the way, Justin used an angle grinder to cut away about 1/2 inch of tile on the floor. He also sealed up the cracks that were in the concrete underneath using a silicone caulk.

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The previous owners had screwed a board directly into the concrete and then screwed the cabinet to that board to keep things super sturdy. Instead of drilling into the concrete, Justin used epoxy through the drill holes to fasten the board back to the concrete.

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This worked really well and provided a very sturdy place to attach the base cabinet. Once it was dry, we set the cabinet back on top and Justin screwed the cabinet into the board from the side of the cabinet.

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Since the cabinet didn’t actually touch the wall, we also created a small frame to connect the cabinet to the wall and provide sturdiness on the other side.

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Justin used a circular saw to cut a thin plywood panel for the front of the cabinet and attached it to the cabinets using small brad nails.

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Then it was time to finally place the counter top! We bought this one from Menard’s – we wanted the widest one because we plan to have stools for seating and treat it like an island. This was the perfect size! Justin first pre-drilled holes into the cabinet itself to make it a little easier to attach once it was on.

We set it on top and got it exactly where we wanted it, then Justin screwed the counter top directly in to the cabinet. While he did that, I painted the front panel the same color as the rest of the cabinets – HGTV Home by Sherwin Williams Rock Bottom in Satin.

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Once the counter top was on and the panel was painted, Justin got to work adding the baseboards and quarter round and I worked on sealing the counter. I wanted a really natural looking finish and decided against staining the wood first. To seal the counters, I chose a simple method with a tung oil finish. This is actually a product we’ve had for several years and since buying it, the brand has moved to Miniwax.

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After wiping down the counter with tack cloth, I used a clean cloth to apply the tung oil and rubbed it in using a circular motion. I let the first coat dry overnight, then ‘sanded’ it using super fine steel wool. I used the tack cloth to pick up all the steel wool shavings, and then repeated the process two more times. After three coats total, the counters have a gorgeous finish!

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There are a lot of different methods out there for sealing butcher block counter tops and I’m sure there are better ways to increase durability. This is not our main kitchen so these counters will not be subject to the daily grind of 3 meals a day and will instead get used when we have larger gatherings or host visitors. Because of this, I wasn’t super concerned with getting the absolute best and most durable option for sealing. I anticipate a few nicks and scratches over the years but 1) I actually like the character that brings and 2) if it doesn’t look good, the beauty of butcher block is we can sand them down and refinish them later! In our first house after getting married, our kitchen didn’t have much counter space so Justin made me a wooden island and this is the sealing process we used – it held up well through lots of baking adventures and food prep so I’m feeling confident that it will work for this counter too but again, if not, we can sand it down and try something else later.

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As for the rest of the counters, they have been one big question mark this whole project. I’m really trying to keep this renovation budget-friendly, so stone is out of the question. I’ve been debating painting the existing counters, replacing with another budget-friendly laminate, or continuing the butcher block look. Even though I’m doing this kitchen for the One Room Challenge and that ends in less than 2 weeks, I didn’t want to rush this decision. I like a good mood board or Pinterest inspiration, but I always prefer to just be in a space and get a true feel for what I want. I almost always regret making a decision  and buying something too early in the process, so I like to make decision as the space comes together. This makes for a slower, but more intentional renovation.

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I wanted to wait until the butcher block counter was installed to get a feel for what I wanted for the other counters. Once this butcher block was in place, I immediately knew I did not want to continue the butcher block with the rest. I love it as a kind of accent “island!” This leaves painting or replacing with another laminate. Because of COVID-19, everything is delayed. The paint kit I want takes at least 2 weeks to arrive and the laminate estimate is taking a couple weeks to come back (and then would take 4-5 weeks to be fabricated and ready). I found myself initially wanting to rush the process and make a decision for the sake of the ORC timeline, but honestly, that’s not the most important thing right now. I want to love the final result and if that means waiting a little longer to get it right, so be it. So for now, I’m going to wait for the laminate estimate and continue to just spend time in the space and hone my vision for it.

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I still need to run a line of clear silicone caulk around the edge of the counter by the wall, which I plan to do during nap time today, and then it will be 100% finished. After that I’ll probably spend the rest of nap time just staring at it – haha! Seriously though, it’s just so beautiful and I love when my vision for a space comes together just like I imagined! ❤

One Week Challenge Week 5 & 6: DIY Window Trim

Another week of the One Room Challenge is complete!

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We were making good progress on this project until we hit a major obstacle in Week Four: mold. When we ripped off the paneling on the half wall and discovered mold, we knew we needed it to be taken care of by professionals.

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Another thing we got slightly held up on was due to an outlet. Previously, there was just a 3 inch casing around each window. I wanted to install a chunkier trim but one of the outlets was too close to the window, so we couldn’t install the window trim until this was moved to make room.

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My grandpa is extremely handy and has done electrical work in the past, so he and my dad came out one day last week to shift the outlet over a few inches.

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He also split the outlet and added another one behind the stove. Previously, the stove had to be plugged in using one of the above-the-counter outlets, which just wasn’t very visually appealing. Now it can get plugged in without the cord showing!

We were kind of at a standstill for a while waiting on these few little projects to get finished. Last week we had drywall guys come out and they tore all the mold and replaced the drywall, and we also had them patch the hole left by the outlet.

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They finished up the jobs on Monday and we were back in business. I painted the new drywall and we were finally ready to start on the window trim.

DIY Window Trim

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I wanted to go with a chunky craftsman-style trim with clean, simple lines and we decided to DIY it using some basic lumber.

Materials + Tools Needed:

  • 1 x 4 board (we used one total)
  • 1 x 2 boards (we used two)
  • 1 x 3 boards (we used three)
  • primer
  • paint
  • angled brush
  • nail gun
  • miter saw
  • wood filler
  • sandpaper
  • silicone caulk

I decided to paint all the boards first, which I did by simply laying them down on saw horses inside. I used one coat of primer and two coats of Sherwin Williams Alabaster in Satin.  (I did have a drop cloth underneath when I actually painted, but I moved it before I remembered to take the picture).

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Justin used his miter saw to cut each board to the correct length. We ended up choosing to install the boards from top down: we started with the top horizontal board, then the two vertical boards boards. We used 1 x 3’s for the top and sides of each window and attached them with a nail gun (I would also recommend using a level – this helped us make sure each board was perfectly straight!)

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To attach the bottom boards, we first held the 1 x 2 in place on its side. Instead of having it end flush with the vertical boards, I wanted a little overhang so Justin cut it long. It ended up sticking out 7/8″ on each side. I would worry less about an exact measurement (like wanting exactly one inch overhang) and more about making sure it sticks out the same amount on each side.

While I held the still-unattached 1 x 2 in place, Justin held up the 1 x 4 underneath and got it right where we wanted it. He nailed the 1 x 4 to the wall, then turned the nail gun 90 degrees and nailed the 1 x 2 down into the 1 x 4. We chose this method because it was easier to ensure that the nail didn’t accidentally go in the 1 x 2 slightly angled and come through the top of the board.

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Of course, nothing in this house is simple, so we did run into some technical challenges with the second window. The cabinet was too close to the window to accommodate the full width of the trim, so Justin had to cut out a notch for the trim to fit.

In addition, the trim was too thick and we couldn’t fully open the cabinet door, so Justin ran each board through the planer (he planed the unpainted sides) to take off about 1/8 inch on all the boards. The extra steps were annoying, but they paid off because the trim fits perfectly and we can fully open the cabinet door!

Once the trim was finally in place, (and once I had primed and painted the window sills, which I could have done at any point in this process) I used wood filler and a putty knife to fill in all the nail holes. I like using this filler because it dries super quickly!

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After about 15 minutes, I just lightly sanded each spot and it was ready for paint. I painted over all the wood filler and the edges where the boards had been cut, as well as over anything that got scuffed up in the installation process (the boards that had been planed needed some TLC touch ups!)

Once all the paint was dry, I used caulk to fill in the edges, reinstalled the blinds . . .ORC Window-6

… and voila!

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Look at the trim that we had to plane – it fit perfectly next to the cabinet!

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The trim color and wall color are actually the same, just different sheens. I wanted the trim to have just a little detail but keep clean, simple lines and not take too much focus, because I want the gorgeous view to be the focus.

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I’m super happy with how this trim turned out! Here’s a before and after from the original kitchen to where we are now. HUGE difference!

A few things remaining on our to-do list: reinstall the peninsula cabinet and the new counter top, replace the sink faucet, swap all the outlets for white ones, plus all the little touch-ups and caulk we’ll need for the finishing touches. It’s coming together!

If you’re interested in checking out some of the other rooms people are renovating for the One Room Challenge, you can check them out here. We’ve got two weeks left!

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!

 

 

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!

 

 

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!