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.