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A Little Dirt in the Skirt.

March 21, 2012

I am hands down a prepster but I can definitely get down and dirty with the best of them.  On Monday I mentioned how I filled my weekend ‘flower withdrawl’ by running to Lowes and buying a small amount of flowers  and ferns (found here).  When I took the pups out after work last night those darn black falts of blooming Dianthus flowers just kept staring at me.  It was an unexpected, awesome 88 degree afternoon, so I said “why not’?  I tackled those blooming flowers into the moist ground and got a little dirty along the way.

At the beginning of last summer the landscaping on the right side of our house looked like this: circa 1964 Yews and Boxwoods.

I put a little dirt in the skirt and removed those god awful Yews and cut back the way over grown boxwoods with the help of my lopping shears.

I couldn’t find Dianthus flowers to match what was already planted along the landscape bricks so for the time being I used some random annual flowers from Lowes until I could replant this year.

They were an absolutely beautiful flower (I can’t remember what they were called) but the fact that they don’t come back year after year is a major boo in my book.  After the  annuals died this winter (and I bought new patio furniture in case you noticed from the old picture above) I was left with this hot mess in the front bed.  (And yes, I have a cement pug that watches over my flower, nerd alert, I know).

And a close up in case you can’t really see the ugliness from your computer monitor.

Hence the reason for buying these beauties on Sunday.

Although these flowers are already in bloom they will eventually match what I currently have planted, outlining all of our flower beds. I use potting soil and Lesco 12-12-12 fertilizer when planting every plant or shrub.

Fertilizer is identified by numbers indicating the percent of each nutrient that is contained in the product.  Most fertilizer has a 3 number identification, such 12-12-12 (like I use).  These 3 numbers refer to the percentages of the major nutrients: Nitrogen, Phosphate, and Potash.  So a bag of 12-12-12 fertilizer contains 12% nitrogen, 12% phosphate and 12% potash (stuff I’ve learned from my father, the agronomist).

The first step was removing the old dead flower remains…rest their soul.

Once I dug a hole deep enough with my pretty little pink gardening shovel (yes, I’m that girl), I added a little top soil and 12-12-12 fertilizer so the roots can immediately have nutrients.

There were 16 little sprouts in each flat.  For each set I planted, I used three of them to make sure I would have a nice full plant when it completely blooms.  I want these newly planted flowers to blend in with my 5 year old existing Dianthus, afterall.

To state the obvious, I filled in each hole with the soil I shoveled out then topped each one off with more potting soil and and extra sprinkle of 12-12-12 fertilizer for luck.  I’m not exactly sure if I’m suppose to add the extra jimmies on top but I seem to do everything in excess.

I repeated the steps 11 more times.  It really didn’t take but 45 minutes.  The first plant taking the longest since I took the time to take pictures and document the process, muddy gloves and all.  Once 12 flowers were transplanted I gave each set a quenching drink of H20.

They’ll need a good drink every night for the next week or so until the roots get nestled into their new home.  In the mean time, here are some shots of the progress.

And a long shot, even though you have to really squint to see what I just planted…for now!

Of course I will eventually hit up Lowes or Home Depot in the next few weeks to buy about 30 bags of brown much.  I don’t want to spread the mulch too early this season.  I’d rather wait until late April so the yard looks all purdy when we hit the market.

What do you think, am I planting flowers way too early?  Have you planted anything already in this ridiculously warm weather?  Are you a fan of the Dianthus flower like I am?  Let us know by commenting below!

It’s Blooming March.

March 19, 2012

I mentioned a few weeks ago the abnormal warm weather here in Charleston, as well as most of the country.  My lilies started to bloom then we were hit with a snow storm.  I am very happy to report that surprisingly not one of my lilies bit the dust, unlike what my father predicted.  Everything is blooming around here and my lilies are about 6 inches off the ground.   That being said, I decided to pull out the patio furniture from the shed  this weekend!  Once all the wrought iron was in it’s rightful place, I got out the pots and planters. Yesterday was a beautiful 80 degree day so I hit up Lowes  and came home with a few things…

I bought two Boston Ferns, two flats of Dianthus flowers and two other random flowers for 4″ pots on the front porch.

I hung these planters on Saturday when I pulled them out from the shed.  These silly little things are the reason I ran to Lowes on a Sunday afternoon at 3pm in search of flowers.

I wasn’t quite sure if any Boston Ferns would be around this early in the season, but hey, it was worth a look, right?!  To my surprise I found a nice rack of ferns outside the front door at Lowes for 10 bones each.

After both hanging planters were set up with ferns I then moved on to the flower pots.  I absolutely love these red glossy planters.  They are from Walmart, last year.  I think they were about $7 bucks each.  The flowers I purchased to go in them are Dianthus.

I am a big fan of Dianthus flowers.  I have about a million of them in four beds.  They come back every year more beautiful and full.   This was a different breed though, called Kahori.  They are a bit more “grassy” than what I already have planted.  In the red planters they look so darling.

After 2 Boston Ferns and two Dianthus flowers were planted I got out the hedge cutters and had my way with some pampas grass.  I usually don’t have any trouble cutting them down, but because they never went dormant the green prickly leaves were awful to cut through.  When the plant is dormant and brown it cuts like butter…I had to use a lot of elbow grease to get those babies downs.

It was a long fun days work but at least the yard is starting to come together.  It’s still only March so I really can’t complain.  I have learned a lot about botany from my dad which makes getting a little dirty and sweaty in the yard a bit more fun.

I still have these two flats of Dianthus to plant.  They will go in the front bed I built last year.  I was unable to find Dianthus at the time I planted that bed so some random annuals went in temporarily.

I hope to get all 32 of these planted in the next few days but with all this crazy basketball who knows what will happen!  Happy Bracket Season to all!!

Did you start planting this weekend as well?  Are you a fan of Dianthus flowers too?  Are we crazy for starting this whole spring flowerbed planting in March?  Let us know what you think by commenting below!

B is for Bauer

March 12, 2012

I am currently at the beach visiting my parents but before I left I was feeling a little springy!   The red cranberry wreath on our front door had way worn out it’s welcome.  I finally removed it from the front door and placed it in storage until next Christmas.

The door was looking a little lonely without any color to compliment it’s black exterior so I went on the search for new ideas for a springy wreath.  As I’ve mentioned before, I have a thing for Pinterest.  It’s a great place to store all your design and craft ideas.  So it’s no wonder that’s where I went for some inspiration.  Replacing my cranberry wreath became part II of my Stop Pinning, Start Doing self challenge.  These are some of the ideas i pinned, found here, here, here, and here.

After finding cute wreath ideas involving initials, I decided my wreath shall too have an ‘initial’ theme.  I set out to Michael’s not knowing what exactly I was looking for, but stumbled on an 12″ letter ‘B’.  With a 40% coupon it ran me a whopping $2.50.

Still not knowing what would become of my letter B, I went outside with a can of yellow spray paint I found in our garage.  I sprayed the back first so if there are any imperfections they will only be visible from behind.

After several very thin coats of paint on both sides I was left with a very cheery yellow letter B.   I allowed the letter to sit for a day or so to fully cure.  My initial thought (no pun intended…haha) was to find some faux boxwood branches to cover it with but I was unable to locate anything of the kind in the Charleston area…whomp, whomp.  I did, however, find some floral moss at Walmart for $2.50.  I decided it was worth a whirl to see what kind of texture the moss would add to my letter B.

With a little hot glue and some puzzle piecing, the yellow letter B slowly became covered.

The texture was great but the ‘B’ still needed a little more umph.  I found some left over orange and chartreuse flowers in my craft box that fit with the contemporary look I was going for.  I adhered them with the hot glue and fixed some black grosgain ribbon to the back of the letter.  The grosgrain will be tied in a loose bow at the top, so it can easily be hung on the door.

So it may be a little early for a spring wreath in West Virginia, but with an impending trip to Florida building up in my system, it seemed so appropriate at the time.

The ‘After” of my Pinterest inspired wreath:

So there she be, part II of my “Stop Pinning Start Doing” self challenge.  I know it’s not quite spring yet, but I must admit I feel all cheery when I see my little yellow, moss covered Bauer wreath.  Who knows how long the letter B will stay on the door, but for now it works.  I’m sure I’ll find more inspiration on Pinterest to re-create another wreath in the next few months!

It All Started with Painting the Kitchen Trim…

March 5, 2012

Hi, my name is Michelle and I’m a paint addict.  That’s what I would say if there was a “Painters Anonymous”.  It all started in the kitchen after Ryan nailed all the floor trim pieces in the kitchen (mentioned here).  I’ve slowly put forth the time to putty and sand the nail holes.  This weekend I finally got out the dreaded frog tape and semi-gloss white trim paint to finish up the job.

First things first, I taped the new porcelain tile floor and the wall above the trim.  I can be quite laxidasical when it comes to trim so I’m always better safe than sorry by taping off both ends…I’ve learned that lesson the hard way.

I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to finally get around to this task, I guiess the kitchen officially burned me out.

The most rewarding part in painting (or most dreadful if you didn’t tape right) is pulling that green tape off to reveal the newly painted goodness.

Of course I can’t stop there.  Once the trim was finished, I stepped back to look at it and saw the window.  In my head I thought “there is no point in painting fresh new glossy white paint on the trim and leaving the window out”.  So that led to giving our kitchen window a glossy new coat.

And of course after she got a new look, our front door needed the same love.  I know, you’re thinking I’m crazy.  Crazy in Love (just like Beyonce) with white paint that is!

Oh, but it doesn’t stop there.  Luckily, I remembered that our Master Bath floor trim was never painted when it was installed.  It had the factory white primer, but was never hit with a coat of paint.  To this day I have no idea why we forgot about it.  So, six years later our little Master Bath got a nice coat of paint as well.

And like the Energizer Bunny, I keep going.  How I have this much energy I have no idea.  If I have that little 2″ short rubber-handled paint brush in my hand won’t stop until the battle is over.  At this point Ryan and I stopped to go out to dinner, visit some friends, then I was back in the habit.  In case you are not aware, you can totally store wet paint brushes in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.  I actually do this all the time.  At any point I’m willing to bet you can open my fridge and find a wet white brush for that “just-in-case” moment.  That’s the baggage that goes along with us “Painters Anonymous” folk.  (On a side note, I think I could totally be the founder of this group).

I actually started to tackle something on our “to-do list” when we got home from dinner.  Our abnormally large window (which I love) in the dinning room has been calling for a paint job since we moved in six years ago.  I never tackled it because the formal plan was to tear out that ten foot window and install a sliding glass door that would go out to a deck (which we would “soon” build).  Since we have now decided to move this spring (mentioned here) that baby was way overdue for a paint job.  I put my paint clothes back on, opened that semi-gloss white paint back up, and grabbed my brush from the fridge.

You may be asking why I didn’t tape the window panes.  That answer is simple.  It takes way too long to perform such a task…not too mention a waste of money.  Frog tape is expensive.  I prefer to come back with a razor and scrape the paint off the glass.  It really doesn’t take that long, and is way less tedious that taping four sides of 44 window panes.

Most thirty year old adults without kids are out and about on Saturday nights, not me.  I am happy as a hippo staying in and painting a ten foot window.   Nerd Alert!

On Sunday morning, after my paint had enough time to cure I got out the razor blade I mentioned above to remove the paint I so kindly splattered on the glass windows.

I’m not sure what brand the scrapper is, something from Harbor Freight I’m sure, but it’s kind of ergonomical…for a mans hand.  It holds a straight edge blade and has a curved angle to snugly fit into a man-palm.  With semi-force I simply push the blade against the glass and scrap off the paint.

After scrapping all 44 window panes I used the shop vac to suck up all the paint chips from each pane.  There were a few missed spots, but I was able to quickly go back and hit up those area.  Here is the dining room window all glossy and white.

The last thing left to do is actually clean the windows.  I need to remove paint dust and finger prints.   I may get around to it this week, we’ll see.  The muntin between the panes=equals a big pain in the arss.

What do you think?  A new glossy white coat of paint=awesome, right?  Did you paint anything this weekend?  Are you a member of “Painters Anonymous” like me?  Let us know by commenting below!

February Flowers Bring….March Snow Showers?

March 2, 2012

I seriously can’t believe how mild this winter has been in West Virginia.  I think it has only snowed twice and school called off once.  Very atypical for this area, as well as many other places in the country.  While grabbing the mail yesterday I noticed my lilly’s have already started to grow, seriously??

Normally these suckers don’t even think about popping up until April.  Even my Dianthus flowers, which normally go dormant in the winter are still green.  The only brown in my flowerbeds are the ugly leaves carried by the abnormal high winds.

Our grass is even growing.  It’s not growing all over like it does in the summer, but all those nicely “fertilized” spots from the pups have become very tall and luscious.  My immediate plan was to do a little spring winter yard work this weekend and get the flowerbeds cleaned up, but after looking at the weather forecast it’s suppose to snow on Sunday!  We can’t win for losing around here.

Yesterday was a gorgeous 68 degree blue sky day and today about the same, maybe a little warmer with a sprinkle or two.  I couldn’t help but to wonder what the fate of my Lilly’s would be after the snow on Sunday.    I consulted with my father, the agronomist, and yes, they will die.  The good news?  Lilly’s are very resilient according to my father.  Even though they will die from the snow, he said they most most definitely come back this spring.  They are continually growing plants and a little frost won’t hurt them in the long run. I knew there was a reason I planted those suckers…or just dumb luck.

Have you had a crazy warm winter like we have?  Are your flowers starting to sprout as well?  Tell us what’s going on around your yard by commenting below!

One Shoe Can Change Your Life

March 1, 2012

Before we started on the kitchen this past November, I left off on the blog with our Mater Bedroom and Master Bathroom renovations, found here and here.  This is the story of our Master Walk-in Closet….

In 2005 we turned our 4 bedroom home into a three bedroom home by knocking out a wall between a guest room and our Master.  The majority of the guest room had the destiny to become our new walk-in closet.  This is what the bedroom looked like before it became closet central:

Once we tore out the carpet and took out the wall we were left with a blank canvas.

We ended up building a new wall about 5 feet left of  the existing wall between the two rooms.  After a few studs, electrical, and a bunch of drywall we had a nice little closet space.

Rather than putting in a “California Closet” or the standard wire closet system at Lowes we decided that  custom built shelving was our best option.  Ryan is a skilled wood worker with access to metals, so there was  no reason to pay a third party to put together something we could do ourselves (imagine that!).  Ryan measured, cut, and nailed while I performed the task of sanding, staining, and polyurethaning every piece of wood.  Every single shelf and hanging rod was carefully measured to fit each of our wardrobes.

The specs:  two rows of metal rods on each side for hanging cloths.  Shelves in the middle with baskets for folded items.  One wrap around shelf above everything to store pillows, etc.  Also,  because we attend a good amount of black tie events I needed a large section for hanging full length ballgowns which Ryan so graciously fit into the plans.  Most importantly I needed a space for shoes, let’s face it who doesn’t?  I probably have way more the same amount of heels, pumps, and flats as a normal person.  Ryan so graciously built me an absurd 6 foot by 8 foot shoe shelf to give my collect a home.

That shoe shelf Ryan spent hours building, became one of the most special places in our home for me.  On June 25, 2005 Ryan proposed to me by using that space.  It was the most surprising and awesome day ever.  He was “test staining” the wood at 9am by writing “Will You Marry Me?” on several of the shelves in stain!

I didn’t even see the engagement ring sitting on the shelf below when he was down on one knee… I just kept asking “Are you serious?! Are you serious?!” And of course I said YES!!!!!!

It was only fitting that my mother came across a sign at a local decor store in Atlanta that read “One Shoe Can Change Your Life -Cinderella”.  She gave it to me at an engagement party and ever since it has hung on the wall outside our closet door.

The easy part was filling our closet with our clothes.  By we I mean me.  just kidding.  sort of.  In efforts to “keep it real” I took these photos last night so you could see what the inside of  our beautifully built closet looks like now.  Don’t judge my unfolded shirts and sweaters…I’m keeping it real, remember?!  (at least you can see the floor….today).

And the shoe wall.  Here we thought 6’x8′ would be enough, but not even close.  But the way Ryan built the wall makes it very easy to keep everything organized.

And the organization, you ask?  (working our way down)

  • The top shelf: random shoes I don’t wear all that often
  • 2nd shelf: red shoes followed by white shoes
  • 3rd shelf: brown shoes followed by continued black shoes
  • 4rd shelf: black shoes
  • 5th shelf: all the nudes (they are my favorite and most often worn…they go with everything)
  • 6th shelf: sneakers (yes i have 3 pairs of coach shoes: black, brown, and ivory) and grey shoes
  • 7th shelf: Ryan’s shoes
  • Floor level: My boots

So there you have it, the inner secrets to my Master Closet and my shoe organization chart.  It’s such an upgrade from the tiny walk-in that was in the original master.  Adding this space was so worth taking out a bedroom (at least in my book)!

Have you taken out a bedroom to make a closet?  do you have a ridiculously large shoe shelf like I do?  oO you need to purge shoes before you buy any more like me?  I hate (but secretly love) being a shoe addict!

Another Awesome Re-Store Find.

February 28, 2012

As I have mentioned before, I have a mild obsession with our Habitat for Humanity Re-Store (among other second hand stores).  On a random impulse, I decided to make a stop on my lunch break Friday (yes, there may have been an illegal u-turn involved).  I wasn’t looking for anything specific, just seeing what the inventory looked like.

For the past few months I’ve had my eye on a certain classical chair.  It had a $30 price tag on it which completely appalled me.  It was full of broken cane webbing and the upholstery was grossly worn.  The bone structure was awesome, which is why I continually contemplated buying it.  Friday, on a random trip, that chair I had been pining was finally in the clearance area.  I checked out the tag…three bucks???  seriously?  It was mine.  I wanted to buy it and pick it up on Saturday but because it was a clearance item they would not hold it for me.  I figured I could totally get the chair into my trunk and just bungee it for the 3 blocks back to work.  Not so much.  That sucker seemed so much larger outside the store.  Boy did I feel like  a big idiot standing in the parking lot with a random chair.  I immediately called my Re-Store co-hort, Kim, and she quickly came to my rescue with her SUV.  We hauled that baby back to the office and Ryan stopped by to pick it up on his way home from work.

The chair has some awesome bones.  I especially love the curved arms.  The cane webbing is broken on both sides and will have to removed.  Originally I planned to replace the cane but looking at it now I might be able to get away with just  leaving it off, giving it a more contemporary look.

I envision either painting the frame a  funky color or re-staining the wood a dark deep ebony.  I would like to find some kind of chevron fabric to reupholster it.

Here are some chairs I pinned on Pinterest as inspiration (found herehere, here, here, and here).

Re-finishing this chair is nowhere near the top of my priority list, so it may just in the attic until after we move.  It’s going to kill me to wait so long to start this, but all good things come to those who wait, right?!  I started looking for fabric this past weekend but came up empty handed.  boo.  Hopefully I’ll find something next time I’m in Atlanta or Florida.  This town has an awful selection of fabric stores.

So what do you think?  Can you envision this $3 Re-Store find like I can?  What color do you think I should paint or stain the frame?  Have you refinished anything lately?   Let us know by commenting below!

A New Look for B+A DIY

February 27, 2012

You may have noticed that Before + After DIY got a nice little facelift over the weekend!  Yep, I’ve been meaning to do it for awhile, but finally set the time aside to spruce things up on the interwebs.  I’ve spend so much time DIY’ing the house, it’s about time I put the same time into DIY’ing the blog page.

I played around with a bunch of different designs and layouts, but finally decided on this new, clean layout.  My first goal was to clean up the background.  The new white space is far less distracting.  I was never a fan of my generic wordpress pink “Bueno” theme.  To be honest (because, let’s face it I am the girl who shares everything) I’m not well versed in webpages and web design (which I’m sure is fairly obvious).  I’ve just been learning as I go…kind of like how I DIY!

My second goal was to make the archive files easy to navigate.  With this new webpage you should be able to drop down by month and see all the posts for that month, making for a much easier search.  If for some reason you can not locate a certain post just send me an email at

Lastly, I wanted to include a picture of our completely renovated (and mostly DIY’d) home in the header.  After searching through  a bunch of photos from this summer I came across an awesome photo of the front of our home.  After taking the time to do a little photoshopping, I designed this way more appropriate header….voila!

So I hope you like the new design and layout.  You should find it much easier to navigate.  If you have any comments/concerns/questions feel free to leave a message below!

Friends for Neighbors and an Almond Fridge

February 24, 2012

When we moved into our house 6 years ago, we had very kind elderly neighbors named Frank and Nancy.  They built their home in the 1960’s and raised all 3 of their children in that home.  About a year and a half after we moved in, Frank suddenly passed away.  It was very sad to see the home and life they built together in a different dynamic.  Nancy soon decided to move closer to her sons in Richmond, VA and asked Ryan if we knew anyone that might be interested in buying her house.  At the time, one of Ryan’s best friends Brian, who had just had a baby, was looking to up-size.  The house next door ended up being a perfect fit for Brain and his wife Amanda and they moved in about 3 years ago.

We were very hesitant about having such close friends move in about 100 feet from our front door, but let me tell you, it’s the best thing that ever happened to us in this home!  It’s such a great feeling to know your dear friends look over your house 24/7 and run off the neighbor kids, bring in your trashcans, etc…

If I need a cup of sugar, Amanda has it.  If I’m short an egg (or six), Amanda gives it…and if she doesn’t have it, she totally offers to run to the store and to get it for for me.  Insane?  Yes.  That’s why I totally love them so much.  If Ryan needs help moving a piece of furniture, Brian is there.  If Ryan is short a piece of drywall, Brian offers it.  I can’t imagine not living next to them.  They are the good, salt of the earth people who would do anything.  They are the neighbors everyone dreams of, which is why moving away from them (mentioned here) is so bitter sweet.

But back to the point of this post.  So Brian and Amanda are doing some kitchen updating themselves.  They purchased all new stainless appliances (fridge, dishwasher, double oven,  and cooktop…ooh la la, i know!) a few weeks ago.  The other day the guys from Big Sandy (our local furniture/appliance store) were scheduled to deliver their new appliances.  Before the arrival, Brian and Amanda offered us their old fridge.  A fridge from 1990’s???  YES, we’ll take it!  Our garage fridge is probably circa 1980.  It leaks all kinds of water and has several broken shelves.  But hey, it’s a garage fridge that only holds Coca Cola,  Gatorade, and the over flow of frozen goods, so we’ll totally take a hand-me-down 1990’s fridge.  That is a total upgrade in our book!

Our circa 1980’s broken shelved, leaky garage fridge:

Ryan used one of his work trucks to move our old fridge to Brian and Amanda’s house and did a big switch-a-roo.  Big Sandy offers a free haul-a-way so we switched Brian and Amanda’s old 1990’s fridge with our 1980’s fridge.  What an upgrade, let me tell you!

So we went from one almond colored fridge to another, but what a major upgrade for our beverages!  It’s so nice to have so many working shelves which means much better organization for this Type A personality gal.  It’s a fridge of functionality.  As you can see, it really only holds excess frozen goods, bottled water, coke, gatorade, beer, and wine…and maybe a bottle of champagne or two!

Needless to say, it’s super nice to live next door to such good friends who offer up an old fridge at no charge.  And I don’t want you to think this is one sided, we often help with projects around their house as well.  It’s a give-and-take kind of neighborly love.

Let us know what you think by commenting below!

Grout it Out.

February 23, 2012

Our kitchen backsplash tile was laid this weekend in three hours, mentioned here.  The next step: Grout.  Here is a picture of what the glossy white 4×4 tiles look like before said grout.

After filling two buckets of water, locating several big sponges and the grout float I twas ready to go.  Or so I thought.  After reading the grout I realized it was meant for grout lines 1/8″ and smaller.  Womp Womp.  We have several areas where the grout lines ended up much larger.  The culprit?  Those darn bullnose edge tiles.  For some reason the bullnose tiles are slightly smaller than the regular 4×4 tiles and we ended up with 1/4″ grout lines in those areas (not noticeable to the naked eye).  It probably would have been okay to use but because we are perfectionists we would never knowingly half ass a job, I made my third trip of the day to Lowes and picked up the bigger, pricier $27 bucket of ready to use, white grout with the sealant.  At that point price wasn’t an object.  I just wanted to get the stuff and go home.

When I was good and ready and ‘in the mood’ (because you definitely have to be’ in the mood’ to do any kind of DIY project) I got all my supplies ready and prepared to grout….again.

I taped a bunch of plastic on our new granite countertops to protect them from whatever mess the grout (or Michelle, more specifically) would leave behind.

Using the float, i applied the self-sealant grout at a 45 degree angle and carefully wiped away the excess at a 90 degree angle on the side of the float.

I worked in 3 sections.  The first being the bottom row of tiles where the existing backsplash was, the second was the area we built, and the third was the area next to the fridge where the Nutone Speaker use to call home (found here and here).

After working each section I used a clean bucket of water and a clean sponge to wipe away the excess grout in a smooth circular motion.  This is when the grout starts looking like grouted tile.  In my opinion this is the most rewarding part….just like pulling a white satin ribbon off a little blue box…seriously, just as exciting to me.  I know, I’m so weird.

So glad I put down all that plastic on the granite.  Did you see the mess I made?!  Grouting only took about 45 minutes or so.

In true Before and After DIY fashion here is the progression from before to after:

And the final backsplash afters…

Notice how flush the light switch sits on the those 4 new tiles….so much better then before!

And these electrical switches also sit very nicely on top of the backsplash tile.  Did you notice that awful 3″ external electrical box by the butcher block has been removed?  Much better!

And a smooth bullnose transition between the 45 of the two walls…awesome!

All that’s left in the kitchen is:

  1. caulking between the backsplash and granite
  2. adding the 3 shelves between the two cabinets to create a smooth transition (found here)
  3. finding/making base cabinet doors for the bottom cabinet addition

And that’s it!  yeah, right.   I’m sure we’ll find more thing to tweak during the decorating process.

What do you think?  Grout makes a huge difference, doesn’t it?  Let us know your thoughts by commenting below!

Backsplash in the Kitchen!

February 22, 2012

This past weekend we finally got around to finishing the last row of backsplash tile in our kitchen.  We also added matching new tile on the opposite wall.  If you remember, after the new granite was installed a few weeks ago we had a two and a half inch space between the existing backsplash and the new granite (from the removal of our old laminate counters), last mentioned here.

And there was no backsplash on the opposite wall.

First we removed four existing tiles to the right of the sink.  Our power outlet and disposal switch were not properly installed and the plate cover looked all wonky.  We carefully removed the four tiles around the electrical unit so we could replace the tiles and pull out the switches to allow them to sit flush with the backsplash.

Ryan is very good at measuring so he drew the lines on these four new tiles for me to eventually cut.

We got lucky with the 24 bottom tiles, they all measured exactly the same so we were able to use one template to mark the cut for all of them.  With my MK Diamond tile saw, I took that pile of twenty four 4×4 white tiles and ran them carefully through the wet saw.  Ryan used 1/8″ tile spacers and some “Ready to Use” wall adhesive to adhere the tiles to the wall.

Those 4 ‘replacement’ tiles took just about as much time (if not longer) than laying the 24 lower backsplash tiles.  Ry wanted to make sure they were all perfect and perfectly flush before we moved on.  We are both OCD ‘Type A’ personalities, have I mentioned that?!

Adding that last row of tile was a semi-breeze.  I’m sure I woke the neighbors with my skillz on the tile saw (we forgot to get action shots of the cutting process, but you can see more on my handiwork with the tile saw here) and Ryan meticulously laid and spaced each one.

Once all 24 tiles were set on the main wall we were able to move to the opposite wall and repeat the process.  This wall was mostly full size tiles, only the trim and edge pieces needed to be cut.   We (that’s the Ryan part of ‘we) just had to calculate correctly where to start.  It worked out almost perfectly that four 4×4 tiles fit under our cabinets.  One tile needed about 1/8″ taken off so we decided to start at the bottom and just cut the top row since it would be hidden under the cabinets (much easier then trying to center ourselves like we usually do…what’s an eight inch between friends and a cabinet?)  Ryan used his trowel to apply the adhesive to the wall.

I am way too much of a perfectionist for this job (not to say Ryan isn’t) so I stick to the cutting and let Ryan piece together the puzzle.  If you really think about it, that’s all it is, one big puzzle.

Next, we turned the corner and started on the adjacent wall.  This wall  has several electrical switches on it.  Ryan carefully pulled out the switches so the tile will fit beneath  and the outlet over will lay nicely on top.

It was then back to applying the adhesive again with the trowel.  (oh yeah, Ryan also removed that weird exterior outlet which sat 3″ out from the drywall…the topic of another post).

We used bullnose edge tiles on the corner to make a smooth transition at the corner.  We also used bullnose tiles at the end, where it buts up to the fridge.

Once the tile is grouted it will look smooth and uniform.  Nothing fancy with the grout.  Just plain old white to match the existing backsplash.  It should complement the opposite wall nicely.

And the finished product before we grout…purdy, isn’t she?

The last two things on the kitchen list:

  1. Find/make cabinet doors to the lower cabinet that Ryan built
  2. Cut/Prime/Paint three corner shelves between the two cabinets

Once those two small-ish project are complete we can call this kitchen transformation dun-zo.  yeah!

What do you think?  Much better with a little glossy white backsplash, right?!  Have you installed tile lately?  do you like white like we do?  let us know by commenting below!

Our Cabinets are Like The New Kids on the Block.

February 13, 2012

They’re “Hangin’ Tough”!  In tribute to NKOTB, I found this video of the massive 1990’s hit.

Yep, this weekend we were able to get my Re-Store finds (mentioned here and here) up and hanging!  It all started while I was fast asleep on Saturday morning.  Ryan got up early to take out the dogs and Michelle decided to sleep in, something I never do.  Ryan surprised me and temporarily hung both cabinets while I snoozed away.  Because the studs are far and few between on this wall, Ryan needed to figure out where the holes were going to be so he could put in Molly’s for support.

Ryan stacked a few boxes between our dog-food-bin to hold the ‘big’ cabinet up.

After Ryan got the Molly’s in, together we installed the cabinets.  Okay, I just held them up, he did the actual installing.  Here is a pic of the two cabinets mounted to the wall.  As you can see there is a gap on the right where the two cabinets meet up.  I will fill this space will wood filler and sand it smooth.  After a few coats of glossy white paint you will never know this gap existed, just like the holes on the cabinet doors.

After Ryan got the cabinets hung I started getting the cabinet doors ready for their new pulls.  I filled the previous holes with wood putty and sanded them last week.  Once the cabinets were primed and painted those original holes became invisible.  The new pulls are going to be placed in the center of the door. If you tape the spot where you are drilling  it prevents splitting in the wood.  So I got out the Frog Tape and figured out my measurement for the new holes.

It’s a good thing I doubled checked my measurements because I was actually off by a half inch on one  door.  That would have been a wonky handle!  After I re-marked my spot on that door, all four were ready to be drilled.

Oh yeah, I also put a strip of Frog Tape on the back of each cabinet so the backside wouldn’t split either.  I’m a safety girl, better safe than sorry!

I pulled out a scrap piece of wood for Ryan to drill the doors on and then the new Milwaukee drill (and Ryan) did all the work.  The drill went through like butta.

The easy part (or so I thought) was putting the new pulls on the cabinet doors.  It turned out that the screws (that came with the pulls) were way too long for our 1960’s cabinet doors.  Major Boo.

Those screws were 3/8″ too long, seriously??!!!   That meant another trip to Lowes.  I think we hit up Lowes and Home Depot a total of 7 times this weekend.  Completely insane.  Once we got the proper length screws, the handles and hinges were back in business on Sunday morning.

Finally we have working upper cabinets to our kitchen countertop addition.  It took two days (both Saturday and Sunday) to get it to completely finished but we are both totally stoked to be “Hangin’ Tough”.  Here’s what the kitchen looks like with the new cabinets all pretty and white.

Don’t forget we still have the shelves to cut and hang between the two cabinets to tie it all together.  I did a photoshop mock-up so you can get a feeling of what that will look like.  The open air shelves will have a curved radius to mimic the granite below.  (We hope to start on that this weekend).

There you have it!  It may not look like we did all that much this weekend, but we worked like dogs to get this all up and in place.  One weekend at a time.   After the open air shelves are in place, all we have left to do is make/find the cabinet doors for the lower cabinet and lay the backsplash tile!  It’s definitely almost there!

What do you think?  Are my Re-Store finds perfect, or what?  Have you installed open air cabinets lately?  Have you had issues with door pulls and hinges on your 1960’s cabinets?  Let us know by commenting below!

Sand, Prime, Paint…

February 10, 2012

I think I can do this routine in my sleep.  After Goodwill Hunting for kitchen cabinets on Monday, I decided to start the process over the past few days of getting those babies ready for install.

First I removed the hardware.  I assumed with Ryan’s new Milwaukee drill it would be a breeze, but those screws were a b*tch to get out.  I ended up using a screw driver so I wouldn’t strip the screws.  I think the build-up of kitchen spatter over 60 years and the downward angle they were put in with added to the situation.  But after about 45 minutes: mission accomplished.

The hardware on these Re-store finds is placed really low.  It doesn’t match the placement of our existing pulls so I had to putty the holes with some Elmers wood putty, using a 1.5″ spackle knife.  After the doors are painted we will drill new holes to match up with our other hardware.

Once the doors are sanded, primed, and painted you will never know those holes ever existed.  The next day, after the putty was fully dried I moved all of my cabinets to the garage and got out the Ryobi orbital sander.

I didn’t know what grit I would need to get the finish off, so I started with 220 and worked my way down per Ryan’s suggestion.   200 worked really well on the cabinet shells, but I had to drop to a 100 grit on the doors.

Sanding the cabinets took way longer than I expected.  I figured, eh, 20 minutes.  I was locked in that cold garage for about an hour or so.  Let me tell you, the vibration of the orbital made my hand numb after a consistent hour of  straight use.  What a strange feeling.  But anyhoo…Once I regained feeling in my hand I took a tack cloth to remove all the dust and debris from both cabinets and 4 doors.  As usual, I converted our basement family room into a painting studio.

I’ve learned the lesson the hard way, when I work with wood I always use an oil based primer.  When I painted the paneled walls in our basement six years ago it took 3 coats of latex primer and a trip to Lowes to figure out why It kept bleeding.  For this job I picked up a quart sized can of Kiltz oil primer for seven bucks.

To get a smooth finish on the cabinets I use a 4″ smooth foam roller.  By rolling one coat of primer and 3 thin coats of white glossy paint very slowly, you get a very smooth finish.   By the naked eye one will never know it’s a DIY project on 1960 cabinets.

Oil primer is by no means VOC.  I always try to use Olympic No VOC paint to avoid those awful paint fumes, but when you mess with oil that’s just not an option (that I know of).  Always wear a mask when working with oil so that it muffles the fumes you breath.  And if it’s nice out try to open some window.  It was 30 degrees when I primed in the basement, so opening a window was not an option, hence the mask.

What a couture look the face mask and paint clothes give me.  When Ryan took this picture I actually smiled.  I don’t know why, it’s not like you can see my face.  I guess it’s instinct to smile when a camera is pointed at you.  (That and the ‘sorority squat’).

I started on the back side of the cabinet doors just like I did when I re-touched our existing cabinets (found here).  If there are any scratches or imperfections I’d rather them be on the backside.  I’d also like to point out that you can’t see the holes I puttied and sanded either, can you?!

And here are the cabinet shells after a nice smooth oil paint primer.

It took about 3 hours total to get the cabinets sanded and primed.   Last night, after the primer had 24 hours to cure, I started painting them with my glossy white paint.

In four hours I was able to get two coats of paint on everything.  I really wan three coats for the extra coverage so tonight I plan to add that last coat of paint.    Because these cabinets are hanging against a wall and the ceiling I only need to paint the front and right side.  The cabinet below is actually upside down.  The bottom of this big one will be visible above the granite so that side had to get a coat of paint as well.  Here are the results of one coat of primer and two coats of paint.

Once the cabinets have time to cure we will hang those babies.  My gut feeling is Sunday, but we will have to see.  I will make sure to take some pics and possibly video if Ryan and I can keep our mouths clean during the install….that one is a long shot!

Happy Friday!

What do you think?  Does Michelle have vision for these Habitat Re-Store finds or what?  It’s amazing what a coat of paint can do to any piece of furniture.  Have you come across any thrift store finds lately?  Do you like to paint everything white like I do??  Let us know by commenting below!

The Next Step: BackSplash

February 9, 2012

We tiled the backsplash to our kitchen about 6 years ago with 4″ square white tiles.  It was our first attempt at tiling with our new MK Diamond saw.  We figured if we sucked at it we would just pull it out and do something different.  It turns out we are pretty darn awesome (if we do say so ourselves) at laying some tile….and in general, ha!  Here is a photo of our white 4×4 tile backsplash and white grout against the old laminate countertops.

It’s held up pretty awesome.  No scrapes, bruises, or stains.  Once the granite was installed (mentioned here) we were left with a little gap between the new granite and old backsplash that looks like this:

Because I save everything I was able to find a few (understatement of the year.  Can we say 28??) extra tiles from that tile job six years ago.  I hope I didn’t save 28 tiles because I thought we’d have to replace that many….we haven’t had to replace any.

I crossed my fingers and hoped it would magically fit into the gap perfectly.  Not so much.

We are about 1 and a 1/2″ short on our 4″x4″ tiles.  So that means we will have to cut 24 individual tiles to finish off this backsplash…argh.  I knew it would never match up, but you can’t fault a girl for hoping!   Included in this backsplash project we will be tiling on the opposite wall  where we  added the new cabinetry and countertop wrap around.

The tile saw will be out no matter what, it just would have been SO nice if those 24 tiles would have fit perfectly into place.  Nothing ever goes perfect in a home reno so we have no ill feelings.  This just means we (that’s the Michelle part of we) will be cutting a lot of tile after we get the new cabinets hung on the addition, mentioned here.  I actually started on the prep for those Habitat finds last night, so if all goes right I will post about it tomorrow!

Goodwill Hunting

February 7, 2012

Okay, so it wasn’t exactly Goodwill Hunting, it was more like Habitat for Humanity Re-Store Hunting, but that just doesn’t roll off the tongue as well.  Every now and then a co-worker and I will stop at the local Re-Store on our lunch break.  We never look for anything specific, just mostly furniture that we can reuse and refinish, etc…

Yesterday we when we hit up the Re-Store I came across the most awesome find.  As I say, “you always find something when you are not looking” just like when I found the white basement bath vanity (mentioned here).

As I’ve said before, our house was built in 1964.  That means our kitchen cabinets (which I painted a glossy white and posted about here)  do not look like the standard cabinets Lowes and Home Depot carry in-stock.  Initially Ryan and I thought we would have to build custom unit (36″w x 42″h x 12″deep) to hang above the corner radius addition area.  Here is the area I’m talking about:

On a lucky strike I came across a 30″w x36″h upper cabinet unit very similar to our existing cabinets at the Re-Store.  I walked a few more steps and discovered the matching 12″ upper cabinet.  Putting both pieces together we get 30″w x 42″h x 12″d…exactly what we need!  The big cabinet was priced at $50 and the smaller $45.  A little over-priced for 1964 cabinets, but a new white 30″w x 36″h cabinet at Lowes runs $230 plus another $100 for the smaller 12″ piece.  We love the fact that we’ve been fairly ‘green’ in this kitchen and can once again renew, reuse, and recycle.  One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

Here are some pics of the bigger unit.  It will be hung below the smaller 12″ cabinet against the wall, flush in the corner.

The unit is missing the inside shelves but it will be a five minute job for Ryan to cut the pieces and get them screwed in.

And the 12″ smaller cabinet which was only $5 cheaper (it’s a racket I tell ya) is completely perfect.

The two cabinets fit perfectly on top of one another, phew!  I totally should have checked that in the store, but i figured my measurements were spot on (yes, I keep a mini tape measure in my purse…I’m crazy, I know).

I plan on puttying the door pulls and moving them up to match the placement with our existing cabinets.   In case you can’t envision it, here is a mock-up.

In order to make the existing upper cabinet and the new Re-store unit flow together flawlessly we plan to cut and install 3 or 4 curved open air shelves around the corner to mimic the curve on the radius corner.  Once everything is sanded, puttied, primed, and painted a glossy white these new cabinets will fit flawlessly into our kitchen.  Of course we will replace the hardware to match what we already have.  I am super psyched.  Who knew we would be able to find an almost perfect match to our 1964 painted cabinets.

Can you envision the refinished cabinets?  Have you reused and refinished anything from the Re-Store lately?  Let us know by commenting below!

House Tour

February 6, 2012

When I was rummaging through the house the other night I came across a pile of mini DV tapes.  In that pile was a tape labeled “House 2006”. I popped it in and found the raw footage of the day we closed on our home.  It was so exciting/interesting to see what our house looked like six years ago.  I mostly forgot.   I upload the footage to my You Tube account to share with you all.  We had so much vision back in 2006 of what our house could be.  (In case you don’t know, it’s very difficult to find an updated home in the South Hills area of Charleston so we had to have vision for every house we walked through).  Don’t judge our cheesy commentary and Michelle’s Vanna White impersonations…it was SO 2006!

After watching this video about 4 times (I won’t lie, I repeatedly watch it several times) I decided that we should do new video of what our home looks like now.  So between my prep for our Super Bowl (I won my company grid by the way…just a side note to gloat since I’ve never win) I got out my Nikon and hit record for the first time.  Ok, not the first time, I practiced how to use the record button before I said “ACTION” on the house.  Again, don’t judge my commentary (or my sniffling nose).  I wasn’t planning on adding commentary but once the camera started rolling I couldn’t stop talking…nothing unusual if you know me at all.  So without further ado, here is the current state of our house, a constant DIY work in progress….

Wow, what a big difference 6 years and a lot of sweat equity can get you!  It’s a good thing Ryan and I are both DIY dorks, ‘go-getters’ and don’t let anything get in our way.  I haven’t mentioned this on the blog, but we are getting ready to put our house on the market, hence the rushed kitchen remodel.  I referred to our house ‘bucket list’  on Friday and the kitchen was the very last thing on that list.  It’s not exactly what we envisioned  (we wanted to knock out walls) but it’s nice to see the final piece of the puzzle come together finally.  It’s hard to say goodbye to something we’ve put so much blood, sweat, and tears into but she will never be forgotten.  We’ve learned so much on every DIY project and know we will use those skills and maybe learn some more on our new home!  Wish us luck on selling our home…If you want to buy it send me an email, LOL!

Let us know what you think by commenting below!


February 3, 2012

It’s been almost 6 years to the day since we closed on our first home.  January 30, 2006 Ryan and I signed a bazillion papers,with many dreams, and no clue of what the future held (especially since we weren’t even engaged yet!).  Today, exactly 6 years and 3 days later we have a (semi) completely renovated kitchen.  The last of many planned renovations over the past six years.  Somehow we let the kitchen be the last things on our bucket list for this house.  It’s  strange to think about it now because this is probably the room I spend the most time in.  When we looked at this house on January 8, 2006 at 9am, it was on the market for zero days.  We put an offer in at noon.  Shortly after our offer was accepted 3 contingent offers followed.

Taking a step back  in time, here are some pics of the kitchen on the day we viewed and put our offer on the house:

We put some cosmetic work into the kitchen during the first month we owned it.  We knew down the road it would have a gut job but for the time being painting the cabinets and replacing appliances would suffice.  Here are progress photos in the first year we owned our home:

That leaves us to 5 years later after the cabinets were painted, the laminate floor was updated, and we purchased new stainless appliances:

Today I am so thankful to finally write about the new granite that was installed in our kitchen on Tuesday!  I was at work when Continental Surfaces came for the install, but Ryan was able to work from home and supervise.   He totally surprised me and took a bunch of pictures of the install process, yeah!!

The 3 men installed the granite in five separate pieces.

  • a 15″ piece to the right of the stubborn oven
  • the 61″ piece over our sink area
  • a 21″ bridge behind the oven
  • a 36″ slab to the left of our fridge
  • and a 68″ piece with the corner radius
In order to get the corner radius piece seamless/level the installers used this contraption.  It held both slabs level while pulling the seam together.
When I got home from work the house smelled something awful from the caulking and who knows what else.  I was a little surprised the granite did not ‘wrap around’ the counter of the base cabinets like the laminate did.  That means an ugly 1/2″ to 1″ (depending on where you look) at the top of the cabinets was left raw and unpainted.  No biggie, I can prime and paint that, just unexpected.
Before we could touch (or do anything) in the kitchen we were told the granite must sit 24 hours to allow the caulk to dry, etc…  Last night we were finally able to move the fridge and oven out of our dining room and back into the kitchen (thank God!).  After three months of constant work on the kitchen we are finally getting back into the grove of semi normal.  Before we moved the appliances back in, I hit up that 1″ space where the granite meets the cabinets with some primer and a coat of paint.  It still needs one last coat to polish it off, but for the time being, we are back in business!!!
The pride and joy of our new kitchen, the corner radius and added countertop!
Needless to say we are very thankful that the kitchen is (mostly) finished.  I am so happy that it’s totally functioning again.  It may sound absurd, but I am can not wait to cook a meal again.  I am so sick of eating out and grabbing takeout.  I think my waistline has grown at least an inch.  Baked fish and steamed broccoli, here I come!!!
So It didn’t take us 525,600 Minutes (mentioned  here).  It officially took 116,640 Minutes from start to granite.
The list is officially getting shorter.
Still to do:
  • build upper cabinet for cabinet addition
  • finish white tile backsplash
  • nail in and putty/paint last pieces of trim
  • build cabinet doors for the bottom addition
  • decorate!
Granite is great and I am so thankful to be almost finished!  I am especially thankful for such a wonderful husband that listens to my crazy ideas and makes them come to fruition!  We may not always execute the plan as originally planned, but the dream to make this house a home has certainly been achieved….and with a lot of sweat equity.
Budget Breakdown:
  • Cabinet/countertop addition: $50
  • Floor tile: $300
  • Grout and Hardibacker$100
  • Stubborn Oven black top: $100
  • Granite $2,100
  • Total: $2,650
Not too shabby for a kitchen!

Preparing for Granite!

January 31, 2012

This weekend we started prepping for our new granite counters…can we say, Yeah?!  This process involved removing our kitchen sink, existing countertops, and oven so we could install extra measures of support.  We didn’t know what we had to work with until the old laminate came off.

When the templater from Continental Surfaces (our local granite company) came to measure the tops, he informed us of the steps we would have to take to ensure the addition was 100% level with the existing top it matches up to.  Ryan ended up having to add a 1/4″ plywood on that short counter to make the pieces level.

Once the tops were level Ryan cut support pieces out of 1×4 and 1×3 scrap wood.  Those pieces will then get screwed into the bottom of the plywood along the corner radius and into the bottom cabinet.  Thinking a step ahead, I was off to the basement to prime and paint the 1×4’s.  I figured doing touch up on the back-end would be easier.

On a side note, I have no clue how this happened, but later in the day I looked down at my little pup Ninka and noticed she had paint/primer in her fur!  How in the world that happened I have no idea, but when Michelle has a paint brush in her hand you better learn to watch out…this includes pups!!

While the paint and primer was drying on the support pieces, we went ahead and removed our 27″ stubborn stove (mentioned here and here).  It turned out to be WAY easier than either of us expected.  The first (okay, maybe second) thing that actually gone our way.  Ryan killed the power (which took about 10 minutes to find) and carefully lifted the unit out of it cubby and onto the floor.

Ryan disconnected the electrical and I carefully slid the unit across the floor (on an old bath mat) and into our dining room.  Somehow our dining room has become the major catch-all for everything kitchen reno related.  I just keep telling myself, only a few more days.

The next step was to disconnect the plumbing under the sink and remove the disposal so we could remove the sink.

The disposal and plumbing disconnected without a hitch.  While Ryan worked under the sink I took a razor blade and cut the caulking around the drop-in sink.  We pushed and pushed on that darn sink but it wouldn’t budge.  We eventually came to terms with the fact that b*tch was not going to come out.  I moved forward with the razor blade, scoring the caulk between the laminate and tile back splash.  We decided it was all gonna have to come out in one full and awkward piece.  After a little wiggling the laminate came loose and we were able to carefully lift the entire 103″ piece off with one nice pull. (and no cabinets were harmed in the removal!)

Here are some more views of the kitchen without the laminate countertops:

We discovered that the cabinets beneath our 103″ long countertop were in serious need of extra support.  Lucky for us Ryan keeps all kinds of scrap wood.  He measured and cut 1×2 support pieces and installed them above the dishwasher, stubborn oven, and across the 4 drawer cabinet space.

And here’s a glance of what the hot mess under the sink looks like:

We moved both countertops (with sink still attached) out back.  We will donate the unit to our local Habitat for Humanity store this weekend.

So that’s what we did this weekend to prep for our new shinny Blanco Taupe granite.  Last night we re-leveled and added the extra 1×4 support pieces that I primed and painted under the corner radius.  Once we get the fridge out of the kitchen we will officially be ready for our new countertops…we hope.  Keep your fingers crossed that we won’t have any hiccups when they come to install!

19 Pillows and Counting….

January 30, 2012

After painting our basement Rec Room a lovely medium grey (mentioned here)  I found it necessary to give sofa a little facelift as well.  It’s no secret that I have an obsession for throw pillows.  Before writing this post I counted them all, and yes, I have 19 throw pillows strewn across the entire house….hence, 19 pillows and counting.

I shopped all over (that being: Macy’s, Homegoods, Marshalls, and TJ Maxx) for some cool contemporary throw pillows,but came up empty handed.  I also hit up JoAnn Fabrics and a few stores online to find some fabric to make my own.  Ehhh.  That was a no-go as well.  Somehow in the small city of Charleston there is absolutely no good place to buy non-floral, non-ugly fabric (…maybe another small business idea?!).  Because I am a “right here, right now” kind of girl I decided to drive an hour away to hit up the Hobby Lobby in Huntington, WV.

The idea going through my head: a pop of yellow would really be nice between the bright blue, beige, and grey accents in that room.  I was looking for a yellow and grey chevron, geometric or damask pattern.  I pinned this inspiration pillow on Pinterest (found here):

The Hobby Lobby had some really cool fabric, but not much in my color scheme.  Boo.  I ended up get a blue and white geometric fabric and just a solid yellow.  My mother suggested painting the solid yellow fabric in a pattern.  I liked that idea even though I had never painted fabric (I don’t think puffy paint on a sweatshirt in 1988 counts).  With the intention to paint the yellow fabric, I bought both pieces for a total of $6 bucks, using 2 coupons.  Here are the swatches I ended up with:

I found two random red pillows in our attic that would eventually fit perfectly into the pillow covers I planned to sew.

After taking measurements I cut the fabric and pinned the opposite sides together.

With my Brother SE350 sewing machine I made a simple square along my pins.  I left an opening on one end so I would be able to stuff the old pillow inside.

It only took about 15 minutes to get the two pillows sewn together.   After turning the fabric right side out, this is what my pillow shells looked like:

I picked up a damask stencil ($2.50 with coupon), some acrylic paint, and a stencil brush at AC Moore.

On my yellow pillow I taped the laser cut stencil to the center of the fabric (after measuring to find the center) using green frog tape.

Once the stencil was in place I mixed Americana “Slate Grey” (not ‘gray’..haha) and Liquitex “Titanium White” acrylic paint on a paper plate.

It took a decent amount of white paint to lighten the ‘Slate Grey’ paint, but I eventually ended up with the light grey color I was after.  The paint was applied using a 1 1/2″ stencil brush.  (I inserted a piece of cardboard between the pieces of fabric to prevent paint bleeding, fyi..)

I removed the stencil from the fabric before the  painted dried just in case the paint stuck to the plastic…and let the paint dry for 5 hours before I even attempted to put the pillow together.

It took a little more muscle and a few ripped seams, but I was able to get both red throw pillows into their new custom sewn covers.

I got out a needle and thread to sew the openings shut.

I did a smooth whip-stitch about every quarter inch along my 8 inch opening.  (On a side note, yes, that’s paint in my finger nails.  We did more work on the kitchen reno (found here) this weekend as well.  My type A personality can’t do just one project over a weekend…haha).

Here’s how the pillows look in the basement Rec Room:

My freshly painted yellow damask pillow really isn’t that yellow.  She just doesn’t photograph that well.  Damn her.  It’s really more of a subtle (but bright) yellow. She definitely gives that basement the little pop it needed.

While I was at Kmart yesterday (for a completely different purpose) I found this really cute pillow in the new summer collection (Summer already, seriously?  It’s January!)  I couldn’t let this one pass by.  For a solid $9.99 she was mine and now makes #20 on the growing obession list of Bauer throw pillows.   (the best part?  I didn’t have to sew it!)

In true Before and After DIY fashion here are some ‘After’ photos of the basement with the new pop of yellow!

So there you go.   As I mentioned earlier, we put in a bunch of hours on the kitchen again this weekend.   We are getting so close I can taste it!  Be sure to check back in tomorrow for some new updates on that hot mess.

Happy Monday!

Let us know what you think by commenting below!

Countertop Progression

January 25, 2012

The countertops have been a complete disaster headache on this kitchen project.  We first went from replacing them with granite (mentioned here) to just replacing the new addition with matching laminate to our already not awful laminate (mentioned here), to changing the corner radius from rounded to square (found here) and now we are back at the beginning, replacing the tops with granite.

We’ve known for several weeks that granite was the once again the winner, but because we’ve had an issue with just about everything regarding countertops, we decided not to post about it until we knew for sure that we were on target.

I hate being that person who has to back track, let alone do it 3 times, but yes, I am that girl.  Home renovation is never a set in stone kind of thing and has changed significantly for us over the course of two months.

Let’s take a step forward.  Here is our kitchen as it stands at this moment:

Tile finished, check.  Grout in, check. Trim cut and nailed, check.  Fridge handles put back on, not yet.  (We will have to move the appliances back out of the kitchen (again) for the granite so there was no point on screwing them back in for the time being…call us lazy).

The original “Ebony Star” laminate is a textured finished (found here).  It was measured and templated 3 weeks ago by a local countertop company but came back as “discontinued’.  Having a discontinued countertop spurred us to go back to the granite option.  We decided it was ridiculous to replace the entire kitchen with a new laminate when we could do granite for a few hundred bucks more.  (seriously, it really was only about $500-600 more for granite).  Because we went back to granite that meant we would have to take the extra steps to address our support issue, which we’ve done.  That’s now small potatoes in the whole scheme of things.

Originally we decided on Azul Platino granite (mentioned here) but we both had reservations once the new porcelain tile was laid and grouted.  It took us about 3 weeks, but we finally decided on Blanco Taupe  granite.  It’s a lighter stone.  The background is white with light grey, dark grey, and black speckles.  There may even be a silver speck here and there that will tie nicely into to the stainless appliances, door/drawer pulls, and new stainless undermount sink.

Friday we went for the slab view, just to make absolutely certain that this was the top we wanted, and it was perfect!  We actually set a date for the install during the slab view.  If I told you the exact date something will go terribly wrong, so I have opted to keep that a secret.  Here is a picture of the Blanco Taupe granite against the original Azul Platino.

blanco taupe

You can sort of tell how much darker the Azul Platino (the one on the left) is compared to the Blanco Taupe (the one we chose on the right).  Because our black floor tile has undertones of grey through it we decided this was a much better, lighter match to compliment our white cabinets.

We both really like it against the light grey walls.  It doesn’t feel so ‘heavy’ like the Azul Platino.

So to sum it all up, yes, we are getting granite countertops.  Yes, they match the tile floor we’ve already laid.  Yes, it’s fresh and nuetral.  Yes, we LOVE it!  We can’t wait for the install and hope we still love it when the beautiful slabs are pressed against our glossy white cabinets.

In case you can’t envision it, I found a picture here, of a completed kitchen with the same granite.  Granted (no pun intended, haha) they have dark cabinets, but this should help you get a better feel of what it might look like.

I don’t want to jinx myself, but I really think it’s starting to come together!

Once the granite is in we will finally be able to

  • install the upper cabinet on the counter addition
  • lay tile backsplash
  • nail in the last few pieces of floor trim

The list keeps getting shorter….that’s music to my ears.