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Feeling a Little Grey (or is it Gray?)

January 23, 2012

No, I’m feeling grey about the never-ending kitchen renovation, that’s actually coming along.

Back in November, Ipurchased some new cream colored thermal draperies for our basement Rec Room (found here).  After I hung them I decided that the room looked a little too beige for my taste and thought that maybe one day down the road I would paint the space.  Yulp, I decided to do exactly that this weekend!  Bye, bye drabby beige, hello glorious grey!

As you may or may not remember, this is what our basement Rec Room looked like:

Too much beige-y beige, right?   Beige walls, beige sofa, beige drapes…beige everything.  I said, “ENOUGH WITH THE BEIGE”!  I am full of personality, why shouldn’t my basement be?!  I had almost a full gallon of grey paint sitting on my paint shelf.  It was leftover from the painting disaster I named ‘A Console that Needed a Consult’, mentioned here.  I’m not exactly sure what color the paint is, the can didn’t reveal a name, only a color recipe.

It took about an hour of prep to get the basement furniture removed and/or covered with plastic.

After a really good 5 minute shake of the can I was off and going.  I would like to ‘self-gloat’ here and let you know I started out (and completed) this paint job without the assistance of tape or the square edgy tool (that’s a technical term, but the way)….first time ever giving up the edging tool!  (and my steady hand actually did much better).

On a side note, I would like to point out I do NOT have my hair in a ponytail and headband…When I posted about grout (found here) I noted how I always seem to wear my hair in that fashion during home reno.

Back to the paint.  I decided just paint the front wall where the glass sliding door sits, just to make sure I liked the color.  Here is a pic of the beige and grey against each other.  The picture doesn’t do anything for the grey paint color.  You really can’t tell what color it is from this “it’s starting to become dark outside” photo.

With much contemplation I decided I did (sort-of) like the color.  I felt like it may be a little dark, but after all my furniture was back in place and pictures were  back on the wall it may not appear so cave-like.  I continued.  Yesterday morning I got up like a little kid on Christmas day and scurried to the basement.  It was a beautiful blue sky day and that awesome yellow sun shone brightly in my freshly painted room.  LOVE.  Serious.  Love. It.  I had some touch-up to do yesterday, but after it dried I moved everything back into place while Ryan was off looking for dishwasher brackets at Sears.

And without further ado…..drumroll please….my updated, non-beige Rec Room:

Apparently I really like grey.  I was thinking about it, and my dining room is a dark grey, my office is a medium grey, my kitchen is a really light grey, my basement bath is the same light grey as the kitchen (mentioned here), and now my basement is a dark-ish grey.  That’s four different grey’s in case you lost count.  Grey is the new neutral, just like pink is the new black…haha, I made that up.

Here is a close up of the drapes against the grey walls.  Much better than how they looked against the beige.

I know I highlighted the Rec Room, but adjacent to that space is a hallway that leads to a guest room, a bath, and our laundry room.  So of course that space needed to be painted yesterday as well.  I was afraid that the dark grey would make the hall feel small and closed in, but with so many white doors in such a small space it actually looks really good.  All of the white trim and doors pop against the grey walls.  This is the best picture I could get of the small hall:

It officially took me eight hours to complete and I am in love.  I keep going downstairs to just stare at the walls and see how much a gallon of paint can transform a space.  I totally feel like a 12 year old girl ogling Justin Bieber.  Grey paint= the equivalent of Justin Bieber in my book….until I have a new project, then that will be my new Justin Bieber (or Justin Beaver- as I thought that was his name until just about a year ago).

In true Before and After DIY fashion, here is the obligatory split screen photo (although the grey doesn’t appear true to life):

Because I already owned the Olympic NO VOC paint, the cost of this project is ZERO!  I heart projects that only cost me sweat equity.

P.S. I looked up the spelling of “Grey” or “Gray” to find out which one is correct and it turns out both are!  Gray is more commonly found in the United States whereas Grey is used more frequently in Great Britain.

Happy Monday!

A Tuft Act to Follow

January 18, 2012

When I was in high school my mother gave me my grandmother’s vanity bench to grace my bedroom.  She re-covered several times while I was growing up and it finally became mine when Ryan and I moved into our new home.  I kept the piece original for many years and but finally decided to refinish and recover the piece to match my style and our home.  During the process I found out some cool history from my grandmother.  Here is the original piece as it was given to me:

It’s been an accent piece in our bedroom for about five years now.  Because all of the furniture in our Master is black and not cherry, i decided this would be a good project to “before and after DIY”.  I got out my screw driver and removed all the screws securing the bench top, then got out my sander and removed about 50 years of stain and polyurethane.  I re-stained the piece with Minwax “Ebony” stain and re-coated several times with polyurethane, after light sanding between.

It took about 3 coats polyurethaning but I finally got the glossy coat I was after.  I then tackled the bench seat.  After removing 2 layers of fabric I found a really cool pink vintage crushed velveteen.

The velvet was covered up by 2 layers of fabric and a large layer of cushion.

My goal was to remove all the ugly fabric and extra cushion so I could preserve the vintage pink velvet.  Unfortunately the pink velvet was WAY to delicate and I was not able to remove it.  I decided to keep the original fabric in-tact and recover it.  My goal was to make a pillow out of the pink 1940’s fabric, but because it was so delicate it was just not possible.   The next best thing (in my mind) was to keep the original fabric in-tact underneath.

I found out from my grandmother that A) she didn’t know I had her bench B) that she didn’t know where the matching vanity is and C) It was bought  when she moved in1946 when she lived Springfield, NJ.   How cool is it that my bench dates back to 1946?

I decided to cover the bench with a white leather and contrast the fabric with black tufted buttons.  I made the black buttons with a kit I bought at JoAnn’s.

I cut my fabric to size and then I stapled it to the back of t the board using an electric staple gun.

After she was so beautifully staples back together I remembered that I forgot to drill the holes for the buttons.  Argh.  Just trying to keep it real.  I don’t claim to do anything perfectly.  I had to get out a flat head and remove almost all the staples (and I put in a lot!).   The first step was measuring where I wanted the button to go.  I marked the spots with a pencil and covered them up with masking tape.  The tape is suppose to prevent breakage when drilling into the wood.

After I had all the holes drilled in the bench seat I re-stapled the fabric  and threaded my needle with some heavy duty thread.   (FYI,  I watched several ‘how to’ videos online).  I strung the thread through the black buttons then through my drilled holes.  I secured each button tightly using about three knots through a large flat button on the back.  The flat button keeps the thread in place and tightens the top

After all the tufting was completed I screwed the bench top back into the frame.

Here is the finished product:

And in true Before and After DIY fashion the split screen:

The tufts aren’t as deep as I would’ve liked, (that’s because I didn’t add any extra padding underneath) but oh well.  Not too shabby for my first try at tufting….I’m thinking a headboard like this one I found on Pinterest may be next!

I hope I have made my grandmother proud!  My only wish is to someday find the matching vanity that goes with this bench.  I have the mirror, which I also refinished in the same black varnish several years ago.  One day my goal is to have the whole matching set together.

It’s a Boy!

January 16, 2012

No, I’m not pregnant, but my good friend Amy is!  This past weekend I hosted a baby shower for the mommy to be.  Amy is about 4 weeks away from having a little boy, so I put together the most elegant baby shower I could.  While perusing the internet, I found some really cute blue and green owl themed party printables on Etsy.  Printables are a really cool way to add personalization to any party.  You buy the design from a graphic artist and cut the labels, creating a DIY a themed party!  I purchased some 2″ favor tags, water bottle labels, and tented table cards.

I printed the 2″ circle tags on 110lb cardstock and cut them out with a scalloped 2″ hole punch.

On regular 20lb copy paper I printed 2 dozen water bottle labels and cut them using my Xacto paper cutter then taped/glued the labels to water bottles (original labels removed of course).

We spent Christmas in Atlanta with my folks so of course that meant an obligatory Ikea run .  While at Ikea I found a 4-pack of RAJTAN Spice Jars for $3.99.  I knew right away those babies would make some awesome favors.  I didn’t know what I would put in them, but decided to buy 5 packs for a total of 20 jars.

After about a week or so of shopping locally for for blue and green candy I decided to hit up Sam’s wholesale club.  I found a 15lb box of double bubble gumballs for $19.  It just so happened that the box had blue, green and white gumballs (among many other colors).  I decided to buy the box after an exhausting week long search for blue and green candy.  I got out some rubber gloves and sorted through the 15lb box of gumballs and separated the blue, green, and white balls.

The 2″ circle tags I purchased on Etsy were a perfect match for the lids of the Ikea RAJTAN jars.  With a little rubber cement glue (so it could be removed for use after the party), I adhered the tags.  I then took the sorted blue, green, and white gumballs and carefully inserted them into each jar.

After all 20 jars were filled with eleven gumballs each (yes, I counted how many fit), I secured the lids and added a little ribbon to match the Etsy printables.

Not too shabby, if I do say so myself!  Now that I have the favors figured out (first things first, after all) I could concentrate on the menu and other details.  Lucky for me, my favorite color is ‘Tiffany Blue’ and I have a lot of party supplies in that color.  Here’s how the drink table decor turned out (excuse the awful pictures, I had to take them in direct sunlight):

And the food table (same story, awful pictures due to direct sunlight…):

Instead of a guestbook, I opted for a ‘wish jar’.  This was a place (at the front door) for all of the guests to write wishes and/or advice for the mommy-to-be.  After they wrote their message it was placed into an apocrathy jar.  The table was also graced with a balloon display and fresh vase of daisies.

And this party wouldn’t have been such a success without wonderful friends who shared the celebration of Amy and Chris and their little boy!

The menu:

  • Asian Chicken on Endive
  • Chicken and Cheese Bruschetta
  • Deli Turkey Sandwiches
  • Deviled Eggs Garnished with Red Pepper
  • Cucumber and Dill Canapes
  • Individual Shrimp Cocktail Flares
  • Black Bean and Corn Wontons
  • Tomato Chutney on Cream Cheese on Water Crackers
  • Veggies with Ranch Dip
  • Double Fudge Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting
  • Chocolate Covered Pretzels
  • Caramel and Peanut Butter M&M Chex Mix
  • Limeade Garnished with Frozen Raspberries and Limes
  • Red and White Wine
  • Personalized Water Bottles

It was a hit!  And as I predicted, girls don’t eat carbs.  Ryan was so worried there wouldn’t be any left over cupcakes for him, I think I brought him back 18 of the 24 I made…haha.  Caramel Chex Mix on the other hand, that went like wildfire.

After staying up until midnight or so on Friday and Saturday night preparing food, I am officially zonked.  I am getting too old for this stuff!  I can’t wait until next weekend so I can (maybe?) sleep in!

I Hope you all had a fulfilling, family and friend-filled weekend too.  It was doubly fun for us, we were also able to attended a wonderful House Warming party for our friends Meg and Todd at their new home.  It was so great to see two different groups of friends in one weekend, we need to get away from home renovation and get out more often!!!

Happy Monday!

Glossy White Kitchen Cabinets

January 11, 2012

I neglected to post yesterday because we’ve been playing the waiting game on the kitchen cabinets for the past day or so.  On Saturday I removed all of the doors (found here) and gave them a little touch up coat of glossy white paint (Olympic No VOC).  It is imperative that the cabinet paint has proper time to cure before I started fastening the pulls and hinges back on.  It’s been 6 years since our cabinets were first painted and although they still look great, a little touch-up can’t hurt after all the sawing, sanding, and grouting that’s been going on in that space.

Because it was only in the 40’s outside we decided to set up a nice little paint shop in our basement rather than our garage.  I found some old school blankets given to us in the move from Ryan’s parents and used them as drop cloths.

I didn’t want the cabinets to actually touch the blankets because the paint could possibly stick so I grabbed some scrap pieces of wood and about a dozen of my dessert sized Fiesta plates to put face down under each cabinet, giving a little lift off the blankets.  (No Fiesta was harmed in the painting of our cabinets-and yes, I am completely boring, owning 12 sets of completely white Fiestaware).

On a side note (because I am big on getting off track), I know the appeal of Fiesta is the colorful miss-matched dishes, but the appeal for me is that they are oven safe.  I love the fact that I know I can throw each and every single piece of my everyday dinnerware into the oven for a quick heat up at any time.  And the reason I like white?  It totally shows off the presentation of food.  I am a big party planner/thrower and I love to make my plated dishes look extra special…OCD, I know.

You can see how using these “risers” (if you will) keep the cabinet doors off the blankets, therefore keeping the paint from sticking to both surfaces.

I used a 3 inch foam roller on the cabinets to ensure a nice smooth finish.  I started on the back side first just in case there was a scratch or two when I flipped them.   I’d rather have any imperfections on the inside of the doors. While the backside was in the drying process I started on the actual cabinets in the kitchen.  Again, I used the 3 inch foam roller and added the 2″ cut-in brush for the tight spaces.

If you want a really good 2″cut-in brush, I suggest the one they sell at Sherwin Williams.  It’s has a short rubber handle and is very comfortable to use.  It costs about 6 bucks.  I am on replacement #3 of this brush, that’s how much I love it.

We let the freshly painted cabinet doors cure for about 2-3 days before we starting putting the kitchen back together again.  My first step was to put the cabinet pulls back into place.  We replaced the pulls about 5 years ago, so there was no need to purchase new ones.  We gave them a bath in some dish detergent and water to get them extra clean and shiny.

Our new Milwaukee drill worked like butter on those screws.  I did get a little too excited a few times and had to remind myself to just “go slow” (something I’m not really use to, mentioned here).

Once the pulls were back on it was the daunting task  to get those 140 screws back into the hinges.  Yes, I counted how many screws I used.  It took 5 screws per hinge, 2 hinges per door, and 14 cabinet doors, hence 140 screws in and out in the span of 3 days.  I set up shop with my new glossy white cabinets (and a glass of wine) on my living room floor and started screwing those babies back in.

Oh yeah, Ryan helped too….we got deliriously giggly during the process…that’s what happens when you work 24 hours over a span of two days in one weekend.

After all 140 screws were back into the hinges, we then had 4 more screws per door to install so we could attach the hinges to the frames.

During the whole process we only lost two screws.  In my book that’s not too shabby!  Here are the pics of our newly painted glossy white cabinets, a (DIY) girl couldn’t ask for anything more!

While writing this post I actually came across a minor issue that was overlooked until now.  Did you notice it?  It was on the last 3 pictures.  The cabinet pulls under the sink are off.  we miss-matched the cabinet doors when we hung them.  The door on the right (under the sink)  goes on the opposite wall, which is why the pull is lower than the left.  We’re going to fix that one today!  Thank goodness for blogging, otherwise, I don’t know when I would have caught that mistake (it’s not so obvious in person)!!!!

As I promised, countertop talk will happen this week.  Probably tomorrow.  I have jinxed myself so many times after writing posts, so  I’m playing the waiting game before I know what exactly is going to happen there.  We just can’t afford any more set backs on this kitchen!!

It’s the Little Things that Count

January 9, 2012

After two 12 hour days of working non-stop on the kitchen (what?  there was a weekend?!), the small touches that often don’t get noticed, are taking shape.

Ryan got out his chop saw and carefully measured and cut each  trim piece that will grace our kitchen floor.  We laid (but have not yet secured) trim and quarter round (of course painting still to come).  Small project #1 of the weekend, complete.

We also went to Zeegar’s Hardware and purchased two 1.5″ transition pieces.  These metal strips join the carpet and and the tile to create one cohesive floor threshold.  I wish I would’ve had the camera ready to take pictures, but it went so fast there wasn’t time.  In the Michelle ‘Cliff Notes’ version, Ryan measured each metal strip to fit in the door jam, cut it with the saw-zaw, and nailed it in to the flooor.  Here is the finished product:

Because our kitchen is open to both the living room and the dining room, we needed to install two transition pieces.  They come in several different lengths (I purchased 3 foot) then you cut to size of your door way.   (We cut the excess carpet with a razor before nailing in the metal piece).  Small project #2 complete.

My next step in the process of getting everything in order was to remove all the kitchen cabinets.  I removed all 14 cabinet doors, (2 hinges per door, a handle on each one, and a center fastener on each door)  as well as the 6 drawers (yes, all I have is 6 kitchen drawers) and their hardware.    They all needed a little touch-up paint.  It’s been about 6 years since those babies have been painted (which says something about well painted cabinets).  I decided to give them a little touch-up since they were feeling a little neglected after all the love the kitchen floor received.

I got out Ryan’s new Milwaukee drill and started unscrewing all the cabinet doors.  There were 5 screws per hinge, two hinges per door, then 2 screws per door pull, and one screw on the center fastener…yes, that’s 13 screws per door= 194 total screws removed.

Taking out every single kitchen cabinet door really leaves an awful mess to look at, which is why I have decided I could never have glass doors or open air cabinets!

So off to paint I went.  Not only do the cabinet doors and drawers need a little touch-up, but the cabinets themselves could also use a new glossy white coat. Paint will take a little time since I want the doors to properly cure, so project #3 half way complete.   More to follow tomorrow.  We’ve over-shared our kitchen enough for one weekend….haha.

Happy Monday!

Sealed with Grout (and a Kiss)….mwah!

January 5, 2012

We did it!  It’s been 7 days since we started on the kitchen floor and our beautiful Fuerte Riverstone tile made by Ragno (in the USA!)  is cut, laid, and grouted!

Here’s what the tile looked like before grout (mention here):

The tile itself is porcelain- meaning it’s completely non-porous and extremely stain resistant.  The TEC Invision grout I applied (in Smoke Grey color) is also stain resistant and contains a sealer which will protect against any kitchen splatter (no need to seal-yeah!).

The TEC grout is on the pricier side since it’s pre-mixed and contains sealant.  I think it ran about $25 for a half gallon bucket.  Each bucket covers approximately 76 square feet and our kitchen is 100 square feet, so yep, we needed just barely over one, ugh.

Tools used: large sponge, tile float, grout, bucket of clean water for wiping.

Since Ryan was on his knees for three days measuring and setting the tile, I gave him a break and strapped on the ole’ knee pads and hit the ground with the grout float.  The directions on the bucket said to mix it all up so I got out a paint stir stick , gave it a little blend, and was off like the horses at Keeneland!

Grout should be applied by moving the float at a 45 degree angle across the tiles.  The angle ensures the grout fills each joint completely.  Once all the joints are filled I removed the excess grout from the tiles by turning the float on a 90 degree angel.  The directions indicate only working 10 square feet at a time.  Since I am a rule follower, I made sure not to move too far ahead.

After covering10 square feet of tile I went back with a clean damp tile sponge to remove excess grout, making sure to fully wring out extra the water.  I wiped in a circular motion, as recommended by the manufacturer.  It was necessary to repeat the sponging step several times to remove the haze.  Every 10 feet Ryan emptied and refilled my clean water buckets and I continued this process across the entire kitchen floor over a span of two hours.

On a side note, I swear I do not always wear my hair in a ponytail and headband.  I’ve noticed the last couple weeks all the blog photos I am sporting this look.  It’s the “I’m trying to grow my hair and bangs out while do manual labor” look.

Anyway, back to the grout.  We noticed a really bad grout haze after an additional two hours of dry time.  The instructions said the haze could be easily removed the following day, but having done this project before we had a hard time believing that.  I went to the interwebs to do a little research and found (on several creditable sources) that I could go back with a vinegar wash to clean the haze after 2 hours of set time.

The Vinegar to water ratio is 1:3.  Once cup of vinegar to three cups of water.  I grabbed a clean sponge and started to wipe the tiles in a circular motion, flipping the sponge every two tiles.  I washed out the sponge with the vinegar water solutions about ever 4-5 tiles so that I wasn’t wiping the haze back on the tile….that would be a huge step backward!

The results?  It didn’t completely remove the haze, but I must admit it looks 100% better.  I figure one more vinegar wash tomorrow should do the trick.  If that doesn’t work, they have a (not so ‘green’) chemical product at Home Depot that will remove the remaining haze.

Tile project #7 can officially be classified as complete!  I must say it moved moderately fast.  In true Before and After DIY fashion, here is the before laminate:

And the very beautiful tiled afters:

And the obligatory split screen:

The break down of what we did over New Years weekend:

  • Thursday Ryan removed the old laminate flooring like Houdini (found here)
  • Friday we laid  and secured Hardie Backer-board (here),
  • Saturday thru Monday consisted of cutting and laying tile (here)
  • Wednesday Michelle hit the floor with some grout (today’s post!)

What do you think?  Do you dig the diagonal brick pattern?  Doesn’t it make the kitchen look wider?  Let us know your thoughts by commenting below!

P.S. Countertop talk is next…we change our minds more than Elizabeth Taylor changed husbands.

Down with Some Tile.

January 4, 2012

Ok, so it took three days of cutting and laying tile (and a New Years party and maybe hangover in between) but we are officially doing the (overly) excited happy dance.   Our floors are two thirds the way to finished and we couldn’t be more psyched.  Without further ado, here’s the 411:

We started out (after laying Hardie Backer, mentioned here) by planning the lie of the pattern.  We knew we wanted a diagonal brick pattern (found here) but needed to figure out the exact 45 degree angle to get the long, wide-open look we desired.  Ryan started off by measuring our starting point (the corner by our oven) while I cut the tiles using our MK Diamond tile saw.

Our MK Diamond saw fits tiles up to 12″.  The tiles we purchased are 13″x13″.  Because we decided on a diagonal pattern, that extended the length needed to be cut.  Needless to say, Michelle had to use some serious skillz (yes, that’s skills with a ‘Z’, because I’m that good) in cutting 100 square feet of tile at a diagonal on a saw too small for the job.  (Oh, and it was snowing to boot).

The snow on Sunday was cold, but it was the wind that was frigid!  Every cut sprayed a nice layer of cold water on my face and hands, which is why I opted for latex gloves on top of my work gloves.  I also wore some major ear protection, because that sucker is LOUD!  (sorry to my neighbors if you were sleeping at 9am).

After getting a head start on measuring/cutting the first area of tiles, it was time to mix some thinset mortar with the drill and mixing bit .  Thinset offers a strong bond for applying tile to floors.  Ryan applied it with a standard floor trowel.

Once the (most crucial) starting point was in with thinset, the pattern started to take shape.  We used 3/16″ spacers from Lowes to keep each tile evenly spaced apart.

Ryan marked the starting point of each new row of tile at 6.5″ (the middle of each tile) to make sure the brick pattern never got off kilter.  Our kitchen is such a weird shape, so we needed to tile the kitchen in 3 separate sections over 3 days.  On the morning of tile day #2 we got out the dolly and moved the fridge to the dining room.  We had to remove the handles from the fridge and turn it sideways to get it out.  Luckily, we have a bunch of extensions cords, so we having a fully functioning kitchen in our dining room, which includes a microwave, toaster oven, and fridge.  For the record, living like this really sucks, but better than not having appliances at all.

Progress on day #2 included getting back into the new “L” shaped counter top area (more on that here).  We couldn’t tile ourselves backward into this space because there was no where to go, which is why this became a three step project.

On tile day #3 (Monday)  I had to cut the random trim ‘triangle’ pieces to cut around the perimeter of the entire kitchen.

The last tile recieved it’s very own tile photo-shoot, I hope it feels proud…lol:

Here is the final product.  Please excuse the awful lighting.  I was so zonked after working all day that I forgot to take the “after” pictures in the daylight.  I promise I will get better ones when the sun is actually shinning.

We are totally psyched with how the tile turned out.  It took 3 days to lay 100 square feet, but it’s finally set and ready for some grout.  Of course, this project could never been accomplished without great supervisors. Tulipai and Ninka did a wonderful job over-seeing the entire process, Ninka the Project Manager.

Still on the list:

  • Grout
  • Trim and quarter round
  • Paint existing and new trim
  • Countertops
  • Tile backsplash
  • Replace electrical outlets
  • Add new cabinet door hinges
  • Make cabinet doors for bottom cabinet on addition
  • Add upper cabinet on new counter addition
  • Do touch-up paint on all cabinets
The list is getting shorter, so that’s a plus.  Next step: Grout!

Baby Got Back(er-Board)!

January 3, 2012

Yep, our circa 1960 laminate floor which magically disappeared (mentioned here) is officially covered with Hardie-Backerboard (more on that here)!   We pulled out the fridge on Friday and pried up the last of the old laminate.

We used 1/4″ thick backerboard on top of the original 1964 laminate to create a smooth, mold resistant surface to adhere our tile to.  Ironically enough, the plywood used to lay laminate layer #2 (and 3) was the same thickness, the first thing to actually go our way in this kitchen remodel.

Ryan’s job was to measure and cut each piece of Hardie-Backer.  Our kitchen is fairly narrow, so it wasn’t as easy as plopping down each sheet, unfortunately.

While Ryan cut, I used 352 (yes, I said three-hundred and fifty two- I counted) 1 1/4″ “Backer-On” screws to secure the boards into place.

Ryan received a new Milwaukee drill and driver set for Christmas, and let me tell you, having an awesome drill driver really helped the process.  Even with a good driver, I still ended up with a major blister on my palm (hence the rubber glove), ugh…I guess that’s why they call it sweat equity!  (Oh, and by the way, it was 64 degrees here on Friday, which is why I’m wearing shorts and a tank…didn’t last long though, 2″ of snow yesterday).

Being cocky, we assumed laying 6 pieces of Backerboard would be a breeze (after all we’ve done this so many times before) but because our kitchen is so awkward, the process took several (unexpected) hours.  Since it took much longer than we expected, no tile was laid on Friday night…boo.  But here is what a fresh coat of Hardie Backer looks like!

I can now say the tacky  lovely 1964 original laminate is officially covered and ready for tile!!  But before we go there, let’s take another look at the beautiful Hardie Backerboard!

I can now official say the tile process began over the long weekend.  We played around with possible tile patterns (mentioned here), and the winner is, drum roll please….brrrruummmm….the diagonal-brick pattern.  Yes, it will probably be more cuts and will definitely need more attention to detail and spacing, but we think this will make the kitchen appear wider.  Our goal is to have an entire line of full tiles from the dining room to the opposite corner by the window…More on the tiling tomorrow!!!


Happy 2012, we hope everyone had a fun and safe holiday!

The Mess We Call Home

December 30, 2011

It’s no secret that we’ve been remodeling our kitchen.  But what I have kept a secret is the mess of a space we call our dining room.  There was a quiz a few years back called  “What Desperate Housewife Are You?”.   It was no surprise to me or anyone that knows me that I came back as “Bree Van de Kamp”.

Yes, I am that girl who pleases everyone and brings baskets of baked goods to new neighbors.  I also keep my house impeccable and there is never anything out of place….except for when we remodel.  This brings me to the awful (ok, not SO awful) shame of what our dining room currently looks like during this whole kitchen remodel.  For the record, I twitch at the sight of my dining room every second.

Yes: dog crate, tools, air compressor, and kitchen trashcan have all inhabited our eating space, but I guess it’s a small price to pay for a beautifully finished kitchen.  And those three bottles of wine on the table?  I might just drink them tonight…just kidding of course, maybe only one.

There is a random bookshelf in my dining room along with piles of opened tile next to my sewing table (but who really has a sewing table in their dining room?  I do).  Not to mention more boxes of tile on the opposite wall and a kitchen sink to boot!

Just trying to “keep it real”.  No, we are not perfect and our house is not anywhere near perfect.   Hopefully this god-awful mess will be graced with some Houdini magic (mentioned here) and be gone on Monday!   We can only hope.  Happy New Year, we will be back in 2012 with more updates on the kitchen…hopefully a fully tiled kitchen floor!


My Kitchen Floor is Like Houdini

December 29, 2011

…it disappeared like magic!

Ok, not really.  But to me it did!  Secretly, Ryan took off from work yesterday afternoon.  He worked diligently to remove 2 of the 3 layers of laminate flooring that grace the kitchen.  This was our conversation when I walked in the door after my long day at work:

Ryan:  Hi babe.

Michelle:  Hey!

Ryan: Look in the kitchen to see what your dog did.

Michelle: Oh crap, what did she chew up now?  (I noticed the pocket door to the kitchen was closed like Ninka chewed up her bed again and the damage was saved for me to witness)

Ryan: Open the door and look.

Michelle: WHAT??!!!  Where did our floor go?!

Ryan: Oh, I forgot to tell you, I took off work to remove the flooring and surprise you!

I LOVE THIS MAN!!!  Then I quickly said “Ryan,I wasn’t here to take the pictures!!”  His reply: “Maybe you should check your camera”.  Yep, my wonderful husband even documented the whole project!

The original (circa 1960) laminate was covered by previous owners with a new sub-floor (only god knows when) and 2 more layers of flooring were installed on top over the years.  Ryan got out the skill saw and carefully remove the old flooring by cutting it in pieces and prying it off.

Our original floor was then revealed!  It’s amazing the quality of this laminate.  So much more durable then what they sell now-a-days.  But let’s face it, it’s still pretty darn ugly and there are some questionable stains.

Ryan removed the threshold pieces between the hall and dining room, uncovering the hardwoods that lie beneath the carpet (but stop at the kitchen, of course).

The mess?  Yep, he got pictures of that too.  He wouldn’t want anyone to think this was a squeaky clean demo, they never are.

The 2nd layer of sub-floor was nailed in with brad nails. Many of them pulled up with the boards as Ryan pried them off, but a bunch still stayed nailed in the floor, making it slightly dangerous for our little pups.  Can you see all those silver, potentially paw cutting nails protruding from the floor?

Those little nails became my after work project.  Using my hammer, I was able just to pound those babies back into the laminate, creating a nice smooth finish to lay our Hardie Backer (mentioned here).

We still need to pull out the fridge and remove that small part of floor, but that hopefully will be small potatoes.

Here’s what the kitchen floor looked like in 1964 when this house was built.  I guess it’s neutral, so that’s a plus, right?!

And because it wouldn’t be a Bauer project without something broken….

All that pounding must have moved the dishes out of whack.  When I opened up the cabinet this little white ramekin fell right out onto the kitchen counter and broke…boo.

We’re no strangers to damage.  Other casualties were mentioned here, here, and here.  Yep, our history of breaking stuff continues….

Now that my kitchen floor has magically disappeared (sort of…since I wasn’t there), we can hopefully get under the fridge tonight and start laying some backer board and tile over our long 4 day weekend….wish us luck!

Tile has Arrived.

December 28, 2011

Thursday evening, before we left for Atlanta for Christmas, our tile arrived at Nitro Carpet, yeah!  This is actually big news because the store closed this past Friday for 2 weeks.  If it hadn’t arrived, we would’ve had to wait 2 weeks to pick up.  After laying out a bunch of pieces on the kitchen floor, it actually has more of a brown hue than we expected.  After all, we ordered 100 square feet of tile off one 13×13 tile.  It’s a little disheartening since we thought we ordered a black tile with grey hues, but it’s non-returnable, so we’ll work with it!

We played around for awhile with the tiles and finally came up with a diagonal brick pattern.  The straight brick pattern was just a bit too parochial for us.

Definitely sold on the diagonal brick pattern, just not sure which direction we want it to go.  Our goal is to make the room appear longer/wider.  I’m sure we will play around several more times before we decide on a set pattern.  We also inserted a piece of the sample grout to see what it would look like when filled.  Keep in mind these photos are not nearly accurate to the actual colors.

We plan to keep the smallest possible grout lines since  A) grout is expensive (if you use the color lock brand like we do) and B) grout is just plain ugly in my opinion.

Thar she be!

The plan for the week is to get the 3 layers of laminate flooring up…yikes!   Good thing we have a 4 day weekend to get this baby accomplished!  Also in the 4 day ‘dream-plan’ is laying the hardiebacker (mentioned here) and putting down the new tiles.  The tile will have to set for at least 24-48 hours before we can apply grout.  I’d like to be hopeful thinking we might be able to do it all over the long weekend, but having done this project several times, I know we will not.

Keep your fingers crossed for us, we have a long week of sweat equity ahead!!

The Good, The Bad, The Redesign

December 22, 2011

The good?  The template guy arrived yesterday afternoon!  He showed up ready to take our measurements and create us custom countertop for the new build out, first mentioned here.  The bad?  Our kitchen designer at Home Depot doesn’t know her facts.  When we ordered and pre-paid for our new countertop we were told that we could do a bullnose edge, which in case you don’t know, looks like this:

We have created and planned our new countertop around this radius (found here).  Having this curve, cuts off a sharp 90 degree corner, therefore making the kitchen look bigger and having no edge to catch your hip on.

When the templater (is that a word?) showed up, he informed Ryan it’s not possible to create a radius on laminate with a bullnose edge.  In order to create a radius, the edge must be straight.  Because we are matching an existing countertop about 3 feet away (which already has a bullnose finish) this is not an option…whomp whomp.  I have yet to figure out why this project (which should have been simple) has been nothing but a 6 week headache.  And I would also like to know why a ‘award winning’  (I’m using this term loosely-she had a plaque on her wall) kitchen designer wouldn’t know that!

Here are our options:

  • Have the top made with a non-matching flat edge
  • Replace all countertops with new flat edge laminate
  • Replace all the countertops with the original plan, granite
  • Create a 90 degree angle on the countertop (with a bullnose) rather than our so carefully crafted radius design
The decision?  well, let me rephrase, Ryan’s decision (since I was not there): have the L shaped countertop created at a 90 degree angle with a bullnose edge rather than the radius straight edge.  It will take up a bit more space in the kitchen, but it’s our easiest/cheapest option…The ‘Redesign’ of this posts tile.   Here is my photoshopped design of what the new countertop will potentially look like:

Of course it will also have the 4″ blacksplash around the whole thing.  I now feel like we need a cabinet below the 90 degree corner so it doesn’t look like it’s just floating there.  We will see if I win that argument!  Another downside?  Had we known about this issue prior we wouldn’t have had a custom pieces made.  We would have been able to order a piece from the Home Depot without the added expense of custom templating and install….major ‘wallet’ boo.

So the countertop was our first kitchen woe yesterday…because having only one woe in a single day wouldn’t be enough!  The guys from our local tile shop called about the tile we ordered on Saturday.  Every single box the distributor has is broken, which means it would take 3 more weeks to get in, delaying the progress even more.  Ugh!  I told him I would call back and let him know our decision.  Meanwhile, I got on the phone with Ryan to discuss our options:

  • order the unbroken 20×20 tiles in stock (which doesn’t fit in our tile saw)
  • wait 3 another weeks for the 13×13 originally ordered tiles
  • get a refund and continue the ridiculously long hunt for black/grey floor tile.
Our decision?  None of the above!  Luckily while we were on the phone the tile shop called back.   The distributor found 9 more unbroken boxes and will have it shipped for a Thursday/Friday pickup!  Wow, talk about another mini heart attack!
Even though we had a very stressful day, I decided to create something fun to lighten up.  JibJab has a really cool holiday video you can customize…yes, I did it and it’s a hoot!  Check out our Christmas wishes to you all by clicking on this link:

Every Mantle Deserves a Little Bling.

December 21, 2011

When I started decorating for the Christmas season (mentioned here), I neglected our fireplace mantle.  It took me 5 days before Christmas day to get ‘er done.  Last year I fell in love with a really cool monogrammed Mud Pie brand Elf Stocking at some random store in Atlanta.  (this stocking was found here)

Of course the only initial they had was ‘R’ and I wanted a second matching ‘M’.  I ended up not buying it since I was only able to find one to my set.  My mother (unknown to me) went back to that store and purchased the ‘R’ stocking.  She held on to it in for a year in hopes she could find me that darn ‘M’.   Well, she didn’t.  While shopping in Lexington over this past Thanksgiving, she  randomly ran into these stockings again.  But there was no ‘M’.  My aunt noticed a ‘W’ and that a ‘W’ upsidedown could be a ‘M’!  So mom bought 2 ‘W’ stockings and decided that she could sew something together by cutting out one ‘W’, turning it around and sew it back on the second stocking.  (Yes, this is where I have learned all things sewing and craft-related!).   That newly designed elf stocking, along with the original ‘R’ showed up in the mail on Monday.

In the package my mother also included the third stocking she cut the  ‘W’ out of and the trim she used to finish it off.  Mom knows how crafty I can be and thought I just might want to do something with it!

After looking at it for a bit, I decided to search for some left over white fabric in my scrap bin.  I could use my sewing/embroidery machine (mentioned here) to monogram and (hopefully) piece together a matching stocking for our pups!

I luckily have the “twisty curls” font for my sewing machine, so the lettering matched perfectly.  To get the circle cut out to the right size I used a martini glass and traced around it.

I had some craft glue on hand, so I generously applied it to the back of my custom made patch and pressed it into place in the hole on cut up stocking.

Using the same gluing method, I cut the green trim piece to size and delicately applied the glue to the back of the trim.

I let the glue sit overnight.  Here is my finished product:

Not too shabby for a cut up stocking most people would have thrown away!  Having all three (much desired) matching Mud Pie elf stockings, I decided to finally decorate our fireplace mantle for the Holidays.  To be honest, I probably wouldn’t have taken the time to do so, since Christmas is only five days away, but these little beauties deserve a little bling!  I stopped at Rite Aid on my way home from work, and with God on my side, they had one box of matching bright red ornaments!  They also had some silver pearl beading which I decided to throw in the cart as well.  Not too shabby for some last minute drug store finds!

Christmas decoration is now complete!  At least I have about a week to enjoy it before I have to take it all down!

P.S.  did you notice the white ceramic dog on the fireplace hearth that resembles our pup, Tulipai?  That was a random find at Homegoods I couldn’t leave without.  In case you didn’t know, I have a slight addiction to ceramic animals (I posted about one of our ceramic animals, our piglet, here).

Do you dig what I created from my leftover elf stocking?  Have you crafted together something by turning a letter upside down?  Did you wait until this week to decorate your mantle too?  Let us know by leaving a comment below!

Spackle, Spackle on the Wall…

December 20, 2011
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….Michelle is the fairest mudder of all!

I kind of forgot about the hole I patched when we removed the old Nutone speaker unit (mentioned here) until the other day.  We pulled the toaster oven back into the kitchen and it nicely covered up that halfway patched hole for several weeks.   With nothing to do over the weekend, I decided to break out the dry wall spackle and started back on this thing!

Because the patched hole isn’t flush, it needs lots of mud-love, and lucky for the hole, Michelle has lots to give!  I got out the  sanding screen and smoothed the mud I applied a few weeks ago.

After a smooth sanding job I could then apply another coat of pink spackle.

Because I am OCD this probably took 4X as longer than a normal person.  I pulled out 4 different spackle knifes to make sure I got the coverage I wanted.

Now it’s a waiting game.  The spackle goes on pink and dries white.  Tomorrow I plan to take the sanding screen back to the wall and apply another coat of mud.  Hopefully this will be the last.  I really need the patch to be level since we plan to tile a backsplash on the wall to match the existing backsplash on the opposite wall.

Of course my mudding spree doesn’t stop there.  Once I completed coat #2 on the Nutone hole I saw another spot that could use a little touch up in the kitchen.  Then another and another.  I became a crazy lady with a spackle knife.  When I made my way to the basement to wash my knives I noticed more holes down there!

Needless to say, I spckaled and sanded about 12 more spots.  At this rate I should have just re-drywalled the whole darn house…haha, just kidding.  Once I get all those spots primed and painted they won’t even be noticeable!  I’m still toying around the idea of painting the basement grey (mentioned here)…we shall see.

You always find something when you’re not looking…

December 19, 2011
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We went to the Home Depot on Sunday to price out some 3×5 Hardie Backerboard.   Hardie Backer provides a stable, water-resistant substrate and a strong surface to bond tile to.  It’s a must, if you plan to lay floor tile.  We’ve installed floor tile in 2 other spaces in our home, and used it every time.   Once we remove the laminate floor in the kitchen, Ryan will screw it down to the sub-floor.  (More on Hardibacker here).

Oh,  I forgot to mention we ordered our countertop on Friday!  Since the countertop debockle is hopefully settled, we were also able to make a final decision on tile (which we did) and it was ordered Saturday, hence the backerboard shopping!  We ended up ordering a completely different tile than what we originally picked out, mentioned here.  I forgot to take a picture of it and of course we returned the sample when we went back to place our order.  It’s called River something or something River…not like that helps you at all.  It’s a grey-ish black porcelain in 13×13 squares.  Why did we change our mind?  A) it was thinner (we were worried about the threshold between our kitchen and dining room being level)  B) it was less expensive  C) we decided that the faux wood tile had too much of a brown hue in the sunlight.  Decision made.  It’s paid for and no returns.  We’ve already spent too much valuable time going back and forth between tile and countertops, Michelle said “enough is enough!”.

Anywhooo…back to our shopping trip at Home Depot.  Near the lumber area we found a display of 2 different bathroom vanities.  Why they were placed in the opposite corner from the bath and kitchen section is beyond me.  About 3 months ago I painted our basement full bath.

Painting the walls spurred the removal of our pepto-pink commode and matching pepto-pink sink.  We donated both beautifully dated pieces to the Habitat for Humanity Restore.  After a few commode returns (of course our old 1964 toilet was a special order, smaller unit (just like our oven mention here and here))  we installed an up-to-date white one.  The next step was to purchase a new vanity/sink.  Because the space is fairly small, I wanted a pedestal sink.  Ryan wanted a vanity.  Neither us wanted to budge so our bath has been without-sink for 3 months.  I was totally open to a vanity, but 18″ deep vanities are hard to come by.  We located a unit at Lowes, but because it was a cool 300 bones we passed.  That leads me to our find at Home Depot: the vanity!  The oddly placed vanities were much smaller than standard ones.  I pulled out my measuring tape (yes, I keep a mini one in my purse at all times) and ran the dimensions.  Holy Heck!  It was 24″ wide and 18″ deep and it was white!   We I got a little excited!  Two minutes into deliberation, we decided it was sold.  I quickly found a flatbed and Ryan loaded that baby up to take home.

Before we brought the vanity into the bath I took a few shots so you could see what we had been living with for the past 3 months.  Because this is our basement, it rarely gets used so it was never an inconvenience not having a vanity.

And no, we still haven’t even removed the stickers from the new commode.  We kind of forgot about it since we’re never in the space.  Good news, the vanity fit!  I was a little worried that my wall dimensions may have been off.

I especially like the square profile on the cabinet doors, which is definitely more contemporary than a pepto-pink wall mounted sink!  Of course it’s not connected yet or anything.  We didn’t want to invest in a faucet or drain until we knew it absolutely fit.  I suppose one day after work we’ll head back up to the Home Depot and purchase that.  I think at this point the GPS in my car is permanently programmed to drive in that direction…haha!

What do you think?  Vast improvement?  Would you have replaced the pepto-pink sink with a pedestal instead of a vanity?  Did you find something you needed and weren’t shopping for this weekend too?!  Happy Monday!!

Wrapping it All Up

December 16, 2011
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Everything is official crossed off on the shopping list, so I decided to sit down with our massive pile of gifts and start wrapping last night.  I picked up some really cute two-toned green damask paper at Hobby Lobby over the weekend. I’m getting better at making bows and I think they turned out pretty darn cute this year, if I do say so myself.

This year I broke out some tulle to add a little texture to the bows.  I had a leftover roll from a tutu that I made for my niece, so there was no extra expense at the Hobby Lobby.

I cut a strips about 30″ long and folded them back and forth until they were proportionate to the size of each package.

After the tulle was sized, I cut the folded edges with my scissors.

Holding the cut tulle really tight, I secured it withcurling ribbon that was wrapped around each box.   Make sure to knot the curling ribbon tightly so the tulle stays in place.

With the tulle securely in place by curling ribbon, I started the second layer of my ‘fancy’ bow.  (I also made sure to give the tulle a good fluff).

With the second layer of curling ribbon, I created a bow in the same fashion as the tulle, folding the ribbon back and forth until I had the desire thickness.  (I learned this trick a few years back from my good friend, Dena).

I then secured the curling ribbon bow in the same fashion I secured the tulle, with the ribbon around the package and knotted it.

The cut ends of curling ribbon got the stand scissor curling action.

Over the weekend I was on the hunt for some cute name tags to go on the gifts, but there was nothing out there to match my wrapping paper.  Although, I did come across super-cute red and white swirl tags at K-Mart.  They were two bucks for a pack at four. With over 30 gifts to wrap, that was going to cost the Yarbauer’s a pretty penny.  Instead, I went online and found a template that I could print out on red card stock and cut out, found here.

Gift wrap complete!

I won’t lie, it me a few hours to wrap thirty plus gifts.  Good thing there is a plethora of syndicated episodes of The Big Bang Theory on the boob tube !  I took this ‘after’ photo late at night, so excuse the awful lighting.

Yes, I am one of those neurotic people that must have all the gifts match under the tree.  No clue where I picked this up, but it is a very OCD trait that I share with my mother-in-law!  Great minds think alike!

Have you crossed everything off your list for Christmas?  Do you have everything wrapped?  Are there any awesome bow DIY’s you’d like to share?  We’d love to know!

Stop Pinning, Start Doing…

December 15, 2011

You may or may not be aware of my mild obsession with the website Pinterest.  It’s described as a place to pin all the things in life you love.  Basically, it’s a virtual bulletin board.  I mostly use Pinterest for recipes, crafts, home design and décor.  The entire website has become my virtual tear sheet book.  Yes, I still have a hard copy with all my design and decorating ideas, but sometimes it’s just easier to “Pin It”!

Tear Sheet book vs Pinterest.

Tear Sheet Book:


In some aspects there’s just no way Pinterest can compete, such as color swatches, fabric samples, and mobility (if you don’t have an iPad or smartphone, like me).

I am especially impressed how the site has grown in the year I’ve been onboard. When I made my discovery, I posted a shout-out on Facebook asking for an invite.  No one even knew what I was talking about.  I ended up requesting a membership from the website (it’s an invite only thing).  They made me wait about a week or so before I got the “you’ve been approved” invite via email.  The website can be so addictive.  Pin, pin, pin….which leads me to the topic of today’s post….It’s time to stop Pinning and Start Doing!!

I went to my DIY board and picked out a ‘pin’ to knock off the list.  I’ve been saving pickle jars, salad dressing bottles, and wine bottles for a few months now and they are starting to pile up, hence my decision to craft something using them.  I had 4 pins on my DIY board that involved glass jars.

I decided on the lower right pin, covering vases/jars with rubber bands and spray painting them.  This past weekend I gathered some of the jars and set up shop outside.

I took rubber bands and wrapped them around two of the jars.  I didn’t want all of the jars to look the same, so I decided to rubber band just two of them and leave the other two plain.

I used Krylon spray paint in Blue Ocean Breeze and Rust-oleum Semi-Gloss White.  I applied two light coats  to make sure they were all evenly coated.  To make sure there was no over-spray between the jars, I separated them with a piece of cardboard while I sprayed.

Because the temperature was only 40 degrees on Saturday, immediately after I sprayed the jars I moved them into our heated garage to dry.  40 degrees is way too cold to paint, fyi!  I let the jars dry for about 24 hours hours, then came the unwrapping…

The lines weren’t as clean as I would have liked them to be, but sometimes you just have to let it be!  I actually like the imperfectness of them, it lets everyone know I took the time to craft something rather than buy it off the rack at (insert retail store here).

(yes, that is a tag still on the bonsai tree…I keep the tags on just about everything home decor-related, you just never know when/if you will find something better!!!)

Now I just need to find some flowers to go in them…maybe my wonderful husband will surprise me with a bouquet (?).

I haven’t decided where this completed ‘pin’ will end up in the house, but at least I can knock another one off the Pinterest list!  Maybe they will become candle holders instead….we will just have to see.  I can now call Mission: Stop Pinning and Start Doing: Complete!

Sew much to do about nothing…

December 14, 2011

With the kitchen renovation at a standstill (last mentioned here), I didn’t have much to do last night.  When I stepped into the dinning room to tidy up all the floor tiles we picked up over the weekend (found here), I noticed the cream napkins on my silver chargers.  I had been meaning to monogram those darn things for the past 2 years, but just never got around it.

With no appointment TV scheduled for the night, I decided to put my sewing machine to work.  About four years ago I upgraded my standard Singer sewing machine (which I got for my birthday in college) to a Brother SE-350 sewing/embroidery machine.  This baby does everything I could ever imagine.  I actually started a small embroidery business a few years ago.   The napkins kept starring at me (or maybe I kept starring at them), so I decided to get ‘er done.

Everything I embroider first starts out as a design on my computer.  I have a program called “Embroidery Fonts Plus” that allows me to template all my projects.  For this specific project, I wanted a monogram that would incorporate both Ryan and I.  After messing around for awhile, I came up with this design:

I then size the design and transfer it into a file that I can convert on an embroidery website, the one I use is  On this website I upload my design and it automatically converts it to a file type that my Brother sewing machine will read (PES).

I have a special external drive, called PED-Basic, that copies the files onto a digital card that slides into my sewing machine.

With the file copied onto the memory card, the machine can read the file.  On the touch screen of my Brother sewing machine I can also do slight alternations such as size and position.  The next step is finding the right stabilizer and needle.  Stabilizer is the material beneath that keeps the fabric in place while sewing.  In this case, I used Sulky brand Sticky+ Stabilizer.

Because this is a sticky material, there is no need to hoop the fabric.   When the sticky stabilizer is secure in the hoop, I score lightly in an ‘X’ pattern and remove the back.

Below is the napkin measured and adhered in the hoop.

The set-up process in machine embroidery is the most time consuming part.  Once the fabric is in place and the hoop installed, I can hit start on the sewing machine!

You may think the machine does everything all by itself, but it takes human attention to tread, thread tension, and bobbin to make sure the embroidery goes as planned….otherwise it can result in disaster, which has happened to me more than once ten times!

This pattern took approximately 10-15 minutes to sew due to the thickness of the lettering.  It turned out exactly as planned.  I love my new dining room personalization!

Four down and four to go…our dining room table seats eight!  The cream napkin looks great with the grey embroidery against the silver chargers and grey walls.  (I had thought about going lime green to match the adjacent living room, but felt it was better to stick to neutrals…

P.S. I updated the post on “Fascinated with Fascinators” with pictures of the company Christmas party!  Check it out here.

Sampling Some Tile

December 13, 2011

Over the weekend we hit up just about every store in the Charleston area in search of new tile for our kitchen floor.  We even hit up 2 stores that didn’t sell tile, only carpet…ooops!  On average, we brought home about 3 boards from each retailer.  We laid them all on the kitchen floor in order to get an idea of which one we liked best.

All of the tiles above were definite NO’s, so we continued to lay down more tile boards.

All of the tiles we picked up are porcelain, but we were immediately drawn to one specific tile.  Would you believe it??  We actually both agreed on something!  The winner??!

Riflessi Di Legno in ebony!  It’s made by Marazzi in the beautiful USA.  The tile is fashioned to have the appearance of wood floor.  You may then ask, why we didn’t just look at installing wood floor?  Well, the answer is simple.  We don’t want wood floor.  We really wanted something unique and contemporary, which is exactly what this tile is.  Initially, we really didn’t think it was in our budget.  We were drawn to similar pieces in several other stores, but after hearing the price, quickly turned away.  We saw this tile at Casto and had them price it just for giggles.  We couldn’t believe it, it was a little less than half the price of the prior tiles we priced.  In our budget, this beauty is only coming in at $4.79 a square foot!  Even the sales associate was shocked at the price, she said it was a high-end piece.

LOVE IT!!!  It’s really hard to tell the true color of the tile in the pictures, but it is black-ish/brown with brown back hues.  It comes in 3″x24″, 5″x24″, and 11″x24″ tiles.  We plan to use the smallest possible grout lines and fill them with complimentary black grout.  We are going to order 5 boxes of 3″ tile and 5 boxes of 5″ tile to create a pattern alternating between the two sizes.  Here is a picture of a finished room with the same tile:

We have decided to wait until the countertop is ordered before we commit (although we basically already have).  Speaking of the countertop, no, it has not been ordered yet.  We’ve had an awful time trying to get it matched and every time we head to Home Depot the kitchen designer is “off”….argh.

So, do you like the tile?  Do you have any experience with the faux-wood tile?  Do you think the dark tile will compliment the countertop?  Let us know!

Stubborn Oven Gets a Facelift.

December 12, 2011

There’s something exciting about coming home on your lunch break and seeing a huge box on your front porch, especially 2 days after you ordered it, and about 5 days before it was set to arrive.  You guessed it, the black oven top to my Stubbron Oven  (mentioned here) arrived 5 days before scheduled…whoot, whoot!

I couldn’t resist, I had to open the box and see what my oven top looked like.  To be honest, I really wanted to make sure it was black.

It was definitely black…woooha!!  Now the 10 million dollar the question, was the GE phone rep correct saying that it was inter-changeable with my white top?  Tuli and Ninka sniffed around as well, they also questioned the accuracy of the phone rep ((probably) in a third world country).

Ryan said it was a quick 5 minute job, so he installed it that night.  I really didn’t believe “5 minute job”, but it totally was!!!

If you member, this is what our stove previously looked like with that awful white, mismatched top:

After removing the coils, we were able to lift up the white top to get a look at the electrical.

Yep, that’s probably 20 years of cooking residue under there…GROSS!  The electrical was easily removed by unscrewing a few brackets.

There were two screws on each back corner keeping the top in place, so once they were removed, out came the white cooktop!

White top removed, we could break out the new black beauty and get her into place!  Can you tell I am slightly excited?!  It really is the little things in life.

Putting in black beauty (the new top) was the backwards version of taking out the white top (obviously).  We (that’s the Ryan part of we) screwed in the back hinges then re-connected the wiring for the burners.

I was a little skeptical that Ryan replaced each burner in the correct space (since he didn’t mark them), but man, he has a good memory.  After checking to make sure the right front burner turned on with it’s knob, etc…he was right on point!  Damn, I love this man!  The final product is definitely not a $1,600 stainless unit, but I must say it looks one thousand percent better now that it’s all black.  That white top on black body combination was just too out there for me.  Here is our final product:

She’s a beaut.

Budget breakdown:

  • Cooktop= About $100 for the replacement.
  • Hardware= used existing hardware, screws, etc…
  • labor= free!

It’s amazing how different the space looks with a black cooktop (and booya!  It was only a cool 100 bones).  Of course that can’t be the end of of it though. Now that the top is all beautiful, cohesive, and black….the coils look so 1970 and dingy.  I went to price out 4 new coils, would you believe those suckers run about $30 bucks a pop?  yep, it will cost us over one hundred dollars (more than the top itself) to replace all 4 coils.  argh. And so the cookie crumbles!


P.S. stay tuned this week, we went tile shopping and brought home about 10 different sample boards this weekend!