04 Feb

Bye Bye Cookie Cutter Kitchen

final finishes

I know this is going to come as a shock to you but I don’t cook. So when we walked through this house the modest size of the kitchen wasn’t really an issue for me. For the most part, it serves its purpose and we have all the appliances we need. And though I’m not really keen on them being black they were pretty new so there was no incentive to spend the money to swap ’em out.

builder grade kitchen

Instead, I splurged on backsplash tiles that pulled the space together. The black and grey glass worked well with the appliances and the variations in the slate pulled in the orange tone of the wood cabinets and trim.

glass backsplash tiles

The laminate countertops were in great shape so instead of replacing them I created a spice shelf to physically and visually break up the surfaces. It extends about 4″ – just enough room for the salt and pepper (or sample jar of paint). Once that was complete, I installed upgraded lighting fixtures.

diy spice shelf

So, it always bugged me that the countertop around the sink was a bit ‘overgrown’. It wasn’t wide enough for a true breakfast bar and you couldn’t sit there and not back up into the dining chairs. Since we didn’t have another eating space I had to find a way to make this one seem larger.

eat in kitchen area

Now listen, even if I wasn’t a DIY’er or interior designer I have watched enough HGTV to know that never, in the hundreds of hours of real estate shows aired has there ever been a buyer who loved everything about a home except for the fact that it lacked an overgrown countertop.

I have, however, heard plenty a property virgin whine about where all of her friends and family will sit during their housewarming party. So, the decision to cut the countertop was an easy one to make – for resale value obviously.

cut laminate countertop

See? Once I trimmed it out and stained it to match the other wood, you couldn’t even tell it hadn’t always been that way.

wood trim on counter

Just look at how much larger the dining area is! (all of the chairs are around the table)

extended dining space

After adding brushed nickel hardware to the cabinets and drawers (to tie in with the stainless steel on the stove) I cut and installed wooden crown molding above and swapped the builder grade hollow core pantry door for something a little more fun-ctional.

cabinet crown molding

Then the 7″ shallow sink was replaced with a deeper 9″ version.

shallow sink deep stainless sink

…and it was bye-bye to that cookie cutter kitchen.

final finishes

Want to see what is going on behind that pantry door? Check it out here. Or are you wondering where I stashed the trash can? It’s under here…

18 Jan

Put A Lid On It

Plastic Pantry

As I was rummaging around in the pantry muttering about the builder’s stupidity for not installing any lighting in there my son was busy putting away the dishes. Over my own complaining I could sort of hear him whining about having too much Tupperware and not enough cabinet space.

I’m pretty sure he was complaining more about me and the way I insist things be put away just so but since he was smart enough to ‘whisper-gripe’ I couldn’t be certain.

As I slammed the door and flung outdated food on the counter he looked at me and said “Why don’t we put the food in the cabinet and the dishes in there?” pointing to the pantry. Being the logical and responsible parent I responded with “Because.” Read More

13 Jan

DIY Dumpster Dive

Cabinet Organized

I <3 trash. But, I try hard not to be the one putting things on the curb for others to pilfer. I’ve been known to hang on to soup cans, spaghetti jars, cardboard (sorry Mom – I know you’re shuddering as Dad reads this to you!), plastic & paper bags, fabric & wallpaper scraps – you name it, I save it. You just never know when you’ll need it. But – not in a hoarder kinda way. I have no sentimental connection to anything. I just *like* to keep as much money in my pocket as possible by keeping very little from hitting the curbside.

So, when I was hating on the trash can frame I built for my Hide & Seek Garbage project it was easy to grab some cardboard and wallpaper and pretty her right up. I didn’t have to look far for a pull knob since I have about 40 of them to choose from. Read More

10 Jan

It’s (hide and seek) Trash Day!

Black & Decker jigsaw

We have been up to our ears in germs around these parts of late. What with the hubs’ swine flu and Mr. Lou’s allergies to life my kitchen counter looks like an Osco pharmacy. (We don’t even have Osco’s in these parts, I’m paying homage to my Chicagoland roots – holla!) I’m certain we’ve gone through 1,000 tissues and paper towels in the last week alone. So of course the first task to knock off this year’s Domestic Bucket List had to be the under cabinet trash can. Read More

10 Dec

‘Tis the {Craft Fair} Season

DIY painted dishes

Is it seriously Monday again already??

These last days of the year are whipping by and I wish I could say I’m lounging around lazily enjoying lattes and foot massages but I most certainly am not. Instead, I am going freakin’ crazy {my fave state of mind btw} preparing for a craft show this weekend.

Back when I schlep’d Tupperware I participated in a few of these but the preparation was so simple: 1. Set up a table. 2. Pull out the plastic. 3. Drink coffee. Now? Yeah, not quite that easy. I sorta forgot that *making* my own products would need to be factored into the planning timetable. Whoops!

Anyhow, I’m running at full steam whipping out uber awesome things. I’m not quite ready to post them but I will give you a few sneak peeks and update later this week with the full reveal. (how’s that for tossing out a meatbone of anticipation ~ I’m learning, I’m learning!)

What I will share are the ho-hum GoodWill plates that got doctored up for last Saturday’s Women’s Brunch at church.

Now, I’m going to be as honest as possible with this tutorial because, while I’ve seen similar posts all over Pinterest, not one of them tells you that it is a PITA project. Seriously. It isn’t as easy peasy as *they’d* have you believe and I’m here to shatter that facade.

To start, I picked up an array of somewhat similar plates ~ the most expensive being $0.99 ~ and some paint pens from HobLob (don’t forget your coupon!)

I did some research on the toxicity of the pens and determined that since no one was going to be guzzling a pint of the paint, they were no less safe than any preservatives added to the food that would sit on top of them and went with it.

(Elmers has a non-toxic version & HobLob carries it. So if you’re really concerned I would recommend that as an alternative.)

After trying quite unsuccessfully to use a stencil & spray adhesive (bleed city) I freehanded the design and let it sit (all over the kitchen table and counters) for 24 hours to dry.

Then I popped the plates into a cool oven set at 350 degrees for 30 mins (or so, I’m horrible at remembering what time I start anything). The baking process made the house stink, I’m not gonna lie.

When the time was up, I cracked the oven door (and the windows) to let the plates cool in place. Then I pulled them out to oggle the fruits of my labor (get it?)

Now, remember I had a good 30’ish minutes to kill so I continued to survey other blogs for project tips.

I came across this awesome post about using a liquid cleanser (intended for the kitchen & bath) to remove scuffs from ceramic and just happened to have some under the counter.

So I eyed the *COMPLETELY FINISHED* plates sitting on the countertop. I walked over and gave them a once over noticing the scuffs & scratches.

….and then proceeded to soak & scrub each and every one of them.

I am happy to report, though, that most of the plates survived the initial scrubdown and the knife marks were gone. Win, win!

But me being insane me, I repainted every. single. one., let them dry & recooked ’em.

I’m not kidding when I say I do everything twice.

During the (initial) cooking process the design stayed in tact but the color lost some oomph. See how the red turned orange and some of the branches disappeared? No good.

The entire process gave new meaning to ‘lather, rinse & repeat’.

Flash forward to Friday night.

As I was setting up my table, many of the other ladies were already scoping out the competition. (I kid, this is all done in love.) One of them asked where I purchased the plates and it wasn’t until someone else said they’d “never seen a complete set of dishes” at The Will that I caught the compliment. They didn’t believe I had created a one of a kind dinnerware set (for under $20!).

The look on their faces when I (humbly, I hope) set the record straight was heartwarming. This post is dedicated to them for making me feel accomplished. (Thank you, thank you!)

While I am *SO FAR* from being legit in this DIY small business, it elated my soul to know that I am at least headed down the right path. Finally. But I can’t take credit…

Anyhow, the church event was magnificent and filled me with the Christmas spirit.

Oh just so we’re clear, there were no cases of (human) lead poisoning and everyone (of  the ceramic kind) made it through the final rinse cycle unscathed! I wish I could say the same for my dining room table. Did you know that it’s not a suitable ironing board substitute? Sigh – guess refinishing the top will go on the 2013 Bucket List.

The rest of the table decor is now hanging out on my mantle.

Next week, I’m hoping to tackle a few of the crazy cool projects I’ve seen posted on millions of blogs recently (like this one) and get the tree up. I’ll be hosting our care group’s Christmas party soon so my house will actually be cleaned! (yes, I promise to take an obscene amount of photos for proof)

For now, I’m busily creating the craft fair items. Hopefully, someone will think they are good enough to wrap up and put under the tree for someone special.

If not, guess what you’re getting from me?? (insert evil laugh here)

I hope you are having an equally productive day. Please feel free to comment and let me know what you think of the plates, my messy kitchen table or life in general.

Linking up to MetMonday and these other fine folks. (be sure to check them out too!)

23 Nov

Bachelor Pad Island Makeover


So I have this friend of a friend who recently reclaimed his kitchen. He asked me to keep an eye out for an island so whenever I stopped into a thrift shop or GoodWill I looked but nothing caught my eye. Now, plenty of things found their way home with me but nothing that would work for him. Good old Craigslist and my go-to online garage sale sites turned up squat too. Sadly, I was *this* close to telling him to buy retail {gasp}.

You can imagine my giddy when I was on the way home from running the boy to school one day and caught something out of the corner of my eye. I slammed on my brakes cautiously turned the corner and pulled up in front of the neighbor’s house. Who am I kidding? I’m betting those folks still have skid marks in front of their house. I hopped out of the truck to get a better look.

diy kitchen island

This chick had great bones. She was solidly built and other than a few dings was in good shape so I loaded her up and took her home. I had no immediate plans but a free desk is a free desk. Being greedy generous, I posted a pic on my Facebook page thinking someone might spot me $20 for need a desk. I had no takers but I had an idea.

I sent the photo over to my pal and told him all the awesome things I could do to recreate it as an island. He was a good sport and entertained my nonsense but wasn’t a fan of the dark wood. Plus, he had his heart set on a butcherblock top and didn’t think I could do much this boring old desk. Sigh. So. close.

And so it sat in my garage all summer and well into the fall. Cleaning up after our neighborhood rummage sale, I pulled it out and grabbed some sandpaper. It didn’t take long to see some potential. As much as I hated the veneer top I loved its rounded edge. Since it was secured with screws it came off easily. I set it on the ground and placed the desk on top of it. Wait a minute…

I was stoked and broke out the primer.

The original desk’s height was 30″. Standard counter height is 36″. Even with a new top, I’d need to make up a 4″ difference. The obvious choice was to add feet. Surfing the ‘net I found a few retail options priced at $7 or more – each. Uh. Yeah. No. So I headed over to Menards and grabbed a hunk of 3″ x 3″ x 36″ hardwood for $12. I used a jigsaw to bevel the corners at 45 degrees. It felt a tad chunky so I manually rounded out the edges. The result wasn’t exactly the same as my inspiration but totally doable.

{Tip: It’s not a bad idea to bring your inspiration piece home to use as a sample. Just be sure to keep your receipt and take it back when you’re done. $7 can buy you a gallon of Oops paint yo!}

Ideally, my buddy wanted open shelving and a concealed garbage area. The measurements of the existing chair opening proved too narrow, so I performed minor lumber surgery where the drawers had been and found plans for a tilt-out trash can on a fellow blogger’s site. Since I was restricted by the desk’s original dimensions, I made slight modifications to the plan (read: I crossed my fingers & cut) but overall it was a very simple build.

The drawers weren’t the same size and after framing out the fronts, I opted to flip-flop them and cut off a bit of the overhang. I cut the shelf out of plywood then glued and screwed it to the existing supports. To play off the once-top-now-bottom’s rounded edge I nailed in some scrap shoe molding to the shelf (this did double duty to hide minor gaps).

Are you feeling overwhelmed yet? Don’t be. This stuff is easier than it looks. For the record, I don’t worry about being too precise in my measurements. Spackle and paint make a girl what she ain’t.

See? A flawless finish.

As you’re working it’s a good idea to frequently step back and give your piece a once over. A few times great ideas in my head didn’t look so hot in reality. Originally, I had grand plans to hand-fab the wood top out of 2″ x 6″ rosewood lumber. I placed the wood on the base and snapped a photo and sent it to my friend for a second opinion who was quick to point out that I had installed the hinges incorrectly.

Being a hobby woodworker, he wanted to know how I planned to square up and plane the hunks of wood for the top. Um…well….yeah, it didn’t take long before I realized that I didn’t have the proper tools (table saw, planer, wood clamps, etc.) to accomplish the task. Grrr.

So I did what any good DIYer would do – I turned to alcohol Google for advice. At 2:00 am, I stumbled upon a pinned photo of an old dresser turned kitchen island. So the next day I picked up a 30″ x 60″ edge glued slab and cut it down lengthwise; sanded it down and brushed on some wood conditioner. Then I trimmed out the edges with lattice and (3) stain and (4) seal applications later the top was done! Crisis and alcoholism averted again.

Lattice trim was cut, mitered and installed on the garbage door front and island side panels. Then all the holes were filled and the entire piece was sanded, primed and painted. And sanded and painted. And painted.

And then I decided I didn’t like the monotone all-over green color and took some designer liberties.

{Tip: Adding some white to your paint will maintain the tone but modify saturation resulting in a lighter shade. This is much easier than trying to coordinate color swatches at the store. Plus it’s quicker and cheaper and all the rage now thanks to the ombre effect.}

After the paint dried, the back (1/8″ mdf) went on along with support brackets ($1 thrift store shelf arms) and trim (1/4″ wood lattice) with glue and nails.

I was in such a rush to get this delivered, I completely forgot to take photos of the top install. (Assuming you’re still reading I’ll describe the process.) I placed the finished wood slab upside down and flipped the cabinet base on top. Using a nail to mark the existing holes in the frame I marked out where to pre-drill the wood (to prevent splitting). I reattached the original screws and flipped it back over to add my ReStore score hardware {$0.25 a piece!}.

I’m so glad I decided to pull designer rank because the lighter door fronts contrast the darker base perfectly. The hardware is modern and that tilt-out door is just sassy. Sassy I say.

Can you believe it’s even the same piece?? Let me save you the trouble of scrolling back up…

I know right? And he didn’t think it could be done…pshaw.

Thank you for making it all the way to the end of this post. I feel like you should win a prize or something.

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