Kitchen Revamp – Cabinet Painting

The day we moved in

The day we moved in

When we first saw this house the kitchen was a major selling point – it is huge, tons of counter and cabinet space, great layout and open to the rest of the living area. I could see myself cooking and entertaining here with ease…

Finished product

Finished product

Of course in my mind, I was seeing a much more beautiful version – but the bones and layout were perfect!

Before we started tiling

Before we started tiling – only the wall color, island lights and faucets had been updated

I would never have put so much knotty pine in my dream kitchen, the faucets and lighting were not my style, the paint was dreary,  the gold, stainless and wooden outlet covers were awful, the granite was jet black, the flooring was damaged, there was a fake red brick area for the ovens, the backsplash was a dark, busy slate with a weird pewter insert of vegetables above the sink that Just. Had. To. Go.

slate everywhere

slate everywhere

The overall impression was dark and heavy, despite all the light in the room – it had no contrast everything was tonally the same. However with all the things in the house that needed fixing, we only handled the most pressing.

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Old ugly faucet &  hard water stains on backsplash

We replaced the faucets and the island lighting as soon as we moved in and I switched out a few of the worst outlet covers since that was an easy fix – goodbye gold! We also tackled the damaged flooring, which I already wrote about here.

New island lights

New island lights

But that was it for a couple years. We lived with it –  it seemed like such a daunting task. Was I really going to pull out all these perfectly good cabinets? Seemed wasteful – I would be replacing them with identical cabinets in a different finish – the layout was already perfect…. Should I rip out all the granite and put in something lighter? That is an awful  lot of granite and do I really want to spend that much when I don’t love the cabinets… The backsplash would be easy – but until I decided what to do about the granite and the cabinets, I shouldn’t touch it. I wanted to rip out the fake red brick and replace with tile – but I was concerned about pulling out the ovens and getting all the edges to line up again since it butted right up to the ceiling molding and the pantry door…. I had a bad case of analysis paralysis!

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Brick staining in progress

Then my husband suggested painting the brick – at first I was “no, no, no” – I hate painted brick almost as much as the red brick! But then I thought what if we faux finished each individual brick to look a little more like a travertine subway tile…. My husband’s business is transforming concrete pool decks, driveways and patios, making them look like natural stone or tile so this wasn’t such a huge stretch.  I thought what the hell, lets try it and see if it makes the brick something I can live with. I gave him some color reference and a couple pictures of what I wanted and over a couple days, while I was at work, he made it beautiful!

Finished brick

Finished brick

I had been considering painting the cabinets for a while but again was put off by the effort and the fact that our kitchen would de dismantled for a long time so I thought I would hold off and pay someone else to do it  – but then we had to replace a couple air conditioning units this year and that pushed the project out a little further into the future. Eric encouraged me to just do it ourselves.

Test Area Before

Test Area Before

I had researched a couple different paints that simulated oil based cabinet paints hardwearing properties but were actually water based, so much easier clean up and faster drying times. Sherwin Williams was one of them  – more expensive but highly rated for this sort of job. Then Eric came across another one from Porter Paints called Breakthrough that is supposed to be extremely durable but in addition to that you don’t need to prime and it dries in 15 minutes between coats!!!

My glam designer fabric

My glam designer fabric

I picked out the three colors I wanted – from my fancy designer fabric that I mentioned before. A off white/linen for the cabinets called Garlic Clove, a soft, light green for the mile of bead board that backed the cabinets facing the living area called White Clover and a mid grey blue for the center island called Aqua Smoke. These are similar to the colors that I have used on the walls and they were reminiscent of some of my favorite painted kitchen inspiration pics from Houzz.

Point of no return

Point of no return

When I came home from work that night, Eric had picked up the paint already (he is such an enabler LOL) So of course I had to try it out and make sure the color was ok. He popped off a cabinet door and I painted the inside.

I looked up  “You realize this is the point of no return, right?”

“Let’s do it!”

And so began the next two weeks of long days, late nights and general kitchen destruction.

Garlic clove - not white

Garlic clove – not white

Basically the process was this:-

Test area in progress - stuff still in drawers

Test area in progress – stuff still in drawers

Pop off cabinet doors and drawer fronts, remove the hardware. We were lucky ours have hidden hinges so they didn’t need to be removed – we just took off the knobs. You can leave all your stuff in the cupboards Yay! Again, lucky for us the inside of most of our cabinets was already white so we only had to paint the doors and the outside facing edge of the boxes, toe kick etc. We only had one glass fronted cabinet that we had to paint the inside. Depending on how anal you want to be you could paint the insides of all of them but I don’t advise it – it is already a lot of work – why make it harder on yourself?

LABEL EACH DOOR – you need to know which one goes where when you are done. Trust me you will not remember. We used masking tape with numbers written them – one on the  door hinge, one on the inside of the corresponding cupboard or drawer

Clean the cabinets with something that removes gease and dirt we used TSP
DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP! If you have any food splashes or grease it will show up though the painted surface and believe me you do have dirty cabinets.

Then sand very lightly and wipe down one last time before painting. I painted the back of the cabinets first – laying out a long production line along the counters. You could do it in the garage or basement or even outside  – but here in Florida it is stupid hot right now and the paint would never dry properly in that humidity.

Production line with a few stubborn knobs

Production line with a few stubborn knobs

Three coats on the backs, waiting 15 minutes between coats  – if you time it right you can just paint continuously – by the time you finish the last cabinet door, the first one has already dried for 15 minutes. Then leave them for 30 minutes before flipping the over and putting three coats on the front and sides.

If you have ever painted doors before, you will already know that the brush is good for getting in the ridges around the panels but a foam roller is your best friend – the finish is much better –  no brushstrokes and streaks left behind. Multiple thin coats are better than heavier coats – you need to avoid drips at the best of times, but with paint that dries in 15 minutes you cannot have drips.

Final tile choice on right

Final tile choice on right

We started on the one area that had no backsplash but we knew that we needed to tackle the tile before going too far – don’t want to scratch up newly painted cabinets during demo. So after we finished the uppers and lowers on the test area and stood back to admire the overall effect, it was time to go tile shopping 🙂

I picked a sort of subway mosaic with some natural travertine stones, classic subway and lightly crackled, palest hint of green ceramic. I didn’t want something that would feel too dated and that ruled out a lot of the mosaic glass tile that has been so prevalent for so long – I think that look is past it’s prime now, but I also wanted something a little more contemporary than plain subway. I was really happy with this pick from Lowes – just the right modern, yet classic look I was aiming for, wasn’t terribly expensive and looked good with the stained brick and new cabinet color.

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Bead board hell – but love that color!

Over the course of the week, I had painted the bead board behind the bar height cabinets and was pretty happy with the color choice, the room was looking lighter and brighter by the day. Bead board is a bitch to paint – no getting around it. What worked best for me was to use a brush to get into each little crevice then go over the whole thing with the roller. However those little crevices hold the paint and once gravity takes effect, you get little drips pooling along the baseboard so you have to go back and touch that up as you go. Mind-numbing – just crank up the tunes and zone out!

Goodbye Holly Hobby outlet covers!!!

Goodbye Holly Hobby outlet covers!!! Hello crisp white ones

We spent the whole weekend on the backsplash – it turned it to be more work than we anticipated. Normally you can just chisel off the tile and then retile – however they had tiled directly onto drywall, not cement board and removing the tile took the wall down with it. Sigh…

Its' going down - I'm yelling timber....

Its’ going down – I’m yelling timber….

Friday night we demod the one long wall behind the sink, right down to the studs. Goodbye pewter plate and goodbye sanity! Then Sat morning we tackled the other counters, put up new cement board and tiled like a couple maniacs. It was an long and exhausting weekend but what a huge difference it made? Suddenly the whole kitchen was transformed

Good bye ugly pewter monstrosity

Good bye ugly pewter monstrosity

My sweet husband grouted all that tile on Monday, when I was working. During the week my guys prepped doors and cabinets and I came home and painted in the evenings. They also installed recycle cans and my awesome rev-a-shelf for my mixer. No more empty bottles and cans sitting on the counter top and I no longer have to break my back lifting that heavy mixer out when I need it LOL

Hidden recycling bins

Hidden recycling bins

Rev-a-shelf

Rev-a-shelf

Rev-a-shelf activate!

Rev-a-shelf activate!

Destruction everywhere

Destruction everywhere

Demo in progess

Demo in progress

ready for cement board

ready for cement board

By end of Sat we had finished all the cabinets – it took exactly two cans of Garlic Clove paint. I had decided to keep the old hardware, we just switched out any worn ones from the heavily used kitchen with unworn knobs from the laundry room and guest baths. Now with new light cabinets the dark oil rubbed bronze hardware and black granite looked crisp and awesome – like they were meant to be 🙂

Sunny helping with the cement board

Sunny helping with the cement board

Tile begins

Tile begins

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Tiling finished – look how nicely it goes with stained brick

tiling done

more tiling done

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Production line starting up again

tiling done

tile and paint done

more cabinets

yet more cabinets

Sunday, I caulked the backsplash and painted the last of the bead board that butted up to the tile, White Clover . Then we tackled the island – the bad news is it had lots of open alcoves and shelving that had to be painted both inside and out – the good news was the darker paint only took two coats to cover! I love, love the color – Aqua Smoke

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First coat on island – time to cover the yucky green

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Island done

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Island complete – this is a truer representation of the color

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Island cabinet production line

Yes it was a marathon effort over two weeks but I now have a brand new kitchen. I am shocked each morning when I get up and see it again. That black granite looks perfect now. The kitchen is light and bright, classic yet contemporary and wonder of wonders cost less than $800. Six hundred of that went on the tile, the rest was four cans of pricy, but so worth it, paint and a couple panels of cement board.

Painting your kitchen cabinets is definitely doable as a DIY project. I am so glad we took the plunge.

All Done!!

All Done!!

Complete

Complete

Exercise room in the making

Hey  - come break a sweat you lazy bum! The damn elliptical is talking to me now - I am out of rational excuses

Hey – come break a sweat you lazy bum! The damn elliptical is talking to me now – I am out of rational excuses

When we first saw the house there was a odd little room off of the master bedroom that we couldn’t even get into – the previous owners had used it for storage and we could barely open the door – the shades were all drawn and it was full of boxes.

Once we moved in, we weren’t sure what to do with it either –  it is all windows on two sides and overlooked the pool – I thought maybe a place to put my drawing desk? However in the meantime we ended up putting the dog crates in there and, with great effort and straining backs, our barely used elliptical.

Privacy film going up - no more sweaty faced encounters with the pool guy - that really doesn't sound the way I meant it LOL

Privacy film going up – no more sweaty faced encounters with the pool guy – that really doesn’t sound the way I meant it LOL

Fast forward a year and the room was still a mess – all the shades were drawn so no one could see into the messy storage room it was fast becoming – it looked uninviting both inside and out.

Finally I was tired of keeping the shades drawn and decided to get more of the bamboo privacy film I used in the master bedroom – at least from the outside it would look better.

Now the outside looks inviting instead of all the shades being drawn all the time

Now the outside looks inviting instead of all the shades being drawn all the time

Of course once I did that, it needed a coat of paint to brighten it up and although the dog crates remain in the corner since we need a place for them anyway, the whole room became a little more inviting – perhaps inviting enough to go in and use the elliptical occasionally?

Of course, with the privacy film you don’t have to worry about the pool guy or your houseguests coming to sit outside with morning coffee, only to come face to face with your most unattractive, red faced, sweaty self – another excuse to skip exercise bites the dust…

Boob light that dreams of being a chandelier LOL

Boob light that dreams of being a chandelier LOL

A trip to Costco and an impromptu purchase of a small, smart flat screen TV later – we have a light and bright, no longer an eyesore room, with the ability to watch some distracting shows to make the elliptical less of a chore. There is a little odd corner hallway that leads to it with a boob light (I always call them that – the most boring light fixtures ever but they are everywhere) I added a fun chandelier decal as a fake shadow for that sad little boob light who dreams of being something more fabulous LOL.

I am fast running out of excuses – Maybe we we’ll become the kind of people who exercise now… Or maybe we will hang clothes on it to dry LOL

Only time will tell 🙂

Master Bath Makeover

Finished at last

Finished at last

This project has evolved slowly in many small stages – I had originally considered doing a major overhaul since there were a lot of things not quite to my taste but instead we decided to just dress up what we had – the cost and mess were too much to contemplate and besides its not like what we had was actually broken.

Missing mirrors, silver and gold faucets and old light fixtures - Yuck!

Missing mirrors, silver and gold faucets and old light fixtures – Yuck!

When we first moved in the previous owners had taken the mirrors with them…. so the very first thing we did was go out and pick up a couple from Home Depot with nice silver frames – it is surprisingly difficult to brush your teeth without a mirror LOL!

After that, I bought a couple small teardrop chandeliers to hang over the tub – give it a bit more presence. Of course that meant that we needed to convert the existing recessed cans first. Eric risked life and limb installing them for me while the teen and I assembled the chandeliers (trickier than you would think and likely the reason for the excellent price)

chandeliers and medallions that replaced the old recessed cans

Chandeliers and medallions that replaced the old recessed cans

Once they were up they still needed a little something – so I started looking for ceiling medallions that snapped around already installed fixtures. Eric would have had a nervous breakdown if I asked him to take them down again!

towel rings and new towels

Towel rings and new towels

Oddly enough, there was nowhere to hang hand towels, so I picked up a couple of oil rubbed bronze ones (knowing my future plan to replace the chrome and gold faucets – yuck) some new towels and a mat to go in front of the shower so that the crappy floor tiles were less likely to kill us. For some reason every tiled surface in this house is the same ceramic tile that is completely lethal when wet – a great choice for bathrooms – sigh….

when we first moved in

When we first moved in – note the massive chip in the tub

For quite some time, that was it – too many other projects on the priority list.  One thing that had bothered me from the start, was that there was only one light fixture to the side of each mirror above the sink – clearly designed by a man – How am I expected to apply make up properly when one side of my face is in shadow???

I had my eye on some cute lights from Possini in silver with a glass dome surrounding some hanging chandelier drops – they matched the fan I put up in the the master bedroom – but they were too expensive. I needed four of them and at $200 a pop that was too spendy for my tastes. I kept an eye on a few websites and saw the prices drop on sale but still held off – then one glorious day there was a flash sale on and they were listed at $99 each so I snapped them up – Yay for being a smart shopper 🙂

They languished in the boxes for months – eventually Eric put up one of each but we never got around to running the additional wiring for the other too – half my face remained in darkness…

brassy hinges to match - Yuck!

Brassy hinges – Yuck!

We badly needed exhaust fans in all the showers in the house so we splurged on a handyman to come and do all three at once – this would ensure the mildew problem the house had when we first moved in would not reappear….not a glamorous project, but very necessary.

Blechh - old shower door handle

Blechh – old shower door handle

I would love to replace the ugly shower door at some point but since I know that was further down the road, I decided to just gussy up the existing one. However, the splotchy old bronze handle and hinges were just nasty, so I dragged out my trusty oil rubbed bronze Rustoleum spray paint and it gave it a whole new look that has survived really well over the past 6 months of heavy use. I also spray painted the toilet roll holder while I was at it.

spray painted handle

Spray painted handle

spray painted hinges

Spray painted hinges

Little by little it was starting to look  a little more presentable. I picked out some stacked stone tile for the wall behind the tub and paint and a stencil for the walls – but I kept putting that off – wanting the new lights to go up first….

Old sink faucets

Old sink faucets

New oil rubbed bronze  - much better

New oil rubbed bronze – much better

sad old shower head

Sad old shower head

New rain head shower and lever

Glam new rain head shower and lever

In the meantime, I ordered replacement faucets for the sinks and the shower – lovely oil rubbed bronze thanks to Amazon. They turned out to be easy to replace since I went with the same brand as the old facets and we could leave the existing valves in place. This made a huge difference and the bathroom started to really look good. A month later we replaced the tub faucet and drain – some internet research showed us how to do it. (The key was a smart dumbbell and some brute strength)

old Tub faucet - already updated the overflow and drain

Old tub faucet – already updated the overflow and drain

New faucet - Yum!

New faucet – Yum!

That just left the shower drain which I have been unable to find an exact replacement for so out came the Rustoleum again – hopefully it will hold up to daily wear and tear until I can find the real deal.

I had plans to tile the wall behind the tub and when Eric got himself a new Dremel, I decided to try it out on the tile needing to be removed.

Demo on wall done

Demo on wall done

Demo time

Demo time

halfway mark - weekend 1

Halfway mark – weekend 1

Final wall tile done

Final wall tile done – weekend 2

It did a great job but then I needed to go out and buy the spendy stacked stone tile I liked so much to cover it up LOL – that project ended up taking a couple weekends to complete – but I love how it looks – much more elegant! Hard to see in the picture but it is multiple sizes and depths of varied natural stone and marble along with a couple smoky glass tiles.

My closet floor was bare concrete – I guess there had been some issue with the previous owner – don’t know if there was a leak or what – but when we moved in I just pulled up the old carpet strips so I didn’t step on them and left it to make sure there was no water problem. A year and a half later with no sign of a leak I ordered some carpet tiles from Home Depot to stick down to make it look a little more finished and comfortable. They were really easy to install and it was a quick fix.

bare concrete in closet

Before – bare concrete in closet

easy stick down carpet tiles from Home Depot

easy stick down carpet tiles from Home Depot

carpet tiles down

carpet tiles down

Next up was the tile rug inset on the floor – I wanted to remove some of the old tile and replace with natural stone which is much less slippy but without having to replace all the old tile – I had done a similar thing at our old house in WA and it worked out great. However this was tile laid on concrete slab – much harder to remove than we had hoped.

floor before - death trap tile

floor before – death trap tile

After Eric “Dremelled” around the old grout lines, we removed a section 3 x 5 tiles wide and replaced it with the new tile. Demo was of course the hardest part – you need to not damage the tiles you want to leave behind and chip up all the old mastic before laying the new stuff – this is an extremely dusty process so be prepared for the clean up if you try it…

Tile is up - now to chip away all the old mastic

Tile is up – now to chip away all the old mastic

Old tile up and ready to go

Old tile up and ready to go

Those 15 tiles took all day to remove and there was much frustration and unhappiness all around – it was brutally hard work and the mess was beyond belief. There is a reason professionals charge twice as much to remove old tile than to lay new tile… sigh.  Basically get yourself a chisel with hand guard (trust me hammering your own knuckles makes the whole thing even more miserable), a hammer and all the elbow grease and muscle you can muster.

Damage prevention - my pretty lights wrapped in a fowl and a plastic bag

Damage prevention – my pretty lights wrapped in a towel and a plastic bag

Ceramic tile is sharp and shards of it were flying around the room – safety glasses are a must and make sure you protect any light fixtures or breakables while you work.

The all important chalk line

The all important chalk line

The next day I measure and laid the tile and Eric did all the tile cutting for me – between the two of us it took most of the day.  Just crank up the tunes and get to work. When you retrofit an existing floor it is best to start with the outside edges and work in since there is no room for error on sizing.

Edging down

Edging down

Snap a chalk line so you match the grout lines around the outside where the original tile is – once you are  working on the inside you can go with a different grout size if you prefer – but it will look weird if you mess up the perimeter.

Edging and contrast tiles laid

Edging and contrast tiles laid

Tile down - grout to follow

Tile down – grout to follow

After letting it dry, we sealed and grouted and finally it was done and what a difference it makes the deep chocolate marble accent tiles match some of the darker marble in the tile wall and with the oil rubbed bronze fixtures I loved how it pulled everything together – makes me almost forget the old ugly ceramic tile surrounding it LOL

Paint finished - goodbye sludge green

Paint finished – goodbye sludge green

At last it was time to paint the walls – I had to wait till all the messy stuff was done and I was so glad to be covering up the old green paint. I used Behr’s “woodsmoke” my favorite grey beige. It is a great neutral that works well with both warm and cool colors.

Late night stencilling

Late night stencilling

The final touch was using a trellis stencil on the wall behind the sink and in the toilet area. I wanted a high end wallpaper look but this felt safer in a high humidity location like a bathroom.

Stenciling finished

Stenciling finished

All in all total time elapsed 20 months  – actual hours spent working on it –  more like a month. Taking it on a bite sized chunk at a time made it more manageable both from a cost and time perspective – better than waiting like a deer in the headlights for the right time to start – that would never have come.

Finished product - looks like wallpaper - tiled wall in mirror

Finished product – looks like wallpaper – tiled wall in mirror

So if you are overwhelmed by the thought of a big project – just start with one small step – it will get you there in the end 🙂 (Still no extra lights by the mirror – maybe next weekend LOL)

 

 

Restoration Hardware – you are drunk!

Final arrangement

Final arrangement

I recently bought a console table for an empty spot in the house – it was a wall crying out for something – of course this meant I then needed things to put on it….sigh…

I remember seeing some cool glass domes in Restoration Hardware catalogs with scrolls and keys in them and I thought a few of those would look nice along with some crapola I already had – like a nice wooden horse and silver tray that were in need of homes.

I guess I had never checked the price on these splendiferous glass “cloches” – the one I particularly liked full of vintage keys was $395 – WTF?  If I won the lottery tomorrow, I would never pay 400 bucks for a bunch of old rusty keys in a glass dome! Even the empty ones were $70 – 100 – not happening!

Some of the raw materials

Some of the raw materials

Outraged, but still wanting my fancy “objects d’art” – I decided to take matters into my own hands. I ordered 3 varying sizes of cloches from Amazon – do yourself a  favor and search for glass display domes – they are automatically half the price of a glass “cloche” LOL. The largest most expensive was under $40, the other two were $20 and $14 all on a nice walnut base – just like the Restoration Hardware versions 🙂

I also ordered some old keys online for $15 and then hit JoAnnes and Michaels to pick up a few more old keys, some carved wooden eggs and a pad of that paper scrapbookers use with old letters, sheet music, maps etc printed on them I may have spent all of $30

Map scroll with Ireland and Journey Key

Map scroll with Ireland and Journey Key

Once I had all my ingredients on hand, I started with the easy stuff. The tallest “cloche” I wanted to fill with scrolls – similar to the expensive inspiration but since I was doing it myself, I was able to personalize – I rolled up a map from the scrapbooking pad, leaving  Ireland visible –  tied it up with a piece  of canvas that came with some of the JoAnnes stuff and added a small key with the word “Journey”.  Since I moved from Ireland to the US many years ago I thought this was appropriate. I made another scroll from a piece of sheet music and added a key with the word “Heart” on it  –  I did find my wonderful husband here after all – then I used a few more vintage looking letters and tied them with the ribbon that held some of the keys together  and “Voila”  for $25 bucks I had recreated a pretty cool piece.

Heart scroll

Heart scroll

Even easier was filling the smallest dome with a bunch of carved wooden eggs – I thought that would be kind of fun, since, we amazingly enough, have chickens who lay a bunch of actual eggs –  this was a quirky nod to the life we have today and love. This one may have cost me about $35

The final one was more of a project – I really wanted that damn cloche full of keys!!! The Victorians were on to something – you can put any old crap under glass and it instantly becomes fascinating and fabulous – part of an exotic collection. I needed one of these so bad – I just refused to pay a fortune for it!

Badly focused view of the hooks

Badly focused view of the hooks

I used some dark bronze wire I bought in JoAnnes to make hooks. I have some pliers from a jewelry making hobby I had back in the day that let me easily form the shape I wanted and I just made them in varying heights and arranged the keys in a way that made me happy. I used a piece of styrofoam to get the general layout and then marked the base of the largest dome with a sharpie in the approximate layout of the hooks in the styrofoam.

Putting the teen to work drilling the base

Putting the teen to work drilling the base

My teen, who loves to help out on projects and build things (wonder where he gets that from?) used a fine drill bit to drill holes straight down into the base. Make sure you mark your drill bit with tape so you don’t go the whole way through  – just 3/4 of the way is what you need.

Checking for fit on my styrofoam prototype

Checking for fit on my styrofoam prototype

Once he did that, I started to assemble the hooks into the base. I discovered that the weight of the keys made them swivel so I used a hot glue gun to put a bead of glue on the bottom of each hook before inserting it into the base – this held them securely where I wanted them, then I could hang the keys knowing they wouldn’t shift around and get tangled.

Looks like $400!

Looks like $400!

Finally, I put the glass dome in place and stood back to admire my handiwork. OK I may have spent $70 all told on this one, but it is a far cry from the $395 that Restoration Hardware wanted  – of course they may have been drunk off their asses when they came up with that price point LOL

Guest bathrooms in need of a little love

Mirrors and Dandelions - really hard to get a good photo in a small space

Mirrors and Dandelions – really hard to get a good photo in a small space

We haven’t done much of anything to the bathrooms in the house yet – there has been so much else to do that we just ignored them for the most part.  Despite the fact that I will need to to a bigger overhaul – replacing counters, sink and faucets at some point I decided that a minor update would do for now and freshen it up for my first real houseguest (other than family) My best friend was coming to visit with her young son and I wanted it to be nice. So armed with the magic of paint, I went to town.

Like most of my projects it started out with a simple thing, that led to more simple things and then some not so simple things LOL

Sludge green walls and fake marble counter - but at leaf the towel ring looks good!

Sludge green walls and fake marble counter – but at least the towel ring looks good!

I started off by spray painting the towel rings and toilet roll holders with that oil rubbed bronze Rustoleum I mentioned before – they were functional but chrome and gold – eeww! In 15 minutes they looked much better and I will probably replace them down the line anyway when get around to ditching that awful fake marble sink and counter combo – blech!.

New prettier paint

New prettier paint

I painted the whole bathroom a nice shade of blue, that I had used elsewhere in the house – eradicating the sludge green from yet one more room – YAY!  It looked much better but wow the walls were kinda bare – I needed art.

I hit TJ Maxx one day and picked up a nice modern dandelion print and a set of three mirrors (of course I bought some other stuff too – but that is another project). I hung the three mirrors on one wall and the print in the toilet area.  Much better, but still not quite there…

The wall behind the door and the wall facing the toilet were blank and boring, but I didn’t want to do more prints and definitely no more mirrors – some views you just don’t need….

Single dandelion facing the toilet

Single dandelion facing the toilet

I found a nice dandelion decal on Amazon that I thought would look good with my print and ordered it in white to contrast with the blue walls. It came in a bunch of separate pieces so you could put it up whatever way you chose – I split it up and put one on the wall facing the toilet and two behind the door in the main bathroom. Then I placed all the individual seeds flying up and across the wall and around the corner. I am really happy with it and the bathroom is now ready for my friend to arrive – of course now I want to switch out the awful light fixtures too LOL

The print that inspired it

The print that inspired it

At the same time my teen was looking to make some extra money so he was tasked with painting his bathroom – he spray painted the toilet roll holder and painted the walls a nice green that we had leftover  (learning a valuable life lesson about how taking your time to do it right prevents tedious clean up and redo at the end LOL)

Then the light fixture looked so dingy and discolored that we decided to replace it – cue trip to Home Depot for a new one only to discover that the old one was not wired in the middle – there must have been a stud in the way??? Who knows but it was not going to work unless we wanted to do more major electrical rework – not in the cards!

Two dandelions behind the door

Two dandelions behind the door

So out came the trusty Rustoleum again and my teen spray painted the fixture while I canabalized the glass shades from another bathroom to replace the dingy chipped ones on his. This domino effect led to us replacing the canabalized light fixture with the one we had orignally bought for the teens bathroom. See what I mean about a simple project becoming more and more complex and the day goes on?

Of course the bathroom that got an unexpected new light fixture is going to have to be painted now too….and so it goes on….

Update – I replaced those tired light fixtures after all just before my guests arrived 🙂

Glam new light fixtures

Glam new light fixtures

Rainy Saturday Projects & Escape from Montreal

Arriving at Montreal airport the morning of my escape

Arriving at Montreal airport the morning of my escape

Earlier I was bemoaning my inability to make a semi regular blog post, when my friend Wendy made me realize I didn’t have to write a book every time LOL

Just about enough fabric...

Just about enough fabric…

So here is the brief version of what I have been up to recently. A recent wet and dreary Saturday prevented me from riding my horse, so instead I took care of a few indoor projects…

Bah - hand sewing to close them all in

Bah – hand sewing to close the cushions up

First up, finally finishing the cushion covers for the kitchen chairs – I bought fabric a year ago and covered one then never got around to the other three LOL I made it harder on myself than I should of with the first one – go figure  – so perhaps that’s why I kept putting it off.

Looks good with the leftover fancy designer fabric seat back cushions I made a while back

Looks good with the leftover fancy designer fabric seat back cushions I made a while back

Since I had the sewing machine out, I covered another couple cushions for the family room that had likewise been waiting a year…. I am nothing if not consistent

Some quick family room cushions

Some quick family room cushions

Inspired by all the fun with fabric – I decided to recover the bench in the bedroom too. It was supposed to be grey but it looked very greenish next to all the more blue grays in the room and it bothered me every time I looked at it.

Time for the staple gun

Time for the staple gun

Recently, I had finally found the perfect, inexpensive rug for the bedroom – the floors in there are badly scuffed up and I toyed with the idea of one rug on either side of the bed since I hate paying an arm and a leg for something that the majority of which would be covered up by the bed LOL.  However it just wouldn’t look right – you have to get a rug big enough to anchor he bed properly – the designer in me couldn’t live with two tiny rugs.  I found a great one on Amazon which is actually an indoor/outdoor rug – so a synthetic flat weave, not a fluffy wool rug  – hence the bargain price. But given that here in sunny Florida you don’t need a warm cozy rug and this was the perfect pattern and the right size (9 x 11.5 – you need it big enough to come out to the edge of the nightstands and about the same distance from the foot of the bed – design rules to live by) – it was a no brainer.

Once it was down, the green bench bothered me even more – something had to be done!

Love the new rug!

Love the new rug!

At some point I will have to summarize the entire bedroom project – but lets face it, it is coming together bit by bit and may be another year before I am done LOL

Bench recovered - no more green velvet

Bench recovered – no more green velvet

Back to the bench – I found a shower curtain at Target that I liked and went to town with my staple gun. Big improvement for less than $20

Umm - hoping the plane will leave on schedule

Still coming down – hoping my plane will leave on schedule or at all…

I have been traveling a lot for work recently –  one week ago in San Francisco, followed by a trip to Montreal last week – I nearly didn’t make it back from that one – what with the winter storms making their way up the east coast. My flights there were rerouted and the after the client meeting I spent hours in the airport – delays pushing my flight out over and over until finally it was cancelled 😦

My view from the plane

My view from the plane

They told me I would be stuck there for three days, missing Valentine’s Day with my family -WTF? – not content with that, I found another flight out the next morning. It was touch and go whether it would take off or not – the storms and snowfall meant getting to the airport was a nail biter and then we sat on the runway for over an hour and had to be de-iced before we finally got in the air….

Welcome home to the Florida sunshine

Gatsby welcoming me home to the Florida sunshine

I  was very happy to be home – coming from the grey icy streets of Montreal to the sunshine of Florida in just three and half hours was like Dorothy opening the door to Oz for the first time – suddenly the world was in glorious technicolor 🙂

Poutine - chips with gravy and cheese curds

Poutine – chips with gravy and cheese curds

I did manage to have some poutine in Montreal and maple crepes, unfortunately the only souvenir I brought back was a wretched cold. When I feel better I will finish the post about all the egg recipes I have been making – the ladies are laying big time – we got a record of 11 just yesterday… We are drowning in fresh eggs LOL

Front Door Revamp

New spiffy red door

New spiffy red door

When we moved in the front door was painted the same color as the house. Don’t get me wrong – I like the color of the house, but I prefer the front door to pop in a contrasting color, not blend in – so I knew immediately that I would have to paint it. However during the hot Florida summers leaving your door open for several hours just does not happen – not unless you want to air condition the street and have a electric bill the size of the national debt.

Ho Hum Green

Ho Hum Green

Once the weather cooled down, opportunity knocked.  I picked a nice rich red – more of a paprika or spice red rather than a candy apple red – since that works better with the muted greens and beiges of the rest of the house exterior.

Morocco Red from Behr was my final pick. I also made sure to get an exterior gloss with primer built in – the original paint was a matte finish which seems odd to me for doors or trim – but maybe that is just me LOL I had already replaced the old gold lockset with a new oil rubbed bronze one when we first moved in.

sad old scuffed door and nasty gold lockset

sad old scuffed door and nasty gold lockset

I am too lazy to remove doors, take off hardware or use masking tape – I just use an angled brush and if  some gets on the glass then I clean up later with a razor blade – much faster LOL However there is a method to painting doors, especially ones with windows and panels that I always adhere to. Basically you do the mullions around the windows and the interior edges of the panels first, then the panels, then the horizontal in between bits, finally the outside – that way you are going with the grain as much as possible and you get less drips. I know it sounds anal, but it actually works and is what professional painters do.

Fun with paint chips

Fun with paint chips

I gave it two coats which was enough to do the trick and left the doors open all day so it could dry before closing up. I love how the red pops and makes the front door more of a focal point.

Teenager hard at work

Teenager hard at work

Next up were the entryway lights – not sure what the original color was supposed to be, but currently they are a sad faded pink which is not working for me at all. I thought about replacing them but they are huge and heavy – so therefore probably expensive LOL I always think about the scene in Jurassic Park when the kid finds the infrared goggles and the lawyer asks him if they are heavy – the kid says yes and the lawyer says “that means they are expensive, put them away”

Oil rubbed bronze by Rustoleum - Yum!

Oil rubbed bronze by Rustoleum – Yum!

Rather than buy some new expensive, heavy lights I figured I could just spray these guys with some oil rubbed bronze Rustoleum and we would be good to go. Good project for my teen hehehe – at least it gets him out of the house  🙂

Final result - looks so crisp!

Final result – looks so crisp!

Well, we got busy and the holidays descended upon us so the lights got put on hold. However, this weekend it was a cool, dry, sunny day  – perfect for a project like this. We took the lights down and took them apart. My teen sanded them all down and spray painted everything,

Garage light looks a million times better

Garage light looks a million times better

I cleaned off the glass and put them together at the end. It went so well we did the other two smaller exterior lights as well by the garage and back door. He did a great job and the lights look like a million dollars. Just goes to show, amazing transformations can happen with just a little paint 🙂

Back door light sprayed to match

Back door light sprayed to match

Mantel Madness

Final effect - Christmas spirit all over the place :)

Final effect – Christmas spirit all over the place 🙂

Decorating the new house for Christmas has been an adventure – not everything you have fits or works so you have to rethink what you normally do.

We have a fireplace again, which is awesome since the rental house did not, and the watching the yule log on your TV is just not the same LOL.  This one is a little different than ones I have had in the past  – it is pretty shallow so there is really no room to decorate it the way I had before and my original thought of just hanging a garland across the front quickly got tossed out the window when I realized how much heat the front of it got when the fire was lit. I imagine exploding pine garlands and baubles would probably ruin christmas LOL

Pretty and hopefully not a fire hazard LOL

Pretty and hopefully not a fire hazard LOL

So Instead I decided to decorate either side – away from the heat and potential explosions. I had seen some fancy teardrop swags in catalogs but as usual they were extremely pricy so since the last Christmas craft project had turned out so well I decided to try it again.

teardrop swag

teardrop swag

I picked up a couple of cheap swags as a base at Big Lots for only $17 each and pulled off some of the ugly fake feathers (yes you read that right – there was a reason they were only $17) After another glitter filled trip to Michael’s, I went through the same process as I did before and once up they looked like the $200 ones in Frontgate!!

Hmmm - big blank space...

Hmmm – big blank space…

Next thing to need a little christmas spirit was the top of the built in shelves. There is a lot of space up there and it looked a little barren. It needed something – but what? Something that did not cost an arm and a leg or involve oversized nutcrackers staring down at me that I would have nightmares about (I have seen Chucky and Dead Silence – no giant dolls or puppets allowed!)

Big Lots - the raw materials :)

Big Lots – the raw materials 🙂

SInce we were already in Big Lots I picked up some inexpensive outdoor holiday decor. Some LED twigs you are supposed to line your pathways with and a couple little sleigh and reindeer sets. All told, I spent less than $100

Teen Labor

Teen Labor

Once home I once again enlisted husband and teen to help me. We drilled holes in a 2×4 and inserted two sets of LED pinecone branches spaced evenly apart. We assembled and tested on the floor before handing it up to my husband on the ladder to put in place on top of the shelves.

setting up on the ground

setting up on the ground

Next we took the first sleigh and reindeer set and marked the correct positions on another 2×4 before drilling more holes and installing in front of the branches. Now I had a sleigh and 4 reindeer flying across a wintery forest – not bad!

teamwork

teamwork

We did the same thing on the other side except we removed the sleigh so when seen as a whole it was Santa and his 8 reindeer stretched out across the top of the shelves on either side on the fireplace 🙂

I love it – my heart grew two sizes that day! Amazing what you can do with a couple 2×4’s extension cords and some cheap discount decorations – and of course the free labor from my guys 🙂

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Crafty

Final effect - mostly matching wreaths and a couple light up topiaries from Lowes - at least the door is ready for the holidays!

Final effect – mostly matching wreaths and a couple light up topiaries from Lowes – at least the door is ready for the holidays!

I am not really the Martha Stewart type, but after searching online for ages for a couple of front door christmas wreaths I realized I was going to have to take the matter into my own hands….

The base wreath - pretty plain

The base wreath – pretty plain

I had no idea wreaths were so bloody expensive if you want something a bit more stylish that a couple fake pine cones and some red ribbon! You can either order some freshly made, eucalyptus and pine fronds transported lovingly by horse drawn carriage from Maine’s deepest, evergreen forests for an arm and a leg or you can get the fake “designer” kinds that cost eleventy billion dollars. I needed two for my front doors and unless I was willing to sell my kid for medical experiments I couldn’t justify the cost.

My glittery treasure trove before disassembly began

My glittery treasure trove before disassembly began

I checked all my usual low cost places – Target, Home goods – even Lowes and saw nothing that I liked. Finally I just decided It can’t be that hard to make your own.

After pulling them all apart

After pulling them all apart

I found a couple battery operated large green wreaths with nothing more than some clear LED lights at Lowes to use as the base. Then I headed over to Michaels – the mecca of crafty housewives and pot pourri to look for some attractive glittery stuff to glue on

Heres one of the pieces I didn't pull apart - used it as an anchor piece at the bottom

Heres one of the pieces I didn’t pull apart – used it as an anchor piece at the bottom

They have a sea of glittery leaves, berries, fake fruit, flowers – you name it! I hit up the 50% off sale items first and then picked a few other full price things too. I dropped abut $60 on a selection of mostly silver, gold and white leafy stuff because I thought that would look best against my newly painted red doors.

Just insert them in the general direction of the other branches

Just insert them in the general direction of the other branches

When I got home I started pulling them apart. These things are made up up of a lot of smaller pieces on wires that are artfully arranged and then wrapped with paper to create one larger branch like thing. I am trying to imagine that being a job someone has somewhere LOL – you would be constantly covered in glitter!

Gatsby - our new rescue -  helping...

Gatsby – our new rescue – helping…

All you have to do is strip away the paper and you get 5 or 7 smaller pieces for the price of one. I enlisted my teen to help me break it all up then I split my glittery treasure trove  in half so that I didn’t go overboard on one wreath and not have enough for the second.  I laid all the pieces out on the dining room table beside the first wreath and got to work.

The fall apart test - lift it up and shake it to see if everything stays put LOL

The fall apart test – lift it up and shake it to see if everything stays put LOL

It’s really not that difficult – start with some of the larger pieces and jam them in – then you can twist the wires around the wireframe of the base wreath to attach. I had a glue gun but honestly I didn’t use it much  – the twisted wire held just fine. I used a couple larger pieces to anchor the bottom and then a sliver flower to offset the top. Then work around the wreath adding and layering more to your hearts content.

Glittertastic close up

Glittertastic close up

If you are worried about not having a good vision of what you want just keep an inspiration photo handy to refer to. I knew I wanted that winterberry look, instead of holiday baubles so I just kept adding little branches that stuck out around the edges until I was happy with the overall effect.

First one up - not too shabby...

First one up – not too shabby…

Of course after I finished one, I had to do it all over again – so my fingers were a little sore and scraped up from all the wire twisting. It was worth it though, nothing fell off when I hung them on the doors and I think they look pretty good – expensive designer look on the cheap and they are unique – nothing exactly like them anywhere else LOL

Finally floor repairs

Kitchen damage

Kitchen damage

One of the fixes we have been putting off since we moved in is the floor. The hardwood floors are pretty beat up and tired but since it would be such a huge job to replace or refinish we decided to just live with it. Frankly we have a houseful of dogs that will scratch it up anyway, so why sweat the small stuff…  However there is a difference between the lived in character of a few scratches and severe water damage. There were two spots that we knew would have to be fixed.

This was the damage when we first moved in

This was the damage when we first moved in

In the kitchen, right in front of the dishwasher, there were several boards that were badly damaged from a previous leak.  Although the leak had been fixed, the damaged boards were pretty unsightly and in a highly visible area. It bothered me to see it every day, multiple times a day. After 10 months I was sick looking at it!

Chisel and hammer is slow going

Chisel and hammer is slow going

The second spot was the powder room around the toilet. We had guessed that they must have had a leaking wax ring issue in the past, unfortunately we discovered after we moved in that this problem had not been repaired and the issue was ongoing – so gross!

Power tools go much faster LOL

Power tools go much faster LOL

The floorboards are engineered hardwood glued down to the concrete subfloor which means it is a huge pain in the ass to pull up, which is frankly, the main reason we have put it off so long.  However we have guests coming for the holidays, which is forcing us to get it done.

Sunny helping  - obviously if I put a pillow on the floor it must be for him, right?

Sunny helping – obviously if I put a pillow on the floor it must be for him, right?

Fortunately we found extra matching floorboards in the attic, so this weekend we decided to fix the kitchen.

all boards removed

all boards removed

We started off with chisels and pry bars before remembering the scraper attachment for the reciprocating saw – now that’s working smarter, not harder LOL  After popping off the trim, we set to work on the damaged boards. I wish I could tell you it is an easy job with the right tool, but it is not. Lots of elbow grease is required – the further away from the damage you get the tougher the glue is and you have to try not to damage the good boards while you are at it….

Adding glue

Adding glue

I put masking tape along the seams to help protect the boards we wanted to leave in place and Eric went to work ripping up as much as he could. I went in after and did the edge clean up. In order for the new boards to fit cleanly you have to chisel off the tongue of the good boards and clean away any old glue or splinters that make the surface uneven.

Like new!

Like new!

I recommend dry fitting the new boards before trying to stick anything down. You don’t have much time to work with the glue. I cut all the pieces I needed with my chop saw, checked the fit and then removed and stacked in order. That way once I put down the glue I could move quickly. The glue goes down with a notched trowel much like installing tile.

Little masking tape keep it all together and remind us where not to walk while glue dries

Little masking tape keep it all together and remind us where not to walk while glue dries

After pressing each new board in place like a big jig saw puzzle, I placed masking tape perpendicularly across the new boards. In part to keep them from spreading apart and introducing gaps, but also as a reminder for us where not to walk for a couple days.

Eric goes to town on the powder room - yuck!

Eric goes to town on the powder room – yuck!

While I was working on the kitchen floor, Eric took on the really gross job – the powder room floor.  Once the toilet was removed, many blackened boards had to come up – they were smelly and nasty! We actually put a fan on it overnight to make sure the surface had sufficiently dried out before attempting the install of the new boards. In addition using some chlorine bleach to remove any of the mildewy residue helped make sure the problem wouldn’t continue to grow.

All the damaged boards removed

All the damaged boards removed

Once the surface was completely clean we used the same process to install the new boards. A jig saw is necessary, in addition to the chop saw, for cutting around the toilet.

jig saw for around the toilet - doesn't need to be pretty

jig saw for around the toilet – doesn’t need to be pretty

I highly recommend the gel filled knee pads if you are tackling anything like this – they are lifesavers!

Flip flops and kneepads - Stylish!

Flip flops and kneepads – Stylish!

Some of the areas in the powder room meant removing some of the tongue from the tongue and groove boards to fit into the spaces around the existing boards. It is a little tricky but if you have a laser line on your chop saw it makes it much easier – if you don’t have one of your own you can rent tools like this by the day from Home Depot.

Laser helps when slicing off some of the tongue.

Laser helps when slicing off some of the tongue.

removed just enough tongue to fit into the jigsaw shaped opening

removed just enough tongue to fit into the jigsaw shaped opening

Once everything is glued in place just let it dry for a couple days.

Like a glove!

Like a glove!

All we have left is to replace the trim and the toilet – using a brand new wax seal and we will be done!

No more ugly floors – now on to the next thing on the to do list….