Kitchen Inspiration

House, Inspiration By No Comments

Last fall Josh and I tackled probably the biggest project yet – the kitchen. I’ve been dying to share the process and results with you since we started this blog. Before diving into the details, take a look at what we were working with:

kitchen-before-fullroom
kitchen-before-cabinets4

kitchen-before-cabinets3

kitchen-before-details

kitchen-before-burn

kitchen-before-cabinets

kitchen-before-wall

Honestly, things could have been WAY worse. The prior homeowners updated the kitchen probably back in the early 2000’s which was a win/lose for us. The big win was that the cabinets were in pretty good shape, minus some burn marks from improperly installed lights, so we decided to reuse them (Yay, environment!) and paint them to our taste. We were also really happy with the can lighting and ceiling wallpaper, which sort of looks like those vintage ceiling tiles. Literally everything else had to go – beige leaf tiles, laminate flooring/countertops, peach paint…see yah later! The wall dividing the dining room and kitchen also made the space feel really cramped. Opening it up would allow us to wrap the countertop, providing more seating with a couple of bar stools. Thankfully another HUGE win for us was discovering the wall between the dining room and kitchen wasn’t load bearing (initially we thought it was).

As we started making plans for the kitchen, we knew whatever we’d do needed to fit our home. One underlying goal we’ve had all along is to stay true to our house’s history. As a craftsman style built in 1917, our house came with some pretty great features. For example, all of the windows in the living room have original leaded glass, our dining room has a beautiful built-in hutch and the main level has original maple flooring throughout. The way we use our house today differs greatly from a family back in the early 1900’s but we want to honor  the work that went into this house. What does that mean exactly? Well for instance, we’ve decided not to paint our hutch. We also restored the maple flooring. And even though we’ve had some issues with our boiler and radiator heat, we really love the charm those big radiators have.

The Inspiration

A few years ago when Josh and I were out in LA visiting his brother Sam, we fell in love with the tile at Intelligentsia Coffee Shop. I instantly wanted to use the same tile in our kitchen, and after a little digging, I found that the manufacturer was Granada Tile. Here’s the original inspiration from Intelligentsia in LA:

inspiration-intelligentsia

With that in mind, I made a SUPER quick before & after mock-up to visualize the tiles and color palette.

Before and after mockup of kitchen remodel

If you check out the Granada site, make sure to play around with their custom tile tool. It gives you a live preview of the pattern as you select colors. Pretty neat!inspiration-granada-tile

Unfortunately, the concrete tile turned out to be too thick to allow for a smooth transition from hardwood to tile. Plus we wanted to put in a heated floor, which added another layer of complexity. These concrete beauties ended up not being the right ones for this kitchen job, but we’re hoping they’ll find a home somewhere in our house in the future.

Once I convinced myself life could still go on without those tiles, I pulled together some inspiration and we plowed ahead. In addition to finding the right flooring, another high priority on our list was Carrara marble countertops. And our passion for marble grew stronger and stronger as literally EVERY. SINGLE. PERSON. told us not to get them. But one thing you should know about Josh and I is that we’re neat freaks. The kind of neat freaks that hang out on a Friday night to reorganize the tupperware cabinet or label our tool bins. So, we were totally up for the challenge of babying our light, porous, and precious countertops.

kitchen_inspirationAs you can see from the inspiration board, we really wanted a timeless, vintage kitchen — something that felt era appropriate but still had a clean, modern feel. To ground the room we chose to do dark lowers and white uppers. And as stated earlier, marble was in the plan all along. Subway tile was also kind of a no-brainer for budget reasons, and with this being our first time laying tile, we wanted to lay something simple that wouldn’t leave us pulling our hair out. So really, the only undecided detail was the floors. Untillllll we found this kitchen. We loved these floors so much we decided to use the same hex pattern, but we wanted to center it between our cabinets and act like a decorative runner. Early on we found knobs and pulls from Restoration Hardware that we just couldn’t resist. These pulls are legit and totally worth the investment. So much so that the knobs might actually weigh more than the cabinet door (which is a strange feeling). To break up the black and white we decided natural wooden accents like a fruit bowl or utensil holder would do the trick.

Okay, so I promise within the next few posts we’ll reveal the final result. But, we have some interesting challenges and mistakes we think you’ll enjoy hearing about first, so stay tuned. Josh is gonna talk next about the process and a couple of the mistakes we made, including setting all the final cabinets in place, only to learn we had an illegal plumbing set up that required us to take some of them back out and knock open a wall again. Fun times, and lesson learned: Always call the plumber FIRST.

Additional photo sources:  1  |  2  |  3

 

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Bedroom Trim Painting

DIY, House By 4 Comments

Now that I’m not painting as a career anymore, I really enjoy the chances I get at home to get back into it. You may think I’m crazy, as I always hear people moan and groan whenever they have to tackle a painting project. I really do love it though. Painting caps off projects nicely, since it’s usually one of the last things to get done, and it’s when you finally start to see all the hard work paying off. This refresh of the bedroom was no different, and I found myself having a ball during the whole process!

Spraying trim in the bedroom

As Lindsey mentioned before, there are a couple of things with this bedroom project we’d have done differently if we were gonna do it all over again (which some crazy, perfectionist part of me is actually tempted to do). The big thing we’d do differently is choose to use an oil-based primer on the trim. In my previous life as a painter, I used exclusively Sherwin Williams and came to have a lot of faith in their products. However, I was always working in new construction, which is a really different application than a 100 year-old craftsman with original woodwork. We opted for Sherwin Williams Multi Purpose and Pro Classic for our primer and finish coats, respectively. Right at the start, the finish looked just great. The bright white contrasted well with both of the blues we chose for the walls, and the finish coat has a really durable, clean look. My gripe, though, is with my choice to use latex primer. And I feel a bit like a newbie, but I totally should have known better.

Yellowing trim on the closet door

See how the trim around the door is a brighter white? Consequence of not using an oil-based primer to seal the yellow woodwork stains away.

That’s some pretty yellow woodwork we were dealing with. Even though I applied a couple of good coats of primer, plus a contractor grade finish coat, as Lindsey mentioned before we’re having that yellow start to bleed through. The end result isn’t mortifying, it’s just not nearly as cool as it was right when it was all fresh. These days, it’s more looking like an off-white than bright white. Passable, but like I said, the perfectionist in me wants to go back and do it all over again using this as a primer. Problem solved, seriously. The stain blocking capability of oil based primer just can’t be matched by a latex product. I recently used that oil-based primer to cover some reeeeaaaaally bad nicotine stains on the walls and ceilings of a lifetime smoker’s house. In one coat it blocked all of the stains perfectly, and that house just sold, with the new buyer none the wiser that a smoker had ever lived there! I know, it sucks to clean up oil-based paint and it smells awful, especially when you spray it, but no joke this oil primer woulda saved me the embarrassment of admitting that I (the professional dingus painter) opted for the cheaper, easier option and ended up with less-than-stellar results. Lesson learned & ego taken down a peg. Onward!

Spraying paint – you can dooooo it!

One big thing to keep in mind when you’re spraying walls or trim with paint is good masking. These spray tips atomize the paint so small that it ends up on errything if you’re not careful. Cover the floor with a thick, durable rosin paper (taped neatly against the edge of the baseboard) and cover the glass on windows with tape & plastic. If you’re only painting a section of the house, find a doorway that you can close off tightly with masking tape & plastic to keep dust from floating all throughout the house. If you do leave any furniture in the room (like we did), make sure it’s covered tightly with plastic and that the plastic is taped down tight to the paper you covered the floor with.

Bed and floor all masked tight for spraying

Like Lindsey mentioned, we used an airless sprayer that I’d borrowed from my boss to get the trim painted. I have the benefit of having sprayed hundreds of gallons of paint back in that previous life, so for me it was a matter of muscle memory to get a glassy finish on the trim. For the ambitious DIY-er, it might be a slight challenge, but it’s still absolutely doable to use a sprayer if you’re a newbie. There are plenty of tips and video tutorials out there that show how to operate the sprayer and apply product. Plus, considering how much better sprayed trim looks vs. brushed, it’s a no-brainer as far as I’m concerned. You will have to sacrifice a little bit of paint in the interest of practicing and getting a feel for the gun, but it’s still worth it for the look in the end. When you’re using an airless sprayer as a rookie, just remember two things: 1) When in doubt, go thin. You can always come back again with another thin coat to finish coverage, and two thin coats is better than one thick one that runs in spots. 2) Always have your arm in motion when the trigger is pulled on the gun.

We used a Graco pump and gun, with a fine finish tip. Everything you’d need should be relatively easily able to come by for rent at your local Sherwin Williams or equipment rental shop, though I would recommend purchasing a brand new spray tip for the gun, even if the rental joint offers you one. If not operated at the correct pressure and properly cared for/stored, the tiny hole that’s machined into the tip can get blown out too big, which can lead to wasted product and runs in the paint if you’re not familiar with the process. No one wants that. I’ve always used Graco spray tips as well, and a fresh 410 or 412 tip (fine finish variety, specifically for trim) will give you the best control possible. More on what the numbers mean here if you’re curious, I won’t bore you.

Spraying the closet with primer

Once I had the sprayer all set up and had gotten a good solid coat of primer on, we let it dry fully (overnight). Once dry, we used some medium grit sanding blocks to gently sand the primed trim smooth. I say gently because if you have fresh primer over top of old, stained woodwork and you sand aggressively, you’re apt to burn right through the primer and expose the stained trim again, thereby defeating the purpose of priming that spot. This is especially prone to happen on edges & corners. All it really takes is a few gentle but firm swipes with a sanding block (check it with your bare hand for smoothness after you swipe it with the block a few times) to get your primed trim super smooth again.

After we sanded, we caulked every crack in the woodwork we could find (more pro tips on this process later – can’t share them all in one post!). Once the caulking had dried fully overnight, or whatever the tube said the dry time was, we switched over to the Pro Classic for finish coat. While I’m definitely unhappy with the performance of the latex primer we used, I’m super happy with how the Pro Classic looks. We opted for a semi-gloss to help the trim stand out a bit against the lower sheen walls, and semi-gloss also gives you a surface that you can clean more easily when you need to.

Using an airless sprayer can be a bit intimidating, but don’t let it stop you from trying. With all the tutorial resources out there, plus the comment section juuuuust down below (let us know if you’ve ever tried using one! ;), you have everything you need to tackle a job and have it look great. Now that spring is finally upon us, we’re gonna be pulling the sprayer out of storage soon and painting the exterior of our house, so stay tuned for that!

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Bedroom Refresh

House By 2 Comments

After ripping up carpet on the main level, hauling out the fountain in the backyard, swapping out doors with new locks, replacing a leaky toilet with a new wax seal and installing all new appliances, Josh and I finally decided to actually settle into our new home. But the dust never really fully settled for the following 6-8 months. One of the first (and probably most important) rooms we decided to tackle was the bedroom. We figured it was the one room we could find to rest our heads after the long nights and weekends of work we had ahead of us. And thankfully, the bedroom was mostly cosmetic fixes.

bedroom-after-windows

bedroom-after

The first thing we started with was removing wallpaper. A lot of people complain about this part, and yah it’s kind of a bitch, but in the grand scheme of things, the right products and tools can make all the difference! We used a wallpaper remover and a scraping knife and some other random drywall knives. The previous home owners had a real love for textured wallpaper which in some instances (like on our kitchen ceiling) is pretty rad, but the bedroom paper just had to go. The following weekend we sanded down the pine woodwork, removed window sashes (also sanded) took off doors, patched holes and gouges with drywall mud and gave everything a final prep for some fresh paint.

bedroom-before-doors

bedroom-wallpaper-peeling

bedroom-wallpaper-spraying

bedroom-wallpaper-falling

bedroom-sanding-windows

One of the bigger challenges we faced with this project was finding the right primer for the trim which Josh will talk more about in a follow-up post. We decided to spray the trim with a sprayer we borrowed from Josh’s boss. Spraying was kind of a no brainer for us since Josh has the experience and I really love the crisp finish sprayed paint can achieve. The room already had a chair rail, so we decided to roll with it and paint the walls with two colors. Olympus White by Sherwin Williams on the top and Naval also by Sherwin Williams on the bottom. We don’t get a ton of light in our bedroom which is why Naval practically looks like black (which was the intention).

bedroom-painting-closet

bedroom-spraying

Things I’d do differently next time:

1. Pick a different primer. (we’re currently experiencing some bleed through).

2. I would also be WAY more careful when handling window sashes. Unfortunately, I leaned all the sashes against our fence on a really windy day and the wind knocked a sash over and it shattered (not something you want to spend an extra $300.00 on amidst a budgeted project).

But overall, we’re really happy with the results. Following our quick 3 day bedroom makeover, we made a trip to IKEA and completely reorganized our closet shelving unit which we’ll chat about down the road. Stay tuned for a follow-up post where Josh talks all things paint.

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Move In Weekend

House, Outdoor By No Comments

Weedz!

Move In Helper Donna

Thanks for the help with the hostas, Donna (Lindsey’s mom)!

We left off here when we wearily walked through the door of our new house after the exhausting process of buying a foreclosure. Exhausting, yet rewarding nonetheless. We mentioned a few of our first impressions of the place here, and now it’s time to talk about how silly and crazy our goals really were for that first weekend. First, remember we had all of our possessions sitting either in a truck owned by my work (which had to be used the next day) or in the garage of our previous apartment. Lindsey’s parents were around and willing/eager to help, but that was only four of us, and considering this list below, you’re totally forgiven if you laugh your ass off at what we thought we could get done…

Move In Weekend Goals:

  1. Remove carpet from bedroom, make it a livable space
  2. Remove carpet from living room, ditto above
  3. Clean up the back yard, overgrown with 7-foot weeds in some places
  4. Get new appliances installed (Fridge, stove, washer/dryer)
  5. Remove upper kitchen cabinets
  6. Remove kitchen tile backsplash
  7. Paint upper kitchen cabinets in the garage
  8. Reinstall cabinets 6 or 9″ lower, as they were initially installed with giants in mind (Lindsey is 5′ 2″)
  9. Move ALL OF OUR STUFF in, and find a place to put it that didn’t interfere with any of the aforementioned
  10. Read Tolstoy’s War and Peace cover to cover

Ok, so #10 is obviously a joke, but still. Cute idea with the kitchen cabinets and backsplash, right? As you’ll see later on, the cabinets alone took us four or five days when we finally got around to that project, so silly us. But can you blame us for wanting to take care of that? Those things are sooooo high up, like a full 30″ or more above the countertop.

Move In Weekend Kitchen Goals

Anyway, just about all the rest of the stuff on the list we managed to accomplish. The yard ended up being a crazy amount of work – weeds tend to reign supreme after a year of not being tended at all. Our neighbors have some vines on their fence that had slowly crept across the lot, grown into cracks in the cement, and worked their way into the walk-out exit of our basement. All told, that weekend we ended up filling 58 30-gallon lawn bags from Home Depot. NBD. Also, a friggin’ fountain in the back yard? In Minnesota? Nope. We tore that mosquito breeding ground out as fast as possible, and we were delighted to find a giant wasp nest underneath. We were glad it was only 35 degrees outside and the things were…hibernating? Do wasps do that? Whatever. Bye fountain!

Move In Weekend Back Yard

Overgrown Vines

Back inside, the carpet came up easily enough, although the living room pad was held down with double-sided adhesive strips, as opposed to staples (BOO!). Head lamp scraping/sanding took up plenty of time in the next week, and we eventually gave up and left the rest of the tape to come off down the road with a big drum sander when we refinished the floors. 🙂 And in the bedroom, even though our West Elm bedding from the previous post is greatly preferred, we at least got the bedroom to a spot where it’d be livable for the near term while all the rest of the dust settled!

Pulling Carpet In The Bedroom

Temporary bedroom setup

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