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    Hey there! I'm Amanda and I'll be your co-pilot today. Along with my handy husband, Ben, we're remodeling our second house. We're avid DIY-ers, tackling large and small projects while raising two rambunctious boys. Thanks for following along on this wild journey!
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    Sorting white marble tile by color. So far I have four distinct colors. Yes, I'm only a few steps away from being committed. #ohakitchenreno Couldn't resist French burnt peanuts for today's mid afternoon pick me up. Who has new drawer fronts? This girl! More on the blog right now. #ohakitchenreno

Kitchen Cabinets, Part 1

During our last kitchen renovation, I shared how we built our cabinets.  Over the weekend, Ben built every drawer, 9 total, for the island.  We’ve made a few changes while building our new cabinets, so I’m giving the scoop now.  To get as much detail as possible, I’m sharing how he built the boxes and drawers now.  Once we finish the fronts, I’ll discuss the materials and process for those.

As he finished each drawer, I sanded the tops and sides smooth for clear coat.  Four days later, here’s our island, ready for install.


The right stack are for either side of the stove.  On the left are the shorter cabinets the cook top will rest on.  Originally, we planned to put the trash under the sink again, but started discussing and agreed it is better under the stove.  With a half width drawer under, if someone is cooking, it’s easy enough to scoot to the side to throw something away.  At the sink, you have to step all the way over, stopping what you are doing.  So, that’s why there’s only one drawer in the lower box.

Our bathroom vanity was a trial run of sorts for the kitchen cabinet process.  All boxes are constructed with 3/4 inch thick, double-sided melamine coated particle board.  Melamine is ideal for wet or potentially wet areas such as kitchens.  Box assembly is otherwise the same as before.

One big change we made is the drawer material.  Last time we used 3/4 inch plywood.  It’s sturdy, but everything we can get now is a lower grade.  Low grade plywood warps easier, which can skew the drawer.  We also didn’t want to fill ugly edges.  This time around, we went with 3/4 inch thick poplar for the sides and 1/2 inch double-sided melamine for drawer bottoms.  Using a dado bit in the table saw, Ben cut a 1/2 inch wide by 3/8 inch deep groove a half-inch from the bottom.

Kitchen-Drawer-Assembly-GroovesHe repeated this process for both sides and the front.  The backs are an inch shorter and are glued directly to the drawer base.  A bead of glue inside the groove holds the base in place.  Each side slips in over, nailing the corners for added strength.


After the three sides are in place, Ben runs a line of glue on the base and side corners before sliding the back in.  A few more nails and the drawer is assembled.  That’s when I get to start working.  I used 220 grit paper to sand the top edges and sides smooths, paying extra attention to the joints.  Before sealing, I quickly vacuum off dust.  To keep the melamine base clean, I taped off the edges before applying two coats of clear water based poly.


One really great advantage of building our own cabinets is tailoring them to our needs.  For instance, the drawer heights are perfect for us.  We always prefer three drawers over a shorter stack of four.

Before we start building drawers, I measure a bunch of items to decide the minimum height for each drawer.  I tell Ben what I need the usable space to be.  To accommodate tall pots, leaving a little breathing room, our bottom drawer inside space is 11 inches tall.  Our top drawer can be no shorter than 4 1/2 inches inside to store our spice drawers.  Middle drawers are always the remaining space.  Knowing my measurements and that the bottom and glides take up 1 inch, Ben knows where to attach the glides.


Another big difference this go around are the drawer glides.  Last time, we didn’t want to sacrifice drawer height, so we used side mount glides.  With a bigger kitchen, we are less concerned about that and chose Blum soft close, under mount glides.

Comparatively, these puppies are not cheap.  About $17 per pair versus $6 for the same size.  We made our island deeper than standard, 31 inches, to leave space between the cooktop and bar.  Longer pairs cost $45 each.  That’s 405 dollars in drawer glides for just the island!  Even with the price tag, after using these in the bathroom, neither of us would go back to the old style.  These are the cats pajamas.  Seriously, full extension, 100 pound heavy-duty rating, quiet, and smooth.


With the slide installed, he secures clips to the under side of each drawer.  That’s the orange thing you see in the above photo.


These clips are the only thing physically holding the drawer to the glide.


Did I mention these glides are tucked completely underneath, hidden out of sight.


That’s all we can do on cabinets until we get everything set in the kitchen.  Then we add the face frames, drawer fronts, and hardware.  We’re nailing down those details soon.

We also made unexpected progress on the countertops over the weekend.  Hoping to get pricing and see our options, we popped in a local marble and granite supplier.  I said I preferred a dark, matte to satin finish stone.  The owner showed us really beautiful leathered granite and a gorgeous soap stone remnant pile.  After talking it over with him, he made us an offer we couldn’t refuse: 100 bucks for six soap stone pieces.  Three are more than enough for our kitchen, so we loaded it up that day.  Because soap stone is on the soft side, it’s easy to cut and polish at home.  Ben’s no stranger to working with stone counters, so we’re thrilled.  Right now, the slabs are stacked together, with the backs facing out.  But, I can’t wait to share more!

Our rule is to have everything on site and ready for install before anything gets ripped out.  Slowly, things are coming in.  Flooring, a new door, and the sink should arrive soon.  It can’t get here soon enough.  Almost daily, Ben threatens to tear things out.

Dependant Pendants

We’re making progress with the kitchen.  All cabinet boxes are built, except the sink which we’re waiting to build until we have a sink in hand.  As of now, half of the basement is cabinet shells, stacked tetris style.


For appliances, we’re only missing our sink.  The current dishwasher and refrigerator are staying.  A gorgeous 48 inch cook top, stainless vent hood insert, and stacked double ovens are hanging out, waiting for a permanent home.

What we expected to be easy, has become a search: finding the perfect sink. Knowing we loved the last custom-made sink (as well as our bathroom shower pan and counter by the same fabricator), we started there.  Unfortunately, their rates have almost tripled to complete our design.  Much like Duran Duran, we’re on the hunt.  And hungry like the wolf.

In the interim, Ben is starting drawer assembly and we’re waiting for our new sliding door to arrive.  Nitty gritty details are being discussed and planned regularly.  Lighting is the most recent debate.  After several discussions, I think we’ve settled it.  The smaller white dots represent recessed cans and the black show pendants.


I quite like these small pendants at Home Depot.  Directing the lighting down should make the bar area feel cozier, and won’t blind people in other rooms.

Sleek glass pendants are my back up, if we feel the black attract too much attention.  

Then I start second guessing whether I want pendants or not.  We need a vent hood, and the wider cook top needs a larger fan.  But, with the cook top in the island, that vent hood takes up a fair amount of space.  Visually and literally.  The plan is to box around it as simply and minimally as possible.  Perhaps similar to this, but in the middle of the room.

This white with wood band is really stunning, too.

I’m not sure if I’ll like the look of the big hood and smaller pendant combo.  Especially when the lights are less than two feet from the boxing.  I’ve searched for inspiration, but most island set ups have either pendants or a vent hood.  Not both.  Few that do, have pendants to the sides, not over a bar, like this:

Any ideas, suggestions, or pictures you have to help decide?

Mirror, Mirror Against the Wall

This house came with three large, awkwardly placed mirrors.  One floor to ceiling next to the fireplace, which sadly, broke after moving it.

A shorter, wide one that’s still in the laundry room:


Though I don’t have pictures, the most um, interesting placement was at the end of the basement hall.  Right next to the bathroom door.  The first time we walked through the house, it startled me.  We decided to take it down to put to better use as a large framed for our bedroom.


To start, Ben cut a piece of OSB four inches wider and taller than the mirror and cut 3 inch strips of cedar.  OSB created a rigid backing for the mirror and frame.  We wanted to avoid glue, so Ben used the table saw to create 1/4 inch by 1 1/4 inch grooves in the back of the frame pieces.


The notched out section overlaps the mirror, leaving about two inches on the OSB sheet.


Short nails secure the frame to the backing, leaving an ugly edge.


For added interest, and to cover the sides, Ben added a 3/4 by 1 1/2 trim piece.  I wanted a 1/4 inch reveal for a layered look.

Framed-Wall-Mirror-Outer-FrameDuring the planning process, I said I wanted a leaning mirror.  Ben prefers wall mounted, but the height wouldn’t work between our trim.  So, we compromised on a slightly floating, completely straight mount.  To sit flat against the baseboard, Ben secured a scrap of trim to studs at the top.  This sets the mirror away from the wall, and gave a place to screw the mirror to the wall.


The cleats are about 3 inches shy of the mirror width, so they’re not obvious.  Unless you are literally against the wall, as I was to take these pictures.  Even then, the shadow blends in with the dark walls.


Because we had all materials, this project was free.


Filling this wall with a mirror gives function to an otherwise wasted space.  With the new dressing area, the old sconce boxes make sense.  Now to find the right lights that don’t look too bathroom-y.


I’m smitten.


Using the same cedar as the wall and night stands brought a small touch of the same to another wall.


I adore the way the wood (and everything else, for that matter) looks against the black walls.


Next for the bedroom: curtains, paint touch ups (note to self, don’t use the cheap tape!), fixing/changing the bed, and hanging art.

Floating Night Stands

Why is the master bedroom usually the last finished/decorated room?  Our bedroom was a mixed bag of old furniture, all functional, just not what we liked.


While inoffensive, the Ikea side tables just weren’t the best shape or size.  An off-center window left a little more space on one side of the room, too.  To play nicely with the planked wall, Ben built cedar night stands.


Originally, my plan was a simple double shelf, very similar to our entry console.


After using the entry shelf, I decided I wanted a single shelf, as the lower would be another surface to fill.  I tossed out the idea of a basic shelf with black brackets, but Ben thought it would look off.  We agreed a floating shelf would look great and blend best with the plank wall.  There are many ways to make a floating shelf, but here’s what we did.  For the base, we bought four heavy-duty right angle brackets.  Look for something with a consistent width, as this will determine the shelf spacing.  Mount the brackets into studs with the 90 degree angles to the outsides.


Using scrap cedar, Ben built a hollow, tight-fitting box using the brackets as spacers.


Then, the box frame slides over the brackets.


As a bonus, cords tuck inside the shelf, hiding away the extra length.


My nightstand is 24 inches wide and centered on the area between the bed and wall.  I hung a small square print to add interest to the grouping.


To make up for the slightly wider space on Ben’s side, we built his at 30 inches wide.  It’s mounted the same distance from the bed as mine.  A wider print fills the space nicely.


Now to finish painting the room and get longer curtain panels.


And we should get the outlet properly mounted and covered.  Ahh, there’s always something.

His and Hers Tasks

Good news, everyone.  The siding is 99 percent finished!  Ben took the last three days off work to get everything done before this weekend’s cold snap hits.  After starting with the most tedious part, everything went up smoothly and mostly without incident.  With much hemming and hawing, we decided to wrap the bathroom bump out in steel.  During install, Ben was on the scaffolding while I was at the bottom pounding each panel up.  While pounding a panel in place, a prybar fell off the scaffolding and on my arm.  A string of four lettered words spewed out of my mouth.  Other than that, no problems.

Lower portions were a breeze by comparison and Ben had most finished by day 2.


We know this siding choice is different.  People seem to love it or hate it.  Fortunately, several neighbors have come over to tell us how much they like it.  They could love the steel, or just that it’s finished.


Regardless, we’re thrilled.  Both with the look and that we’re almost done.  To finish off the outside corners, we’re waiting on five pieces to cover the edges.  You can see one by the front door.


While Ben was siding (and didn’t need my help), I was inside painting trim and a few walls.  Here’s a peek at the first coat in our bedroom.  As the McDonald’s slogan goes, “I’m lovin’ it.”


Hopefully tomorrow we’ll get our siding trim pieces to wrap things up.  Once that’s finished, we can take down the scaffolding and get working on kitchen plans.  Wishing you all a fun and productive weekend.


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