Marble Back Splash

As I mentioned on Wednesday, the backsplash tile is installed.  Just last night we finished it up with grout.  But, here’s the uneven, ugly step before.


To get started setting tile, I opened and sorted the packages by color.  All tiles are 4 inch by 12 inch Carrara marble from Home Depot.  Indeed I am the crazy person sorting white tile by color. I’ll explain more in a minute.


Install went smoothly, but took a lot of cutting.  Ben rocked it out in six hours though.


For detailed tile jobs, Ben prefers to use pre-mixed mastic to avoid making several batches.



Unfortunately, it also took forever to dry completely.  Obviously that is an exaggeration, but waiting four days was a test of my patience.  Pulling out the spacers took only a few minutes and then I cleaned the mastic off the surface.


Yesterday, Ben took a couple of hours to grout everything.



When sorting the tiles, I created 4 different groups.  Group one was bright white with little veining, the second white with veining.  The third group was pale gray, the fourth gray with heavy coloring.


With such color variation, we made a point to pull from each group to avoid blocks of similar colors.



Also, we chose to keep the trim on the windows, cutting tiles to fit around.



Same goes for the baseboard.


The only difference is for the crown, because the profile is thinner.  We’ll add a thin spacer behind, then secure the crown, slightly overlapping the tile.


Weekend plans include replacing switches and outlets, building cabinet doors, painting window trim, and working on the office cabinetry.  Hope everyone has a fantastic weekend!

Simple Drawer Fronts

Although the kitchen is slowing down, we haven’t stopped working.  In fact, I’ve been painting and sanding.  Sanding and painting the last several days.  Even though this is mostly decorative, we’ve taken another small step toward the finish line.  Notice anything new here?


I’ll give you a hint:


Drawer fronts!  And handles!  Toe kick covers are curing, hopefully to be installed this afternoon.


This section of the kitchen was part of the pool house addition a few years after the house was built.  I’m assuming it was level with the house, but the house already had some time to settle.  So the last five or six feet are roughly 3/4 of an inch off level.  We’ll cut the toe kick covers to follow the floor and cabinet gap for a seamless edge.

Speaking of seamless, even the sides of the drawers look sleek.



Using 1 1/4 inch long screws, Ben screwed through the drawer, into the front to secure it.


In other shocking and exciting news (sarcasm) the upper cabinet is almost ready to get loaded up with dishes.


Once loaded up with dishes, the shelves will hold a lot of weight.  Ben, over-builder of everything, worried a peg and shallow hole system wouldn’t be strong enough.  Instead, we chose to recess adjustable tracks by adding 1/4 inch material to the insides of the cabinet leaving a tight gap.


Then I screwed in the strip.  Once the shelves are painted and dry, in the dishes go.


Building cabinet doors is next on the list.  Glass fronts for pretty dish display, solid panels for the other two uppers.  To further jazz up the glass cabinet, I painted the inside the same light gray as the living room.  It’ll contrast against our white dishes.  As the last kitchen step, I’m going to paint the room to match the adjoining living area.  A way to unify the spaces.  Time to get cracking on the cabinet doors, walnut fronts, and the drawer below the sink.

Slow Going

Kitchen progress is steadily, but slowly chugging along.  Much like the Little Engine That Could, I’m just chanting I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.  Ben pieced the maple desk top is pieced together, but 1/3 of the way through sanding, our belt sander broke.  As we wait for the part to arrive, we’ve switched gears and made some progress on the cabinets.  Most of the perimeter drawer fronts are cut, painted, and curing before install.

As much as I love shaker cabinets, I wanted something different.  A less detailed design to keep the island the attention grabber.  Flat panels with a 45 degree edge, painted white should do the trick.


The island now has 2.2 sides of this solid 3/4 inch thick walnut gorgeousness:


Going through our planning, the island was the warmth the room was lacking.  I’ve already filled small cracks, sanded smooth with 220 grit paper, and applied one coat of teak oil.  We followed the same process on the bathroom vanity and love the results.


Teak oil hardens in the wood, protecting and enhancing the beautiful grain.  Just as the bathroom looked flat and boring before sealing, (see above) the island did, too.  Another benefit is that if the wood looks dry, or we have to sand out a scratch, a coat of oil refreshes the wood like new.  No full sanding or refinishing required.


Attaching the wood to the sides was simple.  Walnut is attached from inside the cabinet to hide all fasteners.


From certain, limited angles, if you squint, the island looks almost finished.


Until walking around the front to see the drawers lack fronts.  The toe kick is still exposed and we need at least one more light sanding and a coat of teak oil.  Hence the blotches at the top near the counter.


If we decide oil isn’t the best finish, we can always go over it with polyurethane.  Next up we’ll build the island drawer fronts and install the perimeter faces.  Who knows, maybe we’ll even get started on the tile backsplash.  I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.

Door Number 1

In addition to getting the bar installed this weekend, we finished up the pantry.  Here it is, right after install.


I went back and forth on colors for the door.  Initially, I wanted white to blend in with the surrounding cabinetry.


But the wood tone looked pretty.  So maybe giving it a darker stain, to pick up on the walnut we’ll add to the island?


Then again, the same gray I used on the rest of the interior doors could look great.


A reader suggested chalkboard paint.


Great in theory, but I’m almost certain it’d be a dusty mess that would drive me insane.  I’m not far off right now, don’t need to add to it.  It even crossed my mind to use something crazy like a grass green.


To work with the green curtain panels in the adjacent living and dining rooms, of course.


While we had the door off to paint, Ben added oak strips to the shelf fronts.  Oak for added strength.  Something’s happening to me; I liked the oak.  I decided to clear coat it, not paint.


Not surprisingly, after weighing the options, I went with the most boring option and my gut.  White paint, to simplify the corner.  In our plans, the pantry door was always white because it isn’t supposed to be a focal point.


To further match the white cabinetry, I used a drawer pull as the handle, just with slightly longer bolts.



Even with the handle sticking out, there’s still a few inches of clearance between it and the oven doors.  Nothing to interfere with opening and closing the oven or pantry doors.


Much simpler and it’ll match the rest of the cabinetry on this side.  You know, once we’ve built and attached doors and drawer fronts.

Painted-Pantry-Door-Closed The only upper cabinet is up, too.


Complete with under cabinet LED pucks to give ample task light.

Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls

Last time you saw the island, it had only a countertop and a stud wall to house electrical and support the bar top.


At roughly 9 1/2 feet long, we couldn’t get a natural stone long enough.  To avoid having a third and completely different counter, we chose 2 inch thick hard rock maple.  Same as the butcher block, but we chose wider planks for a more custom look.


Before assembly could start, Ben first had to square up the edges by running them through the table saw.  For a super smooth finish, a few passes through the planer before joining the boards together.  Letting the glue set for several days, then sanding the boards.


Most maple doesn’t have crazy grain.  We found one piece that has really interesting details.  Luckily, the two top boards blend together almost seamlessly.  Do you spy the joint in the photos below?


Obviously, we chose a waterfall edge.  To adequately support the overhang, we needed something at the ends.  Weighing our options, we tossed out the idea of corbels, a post, or brackets.  Extending the maple down, creating legs, felt like the best fit.

Attaching the sides was pretty painless.  A few screws through the end studs is all it took.



The top is also screwed to the wall top, but to keep the ends rigid, Ben recessed four screws.


Four walnut plugs fill those holes, giving a little accent.


Once we wrap the island in American Walnut, the two woods will tie together.  Drawer fronts seem like such a novel idea right now.



The sides and back will also get the royal walnut treatment.


Now I’m on a quest to find the perfect finish for everything.


I’ve got five or more products I’m sampling, testing the color, durability, and retouching abilities.