The Big Splash

Warning!  This post is filled with over enthusiastic commentary and gratuitous tile pictures.

Along with installing most of the trim, we’ve finished another item on our long to do list.  Along with the drawer fronts, I think the marble backsplash has made the biggest difference in the kitchen, making it feel more finished.  I guess it kind of almost is finished.

First, take a look at our old back splash.  A four-inch tall piece of oak topped laminate.  Not. Pretty.  And, it didn’t function well protecting the wall from water.  In fact, the laminate covered a piece of particle board.  Particle board and water are not friends.  When wet, particle board swells more than my feet when I was pregnant.

So, we decided to make our new back splash pretty and functional in a wet area.  And that’s why we chose 3 inch by 6 inch marble subway tiles (from Home Depot), taking the tile up to the ceiling.

Before I get to the big back splash, lets take a look at the smaller one behind the stove.  We had to approach this one a little differently.  You see, our floors aren’t perfectly even, so the space between the counter top and the bar top varies about 1/2 inch from the far left side to the right end.  The wood tops are 3 1/2 inches apart.  If we had used the same 3 by 6 tiles, this difference would have been much more noticeable because the cut slivers would vary.  Luckily, Home Depot also carries four packs of 6 by 6 inch marble tiles.  The perfect solution to our uneven problem back splash.

Now for the install.  We started by measuring and marking the center of each wall space and the first tile.

Back butter the tile, line up the marks, and press firmly into place.

Because our first four tiles tuck behind the stove, we decided to leave them the full 6 by 6.  Then Ben measured each opening, cutting one tile per side, installing, then measuring for the next.

I’m guessing the marble tile cuts like a hot knife through butta because Ben made very nice detail cuts, like these around the outlets.

And he joked the he’ll start carving chess pieces from marble when we finish the house.  Here’s another shot of the tile behind the stove.  Once it’s pushed back in place, it won’t look any different.

Bright and pretty, just the way I like ’em.

Now that we’ve gotten the little ‘splash out of the way, let’s get to the main event; the back splash behind the sink.  Our starting process was similar, but Ben had some cutting to do first.  We agreed the first full row of tile should start at the counter, so Ben had to cut pieces to fit in the lower sink area.

Thanks old back splash for leaving so much ugly junk behind.  That’s why water and particle board are a bad combo.

With the sink row cut, things went up really quickly because Ben installed the full tiles, then moved to the smaller, detailed pieces.  Here’s a little space under the window sill.

And after, with the tiny pieces stuck forever.

Tons of one inch pieces on each side of the window and we made it to the top.

Instead of back buttering each tile for the part above the window, Ben spread the mastic on the wall.

Putting in some of the final cut pieces.

Because we’re putting crown moulding along the tops of the cabinets, we decided we’ll continue the crown across the front of the marble, covering the gap near the ceiling.

Before going to work the next morning, Ben pulled the spacers so I woke up to this pretty wall ‘o tile.

Pretend all the shelves are painted and we’ve got crown at the top, okay?  Oh, and pretend we’ve got doors on the upper cabinets, too.

Is it wrong that I want to stare at it all day?  Maybe I’m turning into a tile stalker.

The blue-gray works so well with the stainless, gray cabinets, and the warm wood counters.  Which is why I love this shot.

Just a detail shot of the cuts around the sink.

Now, a before and after for added drama.  Before:


Ahh, the magic of the internet.

What do you think?  I’m in love.  Like seriously, in. love.  I’m just visualizing this shot with trim and doors and I have a dopey, just-fallen-in-love smile on my face.

Of course we still have to grout the tile, so we’ll be back to share more info on the install and pictures when we’re done.

Kitchen Trimmings

We’re racing toward the finish line of our kitchen remodel.  Can I get a ‘Yippeeeeee’?  After being out-of-town for three weekends (and eight weekdays) in December, we finally got a chance to get back to work.  And waddya know, we crossed four things off our list.

  • Add crown molding to the top of the cabinets
  • Cut shelves for the cabinets  {Still have to paint three more}
  • Build the cabinet doors, including two glass front doors
  • More filling, sanding, priming, and painting of the cabinet doors
  • Fill bar side cabinets and trim, sand, prime, and paint
  • Sand the ceiling and walls smooth
  • Prime and paint the kitchen and living room.  Probably the dining room too.
  • Add lights: sconces, light over the sink, and recessed light halos
  • Trim out the posts and door frames
  • Decide whether we want to add decorative trim to the vent hood or paint it to match the wall color
  • Install the pretty new marble tile back splash {If you follow us on Facebook, you caught a sneak peek of this.  And I’ll be back to share the glorious details tomorrow.}
  • Put everything back in place and enjoy
That’s eight things we have left to do.  See, progress!  So, let’s get on to the details.  Before we could get started on the pretty marble back splash, we had to install a few pieces of trim around the bar support posts.  Ben used 3/4 inch MDF to frame out the ‘door.’
Quotes because we’re trimming the bar opening to match the dining and kitchen door frames on each side of the bar top.
I decided I wanted the post casement to extend and terminate into the counter top.  This way, both the post and the marble tile had a definite stopping points.
Our other option was to keep the casement on the right as it currently is and extend the tile the edge.  The inside casement (on the left) would then butt up against the tile.  Ben wanted this, I argued it would look funny because the door trim is thicker than the tile.  As you can see, he installed the trim my way.  {Yes, Ben often reminds I am a brat.}
After installing the door framing and casement, Ben shed a little light on the bar.  Yep, our sconces are finally up and functional, despite a snag in the process.
With one sconce installed, we put in a light bulb and flipped the switch.  Crickets.  Nothing happened.  So, I got a different bulb.  Still nothing.  Which reaaaaallllly irritated Ben.  So, he took the sconce down, rechecked the wiring and everything was right where if should be.  It had to be the switch.  Sure enough, the brand new dimmer switch didn’t work.  He swapped the dimmer for a regular switch and the lights worked perfectly.  He carried on with the install of the second.
I thought we’d get started on the tile install after the door trim, but Ben was in a trimming kind of mood.  He reminds me of the mouse in If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.  He got carried away and finished nearly all the trim.  Like this around the bar side cabinets.
Then he put in new baseboard and plinth blocks around the back door.
Before we laid the new hardwood floor, we ripped out the old tile, including the subfloor.  This made our new floors 3/4 of an inch lower than the tile.  Hence the line right above the new base boards that I’ll have to fill and sand before painting.  Luckily it’s only in this small area.
While we Ben was changing out trim, he brought up the idea of changing the half wall along the stairs.  It was boring before, just plain white with baseboard and quarter-round trim to hide the edges.
Ben suggested adding trim to match the cabinets.  WTF.  Well that’s fantastic.  In much the same way we added trim to the cabinets, Ben added some detail to the boring wall.
Of course there’s still filling, sanding, priming, and painting before it looks finished, but we’re that much closer to wrapping up the kitchen.  That was Saturday.  Can’t wait to share our Sunday project with you!  Hint: it’s marbelous.
We had a great weekend, how about you?  Did you get started on your resolutions?  Maybe you tackled your own project?

P.S.  To see the official kitchen to do list, including links to everything we’ve finished so far, check out this post.

Upper Peninsula

What?  No, we haven’t added another peninsula.  We’ve painted the cabinets above the peninsula.  And the rest of the upper cabinets.  Which sounds like a lot but isn’t because we have only two others.  The last cabinet update we shared centered around the drawer fronts, but you also caught a glimpse of the upper cabinets, complete with a decorative face framing.

Before going to Minnesota, I procrastinated packing to give the cabinets a coat of paint.

Because our upper cabinets shouldn’t be as affected by dirty, slimy, jam-handed kids as the lowers, we decided to save $20 by using Behr Two in One paint in a satin finish.  To match the trim in the adjoining rooms, we used the same color, Behr’s Vermont Cream.  Following the same process as I did for the drawer fronts, I painted the outsides of the cabinets.  Three coats later, gently sanding with 220 grit paper between coats, we’re done.   Oh, don’t mind the tape along the bottoms of the cabinets either.  Ben was working on sealing the counter tops again and I wanted to protect my hard work.

Actually, we’re not because we still have trim to add.  See the tops?  Yeah, we’ll finish that off with the same crown moulding we’ve used throughout the house.  Rather than cut the tiles for the back splash around the crown, we’ll attach the crown after the tile is done for a seamless look.

The same goes for the vertical piece along the back of the cabinets.

I debated waiting to paint everything at the same time, but decided against it because I want to get shelves up and use those babies!

To find the shelving height, I started placing our dishes in the cabinet.  A piece of tape marks where I want a shelf placed.

After deciding on the height of each shelf, Ben drilled four holes, one in each corner, for the pins to rest in.  We used something like the silver L style:

The height of each shelf is adjustable two inches in either direction, too, so we I can move the dishes around for the best look and fit.

The lower the shelves, the more often the dishes get used.  So our everyday glasses, mugs, and plates are the lowest for shorties like myself.  I want to add a third shelf in each cabinet for lesser used, but pretty dishes.  Ben wants to space the shelves out more evenly, but have only two.  Seeing as we had two shelves in our old cabinets which were a foot shorter, I think we need to utilize the height we added by removing the soffit.

Those are the only shelves we’ve installed so far.  We’ll be sure to share more info on the process and pictures when we get the other shelves in place.

  • Buy all appliancessinkstovevent hood, dishwasher
  • Tear out the upper cabinets and soffit {more on that here}
  • Add support on load bearing wall before tearing out
  • Knock down the wall between the living room and kitchen {more on that here}
  • Install the vent hood {more on that here}
  • Remove the lower cabinets, counter tops, and sink
  • Rip out the tile floor and sub floor {more on that here}
  • Install the new hardwood floors {more on that here}
  • Build toe kick bases, wire everything for lights, replace the cabinets and sink {more on that here}
  • Get the new stove in place and hooked up {more on that here}
  • Add the cabinet above the fridge and frame it out {more on thathere}
  • Install the new dishwasher {more on that here}
  • Build the five remaining drawers we’ve waited on (we needed to see how things were in place before we could build one drawer in the dining room, the trash can pull out, and the under the sink drawer)  {more on that here}
  • Fill, sand, prime and paint said drawers
  • Install every drawer, 16 total 
  • Decide on sconces and buy them {more on that here}
  • Buy the wood for the counters 
  • Haul the wood slabs to a cabinet shop to have them sand both sides smooth {more on that here}
  • Cut the wood to fit and install the counters {more on that here}
  • Add decorative face trim to all cabinets for a smooth, pretty, even front {more on that here}
  • Fill, sand, prime, and paint all cabinet faces {more on that here}
  • Install the toe kicks and rope lighting
  • Hang the upper cabinets
  • Build the drawer fronts
  • Buy bar stools {more on the debate here}
  • Fill, sand, prime, and paint the drawer fronts 
  • Install the drawer fronts and hardware pulls {more on that here}
  • Add crown molding to the top of the cabinets
  • Cut shelves for the cabinets
  • Build the cabinet doors, including two glass front doors
  • More filling, sanding, priming, and painting of the cabinet doors
  • Sand the ceiling and walls smooth
  • Prime and paint the kitchen and living room.  Probably the dining room too.
  • Add lights: sconces, light over the sink, and recessed light halos
  • Trim out the posts and door frames
  • Decide whether we want to add decorative trim to the vent hood or paint it to match the wall color
  • Install the pretty new marble tile backsplash
  • Put everything back in place and enjoy

Next on our to do list: cut shelves, build cabinet doors, and install trim so we can get started on our back splash.

What’s on your to do list?  Something resolution related?  I know I’m going to get some cleaning and orgainzing done.

Stools, and Not the Gross Kind

Well, we ordered three stools for the bar.  What did we get?  The Twist stools from World Market.  We took advantage of a Cyber Monday 20% off everything sale plus a free shipping code from EBates.  This was the first time I’d used EBates, but if I get another 8% back, that puts another 20 bucks in my pocket, making our stools 28% off plus free shipping.  So we spent $80.95  per stool which originally cost $109.99 each.

That’s better than the 25% off or free shipping we considered before Thanksgiving.

Fortunately, the stools are fantastic.  Super sturdy, heavy-duty, good-looking, and adjustable.  Three tuck nicely under the bar top without taking up space in the living room.  A few readers warned us about backless or swivel stools with little kids, but so far they’ve been great.  We haven’t let Everett sit on the stools, but Vincent has been totally fine.  And, the swivel feature amuses them.  Both boys turn the seats like they’re driving.

As you can see, we still have finish work to do on this side, like adding trim to the cabinets, filling nail and screw holes, and painting, but the space is usable and that’s what really matters.

What I like best are the heavy wood tops.  Nothing cheesy or fake here.  The color to the seats coördinates beautifully with the wooden counter top.  Bonus!

Now if Ben and I could agree on a color to paint the cabinets.  I want white to match the entertainment center because they’re technically in the same room.   Ben thinks we should paint the cabinets the same gray as the kitchen lowers because they’re back to back.

What do you think?  Do you have bar stools in your home?  What style do you have?

I Like Big Drawers and I Cannot Lie

Due to the impending holiday, we’ve been slacking in the kitchen update department.  Shame on us.  Spank us and take away our birthdays.  Yesterday, we did share a cabinet painting tutorial, but I know you really want to see the installed, finished product.  Am I right?  After locking myself in the basement bedroom for several hours each day for a week, I finally finished priming and painting the fronts and backs of 20 drawers.

We’ve found the easiest way to install drawer fronts is by first marking and drilling holes for the handles.  Use a spacer as a guide to keep the spacing even.  In our case, we wanted a 3/4 inch reveal on all sides of the stack, so a few scraps of 3/4 inch plywood worked wonderfully.  While Handy Sammy held the drawer front in place, Ben put a screw in the holes he drilled for the handles.

For spacing between the drawers Ben used two quarters stacked together and followed the same process.  Once he liked the spacing, he went back and screwed the fronts on from inside the drawers.

Easy enough, right?

Yeah, kinda.  Some how, I don’t quite know because Ben is perfect, he misjudged the depth and screwed into the center, popping the screw through the drawer front.  He said he did it to show he is human because that fact is easily forgotten.  Haha, nerd!

In a few hours, we finished fourteen of the twenty fronts, including the stove side:

What a big difference it makes.  The lower drawers are finished.  Minus minor touch ups like one screw pop and scratches.  Oh, and you can see we decided on two handles for each of the large drawers.  Just one seemed dinky.

Ben and I agreed the handles looked better centered on each drawer.

You can see the small stack was still lacking in the drawer front department.  And, where’s Vincent?

And, here’s a look at our false front covered trash drawer.  Notice we framed out the upper cabinets, too.

We’ve got three more false fronts on the back of the peninsula.

Obviously, the other side has real drawers, and there’s also a stack of drawer fronts opening in the dining room.  Rather than a blank like the end panels, we decided to go with the false fronts.  Ben drilled the holes for the handles first, attached the handles, then screwed the panels on from inside the cabinet.

The functional drawers are customized, too.  Everything looks normal behind the curtain, right?

Wrong!  The protruding window sill called for a smaller top drawer to avoid smashing into granite.  This is the only drawer front we didn’t center the handle on.  Instead, we wanted the handles to line up to so everything looks the same.

There’s no denying it, the kitchen is starting to look finished.  Lower cabinets: done!

We found a mini microwave from Home Depot, too.  Man was than an ordeal.  It just fits in the cabinet.  When Ben told me he built the cabinet 20 inches wide, I assumed that was the inside dimension.  You know what they say about assuming…  The inside dimension is 18 inches wide and most microwaves are 18 or 19 inches.  So we started thinking of different places we could put a microwave.

Option 1: Inside one of the bar cabinets.

But those cabinets aren’t deep enough because the cabinet is built around the support post.  Next idea.

Option 2: Removing a drawer to add a microwave hidden behind a door.  We have two small-ish drawer stacks to choose from, but in the peninsula.  The front-runner to remove was the middle drawer opening on the dining side.

But it seemed inconvenient to microwave something in the dining room.  If we did this, we’d also lost a fair amount to storage space in the depth of the cabinet.  We would have the same problem if we put the microwave in the middle drawer of the kitchen peninsula.

Option 3:  Build a buffet to house a microwave and other stuff.  When we bought the marble for our dining table, we also bought a piece to top off a buffet.  Then, we gave the small desk to my sister and liked how open the room felt.

Again, not the most convenient location, and building another piece of furniture isn’t going to happen right now.

Option 4:  Build a new, wider upper cabinet to fit a microwave.  I may have mentioned this idea to Ben which he very quickly rejected.  I don’t blame him, after all, we had just added the trim detail.

Option 5:  Live without a microwave.  At first, I thought this wouldn’t be very difficult, but how would I make a baked potato?  Certainly not the old-fashioned way in the oven.

We’re so glad we found a microwave to fit in the intended cabinet.  High-fives abounded.  I never thought I’d be that excited about a cheap, ugly microwave.

That’s what we’ve been up to.  Holiday decorating, kitchen updating, and Minnesota planning.  What’s new with you?  Any kitchen work going on?  Holiday decorating and planning?  Are you going to stop by Goodwill to meet up with us?  Do you prefer a hidden microwave?  Ever gotten excited about a small appliance?