Jan 17, 2017

Acre House Family Room Update


Most of the rooms in our current home are a little bit bigger than the rooms in our last house.  This is a picture of our family room, taken by the realtors selling this home.  The space is great.  We love the arched doorways and the carpet was brand new. 


This room has a skylight and I love the natural light it lets in.  While there's really nothing wrong with this space, we still wanted to make a few changes to add better flow and a bit of character.  To make this room flow with the rest of the main areas of the house, we painted all of the walls the same color (Dolphin Fin by Behr).  This is the same color paint I used in our split level.  The other thing we did was rip up the carpet (we gave it to some friends because it was still new) and we installed a water proof laminate from Home Depot.  This helped with the flow a lot because the hallway, family room, and dining room had carpet.  The kitchen had an older linoleum, and the living room and entry had a newer linoleum.  Now they all have the same flooring and it makes these areas seem bigger, even though nothing, as far as square footage, has changed.  


Here you can see the newly installed laminate.  In person, it has a lot of texture and a bit of that hand scraped look.  We're pretty happy with it.  However, despite new flooring and a fresh coat of soft grey paint, the room still felt very plain.  That long wall with the tv against it felt too long and open.  So we did what we've done in every home we've ever owned. 
My husband installed built ins.  We did them a little different than we've ever done them before though.  This time, instead of building the lower cabinets by hand (hard and time consuming), we found the idea to use stock upper cabinets.  My husband built a base, about six inches tall.  Then he added some stock upper cabinets from Home Depot to the base. 
Using cabinet grade 3/4 plywood, he built the shelves, with backer-board to give the back of the built-ins a nice smooth surface.  He used small mdf molding to finish each shelf out.  The molding gives the illusion that the shelves are made with thicker wood.  He also used wider 5.5 inch mdf molding to finish out the built-ins around the top and sides.


Every household has their own system.  The system that works in our household is that my husband does the building and I do the finish work.  So here I am calking every seam and nail hole.


Painting tends to be my job too.  As long as I have something to listen to, on this particular day - Gilmore Girls - it's a pretty relaxing task.


Again, here is a view of how this room looked when we first walked through it.


Here it is today, just peaking through the arched doorway.


This is mOst of the entire wall. It's so long that it's difficult to get the entire length of built-ins in one picture.  But that's a great problem.  These offer so much storage.  As soon as they were completed, I was finally able to unpack the last of the boxes from our move... The games, binders full of family pictures, books, decorative items, DVD's, CD's, etc.  All of that is either displayed on the top shelves, or neatly stored and happily hidden in the bottom cabinets.



This is the wall opposite of the long built-in wall.  Just a cozy corner for watching Netflix, hanging out with friends, or doing homework.


Here, again, is the far wall just to give you a bit of a before perspective of this side of the room.


Here is the after.  This corner is now the "office" space, with old metal file holders, spray painted and screwed to the wall and a desk, sitting nicely below the only window in the room.



The curtains frame this little area and make it feel cozy.


This is the rest of the wall between the window and the door leading to the back deck.


Just another side view of this whole wall.  
You know, It's funny.  (But not funny.)  No part of this room came together seamlessly for me.  Well, except for the flooring and the built-ins...  we had visions of doing those things before we signed on the dotted line to take ownership of this house.  

The hard part was that it was a different layout than the family room in our previous house that I was used to.  I found myself, at first, having no idea where to place furniture or how to decorate.  For the longest time, it didn't even feel like home.  As I just let things be for awhile, slowly our families routine and our needs for this room, shifted pieces of furniture and such to where they are today.  I was silly enough, at first, to think that I needed to get this room just right and perfect, all at once, without letting it just naturally evolve over time.  Too often I put unneeded pressure on myself about these kinds of things.  I wanted the transition of moving to feel seamless for my family and I.  In reality, moving and settling in just takes time.  After living here for seven months, this place finally feels like home. 

Jan 6, 2017

Acre House Entryway Before + After


I really came to love the split level home we fixed up before we moved here.  However, I was never very fond of it's entryway.  It was tiny and felt very awkward when letting visitors in.  One of the many pluses to this rambler is that we can invite people in with room to spare.  While this space may seem very common to some, the openness of this entry feels like a new luxury to me.


The existing flooring was made up of newer carpet and linoleum.   I know it totally looks like wood or laminate in the picture, but it's not.  The variety of flooring this house had, made it feel choppy to us.  So within the first few months, we tore out all of the flooring in the main living areas.  We replaced it with a water proof laminate found at Home Depot.  A couple of the other things we did right away in this area, was new paint (Dolphin Fin by Behr - still a favorite of mine) and we replaced the entry light fixture.


After fresh paint, new flooring, and a new light, my husband installed pine tongue and groove planking just to this one wall here. 


Okay, so this is real life when you're moving in and renovating at the same time.  It's a beautiful mess, but it's real.  I loved how the planking turned out.  So pretty.  I ALMOST considered leaving it raw and unpainted.  But I'm a white and gray decor kind of girl, so the final decision was to paint it white.


 Here we are today.  All moved in and this space now feels more "us".


Here's another glance from a slightly different angle.  Sorry for the blurry picture.  I got a new camera for Christmas and I'm still struggling with how to use it.  Sometimes what looks like a crisp picture to my eye when I'm taking the picture, isn't really so crisp.  I've got some learning to do. :)

I reused these hooks that used to hang in the entry in our old house.  They are the perfect combination of nice to look at and useful.  Lately I've been learning something about myself and decor.  If it can be BOTH pretty and functional, I love it!  Sometimes I have a hard time buying things that are just for looks. Not that I never do, but I like the simplicity of pretty + useful.

 

I recently purchased this jute rug from Rugs USA.  I love jute rugs for the entry because they can take a beating and this area gets a lot of traffic.  My husband built the bench out of some old wood we had and some industrial metal legs I bought on Amazon.  Another tiny update to this area was some paint on the front door.  I painted it black, but this section of the house doesn't get a lot of natural light.  So I may need to rethink the black and go with something a shade or two lighter.  We'll see.


 Hello!


I tried to be intentional with the things I hung on the walls in here.  We go in and out the front door several times a day.  The first things you see when coming in are a picture of Christ, a picture of the Prophet (Thomas S. Monson - President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), and one of our favorite quotes from the Prophet. "May we ever choose the harder right, instead of the easier wrong."
 

I also placed a small clip board in the window sill, next to the front door.  I can clip different scriptures here throughout the year that we are trying to learn or memorize.


The last thing I hung in the entry was this oval mirror.  Just in case we want to glance at ourselves before we head out for the day.  This mirror has some sentimental value.  It used to be bright yellow and hang in my room when I was a baby.  It made it's way into my younger sister's room when I was growing up too and then finally landed in my lap again.

This house has really good bones.  We've only made changes to it that made it feel more like "us" rather than the previous owners.

Next week I'll try to share some updates we made to the family room.  Until then, have a good day and stay warm!  Our winter, so far this year, has been brutally cold!

Jan 2, 2017

Painted Kitchen Tile Backsplash


A couple of months ago, I painted the back splash in our kitchen.  The tile was fine and in perfect shape, it just wasn't my style.  My first choice would have been to rip the tile out and add white subway tile.  However, in order for that to happen, the tile would have to be installed on top of the edge of the counter top where it meets the wall.  Long term, we won't be keeping these counter tops. So we didn't want to install a new back splash, that would rest on the old counter top, when later we'd have to rip it out to install a new one, causing havoc on the back splash.  Not sure if that makes sense, but anyway, we needed a less permanent solution.  So in came the wonderful magic of oil based paint.


Just so you have an idea of how far this kitchen has come since we moved in, the picture above is from seven months ago when this home was still on the market. 


Five months after living here, this kitchen has new laminate flooring, a new light fixture, painted cabinets, and new hardware.  Painting the back splash just kind of pulled it all together one step further.


The process was simple, except for the fact that I had zero experience with oil based paint.  I'll share one rooky mistake I made so that if you decide to tackle a project like this, you can avoid the mess up I made. 


The first step is to clean all of the tile so the paint will adhere well.  Let it dry well.

Step two, remove any outlet covers around the tile and tape off everything around the tile you don't want paint on.  Unlike water based paint, oil will not wipe off.

Step three, use a good primer (I used Zinsser 1,2,3.  It adheres well to anything and can be found at Home Depot and probably several other places.)  I used a roller to get primer on the big stuff and the edge of the roller to get all of the smaller grouted areas.  This primer dries fast.  So if you're in a hurry, you can follow step four within a couple of hours.

Step four, use an oil based paint to paint over the primer.  I chose a bright white from Behr, right off the shelf.  Just some important notes here...
  • Use a high quality brush, not a roller.  Rollers are harder to work with when you use oil based paint.
  • Use a Semi Gloss or a Gloss sheen.  I used a Semi Gloss sheen for durability and slight shine.  
  • Wait at least one day between coats of oil based paint and watch out for any moisture in the area! (rooky mistake)
STEP FIVE, is super important.  Two coats of paint are required for an even finish.   After coat number one, wait 24 hours before applying coat number two.  Even after my first coat was applied and I had waited 24 hours, that first coat was still sticky to the touch.  Luckily by coast number two, the paint hardened pretty quickly.  The silly silly mistake I made was when dishes were piling up in the sink and I had my son do his weekly dishes chore.  Only one coat of paint had been applied at this point.  Water droplets/Moisture had landed on the back splash directly behind the sink.  So when I applied coat number two, the paint would not adhere smoothly and I was left with a bit of a streaky crackled look.  Lesson to learn here... Don't do the dishes when you're painting your back splash!!!  In fact, if you can, avoid using the sink at all!  


Water and oil don't mix.  I don't know why my brain didn't compute that common knowledge during this process. It's kind of hard to tell, but in the picture above, you can kind of see the unevenness on the tiles around the sink.  Luckily when you stand back, it's not super noticeable.








I love the transformation.  It was a fairly easy fix for not an enormous amount of money.  I already had the primer and the painters tape, so all I had to buy was a nice paint brush and the paint.  An under $30 kitchen back splash solution.

Oct 31, 2016

How I Painted Our Kitchen Cabinets White


(realtor picture)

There are probably hundreds of kitchen cabinet painting tutorials out there.  Today I'm going to add mine into the bunch. 

So the picture above is what our kitchen looked like five months ago before we bought it.  In real life, the cabinets looked a little less orange-y.  But anyway, they were dark and my personal taste are white cabinets.  They feel light, bright, and clean.  Yes, they do show dirt more easily, but at least you can see the dirt and wipe it away.  When cabinets are darker, it just gives the dirt an opportunity to hide. :)

This is the third home we've owned, so it's the third kitchen I've painted white.  The only difference this time is that these were the nicest quality cabinets I've ever dealt with.  In our last two homes, the cabinets were from the 70's.  I knew they couldn't look any worse than they already did, so I simply painted them without taking my time.  I didn't sand, I didn't prime, and at one point, I didn't even remove the cabinet doors.  In THIS house with THESE cabinets, I wanted to do it right!  

This is the result I got.  Awe, the power of paint and only $140!!!  There are other updates we want to make to this kitchen, but that's another story for another day.  Let's get to the painting details...

 
 
 

The first thing I did was remove the cabinet doors and most of the drawers too.  Then I cleaned the cabinets and the cabinet doors with TSP.  It's a strong cleaning solution that can be found as a concentrate at Home Depot in the painting department for about five dollars.  It can also be found in a ready made solution on Amazon for about double that price.

 

I labeled the doors with blue painters tape and alphabetical letters.  I placed an identical label inside the matching interior cabinet so that these doors didn't get mixed up down the road.

 

The next thing I did was lightly sand the cabinets with a 220 grit sand paper, just enough to roughen the surface a little bit.  

 

After cleaning and sanding, wipe down with a tack cloth or vacuum up the dust before priming.  (Sometimes I did both.)  The primer I used is called Zinsser Bullseye 123.  I bought it at Home Depot for under $20.  It says on the label that you can use this primer without sanding, but that made me a little nervous.  So I decided to play it safe and sand anyway.  I used 1-2 coats of primer on everything.


 

Priming and painting took over my garage, dining room, and kitchen.  But I knew it was just a temporary mess, so I plugged away.  

Tips for painting the doors: 
  • Lay doors on 2x4's to allow space to paint the sides (not pictured in the above pictured, but you'll notice it in the garage picture)
  • Prime both sides first 
  • Lightly Sand with a 220 grit sandpaper or higher in between primer and the actual painting step.  
  • Wipe down after sanding with a tack cloth that will grab hold of that dust really well.
  • When you get to the actual paint step, paint 2-4 coats of paint on the BACK side of the doors first.  That way if there is minor scuffing after you flip the doors over to paint the other side, it won't show on the pretty front side that you look at everyday.
 

This is the brush I bought at the specialty paint store where I bought my paint.  Spraying your cabinets is a great way to go and it looks fantastic.  Even though we own a paint sprayer, I chose to paint by hand and I don't regret it.  This foam roller did an amazing smooth job.  The trick was to paint the crevices of the door first, then the flat parts. In the crevices, I used the end of this roller to slide the paint on.  I rolled it on the flat parts.  The trick to getting the paint to dry smooth has to do with the kind of paint you use and your rolling technique.  The technique I used was to roll it on with a little bit of pressure.  After all the paint was on, I used my roller and ROLLED over the paint very gently.  It was more like a glide and I didn't apply any pressure.  This got out any paint bubbles that were present.

 

This is the paint I used.  Benjamin Moore Advanced paint is AMAZING!!!  I can't say enough good things about this paint.  It is great at minor self leveling and it is the best cabinet paint out there.  It works like an oil based paint, but is actually latex and cleans up with water.  The color I chose is called Simply White.


For me, the worst part about painting large projects that take many days (this project took me two weeks), is the clean up.  I hate cleaning up paint trays and paint rollers and brushes.  So I didn't.  When I was done with my roller for the day, or had to take a break to pick up kiddos from school, I stuck my roller in a zip lock bag.  I also lined my paint tray with foil.  I only poured the amount of paint I knew I would use for sure.  When I was done, I rolled up the messy foil and threw it in the garbage!

 

The other step I should have mentioned earlier is that before you start any paint or primer, tape the perimeter around anything you don't want paint on.  This will give you clean lines.

 

Any sort of kitchen remodel is messy, as you can see here.  I've got paint going on the cabinet frames and I was lightly sanding the labeled doors on the kitchen floor.  Lots going on.  Luckily my family was pretty patient with the whole process.  It helped that my husband was away hunting during the first week. ;)  And really, he was just happy that he wasn't the one having to do it, haha!

 

This last step you totally don't have to do.  However if you're like me and you have sheet rock above your cabinets, you may want to.  I painted the sheet rock the same color as my cabinets and then caulked the seam where the two met. Eventually we'll add molding up there to make the cabinets and sheet rock seem like seamless taller upper cabinets.  It should look really pretty ...eventually. ;)

 


 

All of these cabinets took about 3-4 coats of paint.  You can't tell in this picture, but there are some light spots still visible in the crevices where the cabinets indent.  I'll need to go over those again sometime with a light coat of paint.  But for now, I'm tired.  Two weeks of painting and having my home in disarray was a lot of work.  It was totally worth it though and I would do it again.

 


 
 

The next thing I want to do in here is possibly paint over that back splash tile.  It's just not my favorite style.  I've read that it's possible to paint over tile with a really good primer and an oil based paint.   Not sure what color I would paint it.  Maybe white?  I would love to just tear it out and replace it with white subway tile.  But my husband said we he would rather wait to do that at the same time we replace the counters.  (That will be a couple of years from now I'm guessing.)

 
I chose to leave the doors off of this cabinet above our microwave.  It opened up this little space a little more and became a pretty little display shelf for my kitchen cleaners that sit in that little basket there.  Over time, I may decide to remove some of the other doors on the upper cabinets.  But for now I'll keep everything the way it is.


Oh, and before I forget... I added new hardware to these cabinets too.  It's black and I bought all of it on Amazon for about $40.  That included all the knobs and pulls.  I'm so glad I checked out Amazon before I headed to a big box store.  The pulls I bought worked out to be about two dollars a piece and I would have paid at least five dollars a pull anywhere else.

Overall, I'm really happy with how this project turned out.  If you've been wanting to paint your kitchen cabinets I say do it!  You'll be pleased with your hard work!

If you have any questions I'll try to answer them in the comments below.
Have a great week friends!

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