Sliding Pantry Doors

This post is so long an appeteaser is totally called for.  Meet our new pantry doors.

Now to get into the details of how these beautiful doors came to be.  Spoiler Alert. It wasn’t easy.

The door to our pantry has been the headache of the new house from day 1.  We knew it was going to be a problem and even before we moved in I was researching a way to alleviate the problem.

IMGP7737 IMG_8634You see the door to our pantry had to swing in because if it swung out it would hit the garage door if it was also open.Because of the shape of our pantry which is a rectangle the door would swing in and essentially cut off half of the pantry.  And you had to do this little tip-toe dance around the open door and then close the door to get to anything on that side (are you using your imagination?)

So we didn’t put a lot of things on that side of the pantry for that reason but you know – some stuff was over there and anytime I had to do that little tip-toe dance I was cursing that stupid door.

So in January I decided I had had enough.  We were going to address the issue next.  It was happening.  So on a random day I asked Eric to help me take the door off.  And immediately it was like – Ahhhh!  Glorious.  Not only did you not have to do that dance but you’d just walk right in and get exactly what you needed immediately.  Not having the door as an obstacle was NICE.  Then on a whim I was like, well this trim has to go….and ripped all that out as well.

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We could’ve just retrimmed it and left it like that but it didn’t seem finished to leave it without any kind of door.  What if you had company over and you wanted to hide your messy pantry?  I wanted the option to have something to cover it for that 1% of time but be able to not have anything in our way for the other 99% of the time.  I considered a bifold door or 2 small doors that would open in but it just seemed fussy and after seeing the light of not having anything in my way, I wasn’t going back.  A sliding door was the obvious choice.  Our wall is 8 feet wide and there isn’t enough room for a full size door to sit on either side so 2 small doors were what we needed.

You can see my pinterest board devoted to all things pantry here which has oodles of pantry door inspiration pictures.

We went in search of some cute doors to use – something vintage, something with some glass was the hope.  Our doorway was just under 33 inches so we needed doors about 18″ wide.  We went to Caravati’s in Richmond.  They have some really neat stuff – anything you can imagine which could be salvaged from an old home.  You won’t find any deals there but if you want quantity, it’s the place to go.  And being that we needed a strange size it was our best option.  So we trekked there with 2 kids in tow and searched and searched through all of the doors.  Our best (pretty much only) option was some tall shutters.  They were in rough shape – not vintage/cute rough – just rough.  They were caked in old, ugly paint and they were $150 for each one.  Agh.  We left empty handed.  I then was determined to scour craigslist options but I quickly realized I was searching for a needle in a hay stack.  Then…

WE COULD MAKE THEM!

Eric was like – huh? No.

Ya we can totally make doors!  But here’s the important part – they don’t have to actually function as doors and that’s a big deal!  We did not become carpenters overnight.

They just need to hide the pantry.  They don’t need to be structurally sound or fit perfectly in a doorway or have hinges installed.  They just need to be the right size and be thick enough that we can install sliding door hardware.  Heck, they don’t even have to look good except on 1 side.

However, I had no idea where to start.

So off to pinterest/youtube I went.  Unfortunately, most of the posts I could find showed how to add a glass piece to an already existing door or they showed how to make barn doors without glass.  And then I searched on youtube and found a whole lot of people that are actual carpenters making legit doors and I was like – yup, I definitely can’t do THAT.  There wasn’t really an in between.  I knew we could make doors without glass pretty easily.  But for some reason I got it in my head that putting glass in the door would be amazing (#blameitonpinterest) and so I was determined to find a way to make it work.  I stumbled upon these 2 blogs that helped me come up with my plan:

https://www.thehandmadehome.net/2011/03/building-a-screen-door/

https://atcharlotteshouse.com/door-score/

In the meantime we went ahead installing the hardware since we could make the door any length.

Once we received the hardware, we realized we needed to install a board to install it into since our studs didn’t line up with where the screw holes were.   IMG_7037We installed the bar and centered it over the doorway.IMG_7040How does Thomas always manage to get in the shot?

So for the door my plan was to get some kind of board the size we needed – roughly 18″ wide and it needed to be at least 80 inches tall.  I could add some trim to the door.  I could cut out a portion of the wood and add glass and support the glass w/ trim.

So out we went to the big box stores in search of some supplies and we stumbled across these 18″ wide craft boards.

These are .75 inch thick which is a good thing because that with another .75 inch thick piece of trim board got us to 1.5 inch which was a good beefy size for our hardware (it recommended <1.75″).  These are some kind of pressed wood with a thin pine veneer on all sides.  They are nice because they look good from the sides because I knew plywood would have looked odd on the sides unless we painted them.  The only negative was that they weren’t completely flat.  This proved to be a challenging thing to work with and given the chance to do this again I would probably have opted for something flatter.  As it is, our doors don’t meet up very nice in the middle as one flares out some.  Ehh.  Frustrating but heck, we made the doors – if this is the worst thing about them I can deal with it.

We then bought our trim pieces which are 1x3s (so they are actually 2.5 inches wides).  

I first cut them to size to line the sides of the doors.  We glued these down with liquid nails and followed up with the nail gun from the back of the doors into the strips.  

We waited to apply the horizontal strips because we purposely left the doors a little long in case we goofed up.

Then we attached the hardware to the doors centering them in the strips.  Unfortunately, I totally neglected to realize that the placement of the middle hardware would contact each other above the door blocking the doors from fully closing.  Yikes.  It was a huge pain in the butt correcting the issue which meant moving the hardware inward.  Also incredibly painful was trying to get the doors to hang completely straight.  It took a couple weeks for us to get it right.  Once we did, we went ahead and trimmed the bottoms of the doors off.  We then installed the top and bottom trim pieces as well as the middle piece which we decided to place exactly in the middle.

We then used a plunge saw to remove the top rectangle where our glass would go leaving about a 1/4 inch to the trim.  This way our glass could sit in the trim and would not be able to fall out the back.  Now that I had the exact measurements for the top panels I could buy the glass.

 

I went in person to a nearby glass shop to look at different textured glass and fell in love with one in particular.  I found the glass online and then found a company that sells it out of Massachusetts.  I figured I could get the glass faster this way but turns out after I ordered it they messaged me and said they were all out of the glass and would have to get it sent there before they could cut it for me.  After a long wait, the glass finally came and it fit….perfect.  Finally, we caught a little break.

While we waited on the glass to come we stained the doors.  We tested out stains and settled on Early American.  VTGNE1834I removed the hardware, sanded everything, applied a pre-stain (this is a crucial step – do not skip this) and then stained the doors.  After the doors dried completely I applied this matte polyurethane.  I also cut the trim that we would use to frame the “boxes” to size and stained and poly’d them as well.

 

Once the glass came, we attached all the trim with finishing nails.  The tricky part was that due to the thickness of the glass (3/16 in), our trim on the top halves stuck out.

 To take away some of that thickness we flipped the trim upside down on the glass and drew a line down it and then took a plunge saw and (rather dangerously) trimmed away the excess.  Our cut was nothing spectacular but fortunately you can not tell now.  Once the top trim was attached we hung the doors and then held our breath and awaited the loud crash of glass overnight but so far, so good.

Last on the list I ordered this hardware and installed it centered in the trim.Woo, that was a doozy of a post.  While this process has not been easy I am so gosh darn proud of these doors.  Are they perfect?  No, far from it.

But every time I pass them, I’m just like, DAMNNNN. Just Don’t look at the back! bahaha.

Here’s the view when we walk in from the garage every day.  YES. I know my pantry needs an overhaul.  I loathe those wire shelves….another day.

Sources: sliding door hardware / glass / handles

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Kitchen Island Reveal

Want to see how we trimmed out the island?  Want to see how we picked the color to paint the island?  No?  Just here for some pretty pictures?  You’re in the right place.

Without further ado…

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See that pretty mudroom peeking out.  More to come on that soon…

IMGP9008-2The island color is Rosemary by Sherwin WilliamsIMGP8972-2

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Kitchen Sources:

Island: Sherwin Williams Rosemary

Vent Hood / Range / Faucet / Stools / Kitchen Runner / Hood Pendants / Subway Tile

More Kitchen Posts:

THE pendants.

Picking the perfect white subway tile

Kitchen – Prepping for Tile

Tile Tips

Kitchen Tile Reveal

Trimming out the Kitchen Island

A Green Island

A Green Island

Did you miss how we trimmed out the island?  See that post right here.

Originally when we built the house I wanted a dark blue island.  The day our granite was installed I was super bummed because I knew we wouldn’t be able to have a blue island.  Our granite has sage green undertones and lots of green flecks in it as well as some yellow and purple flecks. I thought the blue would majorly clash. I quickly jumped to green thinking this would be the perfect color. We looked through tons of samples to try to narrow down our choices but as usual I liked everything….except that hot pink chosen by this little boy. Yup. I liked everything. Even the black. P.S. this is how my kitchen looks when we’re working on a project which is 90% of the time. So the husband was not too fond of the dark colors so we picked out all the sage shades and tried to find a winner amongst them. And in my head was the most beautiful sage green I’ve ever seen which was the trim paint in the house we stayed in from Gargnano, Italy. It was beyond perfect and felt like someone had brought the olive trees that filled the back yard right into the house. I mean 🤤 So then all we had to do was the impossible – find the match. So we did the best we could do and picked 3 samples that seemed the closest. From top clockwise:

Sherwin Williams Coastal Plain

Sherwin Williams Acacia Haze

Farrow & Ball PigeonFrom Left to Right: Pigeon, CP, AHWe thought about painting the office door the same color as the island.

Top to bottom: Pigeon, CP, AH

But each color had an issue. Pigeon was too grey, coastal plain was too green and acacia haze was just not right. I decided of the three, Pigeon was my favorite and decided to see how it looked in the morning. I painted the left side all in pigeon to confirm it was the right choice. However, when I came down to look at it the next day instead of feeling confirmation I knew it was all wrong. Like not even close. It felt like the island was one big grey block. I realized instead of highlighting the granite it was camouflaging it. I took a look again at our dark green samples and realized they did something special. They made the granite look better than it is. They showcase it and they also make it appear lighter. So back to Sherwin Williams we went on a quest for more samples and we came home with these 3. From top clockwise:

SW Vogue Green

SW Rosemary

SW Rockwood Green

Pretty quickly there was a clear favorite. Meet Rosemary…

It felt like the Italian Sage green’s darker cousin.  Somehow I forgot to take a picture of the 3 darker samples on the island but trust me that it was a “Ding! Ding! Ding!” moment.  And then after about 4 coats of paint on everything, including the quarter round, we cut the quarter round to size and nailed it in.

It even makes me like our runner better.  I’ve thought about getting something cuter but then my son throws crap on it on the daily and I think how I’m kind of happy that I’m not over the moon about this rug.

Here’s our kitchen when it’s clean but not styled for photos – kid artwork all over our fridge and always a load of clean dishes still drying.  My kid goes through about 10 bowls and 6 sippy cups a day because he thinks I enjoy doing dishes.  I don’t. And here’s the proof that the Rosemary did the unthinkable.  It made me fall in love with our granite.  I truly did not expect it.  It’s crazy how color changes the way we see things.Cutest card from my best friend.  Nothing better than finishing a project just in time to enjoy it for your birthday.  The picture below you might recognize from instagram.  Bet you didn’t expect Thomas the train to be hiding out right out of frame… #parenthood

Fancy reveal sans-Thomas right here.

Trimming out the Kitchen Island

Our island before was so bland and boring and very, very basic.

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When we built our house there was an option to get a trimmed out island and I believe it was around $1500.  It was never really a consideration because we had too many other more pressing items that were busting our budget.  Also, I knew I wanted to paint the island so I figured we could do it ourselves later.

The first step was removing the quarter round and any corner trim pieces.

We then attached a base board to run around the entire island that sat level to the toekick.  We were able to find .25 inch craft boards (we used poplar but they also had pine and oak – go to Lowe’s NOT Home Depot) which we used for our main trim pieces and we also found .5 inch thick boards to use as our baseboard which seemed like the right thickness that says “hey! I’m a baseboard, I’m thicker” without sticking out into our walkways too much.

We have about a 5 inch gap from the top of the toe kick area to the floor so that meant our baseboard needed to sit about an inch off the floor.  Attaching the baseboard and making it level while also trying to perfectly miter the corners was the WORST part of this project.  It took us entirely way too long but getting it level was super important.  We used longer nails for the baseboards because 1) the boards were .5 inch thick and 2) the nails would be going down below the cabinets so we wouldn’t see them sticking into the cabinets any.

The baseboard runs around the entire island, even on the back portion which has our sink, dishwasher and cabinetry.

After that we attached the .25 inch boards.  This was much easier because the bottom board could sit directly on the baseboard and also because we decided to use butt joints and not miter these.  We used smaller nails for this part because as expected these nails were visible inside our cabinet (just by a little bit).

We decided to split the sides into 2 boxes and split the area where the (3) stools sat into 3 boxes.

We then reinstalled the corner trim pieces to close the corner gaps.  Then I applied spackle to every place wood met wood (I like that it’s sandable so I prefer to use that) and caulked every seam where wood met the existing island, including the counter.

Quarter round will be installed under the baseboard after we paint the island.

This entire project cost about $100-$150 for all of our materials.

Want to see how we decided on what color to paint the island?  Follow-up post right here.

 

Board and Batten Wainscoting in the Entryway

This was such a simple way to completely transform the room.  It looks expensive but it wasn’t.  It looks time-consuming but it wasn’t.  It’s a total win-win!  Now let me go board and batten my entire house…j/k…sorta.

The first step was a lot of planning.  We needed to figure out exactly what we wanted it to look like – what height should we stop at? and should we add cross pieces to make boxed panels? We decided on a mid-room height of battens.  Close runner-up was 2/3rds up and floor to ceiling (too farmhousey).  We also needed to decide on a width of batten.  We held up both 1.5″ battens and 2.5″ battens and were both drawn to the 2.5″ ones.

Next up was deciding where everything would go.  So I could’ve made this a lot easier on myself but I wanted my boards to line up perfectly so that if they were to go over the doorways on each side they would line up with the correct spacing still.  I’m sure I could’ve not taken this step and it would’ve looked just fine but I do have to say that the placement I chose looks great.

The room is a long rectangle with lots of doorways to break it up.  I measured the entire length of the long walls (the other 2 walls are all-doorway or nearly so they didn’t get much treatment).  I measured each section of wall/doorway and plotted it all out.  I decided to start by “centering” the battens at the exact middle of the french doors doorway.  Note: I tried centering them in the exact middle of the room but this never resulted in a good configuration so I picked the doorway instead.  Ultimately this looks very nice because on either side of the french doors you have an equal distance to the next batten.

I had a few simple criteria:

  1. I wanted to keep my distance between battens around 10-13 inches
  2. No batten could line up near doorway trim because it’s slightly thicker than the trim we have and it’s not a great look if it’s hanging out more
  3. No batten could end up in the corner (only because that would complicate my cuts far more than my rookie-miter saw status was ready for).

So with my measurements all plotted out, I just started picking random distances between the battens and checking my layout and I literally made about 20 different configurations until I stumbled upon the one that met all the criteria.  At first I had wanted to keep my distance between battens perfect so that IF you were to take the battens over the walls that weren’t getting battens (because they would be above the doorways and we had picked a mid-wall height) it would all line up perfectly.  But alas, this was impossible.  I tried and tried to make it work but a batten always ended up too close to or splitting the trim or in a corner.  I finally stumbled upon the winning combination – 2.5 inch battens and 11 inch spacing.  I’m not going to get too into this process because of course this will be different for every space.  On to the good stuff!

Step 1 was removing our 3″ sad little baseboards.  We removed the quarter round carefully so as to not damage it.  We then chipped out the baseboard using a couple flathead screw drivers and our pry bar.  Eric then ripped out any remaining nails with vise grips.

We then marked all of our studs and installed the new baseboards (1×5.5 inch mdf) ensuring they were level and then nailing them into place.  This was super simple and only slightly tricky in the corners because we ran into a little snafu.  We intended to miter the baseboards so they’d meet all pretty but our 7.25″ miter saw couldn’t quite cut the full length of the 5.5″ inch boards.  After some brainstorming because it seemed like “Surely we could flip it some way to make it work!”, we decided to just cut the boards on the 90 and they look pretty great.  Because these are interior corners, it’s really not obvious.

We then installed our top rail (1×3.5 inch mdf).  We picked a height of 45″ because somewhat arbitrarily, this seemed like the perfect height to sit just below our entryway mirror.  Guess we’re keeping it forever 😉  Note that our actual height of top rail is 44.25″ because of the .75″ thick boards we have capped on top.  This time our little saw did just fine mitering the 3.5″ boards.  Also, miter saws are 1,000x easier than an old rusty wet saw you borrow from your parents.  Just sayin’.

Next up I pulled out my cheat sheet and marked exactly where my battens were going.  I marked them all out with pencil on the walls and out of 8 battens only 1 was anywhere close to a stud.  Womp womp.

I measured the height at each batten because it did vary a bit for each one, made my cuts and set each board next to where it needed to go.  We nailed the one batten up and then broke out the liquid nails for the rest.  We held a small level on the side of the battens.  The only annoying thing about this step was that because the boards had some slight warp to them a few of them I had to hold to the wall manually for several minutes so they wouldn’t gap away.  I tried tape but it didn’t seem to be strong enough.

Our last step was to put up the 1×1.5 cap on top of the 1×3.5 board.  This proved to be pretty hard in the corners of the doorway because we only have 2 inches on that wall and not only did it have to miter to the corner but it also needed to miter away from the doorway.  Now I have to say I really enjoyed using the miter saw up until this point but making these little 2 inch pieces of wood gave me quite a bit of anxiety.  It took me a while to get down the right order of operations and I sent more than 1 piece of wood sailing over Eric’s car before I got this down pat.  I also had to make each piece 3-4 times before I made it to the correct size.  The end result though makes me quite proud.  However, if I never have to make 3 cuts on a 2 inch piece of wood again in my life that would be just fine with me.

After installing everything I applied spackle to all of my seams where boards met and caulk to anywhere a board met the wall. Then I sanded it down and hit it with a second coat of spackle and added caulk anywhere that needed it. More sanding and then a lot of cleaning later and it was ready for paint. We used the same color our trim is painted which is a custom SW paint in satin. I still haven’t painted the top half of the room because I’m trying to figure out what color I want still but I’m loving how it turned out!

New Trim for the Front Door

It has annoyed me from day one that our front door trim was kind of boring.  I knew I wanted to do some wainscoting in the entryway so it seemed like the right time to attack the door.

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Our entryway has a lot of interesting things going on – on the left here is a huge cased opening for our dining room and on the right, french doors for the office (playroom) with a pretty transom over it.  The front door was lacking any kind of wow factor and was easily the 3rd less interesting thing architecturally in the room.  To make matters worse, our front door was installed slightly off center.  If you look at this picture you can see the trim on the right meets the corner and blends into it and the trim on the left has an inch gap to the corner.  It wasn’t obvious to most people but it annoyed me.  I saw a few posts on pinterest about installing craftsman window trim and trim for interior doors and it seemed super easy because of the fact that you could do it all with simple 1-by pieces without any fancy molding.  This was a super easy project and we knocked it out in about 3 hours while watching the kiddos.

We used a brad nailer for the shiplap project and we could’ve borrowed an air compressor and a larger nail gun for this project but we decided to go ahead and buy it because we figured we will get some use out of it for the wainscoting project ahead and any other trim projects we’ll do in the future.  We went with primed mdf because it seemed like it would be the easiest to work with.

Materials needed:

  • stud finder
  • saw (we used a circular saw which isn’t the most accurate)
  • air compressor + nail gun (here’s the one we bought)
  • 2″ nails
  • 1×3 or 1×4 boards for vertical trim (we used a 1×3 on the right, 1×4 on the left to compensate for the offset)
  • 2 1×2 boards
  • 1×3 board (top cap)
  • 1×6 board
  • Finishing materials: spackle, caulk, sandpaper

Note: 1×2 boards are actually .75″x1.5″; 1×3 boards are actually .75″x2.5″ and so on

Step one was removing all the old trim.  The quarter round is the only thing that needed to be salvaged, the rest we just pryed out and didn’t worry too much about being careful.  I did this in about 15 minutes max.  Some of the drywall got a little damaged in the process but we weren’t worried since our new trim would cover that up.  Then Eric got his vise-grips and pulled out any of the nails that were stuck since we’d need a nice smooth surface to line up our new trim.

Now that our old trim was gone, we measured for our vertical boards, cut them and installed them by nailing them in. We used a non-primed board for our 1×4 because it was slightly more narrow than the mdf version and fit the space better.

We then used a stud finder and marked all of our studs above the door.  We measured across the top of the door and then installed the 1×2 (flipped down), 1×6 on top of that followed by 1×2, then 1×3 both flipped down.

I used spackle to fill the nail holds and caulked every line.  Caulk makes such a difference!  Because we used real wood for the left board I applied some spackle to areas where the knots were and then sanded them down to make the board as smooth as I could.  I did go in a second time a few days later and recaulked any areas that needed some extra attention.  The whole thing will get painted when I paint the wainscoting.

Cora’s Nursery

 

 

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Welcome to my room, I mean….Cora’s nursery.  This room has been my absolute favorite to design.

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This is the second nursery I’ve designed but this time around it’s been a lot different.  I designed Flynn’s nursery while I was trapped on the couch for 10 weeks on bed rest.  Of course, when you’re on bed rest you can’t go shop for things in store. And you don’t feel like spending a lot of money because you’re sitting on your butt not making any. So his room became pretty heavily DIY (origami, cross stitching, homemade banners, really bad sewing, etc.) and therefore relatively cheap. If I couldn’t order it or make it, it did not go in his nursery.

I still love the way his room turned out but this time around has been so different.  For one thing, I spent a lot more money. Oops. I also have the perks of having gone through the baby phase and into toddlerhood and seen how a room needs to evolve rather quickly. So Cora’s room could easily work for a toddler girl or pre-teen or say, even me.  Because I pretty much designed it for me – just switch out the crib for a full and I’m all set.  Sure it still definitely reads girly (I’m pretty girly after all) but I very much tried to steer away from anything too babyish.  I also didn’t want to get locked into a theme. So my simple criteria for every purchase was that it just needed to be something I loved.  With so many cute girl things out there, I didn’t want to rule out anything (I’m looking at you adorably themed muslin blankets!).

As I started collecting things I started to picture that the room was kind of an eclectic mix for a cool chick. Of any age. I designed it for the girl I hope she becomes.IMGP2217

It’s light and airy and yes, pink.  Well technically it’s white. The color is stunning and I couldn’t dream of a more perfect, subtle pink.  I fell in love with it when I saw it used in this nursery (I also want to steal her kitchen!)  It feels so refreshing. I’m sure I won’t feel that way as I schlep back and forth to the room in the middle of the night 10 times.  But, I still look forward to those magical moments at dawn when the rest of the world is waking up and there’s a sweet babe curled into my chest snoozing away and the light filters in and fills the room with that delicious glow. That is exactly what this pink was made for.

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The light fixture was my first purchase and it really set the tone that this room means serious, non-baby business.  It is gorgeous and it just feels right even after all of the changes this room made.

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The dresser wall has quickly become my favorite.  IMGP2178

After using a small dresser for a changing table for Flynn’s room I knew I wanted something wider (read: avoid setting poopy diaper down only to have baby’s foot propel it across room).

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This 6 foot MCM I found on Craigslist is a bit wider than I had hoped for but ended up working out perfectly.  It gives us a lot of storage and plenty of elbow room for changing wriggling babies. There was a long period where I was afraid to take the plunge and paint it but I’m so glad we went for it. The white feels bright and fresh and the cleaned up brass and laminate hardware gives it just the right amount of charm.

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The artwork is a collection of my favorites from rifle paper and urban outfitters with a unicorn head from land of nod.  It’s mythical creatures meets cool chick with shades, which coincidentally is exactly where my inner child fits in.

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Choosing the art that went above the crib was no easy task. I fell in love with a few prints from minted but fell out of love with their price tags, even unframed. And how the heck do you frame a 30×40 print without it costing a fortune.  I was able to get the look I wanted by this minted for west elm piece and with the use of a coupon code and a gift card it became a lot more reasonable.  I imagine one day she’ll grow tired of it and then I know it could go really anywhere in the house and to others it will be abstract and for me and Eric it will always remind us of sweet baby Cora.

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The mirror was a gift from my mother in law and the scalloped edges play nicely with the light fixture.

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I picture us storing stuffed animals and books in a large basket somewhere else and the shelves will hold a few pretty things.  The flipped over bottom flisat can hang pretty clothes or with the addition of some s hooks cute bags or purses.

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I added the removable wallpaper to the front of the hidden shelves on the dresser as well as to the sides of the other drawers.  It was sooooo easy and affordable (it was less than $30 for the roll and I only used maybe half)

IMGP2212IMGP1981If the nursery was themed I suppose I’d have to say it was Summer-themed with an emphasis on mermaids, flamingos and ice cream…which you’ll find multiple times around the room.

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Do you see those adorable little plates?  Those are only $5 each from Anthropologie (when they’re on sale which is often lately).  The C plate has a cactus on it and says “dare to cuddle” 🙂

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The hardest part of pregnancy for me is the middle because it’s the scariest time.  Every week I would wonder if this would be the week my baby girl would be taken from me.  Every week I looked up the percent of babies that survive birth at that week and the percent of babies that have major developmental issues.  Planning the nursery and obsessing over each and every detail was my distraction, just as it was with Flynn’s pregnancy.  I finished the nursery around 35 weeks which was just in time to be able to sigh and realize that everything will be ok.  Now this belly has gotten bigger than I had ever hoped and carries a *full-term* baby in it which is just mind-boggling.  I wish I could go back and tell myself at 20 weeks to not worry – that not only would we make it longer than Flynn but we would make it to the end but that’s not how life works.  I probably would’ve eaten a little healthier…

Cora will arrive on July 28th via c-section after being stuck breech for 3 months.  She will have stayed in my belly for 6 weeks longer than her brother to the day.  I am so delighted that unlike Flynn, she will likely come straight home.

Welcome home baby girl!

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Source List

Wall Color [SW Intimate White] | Rug [Joss & Main] | Dresser [Craigslist-Drexel Paragon Collection painted with Flat White Rustoleum spray paint] | Light Fixture [Serena & Lily] | Table Lamp [Pottery Barn Teen] | Floor Lamp [Target] | Crib [second hand Delta] | Curtains [Target] | Curtain Rod [Bed Bath & Beyond]  | Curtain Clips [West Elm] | Art over Crib [West Elm] | Side Table [Target] | The World is Your Oyster [Rifle Paper and Co] | Mermaid [Rifle Paper & Co] | Shades [Rifle Paper & Co] | Horse [Urban Outfitters] | Sloths [Urban Outfitters]  | Unicorn Head [The Land of Nod] | Gold Coral Jewelry Stand [Target] | Mobile [Pottery Barn Kids] | Rocker [IKEA] | Pouf [Home Goods] | Mirror [Pottery Barn Kids] | Shelves [IKEA] | Pink Dream Catcher [The Land of Nod] | Letter Plates [Anthropologie] | Hanging Planters [Anthropologie discontinued] | Laundry Hamper [Anthropologie discontinued] | Gold wire basket [Anthropologie] | Face planter [Target] | Wallpaper on dresser [Target] | Trash Can [Target] | Palm Throw [Pottery Barn Teen] | Mermaid Pillow [Target] | Hazel the Deer knit doll [Blabla Kids] | Crib Sheet [Anthropologie] | Changing Pad Cover [Spearmint Love] | Pride & Prejudice [Amazon] | Flora [Amazon] | Rosie [Amazon] | Paris [Amazon] | A Little Princess [Amazon] | The Little Mermaid [Barnes & Noble]

 

 

 

 

 

Tile Tips

The thought of trying to write a post detailing every step in the process of tiling our kitchen is a bit too daunting.  So instead I thought I’d hit the high spots and give out some of the more important tips I learned along the way.

First, a little background.  This was my first experience tiling anything so the hardest part of all was taking the plunge and starting.  I got quite a few interesting looks (from mostly men) when I explained our project was going to be tiling our kitchen from floor to ceiling and that we were going to do it all ourselves.  Eric was a huge help – especially with the grouting process which I will say you simply can not do by yourself unless you do tiny spaces at a time.  We spent about 4 days working 5-6 hours on tiling together which got us about halfway I’d say and the rest of the work I did at night or during nap times by myself.  Grouting was another 2 full day process.  This was not one of those tile jobs that people say they did easily over the weekend.  Not happening.  In fact, if we had done just the backsplash alone I’m not sure we could’ve managed in 2 days alone.  We purchased enough tile to cover 110 square feet and then needed about 60 more tiles to complete the job.  All in all, it took us just over a month to set the tile.  The project has dragged on for another couple weeks as we found time to grout, caulk and replace all the trim and put the hood back up, etc. all of which occurred after our son decided to transition out of his crib which seriously put a damper on my ability to get anything done at night.  Despite how long it has taken, I could not be happier with what we’ve achieved.  I made mistakes along the way.  And I for sure can see that my work done on the last wall is significantly better than the tiles we did first but anyone else that comes in the kitchen will not see that.

So without further ado, here are some tips from lessons I learned along the way.

  • Go with 1/16 inch grout lines.  You will be tempted to use 1/8 inch.  RESIST THE URGE!  I knew 1/16 inch grout lines were recommended but I did a trial with some tile using peanut butter as my faux grout to assess the spacing and in my mind I kept thinking – but don’t I want bigger? img_7039

The tile we used actually made grout lines slightly less than 1/16 inch which made me even more skeptical about not using spacers.  We decided to not use spacers in the end and the grout lines look so neat and tidy.  If you’re going with darker grout IMO 1/8 inch grout lines looks messy.  1/16 looks professional and clean.  And I absolutely love how the grout lines turned out.

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Pre-grout

  • avoid tile that isn’t self spacing – it is hard enough tiling this large of an area without them.  I would estimate that spacers would have made the project take about double the time.  Yes at times I wish I had the flexibility of the use of spacers to be able to fudge my grout lines more but overall it was just SO MUCH EASIER.
  • pre-mixed mastic will make your life easier – we took the advice of multiple other blog posts and went with mastic instead of powdered thin set (as the salesperson at the tile shop recommended) and absolutely loved the convenience.  On those nights when I’d tile for an hour it was so worth it to be able to open the tub, go to town putting up 20 or so tiles and then closing it up and using it the next night.  After a week or so of being open the mastic did start to thicken slightly but not so much that it was un-useable.  We used 3 of these tubs and at ~$40 each I do not regret the cost at all because the convenience factor was so huge.
  • consider your starting point but don’t get too hung up on it.  it’s easy to plan when it’s just a backsplash but in a kitchen like ours, we could’ve debated for days where to start because so much of our tile depends on the starting point – like about 90% of it (only one small area doesn’t communicate with the other tile so to speak).  We chose to start in the center of the oven wall which is the focal point of the kitchen.  The truth is we could’ve started anywhere but I thought it might be weird if the tile that met the doorway on the left was different than the tile that met the doorway on the right.  This means that the oven wall looks great in our kitchen – but that left some other rather odd issues.  The tile meets the doorway from the center with a half tile/full tile situation which is ideal but that means that as the tile went over each doorway and came back down we were left with awkward awkward small tile cuts.  So annoying.  In the end, they look fine but they were a real pain in the butt.  We also got stuck w/ annoying small tile cuts where it meets up to the border on the far left – looks fine, but also a pain in the butt to cut all those teeny tiny tiles.  The worst problem we ran into with our starting point was where it met the counters on the window wall.  We left about a 1/8 inch gap between the counter and the tile using a 1/16 inch spacer under our tile.  As we went left that amount got eaten up and our tile had to sit directly on the counter.  As we came up and around to the counter on the window wall we got to the counter and had an awkward gap.  The gap was too big to not put something in so I cut slivers of tile and we jammed them in. It does NOT look good. IMGP1249The counter on the window wall is unlevel so the far left the tile meets the counter and the far right there’s that awkwardly large gap again. We chose to just caulk it anyway and it doesn’t look great but probably looks better than the slivers would have.
  • keep it level (to a point).  we checked after almost every tile.  it’s so much more important when you’re going floor to ceiling.  each tile we pressed into place firmly but we still got off.  When our bubble started to escape the middle portion we intervened by cheating one side up but otherwise we just kept going.  I think we stayed a little high on the left for almost the whole project – but you can’t tell at all!  don’t get too hung up with the level- it’s going to get off.  it must take quite a bit for it to be noticeable.imgp1247.jpg
  • keep the tile level and ignore your unlevel trim or choose an area slightly in between.  Above our window the trim is very unlevel.  One of our doorways also had a similar issue.  When I made the tile level it looked unlevel due to it’s juxtaposition next to the trim.  Long story short that window was a real PITA and I tiled it 3 times to get it right.  I ended up choosing to keep the tile pretty much level, just slightly unlevel like the trim.  That kept me level when I got to the ceiling.  The doorway wasn’t much easier but I had learned my lesson with the window (somewhat) and I at least didn’t have to rip out tile and patch drywall and all that nonsense.  In the end, I decided the trim could always be changed or redone but that I wasn’t going to be ripping out tile and fixing it later on.  Now that it’s all done it looks great.  And 90% of people probably won’t even notice the issue over the window even if they look right at it.  And once I get a shade on that window you definitely won’t see any issue.
  • spread your mastic onto each individual tile, not the wall.  I’m pretty sure no tutorial out there will tell you this and maybe I’m just terribly slow but I found that when I spread it on the wall in a small area to tile that it would dry or I’d end up taking longer to clean off the semi-dry mastic to redo it.  Also, it was a lot less messy when I did each tile individually.  There was less mastic oozing out of the cracks.
  • use a wet saw I don’t even like using a circular saw – it freaks me out!  But I made every single cut required using the wet saw.  I can tell you my first few outlets I had to cut around were a bit rough – and if (not that you ever would!) you take off the outlet cover you will see some ugly cuts.  I got A LOT of practice though.  Not just around outlets but around cabinet trim and around our wonky unlevel ceiling and I got good.IMGP1250
  • Cut that tile again.  If you make a bad cut, don’t try to force it or give in to the exhaustion of the fact that you’ve cut the same tile 3 times and haven’t gotten it quite right.  Do it again.  It’s annoying, but it’ll be worth it.  Caulk can work miracles, but sometimes it’s just easier to redo it.  There’s one tile in particular that annoys me now every time I look at it because I know I gave in to using it instead of cutting another and the caulk only made it look halfway decent.  Live and learn.IMGP1256
  • Toothpicks = 1/16 inch.  After every 3-4 tiles, take your toothpick and swipe your grout lines to clean out the oozy mastic.  Its a heck of a lot easier when it’s still wet.
  • Clean off your tile before grouting.  Better yet, clean it off while you’re still tiling.  Wet mastic is easy to clean off with a wet paper towel.  If you wait until it dries, take a warm, wet rag and wipe down a small area for several minutes.  If you moisten the mastic it’s 10x easier to remove.  After it’s good and wet (you can tell because it won’t make any noise under your rag) you can then scrape it off with a fingernail or toothpick.  Once you scrape it off the surface of the tile, go top to bottom on your grout lines with your toothpick to pick out any debris you just wiped into them.  Some mastic in the grout lines is fine – the grout will hide it.  But if it’s raised out of the line, it’ll still be visible once you grout.
  • Test out your grout color.  We were between two colors – delorean grey and charcoal.  It was really difficult to choose a color because the color on the bag can’t really be trusted.  We decided to buy both bags and test them at home.  I set up 2 samples of tile on a strip of wood and then mixed both grouts up and grouted the samples.  I could see exactly what the color would look like when dry and move the samples around the kitchen to see how it looked in different lighting around the kitchen as well as with natural and fluorescent lighting.  I did not want to go through the whole process of tiling and making it look so great just to pick the wrong grout color and get stuck with something that wasn’t perfect.IMGP1449IMGP1451
  • Don’t wait the recommended time to wipe down the grout Eric and I used a 2 person method of me spreading on the grout and 15 minutes later he came behind to wipe it down.  This was what our grout recommended on the bag.  Unfortunately for us, it dried too quickly.  For the first small area it was appropriate and then it was too dry and he had to scrub with everything he had to get it out.  And because I was working ahead I had gotten to the next wall already before we realized the issue.  So we had to scrub, scrub, scrub to get the grout out….for hours.  And then – I literally had to take a toothpick and trim each and every grout line.  I am not kidding you.  For our next round, I wiped on the grout and he IMMEDIATELY wiped it down and voila! it was perfect.  It saved so much time.IMGP1455
  • If your grout lines aren’t perfect take a wet sponge and wet a 5-6 square foot area for about 2-3 minutes.  Then take your toothpick and hold it nearly horizontal to the tile with the point going to the exact point you want and then scrape over each line using this method.  Follow up with a wet paper towel.
  • Use grout-colored caulk for between the counter and tile, use white, paintable caulk elsewhere (around trim, under cabinets, at ceiling).  LIFE SAVER.  White caulk with white tile and that botched/unlevel ceiling line suddenly looks professional!  I searched everywhere trying to figure out if I had to use tile grout for these areas and couldn’t find anything.  So I tried the tile grout at the ceiling over the stove and cried for a few minutes.  Then, I caulked on top of that with white caulk and damn, suddenly it looked great.  In the end, my cuts were just not good enough to withstand colored caulk.  The white is so much more forgiving!

And the rest is just putting it all back together again, a post for another day.  But for now….some sneak peakies:IMGP1467IMGP1456

Kitchen – Prepping for Tile

This was by far the least fun part of the entire project but still necessary unfortunately.  You might think, it’s a new house – how much prep work could there be?  But see, that’s the fun part of new construction homes. They don’t make them like they used to. And though the materials are all new, there’s usually some amount of cutting corners. You never know what’s hidden – lurking behind that fat bead of caulk.

The scariest part is of course the moment you start to dismantle your perfectly new kitchen. For us, this was ripping out the granite backsplash. I knew from day one it had to go but I still cringed and wonder if I went wrong when I saw the gaping holes in the drywall it left.  I had asked when we selected our options if we could simply not have the 4 inch granite backsplash installed and have the walls left blank but unfortunately they said there had to be a backsplash – whether that be tile or 4″ of the counter material.  Now I realize they likely do this because of how the counters are (poorly) installed. Counters should almost meet the drywall so that when tile is installed there is no gap remaining for water, spills, etc. Our countertop maker, a reputable company in Richmond actually, installed each section of counter with the middle cut out and only the ends meeting the walls. They then hid this flaw with an inch thick of granite backsplash. This makes it easy on them installing if the walls are not level. Unfortunately for us it meant too large of a gap in some areas – like nearly 1/2 inch!  Much wider that the width of any backsplash tile.  I was left with the conundrum of how to close the gap.

Closing the gap between the granite and the wall

The best solution would be to add some coved tile along the bottom row which would look like a bit of molding to completely hide the gap. But I really wanted a flat, perfect surface. And what mama wants…but mama wasn’t about to have all new counters installed!  So off to the google I went and the common consensus was caulk it.  So I went in search of a light grey caulk. I wanted something that would blend with the granite as best as possible. I bought the lightest grey tile caulk that Home Depot carried (which annoyingly is not the same as the lightest grey grout they carry) and at $8 a tube I filled the gap for about 5 feet. But the color was too dark. I was worried it would match our caulk under the tile and look like the worlds fattest caulk line. Also, at the rate I was using it up I’d spend a fortune on it. Plus, caulk shrinks by 30% when dry. So I wondered if I’d ever be able to make it look level. I pictured it being a divot forever. So I scraped out a bit of the caulk and threw google to the wind. What do you know anyway tile experts?  So I grouted it. I figured WTF…this stuff is supposed to be sealed. The nice thing about grout is it doesn’t shrink as it dries like caulk does.  Although over time I am curious how it will look – it is sanded grout so I’m thinking that will help.  It also was in stock in a light grey in a small pre-mixed tub. I think I spent $20 and it will definitely be enough for all the gaps.  It has a sandy, textural quality that in a large gap like mine looks kind of like poured concrete. And I suppose you could say that’s a step towards granite. Ok it’s not granite. And it definitely doesn’t match my granite. But I figured if I got really annoyed with it I could paint it to match our granite better. But I’m just hoping hoping hoping that it will be barely noticeable.

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Removing the granite backsplash

Now back to the actual removing of granite.  I pictured it would be like removing trim. A little slice of the caulk and then a little prying and “pop” the granite comes right off. Ya, not realllly. More like hammer your crowbar deep behind the granite crushing your drywall, then pry with all your weight and repeat at every 1 foot. And then go back again at each point if needed. It wrecked the drywall. Damn silicone is some sticky stuff that does not want to come off granite.  So it takes all your drywall with it.  Fortunately, almost all of our major holes were easily fixed with some heavy spackle (about 3-4 coats, sanding in between coats). However we had one crater that was so deep it nearly went the full depth of the drywall and was over a foot wide. This one was significantly more challenging. I at first thought we’d need to cut it out and put in new drywall. We also looked into patch kits that use a mesh backing. However, I couldn’t see how I’d be able to get either of these fixes level enough to tile. So I decided to at least attempt to see if I could spackle it. I bought a big tub of spackle and hurled it into the crater and used nearly the whole container in one go. The next morning I realized the weight of the spackle caused it to separate from the drywall and sag down and I very easily removed the whole lot of it which really hadn’t adhered and was still wet.  I realized I needed to go thin layers and take my time.  It’s been a process…  I’ve lost count of how many layers of spackle I’ve used but I’m guess I’m in the teens somewhere.  But eventually it became level enough. IMGP1178

Tricks for granite backsplash removal:

  • if you can identify where your backsplash was glued, pry at these points.
  • Place a shim longitudinally behind your crowbar so it more evenly distributes your force (less damage to drywall)
  • Separate the glue where the granite meets the counter with a sharp knife and then once it is laid flat on the counter, pry it away from the drywall giving it a shear force to help separate it

Adding granite behind the stove

Our next problem was behind the stove. We have a slide in range which means our stove is flat and there is a bit of counter surface behind the oven. Our sneaky counter installers had skipped putting down a counter behind the oven and instead installed the 4 inch granite backsplash on top of nothing at all behind the stove. Once removed, there was a sizeable 1 inch gap behind the back of the oven.  You could just imagine god knows what collecting back there and you could also see the gap from the sides which didn’t look nice.  Lucky for us my dad had a saw he could use to cut some granite. We got him to cut some of the backsplash granite down to a 30 inch piece. He installed it flush with the counter over a wooden plank to help take the weight of the granite. We used a good amount of liquid nails to glue the granite on because that’s what we had on hand.  This solution gets an A+.  It wasn’t easy, but it looks great.



Removing granite backsplash and silicone from cabinetry

This one was the silliest of all. Our granite installers put backsplash ON our refrigerator cabinet sides. They put backsplash ON a cabinet. Whaaaa?  I do not understand. It looks dumb and does not make sense. But did I think to tell the builder – “Hey don’t let the counter installers put granite on wood?” No. Because why would you do that?  But that is exactly what they did. And once it was done there was no undoing it. And it really wasn’t the builders fault. And there was no way they were removing it – I didn’t even bother asking.  As difficult as the granite was to remove from drywall, the cabinet was 10x harder. Because apparently silicone likes granite and wood and doesn’t want to let go of either. But it likes wood slightly more. So after prying my butt off, here is what I was left with. Big ole patches of silicone on my cabinet. Now what.  I haven’t solved this one yet because it really doesn’t impact tiling at all but some kind of goo gone or something is going to be needed.  I used an exacto knife to get off bigger chunks and then sanded the area but it’s still not gone.  If anyone reading this has a solution please tell me!  Once I get it smooth, I’m then going to have to attempt to paint the whole cabinet too which I’m really concerned about…

Removing cabinet trim and the vent hoodIMGP1182

I figured the more we could remove, the easier it would be for us.  We have some small bits of trim pieces around our cabinets that hide the gap between the cabinet and the wall.  It was installed with a few finishing nails and easily popped off when I stuck a butter knife under it and turned.  The hard part was ripping the nails out of the cabinet.  Eric used a set of vise grips and used his man guns. Removing the vent hood was quite a bit trickier.  The stacked portion on top was easy to remove and then we made the mistake of unscrewing the bolts into the wall before unwiring it.  Which meant that I then had to hold the hood while Eric unwired it.  And we also did not turn off the correct breaker for the hood and Eric got a nice shock when he did finally get to the wiring.  When we unscrewed the bolts they fell back into the drywall because they had an anchor on them.  This was fine except the bit of drywall we’d need to go into to anchor them when replacing the hood was gone.  We decided to remove the drywall enough to slip a board in between the studs.  We will then hopefully be able to bolt directly into this plank, instead of using drywall anchors.  I’m crossing my fingers on this one.IMGP1175

Final Steps: tape + plastic wrap

Once these problems were addressed came the easy part: Taping everything off.  I taped about 1/3 inch from all surfaces I’d encounter to accommodate the width of the tile. I used a clean plastic sheet (a couple bucks from Home Depot) to cover the counters.  I only taped off a portion of the room at a time since the area we’re tiling is so large (about 100 sq feet)IMGP1185IMGP1179