Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Fruits of our Labor

Kitchens are the #1 most used room in the house – well most people’s homes and we fit right into that category. We like to save money which means more meals at home. For me that meant more time spent staring at awful countertops, ugly fruit motifs and horrendous cabinets – ew. Not the most appetizing sight while preparing meals. I mean seriously…what were they thinking with the fruit tile backsplash?!
I think I lost my appetite again…
Once we finally saved up enough for granite countertops we wanted to make sure everything else was ready for them. First thing to go was the tile backsplash. On TV and in home improvement articles they make the removal of tile backsplash look SOOOOO easy. I thought I would have in done in a mere few hours. Here was how far I got after only ONE HOUR…and a sliced finger.

NOTE: I was taking the tiles off in tact one at a time – which later I realized was stupid since we were not going to keep the tile anyway. So I took the hammer to it.
The Details:
Tools required: Hammer, Chisel or strong putty knife, PATIENCE
I started at the end that was most accessible and placed the putty knife at the edge of the tile (right under that cabinet to the right of the stove) and began to hammer the handled end of the putty knife to wedge it under the tile enough to allow me to pry the tile away from the wall with the flat end of the hammer. This is the best way to do it if you want to keep the tile to re-use. In order to loosen the tile you may need to carefully chisel away the grout around the tile.
If you don’t want to re-use the tile then the quickest way to get the tile off is to simply take the hammer and go at it.
We made sure that the floors were protected from flying debris and if you can’t stand dust you should wear a mask. We should have worn protective eye wear but that was an afterthought – what can I say hindsight is 20/20 just like my eyesight. Another note of caution… tile is sharp so watch your fingers!

With the fruit gone how am I going to get my five-a-day?!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Don't Get Your Pantries in a Bunch

When we moved into our home there were many things that were so bizarre that I often had to remind myself that our home used to be two different living areas… One of the really strange things was the stacked washer and dryer in the kitchen. It was nestled away where a normal person would put a pantry.  This space was right next to the fridge and I had visions of a pantry – something we did not have in our apartment. This change was in the very beginning of our journey – seriously we put the washer and dryer on craigslist the day we moved in and someone came to pick it up that evening. Don’t worry we had another identical one in the basement (a more normal space for a washer/dryer). So I went to Home Depot with incredible visions in my head of a fantastic pantry – if only it were that simple.
On my first attempt to create the pantry I purchased 10 wall brackets (2 for each shelf) and some MDF boards (shelves) that I had Home Depot cut to my measurements. I wanted five shelves evenly spaced that would be the length and width of the nook. I began by looking for the studs so I could screw in the shelving brackets and they would be sturdy enough to hold canned foods and other heavy pantry items. I honestly thought that this whole project was going to take an hour. It took me over an hour just to get this far….and it wasn’t even sturdy. At this point I was starting to think I was never going to get a pantry.

After a meltdown I talked to HB’s dad who had built a pantry himself and he graciously offered to help me out.  My initial vision of what the pantry was going to look like and the tools to get it done were WAY off.
New set of supplies (aka successful supplies)
1.       1” x 2” wood slats – can be cut to lengths of your choice at the hardware store
2.       2.5” screws
3.       Stud finder (or keen knocking sense to determine where the studs were)
4.       Level
5.       Paint
The wood slats were attached to the interior walls of the space with the screws and spaced evenly about 15 inches apart so that they can hold the MDF boards on top. The level was used to determine that the wood slats that were going to hold the shelf were in fact level.  Once all slats were in place I painted them and the inside of the pantry crisp white and placed the shelves atop the slats and I finally had a pantry!

Now if only I could keep it organized and looking nice I wouldn’t worry so much about it not having a door.Yikes...looks like I need an organization system in there!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

We're Cabbin' It

This is what happens when you get stuck at home without a car…I got bored so I decided to update the look in our bathroom. It is not a big space to begin with and I have always wanted a new vanity but have been too afraid to buy a new one to replace the old one. Maybe someday I will get the guts to put in a new one…

Until we can replace it I figured if I just paint the vanity cabinet white maybe the space would appear bigger and feel cleaner. What do you think?!

Doesn't it make the whole space look brighter - one way to help us wake up in the morning...

Tools Required:
Random Orbital Sander – sanding by hand would also work perfectly but I am impatient
Primer – oil based
Paint – We used Behr paint and primer in one to get more cover
Screwdriver – First thing to do is remove the doors and all old hinges and hardware
1.       Using a random orbital sander (electric sander)
a.       Make sure that you get the proper grit of sandpaper. The larger the grit (number) the finer it sands. For example, you should use 60 grit to remove paint and/or other thinks you hope to remove from the surface, where 120 grit is fine sandpaper that will help smooth out the surface. For this project I started with 60 grit and finished with 120 grit.
b. Use light and even pressure when sanding - if you are not careful you could end up with divots in your surface
2.       Updating hinges
a.       Find similar hinge styles to those that were previously there. We got rid of the brass looking hinges and opted for a lighter brushed nickel finish. They looked the same just a different color.
3.       Drill the holes for the hardware before you paint. I did not and I kinda messed up the top coat of paint where I drilled the new hole for the new knobs. It wasn’t totally noticeable since the new knobs cover, but it could have been seen if I wasn’t careful. I think if I would have put painters tape over the hole it would have protected better.
4. Oil based primer DOES NOT come off easily from your hands or your paint brushes and pretty much anything else it adheres to. After some googling I figured out you need mineral spirits to remove oil based primer from skin and brushes. It apparently smells really bad - I didn't want to deal with atrocious smell so I just threw out the brush when I was done and left the primer on my hands until it eventually washed off like a week later. People at my office asked me what was on my legs...awesome.

Monday, May 16, 2011


As I mentioned in our first post, I have always had a fascination with red doors – I don’t know if it is my Love for Red Door perfume my mother used to wear or the power and “homey-feeling” that I get when I see a home with a red door. Since our home was a rental (and you could tell by the lack of maintenance) I figured that the door had never been repainted since it was installed in 1989.  A neighbor who also has a red door gave me some of their old paint that they had used to re-paint their front door and I was well on my way to freshen up our curb appeal and bring the 1980’s fa├žade to a more current look.
I cleaned off the door with some soap and water to get some dirt and grease off before my new coats of paint and prepped the door by taping off the door handle. I changed the door locks on the first day we moved in and I didn’t feel like re-installing. It would probably have been ideal to remove the handle. The trim was sanded to allow the new paint to adhere and I removed the light fixture cleaned off the glass inserts by placing them in the dishwasher and sanded the surface of the light fixture to allow the paint to adhere. 
One thing I learned…You really shouldn’t sand around wet paint because the dust will stick to your newly painted surface and require another coat of paint…sad face

Next item was to install the new doorbell. Our old one was an ugly brown plastic one that was starting to crack from sun exposure. We have a wired doorbell and it was an easy update. I unscrewed the old button and was happy to find that it was connected by just 2 wires. The wires easily transferred to the 2 attachment screws on the new button that are used to attach the wire which are themselves connected to the doorbell.
I finally put everything back together and in just one day we had an updated curb appeal.


Tools Required:
Paint – We used for the door and some indoor/outdoor white paint we had on hand for the trim and the light fixture

Foam Roller – worked best for our front door since it is a metal door and I am not a huge fan of paint brush marks (just be sure not to push hard while rolling since it can rouse the paint and create bubbles)
New House Numbers – purchased at the hardware store 
Silicon Caulk – to keep the numbers in place after drilling the holes for the house numbers it kinda acts like glue
New doorbell – we knew we had a wired doorbell and found a wired doorbell at the hardware store
Hammer, Electric Drill/Screwdriver, Random Orbital Sander

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

a little artwork

I have always felt like our half bathroom was missing something...it just needed something more. So I finally pulled the trigger on a little artwork on the back wall - gives the men something to look at. What do you think? The monogram is on the wall with a frame (no glass) around it and the picture frame above it is from my college days with new pictures I found in magazines.



The mongram is a vinyl wall decal that was purchased at Wallquotes.com. Check them out they have some great products over there!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Big Flea Comparison

This is why I HAVE to get to this thing early next year - so I can buy more furniture I don't need....Click here to see what it looked like before 8am and see my earlier post  here to see what it looked like at 1pm.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


This weekend’s weather was incredible but instead of spending all my time outside I decided to head down to our community’s fundraiser the MV Big Flea. Each year the Big Flea gathers donated items and comes to our neighborhood; people await its arrival for months. I have never been and was not sure what to expect but I’ll be expecting its arrival next year with baited breath. In between coats of paint drying (stay tuned for my cabinet makeover) I decided to walk down to the Big Flea just to check it out. I didn’t think I’d find anything I couldn’t live without – I didn’t even bring cash just in case I did. Then I stepped into this….

It had already been open for a few hours and all of this was still left. There were some items I thought about buying but opted out since I really had no place for them. This rocking chair would have been perfect for a nursery and that’s exactly what I told the woman who bought it. I told her it would be super cute painted and with new cushions – not bad for $8. There was even an old push mower!
Then I laid eyes on this great table – look at those legs! I don’t have a need for this but thought it was a great piece and I had to have it. So I bought it and when I walked out to pay they told me that anything left over after 12 noon was 50% off, and anything left over after 2 was free (?!). And they took credit cards! Major score. As I walked out one of the volunteers applauded me for my selection telling me he thought it was one of the best pieces they had on the floor.
Then I saw this…
This I NEED…well not exactly but I thought it would be great to house all the fancy china and the antique tea cups that belonged to my grandmother that we received for our wedding. So I decided I would come back at 2pm and if it was still there it was destiny and I’d have to figure out how to get it home. Yep…that day HB had the car as he was working a couple hours away. So I walked the smaller table home and quickly walked back to the flea to get in line by 2. Yep I had to GET. IN. LINE. – you see at 2pm they open the doors and it is a scene out of Running of the Brides. People scrambling to pick up things they don’t really need, all because its free. It is very interesting to see what people select when it is free. Bad news was that the china cabinet was gone but good news (I suppose) was that this fantastic coffee table was left over and desperately wanted to come home with me.

 So I picked it up and walked it home...yep a whole .7 miles carrying it by myself I swear the thing weighs 50 lbs, but it was FREE! More applause from the same volunteer who complimented my side table choice.

My arms are still sore – best workout I have had in months... Best part…ready for it? It was made in the USA! Oh and it was free…did I mention that yet?!