Painting Kitchen Counters

Our former counter tops were hunter green. I like the color green, but this was the worst color green.

My first approach at fixing this was to have new counter tops installed. After weeks of researching and getting amazing help from Lowes, I decided on a granite. I was semi-ready to invest…then a class of granite went on sale and I jumped on it. From my measurement, I was quoted a few thousand dollars. I was a little sticker shocked, but just shrugged it off as the counters are a main focus of our whole house and they needed to be changed. After the contractor came to our house and measured, I discovered my measurements were way off and the quote increased almost another thousand. I backed out. I could not see spending that kind of money on something I wasn’t completely in love with.

The Pinterest search began. I started looking at laminates, but came across painting the counters. I dove into researching the actual kits to do this and the reviews were awful. So time consuming, didn’t hold up, etc. I then came across a chalk paint and poly method. Less that $100 compared to the almost $5,000 I almost sunk into granite? I’ll try it!

This took me two tries to get it right, but still cheaper than anything else and fairly easy. I’d be willing to do it again.

My first purchase of materials did not hold up, partial due to the way I applied them. For the life of me, I cannot remember exactly what I used – really, it doesn’t matter, just go with what I ended up using:

I found all of my supplies at Home Depot, but I can’t seem to find the matte poly there now. According to the web, Jo-Ann Fabrics carries it though!

The first go around, I didn’t do a very good job sanding. Later, I found this is key! The weekend following my first attempt, we hosted a baby shower and the counters got destroyed. I was kind of devastated because it did take me a while to complete the project and I was super happy with the results. Luckily, I had the following week off from work and had no big plans, so I decided to tackle the counters one more time.

First, I scrapped off the paint I had applied with a razor blade. Then I got the hand sander out! This was a life saver, but made a huge mess due to the bits of paint I wasn’t able to scrap up. Our main living area to include the kitchen is pretty open, so it seemed like the entire house was covered (so worth it though!). I sanded first with a pretty rough grit, down to removing the green finish. The finish was also fairly glossy, which I think was a contributing factor to the first try of paint not adhering well. I fixed that by completely removing the color! I used a finer grit to finish off the sanding.

I taped all my lines and began painting. I started with the roller and used a v-technique to create a random pattern. I got as close as I could with the roller and rolled an entire space (i.e. the whole island, half of the L then the last half of the L) then went in the with brush. The first coat with the brush looks AWFUL, but don’t let it scare you. It will improve with the following coats. I allowed 3-4 hours between each coat. I used 3 coats of paint. Be sure your screens and doors stay shut to avoid any dust landing and sticking to your paint.

I allowed the paint to dry for 24 hours before starting the poly. I only used the brush for this step, but using the same v-technique. I allowed 2-3 hours between each coat. I completed 2 coats on all surfaces and started a third on the island, but it had a cloudy appearance, so I stopped at just the island. Now, I realize I kind of like the cloudy look and wish I would have done a third coat on all surfaces. I plan to do some touch-ups, so I’ll remember this when I do those.

This week it’s been one year since I completed the counters. They have held up surprising well. We are cautious of sliding things across the counters, but we have guests all the time who aren’t aware and I don’t freak and tell them to be careful. Mostly because the scratches seem to be on the island, where I did the three coats of poly and they just seem to disappear and the poly wears. One friend put a huge, pretty deep scratch this winter with a crock pot. She felt awful, but you can’t even see it now and I have literally done nothing to try to make it go away.

The only thing to be careful with is moisture. When water sits on the counter or when something condensates and creates a “puddle,” a cloudy, white spot will appear. This fades as it dries, so don’t panic, but I do think this softens the paint while it is wet. Really be cautious when this happens to not slide or set anything on the spot. I have a few spots by my sink where I have let dishes dry and moved the dishes at just the right time and tore up a little paint.

I chose black paint, so to fill in a few scratches that went through the poly and paint (the bare surface is now white), I’ve used a sharpie to fill them in.

All in all, I’m SO happy I did not spend the ridiculous amount of money granite costs and went with the paint. The project, after doing it twice, was around $40. You cannot beat that! The only thing I still would like to change about the counters is the shape. Our island doesn’t have the back splash and the edges are square, but the L-shape has back splash and edges are rounded. I prefer no back splash and square. I do see us investing in laminate or Corian eventually, but this certainly is doing the job!

 

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Catching Up!

Boy do I have a lot of catching up to do! We have tackled so many projects in the last year. To name a few I plan to go into detail about:

  • Painting the kitchen counters with chalk paint
  • Painting the terribly textured bathroom walls
  • Changing out molding for a cheap, but awesome looking alternative
  • Tiling the kitchen and laundry room (by far my FAVORITE improvement thus far!)
  • Adding “ship-lap” to the laundry room
  • Planting a garden!
  • Raising ducks
  • Saving a sliding glass door

And I’m sure there is more I will think of as I move along. Giving my readers something to look forward to and myself a to-do list!

Stay tuned!

New Flooring

Now for the floors, my favorite part. Finding the perfect flooring, literally, took me a year. I didn’t want to pay a ton for what I wanted, so I bargain shopped (naturally – it’s who I am!). I wanted a good quality floor, nothing thin or something that would be ruined in a few years. Through shopping, I also learned I wanted something with padding already attached to the flooring. I heard it was easier to install with it attached also. I also knew we didn’t need any water barrier or anything like that, because the flooring was going on the “second” floor. It is tiled near our front and side door and our sliding glass door goes out to our deck that is also on the “second” floor, so no worries there either.

I looked at Lowe’s, Home Depot a few local places, everywhere… but I finally made it to Lumber Liquidators. Our nearest store is a little over two hours away, but we had other obligation in the area, so it wasn’t too bad. I was able to find what I wanted – a thick, hand scrapped, with padding attached wood laminate. I didn’t buy it right off, instead, I brought home a few samples. I placed it in different areas of the house, decided I really liked this. I then went back to almost all the stores I had visited prior to see if they had anything similar. One of the local stores I went to complemented my find and suggested I go with it (the beauty of shopping local, honest people).

To measure our floors, I squared everything out and measured those squares and rounded up around any angles. When I made the purchase, I believe I also order 10% more for error, etc. LL doesn’t stock all their flooring all the time, so I was very nervous to run short and not be able to find what we needed. Needless to say, we have a TON leftover – 8 boxes. Oops.

I “ordered” in store on a Saturday, brought one box home to lay it out JUST to make sure we loved it and called to confirm my order that following Monday. I believe my order took about three weeks to arrive.

We have light tongue and groove wood ceilings and kitchen cabinets. I chose a dark floor that had a bit of a light detail to it. The light detail has an orange tint to it, which also play off our wood trim that I wanted to keep. With so much wood in our house, I felt it it was really important to find the perfect colors to avoid all the wood clashing.

Method to the madness:

In my post about our popcorn ceilings, I mentioned we removed our old flooring before removing the ceilings. We just made one giant mess to get it over with. Next we had to decide with way to run our flooring. It was suggested to run in the direction of what would be the longest span and it just happened to be the same direction of our ceiling grooves also – so that is what we went with.

We started with creating a straight line where our longest span would meet our dining room, then started from that line and worked our way back to the nearest wall. Once that was complete, we worked on the other side of the line, again hitting the next wall. We then continued down the long span, going in to each closet and bedroom as it came on the span. All this was cut, snap (and bang occasionally) and go, no nailing, no gluing. We would take the piece we had to cut off, put the cut end towards the wall and work from there. I did not want a perfect, “subway,” pattern, instead aiming for complete randomness. Out of 10+ boxes, we only ran in to one board with a scratch.

We did have some issues the following winter with gaps appearing. Any laminate is going to shrink and expand with the changing season. Our gaps appeared because we did not finish the longest span into the closet, so when the laminate expanded, it was free to move too much. It was simple to tap the end of the span and close the gap. Speaking of which – We really need to finish that closet before winter really sets in here.

Questions? Comments? Leave them below and I will be sure to get back to you ASAP.

Removing Popcorn Ceilings

We decided the best time to do this was right before we installed our new flooring. Right off – Removing our popcorn ceiling before we put in our new flooring was probably a smart move, but it totally ruined the excitement of the new flooring. Removing the popcorn ceiling was brutal. Okay – Time to be honest – This is most likely because I had to do all the work. Projects are great and I would do them a million times again…when Kurt does the work. I’m an honest person. I had to be the muscles behind this project after the first room we did and Kurt’s allergies kicked in and just about killed him. I decided to step up to the plate and finish up. Luckily, our main living area is tongue and groove ceiling, so I only had to do the hallway and the three bedrooms. FYI – Our ceilings had not been my painted after the popcorn was done. If your ceilings are painted, my method may not work well.

Here was the method to my madness:

1- Remove all old flooring. We went through the whole house and got this over and done with. Another task that was best for me to do until I got all the carpet and padding out due to Kurt’s allergies. (Thinking back, I gave in so easy..I wonder if he milked that a little bit..hmm) I cut in sections and yanked it up, rolled it up and dragged it out of the house. We then went back through and removed all the staples still in the floor.

2- Scrap the popcorn. Another “luckily” –  Our popcorn ceilings had not been painted, so they did scrap fairly easily. To do this, I used a wide putty knife. Oh, and a ladder (duh haha).

3- Sand the ceiling. Ugh. This was the worse.. mostly because I could not get a hang of the pole sander. Our friend, who does construction, made it look like cake when he tried to show me.. for the life of me, I just could not do it smoothly. This definitely took some time. I did settle and leave a little texture, which I really don’t mind.

4- (What should have been step 4, but I was sick of the project by this time) Paint the ceiling. Yes, we still have unpainted ceilings. Oh well…

Kitchen Appliance Upgrades

So this project was a 3-step process over the span of about a year.

It all started with removing the Americana theme from the kitchen. I started by removing the wallpaper border. This was time consuming, but fairly easy. I used fabric softener and a wide putty knife. Once I finished that part, I, of course, smooth talked Kurt into getting involved. Simplifying that the tile should just pop off with a little tapping and light prying. Oh boy, was I wrong.

The results below speak for themselves:

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Those pictures are from rather late at night. We left a huge pile of tile and  sheet rock in the middle of the kitchen and called it a night with the plan to make an early morning trip to our favorite place, Lowe’s.

He plugged through and saved the project, well the whole kitchen really.

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So above you’ll see our bright white stove. There was absolutely nothing wrong with the stove (we actually gave it to a family member whose oven had stopped working and they still use it today), but I came across a killer deal!

If I can offer one piece of advice, here it is: Always check out the “scratch and dent”/clearance aisle at Lowe’s or Home Depot. I always make a point to just wander through no matter what brings me into the store and it paid off. I came across this beauty one night while shopping for who-knows-what. I immediately took pictures, sent them to Kurt and followed up with a “Can I?” phone call.

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Can you see the fine print? “Was $1169.99”

I had them hold it while we made up our minds, paid for it over the phone the following morning then picked it up that weekend. I dragged my dad with me because Kurt was out of town for work, only to have him point out one thing I failed to even consider – Was it natural gas or propane? (Our house is sent up for propane)… Wonderful thought Dad – I have no idea! Oops, but I guess that’s what fathers are for. We finally figured out it was set up for propane, which meant it was converted by the person who originally purchased it. (All gas ranges come set up for natural gas – good to know!) It worked out really well that we didn’t have to mess with converting it (which would have been an add cost or a risky DIY).

This is the stove installed and the wall behind the stove all finished.

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I think this is now an older model, but my guess on one similar that is sold today would be this.

The paint I chose, which is contrary to what I explain in one of the first posts, is actually my favorite color in our house. It is Benjamin Moore – Galveston Gray. I always go to Aubuchon Hardware to find BM. I liked the color so much, I painted our master bedroom the same color.

Last step: Microwave.

That little black microwave has been everywhere with me – a dorm room and two different apartments in college and moved home to my parents between each move from one place to another. Let’s just say my dear mother got her money’s worth out of that. Unfortunately, it stopped doing a good job of cooking food evenly (understandably so) and it was time for a new one. I really wasn’t a fan of the multi-appliance look with a range hood and a microwave. I then began brainstorming how we were going to get an over the range microwave in our kitchen. (Kurt was very against any of these ideas… but he gave in, as always. He is such a good sport and this is why I love him so!)

So the research began – which one to buy? Holey smokes, there is a lot of these things to choose from. Mind you, they all look almost the same, but do a million different things.. O-ver-whlem-ing. I started with the brand of our stove, which is LG, and went from there. I wanted to get the best deal for the least amount of money (naturally). I came across this one:

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‘LG 2.2-cu ft Over-The-Range Microwave with Sensor Cooking Controls.’

Fancy enough, but not too fancy. At the time when I found it, it was on sale for around $275. It’s now listed for $404, so I guess that was a good find.

So my dear mother, apparently the queen of microwave giving, needed ideas for Christmas for Kurt and I. I had just figured out this was the microwave for us and suggested it as a Christmas gift. I also had a $100 gift card from work I offered to let her use because I felt bad for suggesting such a large item. BUT I am an only child and she has a tendency to still spoil me the way she did when I was 7 and wouldn’t take the gift card.

Christmas morning came and so did our microwave! (Thanks again Mom and Dad)  I think she mentioned Lowe’s gave her an additional 10% off the already good deal. (It never hurts to ask, especially at Lowe’s)

After Christmas festivities, it was about 9pm and Kurt decided he was ready to tackle this project. I could barely keep my eyes open, but no way was I going to try to talk him out of this!

So here was the game plan:

plan

We will start above the stove – the range hood will be gone, the larger cabinet above it will be switched with the smaller cabinet to the left. To keep all the cabinets level, we would have to cut down the shelf the microwave currently was on. (Once you see the after, all that jumble will make sense)

We started by taking the range hood and these two cabinets down. Kurt was brave enough (I had to walk away a few times) to cut off the shelf that was connected to the smaller cabinet. He got the shelf down to the size it needed to be to fit under the larger cabinet. He re-hung the large cabinet on the left side and the hung the new, smaller shelf back up under it. Next, he hung the smaller cabinet above the stove (This is all hear-say, I had fallen asleep by now. He woke me a few times to climb up on the counter to help him hold a cabinet in place. Interesting, scary, dangerous? Yes, all of the above.) When he woke me up to check out his work and get into bed, I was very surprised. He never fails to impress me!

The finished product:

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We have some small details to work on, like the cord you can see and straightening the small cabinet doors, but we will get there! Slow and steady…

Before/After

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He does good work, doesn’t he? 🙂

Project #1 – Chandelier Switchout

Below is the before. This was a very nice light (we actually gave it to a family friend who put it in their log cabin and it tied into their home nicely), but it just wasn’t our style. I wanted something simple.

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So this is what I came across in Lowe’s while shopping for a garbage can and couldn’t pass it by. It is the allen + roth Harpwell 6-Light Oil-Rubbed Bronze Chandelier. The price was decent, at $164, and it was super easy to install. (At least it looked like it. There was no grumbling and it went rather quickly)

And here it is installed. We chose to leave it up higher because our table isn’t perfectly centered under the built-in box in the ceiling. We didn’t really want that to stand out, so only using two of the chain links and the links on the ceiling mount and fixture seemed to work best.

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Two years later, I’m not really digging the light anymore. I find myself drawn towards these styles more and more… Thoughts?

Kichler Lighting Covington 6-Light Olde Bronze ChandelierThe House of Smiths - Interior Design Blogs, Home DIY Blogs, Decorating Ideas:

The Before – House Tour

Excuse the quality of the photos, but importantly, brace yourself.

We might as well start it off with a bang! Welcome to our humble abode in the state we purchased it.

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Also, excuse the mess. It took me months (maybe a year, but whose counting) to completely unpack.

So, when you walk in the front door, this is what you saw. The living room is to your left, dining room to your right and the kitchen is in the middle. It’s a pretty open layout, with some division around the kitchen.

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We have a back deck off the dining room with an awesome view of the backyard. Prime spot to grill in the winter or when it’s raining, which in mine and Kurt’s mind (and my dad’s, he’s a bit jealous) is a major plus.IMG_4277

The deck wraps around half of the house – Below is the side deck.

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Unfortunately, I didn’t take many pictures of the kitchen, but if you look closely this gives you an idea. The stainless steel refrigerator and dishwasher came with the house. They are a tad rough when you get up close, but we still have both so major complaints.

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Walking down the hallway, we shall glance in at the messes I thought for some reason was okay to capture in a photo. It works, I suppose.

Hallway

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Laundry room

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Guest Room (the colors are wonderful, I know!)

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Guest Bath

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I failed to take a picture of the second spare bedroom. This was a catch-all when we first moved in, so it’s probably best I don’t have a picture to share.

Master Suite (oh dear…)

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Half basement

(The other half is a two-stall garage. I will let Kurt show you that.)

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And the misery is over! I won’t lie, that was painful.

To top it off, the paint color you see above covered the walls of the living room with a couple pops of brown, orange and tan. Painting was the first thing we did. I didn’t mean to paint everything so white, but you will quickly learn that I cannot pick out paint to save my life. The white did create a great blank canvas and certainly brightened and opened things up. I actually have no plans to change it now, even though it was discouraging to start the paint “color” over the primer only to see a very small difference.