Kitchen Backsplash Reveal

Over the course of last week I worked on installing and painting a new backsplash for our kitchen.  I worked in smaller windows of time over the course of the week, so the project took a few days to complete.  After living in our home for 16 months without any backsplash, taking a couple of extra days to do this was hardly going to matter.  Plus, I was able to still use the kitchen for the whole preparing meals and eating thing so that was good.  I have to admit now that I do wish it hadn’t taken me so long to decide on (spot in real estate pictures) a backsplash that I loved because now that is done I wish I had been able to enjoy this backsplash much sooner.  You might not think backsplash makes that big of an impact, but I am here to tell that it does, well to me at least.  Its quite possible that I someone would come into the kitchen and not even notice a difference.

We hadn’t been able to commit to a tile.  I wasn’t sold on anything really and couldn’t see going to that expense of time and money if it wasn’t something that I loved.  I wanted a classic look for sure and our granite is busy enough that I wanted something pretty simple.  Subway tile didn’t feel right to me or the hubs.  He is convinced that subway tile is going to be the new 4×4 tile that everyone will end up replacing.   I don’t think he is right about that, but who knows.  I was concerned that subway tile would read too farmhouse for our kitchen.

I was looking through pictures of real estate listings in a nearby town (I sometimes do this for fun) which happens to have some very high-end real estate.  I was totally drawn into the pictures of this beautiful brick colonial with a $5 million price tag (crazy!) because the inside of the house looked so classic and comfortable.  Then I come across the kitchen and completely fell in love.



While I was obsessively looking at the picture I noticed the backsplash and immediately knew that was it.  It’s similar to a beadboard which I love and have used in bathrooms in previous homes, but its wider plank is just a little bit different.  I would love to someday add some wood beams to our kitchen but I was happy to take what small pieces I could from this one now.

I went off to the Home Depot in search of a product to get this affect.  What I a found was the currently very popular shiplap planks.  For shiplap these are installed horizontally, but if I were to turn them vertical I would get the exact look I was going for.

Installing these planks was about 1,001 times easier than tile for me.  I used the jigsaw to cut around the outlets, the miter saw for the lengths, and the brad nailer.


We decided to use a 1/2″ x 3/4″ trim for the bottom, sides and top where there aren’t any cabinets to trim out the planks.

I painted them with a satin enamel custom matched to the cabinets.





The total cost of this project was right at $80!  I saved a bunch of money and got an end result that I could not be happier with!


And lest you think the project went off without a single hitch, here is the proof of the bad jigsaw cut that had to be filled in.




Continue Reading

Simple and easy bathroom shelf

I had planned for floating shelf above the toilet in the master bathroom, but the Petersik’s from YHL did a post featuring some great bracket options that had me questioning that plan.  I found a particular black set very visually appealing and the price was almost too good to be true.  I decided that I should just order them and see how I liked them in person.  Once they arrived I was happy to find I liked them just as much in person.  Now I had to get some wood for the shelf itself.  I didn’t have anything that would work in the garage, so I had 2′ of an oak 1×8 cut at Home Depot.  The linear foot price on this is $3.52 so at this point I was still not out much money for this small project.  Plus having it cut at the store meant that I wouldn’t have any sawdust to sweep or vacuum in the garage!  After sanding it, I did two coats of Minwax espresso stain and then used finishing wax.    I secured it to the wall with drywall anchors since I wasn’t going to hit a stud with either bracket and I would feel comfortable putting something pretty heavy on it.


The coral in this apoethcary jar was picked up on the beaches during our honeymoon!


Here you can see the simple details of the brackets.  Black screws almost disappear.



Continue Reading

Master Bath Renovation, Part Two

To see the before of our master bath, click here

Heading into our master bath remodel we knew had a good idea of the finishes we wanted.  We were looking for a classic look, but with newer materials that were easier to maintain.  We chose dark woods and light hard surfaces for a nice contrast in finishes.  I knew I wanted to have Carrara marble, so the shower was was where we chose to add this and opted for low maintenance quartz on the counters.  The marble will have to be sealed periodically but it isn’t a huge job.   The hubs wanted the wood look tile on the floor.  The idea of having real hard woods in a bathroom is beautiful, but definitely not practical (unless they already exist in a historic home), so the wood look tile is a great alternative.  Using a dark grout that blends in with thin grout lines makes a big impact.

The view from the door from our bedroom.  The hub’s vanity is mostly hidden behind the shower which is great because he is not the tidiest of guys.

My vanity.  This is a six foot vanity which allows for a ton of storage.  So much storage that a few drawers are basically empty.  While the vanities appear almost black they are an espresso finish.    The not great light means not great color representation.

The hubs vanity is much smaller at only 42″.  It was the space we had to work with and he does not mind at all. He doesn’t really use more than the top two drawers so it works just fine for him.

This bathroom is on the west side of the house and the two windows (one pictured and one above my husbands vanity) are the only windows on this side of the house.  The only way to get decent light in here for pictures is to shoot in the afternoon when there are also stray sun casts.  The shower handle is an upgrade to match the drawer pulls.

This tub is really pretty, and just for show.  I’m not a bath taker so I predict this will rarely, if ever, get used.  The good news that it is super easy to keep clean with the vacuum this way!  We placed it just far enough away from the wall to allow a floor duster to fit.

Closer view of the tub filler.  I wanted a simple, classic look.  This one fits the bill.

We don’t use the additional spray much while showering, but it is incredibly handy for cleaning the shower.  We did an extension for the rainfall shower head to bring it out to the middle of the shower more.

The hubs chose these waterfall faucets.  They are pretty, but I will say that keeping the water spots off of them is not my favorite thing!


Wall Paint: Sherwin Williams Mindful Gray in eggshell

Trim Paint: Benjamin Moore White Dove

Floor Tile

Shower Wall Tile

Shower Floor Tile

Quartz Counters


Vanity Lights


Drawer Pulls


Continue Reading

Master Bath Renovation, Part One

When we purchased this house we knew that gutting the master bath for a complete renovation was going to be a priority. This was a really dated bathroom from the early 90s and we had a sense that things probably were no longer functioning properly.  The tile in front of the shower had been patched, indicating the shower pan had leaked at some point.  One of the vanity faucet handles was hanging on by a thread.  We knew that this type of renovation would not be a DIY type project.  We could have done some of it ourselves, but we don’t move pipes or electrical (yet) and I have never tiled over sub-floor.  These and a few other factors determined that this was best left to a professional.  When we moved into the house we took one shower before we realized it was still leaking!  So much for the patch job that had been done.  We decided that we would shower somewhere else since sooner or later the bathroom would be completely out of commission.  I was certainly hoping for sooner rather than later!

Since we were so new to the area I got referrals from a couple new neighbors and our real estate agent.  We got our bids and made our decision.  I felt really comfortable with one person in particular and we really appreciated the way he bid out the project, leaving out many of the materials so I could source them myself and find the best deals.  We tried to act pretty quickly on this right after we moved in, but we still had to wait over a month for him to start due to his current projects.


The lighting is bad in these before pics, so it is hard to see, but the originally white countertops had yellowed.  I think they were Corian, but I have never seen Corian do that before.  You can see the patched tile on the right.


The shower had dual shower heads and was totally enclosed in glass for a steam shower effect but no steam controls.  The seal was so tight on the glass you could not hear the person talking on the other side.


Here you can see how well the tile on the tub deck was holding up.


Changing the layout of the bathroom wasn’t feasible due to due to door and window placement, but the shower size would likely change a bit and we wouldn’t be replacing the large corner jetted tub.  The vanity locations remain but the vanity seat will go, which will allow for my vanity to be standard height.  I have never been comfortable sitting for makeup or hair.  At this point I could not wait for demo to begin.




Continue Reading

Drying Hydrangeas


Drying hydrangeas is one of the easiest things I have ever done.  Its amazing how beautiful they turn out for almost no effort.  The colors of the limelight hydrangeas preserves beautifully.   I kept these stored in closet in another unused jar and then just carefully placed them in this vase.

Steps to drying hydrangeas

  1. Cut hydrangeas
  2. Remove leaves from stems
  3. Put hydrangeas in vase, jar, etc with water filled about halfway
  4. Let water dry up
  5. Enjoy beautiful dried hygrangeas
Continue Reading


Diagnosing the Dryer

At the beginning of the week our dryer went on strike.  It would turn on, but no heat would come out.  This is has happened twice before.  The first two times it was the heating element.  The first time I called an appliance repair company and they replaced the heating element for somewhere around $200.  The second time we got crafty and did it ourselves with the help of Youtube.  It was an easy repair taking only 30 minutes and about $20!  I assumed that I would just be doing that again so I ordered a new heating element and waited for it to arrive.   I took the dryer apart (using the same Youtube video as last time) and replaced the heating element.   The old one didn’t look broken but I figured I could be just missing it and went ahead and put the new one in.   I got the dryer put back together, plugged it in, turned it on and NO HEAT!

Re-diagnosing the Dryer

Back at square one, I decided to do some more research.  I learned that there are few other small, cheap, easily replaced parts that might be causing the lack of heat.  I didn’t want to just replace them without knowing which one was really the problem so I ran to the hardware store and picked up a multimeter.  This was going to tell me which parts had continuity (were working) and which didn’t.  I tested the thermistor, thermostat and thermal fuse and the thermal fuse was the guilty party.  I ordered one on amazon and sprang for the $3.99 one day shipping.  I’m still waiting for it to arrive today, in the mean time laundry has been piling up.  I called the appliance guy to find out when he could come if my repair attempts fail.  He can’t get here until Tuesday so the laundry situation could get a little dicey if the thermal fuse doesn’t work.  I’ve been drying small amounts of the backs of kitchen chairs and laundry room counters, but with a soccer tournament this weekend the uniform situation could be stinky.


Continue Reading

Curb Appeal Game Changer

The Old Door

If ever there was a door stuck in the early 90’s, this one was it.  Plain white, dated glass inserts that were falling into the doors, and a worn brass handle set.  As an added bonus, if the doors were unlocked and a slight breeze came through the door would blow open.  If the doors were closed and locked you could feel the breeze underneath them.  I don’t think this qualifies as energy efficient.


We had a pretty good idea of what we wanted.  Hubs wanted a wood finish and I wanted a lot of glass with few lights/panes.  I started perusing pinterest to find images to show our contractor.  I came up with these.


We would not have an arched top but the rest was right.


Ordering New Doors

We decided on a fiberglass 3/4 panel 6 light (panes) door set.  He took these and worked to figure out where the doors should be ordered from.  Home Depot ended up being the winner for Thermatru doors.  We signed off on the quote and the order was placed.  The waiting began.  The waiting continued.  The estimated time for delivery passed.  Calls were made and we were informed that the order was in some limbo place in their system.  The order had never actually been placed with the manufacturer.  We were not pleased but it didn’t seem there was anything we could do and the order was then placed for real and the waiting started over.

After 6 more weeks our contractor got a call that the order was in.  The time had come and we would get our new front doors, or so we thought.  What actually arrived was a pane insert for doors, but no doors.  It was kind of comical at this point that one order for some doors could go so wrong.  We decided to cancel the whole order and unfortunately it came to light at this particular Home Depot location that there was a particular employee who had made a number of big mistakes.

So here we were back at square one.  I decided to email Home Depot customer service because I thought they should have a system for catching errors like this.  Exterior doors are expensive and they had a whole bunch of money tied up with out having placed an order.  I received emails from their corporate office and phone calls from the store closest to our house.  As a result of the response I got I threw caution to the wind and went ahead and placed the order again with the store by our house.  At this point what else could go wrong?  Our contractor had refunded the money for the doors because he was as fed up as we were and he felt bad so I was going to go ahead and use the Home Depot installer.  He came out and did the measurement that they require before they order the doors and the order was truly placed.  For real this time.  I asked to be certain!

Installing the Doors

Less than 6 weeks later we got the call; the doors were in.  There were actual doors this time and the install was scheduled.  For February.  In the Midwest.  After all these delays the timing for a front door install was pretty bad.  The actual install went off without a hitch, assuming you don’t count 30 degree weather.


The New Door


Isn’t Zoe a cutie?



Now all I need is someone to come teach me how to not be the worst Windexer ever.  Streak free glass and mirrors are not in my skill set for some reason.  Puppy noses don’t help either but they sure are cute.



Continue Reading

Fun Foam Tiles

When the basement flooded we really considered a number of options for floor replacement.  Ultimately we decided to put new carpet back in, but for this one room we decided it didn’t make sense.  Instead we chose to install foam floor tiles.   This type of flooring is a better choice than carpet for this space and there was definitely a savings factor.   All you need to install these is a sharp knife and a framing square.  Most of the tiles go together quickly like like doing a puzzle where you know exactly where the pieces go.  We have some interesting angles in this room, but even with those angled cuts this took only an hour or two.

Installing the foam flooring directly over concrete


We started on one side working our way across using the square to measure and cut straight lines.



When the new carpet is installed it will meet up with the foam tiles in the center of this doorway.  We may use double sided tape to hold them down.  I don’t really like metal or wood floor transitions.  The tile is the perfect height to fit underneath the baseboards.

The sump pump closet is in the back corner of this room.  We have taken measures to hopefully prevent something like this from happening again, but there is additional comfort in knowing the flooring surrounding the sump pump are foam tiles that will dry out if they ever got wet.


The completed floors.





Continue Reading

Carpet Excitement!

Today is carpet install day in the basement!  We are very excited for this major step in getting the basement put back together.  We took a few weeks before deciding to put carpet back in the basement.  We considered stained concrete, vinyl plank flooring, replacing the padding that was removed, and new carpet.  I was worried with the “harder” flooring liked stained concrete and vinyl plank (which we have in the bar and bathroom, and love) that the basement would feel cold and have an echo.  There are only so many area rugs you can put down before it the floor starts looking like a patchwork quilt and not a in a good way.  We could have had new padding installed and the carpet re-stretched because it is actually in decent shape, but I have really disliked this carpet from the day we looked at the house the first time.  I always wanted to replace it someday, someday just came sooner than we expected.  That’s what happens when you get 7″ of rain in 8 hours.

This is what it looked like just before the installers arrived.  The lighting for these pictures is not good, because well, basement.

This is the main open area of the basement and where the bulk of the carpet that got wet is.  The room that has the sump pump closet is to the right of this and where the water originated from.  Since that room is a workout room we decided not to put carpet back and installed foam tiles instead.  That was a really easy project and if by chance we get water again (I sure hope not!), we will have those closest to the sump pump instead of carpet.   Those carpet rolls are actually from the workout room.


This is the spot at the bottom of the stairs.  The padding and carpet here were mostly dry (the right of the column was wet), but since it wasn’t reasonable to replace only some of the carpet it goes.

Media room waiting for carpet.


This is the carpet we chose.  The free installation, removal and haul away was impossible to beat.  Its is actually a stock carpet that they keep in the store, but due to the fact we needed around 1800 sq ft it had to be special ordered.  The carpet is a neutral greige that will lighten the space and help take it out of the 1990’s.

Continue Reading