Kitchen Chronicles: Building a Window Bench Seat

If you’ve been following along on instagram, you already know what we were up to this week…

Let’s get to it, shall we?

We started with this empty space under the dining area window, which I thought would be perfect for a nice cozy bench…

To make it serve a dual purpose by adding storage, I decided to go with these Akurum refridgerator cabinets:

Because they are standard cabinet depth (24″), they would also line up with our existing cabinets on the left to look like one long built-in wall.

I chose the same Applad white doors to match our new bar cabinets and keep them nice and clean looking without distracting from the rest of the room (and yes, I forgot to select “white” instead of “birch effect” for these cabinet boxes too, argh!)

I had 123″ of empty space to work with, so I went with four 30″ wide cabinets which only left 3″ of space to fill.

But first, we had to build the base. It was basically the same process we used to build our bar cabinets, except there was one small issue…

The 2×4’s weren’t tall enough to match up with the existing cabinet. Standard toe kick height is 4″, but 2×4 boards are just barely over 3.5″. With the bar it didn’t matter because it didn’t have to line up with another cabinet, but we had to elevate these 2×4’s somehow…

So we ripped down some boards to make shims.

Then we assembled the base upside down so we could screw the front 2×4 into the cross pieces first. We decided to place a cross piece wherever two cabinets would meet up for extra support.

You’ll also notice a chunk of board missing out of the back. Since we were covering over a vent, we needed a way to reroute the airflow. I picked up this narrow grille at Lowe’s (designed for toe kicks) and gave it a few coats of white spray paint:

After the first 2×4 was secured to the cross pieces, we flipped everything over to its final position and attached the front 2×4 so it was all one piece:

Then we secured the back 2×4 into the studs so it wouldn’t go anywhere.

To seal off the vent chamber so air wouldn’t leak out, we placed some trim pieces along the bottom and caulked it in really well. We also had to cut a hole in the back for the outlet:

Then it was time to get the cabinets in!

I had 3″ of extra space to work with, so I decided to divide it evenly between them (including the far left and right sides) which meant I had to make 0.6″ spacers. I used some scrap pieces of wood we had in the garage and ripped them down to size, then cut them to the height of the cabinet (15.25″):


Once they were in, we screwed through the sides of the cabinets (both left and right) and caulked them in:

Then we put a few screws through the cabinets to attach it to the 2×4″ against the back wall. This bench was solid.

The toe kick piece we bought fit like a glove, no ripping down needed!

The vent grille was a little shorter than the toe kick, so we slid a small piece in at the top so there wasn’t a hole (It doesn’t look very pretty, but it won’t be seen):

Once everything was in, it was time to prep and paint!

For the cabinets I used the same Zinsser shellac based primer (red can) that I used for the pantry and bar cabinets:

The only part that would be visible from the outside was the face frame, and I wanted a nice clean edge on the inside so I taped it off.

While working on that, I painted the toe kick and the rest of the trim that we’ve been dying to put in (tip: ALWAYS paint your toe kick/baseboard/crown molding before installing so you don’t have to tape it off later!)

Yay for baseboard:

We used a 90° corner piece over the planks and quarter round where the plank wall met the ceiling:

Ahhh… so much better.

The toe kick worked out nicely too:

All that’s left was the doors…

We finished the first three cabinets and realized we had a problem.

Apparently, someone in this house *coughBradcough* must have accidentally thrown away a box with half of our hinges in it. After a frantic search came up with nothing, I had to buy 8 more packages (16 hinges total, we still need to build another bench seat) for $60 from Ikea.com. I was just relieved we were even able to order them online and get them shipped. They won’t be here for a week, so sadly this project will take a little longer to finish…

In addition to that setback, I can’t decide how I feel about the gaps in between the cabinets. I didn’t even really think about it when I was lining the spacers up with the cabinet base instead of the doors. Might have to move them forward.

What do you think?

As for adding hardware or not, I’m undecided. I’m leaning towards keeping it really simple, so it looks more just like one long panel instead of drawing attention to the fact that it’s cabinets by adding knobs. That was the original plan at least—we’ll see how it looks after we get the last doors on. And I ordered the foam so hopefully next week I can get started on the cushions.

One more update—we bought our backsplash!

After much debate (which I’ll cover in a future post) we went with this white subway tile from Lowe’s:

It’s a smaller version of standard 3×6″ tiles on a mesh backing. After getting a couple outrageous quotes for labor to install them, we may or may not have officially lost our minds because we’re going to tackle this ourselves. This weekend. Fellow DIY’ers, we need your help. Any suggestions/tips/advice you can give us, please, we’re all ears!
If there’s no update from me by Tuesday—send help because we’ve probably fallen into the black hole of tile.



Kitchen Chronicles: Building a Bar

Happy Monday! It’s after 8am here and just barely getting light outside—gotta love Daylight Savings. Longer days = more productivity!

Speaking of being productive… this weekend we built our bar!

I figured it would be one of those projects that dragged on all weekend and I’d be scrambling to put the finishing touches on right now, but nope… it was done by Saturday afternoon (thanks to my Dad’s help).

Let’s rewind a bit… here was the space we were working with:

When we bought the house there was a bar here, but clearly it had to go…

I still liked the idea of having one as we love to entertain, but something less gigantic and in your face.

We had a wine fridge at our last kitchen and really enjoyed it, so we decided to do that again. To fill up the rest of the space, I looked to Ikea for inexpensive cabinets. Luckily they come in a variety of sizes, so I was able to choose two of these Akurum cabinets that were the perfect width to fill the space and allow proper ventilation on the sides of the wine fridge.

When it came to door styles, I decided to go with the Applad white style shown above for a few reasons.

1) It was clean and simple—it wouldn’t compete with or try to match with the rest of the kitchen cabinets, but it is the same flat panel style as our drawer fronts.
2) I didn’t want to have to paint them, and the Applad white is a true white (not off white like some of the other door styles)
3). It was the most inexpensive option—just $200 total for an 18″ and 36″ wide!

But when the delivery came and I unpackaged the boxes… my heart sank. In my rush to get everything on my list during our big Ikea trip, I forgot to change the default “birch effect” to “white” when I added it to my shopping list. Ugh.

Fortunately, the doors were still white, but because you would see the side of one of the cabinets, I had to resort to painting.

I used the same white satin paint I’ve used everywhere in the kitchen (the plank walls, ceiling, and pantry)…

And to my surprise, they were actually pretty close to the doors. It wasn’t an exact match, but it was close enough for me to have hope that I wouldn’t have to paint the doors too.

Let me tell you, these cabinets were a breeze to assemble. Quite possibly the easiest Ikea assembly ever. I would absolutely not hesitate using them for a full kitchen remodel in the future.

Here they are roughly in place:

I had forgotten to paint the front of one edge before assembly… whoops!
And up went the doors:
Time to buy a wine fridge…

After researching and reading lots of reviews, we found 21 bottle capacity Edgestar on sale for $237 shipped:

I kid you not—I ordered it on Wednesday afternoon and it was plugged in and running by Thursday afternoon. Amazingly fast service.

Back to the plan—first, I had to build a toe kick to elevate the cabinets.

I used basic 2×4’s screwed together, and made the depth a standard ~4″ less than the cabinets (to match the rest of the kitchen)

After securing the base to the wall, we placed the cabinets back on top and secured them to each other and the studs along the wall.

Then we had to address this empty space around the fridge.

The gap still needed to be there for proper ventilation, but I decided I want it to look built in so I came up with a plan.

First, a 1×4″ screwed into the side of the cabinet:

Next, a painted 1×3″ nailed into it, flush with the cabinet (I spent a couple more dollars on the smooth and solid top choice wood vs the cheaper 1×4″ whitewood boards)

I repeated the process on the other side (I had to leave a bit of a gap because the wall wasn’t entirely level with the fridge, which I later filled in with caulk):

I got lucky—the 1×3’s fit right up next to the wine fridge perfectly so I didn’t need to rip them down at all.

For the top, I used a 1×2 secured to sides using pocket holes (my first project with my new Kreg Jig!)

Here’s how it looks on the outside:

Next it was time to cover the exposed 2×4″ toekick. I found these thin pieces of 8′ toekick in the cabinet aisle at Lowe’s:

I painted them white and nailed them up to the face of the 2×4″s:

On the side of the cabinets, we made sure the 2×4″ was inset 3/8″ from the cabinets so the toe kick could line up flush with the side:

Then it was time to move on to the counters.

I decided to go with 2×6″ boards instead of stone because I love the rustic touch wood adds, and of course it’s (by far) the most economical solution.

It took just five boards to cover the surface, and so we wouldn’t end up with 4 full boards and one sliver piece, my dad ripped down a couple inches off the width of two boards and alternated them between the three full pieces.

The wood was really rough, so we made sure to go over it well with our electric sander.

My dad also beveled the corners of the two ripped down pieces so they would match the full boards (he’s full of great ideas).

After they were sanded and trimmed, I stained them (the same color as our ceiling beams, Minwax’s Dark Walnut) and they were ready to go!

We had cut them all the same length, but after lining them up, we realized that the wall was at a slight angle so the boards didn’t line up at the opposite end:

Marking a straight line with a laser and trimming the edges off did the trick.

Then we attached them to the cabinets one by one using a nail gun (no liquid nails or wood glue).

To protect against stains and spills, I sealed the wood with three coats of poly:

I chose matte over a glossy sheen to keep it looking as natural and rustic as possible. It goes on a milky white and dries clear.

Looking sharp!

Finally, we installed the shelves and doors…

Then added hardware (the same knobs that we used in the rest of the kitchen):

Love, love, love the results.

And the slightly different whites? Hardly noticeable at all. Whew.

Safeway was having a big wine sale so we stocked up yesterday!

Once the window bench seating is in, we’ll be able to put up all the trim on the plank wall so it will look a bit more finished.

We picked out our stacked stone at Lowe’s yesterday, so we just have to coordinate with our tile guy to finish the wall above it! Can’t wait for that part…

Now that we have the toe kick/cabinet installing process down, we should be able to knock out this bench seat in the next few days:

If all goes well, I’ll have a post up for you Thursday with the results!


Kitchen Chronicles: Ikea Pax Pantry Reveal!

Ladies and gents, I present to you our finished Ikea Pax Pantry:

Let’s first back up to where we left off in my last post

The pantry was up, but with no hardware, crown molding, or insides.

First thing to do was crown molding. I had my dad come over to help, which was a good idea because this project came with more challenges than anticipated.

Obstacle #1:  Cutting a special shape out of the molding where it met up with the cabinets above the door. My dad knocked this one out of the park—a perfect fit.

Obstacle #2: Getting the crown to squeeze in above and be level with both cabinets. The crown height and gap between the cabinets was the same, so we had to sand down part of the crown where the fitment was a bit too tight. Then, we discovered the left wall stuck just a tad more than the cabinets so we were left with this gap:

Not only that, but the gap was quite a bit worse on the right side (walls, ceilings and floors are rarely ever perfectly square, so this was bound to happen….)

To help close the gap, we nailed up a small piece of wood (just on the right side where it was really bad:

 I was able to caulk everything in to completely hide the gaps. What would we do without caulk?!

Obstacle #3: There was still a visible gap above the makeshift door on the right:

To fix this, I cut a scrap piece of wood and glued it on to the back of the crown.

There wouldn’t be any pressure on it (the door magnet was keeping the door from swinging back), so the glue will hold just fine. I caulked & painted and now it looks like part of the crown.

Just in time, our knobs arrived in the mail and we got those on last night (these are the same ones on our cabinet to tie them all in):

And now our pantry is finally complete and ready to enjoy!

I’m loving how built in and coordinated it looks next to the rest of the cabinets:

Ready to see the insides?

We went with affordable Pax shelves and Komplement wire baskets for organization:

The arrangement may change as time goes on, but for now there’s more than enough storage.

Let’s see what’s behind door #1, shall we?

The top shelves house our less frequently used dishware, baking supplies and canned foods.

To free up counter space, we decided to store our toaster here. Before putting the pantry up, Brad drilled a hole through the back and connected an extension cord to the outlet so it’s plugged in and fully functional:

We very rarely use it so this was the perfect place for us to keep it.

These pull out baskets are my favorite. So convenient, and just $15/ea! We use them to keep our vitamins/medications within easy reach, along with dry goods we use on a daily basis.

I arranged our small appliances on the bottom so they are within easy reach.

Let’s see what’s behind door #2…

Here we have more rarely used entertaining items, pasta/oats/starches, then cereal/condiments. We keep larger dry food storage and chips/snacks in the baskets, then our glass jars with miscellaneous goods/spices and paper towel storage on the bottom.

And of course, our mop and broom storage behind the door on the far right:

I just love walking into the kitchen every day now with this view greeting me…

Quite an improvement from a few months ago, right?

It’s the one completely finished little section of the kitchen. Speaking of “finished”… now that we’re definitely past the half way point, I owe you guys an updated “what’s left to-do list”! Here it is (not necessarily in this order):

1. Build the bar
This includes building a base for and installing our cabinets, installing a wine fridge, and DIYing a wood plank counter top. This should be completed this weekend.

2. Assemble & build the bench seat under the window
We hope to at least get started this weekend.

3. Assemble & build the bench seat on the back of the island
Same process as the window bench seat—plan to finish by the end of next week!

4. DIY bench seat cushions
I’ll be using plywood/foam/fabric, similar to how I made our headboard.

5. Buy & install backsplash
It’s already chosen (I think), and we’re hiring out the labor.

6. Buy & install stacked stone on bar wall
Hiring this one out too.

7. DIY floating shelves over the main counter and bar
Two shelves for each area—I found plans from Ana White and am anxious to give them a try.

8. Simplify the railing
We’re going to cut out the decorative spindles to keep it simple and less 70’s.

9. Buy & install window shades
Going with a simple bamboo style shade for both large windows.

10. Build a farmhouse dining table
My dad and I will tackle this project using Ana White’s plans.

11. Hang pendant lights over the dining table.
I bought two of these:

12. Accessorize
I’ll be adding a large jute rug, pillows, a DIY chalkboard, artwork, herbs/plants, and stocking the open shelves—this part is my favorite!

I’ve set a goal to finish everything by my birthday—April 25th (less than 7 weeks away, eek!). We have some friends coming from Florida to stay with us that weekend and it would be so nice to have everything done and be able to relax and enjoy it—without boxes and paint and dust in the way.

Better get started… be back in a few days with our new bar!


Kitchen Chronicles: An Ikea Pax Pantry, Part 1

The idea of creating a custom built-in pantry was the first thing that came to mind when I first laid eyes on this back wall in the kitchen:

It was an ideal setup—hidden storage that’s shallow so you don’t have to dig through to get to the back, and a small footprint to keep the kitchen nice and open.

You may remember me mentioning that I picked up a couple Pax wardrobes in my Ikea Trip post. They were perfect—just the right height for our ceiling, not too wide, and only 14″ deep.

For a built-in look, I had our subcontractor extend the wall to 14″ so it would line up with the pantry (he also filled in the pass through to the living room):

I chose the Bergsbo style doors…
because they mimicked the style of our cabinets…

Assembly was nice and straightforward—one of the easier Ikea pieces we’ve done.

Here’s the first one up!

And the second one:

At first wasn’t sure how I was going to space them out. I knew I’d have to add trim somewhere to hide the gaps, but when I pushed them to the left, I discovered the empty 6″ of space on the right would be perfect for storing our mop and brooms.

I’ll get to that in just a bit, but first, the doors had to come up:

It’s not obvious in this photo, but the doors were not a true white—of course. Ikea loves to drive us crazy by making every “white” piece of furniture a different shade, so you’ll just have to trust me when I tell you that these doors are off white.

Here they are in their final position, secured to the wall (and to each other). Again, looks white enough, but it’s not. You can tell a little at the very bottom where the Pax wardrobe shows (the Pax frame is a truer white).

I was hoping it would be something I could live with, but I just couldn’t, so I decided to paint them.

I’ve painted cabinets before (remember our last kitchen makeover?) but this was different—we’re not talking wood here. This is foil coated fiberboard—a lot trickier. I needed a game plan.

I remembered Jenny’s Pax Wardrobe makeover and was so thankful to find she had written a post about it. If she could go from white to dark gray without a problem, surely I could transform my doors from off-white to white.

So I picked up my supplies, and thanks to Jenny’s post (along with other tips & tricks I’ve learned along the way), here’s how I painted these doors…

First of all—primer. To cover anything other than wood (ie most Ikea furniture), you’ll need shellac based primer. I picked up a gallon for $42 at Lowe’s and this stuff will last me a while.

Other supplies include deglosser (I had this on hand already—still not entirely convinced it’s necessary but more experienced people use it, so…), a fine sanding block (I used 150 grit, but 200 or 220 might even be better), painters tape, some sort of paint thinner/acetone for cleanup, a dense foam roller, and a good brush. If you’re filling seams or patching holes, you’ll want spackle and caulk (though I didn’t need it for these doors).

Alright, Step 1. We decided to paint the doors already hung to make it easier and save time. After taping off the hinges and thoroughly wiping down with deglosser and a clean microfiber cloth, we rolled on our first coat of primer.

You can see a bit more here where the white primer went on vs the off white door color.

To get into the grooves, I used a small brush…

but you’ll want to use the brush as sparingly as possible because you can see the brush marks left behind. The roller provides the smoothest fin

This primer has the consistency of thick milk, and we used super thin coats. It becomes tacky in under a minute so you have to work fast. Put a quick coat up and move on.

The can says drying time is 15 minutes and you can reapply a second coat in 45—this is much quicker than the Zinsser Cover Stain we used last time, FYI. Which was great because it meant this project would take a weekend instead of a week.

After each coat, you’ll want to check for any rough patches and lightly sand. Because our coats were so thin, they were super smooth and most of it didn’t need to  be sanded at all.

The first coat took maybe 30-40 minutes, and since it felt dry to the touch I decided to start the second coat.  But then this happened in a few spots…

I wasn’t sure if it just needed more time to dry or what, so I left it alone for a while. I came back and sanded those areas down and it seemed to be fine after that. I think the key with this is to leave enough time between coats, and make sure they are thin.

The paint I used was the same white paint I used on all the plank walls—Valspar’s Signature line color matched to our trim (Kelly Moore’s Swiss Coffee), in satin.

Because the paint color was very close to the primer and it has great coverage, I used two thin coats  (no sanding once the latex paint goes on) and called it a day.

Ahhhh…. bright white.

Switching gears for a second here—during this this time our kitchen was in shambles…

We had a paint station set up in the dining area and decided to go ahead and take care of something that’s been bugging us for a while—this microwave cabinet:

It fit like a glove on the sides, but there was that big gap at the top. Solution? Build a shelf, of course.

I thought about using 1×2’s along the side as the supports (the same way I built our old pantry shelves), but Brad mentioned drilling small holes and using those little plastic shelf support inserts instead. That was a much better idea, so we picked up a few packs at Lowe’s.

After measuring the height we needed it to be and making our marks using a level, we drilled the holes using a drill bit that matched up with the insert size:

We went with 3 on each side for extra support.

For the shelf, we cut down a spare piece of particleboard we had—this wouldn’t be my first choice as it’s really dense/heavy and has a rough surface, but it was free and the microwave would be hiding it anyway.

A while back I grabbed every white paint swatch Lowe’s carried and brought them home to find the closest match to our cabinets. I found one that was almost identical and bought a $3 paint sample to take home.

To keep the microwave from sliding backwards, I cut a piece of spare wood to size and nailed it onto the back.

And to finish it off, I painted a piece of lattice and secured it to the front with a nail gun.

Now it really looks custom! And it makes the perfect storage cubby for my cutting board.

Okay, back to the pantry. Now that the wardrobes were in, it was time to address the sides.

For the left side, we ripped down a 1x6x8′ board to match the width of the wall and nailed it up:

The doors were sticking out before, so just that piece made it look so much more built in and finished.

Then came the tough part, the right side. We decided to use another 1″ piece to build a door so that we could use the empty space for storage. 
We cut the board to size, but somewhere between the wall and the wardrobe, the gap was not even (you can see how it’s larger at the top, womp womp).
But then I had an idea…
We could frame out the edges with lattice strips, and attach the left piece at a slight angle to close the gap. Bonus: it would add some nice detail and tie in with the doors and kitchen cabinets. Disaster averted!
The best way to approach this would have been to use wood glue, clamp them together and let them cure for a day or so. We didn’t have that kind of time (or enough clamps) so we countersunk some screws instead.
Here’s how it looked at the top:
Uneven gap no more.
I cut smaller pieces for the top and bottom…
Then spackled, caulked and sanded….

And finally, painted:

To transform it into a door, I picked up a couple cheap-o hinges at Lowe’s and spray painted them black. Don’t mind the silver screws, I plan on painting them black as well..

There was no stud where we were attaching them to the wall, so we used walldogs (best invention ever, no idea how we ever lived without them).

To keep the door from swinging inwards and secured when it’s shut, I used this little magnet kit from Lowe’s:

The magnet attaches to the cabinet and then you screw a little plate onto the door—simple as that.

And we have a door!

It doesn’t swing open all the way, but it’s plenty to grab what you need.

The last thing we did this weekend was add some fresh baseboard.

This is how it looks now:

We still have to add crown molding and knobs, then assemble and organize the insides. I cannot wait for that part. Hardware is on the way and should be here in a few days, so as soon as everything is ready I’ll have a completed pantry post for you guys.

Tonight we’re getting started on assembling our bar, so that will be covered soon as well… things are really coming together now!

Before I go—one last very important matter of business. I’ve been working on a sequel to my Jenna Sue font forever now, and I’m thrilled to announce that Nella Sue is finally here!

As part of the Introduction Special, you can download it right now for just $5 (today only!) with the code NellaSue at checkout. You can also preview your custom text first.

This font was truly a labor of love, and I’m so thrilled with the way it turned out!

Thanks so much for your support! <3


Studio & Kitchen Updates

It was Christmas up in here yesterday because we finally got the Ikea delivery we’ve been waiting on for five weeks!

via Instagram

This will keep us busy for the next few weeks—but priority #1 was to get the studio situated.

I’ve been using the desks from my old studio, which work fine but things were just a bit cramped…

The large cutting desk has a shallow drawer that pulls out and the chair was right in the way.

Fortunately, I was able to find the exact same table tops (Linnmon) that were 6″ shallower. Not a drastic change, but when you cut your studio size almost in half, every square inch counts.

These desks were narrower but longer, so we had to trim them down to the same length with a table saw.

First we cleared everything out…

Then brought the first new table top in:

We were able to reuse the same legs so it was a pretty straightforward swap.

Here’s what we ended up with, after the second desk went in:

I still need to re-trim the cutting board desk which will happen in the near future.

I’m glad we got this out of the way so now I can focus on the final decorating touches!

We also decided to address this empty wall which is on your left when you walk in:

The shelf ledges from my old studio were the perfect fit. We brought them in and secured them to the wall using walldogs (best invention EVER… took less than a minute per shelf)

And now I have a place to set my ready-to-ship prints:

Ignore all of the disorganization going on in these photos—I’m ditching the blues & greens and going for something a bit cleaner and more monochromatic. There will be a big organization post coming as soon as I get the motivation.

I also finally got around to spray painting that gold light, and hanging the DIY sign I made last year:

I also found a place inside the closet for my brocade wall file (purchased a few years ago from the Container Store):

And there you have it, the current status of the studio. It’s about 83% done right now… here’s what’s left:

-Repaint/relabel/reorganize console table storage
-Hang art
-Build floating shelves for extra storage in the closet
-Buy/hang window shades
-Attach a fabric “wall” to the front of the cutting desk to hide the storage underneath
-Build a large storage bin for underneath the desk to hold shipping supplies

The kitchen will be taking up most of our time over the next couple months, but hopefully I can squeeze in a few of these updates in between our bigger projects.

Speaking of the kitchen… we have a new door handle:

I considered a silver one for a second, but ultimately went with ORB because 1) it matches the cabinet hardware, and 2) I bought identical replacements for the front door and garage door at the same time so I could have them all keyed to fit the same key. I decided to make them all consistent throughout the house, and I’ll be ordering the same style for the interior doors in the future.

I think the oval shape is different and fun.

Also, ou
r very last appliance—the dishwasher—is finally in!

Anyone have any suggestions for a good stainless steel cleaner??

Did you notice I replaced the bulb in the pendant light?

I found this vintage style bulb at Lowe’s for $6. The color is warmer than the recessed lights which I’m still not sure about, but apparently that’s standard for these types of filament bulbs. I think it’s worth it—hopefully our electric bill won’t go up too much!

So now you’re all caught up to the current state of our house. Tonight I plan on ripping into some Ikea boxes to build the pantry. Oh, I can’t wait for this one. Please send some good furniture assembling vibes our way…


Living Room Plank Wall DIY

We took a break from the kitchen this weekend to focus on this wall…

It has been the biggest eyesore in our home and, after a few weeks to rest from planking the studio, we decided to just get it over with.

I won’t go into a lot of detail here since I’ve covered the planking process when we did our kitchen ceiling, kitchen wall, and studio, so here’s a quick rundown…

First, I decided I wanted a light fixture on this wall. The living room currently has zero light sources (we hope to add recessed lighting in the ceiling one day) so for now, we needed something in there ASAP.

There was an outlet in the corner which was controlled by a switch at the top of the stairs, so Brad tapped into that by running a wire up to our new light box location…

Luckily, it didn’t have to look nice because it would all soon be covered.

Then it was time to get down to business!

We started on this edge since the boards all needed to line up even with the wall. We’d make our cuts at the other end where the measurements didn’t have to be exact since they would be hidden behind quarter round trim.

I expected this to be our most challenging planking experience and I was right. This wall was not straight at all because of the cutout in the center. There was a lot of prying and hammering and forcing into place. Several of the boards had to be screwed in to get them to stay up against the wall, but it was nothing a little putty and sanding couldn’t hide.

Once we got to the light, Brad cut out a hole to fit and mounted the box.

We worked on it over the course of a few nights.

For the stairs we made the long cuts with a table saw and short cuts with a jigsaw.

After night #2, all of the wall planks were done. Whew!

But it wasn’t just this wall… it had to wrap around to this little wall on the left:

This is the first thing you see when you enter our home so it’s quite important. But we had a problem—the original door trim wasn’t thick enough:

So out they went…

We decided to reframe it the same way we framed out our windows—with 1×3″ and 1×4″ boards. They are actually 3/4″ thick so they line up flush against the planks.

Blank slate after removing the trim:

This part is always the easiest—took no more than 5 minutes!

Then we chopped the boards to size and mounted them right up against the boards on the other wall. This part went fast too.


Then it was time to build the ledge to finish off the top. We used cheap plain ‘ol 1×2″s and nailed them right into the planks…

I mitered the corner for a nicer finish.

Next up was the L shaped corner piece. You can pick these things up super cheap at Lowe’s/HD, and they are pre-primed and lightweight.

Next up was the baseboard. I used the same style as my studio—I bought enough for the rest of the living room which will be replaced soon.

And finally, the quarter round in the corner went up and the trim was done!

Then came the tedious, time consuming part…

Spackling, caulking, patching, sanding, taping, prepping. This part takes almost as long as it does to plank the dang wall in the first place.

To address the seams where one plank met up with another, I first used some lightweight spackle, let it dry, then we went over it with this beast of a sanding machine:

This is seriously the key to seamless planking. It would never work sanding by hand, because it’s rare that the planks are perfectly level. And if they aren’t perfectly level and smooth, you will definitely see them.

But this thing works wonders…

I wish you could feel how smooth this seam is—actually, reach out and touch it on your screen and that’s what it feels like. You can’t even tell there’s a seam. I love you, belt sander.

After the surfaces were prepped, we taped it off and it was ready to go! We didn’t bother taping the walls because they’re about to be painted over anyway.

Let’s get right to it…

After 3 coats of Kelly Moore’s Swiss Coffee (in satin, same as the kitchen)…

The stair treads are next, don’t worry!

Oh—and as for my light?

I picked up this guy last week:

I wanted this in black, but it was the only one I could find online and the price was right ($48 shipped) so I bought it and spray painted it black.

I’m digging the rustic/industrial look it brings to the space, and it ties in nicely with the cage pendant light we installed last week in the kitchen.

It’s lonely right now but I have a vision for this space… as soon as I can find the right pieces!

We decided not to put the hand rail back on, but we’re definitely planning on reinstalling the railing on the right side of the stairs (we’re redoing it so it isn’t quite as 70’s).

Looks much better when you walk in the door!

And I’ll leave you off with the view looking down from the kitchen…

It’s a little plain and unexciting with it being empty right now, but it’s the perfect backdrop for what I have planned.

And beige walls—your days are numbered. We’re going to have to hire this paint job out because the walls at the highest point are just way too tall (even with an extension ladder), and they’re over a staircase so there’s no way we’d be able to get in there. One step at a time!

More kitchen updates in the near future…


Kitchen Chronicles: The counters are in! (+ pendant light and faucet preview)

This is how our faces look right now…

Yes, we’re happy campers because after weeks of anticipation, our counters are in!

Before I show the results, a quick breakdown:

We purchased them at Lowe’s six weeks ago (they didn’t measure for them until 3 weeks ago, so the production time was really only 3 weeks).

They are both Silestone Quartz. We chose ‘Marengo’ which is a deep gray for the island, and ‘Blanco Maple’ which is a speckled white for the sink area, both 2cm with an eased edge. We needed 51 square feet, and the total including installation came to $3254.

Why quartz instead of granite or any other type? Well, Brad had strong opinions on this. I mentioned butcher block or concrete, both of which I love the look of, but Brad was not a fan of wood and we both agreed concrete might be too much of a hassle. I also really wanted white against the gray cabinets.

There were a couple granite options we liked but the quality ratings and ease of maintenance were a bit better for the quartz, and they weren’t that much more expensive so we went for it.

Here’s the Marengo up close…

It reminds me quite a bit of concrete, but it has the durability of quartz which is great.

Here’s the Blanco Maple:

This one is my favorite. I love all the little flecks.

Back to the island…

With the counters in, we were able to get our new cooktop installed as well!

It still needs to be wired up, but I can’t wait to start cooking on it (let’s just hope it stays clean…)

Now we can also set up our faucet. It’s a Price Pfister “Cagney”, purchased online at Lowe’s.

The plumber should be here to hook everything up in the next couple days. For now I just placed it in to get a visual.

And one more thing we tackled last night—our sink pendant light:

We ran into an issue though—when we installed the electrical box, there was a stud right above the  center of the sink, so we had to either push it back or move it forward. I was concerned about it being too close to the window, so we moved it forward.

But if anyone over 6′ tall wanted to use the sink, they’d bump their head if they leaned forward. Not ideal.

Luckily, the light came with different sized rods, so we just used a shorter one…

Much better!

I plan to replace it with a more suitable bulb… something vintage like this would be amazing:


 I’m loving the industrial touch it adds to the space.

One last photo…

Next up for the kitchen is to get the dishwasher/garbage disposal/faucet and cooktop functional so we can finally cook and clean instead of going to my parents house for every meal (as much as they love having us over 24/7).

We’re going backsplash shopping on Saturday, and our Ikea delivery is scheduled for next week, so that’s when the real fun begins…

But before any of that, we have another plank wall to ins

This one should be our biggest challenge yet. Hopefully I’ll have results to share on Monday. Better get to work!


Kitchen Chronicles: New Hardware & Paint

It’s kitchen update time!

In my last post I showed a photo of our new door pulls and knobs. I had my heart set on the cup style pulls paired with simple round knobs, and found these great inexpensive ones on Ebay. The seller was having a free shipping special so it came to just $38 for 25 pieces… can’t beat that!
They were exactly what I had hoped for in person, and the knobs went right in.
But then we got to the drawers and found an issue… they are double layered so the screws were too short (this one had 3 layers!)
Nothing a quick trip to Lowe’s couldn’t fix. Once we had our 2.5″ long screws, we built a jig out of scrap wood since the pulls had two holes and they had to be positioned exactly the same every time.
After centering it on each drawer, we drilled our holes (using a drill bit larger than the screws so they could just slide on through).
It worked like a charm, and now we can actually open our doors!
I’m especially fond of the black finish against the white cabinets.
While we were on a roll adding touches of black to the kitchen, I figured I’d tackle something I had been wanting to do ever since I laid my eyes on this…
I am obsessed with this photo. I found it while browsing Pinterest and it has become one of my biggest kitchen inspiration photos for this remodel. There was no hesitation—I was painting my door black.
Of course I needed to paint the wall too, and that horrible plastic swamp cooler.
I painted the walls in the same barely there gray as my studio, then moved on to the door. I had to spend a good amount of time prepping—scraping texture overspray, scrubbing, taping, patching, sanding, caulking, before it was ready for paint. 
I picked up a gallon of Valspar’s best exterior paint in Dark Kettle Black (not exactly cheap, but highly recommended). It’s a soft smoky black in semi-gloss.
I was a little nervous after the first coat—it had a slightly different consistency than what I’m used to, and didn’t seem to cover that great (of course it’s black over white though…)
But the second coat changed my mind.
Three coats was all it took. I painted the outside as well.
Here’s the first coat again for fun.
While that was drying, I moved my attention to this eyesore.
I had to address the inside part too…
I debated on whether or not to paint it the same white as the trim, or the wall color. In the end, the white won out.
Plastic isn’t easy to paint (with latex paint and a brush/roller, at least). It took many coats.
And this part was a nightmare. It didn’t go on smoothly so I had to just keep piling the paint on in hopes it would eventually cover the beige.
In hindsight I could have spray painted it, although the whites wouldn’t have matched—so it’s really a toss up.
Finally I decided it was good enough and I’m happy that everything matches now. We still need to shorten the wire before plugging it back in, and replace the baseboards so ignore the unfinished parts.
Here’s the whole wall:
Don’t worry, I’ve already ordered new door hardware to replace the polished brass.

I love the contrast against all the white & grays.
I bought enough paint for the front door, so that’s next!
Also, I have a personal update…
If you follow my instagram, you may have seen this video from Saturday.
This cat has been meowing at our door for the past week now. While I was painting the kitchen door, she came up and started meowing “Hewwo? Hewwo? Hewwoooo?” (seriously, that’s exactly what she says). So I said hello back and gave her some food. She devoured the entire bowl in seconds and I knew she didn’t have a home.
She wasn’t feral—very affectionate and wanted to be inside so I have a feeling she had a home before and was abandoned. Our neighbor said she has been around for a while and didn’t belong to anyone—we think she’s been living underneath our house (our subcontractor said he found evidence of a cat living there a couple months ago). My heart broke for her.
How could we say no to this face?
So, now we have Biscuit. 
Biscuit hates Susie.
It has been a kitty stand-off in here all weekend. Susie is more curious than anything, but Biscuit is used to defending herself in the wild so it makes sense that she has an aversion to other animals.
Biscuit is still going to be an outdoor cat—we’ll let her in when she meows but I feel so sad for Susie. First we uproot her and put her in this strange house and then we add this other animal to the mix, who eats her food and makes her uncomfortable in her own home. I’m trying to give her extra love and attention so she doesn’t feel betrayed. 
We did make some major progress though…
They’re on the same bed! Brad brought Biscuit in and pet her while I pet/calmed Susie—and even though there was a stare down contest and lots of growling, neither one jumped off the bed when we left the room. 
They still have lots of issues to work through, but I hope they can become BFF’s one day. Any advice on how to make cats not want to kill each other?
Back to house stuff—I think this week we’ll try to tackle this living room wall…
Planking round 4, here we come!


An Up to Date House Tour

Stopping in to wish you a happy day of love! I’ve been devouring these all morning…

I just realized the other day that we’ve owned this house for 10 weeks now and I still hadn’t made a House Tour! Bad blogger.

But I fixed that this morning—take a look at my updated House Tour page, now with “Before” and “In Progress” shots of our current home (some never before seen):


It feels like things have been moving slowly lately, but when all the photos are lined up, it’s really exciting to see everything coming together. We’ve barely scratched the surface though, and I anticipate this journey will take years (it took almost 3 for our last house, which was 1000 sq. ft. smaller and there weren’t any major renos like we have planned for this one).

I’ve got an afternoon of fun in the kitchen lined up… first, this back wall and door are getting a paint makeover:

And check out what came in the mail yesterday…

Can’t wait to get these babies installed so I can finally open the doors properly!

All that to come in the next post.

Before I go, one last update. As some of you know, I’ve been working on a sequel to my Jenna Sue font for a very long time now. After a final push of motivation to get this thing done over the last few months, I’m thrilled to announce that it’s done! D-O-N-E! It feels so good to write that.

Here’s a little preview…

This free digital print will be included with the font download!

I’ll be sure to announce the official release, coming very soon. I’m so happy with the way it turned out and can’t wait to share it with you all. Get excited.

Time to get back to work. Check in for a kitchen update this weekend…


We moved!

It’s our fourth night here and I’m still pinching myself—this is our home now.

We spent Friday afternoon packing and moving most of the boxes, and had a friend come up Saturday morning to help with the heavy stuff.

It was cold and pouring rain the entire time, but we worked fast and got it all done in a matter of hours.

We waited until everything was out of the house before bringing Susie over. She walked around in circles for a solid minute before retreating to the closet where she hid for hours:
My poor baby. She’s doing much better now that she realizes we’re here to stay.
Dad & Brad having a celebratory drink after it was all over with:
While I got straight to my favorite part—organizing the kitchen…

Did you notice something new?

Our farmhouse sink is in! The faucet is shown in the box above it.

And check out our new countertops! We decided to skip the quartz and go for a more economical, rustic/unfinished look:

Just kidding. It’s the plywood underlayment. Our counters should be installed within a week.

But we did get the oven in!

We still need to build a shelf for the microwave to fill that gap.

We put our old dining table in here for now, but sadly once the new one is built, we’ll have no place for this and have to get rid of it.

This was one of my first furniture refinishes so I’m sad to see it go.

All of our dry/canned goods are sitting where the future pantry will be (counting down the days until the Ikea delivery!)

Now let’s look at the studio… the printer was wheeled in first, and then we started setting up the desks:

It looks pretty rough right now, I know. This is all temporary.

Well, the layout will be the same, but the two smaller desks will be replaced with narrower ones so I have a little more breathing room. It’s a little bit cramped right now.

But at least all my supplies fit nicely in the closet. Still working on the layout, it’s purely functional right now.

Hopefully within the next couple months I’ll have everything in place.

up we have the living room…

We basically just threw our furniture in there.

The lamp, ladder, chest and bench will all be gone soon, we just haven’t had a chance to relocate those yet.

I wanted to put the TV by the fireplace but realized that the  cable box is by the windows (there’s not even a place for a TV there… not sure why they did that), so the furniture is in this configuration.

But I do like the couch facing the window instead of the fireplace, so I’m not sure what we’ll end up doing. Thoughts?

Let’s head downstairs…

There’s a small room just on the left, which I originally thought would be used for storage, but it ended up being the perfect space for Brad’s office. The back area will be used for storage so it’s a dual purpose space.

Clearly it still needs tons of work.

The main downstairs room has our Ikea daybed parts spread out everywhere. We need to download the instructions and reassemble them (I’ve been putting it off).

Back upstairs, we’re currently using the guest room for unpacked boxes until we have time to sort through them.

And finally, the master bedroom…

It’s a big barren box with too much white at the moment.

That will all change in time.

I’m keeping an eye out for a nice antique wood dresser to replace this one from Ikea:

There is one good thing about the room—this closet.

Brad’s using the guest room for his clothes so it’s mine, alllll mine!

Just for fun, here’s our sad little bathroom:

It’s about the same size as the closet and in desperate need of a complete gut job and remodel. This will probably be on the agenda next year.

My favorite part so far? Spending my day in front of this window…

There was a storm passing through yesterday and it was just breathtaking. Reminded me of our trip to Costa Rica…

And the sunrises… oh man. Worth getting up at dawn every day just for this.

Alright, that’s enough for now. But before I go, a quick business announcement: I’m excited to announce that I’ve teamed up with TouchOfModern to offer posters of my top cities at 20% off!

It’s a 5-day flash sale ending this Sunday and limited quantities are available, so act fast! Here’s your personal invite.

And with that, I’m off to Pinterest-land (my nightly ritual) to daydream about future projects. Another kitchen update coming in the next post…