Entries in DIY (39)


DIY Kitchen Remodel Part 4: Installing Open Shelving

Before we move on to open shelving in the kitchen, here is a quick look back at the beginning:

DIY Kitchen Remodel Part 1: Before

DIY Kitchen Remodel Part 2: Demolition

DIY Kitchen Remodel Part 3: Tiles, Tiles, Everywhere


At the end of my last Kitchen post, I alluded to an updated stainless steel cook top that cost us $22.  Looking back, I realized we did that AFTER we tackled the problem of where we were going to store our dishes and things considering that we ripped out all of the upper cabinets.  Now that we had sparkly blue & gray tiles from the countertop to the ceiling on one wall & over a foot on the other AND a new modern hood installed, it was time to focus on storage.

I've long been a fan of open shelving in kitchens & decided that was the way to go to achieve the light and airy look I had been wanting.  It still pains me to think about how much research we did trying to find the right shelves, only to end up with great stainless shelving from IKEA.  I thought about ordering industrial kitchen shelving, but on some I didn't really like the brackets & how they attached to the wall.  Or it wasn't the right size.  Or they were really expensive.  We decided to buy & hack down the long IKEA Mossby shelves and throw in a couple of Grundtal shelves as well.


The Mossby shelves are really just a hollow-ish particle board wrapped in stainless steel.  Oh yeah, and the stainless is only on one side, which we didn't realize at first.  So while it wasn't easy to cut these down to size, it could have been a lot harder.

We found the stud closest to the center of the wall & used that as our measuring point.  Luckily we had 44" on one side and 42" on the other so they look like they're the same length.  We then measured how high we wanted each shelf to go and marked it off with blue tape.  KEEP IN MIND that we are both tall.  And I didn't realize that we hung these really high until a shorter friend of mine couldn't reach the shelf with all of our glasses!  Oops.  So, think about that before screwing these things into the wall.

We hung the Grundtal shelves on the bottom so that we could hang pots & pans - yay for more storage!  Remember to keep the pots clean, which is really quite simple to do.  

As you can see in the picture below, we originally kept the upper cabinets on the right, figuring we could use it for ugly/messy storage, cookbooks, etc.  Once we realized how much we loved the open shelving above the sink, we tore those down as well & installed more open shelving, this time in the smaller size.  Yay for no hacking!

The final step was installing a rail above the sink.  I wanted to be able to hang vases and other storage things to hold sponges, etc.  While it looks nice, I have to say that I don't really use this now.

Next up?  That $22 stainless steel cook top!  

p.s. aren't those countertops positively hideous?! That was another $50ish change that made the biggest difference!



DIY Kitchen Remodel Part 3: Tiles, Tiles Everywhere!

After tearing down the upper cabinets in our kitchen, the space immediately felt so much lighter.  I never thought of our cabinets as being heavy - they were white, not a dark color.  However, those huge beasts took up so much visual space & I am so glad we made the decision to toss them (well, we ended up repurposing them as storage outside of our back door/in the stairwell for tools, painting supplies, spare screws and other things like that).

I wanted the old microwave wall, which is in the bay window area, to be a main visual focus with something dramatic.  This is also where our cook top is, so we would need some kind of hood.  I don't like microwaves on display, so we made the decision to purchase a modern hood.  We knew this would likely be the biggest expense of the project, but we ended up finding a great fan/hood on major sale at IKEA for around $500.

It is modern with clean lines and no fuss, which is perfect for our kitchen.  Sadly, IKEA no longer sells this model.  Too bad - I like it a lot better than the all stainless steel models.

I love mosaic tile & decided that counter-to-ceiling tile would give the dramatic impact that I was looking to create.  Mosaic tile can be one of the most inexpensive (or very expensive!) materials that you can use to transform your kitchen.  I ordered many MANY samples and decided on a slate blue blend from Hakatai.

It's part of their Classic Series which = cheap.  Yay for our budget!  We paid $1.87/sq. ft. and needed 44 square feet of tile for a total of $82.  See? Cheap.

We had never hung tile before, but didn't think it could be that hard.  Yes, they're tiny tiles, but the are mounted on mesh backed sheets that are approximately 1 sq. ft.  Working in 4 sq. ft. sections, we just trowelled thinset mortar on the wall & then hung (stuck) the sheets to the wall & pressed.  The sheets of tile are heavy, so make sure to hold the upper sheets in place for a bit so that they don't slide down.  You can also buy tile spacers that can do this for you - just make sure they are the same size as the spaces between the tiles on the sheet!  

After letting it set overnight, use a grout float to apply grout all over the wall & backsplash.  We chose a light tray grout so that the focus would be on the tile, not on bright white grout.  

It is a pretty messy job, so make sure you cover your countertops to protect them.  We hated this fug countertop so we didn't worry about covering it up (more on our new DIY'd countertops later!).

After letting the grout set for about 30 minutes, take a large, slightly damp sponge and start wiping off the excess grout.  This is actually a really rewarding process because you can finally start to see the tiles emerge!

Notice the haze?  After wiping with a damp sponge, take a clean, dry cloth and start buffing all over.  This needs to be done pretty quickly because once the haze dries it is really hard to get it off.  Buff, buff, buff!

After that arm workout, you're left with pretty, sparkly tiles.  

Installing the hood was a bit of a challenge because we were dealing with figuring out how high the hang it, hardwiring the electric, making sure it was level and not scratching it.  

We also added a rail to hang pots, gadgets & spices.

This process took us a few days.  We were only working at night & on weekends, so it really didn't take that long to get the job done.  

Up next: See the hole where our black cook top used to be?  Find out how we scored a stainless steel cook top for a grand total of $22!


DIY Kitchen Remodel, Part 2: Demolition!

I've FINALLY finished organizing all of our DIY Kitchen Renovation pictures & decided to remind everyone what we were dealing with when we first started on this process...



We started with Part 1 of this series, the before shots of our DIY kitchen remodel.  So our obvious next (& first) step?  Demolition!

It was fun and not-so-fun at the same time.  Fun, because it's cool to hit things and tear things apart.  Not-so-fun because it is a lot of tiring work!

We (okay, my husband) hacked tile from the wall...

...only to realize that since we damaged the drywall so bad, we needed to cut it out and replace it.  Would have been nice to figure that out at the beginning - it would have saved us hours of banging away (& I am sure our neighbors would have appreciated it as well!) at these finicky, fragile terra cotta tiles.  They just splintered everywhere.  Definitely not as easy as you see on TV!

Oh yeah - along with this, down came the microwave/range hood, too.  Good riddance, black box!

I mentioned it before, but our budget for this project was $1,500.  You can assume from that number that we weren't installing custom cabinetry and granite counter tops, but we did make a HUGE change by removing the upper cabinets!  They were unattractive cabinets, bulky & heavy looking, despite being white.  I always felt like they were going to fall on top of me!  Taking these down immediately opened up the space!  Having a decently large kitchen, I didn't expect to notice such a difference from this.

To refresh your memory, here is the before shot of this same area:

Soon, we were left with a pretty pathetic looking space.  It was time for the next step!  Prep the walls, paint them, and install hundreds (thousands?) of 3/4" tile?  Hmm...perhaps!


Picture Wall Gone Wrong, Gone Right

I love picture walls.  Well, for the most part.  They seem to be everywhere these days & I can definitely identify which style I like & don't like for me.  For example, walls where there are all different types of frames scattered all around look great when I see them online.  The reality is, I am much more of a symmetrical, clean lines, structured girl. 

So this picture wall that I did 4 years ago?  It's got to GO. 

Lately I've been thinking that it is just too random & too much of a mess.  I love the pictures, but not the layout.  Plus, it's time to update with new pictures (ahem, notasingleweddingpicturehangsonourwall) and art.

We have pictures from early trips to Jamaica, the kiddos (so little!) boating, our friends wedding in Italy (which was held in a castle a la Tom & Katie...but before Tom & Katie did it) and other pictures from when we were first dating.

As much as I love them, it was time for something new.  Enter Ribba frames from IKEA and These Are Things art, my jumping off point for the new display.  I love their take on the city map (other cities include Columbus, Manhattan, Brooklyn, San Francisco, LA & DC) &  helped them with the Chicago version - they sent me a map as a thank-you.  I also purchased one of their world maps for my mom for Christmas, which I'll blog about later. 

If you know IKEA frames, you know they aren't sized for standard US photo/art prints.  I decided to buy a large Ribba frame and cut/modify the mat, which I don't recommend unless you've spent the last 3 years of your life cutting boards (hello, design school!).  But if you do, here is what you'll need.  Make sure you use a brand new blade, or be prepared for disaster.

Anyway, I surprised myself when the mat turned out perfectly!  Sure, I didn't have the beveled edges and mitered corners, but it really doesn't make that big of a difference.

Since I wanted to cut down on the clutter of the previous layout, I decided to hang 2 more pictures and call it a day.  This ring shot from our wedding is one of my all-time favorite pictures, and I finally hung a wedding picture as well!

Our photographers were Ashley & Philip Colhouer of 13:13 Photography, in case you're interested.  I highly recommend them.  Highly.

All together now!

And there you have it!




I was shocked at how it completely transformed this part of our dining room. It was such an easy update, which is always key with me :)


Time to Make a Clock!

I may need to rearrange some artwork and find space for this DIY wall clock.


I saw it while browsing e.louise's website and knew that I had to blog about it.  You can buy the kit, including frames, from the British store, but I think this would be a fun and easy DIY. 

Round up inexpensive frames from IKEA or a craft store, paint them all one color or various colors, as pictured above.  Then all you need are wall clock hands - most come with dots and a template that you can use to help arrange the frames - and you're set!

If I do this, I would frame modern, graphic patterned paper and trace/draw the number on top.  You can also buy numbers from any craft store - look for a fun font! 

I think this is such a creative idea - is there anyone out there who has tried this?  If so, please share your results!  I would love to see them.  If I end up doing this, I will of course share the process with you! 

Click here to buy clock hands

Great sources for pretty paper: Paper Mojo, Paper Source, Blick 

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