Kitchen Progress: Butcher Block Shelf

Shortly after we moved in, I bought a used IKEA cart from a friend and that’s been our toaster and coffee station ever since.

Kitchen Cart Before 2.jpg

It did the job well and looked okay, but it was too narrow to balance out the width of the cabinet above it. I knew I’d want to replace it with something in a walnut finish after we had the cabinets painted white (more on that in a future post, and you can check out my saved Instagram Story.)

When I first started thinking about a replacement, I was focused on finding another multiple-shelf cart because that’s what we’ve had for so long. I do this sometimes: get focused on one option – thinking it’s THE solution – at the expense of considering other routes. Once I realized A) we have plenty of storage elsewhere and B) the trash and recycling would fit well here, everything clicked.

Before purchasing anything, I installed a test shelf using supplies I had on hand to make sure Jarrod and I liked this setup.

Trial Balloon Shelf.JPG

This trial balloon immediately made the kitchen flow so much better. Having the trashcans here makes the basement door much less crowded – it was fine for the most part before, but awkward/cramped when carrying things (e.g. laundry) downstairs.

Crowded Basement Door.JPG

By moving them, the door is more easily accessible and the trashcans are aligned with our work areas. It’s a straight, natural path to throw things away, as opposed to turning right around the counter.

I ordered these heavy-duty cast-iron brackets from House of Antique Hardware. I bought this butcher block countertop from Menard’s, which I cut to fit. While I love the look of the IKEA KARLBY countertop I used for our two-person desk, that surface is a thin veneer over particleboard. Jarrod has a major coffee catastrophe at least once a quarter (e.g. turning on the coffee maker without the carafe in place to receive the brewed coffee), so we need a solid wood surface that can take abuse and be refinished down the road.

Kitchen Butcher Block Shelf.jpg

I did sample swatches of two Varathane stain colors: American Walnut and Dark Walnut. American Walnut looked a little too country.

Varathane Stain - American Walnut.JPG

Dark Walnut looked a little too flat brown.

Varathane Stain - Dark Walnut.JPG

So, I ended up doing a 50/50 blend. I used Minwax’s Pre-Stain wood conditioner before applying the stain. This was my first time using Varathane stain and I really liked it – it’s less runny than Minwax stain and the pigmentation seemed richer.

Butcher Block Shelf Stain.JPG

I sealed the wood using four coats of Waterlox, following the steps Yellow Brick Home describes. Afterward, I drilled a hole for the appliance cords. (I knew that if I drilled the hole first, it would lead to a lot of messy drips.) I applied stain to the inside of the hole using a paper towel. In the end, you don’t even see it.

Cord Hole Drill.JPG

The dustbuster moved to the adjacent mudroom, the cat food station is now tucked next to the sink, and the cookware is in cabinets or the under-oven drawer (our previous range didn’t offer storage because the burner was in the bottom drawer).

Here’s what it looks like now:

Kitchen Butcher Block Shelf over Trashcans.jpg

I used this J-channel raceway to route the cords. It’s a little larger than other options, but I like that the design offers easy access to the cords – e.g. for removing the appliances when Jarrod has his quarterly coffee catastrophe. I painted it the same color as our walls (Irish Mist).

Kitchen Ledge with Small Appliances.jpg

The shelf height allows the can lids to open nearly entirely – at least 90%, which is totally sufficient for throwing stuff away. (The shelf is 36″ high, same as our counters – it just looks higher because of the camera perspective.) Ergonomically, the most important part of this placement is keeping the trashcans pulled toward the front of the shelf. If they’re pushed to the back, it’s less comfortable to use. Below, you can see how they align with the adjacent wall.

Kitchen Trashcans.jpg

There’s a secret trick: I installed a simple 5-inch deep ledge behind the trashcans to keep them in place and perfectly aligned. It also hides the cords and keeps them off of the ground.

Kitchen Appliance Cord Concealment.jpg

The ledge is hidden unless you’re crouched looking at it from this back angle, which is not where folks usually hang out.

Ledge Behind Trashcans.jpg

Shelf Over Kitchen Trashcans.jpg

The accent lamp adds some warmth to the space, especially in the evenings. The art is a vintage paint-by-numbers I found at an antique store in Normal, Illinois on our way to my nephew’s Bar Mitzvah. I’m still deciding on the frame – I think I like that it’s a little offbeat/ugly.

Kitchen Shelf Styling.jpg

The basket holds our reusable napkins, which I love. They’re smaller than the average cloth napkin, absorbent, and perfect for daily use. I bought our first batch in 2013; in 2017, I replaced them with a new batch and the old batch is now used as rags. Five stars, highly recommend!

Butcher Block Kitchen Shelf.jpg

I’m still wrapping up the final details on the rest of this makeover. I’ll be back with a couple more kitchen posts once I do!

Kitchen Progress: Faucet, Hardware, and Window Trim

I dove into my kitchen makeover this past month and knocked out three things that already have me liking the space a lot more: a new faucet, cabinet hardware, and window moulding.

Faucet

Our previous faucet had a leak that was getting progressively worse: the water would only shut off when the handle was turned to a precise 9 o’clock position. Also, the faucet head was low which – when combined with our rather shallow sink – meant dishwashing space was kinda cramped.

Black Faucet Before

To replace it, I bought this Delta Trinsic faucet in stainless steel. It’s really nice and was easy to install. The feature that sold me on this one is the MagnaTite pull-down head: it has magnets, so it connects really securely to the faucet neck and, because magnets are magic, that connection won’t weaken over time.

arctic-stainless-delta-pull-down-faucets-9159-ar-dst-64_1000

You’ll have to stick around until the end of this post for faucet After photos…

Hardware

As I mentioned in my Kitchen Decision Making post, I ordered Amerock’s Blackrock knobs and pulls. Five of the drawers already had pulls, so I was able to simply swap out those.

Kitchen Drawer Pull Replacement

The other nine drawers had these tiny pull tabs – you could only grab them with your pincer fingers. (Thanks to this guy’s blog post for addressing the pincher/pincer word choice issue for me.)

Drawer Tab Pulls

The pulls weren’t practical, especially on the giant drawers laden with heavy cookware. Thanks to Jarrod for hand modeling the pincer issue for me.

Pincer Fingers.GIF

I bought a hardware installation template set and neither worked for my needs. The pull template wasn’t wide enough and the knob template didn’t have a hole option that aligned with where I wanted to place the knobs. D’oh. So, I improvised.

To install the pulls, I removed the front from one of the drawers that originally had a pull and used that as a template for the other drawers. I aligned the tops, made sure it was centered, clamped them together, and drilled.

Drawer Pull Template

I kept it simple and used the same size pulls on all of the drawers. It’s narrow enough to not look ridiculous on the smaller drawers, and wide enough to not get lost on the bigger drawers. EZPZ.

For the knobs, I made a simple template using scrap wood.

Cabinet Knob Template

Window Trim

In addition to my miter saw and drill, I used three new tools for the first time on my window trim project, so I thought I’d round them up quickly here.

Table saw: I finally bought my first table saw this year. It’s the final frontier of saws for me. Despite regularly using several other power saws, a table saw has always seemed daunting. I purchased this Dewalt 745S – Home Depot offers this “Special Buy” that packages the DW745 with a stand, which is indeed a good deal. It sat unopened in our basement for weeks until I discovered Steve Ramsey on YouTube. I don’t usually like how-to videos (I prefer to read instructions) but this 7 Things To Get You Started Using a Table Saw video is great: it gave me the confidence I needed to safely use my new saw.

Kreg Jig: Confession: I’ve had a Kreg Jig kit since 2013 and have never used it until now. Again, I watched a Steve Ramsay video – Beginner’s Guide to Pocket Hole Joinery – and then used it to join the wood for my window stool.

Joined Window Stool

Brad nailer: Whenever I see bloggers installing trim, they’re usually using a pancake compressor and gun (like trim pros Yellow Brick Home), so I assumed I’d have to invest in that as well. But I discovered this Ryobi AirStrike, which uses the same battery system as my drill (which I love) and my string trimmer (which I hate). This brad nailer worked great on my window trim and it’s made me more excited (read: less full-of-dread) about replacing the rest of the first floor moulding.

Now that we’ve addressed the tools, here’s the order in which I tackled the window trim.

1. I did a dry-fit of all the component parts, cutting everything to size with my table saw and miter saw. One tool I don’t have is a router, but I wanted a rounded edge for my window sill. This Alexandria Moulding Stool—available by the foot in-store—did the trick. It’s not deep enough for my window well (our bungalow’s exterior walls are built with two layers of bricks!), so I attached another piece of wood cut to the appropriate depth as shown above.

This picture of me dry-fitting everything cracks me up because a) Where is my head? and b) Those shoes are hideous. Fleet Feet (a local shoe store) gives you sass if you express concern about aesthetics of athletic shoes instead of fit, which is how I ended up with these froggers.

Headless Horseman

2. Once I confirmed everything fit properly, it all went back to the basement for a first coat of paint.

Window Trim Painting

2. Then it was time to install for real. The window stool went in first; it’s nailed and glued in place.

Window Stool Installation

2. The side trim pieces (AKA casing) went up next. It’s simple moulding from Home Depot.

Window Trim Side Casing

3. For the header (AKA architrave), I used this Interior Primed MDF Window and Door Casing (Model #538A-MDF8) from Lowe’s. It’s all one piece, making it easier to install – I just needed to cut the return pieces. (See this post from Ana White for more details.)

Window Trim Header

4. I used a piece of cove moulding as a simple apron below the stool. I wanted something under the sill to make the window look more finished, but it couldn’t be very wide because it would further accentuate the slight slant of the counter backsplash. My trim is perfectly level and square, but everything around it isn’t!

Window Trim Cove Moulding

I cut the cove moulding at an outward angle to make the ends look more polished.

Kitchen Window Apron

5.  The window well is more rhombus than square, so I used backer rod and caulk to fill in the unavoidable gaps on the sides of the stool.

Window Sill Backer Rod

Note: ideally the stool would be flush with the bottom of the window, but that wasn’t an option here. You only notice that it’s raised when you’re looking at it from this angle, and why are you looking at it from this angle?

Window Sill Installation

Here’s everything all caulked, patched, and painted, along with the new faucet and hardware:

Kitchen Window Trim After

Just like with my remodeled bathroom window trim, now this window looks like a feature of the room – not an afterthought.

Kitchen Window Before

Kitchen Window Trim

So glad to get rid of those stainless bar pulls. And I don’t have to worry about patching the holes they left behind because the cabinet painter will do it: yessss.

Up next: floor refinishing, then appliance delivery, then cabinet paint. (And art, and lighting, and more!)

2018 House Goals

No preamble; let’s do this! Here are 3 big things I want to get done in 2018.

1. Fix Up the Staircase

You’ve seen this central staircase in previous posts (e.g. our half bathroom). What you haven’t seen in great detail is what poor shape it’s in! The balusters have 100 years of paint glommed onto them. The risers are beat up and the treads are poorly stained. The cove moulding is half stained / half painted – maybe there used to be a runner rug?

StairsBefore.jpg

If you follow me on Instagram, you already know that I’ve started working on this project. (I have process shots pinned to my Instagram Stories, if you’re interested.) This staircase will be a very slow slog, but what else am I going to do with my free time? Relax? Pshaw.

Cat on Stairs.jpg

That’s Doozy doing his Lucille Bluth wink.

2. Install New Moulding

Friends: I struggle with the spelling of “moulding” vs. “molding.” I prefer the former. The latter looks like a verb, but it seems like it’s more commonly used online.

Anyway, I am sticking with moulding-with-a-u, and this is the year it will happen. I want to replace the existing trim on our front door, back door, passageways, etc. I bought a brad nailer (this Ryobi AirStrike) and am figuring out my plan of attack. This photo is from today, when I was experimenting with options. (That architrave would be cut shorter, obviously.)

Moulding Mock Up.jpg

This style and scale looks much better and more appropriate for the house than the moulding you see behind it, on the doorway leading to the kitchen, which leads me to my final to-do…

3. Makeover the Kitchen

I had initially thought I would fully renovate this kitchen, which is what I mentioned in this kitchen progress blog post. Having lived with the kitchen for over two years, however, I’ve come to realize it’s not a priority for me.

Current Kitchen.jpg

Knowing me and my particular tastes, a full remodel would easily cost over $25,000 (and that’s being conservative). This kitchen isn’t a $25k+ problem I want or need to solve. The layout works well for us, the cabinets are fine, and I love the huge island. So, I plan to do a make-it-work makeover: professionally painted cabinets, new hardware, new appliances, better decoration, etc.

So, those are the big 3! There will surely be other projects along the way – including some leftovers from my 2017 list [shame] – I’ll do my best to keep the blog posts coming!

P.S. Shoutout to Megan from Roots Pizza – thank you for introducing yourself and for reading!

Customizing an IKEA SILVERAN Bathroom Vanity

This post details how I customized an IKEA SILVERÅN vanity for our newly-remodeled half-bathroom. Because this powder room is in a visible spot on our first floor, I wanted a vanity that looked like a piece of furniture we’d have elsewhere in the house.

Powder Room.jpg

As I mentioned in my Bathroom Decision Making post, I was unable to find an off-the-shelf vanity that fit both my taste and the small space. I got quotes from a variety of places for a simple custom vanity, all of which came in around $1k (for the cabinet only – sink not included). I didn’t want to spend that kind of money on such a small piece and decided to take my chances on an IKEA hack.

SILVERAN Cabinet

There are two IKEA SILVERÅN cabinet finishes: white and light brown. The white one is made up of particleboard and plastic. It’s $20 less expensive, but it feels and looks even cheaper. The light brown one is solid pine. I chose this one because it felt sturdier and would be easier to customize. I bought it when IKEA had a 20% off sale on bathroom products, which made it $88. Cheap! And, I reused the existing sink. Free!

To start, I cut the vanity’s depth down to size to fit our 14″ sink. The 9″ SILVERAN was too shallow, so I bought the 15″ version and cut a couple of inches off the side panels. I won’t go into detail on this because I can’t imagine anyone would find it interesting.

Painting the vanity was straightforward: I sanded the wood to rough up the lacquer, then primed and painted. I used Benjamin Moore’s Mopboard Black; it’s part of their Williamsburg Collection, which also includes the Gunsmith Gray color I used on our house’s exterior. I like curated color collections like this – helps me from getting overwhelmed by options.

Primer on IKEA Vanity.JPG

I wanted legs that tapered on two sides, and Google led me to Osborne Wood Products. I ordered the 5″ tapered feet. I chose the red oak option because it’s a hard wood and I figured it would stand up better to dings than some of the cheaper options would. (Did you know there’s a scale called the Janka hardness test?) Osborne offers a lot of nice furniture feet options – way more than you’ll find at a local hardware store.
Tapered Foot.jpg

The feet were a little chunkier than my mental ideal, so I shaved an inch off both flat sides with my miter saw. Craziness like this is why Jarrod calls me “Particular Palermo.” I assembled the painted frame per the IKEA instructions, and then used both glue and screws to secure the feet to the vanity.

I started by drilling pilot holes into the bottom of the vanity, safely on either side of the cam bolt (but not so wide that there was a risk of the screws coming through the taped side of the leg). Anyone who has assembled IKEA furniture knows this bolt + metal dowel combo is what makes the furniture sturdy, so I didn’t want to mess with that.

Drilled Holes.JPG

On the other side of the vanity base, I used a countersink bit in the pilot hole so the screws would be flush with the wood.

Drill Sink Bit.JPG

I used Liquid Nails construction glue and clamps to hold the legs in place.

Attaching Legs to an IKEA Vanity.JPG

After the glue dried, I drilled in my screws and then painted the legs.

Attaching Legs to an IKEA Vanity 2.JPG

I installed adjustable feet in the legs using these threaded furniture glides.

Vanity Leg Feet.JPG

The vanity is fully wall-mounted, so the legs are mostly just for show, but they do offer secondary support. I can easily twist the adjustable feet to raise/lower them, which lets me slide the rug under!

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The screws are barely noticeable when the doors are open. The vanity came with a shelf which I didn’t use because the plumbing didn’t leave enough room for it. This isn’t a problem, however, because there’s plenty of space for the few things I want to keep in there.

IKEA SILVERAN vanity open.jpg

I added Tolson cabinet knobs from Rejuvenation.

IKEA SILVERAN vanity.jpg

I didn’t have to wrestle with IKEA plumbing because I used the existing sink and a new MOEN faucet. If you need tips for installing IKEA plumbing, see my previous post: How I Installed an IKEA Bathroom Vanity.

IKEA SILVERAN bathroom vanity.jpg

Bathroom Sink.jpg

And that’s it! A pretty easy hack for a very pretty vanity.

IKEA SILVERAN vanity hack.jpg

Previous posts

Half-Bathroom Renovation: Day 4 and Beyond

I’m back with the second half of my half-bathroom renovation chronicles. You can check out previous posts here: Half-Bathroom Renovation is Underway! and Half-Bathroom Renovation: Days 1 through 3.

Day 4

On Day 4, I woke up very early so that I could put another (better) coat of paint on the walls and ceiling before the crew returned. I knew wallpaper would cover most of the flaws, but I didn’t want that to be an excuse for shoddy finishing work.

Bathroom Painting.JPG

When the guys arrived, they tackled all of the finishing details: beadboard, trim, etc. The weather was beautiful that week, which was great for an outdoor construction zone.

Outdoor Construction Zone.JPG

New trim and architrave above the door:Architrave.JPG

I had this photo printed out to show the guys how I wanted the window trim done, which was helpful for explaining details: mitered corners, slightly extended sill, etc.

Window Trim Photo.JPG

They went rogue on one detail – cutting angled corners for the bottom piece of trim – but I decided to be fine with that.

Window Sill.JPG

Day 4 was the last day the crew was scheduled to be at our house. They had another job booked for Friday and, with Patrick gone, were very pressed for time. They started rushing things.

Bathroom Beadboard.JPG

I won’t go into all of the small errors because that’s really boring, but here’s one example: the door was hung without chiseling out one of the door hinge slots. They simply screwed the hinge on top of the door. (I had them hang the door prior to my painting it.)

Door Hinge.JPG

The biggest problem was that the beadboard was installed crooked. The height varied by over 2 inches and the trim along the top visibly sloped.

So, at the end of the final day we were left with crooked beadboard, uncaulked trim, a door with no knob, and a handful of miscellaneous issues.

Bathroom Progress.JPG

The Following Week

I asked Patrick to come out the following week to discuss the job. To his credit, he looked at the beadboard and immediately said “This is unacceptable.” They removed and reset the trim along the top so that it’s more level (it’s still not perfect, but it’s within a margin of error that’s acceptable to me). They also re-mudded some areas to fix a few drywall issues…

Drywall Mud Fail.JPG

Not great, right?!

Drywall Mud Fail 2.JPG

At this point I figured it was best to cut my losses. We parted ways amicably and I finished the work myself – sanding the walls smooth, caulking the trim, etc. Everything’s fine now. All totaled, I think the guys did a B- job. It wasn’t a terrible contractor experience; it certainly wasn’t great, but they were very reasonably priced, so I feel like I got my money’s worth. Let’s call it a learning experience and move on!

Painting and Door Details

Painting the trim and beadboard in this tiny powder room was a real chore. It was cramped and involved a lot of toilet straddling.

Cramped Space Painting.JPG

DIY Throne.JPG

In the weeks prior to the renovation, I had purchased a wonderfully solid, vintage five-panel door for $20. It was covered in a hundred years worth of paint, which obscured the wood details. I stripped it to, yes, paint it again. Don’t you judge me! (You can judge me.)

Door Stripping.png

It was slow-going but satisfying work.

Door Progress.JPG

I removed the old mortise lock and cut a piece of wood to fill the pocket. I used some chopsticks to make it extra-tight and then filled everything in with Bondo putty.

Door Progress 2.JPG

I painted the door following this helpful Family Handyman guide.

Five Panel Door Painting.JPG

Their screw tip was really helpful: it let me paint both sides of the door without waiting for the first side to dry.

Door Painting.JPG

Wallpaper

Finally: wallpaper! I hired Midwest Paperhangers to do the job, and they were great.

Wallpaper Table.JPG

The multiple angles of this room required careful planning. This father-and-son team measured precisely and planned where seams would meet, doing calculations that would have broken my brain.

Planned Wallpaper Seam.JPG

Connel Sr. and Connel Jr. knocked out this awkward, angled room in only two and a half hours. It was amazing.

Bathroom Wallpaper Crew.JPG

Wallpaper Installation.JPG

And that’s where I’ll leave you for now! I’ll be back on Tuesday morning with photos of the finished bathroom.

Toilet Straddle.JPG