Monthly Archives: June 2016

Halfway Through the Year: Where We Stand

This past weekend, we seemed to work on everything but the kitchen cabinets which was a nice break, but now for the holiday weekend coming up we really have to get down to business with the rest of that painting. We made a lot of progress with the front porch bench I wrote about a while back, and I finished sealing our back deck, and I successfully made a home made ice cream cake for our birthday party:


But since I don’t have much to show for this weekend, I wanted to revisit an old post. Back in January I boldly made a list of things to do and a proposed timeline for them. We’ve made great progress in some areas…and there are other projects we’ve definitely put off! I’ll give an update on where we are with each project, with pictures, to help us get back on track. This will be a long post of updates…but pictures are more fun than just a list!


  1. Finish stairway column and trim (fill, sand, caulk, paint). Most of this is done…except the painting!

IMG_07092. Finish floor quarter-round trim (sand, caulk, paint). Done


3. Install floor transition pieces. Haven’t done this yet

4. Install and finish dining room chair rail (fill, sand, caulk, paint). Done

5. Finish painting china cabinet. Done


6. Purchase kitchen appliances? Done


  1. Install stair banister. Avoiding the stairway seems to be a theme…this has not happened either!
  2. Rip out downstairs bathroom vanity, install tile floor, paint walls. Done!


3. Build our vegetable garden! Done, times 2!


  1. Install downstairs bathroom vanity and mirror. Done!


2. Purchase unfinished kitchen cabinets for far wall of kitchen. Just did this 2 days ago! Better late than never…we’ve also decided to put in some open shelving, which we’ll have to figure out and buy.

3. Purchase cabinet trim for top of cabinets. Haven’t done this, but we discussed what to buy last time we were at the store.

4. Sand /paint base cabinets. They’re sanded and primed and have 1-2 coats of paint…so 75% there!


5.  Plant garden. Done!


  1. Remove and sand/paint upper cabinets and new trim. All of these are removed, sanded, and primed. Painting this weekend, hopefully.


2. Paint kitchen. Technically done…although it may need to be done again if we change our mind on the color.


3. Rehang upper cabinets a couple inches higher. This will probably be put off till the counters are in.

4. Rip out kitchen floors; lay new flooring. Ugh, not done.

5. Install quarter round trim, paint, fill, sand, caulk, paint. This will happen after the floor is in, so not done.


  1. Hire electrician to install microwave over stove/move outlet. We determined we can do this ourself, but it’s not done yet.
  2. Paint/install crown molding downstairs (maybe just a couple rooms to start?). This is one of those projects that will probably get put off till after fall.
  3. Refinish an old fireplace mantle (we still need to find a cool one!). Well, we put up the cheap mantle that came with the house. It’s not unique or exciting, but it is functional for now so we’ll also put this project off.


  1. Catch up/continue with crown molding. Hah.
  2. Build a kitchen island. This still needs to happen…especially since we had a piece of granite cut for it.

July, August, and Beyond

  1. Master bath renovation: new tile floor, new vanity/mirror, rip out tub and relocate toilet?, add a linen closet where tub used to be, rip out shower and make a little larger/tile shower and install new glass door. This sounds like a next-year project.
  2. Build kitchen nook under the far wall of new cabinets, including a built-in storage bench and table. We may start working on this before the wedding, we’ll see how much progress we make on the kitchen by August to see if we want to tackle this before October.

I’d say we’re about 70% caught up to where we should be which isn’t too abysmal. Obviously we’re a bit behind on some aspects of the kitchen, but if we get a lot of the painting done this weekend we won’t be too far off schedule. It sounds like the bathroom project is obviously getting pushed off, and probably first-floor crown molding. We do need to get the stairway banister done so that is the priority once the bulk of the kitchen is finished up. And then the island/bench in the kitchen will probably come next.

I think the garden (and building 2 of them instead of 1) was what really threw us off this spring, but I don’t regret that one bit! And there’s a number of additional projects we’ve done that aren’t even on our list…like painting the upstairs hallway, sealing the deck, finishing our little bathroom shelves, painting our mailbox and making a small mailbox garden, and installing a new ceiling fan. I’ve decided that “to do” lists are always more of a guideline than a schedule.

The Slab

This past weekend was pretty uneventful, just working on the second primer coat for most of the upper cabinets and doors, and getting the first coat or two of green paint on the base cabinets. Here’s what it’s looking like so far, with one coat of the green:

After just saying I loved the wall color after all, the green cabinets are making it look awfully blue again (it’s painted to the right of this cabinet – the whole wall isn’t painted since backsplash will cover that part):


So at the end of all of this we might need to reevaluate the wall color choice. We’ll see. If having to change the wall color is the worst thing this kitchen renovation brings, I’ll take it. Our living room is still an utter mess however, which is something I’ll have to stay used to for at least another month:


So today before work, we had an appointment to go look at our slab and approve it. We were deciding between two, and after seeing a whole slab of each color, the choice was obvious. One was dark and gray when you saw the whole 40 square feet of it, and the other one that we chose, looked light and refreshing.


It’s aspen white (a pretty common color, I think), and that’s a sample of our wall color and cabinet color painted on this extra cabinet door, and our floor sample. The granite, up close, has little specs of burgundy in it which make it look interesting. I was worried it might look like Christmas next to the green cabinets, but I think the deep green and deep red actually just look very rich next to each other in a not-Christmasy way.


Our installation is scheduled for July 12, so we have until then to get as much other stuff done as we can, except the back splash. The counter people encouraged us to wait till after install to do that. And we also decided to splurge and pay the company to do the plumbing installation for the new sink. Nik could probably have done this on his own, but it would’ve taken at least a day to figure out, especially with reattaching our old disposal and reworking our pipes which line up to hit the middle of our current sink, and need to line up to hit drains on the back end of the new sink. The plumbing installation was $325 extra, and I have a pretty good feeling that will feel like the best $325 we’ve spent in a while, once this job is done. Plus, both of us have a birthday this weekend (Nik and I are only 3 days apart!) so we’ll call this a bonus birthday present for ourselves!

The rest of the job was $1599 for the new sink and all the counter tops (including an extra 2 granite pieces to top the new cabinet we’re putting on the other side of the kitchen, and the island that we’ll eventually build), and an extra $180 for cutting and finishing edges for the under-mount sink vs an over-mounted one. I think it came to around $2100 at the end, so if you’re curious about the cost of installing granite counter tops, it doesn’t have to break the bank.

In other news, our gardens are doing well and the last couple weeks we’ve been picking some Juliette tomatoes (mini-plum tomato-sized).


We also have some new friends in our yard that are beyond cute – this is baby Hopkins, who could fit in my hand if he’d let me get anywhere near him:


And here’s a pic from further away so you can see how small he really is – that’s a leaf to his right for comparison:


We’ve met Hopkins twice now and the other night I’m pretty sure we found a sibling (we saw a baby bunny twice, and they were in different areas of the yard, so we think there’s two). Nik named the sibling Hoppington. They’re so cute, but I’m sure they’re itching to get into my garden…we’ll see how cute I still think they are if they do.

This weekend the plan is more painting of cabinets. The base cabinets painted so nicely with a brush I’m reevaluating our plans to spray the top cabinets. The issue is its about 120% humidity in NC in the summer, and it’s been 95 degrees every day so I’m worried that even if we get a nice spray on the cabinets, they’ll be tacky. We’d basically have to spray them outside…move them back inside into the air conditioning to dry…then repeat this for 3-4 coats, since the spraying is a much thinner coat. Two easy coats painted with a brush looks beautiful from what we’ve done on the base cabinets so far, and it’s all inside. It sounds like I’ve convinced myself already! Other than some cabinet painting we’re taking this weekend easy to celebrate both of our last birthdays in our 20’s. We’ve got to enjoy our 20’s while it lasts – 30 might be the tipping point for having this much energy for DIY projects!

Bathroom Shelf And Kitchen Walls

Over the past couple months we’ve slowly been working on a project that Nik bought while he was home over Christmas. We wanted something to put in our bland bathroom under the window to store bathroom items and towels. Our window is low in there, and finding something low and slim was challenging.

Here’s what Nik bought, and I can’t remember what he paid for it, but it was somewhere around $20 or $30.

It appeared to be made of wood, from looking at the bottom, so Nik stripped the paint and some very pretty wood was underneath:

We sanded this thing using our Mouse mini-sander, and then stained the outside with special walnut, and painted the inside with a dark gray-blue paint I had picked up off the clearance/mismatch rack at Lowes for $5. The feet were painted white – they stand out a lot on the linoleum now, but I think once we get our whiter tile in here I’ll like them more. If not, they’ll eventually get the gray paint too.



It makes our awful white bathroom look so much warmer, so I’m really happy with how it turned out.

This past weekend we spent painting the kitchen walls and priming cabinets…I’ll give you a sneak peek at the wall color. This paint almost killed me. We cut in with it first, to get all the edges around the ceilings and doors, and I hated it – it looked so dark, and almost purple-blue. Ugh. I was sure we’d end up having to buy new paint, and redoing the whole room. This was actually the paint we originally bought for our cabinet color, and on the practice cabinet door we had painted it looked totally different – a very pretty warm gray. But I insisted we give it a shot and do the whole wall anyway:IMG_2744

And once the whole wall was painted as opposed to just the edges, I loved it! It doesn’t look purple anymore, just crisp and fresh light gray. So weird how that can happen, but I’m relieved.

We also officially picked our cabinet paint, and despite obtaining approximately 500 paint chips, we (well, it was me to be more accurate) still couldn’t decide. We were between two colors, and there were things we liked about one and things we liked about the other. So we bought sample sizes and mixed them, and the result seemed perfect! So I marched into Lowe’s to get a gallon, and explained to the nice paint-mixer gentleman that his hundreds of colors were not enough selection for me, and I needed a custom gallon that was half one color and half of another. He laughed (I’m pretty sure he thought I was crazy) and told me no one had EVER asked him to do this. But, I know they can mix up quart sizes of colored paint, so I asked if he could tell the machine to add 2 quarts-worth of each color into the gallon can to result in the right color for a gallon. The guy was excited to see if this would actually work, and in the end the color match was nearly identical to our homemade 50/50 mix paint.

So what color scheme did we decide on? Well, Nik was insistent on getting some green in the kitchen, so we basically flipped our original¬† color plans (gray cabinets, green walls) and the plan is now to do darker green cabinets with the light gray on the walls. We’ve named our custom green paint “Indecision Green.”

Once we get some actual cabinets painted and looking nice, I’ll show pictures of the color, but don’t hold your breath because this is the current disheveled state of our living room/cabinet progress…and this is only about a third of all the cabinets. I decided to go through the hassle of painting as much as I can inside where the humidity is lower to prevent tacky cabinets. So all these will get 2 coats of primer, and probably 2-3 coats of paint.


And I’ll leave you with this inspiration picture from Fixer Upper, in case you think we’re totally crazy, and have no faith that a green kitchen with wood floors can end up beautiful! fixerupper green kitchen

On to the Kitchen!

I forgot to write a post last week, but we did finish our second garden and our plants are doing very well in both beds. We finished making our swinging door on the new garden, which makes it easier to get into the garden to prune/pick things and water – here’s Nik working on the door frame.


We got the outer structure finished and filled:


And then added the plants and fencing:


We have 2 large tomatoes (from Mom), 3 small tomatoes I grew from seed, a cucumber, an eggplant, 2 peppers, a spaghetti squash, a cabbage, and a cantaloupe I just planted from seeds I got in a melon I bought last week. And I just threw in some basil, parsley, and radish seeds into some free space so we’ll see if those sprout.



I took these pics over a week ago…and I can tell you the plants have all gotten much bigger since. We had to stake everything this weekend because things were getting so big. I have a feeling this garden will be overrun pretty soon!

So now that the garden was done, we got down to business with the kitchen this weekend. We had a pretty major change of heart with the kitchen colors after I was still undecided about the green walls Nik was envisioning. We were watching Fixer Upper…and she did a lovely color combo in the kitchen that had us sold. We haven’t totally decided on the new paint color for the cabinets yet…but I’m picking up one more color sample on my way home from work tonight and that will hopefully be the chosen color. I’m keeping it a secret until they’re all done since some people (ahem, Mom) have strong opinions against our color choice. But I really think it’ll come together nicely, once the floors and gray granite are in. And since we already bought other paint for the cabinets (light neutral gray), this will go on the wall.


We started by removing all the cabinet doors (and precisely labeling where they all go), and then we took off the first cabinet to the left of the sink. They came down very easily, and just had a couple screws in them that went into studs. As soon as this cabinet came down, Nik begged me to put shelves back there instead of a cabinet since it let in a ton more light. I told him if there’s shelves, we need to keep them looking neat…so we’ll see about that. I did like how much more open it made the room feel though, without that cabinet there.

Then we got the rest of the upper cabinets down:



We sanded about half of the cabinet door fronts, and we got through all the sanding of the base cabinets (indoors, which was dusty and messy), and the upper cabinets, which we did in the garage. Next will be priming them to prep for paint. I also washed all the walls in the kitchen so paint will be going up on those this week as well.

We still need to buy our new cabinets that will be going on the far wall, which will frame in a small banquette storage seat that we’ll eventually get around to building.


It’s coming along, but it’s a little overwhelming at the moment. We’ll call the granite company this week and see when we should get that ordered to fit into our timeline. We’ll also be tiling the backsplash, and adding an over-mount microwave over the stove to free up more counter space. The electrical that our hood vent went into seems very straight forward to converting into a plug for a microwave which is fortunate, so I now think Nik can actually do that himself safely. And finally, we’ll be adding our wood floors to this room and putting new quarter round trim over all of the flooring. Our goal is to have this done by early August so we’ll see how well we can stick to that!

To finish up on an unrelated note, we saw tons of nature in our yard this weekend. The red shouldered hawk was back for a few minutes, and we also found a 2′ or 3′ black rat snake sunning himself near our garden, and we found this adorable baby turtle. He was maybe 3″ long, and hesitantly let Nik pick him up: