Monday, July 28, 2014

Budget Kitchen Renovation: Upgrade Builder Grade Island with Moulding and Stain

The budget kitchen remodel has begun... sort of.  We'll call this a mini-kick off since most of the work won't really begin for a couple of months.  However, I do want to share with you how we have started making plans for upgrading our builder basic golden oak cabinets using some cheap and simple methods.

Here's a before shot of our kitchen (and island).  Essentially it is exactly what you would expect to see in a home built in the early 90's.

Note the island.  It is predominantly made from wood veneer and has absolutely no architectural detail or shape.  It's also really beat up, worn and dirty looking.  What I am going to show you is how to take your worn old island from that... to this:

Let me show you one more shot as a close up of the island cabinets.... gross right?  See how dirty they are?

Here are the supplies we used to achieve these results.

1 3/8"" PVC lattice in clearwood
2 1/4"" PVC base moulding in clearwood
hacksaw (or other tool to cut wood)
construction adhesive
painter's tape
General Finishes Antique Walnut Gel Stain
Rustoleum's Carrington stain
foam brush

Hint: If you're going to replace your hardware and need to drill new holes, I recommend filling any old holes or drilling new ones before you refinish the cabinet.  We had to do this for our new drawer pulls.

First, Little Man helped me tear off all of the quarter round from the base of the island.  I also cut the toe kick so that it was flush with the side of the cabinet.

Then use the 1 3/8" lattice to create a square frame around the outside of each side of the island.  I used  construction adhesive and painter's tape to adhere the pieces of moulding to the island.  Then cut and adhere the baseboard moulding around the base of the island.  

Once everything is dry, remove the tape.  This is what you should end up with.   I also used white paintable caulk to fill in any big gaps - which is easily covered by the gel stain (a perk of using opaque gel stain).

For the veneered sides, I just wiped them down and lightly sanded the surface.  For the wood frames, drawer fronts and doors, I sanded them first with 60 grit sandpaper, then 120 grit.

Before Sanding
After Sanding
 Now it's time to apply your first coat of stain (click here for our more comprehensive staining tutorial).  Apply the gel stain using a foam brush.  Don't worry if it looks streaky... this all evens out with the next coat.  Just make sure you get even coverage.  I used General Finishes Gel Stain in Antique Walnut.

Once it's dried, now you can apply your stain.  I used a foam brush for this as well.  The stain is Rustoleum's Carrington.  Apply an even coat and try to avoid over brushing and creating streak marks. You can always go back to touch those spots up later.

Once you've achieved a finish you're happy with, apply two coats of finish (we used polyacrylic).  Then reapply the hardware.

Voila! Here's your final product!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Formal Living?

I've never really understood the idea of having a formal living room.  When I was a kid, it was always the nicest room in the house, was never used and we were never allowed to go in there.  As an adult, it seems kind of pointless to have one.  However, our house has an area in front of the dining room that you would most likely call your formal living room.

I simply can't bring myself to buying furniture for a room that I will never use.  Plus, there are so many other ways that we could utilize this space.  Last year alone, we held two large dinners and ended up using the room as an extended dining room.  

Initially I came up with a couple of inspiration boards that utilized the room as a casual gathering space or a playroom, including the ones below. However, none of them really felt right, so the room sat empty-ish.

That is until this past week.  We've decided that with a new little one on the way and with the playroom converted into Little Man's room, it was best to create a space where Mav could put his recliner and big screen tv (with a new baby the likelihood of him going into the basement was very low).  It would also incorporate some storage that would enable us to hide toys well (so a makeshift playroom for the kids).

Here's what we came up with:

This room would incorporate the same color scheme as the dining room (one dark accent wall with the remaining walls a lighter color).  Granted it is currently a VERY bland design, but we were trying to figure out what kind of furniture we wanted to incorporate as the first base layer of the room.

We decided on Ikea's Ektorp loveseat in Sivik Gray and the Besta storage unit in black brown. I think that the dark colors will play well off of the dining room, and the dark brown recliner won't look too out of place (sometimes we have to work around things to find compromise :) ).

As for the floors, I plan to pick up a larger rug like we have in the family room (right now we have a 5x7 in there).  I'd also like to incorporate some more color and texture with blankets, pillows, poufs and artwork.  I'm not quite sure what it will look like yet, but we're slowly moving in this direction - after all it was sort of a spur of the moment decision to go out and start working on this room.

Here's a sort of before shot with all of the ikea boxes in the background... it. was. a. mess.  I hadn't really done much in the room because I didn't really have any inspiration or need.

We had some leftover white bookcases in there from our townhouse that hadn't really found a home yet and the couch from our old living room that was given to us by a friend.

This room was really lacking life.  First, I decided to assemble the Ektorp sofa (which I have secretly had my eye on for a while, but I've been kind of wary of purchasing an ikea sofa/loveseat).  This was the first assembly required couch we've ever bought, but assembly was surprisingly easy and quick.  This couch resembles the West Elm Heath Sofa (but at a fraction of the cost) - so pretty :).

Eventually I'd like to stain the feet a darker brown to incorporate the color of the recliner, but for now natural pine it is.  As for the tv stand/storage in the room, we went with a BESTA unit (3 pieces).  With doors on the two outer sides so we could use remotes to control the A/V items in the center.

This is where we are at now.  Somewhat empty, but we've made some progress and the room feels so much bigger with size appropriate furniture... now we just need to figure out what to do with the rest of the room.  :)

Saturday, July 19, 2014

A Light with Attitude!

I don't think that it's possible to over emphasize what a difference something as small as a light fixture can make in a room.  Light fixtures are one of my FAVORITE home items (along with glasses, dish ware and blankets).  We found that in our last dining room, the large glass bell pendant really helped tie the room together, and that was the same effect we were going for in our new dining room.

When we first moved in, we started out with this gold colored builder basic chandelier that I spray painted with oil rubbed bronze spray paint (read more here).

But even with some of the changes we made to the dining room, it still felt kind of bland.  So I kept looking for something to give the room some oomph and came up with a slightly different design.

Last week I shared with you the inspiration photo below (that I am in love with).  You know that feeling when you see something and know that's how it should be?  When I saw this light fixture and the bolder colors on the walls in the dining room below I knew that's what I wanted the dining room to look like.

So, I added some DIY abstract art (you can read more about that here) that incorporated some of the colors I like into the room.

Today, we made a huge step - I installed my new Crate and Barrel Hoyne Pendant Lamp - and it is everything I hoped it would be and more.  Seriously, this light is enormous and absolutely gorgeous!!  Not only that, but I feel like it's perfect for the space.  It adds a touch of modern without clashing with some of the transitional style in these rest of the room and house.

Next will be to select the new paint colors (which won't go up until after baby girl arrives in August/September).  I'll share some of my thoughts on those with you later this week.

What changes have you been making in your home?  Is there one item that a room can't do without?

Sunday, July 13, 2014

DIY Abstract Art

Maybe I'm naive or maybe I'm just really bad at art (flashback to middle school art class)... ok it's the latter.  But I thought that creating abstract art that I liked would be simple.  I mean come on, how hard could drawing a bunch of scribbles and lines on a canvas be.  Right?

This weekend I spent a some time with one of my very good friends and fell in love with the decor in her apartment (let's say it looks like it came out of a crate and barrel magazine).  So I started thinking of ways that I could incorporate some of that into our home.  I have been thinking about repainting the dining and "formal" living room for some time now (I was never in love with the light blue - it came out much lighter on the walls).  So I've been toying with some wall color ideas.  I really like the idea of a dark blue gray color but I'm not sure if painting every wall that dark color would be overkill.  So the thought would be to paint one wall in each room the darker color and then paint the other three walls a whiter color that corresponds with the Montpelier Ashlar gray on the rest of the main floor.

So here's a poorly compiled "photoshopped" image to give you an idea of what I'm thinking.

I really love Crate and Barrel's Hoyne Lamp and I was thinking that some sort of abstract art and a centerpiece bowl with some metallic tone would really spice the room up.  I saw this really cool abstract art tutorial online from Burlap and Lace and decided that I wanted art just like it in my dining room.

She made it looks so easy I figured I could imitate it too!  So I went to Michaels today to pick up some 16x20 canvases and acrylic paint.  I decided that since our wall is sort of long I would try to do something similar but with three canvases.  So I started by lining the three canvases up and drawing a curvy line across them so that I could have one solid design that leapt from one canvas to another.

Then I brushed out from the line on either side to create some rough edges, but it came out like this... this picture speaks louder than words.

So I thickened up the line a bit and added some paint splatters, but once all was said and done Mav and I didn't like it very much at all.

So it was back to the drawing board...

This time I decided to try something a little less structured and began with random brush strokes in a light gray, then dark gray, then pearl, and blended the edges together.  The results of this piece was MUCH better!

I think I need to either paint the edges black or create some sort of frame, but I think the results definitely weren't as bad as my first attempt.  I think I kind of like them.

To salvage my first three canvases I decided to play around with some of the other paints I had left and I ended up with these.  I feel like the gold and black ones are a little bland but before doing anything else I figured I'd sleep on it.  Seeing it on the screen now makes me think that maybe
I could paint a moon on the top right of the right canvas (the black looks like a forest line and the gold is a night sky?).

Or maybe I could turn them on their sides...

This last canvas was actually kind of fun.  I just poured out the last little bit of paint from the bottle onto the canvas. 

So, I've learned that abstract art is harder than it looks, but I did have fun painting.  We'll see if any of these will make their way onto the walls or not.  Have you had any successes or failures with attempting DIY art?