Oven BackSplash Fancying.

I loved looking at pictures at fun backsplashes behind ovens.  Something beautiful to stare at while cooking.  I wanted that.  I didn’t want to rip out my backsplash though and spend money on a non-essential on a kitchen reno that has gone on months longer than expected.

So I came up with my own clever idea… or well I think it’s clever.  Toot toot on that own horn.

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(I wish I could figure out how to make that slideshow go faster… but I can’t I am sorry.  BOO ME)

 

For those interested, thats a photo I found online of where my husband proposed.  So it’s both a really beautiful photo and a really great memory all in one.

 

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The Sink Tumor that Killed the Concrete Countertops

Sink Tumor

Sink Tumor

That is probably the grossest picture ever posted on a half-assed blog ever.

(Side note.. google chrome suggested I change grossest to greatest.. so at least I have that going for me)

That’s the picture of the sink tumor that we came home to late one Sunday night in June.

We had both been gone for the weekend on different work trips.  I swung by the airport and grabbed Hubs and we arrived back home around 11pm.  He spotted that 3D swell area behind the sink while getting a drink right before bed.

It almost caused a huge fight.

It was so big you could see it from the front (may be the first time that phrase was used not in reference to a large butt).

I know that the brown is gross behind that faucet.. The main part of it is putty from putting the sink back in that hadn’t got cleaned off yet.. because the countertops weren’t done for that long.  Then some of it is just gross dirt around a gross kitchen faucet.  That thing was so filthy (spoiler alert we’ve since replaced it) that every time I’d clean it more dirt would seep out of it and take the old dirt’s place.  Marinara monster – I swear it.

Anyhow, Hubs touched the sink tumor and it was soft to the touch and then chipped right off.

We resolved right then and there to rip them off and replace the concrete with laminate.

(I have other pics of other holes that developed.  For instance, we had a run of the mill knife block sitting to the left of the oven.  When we picked it up to move it, it ripped a bunch of the concrete off with it?  Don’t know why.  I can post these pics if people like, but it’s truly overkill in my head.  If you don’t get the idea by now, I am sure its just because you are blaming us for it not working haha)

 

Stay tuned.

 

The First Sign of Failure

The First Sign of Failure

The First Sign of Failure

There it is.  The first sign of failure in the beautiful ardex countertops.

(Click that image and it’ll enlarge, by the way)

The criminal?  The George Foreman drip tray.  It got sat there and forgot about for a day or so.  When I finally realized it and picked it up , it left behind that huge stain and those holes.

I know its gross that a drip pan of grease sat there for any amount of time and that plenty of people will judge us for being disgusting, but I am just keeping it real.  I am sure there are plenty of people out there that wish they were more OCD about picking things up and are in the same boat as we are.  If thats you and you are reading this and still thinking, but I’ll just BE super cautious about these because I want them so badly.  Stop.  I did that.  I was super cautious.  I was constantly wiping things up as soon as they touched the concrete.  It still happened.  The good thing is I now wipe countertops constantly even though I ripped the concrete out.  So maybe if you want to train yourself that way, you SHOULD do this, but expect to be redoing it in two months.

That hole and stain up there was within 2 weeks.  We hadn’t even gotten around to doing the rest of the countertops yet and that one already had to be chipped and patched and resealed.

 

Moral of the Story.

Not worth it.

 

Kitchen Floor – Tile Colors Used (I THINK)

Finished Floor

Finished Floor

I have gotten a few comments requesting that I share the color of the VCT Tiles.. duh I should have totally thought about that.

I am so bad at this blogging thing.

The problem is that I only have one of the three boxes left downstairs, so I am 100% positive on one of these colors and 95% positive on the other two. I looked at the order on Lowes.com and picked the other two out of the order history and am pretty sure that its right.

So without further adieu… These link to the exact link of them on Lowes that I purchased them from.  Lowes has excellent customer service and are becoming my favorite more and more over HD.

The first one is the one I am for sure about (because I still have the box)-

Armstrong 12-in x 12-in Charcoal Speckle Pattern Commercial Vinyl Tile

Armstrong 12-in x 12-in Charcoal Speckle Pattern Commercial Vinyl Tile

 

Armstrong 12-in x 12-in Soft Cool Gray Chip Pattern Commercial Vinyl Tile

Armstrong 12-in x 12-in Soft Cool Gray Chip Pattern Commercial Vinyl Tile

 

Armstrong 12-in x 12-in Shadow Blue Speckle Pattern Commercial Vinyl Tile

Armstrong 12-in x 12-in Shadow Blue Speckle Pattern Commercial Vinyl Tile

 

Also, I wanted to take the time to thank everybody for the feedback about the kitchen.  It’s very inspiring to keep working.  I’ve been so busy and I haven’t quite got there, but I am truly trying.  Thanks for the encouragement!

Not everything you read online is a good idea.

This and other amazing insight.

Brought to you by… Ardex Countertops.

 

I haven’t been blogging lately because my spirit was crushed.

I am so dramatic.

When we bought this house, my eyes lit up with the possibilities.  I was so excited to tackle every single project the moment we were handed the keys.  I just wanted to dive in head first and not even check the water depth first.  A year in and my enthusiasm was yet to bend.  Then came the ardex kitchen countertops.

We started renovating our kitchen to give it a quick pick me last June.  We just wanted to put some lipstick on a pig and be satisfied with it until we could gut it and set it up better.  I just wanted it to look pretty while I had to live with it.  When we moved in, it was filthy.  So gross.  It looked like somebody had murdered a marinara monster and it’s marinara guts had sprayed everywhere.  Everywhere.  Inside of cabinets, under the countertop.  Everywhere.  It was filthy.

So we started by stripping and painting the solid wood cabinets.  Great start.  It didn’t go smoothly.  If I were to do it over again, I would have used different primer. But that was last year and they have held up great.  I’ve touched up a couple spots, but they’re seriously in great shape.  Maybe I’ll post pics of that soon.  Let me get to that.

We knew we also wanted to paint the walls (obviously), replace the floor, and do something with the disgusting pink countertops.

As you know from the blog, the floors went perfectly.  Everything went down quick and easy and they turned out beautifully.  They’re still one of my favorite things in this house – if not THE favorite.

But the countertops.  Ugh.  The countertops that killed my blogging sharing spirit.  The paint we knew wasn’t going to work.  We just knew it.  $20 and your countertops are gorgeous?  Ha. Ha. Ha.  Even before we decided to “just try it” – I had my heart set on concrete.  I had all of the tutorials pinned on how to pour your own or the -ohlala- “quick and easy and cheap” alternative of just skimming on some concrete topper known as Ardex Feather Finish.  But I agreed to try the painting first and as soon as it chipped up I swooped in with PLEASECONCRETEPLEASE JUSTPLEASTLETSTRY IT.  The hubs reluctantly agreed and I ran to the nearest supply store and ran back with my $20 bag of feather finish.

We tried it first on an old laminate shelf we weren’t using anymore.  We could NOT get it to seal.  It looked gorgeous but we test spilled all kinds of stuff on it and all kinds of stuff stained it.  I was convinced we were sealing it wrong and switched the sealant out AND bought some food-safe wax.  Flipped it over and started the experiment anew.  New application of feather finish, new sealant, new waxing.  Spills and spills and everything was fine.  Hubs again reluctantly gives in (It has to be hard arguing with a lawyer) and we rip the painted laminate off of the countertop and start applying.

I posted some pics of the during process and then nothing more.

And you know why?  Because it was a miserable, terrible, horrid failure.

OK now I am really being dramatic.  It wasn’t that bad, but I do regret doing it.

Immediately it started staining.  Let me stop right there.  I put NO LESS than 4 coats of concrete sealant on these THEN wax.  By all definitions they should’ve been sealed.  However, that didn’t help.  The first disaster was the tray from a George Forman grill left a nice ring that DID NOT come out.   I love the natural “patina” of concrete, but that was ridiculous.

Then we left for a few days and came back to find that we had missed some water behind the faucet and it had got under the concrete and swelled and exploded.  It looked like the sink had a tumor.  THere was a giant hole.  It was not a fun argument getting home at 11 at night on a work-night and finding a hole in the countertops we had just done 8 whole weeks ago.

So it broke me.  I was disappointed and frustrated and was sick of working and redoing a kitchen that I swore was going to be 3 leisurely months and done.  But instead we’re into a year later and STILL devoting most of our time to this kitchen.

So that’s why I’ve been absent.  It’s not that we haven’t worked on other rooms.  It’s that I was frustrated and done sharing for awhile. I just didn’t have it in me.

So what’s changed?  We redid the countertops again over the weekend.  For the THIRD time.  And final time.  Because this time we didn’t take shortcuts or try some “quick and easy” tip we found on one blog that NEVER mentioned it again.  We bought a sheet of laminate for $90 and my husband and his dad relaminated the countertops.  I opted out because of previously mentioned feelings of self defeat.  But they’re done and ready to be installed and they’re beautiful.  They are leaps and bounds better looking than the concrete was on it’s best day.  People judge laminate.  But its a beautiful, durable, affordable option.  And I am really excited to blog about this kitchen and whole house again.. because those laminated countertops have restored my enthusiasm.  And I needed that.  I finally feel like sharing again.

 

 

Before, During, Progress, Kitchen, etc.

As I gather up my half-assed pictures of the kitchen reno at every step I have realized a few things. They all boil down to one thing: I need to take better pictures.  For starters, I am not the best photographer.  But there’s also the fact that I never bothered to clean off the countertop for any of the pics.  It’s always full of chaos.  In fact, I don’t even have a picture of the full kitchen post painting the countertops.  God only knows why.  So, to the best that I’ve equipped myself, here’s three pictures of our kitchen along the way, with a quick cap of what changed in between.

Progress Shots

Progress Shots

I seriously need to work on my photography skillz.

Our kitchen to do list looks like this now with this update–

  • Prime, paint, and seal the cabinets. (we opted to not seal)
  • Buy new hardware and add it to the cabinets (duh)
  • Paint the walls and ceiling
  • Re-do the countertop (either paint or re-laminate)
  • Re-redo the countertop again (surprise surprise!)
  •  
  • Finally finish installing the big light (it needs a sealing gasket thing installed, but we couldn’t find it for awhile lol)
  • Replace the under cabinet light
  • Find a permanent solution for the trash and recycle bins (on our way!)
  • Make the upper corner shelf open shelving (just have to add the shelves back in – more on that later)
  • Paint the new open shelving in the corner (still have to paint the actual shelves + maybe a pattern in the background + hang the shelves)
  • Possibly replace the above-window light
  • Add some sort of curtains to the window and the door
  • Strip and repair the doors to the outside and to the basement
  • Paint the doors to the outside and the basement
  • Bright gloss white paint on the trim and doors
  • Create a family command center on the big open wall that includes a calendar, mail center, meal planner, and anything else we may find useful.
  • Add a light in the little nook where the doors are?
  • Decorate.
  • Enjoy.

So here’s where we are now…

Completed Kitchen Floor

Completed Kitchen Floor

So happy with this finished step!

Laying VCT Tiles

In our last post, we discussed how to get old tiles up before laying new tiles.  Today, we’ll talk about the incredibly scientific process we used to lay the new basketweave patterned vct tiles that we decided upon for kitchen.

Once your floor has dried from the soap and water bath, you are ready to move to the next step.  Leveling.  With VCT tile, we read that any variation in the floor may lead to the tile cracking or shifting, so its very important to start with a nice flat surface.  What this amounts to is that basically you fill in any nail holes, cracks between subfloor boards, etc.

Once we removed our old tile, we were greeted by a huge rotted space of subfloor where the refrigerator sits.  When we first moved in, there was a gigantic fridge that leaked and smelled & we got rid it of within our first week.  We figure that was the likely culprit of the damage.

Instead of replacing all of the subfloor, Kevin took out his circular saw, set it for a very limited depth cut and cut as straight as possible around the damaged area.  He then just cut a fresh piece of luan and fit it down into the hole.   Then everything was ready to be leveled.

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As far as leveling goes, we used Ardex Feather Finish cement compound.  We mixed up a very small amount to where it was slightly thicker than recommended and filled in all of the holes, divets, ridges, cracks, etc.  For example, between the fresh luan and the old subfloor, there was a small gap.  I filled the entire gap in with feather finish and then feathered it out so there wasn’t a noticeable ridge.  It then just had a small very low-grade ridge.  For good measure, we covered all of the old nails and any place where the subfloor had any sort of texture with the feather finish.  This whole process took maybe all of 15 minutes and was well worth it.

Once the feather finish dried completely, we laid out a chalk line as our “starting line.”   I decided where I wanted our basketweave “to intersect” in relation to the door and then Kevin did whatever magical math he needed to do to decide how that meant the tile needed to be laid.  We wanted to lay them at an angle, so we placed our chalk line the longest diagonal point our kitchen had.  Once that chalk line was down, we laid out our tile pattern along it and covered the entire kitchen floor. (NO ADHESIVE AT THIS POINT).

Our reasoning for laying out the pattern without adhesive one last time was to ensure we didn’t make any mistakes.  Once we had the pattern completely laid out and we were happy with it, we’d pick up one tile at a time and where that tile was Kevin would mark out which tile would go there.  It should be noted that the pattern in VCT, while subtle, is definitely directional.  The small dots of the pattern move from one side of the tile to the other and it is very noticeable (to me) if from one tile to the next, the pattern switches directions.  As a result, he also put an arrow on the floor, denoting which direction the pattern would go.  We used “D,” “M,” and “L” to denote dark, medium, and light, respectively.  This is a crucial step to the process.  Otherwise, you are left to not screw up the pattern once the adhesive is down.

 

Marking Out Tile Pattern

Marking Out Tile Pattern

Next it’s time to trowel out your tile adhesive.  Your local home improvement store will sell VCT tile adhesive.  Be sure that before you walk out of the store with your chosen adhesive, that you read the back of the bucket.  The back of the adhesive will also tell you what size trowel to buy.

Troweling on the adhesive is just what it sounds like. Put your trowel in the adhesive and scoop some out on the floor, then spread it out.  If you’ve ever laid any sort of towel before (say, ceramic tile for a backsplash or bathroom), its generally the same thing.  Here’s a picture after our floor was covered in adhesive.

Fresh Adhesive

In the pic, you can see the trowel marks of the spread adhesive, and also the marked out floor pattern.

The tile adhesive has a really long dry time, giving you plenty of time to lay your tiles correctly.  So don’t rush.  Carefully lay each tile, butting it up to the next tile and then pressing down hard on to the floor so it doesn’t shift.  Once you put it in the tile, you “can” pull it back up and adjust it, but more than likely it’s going to snap if you pressed it into the adhesive.  So do it right the first time!  Lay every tile carefully so as to avoid having to adjust it.

We started our pattern by just laying the first line of tiles along our chalk line.  Kevin went straight down that line, laying the first tiles, then standing on them to lay the next, until he had a straight line across the kitchen.  Then, he backtracked and laid down the next row to the side.  Eventually, he broke this straight line pattern and just laid full chunks at a time.

Laying the new floor

Laying the new floor (as you can see, we went with a 3 tone muted grey color palette) 

Laying the full tiles (ones that did not have to be cut) went down really quickly.  We had  nice system going on.  We started with Kevin going around the house to the outside door and starting the floor from that end, working towards the entryway from the dining room.  He took about 10 of each color tile with him.

As he ran out of tiles. I stood in the doorway of the kitchen and handed them to him – usually one at a time, sometimes a chunk of one color at a time.  Whatever he needed or preferred.  The main bulk of the floor (again, the ones that didn’t need to be cut), went down in about 20 minutes tops.  We were starting to think this was going to be an hour project and done.  We were grossly wrong.

It turns out, cutting tiles is time consuming.  The best advice I can give you on that is to start with the easy cuts first and again pay attention to the pattern.  A few times Kevin cut a tile and then realized he cut it with the pattern going the wrong way.

As for how he cut the tile, he consulted a youtube video.  This one to be exact.  I’ll let explaining how to cut be done by somebody who actually understands it.  As I do not.

We didn’t buy the tile cutting tool, mainly to keep costs down.  If we had to do it over again, we may have, but I believe it was somewhere between $30-50 at Home Depot.  So keep that in mind when decided whether or not you just want to use the razor blade and snap method that we employed.  I will say it seemed to work just fine, but it may have been more time consuming than the tool.  No way for me to really know about that now.

After you get all of your tiles laid and your floor is completely covered, I’d highly recommend using a floor roller over top of them.  We rented one from home depot for 24 hours and had plenty of time to spare.  Its basically just a giant weighted roller on a stick and you push it around in all directions.  It’s actually kind of fun.  You can hear the air bubbles in the adhesive beneath the tiles popping.  Kind of like a giant bubble wrap.  Don’t run over your toe.

Now stand back and admire your work.  Your/our new floor is beautiful.

Finished Floor

Finished Floor

If you are anything like me, you’re obsessed with it.  I am completely obsessed with it.  I think it makes the kitchen look so much bigger.  I’ll post more pictures of it soon.  Truth be told, I chose this picture because all of the pics of it from right when we were done that show the whole kitchen also show Kevin’s extensive empty beer bottle collection.  For Homebrewing.  But it makes us look like huge drunks.  Yikes.

 

 

Removing old Vinyl/Lino Tile

Today we will talk about the steps we used to remove the old, cracked, filthy tiles in our kitchen.   It’s a lot of work, time wise, but not really muscle-wise.  I shouldn’t really comment on that since I had minimal involvement with it, but I will say that all that bending over really does a number on your back.  So take that in mind. However, as far as DIY goes, it’s simple and you probably have the skills needed to pull it off.

Our Original Kitchen Flooring

Our Original Kitchen Flooring

Say bye bye to that old floor.

First, gather your supplies:

  • Knee pads (optional, but not really optional)
  • Adhesive Remover
  • Gloves
  • Putty Knife/Scraper
  • Iron (or I suppose a heat gun would work, but we used our iron – which, be forewarned, was ruined & had to be replaced.  We also used a hair dryer in some places, but the iron worked best.)
  • Plastic sheeting (just the cheap stuff they sell in the paint department – like we used to cover out cabinets when we painted out countertops)
  • A bucket (that you will fill with soap & water)
  • Scrub brush
  • Time (I’d say, a weekend – depending on the area of your floor)

 

Admittedly, I did not take very many pictures of this process.  It went by pretty quickly and it’s really quite self-explanatory.  Here are your basic steps:

  1. Place the iron on top of the tile to be removed.  Keep the iron moving.  The heat from the iron (or heat gun or hair dryer) liquifies the adhesive and the tile will come loose.
  2. Put your putty knife/scraper under the edge of the tile and separate the tile from the floor.  If it doesn’t come up easily, put the iron over it for a little longer.  Just keep rotating between ironing the tile and scraping underneath the tile until you’ve easily removed it.  After the first couple tiles, you’ll find your sweet spot.
  3. Once you’ve got a few tiles up (Kevin removed about six 12 inch tiles at a time), put on your gloves & cover your freshly uncovered subfloor in the adhesive remover.  Be generous.  This stuff looks like almost-clear snot.  We put on a nice 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick layer of it.
  4. Cover your adhesive remover smeared section with the plastic sheeting.  You do this to seal out the air while giving the adhesive remover some time to work.
  5. Wait 15-20 minutes.  (I suppose during this time you could start ironing/scraping up some more tile, but we didn’t.  We just used the time for a nice break.)
  6. After your time has passed, pull up the plastic & discard.  Then, using your putty knife/scraper, scrape up the adhesive remover (and, accordingly, the adhesive).
  7. With fresh soap (we used dawn dish washing liquid) and water, use your scrub brush to scrub the floor.  I wouldn’t even go so far as to say “scrub vigorously” – just scrub it up.  This gets the remaining adhesive off and cleans the floor up nice.
  8. Repeat these 7 steps until the entire floor is done.  Be sure to let your entire floor dry before proceeding to the next step of “leveling the floor” and subsequently “installing the new floor.”

 

It should be noted that the ironing/heating element is not really necessary.  You can just scrape up the old tiles, but then you risk damaging your subfloor.  We wanted to keep and reuse our subfloor, but if this is not an issue for you (you already plan to replace the subfloor), then you can just scrape away.

 

Simple!  Voila!  Do you have any tips/questions/etc?

 

Stay tuned for our tips on leveling the floor, installing the floor, and the big reveal!

 

The Ceramic Womb

…is what we call our “master bathroom.”

Here’s a funny anecdote.. if you google image search “Master bathroom,” this is what you come up with:

Google Img Master Bath

Don’t believe me?  Go ahead, click it.

For the record, most of those gigantic bathrooms are actually bigger than our entire house.  Who has that kind of space?  Also, what are these people doing in their bathrooms?  Hosting parties?  Exactly how many people are in this bathroom at any given time? The entire Duggar family?  I digress.

Here is our “master bath” from our first tour of our home —

Master Bath

“Master” Bath

The wood on each side of that picture is the molding framing in the sliding pocket door (can I just say I love pocket doors?).  Then, following the picture in from the left, you see the glass shower door the pink wall of the shower, and the grey toilet.  In the far right of the picture, just before the pocket door molding for the other side, you see the pedestal sink peeking out.  It’s a little hard to tell in two dimensions, but between the shower wall in the middle of the picture and the edge of the sink, is just enough room to slide through sideways to the toilet.  It is cramped to say the least. In the almost year (holy smokes) that we’ve lived here, we’ve both showered in this room one time each.  It is very cramped.  Also, I am sure you’ve noticed by now that the entire thing is pepto pink.  I want you to be assured that the inside of the shower is as well.  Every surface inside that shower – floor, ceilings, and every wall – is also this pink tile.  Thats why we call it the ceramic womb.  It is awful.

We have big plans for this bathroom, but I’ll get to that soon, this post is already getting huge just enjoying the sights.  Let’s just say, hubs went all hulk smash! on the thing and it no longer has a shower or 4 walls.

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Stay tuned!