I’m on the downhill slide…I think.

It’s been a busy few weeks since I finished up my painting stay-cation.  Things really seem to be starting to move fast, and the progress is getting more and more visible.  Remember how we had just gotten my cabinets when I last left you?  Well, the last few that were out of stock came in, and my parents brought them out to my house.  Since we haven’t done the floors yet, (which is starting to give me anxiety), dad took his belt sander to the floor where the cabinets would sit so we don’t have to worry about getting some big professional sander right up to the foot of the cabinets when we get to that step.  Then the first of the cabinets were set in place.  In the kitchen reconfiguration, I’m torn between feeling like I’ve lost cabinet/counter space by having a dead wall and feeling like I’m 100% fine because there will be plenty of continuous countertop and I have an entire pantry for extra storage.  In all honesty, I probably have way more cabinet space than I could even possibly fill right now. Here’s a look at the cabinets set in place. image We also had to create what I call a “dishwasher house” on the right side of the sink cabinet so we’d be ready for the countertop installer to measure.  You can buy a premade end piece for the side of the dishwasher, but it was like $80 at Menards.  The guy told dad how to make one, and he did.  For like $10.  It’s literally a panel of chip board notched at the foot with a little oak face on it to match the other cabinets.  Cross bars support it and will be attachment points for the counter. image In order to know the exact size for the dishwasher house, we had to get the dishwasher.  My first appliance!  Yay!  It’s a Frigidaire Gallery model with a top-rack only wash setting.  That wash cycle was essential for me in a dishwasher.  I know, I’m picky.  Top-rack only came above stainless steel tub on the priority list.  Living alone I generate far more dirty cups coffee mugs and bowls than anything else, so being able to wash the top rack without having to run a full cycle is super useful to me.  It also saves me on expensive Xenia water.  The dishwasher was on sale at Lowe’s, and the added my dad’s military discount on top of that.  Holla! image If you’re clever, you’ll notice that the floor in the background is colored.  Since we had some of it sanded down, I took the opportunity to test out my vingar and steel wool treatment.  I brewed up some strong black tea, painted it onto the boards, and let it dry.  Then I tore up half a pad of 0000 steel wool into 16 oz of vinegar.  I let it sit for about an hour and painted it on the first strip.  It produced a very light color on both the old wood and the new douglas fir boards, as you can see on the far right.  The next morning I put the vinegar on again, so the second strip from the right is 12 hours of steel wool/vinegar oxidizing.  The third strip from the right is after 24 hours and the far left is 48 hours.  As you can tell, the douglas fir (bottom board) has a very strong reaction and the existing yellow pine(?) is more mellow.  I think the solution may be to treat the new fir boards with a weaker solution that matches the 24 hour strip, somewhere between 1 and 12 hours, I think. image Here’s a close-up of the 24 hour strip.  I love the color on the old boards, but the fir is out of control! image I’m getting nervous about this treatment because I haven’t found any reliable information on anyone doing this to a floor, just furniture.  I have no idea what to finish the floor with, since most people seem to be using wax for furniture.  I don’t want to be waxing my floors on a regular basis, but everything else seems to yellow or brown-out the grey from what I’ve read.  But I just can’t find a stain that matches what I want!

Another little project I was proud to do myself was installing a light fixture in the kitchen!  I was at Home Depot to get ceiling fans, and I saw a light I had checked out online.  It was $30 so I went for it.  When I got it home, I opened the box to see the light.  Looking briefly at the instructions, I was like, “I can totally do this!”  So I started flipping breakers till I found the kitchen and got to work.  It was frustrating trying to get the mounting screws to surface through the insulation on top of the fixture, and when I finally got them through, screwed in the bulbs, and flipped the switch, only one light worked.  I was sure I had a bad bulb so I switched them.  Nope.  Had to take it down only to find one wire had come loose.  Once I got that fixed, everything worked fine, and I’m pretty sure I said out loud, “I’m a genius!”  Okay, maybe it doesn’t take a genius to install a light fixture, but I impressed myself.  It’s those semesters of electricity with Schumacher in high school paying off. image The two-bulb fixture provides a shocking amount of light.  I had been worried I would need under-cabinet lighting due to a lack of natural light in the kitchen, but this bad boy does the job.  With the soon-to-be-built custom fixture over the sink, there will be more than enough light in the kitchen.  I just love the textured glass on this fixture.  It’s so vintage-farmhouse-y.  I plan on putting a matching fixture in the nook, but they only had one in stock when I got this one on a whim. image So bright!  I did manage to accomplish my goal of getting ceiling fans in the same trip.  They won’t be going up till after the floors are done though, on account of the dust factor.  Tonight my mom was complaining about sanding dust from joint compound on her hands and I proclaimed, “I’ve lived the Vietnam of dust in this house already!”  Might be a bit extreme, but sometimes it feels like war.  Right, ceiling fans.  They’re relatively pretty, white, and were only $49 each.  Done.  They’ll go in the living rooms downstairs.  I actually like them enough that they bedrooms upstairs may all get these same fans, too. image So, I mentioned sanding dust.  I teased you all and said we were done with all of that.  It had been vacuumed and contained within special bags, right?  Well, sort of.  There was the wall in the kitchen that had to be taped after the range hood vent was installed.  It’s now taped, mudded, sanded, and even primed.  It’s lovely. image Then there was the issue of some seriously rough walls in the parlor.  Plaster walls that had been paneled over and looked atrocious once the paneling came down.  We got creative and used a combination of plaster repair stuff and plain old joint compound to smooth them out.  “Skim coating” we’ve been calling it.  This is what the walls looked like sans paneling. image Gross.  And this is what they look like after some tedious skim coating and sanding. image Lovely!  But, it takes one coat, then sanding, then another coat in places, and more sanding.  Which means more dust.  At least it’s contained to one room.  The drywallers left behind an entire box of joint compound, which we thought was powder that had to be mixed up with water.  Turns out, it was a box of premixed compound ready to use.  Score!  We did mix up some powdered mud with water, but this was for a “special” wall.  The east wall in the parlor had existing sheetrock that had been wallpapered without ever being painted, so when the wallpaper came down, it tore up the sheetrock a little bit.  The seams on this wall also weren’t the best.  Mom got creative and invented (she thinks) a new technique of thinning down the mud to a very runny consiIstency and then rolling it on the wall with a low-nap paint roller.  It creates a little texture on the wall that mimics the existing plaster in the house.  When it was wet and I first saw the effect, I wasn’t in love with it.  Once it was dry, though, I had to admit I didn’t hate it.  It’s certainly an improvement over the poor quality of the wall in its previous state.  This is the effect the roller leaves. image Looks good to me!

The powder room is another project that has gained momentum recently.  This past weekend was a holiday weekend, so of course that meant we were laying tile!  In 2008, we spent the 4th of July weekend tiling a backsplash in my parents’ kitchen.  This project was a lot simpler and quicker.  I went with a plain, basic 12″ white ceramic tile, and this time, I did the actual “laying” myself.  New life skill mastered.  Don’t you dare ask me to come help you tile, though.  This skill isn’t leaving this house.  Here’s the tile pre-grout. image You might be able to tell in that picture, but I decided not to carry the Sandstone Cove color into the powder room.  Instead, I went with a dusty light china blue called Misty Surf.  I’m really happy with the color and the tile!  The tile is grouted, and I wired up another light fixure (I’m practically a licensed electrician now), but I’m going to save the rest of this room for a big reveal.  It’ll be done soon.  The trim and door are currently in my dining room waiting to be painted and installed.

We ordered the countertop last week, and the guy came and measured on Tuesday.  I went with (gasp!) laminate.  It’s come a long way from its beginnings, and it’s cheap!  I went with Bainbrook Grey (yes! they spelled it right!) by Wilsonart with a 180 bullnose edge and 3″ backsplash.  It’ll look great with the (hopefully) light grey floors and charcoal cabinets. image

Here’s a photo of it in a kitchen. image Can you believe both counters there are laminate?!  I told you, it’s come a long, long way.  Laminate counters made choosing an apron sink a little tougher, though, since it has to be top-mount.  Most apron sinks aren’t.  BUT there are some.  Namely, the Domsjo double sink from IKEA and the Vault by Kohler.  The Domsjo is white, the Vault is stainless.  There’s about a $200 difference between the two, with the Domsjo being cheaper.  I ultimately decided I didn’t want to drive to Minneapolis, though, to get the sink, and shipping it was out of the question – it would have cost more than the price of the sink in shipping!  The Domsjo also requires significant modification to existing non-apron sink cabinets.  Then I had a revelation.  Home Depot sells an acrylic apron sink by Lyons Industries that is top mount, comes in white and is $100 cheaper than the Domsjo.  I was hesitant about an acrylic sink because of scratches and melting and reviews of them being flimsy, but I bit the bullet knowing it didn’t have to be permanent long-term.  The sink arrived today, and I love it!  And the best part?  Besides being shipped to my house (for free!) and being way cheap, this sink doesn’t require anything be done to the sink cabinet other than removing the false drawer fronts.  Wicked simple!  It feels sturdy enough.  And yes, it’s white, it has a blue protective film on it in the photo. image An added bonus of choosing this sink was the 4 holes for fixtures vs 1 hole in the Domsjo.  I had been struggling to find a 1 hole faucet that fit the “farmhouse” style I was looking for.  This sink dissolved that problem, and I found and ordered this faucet instead. image

It’s a bridge faucet with the sculpted neck and a sprayer.  What’s not to love?  Oh, and this faucet was only about $100, compared to $300-500 for similar styles.  Easy choice.

Dad and I also started piecing the built-in in the kitchen back together this week. The bead board on the back made me say bad words, but it’s almost ready to be painted! image

So that’s that for now.  I’ve started priming my cabinet frames, but I’m going to save that whole process for its own post.  I promise to try to demystify painting new, unfinished cabinets as best I can.  I might even make you feel like you can do it! Stay tuned…to be continued…over and out.


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