Kitchen Update, continued

Removing stainless backsplash

We are working on a very minimum (read: less expensive) “renovation” of our kitchen. To save money we are keeping all appliances, all cabinets and only replacing the granite countertops, faucet, and stainless backsplash. We will have a professional cabinet maker (thanks, dad!) repaint/repair only the cabinet doors that have water damage and otherwise we aren’t making any other changes to the space. That is the plan. Our budget was <$15,000 for this entire project including labor, freight shipping on stone, materials, fabrication and new fixtures, but as of now I’m tracking to $13,500 total and that is my expected total cost (or less).

I found the stone at Marmi Natural Stone channeling Waterworks Prunella Keystone. The stone that I selected is called Calacatta Violette and is the same material as the Waterworks Prunella. We were able to make two, 2 cm, honed and cracked (yes, cracked) pieces work for our kitchen to save a bit of money. The slabs were shipped from Marmi and arrived at our fabricator Stone City (Chicago) last week.

Stone City just taped up the slabs for approval.

Slab from Marmi taped up by Stone City Chicago

I have done this entire project remotely and have seen nothing in person yet, only online pictures.

I have yet to see these slabs in person!

This weekend we attempted to DIY the removal of our stainless backsplash. It was honestly really tough! We got 50% of the way through which is great, but we had to call in some help for the second half. It is still not complete.

The stainless backsplash is in process of being removed

The stainless backsplash was glued to the wall and behind the stove it was loose. This wall is now completely removed. We used an industrial suction cup (for removing glass) to pull the stainless out. We also used a heat gun, but unclear how much that helped us. The wall behind the sink is not done. We couldn’t get that off.

It took 2-days to take off this backsplash and we did minor damage

Wow. My husband did a lot of work here. It was hard and time-consuming. But – it was “FREE”! Only one more piece of stainless left to remove. Theoretically, it should be easier because it is smaller and a simple rectangle shape, but it is glued down more, behind the faucet, and it’s currently not lifting up for us.

Paint scratch from removal that we will repair

It was frustrating to scrape the paint on the cabinets, but my dad assured me that this wasn’t such a big deal (we can fix it). We will have a professional tile this wall. I have not selected tiles yet! Please send ideas! The wall behind the sink will be a slab of the Prunella / Calacatta Violette marble. I’m leaning towards cream fired square tiles for behind the stove.

Kitchen Update

Slowly renovating our kitchen on a budget

One of our first projects after we moved into our apartment was opening up our kitchen by removing the overhead cabinets. The cabinets were wired for lighting and were heavy, but otherwise the removal was relatively straightforward. (That being said, my dad and husband did the heavy lifting so I was merely watching!)

Before: Our kitchen

The kitchen is relatively small so the overhead cabinets took up a lot of space and closed off the kitchen even more than it already was.

After: We think this made a huge difference in opening up the space!

The peninsula granite has a hole in it from where electrical was previously installed in the breadbox – slightly annoying, but certainly not unlivable. We’ve gotten great use out of this kitchen for just over a year, and I’m ready to upgrade within budget. I have had the hardest time justifying an upgrade in this kitchen given how timeless it already is, but with a tight budget we were comfortable moving forward.
Our current Rohl faucet is badly leaking, so we removed the regulator to allow the water to flow more freely (vs. spray in all directions) and found a replacement faucet from Devol Kitchens. I wrote about our new faucet here. It was much cheaper than alternative options in the U.S. by Rohl on build.com and we saved a material amount of money importing this faucet from the UK, including duty and shipping. We went with with a similar Rohl faucet in unfinished brass with a separate spray. We will DIY remove and install to save $450 (the quote we received from our fabricator).

Our new faucet from Devol Kitchens, by Rohl, in un-lacquered brass

We are planning to keep our current Shaw’s farmhouse sink and all of our appliances, replacing only the counters and backsplash with honed marble. When we were working on our bathrooms, I found a material at Waterworks that I really loved. The material has become relatively “trendy” now, but I really like it and generally my philosophy is that everything including gray / white eventually looks dated so I’d prefer to just do what I want today and “use it up”.

Inspiration counter from Waterworks Chicago and a slab from Marmi Natural Stone

After some google image searching, I found two slabs at Marmi Natural Stone that matched my vision and I’ve worked with them to procure our materials. We are working with Stone City in Chicago on the fabrication and installation. Stay tuned!

The den, plaid makeover

Plaid carpet install

The den has been in process for quite some time and not including the kitchen, the last room to finish, but we have a great base with the walls painted Railings by Farrow & Ball to layer on mixed plaid and cozy this room up! As a reminder, this is what the room looked like before we got started. 

The den, from the listing photo

It is amazing to think that our cozy den was once a bedroom!

The first thing we did was paint the space and remove all traces of gray

It still makes me sad that the homeowner painted the entire home gray to sell it, just for me to immediately re-paint, but alas – the gray is gone, and so is the pink square that the mirror was hiding… 

The carpet selection for this room was simple. I knew I wanted a modern plaid rug in a navy tone and was immediately drawn to a carpet from Stark that could be custom cut to fit the room perfectly. 

From selection to installation, the Stark carpet was in place within one month

We had a couple of real-time decisions to make as the carpet was being installed. Namely, whether or not we left the “tail” of carpet alongside the fireplace and behind the door. While it is relatively “skinny” I decided to keep the tail as the door is often open and I wanted to see the carpet extend behind the door. I also did not want the door to get caught up on the edge of the carpet when opening and closing. After months of living with this carpet, I am happy we kept the tail. 

We debated keeping this “tail” or cutting it short and decided to keep it

The addition of the carpet made such a difference in this room and I am so happy with it. It is a perfect compliment to the Railings paint color. 

The carpet is a perfect match to the Railings paint from F&B

Still in process is a cornflower blue pull-out couch from Avery Boardman that will be delivered soon. Once the couch is in place I will select chairs from Chairish (or Ebay) to re-upholster.

Stark carpet in place, waiting for furniture

I’ve narrowed down the fabric to a selection of Colefax and Fowler plaids, pictured below. They all coordinate well with the couch fabric (below, bottom right), and the carpet. I’m debating introducing more than one plaid and am thinking about it all as a big mix and match project. It needs to coordinate, but it doesn’t need to match perfectly. 

Swatches from Colefax and Fowler and our chosen couch fabric from Manuel Canovas, bottom right

Keeping in mind the art that we selected for the room, I am leaning towards the plaid on the top right of the image above for side chairs. The fabric has a sense of plum which helps to pull in the tones of the artwork and it feels like a better coordinating fit, to me. 

Stephanie Hier artwork in the den, wall painted Railings by F&B

Once the couch is delivered and in place, I will make the final decision. I’m enjoying taking my time on this project! 

Halloween Chic

Simple Halloween decor that is classic and spooky

Our Halloween decorations were all sourced from Michael’s craft store. We spent less than $100 and will use all of the decorations again next year. I wanted to bring in the “spooky” and “freaky” without making the decor too dark or sensational, and on a white bookcase it was impossible to make the decor too dark anyway, so I worked with what we had and even incorporated some of our usual shelf decor, that with the black fabric looked spooky too!

The hand mannequin that is always on our shelf looks spookier with the Halloween colors

I flipped all of our books so that black, white and red bindings were the only visible colors facing out. I removed all items from our shelves that were out of the color scheme and hid them below. I layered a combination of black fabric, black stuffing and faux fall leaves across the shelves with a mix of styrofoam (read: cheap) skeleton heads, black crows and a “bag of bones” nestled in a chicken wire box.

All of the books turned out or face forward were red, white and black / B&W

The black stuffing went a long way to elevate basic shelves to Halloween chic with the mix of faux leaves. Be sure to stand the leaves up in the stuffing so that you can see them from afar vs. simply laying them down flat.

Leaves standing up in the black stuffing add more color and texture than leaves laying flat

The crows were a fun addition to the shelves and we were able to tuck a few away in some “surprise” places throughout the house.

A crow perched atop the Sapiens bookcase

Each fireplace mantle was decorated differently with a combination of small pumpkins, white and orange, and more faux fall leaves. In total, I used four bags of the faux leaves and they went a long way. I took all of the extra leaves and piled them at the edge of the fireplace on the ground.

Out of frame is a pile of faux leaves at the base of the den fireplace

The dining room fireplace was decorated with faux leaf branches from Michaels and a line of orange and white striped pumpkins from the patch!

The faux leaves look real against the [real] mini orange and white striped pumpkins on the dining room fireplace

The dark Calla Lillies that we always have in our living room in their bone vases look perfect for Halloween! The white pumpkins are simple and sweet. 

Friendly “Halloween” flowers in the kitchen

All of our mini pumpkins were purchased at the pumpkin patch. We bought 15 of these minis and scattered them through the house!

All of our pumpkins were cleaned before we placed them around the house. 

While we will have to toss the pumpkins at the end of the season, all of the other decor can be stored for next year. 

In our entry, we nested a bundle of dried corn against a cluster of larger pumpkins and more faux leaves

Happy Halloween!

Raleigh baby room surprise

I remotely planned a baby room design for my friend Meghan in Raleigh. You can see some of my planning here. Last night, while Meghan was sleeping, I made it happen in 4 hours. The best part about this room? All of the major ingredients to make it fabulous were less than $600.
As a reminder, this is what the room looked like before. It was basic – nothing particularly special about this room, but it is a room everyone can relate to. It is a basic bedroom!

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A very basic baby room – the “before” shot

Meghan had recently carpeted and painted the room so there was a nice base to work with, but decorating wasn’t a first priority with the baby only 4-weeks away. The baby gender is unknown and Meghan wanted this room to “last”, so the design is intended to be gender neutral and sophisticated so it will be age appropriate for many years.
When working on a budget, the best way to make a big impact for less dollars is to hang a mural wallpaper. Lulu and Georgia has beautiful choices. I needed 2 rolls for this project. I began at 9PM and started with wallpaper.

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It was my second time installing wallpaper and I did it alone, so I trust anyone could do this. The paper is pre-pasted so all you need to do is use a sponge to spread water on the back of the panel, hang, and push out the air bubbles. The pre-pasted glue is a bit “slimy” in texture once it is activated, so you have some time to maneuver the panel and slide it into place so it matches up. I trimmed the base, top and around the outlets with a sharp x-acto knife and a straight edge (the same tool I used to smooth out the wallpaper).

After the wallpaper was done I worked on the curtains.

DIY Pom-Pom Curtains: The curtains are Threshold from Target. I bought pom-pom trim from Amazon and 1 roll of HeatnBond hem tape. This is all you need, plus an iron. These curtains were less than $50, TOTAL, for BOTH panels! All you need to do is iron the pom pom trim to the inside edge of the curtain with the HeatnBond hemming tape. I had to set my iron to a much higher steaming setting than the directions recommended, but that worked fine. This took ~20 minutes.

Iron on pom-poms, make fabulous curtains for <$50 total

The finished panel from the front. So beautiful and so easy and so inexpensive!

After I finished the curtains, I arranged the furniture around the edges of the room, accessorized with a $36 Lulu and Georgia Zeba pillow, a $48 trio of West Elm frames filled with my own animal watercolors and laid down a $163 Lulu and Georgia Nasra 5×7 rug.

West Elm gallery frames with watercolors by me

Lulu and Georgia Nasra rug, 5×7, brightens up the room and adds a nice extra layer

While I initially planned to make a DIY mobile, I found this Blabla mobile on eBay for $40, so I went with that given retail is $170+. Whenever I’m looking for something special, I always check Ebay first and I always bid under list. Even if the item is an auction item (and doesn’t have a buy it now option), I will message the seller and ask if they will take a lower price. Why? Because negotiating is fun! 😉 This one was listed for $60 and I got it for $40, muahaha.

My Ebay Blabla mobile is FAB and entirely handmade! Fits jungle theme perfectly.

I finished at 1AM. Surprising Meghan was the best, she loved it. 🙂

A 4-hour makeover, complete! Lulu and Georgia Mural

Jellycat doll, Pehr bag, Target Lamp, Wayfair chair, Lulu and Georgia pillow and mural and rug

 

 

Potter Barn crib, BlaBlah (Ebay) mobile, Target side table, DIY pom-pom Target curtain, Lulu and Georgia Mural

Paintings by me! Lulu and Georgia jungle mural

The drawer pulls we planned to update are delayed from China, but they are en route and will be mint green porcelain.

Love you Meghan and baby S to-be! Lulu and Georgia jungle mural

It was such a fun project and I’m so lucky that Meghan let me express all my ideas freely and completely trusted me with this room after a half bottle of wine. Love you Meghan, and baby S!

DIY: Rope Credenza

It’s labor day weekend and we’re making a credenza!

Once upon a time I set my eyes upon a rope credenza at a property that we visit annually on the East Coast. The second I saw it I thought, “I could make that”. And alas, the time has come. Our den walls are plaster so we cannot hide our TV wires within the walls. We will hang a Samsung Frame TV and hide the wires in a credenza. Since I was not originally planning on needing this piece of furniture, I wanted something simple and inexpensive while still appearing high end. I covered the entire IKEA Henmes sideboard in rope. (Naturally!)

Supply List:
1) IKEA Henmes sideboard, light brown, 2) 1,200 feet of 5/16″ Manila Rope, 3) Glue gun and glue sticks, 4) A paintbrush like this, 5) New knobs (optional) and longer screws to fit (rope requires screws to be slightly longer)

Pro Tip: This project took me 14 hours start to finish, so you need a weekend. I’d also recommend a very sharp knife and scissors for cutting the rope.

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IKEA Henmes sideboard: $329

Mecox has some interesting rope covered furniture that serves as a nice inspiration for this project. While I won’t be exactly mimicking this piece, I liked it very much.

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Mecox Pawley Abaca Rope Dresser: $1,875

The rope I am working with is from Knot & Rope supply.

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1,200 feet of 5/18″ rope from Knot & Rope Supply

Beginning with the drawer fronts, work from the outside in to cover them in rope. Do the same with the top of the sideboard. For the drawers, I worked from the center out because I wanted to make sure I wasn’t covering the holes for the drawer pulls, but in retrospect I think this was a harder path. It was harder because I had to measure in from the outer edge to make sure I was starting in the right place.

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Process if you begin in the center, and work out. I found it was easier to work outside in

For the cabinet doors and sides I wrapped the center section first, similar to the top and the drawers, but cut separate strips for the outer border.

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Beginning at the outer edge, wrap to center, then cut strips for sides

I cut the rope with a Global knife that I will be taking to get sharped on Tuesday. Not to say it’s dull now, I’m just expecting that is possible…

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Cut separate strips to cover the border edges

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All the pieces coming together in the living room for assembly

After the credenza was assembled, I glued down the trim pieces.

Ikea Henmes hack, covered in rope

I appreciate that I am did not go into too much detail here, but I am expecting the likelihood of some fellow-crafter following in my footsteps to DIY this piece is somewhere around 0% (rounding). So, please reach out to me if you do want to do this, and I can help guide you through.

Ikea hens hack, covered in rope with Samsung frame tv (waiting on frame)

I will have a piece of glass cut to top this off and help protect from dust. The knobs were replaced with cast iron knobs that I found online for $20. The Samsung frame tv will have a maple frame that is still on it’s way to us.

DIY: Bistro Table

Making use of the scrap pile…

Bistro tables are expensive and it is not hard to DIY. I made a bistro table for our kitchen and am very pleased with the results. This table cost ~50% less than big box retail alternatives, is custom, better quality and has beautiful marble that is superior to the box store choices. It also took less than 1 hour to assemble and required very little time to procure (all online, no in-person).

Supply list: 1) Marble / stone: I purchased mine at Stone City in Chicago by simply emailing, reviewing pictures and selecting for custom cut, 2) Silicon adhesive, 3) Piece of wood, 4) Bistro table base: mine is available here

Pro Tip: Marble from scrap is generally less expensive, as are straight cuts (vs. circle) to produce. This marble was from scrap and was cut to size in a 30″ hexagon.

First, I ordered my base (link above) and emailed the stone yard to get pictures of available scrap pieces.

This is the image that the stone yard (Stone City, Chicago) sent me of my chosen (by email) slab

The specs of this piece of marble is a hexagon, 30″ across the widest point. When the marble was delivered, I glued the wood to the base with silicon glue and let this dry overnight. The stone yard did apply mesh to the base of my cut slab so the glue would better stick.

Glue wood to marble, screw base to wood! (Do not screw base directly to marble)

Flipping the table upright is a 2-man job (eek, I did it alone) given the table weighs close to 125 lbs.

Protective plastic covers the surface

The last step is to simply peel back the protective covering and treat the marble for stain resistance. I love this little corner for weekend coffees in the AM!

Complete DIY bistro table with Frontgate chairs and Schoolhouse Electric lights

The table is very sturdy and does not wobble whatsoever.