crafts, diy

Big DIYs + Small Prices

After recently moving into a new condo, I was bitten by the demo/diy/renovation bug. The condo is in an absolutely enviable location and comes equipped with plenty of space, natural lighting, and counter space. The single issue I had was the 1980s honey oak cabinets. Not only were they dated (not in that charming, but-they’re-kind-of-in-right-now way), but they sat extremely low on the kitchen walls and created a claustrophobic feel in the already narrow galley kitchen. We decided to brighten it up by ripping out one set of cabinets, painting the remaining cabinets white, the walls grey, and adding grey backsplash. The result:



Luckily, we were gifted a cabinet refinishing kit for Christmas and it seemed to work very well for our project. We chose ‘pure white’ for the final color and had it mixed with the provided ‘base coat’ solution at the home improvement store. While we knew this was an undertaking, we weren’t quite expecting the project to take as long as it did. We used the provided deglosser to start off, but ended up sanding to ensure an even, raw base. Three coats of white base and one protective top coat later, we had a gleaming white kitchen. I will say this about the kit: the top coat dries a little dingy, and any dried drips will peel the entire white coat right off. I see a top coat touch up in our near future.

Tile Process

The tile process was simple: add plenty of mastic to one section, apply the individual tiles in the classic staggered pattern, cut tiles to fit around outlets, allow mastic to work overnight, apply grout, wipe tiles, wipe tiles, wipe tiles, seal grout, caulk.

Naturally, the day we chose to hit the improvement store for supplies was [insert big expensive brand here] shelf stock day, and they took advantage of our half open mouths and unknowing stares as we tried to pick mastic, grout, sealer, caulk, and tools. We were told not to use spacers as subway tile comes with space notches–but listen, I researched. I knew what I wanted and I definitely wanted an 1/8″ grout line. Soo bye dude I’m getting these. Then another guy tried to sell us premixed grout that “included sealer.” It was over $50 – nuh bruh. We got two quarts of non-sanded premixed grout in bright white, a tub of the cheaper mastic that covered well over 35 square feet, two sponges, and two bags of 1/8″ spacers.

A Lesson on Grout

While friends, relatives, bloggers, and home improvement stores all suggested applying grout with a joint knife and grout float, we opted out of the float and quickly realized the joint knife just didn’t work. So naturally, as children in grown bodies do, we used our hands. Worked like a charm. I ran out of gloves, which had to be thrown away each time I wiped the tiles down, so I ended up bare handed. It really cleaned out my nails and exfoliated my hands. I now realize that this was an unwise choice as grout dries out the skin and definitely doesn’t come off for a couple of days.


Bright Tender Gray Subway Tile, How to Grout

Bright Tender Gray Subway Tile,How to Grout  Bright Tender Gray Subway Tile,Bright White Grout

Bright Tender Gray Subway Tile, Bright White Grout

I think it came out pretty acceptable.

DIY Farmhouse Open Shelves

Next up was the giant open space where the old cabinets once were. We had an idea of open shelving to tie in the cabinets and utilize as much vertical space as possible. I wanted to place the shelves at cabinet level to keep the lines consistent throughout the kitchen, so I needed to find brackets that would allow that without drilling into our precious new tile. I have a long history with Ikea shelving and thought those would be just the ticket. However, I found that Ikea shelves are only produced in two sizes–too big for my wall and too small for my wall. I scoured the webs and came across Colleen’s idea for utilizing the exact Ikea brackets that I had my eye on. Taking cues from her experience, I went to the home improvement store and selected a single cedar pressure treated plank at 12′ x 6″ x 1″  in hopes that two pieces would fit into the depth of the 11″ bracket.

DIY Farmhouse Shelves

Turns out two 6″ deep pieces did fit into the depth of the bracket, yet the 1″ height left lots of room. So I, ever headstrong, forged ahead despite the issue and hoped for the best. After staining the boards with Minwax Wood Stain in Jacobean and painting the chrome brackets black, we put the the first bracket up and slid the two boards, side by side, into the other bracket to ensure fit. It fit!

DIY Farmhouse Shelves, Ikea Hack

I couldn’t contain my excitement and immediately gathered a few things I already had in the kitchen, including my latest $3 Salvation Army find–an extra tall bronze canister. I added some sauce bowls (they’re actually mixed nut bowls for us) from Target and called it a day. Success!

How to Style DIY Farmhouse Shelves

Next up is a couple pieces of art for the walls to fill that obnoxious height above our cabinets, and then it’s on to some other rooms we want to embellish and finish up.




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