DIY Kitchen Island, updated

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We had big plans on building a completely new island but as time passed we asked ourselves why we were going to go to all the trouble and expense since we are looking at this renovation just to sell the house?

When we discovered that the table legs we had our eye on vanished from the online store and we would have to go with a different size we decided to change plans altogether and make life easier. However, we had also trashed the doors so what to do!?

Here is the finish and countertop with dimensions of the original island:

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We ended up using the same 3 drawer format and built new drawers that were flat against the surface to provide some interesting counterpoint to the other drawers in the kitchen. In any future kitchen I’m putting in lots and lots of drawers! We use these island drawers for spices as they are located across from the stove.

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The three sections below were originally hinged doors which I found really inconvenient as they opened into the aisle across from the stove and you couldn’t access anything in them easily as they were too deep. In this new version they are now pull out, appliance storage drawers (i.e. bread machine, crockpot, waffle machine etc…) with a pierced pattern on the front similar to a Farmhouse pie-cabinet look. LOVE THEM!

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Here is a diagram plan with measurements that we were working from:

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The exterior paint is a latex I found in the Lowe’s bargain bin and we added a black glaze on top to tone down the green. Two additional coats of Velvet Finishes, Protect poly were put on top of that. The stain on the doors and drawers is by General Finishes and is Antique Oak. The hardware is from a local store, Garbes, and the black granite countertop is by Hoffman, a local installer.

We still need to put in supporting brackets under the overhang (something I decided to add when the counter people came out to measure) and some touch ups on paint.

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We ended up loving this color so much that we’ve decided to go with it and repaint the entire base cabinetry to match.

The cream-white chalk paint we’ve lived with for 3 years is far too much trouble on base cabinetry – as this is where the spills mostly happen. Keeping it clean is almost impossible and any stain shows up on the cream -white. The cream-white base cabinetry against the white floor also doesn’t show up as well as I would like either as there isn’t enough contrast between colors.

The repaint is going to be a big pain in the neck, repaint job but it needs to happen. It was a mistake to go this direction but sometimes you don’t learn until you try something out.

Next up though is getting a new backsplash to show off our new granite counters.

Planning a kitchen island

This post I wrote as a draft three years ago… the island will have its new countertop Tuesday and I’ll update with photos. So this is a blast from the past. We decided to go a different direction but I still love these choices so check them out.

Redoing the kitchen included updating the kitchen island as part of the complete kitchen renovation.

The original cabinet is a three drawer and three door cabinet sitting on the cement foundation. Because there is no tile underneath, and we don’t plan on re-tiling the kitchen, the renovation has to take that factor into account. The island’s electrical box will also be moved to improve aesthetics.

One thing to help in the redesign is take photos from different angles you would enter the room. It helps to visualize the entire space. With this kitchen it’s three directions and these are the two most highly trafficked directions:

From the photos, the island looks just like a box, nothing special. It also blends in with the other cabinetry and just looks like more cabinetry. Fashion wise, today’s kitchen islands look more and more like furniture, preferably an “antique” that has been added to the kitchen either before or after it’s construction.

BTW changing your current island or installing a new one, check your code. There are specifics about how far the island can be placed from the stove, fridge, and dishwasher, as well as the width of walkways through the kitchen. You don’t want to change your island, only to find out you can’t remove your stove!

Looking over alot of ideas for kitchen islands and these were my favorites and why:

The blue island has awesome cornerlegs and I really like how the base molding is done. The only fault is the countertop should have been thicker too for better proportion.

I like the proportion of the upper with the lower, shorter leg on this table from Osbornewood.com. I also like the base shelf being completely open. Our design would need the baseboard to go all the way to the floor to conceal the lack of tile.

Another design with the bottom completely open from RealSimple.com. I think the advantage this design would make the kitchen appear larger. My only problem is how this space would be used for storage and is it realistic for how we use storage in our kitchen?

After reviewing what I liked and why, I know I want to keep the drawers. They are way useful and the kitchen runs a bit short on drawers. Another choice for storage would be baskets for holding onions, garlic, potatoes and other dry pantry items and/or vegetables. I like this idea as it would provide texture and country to the kitchen without going overboard.

Our original plan was this, which I love and may use one day however, for this house we completely went a different direction (and I’ll post later about why).

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Television media stand from vintage sideboard (part 3)

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Wow! This project went a lot faster and was easier then I expected although we did have a few bumps in the road. Not sure why I waited so long!

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First, the vintage cabinet got some repairs and changes made to its structure. The inside shelf was removed, the height was shortened by removing two drawers, and veneer was replaced or repaired.

TIP – if looking to do the same find furniture that is made from 100% wood and is preferably with construction that is tongue and groove (hint: look at the drawers and inside corners).

Second, the television cabinet former sideboard was painted with two coats of Black Onyx semi gloss latex premium paint from Glidden. My other blog post has a lot of tips on how to use the HomeRight Paint Sprayer to make it go much easier and faster. However, I would not use this paint brand again (see below on why).

Now for the finishing touches:

First, we used a coat of paint stripper on the top of the cabinet. This was to remove any old topcoat of varnish or poly as well as clean off any gunk.

Next it was sanded using mostly a fine sandpaper on an electric sander. Again this was just to lighten the wood from the original stain. Husband did this for me and was very industrious! He got it down to bare wood and almost all of the damage out, except for one round stain that remains.

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The stain I used on the top is a water based, wood stain by General Finishes called Antique Oak. I like this color because it has a gray undertone in it and not the dreaded yellow or red color you see in other oak stains.

You may be more familiar with the wipe on Java gel stain this company offers due to the many, many Pinterest projects that use it 😀 If you haven’t used General Finishes before, I highly recommend their products. Very easy to use and a great result.

This water based, stain product is a bit thick like their Java Gel stain, and it is also grainy which surprised me. It went on darker then I expected but that was okay. It dried very fast! So work quickly! I used a foam brush applicator, wore latex gloves and wiped off with a lint clean rag.

TIP: This top was down to bare wood and it was very dry. It soaked up the stain very quickly so be aware you might need to work faster on old wood, vintage pieces then you would on projects that use new wood.

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After one coat of stain, I put on two protective coats of Velvet Finishes Protect on the top and Howard paste wax in neutral on the bottom. The first time using this wax and I’m impressed. Went on very easy (unlike Annie Sloan’s wax) and had the most delicious smell! Easy to buff too.

Behind the Scenes: I tried VF Protect on the black paint area and boy was that a mistake! It immediately started stripping off the paint! Whoa! So if using this product on anything but their own line do a test patch first. I already knew it worked well over this stain due to the kitchen island project where I used them both in combination.

The cabinet originally had wood knobs which I felt made it too country and dated for me. Those I replaced.

The doors didn’t close right and that wasn’t because they were warped (very hard to fix) but because they needed new hardware. Replaced!

Thoughts on this project:

I made a few mistakes. First one, is that I should have treated the bare wood panel we used on one side with a primer or sealant. Once the paint hit it, it raised the wood grain, giving a rough appearance to the surface. Solution? I gave it a slight hand sanding to smooth it down and then repainted that panel with the black.

Second mistake, when I put the cabinet up on 5 gallon buckets that wasn’t really high enough. I should have waited and used the sawhorses which would have allowed me to approach each side at a different angle by simply adding a step stool or not using a step stool. When you can’t change the paint approach slightly (instead you approach head on so to speak) it is hard to get coverage into crevices. I later touched that up with a foam brush.

Third mistake, I used the Velvet Finishes Protect on the black area without doing a test and disaster! It removed the black paint like a paint remover! Egad! Immediately cleaned it off with denatured alcohol, let dry and reapplied the black with a foam brush on the damaged areas.

I do wish I had sprayed on a primer. I think it would have given more grip for the paint and when I do the next project, the King Poster Bed, I will use a primer.

I also wish we had put some sort of ornamentation on the front kickboard area as it looks a little too plain next to all the other carving. OTOH, I’ve since swept in this room and the kickboard allowed me to get a clean sweep across without shoving dust under the unit. Yay!

I think this project would have looked even cooler in a color! Like a red, coral, turquoise or blue. However, I know we’ll be moving in a few years and wanted this in a classic color that would work with a lot of different furniture colors so black it was.

Future thoughts…

The inside of this unit is to store dvds but the current containers I have for them isn’t quite the right size. I looked at Target, Walmart, and Bed and Bath and no one has containers for DVDs??!!

I need a bin that has a straight side, not tapered (that removes the interior space) and with a lid. I found these small and large box at the Container Store so that looks like the storage solution there. Though still looking through various possibilities at Ikea.

Television media stand from vintage sideboard (part 2)

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Before painting this piece, it was cleaned using denatured alcohol; this removes any wax or topcoat and also cleans off the dust and grime. It didn’t really need any sanding except over the repaired areas (see the last post).

Paint used: Glidden Premium, semi gloss latex, color Deep Onyx from Home Depot. I bought a gallon as I’ll be using this color on my four poster bed and the front door.

Dilution: 3 cups paint to 15 tablespoons water. This was a THICK PAINT! so this was the number I went with after using the cup provided by the HomeRight paint sprayer kit.

The Good:

The last time I used a paint sprayer it was a commercial one and it made a lot of overspray! This machine is far more targeted so that means less of a chance of a big mess. However, I would still tape off or cover in plastic anything you don’t want misted if you were doing this inside or in the garage. I did this project outdoors as it was a lovely day with little wind.

After reading the directions the machine was actually far easier to use then I expected from the Amazon reviews. It’s not that complicated but it does take some experimentation with testing the paint’s viscosity and figuring out the best amount of pressure and nozzle direction for your project.

The paint went further then I expected (about 2 cups finished the project). With a commercial paint sprayer it hooks into a gallon or 5 gallon tank and used a lot more paint so I’m very pleased with this HomeRight because it’s just right for smaller projects.

It dried amazingly fast. Because the first coat was thin with a sprayer (vs. a brush or roller) it was dry within 30 minutes. I went back and got a second coat on without having to clean my sprayer. Yay!

Timewise, I got the first coat applied in 10 minutes, the second coat in about 8 minutes. If I had been using a brush or roller with all the carving on this piece this would have been a half day project of rolling and cutting in around the carved pieces. TIMESAVER.

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TIPS and TROUBLESHOOTING

DO NOT SKIP THE STEP OF DILUTING YOUR PAINT (if needed). Be sure to test it. That was actually the longest part of my project and took me half an hour to get it right. Husband was going to dilute the whole gallon and I was like hold on there cowboy!

I took one cup in a container and tested that over and over again. I wasn’t going to dilute the entire gallon and then end up ruining it. Start small, test small and then apply to the larger batch you are going to do. Mine for example was 3 cups paint to 15 tablespoons water and that did the entire project.

The job went very well because of the time spent on testing the thickness of the paint. Also, I plan on doing my king sized, poster bed with this same paint/sprayer technique so when I start that project, I already know the dilution needed.

Once you have your paint loaded and you are about to pull that trigger – WAIT. Get a piece of cardboard and spray on it for about 1 minute. That loads up the paint into the sprayer and you won’t get that first splotchy coat on your proect. It also gives you a moment to adjust the nozzle or pressure.

This machine works a lot like a can of spray paint (but much better). Some of the issues you have with spraypaint you can run into here – don’t keep your sprayer pointed at one place – keep it moving all the time or you will end up with blotching.

You need to be quick to take your hand/finger off the trigger! Don’t go heavy and put the handle in a death grip! Be ready to stop at anytime when you are not sure by simply removing the pressure on the handle.

Just like spraypaint cans if your nozzle gets dirty or jammed, your flow will come out splotchy and uneven. Always clean your machine between jobs or even within the same job if you are taking too long between coats. It’s why I bought a special cleaning kit to make it go easier.

The nozzle direction didn’t quite work out the way I was expecting so the first few passes were a bit chancy. I changed the nozzle and it worked better for the way I intuitively paint. Be ready to make changes and start with an experimental piece to test out how the machine works.

The spray looked a little bumpy on that first coat, however, on this project, when I went back in 30 minutes the paint coat had magically evened out! Yay! So finish wise I have to say I feel it is just about right for what I wanted. Unless you have an obvious run, wait till the first coat dries and examine to see if it is right.

At first, I felt the droplet spray was a little too large and not as fine as I would like. This is a compromise. Do you want more area covered? Bigger spray. Smaller area takes more time but the spray can be finer. Again, pick a piece to experiment with (or some cardboard) to get a feel for the machine.

People complain about the short cord. I actually prefer the short cord and use an extension cord. My sander has a long cord but it isn’t long enough to really work around a project so it ends up being more of a pain to store then a help. Just use an extension cord 😉

I also bought an extra paint container with lid. So after I finished the black paint, I capped the paint container that came with the original sprayer and put it aside to later use for my bed project.

If you are going to be switching back and forth between paints or topcoats and don’t want to clean out each container or  you want to store back your diluted paint but not with the un-diluted paint, consider buy some of these!

DON’T BE SLOPPY, CLEAN YOUR MACHINE! Just like any spray can, if the nozzle gets jammed it can’t mist the paint or other product you want to use. If you are not applying coats within 30 minutes of each other, your paint could be drying in the nozzle which would effect the quality of future sprays.

Yes, it takes time to take the machine apart and clean it, but the finish and relief from other hassles (cleaning brushes, having the garbage of spray paint cans and rollers, more time painting etc…) is well worth it.

I’ll be wrapping up the info blog posts for this project by tomorrow with info on staining the top of the cabinet, putting in hardware so the doors close better and new knobs.

Blog change and some updates

Well here I am again! You probably thought I was gone for good! hahaha no, but I have been busy and need to update the blog.

First, I’m changing the blog name to my own domain: FrontPorchCozy which was a plan of mine about 2 years ago. The new blog has NO ADS. Yep, there will NEVER BE ADS HERE. So you don’t have to wade through a bunch of damn popups and crap that you see on these other decorating and remodeling blogs. Can’t stand ads and at this point this blog remains a PERSONAL project.

As the work on our Tulsa House slows down (as we will be selling in 2-3 years), we are moving our lives into a new direction which I think will interest you as it is related to this blog but different:

A. Downsizing. We, like many in the U.S. are trying to live within a limited budget especially as we are looking at retirement in about 15 years. We have a bigger goal of saving money by cutting expenses and improving our quality of life. This means reducing the big house with the big mortgage to reduce stress.

B. Travel. We are going to be looking at a lot of travel models that would fit what we want to do in order to increase our income: buying property that we will sublet out for vacationers. With that in mind, you’ll be seeing some videos and thoughts on different places we have visited and what worked for us and what didn’t as a traveler. Most, if not all, of this will be focused on small homes, cabins, and unique getaways such as glampers or alternative built homes.

C. Building and Remodeling. We will continue to wrap up work on the Tulsa House with the goal to sell it, while we explore other ways to build a new home with methods like Cob or Cordwood, using alternative energy like Solar.

I have a lot of projects I need to catch you up on in terms of photos and descriptions, which I’ll be getting too over the next month as I have time. So while this blog will probably never be a daily blog or maybe not even weekly, I will be posting some neat stuff that I hope you enjoy.

Meanwhile, you can catch more action over at our Facebook page Front Porch Cozy and at our Pinterest page.

Playing catch up with lots of house projects

Wow! It’s been a year since I posted! So I need to play catch up with what we got done on the house. One reason I haven’t been posting here is that lack of money kept us from getting much done on the house. Combine that with lack of time and you get a whole lot of lack of motivation.

However, come December, husband took time off of work so we got a lot of the little jobs that had been sitting around done and we are back to moving forward again.

1.) The Termite team came and sprayed. We had some damage on the front porch from these bugs and that needed to be treated. Once that got done, the wood siding came off, the plywood backing behind got replaced and new exterior boards put back on. We got a quote for $600 to do this; husband got it done for less then $40. Woohoo!

2.) We had two windows giving us troubles. One had a crack and the other had lost the seal so was getting moisture between the panes. This we did contract out for to have the glass replaced. Good as new. About $400 which was cheaper then I expected. If we could afford it, I’d replace all the windows with new but that isn’t happening.

3.) Front door latch which was brass was being cranky due to being worn out; I mean it was 20+ years old! That got replaced with a brush nickel pewter colored latch which looks a lot better with the black door and gray house paint. I’ll be repainting the door a fresh coat of black come summer.

4.) The front exterior wall lamps all got taken down and repainted. $16

5.) The Garage Door got some magnet faux hinges on it as an upgrade. $45.

6.) Our walk in pantry got a fresh facelift. Everything was dragged out, the ceiling repainted, the walls repainted, the shelving repainted and a couple of the shelves up high got cut back in depth (these were installed over 2 decades ago by us when we had specialty items that needed a deep shelf but the deep shelf cut back some of the light).

Because food items in the pantry can stain the shelves (an onion had really done a number on one shelf!), those shelves are now lined with clear, ribbed shelf liner from Bed, Bath and Beyond – so no I’m not repainting these again! Ha!

I’m still working on that pantry (buying more food containers, putting in a built in bin etc..) but I’ll do a reveal when we are done.

7.) The single large recessed light in the hallway to the laundry room also got replaced with two halogen recessed lights, the short ceiling replastered and repainted.

8.) Most of the winter centered around the Kitchen. Originally, the house had 7 recessed lights that were the old style, large recessed can. They never provided enough even light in the kitchen and especially in winter, gave a lot of shadows and were constantly burning out.

Husband replaced and rewired for 16 new recessed Halogen lights so they now match in style with the lights he put into the adjoining family room. They provide a lot of lovely light and give far more illumination to the kitchen area.

However, this was a massive job. Not only were the new lights an investment ($265 from Home Depot which had a better price then Lowes), but the ceiling had to have drywall patches put in, then the entire surface was replastered, and all of it repainted. Instead of using flat white wall paint which didn’t look so great against the creamy white cabinetry, we went with the wall color at 50% lighter which worked great as we have 10′ tall ceilings in there.

Working above your head is no fun! However, we are very lucky husband knows electrical because to have contracted this job out would have been well over $1,500 I’m sure as wiring for one outlet in the garage for husband’s pottery kiln was $300!

10.) The Kitchen Shelf unit FINALLY got painted. After debating again and again what I was going to do with the colors in the kitchen, I found a $5 gallon of paint at Lowes at closeout. I thought it would just be the undercolor (with a topcoat of cranberry red) but once it went on we both loved it so much we decided to go with it. It got a glaze of black on top but is not distressed.

I’ll be doing a reveal of that soon too but I’m waiting on the countertop.

11.) We first painted the Island with the same color as the Kitchen Shelf as a test. But once again, when it went on we really loved it as it provided a beautiful contrast against the cream white cabinetry.

It made us completely rethink our plans which was to rebuild the island from the ground up. Rebuilding the entire island would take quite a chunk of change, and we now know that in 3 years or less the house will be on the market – so was it worth it? Nope!

We will be redoing the island instead with different types of drawers. I’ll be posting about that in the near future too.

12.) Which brings us back to the Kitchen cabinetry that I did in Ce Ce Caldwell’s Chalk paint (the same problem would have happened with Annie Sloan) and topped with wax. A BIG reason I haven’t posted in this house blog is that project was a disaster I was not happy about at ALL.

Wax in no way will protect kitchen cabinets. And what to do about a protective coat when everything I know yellows when it is on top of white paint? I felt like house designer failure and it took me a long time (as you can tell from my blog posts) to feel like I wanted to tackle this problem again.

I even debated about repainting all the cabinetry AGAIN or calling in an expert to fix the problem. However, after doing a lot of research I’ve decided to go with Protect by Velvet Finishes. I’ll be cleaning up the chalk paint on there now, removing the wax that remains and going with Protect over the cabinet surfaces. Hopefully, this will fix the problem that I’ve been wrestling with for two years!

If I have a recommendation for you is don’t go with Chalk Paint in the Kitchen and if you do, use a medium to dark color so you can glaze and protect it with a top coat that won’t yellow over white.

So while yes, I’ll be posting again, it will not be on a very regular basis – only as projects get wrapped up or if there is one that I think is interesting enough you might want to know the process. See you soon!

Using curtain rods in tight places

Curtains are making a design comeback. I love them! Not only are they a great way to keep the heat in during the winter, and the heat of the sun out during the summer, but they are a great design element! They come in so many colors and variations. You can change them when you grow tired and want something different!

These curtains were original to my previous design and were bought at Lowes so its great to recycle and safe money. They are unlined (I prefer lined) but the color worked with what I found in my other furniture – creams, golds, burgundy and green.

We have windows on either side of our fireplace. The problem is when the house was built, the designer made the windows too large for the space (we have a sofit that holds the AC/HVAC that runs along the perimeter of the ceiling) so the edge of wall-to-window space does not allow any room for a traditional curtain rod with a finial.

I went with hangers that attach to the ceiling. This helped me save space because I wanted the curtains to slide over and hide the left and right vertical lines of the window.

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On the tightest corner, I mounted a bracket, from the closet section of the hardware store, on the wall to fit the rod into. There would not have been room to have a finial here with a all mounted bracket and have the curtain actually cover the edge of the window frame.

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Because of the color palette in this room, I wanted a rubbed bronze (brown) look and the finial will eventually match in design with the ceiling fan I’ve selected for this room.

Mounting the curtain rod itself is a little tricky – I needed to make sure that it would hang my curtains to cover the edge of the window but the finials and rod had to be mounted away from the wall to allow the projection of the stone on the fireplace space.

Here you can see how the finials overlap the fireplace – again, there is not enough room with how the original structure was built to allow a traditional curtain hanging. However, I love how this turned out – gives a very nice cottage, homey feel to the room!

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Eventually, I will be layering blinds behind these to provide even better insulation. This room windows face west so we get some hot sun and we also get some north wind, so windows really help me in providing physical comfort in this most used room in the house – the family room/den.

Altogether this room is coming together so well! It’s very cozy and comfortable! For this room we have finished:

  • Years ago we had extended one wall between kitchen and living room, and never got the plaster texture right. In this remodel, we replastered all the room walls with texture (took about three boxes, $100).
  • The ceiling and walls are painted in the Rock color that I am using throughout the downstairs of the house which stylistically makes the different rooms feel united and bigger (it used about 4 gallons of paint if you include the ceiling, sofit and walls, approximately $200).
  • Installed ceiling molding (I’ll show an update later; around $300),
  • Decorative curtains with rods are mounted (some pieces from Lowes; others from Bed Bath and Beyond; approximately $100 for hardware),
  • stone fireplace (about $400) with new rustic mantle (from a Craiglist wood supplier, $60),
  • lighting redone (we put in recessed lighting in the ceiling and sconces on the fireplace mantle for about $225),
  • Floor rug from Craigslist ($75); this was a great find and fits with the color,
  • Used 3 seat cushion sofa from a Consignment store ($250),
  • Used upper-end upholstered chair from Craiglist ($200),
  • Moved down two bookshelves from another room,
  • Redid the floorplan layout so the television is hidden from view when you enter the room.

I will be repainting our television dresser to a distressed black (bought via CL and was previously in this room), still need a new hardwood floor/baseboard, roman shades is what I’d like to find to finish off the windows, and a ceiling fan (I have one selected at about $175; just need the cash 🙂

I wish I could take photos of the entire room but I don’t have a wide angle lens for my camera 😦 Also with winter light things are hard to get the best photos so my photos may be coming a little later. 🙂