Friday, August 5, 2016

Continued: Updating a Builder-Basic: Installing an Ikea Sektion kitchen


As you can see in this picture, I originally designed the island to have two 12" wall cabinets on the backside, one of which would have the side removed, and the door screwed shut, to provide a couple shelves for display and cookbooks, but I changed my mind on this, to make more room for kitchen stools. We ordered our appliances from Sears, and kept going back every time they had them for a lower price. We ended up saving several hundred dollars over the original "sale" prices. This made up in part for the fact that Ikea decided not to have their annual kitchen sale the year we decided to put in an Ikea kitchen. Bummer. (It's going on right now, through the end of August, if you're interested.)

Next up was counter tops. We had been without counters or a kitchen sink for about 3 months, doing dishes in the bathtub. Oh, what a joy that is. Needless to say, we went through lots of paper plates and cups, and ate lots of takeout. Couldn't wait to cook in this kitchen! 

This is "our" slab! It is Delicatus granite from Brazil. It has a creamy white background that goes well with the Bodbyn white cabinets, with dramatic slashes of black throughout. There are hints of copper and white mica that catch the light and add sparkle to the kitchen, along with clouds of a buff color. it was just what we were dreaming of. It was a happy day when they came to put it in. I will not mention the name of the company we bought it from - there are several things that we should have known to ask about, since this was the second time we had had stone installed in a kitchen. One major thing was the "templating" process, which is exactly what they called it when making the appointment. The last time we had granite put in, the guy actually made a template - imagine that! - taking an exact pattern of our walls and appliance placement. This time, the guy just measured, and consequently, they did not scribe the granite to the walls, and my stove just barely has 1/16th of an inch to slide in and out of its space. They put the island top on crooked, with NO overhang on the drawer side, where all the crumbs would be being swept into my hand, and consequently onto the floor. They came back and corrected this, but the fact that it wasn't scribed to the walls gave me major headaches when I was installing the tile backsplash. Just hope this makes someone else more savvy when they go shopping for an installer.

On another note, my sister and her husband came to visit in the midst of our kitchen renovation, and they - honestly - told me that the oak buffet didn't go with anything in the new house. They were right! I had considered painting it for years, but never had the guts. It had been abandoned, along with a matching table and chairs! - in a house that my husband's parents bought many years ago. I had stripped and re-stained it once. Here's the before:

And here's the after, as it currently looks, painted the same color as the Ikea Bodbyn cabinets - using Valspar "Lamb's Wool", mixed in Behr Marquis semi-gloss. Can you believe someone would just leave that behind???! It looks like a big ol' wedding cake, now, and provides lots of needed storage. It makes a nice extra serving area in our dining area. 

 The old, galvanized can on the buffet is a chicken feeder that I found in an abandoned chicken coop in the first house my husband and I owned. The chippy old tea kettle was also bought on vacation at a flea market in Pigeon Forge, where we also found the iron barn pulley, and are still looking for the perfect place to use it. (Maybe holding the lights over the pool table?) We found the old, black-painted window in an antiques shop in Pigeon Forge, TN, while we were having the house built last year. I cleaned it like crazy, then sprayed the back of the glass with Krylon's "Looking Glass" paint. That is amazing stuff! It looks just like a mirror, and reflects the light from the door, brightening what could have been a very dark corner. The platters, pitchers and bowls up top I have been collecting for years, along with a few old ladles & a potato ricer. The frilled cake plate was purchased on a trip to Fenton Glass with my mom when I was in junior high school. The white watering can was a recent buy at Ikea. I use it all the time for houseplants and to water my pot-grown cherry tomatoes and flower pots on the back porch. The little silver mug is the Adams' baby cup, monogrammed with an 'A'.  I made the curtains with indoor/outdoor fabric from

The shelf is a regular old 2x10 from Home Depot, which I pre-conditioned, then stained with Minwax "Honey" stain. (I used the same wood and stain to make the cookbook shelves in the kitchen.) We made the shelf supports from 3/4" black pipe and plumbing parts, also from Home Depot, and I ordered some pipe ends (to plug the holes) on Amazon, here. Easy-peasy to make. I got the idea from this blog post.

We recently painted this wall and the wall behind the buffet in Martha Stewart 'Seal' - an absolute favorite dark, warm gray. All the white just pops with it, and it makes the walls recede, so the space feels bigger. It really draws your eye to the woods out back.

The light over the kitchen table has a faceted lampshade, and a diffuser. Somehow, the faceted motif kept showing up in different items we picked up. Don't you love when that happens? 

The table itself I found in a thrift store for $5, but the original top was only 36" in diameter. I wanted to be able to seat 6 comfortably, so I started perusing Craig's list, and found a 48" table top which had seen better days, for $20. I sanded and stained it with a black gel stain and attached it to the base. We can easily seat 6 around it, now, with two more at the island, and for Thanksgiving, we brought in another extendable table and seated 14.

Next up: Kitchen reveal, pre-molding

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Updating a Builder-Basic House

Soooo, after many months away from posting anything on this blog, I am back to show you what we've been up to in our new, little house. We went for the "Modern Farmhouse" look of this elevation, and are trying to incorporate a few farmhouse touches into our contemporary aesthetic. I read that you should choose:

Do you want to live in a farmhouse with a few contemporary touches,
or do you want to live in a contemporary house with a few farmhouse touches? 
The latter was the way we wanted to go.

We decided a year and a half ago to downsize to a place with fewer steps (ahem = old knees), and fewer rooms to take care of, so we could travel and enjoy our retirement. We went from a 2500 square foot 4-bedroom, with a partial basement, to a 1500 square foot 3-bedroom, with a full basement (with 9-foot ceilings!). At first I thought, "Will I ever love this little house the way I loved our old one of 16 years?" And at first, I struggled with it. Every house we've ever bought, we bought because it felt like "home", and because we fell instantly in love with it. This house we bought because it was the least expensive model in the neighborhood we wanted to be in. My husband promised we would make it the house we wanted it to be, and he has kept that promise, as far as we've come on it. (Still a work in progress - the kitchen still needs to be trimmed out, before moving on to the Home Office/Sewing Room, painting out the awful builder's grade paint that marks when you breathe on it, as we go.)

The first thing "we" did was to upgrade the lighting from the ONE light in the center of the kitchen ceiling. My hubby did this - I don't do electrical. While he worked on this, I unpacked. I'm still unpacking. This is my lived-in kitchen shot (waffles on the counter, various stuff that doesn't know where it wants to live in this little house, yet, on the island), showing all the glorious lighting (and outlets and switches) that sweet man put in for me, crawling around in the attic in AUGUST in Ohio!

The next thing on the list was to remove all the-very-cheapest-they-had-to-choose-from flooring that we had them put in, and replaced it with wide-plank European white oak engineered hardwood. It's gorgeous - 7½" wide planks, warm with a slight grayish tinge to it. It was a huge, wearying task, but we plugged away, and got 'r done.

We are in our 60's, folks! We do have quite a bit of DIY experience under our belts, born out of necessity (SAHM, and one faithful wage earner.) If we can do it, anybody can!

I love to cook, and the original kitchen was - let's just say, not what I had become accustomed to. (I just went through all the photos I've taken in the past year and a half, and I have NO photos of the original kitchen. Tell you something? Hated it.) So, we tore it out (it will go into the finished entertainment area in the basement), and put in an Ikea "Bodbyn white" Sektion kitchen, ourselves. A lot of work, but oh, so pretty and organized! Almost all drawer bases - YAY! The only doors we used on the bases were the under-sink cabinet, the lazy Susan and the tall pantry cupboard. Oh, I also slipped a 9" cabinet from Home Depot (with a raised panel that pretty much matches the Bodbyn cabinet fronts, painted in "Lamb's Wool") into the space between the fridge and dishwasher, with a pullout linens rack from Ikea for kitchen textiles. It also houses our toaster.

This is the mountain of boxes we packed into the back of my brother's pickup, to drive the two hours back home. This was the first of many trips to Ikea in the course of finishing the kitchen. Next summer, they're opening an Ikea in our hometown. Of course. I read lots of stories online telling one to immediately check the contents of all packages, because Ikea wouldn't accept any damaged returns after three days. Poppycock. They were very nice and accommodating to us during the course of the project.

Assembling a Sektion kitchen works best as an assembly line operation. I used the thick cardboard packing material to protect the surfaces of the cabinets while assembling them. One tip about an Ikea kitchen: we purchased the metal reinforcement bars that span the sink opening to support a stone slab, and our granite guys quickly removed it before installation.

Once you get the rails level on the wall, it's pretty much a piece of cake from there. A heavy piece of cake, but cake, just the same. We designed and built out own platform for the island, and we found the panels to cover the sides and back, at Lowes. We added some 1/4" luan to each side of the panels to make them fit, then caulked and painted them.

We also created our own microwave cabinet next to the stove, because Ikea does not offer one. We used a 24"w x 40"h cabinet frame (without the top piece added), dropping the hanging rail down 5" from the height of the other cabinets. We used 30" doors, mounted 15" from the bottom of the cabinet
which brought them even with the other doors in the kitchen. The "roof" of the microwave shelf is the bottom shelf in the cabinet when you open the doors. In order to make the cabinet match the others in height (and also have holes in which to mount the top hinges), we cut off the top of an extra 24"w x18"h cabinet frame, and used pocket hole screws to attach it to the top of the cabinet side walls (you have to stand on a ladder to see the seam). Its very sturdy, and the only weight the top portion bears is the weight of the doors.

Next we created an oven hood from a 30x40" cabinet with the sides shortened 5", and a 5" drawer front attached from the back with screws. As you can see below, we also did not put the back on the cabinet. It is screwed into the sides of the cabinets on either side of it. We used a hood insert, purchased from Amazon here, which I LOVE. We ordered one "Like New" from the warehouse, and it was perfect. I've always only had those worthless, non-ducted hood vents that blow everything right back into your kitchen. The difference is night and day. My husband did all the duct work, and vented it to the outside. Lovely! I changed out the light bulbs for 40-watt equivalent LED's, with a candelabra base. I wanted 60-watt  bulbs, but they apparently don't make them yet with that type of base. As it turns out, the two 40 watt bulbs are just fine for lighting the stove top. I still need to get a shelf for the interior of the hood cabinet, for storing over-sized cake pans, and maybe a new ice cream maker??? We will add cleats to the back wall to support the shelves along with the standard shelf supports and cut a 'U' out of the center of the shelves to fit around the vent pipe.

Next up - more on the kitchen, and a look at the hallway with the newly installed Board and Batten wall treatment! Thanks for visiting! L.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


This is one of the projects I have been busy with for the past few months. We're getting the house ready to sell, in order to downsize to a one-story empty nester, so we are in the process of redesigning our master bedroom and en-suite. We like contemporary design, with a few antiques thrown in, so I built Anna White's Pottery Barn knock-off Farmhouse Bed, and painted it  - with 3 coats of homemade chalk paint and 3 coats of hand waxed luciousness,  no distressing - in Martha Stewart's Bedford Gray, too give it a more modern feel. The wall behind the bed is done in her "Seal", a gorgeous, warm, dark gray color. I can't get enough of that color right now. I made the large, print pillow covers from a shower curtain I found at Marshall's. I found a beauty of a bench for $5 at Goodwill, with curvy clawfoot legs, that will sit at the foot of the bed when I finish repairing some of the broken trim, & paint it creamy white. I am making a box cushion for it out of charcoal gray pinstripe men's suiting fabric, to balance the yin & yang. I designed a paper sculpture to go above the bed, in white Bristol board, to cut on the Cricut, but that was before we upgraded to Windows 8.1, and now the computer won't recognize my Cricut. Any help in that area would be much appreciated. I'll post the bench when I get it done.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

DIY Flute Charms

Who doesn't love a chance to get out the "pretty glasses" and make some cute charms for them? Here's a quick way to make your stemware easily recognizable as their own, to your guests:

Using pipe cleaners, wrap around the stem, and slide one end through a small, unbreakable ornament, Slide the other end through, going in the opposite direction. Pull both ends until tightly against the stem. 

Holding your stemware and the base of the ornament in one hand, coil the pipe cleaner around a pencil with the other hand, and push the coil toward the stem to tighten the coil, and slip it off the pencil. Repeat for the other side. 

Gently pull the coils open. Voila! Happy New Year, Everyone!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Can I Bag That for You, Ma'am?

I saw this trick on Pinterest a few weeks ago, and it came in handy this past week when we helped our friends, the Skippers, paint their soon-to-open play-cafe, "Little Skippers", in the Mill Run area of Hilliard, Ohio. My friend, Lori, and I were each painting a bathroom, and I wrapped the toilet tank in a plastic bag to keep from getting paint all over it when I painted behind and under it - a fun job! This worked like a charm!

How to Remove Foam Tape from a Painted Door

I don't know who's idea it was to stick a full-length mirror onto the inside of my husband's closet door using double-sided foam tape (oh, yeah, it was mine), but I promise I will NEVER do it again. I am in the process of painting my way through the second floor of our empty nest, in preparation of selling it and downsizing to some place where all of the rooms are used, 
and that's easier to keep clean. 
I had tried removing this tape before, just after the mirror fell off of the door, but I gave up in frustration. Well, now I HAVE to get it off so I can paint the door. I Googled the how to's, and most of the hints were directed at removing it from auto bodies, where repairing any paint damage could cost hundreds. Not my concern, as I was getting ready to put 2 or 3 new coats of paint on the bad boy, anyway. I tried a couple of ways without any success, then I remembered using the hair dryer to remove Scotch tape that my then-teenage daughter had used on her bedroom walls to hang up her posters of Brad Pitt and who-knows-who-else (...funny, he's the only one I remember). 

Here's what you'll need to get the job done:
  1. a razor-blade-scraper-thingy
  2. a hair dryer with the nozzle  attachment to concentrate the hot air
  3. Goo Gone and a terry cloth rag
  4. Something underfoot to catch all the droppings - I used a big piece of cardboard
I also had a bowl of hot water with a mixture of Dawn dish soap and white vinegar - one of the previously-tried remedies that failed, 
but it came in handy for cleanup. 

One guy suggested not using Goo Gone, since, apparently, it will take off auto paint, but it did nothing to my latex-painted doors. The same guy advised using rubbing alcohol to remove any leftover residue, and that WILL remove latex paint, so don't do that. 

Set the hair dryer on high heat, and hold it as closely as you can to what remains of the foam tape after you tried to get it off initially, for a total of 30 seconds.

Then, quickly scrape off the foam residue, now the consistency of the inside of a toasted marshmallow. For the areas where the foam was thicker, you may need to quickly hit it with an additional 15 seconds of heat, then scrape it again, cleaning off the razor blade often.

This is how the remaining adhesive looked after scraping:

Give the adhesive residue a squirt of Goo Gone, and use a rough, terry cloth rag to easily wipe away the remainder. 
(I'm talkin' like 5 seconds, no elbow grease involved.)

This shot shows that there is now no adhesive left on the door. There is however, some scraped-off paint, as a result of using the razor blade. 
No worries, I am about to repaint.

Use the dishsoap/vinegar combo, or any cleaner of your choice, to clean off any oily residue left by the Goo Gone.

This WORKS, sisters! I was kind of amazed at how fast it went. I had 13 1-inch squares to remove, and it took about 25 minutes. Hope this helps.

Monday, September 16, 2013


3" in 2 weeks...added a few grains of Miracle Gro to the water a few days ago. So stinkin' cute!


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