Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Backsplash: Other Than Tile

Hello all! I’m busy working on other areas in the house lately, but I’ve also been planning out my next step in the kitchen renovation in my head for weeks. (Check out progress so far --the new window seat, the expanded kitchen island and the new built in fridge.) The backsplash won’t happen quite yet, but I can’t help but think about it. A lot. I think it’s going to be one of the most important aspects of the kitchen.

I’m pretty sure we’ll go with tile but I’m not positive yet. I installed a beadboard backsplash years five years ago and it has held up really well:


When I installed it few readers were concerned about moisture and stains but there’s nothing to worry about – if you paint it with a semi or high gloss everything wipes right off. Moisture can’t get in there because it’d have to be done from behind and it’s just not possible, at least in our kitchen. I’m super impressed with it and would highly recommend it to anyone considering an easy and inexpensive fix!

This cost me less than $50 and I applied it right on top of the old tile. :) The only hard part was painting all of it. That part stinks, not gonna lie.

I’m not keeping the beadboard because I plan to remove some cabinets and what I have there only goes up that far. I can’t patch it and I’m ready for a new look anyway. This has served us incredibly well for all these years!

But the beadboard has me thinking – a backsplash doesn't have to be tile! One of my favorite looks lately is a wood planked backsplash:

natural wood backsplash white kitchen

(Apartment Therapy)

Goodness, I think that is so pretty! It repeats the floor look and tone so it works beautifully.

People shy away from wood in the kitchen, understandably. But if you seal it with a polyurethane you’ll be good to go. If you are considering planks you’ll want to make sure they meet up (with no gap) and then seal them, or you can leave a gap and caulk between each one (clear if you’re going with a natural tone, white if you’re painting them). Then seal the entire thing after that.

Our backsplash is mdf – which is incredibly porous when left alone. But after paint, nothing bothers it!

Here’s another natural look that I loved:

natural wood backsplash white shelves


Doesn’t that look lovely with white accents?

I’ve also seen the sticky vinyl floor planks that look like wood used on a wall so that would be a great one to consider too. More expensive but super easy to clean I’m sure.

I love this darker look as well:

industrial wood backsplash

(Design Sponge)

All of the wood tones look fabulous together! This is a more industrial look and I dig it. A wood backsplash would be fairly inexpensive too – definitely cheaper than some tile I’ve seen lately.

Of course, there’s the more classic and clean look of the white planks:

white wood planked backsplash

(Garden Web)

This home has it above the stovetop so you know it has to be able to handle messes. My only question is if it would be a fire hazard of any kind that close to the heat source? Ours hasn’t been an issue because our burners are further away from the wall.

I had to show you this one because it’s such a brilliant idea – this homeowner used beadboard like I did, but in a much different way:

herringbone beadboard backsplash

(Farmhouse 38)

They figured out how to cut the beadboard panels at an angle to create a herringbone pattern. It is gorgeous! I’m sure it would be a lot of work to get the cuts right, but installation is easy! (They share how they did it in the link above.)

And of course, there’s creating the look of tile where there isn’t any. Love this idea! This was done with a stencil:

stenciled wall in kitchen (Cutting Edge Stencils, home of The Diana House)

I did something similar in our basement. I didn’t do it to mimic tile but I love the look:

stenciled backsplash

My friend Myra did a similar treatment, but without the stencil:

painted herringbone backsplash

(My Blessed Life)

She used painters tape and some careful measuring and it looks like tile to me!

Here’s one more because I love the contrast of the dark gray and white:  stenciled backsplash

(This Old House)

I think any of these ideas look fantastic and most of them are an inexpensive way to give your backsplash a custom look. Of course the nicer the wood the more your costs go up, but there are plenty of cheaper options to pick from.

Have any of you done a non-traditional backsplash with something other than tile? Feel free to leave links in the comments if you want to share. :)

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Form AND Function!

By now you guys know I’m a magazine nut – those, decorating shows and blogs are my favorite way to gather ideas and get inspired. I could literally look at pretty homes and decorated spaces for hours.

But I tend to get frustrated – even with some of my favorite design shows. Usually I’m yelling BUT WHERE IS THE TV? at the screen. I do love my TV. :) I’m always studying layouts and how things will function for the people living there.

I know in magazines and on TV the point is to show a pretty space foremost, and the functionality will come later. But I shared a photo on Instagram last week that got me thinking. I really believe you can have a truly functional home and one that’s pretty. They are not exclusive to each other!

The photo I shared was one of our hall table in the family room – I picked up these big baskets from the outdoor section at Target (they are huge and way cheaper then I’ve found anywhere else for this size!) and knew they’d be perfect on that table. One was already home to the dog and cat toys but I couldn’t decide on the other one.

It hit me as I tripped over a basketball for the fifteenth time that day that the other basket was the PERFECT spot to store those:

world market everett table

Yes, basketballs are now a part of my decor. It is a fact that I’ve resigned myself to – and it will be that way for the next ten years. I’m embracing it. Trying. Our son is nuts about the sport and has a few of them (and yes, there are also some out in the garage). But (especially in winter) he walks through the house practicing his moves and they end up all over the place.

I still think this area is pretty (and I said I’d never decorate with orange, ha!). The fact that it holds dog toys and sporting equipment speaks to how our family operates. That’s all I want for our home – I want it to be pretty but look like we live here and work well for us. (You can read more about that foyer table here. I got it from World Market!)

I got to thinking about other spaces in our home that function so great but (I think) look good while doing it. The DIY craft table is a workhorse:

DIY craft table

It’s not really DIY in the traditional sense – I mean you put the little cubbies together and that’s about it. I cannot even tell you how much stuff I cram in those bins! It’s seriously one of the best organizational ideas and it looks pretty darn cute too.

If you’ve been around for a while you know how much I adore dressers. Yes, the bedroom kind. I have one in almost every room. All were from Craigslist, all were inexpensive. ALL hide a ton of stuff!:

board and batten walls

This dresser in our family room holds the office stuff we need more often – supplies, paper, and even some play dough. :) And then you decorate the top and, viola! Function and form all wrapped up in one dresser.

This one was a steal! It came this way, I just changed out the hardware. Now it’s one of my favorites in the house:

black dresser white knobs

It used to sit in my office and was full of supplies. Now it’s home to all our dining linens (and there’s some empty space to fill). Seriously, go get yourself some dressers. And paint them black. :)

In the kitchen this shelving unit is the bomb. It was one of my best purchases ever:

metal and wood shelves

Now that we’ve had this for almost a year I don’t know what we ever did without it. I use it for the animal food, our paper trap, kitchen table supplies like napkins and chargers and our “office” with a spot for mail, pencils, receipts – it’s AWESOME. We use it every single day, all day long. (I get asked about this piece all the time, and I gave more details on it here. I found this similar one and the price is awesome. It’s just a little thinner.)

And I have to say – when you have a spot for things and a method that works, it’s so much easier to keep it clean. I mean, the bowl and the basket get full of junk, but I allow us those spots and it’s what keep the whole thing from getting covered. This unit is also why our kitchen table and island have stayed relatively clean lately too.

Forgive me – I know I’ve shared this window seat a lot recently…but I can’t help it. This one is a perfect example of function and form – it is so pretty:

white window seat

Insert googley eyes here. :)

Obviously we now have seating where we didn’t before, but the best part is all the storage inside!:

storage in window seat

That area was wasted space before and now it’s useful and looks goooood. Freakin’ love it.

And finally, another one I have to mention simply because I adore it and am really proud. It holds ALL THE THINGS. The DIY “library” bookcases with kitchen cabinets as bases function great:

DIY bookcases with kitchen cabinets

People. Go get some cabinets. :) They are only 12 inches deep but I fit a ridiculous amount in each one: dining room storage

And beyond that – it really is nice to have a spot for all the books. They were kind of taking over before these built ins (and we still have plenty more).

Of course the DIY items take some time and effort, but all the furniture I mentioned was inexpensive and works great! Of course I want all of the projects I tackle to be beautiful, but it’s not even worth it to me unless they hold up well, hold lots of stuff or make a spot more useful.

I think most of us feel that way, don’t you agree? Is there a favorite spot in your home that functions well and looks good?

Monday, April 13, 2015

DIY Wood Shelving (Laundry Storage)

Hello there!! I’m back! We spent a wonderful few days in NYC to finish up our spring break and we had so much fun. Unfortunately I rolled my ankle on the last night and hobbled through the city on our last day. I’ve been wearing a wrap but now my ankle is looking even worse – it would probably help if I would take a few minutes to rest it. I can’t believe I did that!! In New York City of all places, where you walk literally everywhere.

Anyway, I was able to finish up a project this weekend because it involved very little walking and a lot of sitting. :) I’ve been wanting to do this for quite some time and the materials have been in the garage for weeks so I went for it.

I’ve shared this tutorial before but it’s such a good one it’s worth sharing again. Building your own floating shelves is really such an easy DIY project – and they are great for storage for sure. I wanted to add some to our laundry room above the washer and dryer: laundry room storage

It took me awhile to decide exactly what I wanted up there – as with everything in our house I have to live with it for awhile before I make a move. At first I was going to add a pole to hang clothes out of the dryer, but then realized that wouldn’t work because it would be too awkward to reach over the machines.

Then I decided on shelving but my idea for two full shelves changed because of the lamp I added behind the washer and dryer a few months back. (You can see how I made that simple shelf here!) I love having some low light in there and didn’t want to have to say goodbye to my cute lamp, so I made some adjustments to the design.

Here’s the very basic tutorial! I used basic (cheap!) pine for the bases – this was all 1x2’s:

building floating shelves brackets

My cabinets are 12 inches deep so you have to do some figuring – the 1x2’s aren’t really one by two inches at all – the width is 3/4 of an inch. So knowing I would have one on the front and the back I made my cuts accordingly for the supports. I drill a pilot hole and then use two inch screws to attach the supports.

Do not attach the front piece just yet – leave it off so you can easily put the brace on the wall. You’ll want to mark your studs and screw into them:

floating shelf bracket

I only hit one stud but that was fine because I was attaching them to the cabinets as well. For the end I used an anchor – drilling a hole where it would go and then moving the brace a bit to put the anchor in:

self drilling anchors

Seriously my friends – this is such a simple project! If you are familiar with tools at least a little bit I know you can do this.

Here’s the start to the shelves:

brackets for floating shelves

You can see I decided to stagger them so I had room for my lamp. ;)

The next step is to attach the front piece:

making wood shelving

I had thin underlayment cut down to 11 1/4 inches wide at the hardware store and I cut the length at home. I made it that size (instead of the 12 inches to match the cabinet) because of the trim I add to the front in the end…that will make more sense in a minute. :)

Just lay the underlayment down and attach with a nail gun (glue would probably work as well if you weight it down while it dries:

building thick wood shelves

You’ll want to one to the bottom as well so you can hide the not-so-pretty parts.

The final step is why I didn’t have the underlayment cut to exactly 12 inches – I finish it off with a 1x3 on the sides and the front.

When it was all done I taped it off to stain. (I didn’t know if I was going to stain it or paint up till the end.) Stain is SO fast and easy. I’ve been using the Rustoleum Kona color for everything in the basement so I stuck with that:

DIY floating shelves in laundry

This project is another in a series of many in this room – I love how it’s coming together! I’ve been trying to decide on a cabinet color and now that I’ve figured it out that will happen next. Then some crown will go up at the top of the cabinets and around the room as well:

thick floating shelves

I don’t make this room a priority as far as finishing up little projects just because we’re the only ones who see it.

Uh…and thousands of you. Ha! But you know what I mean.

But I do want it to be a pretty place to be – and functional! These shelves are so nice for extra storage! The basket at the top holds random laundry stuff (that I don’t need as much) and the one on the bottom shelf holds odd socks:

shelves between cabinets

I couldn't decide on an accent color in here and then the aqua just kind of happened when I found this cutie laundry art at World Market:  laundry room art The only thing I did wrong during this install was place the bottom shelf a little too low. I lined up the bracket with the bottom of the cabinet, forgetting that the front piece of trim was thicker. So it hangs a little below the cabinet:

DIY thick wood shelves

But I’ll just add some trim to the bottom of the cabinets to even it all out. It’s on the to do list. :)

Another project is knocked off the list! I love it! It looks cute and offers so much more storage!:

laundry room gray walls light floors

I added even more storage in this room a year or so ago and I can’t wait to show you that too – it’s been sitting in between all that time so I hope to finish that up soon.

Have you attempted these DIY shelves? I added them in our basement family room and the bathroom down there too. I’m crazy about the stained wood with the gray walls – love it.

Something to think about if you make your own -- when these shelves don’t attach to something on both ends they aren’t quite as sturdy. I mean, I could put pretty much anything on them (and they hold cats jumping on them), but I wouldn’t try pull ups or anything. Good thing I don’t ever attempt pull ups. :)

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Guest Room Updates (So Cozy!)

Hello all! I’m back today with an update to the guest room that I’m LOVING. This room is undergoing a small redo over the next few weeks and this was the first step.

I’ve enjoyed working with Better Homes and Gardens to show off some of their products over the past few months and I think this one is my absolute favorite. As a reminder, this is how our guest room looked as of a couple years ago after I painted the ombre wall:


I was working off the design we had in there when this was my stepdaughter’s room – the green is much better: blocked-paint-wall

But the ombre look is still feeling a little “young” to me – I don’t hate it, I just want to make the room feel just a teensy bit more sophisticated, hence the small updates I’m making.

So I started with bed – we had that floral green and white duvet set for years now, but it had to go because of a spill that stained it. On our bed I would probably just hide the stain, but when guests use it I’d rather have the bedding perfectly clean.

Also, the green in the bedding was kind of a chartreuse green and it was really, really hard to decorate around. So when I couldn’t get the stain out I was kind of happy I could replace it. ;)

This is one of the brightest rooms in our house – the light just pours in here. I wanted to go with that and make it feel happy, but still cozy. The first addition were the SWEETEST blue and green floral sheets from BHG:

blue green floral sheets

They are seriously the most adorable sheets I’ve ever seen. I know I just said I wanted to go a little more adult in this room and here I am talking about the new adorable sheets, but I couldn’t resist them.

I love them so much I wanted to put them in our room, but they didn't work in there at ALL. The guest room is perfect. (By the way, I can’t find these online but I’m working on it!)

The comforter is what I’m most excited about though. I have wanted one of these pintuck comforters, in white, forEVER. I drooled over them at expensive stores but never bit the bullet. Then the knock off versions started coming out but the reviews weren’t great (some use buttons that pop off and the “tuck” disappears). So when I found the BHG version and the reviews were great I was on that FAST:

white pintuck bedding

People – I LOVE this bedding. (Here’s the link to it.) I washed it and it’s sooooo soft and fluffy. A fluffy bed is always so inviting, right? It washed great and came out with minimal wrinkles. (I was worried about that.) 

The best part is it is is less than $40 for the comforter and the shams. Hello. That is awesome. We’ve had duvet covers for years and it’s nice to have a comforter to just throw on there – no messing around.

I mentioned this room is going to get a few more updates soon, but until then I added a few other little changes that will make our guests feel at home. This weathered frame was so pretty and I have to show you this little detail – you just turn around the paper inside and it’s instant art:

weathered frame

I especially love that for a guest room where you don’t really want to put photos of your family. I mean, I’m sure they would love waking up to your cute faces, but I think the art is nce too.

I love the print so I’m going to keep that in there, but I also created a simple printable that I’ll keep inside and put out when guests stay with us:

wifi guest printable

I uploaded it so you can download it here as well – feel free to use it! You’ll just need to write in your wifi code. :)

 wifi printable for home

The resolution will work best in a 3 by 5 or 4 by 6 frame.

Here’s a better shot of the ombre wall:

ombre wall with squares

That nightstand is actually an old sewing table that I found on the side of the road. It’s still one of my favorite redos of all time. :) That vase is really a lantern – I’ve been using it to hold flowers around the house though. Love it and the rope handle!

Another little detail that I’m a little obsessed with is the plug in wax warmer I found:

plug in wax warmer

I can’t find the wall version online but this one is a little bigger for the same price ($10!).

I got a linen scented wax and I’ve had this on all day every day – it makes the whole upstairs smell so fresh. It’s not overpowering either – I don’t like a strong linen scent.

It’s the little things like this nightlight and the comforting scent that I LOVE. I hope it puts our guests at ease. I had it on last night and looked in the room and it felt so cozy and comfy:

I almost went to sleep in there, no lie. That bed is calling to me. I may have to do a nap in here at the very least:

pintuck comforter set

I’m seriously so pleased with the new bedding. Next up – some new paint, hopefully a DIY headboard, window treatments and moving some furniture around. For now I’m really happy with how it’s coming together:

ombre wall

SO. If you love this bedding too, I have great news for you. Better Homes and Gardens is giving away another $100 Walmart gift card to one of my readers…just cause they’re nice like that.

This giveaway is now closed! The winner has been emailed. :)

I will be away spending spring break time with family over the next few days, so I’ll be back on Monday! Have a wonderful rest of your week and a great weekend!


I received compensation from BHG at Walmart for my time and participation in the BHG Live Better Network. All experiences and opinions are my own. Follow BHG on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Building in a Fridge With Cabinet on top

OK, whew!! Lots of photos to share today to show you how I completed the next step in the kitchen renovation. Well, almost completed…close enough for now. :)

Building in our fridge is something I’ve wanted to do for years and years – I applied beadboard to the the wall next to the fridge a long time ago in a failed attempt to give it a “built in” feel. I also applied it to the side of our old fridge but when we got this one I left it off:

DIY fridge built in

I was trying! :) But now that the whole room is getting a major redo it was finally time to make this happen. I had a plan in place that didn't work out, but more about that in a second.

I started by taking off the beadboard on the wall to the right, removing the baseboards from that wall and then taking off the crown molding on this bank of cabinets:

building in refridgerator

You can see the difference in the two wall colors here – the one on the left is the old color, called Sisal. The one on the right (at the top) is Analytical Gray. I’m not painting the back wall above the cabinets since it will be covered (hopefully soon!).

I took this photo to show you the difference just that little crown makes – if you have cabinets without it, it’s an easy fix and really makes them look more finished! I was surprised at the difference: crown molding on cabinets

OK, so on to the build. My original plan was to just take the upper cabinet down and bring it forward. I was going to use two side panels and just attach it to those. But I could NOT get the cabinet down! It was crazy. The screws were stripping and barely moving at all, it was nuts.

I was totally bummed out – I considered calling in expert help to get it down, but I knew that would cost money (although the guys we use probably would have done it for next to nothing). More importantly, I would have had to wait till they were available and I was already in this thing. When I finally decide to tackle something it has to happen right. then.

So I sat down and started figuring out a new plan. I decided to keep the current cabinet where it was and build straight out from it. I knew I could reuse the cabinet doors and it would provide even more storage.

I gathered all my trim and wood and got started – the first step was to fill in the spaces next to the cabinets by the fridge so that wood on the side of the built in would be flush against the cabinets and countertops:

building in fridge DIY

I had half an inch to fill at the front of the cabinets and 3/4 inch everywhere else (the trim on the front comes out a little bit). I found trim that worked and secured it to the sides of the upper and lower cabinets. This also was important because it gave me something to screw into when I installed the side of the built in.

I ended up placing one more in the middle on the bottom section when all was said and done. I tend to go overboard with nails and screws and making sure things are sturdy. 

I had a piece of high grade wood cut down into two pieces. The right side on the wall wasn’t as deep as the left side because there was no need for it to go under the current cabinets, since it wouldn’t be seen. The piece on the left needed to be a little deeper (as deep as the upper cabinet already hanging) so that it would go under the cabinet and cover that whole side. I hope that makes sense – it should in a minute.

I cut down a notch the size of the upper cabinet with my fancy sawhorse:

Our garage is a complete disaster so this was easier than finding the sawhorses. :)

I attached the right side directly to the wall, making sure to hit the studs. Then the left side was attached to the filler pieces I showed you earlier. You can see here why I cut out the spot for the cabinet – the front part goes as high as the cabinets and the back part is under the cabinet:

DIY built in fridge

This is when I realized it was a good thing I couldn't get that dang cabinet out of the wall – it would have been too wide. If you don’t have a wall next to your fridge that would still be an excellent option and would cost even less. But I used up 1 1/2 inches with the side supports so it wouldn’t have fit.

Next up was building a new cabinet. I was going to build it and then install, but I realized it would be easier just to do it right there (obviously I was pulling the fridge out to do most of this). I added sides directly to the supports and then starting building the box with the top and bottom:

building in fridge with cabinet on top

I had these pieces cut down at Lowe’s (they did an awesome job). I am FINALLY going to get a table saw soon, but I still have to have the bigger pieces cut down anyway so I can get them home. :)

Next up was trimming it all out. This part doesn't look great now but I still need to shore things up, fill and then sand. When I’m done you won’t even notice imperfections. I say that to encourage you – it does NOT have to be perfect! Get the job done and fix the little things later! That’s my thought anyway, I am not a perfectionist when it comes to this stuff.

Anyway, since I was using trim in different thicknesses I didn’t do mitered cuts:

The side trim had to be wider so I could attach the cabinet doors there: 

builidng in fridge with current cabinet

Once I got those up I figured out the size of support I needed for the middle of of the cabinet and got that installed. The cabinet doors are a little closer together than they were before – maybe about an inch? That’s the only difference between the old cabinet and the new one!:

building in refridgerator with cabinet on top

Other than looking much better (well, eventually!) and more custom and having more storage. ;)

I kept the back of the new cabinet open on purpose so I could take advantage of the old cabinet storage. I’ll use that for stuff we rarely use. The new cabinet is much deeper and I’m so stoked about the storage possibilities!:

above fridge storage

At first I was going to make vertical dividers but now think I’m going to go with shelves that I’ll build and slide in instead. That way I can still access the back if needed. I’ll be able to fit SO much more up there!

The best part is we can actually reach these doors! You’ll see I flipped the doors over and put the knobs on the bottom. Not sure why I installed those at the top anyway. It’s awesome to be able to just open these up and reach inside! Seriously, it just makes more sense.

Someone is already enjoying the new cabinet:

building in fridge cabinet at top

I could have built the sides forward a bit more but didn’t want to interfere with the doors opening. Also, I want this to work for any size fridge and this one is one of the biggest you can buy. When we replace it (unfortunately it may be within a year or two because it has had a ton of issues), I won’t worry about a slightly less deep fridge working.

I still need to caulk inside the cabinet and on the wall next to it, fill holes, sand, add some base…and then eventually it will all get painted out after the new uppers are built:

DIY fridge built in

But I’m pretty dang proud of how it turned out. We’re still walking by and feeling like something is falling off the fridge – it’s hard to get used to having something up there. ;)

I’m glad I figured this out and made it happen! The cost for the wood to make the whole thing was $100 – but if you use cheaper wood it will be half of that easy. I wanted a nicer finish so it paints up well.


DIY fridge surround

Here’s a before and after:

PicMonkey Collage2

Eventually I’ll be moving our appliance garage to the side of the fridge as well. It will be a lot easier to install now that this is all trimmed out!

Have you ever tried building out your fridge for a more custom look? I love the look of it but what I love even more is that we can actually access the storage!

I hope my explanation made sense – let me know if you have any questions!