Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Making a Kitchen, Part 9 - The Floors

I finished the floors in the kitchen and dining room way back in November. I kept meaning to write up the post about it, but it wasn't a high priority and just didn't get done. But the nice thing is, I can include an update on the floors in this same post, since we've lived with them for a couple months now.

I first found the idea of paper bag flooring on Pinterest. It was the most intriguing thing I've ever seen. The look was unique and organic, and the price just couldn't be beat. So for me it was a natural jump from "Oh, that's cool!" to "I'm going to glue paper to my kitchen floor, stain it, and seal it with polyurethane, and it will be the bestest and most awesomest kitchen floor ever!"

It was a lot of work. Like, a LOT of work. And the whole time I was working on this floor, I had a super mega cold. My muscles ached and my head felt like it was going to explode. Lots of fun there!

There was a lot of prep work to do first. I used wood filler on all the seams between the pieces of plywood subfloor, and over all the little dents and divots and screw holes. Then we rented a floor sander and smoothed the floor really well. I gotta tell ya, it was very fun to work that huge power tool!

You might notice some already-done flooring under the fridge and dishwasher. I did that part earlier, so we could get the appliances in place sooner. It worked nicely.

Then came the gluing. Following these instructions, I tore up the brown paper into stone-sized chunks, and mixed glue and water in a 1:3 ratio. Then I glued. And glued. And glued. And glued. And... you get the idea. It was a lot of gluing.

So yeah, that took a long time. I was working off and on all day just tearing and gluing. I let it dry overnight, and the next day I stained the paper, using Minwax oil-based stain in Provincial. It's the same stain I used on the counters. I really love how the color came out, very rich.


Then came the hard part - keeping the kids and the cat off the floor while it dried for a full day! I was unsuccessful in this particular venture. I had to stain over several small sets of paw prints and shoe prints. It was so incredibly frustrating, but now that it's been a couple of months I can say I'm mostly over now. Mostly. Grr....

The entire next day was spent mopping coat after coat of polyurethane onto the floor. The first coat took the longest. I could only mop as far as I could reach, then I had to let that small area dry so I could stand on it to mop out into the next section. The stain never fully stopped being tacky, and stepping on it without the coat of poly left very visible footprints (hence my intense frustration the previous day). But the remaining coats went on quickly and easily. Mop on a coat, let it dry an hour or two, mop on another coat.

All that work was worth it! So beautiful!

At least, it was worth it for the first couple of weeks. Here comes the update. The how-has-it-been-holding-up part. This is the part that makes me want to just heave a big sad sigh.

All the tutorials and stuff online said that this is a great flooring option for low-traffic areas, and that it might not be the best choice for a kitchen. In my I-know-better-than-you arrogance/naivete, I made the decision to put it in my high-traffic kitchen anyway. I loved the look, and I wanted it. So I did it. And I really did love it at first. But to be perfectly honest, it has not held up well at all.

The shine has dulled. Some areas, like around the edges, are peeling up. And every time something gets dropped on the floor, it leaves a dent and scratches the polyurethane. So most of the floor is now looking like this:

Scratches along the wood grain of the subfloor

Dings and dents where the baby constantly drops his bowl or plate

Scratches where chairs slide, even with protective felt pads on the feet
Seeing the floor like this seriously makes my heart hurt. After all the work and the love that I put into this floor, it just makes me so sad that everyone was right - it's best for low-traffic areas and won't hold up well in a kitchen. But man, it was beautiful while it lasted! I won't discount the idea of doing this elsewhere in the house, like in a bedroom with area rugs or something.

Anyway, Jeff and I have pretty much agreed that we'll be redoing the floor, probably with laminate, sometime in the near future. This is a good temporary floor, it's definitely better than the plain subfloor. But man, after all that work! Sigh.

In Case You Missed It:
Part 2: A Day in the Life
Part 3: What Next? 
Part 4: "Before" Pictures
Part 5: Demolition and Prep Work
Part 6: Cabinet Installation 
Part 7: Counters 
Part 8: Prettying Up the Cabinets 

"Think Tank Thursday" at Joyful Homemaking 
Wowza Weekend Link Party at My Love 2 Create 
Strut Your Stuff Saturday at Six Sisters' Stuff
Link Party Palooza at tatertots & jello 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Christmas Crafts

I promise I'll post about my kitchen floor soon. It's been done for weeks, but then we had Thanksgiving and Christmas and I just haven't gotten around to putting together a post. On the plus side, I can post the update on how the floor is holding up at the same time!

In the meantime, here are the crafts I made for the kids for Christmas this year. Although I didn't hand make as many gifts as I would have liked, I do love the ones that I did make. And the kids love them as well.

Hats and Mittens

Each child received an adorable crocheted hat and matching mittens.

Zaylee got a panda bear.

Thomas got a red angry bird (I didn't add the feathers on top or the tail, and I changed the beak)

Audrey got a purple owl.

Phillip got a monkey. His mittens don't have thumbs - it's hard enough to wrestle his cute little hands into mittens without having to worry about getting his thumb into its own little section.


Zaylee and Thomas were both in need of new backpacks. When trying to buy them, I discovered that the selection of children's backpacks is extremely limited this time of year. I figured I might as well just make some. So I bought a pattern and some notions, and used fabric I already had on hand, and made backpacks. They weren't the easiest craft I've ever done, and there were times I wanted to just give up and buy something boring and utilitarian from the store. But in the end they turned out great and the kids like them a lot.

Zaylee and her red-and-white swirly backpack.

Thomas and his blue corduroy backpack.

All in all it was a fun Christmas, with everyone enjoying their gifts, homemade or otherwise. :)

Think Tank Thursday at Joyful Homemaking
Wowza Weekend Link Party at My Love 2 Create 
Link Party Palooza at tatertots & jello
Strut Your Stuff Saturday Link Party at Six Sisters' Stuff 
Project Inspire{d} at An Extraordinary Day 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Making a Kitchen, Part 8 - Prettying Up the Cabinets

I keep telling myself I'll add another post as soon as I fully finish another kitchen project. But even though I'm still hard at work, none of my projects ever seem to be completely finished! I guess that's just how it goes with diy remodels.

So even though my cabinets still aren't completely done, I'm still going to post about them. Because my readers, few though they may be, deserve to see my lovely cabinets in all their almost-finished glory!

The last time I posted, my cabinets looked like this:

And like this:

And now they look like this!

And like this:

I have fronts on all the drawers, and doors on most of the cabinets. I still need to make six upper cabinet doors, but since it is getting cold here in Utah, and I don't have a garage in which to work, there is a very distinct possibility that we will be living with door-less cabinets until spring rolls around. Kind of annoying, but if it's too cold to cut wood, I'm not going out and cutting wood. So there. :)

Here's one of our door-less cabinets, right next to the corner cabinet. I am particularly proud of this corner cabinet, and really like how the hinged doors turned out.

I originally bought some fancy corner pie cut hinges for the door that would be hidden, and would need holes drilled partially through the back of the door in order to install them. Eventually I chose to do these hinges instead. I like the look better, and they were much easier to install than the fancy hinges would have been.

All the hardware (hinges, knobs, drawer pulls) is oil-rubbed bronze. The paint is Valspar's Courtyard Tan in flat. I made it into chalk paint by adding a couple tablespoons of unsanded grout per cup of paint. The upper cabinets are finished using Minwax paste wax, and the lower cabinets are finished with polyurethane (I got lazy and didn't feel like waxing and buffing anymore!).

Here's a close-up of the door knobs:

And the drawer pulls:

Pretty, aren't they?

As for the doors themselves, I used two different styles of doors for the upper and lower cabinets. The upper doors are just 3/4" boards cut to size, and have mitered molding nailed to the front for decoration. I used this video by Bob Vila as inspiration for the doors. The lower doors are frame and panel doors made using these plans by Ana White.

The doors are hung with a 3/8" overlay on all sides. And let me tell you, hanging cabinet doors is no easy task! Especially when they were built by an amateur such as myself, and may not have been built perfectly square... But we did the best we could, and we just tell ourselves that all the little imperfections add character.

Stay tuned to see our floors. I just finished them, and they are super awesome!

In case you missed it:
Part 2: A Day in the Life
Part 3: What Next? 
Part 4: "Before" Pictures
Part 5: Demolition and Prep Work
Part 6: Cabinet Installation 
Part 7: Counters 


The Patriotic Pam

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Making a Kitchen, Part 7 - Counters

I just want to say that I love my new counters! Absolutely love them. And after going so long without counters, it has been wonderful just to have counters - to set things down on, to make the kids' lunches on, to look at and admire and stroke just because they're so pretty...

I used this tutorial from Breakfast For Dinner to make these gorgeous counters out of solid wood. Before Pinterest, I never would have considered making my own counters. It just never would have occurred to me. But when I realized that I didn't have to choose between cheap laminated particleboard and pricey granite or marble, and could instead make my own beautiful (and budget-friendly!) counters, the decision was easy.

The counters were fairly simple to install. It would have been easier if the cabinets I built were more square and level. Unfortunately I am an amateur at woodworking, and my cabinets are definitely imperfect. I adjusted as well as I could by using shims under the counters

I did run into a little trouble when it came to staining the wood filler. I used stainable wood filler for the seams between the boards and sanded it nice and smooth.

But when I stained the counters, the wood filler took the stain much differently than the wood itself. It turned out much rougher and grayer than the wood, and wasn't very attractive.

My sister suggested that I use a wood graining tool to camouflage the seams. So I bought this funny-looking rubber thing and a container of glaze, looked up a couple tutorials on youtube, and got to work. It still isn't perfect, but the seams blend in much better.

Bad picture quality - my pictures turn out so much better during the daytime!

There, that's better!

After sealing the counter tops with several coats of polyurethane, I have to say I am so pleased with my counters! They are thick and sturdy, and a joy to look at.

Here's what the counters look like with the backsplash I'm installing. More on that later...

Details: Counters are kiln-dried Douglas fir, using two 2x10s and one 2x8. Stain is Minwax oil-based wood finish in Provincial 211.

In case you missed it:
Part 2: A Day in the Life
Part 3: What Next? 
Part 4: "Before" Pictures
Part 5: Demolition and Prep Work
Part 6: Cabinet Installation 

Linking to:
Think Tank Thursday
Link Party Palooza
Project Inspire{d} 

Friday, September 27, 2013

Making a Kitchen, Part 6 - Cabinet Installation

Do you ever find yourself in the middle of a project and feel like you've run out of steam? That's sort of where I am with this kitchen. The only problem is that I can't just set it aside for later, like I could if I were working on a simple craft. The longer this kitchen renovation lasts, the longer we have to survive living without a kitchen. So I have to just keep plugging away, checking things off the list one at a time. And keep reminding myself why I took on this huge project, and how great it will be when it's finished!

The latest item checked off the big to-do list was installing the cabinets. It took us a long time to do this. During Jeff's work week, we were only able to install one or two cabinets each night before he had to go to bed. Once his work week was over though, we knocked out the rest of the cabinet installation in a couple of days.

The first cabinet was the hardest to figure out. I nailed up a ledger, or guide board, to help hold up the cabinet while we attached it to the wall. Later I realized that using screws was much better! The nailed-up ledger kept pulling out of the wall. Anyway, we put the cabinet up to the wall and attached it to one stud, then realized that there wasn't another to use. So we had to take out the screws and pull the cabinet back down. I went to put a toggle bolt in the wall only to realize that without marking it on the cabinet and the wall, I wouldn't be able to line up the screw. So up went the cabinet again, this time so I could drill a pilot hole through the cabinet and the wall. Put the cabinet back down, and install the drywall toggle bolt. Then back up went the cabinet, for the final time. I screwed it into the stud and the toggle bolt while Jeff held it up, and it was finally installed!

After Jeff went to bed, I went ahead and installed the base cabinet directly below this one. During this process, I learned all about how to use shims. I also learned that our walls are not at all square! I ended up filling the gap between the cabinet and the wall with shims and wood filler.

The next day we installed the pie cut corner wall cabinet. It was very large and bulky, not to mention heavy! Thankfully there were at least two studs we could attach it to, so no up-and-down like the first cabinet.

After this, we just kept adding cabinets whenever we could for the duration of Jeff's work week. About this time, I also decided to install a small crown molding along the tops of the cabinets. This decision was directly based on the fact that I am not a professional cabinet builder and the cabinets I built were not completely square. The molding helped to camouflage areas where the cabinets didn't line up perfectly. I used PVC shingle molding because it was inexpensive and fairly easy to work with. One cabinet at a time, our kitchen began to take shape!

Corner unit, before I started adding molding

The first cabinet, with molding attached

The corner unit, with molding attached

All cabinets installed along the oven range wall. Man, you can really see a difference in picture quality between pictures I took during the day and those taken at night.

The cabinet on the right is shorter because I didn't want to have to move the phone jack. We tried to do as little with electric and plumbing as possible, so the oven, the sink, and the phone stayed where they were originally, and I designed the cabinetry around them. I do want to put floating shelves or something fun and pretty in that area though.

This one was a complicated beast to install! I had to make several cuts to allow for the pipes, the water lines to and from the dishwasher, and the a/c vent and duct work under the cabinet. I was so excited to have this cabinet finally installed!

All cabinets installed along the sink wall. We did these all in one day, since it was no longer work week for Jeff. His schedule dictates so much of our lives, and especially this remodel.

The little cabinet nook next to the fridge. Originally there were no cabinets here at all. We had a bookcase here with cookbooks and random stuff. I'm so excited to have this area, it will hold the stand mixer, the blender, the cookbooks, and lots of baking supplies.

It also houses the microwave. I'm not sure yet what to do with that cord hanging down, but it will be nice not to have to give up counter space for the microwave.

Yesterday we installed the very last cabinet.

It took just over a week to install all the cabinetry. I don't have all the molding up yet, it wasn't until the very last cabinet that it occurred to me to attach the molding before putting the cabinet on the wall. So on a couple cabinets, I just can't reach it. Once the counters are installed I'll be able to stand on them and attach the rest of the molding. But for now, I'm just really glad to have all the cabinets installed.

Expect more posts later on installing the hardwood counters, painting the cabinets, building the cabinet doors and drawer fronts, and doing the paper bag floor!

In case you missed it:
Part 2: A Day in the Life
Part 3: What Next? 
Part 4: "Before" Pictures
Part 5: Demolition and Prep Work

Linking to:
Link Party Palooza at tatertots & jello  
Project Inspire{d} at Dukes & Duchesses
Think Tank Thursday at Joyful Homemaking