Kitchen Remodel: All the “Small” Things

Six weeks ago I said progress would be slow going since I was back to work. I wasn’t wrong, but we’ve been knocking out odds and ends, mostly on weekends. Small changes can make a big difference and always seem to take two to three times as long as you’d expect.

I put in a bullnose on the stairs to the basement, we painted trim and the door, and rehung the door. Of course the door no longer fit after all the paint, so that turned in to a 2+ hour headache!

We painted the sides of the island to match the walls. Then painted trim and quarter round for the base and nailed it up. Our inspector Ninja had to approve the work.

I installed a banana hook under the cupboard, which folds up out of sight when not being used. The island got an IKEA towel rack and I replaced the outlet with a white one.

We did the trim around the sliding door, put in the floor transition pieces, and mounted a curtain rod.

We put a couple of floating shelves from Menards in the corner. I love the old recipe box Brandi found at an estate sale!

We patched up the old floor trim, cut new toe kicks under the cupboards, did all new quarter round, painted everything, and installed it around the entire room. The brown really is different; I call it “chocolate milk.”

There were ugly gaps around most of the cabinets, which really stood out with the new colors. We found some simple trim at Lowes, which was only $3.06 for eight foot lengths. Since the white is a close match there was no need for paint. It took me a bit to figure out how to deal with the odd face frame corners, but it turned out really nice and made a huge improvement. There are still a couple of pieces to install after the backsplash is done.

The trim around the big window had a similar problem at the edges. We decided to use the same stuff there. It really adds a decorative element with the triple color combination. This is all that could be done until the backsplash is finished.

It didn’t feel like we were making any progress at all over the last six weeks, but as I selected pictures for this post and started typing it really was a lot of small projects that add up. Now it’s time to work on the backsplash; the final step of the project and one we’ve been talking about since it all started. This weekend I’ll be mocking up test pieces and we’ll hopefully decide on the direction we’re going. Stay tuned!

DIY Snow Blower Brush & Clean-Out Tool

My new Ryobi snow blower didn’t come with any kind of tool for clearing out the chute, so I came up with my own solution. I also wanted a brush to clean off the snow before storing the machine in the garage, so I grabbed a clearance car brush/scraper from Meijer for just about $4.

I took it to the band saw to remove some of the scraper. I might cut more after using it.

I picked up a couple of 1/2″ PVC couplers from Menards for 29¢/each, so I’d have a backup in case my first idea didn’t work.

I cut out about 1/4 of the PVC, drilled some holes, spray painted it black, and grabbed a couple of zip ties.

It was quick work to figure out where to attach it to the snow blower handle so the brush wouldn’t interfere with it folding open or closed.

Works great! Here’s a quick video showing how it snaps in and pops out.

Update

The foam grip on the brush handle was useless; out in the cold all it did was twist in your hand. I removed it, giving me more surface area to use a second clip, which makes it snap in more securely.

Building The Child in LEGO

I’ve had the itch to do a LEGO set for awhile and had been eyeing up this set for months at Costco. I finally jumped on it.

I can’t remember the last time I put together a set of LEGO, but it’s probably been over 20 years. Things have come a long way.

Reusing Kitchen Flooring

We’re taking a break this week from the kitchen remodeling, but made time for a small project in the basement. I removed some old linoleum at the bottom of the basement stairs, which was under the door jambs so probably original from 1979. Then I trimmed a couple of sections I had cut out when removing the newest layer of kitchen flooring to fit the area.

Kitchen Remodel: Paint and Floor

It’s been a few weeks since my last update on the kitchen and it’s because I’ve been putting in a lot of hours.

One of the first things we talked about before starting the remodel was colors. We wanted to go for an old farmhouse look. This photo we found on Google was a look we liked.

We browsed some color palettes and really liked this one.

After some trips to the hardware stores we had a pile of paint samples.

We decided to go with more of a green and collected even more samples. Here’s where we ended up, from left to right the colors would be used for trim, walls, and cabinets.

Some of the wall color has been shown in previous posts because we actually painted them before Thanksgiving, when Mom visited for a couple of days to help. We were worried about covering the red-ish walls, but after a coat of  Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Primer we were confident two coats of paint would do the job and it did. Mom was really impressed with the Dutch Boy® Dura Clean® Kitchen & Bath paint I bought from Menards. The room was much brighter and looked bigger already.

Fast-forward several weeks, after doing the counters and the table, it was time to tackle the cabinets. I made a small piece to fill a gap between the lazy Susan and the range.

We removed all of the cabinet doors and drawer faces, numbering everything (including each hinge) with a sharpie and blue painter’s tape I numbered everything, so it could go back exactly where it came from. Then with TSP and help from chisels we cleaned everything real good. In order to paint them all I needed a storage solution. So I grabbed a bunch of scraps from my lumber racks and about 90 minutes later I had a simple drying rack. It turned out to be the exact size I needed.

Then I used Klean-Strip Liquid Sander Deglosser on all of the pieces as well as the cabinet frames. Since my cabinets were oak, which has a deep grain, I applied two coats of Aqua Coat White Cabinet Wood Grain Filler. You really want to use white instead of clear for something like this so you can see where you’ve applied it. I didn’t bother with grain filler on the backs or on the frames. The next step was sanding off the excess grain filler, which took me almost nine hours and brought the total time for the grain filling process to almost 20 hours! It did make a big difference, but you can still see quite a bit of the grain after painting. I’m not sure it was worth it.

It was finally time for primer and paint! I hung plastic sheeting from the ceiling to make an L and covered my work table. Then I built up a base with some scraps and put a swivel stand on top of that. Overspray got everywhere in the shop, but at least it was basically paint dust because the small particles were dry by the time they landed.

I sprayed primer on both sides of the doors and drawer faces and then 2 coats of paint on the backs and 3 coats on the fronts, using the green tips in my HomeRight Super Finish Max HVLP Paint Sprayer. I did thin out the primer and paint a little bit with some water. I did primer and 3 coats on the cabinet frames by hand with a 1.5″ brush and a 4″ foam roller.

The original plan was to spray paint the cabinet hinges black, but after cleaning them we decided to keep them as they were. It would add a bit to our rustic farmhouse style. Before we put the doors and faces back on, I let them sit on the rack for about four days to give the paint time to cure more. I did spray paint the two shelves in the lazy Susan (aka “snack Susan”) cabinet black. By the way, reinstalling that think was a huge pain in the ass.

Next up was flooring. The first layer to deal with was a floating floor Dad helped me install in May of 2013. I cut out a large section to reuse at the bottom of our basement steps, where Ninja has his litter box, food, and water. Then it was quick work to pull up the rest and haul it away; it was barely an hour of work to get rid of that entire layer. Under that floor was old linoleum that peeled up pretty well. The third layer of floor was luan, which was held down by 10 times more staples than necessary. Then a 4th layer to come up was even older linoleum. I filled up an entire Powerade bottle with staples and about 20 large nails. Those bottom 3 layers of flooring took two days!

Dad called and asked if I wanted some help, so he came down on Saturday morning and we installed the same Select Surfaces Barnwood Spill Defense Laminate Flooring from Sam’s Club I had put in the living room. After helping my brother install some in his house, this was my third time working with the product, so it only took us about 6 hours to do the entire room. We were able to continue it from the living room because I made sure to stop with full width pieces there. He ran up and down the stairs all day making cuts while I measured everything and installed each piece. It was a huge help to have him here.

On Sunday Brandi and I reinstalled all of the cabinet pieces after putting on new felt pads. Then I hung a new paper towel holder and installed a couple of LED under cabinet lights where old ones had been.

The weekend of work completely transformed the look of the kitchen. Our vision has finally become a reality and I feel extremely proud of everything we’ve done. Check out these before and after looks!

We’ll attach the island counter next weekend after the epoxy has fully cured, since we use it so much. I still need to do a backsplash, paint three sides of the island and the door to the basement, and do all of the trim work. Today is my first day back to work after a three month sabbatical, so progress on the remaining items will be slower.

Another Maker in the House

I’m excited to say a second maker is emerging in the house. 🙂

In addition to helping with our 2021 Christmas ornament. Brandi wanted to make a few holiday decorations. First was an old sled that was her mom’s. She sanded off a pineapple and some wording, gave it a new paint job, and added some accessories. Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of what it looked like before she started.

She also wanted some type of tall sign, so she grabbed a piece of twisted pallet wood from my scrap pile and sanded the rough edges. We found this barn red stain at Ollie’s Bargain Outlet for $4, which was perfect.

She wanted to paint the word “peace” on it and I’ve been looking for an excuse to buy a Cricut, so I made the purchase and we created custom stencils. I love the use of a tree for the letter A. After a little spray paint and some hinge clips we had ourselves a place for Christmas (and my birthday) cards.

Making Things in 2021

2021 started well in terms of making, building on the momentum I built in 2020. Then the home projects started. It was a year full of very large projects, which transformed a lot of the house.

January

February

March

April

September

October

November

December

For the last three months of 2021 I’ve been on a three month sabbatical from Automattic and I go back to work on the 4th. I’ve joked that I need a vacation now because I’ve been putting a lot of hours in to the kitchen. The last few weeks have been very busy and I’ve accomplished a lot, but the remodel will not be finished. I do have a post coming soon with some major updates.

Once the kitchen is finished I’m looking forward to tinkering with some electronics again and having time to work on much smaller projects.

Black Walnut Live Edge Farmhouse Trestle Dining Table

When I bought my house I eventually got a tall dining table and I’ve hated it for years. It was a bitch to get in and out of the chairs and my legs bumped up against the apron when I sat down. It was definitely getting replaced during the kitchen remodel. After selling the table, we used a card table for a few weeks.

I don’t remember the first time I saw a live edge table, but I’ve wanted one for a long time. I would have loved to build one but as I started working on the kitchen, it was clear time wasn’t going to be on my side. Since the table would be the showcase of the space, I decided to have the top built for me. I found Ron’s Rustic Tables (no web site) on Facebook Marketplace, which showed some awesome work. I give him a call, visited his shop near Wixom Lake, and gave him the job. I love black walnut, especially with some of the sapwood, so that’s what I went with. A few weeks later he delivered this beauty!

It’s 2.5 inches thick, 73 inches long, and averages about 45 inches wide. It’s fucking heavy!

I thought about buying a table base kit online or having one made. We should have this table for a very long time and I wanted some part in it, so I decided to make the base. We’re going for a bit of a farmhouse kitchen vibe, so I went with a trestle base. I took ideas from these free plans as well as some custom tables I found on Etsy and Marketplace and I put my own twist on everything. For chairs we picked up four INGOLF from IKEA.

I still had a stack of the free reclaimed wood I picked up over three years ago and used up most of it for this project. Since there are so many different ways to do a build like this I’m not going to explain everything I did. Here’s a timeline of photos instead.

I bought a biscuit joiner, which I’d been thinking about getting for a couple of years anyway. It was my first time using one and it definitely got broken in. This was a fun project with a lot of challenges, so there were plenty of mistakes, solutions, and learnings. I’m glad I decided to do it myself.

What do you think of the result?

Refreshing Kitchen Counters

We needed to do something with the counters, especially after merging a couple. I had seen some cool videos about covering countertops with epoxy and love the rock face edge that can be done. I put in an order from Stone Coat Counter tops. Got their white Epoxy Undercoat, White Exotic Marble Kit, and Ultimate Top Coat.

I watched a ton of their videos and these were the most helpful for this project:

The FAQ page has a lot of great answers as well.

First I took an angle grinder with a sanding disk and went at the edges. I smoothed that with 40 grit on a random orbital sander. Then I added Bondo High Bond Filler to the edges. After that I used a chisel and sanding to knock down any sharp spots. These pictures show one of the pieces of counter I had in the basement so you can see how the look progresses.

Here are other various pics from the process.

Since the walls were a mess where I tore off the old backsplash I decided to put up a layer of 1/8 hardboard to help prevent any debris from falling in the epoxy. Then I caulked the counter wall edges so the epoxy wouldn’t be able to escape.

I removed the sink and test fit the new one to make sure it fit.

I had kept the cardboard from the new range, so used it to create a wall in the kitchen and keep the cat out. Couldn’t have Ninja jumping on the painted counters or worse, on the freshly poured epoxy!

After cleaning the counters with TSP I applied a coat of Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Primer and two coats of the epoxy undercoat, along with some light sanding. The white really made it pop and got me excited.

I applied a bit of spray paint to the rock face edges using a chip brush and plastic bag, like they showed in one of their videos.

Then we taped up plastic and masked the edges. Now came the fun part, mixing and pouring the epoxy. We rewatched the exotic marble video again before getting started, but used way too much of the silver metallic power, which overpowered our recipe. It was nothing like we wanted and, though it had some cool areas, it was terrible.

Glad we tried it out on the side counter first. We kept our mixes very light for the large counter and it turned out great!

The paint I had put on the edges looked out of place though, so we painted over those areas. We also painted over the disaster counter so none of it would show through. Then we did another epoxy pour. We wanted it to have a few darker grays than how the big counter turned out and we still ended up going a bit too far, but it turned out so much better than the first attempt.

We used some of the excess and drips to rub on the newly painted areas of the large counter and in a few fixed spots. A day later we did a clear flood coat on that counter. I had to order another gallon of the art epoxy for the clear coat on the smaller counter plus doing the island. After letting the clear coats dry we applied the ultimate top coat, which added a bit of texture, got rid of the high gloss, and hid most of the imperfections. We love this look much better than the extremely reflective gloss.

Here’s a look at some of the rock face edges.

After letting the epoxy cure for a few days I installed a new sink, faucet, and garbage disposal. We were more than ready to have running water and the dishwasher available again after using the bathroom sink for a week.

The island still needs to be done so I’ll remove the butcher block top and install some scrap wood as a temporary counter. This way I can work on it in the basement and we can keep a work surface in the kitchen while we baby the counters.

We also installed the final of the lights, over the kitchen sink, which really brightens it up.

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