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!

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.

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?

Living Room Updates

Last week I was finally able to finish the living room project, before going to Puerto Rico last week. My three month sabbatical started, which gave me a lot of time to work on it. This was the final big phase of a living room remodel. Here are the before and after pictures.

Before
After

Actually that’s not a true before picture because there used to be an old A/C unit built in to the wall. Below is the only picture I could find, which shows the cover that was over it.

Last July or August my Dad and I removed the unit and patched up the wall. Then I had three Mitsubishi mini-splits installed around the house. In April, my Dad and brother came down for a weekend. We took out the sliding glass doors, removed the sunroom, and installed a 5×6’ window.

I had a gas fireplace insert installed a month earlier actually. I put black painted plywood up on two walls, and I installed Select Surfaces Barnwood Spill Defense Laminate Flooring from Sam’s Club. It’s really nice flooring and easy to install.

Bought a new loveseat, the Sonos Arc soundbar and Sonos Sub, and two IKEA bookshelf speakers (Sonos compatible). I’ve put several other speakers throughout the house as well and am really enjoying the Sonos system.

I found an awesome mirror on Facebook Marketplace, which had been in an old farmhouse for over 40 years. It’s in really good condition. The room was really starting to come together.

It was several months before I could spend more time finishing the room though, because I had to fix up the outside wall of the house and build the outdoor gym area. During the peaks of the pandemic last year, my Dad collected and processed a lot of awesome pallet wood, which he gave to me.

I sorted through it all to take out the really twisty stuff and to organize it in to wide and narrow boards. Then I jointed an edge of everything, cut the ends square, ripped to two common widths, and did a rough surface sanding. I wanted to bring out more of the wood’s character, while keeping it rough.

Brandi helped me pick out some stains and we stained about a third to a half of the wood.

After seeing how long it took to stain this stuff I bought the HomeRight Super Finish Max HVLP Paint Sprayer. I laid plastic out on the driveway and gave all of the wood three coats of water-based polyurethane on the face. It only took about 10 minutes per coat, which saved hours of time.

The next day I started at the top of a wall and tried to create a random-ish pattern as I used an 18 gauge nail gun to tack boards to the plywood walls.

I continued the process for the second wall. Then I was able to finish the light switch and outlets. I bought a 65″ Sony A80CJ Series 4K OLED TV from Costco and hung it on the wall with a full-motion mount from Harbor Freight. The mount was easy to use and will allow us to keep the TV pointed directly at the loveseat, where we normally watch TV, or rotate it towards the couch when we have company over. The soundbar hangs under the TV with the Sanus WSSATM1-B2 extendable soundbar TV mount, which was also easy to use.

Now I was able to finish off the floor trim behind the loveseat. I also picked up some rustic looking quarter round for the pallet walls, which blends in well.

To frame in the window, I processed some old 5″ wide oak flooring and gave it three coats of the same water-based poly. For the trim, I used some of the leftover narrow pallet wood.

I really love how the room turned out!

One other little touch was building a shelf/cubby/table next to the loveseat. I wanted a place to put the left channel speaker, store laptops, and set drinks or snacks. My original idea was to have a couple of horizontal slots for the laptops. I was discussing the space limitations of the area with Brandi and she had the idea to make vertical slots instead, which worked out really well. Here’s the SketchUp model.

For the top I processed more pallet wood, glued it together, sanded smooth, applied stain, and did three coats of wipe-on poly. For the cubby unit I used whatever scrap plywood I could make work and painted it black. I didn’t care much about the base since nobody will ever see it unless they’re really going up to inspect it.

I’m so glad to have this project finished and we’re loving the way it turned out. I do have one more thing I’m working on for the wall above the loveseat (done now!) and hope to finish this week or next. Then I’ll be spending the rest of my sabbatical to remodel the kitchen and dining room area.

Dog’s Toy Box

This was a very simple build I knocked out one night. I used solid wood scraps for the sides and plywood for the bottom, all 3/4″ thick. It’s about 30″ wide and 18″ deep. The height in the back is about 7″ tall and the front is about 2-1/2″.

Since this was getting painted, the quality of the wood wasn’t a concern and I didn’t need to do much sanding. I used a roundover router bit on all of the edges. I like it when I don’t have to do the finishing work. Turned out nice.

Making Things in 2020

I got burnt out in 2019, but 2020 relit my fire for making stuff.

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

Once I found the spark, the rest of the year felt balanced, in terms of not doing too much and varying the types of projects. My favorites were the new home office, the Gympac, and the picnic table / benches. 2021 is off to a great start with several posts already published and others being planned. The hobby room updates will allow me to get back to electronics projects.

Mini Convertible Picnic Table and Benches

My nieces have a bunch of American Girl dolls and play with them a lot. I thought it would be cool to make a picnic table for them as a Christmas gift. Then I remembered some convertible benches which joined to make a picnic table I’d seen a few years ago. I found a set of plans and made everything at 1/3 scale since the dolls are 18 inches tall. I asked each girl what color they wanted, not telling them what I was making. Sophie (7 on the 30th) picked purple and Kennedy (10) picked pink. I really love how these turned out and as a bonus they also work as desks. It was definitely one of the funnest projects I’ve done.

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