A Little Before & After Project // Cabinet Door Redo & DIY Backsplash Panel


Howdy folks!  I'm here to give a little break from all the demo posts about the house.  This is a little more in depth of the before and after of the kitchen - but it was a fun project and I'd love to share it.

Ugly beige 1950s era cabinets, stainless steel vent hood, and weird paneling:

We planned all along to move the whole stove situation since it was awkward and dangerous right there by the kitchen door.  Not to mention it ate up the floor space and flow of the kitchen.  So, once we removed the range hood, we were left with some awkwardly short cabinets and a large hole to the outside.  Not a good thing when it is -20 degrees Fahrenheit outdoors.  Snow drifts in your kitchen are not fun.
The next project we tackled was adding trim and painting the cabinets.  I found some pine lath at Menards for $7 a bundle, and used about a quarter of a bundle for the entire kitchen.  I like the clean lines and classic style of shaker doors, so that is what we went with.

I built a low shelf to fill the awkward space previously occupied by the stove.  I also added a thin cupboard for storing cookie sheets and baking pans.  The microwave also resides in the shelf - out of the way and out of sight. 

I try to do everything at least slightly classic in style so I don't have to constantly change it, but in the kitchen I went a little trendy with the dark grey on the bottom and white on the top combo.  And I adore it.  The backsplash is plain old white subway tiles with dark grey grout.  I think the dark grout helps transition from the dark bottom cabinets to the white uppers.

Since there was now so much rich reddish orangey brown natural pine trim, we wanted to pull more of that color in to the room, so I went with copper accents.  Plus, any excuse to buy miscellaneous copper pieces whenever you find them = awesome.

 The back of the new shelf was a bit of a problem.  Uneven drywall mixed with plywood would be impossible to patch or skim coat.  So, I turned to my trusty miter saw and cooked up this pine wood geometric patterned panel to fit right in there.

I made the backsplash using the same method as this table I made earlier.

The countertops stumped us a little.  In a dream world, of course I'd have marble or white quartz.  Heck, I could even settle for soapstone, but alas, our budget was approximately $0 for countertops.  (Well, to be completely honest, we didn't really have a set dollar amount for our budget, it was just "cheap or free".)
We were seriously considering Ikea butcher block, but I've seen some pretty bad reviews, cracks, etc. Plus, we live approximately 3 hours away from the closest Ikea and I wasn't' about to pay $200 for shipping. 
So, after weeks of plywood scrap for our countertops, the husband had a brilliant idea.  Barn wood.  We have so much extra barn wood (the perks of having a father-in-law who is a farmer who likes to save things!) and it is gorgeous, 100+ year old pine, exactly the same as our interior window and door trim.

Vote for me! The Big Reveal Makeover Contest


Hello!  I'd be real swell if you went to Apartment Therapy and voted for my kitchen makeover!

And check out the complete makeover on my blog. 


click any of the images above, or here to be taken to the contest. 

Before and After // The Kitchen // Farmhouse Kitchen Renovation


If you remember my last post about the kitchen demo here - you will recall how we changed a lot of the layout of the kitchen.  We've had it this new way for a few months now, and we love it.

So, without further ado, I give you the kitchen renovation in a series of before, after and sometimes during photos.  Enjoy!

And this is the awfulness that it was during: 

This is actually what we started with. That's right, folks.  A blank wall.  (Well, not blank if you count skinny fake oak trim and painted faux wood paneling).
Here you can see in to the kitchen - and see our huge mess...
The same angle - note the demo is progressing!

When demolishing the wall - we found the brick chimney hiding behind plaster and a cupboard.  We decided to leave it exposed.  We still need to do a little more clean up work on the chimney, then we'll seal it with polyurethane to help keep the dust down.  

The wall completely removed:
(It's so much brighter and more open!)

This is the wall that the hutch is now on.  Please note the lovely pale green and pink color combo!  Fancy!  I have never seen a kitchen with a pink ceiling before - I'm sure she was quite the sight in her prime.

We found this huge hutch at the same architectural salvage store where we found the majority of our wood trim.  It's called ND Millwerk and it is in northwestern Iowa.  They have an incredible selection and are incredible people too!  The hutch came from a school which was built in 1901 and torn down last year.  It's huge and perfect for storing all my china and our miscellaneous pots and pans and dishcloths and towels.   

We didn't replace any of the cabinets - I just added some trim pieces and paint.  The things we replaced were:  the sink - we found this one in our basement (post to come... sometime!); the window and door trim - the whole first floor of the house had been stripped of the original trim; and the counter-tops and back splash.  One room had a door frame - which we used for reference when buying replacement woodworking on craigslist and from this amazing store in Paullina, Iowa :  MD Millwerks.  I also added an easy and affordable subway tile back splash with "Delorean" grey grout. 

The counter-tops are made from 100-year-old pine from a barn my husband and his father tore down in the 1990s.  It's had many reincarnations (from bookshelf to desk to record holder) and is now a lovely counter.



The farmhouse table is one that I built myself!  After looking for what seemed like forever, I just decided to build one.  We found the legs off of craigslist - they used to be a buffet (I think) and were the perfect height for a counter-height work table. 


We relocated the stove from next to the kitchen entry (dangerous!) to next to the window.  We also moved the refrigerator so that the room would be more open and have more flow. 


Moral of the Story:

The Floor // Wood Floor Refinishing // The Neverending Story


We've redone floors before.  Remember this?  How these gorgeous oak floors polished up like nobody's business in record time?  Well, we were expecting something of the same results this time.  We were waaaaaay wrong.  Crazy wrong.  Absurdly wrong.


Our first problem was the oh-so-awful blue carpet that was super stinky.  Remember this post?  We had a bit of a mess on our hands.  After removing the carpet and dealing with the mold, we found a few other problems.  Mainly, weird holes, bad patch jobs, and the finish in general.
First, we patched wood - a lot of wood.  We found a man on Craigslist selling the exact same flooring as we had (4 in or so wide southern yellow pine) that he had torn out of a school built around 1900.  We purchased enough from him to fill the holes and blend some of the bad patches in.  What we hadn't realized though, is that the wood we bought was waxed.  It came out of a school - so that makes sense.  The other thing we hadn't realized was that our own floor had been waxed - but only in certain areas
There's this thing about floor wax:  some people love it and some people hate it.  I'm definitely in the hate it category.  I have furniture wax in my cupboard, but only for very special antiques which have been waxed their whole lives and need to keep their lovely patinas.  But there's no way in h-e-double-hockey-sticks I'd let anyone near my wood floors with floor wax.
When you wax wood floors it is basically saying you're never going to refinish your wood floors again - just going to keep adding wax.  While ideally, this could work, but people seldom keep up waxed floors, the wax fails, and the floor needs to be refinished.  When this happens the wax needs to be stripped, then the floor cleaned, sanded, and refinished.  Had we been smarties and tested the finish for wax, we could have done it the "easy" way and stripped them first.   Buuuuuut, we didn't.
From what I can surmise, our floors were part waxed, part varnished, party polyurethane-ed, and part raw wood. Goodie.
So, with joy in our eyes and excitement in our steps, we headed off to Home Depot to rent the floor sander. 
We hauled it home and excitedly plugged it in to the wall, slapped a sanding pad on and got to work in the library.  The library sanded off like butter and peas, and we were so excited to get on with the whole floor.

However, once we slid in to the living room, we realized something was very wrong.  The pads started lasting shorter amounts of time and getting these large gooey globs on them.  This wasn't what normal varnish or poly does!  So, we just kept switching pads and sanding away.   It felt like the sander wasn't doing anything.  Heck, it looked like the sander wasn't doing anything.  In fact, I'm pretty sure it just plain old wasn't doing anything.  We sanded until 3 in the morning, went to bed hoping it would look better, aaaaand, nope.  Still looked like crap:

In leui of driving 45 minutes to Home Depot to buy more sanding pads and rent the sander for another day - we just returned it and bought them out of sanding belts for our hand-held belt sander.  We also bought a $20 palm sander (which I can't believe I didn't have before mudding and sanding THE ENTIRE FIRST FLOOR).  The man hand-sanded the entire floor.  I did the touch up with the little palm sander, and a week later, we finally had it sanded well enough to call it quits.

We decided to go dark with the stain, mainly because that is the color the old varnish had turned to and we really liked it.  Another reason was to cover up stains and areas were we couldn't get all the dark finish off.  The dark stain was Dark Mahogany by Minwax.  I think it really helped to bring out the natural grain and color of the pine without looking like a gym floor.  We decided to go with an oil-based finish this time.  Last time we refinished a floor, we did a water-based poly in satin.  I really liked how it looked on unstained oak - but this floor needed the oils to bring out deep, rich warmth.

Once I actually have the house clean and floor swept, I'll have pictures of the whole thing - but until then, enjoy the little sneak peak!