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Wire Basket Mailbox

May 17, 2017

I don’t know about you guys, but I am so incredibly happy that wire baskets are becoming a HUGE trend.  Just the right amount of clean simplicity, with just enough rustic edge – I love it!  And you know what I don’t love?  The piles of mail that sit on my new island because I haven’t got around to sorting it yet (sigghhhh).  So I decided to tackle making a wire basket mailbox!  Because even if my mail isn’t more organized, I still get adult points for making it look pretty, right?

First of all, I am super lucky in the fact that my Grandpa’s farm has a great supply of old barn wood.  I had a piece already cut for another project, but it worked perfectly for this one instead.  And the two wire baskets, I ordered from Amazon.  Where else!  They actually were meant to hang over a cabinet door, but I rigged them up to hang on this board instead.

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If you look realllllly close you can see where I marked my two hole with pins.  I put the basket where I wanted it and pushed the pins where I needed my little nails to go.

Here is a little closer picture.

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Next, I pounded little nails in where the pins were and bent them upwards with a pliers to create a little hook.  And my baskets hung right on there!

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This project literally takes no time at all.  Just attach a wire to the back for hanging and you have a nice little mailbox!

 

 

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Installing a Mosaic Tile Backsplash

May 2, 2017

I have always thought my mother’s kitchen is gorgeous.  But guys, we just took it to a whole new level this weekend.  She now has a beautiful backsplash – that we installed by ourselves! In ONE day.  So if your excuse for not having a backsplash in your kitchen is that it’s too hard – I’m not letting you get away with that anymore!

Tools you need: 

TileQu!ck Wall Tile Adhesive Mat – from Menards (a must!)

Pre-Mixed Grout

Tile (12×12 mosaic tiles squares is what we used)

Wet Tile Saw

Outlet extenders

Grouting float

Sponge

 

To start, make sure the area you are tiling is clean and smooth (or as smooth as possible).  We tiled over an area that was already textured and it seemed to work fine!

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Next, turn off the power to the outlets, and unscrew outlets from the wall.  You will need to pull them out slightly to install the extenders.

The outlet extenders should slip over the outlets.  Our preference was the blue extenders because they are more shallow.  They did the trick, and were much easier to slip over the outlets.  Keep the long screws that come with the extenders and let the outlets hang out until you are done tiling.  Screwing the outlets, extenders, and outlet covers in over the tile will be the last thing you do.

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Next, measure and cut the TileQu!ck to cover the area you are tiling.  We cut this using a linoleum knife and T-square.  It comes in a roll 18″ x 10′ long, which perfectly did the entire kitchen for us.

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**Honestly, I wouldn’t have attempted this project without TileQu!ck.  It saved so much time and mess!  If you are going to be using mortar to attach your tile, then this is not the tutorial for that!

Peel off the backing on the TileQu!ck mat, and apply to the wall.  We rolled over the mat with a small rolling pin to make sure it was really stuck.

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Now for the fun part.  The kitchen changes so quickly!

The tiles come in 12×12 squares with uneven sides.

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This makes it easy to place them next to each other without seams, but you will need to cut the first square down to create a straight edge.

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To cut the tiles, use a wet saw.  Basically, this a saw that cools the diamond blade with water underneath to prevent chipping the glass tile too badly.

We bought the QEP 4″ Torque Master XT Portable Tile Wet Saw for $30 at Menards.

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If you are planning on doing a larger project, this may not be the most durable option.  But it did the job for us!  Make sure you create a drip loop in the power cord and add water to the bottom of the saw according to the directions – do not let the saw run dry.  

Now for the tricky part- the outlets.

To cut around outlets, we made cuts with the linoleum knife in between the tile rows closest to the top and bottom of the outlet.

**We found that our mosaic tile was pretty much made for outlets.  The measurements for the top and bottom of the outlets almost always fell between two rows of tile. Super nice!

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This is marking off the top and bottom of the outlet. See how it falls neatly between the rows!

 

This doesn’t have to be an exact science either, because outlet covers and grout fill a lot of these spaces.  If you are not using the same small mosaic tile we used, then you may end up cutting your tiles length wise to fit.

**We found that our mosaic tile was pretty much made for outlets.  The measurements for the top and bottom of the outlets almost always fell between two rows of tile. Super nice!

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Such cute hands. 🙂

Once you have cut in between the rows, it is easy to peel back the tile and only make a cut along the side of the outlet.

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Your tile square will end up being stuck to the wall in two pieces around the outlet, but this seemed like the easiest way to do it!

You may need to fill in small gaps with leftover glass tile pieces, so save the outlet cutouts because they will come in handy.

Also, our backsplash area was 13.5 inches high, so to cover the top inch and a half, we cut off individual rows of tile to fill in as needed.

When you have finished covering the entire area with tile, grout immediately.  We used TEC Ready to Use Pre-Mixed Grout in the Coffee color from Menards.  Place a fair amount grout on the edge of the float.

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These pictures got a little blurry. She was moving too quickly for me!

Apply by wiping top to bottom along the tile to start.  This pushes the grout into the cracks!  Then, wipe the grout side to side and thoroughly over entire area.

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When you are done grouting, use a damp sponge to scrub off any excess.  Finally, run a damp cloth over tile to remove any remaining grout.

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This is the tiles after the sponge scrubbing, but before the final wipe with a damp cloth. Not quite shiny yet!

Let dry, and screw outlets, extenders, and outlet covers into the wall over the tile.

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Stand back, have a glass or two of wine, and admire your work – you’re done!

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If you want to check out another idea for an easy backsplash, check out my Faux Brick Backsplash post.

 

 

 

 

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How to Safely Stain Butcher Block

April 25, 2017

 

Whether you like the lighter look of a butcher-block or a darker, stained look, there’s no question a butcher-block slab requires a little more TLC than other wood.

 

Because I’m a sucker for rich, dark-stained wood, I opted to stain the slab of butcher-block that tops my island.

 

There is a couple extra steps compared to staining trim or something like that – but it is still easy, I promise!

Here are a few before pictures!

Now, on to the fun stuff.

1.  Sand the surface.

Always sand with the grain of the wood. And as much as I love a good power tool, I would recommend sanding this by hand. I’ve found that power sanders leave little circular or side-to-side scratches that really show up on tabletops or counters!

**If your butcher block has been used (like mine was), this step is SO important. Sanding removes imperfections or stains that you may not see until you apply the stain – then its too late!

2.   Apply a wood conditioner. Make sure it has the same base as your stain – either water or oil. The conditioner I used was oil-based. Please don’t skip this step – it really helps your stain to absorb and have a nice, rich look.

I brushed this on and wiped off the excess.

Isn’t that difference just crazy? Please condition!

 

3.   Apply your choice of stain.

Everything in my house (from trim to dining table) was done in Minwax Dark Walnut, so that is what I stuck with. If you’re having trouble deciding on what color, I would check out Pinterest for some great side-by-side comparisons!

Try to apply the stain in long sections (with the butcher-blocks pattern). The streaks where the stain overlaps will be in the same direction as the wood then!

 

Wipe stain off immediately or after 5-10 minutes, depending on how dark you would like your color to be. Then let dry about 6 hours.

Voila!

4.  Finally, seal with a finishing oil and sealer that is specific to butcher blocks. The key here is to make sure that whatever you choose seals the stain and is safe to prepare food on!

I used Watco Butcher Block Oil and Finish.

There you have it – all done!

If you want to check out the DIY for the island that I put this slab on – stay tuned!

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How to Fake a Hardwood Floor – DIY!

March 11, 2017

If you’re like me, then you’ve probably spent hours pouring over Pinterest pictures of that PERFECT (yet inexpensive) farmhouse floor. And if you haven’t? Then you should. Now I know, I know. It definitely is not the most fun part of planning your farmhouse style. But it might be one of the most important! A good-looking floor leads to a good-looking room. Convinced? Okay good. Then let’s move on to the fun part!

 

I knew I wanted a dark, hardwood look to my kitchen/entry floor. But my cousin said it best,

“Your home either comes with a surprise hardwood floor, or you find something to fake it, because no one wants to install that by themselves!”

So true. And a real hardwood floor was not in my budget for this house!

So, naturally, I scoured Pinterest for weeks. My first thought was a DIY plywood floor, like you can find here and here. But because I was just trying to get my house move-in ready as quick as possible, I settled on some vinyl flooring from Menards. Well, not really settled, because I love it! And it is super durable, which is great in my heavily used entry and kitchen!

 

This was the entry before. Hello purple!

 

Okay, I’m going to be completely honest.  I had no idea what I was doing when I walked into Menards.  And the flooring section of that place is seriously overwhelming!  Cue Jack, the best, most helpful Menards worker I have ever met.  He pointed me away from the laminate flooring area, and into the vinyl planks.  Laminate is made of a pressed wood bottom layer, and a vinyl top layer for protection.  Since I was using it in my kitchen/entry, Jack said full vinyl would be more durable and wouldn’t warp like laminate if water happened to get between the cracks.   Sold!  And they were the same price, so win/win!

 

Here is where the personal preference comes in for all of you readers.  Obviously in color and style, but also in how these planks go together!  There are planks you can glue down, planks that click together, or planks that stick together to make a floating floor.  I really had no idea what would be easiest, but based on the flooring style that I liked; we ended up installing the “stick together” planks.  More on that in a bit!

 

Here were the final four styles for me:

(Ignore the bad quality, I was just sending pictures home for approval!)

I knew I wanted something with more of a knotty, real wood look.

In the end, I decided on the upper left (Congoleum Carefree Cottage Plank).  They come in 6″x 36″ planks that have peel-off adhesives on two sides.  One box is approximately $30 at Menards and covers 15 square feet.

The Installation:

Someone was not happy I made him help with installation. But it really only took us about two nights to do the whole entry way and kitchen floor!  Super fast and easy.

Quick installation tips: 

Make sure the floor is free of dirt and debris.  If that means plywood like mine was, good luck!

(Optional):  Lay a foam underlayment to protect subfloor from possible water damage.  We did this step, but did not tape the strips together like recommended!

Start from back right corner of the room.  The planks should run parallel to the long direction of the room, so try to pick a a corner based on that.  Here’s an excerpt from the Carefree instruction guide if my directions are confusing!  It makes more sense when you see the adhesive sides on the planks as well.

To cut the planks, use a sharp utility knife and a T-square.  Make one cut along the back of the plank and bend to break apart!

Lastly, stagger full length planks alongside partially-cut planks so that the seams where the planks meet end-to-end are not all together.  We cut the planks in half and kept a uniform look by staggering every other plank full-half-full-half.

And the finished product.  Looks like real wood, right? 😉

Feel free to add your own tips, tricks, or opinions in the comments! I would love to hear your personal flooring stories!

 

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