Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Red Shouldered Hawks

We have some new friends in the neighborhood - a pair of Red Shouldered Hawks are building a nest.  Above is a slide show of the photos I've taken so far.  According to a neighbor who has been keeping up with the species of birds here for over 30 years, this bird has not been here before.  It has now been added to the species list and it's bird breed #39 who has spent time here.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Kitchen Redo - The Finale

See Kitchen Redo Part 2 to see the previous details of this minor remodel.  The walls are painted, the hideous wallpaper gone.  Artwork has been hung, and Biskit the parakeet is happy to be back in his location in the center of everything.

The artwork can actually be seen now!  Before, the busyness of the 70's wallpaper took over.

The new slate peel and stick tile floor has been installed - at least up to the laundry room door.  I worked on this until 8:30 last night, and didn't have it in me to continue on into the laundry room just yet...but I will eventually.  Bye bye green and yellow flower linoleum!  I love the stone look of the new tiles - here's a closeup of the pattern in them:

A creamy background with light and medium tan colors, along with a hint of light grey blends perfectly in the kitchen.  Feels good on the feet too!

I stopped just in front of the laundry room door.  But I still have enough tiles left to go on into that room as well.

Just for comparison...a before and after shot of the floor -- click on the photo to see it larger.

Now I think I'll go to bed for a week. :)  This job, while inexpensive (under $500 for everything I've done here!), was very exhausting.  But I love my "new" kitchen.


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Kitchen Redo Part 2

In this blog post, I shared my inspiration photo of a piece of granite which has the look and colors I wanted to use to redo my hideous countertops (above).  In part one of my kitchen redo, I shared photos of everything I had to work with (or against!) in this kitchen.  Originally, the project was just going to include the counters and kitchen cabinet hardware -- but of course, once I got started, I couldn't stop there! :)

In the photo above, I've begun covering the clean and dry old, ugly counters with the Duck Granite contact paper.  This paper has a nice tan color, with little flecks of gray, black and gold, and it will serve as my base color for the counters.  I could have painted a base color, but it would have included a lot more work including sanding (=dust), and more paint (I'm very chemically sensitive, so I wanted as little "smells" as possible in this project).  I picked up the Duck brand contact paper at Lowes - it's MUCH sturdier and better quality than your traditional contact papers we're used to lining drawers and cabinets with.  I bought 7 rolls ($49) to do this kitchen, and I have enough scrap pieces left to do repairs if necessary in the future.  The above photo shows part of the counter with and without paper applied.  There will be paint colors sponged onto this paper after it's all applied to create the look of the granite.

I got sidetracked here, adding the new cabinet hardware on the doors and drawers (about $120 for all).  The silver really dressed up these cabinets!

My son put up the new, adorable key holder for me.  Totally an optional accessory, but I saw it at Lowes and loved it ($7).

Originally, I was just going to create a stone tile back splash behind the stove.  However...see how the stove is kind of enclosed in that corner?  The heat tends to really sit in that corner, and I was worried about putting my contact paper application in that area...so I decided to tile it all.  Tumbled marble 4" stone tiles from Lowes (36 cents each), and two sheets of mosaic matching stone and glass tiles ($22) enabled me to create a nice pattern all the way around the side and back of the stove, including up the wall onto the back splash.  I used a fabulous product by Bondera to stick the tiles to the counter and the wall.  It's like double-stick tape to the extreme and works VERY well!

Here's a photo of the completed back splash with the tile.  The white counter areas will all be covered with the contact paper and paint.

Max is observing everything with interest. :)

I got sidetracked again with some of the extra tiles and made this tile trivet for setting hot pots or bowls on - because they won't be going on my new counter!  See the lovely burn mark in the counter the previous owners left us?  I don't want that to happen.  Down in my studio, I found a plain 8x10 piece of wood with a fancy beveled edge.  I placed the Bondera tape onto the top of the wood, added 4 big tiles and made a pattern with the mosaic tiles in the center.  Then I took about a tablespoon of burnt umber (brown) acrylic paint and put it on a paper plate.  I took a paper towel, wet it and squeezed out the excess water.  I dipped the towel into the paint and smoothed it all around the beveled edge to create a nice stained edge to the bare wood.  After drying, I added felt circles to the bottom - it will now slide across the new counter without damaging the finish.  And viola!  I have a custom trivet which matches my back splash!

Okay....now back to the original project...the counters:

One side of the counters, totally covered in the contact paper.

And the other side...bye bye burn mark!  Now it's time to make them look like granite.  I was able to get most of the bubbles and creases out, however, there's a few creases I couldn't get out...no matter how much I tried.  The painting I'm getting ready to do should "hide" them enough where they look like part of the design.  Overall - 95% of the counters are smooth with no creases.

I sponge painted glossy black acrylic all over the contact paper.  Then I sponge painted a little burnt umber (chocolate brown color) here and there on top of the black.  I went easy on the brown because of all the wood we have in the kitchen, but I wanted to pull in some of the wood color into the counters.

I let the paint dry overnight (since it was plain old acrylic craft paint, it dries very fast).  The next day, I began applying a product I purchased for a sealer - Minwax Polycrylic Clear Gloss.  I applied one coat over the entire counter, then allowed everything to dry for 2 hours.  Then I applied another coat and allowed that to dry overnight.

Standing back and looking at it, the counters look FAB!  Very rich and elegant.  But that wallpaper in the dining area and trim above the cabinets will have to go.  And that floor....I MUST do something with that too!

The next day, the appliances were placed back in their respective spots.

See  my red X's?  Wallpaper. Floor.  Must change!!!

Before and after counter views (above and below).

Do you notice that little light glowing on the new counters?  Let me tell you about this cool idea!

These battery operated, silver lights are from Lowes (2 in a package for $25, includes batteries).  Push any of those 3 elongated buttons to turn them on and off.  Now...these lights have a piece of sticky tape on the back -- AND -- a magnet.  Piece of advice?  SKIP THE STICKY TAPE.  It won't hold.  See that metal?  A Lowes employee helped me find it.  It's 3 feet long and has holes in it.  Mount that metal centered under the cabinets and just allow the magnet from the light to hold to that metal.  The best thing about this is you can slide the lights anywhere along the metal strip to shine them where you want them to go.  The lights will automatically shut off after 30 minutes to save battery life.  I've only bought 2 lights, but will be getting another metal strip and lights for the other side of the counters.

Here's another fun accessory.  These are curtain tie backs I found at Lowes.  They have a mosaic marble round ball on them, and the metal is silver.  We mounted one of these on the side of each cabinet at the sink area to hang kitchen towels on.  Very cute, don't you think? :)

Remember that wallpaper and trim above the cabinets?  It's gone!  Well, not gone, but covered up with a nice medium taupe (tan) colored paint.  The husband and kids completed the painting project yesterday.

No more ugly 70's wallpaper with green and yellow!  HOORAY!

Today, we'll hang the artwork back on the dining area walls.  And today is also FLOOR DAY.  Yippee! Yep, I'm covering up the hideous green and yellow vinyl sheet floor with peel and stick floor tiles in a creamy slate, with shades of tan (to blend with the counters and walls) and light gray (to blend with the new cabinet hardware).  I hope and pray the peel and stick project will work.  It's debatable...some people have had great results and some have not.  We're going to give it a try in the kitchen area, and if it works well, we'll do the laundry room (attached to the kitchen) and the dining area (also attached).

To redo this kitchen and work with my wood instead of against it cost under $500 (including the floor tiles we haven't done yet).  As I add more fun accessories like more lights, etc, it might cost more.

Some tips on the contact paper/painted counters:

1) Don't set anything hot on the counters.  Use tile or metal trivets.
2) Buy a large wooden cutting board to put on the counter ($10-$20) when you're going to use a portable appliance which gets hot, such as a crockpot or waffle maker.  Set the appliance on top of the wood cutting board while using it - this way, the board will take the heat instead of your new counter.
3) Take extra tiles (I had a couple more from the back splash) and add felt rounds or squares to the bottom.  Leave these in various places on the counter in order to set a glass which may "sweat".  This keeps the sweat from the wet glass off the counters.  If you set a wet glass or leave water standing on the counter for a long period of time, the polycrylic coating will cause a white "ring" or spot to appear.  Don't worry, the white will disappear again after it's dry!
4) If you use a chemical to clean and disinfect your counters, be sure to get it all wiped up.  If you leave a harsh chemical substance on the counter, it could possibly eat away at the polycrylic coating.  So make sure to wipe it all up well.
5) Obviously, don't "cut" food items on the counters directly, as you could damage your counter surface. I always use a cutting board or plate to cut food on, rather than the counter surface, and I think most people do, but it's just something to keep in mind with this type of counter finish.

Stay tuned for another final blog post and photos after we do the tile floor!


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Kitchen Redo Part 1

Before I get started on my big kitchen counter redo, I thought I'd share some photos of what I've got to work with here.  White counters, with a green veined/marbled pattern in them.  Against my brown wood (with dark wood grain and golden tones) paneled cabinetry.  So I've decided not to change the color of the wood, but work with it.  I just can't stand the high contrast of the wood with the white counters (which were damaged and stained before we moved in).  Since I've decided to leave the cabinetry alone, the counters will be getting a remodel.

Here's the other counter.

The cabinet hardware is probably about 30 years old.  I've decided to upgrade it in brushed stainless hardware to match some of the newer appliances.  My son will be replacing the hardware for me today while I'm at work.  The cabinets should all look like this when I get home:

Eventually, I'll also get knobs or drawer pulls for the 15 drawers, as well as updated hinges for all of these cabinets.  But for now, I'm focused on getting the counters complete.

How do you like that avocado green stove? :)  Eventually it will be replaced, along with the lovely avocado green venthood above it.  Counters first though!  See that lovely burn mark near the stove?  We've lived with that for 10 years and I'm so ready to cover that up!  I've also got a unique tile backsplash plan for that paneled area above the stove top.  But....counters first.

How do you love my pile of receipts and junk under the board we've been using to hang keys on for years?  Lovely, isn't it!  IT'S ALL GOING.  The receipts and papers we need to keep will be contained.  And my son will be putting up the new keyholder today.  We have to get this area of the counters cleaned off so I can begin the counter project.  Which will be starting very soon!