Tile Away, Tile Away…

you put me up, and I won’t fall…I am gla-a-a-ss… okay, no one wants to hear me sing, but I bet you do want photos of gorgeous green subway tile on my kitchen walls.

BAM! Here you go:

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Of course, the magic of the internet makes this look SO much easier than it actually was, but I am absolutely loving how much it changes the kitchen already and we haven’t even grouted it yet!

The first wall, on the sink side, took a LOT longer than the second wall, since we were trying to get a feel for how much thinset to use, how to cut the tiles around the outlets (YUCK!) and making sure we had all of the spacing correct. But since it turned out pretty darn well, the second wall seemed to take much less time.

Hopefully the grouting will go smoothly and then we’re down to just a few final finishing touches!! Can you hear the fat lady warming up??? Oh wait, that was just me singing that Titanium song again. 😉


The saga continues (Or: How is it February 1 and our kitchen is still not finished?)

I bet you were all expecting a final “Ta-da” here’s our brand new amazing kitchen post as the next step, weren’t you?


We have made some progress, but we had been waiting on a final decision as to what was going to happen with a few stains that we found on the edges of our countertops. See those little brown spots?

20130116-155010.jpgYeah, those weren’t supposed to be there.

And given the stains that originally delayed our installation, we presumed that these were holdovers from those stains. Unfortunately, it took at least two months and two trips from the Countertop Factory folks trying to use solvents to remove the stains before they realized that they weren’t stains at all, but rather hardened resin that was apparently the wrong color.

So, a few weeks ago, we were told they were going to take out the countertops and re-edge them to remove all of the resin. Which would have been a pain, but worth it to get rid of the spots. And two days before they were supposed to come out, they cancelled and said they wanted to try another option first. #ifeltlikepunchingsomething. After weeks of following up with them to find out what they were ACTUALLY going to do, they were finally able to send a repairman to us yesterday who painstakingly (with dozens of razor blades) chipped out each brown spot and refilled it with clear resin. It took the poor guy nearly 4 hours.

But the end result is…. a FINISHED COUNTERTOP!!! Can you believe it?


Now that I know our countertops aren’t going to be removed and we’re not going to have to find another type of countertop to replace them… I can order the backsplash tile and get moving on this $#!&!

Excuse me, are those real countertops?

Approximately seven months ago, our kitchen looked something like this:

And then… after a few weekends of work, it looked like this:

Now, it looks a little something like this:

Dan and I can’t stop exclaiming “we have countertops!!” every time we walk into the room. It’s just simply been WAY too long since we’ve had a functional kitchen.

But let me back up just a little bit to help explain why this step seems even more amazing to us. Right before we left for our vacation, the folks from the Countertop Factory came out and measured to get the exact dimensions for our countertops, and told us we had to wait 7-10 business days for installation. Unfortunately, while we were on vacation we received an email telling us they expected the material to be delayed at least 3 weeks. Then, another email a few weeks later letting us know it wouldn’t be available until November 2. We were so disappointed, but we tried to be patient until they were finally scheduled to deliver and install the countertops and the sink on Wednesday, Nov. 7. I worked from home and scheduled the electrician’s return visit, the countertop installation AND our wine fridge repair (a story for another day) all on the same day. At the end of the day, I was ready to have the most amazing kitchen ever… but it ended up that only the electrician came that day, and didn’t even complete everything while he was here.

The problem was apparently a discoloration issue from the fabricating table that had stained the countertops, so we had to wait until Saturday for them to use a solvent on it and get the discoloration out before they could steal and install it.

But finally the day arrived, and now our kitchen looks like THIS:




One, Two, Three, Floor!

I should really relabel this post, one-month, two-month, three-month, floor!

It’s been a long, long time coming, but on July 27, we finally laid some of the first planks of flooring in our kitchen!

But before I go into too much detail about the flooring, let’s recap how the pantry doorway finally got finished.

When the workers ‘finished’ their work in our place, they left the door of the pantry looking like this:

Our neighbor, who is going to custom make the doors for us, let us know that this wouldn’t work, particularly since it wasn’t even finished off evenly on both sides (I’m sorry, I know it’s tough to see in the photo).

So after a long wait of trying to schedule the contractor to come back out and finish it off, we finally agreed that we would make it clean and drywalled around like we had the other door to the laundry room. Unfortunately, after their first day back in the kitchen, we ended up like this:

And then like this, when we said that the first way was NOT going to work:

But the good news is… it ended up like this:

And then we got started on the floor!

What a Little Paint Can Do

After all the madness from Memorial Day weekend over, we thought for sure we’d be able to paint the walls over the week- and get everything squared away for laying the floor. But with Dan working 60 hours in four days, and a bit of exhaustion from our first bout, it was the following weekend before we got everything taped and ready for painting the walls.

But we did get it painted. every square inch of the kitchen was covered first with the spray painter, then the spots that needed a little more work (divots, bumps, etc.) were sanded, mudded or patched, and we did another coat on the problem areas. It was all looking gorgeous:

Ignore the shiny spots, they’re just reflections in the semigloss from the window and my iPhone camera wasn’t the best for these photos.

Except for when the tape came off:

I’ve read every contradicting opinion about peeling tape while the paint is wet, dry, semi-dry, etc. The truth is, I think I’ve tried to do it in every stage, and somehow, it just never works out for me. This time, anywhere that was taped and only sprayed, peeled perfectly – with a beautiful edge and no problems whatsoever – but near the ceiling, where I had to go over it with a brush to get a clean edge due to the angle of the sprayer, the paint stuck together in peel-able layers and caused problems like the one above.

So, the following week, I had to go back around and freehand the edge with a brush, and I was pretty successful in not painting green on the ceiling, much better with the Purdy brush than I’d done the first few times around ceilings in my condo (which is another reason why we really want to do crown molding!)

So now, we’re painted, spent a weekend last weekend relaxing, and our next steps are doing a bit of clean up with the contractor and then FLOORING!

I can’t wait to actually start putting things back INTO the kitchen!

A little bit worse, a little bit better (Kitchen Dishin’)

This weekend we took the next step in our kitchen remodel, after a break last weekend to attend a friend’s wedding in Virginia. We got the last remaining scraps of the old flooring up from under the walls, and laid the subfloor.

We needed to find 1/4″ plywood subfloor pieces, since we wanted to find the right depth between the joists and the top of the cork flooring to come up even with the rest of our hardwood flooring throughout the apartment. It’s fairly thin, and we couldn’t get it with tongue and groove because it was so thin, but it should work out well.

We did have a bit of an adventure getting the plywood, since we couldn’t fit it inside or tie it on top of our car – we had to rent a UHaul and drive it back and forth – it took forever. But we got it and got it all done working into the early hours of the morning.

And while it doesn’t look like much, it is actually a bit better:

But before we got to that point, we had to make it a little bit worse:

This week, the contractor is working on tearing up the rest of the old pantry and laundry room entrance, and building the new ones! SO EXCITED!

Oh, and because I haven’t shared the photo with everyone, I wanted to share the photo that inspired the pantry we’re developing, courtesy of Pinterest: (source: http://www.closet-shelf.com).

I love the french doors, and I’m hoping that I’ll be able to do some cabinets on the far end, even though I won’t have enough room to do it on the long wall. Can’t wait to show you all the finished product… once it’s final, of course.


Fireplace Edition

So I think I’ve decided on my next big project. I’m going to finally tackle the hideous fireplace. I’d love to do it soon, because I’d like it to be done before we start using it again. And if today’s weather is any indication, we’re going to be busting out some wood logs pretty soon! (Brrr!!!)

So, even though it looked pretty nice last Christmas:

I’ve decided that this Christmas the fireplace should actually match the walls… and the rest of the room! So I’ve been debating tiles and think that I have finally settled on the “idea” of the tile that I want.

I’m looking for a glass and travertine/stone mosaic tile in a mix of tan colors, with a bit of a dark brown or burnt red accent. And I want it to be in the long rectangular pattern, rather than half-inch squares. I like the sparkle of the glass, but I like the texture of the stone, so I think the combination will look great. Plus, thanks to my mom’s pretty awesome idea, I plan to put a matching travertine stone on the hearth and the threshold so they match but aren’t exactly the same as the tile around the fireplace.

Unfortunately, so far I haven’t been able to find exactly what I’ve been looking for. I’ve been able to find things that are close, but not anything that’s exactly what I’m looking for yet.

Too Light:

Too Orange:

Too Pink:

Too Green:

Too Tan:

Guess I’ll just have to keep looking!

Slowly Moving Forward

We’ve been trying to chip away at our to do list and have managed to make some progress.

Project 1: Wardrobes/Chest of Drawers

We purchased our wardrobes from IKEA and thanks to a friend of ours, got them home safely. (Who knew those boxes would be so HUGE?) I assembled them and started filling them with clothes. And, several weeks later, they inspired me to buy all matchy-matchy hangers, so we now have coordinating hangers in all of our closets and wardrobes. I’ve got to admit – as geeky as it sounds – this makes me really happy.

In addition, we took on a rather large project when we purchased an unusual set of drawers that were originally intended as a sideboard, to become our chest of drawers in the bedroom. I just loved all of the drawers and the glass fronts on the top drawers. But the color wasn’t quite what I wanted, so I worked on stripping and repainting it. It took longer than expected, but I’m really happy with how it turned out. The before pictures are posted above and to the side. I’ll add after photos once I get the last handle attached.

Project 2/3: Office and Guest Bedroom/Kitchen Nook

Still no progress here, unfortunately. We’re continuing to look for desks that will work in the spaces – one black for the guest bedroom and a white one for my kitchen nook. We may end up having to hack something (I’ve got an idea for an IKEA hack for the kitchen one), but we’re still looking on Craigslist and everywhere else to see if we can find something less expensive.

Project 4: Living Room/Entertainment Center

We’ve finally ordered an entertainment center! See the photo of it on the left. I think this will be a great piece that will be functional (look at all those drawers for storage!) as well as really nice in our space and go well with my old world/new world mixture of design. I’m really excited about it and we get to go take a trip to the burbs (Woodridge, what!?) to pick it up on Thursday night!

Project 5: Patio

Unfortunately, while we do have a lot of great ideas for the patio space, we’re going to have to wait a while to implement these. This is mostly because… the patio is going to be destroyed. Yep- the structural damage that we knew about when we were looking to buy the place is maybe, finally, going to be fixed. Which brings with it, the lovely and large special assessment that we’ll have to pay, along with all of our neighbors, in order to fix it. So, we’ll be paying for improvements on the balcony, they’ll just be of the necessary kind, rather than for fun.

Project 6: Ceiling Lighting

No progress in this direction whatsoever. We’re still suffering from the evil and cheap lighting that was here when we moved in. Someday, hopefully soon, we’ll get them replaced. I’m really getting tired of the lack of a chandelier in the dining room and the ugly light in our bedroom and ceiling fan in our living room. Anyone else dreaming of new lighting fixtures like me?

A Touch of Our Honeymoon

Shower at Arenal Nayara

Though it’s a bit difficult to see from the photos below, I’ve been trying to bring a touch of our Costa Rican honeymoon into our bathroom. The outdoor shower at our hotel in La Fortuna was truly relaxing, (doesn’t Dan look relaxed in that photo?), so I’m trying to incorporate elements of that shower into our every day lives.

As you can see, I’ve already incorporated one plant in the shower area, and I’ve tried to keep the palette of the room fairly neutral, like the stone in the inspiration photo, so that I can bring in some splashes of color and more plants. I also incorporated a waterfall so you get the Costa Rican feel, even when you’re not taking a shower, and the bamboo elements through the bath accessories. I’m also planning to add more fabric to the shower curtain to add length and bring it more top to bottom. I had originally purchased a piece of brown, linen-like fabric to put on the bottom, but after re-looking at these photos, I’m thinking it might be a nice opportunity to add a splash of color, a warm orange, perhaps?
But… this is definitely the room in which we’ve made the most progress… at least so far!