Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Thinking Outside the Box (store): Choosing Kitchen Cabinets

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We are officially owners of our third house. Kind of crazy. We don't really like moving but we do what we have to for jobs and it does give us the opportunity to rework another house, which is fun. When we look for a new house we look for a home that is livable the way it is, but clearly can afford some changes/updates to improve the value. The biggest sticking point for us in house searches are space and kitchens. Usually, space trumps kitchens and so we end up renovating the kitchen to get  what we want. 

In our first house we were able to reuse some of the cabinets to keep costs down. This was both good and bad. We did end up saving some money, but in order to match designs, we were forced into buying our cabinets from one of the box stores. This wasn't the end of the world, but I didn't love them and wasn't thrilled about the construction or quality.

Fast forward to our second house. We decided to go with all new cabinets. Higher cost, but at the time we thought we were going to be in that house for a long time so worth it. We got quotes from Lowe's, Home Depot and a few local cabinet places as well as pricing out cabinets from Ikea. Based on quality and price, we ended up going with a local company. We were able to get the exact design we wanted, at a higher quality, plus have the cabinets be american made, all for significantly less money than the box stores. 

We really like supporting smaller business that can offer better quality at a lower price. Cabinet Cottage is very similar to the company we worked with and offer the same line of cabinets we ended up buying (and loving). If you are in the market, we purchased the Americana Capital series. We brought our floor plan to the store and had a design worked up there which Cabinet Cottage offers as well as Free in home estimates.

Even better, right now you can get 50% off wholesale cabinetry which include the Americana series. We went with an al-a-carte option and installed the cabinets ourselves, but with the 50% off you can put the savings towards installation and save your back! We loved how these cabinets held up over time and while we aren't sure what we are going to do with our new kitchen, the cabinets are our biggest complaint. So, if we decide to replace them, we will be looking at these again. 

Do you love your cabinets? Let us know where you got them in the comments.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Defining Wasted Space - Floating Shelves

Do you ever look at a space in your house and ask "Why"? As in, why did whoever design my house put that there or include a space or not include cabinet knobs? Well, our new house has quite a few things on that list and we're slowly trying to figure out what to do to make those things work for us. The easiest to figure out and fix was a weird space/alcove between our master bedroom door (left) and the downstairs half bath door (right).

This spot has quickly become the dogs spot for food, water and where they hang out when we're not at home so I wanted to create a functional spot for them as well as some storage to deal with the copious number of boxes that are still not unpacked. I initially was going to try to find unit that fit the spot but I wanted to keep the floor space open to the dogs so instead, I decided to put in some floating shelves.

This was a bit of a fly by the seat of my pants project. I took some quick measurements of the alcove and headed to Lowe's. I wanted to keep this project simple and keep scrap to a minimum so I stuck with one 4' x 8' sheet of 1/4" stainable plywood and four 1x2's (8 ft long each). I had the guy at Lowe's cut down the plywood into eight 45" x 1' pieces and the strip left over I kept to make a smaller shelf. Then I headed home to work with the 1x2's.

I started on the table saw. I didn't want to see any raw plywood edges so I used the table saw to notch out a 1/4" deep notch on either side of two of the 1x2's. This allows the plywood to lay flush with the top of the 1x2 and have some support (1/2") underneath so I didn't have to used more 1x2's than necessary. The other 1x2's were ripped so that they would be the same depth as the narrow side of the notched 1x2 to create support pieces for the wall.

I used our miter saw to cut everything down to length. The scraps were cut down to create this smaller shelf for the bathroom. This only left a small piece of plywood at the end.

All the visible pieces of wood got a coat of stain and then it was time to start putting everything together. 

Since 1x2's aren't very thick, I predrilled all the support pieces. This took a little extra time upfront but it saved a lot of frustration of splitting the wood so it was totally worth it.

Next was figuring out where to put the shelves. Our laser level has been my best friend in this house and it made this project so easy to put together. I set up the laser at the height I wanted the first shelf and started putting up support pieces right under it.

I would check with an actual level to verify that the individual support pieces were level and then I attached the front piece.

At this point I had support on all sides so I could lay in my top plywood piece and use my nail gun to attach the top to the supports. I repeated this process for the bottom piece of plywood and that finished the build of one shelf.

To keep going, I set up a tape measure with the spacing I wanted between the shelves and then lined the laser up to right above the top of the tape.

Lots of repeating work later, I had four awesome floating shelves! I was a little worried about the shelves sagging but these things are solid. I also shockingly did not have to repeat any cuts and things fit together just how they were supposed to (benefits of a newer house??? things are actually square??)

I wasn't quite done yet though. I touched up all the nail holes with stain and then put a coat of polyurethane on all visible sides.

I used a satin poly so you can barely tell a shine difference (above) between the poly'd and non poly'd side but after a quick sand down after the poly dried, The shelves were nice and smooth and no longer had the rough feel of plywood. I've learned over the years that if you ever want to wipe down these type of shelves, this is an absolutely necessary step.

Finally, I was able to do some unpacking and styling. All our DVD's and shows and CD's (yes we still use these things and we even use our LP's, I just couldn't find the box that they are hiding in to put them up yet) are now readily available and since this is the dogs area down below, I decided to use this space to display all our favorite pups in picture form.

I'm trying to embrace the desert life so we picked up a few dry loving plants this weekend and the little bit of greenery is definitely making me happy.

The only thing left to do is find an appropriate basket to store dog toys on the lowest shelf and then I'm going to be super duper happy with the combo of utility and eye candy that this little no-space has embraced.

How about you? Do you have a space in your house that needs defining?

Linking to: Remodelaholic.com

Monday, August 17, 2015

Desert Photos and an Announcement

Moving from Fl to the middle of the desert is a little extreme in terms of views. There is technically green around us but it's really different and the overall hue is brown. It doesn't help that the houses in our neighborhood are every shade of brown/beige you can think of. We slowly adjusting and it helps that we have these cool mountain views so we thought we would take advantage to get some family photos. It's been awhile since the last time we did this so someone has grown quite a bit.

The cacti around here are pretty cool. They are huge and they are everywhere. They are protected and it's against the law to cut one down and if one is starting to fall, they stake it up to try and keep it alive. I haven't really learned much about all the other plants but most of them have prickers of some sort so between them and the rocks it's not the easiest terrain. I have found some pretty good running trails, though and as long as you stay on them you can get around the desert pretty well.

Will loves the rocks and riding his tricycle around the neighborhood and I think we'll enjoy hiking once cooler water hits. Right now we tend to max out at about 15 min outside before the sun goes down.

The heat here tends to bother me more than in Florida but I'm going to mostly blame that on our little bun in the oven!

I'm about 5 months pregnant (which has added a little bit of extra craziness the last couple of months) and things have finally settled down enough that we decided to share with you all. I'm due right at Christmas so we are just starting to play around with nursery ideas and names. We've been a little more amped up about it this week since we just found out we are having a:

Baby Girl!

We actually found out that we were pregnant just a couple of days before I came out to Phoenix to look for houses so timing was good for me to find a house that would fit our growing family. This means that you'll get to see us add a bedroom and completely overhaul certain aspects of our new house over the next couple of months. Stay tuned because we have a pretty long to-do list and a pretty short timeline so things are going to be changing quickly!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Last Minute Kitchen Finishes

Before we listed our house in Florida, we had a laundry list of things to finish. A lot of the things were small that fell into the category of you notice if they're not finished but they don't really stand out when you're finished. Then there were other things that stood out to us but if you didn't see the house before, you would never know they weren't always there. The kitchen area fell into that second category.

The back entrance was in some form of construction until about 2 weeks before we listed the house. Since we moved the door frame into the kitchen, we had to re-drywall and patch a good chunk of this space. We joked that by the time we got done, this space it had more done to it by square footage than every other space in the house. We ended up taking down the chalk board because we wanted to take it with us and painted the space the same color as our half bath. 

The ceiling also needed patching so we added a plank ceiling similar to our bedroom, but this time we decided to do a square pattern with the light centered. We really got into ceiling design in this house and I think this is my favorite (the birds being a very close second).

Next, we decided to finish off the top of the cabinets with crown. We had planned on doing this from the beginning but had never gotten around to it. We already had bought the crown so it seemed silly not to install it. Nate added a border of scrap wood to the top as a place to nail the crown to and then trimmed them out, including the sides of the cabinets near the window.

Caulking and painting is always our saving grace when it comes to crown and it really makes the cabinets look completely finished.

Last but not least, we added a door to the pantry per the request of our realtor. We started with the door that used to hang between the dining room and kitchen.

 Nate cut out the upper panel and cut it down for the pantry door frame and I gave it a new coat of paint that I mixed up by lightening the kitchen ceiling paint. We wanted the light from the pantry to still make it into the kitchen and so we started looking around for transparent options for that upper panel. Since we didn't spend any money on that part, we decided to go with glass and to keep with the age of the house we got glass that has chicken wire embedded it in. We got it at a local glass company and it's a really cool look that makes the door look a lot older than it is. When the door is closed you can't see the contents of the pantry but still get the great light. the glass cost about $120 but I think it was totally worth it since we wouldn't have been able to buy a door like this for under a few hundred.

Those three little things really finished off the kitchen. I wish we had been able to enjoy them more (or take that door with us) but it was worth getting everything in tip top shape before listing the house.

What projects do you put off doing and then wish you had done them sooner?

Monday, August 3, 2015

Will's New Room

Welcome to Will's big boy room. AKA the only unpacked and decorated room in our new house. We already showed you his new bookshelves that I made out of gutters and now it's time to show you the rest of his new space.

The big goal was to get some color going in his space. Since we are most likely going to move again after my residency is over, I decided to work with the beige paint and add accents of color in the blue hues.

We added one more gutter shelf over the couch for some stuffy storage and I spray painted a peg board in the same color as some of the shelves and hung baskets to get the diapers and wipes up off the changing table.

We loved Will's big alphabet and Fibonacci number murals in his nursery but this time I wanted something we could take with us if we move. So, I picked up a pack of Eric Carle number a letter flash cards. They are super cute and colorful and if your little loves Hungry Hungry Caterpillar they will be all over these. I used some twine and clothesline clips to hang the cards. The great thing is that the numbers have two sets of flashcards so one can hang and you can use the other set.

Over Will's crib (which we are keeping him in as long as possible... no climbing out yet) I have my favorite little animal pictures by Sharon Montrose and then Will picked out the giraffe cutout from Hobby Lobby. It's the first time he's really wanted something so it's now right where he can see it.

The last couple of things we did was add Will's name to his door and put a peep hole in it. It's nice to have the option to check in on him without opening the door, especially since he likes to do gymnastics in his crib when he should be taking a nap...

So that's Will's new room. It's working really well for us and it's nice to have his room free of toys so we can focus on it being more of a down time space for reading and sleeping.

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