Kitchen Complete!

The kitchen marathon is over! I had hoped to get it finished before I went back to work last week, but it just wasn't quite there. Probably like 95%, but that's not enough when you're getting ready to list your house! That's also the reason I didn't post last week. I've been slaving away until at least 9 most nights to get it done, and I've just been too tired to do much else.

So, what ended up getting checked off last weeks to-do list?

  • The backsplash is done!
  • Toe kicks are done (no more black holes to eat up all the kitty toys)
  • Cabinets have a fresh coat of paint
  • The outlets and switches are blindingly white

The big fluorescent light fixture didn't get replaced, but I just don't care anymore. So really the kitchen from about 4" down is beautiful. That's what cropping if for, right? Speaking of cropping, let's just jump to some pretty after pictures!


I just love how the backsplash turned out! Don't let this picture fool you, the granite is not that yellow. It's not quite as white as the tile, I think the artificial lighting made it look that way. It's more accurate in the picture above. And I really love that the's little brown flecks scattered throughout. It's like I picked the paint for the cabinets just to match (I totally didn't).


I just love this little corner so much! I chose to bevel the tiles around the corners of the window (just like you would with baseboards) and I think it looks so clean. I also love how perfect the new switches and outlets are. Seriously, they were pretty sad looking before. I'm also forcing some tulips in water in hopes that they will be blooming when we list the house.


Now for my attempt at listing photos. Our realtor (and Matt's brother) said we should have a professional shoot our listing photos, but I thought I'd give it a shot anyway. It will be fun to see the difference.





So now that the kitchen is ready to woo a buyer, I'm moving on to our sad little bathroom situation in the master bedroom.

Nikki Kelly

P.S. Just for funsies here are some real early before (pre move-in) pics of the kitchen.




Even The Kitchen Sink

While I was working on the stairs I finally had had enough of this situation.



Yep, that's two buckets under the sink. On the left we have a garbage disposal with a crack in the housing, and on the right the sink strainer was so stripped that it would not attach to the drain pipes. The bottom of the cabinet had pretty much disintegrated from water damage. At this point I had cleaned out the remaining cabinet floor and created some support for a new sheet of plywood. Oh, and don't worry about water damage. I didn't use the water for a couple of days and it was bone dry.


Sadly the sink cabinet wasn't the only one needing a little work. When we removed the old flooring in the kitchen (before we even moved in) there was this nasty commercial carpet attached to the toe kicks. When we pulled it off some of the toe kicks came with it. Right now they are blocked off with some wood, but I plan on painting some 1/4" plywood so it looks like the rest of the cabinets. No more lost kitty toys, well in the kitchen at least.



As boring as toe kicks and under the sink messes are, they were a way of preparing for new countertops! Smell ya later leaky sink.



We went with a company called Granite Direct because we had heard from a few friends that they were the least expensive in town. Part of that reduced rate was having to remove the exsisting countertops, and installing the sink. Since I like doing what I can, I didn't have a problem with that at all.



These little water droplets were quite the victory! It took me about 3 1/2 hours to get the sink installed. It was a totally new experience for me. On the front side of the sink I only had an inch gap to get the little sink clips attached, and I dropped a screwdriver on my face. All while crammed into a sink cabinet. Now that I've done it, here are a few things I would do differently: get as much of the water lines connected first, and put the little screw parts of the clips in place before dropping the sink into the countertop.



The countertops are great and all, but they need a backsplash. We picked out a simple beveled edge subway tile, and I set to install them yesterday afternoon.



I've got it almost finished.



I still have a partial row under the cabinets and the area under the microwave.



And I have to do this on the other side of the window. It's two rows of tile, metered corners, and all topped off with a schluter strip.



I think I'll link up to Sara's Dueling DIY post, you know, since I'm kicking this kitchen's ass.

Things left in the kitchen before we list the house:

  • Finish installing backsplash tile and grout
  • Paint and install toe kicks
  • Touch up cabinet paint
  • Replace outlets and switches
  • Replace main light fixture

I'm trying to focus my attentions on one room at a time in an effort to get the house ready to sell. That way I don't have a million little finishing touches left at the end.


Nikki Kelly



Stair Update: The Final One!

January 11th! That is the date of my last post. Cray! Well, lots of things have been happening around here. First of all, these babies are done (minus some caulk and touch up paint on the trim).

Also happening around here; I'm taking 3 classes this semester (I've only taken 2 at a time so far), oh and we are moving. To Portland. So, you know, nbd. Just kidding. But seriously, moving! O_O I've somehow been denying the stress that I should be experiencing from setting in. I've been working like a mad woman on lingering projects to get some of the less enticing areas of our home to be a little more cohesive with all the things we actually have done around the house. Along with homework and work work. Maybe the fact that I haven't blogged in such a long time is a little bit of that stress manifesting itself in my life. Just a little.
But now there's so much stuff happening that I want to share, and I think Instagram might kick me off if I post as many pictures as I keep myself from posting. Anyway, finishing up the stairs. Since the top half of our steps are open on the side these edges simply would not do!


So, I stalked my dad's travel schedule via my mom and talked him into helping me route a nice rounded edge like the one on the front of the steps. Dads are great like that, especially mine.




Fancy round edges were quite a hurdle in the top half of the stair makeover project. I may have routed the wrong side of one, and set the bit a little too high on others. I don't really want to talk about it. What's important is that they eventually were routed and I could move on to staining, notching out a spot for the railing, and installing them.



I also templated and cut out the skirt for under the stair overhang on the side. Perhaps I will call it a slip, you know, since it's "under" the stairs. Whateves, to template this I taped some old resume paper we've had laying around for the last 8 years, attached the railing and cut around the spindles with an exacto knife. Maybe I'll regret that once we move and I become a trophy wife jobless. Who knows!



Tracing the template onto the plywood was pretty easy, but I did need to selectively sand some edges to get it to fit into place. Once it did I painted it and installed it.



And added some molding to make it look pretty. I used the same baseboards, but for the top piece I riped the top inch to make a smaller piece. It just needs some caulk and touch up paint.



I'm so excited to have this project behind us! There's nothing like a big life change to light a fire under your ass to get some projects done.


Nikki Kelly



Stair Update: Rinse and Repeat

The holidays have come and gone, so now it's time to get back to work. I'm heading into the last week of my winter break, so I'm enjoying the last bit on mental freedom before I have to resume juggling work, school, and house projects. The good news is that I've made some good progress on the upper half of the stairs. Things always seem to go a little quicker the second time around. And since I forgot to take some pictures of the skirting process last time, I made some effort to better document that this time through. The key word in that last sentence was some, I still missed a step or two, but I'll do my best to paint a lovely word picture to make up for my lack of actual pictures. Ok, here we go. I started by laying my 1/2" plywood along the stairs like so. I used two small nails just to keep it in place.


Then using a straight edge, I used a level, I continued the lines from the treads and risers onto my skirt.




Easy peasy so far. You might notice that some of my steps don't quite reach the skirt, don't worry too much about that. Once all your steps are marked you need to cut those little triangles out.



Now for the word painting. After you cut all the triangles out your skirt will actually fit into the voids above the steps, although not perfectly. There will be gaps in some spots and none in others. As disappointing as this may sound, you will need to re-trace and cut your stair notches. To do that I used my trusty level again, but this time I laid it on its side so that I would be marking my skirt about an inch above my steps. Once you've re-traced your treads and risers and cut along the new lines your skirt should fit like a glove. The last steps for cutting your skirt is to rip some of the height off, and cut the top and bottom ends off. I marked the height of my skirts at 3" above the old tread so they would all be consistent. At the top of the stairs I cut the riser so it would sit flush with the exsisting floor, and at the bottom of the stairs I cut it perpendicular to the floor about an inch and a half in front of the bottom riser. Hopefully that description helps, but if your still confused just leave me a comment with your question below.



This is an almost finished skirt. You can see I still have to cut the top (flush with the flooring) and bottom (perpendicular to the floor) bits off, but the height has been cut.



Moving on to the risers. Since one side of the staircase is open I was excited to skip the measuring part. I took the railing down to make things a little easier, and to add an element of danger! Dunt dunt dunnnnn.



Then I placed my riser material in its future home...



And marked my cut line from the back. My plan for this ugliness is to make a skirt but for under the stairs (like this). I figure I will need to install the skirt and risers before I start to trace my steps and cut this other skirt, so that's where I'm at for now.


I'm hoping for some decent weather (not freezing or windy) so I can finish painting these pieces this weekend. Also, we ordered the treads last week and they should be here by Monday evening. I've got a little more figuring out to do with these new treads (some of which will require some help from my dad), but I'm hopeful I don't 1) ruin them and 2) it doesn't take forever.


Nikki Kelly



A Frame Ornament Tree

Look out Crate and Barrel, I copied your Christmas tree ornament display thingy. Don't worry, I still love you anyway.


As soon as I saw the original at my local C&B I instantly thought I could make one myself. So I pinned it for later and quickly forgot about it. It only came back on my radar while we were finalizing our Xmas shopping. See, we usually get Matt's mom one of those fancy Swarovski crystal snowflake ornaments for Xmas and I thought this would be a nice way to display them. So with two days to spare I started this last minute project. The supply list is pretty short; a 1x2x8" board, 2 small dowels, and some stain. I already had some poly, nails and screws.

To make the triangle I cut the angles at the top of my tree, both of which are 45 degree angles, on a miter saw. Then, I laid my bottom piece along the bottom and used a t-square thing to level it out based on the inner and top most points. Once it looked good I marked my cut lines and ended up with this.



Now that my tree shape was established I needed to plan out where the ornaments would rest. I eyeballed this process as well by laying a dowel, tracing it with a pencil, and using ornaments to help figure out spacing. Once I knew where I wanted my dowels to cross I marked the center of my boards.



To drill my holes I started out with my drill perpendicular to the board like so.



But once the hole was started I repositioned my drill so that it was roughly at the same angle as my lines were. I started with a smaller drill bit and then bumped up to the one that was closest to my dowel size.



Now that all my holes were drilled at roughly the same angles I slid my dowels in and marked my cut lines.



After cutting my dowels and glueing them into place I secured the first two pieces of my triangle together with some wood glue and two shots from my nail gun. After that my base was somehow a little smaller than what I started out with. No problem, I just lined one side up so it was flush with the side and marked where I needed to cut on the other end.



With the board cut to the correct size I attached it to the rest of the tree with screws up from the bottom, that way you won't see them. Now for ornament placement. I used our dremel tool to create little notches in the dowels to indicate where you should hang ornaments, and to keep them from sliding to one side or the other if they happen to be on hooks. The dremel notches were not exactly pretty, so I smoothed them out with some sand paper wrapped around some scrap dowel.



Now sand, stain, poly and add a little base and you're left with this!



I need to make one for our house now.



Oh, and how many of you had a Miley on your tree this year?


Nikki Kelly



Stair Update: Bottom Half is Done!

Sunday was a pretty exciting day in the Jones/Kelly household. Mainly because of these babies!

Yep, we finished the bottom half (also the more visible half) of the stairs, but not without a late-in-the-game-hiccup. Picking up from where we left off (cutting the treads to size), it was time to stain! Since we wanted them to match our hardwood floors that we put in I had taken a scrap piece of tread wood and a spare piece of flooring to Sherwin Williams to get a stain match.



When I picked it up it looked ok to me, so I took these pristine slabs off wood and got to staining. So far so good, well except for the no gloves part. I forgot to grab a pair from the color department at work and at this point I was way too excited to get started to worry about stained cuticles. Sacrifice.



I even took a quick little break to take a picture with my unsoiled hand to document the process. Also, we really need to clean out/organize the garage, but that is for another day.



Things were moving along smoothly. Maybe a little too smoothly. With two coats of stain applied and an hour of recommended drying time I applied some poly with a brush. That's when things took a quick turn from "perfect and as planned" to "what the what?" With each stroke of the poly my nicely stained treads went from espresso to more of a reddish brown color. Not quite what I was going for.



I tried to salvage it by rubbing on some stain after the poly dried, but it was useless. I had to admit defeat. I grabbed my reddish brown stair tread and an espresso-y stained piece of flooring and headed back to Sherwin Williams. The guy that was working was super helpful about re-tinting my stain. He even sanded the whole thing so we could try it out a few times to make sure it was right. He also told me that I should wet the treads a little to open up the grain because oak is well known for having a tight grain that is difficult to stain. Well known to paint store guys, not so well known to me. Since it was pretty much dark by the time I got home I would have to put off sanding all my hard work off until the next day.



Thankfully, Matt's knee has been healing up quite nicely and he offered to help me do some sanding, aka the worst job in the world. What a sweetie!



So I re-stained the treads using the Sherwin Williams guy's water suggestion, and sprayed the poly on instead of brushing and that seemed to do the trick. I sprayed 3 coats of poly and gave them a light sanding with some 320 grit sandpaper in between each coat, which made them smooth as buttah. Seriously, I've always been lazy about the whole sanding between coats thing, but I am now a convert! I even bought one of those little sanding blocks that holds your sandpaper all nicely instead of just holding it around a foam sanding block.



I left the treads to cure while I was on fall break, aka tagged along with Matt on a work trip before Thanksgiving. Which, btw was awesome! I haven't had a "fall break" since high school. It didn't hurt that it was probably 10 degrees in Denver when we left that Sunday morning, and by lunch we were sitting on a sun drenched patio tasting wine in Napa. In tshirts, no less!



Anyway, once the Thanksgiving festivities wrapped up I got to work installing all my hard work. The first step to installation was attaching the risers. We applied a generous amount of construction adhesive on the back in a zig-zag pattern along the back before squishing it onto the exsisting risers. I had the stairs resting in place so that I could push the risers up to meet the bottom of each step.



Once the riser was tight against the bottom of the step I shot a nail in each corner to hold them while the adhesive dried.



Action shot! What, you don't wear those paper masks on your head when you're working? I think I must have forgot it was up there after painting the risers.



Risers, done! I decided to fill all my nail holes and seams at this point so I had less chance of getting paint on my freshly finished treads. I also covered up some scuff marks left from the stain on the treads. It's more noticeable in the third picture up.



We used pretty much the same technique to attach the stair, except we applied the adhesive to the exsisting treads instead of the new ones, make sense?



That way I didn't get my hand covered in construction adhesive while lowering the tread into place.



Look how excited I am to be finished. Or maybe look how tired I am. Either way, I was pretty stoked.



Now, let me get out of the way so you can check out the stairway glamour shots!



The match is a little closer looking in person, but even here it's not too shabby.




Now I just have to get to the top half (womp womp). Until then, it's Christmastime! I feel like I need to make some sort of ornament like I have in the last few years (here, here, here, and here) . I love all the Himmli stuff, but I don't think I have the patience for all those straws right now. Do you like to make a Xmas thing each year? That's a thing, right? If so, what are you making so maybe I can copy it!


Nikki Kelly