Only 3 months of living in our brand new home and our kitchen was already coming together. The kitchen cabinets went from a dark brown to a brilliant blue and the countertops went from a cheap looking brown laminate to an upscale soft grey. We also replaced the tiny stainless steel sink with a large modern dark grey granite composite sink. Next on the to-do list, installing a backsplash.
Now, my husband and I have never installed a backsplash, but I can honestly say anyone can do it. Once we decided on which subway tile we wanted everything just fell into place. We were lucky to have a blank slate to start with, which meant very little prep work was required. Basically to begin we removed all the outlet covers, took down the cabinets we were planning on replacing with open shelving, and painted the wall where those cabinets were. We chose to paint this area first so we wouldn't run the risk of dripping paint on the freshly installed backsplash. We also slid the stove out so we could run the tiles straight across from counter to counter.
From there we installed the backsplash. We, my husband and I, developed a pretty good system that made the process go quite quickly. We began by laying down a thin layer of mortar with a trowel in about a 3 foot square section. I then placed the tiles starting at the countertop working my way up making sure to place 1/4" spacers in between each tile. Then when I reached an outlet I held up the tiles to the wall a marked the pieces where my husband needed to cut them. While he was busy cutting the tiles I continued up until I reached the cabinets, then when the tiles were cut I fit them into place.
My husband said the easiest way to cut the tiles was to soak them in a bucket of water for a minute before cutting. He used this handy little Ceramic and Porcelain tile cutter for home depot for all the straight cuts and used his miter saw with a tile blade for any corner cuts.
It only took us a few hours to lay the backsplash and about another 36 hours to let it cure before applying the grout. The grout process was a little more time consuming because I needed to make it perfect. My husband would a apply the grout with a grout float smoothing it over the tiles and I would follow behind with a sponge wiping off the excess. I also ran my finger along the crevice smoothing out the lines. The grout sets pretty quick so be sure to smooth out any imperfections before it's too late. Once we were happy with the look we let it cure for a full 24 hours before washing the surface.
We are so pleased with the outcome and cannot believe the transformation a few simply white tiles can make to the overall aesthetic of the kitchen. I can't wait to install the open shelving and really bring the whole space together.
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Suggested tools and materials:
Next on the kitchen renovation list is the countertops and the sink. We changed out the tiny shallow 6 inch deep stainless steal sink with a little bit more expensive 9 inch deep Franke Primo graphite granite quartz composite sink for $220, and updated the faucet to a large goose neck style faucet. The ugly dark brown laminate countertops we replaced with amazing light grey stone effect laminate countertops from Ikea. We purchased a 98 inch long laminate piece and 74 inch piece for a total of $140. Talk about a steal.
We began the process by removing the faucet, disconnecting the plumbing, and removing the sink. We then cut along the "backsplash" section of the countertop, unscrewed the counters from the cabinet bases, and yanked those suckers off. It was so satisfying to see that ugly brown countertop sitting in the front lawn.
Out with the old and in with the new. First my husband cut out a rectangle for the sink in the new 98 inch laminate piece using his jigsaw. Then he cut the 74 inch countertop into two separate pieces for either side of the stove. The 98 inch piece was the perfect fit for the other section so no additional cutting was needed. We then attached the laminate strips (included with Ikea countertops) to the cut ends with Weldwood contact cement. Once all that was complete we brought the counters in the house and placed them onto the cabinet bases. We used the same contact cement to attach the 98 inch section to one of the cut 74 inch sections and sealed with clear DAP Silicone Max. My husband then simply screwed the counters to the bases exactly where the previous counters were attached.
Day one was complete!
The next day we installed the sink. We did run into a bit of a snag. Since the new sink was so much deeper then the stainless steel sink, we had to adjust the piping underneath. But, really all it took was a few new pieces of piping, some adhesive, and I'm sure a new tool for my husband and the problem was quickly fixed. We then popped the sink into place, attached it to the underside of the counter, and sealed it with the same DAP silicone max. In about 2 days we completed stage 2 of the kitchen renovation process and couldn't be more excited with the progress. Next, on the list, the subway tile backsplash.
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The dream of owning a home seemed like just that, a dream, but in June of 2019 our dream finally came true. My husband and I have always been renters, moving from city to city living in a different apartment or home for 14 years, but finally in the spring of 2019 our dream become a reality. It was our 13 year old child who motivated us to make the leap. She was tired of moving to a new home every year and constantly starting over at a new school. She had finally found a school she liked and an amazing group of friends. So we knew we had to stay permanent and what better way then becoming homeowners.
Our search began with little hope of finding a home we could afford, but surprisingly after only about 1 month of searching we stumbled upon a new build home we could afford, and within a month we were signing papers and getting the keys to our new home. We were excited to have a new home and a blank canvas to work with.
It wasn't long after settling in that we began making changes. The first area of the home we decided to tackle was the kitchen. The house came with a generic builder grade kitchen in a dark brown. Yuck! Who puts dark finishes in a home by the beach? So we began by heading over to Home Depot and picking up samples for paint, flooring, tile, and countertops. We knew what color scheme and style we wanted but were quickly hit with the reality that kitchens are crazy expensive. So our search for inexpensive ways to upgrade a kitchen turned to the internet.
I began searching for countertop alternatives and ways to upgrade the cabinets without purchasing new ones. After a few weeks of research and slight hesitation we decided the most affordable option was to paint the cabinets and install laminate countertops. We found out that one of the best cabinet paints on the market is Benjamin Moore Advance Interior Paint. We quickly headed over to our local store and talked to the experts. They recommended spraying the cabinet doors and rolling the cabinet bases.
That night my husband and I watched several YouTube videos on spraying cabinets. The next day we picked up a paint sprayer, the paint, primer, roller, brushes, and painters tape. The paint sprayer we found on Facebook Marketplace and I believe it was an inexpensive Wagner, but I definitely recommend purchasing a more expensive better quality sprayer. Ours worked great for the entire project but finally stopped working when my husband was on the last cabinet door of our Island.
Now that we had our supplies it was time to get started. My husband created a painting space in the garage using plastic tarps to create walls and set up his saw horses with 1x4s running across the top to act as a table. He first sprayed the doors with a tinted blue primer while I primed the cabinet bases. We let everything dry thoroughly for 24 hours then went back and sanded everything smooth. Sanding was by far the worst part and I highly recommend that if your cabinets are newer skip the priming step all together, it really is not necessary.
Once those first steps were completed the actual painting began. My husband worked out a system that made the paint spraying go quite smoothly. He laid out two doors at a time on the sawhorses and sprayed a coat of paint. Brought them in the house, propped them up on solo cups on the floor to dry, and repeated the process with the remainder doors. He sprayed the interior of the cabinet doors first. After, about 12 hours of drying he applied the second coat, then moved on to the front side once the interior was completely dry.
All in all it took about 3 days for the doors to be completely done. While he painted the doors I painted the cabinet bases and I soon realized after the first coat that I was not good at painting, so I ended up passing that job over to my husband as well. Once everything was cured, about 36 hours we installed the new brushed nickel cabinet pulls and we couldn't be more pleased with how the cabinets turned out. Next up we change out the countertops and the sink.
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Inspire to Gather
Welcome to our website and blog. We are so pleased you have decided to stop by and join us on this wonderfully crazy journey called life. Here you will find inspiration to create a warm and inviting home, along with tips and ideas for throwing a beautiful gathering, some of our favorite recipes and products, along with little bits and pieces of our own lives. So get comfy and enjoy!