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.
----------------------------------------Home Renovation Part 4 (Open Shelving)------------------------------------------
Suggested tools and materials:
With the ease of the internet, our world has become a click, buy, and ship way of life, but what if you want to experience the product before purchase. What if you want to sit in the chair before buying? Where do you go?
First, you get up off the couch, put on your comfy walking shoes, and journey out your front door to the neighborhood garage sale or hop in the car and drive to the local thrift store. But, if you can't find what you are looking for at either of those destinations or are in search of something new then visit your local home décor or furniture store. Most towns have at least one home décor store, but if your town does not then drive to the nearest city and enjoy some much needed retail therapy.
I personally love the thrill of the hunt and always want to see in person before I buy. Some of my favorite stores to find just the perfect piece for my home are Home Goods, World Market, and Pier 1. And, when time permits a day trip to IKEA. Each one of these big box stores has something for everyone and some great deals if you take the time to look. Now, I will share some reasons why they are my favorite.
Home Goods offers an always changing inventory, which makes each visit new and exciting. They carry home decor, kitchenware, towels, linens, curtains, pillows, furniture, and even items for your pets. Their sister stores also carry clothing and shoes at deep discounts. My only disclaimer is that Home goods is organized chaos so be prepared to hunt through the shelves, but trust me the hunt is always worth it. You never know what treasured gem you are going to find.
Sister stores - TJ Maxx, Marshalls, HomeSense.
World Market is a unique store with so much to offer. They carry products for every room in the house. You will find furniture, wall art, candles, kitchenware, dining collections, lighting, pillows, rug, toys, coffee, food, wine, and beer. The store is easy to shop and spacious. The staff is usually quite helpful and knowledgeable. And, they offer free store pickup if you order something online
My big recommendation to get the most out of your visit is to first and foremost join the loyalty program.
Pier 1 offers an enjoyable shopping experience from the moment you enter the doors. You are greeted with inspiration and wonderful fragrance. You will find a large candle and home fragrance section filled with a great variety of scents for every room in the house. Their next largest section is dining, which offers dinnerware, serveware, beautiful dining furniture, and a nice selection of table linens. The remainder of the store consists of wonderful home decor pieces, beautiful lamps, and more pillows then you could ever dream.
My Pier 1 Recommendation is to check out the clearance section and apply for their store credit card. You receive 15% off (sometimes 20%) when you apply and get approved for the card plus $10 for ever $200 you spend. Also, they offer double and triple point days so you can get those rewards quicker.
Ikea is my happy place. I don't get there often because it is a good 3 hour drive, so it usually requires an overnight excursion, but it is so worth it. Ikea is an entirely different shopping experience which I highly recommend experiencing at least once. From the moment you enter you know it will not be a quick in and out visit. You need to allow a good 2-3 hours, maybe 4 if eat some of their delicious Swedish meatballs, mash potatoes, and always changing dessert from their crazy affordable food court.
Now, when it comes to shopping it is important to experience the store how it is designed, which means following the arrows on the floor (or you will seriously get lost) to each of the different locations. My favorite and my kids favorite is to visit all the little specially curated rooms. This way you are able to see all their products showcased in a realistic setting. You will see kitchen layouts, living rooms, bedroom, bathrooms, and even an entire apartment.
Along you journey be sure to write down any products or snap pictures of the tags so when you get downstairs you are able to find just what you are looking for. This process takes a little to get use to, but really helps you to enjoy "window shopping" experience hands free. Once you get downstairs, grab a cart and start filling it full of all their wonderful goods and trust me their is something for everyone and in all price ranges.
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