Stuff We Own & Love That’s On Sale Right Now | Young House Love

Our annual rundown of stuff you can get cheaper than we did is here. Ha! Every year we check out the Black Friday deals (which literally start earlier every year) and we pull out stuff that we bought with our own money & really really like. And we share it here so you can snag things for 20% off, 30% off, and even over 50% off! We’ll try to update this post if more codes come out (just come back and scroll to the bottom to see all the sale links & codes in one place).

Our fully upholstered bed is marked down from $949 to $572 (40%!). Ours is the Talc color, and it’s such a step up from a metal frame and so much cleaner looking without needing a bedskirt!

Our woven blinds (we have these on every downstairs window) are marked down to start from $29.99 instead of $39.99 (19% off) .

Our diamond back chairs, which now come in 2 colors, are marked down to $129 each ($260 for a set of two ) for the white and $111 each ($224 for a set of two) for the navy (57% off).

Our bedroom dresser (same pic as the mirror) is marked down to $599! Haven’t ever seen it this cheap! Also, our huge stenciled mirror is on closeout for $219 – won’t get any cheaper & once it’s gone, it’s gone.

Our new kitchen stools are marked down to $276 down from $368 with the code THANKFUL (25% off). These were a splurge for us (we waited for a big sale like this one and got them before summer break) and we have loved them. They tie into our woven blinds & gray perimeter counters so nicely they’re like the icing on the cake of this kitchen. That sounds weird. But really, these stools are good.

Our foyer chandelier is marked down to $224 from $298 with the code THANKFUL (25% off). I love this thing I’m tempted to get three more for the hallway upstairs. CAPIZ EVERYWHERE OR BUST!

Our beach house front bedroom rug is marked down to $599 from $798 with the code THANKFUL (25% off).

Our beach house middle bedroom rug is 25% off with the code THANKFUL. This is a bad pic, but I love this thing. Ours is a 6 x 9′, so instead of being $498, it’s $374.

Our old kitchen stools are marked down to $96 from $160 (40% off). These were sturdy and awesome for our family for so many years (we got them back in 2016!). They looked new when we sold them and put the money towards the woven ones I had always wanted – but really, these are great if you want something that’s all one surface and easier to wipe down (the reason I didn’t get the woven ones off the bat = the kids were much smaller and I worried they’d smash all sorts of food into the woven ones).

Our beach house daybed is marked down to $330 from $550 (40% off).

Our favorite toilet ever is marked down to $261 from $350 (25% off). Don’t laugh. You’re a super cool person when you have a favorite toilet.

that we used it in the Real Simple room is on closeout for $349! This will sell out so grab it if you want it (anything marked “Closeout” doesn’t come back again once it sells out).

Our side table with the pull out bonus surface is on closeout in two colors – the white one is $88 and the greeny-blue one is $139.99.

Our white duplex dining chairs are marked down to $116 each ($232 for two). These are super solid and basically work anywhere & everywhere.

Our giant three-tiered end tables are marked down to $253 (the lowest I’ve ever seen!). So much storage = so many magazines if you’re me.

The rug that looks good everywhere is on sale too! We have it in the duplex and it still looks like now – and we see so many pics from you guys using it everywhere from the runner version of it in a camper to the larger sizes in dining rooms, bedrooms, living room, etc. It’s extremely versatile and durable, and an 8 x 10′ is marked down to $264 from $487 (46% off!).

My beloved weighted blanket is marked down to $70 if you apply the $40-off coupon at checkout (I paid $150 for this years ago and it’s worth every penny!) – Amazon changes things a ton so I hope this deal sticks!)

Our gray dining chairs at the duplex is marked waaay down to $107.09 for TWO CHAIRS – so they’re just $53 a pop! (be sure to use the code TURKEY at checkout to get that deal).

Ok here’s John’s contribution to the post. He’s over here rubbing his hands together like Pinky & The Brain because of all the smart/tech deals that are going on. Once again, we have purchased and love all of this stuff ourselves. Yes, our house is so smart it should basically be able to make me a sandwich at this point… but Alexa does turn my Christmas tree on & off so I can’t roll my eyes that hard 😉

Amazon Echo is marked down to $59 from $99 (40% off).

Amazon Echo Dot is marked down to $22 from $50 (56% off).

Amazon Echo Auto is marked down to $29 from $49 (40% off).

Nest Thermostat (which we have at our house) is marked down to $179 from $249 (30% off). We also have the Nest E Thermostat at our beach house, and it’s great (I like that it’s white so it blends into the wall). That one is marked down to $139 from $169 (20% off).

Our Roku Smart TV (50 inch) is marked down to $250 from $480 (48% off). We not only have two of these TVs at home, we bought two more for the duplex.

Our Favorite Printer Ever is marked down to $30 from $120 (75% off!). We never loved a printer before. This guy changed all of that. (*cue the romantic music*)

And here are some other smart things that we don’t have photos of, but they’re in our house just doing their thing & making our lives easier:

And now for the big rundown of all the sales in one spot (we’ll keep this updated, so check back here over the next few days (for example, sometimes TURKEY changes to CYBERMON or something).

Ok, that’s it! Happy Thanksgiving to you guys. Be safe, and I hope you get to feast with your family & friends and save some loot if ya can too!

P.S. I hear you all in your requests for our annual gift guide (we always do one big post with a few categories), and I’m always like the last one to get that together, but I’m aiming for next week! In the meantime here’s a link to last year’s gift guide, because a lot of it is still being sold & makes a great gift – there are lots of affordable ideas in there too.

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This content was originally published here.

Home Renovation Projects That Pay You Back

Outdoor home

Want to make sure you get your investment back on your next home renovation project?

Then make sure you choose a project that will get you the most bang for your buck.

If you plan on living in your home forever than looking for an ROI for your project might not be a big deal.  But the reality is, according to Lisa Sinopoli, a real estate agent in Vaughan says the average family moves once every 5 years.

There are hundreds of home renovation projects you can do to both improve the value of your home as well as provide a more enjoyable living space for you and your family.

Most of the home reno projects that prove to be a good value involve either improving important spaces in your home or adding additional living space in your home.

The most popular places int he home for most families is the kitchen.  The kitchen is the place where the family gathers to eat and talk about their day.  It is the central place for families to gather.  This is why a kitchen renovation can be one of your best bets when it comes to a renovation project for your home.

An outdoor deck also provides a great space for the family to gather and for you to entertain guests.  It is also an inexpensive renovation compared to adding an entire room to your house.

Getting the best ROI for your project is to turn current space in your home into enjoyable living space.  Adding quality square footage using your existing footage is always a great investment.

While you may not be concerned about getting a good ROI for your home renovation project, it’s always a good idea and you will be happy once you decide to sell your home one day.

You’ll also have to decide what kind of renovations are within your own skill set and which ones would require a professional contractor to help with.  Something like tiling your kitchen bathroom might be within your skill set to do but a larger project like a full home renovation would certainly require the help of a contractor.

When we did a home addition in Toronto for our home, it was a big project and we were very happy we let a professional contractor take on the project instead of us, which would have ended in disaster.

infographic reno

Seven Spaces We Updated At The Beach House Over The Last 2 Years (And Why) | Young House Love

I’m someone who loves those detailed “what worked & what didn’t” posts where someone looks back on the choices they made and shares what didn’t work out as well as they hoped – and how they adjusted to make things work better for their family (more comfortable/more practical/more beautiful/etc). And since we furnished this house over two years ago – can you believe we did it in the fall of 2017?! – I thought it would be fun to share the changes we made since then in one big rundown post. So here we go.

The Front Porch

The original porch swing we hung out here was nice and simple (white like the trim, and the vertical pickets tied right into the railing), but it sadly wasn’t up to the job of withstanding the weather. After only about 18 months, the white paint was hopelessly split and mildewed in numerous places. Towards the end we would scrub it to make it usable, but it looked worse over time, and eventually no amount of scrubbing could get it clean… so nobody wanted to sit on it. Which is extremely sad because it’s the best seat in the house! The listing for it is no longer active, so maybe they pulled it off the market for exactly that reason: it just didn’t hold up.

At the start of the summer, we freecycled the old one and ordered this new wicker-looking porch swing (right now it’s 26% off!) that has been WONDERFUL for so many reasons. For starters, the construction is actually metal wrapped in a weatherproof rattan-like material, so over the last 6 months it has already proven to be more durable than the painted surface of the last one.

It turned out to be WAY more comfortable too. Not only is it padded (a butt cushion on a porch swing = such an upgrade from the hard wood one we used to have!), but at 65″ wide it’s also a full foot longer than our last one – meaning we can fit more people and both John & I can actually lay down on it. John does it with his knees bent on his side – literally he takes naps on it like that.

Our only tip is to remove the back cushions that come with it (they’re super thick and push you so far forward on the bench that it’s not as comfy as it could be if you had a deeper seat, which immediately happens when you pop them off). When we added a few smaller outdoor pillows to rest our backs on, we truly unlocked the full amazingness of this thing. Here’s hoping we have it for years & years to come!

The Foyer

If you’ve been in the vicinity of my Instagram over the last month, you’ve seen me gush about our new foyer light. As soon as I laid eyes on this four light white beaded fixture (it’s marked down to $216 right now!), I knew it would add so much beachy lightness to our once heavier feeling foyer. In Cape Charles, it’s actually a town tradition to have a beaded chandelier like this glowing in the evening – we see so many hanging in foyers or front rooms when we go for evening walks (you can always see them from the street!). I was ridiculously excited to add one to our beach house to make it feel as warm & inviting as those houses we had admired around town.

Oh but I always like to caution people that this foyer has a 9′ ceiling, so this big light works and people can easily walk under it, but if it was an 8′ ceiling, this smaller version would be the way to go. Unless you’re putting it over a bed or table, in which case people don’t have to walk under it, so I’d go for the big one!

This is what our foyer looked like a couple of years ago, when the renovation was first completed. I really really wanted a warm natural wood door and railing like the warm wood floors in here (I die for these 115 year old heart pine floors – we just clear sealed them and that’s it!). But sadly neither the door or the railings could be stripped back that far and clear sealed, which had been my original plan. The railing and the door were just not in good enough condition for that to work without making the deep cracks worse (trust me, I tried, both by hand and with electric sanders and stripping agents). So I used dark opaque wood stain, which is basically like dark brown paint (none of the original grain can come through, because that was the only way to hide the damage). I hoped it would have a wood-like look…

… but it felt… dark and heavy. Womp-womp. Topping things off with my beloved star pendant was nice because it tied into the dark stuff, but after a few years of living with it I wanted it to be bright and airy and beachy when we walked through the door.

In addition to painting the stair railing and the back of the door a lighter tone (not the same one – I still wanted the drama of a slightly darker railing than the balusters and trim), I also used Rub N ‘ Buff to restore some of the metal accents on the door. I had never used it before and It. Was. Amazing. As for the actual paint colors in here, the walls are White Heron, the trim and door are Stone Isle and the railing is Perpetual Gray (all by Sherwin Williams). You can see every paint color we used in the beach house here.

I’m thinking about writing a newsletter about it, because it took four mismatched and badly weathered/painted-over things on our original front door right back to their old brass glory! And yes, that round thing on the door is a built-in doorbell! IT’S SO CHARMING IT KILLS ME. I also like that by lightening things up, it allows the cool hardware and the graceful shape of the newel post to stand out, instead of such dark larger shapes stealing the focus (like the whole door & the entire railing). It finally feels like a beach house when we walk in the door to us. So so happy with this change.

The Living Room

When we saw these pink chairs at Ikea, John and I basically said “we need these for the pink house” in unison. It was that easy. Which almost never happens. We had been looking for more comfy seating in here for years (we used to have our leftover hard-backed office chairs from our second house in there, but always planned to upgrade to something comfier and more fully upholstered down the line).

In fact the folks who follow us on Instagram might remember a series of IG Stories last year where we ordered various other pink upholstered chairs and they didn’t work at all (the back and arms of one were too high & looked crazy with the sofa, one was too low in general, etc). So yeah, long story short, when we saw these, we basically ran to the checkout with them.

I’m happy to report these have proven to be significantly more loungey than the last chairs we had in here (which you can see in the photo below – they didn’t have fabric backs to recline on). And the diamond chairs below now live in the tiny office we made upstairs, where they’re more comfortable than the hard wood-seated chairs we used to have in there. So it was overall a great change for our backs and our butts and our eyes.

You’ll also notice a few other tweaks, like the TV on the wall (we finally mounted it!). We’ve noticed that a room usually feels more finished when we hang the TV on the wall (we also did it in our living room at home and in our bonus room upstairs). Here’s a link to the tutorial if you want to hang yours.

We also brought in a different coffee table. We’ve basically pulled a giant coffee table swap. The “new” darker table in here is actually the “temporary” coffee table we bought last Thanksgiving for our house in Richmond (literally, on Thanksgiving Day). Remember that $35 Facebook marketplace find? We got/made a new coffee table for our house in Richmond (post to come very soon!) so this one landed here, and the old white one from this living room has become a play table in our son’s room.

We still plan to do SOMETHING to the dark tabletop (the finish isn’t great) but for now it’s doing the trick. I keep thinking that tiling it with white marble tile would add so much more gleam and beachiness, and maybe the legs staying that dark ebony color will ground it and tie into the curtain rods and the dark TV. Or we could paint them gray to match the TV stand or go white like the round side table. I promise I’ll keep you posted!

The Kids’ Bunk Room

Our kids shared this bunk room all summer long (yes, two kids used this as their bedroom for three months straight) and we stored all of their clothes in this 4-cube organizer from Target. They each got two bins (one for regular clothes, one for PJs and bathing suits) and it worked surprisingly wonderfully. I know. It shocked me the most (I assumed one of them would want to eventually sleep in one of the two spare bedrooms, but the novelty of the bunks never wore off, and their summer clothes are small, so it was just fine!). Side note: if you’re looking for a tutorial about how we made these bunks, here’s that post for ya.

The desire for more storage & shelving actually wasn’t clothes-related at all, it was that the space lacked book and toy storage, which the kids also like to have in their room. So we made a few very affordable tweaks to take this room to the next level, organizationally speaking.

It was the very end of the summer when we realized that the 6-cube version of the 4-cubby organizer that we had bought for that space back in 2017 would fit in the room just fine! So we upgraded (for a whopping $59). Earning two bonus cubbies to wrangle toys has been game changing. I couldn’t find more of the chevron boxes, so we went with rope baskets instead, which actually look cute breaking up the pattern to me. And the larger storage system fits that space nicely without the bigger empty gaps on either side. So happy with this super cheap & easy change.

We also mounted two floating shelves to the wall (they don’t sell them in white anymore, but here they are in a wood finish), and moved the art so it hangs next to them instead of right where they are. Now the kids can stash tons of books there, and this was a zero dollar upgrade because these are the same small shelves that used to hang downstairs in the kitchen before we tiled the backsplash. Once we added the tile we liked it better without them down there, but I’m so glad we saved them under the bed because they’re super functional in the bunk room. Half the battle is just making a spot for things to be stored, and boom, cleanup = much more autopilot.

The other side effect of upgrading the cubbies was that it has been turned into a makeshift dollhouse/playhouse on more than one occasion. Gotta love those little creative minds that can literally find anywhere to play.

The Mudroom / Laundry Room

Have you heard our philosophy that a house can never have too many hooks? Oh you have? Allow me to say it again, because it’s crazy how many you need! We’ve learned it’s especially true in a beach house scenario where there are always a bunch of beach towels or a bathing suits to be hung up (it’s why the duplex mudrooms look like a hook convention). Back when we renovated this mudroom in 2017 we thought 6 hooks would be enough. Well, we were fools. So we moved the gold photos that you see below to another wall in here (the one just out of frame on the left next to the door in the shot below) and did another hook rail there.

Earning 4 more towel hooks has been indispensable to this room’s function.

They’re also the most convenient hooks in the whole room suddenly because they’re not only right next to the side door (where we come in from the beach) but they also act as overflow hooks from the downstairs bathroom in case someone has a bath towel or a wet bathing suit they need to hang.

I love that this was another super affordable change (those are always the most satisfying, right?!) And if you want to learn how to make your own hook rail, here’s that tutorial for ya. They’re so strong you can hang a cooler full of beverages on them (ask me how I know).

The Pantry

Since this summer was the first really extended amount of time we spent at the beach house, those three solid months heavily tested the efficiency of some of our systems – especially the kitchen and the pantry. We’ve actually got a post in the works about how the beach house kitchen is organized (with a video tour of each drawer – like the one we made of our own kitchen). But for now let’s focus on the simple but super helpful pantry changes we made.

The photo above is from when we and the photo below is from this summer. The changes are subtle, but we basically packed in SO MANY more storage baskets. Notice how there’s only about one per shelf in the photo above? By grabbing some extras and rotating many of them sideways (so they’re deep instead of extra wide), we doubled the amount of baskets. Taking advantage of the shelf depth that we hadn’t used before was major (on the far side of the pantry each shelf that had one wide bin now hosts two of the same size, just by rotating them!).

It’s a small adjustment, but it has been hugely impactful in the amount of stuff we can store. And on this closer side you can see that two bins fill even more space than the single wide one that sat there before did (there’s no longer as much space behind the bins or on either side). Plus having four of them in that bottom area helps to keep us more organized instead of two larger ones with various mismatched things inside (we use one for baking stuff, one for cereal, one for bags of chips, and one for cleaning supplies).

The Backyard Patio

If you’re a subscriber to our email newsletter you may have already caught this update, but I couldn’t skip over it for this roundup because it’s one of our favorite adjustments. We shared our big backyard makeover back in June with the furniture arrangement that you see below.

It looked great, but we found that the cushions on the outdoor daybed were constantly wet because of their placement under the eave of the house (dew dripping down in the morning wouldn’t dry until the sun traveled over the house and started shining back here around late afternoon). So sometime in August we decided to spend $0 and rearrange the furniture in a way that would make it all a lot more usable.

Simply swapping the dining table and the daybed kept the daybed dryer (and although the table gets dew on it, it dries more quickly because wood dries a lot faster than a cushion!). We also managed to create a conversation area that we never really had by stealing two of the dining chairs (they’re so easy to move back when we need seating for six) – and we ended up using this area a lot more for outdoor game nights as soon as we made the swap! Speaking of game night, taking the cushion off of the daybed’s bench make it more of a coffee table, so it became the perfect board game spot – and also came in handy when we had people over & wanted to sit & chat (the way the daybed was oriented before meant we would all basically be laying in the same direction – please picture that and laugh out loud like I just did).

You can see the new layout (and the backyard layout as a whole) a lot better in this short video (wherein Burger is incapable of locating the source of my voice). I love the view of this tiny backyard from the second story window, so if nothing else, press play just to see how it all looks from above in 30 seconds.

And since people always ask this question around this time of year, here’s a shot from about a month ago of the backyard after we winterized it for the off season.

As for what we use, this is the exact cover that we have & love (we just cover the entire dining area with it and pull the corner ties to make it fitted so it won’t blow off). Then we put the sofa cushions in the shed, and voila: done.

I hope that was a fun look back for you guys. These “what-isn’t-working-so-we-changed-it updates are always my favorites when other bloggers do them because I feel like I get to learn from their mistakes without making them. So I hope we saved you some trouble somehow or sparked an idea to make your space work better for you. And remember… YOU CAN NEVER HAVE TOO MANY HOOKS.

P.S. If you want to know what paint color we used or where we got something that you saw in these photos, here’s a full source page for ya! And if you want to look at the before & after photos of this makeover (ALWAYS MY FAVORITE PART!) they’re all right here on this page for ya.

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This content was originally published here.

What We’ve Changed Since Painting Our Brick House White | Young House Love

This is a smorgasbord of an update, since the exterior of our house has changed in a bunch of different ways since last year when we painted it white with masonry paint that lets the brick breathe (you can read all about that project & the cost right here).

It’s my very favorite makeover we’ve ever done to date, but as I mentioned in that post (probably 10 times if I know myself), the exterior was still very much a work in progress after the house got painted. So without further ado, let’s talk about the new path we added, the awning, the new porch lights (we not only switched them out, we lowered them when we hung the awning) and a bunch of other landscaping related things that have happened over the last 12 months. And the few remaining things that we’re still working on… because that’s how it goes 😉

First let’s take a second to look back at the before shot because it blows my mind every time. Did I ever tell you guys that my dad texted me in all caps last fall saying “YOU MOVED AND DIDN’T TELL ME?!?!?” because he saw a picture of our house painted white on Facebook and couldn’t comprehend that it was the same house… so he literally thought we moved without mentioning it to him?! It was my favorite text convo of 2018.

But back to the present day. Here we are now (we took these photos just a few days ago, so this is currently how things are looking outside).

And just for comparison, this is a photo from last fall, so you can see some of the updates pretty obviously when you compare the two photos. We felt like the facade around the door was a little flat looking from some angles, so we mentioned wanting to add a little something over the door in the form of a slight awning. Nothing huge like the old portico we knocked off the house when we painted it, but just a little something to define it a bit more.

Enter this awning that we had shipped all the way from the UK, stage left. Yes, that’s right. And I’m aware that it sounds like something Ariana Grande or Lady Gaga would do, but I fell in love with some inspo pics with a sloped gracious awning like this on a white brick house and couldn’t find any ready-made options that were even remotely similar except for this one all the way in the United Kingdom.

Of course off the bat I assumed buying something that didn’t have to be shipped from a different country would be more affordable, so I consulted with some local pros & some online awning companies and every single quote to get one that looked like the ready-made U.K. one that I loved was 2-3 times more expensive than just paying the extra shipping to have it sent right to our door. Insane right?!

Literally 3-4K quotes were rolling in, and the one from the UK (at the time that we bought it, since exchange rates are always changing) ended up being around $1,500 including shipping). It’s 8′ wide since we have sidelights, so this thing is a beast. It arrived in a big wooden box that we affectionately called “The Coffin” for months before we finally cracked it open and hung it.

So as much as I love hiring local pros to create something that we can’t find ready-made and available to us (which is what we do 99.9% of the time), in this case I liked the idea that this UK company commonly makes and installs this exact product without issue (whereas someone trying to copy it and make it for the first time might run into some unexpected issues with the production or the way it functions or how it holds up/warps/flexes over time). So that gave me some nice peace of mind when I ordered it. It even has a hidden drip edge across the front of the awning that’s ever so slightly sloped so water funnels out each side if it’s wet/raining (instead of streaming down and dumping right on the person walking in or out of the door). Really smart design. So far we’re very happy customers.

Let’s flash back to a before shot from this angle, just because it amazes me every time. Look at that giant rocket ship of a portico coming off of the house. I love that we bought the house with it, because those railings get to live on at the duplex (it was MEANT TO BE! More on that here), and it just feels a lot more classic to us without that big hulking thing out front.

We’ve lived without it for a year and never miss it (packages get left by the garage on the side of our house which has a slight overhang, so not having this out front didn’t change much at all). We also enter and exit the house through the garage every single time, so it’s not like we stand in the rain when we unlock the door now – but those are good things to consider if you’re taking the big overhang off of your front door. My BFF goes in and out of her front door all the time and not having a larger awning or overhang would drive her crazy.

Oh and this photo above shows you another update, which is that we planted a tree! It’s the one on the left side of this photo, which balances the existing dogwood that we have over towards the right side of the house. We used to have a second dogwood out front, but it died a few years back, so this fall we bought a tree that’s all over our neighborhood (it seems to love the conditions here) and is very very lovely when it’s not in stick mode (UGH, FALL IS THE WORST). It’s called a river birch and they are truly gorgeous trees. Can’t wait to share more photos of this whole front yard in the spring when the dogwood and our new river birch baby are all greened up and lush again.

We also did a bit more landscaping in the front beds – mostly things that were already there last year have just filled in a little (and I clipped the ridiculous looking ball hedges to be a little shaggier so they look less like the big red cement balls out front of Target). We also added three peonies that I randomly found at Costco. You can’t really see them in that smaller bed on the right side, but in the spring if they bloom I’ll share about 347 photos.

We also added one white hydrangea bush on each side of the steps (they’re currently in stick mode, which I think all of them are in right now, but the deer ate them in the summer just like I feared/knew they would (when they were not in stick mode, and, in fact, were in lovely full bloom mode). I just can’t let go of how good a row of white hydrangeas would look with some boxwoods in the front beds – but the deer always treat them like a salad bar (even when I try every single method known to man to deter the deer – our deer are lovely and sweet but also SAVAGE when it comes to eating plants). Oh well, I tried.

Ok, onto the front path! We talked all about this project on the podcast (more on that here) but you can see it below in all of its glory. We love how it came out.

Bluestone is forever my favorite outdoor stone and the big happy surprise was that it was significantly less than some of the other natural stone options for paths and patios (for example slate and fieldstone was around twice as much when I priced it out locally). As for how much you’ll spend having this done, bluestone is usually around $10-13 per square foot installed (yes, that price includes the material & the labor by a pro), so measure out how many square feet you want and it’ll give you a good idea. Just remember to get a few estimates and meet with a few different pros to see who you mesh with best (more on why that’s a step we’ll never skip again on this podcast).

Speaking of meshing with people, waaaay back in my original we-painted-the-brick-white post, I shared this pic of Reese Witherspoon on her front steps and talked about how we dreamed of topping ours with thick stone like hers…

Nailed it.

Please take a moment to appreciate: 1) my closed eyes, 2) the fact that I wore John’s shirt since my entire closet is black, and 3) Burger’s intense desire to bark at the dog that walked up our street at the precise moment this photo was taken.

Oh but if you look up at the bigger photo of me channeling Reese above you’ll see some of the discolored yellow-ish marks on the brick “risers” of the steps (it was taken a while ago, before John primed & repainted with Romabio to cover the latex paint the pro we hired used on our steps instead of using our breathable paint – ack). You can hear that whole story here and I’m happy to report that they look great again thanks to the primer + correct paint going back on (much less of a yellow tint and there’s no more stain seepage).

This photo was taken a few days ago so you can see the difference – it matches the house exactly and isn’t as oddly beige in some spots anymore (for comparison, scroll back up & look at the big picture of me & Burger, and you’ll notice the brick to the right of my left shoulder has a vertical seam that looks oddly yellow).

We also got the steps widened before we added the bluestone on top (by the same pro who added the stone), so they’re finally the graceful welcoming stairs that I’ve always pictured leading up to our door. It was around $450 to go that extra mile before adding the stone on top, and we’re glad we went for it.

For comparison’s sake, here’s the original setup one more time, just to refresh your memory. The steps pinched in and always felt oddly narrow…

… so it’s really nice and open feeling now that they’re all that same width as the landing up top and the nice large area of bluestone that we added below.

You can also see the new-ish lanterns that we got last winter I think. They’re even bigger and we like that they’re less narrow, and their new placement is so much better. We originally just hung them to fill two holes in the brick that were exposed when we removed the portico – but that placement looked extremely odd & high once the awning went up.

So it felt good to finally get those brick holes patched, and put the lanterns were all the other door-flanking lights around the neighborhood are located. In case you’re wondering, it seems to be common practice to line up the middle of the light with the cross rail of the door (that’s the horizontal plank of wood on the door that’s about 12″ from the top) so that’s what we did and it looks great.

As for what’s next out here, a bunch of you have already heard this, but on the podcast we chatted about why we suddenly had clarity on wanting shutters again (tune into this podcast for more on that). We’re not going to go with black though – tonal inspiration images like this have me super excited.

So our new shutters are currently on order. It’ll be a few more weeks or months if it gets too cold to paint them, but I can’t wait to show you guys the photos whenever we get them up. These are the exact louvered shutters we got, and I think they’re going to look so good (we love how they came out at the duplex). I definitely want to add operable hardware like we did for the duplex too.

As for what else is on the front yard agenda, I’m sure we’ll keep chipping away at the front landscaping (the target ball bushes are less intense since I went ham on them with a clippers, but they’re still not my fav) so I’m sure over the next few years things will continue to slowly evolve up there. Maybe someday I’ll even figure out some way to have white hydrangeas, but hold me back, because if that happens you’ll never see photos of anything else. I’ll start a new blog called Hydrangeas & White Brick and it’ll just be a new angle every day with musings about life and inspirational quotes. Actually, I’d read that blog…

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This content was originally published here.

How To Sell Your Phone Online And Support Charity

We all have old cell phones laying around.  With the innovations in cell phone technology and features keeps us updating our cell phones on average about once every 18 month.

That’s a lot of phone turnover.

Most of us either give the phone away, stick it in a drawer or worse yet, trade it in to the cell phone carriers for a fraction of what they purchased it for, giving the cell carriers a second chance to rip people off by selling the phone again.

If you ever want to sell your old cell phone, do not sell it to the cell carriers, they will totally rip you off.

Your best bet is to sell your used cell phone to an independent cell phone buy back service who will pay you way more than the cell carriers will.

I have an even better option for you.

How would you like to sell your used cell phone online for more money than the cell carriers would pay and also support animals in need?

Check out Cell4Pets.com

Cell4Pets.com typically pays about 30% more for your old phone than the cell carriers will pay.  They also donate a proceed of the resale of your phone to help support no-kill animal shelters.

It’s a win-win for you and the animals you are supporting.

When you sell your used phone to Cell4Pets.com they will typically pay you within 3 days of reviewing your phone and also pay for shipping so there are no out of pocket costs for you to sell your used phone online.

They will buy phones from any brand and condition.  iPhones are the most popular with Samsung and Google also filling up the top 3 slots in phone popularity.  But they will also buy other brands and models and offer an instant online quote for your used cell phone.

Check out Cell4Pets.com and get your free phone quote instantly and help animals in need along the way.  It’s a win-win for everyone. Think of the amazing pets you’ll help save!

The Return On Your Investment With Tooth Implants

A dental practitioner will tell you that High Dental Implants Melbourne is not expensive, but a high cost. But what does this mean essentially? If you consider the high precision of skill, the work put into crafting tooth implants and the advanced tools and equipment that are used to build and design the device; implants are worth the greater yet justified price tag. Read on to find out more about what goes into creating a prosthesis of this type.

The materials

A pure titanium screw is inserted into the bone of your jaw. These materials will cost more if they are of superior quality.

Not only should you be considering the materials used, but the process it takes to shape, mould and refine the titanium into the screw-type shape that has to fit perfectly into a small area of bone.

The crown is linked to the screw and is the visible part of the artificial tooth. Crowns are not mass-produced – a lot of time and dedication goes into making a single crown because every patient’s mouth is different.

The skill and craftmanship

The failure rate of dental implants is low, less than 5% and this is because of the supreme skills and competencies of implant dentists.

In theory, the procedure might sound simple enough: drill a screw into the jaw bone and place a crown atop of it, but actually, the surgery is highly complicated and requires precision, time and attention to detail.

Only dentists who have undergone the long and hard hours to obtain the necessary skills, experience and qualifications should be operating on your teeth.

While a general dental practitioner can perform the surgery, it may be better if you see a specialist, such as an oral and maxillofacial surgeon or a periodontist. A general oral health provider can perform the occasional dental implant procedure but might not administer the surgery as frequently as the specialists mentioned above.

These kinds of dentists have studied beyond the four years of dental school and among other things, specialise in implants. You will pay more for the services of an oral and maxillofacial surgeon or periodontist, but the price is worth it knowing you are in the best hands possible.

The stages of getting implants

Having an implant fitted requires a lot more than drilling a titanium screw into your jawbone. There is an initial consultation to diagnose your unique dental issues, follow-ups to work on possible complications, and creating a custom-fabricated crown that is unique to your mouth.

The above only takes into account patients who are healthy enough for the surgery. Not having enough jawbone or struggling with your gums are obstacles that need to be addressed before your dentist can start on your implants.

You might need to undergo root scaling and paning – a gum-cleaning treatment or bone grafts before you are declared fit for implant surgery, procedures that will cost you.

Implants are a method of tooth restoration that will cost you more but, at the same time, grant you lifelong benefits. Look forward to a restored smile and being able to eat, speak and chew without difficulty.

Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.

What Options Are Available for Straightening My Teeth?

There are now many options available to patients with crooked, protruding or misaligned teeth. With modern dental technology having come a long way, there is even now the option of braces which are clear and removable, so that you can experience a discrete treatment that is almost invisible to any onlooker. These braces are usually referred to as clear or invisible braces. The wearing of these braces is beneficial in many ways. For one, they mean that your confidence and self-esteem does not need to be affected while you undergo your treatment. With traditional braces, patients would often become self-conscious as their braces were so obvious. However, invisible aligners negate this problem.

What is Invisalign?

Invisalign is one popular type of clear braces in Sydney CBD that many modern dentists offer. This treatment involves having a series of clear plastic aligners fitted, that are moulded to the unique shape of your teeth. In order to make sure that your aligners continue to fit snugly on your teeth as they move, a new set will be needed every two weeks. Your dental practice may use new technology to take digital impressions of your teeth and to allow for a precise fit of your clear aligners.

A great aspect of Invisalign is that you are able to remove them for eating, brushing and flossing, so that you are able to keep both the aligners, and your mouth, really clean. Some dentists also offer a free whitening treatment as part of the overall treatment plan, so that you really are supported in getting that gleaming white smile you’ve dreamed about! In addition, with the use of revolutionary technology, many dentists are able to give you a free before and after simulation of your smile when you undergo this treatment. If you feel that this could be the right choice for you, then your dentist will do a smile assessment with you to see if the treatment is the best solution for your needs.

What does orthodontic treatment mean?

Orthodontic treatment focuses on straightening and aligning your teeth with braces, in order to both improve their appearance and the way in which they work. Braces use a combination of wire and brackets, which gently move the teeth into the desired position. There are several orthodontic treatment types available and your dentist will be able to advise you on the best treatment for your personal circumstances. Orthodontic treatment usually includes having photos and x-rays taken at the start of your treatment, so that the correct process can be applied for your individual needs. Many modern orthodontic braces are also removable, so that you are able to eat, brush and floss without them in, helping you to maintain good oral hygiene.

So, if you are looking for a solution to straighten your teeth, then get in touch with your dentist now to find out about what options are available to you.

Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.

The Costs Of Running A Vacation Rental (With Real Numbers) | Young House Love

We’ve gotten hundreds of questions about the financial side of running an Airbnb or other short term vacation rental. Specifically: “can you detail the expenses and fees that take a bite out of the profit? Are there hidden costs? How exactly do rental taxes work? Insurance?! ACK!

Whether the person asking us was considering doing one themselves, or just plain curious (talking about money = interested face emoji), we’re laying it all out in the hope that it demystifies it a little bit, and is helpful to anyone who might be on the fence about whether or not this is a viable side hustle. We actually really enjoyed learning the ins & outs of this stuff – so it’s fun to share what we learned.

Obviously there are expenses like actually purchasing, renovating, and furnishing a home that you’ll be using as a vacation rental. Those big obvious start-up costs will differ by project (as will your mortgage payment) – and heck you might be Airbnb-ing your own house, which is already full of furniture – so this post picks up from the “ok, I have a rental-ready house, now what?” point, and covers the on-going “operating” costs that you may incur year over year.

We’re sharing REAL NUMBERS from our experience with you. Just please don’t take them as predictive of your own costs, which obviously will vary. It also bears reminding people that the duplex is one building, but it’s TWO distinct rental units (totaling 6 bedrooms, 6 bathrooms, 2 kitchens, 2 living rooms, 2 laundry rooms, 2 backyards, etc). So if you’ve got just one rental and/or a smaller space, these numbers might be much higher than any that you’ll incur.

The existence of utilities is probably not a surprise to anyone, but how much they really cost can catch you off guard if you don’t do the math and look at the year as a whole. Unlike a typical long-term rental where your tenant may be responsible for some or all of the utilities every month, in the vacation rental world, you typically pay for all of them. At the duplex, we pay for the following utilities:

For other people the list might also include gas, oil, or propane (depending on your heat source) and even parking or HOA fees.

Our utilities combined for both sides of the duplex cost about $5,200 a year, based on the last 12 months. The most important thing to think about is that utilities don’t disappear when the house isn’t rented (which can be very important if you’re renting somewhere seasonal). Our electrical and water bills go down a little bit when there’s lower usage in the offseason, but there are minimum fees that keep them at around $150 a month.

We looked into pausing some of our duplex utilities (like internet or trash pick-up) in the vacant winter months but many come with a hefty reconnection fee that negate any potential savings. We are able to pause some of our streaming TV subscriptions (Netflix & Sling) when we knew the place would be empty for a solid month in the offseason, which was nice. (Just don’t forget to restart them in time for the next guest!).

Lawn Care / Property Management

If you’ve ever rented a vacation home, you’re probably used to seeing a “Cleaning Fee” on your bill. That’s typically the cost of someone to clean the house after your stay so that it’s ready for the next guests (this includes doing laundry, remaking beds, unloading dishes, etc, etc). We charge a cleaning fee of $150 per stay because that’s precisely what our cleaner charges us. So this cost is a total wash on our end. Zero dollars spent a year, except for a holiday tip 😉

But outside of the cleaning fee, you may have other regular maintenance costs to keep it ready for each guest. This might be things like lawn care, pool or hot tub service, or even snow-blowing if you host in a wintery destination. We pay a small local landscaping company to mow the yards and blow the outside areas of the duplex on a consistent, reliable schedule. This isn’t a year-round cost luckily (nothing happens in the winter months) but since they come more frequently during the spring and summer when everything is growing like crazy, it adds up to about $800/year.

I remember at our last Florida rental there was a pool guy AND a separate lawn crew that came by while we were staying there. Neither were costs he passed along directly to us when we booked, so they came out of his rental profit.

Another potential expense would be if you choose to hire or rely on a professional property management or rental management service. They can take a lot off your shoulders (handling bookings, cleanings, and issues that arise) but they typically charge a percentage of every booking. In Cape Charles, the rate seems to be about 20%, but that number may vary depending on your area and exactly what services they offer.

Restocking Consumables

Because we choose to provide consumable items for our guests, we not only bought the initial stash, we also have to replenish everything when it’s running low. Here’s a list of what we provide:

Every time we share what we provide our guests we hear from people who say “we do all of those too!” and others who say “what?! nobody provides that stuff here!” My best guess is that it varies by region, but many other vacation rentals in Cape Charles also provide similar items. At the end of the day, if it helps our guests feel at home, we’re happy to have it on hand.

All told, we spent $900 on those items above this year. Again, it might not be a big line item in your region at all – but it’s smart to figure out what you’re planning to have available, and how much you think it’ll be to replenish things throughout the year.

Extra Linens & Towels

This may be something specific to how our cleaner operates, but she advised us at the start of the summer to keep a COMPLETE extra set of bed linens and towels handy, that way if laundry ever didn’t finish in time or there was a stain that needed longer treatment, she could still leave our next guests with everything they needed. So for us this meant buying:

Actually you should double those numbers because we did that PER SIDE. Thank goodness for the locked owner’s closet, where we stashed that extra stuff in bins.

We never ended up relying on a complete extra set, but we did dip in and grab one or two spares more than once, so we’re definitely glad we had them around (the two extra duvet covers especially!). This extra stock of linens and towels cost us over $400 per side (for a total of $800). We’ve also had to replace a couple of towels over the last few months (we feel very lucky that’s all we’ve had to replace!) so either grabbing extras ahead of time or setting aside a small budget for the replacement of random items as you go is probably a smart idea.

Insurance & Taxes

Now we’re getting to the fun stuff (ha!). Let’s start with insurance first.

It hopefully doesn’t surprise you that your property should have insurance on it, but we found insuring the duplex to be a bit of a learning curve. But we came out on the other side! The complicating insurance factors of our duplex are: 1) the fact that it is a short term vacation rental, which is treated differently than a full-time residence and 2) it’s near the water (mo water, mo problems – at least that’s what the insurance folks say). Those two factors meant we had limited options, but we ultimately ended up with three policies that work together to give us peace of mind.

We don’t need either of those last two policies for our primary residence here in Richmond, but if you’re renting out your primary or secondary residence part-time, you might want to consult with an expert to make sure you’re sufficiently covered with your existing policy. Many standard homeowner’s policies may not suffice if the damage or incident occurs while a short term renter is occupying your house.

If you thought insurance was fun, boy will you love taxes! Taxes are the part that we felt like we knew the least about going into this, but it’s pretty straightforward to figure out. So take this as your cue to investigate what’s going to be due in whatever town or city you’re operating your rental in (call your local government office, check out their website, or ask other hosts in your area). But also please know that if it feels complicated, everyone we spoke to at our various government offices was super happy to help (they were probably thrilled we were trying to pay our taxes – ha!) and within a week or two we got the hang of it.

For the duplex we pay the following:

The property taxes collected by the two localities where the duplex is located (the first two items listed above) are based on the house itself, not on how much or how little we rent it out. But the others are percentages of what we earn from our rental income and we have to calculate and submit paperwork for them on a monthly or quarterly basis (although now Airbnb does the sales tax automatically in Virginia when guests check out on their site – but all summer we had to take it out of our Airbnb payouts manually).

You may get lucky and your town won’t charge transient occupancy tax, but you might end up getting charged twice like we do: once by the town, and then again by the county. I feel like I keep saying “vary wildly” in this post, but taxes really do that as well. For example, my dad has a rental in another state and he pays a 3% transient occupancy tax, while ours is 6% in Cape Charles. Between those two transient occupancy taxes & the sales tax, about 11% of every booking we had this summer went to the state, county, & town in the form of taxes. Keep in mind that does not include property taxes.

So for the duplex, our combined taxes and insurance for this year have been about $13,400. Long story long – you should definitely know you tax responsibilities when you’re weighing the viability of your rental because they can definitely affect your profit.

Airbnb Host Fee

If you run your rental through a site like Airbnb, VRBO, or HomeAway, keep in mind that they also take a cut of your nightly rental rate. As a guest you’re probably used to paying a fee that’s tacked on top of the total nightly rate, but behind the scenes Airbnb also deducts a 3% fee from the nightly rate before they pay the host. So I guess neither the guest or the host are actually getting the listed nightly rate. Ha! We don’t really include that 3% fee in our operating cost calculations (or our total at the end of this post) because it’s money we never see. So just remember that when you set your nightly rate, a bit of that will go to whatever rental website you choose.

We get asked why we chose Airbnb over other vacation rentals like VRBO or HomeAway, and the answer is just that we polled a few friends with vacation rentals & they all liked that interface the most. So we went for it. So far we really like it. We contemplated listing the duplex on multiple sites but heard it can be hard to avoid double booking dates when you’re running multiple calendars across different platforms.

Miscellaneous Costs

And while we tried to be super thorough in this post, we can’t predict everything that you might encounter along the way. This year, we probably spent around $750 in miscellaneous items. Thankfully nothing crazy happened (we didn’t have to replace an HVAC system or anything like that) but one tiny example is that we learned that the state and town also collect a small fee for an annual business license (and perform an annual rental inspection to make sure we’re still up to code each year) so that was a small unplanned expense that surprised us – but now that we’re used to it and know what to do, it’s easy peasy.

There are of course costs like replacing things that break, paying a maintenance guy to fix a malfunctioning appliance, or even adding/changing a particular amenity in your home. A concrete example of that is that we spent $250 halfway through the summer to add blackout curtains to the two front bedrooms at the duplex after a few guests mentioned it got very bright in there early in the morning. So while it might be a ding to your budget, it’s all part of the fun & adventure of trying to provide an awesome experience for the people who are staying at your house. Speaking of which…

We also choose to leave our renters a little welcome gift when they arrive. It’s a handwritten note with a gift card to get ice cream or a souvenir at one of the local shops in town, along with a pre-stamped postcard. Again, that’s definitely not a cost you have to incur, but we’re happy to do it in the hopes that our guests enjoy their stay and frequent some of the great local businesses – and our guests seem to really like it too. Who doesn’t like ice cream?!

Let’s wrap this puppy up. I’ll spare you some scrolling and recap all of the math above. Combining all of the costs that we just laid out, it’s about $21,750 in annual “operating” expenses for the duplex this year. Again, that’s for two separate rental units, so it’s likely higher than a single or smaller rental. But our point is less about the total number and more about the variety of costs along the way. So if you’re considering starting an Airbnb, I hope this post is a jumping off point for figuring out your own operating costs in the categories I listed here.

And while that number above feels like a lot, we feel lucky that we were able to book enough nights in 2019 to still make a profit after it was all said & done (high five, anyone?!). Are we going to be out of the red for all of our construction and furnishing costs anytime soon? Nope! But at least we’re on our way, and we got to learn a lot and have a bunch of fun in the process.

This content was originally published here.

How To Hang Peel & Stick Wallpaper (On Video!) | Young House Love

If you’ve been hesitant to jump on the wallpaper bandwagon, let this post be the soothing voice that gently strokes your hair and says “don’t worry my pet, wallpaper doesn’t have to be hard, permanent, or expensive. Also your hair looks good today, and I should probably stop touching it because I don’t know you like that.”

Adding wallpaper to the middle bedroom at our beach house took us just a few hours and cost us less than $100. It’s a whole lotta bang for not much buck (or extra high skill level). Plus it’s 100% removable so if we ever tire of it or want to swap it for something else, it’s not a big deal. So in this post we’ll show you exactly how we hung it, including a video I took of my lovely husband hanging a panel for you in real-time while I talk and point (you know, the things I’m most known for).

Selecting Your Wallpaper

There were two strategic choices we made that helped to keep this project particularly quick and easy:

Actually, if you want to see what it looks like to install something floor-to-ceiling across an entire room (including cutting around a window on that wall) we shared that process when we installed these removable wall murals. But again, each of those rooms cost us $400 – whereas this one was under $100.

A big reason we were able to do this middle bedroom so affordably is because we snagged a great deal on the wallpaper we chose. It’s called “Synchronized” and after buying a version of it from Anthropologie for $150 (with a coupon), some readers tipped us off that it’s also sold a few other places online for less – like TargetJoAnn Fabrics, and even Home Depot. We were able to apply a coupon on top of a sale price at JoAnn to ultimately get 4 rolls for $85 – including shipping and tax! So definitely shop around before checking out.

Tools & Materials

In addition to your wallpaper, the list of tools you’ll need to install it is pretty short – especially because you’re skipping all of the complicated glue stuff. But here’s what you’ll probably want to have on hand:

It’s also helpful to have a cutting surface, like a piece of scrap wood or cardboard.

Planning Your Pattern Placement

If you want to maximize each roll by keeping waste to a minimum, it’s helpful to know the wallpaper pattern’s “repeat” before you install any wainscotting or molding. Our pattern repeated every 20.5 inches (see below) so we made the space above our board & batten slightly less than 20.5″ so it would nicely fit one repeat of the pattern (with some excess for safety). Had our wall space above the board & batten been a bit taller, like 24.5″, we would’ve needed to cut 4″ into a second repeat – meaning the other 16.5″ part of the roll would be wasted. This might not matter as much if your pattern has a much smaller repeat or if it can be rotated, but for ours it was worth thinking about.

Coincidentally (yes, this was a very weird coincidence) the width of each of our rolls was 20.5 inches too. So one option we had was to run the wallpaper horizontally around the room. That could’ve made the process even faster, but we decided we preferred the pattern when it was oriented the other way. But it’s something to consider as another alternative for sure!

Hanging Your First Piece

To prep our first piece for hanging, we measured and cut one “repeat” worth of wallpaper using a sharp utility knife and a metal yardstick as a straight edge. Theoretically, you could go ahead and cut ALL of your sections at once, but we realized there were a few spots where our ceiling wasn’t level and our wall space got a smidge taller than the 20.5″ repeat. That meant we had to cut a few sections larger than a single repeat (boo waste) to cover the gap. Ultimately we found it safest to cut one or two pieces at a time, occasionally measuring our wall to make sure we were still making the right cuts – and thankfully there were only a few times where we had that annoying extra waste thanks to a wonky spot in the ceiling.

Depending on your pattern, you might find it best to start your first piece in the center of your first wall (you know, if you want the design to hit both corners of the room in the same part of the pattern). That wasn’t important to us, so we just opted to start in a corner. But, and we can’t emphasize this enough, DON’T USE YOUR CORNER AS YOUR GUIDE FOR MAKING THE PAPER LEVEL! Picture me screaming this in your face like a fight on Real Housewives of Dallas for emphasis.

It’s really really really really important that your first piece be perfectly straight on the vertical edge. If it isn’t, your pattern will “travel” or become slightly askew as you continue around your room, meaning that ultimately your last piece may not match up with your first at all. Like around an entire room if you start without being level you could be off by entire inches at the end! And since corners are rarely perfectly level and square, it’s a crappy idea to rely on it to set your first piece. Use an actual level instead! Like this:

As you can see from John’s handy graphic above, we measured out from our corner just slightly less than the width of our roll and drew a level line with pencil right on the wall (the piece of scrap wood just provided us a longer vertical edge). The “slightly less” part of that sentence is italicized because it’s important! If your corner bows inward at any point (like ours did near the ceiling) you could be left with empty gaps where your wallpaper doesn’t reach. Since excess wallpaper can always be cut off, it’s always better than falling just short.

With that vertical line drawn, we peeled off most of the backing from our first section of wallpaper and stuck it to the wall, being sure to keep that outer edge right along our level line that we had drawn right on the wall.

Now, if all of these detailed measurements and pattern calculations have made you nervous, this should make you feel better. These peel & stick wallpapers ARE EXTREMELY FORGIVING. They’re just like a big, repositionable sticker. So it’s very easy to peel them up and restick them if you don’t like your first placement attempt (or second or third or fourth!).

In fact, I made a little video to show how we hung one of the panels and you can see John noodling it a few times until he’s happy with exactly how the pattern is lining up with the previous panel. We did this so many times going around the wall! It’s extremely comforting that you can just keep at it until you like it and then move on to the next piece. You’ll also see how we smoothed it once it was placed in the right spot – and then cut off the excess.

NOTE: If you’re reading this in a feed reader, you may need to click through to this post to see the video. You can also watch it here on YouTube.

As you can see in the video, once we were satisfied with how we lined up the edge, we just peeled off the rest of the backing and used the smoother tool to press any bubbles or wrinkles out towards the edges. It’s deliciously simple. (Please picture me sitting in a red velvet chair filming a yogurt commercial and leaning into the camera while I say that).

Once you have your first piece lined up, you just repeat the process around your room, taking care to line up your pattern along each edge as you go. The only slightly-tricky-but-still-doable parts are when you encounter corners and obstacles (like windows) which we’ll cover in a second. But let’s talk about ceilings for a hot minute first.

Cutting Off Excess At The Ceiling Or Floor

As you saw in the video, trimming off that little overlap on the ceilings is easy, fast, and strangely satisfying. The method that we found works best is to hold your smoother against the wall, pushing UP into the corner against the ceiling. Then place the sharp blade of your utility knife right against the top edge of your smoother and move both across your wall together simultaneously, being sure to maintain the upward pressure on your smoother to keep it tightly in the corner. The first few times I did this part I was very nervous, but it was honestly really easy. Look how nervous John looks here though… or maybe that’s just a look of concentration.

Once you’ve made your cut across an entire wallpaper panel, you can easily peel off that strip of excess along the ceiling. We usually did this every two or three sections (as much as we could reach without moving our stepladder) but you could also do it one section at a time, or even wait until the whole room is done and do this as your last step.

Oh, and you’ll probably want to repeat this step around the bottom of your room, assuming you’ve got excess along your molding or baseboard.

Dealing With Corners

Back when we installed the wall murals, we didn’t have to deal with continuing our pattern around corners because we just did a single feature wall in each bedroom. And simply wrapping our panels around one wall to the next didn’t really work out because – as we discussed a moment ago – corners are rarely perfectly level. You can kinda see in the photo below how our pattern immediately started to slope downwards on the second wall because our corner bowed out at the top slightly.

So what we ended up doing was cutting our first section of wallpaper (on the left side) along the corner, using the same method we used against the ceiling. We tried reusing the excess strip we’d just cut off, but the pattern wasn’t lining up well because the cut wasn’t perfectly straight (thanks to the bowed corner), so we ended up cutting a new perfectly square section of wallpaper using the excess as a guide for its size. That worked like a charm.

Then we installed the new second piece on the wall (on the right side) using the same method we’d relied on to get our first piece straight and level. Again, this helps keep your panels perfectly vertical so that your pattern doesn’t travel up or down around the room, ultimately causing your last piece to not line up with your first (gasp!).

That may mean some of your corners have a little bit of overlap or duplicated pattern (you can see in the photo above that our pattern is perfect at the top, but it “echoes” slightly towards the bottom). In the scheme of the whole room, your eye won’t detect these slight imperfections. Plus, in our case, the bottom of our pattern is covered by a curtain.

Cutting Around A Window Or Door Frame

You probably noticed above that we also had to cut that wallpaper panel around the window molding as well. We somehow didn’t take photos of that process, but you can see more details about exactly how we did it in our wall mural post.

This is the step where your scissors come in handy, since you can use them to 1) cut out big sections where your windows or doors are and 2) make small gradual snips so it’s easier to fold and press your wallpaper around the edges of your molding.

It’s really pretty straightforward, so don’t freak out. Just take your time and always err on the side of cutting less (you can always cut more!).

Ending Your Pattern

Unless you’re really lucky, it’s unlikely that your pattern repeat will perfectly match up in your final corner. I mean, it should hopefully line up top-to-bottom, but side-to-side is where your chances get slim. Our wall widths would’ve had to be perfectly divisible by 20.5″ for that to have worked out, so our advice here is to not freak out about an imperfect end. The best thing you can do is strategically end in the corner you care the least about.

We started and ended in this corner behind the door to the room, which is hidden from the hallway and generally pretty uninteresting so we don’t think many people will ever stare at that spot long enough to detect the unmatched corner.

We considered ending in one of the corners where the curtains are, since they conceal a lot of the wallpaper too. Both those are the first corners you see when you walk in (and they’re visible from the hallway too) so it felt slightly riskier to put our pattern break in such a prominent spot.

But again, in the end it’s not that big of a deal. Because once you have all of your furniture in and you’re taking in the room “as a whole,” you won’t notice the little imperfections that might seem like a big deal during installation. Trust me on this! It’s also true for imperfect paint jobs 😉

Anyway, I hope this post gave you the confidence to give wallpaper a chance, especially the affordable and forgiving peel & stick variety. Happy sticking – and resticking! There’s no shame in my resticking game.

Pssst – To see how we did the board & batten in here, you can find a full tutorial right here. And this post is about planning this room so it’s full of tips for picturing things before you do them.

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This content was originally published here.

The Duplex Kitchen Backsplashes Are In!

We’re nearing the finish line on both of the duplex kitchens and today we’re psyched to share one HUGE to-do list hurdle we recently cleared: tiling both kitchen backsplashes! Yes, since it’s a two-unit house, we had two kitchens to install at once, and then we had two backsplashes to do, which was pretty daunting going into things, but we managed to knock them both out on a recent 3-day weekend. And it feels great to have them off of our to do list. So today I wanted to share how they turned out, along with 8 things you can do to set yourself up for a speedy and successful tile project.

Pink Patterned Tile Backsplash With White Counters

We still have some smaller projects to do before they’re 100% done – like adding shelving to these tiled kitchen walls, and a beadboard type of treatment for the entire stove wall (which will be nice and wipeable). But that didn’t stop Sherry from tossing out some styling accessories to make it look a smidge more done than it really is. She’s in charge of morale.

So let’s kick things off with a quick before & not-quite-after… because those shelves are still coming – along with a few other finishing touches. But it’s definitely coming along in here. This was the room after we finished installing the cabinets (more on that here) but before we had started on the backsplash:

And here it is now:

Pink Tile Bar Backsplash Installed In Blue Ikea Kitchen

The floor-to-ceiling tile adds exactly the visual impact we were aiming for by bringing in a big dose of color and pattern to each kitchen. It’s even visible from the front door (if the living room hadn’t been a disaster I would’ve taken that further-back photo for you). So it adds a lot to the entire downstairs vibe, not just the kitchens.

Pink Patterned Tile In Blue Kitchen With Exposed Brick Chimney

As you may remember from this tile selections post, both tiles are from Tile Bar. The pink pattern (with the blue Ikea Kallarp cabinets) is called Bella Tate and the blue pattern (with the wood Ikea Askersund cabinets) is Bella Moma. We also grouted both with our favorite grout, Mapei Flexcolor in Warm Gray (more on why we pretty much only use that for everything here).

Wood Ikea Kitchen With Exposed Brick Chimney and Blue White Patterned Tile

They’re both nice durable porcelain tile (even though they look like cement tiles – which would have required more maintenance and could stain), so yay for getting the look without the more finicky material. Both tile styles are about 9 x 9″ in size, and both were $7.99 per square foot. So the tile for each side cost us just under $400 per kitchen! It’s not the cheapest backsplash we’ve ever done (this one is), but it still feels like a pretty sweet deal for such big statement!

Wood Ikea Cabinets With Blue Patterned Backsplash Tile From Tile Bar

They were also both fairly easy to install (again, we tiled, grouted, and photographed both of them in just 2.5 days). But the installation process reminded us that, say it with me, PREP & PLANNING IS KEY TO A SUCCESSFUL TILE JOB. Yes I’m throwing in some bold and some caps lock.

It’s certainly not the most fun or satisfying part of the process, but taking the time upfront to plan your pattern placement and prep your materials will make your life way easier. And more importantly, it’ll make your end result MUCH BETTER. So even though you’ll be antsy to bust open your bucket of mastic and fire up your wet saw, take the hour or so ahead of time to do these and you’ll always be glad you did.

8 Things To Do Before You Start Tiling

Before I get into the list, I’ll say that a lot of these relate to using medium-to-large tiles (and especially those with a design or pattern printed on them). You can ignore some of these if you’re using smaller tiles like a mosaic, penny, or hex tile. Why? Because of lot of this is about avoiding small cuts or slivers of tile. That’s not as much of an issue with small scale tile, but on larger tiles, slivers can be hard to cut and, worse, can cause your pattern to look off-center and even accentuate unlevel or uneven walls. That may sound insignificant, but it can make a big difference in how professional your result looks in the end.

1. Find Your Max & Minimum Measurements

Now, you’ve probably already measured your walls when you calculated how much tile to buy. But it’s always a good idea to get precise measurements (like down to the 1/8th or even 1/16th of an inch) before you start cutting anything. And since walls and ceilings often slope, you’ll want to measure as many sides of your tiling area as possible to figure out your maximum and mimimum distances. For instance, the chimney side in this kitchen was a 1/2″ shorter than the height of the opposite corner.

Measuring Wall Heights To Prep For Backsplash Tile Installation

And since walls or ceilings can also bow in or out, your maximum or minimum measurements may occur somewhere in the middle too (as in, the wall can slope up in the middle and back down in the other corner). You can quickly check for bows by holding a long level in the corners and seeing if the entire level makes contact with the wall, or if your wall bends away from it at any points. Minor bows aren’t a big deal (they can be filled with grout or caulk) but significant bows can change your max or minimum. That spot where it bows might actually be the tallest or shortest point on your wall.

Checking Vertical Level Of Wall To See If It Bows Before Backsplash Install

I won’t bore you with the specifics of our measurements, but for the sake of this example, let’s say our max measurement was 63.5″ from counter to ceiling on one side and our minimum was 63″ on the other. Once you know this, you can start figuring out how to best fill that space with your tile.

2. Lay Out & Measure Your Tile

Once you have those measurements you may be tempted to just work things out on paper (“My wall is about 63″ and the box says the tile is 9×9” so I can fit 7 whole tiles – easy peasey!”). But I urge you to make the time and space to physically lay out a row of tiles WITH SPACERS on the floor somewhere to get more precise measurements. Plus, I also find it’s a great way to familiarize yourself with how the pattern should be laid.

Backsplash Tile Laid On Floor To Determine Length And Pattern

In doing this we realized our 9 x 9″ square tiles were actually closer to 8.75 x 8.75″ (yikes!) and with 1/16″ spacers between each, the math got a bit trickier. Suddenly 7 tiles didn’t completely fill the 63″ wall as exactly as we might’ve assumed on paper.

If we had just gone for it, we’d be about an inch short on one side and we might find ourselves having to fill that gap with a 1″ sliver of tile. Which would look so glaringly bad, everyone would see that and say… this was not planned very well. Plus, because of our ceiling slope, it would’ve tapered to be just a half inch sliver of tile at the other end – which is basically impossible to cut and install. It also would have really drawn your eye to the fact that the ceiling isn’t perfectly level. So yeah, don’t do that.

Measuring Tape On Patterned Backsplash Tile To Find Length

I’ll jump ahead to our strategy for avoiding a sliver in this scenario – which you can see in the progress photo below. Since we basically needed 7 full tiles plus an extra 1″ to fill the wall’s height at the max point, we used 6 full tiles plus 2 slightly-bigger-than-half tiles on top and bottom.

Pink Patterned Backsplash Tile In Blue Kitchen Mostly Completed

Not only did that help our pattern look centered top-to-bottom, it also helped disguise the slight slope in the ceiling because your eye doesn’t detect that the top tile is 4.5″ on one end and 5″ on the other side. They both read as roughly half a tile.

Pink Tile Bar Backsplash Installed In Blue Ikea Kitchen

Starting with a half-tile on the bottom row also helped solve another potential hiccup we identified, thanks to our upfront planning…

3. Plan Ahead For Outlets & Obstacles

You’ll also want to factor in any obstacles that might complicate your cuts. For us, this was just the outlets along the back wall, but it also might include switchplates, cabinets, potfillers, etc. Sidenote: we like to have kitchen outlets installed horizontally and close to the counters. They’re easier to hide that way and it prevents you from having visible cords running halfway up your walls.

Checking Backsplash Tile Against Electrical Outlet In Kitchen

But back to the tile: starting with a full tile on the bottom row would’ve meant cutting some holes SMACK DAB in the middle of a tile (a thing that’s hard to do and we’re not particularly good at). Cutting along an edge, however, is much faster and more in our wheelhouse. So that half-tile along the bottom row actually lined up nicely with the outlets and made our cuts much, much simpler.

Detail Of Backsplash Installation Progress With Blue Patterned Tile

4. Plan Your Pattern Side-To-Side Too

A lot of what I’ve shown so far is about planning your tiles top-to-bottom, but don’t forget to plan it side-to-side as well. That means measuring your space precisely, using a level to check for slopes or bows, and maybe even laying out your first row in place to plan your cuts, like we did below:

First Row Of Backsplash Tile Laid Out Against Wall

Again, the important things here is to avoid weird slivers anywhere and make sure your pattern will look centered. For ours, we knew we wanted the pattern to look centered on the window/sink. We lucked out because centering a seam between two tiles under the window allowed us to use a half-ish-tile on the chimney side and a full tile on one end (except for where it bowed in slightly further up the wall and we had to shave a bit off – which is much better than adding a sliver – we’ll take cutting something slightly down over a sliver any day since it looks cleaner and doesn’t emphasize the imperfection as much).

Full Wall Of Blue Patterned Backsplash Tile From Tile Bar

Normally it would bother us that it wasn’t full tiles on both sides of the wall but the chimney already makes the room a bit asymmetrical so visually it still feels nice and balanced with the entire pattern centered on the sink and the window.

5. Double-Check That It’s Level

If you plan to use your countertop as a guide for placing your first row, you’ll want to make sure it’s level first. Even if it’s not perfectly level, you may want to use it as your guide anyways because it’s one of the closest things your eye will compare your tile lines to when all is said and done. Just make sure that it also is level to any nearby horizontal surfaces like the bottoms of the cabinets or the window sills.

Level Along Counter To Check Level Before Backsplash Installation

It’s especially important to check that things are level if your tile is going to span across areas without continuous counters to rely on as a guide (like behind your stove or across a doorway). If things are not level or not lining up across those gaps, you may want to draw a level line on your wall to reference as you go – and be sure to check that your first row stays level as you lay it!

6. Cut Your First Row

Our counters were level, so we knew our first row of tiles could all be cut to the same height (again, roughly in half – so that it would line up with the top of the outlets). We like to cut our first row of tiles all at once before we start installing anything, especially while all of this planning and measuring is fresh in our heads. And assuming your tile saw (here’s ours) has a guide that you can lock in place – it’s an efficient way to knock out a lot of cuts that all have to be the same length.

Cutting Patterned Tile On Wet Saw Using Guide

You still may need to come back and make some cuts around your outlets or corners, but this makes setting your first row much faster (which is especially important once you’ve got mastic drying on the wall).

First Row Of Tiles Cut Before Adhering Backsplash

But let’s move away from all of this pattern planning and talk about some other prep to help speed your job along.

7. Protect Your Work Area

As you’ve seen in some of these shots, we like to cover our countertops (and nearby floors) with red rosin paper. It’s like brown craft paper, but it also has a moisture barrier that can keep that big soggy drop of mastic or grout from seeping through to your counters.

Red Rosin Paper Protecting Kitchen Counter Before Backsplash Installation

Before we roll it out and tape it down, we actually like to run a line of painter’s tape along the counter first. You want it to be close enough to the back wall to protect your counter – but not so close that your tile will later cover it. We just find that it’s easier to be precise with this tape placement when we’re not simultaneously wrangling a big roll of paper too.

Taping Off Counter With Blue Painters Tape Before Backsplash Installation

And if some tape does get stuck under your tile, don’t worry. Just get out as much as you can (I sometimes even use the edge of a sharp utility knife to cut bits out) and any small pieces you can’t get out will likely get covered by caulk later.

8. Trim Any Moldings Interferences

Another thing you may consider doing to save yourself a few difficult cuts down the road is this: bust out a Dremel or similar tool and make room for your tile to slide behind any funny moldings – like the sill on the window below.

Trimming Window Molding With Dremel Before Backsplash Install

Cutting out that little chunk means that now any straight tile edge can slide neatly behind the sill, rather than having to carve some craggy notch into your tile.

Window Trim Cut So That Backsplash Tile Can Slide Behind It

If you don’t want to do this or don’t own a tool to make it easy, it’s not the end of the world to cut the tile around the sill. But I think you’ll find it this method faster/easier, and it will give you a cleaner look in the end.

Blue Tile Bar Patterned Backsplash With Wood Cabinets

Again, I know all of these tasks may feel like you’re just burning time you could be using to actually tile – but I think you’ll find that it ultimately makes your project got more smoothly and you’ll be happier with the end result. Because believe me, there have been times that I threw caution to the window and just winged it. Sometimes it worked out just fine, but other times I was left cutting small slivers of tile that made my final result feel a little shoddier than I wanted (granted, I may be the only one who notices these things).

Fortunately these backsplashes are not one of those times. Even with a persnickety pattern and a few fun curveballs (hello connecting tile around a window!) we’re beyond happy with the results.

Close Up Of Pink Patterned Tile With Cutting Board Leaned Up

Now we just have to check off a few more things in here (like our wipeable beadboard-ish treatment for the stove wall, the floating shelves, and adding actual plates/cookware/etc to the cabinets), and we should be able to officially stick a fork in these babies. That was a kitchen pun if you didn’t notice. The fork part, not the baby part. Okay forget it. Bye!

PS: If you want to see some other tiling projects or get more tiling advice, check out these posts below:

  • What Makes Some Floor Tiles Easier To Install Than Others
  • The Only Grout We’ll Ever Use
  • Installing A Subway Tile Backsplash for $200
  • How To Paint A Bathroom Floor To Look Like Cement Tile
  • Adding A Marble Herringbone Backsplash To Our Laundry Room

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The post The Duplex Kitchen Backsplashes Are In! appeared first on Young House Love.

This content was originally published here.