Our recent Chicago meet-up with fellow bloggers Chris Loves Julia, Yellow Brick Home, and Making It Lovely left us with lots of feels (and very full stomachs). But it was seeing one of their homes in person that completely changed our minds about a “design rule” we had proclaimed for our own home (on this very podcast, no less). We’re also sharing what surprised us most about the final phase of getting our duplex ready to rent. Plus the results of Sherry’s latest staging assignment and a dynamic decor alternative to just hanging another picture frame.
You can download this episode from Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn Radio, and – or listen to it below! Note: If you’re reading in a feed reader, you may have to click through to the post to see the player.
Finishing The Duplex
The calendar below shows the days (marked in red) where we were in Cape Charles working on the duplex over the last four months. It was 16 separate trips – each involving a 5-6 hour round-trip drive (all done in the same day wherever you see a single day that’s red). Looking at it this way really emphasizes how the furnishing phase – which Sherry guessed might take “three long weekends to finish” – ended up being a lot more involved than we thought.
Here’s an idea of what many of those early trips looked like. Just lots of unpacking & furniture assembly (and making long lists of what else we’d need for the next trip).
In the end, it took longer than we expected, but it feels really, really, REALLY good to be so close to the finish line (still needs to stock some more things in the kitchens, plus a few little outdoor projects – but it’s safe to say that we’re 98% done with this almost-two-year project).
We plan to release off-season dates for this fall (which won’t require a week-long stay) later this summer. And we’ll open reservations for the summer season of 2020 after this summer is completed. So there are more dates to come, we’re just taking things one season at a time for now.
You can see another mobile that we hung – this time in the beach house’s middle bedroom below. This one’s from Target, but is also no longer available.
Also, now on to our very important survey…
If you’re looking for something we’ve dug in a past episode, but don’t remember which show notes to click into, here’s a master list of everything we’ve been digging from all of our past episodes. You can also see all the books we’ve recommended on our page.
And lastly, a big thank you to Rothy’s for sponsoring this episode. Check them out at Rothys.com where you get free shipping and returns on every order!
Thanks for listening, guys!
*This post contains affiliate links*
The post #141: When You See Another Blogger’s Home In Person… appeared first on Young House Love.
Earlier this summer we shared how we made over our beach house backyard in one giant post that covered the entire year-long process of taking it from a gnarly jungle to compact-yet-relaxing little oasis. It’s a very small space, so we worked really hard to squeeze lots of function out of it – more on that here – and back when we shared that post, many of you asked for photos of the inside of our pink shed along with details about what we store there. So today all of your shed-poking-around dreams are about to come true.
When we shared that backyard before & after fest, I confessed that the inside of the shed was a “disaster pile” – but we were able to turn that around about a week later in under 5 hours, without purchasing anything beyond some basic lumber and a few hooks. I’m not gonna pretend it’s the most perfect shed that ever shed-ed, but I did do two things that made all the difference in how much we can store (and easily access) if I do say so myself. Overall this project was a good reminder to us that good organization doesn’t have to be overwrought or expensive to be functional.
It also taught me that I’m stunning and versatile model. Is that a smize I detect? #WatchOutChad
While the outside of the shed is an important visual anchor point in the backyard (not to mention a really great privacy provider that helped establish that nestled & cozy feeling), the inside was meant to solve our no-garage, no-basement, no-other-outdoor-storage issue. For more than a year we had been piling lawn equipment, beach gear, tools, and lots of renovation leftovers into the beach house foyer and mudroom. Which as you can imagine was not ideal (hello sand and grass clippings, welcome to our home). So as soon as the shed was complete, we eagerly transferred everything that should live in the shed into the shed. It was a big day for me. And that’s how our disaster pile was born.
It sat that way for a while, just festering – as piles of disaster tend to do – and then we finally had a weekend to whip this shed into shape. The name of the game in here was basically just to utilize the wall space so we could clear the floor space.
The challenge is that we didn’t have a lot of wall space to work with, since the wall shown above is the only wall without doors or windows on it (the other three walls have either three windows, two windows, or two doors that take up most of those walls). Which meant it was the obvious spot to build some heavy duty shelves:
I built these shelves in just a few hours using the same technique I used in our Richmond shed, which was based on this Ana White tutorial. It just uses 2 x 4s and plywood, and involves a super simple trick that saves you lots of measuring and leveling. You can see more of the step-by-step details in this post but the gist is that you build your outer shelf supports right against the wall, literally screwing them (temporarily) into the inner shelf supports. That way when you separate them you’re confident that the front and back of your shelves will line up perfectly. Because you literally build them on top of one another. It makes it really fast too!
You can space the shelves however you’d like (to customize it for the items you’re storing), but I’ve included our measurements below for reference. You can see that we like some big shelves on the bottom for bulky items and tools – and then some smaller ones up top. This gives us a ton of flexibility, which is great – especially when you’re not 100% sure what’s going to go on each of the shelves (the stuff you store in a shed also seems to evolve over time – so versatility is key).
The one thing we were certain was going on those freshly built shelves was all of the spare tile from both the beach house and duplex renovations. We like to keep at least one box of extra tile on hand for every project (just in case something cracks or a plumbing issue pops up and we need to replace some tiles down the line) and the tile from 3 kitchens and 7 bathrooms and 3 mudrooms really adds up (YES, WE TILED THIRTEEN SPACES IN TWO YEARS BETWEEN THE BEACH HOUSE & THE DUPLEX! You can see the results here & here).
Fortunately that all fit easily on just one and a half shelves, so I had lots of room for about 70% of what was originally in our disaster pile – including things like our pressure washer, our inflatable paddle board, the kids’ boogie boards tha, some potting soil/mulch, our miter saw, and our shop vac. I’ll show you where the other 30% of the disaster pile ended up in a second.
Here comes my favorite part of this particular shed project. I kinda hated that I had used up our only full wall to store things we’ll need very infrequently (or maybe never in the case of the extra tile). So I decided to treat the front of the shelves like a wall of their own by adding another layer of organization on top! Kind of like when people hang a picture frame on the face of a bookcase. But more sheddy.
All it took were some strategically placed hooks (like these ladder-hooks-turned-beach-chair-hooks) and now we can hang our more frequently accessed items (aka beach gear) in a suuuuuuuper convenient spot right next to the shed door. I can’t begin to tell you how useful this system has been over the last couple of months. And it’s not like we wish we could see those random looking tile boxes, so hooray for some strategic shed layering.
Now let’s spin around and take a look at the other side of the shed – which is mostly windows. Again, the windows are what help the shed look so good from the outside but they limit our options in here. I managed to make use of some of the narrow wall space and corners for things like our beach kite and our little electric grill, but the area under the big window is mostly consumed by a couple of leaning bikes. They’re hand-me-downs from a neighbor (which is why one is missing a seat) that we’re hanging on to for when our kids are a little bigger – so it’s really nice to have room for them.
The gray storage piece under the other window is actually an Ikea item that we originally bought as a duplex media cabinet. But after assembling it we realized it was waaaaay too hulking for that use (we ended up using these instead) and we sent this to the shed to use for storage instead.
It’s probably not the piece I would have chosen for this use if I hadn’t already had it on hand, but it has turned out to be a decent way to corral smaller items like toys & buckets along with some random garden gear like hoses and gloves (which are stored behind the closed door). Actually having doors that slide instead of swinging out is nice because the area in front of this cabinet doesn’t always have to be completely clear to open the door, which is handy.
The wall to the immediate right of this cabinet has a smorgasbord of random screws, nails, and hooks that we attached to wrangle our various outdoor tools: clippers, a rake,some shovels, etc. I’ve bought some of those “fancy” outdoor took racks in the past, but I can’t say I’ve really loved any of them more than an easy system like this. Just make sure when you’re buying outdoor tools that there’s a way to hang them (most should come with a hole or loop somewhere for this purpose).
For things that didn’t already have a ready-made loop, I used some heavier duty bike hooks to hang items like our blower, weed trimmer, and ladder. And speaking of the ladder…
…this is the second instance were I sort of “created my own wall space.” How? Well I hung it right in front of one of the doors. We put double doors on the shed to make it easier to load in larger or longer items like our outdoor furniture on occasion – but so far we’ve rarely opened both of them. And since that door with the ladder in front of it stays fixed in place unless unlatched at the top & bottom, I figured why not make use of that most-of-the-time “wall” space? I can easily take the ladder down if we ever need wider access, but 99% of the time it’s more useful this way and I love that it’s securely hung and out of the way.
That concludes my guided tour of the beach house shed. Hopefully it has satisfied your curiosity about what lurks behind those blue-green doors.
And if you like organization posts (or SHEDS!) as much as I do, check out:
We had a totally different post planned for today, but then a super fun/random project fell into our laps on Monday night. We weren’t sure how things would turn out (we were kinda making up a DIY technique as we went along), but to say that we’re pleasantly surprised is a giant understatement. This might be my favorite under $10 project in the history of my life. And it could easily be repeated with any window you find at a thrift store, architectural salvage shop, or even at your local Habitat for Humanity ReStore. SAVE ALL THE GORGEOUS OLD WINDOWS, GUYS!
Or you could just wander the streets hoping to be in the right place at the right time – because that is actually how my tale of inheriting this window begins. If you follow me on Instagram Stories, you may have heard me gleefully tell The Fateful Tale Of The Old Diamond Window, wherein I randomly took a longer route on my evening walk and it resulted in me coming down our street about 10 minutes later than I usually do, and at that exact moment I bumped into our neighbors as they were loading an old diamond-paned window into their truck to take it to the dump. They looked up as I walked by and said “Hey Sherry! Do you want this old window? It’s super rotten so we were going to take it to the dump, but maybe you can do something fun with it?!”
I hope you know how insane my face was when I essentially screamed into their faces “YES I WANT IT SO BAD THANK YOU VERY MUCH!” and ran away clutching it and whispering “my precious.”
It’s white on the other side, and the purple side above was the street facing side of the window, which is, in fact, extremely brittle and water damaged (some of the trim was missing and just filled with caulk, the actual sides of the window trim were splintered and even missing, etc). So my first thought was that maybe I could paint it with exterior paint and use it in the back garden – maybe as some sort of cool trellis-alternative for something leafy to grow up.
Well, within a few minutes of excitedly chatting about some alternative possibilities yesterday, John & I concocted another plan (PIVOT!) which would mean it wouldn’t continue to get wet & rot outside… and, well, all of the pictures you’re about to see were actually taken THIS MORNING. That’s right, we started (and finished!) this project today. As in, just hours ago. And I was too excited to share my other already-written post today, so I whipped up this one for ya.
As for our materials, all we used was our free secondhand window, two D-rings to hang it, about $9 in tissue paper, and a spray bottle full of water that we already had on hand. And within about two hours (by about 1pm today) we had turned this old window into something we’re crazy about. I KNOW THIS PICTURE MAKES YOU WORRIED. It all worked out, even though this looks like a preschool project gone wrong.
This whole thing started because I wanted to find a way to use the diamond window INSIDE of the beach house, somewhere that we could see it more than having it tucked away in the backyard and somewhere that it would be protected from the elements so it wouldn’t eventually just fall apart completely. And this spot across from the island ended up being perfect. You may remember that we had this large beachy print there before. We LOVE this print – it’s the perfect colors and is pretty affordable for a framed art piece this large, but I found a better spot for it AND it opened up that area right under the sconce for my piece de resistance: The Diamond Window Of My Dreams.
Because I know you like closure, here’s a picture of where we moved that framed print. Looks so nice over by the dining table. The colors go so well with the old chippy blue door to the laundry room.
Heading back over to the sconce that now highlights The Window That I Would Marry If That Were Legal – we think it’s the perfect spot because the window is thick and sticks off the wall a decent amount, so having a sconce that sticks out above it and shines down on it feels really proportional and balanced. As soon as John held the window up in that spot yesterday I knew it would add some nice balance to the room. WINDOW DESTINY IS A REAL THING, GUYS.
We were both happy with the idea of just hanging the window as it was and calling it a day (well, sealing it with some clear Safecoat Acrylacq since that safely encapsulates old paint that might contain lead). Buuuuuut we both agreed that it might be fun to see if there was a way to bring in some color just because it was feeling kinda white on white (white walls, white window, white cabinets & countertop in front of it, etc). That’s when the idea to try to give it a DIY stained glass look emerged. I KNOW. UH OH. That sounds like it could go SPECTACULARLY WRONG. But we already have FIVE colorful real stained glass windows in this house (two going up the stairs, and three in the attic on the front and sides of the house), so it just felt like another one would fit right in… if we could make it look good and not cheesy… (which was a big IF).
Ultimately we knew we had nothing to lose since glass can be scraped if you paint it or cover it with something you later hate. In fact we knew things like glass paint exist for these types of projects… but the craft store scene out here near the beach house is bleak. As in, the closest thing is about an hour’s drive away with an $18 toll. So we decided to improvise using a popular kids craft medium: tissue paper. I KNOW I CAN HEAR YOUR FEAR THROUGH THE COMPUTER BUT HAVE FAITH. Remember: nothing to lose. Tissue paper can go on… and it can peel right off if it looks like something a toddler made at the library and subsequently glued their hair to the paper.
We actually already had some blue and mint tissue paper on hand for gift wrapping – and we darted out to the small local drugstore and grocery store after breakfast (THIS MORNING!) to grab whatever else we could find that thought might be fun… which ended up being some pink, violet, yellow, red, and white.
But before we could start messing around with the paper, we had to prep the window for hanging.
Prepping Your Window
John ended up having some heavy-duty D-rings that we screwed into the back of the window to make it easy to hang. If you don’t have them, they’re just a few bucks at any hardware store. Make sure you’re hanging them equidistant from the top of your frame, since this will make it easier to get it level on your wall. We also subbed out the screws that came with the D-rings with slightly longer ones for a stronger hold (just make sure they won’t poke through the front of your window).
We hung it using these drywall anchors, which are becoming our go-to anchors because you don’t have to pre-drill a hole. You’ll obviously want to use a level and a measuring tape/yardstick to get it exactly where you want it on your wall. We made sure ours was centered on our sconce and the whole hanging part took under 10 minutes.
Once we “test hung” it to make sure we liked it, I spent about 30 minutes “tidying up” the glass. This meant scraping off some of the crusty paint around the edges that overlapped the glass. I like using a flat glass scraper like this and then I vacuumed up the flakes with our shop vac to dispose of it. I DID NOT SAND because there could be lead paint under the newer paint that could aerate and be breathed in (scraping could even stir up lead dust in some cases – mine were just big paint flakes that remained on the glass – but we heavily encourage tons of care with lead).
After scraping both sides clean, I used white vinegar in a spray bottle to clean the glass itself (that’s actually how I like to clean glass and mirrors all over the house – so cheap and it works!).
If we wanted it to look less rustic and old we could’ve done a lot more (scraping more, patching the wood with Bondo, repainting…) but we liked how it looked old and interesting. So at this point we were pretty much ready to get to tissue papering!
Oh, and I should point out that our chihuahua Burger was very interested in posing throughout this project. Scroll through this post when you’re done reading and count the cameos. He definitely thought he was supervising.
Applying Your Tissue Paper
We tried a few different application techniques using what we had on hand, but I’ll just share what ended up working the best for us.
First, cut your tissue paper roughly to size. It doesn’t need to be perfect and you definitely want some overlap so it’s not too small for each window pane. You can also keep your tissue paper folded if you want to cut multiple pieces at once.
Next, spray the glass surface generously with water using a spray bottle. You don’t want a puddle of water, but generally we found more water was better than less.
Next, place your tissue sheet on the glass, starting in the middle and gently smoothing it towards the edges. You can use your fingers to press it into the creases, but wet tissue paper is delicate, so take it slow. We tried pushing it into the corner with a straight edge (like a credit card) but it often tore the paper, so we found that just using our fingers was best.
We experimented with multiple layers of tissue paper too (sometimes of different colors) to create different hues and varying opacities (the more sheets = the bolder the color). To add a second or third sheet, repeat the steps above. Spray over the existing tissue paper and press down your next sheet – first with a finger in the center, and then tap it down all around the rest of the pane.
You can see that our papers hung over the edges a lot, but as long as there’s not too much excess – it’s not at all visible from the front side.
Even though it looked kinda crazy from the back…
Oh and when you finish with your spraying & sticking technique – let it fully dry in that horizontal position. I think if we hung it while it was still wet it would have stuck to the wall and made a huge mess. Only hang it once it has all dried and molded to the glass firmly.
NOTE: Obviously this method only works if you hang the window on the wall so you just see the front because the back is butt ugly. Also, this project is less than 12 hours old, so we’ll update you on how well this water only technique holds up. Our tissue paper completely dried and molded itself into place without anything bubbling or shifting or coming loose. If things somehow change over time and unstick, my next attempt would be to mix Elmer’s Glue or Mod Podge with water and stick them on from behind with that concoction, which I’ve heard works but might result in more creases and obvious “this is tissue paper” evidence, hence the water-only first attempt.
Picking Your Colors & Pattern
Not only were we winging this technique, we were also making up the pattern and colors as we went along. So it’s worth taking some time to just test out what colors you can create using whatever tissue paper colors you have on hand. The photo below is of our “test board” where we were just seeing what would happen when we combined different layers of different colors (the water spray method meant anything we didn’t like could very easily be peeled off without much effort before it dried).
You can see a few of the lower colors we tested were more bold and primary than we preferred, and we noticed that the brighter colors looked a lot more veiny and uneven – especially when we layered white under them to try to mute them a bit from the front (FAIL!). So we very happily peeled off the too-bold primary colors we didn’t love, as well as the white + primary ones that looked all veiny and wrinkled in the bottom left. Then we rejoiced that the colors we liked the most tended to look the most like actual stained glass (the top ones).
All of that experimenting also taught us that layering the royal blue behind a few layers of lighter colors (like two mint sheets or two pink sheets) or putting a fire engine red square behind two sheets of the violet paper gave us interesting variations, which helped to create a more varied final look.
As for the pattern, we contemplated a super symmetrical/traditional stained glass look at first. But whatever I doodled on my phone ended up looking more traditional than we wanted. So we ended up just kinda making a random/organic pattern. Basically putting a few down, holding the window up, and making judgement calls about where to put the next one and what color to make it.
We realized afterwards that the whole thing ended up looking very Matt Crump-y. I love this notebook of his so I’m completely enamored to have a window version to call my own.
I am glad we decided to leave some of the pane totally empty, because I think the reflective glass surface itself is a big reason why it looks so pretty hanging in this room. It’s constantly catching reflections from the various windows and doors in the space, meaning it almost glimmers as you walk through the room. And it’s old wavy glass. MY FAVORITE.
Pictures can’t do it justice. Wish you could all come wash dishes at my sink and stare at it with heart eyes.
So again, I’ll keep you posted on how this DIY stained glass technique holds up over time, but for now we’re feeling pretty plucky about what we were able to pull together in a few hours.
Oh and if you’d like to see some other affordable projects that we’ve tackled over the years, this Crafting & Art category has a lot of ideas for ya. The big home renos are fun, but nothing makes you feel all giddy and excited like a quick & easy project that actually goes your way! They do exist!!!
P.S. Speaking of art, our sweet friend Jenny Komenda is now carrying two photos that we took & framed at the duplex in her print shop (Juniper Print Shop). They’re available as digital downloads that you can print & frame yourself or as prints that you can order that come right to your door. We’re so excited to see Love and Station among all of her lovely prints!
I’ve been so excited to show you Teresa and Andrew’s kitchen makeover. They’re some of our closest friends whole live right around the corner from us, and ever since we filmed this bookcase styling time-lapse video in their living room, I’ve been not-so-patiently waiting for their new appliances to arrive so we could share a big ol’ virtual kitchen tour with you guys.
Not only do they have amazing style, they also made SO MANY budget-friendly choices in this kitchen and I really hope they help to demonstrate that you can often work with a lot more than you might think (you don’t always have to scrap everything and start over!). And you can save a bunch of money doing that! Plus I get to share my trick for refreshing old wood cabinet doors so they look like new for just a few bucks – and I even caught the magic on video – so that’s in this post for you too.
Beyond just being good eye candy, I love that they made a series of bold choices in here (hello colorful painted cabinets and big brass pulls!) and it still shocks me how much of the original kitchen they were able to use as a springboard for their new space.
If you stare at the photo below, I bet you’ll guess that at least 2 things that are original to this space are new things that they added – but they didn’t! Let’s see if I’m right.
Here’s the “before” photo from the real estate listing when they bought the house six years ago. Note the soapstone counters. Note the subway tile backsplash! The layout! The island! The big double window over the sink! EVEN THE CABINET COLOR! All of those elements stayed exactly the same.
And now – thanks to some strategic upgrades like new appliances, new lighting, new wall paint, and new cabinet doors (but not entirely new cabinets!), here is the after. I’ll wait while you scroll back and forth a few times.
The first genius choice that Teresa and Andrew made was hiring a local cabinet maker to create new inset doors for their existing cabinet boxes. That decision saved them the expense of gutting the room and buying fully new cabinets (they got a few quotes for new cabinets, but then realized they could just update the doors and save over 50%!) AND it also meant that they didn’t have to rip out and replace their counters, sink, or backsplash in the process.
Those can all be pricey line items in a typical kitchen renovation, and since Teresa and Andrew had inherited great materials from the previous owner (soapstone! subway tile!) it was a win-win to work with them. I’m sure that not everyone looking at that before picture would “see the vision,” so I love that they went with their gut and kept so much! And the outcome is SO GOOD. Here’s that before shot again for reference:
By eliminating new cabinet boxes, new counters, a new kitchen sink, and an entirely new backsplash from their overall budget, they also got to focus their dollars on other kitchen upgrades that were important to them. Andrew’s a great cook who always wanted a nice gas stove, so he was able to put more of their kitchen budget towards stuff like a new gas range and a pot filler. He was even able to match the existing subway tile and grout color to extend the backsplash up where the over-the-range microwave used to be. You’d never guess that small area is new and the rest is original tile.
Did I mention they did all of their own cabinet box painting and additional tile installation themselves to help save even more of the budget? (here’s a tutorial for how to paint kitchen cabinets and how to install a subway tile backsplash if you want to tackle that too).
But I haven’t even shown you my favorite part of this room’s transformation yet. BRACE YOURSELVES, and please turn your attention to their new pantry / coffee station / drop zone on the left side of the room:
Believe it or not, this wall used to look like this. I’ll wait while you get your scroll on. It’s pretty amazing.
Their washer & dryer used to be shoved behind those bi-fold doors, and they always dreamed of moving them upstairs and creating more kitchen storage and usable space in that area. It didn’t happen right away (remember, they moved in 6 years ago), but earlier this year they were able to have them moved upstairs, closer to the bedrooms… meaning that this corner of the kitchen was freed up to become more open and functional!
They found an awesome local cabinet maker after seeing my friend Carey’s rental kitchen (where she used the same guy to save her old cabinet boxes and replace the fronts). It was such a smart move because he’s a total artist! Not only did he build all of the new cabinet boxes and fronts in this corner to match the rest of the room – since he also replaced the doors on the other side, he could make everything look perfectly matched. Every last cabinet looks new and fresh – even though more than half of them aren’t!
As I mentioned, to save money Teresa and Andrew color-matched the existing cabinets and painted all of the cabinet boxes themselves, and their cabinet guy sprayed all the doors (FYI, I brought over about 10,000 color decks and like the true paint detective that I am, was able to determine that this exact color is Sherwin-Williams Halcyon Green. So if you’re looking to duplicate this look, that’s the color… and it’s GOOD. Even better in person since photos can never capture the real feeling of something as well as standing right in front of it and seeing it at different times of day. It has a ton of depth and dimension.
To save the cost of buying new soapstone counters for this new corner area, they installed some simple butcher block instead, and then DIYed the matching subway tile backsplash. They even bargain hunted a fancy Miele coffee maker (Andrew found a broken secondhand one and repaired it himself!).
I’m not going to pretend that having your laundry appliances replumbed upstairs and getting custom cabinets built is a super quick and cheap endeavor – but spending 50% less than they would have spent if they gutted their original cabinets is a brilliant budget saver! And I can’t get over how many OTHER expensive line items they were able to dodge because they reused what they already had (existing floors, same exact kitchen island, original counters, same backsplash, same sink – even the same cabinet color).
And not to dwell, but let’s revisit the cabinet color for a second. The previous owner had paired it with bright red walls, but the minute Teresa & Andrew repainted them a more subtle gray (Benjamin Moore’s Revere Pewter) it allowed those awesome green cabinets to shine. Let the record state that I, Sherry “Love A White Kitchen” Petersik absolutely lives for these cabinets. Like I’m actively like “should I repaint my kitchen island this color?” It’s interesting but not wacky, moody but not dark, cheerful but not saccharine. It’s basically the G.O.A.T. cabinet color in my book. And I can’t get over that it was always there!
Let’s just take one more look back at where they’ve been, shall we?
CAN YOU EVEN?! I CANNOT.
Let’s talk about the island for a second. This is one element they didn’t touch AT ALL. You might say that they lucked into the fact that mixing in contrasting wood cabinets is so hot right now, but a wood island is always a classic in my book. This one was showing some wear and tear though (the finish was starting to look scratched and dry in some areas that had gotten heavy use), to the point that Teresa worried that it would look bad for her big kitchen reveal. I texted her a series of ridiculous gifs and told her not to fret. $herdog had plans. Cheap zero-dolla-make-ya-holla plans.
My big plan? I broke out a stain marker that I’ve had for like 5 years to show Teresa that they could look like new again with just a couple of scribbles around each drawer. I actually made a quick video so you can see exactly how fast and painless it was to freshen up these cabinets (the video shows it a lot better than any series of photos could). It literally took me around ten minutes total to refresh the entire island. I didn’t have to sand, seal, or even wipe up any excess stain (although in some cases you may need to if it doesn’t all soak up). Just use a matching tone, color over any worn spots on your cabinets or furniture or floors in the direction of the wood grain, and wipe it if there’s too much sitting on top (no worries if it all soaks in). Then let it dry. That’s it.
NOTE: If you’re viewing this post in a feed reader you may need to click through to see the video. You can also watch it here on YouTube.
I used a Golden Oak colored marker (the brand name has changed to Varathane on these now – remember I told you this stain marker is like five years old – so don’t worry about hunting down a Minwax one). The color doesn’t have to be exact, so don’t panic if you don’t know the precise stain color of your furniture. You just want to get something close enough that it’ll blend. You can actually buy a multi-pack of various shades for the same price as one marker if you want to have some options. Here’s a little side-by-side of the magic it worked on Teresa and Andrew’s island (but seriously watch the video, it shows it better and you can see how I apply it too).
Lastly, a quick note about the soapstone counters because we’ve never had them and I know some people fear the maintenance of them. Teresa reports that they did have to get used to how soft it was (it can easily scratch it with a fork or knife or even the lid of a jar) but they’ve grown to enjoy the patina that adds, rather than fight it. They do try to oil it about once a month, which fills any scratch or ding, and they typically rotate between two products: this Boo’s Mystery Oil and this Soapstone Sealer.
So that’s the kitchen, folks. Can you see why I’m crazy in love with it? Coming off of the beach house and duplex kitchens (which required down-to-the-studs renos to fully update the old electrical and plumbing as well as reinforce the walls and floor so it was all safe and to code) it was INCREDIBLY CHARMING AND REFRESHING to watch Teresa and Andrew’s makeover – not only the result, but also the way they got there.
If you liked this tour, you might want to check out:
Many moons ago we promised to share the DIY play by play for this wall treatment, because it’s ridiculously easy and GLORIOUSLY BUDGET CONSCIOUS. As in, it cost less than two boxes of my favorite light bulbs. Or dinner at Chipotle. Yes, those are my units of measure.
I mentioned in our backsplash post a while back that we opted for a different treatment on the stove wall in each of the duplex kitchens because it felt too chaotic to continue our patterned tile on two walls, so we chose something subtle yet wipeable AND easy to maintain (you can see the both duplex kitchen reveals here). Also cheap & easy to do. Because at this point in the duplex reno we were TIRED (did I mention we had tiled 8 rooms at that point along with installing 2 Ikea kitchens and hanging 2 wall murals? I did? Many times? Clearly I’m still not over it).
Some call it planking, some call it horizontal paneling, and some call it faux shiplap (real shiplap interlocks), but whatever you want to call it, we were excited to jump on the bandwagon after years of really liking how Shea McGee uses it in her beachy/modern designs, as well as how Chris & Julia’s TV wall in their old family room turned out. Our overwhelming verdict: what the heck took us so long?! (Also, I still haven’t received my Fixer Upper merit badge. I’m expecting a lapel pin with Chip’s face on it to just show up in the mail…)
This wall treatment is basically just thin pieces of plywood that we cut down to planks, nailed to the wall with small spacers, and painted with durable and easy-to-wipe semi-gloss paint (we color-matched it to the the cabinets so everything blends). Both sides of the duplex were rented all summer long (22 renters took these kitchens for a spin over the last three months!) and it has turned out to be a great durable and stain-proof surface (akin to how people add beadboard backsplashes). Happy to report it still looks like new.
The secret to pinching pennies on this project is to NOT use the pre-made shiplap panels stores are now selling (yes, home improvement stores are on the bandwagon too). This one from Lowe’s is $6 per 8 foot board and this one from Home Depot is $5, but by cutting your own out of this 5mm underlayment like we did, you can get the price down to LESS THAN $2 per 8 foot board! And depending on the size of your project, that savings could really add up. It made the wood for each of our two kitchen backsplashes total $22.50 instead of $60 – $75. Across two kitchens that saved us around $100 in lumber.
Like many DIY projects, cutting costs does mean you have to put in a bit more work. So if you’re looking to knock out the project quickly and you can swing the pricier pre-made stuff, go for it (it’s usually pre-primed and self-spacing). But ever since reading Jenny Komenda’s budget bathroom shiplap project we’ve been itching to try an approach like hers. They’ve discontinued the type of MDF she used for the project, which is how we ended up with the 5mm underlayment. Our certainly has a bit more of a woodgrain pattern than MDF would, but we actually kinda like that extra texture. It came out really well and has proven to be extremely durable. So let’s dive into the tutorial.
We had pretty much everything on hand except for the wood ($45) and paint ($17) so we got TWO kitchens done for $62. You might need to grab a few more tools or supplies if you don’t already have them, but they’re things that we use for lots of house projects so they’re pretty great “house investments” if you plan to DIY other stuff over time.
Oh and it bears noting that if you have a gas stove you’ll want to check if this is to code (some areas don’t allow a wood or beadboard backsplash unless you add a little metal strip over the stove like Chris & Julia added here. We have electric stoves at the duplex though (fun fact: there’s no natural gas in Cape Charles – no one ever ran it that far off the mainland).
Here’s what we used:
Cut Your Boards To Size
The underlayment comes in 4 x 8′ panels but we had it cut down in the store for easier transport. Now, guys. I have to detour for a moment to say I’ve never gotten a BIGGER EYE ROLL than the one I got from the lumber section employee when I asked him to cut these strips for our shiplap project. I was half mortified and half cracking up inside that even the Home Depot employees are tiring of the shiplap trend. I’ve never gotten pushback before, but this guy COULD. NOT. EVEN. with my request.
He eventually agreed to cut my 3 panels into fourths (aka 12″ strips – shown above) so I could fit then in my car. That meant I later had to cut them in half again at home on my table saw. But I just set my guide and ripped them all in no time. Having said that, this guy is literally the only person who has ever given us any sort of resistance, and I think if it had been a different day and a different employee it would have been no big deal to get strips cut.
NOTE: Be sure to cut them to slightly less than 6″ wide (ours are 5 7/8″). You lose about 1/8″ of material from the saw blade itself, so trying to get a full 6″ strip will cause your last piece to be almost a full inch shorter than the others.
If you can convince your store to cut your strips to their final size you won’t need the table saw, but you’ll still need either a miter saw or hand saw to cut each strip to the length you need. Our wall was just shy of 8 feet so we just had to trim a little bit off of each strip.
Once you have each piece cut you’ll want to give the cut edges a quick once-over with a sanding block to remove any splinters.
Prep Your Wall
Before you hang anything you also need to prep your wall a bit. First remove any obstacles like outlet covers or switch plates. I’ll show you in a moment how I make my cuts around these puppies.
You’ll also want to find your studs so you can be sure you’re securely fastening your boards to the wall. By now you probably know that we’ve been relying on this low-tech magnetic StudBuddy (our favorite stud finder to date).
Once I marked the locations of my studs, I drew a tall vertical line at each spot using a long level. This creates a visual reference for each stud that I could reference as I worked my way up the wall. Don’t worry if your mark doesn’t go all the way up. Eventually you’ll just be able to see your nail marks and follow those.
Cut Holes For Outlets & Switches
My first board had two outlets that I had to cut around and, as a reminder, this is how you’ll want them to look in the end. Just like when you’re doing a tile backsplash, you’ll have to loosen the screws so the outlet can be installed to rest on top of the edge of the board (or tile). If you cut your hole too big and the outlet sits against the drywall, your cover plate won’t be flush with the plugs when you got to reinstall it.
To make my holes I held up my board in front of the outlet and marked my hole left-to-right. I know the marks look way too wide in the photo below, but trust me that it’s just a perspective trick.
Then to mark the hole top-to-bottom, I used a scrap piece to figure out the height.
Then I used the two sets of marks to draw a guide on the back of my board, giving me the exact area I needed to cut out for the outlet.
To do the cutting, I used my jig saw. For cuts like this where I can’t start my blade at and edge I like to use a 1/2″ drill bit to create two starting points in the corners of the area to be cut. This gives me a place to slip my jig saw blade in and easily cut along my lines.
Nail Your Boards To The Wall
With my holes cut and my outlets reinstalled, I could begin installing the boards and working my way up the wall. As you can see, we used some leftover tile spacers to create the gaps between each board. But you can pretty much use any small object you have on hand. Jenny Komenda used pennies!
Some people use an adhesive like LiquidNails behind each board, but we just secured ours with 1.75″ brad nails into the studs using our cordless nail gun. In a steamy environment like a bathroom the adhesive is probably a good idea to prevent against warping, and it wouldn’t have hurt to use it in here, but we decided to skip it because we didn’t want to ruin all the drywall behind each plank if we changed our minds about the shiplap. Thankfully it has held up perfectly, so our plan is to keep it for the long haul.
Had we decided on this look earlier in our process, I probably would’ve installed it BEFORE we hung the hood cabinet – mainly because it would’ve made it faster than cutting boards around it, but it wasn’t too bad to just trim those boards.
Prime, Patch, And Paint
Here’s the wall after it was just completed and, I’m not gonna lie, I kinda liked the raw wood look. It wasn’t right for this space or application, but it looked better than I thought! So if you’re looking for an interesting ceiling or wall treatment that’s unpainted, this was pretty nice looking.
Since our goal was to cover it with wipeable semi-gloss paint and make it blend into our cabinets for a more backseat role in the kitchen (our tile and brick chimneys are the stars in there), the next step was priming. Technically you could go to nail hole filling next, but I personally find it easier to spot all of my nail holes after wood is primed. We had a mostly full gallon of our favorite primer on hand, but a project this size probably only needs a quart if you have to pick some up. We started off by going over all of the cracks with a brush.
I did find that I sometimes got globs of primer collecting in the cracks, so it was helpful to have a small nail nearby to scrape them clear. Maybe this is an argument for slightly larger gaps? I dunno, but it was’t a big deal in the long run and we love the finished look.
After priming with the brush, we rolled the whole wall with a small foam roller. After that dried – and we could clearly see all of our nail holes (along with some wood knots that we wanted to tone down) we filled them using that pink wood filler that turns white once it’s dry and ready to be sanded.
We rolled on a quick second coat of primer once all of our nail holes were sanded smoothed, and then painted the whole thing using a semi-gloss white paint that we had color-matched to the cabinets (we brought in a scrap piece of a filler panel so they could scan it at the paint desk and whip up a close match). Thanks to priming first, we got away with just one coat of paint, and once it was dry we caulked the edges with our go-to kitchen caulk and called it a day!
I should point out that we had to repeat this whole process on the other side too. So it wasn’t quite as speedy as it would be if you were only doing ONE kitchen, but we completed both of them in a weekend.
It was just the thing that side of the kitchen needed, so I’m really glad we gave this a try. Gotta love when projects are straightforward, affordable, and hold up well (cause we all know that doesn’t always happen).
And if you’d like to read about other affordable DIY projects, here are a few reader favorites from our archives:
P.S. You can see lots of other projects & updates here in our Home Improvement category.
If you tuned in last week, you saw us very excitedly reveal the before & after photos of the first four rooms that we completed at the duplex. SO MANY EXCLAMATION POINTS! There isn’t much rhyme or reason to the order of the things we’re sharing – we’re just rolling things out as we complete & photograph them… so today we have FOUR MORE SPACES THAT ARE DONE DONE DONE!
Can you tell how thrilling that is for us to proclaim after over a year and a half of working to get this house put back together and ready for renters this summer?! (The listing will go live on Airbnb once we’re done with all the rooms & have ’em photographed. We’ll make a big announcement when we get to that point, so don’t worry, you didn’t miss it!).
Let’s start with the back bedroom on the left side of the duplex – aka the side with the pink doors.
This room’s twin on the other side was in last week’s post and we mentioned that the back bed wall was a little bit narrower on the other side, so we used wall sconces instead of table lamps (every space is slightly different on each side just because 100 year old houses are quirky like that). But over here the bed wall was wider, which allowed for some larger quartz topped side tables (so shiiiiiny – and hooray for a material that won’t stain like marble).
We also got to top them with these sweet gray lamps, and once again we planned the outlet placement so they’re located behind each nightstand, so we can plug in those lights and still have an available outlet for charging phones (we’ve rented more than a few places that led to us crawling around under the bed or pulling out dressers in search of those ever elusive phone charging outlets).
Here’s a before shot of the room as it looked when we bought the duplex, which had drop ceilings to hide some ongoing roof leaks and painted plastic paneling to cover up the mold in the walls. Where that window is below is pretty much where we placed the door to access the full bathroom that we added on, which made this space into a true master bedroom. We also added the double closets to flank the window on the left wall, so if you scroll back up and you look at the window behind the bed, that’s one that we added to the bedroom since this one essentially turned into the door to the bathroom.
The before picture below was taken with our backs to the corner above. I’m including it because guess what was hiding behind that odd black slanted wall in the corner?
Yup, it was the gorgeous brick chimney that we exposed on both sides! It adds so much charm and history to the space. And yes, that’s a roach fogging can sitting on the floor above. Before our first walk through of the house, someone set off a fogger in every room and then didn’t come back and remove them… so there were foggers on the floor and a whole bunch of dead roaches belly up everywhere. It wouldn’t be on my house staging checklist, but it didn’t scare us, so… maybe it worked?
But back to the after pics. Once again we did an airy and open metal bed in front of the window, to let the light stream in (and feel less like a wall of furniture that’s blocking the pane of glass). Our round quartz tables fit nicely into that angled corner – and they soften the corner in a nice way. Who doesn’t love the mix of polished quartz & weathered old brick? They go together like rama-lama-lama-ka-dinga-da-dinga-dong (that was harder to type than you’d think, btw).
This before shot was taken with our backs to the brick chimney, so that window on the right below is where we built out the double closets to flank that lovely view that looks out on some huge all-summer-long flowering trees (giant pink crape myrtles).
Oh and do you see that trap-door looking thing in the corner of the ceiling in the photo above? That’s where a leak got so bad that it eroded the original ceiling and then went through the drop ceiling and collapsed it in that spot. After we removed the drop ceiling it was clear that a LOT of the roof was failing – so we changed the pitch of the roof to be a bit steeper so water would run off of it more efficiently and not cause this issue again down the road. But yeah, rebuilding the whole roof was a doozie (you can see the entire house completely roof-less and wall-less here).
Here’s the after from the exact same corner. You can see that we have those cute pink-doored double closets now that make that window shine (they’re painted White Truffle by Sherwin Williams). And we shifted the doorway over to make sense of the upstairs layout a bit more. You can see our before & after floor plans a little later in this post to picture all of these layout changes more easily.
We also added a dresser for addition clothing storage (it’s the same dresser we have in our bedroom, but in the crisp white color instead of the gray one). Then we hung our favorite stenciled mirror over it for that inlay look (we LOVE how big it is, this is a room-making mirror you guys). We love that it basically creates an additional window in the room by reflecting the light of the other one (see the picture above).
This is one of the two closets in the room (remember they flank the window) so they each provide space for hanging clothes, storing suitcases, etc. And our eyes love the symmetry so much of having two in the room – I’m so glad we did it, because it feels like they were meant to be here.
And yes, we are going to add more wooden hangers. There were people who worried the ones that they saw in our previous post weren’t enough, so more are coming. DO NOT WORRY. Buying those = the easiest thing on our list right now. Ha!
This is what you’d see if you stood with your back to the master bathroom, and you can see that we reused the rug that we had in the beach house living room a while back. And it was clearly mean to be in this master bedroom with the pink doors and the dark oil-rubbed bronze accents (in the drawer pulls, curtain rods, bed, and the door hardware). It fits the room perfectly, which makes me so happy – and on a sunny day it takes on a pinker watermelon tone, which is pretty cool (you can see that here). It was a secondhand find, so I can’t link to something identical, but this rug is pretty close (and the price is good!).
If you stand with your back to the dresser above, you see the doorway that leads to the new master bathroom that we added onto this room. So much more functional, and we had fun with that bold floor tile and all white tile and wall paint everywhere else (except for the fun pink door).
The bathroom feels surprisingly serene for having such a colorful patterned floor tile, mostly thanks to using other colors sparingly, adding some calming touches like a faux succulent, some muted art (this print and another print by this artist) and some natural touches in the woven cup and the leather vanity pulls (this is the vanity we bought – and we just swapped out the hardware).
You can also see above that we mounted a mirror above the sink that’s functional and hinged to fit within the window frame, but still allows a lot of light to stream in. We frosted the glass so nobody feels like there isn’t privacy in here – but it thankfully doesn’t effect how might light floods this space.
Oh and a few people asked in the last post why we didn’t just put the window over the toilet – but from the back of the house it would have looked super odd to have a window right on the edge of the addition instead of in a more centralized placement. The historic review board has to approve things like additions and new window locations, so I doubt they would have gone for such an off centered window since the original back windows were in a central-ish spot too. (You can see more shots of the back of the duplex here – we LOVE how it came out!)
I also have to admit that I love a mirror in a window! We did that in our second house and the make-up-friendly natural light was never better! Ha!
If you stand with your back to the wall to the right of the toilet, here’s what you see: a simple all-white shower (the key to a bold tile on the floor = non-demanding tile everywhere else), a soft extra long shower curtain, and some handy towel hooks on the back of the door. For anyone wondering how we feel about mixed metals – we’re into it! Just have each one occur a few times in each space and you’re golden. For example in here we have chrome on the shower fixtures, the shower curtain rod, and the sink vanity’s faucet while the door’s hinges, knob, and hooks are all oil rubbed bronze. Looks just fine! All metals are sort of like a neutral if you layer them into the room a few times each.
This is one of my favorite before shots of the bunch. Check out that mauve trim and the leafy wallpaper border. The crazy thing is that we restructured the landing upstairs so much that the after isn’t very parallel at all. We actually moved the access to the bedroom over to the right (where you see that corner of a sconce peeking into the photo below) and that open doorway that you see became a nice big hall linen closet. We also pushed the doorways back, so the landing at the top of the stairs is about twice as big – so you don’t feel nearly as closed in or crowded.
Here’s basically the same angle now. See how the doorway shifted over and the landing is a lot bigger and more breathable? Oh how I wish we had taken a photo of the linen closet open because it’s a work of art. We added chunky white shelves that are so functional for towels and extra bedding, and we even have a tiny ironing board and an iron. It’s gorgeous. Yes, a closet can be gorgeous. We need to share that in a video tour soon I think!
I mentioned we’d include a before & after floor plan for you guys to better understand the layout changes. Remember that each side of the duplex only had one full bath when we bought it, and a very odd diagonal hallway that was not original to the house (it had been restructured probably in the 70s or 80s). So we enjoyed bringing it back to the more classic and traditional layout without any triangular hallways – it just feels more fitting and less cobbled together. Plus two and a half bathrooms per side feels a lot better than one!
One of the hugest changes we made isn’t something you can see on a floor plan though. The original steps on each side of the duplex were like a dark closed-in tunnel. They were completely drywalled on each side from the very bottom step, all the way up to almost the top step. Yeah… like no light passed through that space at all, as you can see below:
So when we restructured things, we opened a bunch of the bottom stairs up with a railing (more on that in a second) and we moved the bedroom doorway at the top of the stairs back a bit too, which meant instead of just having a short little railing up top, we flood the top 6 stairs or so with light.
If you don’t remember the story of the railings, they’re the original railings from our front porch at our home in Richmond, and they fit PERFECTLY into the duplex at the top and bottom of the stairs. COMPLETELY MEANT TO BE! We’re so glad they got to live on here (more on The Sisterhood Of The Traveling Railing here & here).
A few seconds ago I said that we opened up the bottom of the stairs, so here are some before & afters of that update. This is what it looked like when we bought the house – all closed in completely by a diagonal hallway of drywall with just a tiny doorway to enter the living room from the front vestibule, which felt VERY CRAMPED.
Now it looks like this, thanks to creating a much wider doorway into the living room, and an open railing that lets in tons of light & adds some great architectural interest. That gold globe light is a space-maker too guys, and the price is so good (it’s huge). The ceilings on the first floor of the duplex are 9′, so it allowed for some fun large-and-in-charge fixtures in a few spots (so if your ceilings are 8′ and you want that light, measure to see if it’s too low, and if so you could place it over a table or a bed – ooh it would be so good in a bedroom.
But back to the upstairs. This is the view of the front bedroom on the right side from the hallway.
We revealed the front bedroom on the left side of the house in last week’s post, and a few things are similar in this space (we chose the same wooden bed and the same art for that back wall as well as the same rug).
But a few things we did differently over here are that we oped for slightly wider nightstands (they fit in here and wouldn’t in the other front bedroom! The slight measurement differences from side to side are so funny). We also did table lamps in here instead of wall mounted sconces, which add some nice texture.
We also hung a breezy little mobile above the bed on the right (it’s hard to see in the photo above for some reason, but you can see it a lot better in person and in the picture below. The gold hardware on it with the white wood seagulls are so perfect for the beach. It’s actually a mobile we’ve had in our bonus room at home for years, but we knew it would be perfect at the beach (it’s no longer sold, but here’s another mobile I’m loving).
The bedside tables are SO NICE. They were a bit of a splurge for me (compared to the cheaper mint ones I got for the other side’s front bedroom) but I just loved that there were two drawers and that pretty display space in the middle for books or magazines. They look really well made in person – and the added width (they’re 24″ wide) feels great too. So if you’re looking for some classic white nightstands, these are good. Oh and we put a sound machine in each bedroom because we did that for the beach house and it’s SO NICE. Our kids love a sound machine and we’ve found that when people come to stay with us they appreciate having one too.
Below is a shot of the wall that’s across from the head of the bed, where we mounted a great wood-framed mirror(the price is so good you guys! we have one of these in the beach house too). It’s nice to have a bedroom mirror for people to check themselves out before leaving the room when they don’t have a master bath to use for that. And that doorway you see with the diamond grilled window beyond it (my VERY FAVORITE HOUSE FEATURE!) is the cute little closet for this room.
The curtain panel that you see next to the diamond window is blackout lined, so it blocks light that would stream into the bedroom when you pull them closed. All the other windows in the duplex have white faux wood blinds to block light and for privacy, but I couldn’t bear to put them on the diamond windows.
And across from that window is a diamond fronted dresser that we designed (can you tell we love diamonds?!) as well as a hanging bar for additional clothing storage. I love the little white honeycomb pendant light that we have in there too. We also used that light in the laundry room downstairs as well as over the kitchen sink. So classic looking. Five stars, would recommend.
I gotta say I love that the wood in the mirror and the bed and even the hangers is all that warm medium tone, so it feels really earthy and calming in here. Especially when you compare it to this before shot, which once again has a drop ceiling and plastic paneled walls that were covering various water and mold related issues:
Also this floor. OH THIS FLOOR. I hated it with every fiber of my being, because someone had put peel & stick tile all over half of it and then ripped it up before selling. But all the glue from the sticky tiles STAYED ON THE FLOOR. I am not exaggerating when I say that when I walked in with my flip-flopped feet for the first time, my flip flops came off of my feet and stuck to the floor as I tried to take another step. I literally had to pry them off with my hands in order to move. It was like a human-sized sticky trap.
Thankfully after refinishing the floors, they’re glorious and guaranteed not to steal your flip flops. Still gotta steam the curtains in here (remember we use these Ikea curtains and hack them to look like this) so I guess it’s not 100% done, but it’s very very close, which feels very very good. Also I love this rug. We bought it twice (it’s also on the other side) and it’s casual and beachy.
So there you have it. Four more spaces in the duplex that we’re thrilled to have fixed up and filled with as much charm and function as we could muster.
Oh and while we’re on the subject of function, we went with SIX CEILING FANS in here because we know lots of people who love sleeping with a fan on, and although we have central air, that breeze feels beachy and calming. So yeah…. design-wise we love a light fixture, but it just felt right to do crisp white fans for the beach.
We’ve been really happy with them so far (you know we turn them on when we’re working away in each room – ha!). We did these larger ones for the four larger bedrooms (as seen in the back bedroom above). And these smaller versions for the two smaller twin bed rooms (which we have yet to finish & reveal – but soon!).
Speaking of those twin bed rooms, after they’re done we’re switching our focus to finishing up the two living rooms, two dining spaces, two kitchens, and two laundry rooms! AND THE TWO BACK PATIOS! Still plenty to do, but we’re getting closer every day!
P.S. You can see the entire process of bringing the duplex back to life here From a complete “before” video tour, to planning the floor plan & the style vibe, to tiling it all and revealing the before & afters of the front and the back of the house, it’s chock full of info & pics.
Last week Sherry and I got to see the freshly refinished floors at the duplex for the first time. And despite having just gone through this last year at the pink beach house, we were still taken aback by what a HUGE difference it makes. Which explains why we’re about to hit you with a bunch of before & afters right now.
We can’t get over how finished it makes everything feel. It’s like changing this one surface suddenly takes the whole place from “renovation zone” to “move-in ready.” I mean, let’s just appreciate how far we’ve come for a second.
This is that same room (the living room on the left side of the duplex) when we bought it last September. That yellow stuff is an old carpet pad that was literally glued to the floor in a bunch of places and wouldn’t come off.
Here’s the same view in May during reconstruction. The floors actually look WORSE here because everyone knew that a full sanding/refinishing was happening later, so they were sporting a nice layer of dust that tends to build up during a reno.
Even after drywall started going up in September, the place was still looking pretty rough. Especially the floors.
So it feels like a MASSIVE leap forward to suddenly walk in and see this shiny refinished oak underfoot. We still need to add quarter round trim along all of the baseboards to finish things off, but, woah. The difference is huge.
I’ll save you some scrolling and put the before picture right here just so you can see them right next to each other. The wider opening to the kitchen and the interior transom window that we added above it also make a pretty huge difference and really open up the space.
But back to the floors. Adding hardwoods (plank by plank) seamlessly into the giant holes and deeply water-damaged areas was above our skill set, so we hired the same crew who helped us revive the wood floors of the pink house last year. The company is called ShenValley Floors and they do work on the Eastern Shore and out in the Shenandoah Valley, if you’re interested.
They’re great because in addition to sanding, staining, and sealing the floors – they also do great repair work (including sourcing and installing reclaimed old oak or pine – or whatever hardwoods you need for your project). And BOY did the duplex need lots of repairs.
One big issue was rot, which we had in a few pretty large spots on each side. This particular area was in what used to be the upstairs bathroom. The water damage from years of a leaking pipe had rotted through both the original pine floor and the newer oak floor that had been laid on top of all of the original pine flooring at some point (the entire house has two layers of flooring, and we couldn’t pull up the oak to reveal the old pine because it was too far gone). You can see both layers of flooring better in the shot below:
In addition to patching the rot, the changes we made to the floor plan had also left some gaps in the flooring. So ShenValley brought in 100-year-old oak flooring they had reclaimed from another project to fill the gaps and give us a nice seamless end result.
This is what that rotted area now looks like now that everything has been patched, sanded, stained, and sealed.
This is another view that shows how the patching works. Rather than just cutting in a small strip of new flooring, they actual pry up more of the existing floorboards so everything can be blended in seamlessly without a harsh straight line where the new boards meet the old boards. This staggered integration is key for hiding the transition between old and “new” boards (which might also happen to be old if they’re reclaimed).
It certainly is more trouble, but the final result is well worth it. You can also learn more of this process from this post about the floor refinishing at our own house.
And if you heard this week’s podcast, you know we got a little curveball thrown our way right in the middle of this floor refinishing project. Our original plan had been to clear seal the oak floors so their natural color would come through – just like we did with the pine floors at the pink house.
But after the crew finished sanding everything down, they called to say there were several areas with dark blotchy stains that wouldn’t lift (they were too deep to sand out) AND that the previous person who had worked on the floors – likely many decades ago – had used two different species of oak in the house. Both white and red oak. Yeah, it was a surprise to all of us – and we were warned that clear sealing them would further bring out those aforementioned stains AND put more emphasis on the variation in board color. So to help minimize both of these not-exactly-ideal issues, the pros recommended that we choose a medium stain to help unify everything.
Looking back at old photos like the one below, you can actually see some of the color change that nobody had noticed until sanding (even the flooring pros missed it during our initial walk-through). Although part of this floor upstairs had also been painted at some point AND had had sticky tiles placed over it, so I’m not sure how much was caused solely by the different species of oak.
We chose one of the stain colors that the refinisher specifically recommended – Special Walnut – and it definitely helped a lot. In fact, this area shown is the only spot Sherry and I could make out any visible transition between the white oak in the hallway and the red oak in the bedroom. And thankfully it looks even less noticeable in person than it does in this picture. Once furniture and rugs go in we doubt anyone would even pick up on it unless we prompted them to study the floors.
It was a little bit of a bummer to have to adjust our plans away from the natural light-looking floor we’d always pictured, but that’s just how these things go. And in the end, how can we be mad at progress like this:
That’s the upstairs hallway on the right side, which is where those sticky tiles used to be (that whole front bedroom was like walking on flypaper). And now it looks like this (new railing still to come):
Here’s the view looking down those stairs towards the front door as it looked when we bought it…
…and here it is now. We still need to paint the sides of the stairs (and there’s some dusting to do around the door frame), but man, this is progress, sweet progress.
Sherry and I dug up this photo and it took us both a minute to figure out which room is was (neither of us remembered the carpet or the dark walls). Turns out it was the back bedroom on the right side.
In fact, we had forgotten it so much that we first thought it was the front bedroom on the right side, and we took the after photo below of that room. Which looks super similar but is, in fact, a completely different room. Oh well, you get the idea.
I could dig up pictures like these all day, but I’ll force myself to stop – mostly because I know there’s even more fun stuff to come as we start to install the kitchens (this weekend!!!) and move furniture in (hopefully over the holiday break!!!). So I’ll leave you just like we started: with a before & after of the living room, this time on the other side:
The funny thing is that the floors aren’t that wildly different here (this was the one spot where they weren’t in terrible shape). So maybe the whole snafu with having to stain the new floors was just the house trying to reclaim some semblance of its former self.
Just don’t expect us to start painting the trim in shades of blue and green…
P.S. You can catch all of our previous duplex posts and projects , and if you’re interested in going back to read all of our pink beach house updates and posts,
The post How Floor Refinishing Totally Transformed The Duplex appeared first on Young House Love.
This week we’re digging into a survey that reveals the top homebuyer regrets – as in what features their homes have that they ended up not loving (and the results may surprise you!). A new study also concluded some shocking-to-us things about millennial dads versus their baby boomer counterparts – and we have some big feelings about one aspect of the results. We’re also sharing a crappy situation (literally) at our beach houses, and the weird measures we’re taking to resolve it. Plus, more design norms from around the world and our picks for summer entertainment.
You can download this episode from Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn Radio, and – or listen to it below! Note: If you’re reading in a feed reader, you may have to click through to the post to see the player.
Since I’m not about to show you a bunch of bird droppings, in that photo above you can see the “bird city” behind the duplex fence that caused quite the mess on the duplex patio, outdoor furniture, and even the duplex itself. Even our cleaning lady marveled at how much “stuff” was on the windows.
Game Time: Homeowner Hindsights
And here are the very same floors after a few days of refinishing!
I especially loved this tweet that Buzzfeed highlighted, considering Sherry’s description of hiding when our doorbell rings.
Global Design Norms
Okay, so here are all those things that’ll help keep you busy and entertained over our podcast’s summer break.
A post shared by Orlando Soria (@mrorlandosoria) on
If you’re looking for something we’ve dug in a past episode, but don’t remember which show notes to click into, here’s a master list of everything we’ve been digging from all of our past episodes. You can also see all the books we’ve recommended on our page.
And lastly, a big thank you to Grove Collaborative for sponsoring this episode. Sign up at and spend your first $20 to receive a FREE 5-piece Mrs. Meyers cleaning set!
Thanks for listening, guys!
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The post #145: The Home Features People Wish They Didn’t Have appeared first on Young House Love.
When we shared the duplex backyard makeovers last month, I promised more details about how we made the decorative oars that hang on each shed. So today I’ve got a detailed tutorial for you (including how NOT to screw up your attempts to make them outdoor friendly) along with a few other “hacks” you guys asked about.
The oars actually were not part of our original plans. But after the sheds were built we nixed our plans to run electricity to them (for cost reasons – and because they really don’t need it). But the empty space where we’d planned to hang a light above the door needed… something.
That something became oars after a trip to HomeGoods where we stumbled upon a decorative surfboard. Cape Charles isn’t really a surfing town, but there is plenty of kayaking and paddle boarding, so oars felt a bit more applicable for our little beach town. I went on the hunt for some on Etsy and found some really good options (like this, this, and the ones pictured below) but they all were a bit pricier than we had in mind. Just couldn’t justify spending $350+ on this project to end up with four cool looking oars to hang on the sheds.
We actually ditched the idea entirely for a couple of weeks, but then we stumbled upon two decorative oars at HomeGoods for $25 each. They weren’t the colors or design we wanted, but that can always be fixed with paint! So we bought them and took them to Cape Charles and held them up to make sure we were barking up the right tree. We wanted to make sure we liked the size & shape before altering them with paint (thereby making it impossible to return them).
With renewed excitement for this idea, we tracked down two MORE decorative oars (thanks to having two HomeGoods in Richmond). All four of them cost a little over $100, which was great… but they didn’t look the way we wanted. They actually looked pretty awful together at this point:
But I was emboldened by our luck at sanding down and refinishing the duplex dining tables, so I took to sanding each down to their raw wood. Here’s the orbital sander I used, which does the job really well.
It took some elbow grease, but the results were extremely encouraging. Here’s a side-by-side of the two most similar oars – one sanded, one not.
Once I had them all sanded down, I stained them all to get their varying wood tones looking more similar. It was basically trial and error of various leftover stain cans in our garage, but I am 95% sure it involved Rustoleum Summer Oak and Minwax Weathered Oak being layered over each other.
Before I stained them I also took a picture of them grouped on the ground and started Photoshopping various stripes and shapes on them. YES, THIS IS THE MOST ANYONE HAS EVER DONE IN THE PURSUIT OF PERFECTLY COORDINATING DECORATIVE OARS. I feel like I deserve a Bachelors of Science in Oarology at this point.
Anyway, we knew we wanted to use colors inspired by those found elsewhere in the duplex, like the mint green shutters, the white siding, and the muted pink and green found on the interior doors. So doing all of this in Photoshop helped us fine tune our direction before cracking open any paint cans. Also it earned me that highly esteemed Oarology degree. (*steps up to podium and clears throat*) “I’d like to thank my mom and dad, who instilled a love of oars at an early age…”
Right, back to the tutorial. Next we used the digital mock-up to tape off each oar using painters tape. We intentionally left a lot of wood “stripes” in our design (you know, the areas UNDER the tape) because whenever two colors touch, you have to paint one and let it dry before you can paint the other. So for efficiency we minimized these instances, but we didn’t completely eliminate them. The reason you don’t see any tape on the top section of that third oar is because I had to do a base of the mint color before I could tape and paint my next colors.
Once everything was taped, I primed each area first (this is our favorite primer) and then once that had dried, I painted each section – being careful to reference my rendering along the way (although we did deviate a little as we went). Except for the mint color (SW Pale Patina) we didn’t use the exact paint colors we used elsewhere in the duplex. The white was just an exterior white we had on hand (SW Snowbound) and the pink and navy were more saturated versions of the interior doors colors (SW Downing Pink and SW Riverway, respectively). You definitely should use exterior paint if you’re going to hang your oars outside, FYI. Also colors tend to wash out in exterior lighting (there’s more sun outside than inside) so you sometimes need to go darker or more intense with a color than you would inside your house.
The project was going great at this point. Things were drying quickly in the heat outside. We got that unmatched satisfaction of peeling off a crisp line of painters tape…
AND THEN THINGS TOOK A TURN. And this is where I want you to learn from my mistake.
After I had finished painting all of the stripes, my last step was to seal the whole thing so it’d be even more durable outdoors (these things will be exposed to the elements 24/7/365 (and that’s not just rain, it’s lots of heat and even snow). So we wanted to layer on an exterior grade polyurethane sealer, which are typically oil based – but VERY durable. Now, I should’ve tested the sealer I had on hand in an inconspicuous place first – but I was running up against a weekend that we were going to Cape Charles and I wanted to finish these and bring them with me. So I just WENT FOR IT.
Sherry described what happened next as “not a big deal” and “nothing to freak out over – John, you’re being crazy.” But I had gotten so pumped about how these were turning out so far that I was extremely frustrated at myself for messing them up on the last step. Here’s what happened:
Oil-based stains have a tendency to yellow. That’s why we use water-based ones in most of our projects. But again, exterior-grade = oil-based. And we didn’t want these oars to get ruined over time because we used the wrong sealant. But, I was bothered by HOW YELLOW it made the colors and because the oars are slightly rounded, the stain pooled as it dried in various spots – leaving brownish-yellow streaks and dots along the oars.
Sherry’s right that it’s a relatively minor issue – one that probably wouldn’t be super detectible from the distance at which they’d be seen anyways. But I was annoyed at how much more “rustic” the oars had become due to the yellowing and the streaking.
So I did the only sensible/crazy thing that a Certified Oarologist could do in this situation. I sanded off all the streaky spots, taped everything off again, and repainted all four oars. It wouldn’t de-yellow the wood tone, but at least I could get back the crisp vibrancy of the original paint colors we had chosen.
Because here’s the thing we didn’t really think about when we started this project: we were using exterior paints on everything, so they didn’t actually need to be sealed. Only the wood needed sealing. Soooooo… if I were doing this again (or if you’re at home doing it right now – first of all welcome to the field, it’s good to have a fellow Oarologist in my midst) I would’ve sealed the wood (both sides, btw) BEFORE I painted any of the stripes or detailing onto the oars. Would’ve dodged the entire bullet and the entire oar would be durable and outdoor-safe.
In the end everything was fine (although the extra paint job meant we cut it a bit closer to rental season than we’d hoped when it came to actually hanging these up) and we really love how they turned out. Hanging them was simple too – we just drove a 3″ exterior screw through the oar and siding, right into a stud behind it (I predrilled a small hole in the oar to make it sink right through easily).
You can see the screw heads in the photo below (see the little dots). I tried to avoid putting them through painted sections when I could, since they seem to blend more into the wood tone than the lighter painted sections, but ultimately your eyes don’t really focus on them unless you’re actively looking for them.
This tutorial actually should hold up for anything that’s wood that you’re thinking of sanding, staining, painting, and hanging outside. So if you’re thinking about a surf board instead – or a sign with your family name or something – this process would work. Also, remember to always add string lights (these are the ones we use everywhere) because they make literally everything better.
To see the full reveal of our duplex backyard (with sources and info on the sheds, patio, furniture etc) click here – and if you haven’t seen the pink house backyard makeover, which we finished right after the duplex yard, you have to check that out right here.
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The post How To Make Decorative Oars (And How To Not Almost Ruin Them Like I Did) appeared first on Young House Love.
If you listened to this week’s podcast you heard John and I proclaim that we’ve moved from the verrrrry long daydreaming and changing our minds phase of our master bathroom planning process (which lasted over 6 years while we renovated most of the other rooms in our house as well as the entire beach house & duplex) into the finally-being-sure-of-what-we-want-to-get-out-of-it and beginning to actively space-plan it phase.
For example, after years of going back and forth about whether we wanted a separate tub and shower or a tub/shower combo, we’re now 100% sold on separate ones (we have that setup at the beach house and it’s our favorite bathroom ever). I even said on this week’s podcast that “I would call what we’re in right now the beginning of the renovation. We are going to gut this room this fall or this winter – like it is upon us.”
To that John Not As Impulsive Petersik said: “I don’t think we’re going to be gutting it in the next few days or weeks…” and I made some joke about how he should know me by now and, well, I’ll just leave this picture here. This is our bathroom as of yesterday afternoon. One day after that podcast episode came out.
By the way, learn from our stupidest demo mistake to date and don’t leave your toothbrushes on the counter. Can you tell we were excited?!
We can plan and daydream for years. YEARS! We lived here with a kitchen that had faux brick vinyl sheet flooring for like three years…
… but then when we had saved up and finally figured out exactly what we wanted from our kitchen and it was demo time I couldn’t grab the crowbar fast enough (you can see all the before & afters of that reno here). In short: when I’m ready, I’m like the “holding a sledgehammer” type of ready.
So what started as us saying “let’s research tile and plan some layouts on paper and Google Sketchup and all that” about a week ago, quickly escalated into all of that plus an impromptu meeting with our plumber yesterday afternoon (he was in the neighborhood and stopped by so we could chat with him about how hard it would be to move certain things around, like the tub, toilet, etc – we love learning that before getting married to a plan that might end up being extremely cost prohibitive).
Actively standing there in the space and saying “well, we could put this here – or maybe move this over there” really got us excited and basically as our plumber pulled out of the driveway we were already standing in there with crowbars and hammers saying “we just need to take down a few walls to better picture it and then we’ll be 100% sure about our new layout.” Thankfully nothing is load bearing so it’s a pretty easy project to tackle.
You can “see” things all day on Floorplanner or paper (more on that here) or by coloring with your finger on InstaStories and making bootleg mood boards (more on that here), but nothing beats standing in the actual space and taping things off on the floor and “walking” the new plan – just to see how it all feels. And seeing the light shine in from a window when you take down a wall gives you an even better feel for the space. We’ve even used cardboard boxes to “build” faux things in order to picture them – like a fridge at the beach house, which helped us to see how cramped it might feel in a certain spot (which was super helpful and we ended up moving it to a much better spot).
All this is to say, it’s a really important step to make sure you like your plan before you relocate something and then realize… wait it feels weird to have the tub here. Or if you order, say, a 72″ double vanity, assuming a certain layout will work and it arrives and then you demo and realize it looks insane there and you just wished you had ordered a 60″ double vanity instead… well it can be super frustrating. So do whatever you can to picture it beforehand! Especially if you have a lot of walls and doors blocking things off and making it hard to picture – which leads us to why we got right down to business in here. We want to order things and finalize the layout to get this master bathroom ball rolling, but we couldn’t confidently do that without a little bit of this…
Wait, but first we have to rewind and show you what this room has looked like for the last six years. That’s right, we have dark blue shower walls and choppy floor tile (the 40 year old hex is kinda cute, but it only goes halfway through the space so it feels really disjointed).We also have not one but two seashell shaped sinks – complete with a big light-blocking wall that was inexplicably erected between them. Yes, they were in different rooms thanks to a wall that divided them. Star crossed lovers separated by a literal divide. Here’s the video so you can see what I mean:
Note: If you’re viewing this in a reader you may need to click through to see the video. You can also watch it .
Definitely go back and watch that video if you’re somewhere that you can’t right now (even without sound you’ll get the gist) because it’s fast and it shows you more than about 1,000 photos ever could. Mostly because there are so many walls in here blocking stuff off so there’s not really even one good angle where we can capture much of anything. This is the doorway that leads from the bedroom into the middle sectioned off area that we jokingly call “the vestibule” which has a large single sink vanity (that’s seashell shaped sink #1) and leads to a shower/tub/toilet/other sink through a narrow doorway on the left and the closet through an even more narrow doorway on the right:
This is what you’d see if you were standing in the doorway that leads to the closet and facing back towards the tub/toilet/other sink part of the bathroom beyond “the vestibule.” There’s just one window in this long winding area and it’s in there to the right of the tub in this shot. The rest of the space was always super dark because of all those walls blocking it off… but not anymore! I’m SO EXCITED to open this room up and have a nice spacious bathroom, with light, glorious light!
Oh and there’s a linen closet in there too, but it’s a duplicate (we have a larger one right beyond the bedroom door) so we’re thrilled to nix the one in here in the name of more space and fewer walls and the aforementioned light, glorious light! Here’s a little labeled photo below if it helps (seriously just watch the video though, I feel like it’s so hard to absorb what’s going on in the pics since everything is hidden from every angle due to the whole “walls everywhere” predicament).
This is the view if you stand in the tub and face out towards the closet – so you can finally see that second seashell shaped sink that is blocked off from the other seashell shaped sink by YET ANOTHER WALL. I know back in the day it was coveted to have a little separate vanity off of the bedroom where you could sit and do makeup while there was another separate bathroom area where someone could use the toilet or shower or something, but we are just huge fans of one big open bathroom full of light. I know a lot of the world prefers a water closet, and we played around with that idea but it meant MORE WALLS AGAIN so we are very excited to liberate our toilet and have everything nice and open with one bathroom door to open and close for privacy.
In the end could it be better for resale to have a water closet instead of a separate tub? Sure! Do we worry about that? Nah. We just want to create a bathroom that we love and we’re thrilled to put the space that could be “spent” on a water closet towards a freestanding tub and separate shower – because that feels completely decadent and amazing to us. You know I’m part shrimp and demand to be submerged in hot water all the time.
This is what you see when you stand in the tub and face the closet. More walls and doorways (there were 4 doors in a 4′ radius when we moved in – but we immediately popped two of them off because they all hit into each other and blocked things off in an infuriating way. You can see which two doors we kept on in the video, but as of writing this post, everything is down to studs and IT FEELS SO MUCH BETTER THAN HAVING ALL THOSE WALLS & DOORS!
Here’s a labeled view so you can see what’s going on a little better. The doorway behind the arrow that points to the linen closet goes back out into the bedroom. We’d love to widen that and put a frosted french door there. Not sure how much space we’ll have for that but we’ll keep you posted.
Ok, so now that you have the lay of the land in there, here’s what it’s looking like now… and we also want to widen the access to the closet (that’s the narrowest doorway – just 22″ wide!).
And here’s a before from the other direction…
And this is what it looks like now:
Even from the bedroom it’s amazing to be able to see that window now that the wall is down!
As a reminder, this was that view before:
Also, hasta la vista to this seashell shaped sink! Can’t wait to wrestle its beloved mate outta the other part of the bathroom (we left that vanity in tact for now so the entire bathroom is fully functional while we wait for things like a new vanity, toilet, tub, and sink to arrive).
Once we get that second seashell shaped sink out of the master it’ll bring our house’s total down to two. Yes, if you can believe it, we still have two in the hall bathroom and actually bought this house with five of them (the downstairs bathroom had one too). Maybe capiz chandeliers are the new seashell shaped sink and I’m just changing with the times. Ha!
Wanna see a few other room makeovers we’ve tackled over the years? Here are some favorites: