How To Install Cabinet Hardware (With A Video!)

The duplex kitchens are looking more and more like real kitchens, and they took an especially big leap forward this past weekend after we got all of the cabinet hardware installed. But drilling holes into new cabinets can be scary and there’s not a whole lot of room for error or do-overs. So unless you’re a fan of buying a whole new door or drawer front, it’s important that you get everything centered and level on the first try. No pressure, right?

Thankfully, after installing three kitchens-worth of pulls and knobs in the last year and a half, we’ve perfected our system. So here’s how you can keep things straight, centered, consistent throughout the entire kitchen, and bring down the fear-factor when drilling into your brand new (or freshly refinished/repainted) cabinets.

Finished Ikea Cabinets With Brushed Nickel Hardware Installed

We even included a short video that’ll take you through each step (and show you a sneak peek at the wood kitchen side of the duplex), so let’s get started.

Installation Tools & Supplies

Supplies Needed to Install Your Own Kitchen Cabinet Hardware

Here are the tools and supplies you’ll want to have on hand to help your installation go smoothly:

  • This two-pack of hardware templates
  • Tape measure
  • Screwdriver (with Philips head or whatever head matches the screws that came with your cabinet hardware)
  • Power drill
  • 3/16″ drill bit (one’s included with our fav hardware templates)
  • 5/64″ drill bit (or smaller – ours is from this drill bit set)
  • Pen or pencil
  • Painter’s tape
  • Clamp

Video: Installing Your Cabinet Pulls

We made a start-to-finish video while installing one set of drawers so you can see the process in real time. We’ve also shown each step in photos below if you’d prefer to see the steps that way, but the video will give you a really complete view of what’s involved (and show you a sneak peek of the wood kitchen side of the duplex). Plus you can play Where’s Waldo and try to spot Sherry’s slippers somewhere in this video.

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

Step 1: Mark Your Hardware Templates

The hardware templates are the real heroes of this project, so if you’re hesitating to spend the $10 on them – THEY ARE COMPLETELY WORTH IT. They’ll save you so much time and stress. They have holes for all of the standard handle spreads (ours were 4″) and lots of options for how far down from the cabinet top you may want them placed (we did a 2″ drop). If you’re doing knobs, you’ll just use the holes down the center at whatever drop you choose, which is also nice and handy to keep things consistent.

Once we’ve determined which holes will give us our desired handle placement, we use tape and a pen to mark them right on the template with a circle and a big arrow. There are a lot of holes in close proximity on these templates, and you don’t want to accidentally drill through the wrong one at any point, so whatever you have to do to idiot-proof the process is worth the few seconds it takes. This is what ours looks like after we’ve marked our chosen holes at the right spread (again, your pulls determine this – ours were 4″ pulls) and drop (remember we chose a 2″ drop for all of ours throughout the kitchen).

Cabinet Hardware Template Lined Up With Holes On Pull

Step 2: Tape Off Your Cabinet Fronts

Before drilling, place painter’s tape roughly where you’re going to hang your hardware. This not only gives you a surface you can mark up without actually marking on your cabinets, it will also help prevent your cabinet finish from cracking or splitting as your drill into it. For efficiency, we like to tape off all of the drawers in one cabinet at the same time and work our way around the kitchen that way – just taking it one area at a time.

Protective Blue Tape Attached To Kitchen Drawer Fronts

Step 3: Mark A Center Line On Each Front

This step is important, especially on stacks of drawers like this because you’ll really notice if one handle is even slightly off-center or not level with the others. So we like to take our time and really triple check ourselves.

First, measure the full width of your door. Even though ours is a 24″ base cabinet, the drawer fronts themselves are slightly smaller (23 7/8″).

Measured Length Of Cabinet Drawer Front Using Tape Measure

Then do whatever math you need to do to figure out half of your drawer front measurement (ours is 11 15/16″ – or just one tiny tick mark inside the 12″ line). Once you’re certain of your center measurement, mark it on your blue tape – then double-check yourself by measuring again from the OTHER side of the drawer to make sure it’s the same on both sides.

Center Line Marked On Drawer Fronts Using Tape Measure

I know that last step may seem like overkill, but we caught our own mistakes a couple of times during this installation (once you’re on your 20th drawer, 12 15/16″ starts to look a lot like 11 15/16″). So double-checking from the other side saved us more than once from some badly placed holes.

Once you’ve marked the center on each drawer (you may even want to do a quick visual confirmation that they seem to line up with one another) draw your marks a little bigger so they’ll be easier to see in the next step, and step back to make sure they all look lined up.

Center Lines Marked On Protective Tape On Kitchen Drawer Fronts

Step 4: Line Up Your Hardware Template

On your first drawer, rest the hardware template’s lip on the top of your drawer and then center it over the lines you just marked. This was a little easier with our old template (which was clear) but with enough squinting through those center holes on the template, we could see our premarked line on the blue tape behind it.

Aligning Hardware Template On Center Of Kitchen Drawer Front

Once you’re sure you’ve got the template centered on your marked line AND evenly resting on the top of the drawer, we like to clamp ours in place so it doesn’t move during the next step.

Clamping Hardware Template To The Front Of Drawer Front

Step 5: Drill Pilot Holes Through Your Hardware Template

Some people prefer to just mark their handle holes through their template with a pen (remember these are the holes in the template that you taped off with the arrow pointing at them), but we find that we’re able to get a much more precise hole if we drill directly through the hole in the template. You’ll need a pretty small drill bit to do this (ours was 5/64″) but you’d want to drill a small pilot hole to start each hole anyway (before moving onto the larger bit) so it’s nice to just do it through the template.

Drillign Pilot Hole Through Hardware Template Clamped To Drawer Front

Assuming your cabinet hardware is like ours that screws on through the back of the drawer, you’ll want to make sure your pilot hole goes all the way through the drawer and pokes out the back. I show in the video how we tend to drill slowly as we go through the back to minimize any potential cracking on the backside of the drawer. You can also put more painter’s tape on the back of the drawer where your drill bit will poke through if you’re especially concerned about splintering on the back, but in most cases it will be covered by the screw head anyway.

Overhead View Of Pilot Hole Being Made Through Cabinet Drawer

Once the first drawer is done, we like to repeat Steps 4 and 5 (center your template, drill pilot holes) on the rest of the drawers in whatever cabinet we’re working on so that we don’t have to switch our our drill bit back and forth for each drawer. Bulking stuff this way makes you faster and gets you into a nice rhythm.

Small Pilot Holes Made In Kitchen Cabinet Drawer Front For Hardware

Step 6: Drill Your Final Holes

Once you’ve made all of your pilot holes, remove your hardware template (but not your tape!) and switch out your drill bit for a 3/16″ bit. The hardware template actually comes with one because it’s the standard size for most hardware screws. But it doesn’t hurt to make sure it creates a large enough hole for your screws. Then, carefully drill through your pilot holes with the larger bit – again being sure to go through the back of the door, but without too much force.

Drilling Larger Hole Through Drawer Front For Cabinet Hardware

Once all of the larger holes are drilled, you can finally remove your tape.

Peeling Protective Blue Tape Off Of Cabinet Drawer Front

Step 7: Attach Your Cabinet Hardware

Now you can screw your hardware onto each door or drawer front. Your screws will go through from the inside of the drawer, and I like to connect both ends before tightening each screw with my hands first.

Tightening Kitchen Cabinet Hardware Screw By Hand

Once all of my pulls are loosely attached, I go back with a regular screwdriver and tighten everything so it’s held firmly to the door. I suggest NOT using your power drill here because screwing too tightly could cause damage to the door or drawer.

Tightening Hardware Screw With Philips Head Screwdriver

Step 8: Clean Up & You’re Done!

The last thing you’ll want to do is break out your vacuum hose to suck up all of the drill shavings in the drawers, cabinets, and on the floor. But other than that, you’re all done. Well, or you move on and repeat these steps for the rest of your cabinets.

Finished Ikea Cabinets With Brushed Nickel Hardware Installed

And I should note that the process works pretty much the same if you’re installing knobs or pulls on a door like the cabinet fronts under the sink. You just use the OTHER template included in the set. It’s designed to rest along the corner of your cabinet door like the one you see below:

Using Template To Make Pilot Holes In Cabinet Door

So I hope that helps take some of the fear and guesswork out of installing your own cabinet hardware. We’ll never not wince a little when making holes in cabinet doors, but following these steps helped us knock out both duplex kitchens in less than two hours – without a single crooked or off-center handle!

And for everyone who wants to see the entire kitchen and hear a bunch of tips for installing Ikea cabinets, stay tuned for a post coming up where we talk more about the process as a whole. Since we’ve gotten lots of practice installing Ikea kitchens, we have some tricks we wanna pass along. In the meantime, here’s a previous post on installing Ikea cabinets that will give you some info.

Want more kitchen how-tos? Check out these posts below:

  • Your Own Cabinet Hardware Template
  • Installing Under Cabinet Lighting
  • How to Hang A Subway Tile Backsplash for $200

*This post contains affiliate links*

The post How To Install Cabinet Hardware (With A Video!) appeared first on Young House Love.

This content was originally published here.

Installing Your Own Under-Cabinet Lighting

We’ve done so few upper cabinets in our recent kitchens that we actually haven’t installed under cabinet lighting in ANY of them. But we did install it under the cabinets in and – surprise! – I just came across a bunch of pictures of the installation process that I took waaaaaay back in 2014 but never shared. It’s a remarkably straightforward process, so it could be an easy upgrade if you needed more task lighting in your kitchen, laundry room, or any other space with upper cabinets.

The cabinets in here are from Ikea, so we also used one of their stock under-cabinet lighting options called GRUNDTAL Spotlights. These don’t appear to be sold anymore, but the current seems to be a similar (even improved!) version. The OMLOPP ones are now LED and are lower profile, plus some cord management covers are included, which is nice. Based on the downloadable instruction sheet, the new ones install almost exactly the same way, so the same basic steps I’m about to outline for you here still apply.

Most people do one spotlight per cabinet but we wanted to give the appearance of one continuous bar of light, rather than distinct spotlights under each cabinet, so we decided to do more. The GRUNDTALs were sold as 3 packs, so we did 6, but 4 or 5 probably would’ve done the job just fine.

The first step, once everything is unpackaged, is to pop the actual lightbulb portion of each spotlight out of its casing, leaving the wiring in place.

This exposes the holes that you’re supposed to screw through to secure the light to the underside of your cabinet. Just be sure to measure and mark your placement before you start doing this. We centered each spotlight front-to-back on the cabinet and spaced them equally apart side-to-side (around 10″ away from the next one). We secured ours using 1/2″ screws so that they wouldn’t poke through the inside of the cabinet. Then the light just snaps back into place.

Once all of your spotlights are secured, you need to connect everything to . This is sold separately from the new OMLOPP spotlights, as is . I know that sounds kinda crazy, but they sell things a la carte like that because the number of transformers and power cords you need depends on how many spotlights you’re installing (you can add up to 9 spotlights per box, and up to 10 boxes per power cord). The photo below is how I wired my spotlights to the transformer box, but the new stuff is even easier – it’s basically like plugging in a phone charger.

At this point your installation may look something like this. The cord situation is not very pretty, but before dealing with that it’s always a good idea to check that all of your connections work.

The transformer just plugs into any regular outlet and it has a toggle switch on the cord, so you can get everything powered up without the help of an electrician. So it was super easy to get ours working within minutes.

The newer spotlights come with some cord covers to help hide the wires against the bottom of the cabinet, but you still might have to get creative with all the extra wire between the cabinet and the transformer. I picked up a variety of cord management options from the store and the most helpful items ended up being (basically a zip tie with a screw hole) and some wire staples (you may need to swap in different nails or screws if the provided ones are long enough to poke through your cabinet bottom).

Yours probably won’t look quite this messy with the newer system, but you can see what I did with ours. I wrapped up most of the excess wire in a zip tie (screwed in place) and then kept everything else tight to bottom with the wire staples.

You see zero of this chaos thanks to a cover piece that you add later. You’d pretty much have to lean over the washer and dryer and put your head under the cabinet to get a good look at it once it’s boxed in with that cover piece, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

Back to the whole “wire management” thing. You also have to find a place to hide your transformer box. Ours got mounted behind a gap on the side of one cabinet that’s hidden with a filler piece in front of it (the transformer box comes with holes for mounting it with screws). That placement also allowed the power cord to hug the corner as it snakes down to the outlet.

A couple of years after our initial installation we had an electrician hardwire the power cord to a switch on the wall, and that makes it even easier to flip on and off. But when there was a wire tucked along that left corner, it wasn’t really that bad. You can hardly see it in this photo:

One more word about the transformer box: I actually think a more popular location for that is ON TOP of your cabinets, but you may need to install an outlet up there. Ikea sells so you can turn everything on and off without needing to have access to the power cord switch. Pretty smart.

The last thing we did was to install that cover strip I mentioned across the bottom of the cabinetry to hide the lights and their wiring. It’s just a spare filler piece that Ikea sells, mounted in place using small L-brackets and caulked at the seams.

We don’t really mind the cover piece on the bottom, but I do feel like it’s one shortcoming of the Ikea system. Their cabinets are totally flat on the bottom, as opposed to lots of other cabinets that have a slightly recessed area that’s great for tucking lighting into. That’s probably why they’ve improved this new system by giving it a slimmer profile and including cord covers.

I don’t have my receipts saved from this project, but the same set up with the new system would be about $75 ($90 if you include the remote). And you could cut the cost down to about $45 if you just did three lights and used .

Here’s an updated photo taken this month of the switch we had installed that turns ours on easily. We probably only use these lights around 50% of the time, just because the ceiling light is pretty adequate for such a small room, but we still think they’re a great “nice to have” upgrade. Especially if you have an area that could use a little extra light.

So if you’ve been dying to add them somewhere or have just wondered how hard they are to install, hopefully this project illuminates (har-har) the fact that it’s not a very daunting or expensive task to take on. Any beginner can do this one for sure.

P.S. You can check out a summary of our entire laundry room makeover (including a full budget breakdown ). And if you’re looking for a source list (paint colors, where you can find the green tins, etc) that’s right . 

*This post contains affiliate links*

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This content was originally published here.

The Only Grout We Ever Use (And How To Pick The Right Grout Color)

If you’ve got a tiling project in your future (even the distant future), remember, bookmark, voice memo, tattoo, or do whatever you need to do to remember Mapei Flexcolor grout.

I know this sounds like I’m overreacting, but take it from people who have grouted 7 bathroom floors, 3 showers, 3 mudrooms, and 2 backsplashes in the last two years: this grout has been life-changing. And no, this is not sponsored by either Mapei or Floor & Decor, which is where we typically buy ours (sorry, necessary disclaimer because this post is going to sound pretty gushy).

John grouting a colorful herringbone mudroom floor with mapei grout
floor tiles: , and 

I meant to proclaim our love for this grout after finishing the beach house tiling two summers ago but we got sucked into the duplex and, well, this post never got written. But the duplex tiling just gave us more time for our romance to blossom, so I wanted to tell you why this has become THE ONLY GROUT we ever buy & use. We are going on 2+ years of not buying a single other type of grout (we don’t even look their way – our heart is TAKEN). Even our contractor swears by this stuff. That’s actually how we found it.

So I’m going to just dive into all the whys of that very big statement about grout – and I’m also going to toss in some tips for picking the right grout color (including our go-to color that works nearly every time – we’ve used it in so many rooms) and my new trick for minimizing grout haze while I’m at it.

Tub of Mapei Flexcolor Cq Grout

1. This Grout Is Pre-Mixed

If you’ve ever mixed your own grout, I don’t need to say much more about why pre-mixed is a better experience.

For starters, it eliminates a lot of time and effort spent measuring out your powder and liquid additive, stirring it together, and adjusting until you get the right consistency. Instead, you can just pop open a tub and get going.

View inside of Mapei Flexcolor grout at premixed grout

But a lesser appreciated benefit of premixed grout is that it also ELIMINATES COLOR INCONSISTENCY. We ran into this problem when grouting our covered back porch. We used a dark grout for the first time and the way that we mixed/applied it caused it to dry lighter in some spots than we had hoped (some areas that we mixed ourselves must have been a little more watered down, so it dried a slightly different color in those spots). It wasn’t a huge deal, but we were definitely disappointed that after all that time and labor it didn’t look consistent. So using premixed grout means you don’t have to worry about your color changing from one mixed batch to the next.

Spreading grout into white hex tile with grout float

And the last thing I’ll say about pre-mixed grout is that it also stores well for touch-ups later (like if you drop something heavy and pop some grout out of a crack and you need to smear some more onto that spot, or if you see that you missed a spot). The tubs seal up nicely (firmly press the lid down until it snaps all around the perimeter and that’s it), so I’ve really appreciated reopening grout that’s over a year old to use it for another project and finding it fresh and ready to go.

2. This Grout Doesn’t Need Sealing & Is Stain Resistant

Again, need I say more? Probably not, but that’s never stopped me before.

Hex tile bathroom floor with aqua blue flower shapes
tile: (we replaced the black tiles w/

Tiling already has enough steps involved so I’m always happy to eliminate one, especially the annoying ones at the end like sealing your grout to prevent stains. This Mapei Flexcolor is somehow formulated to prevent stains (how, I don’t know – magic? crystals? the dark arts?) so all you have to do is let it cure for 3 days and it’s good to go (you can walk on it after 24 hours).

I should disclaim that it’s water-based stains that this grout is resistant to and like any “stain resistant” surface, you still probably shouldn’t slather marinara on it and let it sit for days. But we’re over 18-months in on the beach floors and they’re still looking as good as new. As in, not a single crack or stain. Anywhere. In any of the three bathrooms, the mudroom, the backsplash. Everything looks as good as the day we grouted it. In fact, I took the photo above this weekend, over a year & a half after we grouted just to demonstrate that this stuff goes the distance. Looks like new, eh?

3. It’s Crack Resistant & Shrinkage Controlled

Old grouts that we used to use recommended a special liquid additive in place of water that made it more flexible to help it resist cracking or shrinking. So it was extra money and an extra step. Meanwhile, that feature is built right into this formula, and we have never had it crack or shrink in all of our years of using it – which isn’t something we can say about the other grout we’ve used (even with that special liquid additive).

 / door color: 

4. This Grout Works For (Almost) All Situations

Tiling indoors? This grout works. Tiling outdoors? Still works. Got a small 1/16″ grout line? Cool. Got a big 1/2″ grout line? That’s fine too. This essentially means we don’t have to debate over sanded or unsanded grout or worry that one product is better for one application, but we better use some other one for something else.

marble hex tiles getting grouted with mapei grout

Now, if you read the fine print in the “Limitations” section of their brochure, it does nix some application scenarios – like not submerged in a pool or in saunas or steam rooms – but any basic bathroom, kitchen, patio, laundry room, or mudroom tiling scenario should be all good. And while they warn you that you should test it on sensitive materials like glass or marble tile first, it does say it’s compatible with those applications too.

In the end, if you’re unsure, always double-check or ask an expert at your store, but the range of use here is pretty impressive. Which probably explains why we haven’t purchased any other type of grout for the last few years. This stuff earns my final rose.

Picking The Right Grout Color

It still amazes me how much grout changes the finished look of any tiling project, so it’s important to give some thought to the color you choose. If you don’t believe me, Emily Henderson did a great post a couple of years ago showing off the impact of your grout color section.

That being said, we use Warm Gray in 85% of our tiling projects. To us, it’s the perfect neutral grout color that offers enough contrast to the lighter tiles that we choose (like white subway tile) while still looking great with darker tiles (it almost reads as white with a darker tile next to it, but isn’t as harsh and unforgiving of dust/dirt as bright white grout would be).

beach house kitchen with pink stove and white subway backsplash
/ cabinets & counters: Ikea / pink stove & rug: secondhand finds /

And since it’s so agreeable to so many tiles, you can use it throughout an entire room to help tie your various surfaces together (floors, walls, etc). For instance, in the downstairs bathroom at the beach house we used it on both the shower and the floor. It provides a different type of contrast in each spot – but using the same grout helps them work together.

white subway tile shower next to dark slate floor with same gray grout

And if you study that photo above, you can see what I mean about how crisp and white it looks when paired with darker tile, without being as unforgiving as bright white grout can be. That’s the same exact grout color (Warm Gray) everywhere in the picture above – although it looks grayer when it’s next to the white subway tile and lighter when it’s next to the dark floor tile.

But if Warm Gray isn’t what you had in mind for a particular project, there are a TON of other colors to choose from that Mapei makes. I’d almost argue that there are TOO MANY colors (paradox of choice, anyone?) so if you need or want something different, here’s some advice:

mapei grout color sample sticks at store

Don’t work off of paper samples. You might see posters or brochures around the store with the various grout colors, but they aren’t always super accurate. Instead, ask an employee to borrow the stick samples like the ones shown here. If you ask someone at Floor & Decor they should be able to dig up these little plastic sample sticks for you to debate your options (they don’t usually let you leave with them, so just bring your tile to the store and hold them up to it). Not only are they truer to color, but it’s a lot easier to place them right onto your tile and get a much better sense of what your final result will look like.

four mapei grout sample sticks atop white hex tile going from light to dark

Pay attention to undertones. In addition to choosing your grout based on how light or dark it is, note how warm (yellow-ish) or cool (blue-ish) a color looks – especially as it relates to your tile.

For instance, I said we used Warm Gray in most, but not all, of our spaces. It’s on the warmer side of gray (hence the name), but there’s a cooler gray called Frost that Mapei also sells. We used that in a couple of rooms, like the one below, because the grays on the tile were a bit cooler and we wanted the grout to align with that.

blue diamond floor tile getting grouted with frost color mapei flexcolor

Look around the store for input. If you’re uncertain or nervous about your grout selection, see what you can learn while you’re in the store. Most tile stores will identify the color that their tile displays are grouted with, so you can choose to just mimic the display grout that they used with the tile you’re purchasing, or you can go lighter/darker or cooler/warmer than what they show if you think you’d prefer that to what they picked.

I noticed our Floor & Decor store also has this newfangled grout selection tool. I played around with it a little bit using tiles in the store (you’ll want to bring your own tile if it’s not something you’re buying at the same time) and while I wouldn’t blindly go with whatever it tells you, it could at least help you hone in on a few finalists.

Mapei color selector tool scanning sample tile with grout selection suggestions

Parting Tip: Minimizing Grout Haze

Now, this Mapei grout doesn’t seem to leave more or less grout haze than any of the other grouts we’ve used (you know, that film on your tile that’s often leftover once your grout has dried). And grout haze is one of my least favorite things in the world because it’s like the LAST THING I want to spend time on after having survived tiling and then grouting.

So a thing I experimented with in the duplex that worked really well was doing a preemptive tile wipe while the grout was still wet. I don’t have any pictures of this, so let me explain.

It only really works with larger tiles, but after I applied the grout with my float and did a couple wipe downs with my damp sponge, I let it sit for another 5-10 minutes and then I used a rag or paper towel to dry just the surface of the tile, being sure not to rub the grout lines themselves. It sounds more tedious than it was, because it really was only one quick swipe (almost like washing a window pane) and it basically wiped up all of the liquid that would eventually become grout haze.

Again, it’s really most practical on larger tiles where you can safely wipe the tile without touching the wet grout, but it completely saved me from having to buff the floors or use a grout haze remover after the fact. And you know how much I love to eliminate extraneous steps!

Long story short: next time you tile, grab some Mapei Flexcolor grout (maybe in Warm Gray) and think of me fondly when it makes things easier.

PS: If you’re new to tiling and want to see the process from start to finish in one post, check outhow we tiled this kitchen backsplash for $200. And here’s a post about all of our duplex tile choices & one about our beach house tile picks.

The post The Only Grout We Ever Use (And How To Pick The Right Grout Color) appeared first on Young House Love.

This content was originally published here.

Wanna See Some Finished Bedrooms & Bathrooms at The Duplex?

We’re working overtime (so many trips to the beach these days!) to get all of the rooms in the duplex finished and photographed so we can get our rental listing up on Airbnb for weeklong summer bookings. Don’t worry, we’ll make a big announcement when that happens – you won’t miss it! So even though we still have a bunch of rooms that aren’t quite done yet (like 2 kitchens, 2 living rooms, 2 laundry rooms, and 2 more bedrooms and bathrooms), it feels extremely momentous to be 100% finished with the four rooms in this post. *Please imagine every single celebratory emoji here*

So without further ado, I’ll show you around the two bedrooms and two bathrooms at the duplex that are done, done, done! *Imagine that gif of Shaq doing the happy shoulder dance here*

| | | | | | | wall: SW Spare White | trim: SW Extra White

This is the completed master bedroom on the right side of the duplex. Each side of the house has some slightly different challenges and measurements, and this bed wall was slightly less wide than the one on the other side, which meant that hanging accordion sconces made the most of the space, and they can be flipped on or off from bed. Meticulously planning our outlets so they were placed right by each nightstand (and not behind the bed for example) means there’s a free outlet on each side for people to easily charge their phones right by the bed.

We aimed for as much function as we could, and as for the actual character of the room, we loved exposing that original brick chimney that was hiding behind the wall. And adding a window behind the bed made the room feel so much brighter and more welcoming. We had to appeal to the historic review board and get their permission to add it, so it wasn’t without effort, but it was well worth it! This is a picture we took during the framing stage of that window going in. We really have come a long way, huh?

And we actually love a bed in front of a window (remember we have one in the front bedroom at the beach house!). Our tip is just to choose a bed that allows light to pass through it, like this metal one, so it feels like it layers into the room instead of sitting heavily in front of the window and blocking things off, if that makes sense.

| | | | | | curtains | curtain rod | wall: SW Spare White | trim: SW Extra White

You probably also remember that we added a small addition in the form of a full bathroom off of this room to make it a true master bedroom (another thing we needed permission from the historic review board to do – more on that process here – and you can see how that addition totally changed the back view of the beach house here). We think it’s one of the best things we did to add value and function to this house!

| | | sound machine | vanity | faucet | pulls | tile | mirror | bath light | door: SW Oyster Bay

We’ll have to snap a few more photos when we can to capture it all (it’s a small room, so a video tour might be the best way to show you everything), but the bathroom feels airy and bright thanks to the tonal tile and the greeny-gray doors (Oyster Bay by Sherwin Williams – this entire side of the duplex has doors that color). They pair so nicely with the crisp bright walls (Spare White by Sherwin Williams, which is the wall color we used throughout the entire duplex).

 |  |  | grout:  | door: SW Oyster Bay

Bathrooms are some of the hardest rooms for us to tackle because we tiled all the floors ourselves, which takes significantly more time/sweat than just assembling some furniture like you do in a bedroom or a living room. But let me tell you, the final accessorizing is so easy and fun. It’s like they slowly come together for months with heavy plumbing and tile stuff and then bam, finished in a day when you’re at the “decorating” stage since they’re so small. YESSSS! We’ll celebrate that little victory!

We added a mirror, a few towel hooks, a long white shower curtain, our favorite toilet paper holder that we use everywhere, some leather pulls on the vanity, and a few frames for the wall and called it good. Oh and speaking of the mirror, we knew we’d have to find a somewhat unusual solution since there’s a window right over the sink, but we love how this cool hinged chrome one looks! It’s functional, and it still lets tons of light flood in from behind it. Oh and we frosted the glass so you don’t have to worry that someone is peeking in on you or deal with some weird blind-behind-the-mirror scenario.

| | | sound machine | vanity | faucet | pulls | tile | mirror | bath light | door: SW Oyster Bay

I guess I should have said that all the doors on this side are Oyster Bay except for these, which were quirky old original doors that we saved! Many of the other doors, trim, windows, and light fixtures in this house had been replaced over the years, so we LOVE that we could save these doors and use them to create two built-in closets that flank the large window. The original charm that they add = priceless!

| | | | baskets | faux fig | bench | dresser| mirror

We added the cubbies on top to balance things out since the original doors are shorter than standard ones. And inside each closet there’s tons of nice storage space to hang clothes, put suitcases, etc – with bonus storage space up top in the cubbies. Sidenote: I love a wood hanger and a luggage rack, so we tucked them into each master closet for people to enjoy.

dresser| mirror | baskets | | luggage rack

We also added a dresser across from the bed with a nice big mirror (this one that I LOVE!) for even more space to store clothes. The rug is also really cute in here – I love the beachy feeling and the soft color. It’s interesting but not too demanding, which helps the room feel serene (and the price was right!).

When I walk into that room it just feels so surreal to see it all finished! It has been a long road, and we hardly can picture what it used to look like back when we bought it. There was painted plastic paneling to hide the mold in the walls and a drop ceiling to cover rot from a roof leak that had been and issue for years. There was also threadbare wall-to-wall carpeting and baseboard heating that didn’t work (we redid the entire house’s heating and cooling systems, along with new electrical and plumbing to get everything up to code & safe). This is a before shot of the room from one of our first walk throughs (you can see the entire before tour of this house here).

The window you see above is essentially where we placed the door that leads to the new bathroom addition, and then we added a new window further over towards the chimney on that wall, which you see behind the bed below.

f | | | | | | curtains | curtain rod | wall: SW Spare White | trim: SW Extra White?

Since before & afters are so much fun, let’s switch gears to the front bedroom on the other side of the duplex. This is what that room looked like before. The theme of this house was definitely add-coverings-to-hide-damage-in-the-walls-and-ceilings, so once again there were drop ceilings and plastic faux-paneling on the walls. And that little front closet (with the blue door) was devoid of any natural light. We quickly discovered that they had covered a window with drywall (!!!!!) so we dug it out of the wall and exposed it again – and it was one of the ones with diamond grills!

Ripping out that crazy window-blocking drywall and exposing the beautiful diamond-grilled window allows light to flood into the room from that closet as well – and lighter walls also help things feel airy and fresh. Again, this front bedroom is on the opposite side of the duplex as the master bedroom we just showed you, which is why it has pink doors like all the other doors on the left side (White Truffle by Sherwin Williams). And the old floors look so much better since refinishing them (more on that here).

| | | | | | door: SW White Truffle | wall: SW Spare White | trim: SW Extra White

I always feel like before & afters skip a HUGE part if you’re doing a deep renovation because a ton happens between them. You go backwards, sometimes A LOT, before you can go forwards again. This house had so much rot that we had to strip things waaaaay back to get rid of it all and rebuild it. So just for kicks, the window you see above is almost exactly where I’m standing in this picture below. Did I mentioned we had to strip things waaaaaay back?

So that might explain why we’re feeling so good to be in the home stretch! If you walk through the bedroom door and turn to your right, you see this cozy bed that we found at Ikea and two soft greeny-gray nightstands with pretty gold hardware that ties into the wall mounted accordion lights. The hilarious thing is that we only have two sets of these lights in the entire duplex (one set per side, so someone renting one unit won’t even see the other set) but the two bedrooms that happen to be done both have them in there… which is why they’re all over this post. I promise all four of the other bedrooms have different lamps! Ha!

| | | | | | | wall: SW Spare White | trim: SW Extra White

How cute are these nightstands though?! And the price is SO GOOD. I love that they’re super functional with three drawers each (yay storage!) and that they bring in some color. It’s actually a subtle nod to the other side of the duplex since they’re almost exactly the same color as the greeny-gray doors on the other side! #MintToBe

| | | | sound machine | | wall: SW Spare White | trim: SW Extra White

There’s also a nice little closet in this bedroom, complete with a dresser for folded clothing. Remember the room with the diamond-grilled window? That’s all redone and it’s such a sweet space. But we haven’t fully finished and snapped photos in there yet. Soon I hope.

Now let’s skip over to the hall bathroom on the right side of the duplex (back to the side with those greeny-gray doors). The tile in here is one of my favorites (even though it was kind of a pain to lay), and we finished the room off with some natural touches, like some leather vanity pulls and a floating wood shelf. We rounded things out with a few other classic items, like an extra long white shower curtain, a round gold mirror, a simple white vanity, and some beachy art.

| | | | | | | curtain | | | |

Each side of the duplex originally just had one full bathroom, but the upstairs of each side now has two full baths – along with an additional powder room downstairs, which is so nice. This before shot of the one and only bathroom on the left side is yet another demonstration of the cover-rotting-things approach (don’t try this at home, folks). See how the vinyl floor is bubbled and loose? It’s because there were all sorts of water issues going on under there and they were trying to mask them with sheet vinyl.

And now for the fourth room we’re completely finished with… which is pretty dang similar to the third, ha! It’s the hall bathroom on the left side of the duplex, which has different tile floors but the same vanity and accents.

floor tile | | | | | | light | curtain | | |

It’s kind of fun to just change one major thing and stare at both of these and try to pick a favorite. Is the bolder blue floor more your speed, or the scrolly pink & green hex? John’s favorite is the blue one and I love the pink one. Maybe when the whole duplex is done we should do a room by room duel and have you guys vote your faves in various polls (I know John’s data-lovin’ mind would enjoy all of those stats).

| | | | | | | curtain | | | |

GOh and while we’re on the subject of sides, so many people ask me if I have a favorite side – even close friends lean in and say “whisper it in my ear, I won’t tell anyone” – and I honestly can’t choose! There are so many elements on each side that I love, so I just ping-pong back and forth. For example, I love the kitchen with the pink tile and the blue cabinets on the left side a smidge more than the wood one with the blue backsplash if you super twist my arm (it’s very very close though, you can see them both here), but my favorite twin bedroom by a sliver is the one with the oranges, which is on the right side. DON’T MAKE ME CHOOSE!

P.S. You can see the entire process of bringing the duplex back to life hereFrom buying it and planning the layout to , it’s thorough.

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The post Wanna See Some Finished Bedrooms & Bathrooms at The Duplex? appeared first on Young House Love.

This content was originally published here.

The Tools (And Tricks) You Need To Install An Ikea Kitchen Yourself

Many of you have asked for tips and tricks to make installing an Ikea kitchen go more smoothly and look (and function) the best it possibly can. And the good news is that after installing three of them in a little over a year and a half (!!!), we have learned A TON about how to make things a little easier and help you end up with a better result. So settle in, I’ve got twenty tools & tips that can make all the difference.

First off, we like Ikea cabinets and have personally installed them in five rooms: our laundry room & bonus room at home, our beach house kitchen, and now these two duplex kitchens. We have lived with the ones in our home for nearly five years and they’re great. Not a single issue. They are smartly made, very durable, and they have a great 25-year warranty and a great price tag (often thousands cheaper than other options). They also come with many thoughtful features like soft close drawers that come standard and tons of customization options. So yeah, some Ikea furniture is known for feeling a little cheap and wobbly, but that has not been our experience with their cabinets AT ALL.

Ok, but back to the point of this post – tips and tools to make your Ikea cabinet install easier. Some of the tools I’m listing here are absolutely necessary and some are optional (they’ll just make the process easier, faster, and less frustrating). And as you read through this list, I think you’ll also get a pretty good sense of the steps (and curveballs) involved too, which I hope will help as well.

I’ll include a short bulleted list of everything at the end of the post too, that way you can use it as a tool checklist. But let’s just get right into it.

1. Your Itemized Receipt/Order

Before you build anything, you’ll want to take time to inventory and organize all of your boxes. We had over 200 boxes (!!!) delivered for our two duplex kitchens, so it helped to sort everything into piles beforehand.

We personally like to sort boxes by item (Sektion boxes over here, Maximera drawers over there, all of our cabinet fronts somewhere else, etc.) but you may find it helpful to sort yours by cabinet instead (ex: the box, drawer, hinges, and front for one cabinet all together in one pile – this is how Ikea breaks them up your order form). Either way you do it, this sorting process will help you identify any missing pieces and also make it faster once you start building.

2. Power driver (with Philips head)

This combo gets a lot of use in this install (especially the power driver/drill) – but they’re needed first to construct your cabinet boxes (Sektion pieces). We love constructing the boxes first because you quickly get to see the shape of your kitchen come to life.

Ikea Kitchen Cabinet Sektion Boxes Constructed

And even though Ikea is known for their allen wrenches, you don’t use them AT ALL during a typical kitchen installation! So don’t worry about having lots of specialty drill bits. You just need a normal Phillips head to screw these puppies together.

3. Hammer

You’ll also need a hammer handy to nail the MDF backings onto the cabinet backs. It may also be useful if you need to tap any anchors into your drywall when it comes time to hang your cabinets.

4. Magnetic Drill Bit Holder

Having one of these on your drill can save you a lot of frustration while building your cabinets and drawers. You can buy one separately for about $2 or it often comes included in drill/driver sets like ours. It’ll magnetize your drill bits, meaning many of the screws that Ikea provides will stick to your drill handsfree (thanks to the magic of magnets). We found this VERY helpful when trying to screw into small spots that were too tight for our fingertips (we couldn’t reach in and hold the screw steady, so having a magnetized drill bit that held it for us was key).

5. Measuring Tape

The next several tools are needed for attaching your cabinets to the wall. Whether you’re doing upper or lower cabinets, Ikea’s system uses a metal track (called the suspension rail) that you attach to your wall and then the cabinet boxes hang from these. The rail system is extremely handy because if you make sure the rail is level, your cabinets all hang from that and are guaranteed to be level! I know, it’s GREAT. The only time I don’t use their rail is when I don’t have a wall behind my cabinets, like if you’re doing an island. In that case I’ve built my own bases from 2×4″s, but more on that later.

For now, just know the measuring tape will be useful in determining exactly where in your kitchen you’re placing your cabinets – both side-to-side on each wall, and how high the rails need to be hung (Ikea provides guides for this in their instructions). You will probably want to have your kitchen plan/schematic from Ikea handy too.

6. Dremel Or Hacksaw

Once you know where each run of cabinets is going, you’ll need to cut your metal suspension rails to size. The rails are sold in 7 foot lengths, but if you only have 4 feet of cabinetry in one area – you only want 4 feet of rail.

You can cut these by hand with a hacksaw, but we find it much faster to use our Dremel Multi-Max with a metal cutting blade.

I typically mark my cut on a piece of painters tape and cut across the open top of one of our cabinet boxes (with a piece of cardboard to protect the cabinet underneath).

7. Stud Finder

You want to screw the rail into at least a few studs in your wall for maximum hold. So it’s smart to use a stud finder to locate and mark the studs that fall within the area you’re hanging the rail – that way you can be sure to go into them and get a nice firm hold. Since studs are typically 1.5″ thick, I like to mark the full width that my stud finder indicates, since you may not know exactly where the holes on the Sektion rail will line up.

8. Medium-Size Level

Once I know where my studs are, I hold my cut-to-size metal rail and, with a medium sized level (like this 24″ level) held against it, I mark the top line of my rail AND where the holes line up with my studs. I suggest amedium sized level for this just because they’re easier to wrangle during this step.

I also mark a few additional holes where I’ll use screws paired with anchors. I believe Ikea suggests at least having a screw every 12″ inches – but for short sections like this, I like to make sure I hit at least 2 studs and then have a screw at either end of the rail that goes into an anchor.

9. Heavy Duty Screws & Anchors

After some trial and error, we found that we like using these GRK Fastener Cabinet Screws to secure our rails into studs. They’re easy to drive, they hold really tight, and they include the star-head bit you need for them. We have tried other, cheaper “cabinet screws” and the heads kept breaking off. It was MADDENING.

We also like to have some anchors on hand too, like these E-Z Ancor packs that come with screws, for those additional support screws that we add.

10. Long Level

One of the biggest challenges we’ve found in this process is getting things level. Just because you’ve hung your rail level on the wall doesn’t prevent things like slopes in your floor or bows in your wall from chucking some additional curveballs in your direction. So your best defenses are a lot of patience and a nice long level, like this 4ft level we bought specifically for this task (after learning that it’s a lot harder to use a smaller level to solve these issues).

Your medium sized level will help with the process as well (especially in checking that each individual cabinet is level front-to-back) but you’ll want something bigger to check longer spans of cabinets. You could purchase an even longer level if you wanted, but they can start to get pricey, so we found a 4 foot long level to be sufficient, especially for checking across the gaps that you’ll leave for appliances like a 30″ stove or a standard 24″ dishwasher.

11. Shims

A lot of level issues can be corrected by twisting the adjustable plastic feet that come with your base cabinets, or by adjusting the placement of your metal rail. But if you’re dealing with bows in your wall (which you can find by placing your long level against it) you’ll want to have some wood shims on hand to place behind the metal rail. In these old houses, we had to use quite a few in a couple of places!

12. Jigsaw

When it comes time to install your sink base cabinet, you’ll need to make some holes for your plumbing. For smaller pipes like your water supply lines, you can just drill holes using a large drill bit (we used the 3/4″ bit in this set). But for things like your large drain pipe, you’ll either need to buy a larger hole bit or break out a jigsaw. Even though we don’t get the cleanest cut with it, the jigsaw gives us a little more wiggle room when placing the cabinet (since the drain pipe isn’t flexible like the supply lines) and we can also use it for other cuts like for exposing the outlets along the wall (the one below powers the garbage disposal under the sink).

Just be sure to make careful measurements before you cut. We usually put a layer of painters tape around the area we’re cutting. It allows us to mark our cut without marking the cabinet, plus the tape helps keep the white finish from cracking off. Either way, this stuff will all be hidden under the sink so it doesn’t have to look perfect.

13. Clamps

As you start to get your cabinets in place and leveled, you’ll want to secure any adjacent cabinets together. Ikea provides screws for doing this, but you’ll want to use some clamps (we like these 6″ bar clamps) to hold the cabinets tightly together before you begin screwing.

We didn’t get a picture of that process, but the clamps come in handy A LOT as an extra set of hands – like when we were installing this bracket for the exhaust hoods that we hung over the stoves.

14. Circular Saw and/or Table Saw

In addition to screwing cabinets together, you may find yourself attaching cover panels or filler pieces at some point. Cover panels go on exposed ends of cabinets (so you can’t see the metal rail they hang on) or, in our case, we used some large cover panels to create a box around the fridges at the duplex. So you’ll need some sort of larger saw to make long, straight cuts. Our cover panels were a bit too wide, so I used a circular saw to shave a few inches off one side.

I didn’t use a table saw for that panel because running an 8 foot tall panel that’s this wide across my table saw would’ve been tough. But for smaller pieces (like filler pieces that are only about 3 feet long) a table saw is often easier, especially if you’re only shaving off a little bit. But if that’s too pricey and you’ve got a steady hand, you can get by with the circular saw.

15. 2 x 4″ Boards

Every time we’ve installed an Ikea kitchen we’ve needed some 2×4″s at some point. At the beach house we used them to make some bases for the island cabinets.

Basically, they were just some boxes we made almost the same size as each cabinet (slightly narrower to account for the toekicks) that we secured to the floor using pocket holes. To drill the pocket holes, you can use something like a…

16. Kreg Jig

Now, a Kreg Jig isn’t absolutely necessary here, but I’ve had one for around nine years now so I’m accustomed to breaking it out for tasks like this. So while I’m a big fan of having one in your arsenal, I understand that you’ve just bought a new kitchen so tacking on another $99 tool to your budget isn’t always practical.

I did use it again for the duplexes to make more 2×4″s into boxes (this time for mounting the above-fridge cabinet away from the wall, so it sat closer to the front of the fridge).

The boxes acted as an extension of the wall. The top one was for mounting the metal rail, and the bottom one gave the base of the cabinet a spot to rest so it didn’t tip back wildly. They also gave us a way to mount that large cover panel to box in the fridge.

I guess I should add in here that a step ladder is also useful, so let’s officially put that on the list.

17. Manual Screwdriver

Once your cabinets and panels are hung, leveled, and secured to each other, the next part of the process is to add your doors and drawers. The instructions here are pretty self-explanatory and the main tool you need is a power driver to screw everything together. Our main word of warning is to pay close attention to screw placements when you’re assembling drawers! Depending on where each drawer goes in the stack (top, middle, or bottom) there are sliiiiight differences in the instructions. So while we find it most efficient to do multiple drawers at once, we still pay close attention – especially for the first few.

Ok, back to the manual screw drivers. One big part of installing doors and drawers is tweaking and adjusting them for even and level spacing. For this you’ll want to a regular ol‘ manual Philips head screwdriver. It can be kind of tedious and frustrating, but it’s worth taking your time with it. This video shows it in a bit more detail.

You also will want a flathead screwdriver for twisting the little piece of plastic that locks each cabinet onto the metal rail, which comes up earlier in the process.

18. Miter Saw

Tasks like cutting your 2×4″s or even your filler pieces will be made easier and faster by having a miter saw on hand (we own this miter saw). You’ll also find that it’s helpful when it’s time to cut and install your toekicks. Ikea’s sells toekicks to match your cabinet fronts and they clip on to the plastic feet you will have attached to the bottom of your base cabinets.

In our beach house kitchen we installed quarter round in front of the Ikea baseboards to help disguise some floor level issues, as well as using quarter round around the island where we built our own base (we used standard wood baseboard trim instead of the Ikea toekicks around the island). Meanwhile, we just used the Ikea toekicks in the duplex kitchens and the floors were more level (and we think the wood and blue cabinets were more forgiving than white ones) so we didn’t need to add quarter round and it looks great.

Finished Ikea Cabinets With Brushed Nickel Hardware Installed

19. Nail Gun

In addition to using a nail gun to attach additional molding like quarter round if you’re adding that (again, the Ikea baseboards just snap on so you won’t need it for that) I also find a nail gun comes in handy sometimes for attaching small filler pieces. Especially in cases where they’re too thin to take a screw.

20. Others Tools

Real quick, here are some other items you may want to have on hand. Some I’ve mentioned or shown already, but haven’t officially listed:

  • Pen or pencil
  • Painters tape
  • Step ladder
  • Utility knife or scissors (for opening boxes faster!)
  • Crowbar (if you need to remove any baseboard or molding)
  • Broom, dustpan, and/or vacuum with a hose (we have this one)

Your Ikea Kitchen Installation Tool Checklist

As promised, here’s all of the items in one place so you can make sure you have everything you need on hand. I’ve organized it a bit differently than above, just to put like items together. You may have special circumstances for your project that require more, less, or other tools – but I’ve found this to be a pretty comprehensive set:

  1. Your itemized receipt / order
  2. Hammer
  3. Manual screwdrivers
  4. Crowbar
  5. Measuring tape
  6. Pen or pencil
  7. Painters tape
  8. Step ladder
  9. Power driver
  10. Drill bit set with magnetic bit holder & 3/4″ bit for plumbing holes
  11. Dremel or Hacksaw
  12. Stud finder
  13. Medium level (24″)
  14. Large level (48″)
  15. Wood shims
  16. Cabinet screws (roughly 4 per cabinet)
  17. Screws with anchors (roughly 2 per cabinet)
  18. Jigsaw
  19. Circular saw and/or table saw
  20. Miter saw
  21. Utility knife or scissors
  22. Nail gun
  23. Clamps
  24. 2×4″s (optional)
  25. Kreg Jig (optional)
  26. Broom, dustpan, and/or vacuum with hose

Good luck and happy installing!

P.S. For other posts we’ve written about installing Ikea cabinets, here’s one about installing , and another one about using Ikea cabinets to make .

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The post The Tools (And Tricks) You Need To Install An Ikea Kitchen Yourself appeared first on Young House Love.

This content was originally published here.

The Easiest House Plants & The Best Faux Plants I’ve Found

This post is going to be full of photos, because I think they do most of the work in making a case for a house full of greenery. But like, easy greenery. That isn’t stressful and that doesn’t remind you of that emoji of dollar signs with wings. Because when things die repeatedly, it can GET YOU DOWN. Ask me how I know. The point is that I TRULY AND DEEPLY BELIEVE that nearly every single room in a home can benefit from greenery – it adds a splash of life and a gorgeous and vibrant texture.

So if you’ve got some low light spots that just don’t allow anything real to live, and you’re hunting for a good convincing fake that will never die, well, I’ve gotcha covered. And if you’re looking for real plants you literally would have to try hard to kill… trust me, I’m well versed at killing plants, so I’m only going to list the truly hardy stuff.

Faux plant on desk in home office
/ / /

Exhibit A is this herb that will never die on my desk. That’s right, it’s fake. And I bought it at Michaels with a 50% off coupon (total spent: $7.50). I loved the soft texture and the tiny little feathery branches it has – and here’s one of my tips. I saw it in person. So I could poke it and prod it and judge if the color was too blue-green or too yellow or whatever. And it convinced me. It’s just as delicate as a real asparagus fern or an herb from the garden. But it’s from Michael’s and I paid for it once and it’ll last forevermore.

Also, never buy a real asparagus fern. They die spectacular guilt-inducing deaths. At least for me. On the other hand, I have some other real plants that are SURVIVORS. Put them in matching outfits and call them Destiny’s Child. They are all over five years old. Some might even be a full decade old! And here’s the curveball: I completely neglect them. They’re called and they just need a little water and seem completely unpicky about sunlight amount, which tends to be key for me.

Dining room with vintage green buffet and green ivy plant under All You Need Is Love painting
/ word art project / sideboard: secondhand find

You can even clip off the long droopy legs (?!?!?!) – clearly I am not one of those green thumbs who knows all the plant terms – and then you can put them in water TO MAKE MORE FREE PLANTS (more on that here). So they’re high on the hardy and hard-to-kill list for me if you want some real greenery. And real house plants have all sorts of benefits like cleaning the air, and making humans feel happier (that’s legit backed by science, which is pretty amazing for something that you can buy for under $5).

Jumping back over to the dark side (aka: fake plants), I fancy myself a faux plant diva, in that I DO NOT PLAY AROUND. If something looks fake, I keep it moving. I have sent back faux plants I’ve bought online for not being good enough. And if someone messages me and says “hey how is the Ikea faux fiddle leaf fig?” I will very honestly say “I’ve seen it in person, and I don’t love it – from far away it looks ok, but I’ve seen other fake figs up close that look more full and real for around the same price or even less.”

Faux fiddle leaf fig on bench between two closets under chandelier
/ / wall color: Spare White / trim color: Extra White

For example, I have loved these $39 faux fiddle leaf figs from Target (seen above and below), although I’m adamant that they need to be feathered out a bit. Just gently pull their branches apart so they’re less smushed vertically. Real fiddle leaf figs have leaves that are almost parallel to the ground, so doing that helps with the realism. And adding a bigger planter or basket for them to sit in makes them look a lot more convincing and proportionate.

Faux greenery in living room with white walls and red vintage rug
see all room sources (and paint colors)

We have these faux figs at the beach house and the duplex, which are vacant for many weeks at a time (so real plants aren’t really an option except maybe for some succulents that I might add) and I also have one in our living room above. I kept trying to get real figs to live in that corner of our living room and it’s just too dark. I probably killed three before I faced the music that it was “faux or nothing” in that spot.

It’s also really nice to have one up in the bedroom between the windows since the sun shines further into the room, but doesn’t really hit that spot on the floor much, so real plants kept getting stick-like after a while there. They were trying to grow towards the light so they’d end up looking really long and floppy as they basically dove in slow motion towards the window.

Neutral bedroom with capiz chandelier and faux fiddle leaf fig by window
see all room sources (and paint colors)

But let’s bounce back to real – and SUPER EASY – greenery for a second. These branches have been in two bouquets I have received in the last few years – and they are like mutant plants from Planet Neverdie. From a decent amount of googling I believe that they’re called Ruscus (specifically Isreili Ruscus I think) and THEY LAST FOR MONTHS! If I’m wrong, someone who is a plant expert DM me the name because we all need to know what these are.

Yard clippings from bush in shallow vase on acrylic entry table

Saying they last for months sounds like I’m exaggerating and you might think, ok maybe one month… but I have had them last for OVER THREE MONTHS! I do not do a thing except put them in water and watch all the other flowers and cuttings around them die as they live on for literally a full season or more. I probably change the water once a month if I remember.

Foyer with Edgecomb Gray paint with yard clippings to add greenery to entry table
see all room sources (and paint colors)

These are the same thing in the photo below. Just really great greenery that’s real long-lasting, but REALLY LOW MAINTENANCE.

Plant on built-in bookcase in living room with kitchen in the background
see all room sources (and paint colors)

Oh and see that big faux fiddle leaf fig in the background of the photo above? That’s from Target a while back when they made these tall ones as part of the Opalhouse collection. I hope they bring them back because they’re GOOD. Like my-mom-has-watered-them good. If you’re looking for a big fiddle leaf fig like that one, I’ve seen this one in person too, and it’s great.

Tall faux fiddle leaf fig from Target Opalhouse against white walls
basket: no longer sold / wheely plant stand / chair / media cabinet: secondhand find

Sidenote: I get asked all the time if you put something into a larger pot, how should you deal with the extra space between the small original pot and the larger planter or basket you use. I have three ways I deal with it:

  • 1) I leave it – real potted plants might be placed in a larger basket and there’s no shame in that game, it looks fine
  • 2) I add dried moss from a garden center – you can get a whole bag of it for cheap and just shove it in there (see my picture below)
  • 3) You could also add something smooth and pretty like white or black river rocks in there – I’ve seen this look great
Peat moss atop faux fiddle leaf fig tree in basket

You might be wondering, but where can she keep a real fiddle leaf fig alive? And the answer, after living in our house nearly six years, is: One. Freasking. Corner.

Yup, just one spot, in the corner of the office, gets enough light to keep a real one happy. So you can see it here in the background of this picture. I find the fiddle leaf fig to be a SUPER EASY PLANT to keep alive. BUT YOU NEED ENOUGH LIGHT. So like, 99% of my house = not enough light. So it would die in literally every other corner. I have killed MANY.

White home office desk with faux greenery in planter
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This corner though, equals enough light, so this thing is older than my four year old. All I do is completely ignore it, except for dumping one big glass of water into its soil every 9-10 days or so. When the leaves look droopy I dump the water on it and it perks right up. That’s it. But again: super sunny is the key to the equation. Otherwise, don’t mess with real fiddle leaf figs.

I also REALLY love real eucalyptus, and I grab it when I’m across town at Trader Joe’s (they have THE BEST GREENERY and it’s SO CHEAP!). It smells great and it lasts a nice long time – you can even dry it and have it forever, although I find that it can start to fall apart and it gets sort of a dusty-gray tone after a while. So fresh is my jam over dried (I also just discovered there are Etsy shops that will send it to you fresh). And in some spots where I want the look, but zero maintenance (aka: the beach house & the duplex) I’m a big fan of these $5 Ikea fakers. Yup, that’s a fake stem from Ikea in that “vase” below:

Faux Ikea greenery on table top in beach house living room
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I put the word vase in quotes, because the container from the photo above and below is actually a marble utensil holder, and I love it so much for faux stems since it’s not great at holding actual water, but it looks amazing with a good fake stem or branch. I’ve bought like three of them to use as vases around the beach house and our own house – and I may or may not have picked up two more for the duplex. Hey, when it’s love, it’s love.

Beach house kitchen and dining room with faux greenery on table top
chandeliers / / hood / butcher block counters

And yes, that stem in the photo above is another Ikea faker. The one key to those is not to bunch too many together. They actually look a lot more convincing and like real eucalyptus if they’re splayed out and not too crowded together if that makes sense.

Bouncing back to the real plant realm, aloe (along with other succulents) can be extra easy. It literally needs nothing more than a tiny splash of water once every two weeks or so. I love the little pink pot this guy is in (from Ikea a while back – but here’s a similar one) because between the greenery and the cute pot, it definitely cheers things up. Plus aloe is known to be one of the better air purifying plants. Score.

Real aloe plant in small pink plant on kitchen counter against marble backsplash
blinds / glass canisters / cabinet hardware

Meanwhile in our completely window-less and natural-light-less laundry room, we have a faux succulent. They’re usually some of the best fake options since they can look extremely real for some reason (maybe it’s the thick rubber-y leaves that real succulents have?). I’ve had this faux one for probably a decade (found it at HomeGoods forever ago) but these two look similar and have good ratings.

Laundry room shelf with faux succulent in cement pot
backsplash tiling project / shelf above laundry project

This one below is another HomeGoods find from eight or so years ago. Yup, it’s as old as my oldest child and still going strong. One tip I have for you is to hit a garden center and buy a pot you love (maybe an understated concrete one, or even a bright colorful one that makes you smile) and then hit a store like Michael’s and grab a few succulent stems that you can “plant” in the pot. You can even use real dirt. Literally nobody will be able to tell the difference – especially if you pick the succulents out in person and grab only the most real looking options.

Faux succulent on bedroom dresser
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That’s actually what I did here, with another pink pot from Ikea – I took these little faux succulents from Michaels a few years back and just shoved them in there. It’s very convincing, and I love that they’re next to my ceramic succulent candle (from Anthro ages ago). Do I love plants or do I love plants?

Faux succulents on living room fireplace mantle next to round gold mirror

Also, I get the “how do you dust them” question a lot, so my favorite method is actually just a feather duster. I do it before I vacuum like twice a year when I remember, and it just tosses some dust on the floor and I vacuum it up. I figure every single item you put on any surface of your home needs dusting, so it’s not really a big deal to run a feather duster over a real plant, or a fake one.

I haven’t really talked much about faux flowers and it’s because I think they’re harder to find when it comes to being truly eye-trickingly-realistic. Sometimes they’re gelled into that fake water but something about a few of the ones I’ve seen isn’t really quite convincing. Which is why I lean towards completely opaque pots for the ones I end up getting. It just feels more like these could be real cut flowers and leaves in this vase to my eye. I got these at Target maybe six months ago, and I love the bright color they add. Wish they still sold them for my fellow pink lovers out there.

Faux flowers on fireplace mantle in living room

This is the laundry room at the beach house, and as I’ve mentioned, since we’re not there for weeks on end, we don’t have any real plants there, but that orchid on the top shelf is (so cheap! And I dropped it into a larger white Ikea pot just to balance it out a little).

Faux ikea greenery in beach house laundry room
find all sources and paint colors for this room here

There’s also a faux Ikea plant on that first laundry shelf – it’s this one – and I have another one at home in the guest room (seen below). They’re convincing – especially in larger pots – and the price is pretty great.

Faux ikea greenery on side table in guest room
find all sources & paint colors for this room here

Actually, the one above is this one with the whiter little buds on the edges, and I loved plopping it into a pretty textured pot from HomeGoods. Half the fun of plants = pretty pots.

To go back to the faux flowers thing, and how it’s hard to find something colorful that looks real (even the Ikea orchid from our beach house laundry room = white), I do LOVE these happy yellow ginkgo leaves. They’re from Crate & Barrel a while ago, but they brought them back once, so I’m hoping they come back again soon.

neutral foyer beachy capiz light gingko leaf
find all sources & paint colors for this room here

They’re just a nice way to add color and texture – they feel very spring/summer to me.

faux gingko leaf branch decor in vase

Here they are upstairs in the bonus room too. They’re versatile because a burst of happy color looks nice pretty much anywhere.

Faux gingko branches on art table in bonus room playroom
find all sources & paint colors for this room here

One other sort of abstract way to bring greenery into your house is with the use of some really cool art or even a wallpaper. This leafy mural we hung at the duplex definitely makes the room feel green and alive (you can see how we hung it here).

Removable Orange Blossom Wallpaper Mural In Small Room
mural / white ceiling fan / stain color: Special Walnut

Simple art can also add that outside/green element to a room that might have less than stellar views – and you never have to water it. These large framed prints are from West Elm a while back, but I’ve seen similar stuff on Etsy (you know I love these and they also have them with a white background).

Art print on dining room wall with succulent

Oh yeah and that potted fern above? Fake from Target around a year ago. This one is the current version they make, and it’s well rated too.

Let’s bounce back into the real greenery realm again, because I feel like I need to tip my hat to the old “free cuttings” category. Many months of the year, there’s free greenery at your disposal if you just walk outside with a clipper. These cuttings are from the bushes right in front of our house, and I steal from them pretty much every season except for winter when they go dormant.

Real clippings in shallow glass vase on dresser

And whenever I stage houses, you know I love going outside and bringing some 100% free clippings into each room to make it feel alive and just plain welcoming (you can read alllll about house staging and my other tips here – I loved writing that post).

Here’s a shot of some other “real greenery” we have embraced on a seasonal basis. We love grabbing fresh holiday garlands from Trader Joe’s (they’re super cheap and last around a month – at least that was our experience this past holiday season). We just tapped two small nails into the corner of the molding to hold this one up over the sink. And you know while I was at TJ’s I had to grab some fresh eucalyptus too.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Christmas-Decor-2018-Kitchen-Garland-810x1024.jpg
find all sources and paint colors for this room here

We also string up a fresh garland around the front door (actually it takes two to span that area, so I wire them together with green floral wire, and once again we just hung them over two small nails on the corner of the trim). But what’s worth mentioning is that in this photo, the wreath is also real – I make one out of fresh magnolia leaves every winter at a Wine & Wreath event that I go to with my favorite ladies – but the five foot bushes on either side of the door are faux.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Christmas-Decor-2018-Front-Porch-Detail-795x1024.jpg
/ string lights / / house color & door color info

I feel like that’s worth noting, because they’re so convincing they can literally be right in front of a real garland and next to a huge magnolia wreath and they hold their own. We actually bought of those front porch bushes first – and loved them. After over a year of use there was no fading or damage to them through rain and snow. So when we painted the house white and wanted something taller next to the door after removing the portico, we upgraded to the 5′ versions and sent the three foot ones to the beach house.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Christmas-Decor-2018-Beach-House-Front-Door-767x1024.jpg
find all source and paint color info for this picture here

The pots above are from Home Depot (just in store – can’t find them online) and the copper porch pots from the photo before the one above are a DIY project – more on them here.

I’ll leave you with one last real outdoor plant that has been deliciously low maintenance for us – at least here in our climate. Those big $12 ferns that Home Depot and Kroger sell in the parking lot…. we buy a few each year in the spring. And they last all the way until the very end of the year when it gets below freezing. There is literally nothing easier than plopping our annual fern friend into a few of the large pots we have out back – I don’t even have to touch dirt. And they just do their thing for nearly a year.

So there you have it, an exhaustive rundown of easy green stuff that hopefully won’t stress you out like… say… all of the other green stuff I have tried and then failed at and then decided not to list here because IT’S JUST TOO EMOTIONAL FOR ME, OK?!

Also, it occurred to me that as much as John has special eyes for light bulbs, maybe I have special plant eyes. Because nobody ogles the green stuff like I do.

Love ya, plants. Mean it.

P.S. There were SO MANY pictures of our house, the beach house, and the duplex in this post, so if you have paint color or source questions, here’s where to find info about our house, here’s info about the beach house, and we’re just starting to get duplex info together here.

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The post The Easiest House Plants & The Best Faux Plants I’ve Found appeared first on Young House Love.

This content was originally published here.

My New Favorite Front Door Paint (& Tips For Painting A Door)

You know we painted our front door a new color back when we painted our brick house white in October, and I even mentioned back in that post that I used a new-ish specialty paint that’s made for front doors. It’s called Grand Entrance by Benjamin Moore and the paint color is Tranquility also by Benjamin Moore, and it can either be made in a satin base or a super hyper glossy mirror finish base.

Based on all of those excited adjectives I used to describe the latter option, it should be of no surprise to you that I jumped at the chance to buy and try “high gloss” for the first time.

Glossy front door with christmas decorations tranquility benjamin moore

Photos don’t do it justice. I mean the picture above is nice, but you don’t get the shiny and luxe effect at all (which is especially awesome in contrast to the super matte paint that we used on our bricks).

This paint is so shiny, you can see your reflection in it. Basically Cardi B would scream MONEY if she saw it. It’s amazing and EVEN THE FED-EX GUY NOTICED AND SAID IT’S SUPER COOL AND RAN HIS HANDS ACROSS IT LIKE A DOOR PAINT AD! (Have I mentioned that I paid for this and it’s not sponsored or anything? I’m just really into this stuff).

In the picture below you can kind of see how glossy and mirror-like the finish is. See how my fingers are reflected in the paint? They would’t do that with semi gloss paint, which is what’s typically used for interior and exterior doors.

Close up of hand reflected in glossy finish of front door paint

Not only did I take this paint for a test drive on both sides of our front door, I’ve slowly been working my way around the rest of the house, repainting all of the exterior doors. And after so much door painting (I’ve done four doors and counting in this same color with this same product) I have a bunch of tips & tricks to share, as well as a video of the process. Videos always seem to help me when I’m looking for a tutorial online – and best of all, it captures the shine on the door in a way that these photos don’t.

Tranquility Benjamin Moore Glossy Paint On Front Door In Foyer

You can kind of see the light gleaming off the right side of the door panel above the handle in the photo above, but again, the glossiness is kinda lost in these pics, so make sure you watch the video. That’s where these doors really shine. Har har.

There’s actually a super premium brand of paint called Fine Paints of Europe that costs $110 to $150 FOR A QUART OF PAINT, which sounds insane (is it made of GOLD?! Will it FOLD YOUR LAUNDRY?!) but it does look amazing. Super shiny. I just wasn’t ready to make it rain that hard with my painting budget, so I thought I’d try Grand Entrance, which it’s basically Benjamin Moore’s take on that same look, and it runs $44 a quart.

That’s still a TON OF MONEY FOR A QUART, but I still have about 1/4 of the quart left and I’ve painted four doors (one on both sides, and the other three on one side since the other side of the door is staying white) so around $11 a door feels completely fine to me.

Ok, so that’s why I love it. Now let’s get into the HOW of applying it. I just need to stress something I have already said, but feel like I need to say again, with emphasis. It’s really great looking…. but you can mess it up, so you have to do it right. Or you’re not going to be shout-it-from-the-rooftops-happy with the results like I am right now. You might actually hate it and have to redo your door. So this is one of those prep-and-diligence-actually-matters projects!

To further explain what I’m getting at, let’s go back to that Fine Paints Of Europe brand for a second. My friend shelled out over $120 for a quart to paint her front door a glossy red color up in DC. And even hired a handyman to paint it for her so she’d get the best result… and it was bad. Like so bad he had to sand it off and repaint it with regular paint.

The paint itself wasn’t bad, but applying super high gloss paint is not for the faint of heart. It can magnify every last flaw on a door, so with improper prep, it can look battered and bruised and MUCH MORE dinged up than it did with regular old semi-gloss paint on it. You have to sand every last bump down before you paint, so that is lesson numero uno. Fill any crack. Sand any raised part. Scrub it down so it’s not covered with dirt or cobwebs. This paint shows no mercy if you skip that step.

After my friend had that experience, I got super wary of high gloss paint (literally every expert says it’s the hardest to use since it magnifies flaws) but something compelled me to give it a try when we painted the house white. I walked into the paint store and I just felt like I needed to try it because I knew it would look amazing next to the extra matte brick paint we chose. And I’m SO GLAD I went for it.

Here I am painting the kitchen door that leads out to the garage, which had been a lighter and more chalky blue, but with the foyer door repainted, I wanted the kitchen one to match and have that same high gloss texture (which also looks great next to the tumbled marble tile). P.S. I paint with my clothes inside out, hence the tags you see below.

As for WHAT to use to paint with this stuff, I used a brush on every single part of every single door that I painted. I know that sounds weird. You’ll be tempted to ask me if you should spray it or use a small foam roller for a better result. The answer is no, use a high quality 2″ angled brush (this is our favorite kind), which will leave some subtle brush strokes, which you can sort of see here…

… but you’re bound to end up with SOME sort of stippled texture from your roller or sprayer with high gloss paint that shows this much of everything, so the long smooth brush strokes are actually much more pleasing to the eye when it comes to a project like this. We love how ours turned out.

In fact, the pro painter who did our house’s brick exterior told me he only uses brushes for doors with high gloss paint. So there you go. Your girl $herdog & Lance The Pro Painter are Hashtag Team Brush for this project.

As for the process, when I’m painting any door with panels on it, I follow this order:

  1. Paint the recessed areas first (in the direction of the arrows below)
  2. Then I paint the raised panels (in the direction of the arrows below)
  3. Then I tackle the large cross sections last (filling in the horizontal rails and vertical stiles in the direction of the arrows below)

If you want to see the process in action (and see the super shiny result much better than in a still photo), John shot a quick video of me putting the first coat of the very last door on my list:

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

Oh but one thing to note, if you’re using this on doors with glass windows, I’m a fan of the paint-on-the-window-and-razor-it-off-later method, but this paint dries as hard as a diamond. Like for real. It’s Housewives tagline would be: “Diamonds might be shiny and hard, and darling, so am I” (*spin to camera to reveal super glossy shine*). So my big tip is that scraping it after waiting too long is super difficult. It was dulling my new blades in about a minute. So if you get paint on the glass, don’t wait a week to scrape it off like I did – attack it within a day or two if you can.

You can see in the picture below that the door that leads to our garage used to be white when the house got painted. I’ll take a wider shot in the spring once the back yard doesn’t look all bleak and wintery, but it’s really nice to have a hit of shiny blue paint on that door, as well as on the french door that leads into the living room on the other side of the house.

House Painted brick from the back showing two exterior doors white before paint

Here’s that other back door up close, which is under our covered porch and leads to the living room.

So there ya go. I hope hearing about this paint is helpful, and the video demystifies how I tackle a project like this. Most of all, if you’re my friend or neighbor who is reading this, you are totally invited to come pet my front door like the Fed-Ex guy. It really is my happy place to sing this paint’s praises to anyone who will listen.

Oh and to revisit our post about painting the house’s exterior brick (what we used, how long it took, how much it cost) you can click here. And who remembers when we converted the back room off of the living room from a stinky sunroom into a covered porch and lofted the ceiling? Here’s a post about removing the sliding doors (and one about planking the ceiling and one about tiling the formerly carpeted floor).

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The post My New Favorite Front Door Paint (& Tips For Painting A Door) appeared first on Young House Love.

This content was originally published here.

A Tiny House Makeover (Ok, It’s A Dollhouse)

I was surprised how many questions I got about the little dollhouse sneak peeks I’ve shared on IG stories over the last few weeks as I fixed this up with the kids. And then I polled you guys to see if you wanted a post about it, and 91% of you voted yes, so here it is!

You can read more about how these came to be on this podcast from a few weeks back, but the gist is that the kids really wanted super detailed dollhouses to fix up, and we got two of them secondhand on Facebook marketplace to “renovate” together.

This little makeover was lots of fun for us all, since the kids were at the wheel picking all the colors and helping me paint and glue and arrange stuff, and although this technically lives in our son’s room, both kids definitely had a hand in making it over (we have another one that lives in our daughter’s room that we’re also working on together – which you can see below on the left of the photo). The lesson: even tiny houses take a village to fix up.

The quick pic I snapped below shows what this one looked like when we got it (I barely remembered to snap the before photo, hence that dash of white paint on the facade since we had already started painting).

Our son was adamant that he wanted it to be white with light blue shutters and gold trim along the peak (this is the gold I used – be sure to shake this thoroughly for the best coverage). The kid knew what he wanted and was unwavering. Ha! So his vision came to fruition thanks to a whole lot of painting.

We just used simple craft paint from Michael’s and we all pitched in (we had the entire interior and exterior to do). The kids could easily do things like the floor, walls, and exterior house color and I helped with the more detailed jobs, like the trim (I just used a small craft brush). Also we made up a song as we went, which went a little something like this: “Ahh, don’t get paint on the roof! Go slow! Whew! We can do this! Ahhhh, avoid the roof!” Catchy, eh? If you’re super worried you can cover it with plastic and tape it off, but our song seemed to work for the most part.

Oh and that decorative trim around the peak came with the dollhouse, it just broke off and I re-glued it back on with wood glue (this glue works great – I just taped them in place while they dried so I didn’t have to stand there holding them for an hour).

I loved getting to reuse some things we’ve had for ages (way back from our daughter’s first dollhouse), like those topiaries that you see on the front porch. The funny thing is that I found those in the wedding aisle at Michael’s 6 years ago, and they’re actually meant to be place cards (there’s a small wire loop at the top to stick name cards in). Cute miniature things are EVERYWHERE if you look close enough.

As for the “greenery” in the window boxes above, I just bought this small faux plant “mat” from Michael’s (don’t forget your 50% off coupons – they saved me so much money when I was grabbing the acrylic paint, craft glue, and the little faux green mat).

Here’s a Burger-for-scale shot for ya. He was VERY INTO trying to help, but sadly dogs can’t paint very well. Oh and we have since fixed the steps, so I’ll have to share a little update video on Instagram stories about how we did it. Super simple – you just slice thin craft wood (like this) with an exacto knife to make the steps, glue them into place with wood glue, and paint them to match. Truly so easy! Like 10,000% easier than building a human-sized staircase 😉

This is where this dollhouse lives, right in the corner of our son’s room. For those who listened to the podcast about “Operation Acquire Two Dollhouses”, you may remember that I thought this was a much smaller dollhouse (like shoebox sized) and was shocked when it was almost as big as his extra high dresser – and then we picked up the one for our daughter… and… well… it was massive. Ha! But they LOVE them, so I guess it all worked out. Even if dollhouses now make up 8% of our actual house’s contents now.

As for how we fixed things up inside, this is what we started with. All the furniture in each house was collected over two bulk purchases on Facebook Marketplace (we spent around $30 total for enough furniture to fill TWO houses!). This before shot of the back of the house and the furniture isn’t completely congruent with the next after shot since I took this photo on Christmas Eve, and then the kids came down on Christmas morning and had all sorts of furniture swaps and rearranging parties.

But you get the general gist that the floors were wood, the walls were sort of a cream-white color and a lot of the furniture was wood, deep red, green and cream, etc. Once again our tiny homeowner knew exactly what he wanted for the inside: white walls and light blue floors – just like the shutters and trim (this is the exact blue color we used by the way).

We all got to work painting those (again, just with craft paint from Michael’s) and once the floor & walls were dry we had some fun painting the beds gold, adding a pink top to the table and two of the chairs – whatever the kids wanted – we did! And the funny thing is that they both said the sink and the fridge had to be pink like the stove at the pink house! You know I didn’t argue with that 😉

The little pillows were things our daughter already had from a small doll she had gotten ages ago, and even the “bedding” on the two beds were cloth bags I had saved in our gift wrapping closet (one is from Kendra Scott jewelry and it’s the perfect “sleeping bag” size and the other is a plain blue cloth bag that something else came in).

There were a few special purchases that we made with the kids. They had an Amazon gift card and some Christmas money to spend, so after a loooooooong deliberation they decided that two plates of pancakes (you can see those on the right of the photo above) and a little gingerbread making kit (seen below) were the best things to buy, along with this set of pots & pans (you can see them in the photo above on the fridge). They’ve never been so excited to check the mail every day until they arrived.

Oh and that little candlestick has real wax candles! It came with one of the sets of old dollhouse furniture we bought secondhand – and you might remember those round wire chairs from our daughter’s first dollhouse too (originally they were little decorative chairs meant as shelf decor from West Elm years ago).

You know it super bugs me that I took all these photos like a day before I fixed those stairs, right? #TypeA

Along with DIYing the greenery in the window boxes, I also made a few house plants from scratch. It was really simple and fun, I just took small clippings from the same faux green mat thing I bought for the window boxes, and I glued them into various small things that look like pots. One was a wood bead (see that one on the top of the toilet in the picture below?) and one was a small white flowerpot I found at the craft store.

I also used a clear bead + a brown flat button to make the little plant you see in the photo below. Just glue the bead and the button together and it looks like a little glass vase sitting on a brown coaster – and then add the small clipping to the bead with another small dab of glue.

Another fun added touch is to dump some colorful beads or large sequins into the bath tub and the sink to create some “fake water.” I found some blue ones a little later on, but already had these pink sequin things from a jewelry kit we had around the house, so I tossed them in and the kids had a lot of fun “bathing” their little dolls and teddy bears in ’em. Much better than them putting real water in their tub and sink 😉

You can see it a little better in this photo below, along with my homemade potted plant.

The kids also especially like “interactive” additions to their houses, like the rocking horse & rocking chair, which both get a lot of use from their little figures. Our daughter’s house also has a Christmas tree and some tiny fake wrapped presents to go around the base of it – and they LOVE that too. Anything they can weave a story around seems to be a real hit – and stuff that moves like drawers that come out and chests that open add excitement-factor too (they also love that the toilet cover goes up and down).

So that rounds out the tour of House #1 for ya. We hope to eventually share our larger and more detailed renovation of the bigger house for our daughter’s room someday. She wants electricity and all that good stuff, so it might take a while, but hopefully I’ll be back with all the details in the next year or two. You never know how long these whole-house renos are gonna take 😉

Also dollhouses are not just for girls. So many little guys who come over to play run right up to them and LOVE it.

Psst – To check out how to make a much less detailed dollhouse for younger kids, here’s how we built one, and . And to hear more of the story about how we came across these two dollhouses that we’re fixing up now, you can tune into this podcast (all the details are in the first 10 minutes or so).

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The post A Tiny House Makeover (Ok, It’s A Dollhouse) appeared first on Young House Love.

This content was originally published here.

How To Install A Removable Wallpaper Mural

We’ve been eager to try a wallpaper accent somewhere in the duplex, and last week we finally installed not one, but two, removable wall murals! And I can’t begin to describe how much easier and cheaper it was than we expected, plus it turned out like ten times better than we had even hoped.

Removable Orange Blossom Wallpaper Mural In Small Room

If you’ve listened to our podcast recently, you may recognize this space as one of the small sleeping nooks on each side of the duplex. The rooms are only about 8′ x 8′ and our goal is to turn them into fun bonus sleeping spaces. So they felt like natural candidates for a bold injection of color and pattern.

We had our eyes on a few wallpapers, but then we stumbled across these removable wall murals on Society6. They’re effectively the same as wallpaper, except that their patterns can’t be repeated indefinitely (most are 8′ wide but some are 12′) so they’re perfect for smaller walls like ours. A few other things that we liked were:

  • there were some nice large-scale patterns and images compared to most wallpaper in our price range
  • they’re extra convenient to use – no glue, easy to restick if you don’t line them up right the first time, etc.
  • they have a demo video right on the site when you’re shopping to give you an idea of what to expect when you hang them
  • they’re made from a strong/durable material (almost like a thick flexible vinyl decal with fabric fibers woven through it) so it’s very substantial, whereas some wallpaper feels more delicate

*This isn’t sponsored – we bought them with our own money & found them on our own – just figured I should put that out there since clearly I’m gushing.

We liked a lot of the ones that we found on their site, like these below:

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6

But after a lot of debating, we ultimately decided on two painterly patterns: these whales (seen below) and these oranges (seen in the first photo of this post).

Small Room With Blue Whale Removable Wallpaper

The colors fit well on each side where we used them. We paired the blue watercolor-looking whales with the side of the duplex with the pink doors (they’re White Truffle by Sherwin Williams by the way)…

Sherry Smoothing Second Panel of Removable Wallpaper With Pink Door In Foreground

…and the leafy oranges with the side of the duplex with the greeny-blue doors (which are Oyster Bay by Sherwin Williams).

Removable Orange Blossom Wallpaper Installation With Blue Painted Door

Plus, we snagged them during a 30% off sale at Society6, so we saved nearly $100 off their usual $299 price tag.

As for installing them, here’s how it all went down (er, up?). Again, it was surprisingly straightforward to do – but it does require a bit of patience and care. The first one took us around three hours to complete, and the second one only took about two hours, so once you get the hang of it, it’s much less intimidating and goes a lot faster.

Tools & Supplies Needed

You can install wallpaper or a wall mural like this with very few tools, but having the following will make it easier:

  • Step ladder
  • Level
  • Pen or pencil
  • Ruler or tape measure
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Scissors
  • Utility knife or other sharp craft knife
  • Smoothing tool
  • An extra set of hands (this is much easier as a two person job)

Step 1: Organize Your Panels

The 8′ wide murals come with four 2′ wide removable panels all rolled together. Since the pattern isn’t repeating, be sure to identify the order in which your panels need to be hung! It would be a nightmare to hang one on the right side of the room only to realize it should have been hung on the left side for the other three panels to line up. We loosely unrolled ours in a nearby room and laid them across the bed to double-check that we were working in the correct order.

Step 2: Carefully Position The First Panel

Each wallpaper panel has a removable backing that easily peels off. Again, you don’t need any glue or paste to install these. So throughout the installation, you’ll want to peel back small sections at a time. We started by peeling back the first foot-ish of the first full panel (you can see it folded down behind the top part of the mural that we had stuck to the top corner of the wall in the photo below:

One Panel Of Whale Removable Wallpaper Partially Hung In Room

Not to psych you out, but getting this first panel hung correctly is a big part of the success of this project. The good news is that these panels are VERY FORGIVING. Seriously, we probably hung and rehung this first section 4 or 5 times while we figured out the best system. It didn’t lose any of its adhesion strength each time that we stuck, unstuck, and restuck it – and it didn’t wrinkle (even if we accidentally stuck it to itself a few times, we could carefully peel it off and it was fine).

You’ll be tempted to use your ceiling or wall as your level reference point for this first panel. DON’T. Most rooms – including ours – aren’t perfectly straight, so relying on your first corner to be completely square could lead to crooked panels which, even worse, could lead to gaps at the top or sides of your mural as your ceiling or wall bows in or out slightly.

Instead, you’ll want to mark a vertical line using a level to give you a reference point for the outer edge of your first panel. You could do this all the way down the wall, but we found that doing just a couple of feet at the top was enough to get us started.

Drawing Vertical Level Line Before Hanging First Panel of Wallpaper

We marked ours about 23.5″ inches from the corner, so that our 24″ panel would overlap the side wall a smidge (again, to make sure we didn’t see gaps anywhere that the wall bowed out). We’ll show you how we cut off all of the overlap a little later.

Then we hung the panel along that vertical line but made sure that it overlapped the ceiling by about an inch as well. Even though our ceilings and the panels are both 8ft tall, we could spare this inch since the baseboards make the actual wall space around 7’6″ – and again, most ceilings aren’t perfectly level all the way across, so we wanted to make sure we had excess to bridge any gaps if the ceiling is slightly higher a little further down the wall.

Applying First Panel of Removable Wallpaper With Overlap at Ceiling

Step 3: Peel, Stick, and Smooth

Once you feel good about the position of your first panel, you can begin the process that you’ll rely on most for this wallpaper installation: peeling off a bit more backing, sticking it to the wall with your hand, and then smoothing out the bubbles. You can see the slight ceiling overlap we mentioned in the photo below, which we will take care of later on.

Smoothing Removable Wallpaper With Credit Card

You can buy a smoothing tool meant for this task, but we forgot to bring one with us to the beach, so we pulled a credit card out of my wallet and it did the job just fine.

Our main tip here is to work from the middle out toward the edges, both when you’re sticking things with your hand and when you’re smoothing things afterwards. Also, don’t be afraid to peel it off and restick it if you’re not happy with your placement or if it’s starting to wrinkle. Remember, this particular material is VERY FORGIVING.

Continue to apply the first wallpaper panel in this manner until you get to the baseboard at the bottom. We’ll trim that later as well.

Step 4: Line Up The Pattern On Your Second Panel

If you’ve carefully placed your first panel, this part shouldn’t give you any trouble. These designs aren’t printed with an overlap, so you’ll be butting the second panel up along the edge of the first panel. Just peel a small section of backing off and take your time aligning the pattern. You can peel it off and restick it as many times as you need to get it just right so they line up pretty seamlessly, like you see below:

Installing Second Panel of Removable Wallpaper Aligning Whale Patterns

We did notice that the material has a little stretch to it, so as you smooth it down the wall, it can cause your pattern to travel a bit – meaning your pattern alignment may seem “off” as you go down the wall if you’re pulling and stretching one panel more than the other one.

Installing Second Panel Of Removable Whale Wallpaper By Smoothing Creases

We combatted this by trying NOT to pull or stretch the material with too much force. And just by generally being vigilant the whole way down. If we didn’t like how anything lined up, we just peeled it back up and tried again.

Sherry Smoothing Second Panel of Removable Wallpaper With Pink Door In Foreground

Step 5: Cut Around Small Obstacles Like Outlets & Switches

If you run into an obstacle like a light switch or wall outlet, don’t worry – it’s super easy. Just turn off the power to that switch or outlet, and once you’re ready to stick the wallpaper around it, use a flathead screwdriver to remove the cover plate. Then loosely stick the wallpaper panel OVER the outlet (if it’s a traditional switch that protrudes a lot, you may need to cut a small slit to allow the switch to peek out so the wallpaper can sit flatter against the area).

You should be able to feel the outline of the obstacle through the paper, so use your utility knife to carefully cut along the edges – being careful not to cut any areas that won’t be covered by the switch plate or outlet cover.

Installing Removable Wallpaper By Cutting Around Electrical Outlet

It doesn’t have to be a flawless cut, just be sure to remove enough that the outlet or switch could be easily removed if/when needed. Then just smooth the area down and screw the cover back on so it looks polished and finished (you can see the finished outlet in the picture below).

Step 6: Cutting Around Large Obstacles Like Windows & Doors

Hanging our last two wall mural panels presented the added challenge of cutting around a large window that would interfere with significant sections of the pattern.

Society6 Removable Wall Mural Wallpaper With Whale In Small Room

We started each one of them the same way we did the full panels – peeling back a small section at the top and aligning the pattern. But once the window trim preventing the panel from hanging flat, we broke out the scissors and roughly cut out the area that would have covered the window.

Cutting Excess Wallpaper To Install Around Window

We were VERY CONSERVATIVE in doing this, leaving 3-4 inches of excess, and trimming more as we felt more confident we weren’t cutting off too much. It’s a little tricky getting around corners (you kinda have to cut a diagonal slit in it).

Cutting Excess Removable Wallpaper In Final Panel Around Bedroom Window

Once enough is trimmed off so that you can press it flat onto the wall, then it’s just a matter of (say it with me!) peeling, sticking, and smoothing. You’ll still have some excess overlapping the trim, but just like the excess along your baseboard, side wall, and ceiling, it’s just fine. You’ll trim it off later.

Smoothing Final Panel Of Removable Wallpaper Next To Window

Step 7: Finishing Your Final Wallpaper Panel

I’m not gonna lie: aligning that final part under the window was a little tricky. But I’ll show you how we cheated to keep ourselves from going crazy.

Because of the window, we hung our fourth panel (which was pretty much just a tiny strip between the window and the wall) without being able to align it with the pattern on the previous panel. So by the time we got to the bottom, it didn’t perfectly match up. And if we did match it up – it always left a big bubble or wrinkle, no matter how many times we stuck or restuck it. We tried unpeeling, shifting and resticking it half a dozen times, but with minimal improvement.

So we decided the main priority was aligning the pattern under the window so the vertical seam disappeared. Then we actually sliced the panel apart (gasp!) at a narrow spot between the window and the wall where there was mostly white space. That way, instead of a big wrinkle, we had a smooth, barely-visible overlap.

Detail Of Removable Wallpaper Installation With Overlapping Section

I forgot to take a picture of the overlap on the whale side, but you can see it above on the orange side. It’s suuuuuper subtle (and will be completely blocked by a bed anyways) but we wanted to show you so you didn’t stress yourself out about getting things absolutely flawless.

And again, here it is from further away – you’d never notice that small imperfection in the scheme of the entire room, even if it weren’t covered by a bed.

Removable Orange Blossom Wallpaper Mural In Small Room

Step 8: Cut Off The Excess With Your Knife

You don’t actually have to wait until the end to trim off all of your excess wallpaper around the ceilings, end walls, and baseboards, but doing it last is a nice insurance policy in case you have to do any major repositioning (we didn’t – but it still felt smart to play it safe). Once you cut it, you can’t un-cut it 😉

Cutting Off Excess Removable Wallpaper Along Baseboard

Sherry and I had different techniques for this part. She smoothed everything really well one more time, almost forcing a crease into the edge, and then freehanded the cut along the crease.

I felt a little better smoothing and then actually pressing my smoothing tool (aka credit card) into the crease as I cut, almost using the card as a guide. I think my method worked better in “softer” corners like along the ceiling, but Sherry’s worked speedily along “harder” edges like where the baseboard met the drywall.

Step 9: Repeat!

Okay, not really. Most of you will not have to repeat the process in another room like we did. Unless you were so wowed by the result that you’re already planning another project. It is kind of addicting…

Removable Orange Blossom Wallpaper Installation With Blue Painted Door

In all seriousness, we’re so happy with how these turned out AND how painless the installation was, we ARE trying to figure out if there’s another spot we could install one in the beach house or our own house.

And as for these rooms, they still need to be fully furnished. We’ve built the two twin bed platforms in each space (they’re these from Ikea), the mattresses are coming, and we’re currently looking for some bedding to finish them off.

Removable Wallpaper Mural With Oranges In Room With Two Twin Beds

You can see in the above photo that we’ve placed a temporary side table in there, just to get a sense of the layout (the aisle isn’t as small as we feared after all, which is great news).

Small Room With Blue Whale Removable Wallpaper And Two Twin Beds

More on these rooms to come! But for now we’re just enjoying how a few hours spent sticking these murals up on each side completely changed how they look. They’re a lot closer to charming little bonus sleeping nooks than they were last week!

P.S. To see other projects that we’ve done at the duplex, here’s how we started laying down rugs & building the kitchens, how we tiled 6 rooms, how we hung operable shutters, and here’s the entire duplex category on our blog if you want to look back on all of our progress.

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A Front Porch Makeover At The Duplex!

It feels like a while since you’ve seen the front of the duplex (I blame winter) but that’s going to change today. And let me tell you… THINGS HAVE TURNED A CORNER!

Duplex Front Porch From Angle With Oversized Black Lanterns And Matching Mailboxes

There’s no landscaping yet, the grass is patchy, and Sean the Contractor’s gigantic sign is still there…

… but boy oh boy is she lookin’ fynnnnnnnneee when we compare her to where we started:

All of the not original details came down – like the weird plastic wagon wheels and strange abacus trim that was added in the 70s, the plastic too-small shutters, the broken vinyl porch railing, all those satellite dishes, and the duct tape along the roofline. And we maintained or added back as much original charm as we could – like the metal porch roof, larger operable shutters, square porch columns, corbels along the roofline, wide brick steps, and those diamond windows that give me cartoon heart eyes.

We’ve already shared a lot of the big exterior decisions that we made as we went, like choosing our siding, roofing, and picking the color for the shutters, so today we’re gonna cover all of our front porch updates.

Duplex Front Porch With Matching Dark Gray Doors Plants House Numbers Mailboxes

UGH BUT FIRST LET’S ADRESS THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM… or should I say the mouse on the porch?! Those tiny postage stamp doormats are so ridiculous I can’t even explain how I thought they were regular sized and then they turned out to be doormats for ants.

So yes, we’re getting bigger ones (they would DEFINITELY make Marlo cringe – Atlanta Housewives… Anyone? Bueller?). So let’s all try to look past those tiny little rectangles and appreciate some of the other stuff that’s giving me life. We have mailboxes! And house numbers! And lanterns to illuminate said house numbers! And composite decking (no rot! YAY!). We even have potted plants and teak benches! SOMEBODY HELP ME CALM DOWN.

Duplex Front Porch From Angle With Doormats Planters And Benches In Similar Color

We don’t have great before photos of just the front door area itself, but you can sort of see it (including the mismatched storm doors that we got rid of immediately) in the photo below.

But as artsy as John thought he was being with the “SOLD” sign in the foreground of that picture, it doesn’t really demonstrate how deteriorated the old porch had become.

The entire front porch was also so rotten when it came to the actual support beams and structure of it, that we had to tear it off of the house and rebuild it from scratch, being careful to maintain the original transom windows above the door.

Let’s just say that it feels like we have taken a very significant leap forward in the last year and a half.

Duplex Front Porch From Angle With Oversized Black Lanterns And Matching Mailboxes

After we ditched the mismatched storm doors we decided to embrace the original front doors (figuratively speaking, I didn’t actually hug them, but we LOVE them and wanted to save them). You actually have to get approval from the town’s historic review board to change the style of your doors, so we’re really glad we liked them from the get-go. At one point we considered painting them the same mint color as the shutters, but realized that color got a lot of “stage time” thanks to having so many front windows (and therefore, double the amount of shutters)… so we both thought it would be nice to introduce another tone or color on the doors.

Our next (and longest-standing) idea was to make them some sort of wood tone – just clear sealed or covered with a light stain. You know we LOVE AN ORIGINAL WOOD DOOR (we stripped & waxed all the interior doors at the pink house, and I can’t even tell you how happy we are with them). So we had our contractor strip and sand our duplex front doors to get them as raw looking as possible. Lead paint = we hired them to do it safely in their shop, and they stripped and sanded them as far back as they could without compromising their integrity (they’re thinner than standard doors that are made today, and they had a few cracks and repaired portions they didn’t want to make worse).

But even after we spent $400 to get the doors professionally stripped back as far as they could take them, we just couldn’t get them where they needed to be. From the street (and in the from-a-distance-photos we shared) they looked pretty cool, but up close you could see a lot of stubborn paint in the cracks and recesses that we just couldn’t remove – even after another pass at sanding.

And as you walked closer you could see other general jankiness – like a large crack and some glue bubbles that would be hard to disguise with sealer or stain alone.

Sanded Down Doors On Duplex With Cracks And Old Glue

We knew that we could still get a wood look using a dark gel stain, like we did over on the pink house. It’s got thicker coverage than a typical stain – almost like a paint – and that certainly would’ve helped hide some of the issues.

But once we installed the porch lights, mailboxes, house numbers and door handles, we both kept thinking…. what about a rich charcoal-y paint color? One that ties into that gorgeous metal roof above the porch? It just felt like a nice balance to the cheerful green shutters – sort of grounding and adding some nice contrast. It was also slightly comforting to notice that all of our other neighbors who have original doors have painted them too (they’re all 100+ years old so I think that’s the plight of being so worn down and in need of various repairs over the years – raw wood isn’t nearly as forgiving).

One Side of Duplex Front Porch With 113 House Number And Fake Plant

We’ve loved Sherwin-Williams Urbane Bronze ever since we used it our garage doors at home. It’s a really rich and layered color and we’ve always loved how it walks the line between a true black and a warm dark bronze-y brown tone – just like the tin roof we chose for the duplex!

Long story long, even though it was our lifelong (ok, yearlong) dream to leave these doors a light wood tone, we’ve mourned the loss of that idea and are IN LOVE with the final result. We both stepped back and thought: THE PAINT DID THESE DOORS A TON OF FAVORS!

Duplex Front Porch From Angle With Doormats Planters And Benches In Similar Color

Not only does it hide the cracks and glue bubbles along with all of those tricky paint remnants, it also looks great with the dark porch accents we added, like the operable shutters, the oversized porch lights, our wall mounted mailboxes, and our new house numbers. And the nice thing is that we were able to bring that wood tone in with other things, but more on that in a second.

One Side Of Duplex Front Porch With Dark Door And Hardware

As for installing the address numbers, they’re just simple off-the-shelf house numbers from Home Depot that can be mounted flush (like we did) or floating. They come with a template on the back of the package, so we trimmed the templates a bit so we could space them the way we wanted, and taped them to the siding exactly as we hoped they’d look in the end – being sure to triple check that they all had equal spacing, were all level, and were centered.

House Number Templates Provided Taped To Wall For Placement

At one point we had planned to just get some subtle number decals to stick on the mailbox, but then we learned it was actually code that they were at least 4″ tall and “visible from the street” for emergency personnel. And by “learned,” I mean that we almost failed our final inspection because we hadn’t installed any yet, so we rushed to get them up and passed by the skin of our teeth (I would like to have a word with the inventor of that gross expression, btw).

Duplex Front Porch Modern Home Depot House Number

Since we lost some of the warm wood tones in the doors, I brought them in with a few other things, like the basket-looking planters (they’re really a ceramic-like material), and the big teak benches on the far ends of the porch. And once we get bigger doormats (maybe a single long one that runs under both doors and up to each planter would be cool?) that’ll add more of that warmer tone to the mix.

Of course I have to shout out our go-to faux outdoor trees. They inject some much needed zero-maintenance greenery to the front porch. We’ve got the same type on the beach house front porch and the taller versions at home in Richmond. They’re awesome, so yes, we are now the proud owners of six of these babies. Please note that I didn’t floof these before the photos (yes, that’s a technical term), so their shape in the picture below bugs me to no end. They’ll be looking 100 when I get my new mats, landscape the front, and share the updated pics though – mark my words.

Duplex Front Porch With Matching Doors And Wood Bench

If you’re subscribed to our newsletter, you got a peek inside with the doors open last week. We painted the stair risers on each side the same color as the interior doors on that side (Sherwin Williams White Truffle on the left, and Sherwin Williams Oyster Bay on the right). I also really love that we didn’t do mint on the front doors because it’s a fun reveal to swing open the dark bronze doors and be greeted with a different happy & beachy color inside each one.

Duplex Colorful Staircases With One Painted Pink One Blue Green With House Numbers

This is the before photo, which I now realize is funny because it’s almost like we switched sides – the greenish risers are now on the right, and the red/pink ones are on the left (we chose the colors for each side based on lighting and where they read the best – the pink tone read a little more gray and less pink on the right, so that’s how it ended up on the left).

So that wraps up the whole duplex porch update… but if you could kindly cross every last appendage that the groundhog was right in his call for an early spring, we’d really appreciate it. Because you know I can’t wait to get the front of the duplex landscaped and mulched and add a path to the back and plant grass and ALL THE THINGS! WITH ALL THE EXCLAMATION POINTS!!

We need to get this thing whipped into shape so we can get it all photographed and listed for rent thing spring (rentals will start this summer and it should hit Airbnb this April or so! AHHHHHH!). Oh yeah and we have to finish the inside. And the backyard. Details, details.

P.S. To see how we have fixed up this house over the past 1.5 years, there’s a whole category dedicated to duplex progress.

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