Kitchens, Cousins and Cabinets

July has meant kitchens, cousins, cabinets and me . . . completely pooped!  It was a VERY busy month for me and Hubs. Regular readers know that my cousins come up each July to visit, as they did this year too!  As usual, we had a blast 🙂

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And you’ll also probably remember we’ve been attacking our kitchen cabinet project in steps, and still had the lowers to finish.

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Remember how my timing is often a little off?  I didn’t get motivated about the cabinets till the week before our visitors’ scheduled stay.

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Hubs did his part, trimming everything out, and on one of our cooler days, I tackled the painting and sealing.

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You know our dishwasher died this past winter, and I may also have mentioned that its’ gaping absence has Hubs designing a wonderful pull-out drawer for pan storage – my back just loves that guy 🙂 !  But it’s a “future” plan.  In the meantime, lazy me just left it naked and exposed to the world.   The ladies know we’re always in the middle of a project or two, and once they arrived, we had plenty to keep us busy, so nobody cared.

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Showing off some of their thrift finds, before departing.

Showing off some of their thrift finds, before departing.

After they headed home, we took a couple of days off, appreciating the AC.  It gave us lots of time to talk . . . about what else . . . projects.

In afterthought, I regretted the big black hole left open for our company.  I remembered some of the clever “disguise” ideas my blogger buddy Kim has done with fabric.  I had remnants left from our recent family room drapes makeover (haven’t posted it for you yet).  Since that area is directly behind the kitchen, those would work.  So, supplies yes, but still a problem.  C’mon, you all know how I just love to sew . . . NOT!  Covering the opening meant using two pieces.  Oh boy!

Speaking of boys, all these boy-toys around here tend to come in handy. Hubs has all sorts, including an upholstery stapler, and an air one at that.  So it was brought to the kitchen.

Keep calm . . . it wasn’t ME operating anything electric.  C’mon, an air compressor and an automatic stapling gun . . . seriously??  No no!  You know me!   I pleaded and begged Hubs away from his shop, for this quick and easy project.  I put a comfy, big ol’ pillow in there for his back.  Then as I gathered material, he stapled two little curtains in place, from behind the cabinet front.  No sewing.  The bottom was already nicely hemmed and the raw edges were just folded in and stapled.  Voila’ – done.  It’ll work until the practical pan drawer is done, don’t ya think?

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Remember my grumping about our broken rider mower last time?  Well . . . it’s still out of commission but sometimes good things rise from bad.  Hubs was out “push mowing” today with our noisy old hand mower, when a second roaring machine piped in.  I looked out to see our neighbor teen, Tyler, zipping along on their rider, finishing things off in no time.  He didn’t want pay and left without telling us.

So, Hubs and I leashed Gracie and went for a walk back to his house, delivering a card and a little monetary compensation.  And we got to know our newest neighbors even better.  Nice.  Great guy, that Tyler. I should’ve taken a picture.  Maybe our granddaughters would visit more often if they knew what a cute neighbor we have.  Hhmm.

So, kitchen is done, cousins are safely back home, and yard looks good, for now anyway. . But don’t worry, there’s so much more to report . . . next time because me, I’m pooped out!  Think there is a cat puppy nap in the near future.

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Hey, Gracie, ya started without me!

Meanwhile, I’m working at staying positive to stay productive.  See if it works for you!

Later – Cheryl

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Duck … 3-2-1- Backsplash

Hi guys. It’s a bright, sunny day, finally! Lot’s of gloomy, doomy, chilly days this past week. Bad for energy and ambition, but we managed to crank things up anyway. Had to force ourselves because all the inside days were great for projects, and as usual we have plenty of those available.  Today’s feature wasn’t really too difficult OR expensive. The biggest requirements were some elbow grease, a little time and a LOT of patience.

We have the normal countertop areas, the kitchen and bathroom. Our house is a standard build, and our tops were flat formica, edged with wood trim. Instead of one piece with a raised lid against the wall, there is a separate wood/formica strip thingy that was applied on top, against the walls. This is used quite often in our area up here, but not much when I worked with builders in the Twin Cities areas.

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When new, it looks fine and is livable. But after not too much time at all, the caulking discolors and comes loose, and shortly after that, because of moisture I guess, the entire wooden piece begins pulling away from the wall. All in all, an unattractive, non-functional piece of . . . (I’ll be nice here) work.

Hubs and I plan to install a pretty tile backsplash at some point. Presently, the dream look isn’t affordable, so I was on the search for other options.  As a former military wife, I had numerous quick and easy ways of sprucing up the many rentals we occupied. One product used frequently was contact paper. It was a newer product then, and I fell in love with it’s bright, colorful designs and wipe-able surface. AND it was affordable. What’s not to love.

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I began resourcing in stores and online. Today’s CONTACT brand wasn’t offering what I needed. Our plan was to run the paper in two, long strips, horizontally, rather than a series of short, vertical pieces (as you would with wallpaper).  I needed a roll width of about 20” and contact rolls were only 18”. Also, I found no pattern in stores that was modern enough for the look we wanted.  Online, the selection was only a tad better, more expensive too, and added shipping costs. I considered going with a fabric/starch technique … but that’s lots more work and time consuming, AND I would have had to do several layers of sealer to have it work effectively on a backsplash.

AND THEN … I found a vinyl adhesive made by DUCK Brand. There were only two or three patterns at Wal-Mart. None, in a perfect situation, would have been my first choice. One design was more than tolerable, affordable at $9.89 a roll and I only needed one. More importantly, it was approx. a 22” height, which was perfect.

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We began the prep work by removing the already loosened wooden back trim pieces. Perhaps these are so popular because their nearly two inch depth hides a lot of mistakes and builder sins. Below shows the huge bowed gap we found between the wall and counter, under our kitchen window.

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That cruddy strip in the middle is actually the gap.  You could stick all four fingers into it.  A problem we would have to deal with later.

Now, I used Goo Gone to loosen the adhesive marks left on the counter top, then carefully scraped it away.
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Next, the walls were sanded to remove layered paint buildup.  The walls were washed down well, with a touch of dish soap on a dampened rag.

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That was followed by a patch to any bad spots on the walls, and when dried, a final good sanding and wipe down.

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Next we painted the area previously behind the trim piece. It had remained the builder white, but the walls were darker now. This would have shown through the contact paper so needed to be one color.  Looking closely at the photo below, you can see how the white lower part of the wall shows through when the contact paper is held up.

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We began on the less visable wall, our hopes being that by the time we got to the primary wall, we’d know better what the heck we were doing.

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Once the paper was up, Hubs worked on a way to hide that big old gap. We simply bought quarter-round, primed pine cove at our True Value. He cut it to size. I painted it to match our upper cabinets and he installed the pieces. Below you can better see the cove trim.  Hubs used his brad nailer and adhesive to adhere the wood to the wall.   

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We’re happy with the results and . . . very happy . . . that the project is done!

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So, there you have it. Our next project is much bigger. We’ll be finishing our lower level kitchen cabinets. As you can see in the pictures, our uppers and island are done, but the bottom cabinets are still in the builder’s basic orange oak.

Meantime, don’t stress about a project, just start one!

I’ll be back soon.

Later – Cheryl