One Room Challenge | Week Four | Is it Time to Panic Yet?

April 25, 2018

Hoo-boy – week four already. In last week’s post I mentioned that I had hoped to at least have started the tiling by this week. That didn’t happen as I’m still in the wall-prep stage. Sigh. I’m so sick of plaster dust being everywhere and not being able to use my kitchen as a place to make food.

Kitchen with plastered walls
My kitchen right now. The back wall looks mottled and uneven in this cell-phone picture, but that's due to the different plaster/cement that I used to patch it. The right wall in the photo is also finished.
The reasons for my lack of progress are two-fold. The main one is the fridge and stove are on the same wall and that wall requires a lot of work. Unfortunately my kitchen is so small I can only move one appliance out at a time which means repairing/patching/sanding that wall is taking at least twice as long. The other reason is I’m doing all the sanding by hand – I don’t have an electric sander so it’s taking me quite a while. Have you ever tried to sand smooth an entire wall??? It takes forever, and I’ve skim coated and plastered the back wall about three times so far in the hopes of getting it almost perfectly smooth. It was in pretty rough shape to start so I’m pretty pleased with what I’ve been able to achieve and I think I’m ready to prime it. My hope is that the primer will help me see if there’s any further patching work needed. Keep your fingers crossed that any imperfections will be so tiny I’ll be able to easily ignore them.

I asked for your opinions last week on where I should stop the tile on the far wall, but I forgot to ask what you thought about the opposite wall. There are two quarter walls on the other end with the ‘doorway’ between.  One side butts-up against a counter, the other side is against my stove. My gut is saying I should try to tile the stove side wall (sometimes cooking gets messy), but then should I also tile the opposite side wall? Should the walls match? 

Kitchen end walls - should I tile them?
I need some help deciding on if I should tile these small side walls or not? I'm a bit worried if I do as I think it will need a lot of tile cutting, but I'm worried about getting an untiled wall really dirty when cooking.
On Saturday I did a bit more research on my epic search for the perfect pulls for my kitchen. I went to Upper Canada Specialty Hardware in the vain hope that they might have, or be able to order something that might work. The problem is the pulls I have are from Ikea which uses European sizing. Being in N. America means that most of the hardware that’s available isn’t compatible. And that’s before you add the additional issue of my needing a pull that will cover the three holes in each of my doors. Joanne (who helped me) was SO helpful, and was amazingly able to find something that could work, but I couldn’t bring myself to pay $50US each (and that’s before taxes, shipping, and those glorious duty fees). The search continues, but I have an inkling of a plan.

Cabinet door with three holes drilled
I took my current door hardware off and you can see why I have a need for a handle with a backplate. Each door has three holes from when I changed the handles out a number of years ago.
After Upper Canada Hardware I headed over to Home Depot to do some research on what I might need to buy for tiling (turns out it’s a lot) and I picked up a few 3”x6” subway tiles so I could double check I liked them in my kitchen. On Sunday I went to Olympia Tile to take a look to see if they had anything other than basic subway tiles that I might like. I picked up a few samples – one a small mosaic, a 2”x8” tile in both white and pale grey, and another 3"x6" tile in white. I picked up the pale grey as I wondered whether grey would make the backsplash just a bit more interesting – sadly the colour of the tile isn’t right with my counter.  Now though, I’m questioning my plan to use basic 3”x6” tiles – should I go with the 2”x8” instead?? It will mean many more tiles I potentially have to cut, but maybe it's a bit more modern, and slightly less common? What would you do?

Kitchen back splash tile options on a grey counter-top
From top: 2"x8" grey tile - $3.85/sqft; Small white mosiac tiles $3.73/sqft; White 2"x6" tile $3.02/sqft; 2"x8" white gloss tile - $3.75/sqft; All from Olympia Tile
So far I’ve avoided making a list of things I still need to do to complete in this One Room Challenge, but I think that with just two weeks left I need to list them no matter how panicked it makes me. Anyways, here’s the stuff I still need to do:
  • Finish plastering/fixing walls
  • Prime walls
  • Paint ceiling and back wall
  • Pick wall tile
  • Purchase wall tile, mastic, grout and all needed supplies
  • Tile the walls
  • Grout the walls
  • Clean up ALL THE DUST
  • Figure out what to do for cabinet pulls
  • Hang ceiling fixture
  • Figure out some art for the walls to add some colour
  • Install new faucet
  • Add baseboard to the back wall
Ugh – listed like that it seems like a HUGE amount of work I need to get one in a pretty short period of time. I hope I can finish it all in time!

Want some more One Room Challenge makeovers? Make sure you check out the 20 featured designers doing the One Room Challenge, and the other One Room Challenge Guest Participants.


One Room Challenge | Week Three | At Halftime

April 19, 2018

How are we already in week three of the One Room Challenge?? I swear it was only yesterday that I was writing my week two post, and here we are a full week later I’m starting to feel the pressure. I’ve made some progress, but I’m not as far into this makeover as I hoped I would be by this point.

First up – some progress.  All the tile is gone!! I debated about taking off the 4” backsplash that matched my counter (my mom voted to keep it), but I’ve always thought that line of grey up the wall made the room look shorter, so off it came. Not quite sure how I’m going to dispose of it – it’s 7ft long and I’m not allowed to put construction debris in my building’s garbage.

Kitchen with back splash tile removed
All the tile is gone! Also, I need to figure out what to do with that 7ft piece of backsplash on the right . .
I’ve started to repair the damaged walls for the new tile. While it doesn’t have to be perfect, it does need to be much better than it was. In a few places I made some holes significantly bigger in order to find stud to properly install replacement drywall. Home Depot sells drywall in really handy 2ft square pieces of sheetrock which is great for someone like me who only needs a small bit and who also has a car (the pieces also fit perfectly in a black garbage bag if it’s pouring rain on the day you go to buy it – ask me how I know). I also used fiberglass tape in two sizes to repair some of the smaller holes.

Back splash wall before and after patching
The drywall was repaired with a number of small pieces of drywall so was very unstable. I cut them out and patched with just one piece of drywall.  It's hard to see in this image, but the white thing above the outlet is a disconnected knob from ancient knob and tube wiring.
I found some interesting things in the wall. There was some disconnected knob and tube, and in the corner behind the fridge I found a weird metal conduit with a small pipe and what looks like a valve coming out of it – anyone know what I might have been for?

before and after of drywall patch with mysterious pipe inside wall
In a spot behind the fridge the wall was again repaired very badly - I cut out a piece to repair it and found the conduit and pipes on the left. any ideas what they might have been fore?
I had both a plumber and an electrician here on Friday, so both of those ‘issues’ with my kitchen have been sorted out, although at cost that I hadn’t budgeted for.  The plumbing isn’t too exciting – he just replaced all my old shut-off valves with new ball valves.  The electrician took care of the scary ‘handy-man special’ electrical work that was in one of my cabinets. It’s not how I’d have wired my kitchen if I was starting from scratch, but it’s 100% better than it was. Also, as a bonus I can now fit two more coffee mugs in the cupboard. Maybe I’ll treat myself to this, or this :) 

New in-cabinet plug for my under cabinet lighting
If you remember the plug situation from last week - this is a huge improvement.
What’s been occupying most of my brain this week has been the search for replacement pulls for my cabinets. In last weeks post I shared a pull I loved, but at $140 each  there is sadly no possible way they work in my kitchen. I need to replace the 9” Ikea Spann handles I installed way back in 2012 which might normally not be a problem, but since I used them to replace much smaller pulls there are actually three holes in each cabinet door. This of course means that any pull I choose must have a back plate to hide them. Long pulls with a backplate are proving VERY hard to find.

Brass pulls with back plate
1. Nest Studio - Mod-12 2. Home Depot - Richelieu  3. Rejuvenation - Tolson 4. Rejuvenation - Patton 5. Rejuvenation - Bowman 6. Schoolhouse - Midvale 7. Rocky Mountain Hardware - Empire 8. Richelieu 9. Buster + Punch - Pull Bar 10. Amazon - Glacier 11.Horton Brasses - BRW-203 12. Amazon -  Ingot Pull 13. Rejuvenation - Upton 14. CB2 - Hex
I’ve got a Pinterest board of brass handles and pulls that you can check out, but here are some of the pulls I’ve found with backplates. So far none of them are ‘The Ones’ whether due to size, price, etc, so I’m still on the hunt. And yes, I’ve considered just spray painting my current pulls, but I’ve heard that doesn’t last long on frequently used items like door handles, and well, I live in Canada – given we had a massive rain/ice/snow storm on Monday I’m not entirely sure spring will arrive before the end of ORC and for long enough for me to do the work outside.

For next week I’m hoping to have all the plastering/sanding done on the walls, and to have primed them. I’m also really hoping I can at least get started on the tiling as I’m terrified about how long it will take me to do it given I’ve never tried it before. If I do get the tiling started I need your opinion on where to stop the tiles. Do I just to the back walls, or do I do some back splash on the side walls as well? (Please excuse the decidedly amateur mock-ups.)

Mock up of backsplash option
Should I tile just the back wall?
mock-up of backsplash option
Or should I also tile some of the wall beside the counter?
Let me know what you think, and please share any tips (or recommendations for Youtube videos) you have for tiling - I think I'm going to need all the help I can get.

Want some more One Room Challenge makeovers? Make sure you check out the 20 featured designers doing the One Room Challenge, and the other One Room Challenge Guest Participants.


One Room Challenge | Week Two | Plans, Progress and Problems

April 12, 2018

If you read my One Room Challenge post last week you know that my decision to join in this go-round was a last minute one so I didn’t really have a plan other than to get rid of the much-hated mustard yellow accent wall tile. A problem I’ve always had while looking for inspiration for my kitchen was my navy-blue floor as I knew it had to stay as would the mid-grey counter top. This is an odd combo so finding inspiration was quite difficult.
Blue kitchen with brass accents by Emily Henderson
Kitchen by Emily Henderson
I saw the kitchen above on Emily Henderson’s blog and I was immediately smitten – Blue, grey, brass. Sigh – so pretty. Her floor is patterned cement tile, but the colours reminded me enough of my own space that I was inspired. I immediately plotted to replace the bottom doors on my cabinets with some shaker style doors  in a blue-grey while keeping the more modern  high-gloss white slab doors on top; update the backsplash, faucet and hardware.

And then my imaginings came plummeting back to earth with a big splat. My kitchen is an older Ikea kitchen (their Akurum  line, vs their current Sektion) so I couldn’t just go to and buy replacement doors in the store. I know there are a bunch of companies that now market ‘custom’ doors for Ikea frames - I did a little research, but sadly determined that replacing the doors is not currently in my budget given the shipping charges alone from one company were going to be at least $300 (and that didn’t include any doors, duty, taxes, or any other fees).
Eamonn & Jack - Kitchen one room challenge inspiration
Anyways, here’s my scaled-back plan:
  • I’ll be replacing the backsplash with white subway tiles. I still have to decide if I should go with white grout or maybe a light grey for some definition and to tie in with my counter. Given I’m planning on doing the tiling myself that decision will likely only be made after I’ve seen if I’m a good tiler or not – Ha!
  • I’m updating my faucet with the Delta Trinsic faucet in Champagne bronze. Yes, I know every blogger has this faucet, but I like the look of it, so I bought it anyways.
  • I want to update my kitchen hardware to something brass. We’ll see. I know it won’t be the ones in my mood board – these, the Mod-12 from Nest Studio Collection are $140 each. Since I need 17 these won’t happen which is really too bad as they’re so pretty!
  • I need a new light. I have this West Elm Sphere light that I was going to put in my foyer, but it might work better here.
  • I’ll need to inject some colour into the space, so I’m thinking about some art for the back wall, or maybe a colourful rug. I LOVE this piece by Leslie Weaver, but sadly it’s only 8x10 and I’ll need something bigger.
My mom was in town last week and she helped me get rid of most of the tile!!!  I want to say the space already looks so much better, but it truthfully looks a bit like a bomb went off. Therein lies some of the problems I alluded to in the blog title.
Damaged drywall in a kitchen
I mentioned in last week’s post that my unit had been ‘flipped’ by a previous owner and they had done the kitchen. As we removed the tile it became apparent that they hadn’t properly prepped the walls before adding the tile. I expected the drywall paper to come off. What I didn’t expect was holes to appear as I removed tile that was affixed to improperly patched drywall. I assume the holes were from running the wiring, and they weren’t properly repaired (in some cases they were just ‘glued’ back in place around the edges with joint compound) . Some of the holes are smaller so shouldn’t be too difficult to repair, but there’s one above my oven which is about 10”square so I’m going to have to cut more out to find a stud before I can repair it.
Dodgy wiring in a kitchen cabinet
I'm not an electrician, but even I know that this isn't up to code.
Another issue which I have to deal with is the wiring itself as I’ve always known that it’s a bit dodgy. I don’t think anyone could look at the wiring in the picture above (this is what powers my under cabinet lights and is in the bottom of one of the cabinets) and think that it was up to code. Since the backsplash is already off I’ve decided that I should get an electrician in to take a look and repair as needed. This is easier said than done – electricians are busy. I’ve finally got one coming over to take a look on Friday, and hopefully some work can get done soon so I can proceed with repairing my walls. A plumber is also coming because, as luck would have it, my hot water valve has sprung a leak.

My last problem is self-inflicted. While removing the tiles I had one slice open my finger. Oh my god the blood. No, I was not wearing safety gloves so this is entirely my own fault. Learn from my mistake – always wear safety gear (gloves, glasses, shoes, etc) while doing any DIY.
Finger injury
This is several days after the top of my finger was sliced off by a flying tile. PSA - wear work gloves!
That’s it for week two. I’m hoping that my appointments with the plumber and electrician go well tomorrow so I can get started on repairing the walls and prepping them for tile. I’ve got tickets to go see Yakoi Kasuma: Infinity Mirrors at the AGO on Saturday so I’ll only have one day to work on the kitchen this weekend - hopefully I’ll be able to make some progress. Wish me luck!

Want some more One Room Challenge makeovers? Make sure you check out the 20 featured designers doing the One Room Challenge, and the other One Room Challenge Guest Participants.


One Room Challenge | Week One | Kitchen Makeover

April 04, 2018

On March 31st I celebrated 8 years in my apartment. 8 years. Seems like just last week that I was getting the keys and then sitting in the middle of the empty living room floor with a glass of wine. I moved in with very limited furniture (bed, dresser, bookcase) and over the years I’ve furnished my home with new, and new to me pieces (I’ve shared some of them on this blog) and I’m mostly happy with the way that my apartment has come together.

That said, two rooms have been difficult to put my stamp on and those are my bathroom and kitchen. My bathroom needs a full-gut reno which scares the crap out of me. The logistics, time, and the money required to fully reno my one and only bathroom have kept me from finally pulling the trigger on it. The other room is my kitchen. Hate is a pretty strong word, but I pretty-much hate my kitchen.

When I bought my place I inherited a kitchen that had been ‘flipped’ and year or so beforehand by a couple that had spent some time in Portugal, and had made some design choices that might have been better suited for that country. One of their decisions was to install doors between every single room in the apartment (I think this is common in Europe, but not in N. America).  This was easily rectified, and I even made some money selling the doors on kijiji/craigslist. One of their other ‘improvements’ was to the kitchen where they tiled every available wall surface with square white ceramic tiles, with two rows of embossed tiles in mustard yellow as an accent.  That yellow accent tile combined with the blue floor tile (common in my building) bugged me every time I entered the kitchen.
My Kitchen before - complete with mustard yellow accent tiles
My kitchen 'before'. This is from 2012, but nothing much has changed. Note the bane of my existence - the yellow wall tile.
I’ve talked about pulling down the wall tile and backsplash since I moved in - I even had some people in to give me some quotes on getting it done but the numbers I was quoted didn’t make sense. One guy told me he’s just glue thin drywall over the tile to make it ‘go away’. I don’t know much about construction, but I know just ‘covering up’ an issue isn’t usually the best way to deal with it.

One Room challenge Guest Participant
Anyways, to make this long story short – I decided this past weekend that is was time to stop complaining about my kitchen and actually do something about it. As luck would have it, it’s also time for another One Room Challenge (I did the One Room Challenge once before way back in 2014). I figure a set deadline of 6 weeks will help keep me focused.

I last blogged about my kitchen WAY back in 2012 when I updated my kitchen handles. Since then I haven’t really made any changes other than upgrade the puck lights under the cabinets to LED and I put in a pendant light I cobbled together from some bits at the ReStore (the halogen lights made such a small space really warm). Sadly as my budget doesn’t allow for a gut, this will be a mostly aesthetic makeover. That said I’m hoping that the changes I make over the next 6 weeks will allow me to love my kitchen.

This was such a last minute decision that I don't really have any plans as of yet for this makeover other than to get rid of the tile - Ha!! I guess I'll have to start mining my kitchen board on Pinterest for some ideas. Next week I'll show you some inspiration and hopefully I'll have a bit more of a plan and (more importantly) less yellow wall tile! I hope you’ll follow along while I learn if ripping off wall tile is as easy as they make it look on HGTV and Youtube. Cross your fingers for me.

Want some more One Room Challenge makeovers? Make sure you check out the 20 featured designers doing the One Room Challenge, and the other One Room Challenge Guest Participants.

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