Knocking Down Walls

Kitchen Remodel- Narrow Path

I mentioned previously that we had a very narrow walkway next to our fridge that lead down to the basement. Every time we head downstairs we have to turn sideways which this can be extra fun while trying to handle a basket full of laundry. We knew that we wanted to do everything possible to make this walkway wider.

The first option was moving to a slimmer fridge. Our current version was a double wide at. 36″. With just the two of us, this fridge was never full, so that decision was easily made. Sold! We ended up selling the big honker of a fridge to a friend, and planned to move to a slimmer style.

The next option was a little more drastic- removing a wall. We figured this wall most likely wasn’t load bearing, not only due to the placement of the stairs but also because the fridge wall used to be connected to where our bar halfwall was and the previous owners already removed a portion of it. Regardless we brought in professionals who did confirm that the wall was not load bearing. The wall was soon going to be history.

narrow walkway

We turned off all power, and used a stud finder to make sure we started off in an area of the wall where there was nothing behind it. We were still double checking at this point to make sure there was no duct work or other weird wires behind the wall. We used a hammer to make a hole, and  started to pull away the drywall.

Removing a Kitchen Wall

All we found behind the wall was the wiring to our thermostat, the kitchen light switches and an old telephone jack. We brought in an electrician to move the thermostat and light switch to just inside the dining room wall.

Removing a Kitchen Wall

We then continued with removing all of the drywall. The hammer got us started, but we were able to remove big chunks just by pulling it away. We used an exacto blade to cut through the mud and drywall tape to create a clean line where the drywall met the ceiling.

Removing a Kitchen Wall

We were then left with just the studs, which were just a tad bit warped. I guess they didn’t care about how straight the wood was back in the day?

Using our screwdriver, we were able to remove the studs from the floorboards and the ceiling. This left us with a little hole in our wall, ceiling, and a spot we needed to fill in the floor.

Removing a Kitchen Wall

Removing a Kitchen Wall

Removing a Kitchen Wall

I had orignially wanted to box in our fridge, but now I don’t know. I love how much more open this makes our kitchen. Thoughts??

Removing a Kitchen Wall


Removing Kitchen Soffits

Removing Cabinet Molding

Our kitchen is small, so anywhere we can wrangle up a little extra space is certainly welcomed.  The bulky soffits that were above our wall cabinets were definitely taking up valuable space. We knew that we wanted to remove them to help open up and make our kitchen feel larger. It was especially important to remove these on the wall behind the sink since we were planning on placing open shelving and backsplash tile from the counter to the ceiling.

After opening up the end of the long soffit above our microwave, we knew that it wasn’t hiding any duct work, electrical or plumbing. We already knew that the soffits above the sink were only decorative, since they were so small.

We used the following tools for this project- gloves, hammer, exacto knife, screw driver, pry bar and vacuum.

First, we removed the cabinets on the wall with the sink.

Removing Kitchen Soffits

We started by hammering into the center of the soffit. This created a hole so we could see into the empty soffit. Bonus points if you vacuum up the insulation and mouse droppings now instead of waiting until they fall out of the soffit!

Removing Kitchen Soffits


Removing Kitchen Soffits

Once you open up the wall, you can see exactly where the framing is. We used the hammer to break up the rest of the drywall on the soffit, then we pulled the remaining drywall off by hand or with a small pry bar. We used the exacto knife to score the edges where the soffit met the actual wall. This helped to give us a clean edge when we removed all the drywall.

Removing Kitchen Soffits

Once all the drywall was removed from the soffit, we just used a screwdriver to dismantle the framing.

Removing Kitchen Soffits Removing Kitchen Soffits

And that was that! We left ourselves with some gross looking holes in the wall, but it immediately opened up the room and really helped us get that extra space we so desperately needed.

Removing Kitchen Soffits Removing Kitchen Soffits

Too Much Kitchen Cabinet Molding?

Well that was a long time of not writing. Not that a lot wasn’t going on in our kitchen, we just writing and recapping it :). When we left off in the kitchen, the cabinets were looking like this.

Kitchen Remodel- Before Pictures

If you’ll notice, we had some molding above and below the cabinets. While it did a nice job of making our cabinets look more upscale, it definitely was leaving our counter top area feeling crunched. We removed the molding simply by unscrewing it from below.

Removing Cabinet MoldingAnd then just by giving it a little tug.

Removing Cabinet MoldingI know that not everyone is going to like this look- however we love how this left us with a much more open feeling kitchen. I know that it only saves us about 2″ in height, but it makes a big difference when you are prepping food on the counters! I think that we’ll leave these extra moldings out when we redo the cabinets!

Removing Cabinet MoldingRemoving Cabinet MoldingRemoving Cabinet Molding



Removing a Kitchen Island

We knew the next step for our kitchen remodel was going to be demoing the island. It was taking up a lot of space, and would open the area up to give us more room for the renovations.  So that’s how we went from this:

kitchen dining view


To this:

Removing Kitchen Island

We started by pulling off the laminate trim that was on one edge of the countertop. I used an exacto blade to cut the caulk line on the top and then a small pry bar to pull off the trim.

Removing a Kitchen Island

Then we unscrewed the laminate countertop from the island which was supported underneath by plywood.

Demoing Kitchen Island

This plywood was then screwed in from the top with a couple of screws. I’m so going to use this plywood for some of the cabinets we need to build on the island. Free wood for the win!

Removing a Kitchen Island

Once the laminate countertop and the plywood were removed, we were left with this sight:

Removing Kitchen Island

Next we removed the 1×6″ wood trim that was on either side of the top of the island.

Island No Side Top Trim

At this point we realized this wasn’t a true island but what used to be a wall. At some point, previous owners knocked down part of this wall to a half wall and then added a countertop to it. Pretty smart for a quick and dirty fix. I think the kitchen feels small now, I can’t image what it was like with a wall here.  Had to feel almost prison-like!

 We then removed all the molding around either side of the island. We used a utility knife and then a small pry bar to pull off the molding. At this time we also took off the paneling, which was pretty easy to do with a pry bar or hammer. Also this is the paint color that was cover 90% of the walls in our house when we first bought. I call it Peaches & Crap.

Demoing Kitchen Island

This left us with a whole bunch of drywall. We pulled up the 2×4 that was running along the top of the island, and after that it was pretty easy to pull the drywall off and just cut it down  so we could easily throw it away.

 Removing Kitchen IslandRemoving Kitchen Island

Then it was just a matter of taking apart the 2×4’s that supported the wall.

Removing Kitchen Island

The hardest part of the entire process was removing the last 2×4 that ran horizontally across the floor. It was nailed every 8 inches or so which made it pretty tough to rip up.

Demoing Kitchen Island

We were left with such a great view. A large space in the wall and a spot in the floor that would need patching.

Of course Penny didn’t know what to think. She was very confused.  It took her a good day to understand that she could walk across the spot that once housed our island.  I thought vizslas were supposed to be smart.  Good thing she’s got the looks!

Removing Kitchen Island

Layers of Linoleum


When we first bought our house, there was some pretty thick carpet in the dining room. Between the foam underlayment and the carpet, the step up to the kitchen flooring wasn’t noticeable.  When we removed the carpet, the tripping began.  Each time the kitchen was updated in the past, the new flooring was installed right on top of the old flooring.  This inevitably led to a pretty major tripping hazard.  We ended up having to use 2 different thresholds in order to build up to the height of the kitchen flooring. It left us with a little eyesore that looked something like this:

Kitchen Remodel- Double Threshold

The unsightly double-threshold was just one of the reasons we decided to update our kitchen flooring during the remodel.  The quarter round and floor were starting to look weathered and didn’t fit in with the rest of the house anymore.

distressedWhen we removed the two thresholds, this is what it looked like:

Flooring No Threshold

Upon closer inspection, this is what we found.

types of linoleum flooring


What’s missing from the above photo is the additional sub-floor that is hiding between the two linoleum layers. That means that there was 6 layers of flooring in some areas! While most people would be excited to see hardwoods running underneath all this flooring, we knew that wasn’t actually the case. Our ceiling is exposed in our basement, so we were able to see the following:

wood floor from underneath

Yes, some areas have hardwoods while some just have sub-floor running underneath it. There goes the original idea of us refinishing the floors…

Our next step was having this flooring tested for asbestos. Our home was built in 1925, so we knew that there was the possibility that one of these several layers could contain the nasty stuff.  While there are big debates on asbestos, and whether it is safe to remove when you are not creating dust, we decided to play it safe and get it tested. We cut a 1″ piece of each layer using an exacto blade and dropped it off at EMSL for testing. You can do all kinds of crazy tests, but we went with the most basic that just gives a positive or negative reading for asbestos. Testing is not cheap, but it definitely gives you peace of mind.

About a week later, I received an email from EMSL proving that I was a monkey’s uncle and there was no asbestos in any of the layers of our flooring. I was shocked, I have no idea how this happened.

We started off by removing the quarter round that was around the edges of the flooring. We used an exacto blade to cut the caulk that connected the quarter round to the cabinets first.

Removing linoleum flooring

Then we used a small crow bar to pry the quarter round off.

Removing linoleum flooring

The floating floor came up quite easily. We used the mini crow bar to pop up one tile, and then it was very easy for the entire row to lift out. Taking out this layer of flooring took a total of 30 minutes tops.

how to remove linoleum flooring

When we lifted up the floating floor, we found this beaut below.

Removing linoleum flooring

Then we used our floor scraper to wedge it between the linoleum and plywood base. It was pretty easy to lift up in large chunks.

Removing linoleum floor

We used that same floor scraper to lift up the plywood base. It was nailed in every couple of feet.


Floor scrapper 2nd layer

Finally we got to the bottom linoleum layer…aka Home on the Prairie. It was here we took a break, as we came to a standstill because of these staples. They had been used to attach the plywood I had just pulled out to the linoleum and sub-floor below it.

Normally I would just use needle nose pliers to remove staples, but that didn’t work here. These suckers were 1.5″ long, and every time we tried to use pliers, the staples broke apart. I went to Home Depot and picked up these nippers, and they are a miracle! Seriously my new favorite hand tool! They will pull out anything.

Tools for removing linoleum flooring

All you need to do is grab the staple closer to the floor and rock the nippers back and forth until the staple is removed.

Removing linoleum flooring

It did the trick, but there was still a ton of staples. This was actually from a 2′ x 2′ area-


Removing linoleum flooring

It took a good day just to remove all the staples. Then I started to use the floor scraper again to pull up the linoleum. This layer tended to chip apart instead of coming up in big chunks. In certain areas, I even had to use a chisel to get under the linoleum if I couldn’t catch a good edge with the floor scraper.

how to remove linloeum how to remove linoleum

Also next time I’ll be a little more aware of what shoes I am wearing. Linoleum is sticky stuff and the smaller chunks will get stuck to the bottoms of your shoes.


sticky shoes

While removing all the flooring we noticed that the cabinets were actually installed over 2 linoleum layers and 1 layer of the plywood. We will have to remove those layers once we have the cabinets removed.


All in all this would have taken an entire weekend if I hadn’t broken it up over a week and a half. It was a pain in the butt but I can’t tell you how great it already feels to not have to step up into our kitchen!

The Kitchen Plan

We shared in this post, the reasons why we wanted to renovate our kitchen and why we finally felt it was the time to kick our butts into gear. While some people can get lost in kitchen renovations and spend upwards of $50k, we knew that our renovation was going to be on a much smaller scale. Our kitchen is not big, and we really wanted to make sure we got a good return on investment for this renovation, especially since this is not our forever house. Our plan is to update the kitchen to not only make us happier, but to create something that future homeowners would see as a good investment. Here’s another shot of the view of our kitchen in its current “before” state: Kitchen Remodel- Before Pictures Here’s a shot from the opposite direction, looking into the dining room:   kitchen dining view When we first discussed the renovation of our kitchen, we figured a good starting point was the layout. We don’t love our current layout, but the more we thought about it, the more it makes sense. While we would love to move the fridge and add floor to ceiling cabinets to it’s current location for a pantry, we wouldn’t be able to find a new spot for the fridge that wouldn’t interfere with a walkway. fridge 1 Another deciding factor with keeping our current kitchen layout is that we really wanted to reuse our cabinets. It seemed like such a waste to throw out our cabinets since they are in good condition, showing minimal wear and tear.  Not to mention, the doors actually have some pretty nice detailing.  Plus we knew this would save us a bunch of cheddar, like $10k at least. kitchen cab detail

Here is our current layout. IKEA Home Planner- Original

…and here is what we are planning…pretty subtle changes, right?

Kitchen New

Here’s the breakdown of what we would like to get done (though not necessarily in this order):

  • Remove the million layers of linoleum and add new flooring
  • Remove the current bar height island and replace with a counter height island made of cabinets
  • Remove wall cabinets above the sink and replace with open shelving
  • Retrofit some of the cabinet doors from the sink wall cabinets for those on the island
  • Prime and paint the cabinets
  • Redo the backsplash
  • Remove the wall to the left of the fridge
  • Upgrade all appliances
  • Have a new countertop installed
  • Add new pendant lighting above the island

Just for fun, here are some inspiration pics of the kind of kitchens we like.

Kitchen with Open Shelves


Kitchen with Open Built InsSource:

Whew! That’s it! I’m sure this will change a ton during our renovation phase, but at least we’ve got a good start.


The Kitchen Chronicles – The Beginning

In the midst of all the other projects going on, we have decided to finally redo our kitchen. While this is a huge undertaking, it has also been 4 years in the making. There is a lot we are trying to get done, and we want to use what we can from the previous remodel that I am guessing was done in the early 90’s. Don’t get me wrong, I love the 90’s, but more so in a Zack Morris kind of way then maple orange wood and laminate counter tops.

Kitchen Remodel- Before Pictures

When we bought this house, we knew that a kitchen remodel was in our future. This was one of the most updated kitchens we saw in our price range, but still left a lot to be desired. We wanted to make sure we lived in it for a while before we made any rash decisions.  On the other hand, I didn’t expect it to take us 4 years to get rolling. I thought I would share what major issues led us to being ready for a major rehaul of our kitchen.

Lack of Storage

We have a small kitchen that not only tends to feel pretty tight, but also seems to lack adequate storage. The biggest culprit of wasted space is currently our bar. It takes up a whole side of our kitchen yet doesn’t include any storage whatsoever. It has space on either side for barstools, which is cool for eating meals and staring at friends, but there’s also a real dining room table a mere 2 feet away where you can do the same thing.

Kitchen Remodel- Lack of Storage

Tripping Hazards

When we removed the carpet in the dining room (yes, disgusting!), we noticed the significant step up into the kitchen. It looks like previous homeowners just kept layering new flooring whenever they did updates. There are 3 different kinds of linoleum as well as plywood layered in between. As you can see, I had to use 2 different thresholds in order to get the height needed for the transition. Although hilarious at times, this proved to be quite the step up for any newbies in our house, and we frequently saw a lot of tripping.

Kitchen Remodel- Double Threshold

Cabinet Were Looking Tired

We do have some nice quality maple cabinets, but they were starting to look worn out in places. All the foot kicks were pretty distressed, and any cabinets near the windows were bleached by the sun. Not to mention the hardware was a little to brassy for us.


Narrow Walkways

We have a couple of very narrow walkways and paths in our kitchen which are pretty inefficient. Next to our fridge are the stairs that lead down to the basement.  The opening to access the stairs is less tan 20″. Every time we go down to the basement we have to turn sideways and this can be extra fun while trying to handle a basket full of laundry.

Kitchen Remodel- Narrow Path

The other walkway issue is right where you step into the kitchen. There is a wall and a fridge to the left and the bar to the right, and the opening is right around 30″. On a day to day basis this doesn’t prove to be too annoying, but anytime we have friends over the bar tends to be the area that everyone congregates to. This tends to lead to the butt or crotch game (fight club reference), which can prove even more awkward when the fridge is open.

narrow walkway

And so we begin our Kitchen Chronicles. Stay tuned later this week for our post on our plans and to-do list!

How To Build A Wooden Tray with Leather Handles

build a wooden tray

This was a quick and easy project, based solely on my need to help corral all the junk on my nightstand.  I actually went to Target to look for a tray to fix this issue, but I couldn’t find one that was the right dimensions. Also, none of the trays had charging stations, and I refused to pay $10-15 for something I would have to take a drill to anyways!


Supplies & Tools Needed

Total $7.15! (everything without a price is something I already owned)


How To: 

I started off with a board that I cut down to 5.5″ wide by 10″ long. I chose this size because it fit perfectly on my minuscule nightstand and also could hold my phone.

DIY Wood Tray

I then drilled some holes with the Kreg Jig, 2 on each long size and 1 on each end.

DIY Wooden Tray

Then I started to cut the sides of the tray. I mitered one of the edges of the 1×3″ at a 45 degree angle and then held it up to the bottom piece of wood and marked where the edge was.

DIY Wooden Tray

I then used that mark on my miter saw to measure where to start the 45 degree angle cut out. Basically the end pieces all had inside lengths from corner to corner of 5.5″ (not including the angles of the miter), while the long pieces of wood were 10″ (again not including the angle of the miter). I worked my way around the tray cutting all of the miters and dry fitting the pieces.

build a wooden tray

I then glued the corners together and used some masking tape to hold them together while I also nailed them.

How to build a wooden tray

Then I flipped over the wood tray and screwed the base to the sides using Kreg Jig screws. Wipe of any excess glue.

Build a wooden tray

Once the glue was dry, I stained and used polyurethane on the tray. I also used a 3/16″ drill bit to drill a hole for my phone charger.

Wooden Tray

Once the stain was dry, I hot glued burlap to the inside of the wooden tray.

Diy Wooden Tray

Then I took my $3 thrift store belt, and cut it down to 6″ long. I cut it down to longer than the edge of the tray, so I would be able to create more of a curve to the handle.

how to build a wooden tray

Then I drilled 2 holes into the belt 1/2″ in from the edge.

Wooden Tray Leather Handles

I also drilled in 2 holes into each side of the wooden tray. These were 1-1/4″ in from the edge.

DIY Wooden Tray

Next I used the machine screws to screw through the wooden hole and also into the hole in the belt with a Philips screwdriver.

DIY wooden tray

Finally I screwed the cap nuts to the ends of the screws.

Screw Caps

Done! Now hopefully this will stop me from knocking my phone off of my nightstand every time I try to hit the snooze button…

DIY Wooden Tray diy wooden tray how to build a wooden tray

DIY Multipanel Mirror


I had been itching to add a mirror above our console table, and finally got around to it.  The idea came to me when I visited a friend and saw her awesome Pottery Barn Eagan Mirror. I knew it would be possible to make one at a fraction of the cost. By using wood instead of metal,  you can easily recreate this statement mirror. Here is how it turned out!



Pottery Barn’s Mirrorppbmirror


Supplies & Tools Needed

Total $130! That’s less than half the price of the Pottery Barn version!

Double check all your measurements. Specifically take a look at the true measurements of your mirrors. I didn’t have issues with my mirrors being dimensions other than 8″ x 8″, but I read other blogs where people doing similar projects had issues. Make sure everything is measured out prior to making your cuts.

 How To:

1. You’ll need to first figure out how big you want your mirror to be. My mirror is based off of a rectangular shape, with 3- 8″ square mirrors across and 4 mirrors down. My directions and dimensions are based on including the 12 mirrors. Depending on how many mirrors you use, you’ll need to start off by doing some calculations. I started by drawing out my mirror and then calculating approximately how big my board was going to need to be. Based on having 12 individual mirrors that were each 8″ square, 1 1/8″ molding for the outside, and 3/4″ molding between each of the mirrors…I was able to calculate that my mirror would be approximately 27 3/4″ wide and 37 1/2″ tall. Below is an illustration that will help to lay out the dimensions. Mirror Dimensions 2. Using a table saw, I cut my plywood down to 2′ 3 1/2″ by 3′ 1/4″.

3. Cut your corner molding down to size. I cut two pieces down to 2′ 3 3/4″, and the two vertical pieces to 3′ 1/2″. Measurements were made from the outer corner. All cuts were made with my miter saw set at a 45 degree angle. Once the cuts were made, I used wood glue to adhere the molding down to the piece of plywood and then nailed them in.

Mirror Step 24. Once the corners were glued down, I then started placing the mirrors down to figure out the spacing for the screen molding. I made a little tape handle and placed it on the mirror, so I could easily pull it out and off of the mirror since I wasn’t ready yet to glue them down.

tape handle

5.  I cut 2 vertical pieces of the screen molding at 2′ 10 1/4″. I then cut 9 pieces of the screen molding that would run horizontal across the mirror at 8″. I used wood glue and nailed the molding down to the plywood. I kept my mirrors in place while I was gluing and nailing everything in, I did not pull them off the plywood until the end of this step.

Mirror Step 3Mirror Step 4

6. Then I used wood putty to fill in all nail holes. After the wood putty dried, i sanded it smooth.

7. I then used the carpet tacks to nail the mirror rosettes in the intersections of the screen molding. When you’re nailing be careful to nail perfectly straight, I can’t tell you how many little plastic rosettes I shattered.

8.  After everything was nailed into place, I started spray painting the mirror. Using the Oil Rubbed Bronze Spray Paint, I started on the top and gave the mirror several light, quick sprays over all the tacks, rosettes, and screen molding. I worked my way to the sides, and also spray painted the sides of the corner molding. I would let the paint dry for about 30 minutes between each of the 3 light coats I gave the mirror.

Mirror Brown

9. I waited about 24 hours for everything to dry before using the Mirror Adhesive to glue the mirrors down. I used a lot of glue on the mirror just because I was pretty nervous that everything was going to coming crashing down. If there are 12 mirrors, would that have counted as 84 years of bad luck?

Mirror Color

10.  Then the mirror was ready to be hung! And I was terrified. One side of the mirror would be able to go directly into a stud, but the other would not. I ended up calling my friend who has the actual mirror to see what they had used to hang theirs. Since they had used toggle bolts, and my mirror was about half the size, I figured I would be ok with the same. I ended up picking up a toggle bolt that said it could hold up to 75lbs. Yes I weighed my mirror, and it came in about 40. I screwed in d-ring hangers to the back of the mirror, and then screwed the Molly bolt into the wall side where I could not screw into a stud.

11. Finished! Although I did not breathe a sigh of relief for several days as I waited to see if the mirror was going to stay put. I may have placed pillows under the mirror for its first night up on the wall. You know just in case it decided to leap off the wall.





How To Build A Garment Rack


We all want more storage, right? That’s why I built a garment rack that will eventually go in our basement. We have so much overflow that we ended up using all the closet space in our office for extra jackets, wedding dresses, etc. Doesn’t help that since we have an old house, we have some pretty small closets. Eventually I would love to get some canvas hanging bags for when storing out of season items on this.

Supplies & Tools Needed

Total Cost

Total Cost: $46.00


How To

1. I started off with the stained pieces of wood and the piping all sprayed with Oil Rubbed Bronze Spray.

IMG_04362. Attach the two pieces of board to each other with the brackets. Connect the wood from below. I placed the brackets about 10″ in from either side.

IMG_04373. Screw the wheels into the four corners of the base. I placed mine about 1″ in from each corner.


4. In order to put together the piping, you have to start from one side and work your way to the other. I screwed in the floor flange first into the right hand side only. Do not screw both floor flanges in at this point, as you would have to remove one side in order to assemble all the piping.

IMG_04475. Screw one of the 48″ pieces of piping down into the floor flange you just attached to the wood.

IMG_04546. Screw the elbow into the floor piping.

IMG_04577. Screw the next piece of piping into the elbow to create the rod that you will place your hangers on. Then screw the next elbow onto the left edge of the piping.

IMG_04608. Screw the final piece of piping into the elbow.

9.Twist the last floor flange onto the bottom of the piping before you screw it to the boards.

10. Screw the floor flange into the boards. Done!!!!!IMG_0462