Archives for August 2012

Subway Tile Love

It’s fair to say that I am partial to subway set tile (it is sometime called “brick set” for the obvious reason). I have not deviated from using it exclusively anytime we have tiled something. Variety might be the spice of life, but in this case I will keep the variety in the tile selected, not the application. Why do I love it so? It’s timeless, simple and easy on the eyes. I have a hard time labeling my style when asked (because droves of people stop me in the streets to ask what the name of my personal home decor style is… 🙂 ) but the thing I always gravitate towards is simple, clean with just a tiny bit of visual interest, & subway tile meets that criteria perfectly.  Here are a few of my favorite applications:

 aqua subway tile{originally found on Ashlee Raubach Photography}

white subway tile and open shelves{originally found on House Beautiful}

white subway tile and an open kitchen{originally found on Feast}


I don’t mean to be one of those women who is always praising her husband on facebook and saying how “Uhhhhhmaaazing he is”. I am always a little suspect about that stuff…So, at the risk of sounding obnoxious, my husband actually gets first place for my favorite application on subway tile ever. I told him that Ann Sacks was making wood tile that just happens to be totally beautiful (like everything they make) and outlandishly spendy (like everything they make) & did he think he could make some? Turns out he can, out of leftover Ikea butcher block no less. (while we are on the subject, I woke up at 3am last night and noticed the lights on out front, got up to check things out and found him finishing up canning the last of 48 quarts of spaghetti sauce – this is no lie). So here is the wood tile he made for our bathroom backsplash:

diy wood subway tile

Jeff made the whole vanity. There are metal brackets underneath the wood slab and he dropped that sink from Ikea in a hole he cut in the top. A word of caution though for those of you DIY’ers out there. If you buy an Ikea sink you should also buy their faucet’s. We didn’t & learned the hard way that there is a European standard vs. a US standard when it comes to the sink/drain components, which equals an expensive make-shift plumbing job and extra time to boot.


Jeff also did a mini-sub set as the back splash in our other bathroom. I think it turned out really cute:

mini white subway tile

I don’t want to bore you, so I’ll save the other 3 applications of subway tile we put in this house for another post! If you missed my post showing the subway tile in our kitchen you can read it here.

Living Room Makeover

Finally got around to cleaning up and taking pictures of our living room makeover. Since I showed you our kitchen a week or so ago, we (by we I mean my husband and my father-in-law. Are you starting to wonder if I do anything besides just write about the things other people do?) have put up 25 lbs. of pickled beets, 25 lbs. of dill pickles, blackberry sauce and peach sauce. Tomorrow we are doing 25 lbs. of dilly beans (green beans with dill and garlic and a few with jalapeños) and more blackberry sauce, and if the heat doesn’t get us too down we may brave the county fair to check out some piglets and elephant ears. So…the house reveal is slow-going. But, here is our living room and dining room (the part not seen in the kitchen photos) with before and afters:

living room before

dining room before{how do you like those purple walls? This shows the wall Jeff took down into the kitchen}


Here are the afters:

living room and dining room after

living room makeover

dining room makeover{most the space is a shade of gray with a little aqua thrown in. I think the little girl in the corner of the room is making the space extra lovely}

The remodel of this space was achieved primarily through coats and coats of paint. I stuck with a pretty neutral pallet because it is a  small space and it makes it feel less busy. We had the railing sand-blasted and powder coated (after I tried painting it myself and it turned into a horrible mess). We also removed the pellet stove and will have the chimney inspected and ready for real wood by winter. We removed all the baseboard heat and added a new furnace/HVAC system to the house. And of course the floors got refinished through-out this whole floor.

Budget Kitchen Remodel {cutie-pie kitchen for under 10k}

We are finally getting settled. It’s taking a little longer than it should since we are also trying to squeeze in as much canning as possible while everything is ripe and ready. Since there is still lots to do I thought I would start by showing you our almost finished kitchen. When we first looked at our house I told Jeff we could make it work if we opened up the kitchen, by taking down a wall. I spend most my life in the kitchen, so I need to be able to see most of my house from there (which is easier than it sounds since upstairs in only 900ish square feet). Anyway, he agreed and I now have the sweetest little kitchen thanks to my handy husband (& lots of help from my dad). Here is the before (I know many of you vintage lovers are going to curse us for not saving these cutie-pie original cabinets, & we totally understand. We tried to figure out how to save them, but with the wall going, the configuration wouldn’t work, but we kept them in-tact and are reusing them as storage in our garage):

vintage kitchen before remodel

Here are a few “after” pictures (still looking a little sterile since there is no art up & the open shelves that will span the area over the window aren’t up showing off all my husband’s beautiful canned goods, the “after after” photos will come later):

kitchen makeover with butcher block counters

white gray and wood kitchen

inexpensive kitchen remodel

gray subway tile and aqua vintage chair{can you see me reflected in the tile close-up? the chair I spray-painted that pretty blue is one of those red ones everyone’s mom or grandma had when you were a kid with the pull-out step stool, it still needs some sandpaper to take off that over-spray, but otherwise I am in love with what a little spray-paint did for it).  Here is what it looked like before a paint job:

vintage red chair with steps——–

Here is what we did (&, as usual, by we I mean Jeff mostly) and what it cost:

1. matched hardwood floors to the rest of the house (& then refinished them all): $325 for materials (labor was free since Jeff did them)

2. new cabinets & island (the island is the larger one from Ikea that I blogged about here. The cabinets are Norcraft and pretty much the bottom line for real wood, with a paint finish. Also, we are Direct Buy members so keep in mind some of this stuff is pretty discounted because of that): $3,566 (cabinets) + $379 (island)

3. new appliances (fridge, gas range, microhood & dishwasher): $2432

4. new light: $20

5. new counters: $625 (labor & materials, we had a finish carpenter cut them to size, do the cut-out for the under-mount sink & install them, then Jeff finished them with waterlox)

6. new backsplash: $410 (materials only, Jeff provided the labor)

7. new sink: $106

8. new faucet: $140

9. new hardware: $60

total: $8,063

So, I realize some of you will scoff at this being a “budget” remodel and some will marvel at how cheap it all was, perspective is everything. So, just for reference, the average kitchen remodel costs $57,500 according to remodeling magazine. That is of course using professionals, not your husband and probably takes into consideration a space larger than ours…But, we think we did pretty well none the less (I didn’t include in the total our costs for taking the wall down, patching sheet-rock and wiring a canned light, since they were part of other projects in the home as well & lumped in with those bills).

More rooms to come (I can’t keep them all clean at once, so it may be a day-by-day “reveal”)…


p.s. I have been emailed a bunch of times about where to buy the tile we used in our kitchen. If you are in the Portland area I got it at CFM. If not, here is the info (I suggest printing the page & taking it with you to the tile store):