Monthly Archives: March 2014

Our Kitchen Makeover: Part 1

Now that our kitchen makeover is complete, I revisited my photo album, beginning with this “Before” shot showing our lack of counter space, our non-functional sliding glass door, the worn out appliances, and an out-dated tile back-splash. Both being frugal, Leigh Ann and I decided to cut costs by saving the cherry kitchen cabinets and the ceramic tile floor, putting our emphasis on higher quality windows and a new door, plus more counter space. To see a review of the steps we went through, just take a look here.

The first step was to remove one set of the upper cabinets and the old window in preparation for a trio of new windows in the exterior wall. The windows we ordered are designed to be more energy efficient and will give us a better view of our back yard.

Next the Adams and Adams Construction crew removed the appliances and started chipping off the tile back-splash.

Outside, the pile of debris started growing on our flagstone patio. The crew assigned me to be Cleanup Leader, mostly to keep me out of their way.

Before long the old sliding glass door and window were gone and the new framing was starting to appear.

With the new windows in place and the exterior insulation installed and taped, the crew turned their attention back to the indoors.

Meanwhile, the electrician had jumped in to run his wiring and mount the switch boxes and outlets while the walls were still open. The plumbers did the same for the drain and water pipes.

Next came the interior insulation and the new wallboard. Quick Tip: Always keep a vacuum nearby and use it often. This will prevent dirt and dust from spreading to the rest of the house! (Guess whose job that was!)

With the additional cherry base cabinets already on hand, the crew started creating Leigh Ann’s new peninsula. When they weren’t around, I took the opportunity to refresh and protect the existing cabinets using Minwax® Wood Cabinet Cleaner, followed by a coat of Minwax® Wipe-On Poly.

The new granite countertops were going to take a few weeks, so we used pieces of wallboard as temporary countertops so Leigh Ann and I could at least use part of the kitchen while we waited.

Next Week:  countertops, appliances, and the tile back-splash.

Until then,

Thanks for stopping by!


It’s All In the (Trim) Details

Although it appears in this picture that our kitchen remodeling is complete, if you look closely (as my wife Leigh Ann often does), you will see that there is still some trim missing on the bottom and the top of the three cabinets to the left. So when we had a rainy Saturday, I decided it was finally time to trim out our cabinets. You can take a look below to see how it went.

The carpenters who moved our cabinets around had to remove the bottom and top trim boards in the process, but it fell to me to put them back after the tile layer had left.

First, I laid out the top and bottom trim pieces in their proper position, and began clamping them in place.

Quick Tip:  Always use rubber pads to protect the wood from the jaws of the clamp.

Ouch! Yes, that is one of my nails that made an unscheduled turn and popped out through the front of one of my pieces of trim.

While I was still fuming over my mistake, Leigh Ann calmly picked up a nail punch and a hammer and tapped the nail back out of the board.

She then picked out the pre-tinted “Colonial Maple” Minwax® Wood Putty® and carefully used the tip of a screwdriver to pack it into the nail hole, as well as into the gap in the joint.

She wiped off the excess Wood Putty® with a paper towel and in no time at all had (once again) fixed my mistake.

Of course, she then left me with the task of nailing up the rest of the trim and filling the nail holes while she took advantage of a break in the clouds to do some work in her gardens. And I think you’ll agree that as minor as a few trim boards can seem, they are the finishing touch in any project.

Until next time,

Thanks for stopping by!



Alex Builds a Bed

My office assistant Alex is proof that if you hang around a DIYer, you become a DIYer. After taking many of the photographs for my blog projects, she has begun swapping her camera for a brush and a can of stain. This past week she announced that she was going to build, stain, and finish a pine headboard for her house. And she came up with a new twist I hadn’t thought of…

Alex arrived with a plan and her 1″x6″ horizontal slats and her 2″x4″ upright supports pre-cut according to her plan at the home improvement store, so she quickly cleared off the workbench and started her assembly.

Remembering my mantra that glue is always stronger than nails, she squirted a bead of glue where the first slat would be attached to the first upright.

She then nailed the horizontal slat to the upright. Alex purposely picked nails with heads for the rustic look she wanted.

Within minutes she had each slat measured and marked for even spacing, then glued and nailed in place.

A quick sanding with #150-grit sandpaper rounded the edges and smoothed out the boards.

Alex then brushed on a liberal coat of Minwax® Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner to reduce the blotchiness that occurs when staining softwoods like pine.

While the Wood Conditioner was drying, Alex explained that she wanted to use two different colors of Minwax® Wood Finish™ to get a weathered barn board effect:  Provincial for the brown base coat, followed by Classic Gray for an aged look. Since this was a new combination for both of us, I suggested she use the back of one of her boards to experiment with the two stains.

Once satisfied, Alex applied Provincial to the bare boards, let it soak in for about five minutes, then wiped off the excess stain.

After letting the Provincial stain dry, she next brushed on a coat of Classic Gray, let it sit for about five minutes, then wiped off the excess. (The board at the top has had both layers of stain applied and the excess wiped off.)

After the stain had dried, Alex finished her headboard with the first of two coats of Minwax® Clear Brushing Lacquer, a fast-drying protective finish.

Once home, she attached the two sections to the wall with an L-bracket, and topped it with a shelf running the length of the headboard, getting both a headboard and a display space out of the same project! And making me very proud!

Until next time,

Thanks for stopping by!




My First Spring Project!

It’s been a long, hard winter for most of us, including here in North Carolina. Each day I could see the snow and rain was taking a toll on my office door. So when the temperatures popped above seventy this past week, I put everything else aside and made it my first spring project. Take a look below to see how it went.

My office used to be in my house, but when it threatened to take over nearly every room, I built this second story addition to our two-car garage-workshop. It was a fun project and certainly relieved the pressure of having my projects spread throughout our house (just ask Leigh Ann!).

At the end of this forty-foot walkway from our house is the entrance door to my office. It’s made of mahogany and I bought it unfinished, then gave it two coats of Minwax® Helmsman® Spar Urethane before hanging it. (And, yes, I did cut a cat door in it!)

The door, however, faces west, which means lots of harsh sunlight in the afternoons, not to mention blowing snow and rain. Six years later some of the finish was just beginning to wear away, so now was the time to give the wood a fresh coat of protection.

The first step was to sand the old finish lightly, removing any loose finish and providing thousands of tiny scratches for the new coat of Helmsman® to cling to.

Even though only the bottom half of the door looked this bad, I planned on sanding and finishing the entire door to get an even sheen and appearance. 

While it’s always best to work on a horizontal surface, sometimes we just have to adapt. I just had to be careful not to brush on too heavy of a coat of Helmsman® that would cause runs or drips. Using only the tips of a natural bristle brush rather than a foam brush made sure I had a smooth, dripless finish.


And I could begin to see the difference as soon as my brush hit the wood!

One coat was all it took to provide the door with the added protection it needed. And catching it now rather than later meant that this was a minor project rather than a major one!

Until next week,

Thanks for stopping by!