This little home update officially kicks off our Ace Hardware partnership this year, and for that, we are so happy and thankful! We’ve always had such a great time working with the team behind that name, and we love that although they provide us with month-to-month post guidelines, they allow us to choose the projects that are relevant to our home and current projects. To start, they’ve asked us to share a seasonal maintenance task around our home, and being that it’s February in Chicago (and because we’re still picking up on this old house’s quirks), we have a quick tip that has made a huge impact in keeping our rooms just that much warmer.
Having lived in our well insulated condo for 7 years prior to this home, we were absolutely, hands down, spoiled by our low cost gas and electric bills. (Last year, our friends that live in that yellow-brick-building never, ever turned on their heat – at all. Living on the third floor, they reaped the benefits of the rising heat from the units below them!) But since moving into this home, we’ve sprayed foam in every crack and crevice, patched up old cable holes, and as we update every old outlet and switch, we’ve been cushioning them with little coats – at least, that’s what I like to call it!
A house of this age is full of winter weather surprises, and I was surprised by the amount of cold air that was working its way into our rooms. An electrical plate on its own won’t block all that freezing air.
With our kitchen electrical now complete, we first used these foam outlet seals (aka outlet coats, ha), cut them to fit, and snugged them onto all the exterior wall plugs. The seals come in any shape – rocker panels, single switch, and so on – but we picked up the standard outlet seals to cut down to size for rockers or the circular outlets, the two common sizes in our home.
With the plate in place, we capped the outlets for extra credit, and my goodness. Drafts? Gone. No more. Coming from a well insulated apartment to a drafty home, I’ve never understood just All the Ways cold air was able to slip through the cracks (literally), but it’s a small cost update that, simply put, works. Side note: These foam seals are not recommended on dimmer switches, but they work like a dream in every other scenario.
We have a bigger kitchen update to come later this week (so many scraggly ends before we can check another item off the punch list!), but to welcome another year with Ace the right way, we’ll be giving away a $100 Ace Hardware gift card to one lucky reader! Using the Rafflecopter widget below, enter as many ways as you’d like. Giveaway runs through Friday, February 20th at 5pm CST, and the winner will be announced within this post. Good luck and happy entering!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
We’re excited to be collaborating with Ace Hardware as a part of their Ace Blogger Panel! Ace has provided us with compensation and the materials necessary to complete this project (hey, thanks, Ace!), and all opinions are our own.
It’s starting to look like a kitchen in here! The cabinets are installed, and what a difference. This is true for every step in this renovation, but really, what a difference! The color (Ben Moore’s Distant Gray) is so perfectly white without a hint of blue or yellow. These old, crooked walls of ours have caused the installation to take a bit longer than expected (who’s surprised?), and throughout this update, you’ll notice blue tape marking imperfections and a couple missing and uneven doors, but we’re thisclose to putting our dishes back behind closed doors! Yes, there’s still a lot to do, but it’s worlds away from where we started.
Below, you’ll see our view from the back door. The first photo is still sans trim at the top, but you can see how it looks in the second photo. We landed on a simple 3″ trim, which was dictated solely on the obnoxious furnace soffit we have to work around; by dropping the upper cabinets 3″ to make them accessible, the trim was added to snug them up and give a taller appearance. And speaking of soffits, we’re so happy you all spoke up (loud and clear!) about leaving out new soffits – they really weren’t necessary, and we don’t wish for them in the slightest! Thank you, thank you.
Above, you can see that we plopped down our old countertop until the new one is installed (same sink and faucet for now, too), and this also shows how much more counter space we’ll have! The cabinets on this side were extended by an additional 2′, which will accommodate a dishwasher on the bottom and provides us with more storage up above.
But how about the mistake that cost us? Whether it was miscommunication on our end (which is highly possible) or just one of those things that we assumed was a given (never, ever assume!), our fridge surround fell short, leaving 6″ exposed on the side:
The good news is that the surround can be extended, and with it, the cabinets above and to the right of the fridge will also bump out for a more sleek and cohesive finish. The bad news, besides delaying the install in its entirety, is that the additional materials and man hours cost us. More than we would have thought. While we could have dwelled on this (and I did for a good hour or so, but wine helped!), we decided that this visual change was important to us. What’s the point of hiring a custom maker if it wasn’t going to be, well, custom? We’ll pay for it, but it’ll get corrected – and it’ll be worth it.
But on to the fun stuff! Since we were having (mostly) new cabinets built from scratch (with the exception of the uppers on the wet wall, which were refaced), we added a few bells and whistles that’ll help with workflow – plus, it’s just so exciting. A pull out spice rack! Pull out trash and recycling! At one point, it was mentioned that a spice rack isn’t ideal next to the oven due to heat, which had us re-researching – you guys are always so great with your input and ideas! – but perhaps this is true with older ovens? With the oven set to bake, the sides stay completely cool to the touch, and almost every example we saw showed the spices next to the oven – and so, we ran with it. To be honest, we don’t exactly have the most exotic spices in the world, so we’re content and happy.
And look! Pull out trays on the lowers! And a tall pantry next to the fridge! This slim pantry will extend completely once the cabinets are all in line with the fridge, which will allow us to easily access everything. The pull out trays were added after all your input for bottom drawers; for us, this was a price-compromise, since deep lower drawers are significantly more expensive than a tray.
One little trick that has us crazy excited is the tip out tray beneath our sink. Once the quartzite counters are installed, we didn’t want to display our scouring pads scrub brushes out in the open, and since this is typically a useless space, we added this tray. You can get them as doubles or singles, but preferring the single, we ordered ours from the Rev-A-Shelf website (which is pricier than Amazon, unfortunately).
Our cabinet maker is wrapping up the final touches this week, which includes leveling the doors and drawers, finishing the trim and, most importantly, addressing the refrigerator surround. The fabricator has already measured our counters, our new sink and faucet have arrived, and we finalized all the hardware and lighting for the room! Hopefully the counters will get installed within the next week, and then we can tile! We recently found out that our transom and sidelights – which should have been installed by now – are on back order, which, I don’t know, is definitely a bummer. Even still, I sort of feel like every sentence in this entire post should end with an !! (yes, even the mistake that cost us), but I’m doing my best to spare you. With every up and down (and there have been our fair share of downs – aka pretty passionate, um, disagreements), we always find ourselves going back to excitement in the end. (!!)
PS… We love you! Let’s celebrate Valentine’s Day (er, week?) with 14% off anything in The Print Shop with code PRINTSHOP14. XO.
Phew – that beast of a hutch is done! And it’s so cute now!
We knew it would take some work to refinish the wood when we first picked it up a few weeks ago, and that was confirmed when it rapidly turned into one of those projects that required a whole lot of stuff, a whole lot of patience, and several days of work overall. We had all the supplies on hand, but I won’t lie – if you don’t have these on hand (below), I do think a makeover to this extent could add up quickly. This hutch was a bit more work than a more simple wood refresh; the old polyurethane was on thick, it had yellowed quite a bit over time, and we needed a solution for the weird wood-striped back. And now that it’s done? Ugh, I mean, I’ll say it again – it’s just so cute!
No-rinse TSP / deglosser
Murphy’s Oil Soap
Restor-A-Finish in Walnut
1/8″ thick pine trim strip
Spackle or wood filler
Zinsser 1-2-3 water based primer
Valspar Optimus paint (BM Intense White)
Minwax Polycrylic in satin
Cheap Paintbrush for Citristrip
Orbital sander with 120/220 grit pads
2″ angle brush for paint/poly
4″ foam rollers for paint/poly
Super fine sanding block
WHAT WE DID: First things first, we absolutely had to get rid of the weathered polyurethane, and because it had been applied pretty thick, we chose to strip it first, rather than just sand it. (This would save us time once we got to that step.) Scott and I used old paint brushes to apply Citristrip, and within 30 minutes, it began working it’s magic. We used a putty knife to scrape it off – which is pretty fun, really! – and applied a thin second coat on some of the more stubborn areas.
Once every last bit of Citristip had been removed, we used mineral spirits to clean off the residue and moved onto sanding. I started with 120 grit sandpaper and worked my way down to 220 grit, being careful not to get overzealous with my orbital. Parts of the hutch were solid wood, but other areas were a veneer, so I had to work slow around the edges. Also? I did accidentally create a knick or two in the veneer, and at the end of this project, I used a dab of brown paint to touch those up; no one’s the wiser!
It was looking so much better already, but it was time to move on to the most satisfying part of the job – bringing back that color. Using soft rags, everything was washed with no-rinse TSP, and I followed that up – inside and out! – with Murphy’s Oil Soap to get off every bit of grime. A new rag soaked with Restor-A-Finish brought out a rich, medium-brown shade (way, way less orange color than the original), and once every bit of the exterior had soaked this up, I nourished it with a liberal application of Feed-N-Wax. Two days later, I applied another round of Restor-A-Finish and Feed-N-Wax to darken it up even more, and I did this again over the weekend. The hutch was thirsty!
After a bit of back and forth, we decided to nix the glass altogether, which meant we’d need to get rid of the grooves the glass doors rested in. But once that came off, we were left with a lip that was set back a bit too far (looking disjointed), so we filled that in with a thin piece of pine trim. A touch of spackle filled in any scratches and dents (wood filler would work, too), and I finished off the shelves with a bead of caulk to close up any gaps.
Lastly, it was time to paint! We didn’t want to go overboard with color in the kitchen, although we definitely considered it, but since we have our minty pocket door and vintage rug, we opted for the same color as our kitchen walls – Benjamin Moore’s Intense White, color matched to Valspar Optimus paint. Because the hutch will get a workout with our bar supplies, the goal is always to make it last. Using the right products is everything when it comes to painting furniture, and we used our tried and true method: ONE coat of Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 water based primer, TWO coats of paint and THREE thin coats of Polycrylic in a satin finish. I used a 2″ angled brush to get all the corners and a 4″ foam roller for the large flat surfaces, and a super fine sanding block was used between each coat of Polycrylic to further help with adhesion.
We allowed the paint to cure for a handful of days, mostly because that’s what you’re supposed to do, but also because our kitchen still needed paint at the time. The waiting, of course, is the hardest part, but definitely worth it to avoid damaging the new paint job. We’re not sure if it’ll go here (to the left of the furnace wall) or to the right of the back-wall-of-windows, and once the cabinets are installed, we’ll have a better idea. But! Cute!
The hardware is truly a showstopper, the most perfect finishing touch. We chose these bevel edge bin pulls and mission drawer pulls from Rejuvenation in a burnished antique finish, which are so subtle. So pretty.
The trim piece we installed looks nice and polished, and although I had toyed with the idea of filling in the grooves along the sides, I’m happy Scott convinced me otherwise. They’re nice little details that add a little something extra overall:
And the storage! We have way more booze to stash away (obviously), but we’d like to collect more glass decanters for the open shelving and stash larger handles below. Looking at the guts of the hutch – which received nothing more than a good cleaning with the oil soap – you’d think the exterior wood tone was always this shade!
Once the hutch was complete, we turned our attention to the island (watch out, I’m a painting machine, I tell you!), and it’s a few coats of Polycrylic from being done with the paint job. We’ve been shopping around for an odd-shaped butcher block that’s affordable, but the more we research, the picker we get. (Is anyone else that way?) I think we’ve narrowed in on a winning hunk of maple, but we haven’t completely counted out Ikea. It looks like our favorite Swedish megastore has recently updated it’s inventory of counter options, but has anyone purchased butcher block from Ikea? What do you think?
Rejuvenation provided the hardware for our hutch, and we’re so, so thrilled they wanted to be a part of our renovation. As always, thank you for supporting those that support us.
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