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Updates On Our Most Asked About Home Projects 4.0

We’re back with another round of updates on our most asked about home furnishings and DIY projects! This is always a good time to reflect on what worked, what didn’t, and would we do it again? We thought it would be fun if Scott and I both chimed in with our thoughts, noted as K(im) and S(cott) throughout the post. Let’s dig right in, friends.

Psst: Here are updates 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0, if you’d like to see!

Glazed Bathtubs

pink bathtub with polished chrome fixtures in a recently renovation vintage-style bathroom in Chicago | via Yellow Brick Home
shower trim kit + head + handle

Kim: So many of you have wondered if our reglazed bathtubs have been holding up. Are there chips? Is it peeling? I’m happy to report that there is zero sign of wear! You may remember that I went through the process of finding the perfect pink (to match our pink sink!) for the tub. That was one year ago, and we asked our tenant what she thought. Her reply: No chipping that we see and holding up in perfect condition!

Scott: The cool thing about our pink tub is that we learned a tub can be reglazed to any color imaginable. Our contractor had us pick out the paint color, and he had it matched to his epoxy! More about that right here.

pink sink and bathtub in a recently renovation vintage-style bathroom in Chicago | via Yellow Brick Home
shower trim kit + head + handletoilet + black lid | chrome hooks

Would we do it again?

S: Absolutely! This is actually our second time having an existing tub reglazed – both times by the same company! While the cost of reglazing often comes close to that of an inexpensive brand new tub, replacing a bathtub is a pretty involved process. Replacing most modern bathtubs will require demolition, replacing tile (that might be hard to source, depending on who installed it) and a pretty decent mess. Reglazing is a great option to prevent a lot of demolition dust, or if you have a cast iron tub. My one tip is once you’ve reglazed your tub, don’t use abrasive scrubbing pads to clean. Instead, opt for more natural cleansers, such as vinegar based or citrus-powered cleansers.

See also: the pink bathroom mood board, how we mixed old + new bathroom fixtures, reglazing a pink bathtub, the cost of renovating a small bathroom, and the pink bathroom reveal.

The Big Plant Pocket

WallyGro in the playroom | via Yellow Brick Home
living wall planter | basket | lion lamp

K: Our living wall planter / plant pocket has been through many transitions over the years, and no matter the arrangement, she’s always been the show stopper on the second floor. The second floor of our home closely mimics the first floor, which means we have a lot of wall space. Instead of another gallery wall, we opted for this plant pocket, and after several transitions, I think she’s hit her sweet spot. We have a mix of trailing pothos, ZZs, monstera and even one teeny, tiny jade. The pockets are all connected to one another, but I’ve successfully used different types of soil and watering schedules to water each plants needs individually!

WallyGro in the playroom, wide shot of the playroom | via Yellow Brick Home
 craft table | rocker | light fixture

Would we do it again?​​​​​​​

S: Yes! One of Kim’s favorite hobbies is rearranging the pocket every couple of years. We’re probably on our fifth iteration of the plants themselves, and we even recently moved the pocket to shift its location on the wall once as well. (See that here – it was an undertaking, but a successful one!) It’s a fun statement piece that makes a huge impact on the space. We love it!

See also: keeping our plants happy, a DIY lion lamp, the playroom reveal.

The Entryway

Milk Toast by Valspar in our home's entryway | Chicago home | via Yellow Brick Home
stair runner | light

K: We opted for marble floors in the entryway, knowing full well that they would patina over time – and they have, in the best way! We love opening our front door and seeing this view. We’ve poured so much of our hearts and soul into this space over the years, from opening up the walls (that link is a blast from the past!), saving the original staircase, painting the walls (this is Milk Toast by Valspar), and adding a stair runner.

S: The runner has held up SO well over the last few years and has probably saved a few bruised tailbones along the way. It not only looks great, but the natural fibers add a significant amount of traction to an otherwise dangerously slippery painted staircase. It was a necessity when little Lucy joined our family, and we haven’t looked back.

Kim and Catfish in the entryway | Milk Toast by Valspar | via Yellow Brick Home
oversized mirror | light | shoe cabinet

Would we do it again?

K: Yes, with a caveat. Like I said, we L-O-V-E our entryway. An entryway was on our wish list while house hunting (over 8 years ago!), and one of the major components of the space was tiling the floors. While we think the marble is still stunning, I wish we would have chosen a dark grout from the very beginning. Over time, the light gray grout we chose has naturally turned dark, despite being cleaned.

See also: tiling the entryway, adding a stair runner, entryway gets a makeover!

The Potty Pits

'pee pit' | 'potty pit' for dogs | via Yellow Brick Home
potty pit being built

S: We’ve gotten all sorts of feedback on the fact that we’ve integrated dog potty pits into the front and back yards in our Chicago home and the side yard at our Michigan Tree House. Here’s the thing though – they work exactly as intended! Training dogs to potty on gravel instead of grass has a lot of advantages:

  • Gravel allows for easier cleanup of… um… solids
  • Gravel doesn’t ‘burn’ like grass does – there is no maintenance
  • Gravel rinses easily and cuts down on odors that grass can trap

All three of our dogs have adjusted to using the potty pits quickly and seem to appreciate the fact that they have a dedicated ‘spot’.

'pee pit' | 'potty pit' for dogs | via Yellow Brick Home
gravel potty pit under our back porch

Would we do it again?

S: For sure! Potty pits allow for a clean, simple way to deal with the most annoying part of pet parenting – the potty! Gravel rinses easily and keeps the rest of the yard looking tidy. If space allows, we highly recommend it.

See also: DIY potty ‘pee’ pit, backyard makeover with a pee pit.

Butcher Block Countertops

Small kitchen inspiration, view of the wet wall | via Yellow Brick Home
faucet | hardware | sconce 

K: We have two butcher block countertops in our home – one in the garden unit kitchen, and the other on our own kitchen island. Our kitchen island is oiled a few times a year, and while it shows wear, we personally like that look. In the garden unit, we used Waterlox, which provides a more hard surface than oiling alone. There’s one water ring, and the satin finish has slowly lost its sheen. It’s going to be time to refinish it soon.

S: The butcher block in the garden unit was a durable, cost-effective choice. It saved us thousands of dollars when compared to sourcing, fabricating and installing a stone or composite countertop, since the material itself is inexpensive and the install is a pretty straightforward DIY. Here’s the step-by-step on the install, including how we sealed it with Waterlox!

small kitchen inspiration | the garden apartment kitchen, view of the stove wall | via Yellow Brick Home
hardware

Would we do it again?

K: In terms of both looks and affordability, yes. We know we’ll need to refinish the top in a year or two, but that’s the beauty of butcher block – it can be refreshed in an afternoon without needing to call in professionals. And in a kitchen where we chose gray cabinetry, the butcher block lends a warmth that can’t be beat!

See also: adding butcher block countertops and our IKEA kitchen makeover!

The Snug

The snug in our home, moody walls and patterned rug | via Yellow Brick Home
rug | bookcase | sconce | stool

K: One of the more charming parts of Chicago homes are the small rooms. The snug was originally a bedroom (before we purchased this house), and we immediately opened the doorway to create a little music room. It’s since been painted several colors, but it wasn’t until it became ‘The Snug’ that it really, truly came into its own. The affordable rug adds pattern, is soft to play on, and the storage – both for toys and vinyl – is just right for our small family. We use it every single day.

Catfish laying on the snug rug | Loloi x CLJ rug in Antique Sky | via Yellow Brick Home
rug

S: The semi-custom IKEA-hacked cabinet bench in the snug has been a game changer. Lucy knows that all of her toys need to be put away into the bins inside the cabinets before we sit down to dinner every night. Most of her friends also know that the toys are stored in them, and they beeline right to them! We find that having a place for everything leaves nothing up for debate, especially when it comes to spunky preschoolers. Toys go back into the bins in the cabinets, the cabinet doors get closed up and the chaos inside is completely hidden!

See also: adding built-in seating, our record storage and snug reveal!

Would we do it again?

S: YES! Top-to-bottom, YES. The seating is used mostly by adults, but the toy storage has been aah-mazing. We don’t think there is anything we could have done differently to add more functionality to this tiny little space. It truly draws people in from the moment they step into our home!

Our Kitchen: Layout + Appliances

Kim and Catfish in the kitchen making dinner | all white kitchen | via Yellow Brick Home
island | light | hanging planter

K: The kitchen doesn’t make a lot of appearances, but here she is! Six years ago, she got a head-to-toe makeover. We worked hard to make the most out of an awkward and under-utilized space by brightening the cabinet color, adding a huge sliding door to the patio and floating an island in the center. You can see the whole kitchen reveal right here – it’s quite a before and after!

S: The kitchen renovation was truly a ‘make lemonade out of lemons’ situation. To keep the budget in check, we reused most of the existing cabinet boxes, then we had a few additional boxes custom built for the space. All of the appliances were purchased on mega sale, and we made the most of the existing layout. Overall it’s served us really well for the last 6years!

Catfish tries to nab food off the kitchen counter | all-white kitchen | via Yellow Brick Home
toaster | hardware

Would we do it again?

K: For a Phase One makeover, this one might be or greatest work, haha. We worked on a really tight budget and bought everything on sale. If we had the same small budget, yes, I’d do it this way again in a heartbeat. That said, we’ve been talking more and more about rearranging the kitchen to be the space of our dreams! We have a lot of obstacles – a furnace closet, a skinny room, a big wall of glass – but it continues to creep into conversation that it could be more efficient. I would need to break down the problem areas in a totally new post, and maybe we’ll start considering changes next year! I will say that the thought of re-designing the layout gets me very, very excited. (Sorry, Scott!)

S: In hind sight, if our budget had for allowed it, I think we would have gotten more creative and found a way to relocate the furnace closet. The HVAC system on our first floor wasn’t very well designed and even with a brand new low decibel high-efficiency furnace, it can be noisy. The furnace closet also takes up about 5 linear feet of wall space that could easily have accommodated a few additional cabinets, a coffee station or a beverage fridge. Under the same financial and time circumstances, I think we’d do things exactly the same, but if we had held off for a year and let our budget grow a bit, things would have turned out differently.

See also: choosing white appliances, DIY kitchen island and our kitchen reveal!

Let us know if you have any other questions or project updates, and we’ll answer them in the comments for all to see!

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  • Katie W9.1.21 - 8:26 AM

    I loved this post! Having recently purchased a 1940s fixer upper in Milwaukee, I find myself looking back to your blog over and over again for ideas that make old homes look freshened up without being too modern. 
    I especially find your potty pit idea genius. This is my first backyard and I’m quickly seeing how my fur babies can destroy it! I wondered if you two had any issues with Lucy playing in the gravel at first? My toddler loves to play with landscaping rocks 🥴
    Thanks for sharing all your hard work and creativity! It’s really appreciated. ReplyCancel

    • Scott9.1.21 - 8:43 AM

      Hi Katie, thanks for the kind words! The potty pits have been great but we did have to also ‘train’ Lucy and her friends to stay out of the gravel. They all understand that they’re not supposed to play with the rocks because that’s where the dogs potty. It took some time but we got there.ReplyCancel

  • Julie9.1.21 - 11:28 AM

    I was wondering how the butcher block countertops have held up over time. I want to do them in a rental, and it’s good to know that they require a little maintenance. I would love to see a close up of the marble in the entry to understand what you mean by patina. It looks new and fresh from afar!ReplyCancel

  • Darcy9.1.21 - 11:50 AM

    We’re thinking of putting marble tile in our entryway as well! Do you seal it periodically or just let it wear? ReplyCancel

    • Scott9.1.21 - 1:14 PM

      We just let it wear. We love the gently weathered look!ReplyCancel

  • Cindy9.1.21 - 3:10 PM

    We have had Waterloxed wood countertops in our kitchen for about 10 years and LOVE them. Waterlox is one of the easiest finishes to keep up over time (although  the long dry time, ugh). Time to do it again, in fact! ReplyCancel

    • Kim9.1.21 - 3:35 PM

      Awesome! We’ve heard nothing but the best things about Waterlox.ReplyCancel

  • Loryn9.1.21 - 4:57 PM

    How do you refinish wood counters with a Waterloo finish? Do you have to strip it or can you just recoat? I’m thinking about using it. 
    Thanks for posting these updates. I love how you follow up and give an honest opinion about what works and what doesn’t. ReplyCancel

    • Kim9.1.21 - 9:40 PM

      I haven’t looked too much into it (yet!) but I think you miiight have to sand it down and then reapply. Does anyone else know for sure?ReplyCancel

  • Nicolette9.3.21 - 8:50 PM

    I will never get over the elevator arrows in the entry, I love them so much! I also did a quick and cheap kitchen renovation when I first purchased my house in 2015 (because it was basically unusable). I am currently at the tail end of a MAJOR reno that touched everything except the kitchen but moving the gas range is something I dream about a lot. I would very much be interested in your dream layout for your current space. ReplyCancel

    • Kim9.5.21 - 3:28 PM

      We talk about the dream layout all the the time but haven’t put pen to paper yet. We are FULL of ideas and miiiight consider a refresh in 2022?!ReplyCancel

  • Rebecca9.5.21 - 1:28 PM

    Did you have the cabinet boxes painted or were they always white? I’m considering painting my wooden cabinet but really concerned about chips. I would rather spend the extra $$ on new factory finished cabinets if painted ones are chippy – even professionally painted ones. ReplyCancel

    • Kim9.5.21 - 3:24 PM

      They were professionally painted, but painted cabinets will ALWAYS need a touch up at some point. It’s good to have extra touch up on hand just for that!ReplyCancel

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