Back Unit Landscaping

Back Entrance Steps

This area looked like a jungle. It also had worn away steps so we landscaped and added new steps!

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Back yard facing our house

Before, the unit had little privacy and over-looked our house. We added a fence to make it more private.

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Back unit entrance and steps

We changed these steps too and added flagstone

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Patio and Walkway

We added flagstone/landscaping overall

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Other

We build/refurbished a shed for laundry

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Added gravel for parking

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Back (Rental) Unit Before & After

Its been a while since I shared, but the back unit is now complete and ready to rent.

Check out the before, during, and afters!

Kitchen

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Bedroom

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Living Room

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Bathroom

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Under $400 kitchen remodel

So we were adventurous and decided to remodel our kitchen on a budget. The actual cosmetic work was under $400, although we did add a dishwasher, garbage disposal, and replace the tile.

Products: We used the rustoleum countertop transformations ($20), rustoleum cabinet transformations in espresso ($160 for 2 kits), 3 inch handles ($100 for 20 handles), stick on tile by smart tiles- shhh! ($50 for 6 sheets), and comfort gray for the walls ($20 for 1 gallon). 

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The cabinet transformations kit was time consuming but well worth it. It was nice that I didn’t need to think about the steps and that the kit was nicely packaged for me. It took me 3 separate weekends to finish. I should have installed the hardware first (I had veneer cabinets so i ended up with splinters/ peeling in the back but since it is on the inside I can live with it!) Enjoy:

Here is the kitchen stock photo from our real estate listing:

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Post painting, tile, dishwasher, stove swap:

 

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Added tiling, painted countertop, removed all the cabinet faces (the kitchen may have sat like this for over a month :/)

 

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Wiped down the cabinets with the first step of the cabinet transformations kit:

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Painted 2 coats on the cabinets

 

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Painted 2 coats on the inside:

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Painted the glaze and final coat inside:

 

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Heres a picture with and without the glaze. Since the color was so dark, it just made it slightly 3D and darker.

 

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Put the cabinets back on:

 

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And added the hardware!

 

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All that is left is adding the light!

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Ikea Tarva Dresser Hack

Since our rooms are small, we needed dressers to fit in the closet space. They would be partially hidden but we still wanted them to go with the theme of the house. So we settled on the Ikea dressers Tarva with the idea of staining once assembled. The total dresser was about $160 after buying the dresser, staining, updating hardware, and sealing.

Here is the dresser from Ikea ($99) Width: 31 1/8 ” Depth: 15 3/8 ” Height: 50 ” Image

I chose the Miniwax stain called Dark Walnut (2716). I also used a pre stain wood conditioner. (Although when you are working with Pine, it is still really hard to get an even grain finish.) Here is the color swatch:

Dark Walnut 2716

Last, I chose square knobs about $40 total for all 10 knobs. The knob is similar to this one:

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I only did one coat of stain, but 2 would have made it more even-toned. Staining process: Image

Here is the end result:

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I didn’t want a high gloss look at the end so I sealed it with Tung oil.

Instructions on how to paint strip (paint stripping 101) – our other built in saga

Paint stripping isn’t the most fun task but here are some step by step instructions to make it a little easier! You need to be 100% committed but the results will be worth it in the end.

Supplies

Citristrip

Paint scraper

Sander or Manual with both 80 grit and 220 grit sand paper & steel wool (optional)

Lead paint test

Dust mask

Wood stain

Cheap paint brush

Gloves

Cloth (for rubbing in the stain & finish)

Trash bin with liner

Paper or something to cover the floor you will be stripping over

Mineral spirits to clean paint brushes if you will use a brush (optional)

Wood conditioner (optional)

Tung oil or finish (optional)

Wood filler (optional)

Patience

Pre-step

Know what you’re getting into! This will consume a lot of time, especially if the project is large. We did 2 projects at once because we wanted to finish the stripping before our new hardwoods got installed.

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Step 1

Get your supplies ready and prepare for the mess.

I personally liked the citristrip after I started originally with heavy duty paint stripper. The citristrip works just as well (if not better) but it is more expensive. However, after getting paint stripper accidentally on my skin and because I was doing this indoors, I went with citristrip. It smells like citrus and has a spongy texture and does not burn! It works in 30 min or less.

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Step 2

Check for lead paint. I wore a dust mask any way because I did some dry chipping. If you can dry chip- it saves time so try to do that first.

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Step 3

Put the paint stripper on until the paint bubbles and pulls away. Scrape away! Hint: the better quality scraper, the better experience you will have. We bought a $30 one halfway through. Continue stripping the layers away until the wood comes through. I found it better to let the layers dry in between stripping because it worked better. Once the wood comes through, it may be easier to finish with steel wool/sand paper.

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Step 4

Sand! We used both a circular sander (auto) and an attachment dremel sander. The dremel sander tools can be hard to find, but was so helpful to get the tiny edges. We started out with 80 grit and then finished with 220 grit. Don’t forget to wear your mask. I would also suggest using a wood filler to patch up any holes. The wood filler will not look the same as the natural wood, but will take the stain. We only did this for a small area that had termite damage.

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Step 5

Test your stain. We hated the first stain we started with so we did 4 additional stain test pieces before we found the one we liked.

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You can paint the stain on with a paint brush. Let the stain sit up to 15 min and wipe it off with a cloth.

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Step 6

Apply wood conditioner/pre stain, especially if you have exposed rough edges where the stain can soak in more or heavy grain. This will ensure a more even staining experience.

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Step 7

Stain! Do this the same as your test piece. Leave on for 5-15 min and wipe off. Be careful that the stain doesn’t dry on one side if you have a big project. It can become sticky and glossy. If this happens, try using new stain over it and wiping it off. You can also sand it down as well. We did 2 coats of provincial hickory.

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Step 8

Finish! I suggest Tung oil for a matte/natural finish, but you can use other finishes as well. You can rub this on with a cloth, let sit overnight, and rub off any excess.

Step 9 

Admire!

(We still need to do the cabinet doors, but we need a break for now!)

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The Fireplace Saga

Our fireplace looked like a 1950’s bathroom. It had been sealed off with ceramic tile that was crooked in the middle. A beautiful focal in our living room for all to enjoy. Until yesterday.

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We were about to leave after a late night at the house and decided that it had to go. So we grabbed hammers and crowbars and went at it. I cannot describe the joy I felt as we chipped away at the horrible tiles. Underneath it was a brick fireplace. Who would cover that up with tile?! We were a little upset that a previous owner took the art tiles from the center. I am so curious as to what it would have looked looked like.

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Our next step is to get a quote on what it would cost to repair or completely demolish. Our living room is so small that the fireplace & built in’s take up an extra 12 inches of the living room. We are also considering a gas fireplace. I also have looked into some less expensive remodeling/resurfacing or painting options:

http://inmyownstyle.com/2012/07/diy-fireplace-makeover-on-a-budget.html

http://www.diynetwork.com/how-to/how-to-reface-a-fireplace-with-stone/index.html

http://www.brick-anew.com/brick-anew-fireplace-paint-kit.html

Regardless I am happier with the brick over the tile. It at least feels natural!

Before and After

Before and After