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How to Skip an Entry Rug

See that word “rug” in my title? Remember what our cat does to them? Here’s yet another house project that had to be completed due to Lucky having no respect for floor coverings. And I thought I was safe this time, people! We had a big entry mat that was rubbery and patterned with gaps and swirls, so there was no way that thing should’ve been inviting to pee on! But our cranky old man found a way to balance precariously and do his business anyway, ruining the laminate flooring underneath a little more every time.

Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore and was genuinely worried about our subfloor. So what to do? This is our main entry, so we had to put something there that would be friendly to wet and muddy shoes. Eventually we want to run nice wood flooring all through this main floor, but we’re not ready to cough up the $$$$ for that quite yet, plus I wanted something more durable for this entry point anyway.

BEFORE: Ruined entry flooring

(I will spare you the close-up photo, but you get the idea.)

My husband and I agree that most tiled entries look outdated and/or we just don’t like them as a matter of preference. But, what if I did something here that would tie in with what I did for our kitchen? Using hexagon tiles, I’d cut out the laminate flooring and installed the tiles like a puzzle, blending the 2 kinds of flooring into a cool kind of edge.

Inspiration: Our kitchen floor

I could use the same tile with the same method here at our entry, and this would also keep us from having too many different kinds of flooring on this main level of our house. This porcelain tile I already know is durable, easy to clean, and textured enough not to be slippery. The tile here at our entry wouldn’t have to be extensive, instead just covering enough of the floor to act like an entry “rug” (and also big enough to get rid of the ruined flooring).

So that was my plan. I needed to get rid of the cat’s mess, plus this sounded like a little, manageable project after my massive bathroom remodel! It was also a plus that I already had all the supplies except the tile, so this was a pretty cheap fix too.


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Step 1: Plan tile layout and outline. Once my tile arrived, my 4-year-old and I had a grand time planning what shape we’d make the tiled entry. We made some fun shapes, but I ended up laying the tile right over the ruined part of the floor (after I cleaned it as best I could).

Planned shape

I’d guessed correctly (sigh of relief) that we’d only need 1 box. I spaced the tiles exactly how I wanted to grout them, and I made sure to leave out a tile to cut for my filler pieces against our door.

With the tiles down where I wanted them, I took a Sharpie marker and drew right on the floor to make an outline of this plan. I made sure to trace along the tiles’ edge generously, leaving myself some extra space so I could adjust the tiles slightly if I needed. This would also give me room to caulk between the tiles and the existing flooring, just like I would grout the spaces between the tiles themselves.

With this outline done, I carefully moved the tiles back to a pile.

Step 2: Cut out old flooring. This part was messy and gross. But, if your flooring isn’t saturated in cranky old cat spite, you’ll probably be fine. Moving along my traced line, I used my oscillating saw tool to cut the old flooring. This little tool is definitely one of my favorites, and it’s easy to get nice clean cuts in all those hexagon corners.

Cutting along my traces line

You can also use a circular saw to cut the long, straight cuts. If you do this, make sure the depth is set to only cut through your flooring and NOT into the subfloor. I used a circular saw thusly when doing our kitchen, and it’s certainly faster! For this project, however, my circular saw was out of commission. 🤦‍♀️ Oh, well. For all the corners and the places right next to the wall/door, I needed my oscillating tool anyway.

Once my cutting was complete, I used a hammer and pried up one of the boards along my cut line. From there, it was easy to disassemble and remove the flooring – like taking apart a puzzle. I had a garbage bag ready nearby, so I shoved the old flooring into the bag, swept up any debris, and hauled the bag out to the trash. So long, ruined floor!

Removing the flooring

Step 3: Apply waterproofing. In my kitchen, I’d covered the whole space with Schluter Ditra membrane for total waterproofing. But, that was a bit expensive and seemed overkill for just a little entry space. As an alternative, I had some scrap Schluter Kerdi membrane (much thinner and cheaper) and a lot of AquaDefense liquid membrane left from my bathroom remodel, so I decided to try laying down the Kerdi and then applying a few coats of the liquid membrane on top of that.

After sweeping and making sure the floor was clean, I spread the Kerdi over the space, grabbed a disposable brush, and painted on the AquaDefense. It went on nice and thick, acted a bit like glue to hold the Kerdi in place, and I only had to wait about an hour between coats. Did I have to do 2 coats? Probably not, but I liked getting the surface nice and even.

I did make sure to get under the door waterproofed. The quarter-round that had been there before obviously had not offered much protection and had been damaged by moisture, so I wanted to be sure this spot was protected should moisture get there again.

AquaDefense drying

Step 4: Mix mortar and lay tile. See how quickly this project got to the fun part?! Once the AquaDefense was dry, I got an old ice cream bucket and a paint stir stick. Yep, nothing but professional tools around here. 😜 I used rapid-setting thin set mortar, but follow the mixing instructions of whatever kind you use. One trick I’ve found is that it helps to add some water first, then pour in the mortar, then add more water as needed – this makes it much easier to stir up and get an even consistency faster. Once mine was mixed, I saw that I’d only filled the bucket about a quarter full, and this made plenty of mortar for my space.

Because it was such a small area, I simply poured the mortar in a puddle and then spread it around with my stir stick until I had an even level of mortar all over. The idea is to get it not too thick, but enough to cover the floor so you can’t see what’s under it – this was easy to see since my AquaDefense underneath was blue!

As soon as my mortar was down, I started bringing over my tiles and put them in place one at a time. I started with my top right tile that went against the door/wall in my cut-out space. This tile I made sure to press down and wiggle a bit to stick in the mortar, plus I made sure there was a bit of space between the tile and the cut flooring – like a grout line.

From there, I picked which tiles looked best next to each other and put them in place, making sure they were spaced evenly for grout lines. If some mortar oozed up between the tiles, I made sure to wipe it out so it wouldn’t be too high and show up through the grout.

With all my whole tiles in place, I took the last tile out to my garage and used a tile saw to cut it in half. (You can rent a tile saw for pretty cheap.) This was easy enough, and then I put both cut pieces where they needed to go to complete the puzzle.

Close up: Cut tiles in
All tiles in!

After that, I babysat the tiles for a few hours to make sure no dogs, cats, or children stepped on the tiles and messed them up. This is largely the reason I use rapid-setting mortar! Once I could push on a tile and it didn’t budge, I stopped worrying and left the tiles to set overnight.

Step 5: Grout. The next day, I used the same grout for this entry as I did for our kitchen. I don’t really have any quick tips for grout – it takes a bit of patience, which I often don’t have. 😜 Basically, I mixed it up in another bucket and then glopped it on, wiping it back and forth over the spaces between tiles until all the gaps were filled. Sometimes it will look like a gap is filled, but be sure to go over the grout lines from another angle to be sure there’s not a secret pocket of air under there waiting to ruin your day.

For now, mostly ignore the exterior gaps between the tiles and the other flooring. These edges should be caulked, not grouted, because caulk will flex better with any shift in the flooring. However, there were some spots where the edging was a bigger gap than I’d anticipated, and these I helped fill with a bit of grout. I also did grout the larger space between the tile and under our door. I’ll probably still put quarter-round along this door at some point, but I wanted the added protection of grout there too.

Grout on

All this grouting DOES make a mess. I think that’s unavoidable. But after you get all the grout lines done and let it sit for a bit (read the instructions of your grout for how long!), you can start wiping it off the tiles with a wet sponge from a bucket of water. This is partly satisfying and partly a good way to feel like Cinderella.

Once happy with my grout job between the tiles, I rested for a bit and let the grout set up. But one thing about grout is that there will always be a grout film even after you wash it off repeatedly. So, I kept my sponge damp and kept wiping the drying grout off my tiles.

And here’s where I have a useful tip! When there’s just a faint film of grout on the tiles, I take a baby wipe and scrub away the film. I can’t explain the science of whatever chemicals are involved, but I swear these baby wipes work better than anything else I’ve tried to remove grout film!

Step 6: Caulk the edges. This last step really adds the finishing touch. If any of your cuts were a little wonky, covering with smooth caulk lines hides these goofs. I had a white caulk that was the same color as my grout, so that blends it all together to look the same too.

With my caulk gun, I squeezed out a (semi) even line of caulk to fill the space running between my tiles and the existing floor. Then I used another baby wipe (versatile little things, huh?!) to smooth the caulk all around and along my outline. In a few places it got onto my tile and/or my old flooring, so I just wiped it off and kept going. This took a bit of time, but once I was done it looked so nice.


That’s it! Now instead of a ruined floor under a mat, we have a cool floor that can hold up on its own. We’ve already taken off many snow-covered shoes here, and it’s a perfect way not to worry about getting a rug dirty or sopping wet…from shoes or otherwise, but let’s focus on the shoes. 😉

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From Awful Pantry to Awesome Bar Nook

It’s been a year now since I started this DIY blog. And looking around at our house since we moved in… Wow, I’ve done a lot. It’s hard for me to not see everything I haven’t done yet, but if I slow down I can appreciate what I’ve been able to do so far.

Which brings me to this project. It still might be my favorite change from “Before” to “After.” It was, I think, one of the first big challenges I tackled. It was absolutely the first time I took a hammer to our walls and realized my husband was nearly hyperventilating. 🤣

I’ve learned enough about sharing these projects on the internet to know that some people will say this is a waste of space and I should’ve just fixed the pantry and used it for a pantry. Those people have obviously not seen my new pantry!! But I understand that not everyone can afford to create a bar nook where they otherwise need storage. To those people, I’d still say this is a cool, customizable way to vamp up a closet/pantry. You could always add more open shelving (or baskets!) along the back or side walls. I briefly considered turning this nook into a produce station, making the counter a big cutting board with a hole to drop scraps into the trash below. THAT would be a pretty cool alternative, and if anyone tackles this project with the twist of making it a produce station, let me know!

My husband and I had delusions of being social and having people over regularly, so a bar nook made perfect sense! 🤣 Seriously though, this bar nook is great when we have friends over or host family gatherings. It’s a great, out-of-the-way place where everyone knows to find the beverages – punch bowls, 2-liters, cups, etc.

Anyway, here we go. Here is my house’s worst BEFORE picture:

BEFORE: kitchen pantry.

Yes, that is a curtain on a shower rod. It was there when we toured the house and even in the listing pictures. I admire their lack of shame, I guess. But this pantry in person had layers of problems. The lack of a door was only the beginning. The trim was also weirdly spaced with gaps. And see all those plywood shelves? They were rough, not even sanded, and stained from spills. The supports holding them in? Uh…let’s just say the installers had trouble finding the studs.

Still don’t believe me it was that bad? Here’s what that poor back wall looked like once I got the shelves out.

Holes everywhere!

At this point, I made the decision real quick to texture the interior walls. 🤣 There was no way I was going to fill all those holes and make it perfectly smooth again. But, with the curtain gone (I’m assuming you won’t have that problem) and the shelves out, I could now see what I was working with.


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Step 1: Remove pantry shelves. As you can already see from the picture above, this left me with a lot of holes. But, it was a huge first step and gratifying.

If your shelves are salvageable (a few of mine were), you can use the wood for other parts of this project. Or, use the wood for the base of an Elsa castle…hypothetically. 😜

Step 2: Remove trim. Before I could start reshaping the doorframe into the arched opening I envisioned, I had to rip out the trim/framing. I think the pantry had originally had a bifold door, since there was a bent track still attached. The placement of the trim also suggested this. Anyway, this all was not too bad to take off – I used a screwdriver and small crowbar to pop it lose and pull it free.

Step 3: Cut out an arch. FIRST, make sure your doorframe isn’t load-bearing. By looking at the layout of our house, I was pretty sure our bump-out pantry wasn’t load-bearing. Then I took the plunge and swung the hammer, made a decent hole above the doorframe (it helped that the trim was gone), and saw that there were definitely not enough studs to make this structural. 👍

With that all good… How did I visualize the arch before cutting? It helps SO much to take a picture and then draw your plan on that picture. That’s how I ended up deciding how high up to take my arch, and to what degree I would make the curve (more half circle or more half oval).

My stud-checking hole and drawn arch.

Side note: The main reason I wanted an arch was to add natural light into the nook. We have high ceilings, and all that empty space up there was pretty dark as well as kind of pointless. Also, an arch seemed like a good way to make this nook stand out from all the other doorways in our door-heavy house. Also also, I’d seen a lot of arches on Pinterest and thought they looked cool. LOL.

From there, I wanted to make sure this plan would be as symmetrical as possible – I didn’t trust myself to eyeball my arch cuts. So, I found the center point in my doorframe, marked it, then climbed a ladder with a level to mark straight up from that center mark, marking as high up as I thought my arch should go. I then cut a piece of string the length between these 2 marks, tied a pencil to 1 end, and pinned the other into the center mark of the doorframe. This allowed me to draw an even curve from one corner of the doorframe, up to my top mark, and down again to the far corner of the doorframe.

Since I had the string at the right length, I repeated this drawn arch on the inside of the nook, since obviously I’d have to cut the drywall on this other side too in order to make the arch.

With my arch marked, I now took a razor cutter and cut the drywall along my lines. I obviously wanted to save the drywall outside my arch. But, once I got all the way through the lines on my drywall, I was free to tear off the drywall inside the arch. This exposed a few studs, and these I cut away with my reciprocating saw – making sure to cut them flush with my drywall edges.

Drywall and studs out!

The crosspiece of the doorframe was particularly stubborn, and I made sure to wear gloves and pry off the metal corner guards first. I also tore off the “pretty” frame board attached to the 2x4s, figuring this would be easier than trying to cut through that too. Then I carefully used my reciprocating saw and cut the crosspiece flush with my drywall.

Once this crosspiece was gone, my arch was ready!

Looking right!

Step 4: Drywall the arch. How do you drywall a curve?! I wish I could credit whoever came up with the solution for this, but I have no idea where I originally saw it. I did find many more complicated and/or expensive ways to make an arch, but this way was perfect for my needs.

Basically, you take 0.5 inch drywall and cut it the width and length that you need to patch your arch. Next, cut it in half so you only need to make 2 slight curves rather than one major curve. Then, lightly wet down the back of the drywall strips. I used a slightly-squeezed-out sponge and wiped it all over the back of the drywall. Once my strips were wet but not soaked through, I lay them carefully over a pair of sawhorses that were close enough to let my drywall droop (and curve!) and also support them enough so they wouldn’t bend and break. If you find the drywall isn’t curving enough, wet them a bit more.

I gave the drywall a decent amount of time to curve and dry, then carefully brought them over to my nook. They were still a little bendy, so that helped me push them with my hands to curve exactly how I needed. I held one at a time in place and used drywall screws to screw them into the exposed ends of the studs that I’d cut in my arch.

I was delighted and surprised by how well this worked!

Step 5: Add corner bead. To finish the edges of my new arched opening, I took vinyl corner bead and ran it straight up both sides of the doorframe and along the arch. Keep in mind that you want to do this inside and outside the nook, on both sides of the former doorway, so buy enough for your needs. I think I used about 4 pieces that were 8 feet long.

For the straight sections of the doorframe, I simply held the corner bead in place and used drywall screws to secure it in place.

To make the corner bead bend for the curve, I used scissors and cut the sides every 3 inches or so, cutting only the sides but not the very corner where the 2 sides met and held together. The vinyl material is already pretty flexible, but cutting the sides makes it even easier to bend to your will. Literally. Once it was ready, I held the arch’s corner bead in place and again used drywall screws to secure it in place.

Drywall and corner bead on.

Step 6: Use joint compound to cover imperfections and create texture. If you want your walls and arch smooth, good luck. 🤣 I’m sure it’s doable, but I liked the look and forgiving nature of creating a texture over my screw holes, corner bead, and those two hundred holes in the back wall. Plus, it makes all that open space inside the nook more interesting. There are a lot of cool ways to texture joint compound, but this time I used a scrunched-up plastic bag and dabbed it all over.

How I made the texture.

I started with my newly created arch and worked my way inside the nook. For the arch in particular, I slathered on joint compound and covered my screw holes and corner bead, let that layer dry, and then applied another layer for texturing.

My arms got tired while doing all this arch-texturing over my head, and my littlest helper was thrilled to take a turn on the ladder while it dried. 😂

So excited!

Once I was sure I liked this texture, I then took the joint compound and tackled the interior of the nook. This may seem like a lot, but I didn’t go all the way down with my texturing, since I knew I’d be installing the built-in cabinet at about 3 feet. Below that, I simply patched the holes and let the walls be. I also knew I’d be installing a tile feature along the back wall, so I left that space untextured as well. (I admit I completely guessed for my tiles square footage, so of course I had to do a little more texturing later. 🙄)

Step 7: Tile and paint. I shopped a LONG time for the perfect tile because I have expensive tile taste. My trick this time was finding what I loved on Tilebar and then lucking out by finding the same at Home Depot for considerably cheaper. I still only bought a reasonable amount rather than going all the way up the back wall.

I followed standard procedure and used rapid-setting thin set to stick my tile on the wall. Then I used a white grout to finish it off. I ended up not going as far up the wall as I thought, so I had to add more joint compound texture above my tile. Oops. 🤷‍♀️ But all in all, tiling was a pretty easy step!

Texturing and tile on!

Once the tile was on and I was sure how much area it covered, I painted all the wall texturing with a “Swiss Coffee” white that matched the rest of the kitchen. It only needed one coat, which was helpful so I could quickly move on.

Step 8: Add wood feature. This was a pretty easy step as well, and I made it easiest on myself by spacing my 1x2s the width of one of my 1x2s. This meant that, after making sure the first piece was attached and level (I started from the corner), I could simply hold a 1×2 against that piece width-wise, put the next piece against that spacer, and nail it on. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. I used my brad nail gun, which made this work really quick and easy. The only real work was cutting the ends at 30-degree angles for a cool effect.

Side note: I wish I’d gotten 10-foot pieces so that I didn’t have to match up shorter pieces to finish up to the ceiling, but it’s not that noticeable.

Going around the arch wasn’t as challenging as I feared. I simply held my spacer in place like I’d done for the full-length pieces, and then I used a pencil to mark the line of the curve where I’d need to cut. With my miter saw, this was easy enough to do, although it was a little time consuming considering how many times I went up and down the ladder. BUT, this way, I was sure every piece (16!) was just right around the curve.

I also applied my wood feature to the other little exterior wall where it was visible above the cabinet over our fridge. This gave the whole bump-put nook a cool look that distinguishes it from the rest of our kitchen.

Wood feature on.

Need a break? I did. LOL. Everything so far was the “pretty” work to get myself ready for the built-in cabinet. See the trash bins in the picture above? Here’s where I got to work building their home, plus a drawer for added bar ware storage.

Step 9: Build the built-in cabinet frame. Because our nook had little wings on both sides inside, I knew I’d have to build this cabinet in place. I’d love to say I had specific, professional plans for how I did it…but truthfully I got a bunch of 2x4s and went at it! It didn’t help that this nook wasn’t even close to square, so I measured each spot as I went and cut boards accordingly.

To start, I cut 4 legs of the same height for the interior of the nook. These I made slightly shorter than where the cabinet would meet the back wall’s tile, leaving room for top bracing pieces and the countertop. Then I cut 2 pieces that would connect the back leg, middle leg, and into the doorframe on either side. (The doorframe acted as the front “legs.”) I made sure these connectors would sit 0.75 inches back from the front of my doorframe. (This would give room to attach finishing pieces of 1x2s to make the ends prettier, and these 1x2s would then be flush with the exterior wall.)

Before I went any further, I screwed these pieces together. I made sure the placement of the 4 interior legs gave me room for the trash bins between them, and the 2 connecting pieces needed to be high enough over the bins that I could install a drawer on them without trouble.

So, first I held a small level on one connecting board and screwed the board into the doorframe at about 27 inches from the floor. I used 2 screws to make sure it stayed up and level where it ran back into the nook. I next positioned the middle leg piece against this connecting board and screwed them together. Then I could easily screw in the last, back leg. I repeated this on the other side of the doorframe with the opposite connecting board and legs.

Next, I measured between the back legs and cut a board to attach along the back. This I screwed into the undersides of the connecting boards against either back leg, and I made sure it was wide-side-up so I’d have room to attach my drawer slides on top of this back piece.

For a front brace piece, I did the same thing, attaching a board wide-side-up to the underside of the connecting boards. For this front piece, I also cut 3 shorter boards to help support the weight of the future drawer. These ran from the floor up to the underside of the front piece. I screwed these into the doorframe on either side and used the third like a “T” in the middle. I also cut a board for a “T” supporting the middle of the back piece.

From there, all that was left were the top braces for the countertop. I cut 2 boards that would run almost the full length from side to side of the nook, leaving them only slightly shorter so I could get them in place easier. These I screwed into the tops of my 2 legs on either side, and they needed to be as level as possible so the countertop could sit nicely on top. For the third top brace, I measured from one side of the doorframe to the other and cut that board. I did have to add little block supports that sat above the connecting boards on either side, and these made sure this front top brace was level with the other 2.

As you can see, none of this looked pretty. This was a learn-as-you-go part of the project, but you can’t see any of it in the final result, so oh well. And it is STURDY.

Cabinet frame done.

I moved on before I remembered to take a picture of only the frame, but this next step went fast to get those pullout drawer fronts on!

Step 10: Install the trash bin pullouts. First, I screwed scrap 1x4s to my existing floor so that the tracks would have something elevated to run on. (I planned to add new flooring in the kitchen, so I needed the clearance.) I made sure to space the 1x4s so that the pullouts would have room to do their thing while also being as centered as possible between my cabinet’s framing.

Once placement was determined, all I had to do was follow the instructions that came with my pullouts. I LOVE these Rev-A-Shelf pullouts, but there are other brands that make them. Their instructions are easy to follow, and I think it only took me about 15 minutes to screw down the tracks, attach the trays, and get the bins rolling.

The only thing I had to consider was again making the pullouts sit back 0.75 inches from the front of my doorframe – I needed room for the attached pullout fronts so they’d be flush with the exterior wall. However, even this was pretty easy, since I could hold the pullout in place and measure before screwing the tracks in place on my 1x4s. They even mention how to account for the pullout front in the instructions.

Tracks installed.

Step 11: Cut and attach the pullout fronts. All I did was measure how big each front had to be to cover as much as possible without crowding anything. Since these pieces of wood would be covered by 1x2s, I used my old pantry shelving and cut the 0.75 inch plywood to the correct sizes. (Waste not, want not, right?!) Because the wood was rough, I did lightly sand these pieces. Then, holding each in place, I screwed them onto the pullout’s front hardware. That was it!

Attached to pullout.

Step 12: Build and install the drawer and front. At first, I thought I’d buy a pre-made drawer. But the closest size to what I needed was pricey, plus I had the wood to make my own. This drawer was nothing fancy, and I simply measured how much space I had for length, width, and height before cutting my pieces and using my nail gun to attach them.

I cut the base slightly smaller than my drawer cavity, at 29×22 inches. Then I cut 2 pieces for the sides at 24×5. For the front and back, I cut 2 boards at 29×5. Then, like I said, I simply nailed them into a box shape 🤷‍♀️ Are there prettier, better ways to make a drawer? Probably. But this works.

My new drawer was HEAVY, but the pullout drawer slides I’d purchased were heavy-duty and up for the task. These slides I installed by spacing them evenly and then screwing the bottom slide into the cabinet’s front piece and straight back into the back piece. For the part of the slide that attached to the drawer, I slid the slides “closed” and then set the drawer in place, wiggling it around until it looked properly spaced. Then I opened my pullouts below and squeezed into the space to mark where the slide should be on the underside of the drawer. After crawling back out, I took the drawer out, flipped it over, disconnected the top part of the slides, and screwed them on where I had marked. To finish assembly, I held my breath, hefted the drawer back up, and wiggled it around until I felt the drawer slides click together. With a light shove, the drawer slid in place!

Underside of drawer with slides on.

A 1×6 worked perfectly as my drawer front. My whole design left wiggle room in how high the drawer front could be, since I planned to make my countertop’s edge hang down pretty far. So, all I had to do was measure the length – from doorframe to doorframe, across the drawer’s space. After cutting that, I sanded this board very carefully. (Not much had had to be pretty up to this point, and I was freshly nervous) 🤣

Step 13: Finish the wood feature on the pullout fronts. Since my pullout fronts sat flush with the front wall now, I could simply continue nailing on my 1x2s much the same as I’d done with the rest of the exterior wall. All I had to do was measure from the bottom of my other 1x2s to just below where the pullouts met the drawer. When I cut, I used the same 30-degree angle for the ends.

Also at this time, I cut 1×2 pieces to cover the ugly ends of my connecting boards. Remember how I set them back 0.75 inches? With these 1x2s nailed on the ends, these looked finished and nice when the drawer was open. This wasn’t hugely necessary but a nice finishing touch.

Drawer front and wood feature on.

You’d never know this hid trash and recycling, right?!

I did end up using my oscillating tool to cut out little grooves/pulls in the tops of the pullout fronts. It’s less seamless now but certainly more functional and easier to open.

Step 14: Create a countertop. If you’ve been following me a while, you might’ve picked up on my love of making epoxy countertops. Well, here’s where that started. I recently blogged a very thorough tutorial on how to create epoxy countertops – see my “DIY Countertops” post – so I’ll refer you to that for specifics rather than rehash everything here.

Short version, I measured and cut an MDF sheet to fit my wonky-shaped nook, made a bigger-than-normal edge, used wood putty to create a rock face edge, and epoxied the whole thing. Once it was ready to move, I carefully maneuvered it into the nook and attached it by 1 little screw from the underside. It fit so perfectly that it’s not going anywhere!

Countertop assembled and ready
First-time nerves!
Curing time!

Step 15: Finishing touches. You can see from the above picture that I got a LOT more done while I waited for the epoxy to cure…and I stressed a lot about keeping little hands away and big husbands from setting things on it before it was ready. 🤣

To finish this nook, I added a long piece of 3/4-round that ran along the floor of the exterior wall. This helped hide the undersides of it all. It also helped hide my floor transition once I lay my new tile.

After that, I added a couple of open shelves along one side of the nook. These work great for tucking away liquor, plus the industrial brackets tie in with our new pantry’s shelving.

Quick and easy shelves.

See the stain on those shelves? I used the same stain on my drawer’s front piece (pictured below), and it’s the same stain as what’s on my kitchen island cabinets. I decided not to stain the interior of the drawer because it was pretty nice wood, and I like the natural feel. (Our shot glasses don’t seem to mind. 🤷‍♀️) I also added a brass drawer pull that matches the pulls of my kitchen.

Finished drawer.

Finally, all that was left to do was paint the exterior walls and wood. I also made sure to paint the quarter-round along the floor and any parts of the cabinet frame that showed when the drawer and pullouts were open. For paint, I used a really pretty “After the Storm” color. I needed 3 coats before I was happy, but I ended up loving it so much that I did this same technique to our vent hood.

After this was done, it was time for a drink! I absolutely love how this turned out, and I still kind of think of this project as my first house-project baby. I learned a lot, and the confidence I gained certainly helped as I moved on to tearing down the next walls. LOL. Sorry, hubby.

AFTER: Awesome bar nook
Pullouts for trash and recycling

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TV on the wall? Add a Faux Planter Mantle – With Storage!

Projects snowball around here. While remodeling our master bathroom, we realized our old door was a problem because it would swing right into our future glass shower door. We have 2 small children – no doorstop in the world was going to save that glass. Instead, I briefly thought about doing a pocket door before deciding that it would be too much work on top of everything else I was doing. That left the option of a sliding/barn door, and this is what we went with.

I know, I know. Barn doors and bathrooms are generally not a great combination (less privacy). However, since this is our master bathroom and we’re the only ones who use it… Oh, well. And it works great to give extra room in the bathroom without having a swinging door involved. Plus, it gave me a reason to revamp our bedroom since I’d have to make a new door, so why not do the whole room? 😜

All that to say, I ended up making a cool, modern barn door with wood pieces that continue on either side of the doorway to create an accent wall which our door blends into. AND, while I was on a roll, I painted our whole bedroom a moody “Royal Navy” that looks sharp with the red mahogany stain of the wood. …But this wall still needed something.

BEFORE: The TV area needs something.

I’ve never been a huge fan of how our TV sticks out as the dominant feature in our bedroom, but now the darker walls and wood accent feature wall helped by making the rest more interesting. Still, I wanted something to further make the TV look like it belonged. That’s when I remembered something I’d pinned on Pinterest forever ago – a cool wooden frame that had a planter on the bottom. Plus, my husband had seen a mantle with a secret drawer for storage. BAM! These 2 inspirations gave me my next project.

There are a few things I would do differently were I to repeat this project, so I’ll give you those as I go. But basically, this was a relatively inexpensive and easy way to create a neat piece for my wall. (I already had all the materials except for the grass, so it cost me very little!) This faux-mantle planter ties in with my accent wall and door, but I’m sure it would look great under any TV on any wall.


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Step 1: Plan the size and cut wood. Our TV is 44 inches, so I decided to make my mantle 48 inches long. I had a 6-inch board already (which in wood terms is actually 5.5 inches), so I went with 5.5 inches tall and 5.5 deep to make things easier.

The main thought was to have the front piece be the only thing showing from the front, so this piece was the full 48 inches long.

For the side pieces, I needed them to be square to make it easier to fit all my 5.5 inch parts together, so I cut 2 little 5.5 inch x 5.5 inch squares.

For the bottom piece, I again used a board 5.5 inches wide, but this I cut slightly shorter than my front piece so that the side pieces would fit behind the front board. With my side pieces each 0.75 inch wide, this meant I cut my bottom board 46.5 inches long.

The top piece also needed to be 46.5 inches long, but this board I also cut to be only 5 inches wide. This would allow me to position the board forward so there was space in the back to run cords down from the TV into the storage space.

Sidenote: Were I to do this again, I would leave this top piece 5.5 inches and position it even farther forward to help hide the gap between the front board and the top board. More on that later.

Cutting my boards.

Step 2: Stain. The weather was fortunately unseasonably warm during this time, so my stain dried quickly in my garage. I applied only one coat because it was plenty dark, and that’s all I did for my wall’s accent pieces anyway. (I wasn’t sure how much was going to show and so finished staining the insides of my mantle once my pieces were assembled, but you might as well do all parts of your boards at the same time now.)

So much staining 😜

Step 3: Assemble all except the front piece. I used my trusty brad gun and 1.5 inch nails. If you’re going to be storing heavier things in your mantle, you may want to use screws.

Side note: You’ll see in the pictures that I used plywood for the top and bottom boards. This was because I had a lot of plywood laying around and figured these edges wouldn’t be seen much anyway. But to make the whole thing look nicer, I would use the same 1×6 wood if I was doing it again. The real wood board looks nicer!

First I put down the bottom board on scrap wood pieces to hold it a bit off the floor and level. Then I took one end piece and lined it up, making sure it was square. Holding it in place, I quickly nailed the side onto the bottom. Then I repeated this on the other end.

End pieces on the bottom

Next, I turned the whole thing on it’s side and figured out how far down I wanted the top piece. You can do this however you like, but my goal was to lower the top piece so that it would sit behind the front board and lower than the side pieces to look like the positioning of “dirt” in a planter. I ended up going about an inch down – that was enough to achieve my desired look and also left enough room inside my storage area for the power strip and cords I needed to fit. To hold this in place, I discovered that my level plus a spare board worked great as a spacer. 🤷‍♀️ Then I held the top board and nailed it in place.

Keep in mind that you want a gap between the back wall and this top board so that cords from the TV can hang down into it where you’ll have a power strip. And, I wish I’d positioned the board a bit forward, about 0.75 inches, so that it would fill the gap I’d create later when attaching my front piece. To do all that, I could have placed a spare 1×6 board on the floor under the top piece, which would have held the top board up, making it stick out on the front side. Not a huge deal, but something to consider. If you use a 5-inch board like I did, you’ll still get that gap for the cords in the back that you need.

Top piece going on

Step 4: Make holes for cords and fake plants. With this all together, I found center and cut out a decently sized hole in the back of the bottom board so that my power strip’s cord would be able to fit through. (I literally used my power strip’s plug and tested how big of a hole to cut.)

Next I counted out my fake grass pieces and spaced them evenly along my board. I decided on making the 12 plants 3.5 inches apart, so I marked every 3.5 inches on the top board. Then I took my 0.5 inch drill bit and drilled holes at each mark. It will make a mess, as you can see. But I wanted to drill these holes with the whole thing assembled to be sure of my positioning. This is also when I finished staining my pieces, but at the very least you want to stain these holes now too.

Drilled holes

Now is also when you want to measure how tall this will all be with the plants in place. I wanted the tops of the grass to barely meet the TV. My whole height was about 10 inches. This meant I needed to be sure my mantle was attached 10 inches down from the bottom of my TV.

Measuring for height

Step 5: Attach to the wall. My whole creation was pretty light, so I used 2.5 inch L-brackets screwed into studs to hang my mantle. (If yours is bigger or heavier, use bigger L-brackets.) I first used my level and drew a line 48 inches long, centered under the TV, 10 inches down from the TV. I used a stud finder and marked my studs along this line, making sure they were in good position to support my mantle as evenly as possible. Then I simply screwed the brackets into the studs. I used my level across the brackets to double-check, and it was 👍.

Marking my line

Holding the mantle in place over my line, I grabbed the remaining screws and secured the mantle’s underside to the brackets.

Brackets on!

That might have been good enough, but I had another pair of L-brackets and so screwed them sideways into the mantle’s interior sides and the back wall. This felt more secure to me, giving some added support. Again, I used small L-brackets. If yours are bigger, you might not need these on the inside.

Step 6: Attach the front piece by hinges. I’ve seen people use cabinet door hinges to achieve this, but I didn’t want to router holes, plus I had spare, regular door hinges from other door upgrades. I placed a hinge on either end of the bottom board, made sure they were positioned to swing open and shut without problems, and screwed them in. (It would’ve been great to have matching screws, but I couldn’t find any. I’ll replace them at some point… Don’t judge me. 🤣)

On the backside of my front piece, I would need to attach 2 small, scrap pieces of my 1×6 to act as shims where the hinges would attach. These are needed so that the front piece can swing open in the correct position to cover the bottom board.

Attaching and prepping hinges

To make this easier, I first screwed these scrap pieces onto the hinges to make certain they would be in the right spot. Then I held the front piece in place under these hinges, making certain the board was equally spaced at each end and ALSO went about a half inch under the bottom board. Holding the front piece up with my knee, I quickly screwed one hinge and shim down into the back of the front piece. Then I could hold the board more easily and make sure of my positioning before screwing on the hinge and shim at the other end.

Front piece now attached!

Step 7: Attach fillers. Because of how the hinge spacing works, there will be a bit of a gap between the side pieces and the front board as well as the side pieces and the top board (unless you positioned the top board more forward as described above). You need this gap at the bottom so the front piece can swing down. But if the gap bothers you along the sides, you can nail on some narrow 1×6 pieces on the side pieces. I also shoved a small 1×6 piece into the center of my mantle’s interior to act as a middle support, so the 2 pieces at the ends and the one in the middle actually end up looking like they belong when it’s all open. I like that it looks more “framed” this way too. Just be sure your end filler pieces don’t get in the way of the hinges’ shim pieces when the front closes. (And if your top board sticks out, simply put these filler pieces lower, under the top piece.)

Side filler piece on

Step 8: Install the magnetic catch. I initially thought I would have to use 2 of these – 1 at each end – but it turned out that only 1 was needed because it’s strong enough to hold the weight of the door/front piece. I placed the main part of the catch along the side of one of my end fillers, made sure the door still closed all the way, lowered the door back down, and then screwed the metal catch in place. With the metal strip in place on the catch, I used a pencil and marked where its holes should go on the door/front piece. Then I lowered the door back down and screwed on the metal strip. (Again, if your top piece is forward, just install the magnetic catch lower.

Magnet catch on

That’s it for building the mantle!

Step 9: Add the cords and plants! I put my power strip in place inside the mantle and fed its cord down through the hole I’d cut in the bottom board to plug into the wall. Then I took the TV cords and lowered them down into the mantle through the top board’s space behind the plants. Plugging the cords in, I wound up the extra slack and tucked it behind my little center support. It all stayed very nicely, and there’s still plenty of room for remotes or other electronics in there.

Finally, in went the greenery. I cut my stems down a bit to fit, plus I bent what was left of the stems to help them stay put. Then I simply stuck them into the holes I’d drilled, shoving them down so they wouldn’t wobble around and so I could fluff out the grass a bit.

Plants and cords in!

All done! I really like how this turned out. (I might’ve done a few things differently, but now you know how to do it better. LOL) It doesn’t stick out too far from the wall but draws attention away from the TV, it adds a nice “organic” touch to a dark wall, and it’s a great way to hide our TV cords. Plus, who knows what else I can hide in there?!

AFTER! New faux-planter mantle in place.

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DIY Countertops

There are hundreds of YouTube videos on how to use epoxy to make countertops – I’ve watched many of them – and I know a lot can go wrong and it seems intimidating. But, now that it’s been well over a year since I did my kitchen and powder room vanity, I can say with confidence that this works AND holds up. My kids abuse our counters where they do crafts, we spill all the time, etc., and still the counters are fine.

Epoxy countertops of my kitchen.

It is important to note that I use StoneCoat Countertops epoxy, which results in a food-safe surface. Not all epoxies are food safe, as I’m sure a lot of critics will point out. But this product is great – food-safe, zero VOC (noxious fumes), strong UV resistance, and with an Ultimate Top Coat that is nearly indestructible. It’s easily my epoxy of choice for all projects, and I’ve now used it on well over 200 square feet! If you use a different kind of epoxy, obviously follow those instructions and take those precautions for safety.

Here’s my method. I recently did my bathroom vanity countertop, so I’ll walk through that project, but it’s basically the same method I used to do all my other counters, just refined a bit now that I know what I’m doing and what works best for me. Again, there are a lot of great videos to watch – especially from StoneCoat Countertops themselves – but here are a few tricks and tips from me.

BEFORE: Vanity countertop in need of lovin’


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Step 1: Plan and measure for all pieces. First, you have to decide if you’re going to rip out your old counters and start from scratch OR prepare your existing countertops so you can epoxy right over them. I’ve done both ways. There are pros and cons to each approach, but for the sake of this tutorial I’ll focus on making countertops from scratch.

Removed old countertop!

The first thing to measure for is the 1/2 inch thick plywood board used under the “pretty” top MDF board that you’ll epoxy. This base adds stability and thickness to a from-scratch countertop. It should be the exact width and length of the vanity/cabinets frame – you don’t want or need any overhang. Mine was 22×63.

Next, how big does your MDF countertop top need to be? My vanity front needed another 1 inch to give an overhang, plus one end wasn’t against a wall and needed an overhang. Because I apparently like making things more difficult for myself, I decided to make this end a waterfall edge. 🤦‍♀️ This meant I had to add on the width of my MDF board plus some room for the vanity’s molding so I could cut a 45-degree angle on the top board and then match it with a 45-degree angle to run a board down the side of my vanity. My countertop top ended up needing to be 23×64. The countertop’s waterfall side needed to be 23×31. (If you don’t do a waterfall edge, all you need to do is add the same inch or so to make another overhang on that end.)

Now you measure for that drop-down overhang. This long, narrow piece of MDF needs to fit the length of your countertop and be not quite as wide as the space between the front edge and the place where the plywood starts. You can make it hang as low as your cabinetry allows or at least low enough to hide the plywood. Mine needed to be about 3/4 inch wide x 1 inch deep x 63 long.

Once you know your countertop measurements, are you making a backsplash? Some people just use tile up the wall as a backsplash. I decided I wanted both a solid backsplash and then also tile in a strip over that. For my MDF backsplash dimensions, I went with 4 inches high x 23 long (for the end against the wall) and 4×64 (for the full length of the back).

Step 2: Cut and sand corners. While all of this was fresh in my mind, I cut all my pieces at once. I used a T-square and a sharpie to make lines because I had to use a circular saw for most of it. (Have I mentioned I want my own table saw?!) The MDF makes a mess when cut, so be sure to sweep that up so it doesn’t get into your paint or epoxy later.

Because epoxy does NOT like 90-degree corners, I sand all edges to make smoother curves. This helps the epoxy to flow over edges for better coverage. I don’t worry about the edges that go against walls as much as the front edges. Basically, if you can run your hand along the edge and feel a sharp corner, sand until it’s curved and smooth. MDF is quite easy to sand, but it is super dusty, so I wear a mask.

Step 3: Make holes for plumbing and/or sinks. If you’re doing a simple kitchen countertop without a sink, move on to the next step. However, if you’ve got a sink or any faucets/plumbing to consider, now is the time to figure out that placement. I was going to install vessel sinks in my bathroom counter, so I had to mark where the faucets and the drain hole would need to be to line up with plumbing underneath and look good on top.

Once I had these marked, I used a hole saw to create appropriately sized holes that would allow me (ahem, or my husband helper) to install the necessary plumbing. It’s important to make the holes in your plywood base slightly larger so that you have room to hook up the plumbing and get tools in there to make it tight enough. For the MDF layer, make the holes big enough for the plumbing but not so big that any gaps show around the faucet. (If you’re putting in a normal sink, cut your holes the size/shape needed to fit in the sink.)

Step 4: Attach the plywood base. Once you’ve got any plumbing holes cut, you can attach the plywood base and get that out of the way. I used a few screws and screwed up from underneath the cabinetry to secure the plywood. Done. I also used this time to test my MDF pieces on top to be sure I was on the right track. 👍 So far, so good.

Testing my countertop pieces

Step 5: Use putty to make a seamless overhang. Remember that thin strip of MDF for the overhang? I’ve found that it’s easiest to flip your counter board upside down and then set this strip along the edge to attach it. Using my brad gun, I nailed this piece on so that it sat as flush as possible with my front edge. I tried not to use too many nails, and wood glue would have worked too – I just don’t have the patience.

Overhang attached!

Once it was attached, I flipped the counter back. Now, to completely fill in and cover the seam, some people like to use Bondo. But I HATE the smell and it’s a messy process. Instead, I had someone recommend Durham’s water putty, and I’ll never go back. It comes as a powder that you mix with water to get whatever consistency works for the project. It’s easy to mix up, it doesn’t smell, it’s pretty cheap, and it finishes rock hard. I just use a small bowl or cup, dump in the powder, mix with water, and then use a putty knife to spread it on. It works a bit like joint compound to fill the seam.

Dry time depends on your temperature, but it’s easy to see from the dark-to-light color when it dries. I used my sander and went over the seam to make sure everything was smooth, and once done, the overhang looked like it was one piece with the rest of the counter.

Step 6: Prep for paint and epoxy. If you watch too many videos, you can easily start to feel like your workspace isn’t good enough. However, I did my countertop in my DISASTER of a garage, so anywhere can work!

How do I work like this?!

The important thing is that you get everything ready so you don’t panic about forgetting anything as you go. And this isn’t just me – all the pros cannot stress enough that good prep makes the epoxy process go much more smoothly.

The first thing you want to do is put down plastic sheeting, because epoxy WILL GET EVERYWHERE. I like to use sawhorses with spare old doors to create my work tables because they’re a good size and I know mine are level – level is also very important with epoxy! Then I put my plastic sheets over the “table” to extend onto the floor on both sides. I like to fold over the ends on the floor and tape them to create little dams that stop the epoxy. (I should say I usually put plastic over the table and not just the floor. This particular door I used was already far gone, so I didn’t bother protecting my work “table.”)

I then have these great little cone stands to hold my boards up. Since they’re all the same size, that helps keep my boards level rather than using a bunch of random things to hold up my pieces. I try to arrange my boards so that I’ll have room between them to rub epoxy on the edges with my hands without bumping other boards.

So that’s my actual table workspace. I try to keep this surface clear of clutter so I have space to work without bumping anything and also to keep epoxy off my tools as much as possible.

On a separate table (or deep freezer…hypothetically) I set out all my tools. This is where I keep the epoxy containers until it’s time to mix. I also keep my tape, torch, gloves, spatula, color additives, rollers, drill, etc. here so everything is where I can grab it as needed.

Step 7: Undercoat and paint. On to the fun stuff! The first step is to roll on an undercoat that bonds with the MDF surface. StoneCoat Countertops has their own in white and in black – I’ve used both – depending on if you’re doing light or dark counters. It’s basically the consistency of regular paint, so nothing too complicated here. It dries fast (about 30-45 minutes in 72 degrees), which is nice, because you want to lightly sand and then do a second coat to get nice coverage over the MDF. I used the white undercoat, and even with 2 coats I only used a small amount – a little goes a long way!

White undercoat done

It’s usually a good idea to wait overnight between each layer…but sometimes I paint within the same day. On top of this undercoat, it helps to paint a nice base color that will blend with your final epoxy colors. This REALLY helps on your sides and edges where the epoxy will be thinner. You can also fog with spray paint to make sure your edges have color. (If you’re making lines/veins in your countertop, it can also help and add dimension to fog on spray paint lines that will show slightly under your lines/veins.)

For my bathroom vanity, I used “Accessible Beige” as my base paint. I wanted to avoid straight grey everywhere, and this hint of warmer brown was just what I wanted. I only did one coat because it covered well enough, and this layer doesn’t have to be perfect.

Step 8: Epoxy color layer! There’s no limit to the colors and patterns and effects you can make for your countertops – natural stone looks, colorful artsy designs, etc. For my vanity, I wanted to do a light grey soapstone with white veins. I’d seen a great example in a video by RK3 Designs (Rhonda is awesome!), and this was a far easier design than what I’d done in my kitchen – simple, but cool and pretty.

First, some last-minute prep. Be sure the room is warm – I used a space heater and kept my garage at 72. I kept the epoxy containers right by the heater for 15 minutes to make sure it was warm. To further prep the epoxy, it’s a good idea to flip Part A (the thicker stuff) to make sure it’s stirred up before you pour it in with Part B.

Optional prep: Taping your plumbing holes. If you’ve cut your holes exactly the size they need to be, it’s a good idea to use painters tape inside the edges of these holes so epoxy doesn’t run down into them and thusly make your holes smaller. Basically the tape works as a dam and holds back the epoxy from following gravity into your holes. This also helps so your design doesn’t blur by being pulled into the holes.

Also, DO NOT forget to prep for how you’re going to clean off epoxy as you go. First, on go the gloves! Epoxy is sticky and can irritate skin, so I change gloves all the time when I get too sticky. (I used to try using just one reusable pair of silicone gloves, but that didn’t work great for me.) Oh! Also keep some Seventh Generation disinfecting wipes handy, because they are absolutely the best thing I’ve found for wiping epoxy off as you go – I use them on my gloves, spatulas, tools, torch, and especially my skin if I slob.

Ok. Now that we are good and ready…

SCC epoxy is a 1:1 mixing ratio, so that makes the math pretty easy for mixing up the epoxy. I planned on using 3 oz per square foot, so I needed 80 oz (rounding up to be safe). If you do more complicated designs, you want more epoxy, possibly like 5 oz per square foot. But since I was only doing basically grey epoxy with a small cup of white, I figured I could get away with 3 oz.

With my drill and mixing attachment ready, I first poured 40 oz of Part B into my mixing bucket. (You want to do Part B first because Part A is thicker and will sink down, helping to mix itself.) Next I poured in Part A, 40 oz. I then checked the time so I could mix for 2 solid minutes, turned on my drill, and started mixing the epoxy. It’s important to mix the epoxy really well, scraping along the sides and the bottom of your bucket to be sure it’s all stirred up – if you don’t mix it evenly, it won’t cure correctly. After 2 minutes, you can definitely tell if it’s mixed because you won’t have thick globs but rather an even, smooth, runny consistency.

Mixing epoxy!

With the epoxy mixed, I took the mixer out of my drill and set it on some plastic – you can use this mixer again and again, and it’s fine if epoxy dries on it. (Also, you can reuse buckets if you turn them upside-down when done, because the dried epoxy will peel right out. And you can reuse the silicone spatula, because epoxy will peel off that too.)

Next I grabbed my white epoxy dye and squirted in a small amount – again, a little goes a long way. I then used my silicone spatula and stirred it up until the epoxy was evenly white. This is a good time to check the opacity, because the strength of your colors will depend on how opaque the epoxy is. I found that if I could see the orange color of my spatula at all when letting it drip off, my white wasn’t strong enough. So I’d add and stir in a bit more.

Once I got it strong enough, I took a Solo cup and poured it about 3/4 full with my white epoxy. This is what I would use for my veins.

White epoxy cup

Back in the main bucket, I carefully took my black epoxy and added one small drop. Literally, one small drop. That was all it took to stir up my white epoxy and make it grey. I also took my grey spray paint and sprayed once around the bucket, then stirred it only slightly. This would give the epoxy a cool, textured effect once poured.

That was it for mixing my colors. On to pouring! It’s a good idea to watch your time, because you’ve got about 45 minutes to work with the epoxy before it starts to cure/solidify.

With very little method to my madness, I held the grey bucket and began pouring it on my boards. I poured most onto the main countertop board and ran less along my backsplash pieces, then pooled some on my waterfall side, and finally used my spatula to get the rest out on my main board.

Beginning to pour!

Some people like to use brushes or tools to spread the epoxy, but I prefer my gloved hands. If it felt particularly thick and wouldn’t spread, all I had to do was use my torch (with a freshly gloved hand) to warm up the epoxy and keep it moving. I spread the epoxy back and forth, lastly wiping it down over my edges and especially over my overhang in the front. I did this to all my pieces, spreading quickly.

With the grey on, it already was looking cool. Near the edges where the epoxy would naturally run thinner, I could see my “Accessible Beige” showing through ever so slightly. Where the spray paint was involved, it added a nice dimension and “natural stone” look.

Before moving on, I quickly went over all my pieces with the torch to pop any bubbles. This is weirdly cathartic. 😆

Torching out bubbles

Next, to add more depth, I took my white epoxy cup and used my mixing spatula to wipe on some lines of white. These didn’t have to look like nice veins, because I immediately used my glove to smear them in. Once I had enough of these smeared patches of white, I used my alcohol spray bottle to spritz over these white sections. This always is one of my favorite parts of the process, because the alcohol creates cool effects and blends the colors so nicely.

Spritzing with alcohol

With these white background sections added, I then added my white veins. This takes a bit of practice. I found that getting a good amount on my spatula and then quickly moving over my boards worked best to get straight, thin lines. It also helps to start dripping the epoxy before you move over the edge of the board to start a clean line. For thicker lines, I moved a bit slower and let more epoxy run off the spatula, sometimes even letting it pool a little and then dragging the spatula through to widen the line.

The best part of this is that, if I didn’t like a vein, it was easy to wipe it out and start again. Or, I could wipe out a section and then “retrace” my line. I also sometimes dragged my spatula along my lines to smooth out any globs or breaks in my lines.

Adding veins

Once satisfied with my veins, I lightly spritzed the pieces with alcohol to help the veins look more natural. Then I torched everything again to get out bubbles.

It is VERY hard to make myself stop playing with my designs, but I stopped here and let it be. Over the next hour, I went back every 20 minutes or so and torched to pop bubbles. After about an hour, my epoxy started setting up, so I stopped fiddling with it after that. This was also when I pulled the tape out of my plumbing holes so the tape wouldn’t be stuck!

Wet but finished color coat!

Dry time varies depending on how warm and how humid your environment is, but I find that overnight is usually long enough for the epoxy to cure enough that it isn’t tacky to the touch.

Side note: There will sometimes be areas you don’t like so much once the epoxy is set up. Sometimes the epoxy pulls over the edges and screws up your design a little bit. Sometimes a spot just looks unnatural. I’ve found that one way to fix areas is to lightly fog with spray paint to cover these goofs. You can even spritz the spray paint with alcohol so it creates a natural effect and looks less spray-paint-y (technical term, of course.) If you don’t like something in your color design, now is the time to fix it.

Step 9: Clear coat. You have an option here. Most experts recommend letting the color coat dry to the touch and then lightly sanding before adding your clear coat. However, others say that if your color coat is still slightly tacky, you can skip sanding and just pour the clear coat on overtop. Personally, I’m always nervous that I did something wrong and my epoxy won’t cure if it’s still tacky, so I always wait and make sure, then lightly sand. Sanding allows for a “mechanical bond” and gives your clear coat something to grab onto.

Side note: The exception is if you’ve used spray paint to cover goofs. I’ve learned from trial and error that you should not sand spray paint added on top of the epoxy because it will scuff the paint and make a whole new problem you need to hide.

What’s the point of a clear coat anyway? One answer is that it levels everything out if you have any lumps or thin sections. Another reason is that it adds a layer of depth and makes your design look more natural. And, it also helps to strengthen your countertop and add a layer of protection. Long story less long, I always do one. 🤷‍♀️

The clear coat is a LOT easier than your color coat. I always mix for 3 oz per square foot, and everything in the mixing process is the same as above. Once you’ve mixed the epoxy, you just dump it on and spread it around the boards, also covering the edges. (If worried about the size of your plumbing holes, again use tape to hold back the epoxy.)

Some recommend using a spreader and chopping brush to get an even coat, but I again use gloved hands, not only because I can feel if it’s spreading evenly but also because tapping all over with my hands seem to create less bubbles than using a chopping brush. I sometimes use a silicone basting brush, but not for big projects because my hand gets tired of all the tapping. 😜

Once the clear coat is on, I use my torch all over to get out the bubbles. Same as with the color coat, I come back every 20 minutes over the next hour and torch.

That’s it for the clear coat.

Clear coat on!

Step 10: Sand underside drips. I always give the clear coat overnight to dry fully. Once I can run my hand over its glass-like surface, I make sure I can lift each board off my cone stands so my pieces aren’t stuck anywhere to my plastic. Then I take my sander and 80-grit sandpaper to sand down the hardened drips that hang from the bottom around the edges.

Sanding these can take some time, and I always make sure to wear a mask – it’s messy and dusty. But once the bottom edges are smooth enough, I take a rag and dust off my boards.

Optional Step 11: Top coat. “Another layer?” you ask. Sort of. SCC makes an Ultimate Top Coat that adds a TON of protection to your countertop. It also allows you to use your countertops (lightly) within about 48 hours as opposed to the full 30-day curing time of the epoxy if left without the top coat. This top coat isn’t really epoxy but more like a special sealer. It comes in glossy or matte. It does have a slight texture, so consider that if you fall in love with the glass-like finish of the clear coat. You don’t have to put the top coat on, but it certainly adds protection. Plus, for my vanity, I used matte since that’s more how soapstone naturally looks.

Because you only need 0.375 oz per square foot (their calculation), it doesn’t take much. I mixed up about half a Solo cup’s worth for this whole project, and I had plenty. It’s a 2:1 ratio, 2 parts A and 1 part B, plus you add a dribble of water to keep it extra thin.

Once mixed (it’s very gluey in consistency), I had about 15 minutes working time because this sets up quick! Using a 1/4 inch nap roller, I dipped it in my cup and rolled it around the cup to get rid of too much excess. (You can also use a standard painting tray if you’re more comfortable.) Then, starting at one end of a board at a time, I rolled it on quickly to cover the board with a THIN coat. Once I had it on, I took a dry roller and more slowly rolled in the same direction to really thin out what was on the boards. By lightly rolling I could avoid lap lines, but faint lap lines will blend out as it dries.

DON’T fiddle with this top coat too much. You don’t need much on, and as long as you can see that your whole board is shiny wet, it’s good.

Top coat with matte finish – drying

Step 12: Attach the counter. Remember how I said you can use the counters within 48 hours if you use the Ultimate Top Coat? This is when I attached my counter.

First, the main countertop top. I set it in place over my plywood base, and it fit so nice! I took a few short screws and squirmed into my cabinets, then screwed up through the plywood into the MDF to secure the countertop. Easy!

For the backsplash pieces, I tested them in place, then spread clear, 100% silicone caulk/sealant on the backsides to attach them to the walls. I pressed and held each piece in place for a while until I felt them stick on. Then, once they were on, I used that same clear caulk to go along the bottoms where the backsplash met the countertop. (Weird tip: Use a baby wipe to smooth out your caulk lines. 👍)

Countertop on!

For the waterfall edge, I held it in place, made sure it was level, and then grabbed a few more screws and squirmed back into my cabinet to screw through the side and attach the waterfall from the backside.

Was my waterfall seam perfect where it “flowed” from the countertop? 🤣🤣 No. 😳 To fix this, I mixed up a little bit of epoxy and the SCC thickener that makes it like a thick goopy glue. I added a few sprays of my grey spray paint into this mixture, and that made it match perfectly. Then I used my spatula and wiped the epoxy into my seam, filling the gap. Where some of this thick epoxy got on the side and counter, I used one of my wipes to smoothly get it off. Then I did a lot of this 🤞 for the next half hour. Aaaand, it worked!

I’m sure you’ll do this better than I did and not have to worry about your seam. If you have a very small gap, you could also use an appropriately colored caulk. I was just…beyond that and needed a bigger fix. 😆

Not too bad now!

Countertop done! I know this was a very long tutorial, but I tried to give you every little thing I could think of. Honestly, making this countertop was a lot of artsy fun, and I absolutely love the end result.

AFTER! New countertop (and a lot else)

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DIY Capiz Shell Chandelier for a Recessed Light

Ever shop for decor, find something you love, suck in your breath when you see the price, then immediately try to figure out how to make it yourself? If so, you are my people.

Enter a $400 flush-mounted capiz shell chandelier that I saw online. I’m already over budget on this bathroom reno, so, uh, no. And anyway, I didn’t actually want to install a whole new light but instead wanted something to vamp up the recessed light over where my new tub will go (hopefully soon, since the tub is currently sitting in my bedroom).

Before: Standard recessed light.

I’d earlier made a chandelier from wooden beads that hangs in our stairwell, so I was fairly certain I could use similar tactics to “dupe” this capiz shell chandelier.

Searching Pinterest, I found a few people who used wax paper and laminate and circle punches and their oven to create faux capiz shells. …But that seemed like a lot of work. Maybe it would be a bit cheaper than buying actual shells, but the labor involved didn’t seem worth the savings. So, I searched Amazon and found a pretty good deal on capiz shells that already had holes in them for stringing together. I ended up buying 2 packs of 100 each to get a full look for my chandelier. The other materials – clear fishing line, U bracket clamps, and a Euro fitter lampshade ring – I already had, but if you have to buy everything this whole project still costs under $100. And it only takes a few hours. Win win.


(As an advertising affiliate and Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases. But it doesn’t cost you anything extra and helps me keep up my site!)


“What the heck is a Euro fitter lampshade ring?” you may ask. I only know because I searched Google for what I used so I’d know how to describe it here. LOL. Basically, it’s the metal ring that’s the top of a lampshade, but the kind where the metal center section is lower where it fastens to the lightbulb. I wanted this kind so that I could hang shells in the center but also have them be lower and not right against my recessed light. There are all kinds of cool lampshade rings for DIY lampshades that you could use to get different shapes, but this is what I had already that fit my needs.

Optional Step: I spray painted my ring so it matched my main bathroom light fixture. (See that project here.) If you’re going to paint yours too, obviously do that before you start attaching the shells. I also painted my U bracket clamps to match the white of my ceiling so they would blend in. Painting these isn’t a necessary step, but I think it looks nice. 🤷‍♀️

Step 1: Plan. You could string together shells willy-nilly for a rustic look, but I wanted some uniform length to my chandelier. And I wanted my center shells to hang shorter than my surrounding shells. A lot of people prefer the other way around for a longer chandelier, but I wanted mine to be fuller and not hang too far from the ceiling.

Since my lampshade ring was divided into 3 sections, I planned on creating equal numbers of shell strands to hang from each section. I decided on 5 shells for each strand hanging from the outer ring, then 3 shells for each strand hanging from the center. I had about 200 shells to work with, so I ended up with 33 strands of 5 and 11 strands of 3 (I did have a few broken shells, but I figured that was pretty fair considering how fragile the shells are. Count your useable shells first to be sure you have enough for your plan!)

Step 2: Create a test strand of shells. I started by making 1 whole strand to check my plan. I tied on my bottom shell by simply looping the fishing line through the holes and then making a double knot. I cut off the excess string from the knot, then I pulled out more line for the rest of that strand (another 12 inches or so) and cut the other end.

Bottom shell tied on.

From there, it was easy to add my 4 other shells one at a time by weaving the fishing line through the shells’ holes. I first thought I’d have to tie on each shell, but they catch on the fishing line nicely and stay put. I spaced mine so that they overlapped slightly, but you can space them however you like the look.

Test strand done.

Once I had this 1 strand done, I tied it onto my outer ring to see if I liked it. (It helped to have a good amount of fishing line to work with when tying it onto the ring, so keep that in mind when you cut your strand lengths.) I double knotted that end by looping the line around the ring and tying the line back around itself where it weaved through the shell holes. Then I cut off the extra – much like with the bottom shell.

Holding up my whole thing, I liked how the shell strand hung down, I liked the spacing of the shells on the strand, and I liked the overall length. So, onward!

Step 3: String together the shells. I found I could work fastest and most consistently by doing each step at the same time for each strand. So, first I cut all my 5-shell strands to the same length, about 12-15 inches. Then I attached each bottom shell to start each strand. Then I strung 4 shells on each strand. I set these in 3 piles – 1 for each section of my ring – to keep track of my system. (I ended up with 11 strands for each section of my outer ring.)

Once I had my 5-shell strands done, I moved on to stringing together my 3-shell strands. These I could cut a little shorter, probably about 10 inches. I attached the bottom shell same as before, then strung on the other 2. These I put all in a separate pile.

This step is obviously the time-consuming part, but it goes pretty fast once you get the hang of it.

Step 4: Tie the strands to the ring. I took some 5-shell strands first and tied them onto my outer ring, just like I’d done with my test strand. It was easiest to rest the whole thing on top of a few stacked paint cans – you could use a narrow box or tall vase or whatever. With the lampshade ring elevated, I could tie on each sections’ strands and let them hang a bit rather than lying the ring on the table and getting the shells tangled. I did one on each section at a time to keep the whole thing balanced.

Note: The fishing line can slide around a bit so that you can adjust the strands’ spacing along your sections. I did this as I went just to see what would look best, but save the final positioning for once it’s on your ceiling since they’ll slide around on you before then.

Once I had some of the outer 5-shell strands on, I took my 3-shell strands and tied them on by looking down from above and tying them onto the center/inner part of the lampshade ring. There might’ve been an easier way to do this, but I made it work. 😜

Tying on the strands.

Step 5: Mount the chandelier! Standing on a chair, I held up my chandelier with the recessed light centered as best I could. Then I marked with a pencil where my U bracket clamps’ holes should be – planning for 1 clamp for each of my 3 sections. Next I lowered the chandelier and set it carefully aside. Back up on my chair – this time with my 4-year-old assistant handing me clamps and screws – I used my drill to loosely screw in 1 screw per clamp. Climbing back down, I grabbed the chandelier and lifted it back up with me. I wiggled the loose clamps around so the chandelier’s outer ring would rest in place, and it hung on the clamps well enough that my assistant could hand me the remaining screws to secure the chandelier in place.

Or… If you have a taller sidekick to hold the chandelier in place, you could screw in the clamps all at once. 😂


Anyway, once the chandelier is mounted, then it’s time to slide around your strands to adjust their spacing however you like.


And that’s it! A whole new, fancier look for my recessed light.

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How to Upgrade a 1990s Light Fixture for under $100

Hollywood lights, am I right?! While I’m sure they must’ve seemed like a great idea for nearly every home in the 90s, now they’re just dated and blah. Have you seen the hundreds of cool light fixture designs out now?! OF COURSE I wanted to change out our bathroom’s Hollywood lights for something new and cool.

…Have you seen how much light fixtures cost?! In order to get the amount of light we needed in our bathroom, we were looking at a 6-8 light bulb situation. Those ain’t cheap! And if I wanted to change to 2 separate lights instead of 1 long light, that would mean rewiring – I had no desire to rewire our lights myself or go through the hassle/expense of finding an electrician.

So, I quickly realized that I wanted to soften this blow to my bathroom budget by coming up with a DIY solution. In a general sense, the original light fixture worked ok with my bathroom remodel design. The amount of light we got from it was good. The position of the light fixture was good.

But how could I make these Hollywood lights less outdated and blah?

BEFORE. Old, rusted, outdated.

In our former house, the builder had paid a lot of attention (and probably $$) to the trendiness of the light fixtures. One in particular that I’d loved had metal cages around the light bulbs that made cool geometric chapels. Could I DIY something similar?

Enter Amazon. I spent quite a bit of time searching for just what I wanted, but I finally found these awesome pendant light cages that can bend and flex to create different shapes. That would give me the ability to adjust the cages and get them just right around the round bulbs. It would also give me options to change up the look from time to time if I wanted. Plus, I could spray paint them the same color as the light fixture base, and that would add some coherence to my bathroom since I planned to spray paint some other wall fixtures as well.

NOTE: The most important thing to consider is the size of the pendant cage’s end where it connects to the socket. It had to be wide enough to allow the socket to fit through but not so big that the covering collar would fit through too.

In one of my smarter moves, I bought one cage first to test this out. And it looked pretty cool!

Test cage 👍

Once that reassured me of my plan, I ordered the other 7 cages and ran to Lowe’s for a can of copper spray paint. (I’m doing mixed metals in this bathroom with chrome and copper, so I used this same copper spray paint on those other wall fixtures I mentioned. One can went a long way!)


(As an advertising affiliate and Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases. But it doesn’t cost you anything extra and helps me keep up my site!)

Step 1: Turn off the power! I am not an electrician, and I wasn’t about to risk electrocuting myself for a light fixture project. Flipping the power off to our bathroom was easy and the safest option.

Step 2: Protect the surroundings and sockets with painters tape. Since there was no point taking the light fixture base off the wall, I started by simply removing the light bulbs and then protecting the wall surrounding the base by putting up wide painters tape. (I also planned to repaint the walls, so spray painting the base in place wasn’t a huge deal. If you’re not repainting/remodeling, BE SURE to cover everything well!)

It’s also important to protect the wiring in the sockets. I wrapped each socket in the tape and tucked it slightly inside the socket, then put a small piece over the opening to be completely sure the interior was safe.

Taped and ready!

Step 3. Spray paint the light fixture base. To be honest, there are probably a lot of cool ways you could revamp the base. But I was already doing something kinda crazy on the walls (see that post here), and I didn’t want to overdo it on this wall. I suspected the copper would stand out enough on its own, so the spray paint method worked for me.

The important thing with spray paint is to go slow and at an even pace, and don’t overdo it or the paint will leave drips. Other than that, it’s pretty easy!

Base painted.

NOTE: As you can see from the picture above, I’d obviously finished my walls between the time I spray painted the base and when I finally got around to finishing the light. 🤦‍♀️ I do what I can when I can around here, but you could easily do this whole light fixture project in an afternoon!

Step 4: Spray paint the cages and socket collars. I always try to spray paint in our garage so I can have adequate ventilation. For the collars, I set up a cardboard box tipped on its side and lined the collars up before spraying them. Since no one will ever see the bottoms where they go against the base, I set that side down and then spray painted all around. Easy enough.

For the cages, I adjusted each cage into the shape I wanted in order to be sure the right parts would all be exposed for painting. Then I set them out on the garage floor and spray painted each cage, careful to hit them with paint from every angle.

Cages and collars (and more) painted!

About paint choices… I also did my other fixtures at this time with the same paint to be sure all would match. But, depending on your color scheme, you could leave the cages natural – they look nice that way too. Or you could paint them any color!

In any case, the spray paint stuck to the metal really well, so I only needed one coat.

Step 5: Attach the cages and collars. Once everything was dry, I took it all back into my bathroom. I’d removed the tape from the fixture base by now (yes, days ago by this point), but if you’re doing this all in a day, now would be the time to do that.

Starting with a cage, I made sure it was in the shape I wanted, then I slid it over the socket and held it in place against the back base. Holding the cage there, I took a collar and carefully pushed it back over the socket. Once it was all the way on, it pinned the back end of the cage nicely against the fixture base. I still had a little wiggle room to position the cage just right as I attached the next cage, and the next, and the next.

Attaching the cages and collars.

The whole assembly took me only 8 minutes! (I know because I videos myself doing it 😜)

That was it! I’m happy with how this relatively inexpensive upgrade turned out. The copper looks really cool and ties in with the other fixtures I’ve altered. I might someday change the kind of bulbs I put it (I put appropriately sized Edison bulbs in our revamped powder room’s Hollywood lights), but for now this works for me!

AFTER. Light fixture upgrade!

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Adding Wall Texture Art

Last post, I showed how I made the slide-away mirror cabinet in our bathroom. Many people asked how I did the walls, so here ya go!

Early in the bathroom reno process, I realized our walls were going to need a little love. The giant mirror that I popped off the wall had gobs of silicone that pulled off the drywall. Behind our tub insert had NO drywall to even start. Yikes.

BEFORE: Walls need love.

So, rather than meticulously taping and smoothing out joint compound over these holes and seams, I decided to cover the walls in some sort of texturing. Scouring the internet (mostly Pinterest), I searched for unique textures that would give an artsy effect to the walls. That’s when I came across how a lot of artists use joint compound, or something similar, to create textured canvas art. One in particular kept showing up on my feed, and it soon became my favorite and the clear winner for what I was going to try to replicate. If you have a chance, check out @studiospindler to see some of this amazing art that inspired my bathroom walls.

I’d done wall texturing before – on our office as a faux-brick wall and elsewhere – so I was pretty confident I could pull this off, plus I knew it would be a fairly inexpensive fix to our messed up walls.


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  • Joint compound (I got 5 gallons)
  • String of beads (I used 2 rolls)
  • Paint (mine is “Accessible Beige”)

The really nice thing about doing this is that it’s VERY forgiving of imperfect walls. Some sections of our walls were ok, so I simply added my texture to the particularly bad bits and made it all look like a purposeful design. I didn’t even have to take out the wall anchors where I’ll later rehang our towel racks.

Step 1: Spread wavy lines of joint compound that are quite thick. I used a combination of my hands and a grout float to spread decent amounts of the compound in long waves along my walls. This created a good outline of how my textured pattern was going to turn out. It also helped make clear which sections of wall I wanted/needed to cover. I went for a generally wavy look that would pull the eye around the room. I also had my lines intersect in a few places to add interest.

Step 2: Press in the beads. Once I had the “outline” done, I unrolled some of my string of beads and held the end where my outline started at the ceiling. Then I simply pressed the beads gently into the joint compound as I followed my outline. At corners, I found that it was easier to cut the string of beads than try to wrap the beads around the corner and continue, but either way works ok. I just liked working with shorter strings at a time in case I pulled it loose accidentally.

Step 3: Slather on joint compound. With all my outlines done with beads, it was time to fill the big sections between. I found that my grout float worked quite well for this part to just hurry and get the joint compound on the walls. I covered a big section of wall at a time, but you don’t want to do too much if you have the quick-drying kind of joint compound. (You get a feel pretty quickly of how much you can manage at a time.)

Once I had a big glob spread on, I used my fingers to swipe back and forth until I had a pattern/texture that I liked. I found that the thicker the compound and the harder I wiped, the more dramatic the effect. And it also looks best to do long strokes so the compound looks less choppy. You really can do any pattern you like, but I followed the general waves of my outlines.

Step 4: Let it dry. A fan aimed at your walls helps to speed up this process a bit. Obviously, the thicker parts will take longer to dry. It looks a little different once dried, so you might see places (I did) where you want to add thicker texture. You can do that with more compound before it’s all dry.

Step 5: Paint! I’m not gonna lie, painting the beads takes TIME. I tried using a big brush, but sometimes that was too rough and pulled the beads free a little. Instead I used a small craft brush, and this was the smarter choice since it was gentle and also let me get into all the little gaps around the beads.

After I’d painted all the bead outlines, I switched to a roller for the rest of the wall. This went much faster, but I also had to do 2 coats to make sure I got all the little nooks and crannies in my dried joint compound. Where there was no texture at all, I used the same roller at the same time and painted like normal.

Once my paint was dried, I was done!

Side note: I decided that I wanted even more beads for a more dramatic effect, so I ended up buying a second roll and repeating the process in a few sections to REALLY outline the textured areas. I was worried this might look like too much, but it turned out great and looks like I fully committed to the whole idea. lol

This was a pretty simple but really cool way to add textured art to my walls. I love how it adds some charm and pulls your eye around the room.

AFTER: textured walls!
My favorite section.

Now to finish the rest of the room!! 🤞

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Between-Studs Storage WITHOUT Complicated Woodworking

When comparing our first house to this house, it was quickly noticeable that we have twice as much room but about half the storage, and that was especially true of our bathroom. So, I had to come up with a few ways to add storage in my bathroom remodel design. One of these ways to add storage is a bathroom project I’ve managed to finish (this room is taking forever…for a variety of reasons I’ll get to at a later date), so I thought I’d share this project with you while I’m feeling like I’ve actually accomplished something.

I kept seeing on Pinterest ways to create a between-the-studs cabinet. Some of these ideas are really cool. A bunch show open shelving, which I knew was not something I wanted – I have no desire to constantly see my husband’s collection of hotel soaps. A few Pinterest people created between-studs medicine cabinets over the sinks, but I knew there was a LOT of electrical back in that wall and I wanted to avoid that trouble. Then I saw on Pinterest how some people made tall/long cabinets that could hold a ton of stuff while also allowing you to have a full-length mirror which acted as the sliding door of the cabinet.

Bingo! Since we had a wide space on the back wall of our bathroom (see the towel racks in the picture below), this seemed like the perfect spot for a long cabinet and a mirror. And so I studied these Pinterest how-to’s.

Before: Not a lot of hidden storage.

The only problem was…the Pinterest tutorials that showed how to do a full-length cabinet mostly showed how to cut the hole, build a cabinet, insert said cabinet, and build a frame for a mirror yourself so that you could attach it to your cabinet frame. Quite frankly, that seemed to require a lot of skills and tools and time that I don’t really have. Couldn’t I just build a cabinet in place and buy a mirror to attach?

And so I went off-book and did it my own DIY way.


(As an advertising affiliate and Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases. But it doesn’t cost you anything extra and helps me keep up my site!)

  • 2×4 short pieces
  • 1x4s (I used 3 total at 8 feet long… you should use 4)
  • 1/8 inch plywood (or other thin sheet of wood)
  • Trim paint
  • Drawer slides
  • Mirror
  • Caulk and wood filler
  • Wood glue
  • Brad nails

Step 1: Find the studs and make sure the space between will work. Using a stud finder, I marked on the wall where the studs supposedly were. Then I used a utility knife and cut a small square out of the drywall along the side of one of these stud markers. Once that left me a hole, I used the camera on my phone (with the flash on) to take pictures facing up and down inside. The first hole I made like this showed a wire running along the stud, so I made a hole on the other side of that stud and tried again. This time, my picture of the insides showed that this whole space between these studs was empty. If I’d decided to go with the side with the wire, I would’ve had to built a new frame to cover the wire before making my cabinet, and this would’ve limited my space. No, thank you, all around. So I’m glad I lucked out on the other side of the stud and had a nice, open space.

Between my studs – empty 👍

Step 2: Cut the space for the cabinet. Now that I was sure where my studs were, I used a level and traced the outline of where I wanted my cabinet. I choose 48 inches long because that looked good and centered on the wall, and the space between my studs was about 14.5 inches. I made sure to position everything so that we could stand back and take advantage of a full mirror, and I even remembered to take into account that my husband is taller than me and would also probably like to see his head in the mirror.

That decided, I used my oscillating multi tool and quickly cut along my traced outline. You could also use a utility knife, but my multi tool made the job go fast while also letting me get a nice smooth line along the studs. (See my “DIY Must-Haves Tools” below for this and other tools I used in this project.)

Cutting the cabinet hole.

Once this hole was cut and I pulled the drywall free, I had a good visual of what my cabinet space would look like.

Let’s ignore that first-attempt hole, shall we? 😜

Step 3: Insert top and bottom braces. The sides were obviously created by the studs, but I needed a top and bottom to enclose the space and give me something to attach my cabinet to. I measured from stud to stud just inside the drywall at the top and bottom, and again this was 14.5 inches. Then I simply went down to my miter saw and cut a spare 2×4 to give myself 2 pieces that were 14.5 inches long.

With these 2×4 braces, I did get a little “fancy” and used 2 pocket holes on each end to attach them to the studs. I drilled the holes, got the screws ready, and started with the top brace. I pushed the 2×4 up into place so that it was level and lined up with the edge of my drywall. Then I screwed it into the studs on either side. Easy.

I would love to tell you I pulled this off on the first try with the bottom brace… Here’s what finally worked. Carefully, I held the bottom brace piece so that it didn’t fall to the floor inside my hole. 😑 Then I quickly screwed one screw into a stud to make sure it wouldn’t fall, then I checked for level and quickly put a screw into the other stud. With the brace secured on each end, I finished by screwing in the second screws on either end. I tested this supporting brace by pushing down on this bottom 2×4 quite hard. Since I’m assuming I’ll never put more weight in this cabinet than my own body weight, I’m gonna say it’ll hold.

Top and bottom braces in.

Step 4: Create the back piece. This is where I really started doing it my own, easier way. I didn’t want to build a cabinet and hope that it would fit perfectly, so I went piece by piece and built it in place. Measuring across the space between the studs was again 14.5 inches, and from the new top brace to the new bottom brace was 48 inches. So that was easy enough to cut a leftover sheet of 1/8 inch plywood to that size.

Note: You could use something thicker as the back part of your cabinet, but I wanted all the depth I could get for storage. I also toyed with the idea of tiling the back but decided to save my tile for elsewhere. Whatever you use, take into account it’s thickness, because that could alter the dimensions you need for your frame’s wood.

After a quick sanding, I used the same white gel stain I was using on our vanity to give this back piece a little protection and color. (You could paint it or use a poly or whatever you want to tie this into your room.) Once dry, I simply inserted the sheet into the space and pressed it against the back. I could have glued it to the drywall in the back, but it fit snuggly and stayed put. Besides, it’s not going anywhere because the frame would hold it pinned in place.

Step 5: Create the frame. I bought three 8 foot, primed 1×4’s from Lowe’s and cut these to make my whole frame, shelves, and shelf supports. Again, the top and bottom were 14.5 inches across, so those were the first pieces I cut. Assembling as I went meant that I held these in place and used my nail gun to shoot some brad nails in. Top and bottom done, I measured the sides (no longer 48 inches since the top and bottom had frame pieces attached now) and got something like 46.5 inches. I cut another 1×4 for these side pieces, held each in place, and nailed them in. That left me with the back and basic surrounding frame done!

Note: The biggest trick here is to make sure the front edges of the frame are flush with your surrounding drywall and don’t stick out or sit back too far. The depth of your cabinet is only as wide as your 2×4 stud plus (+) your wall’s drywall minus (-) the piece you insert as the back of the cabinet. You don’t want your frame to be too off, or else the trim won’t sit right against the wall AND it could cause problems with your slides/mirror. 1×4’s worked well for my cabinet depth, and I had a little wiggle room along the back to adjust forward or back to line up with the drywall.

Step 6: Make the shelves. Again using the 1×4’s, I measured the space across the frame and cut shelves at about 13 inches. Using what was left of my 1×4’s, I next cut 1-inch strips to use as supports for the shelves – so I needed 2 for each shelf, 1 to support each end. (I’ve seen it done where you can drill holes in your frame to make adjustable shelves, but I wanted it to look custom and finished, so I liked this more secure and permanent option.)

My support pieces.

Here’s where I got super-scientific and grabbed our tallest mouthwash container, set it on the bottom, and marked with a pencil where the lowest shelf could go while still fitting that bottle. Using a small level, I drew a line where the bottom supports needed to go on either side.

Next, I held the little support pieces in place along my level lines and slid the pieces back a bit so they pressed against the back board of the cabinet – this would allow my supports and shelves to be ever-so-slightly recessed in the cabinet. Then I nailed the supports in with my brad gun. Right away, I picked a shelf board and set it on top, made sure it was level, and nailed it into the supports on either side.

I repeated this method for each shelf, varying the spacing depending on what I wanted on each shelf.

Step 7: Add trim. I got lucky here and used part of our demo-ed bathroom doorframe (that’s another day), but this is where an extra 1×4 would work great, halved lengthwise and then cut to lengths for trim surrounding your framed cabinet. Whatever you use, the trim has to cover the gap between the drywall and the frame. And if you attach your slides to this trim like I did, it has to be flat and wide enough to secure into the frame and/or your studs.

I measured again around the outside of the cabinet and cut my 4 pieces (2 long for sides and 2 short for top and bottom) at 45-degree angles to match up like a picture frame. I also wanted to be sure I had this trim all the way covering the frame wood, edge to edge, to “widen” the depth of my cabinet a bit.

Trim adds some depth.

After a quick level check, I used my brad gun and nailed the trim on. This done, my between-studs cabinet was starting to look great! I realized only when finished that I hadn’t taken many pictures of this process – it went together so fast that I didn’t take the time. But you can easily see the assembled parts in the picture below.

Back, frame, supports, shelves, and trim!

Step 8: Caulk, fill holes, and paint. I used paintable caulk along each shelf edge, all the gaps along the undersides where the shelves met the supports, and along the trim around the frame. My go-to white wood filler got rid of all my nail holes nicely, and it smoothed out my 45-degree trim cuts.

Once all that dried, I painted my frame, shelves, supports, and trim with white, high gloss trim paint.


It looked good! If I’d wanted open shelving, I could’ve stopped there.

Step 9: Measure for and prep your mirror. I swear this is easier than building your own framed mirror! It took a bit of shopping by math 😂, but I found a wall-mounted mirror on Amazon that was the dimensions I needed to cover my cabinet but also not too crazy big. I bought one with a silver/chrome, thin frame that would look good with our bathroom’s planned finishes, and it would give me about an inch of room all around to extend over the cabinet’s trim.

Note: You could buy a mirror first and plan your entire cabinet dimensions accordingly, but here we are.

Because this was a metal frame, I had to find a way to attach my drawer slides. This was easy enough to accomplish by glueing wood pieces to the backside of the mirror, along the bottom and top. I used scrap wood, but you could again use that extra 1×4 and cut pieces from that. You won’t see these, so the wood doesn’t have to be pretty…as you can see from mine here. lol

Not pretty wood, but it works!

I let the wood glue dry overnight before I dared move on. I was worried about the weight this wood would add because the mirror is already pretty hefty, but it turned out not to be a big deal because these slides are hefty too.

Step 10: Attach drawer slides and hang! I won’t bother explaining how long it took me to figure out the easiest way to do this… Let’s just skip to the easiest way.

I used 14-inch drawer slides like the ones I’ve used on MANY projects before. I know these hold a lot of weight and are nice, soft-close slides. I also know how easily the slide/extending part detaches if you have to adjust over and over…and over. After centering the slide base against the bottom edge of the top trim piece, I checked for level, then screwed the slide in place. I used longer screws than what came with the slides to be sure they were secured into the frame wood, not just the trim – important. With that top slide in place, I detached the slide/extending part and took that with me to start work on the mirror.

Top slide, both parts.

With the mirror lying face down on my bed (excellent workstation, I know), I positioned the top slide’s extending part near the top of the top wood piece glued to the mirror. I made double sure to measure from my cabinet’s installed slide to the top of the trim to make sure I had at least that much mirror above the slide to cover and hide the cabinet once in place. Then I measured from side to side to make sure of the same. Once sure of my positioning (let’s say), I screwed the top slide’s extending piece to the mirror’s wood. MAKE SURE to flip the slide the right way so it will connect with the slide part already on the cabinet.

Attaching the top.

For the bottom slide, I measured my cabinet from the bottom of the top slide to the top of the bottom trim. Then I went back to the mirror and used that measurement to find where to position the bottom slide, also keeping it as “centered” as the top piece already on the mirror. With that figured out, I screwed on the bottom slide’s extending part. This time, I left the main part of the slide connected too.

Attaching the bottom.

Mentally crossing my fingers, I took the mirror into the bathroom and held it to line up the top parts of the slide. They actually connected surprisingly easily, and then I carefully slid the mirror into place over the cabinet.

Hanging the mirror!

With the top held by the slide, I knelt and grabbed the bottom slide which was only attached to the mirror. Holding the base part in place, I pushed the mirror back out again but kept the base of the slide in place against the bottom trim of the cabinet. Using my longer screws, I screwed in that slide to the bottom. Once that was secure, I held my breath and pushed the mirror closed.

Securing the bottom slide.

It worked! It covered the cabinet and trim! Now instead of a bare wall, we have a nice big mirror. And most importantly, now we have much more bathroom storage that isn’t visible or cluttered.

AFTER: Closed mirror cabinet…
AFTER: Open. So much storage!

Now for the rest of the bathroom… See that demo-ed floor and all those tools in the reflection? Yeah, I’ve got a long way to go.🤞

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DIY Framed Stay-on-the-Wall Art

When last we left Sunny’s DIY home renovation, I’d shared with you my new hallway floor and mentioned that I was trying to figure out what to put on the walls. I REALLY like what I came up with, and it only took me an afternoon!

A lot of people suggested letting my kids draw pictures and then hanging their art in frames along the hall. This is a cute idea, but everywhere in our house is “kid zone” and looks like this.

Mommy needs some pretty space.

So, I decided to do something a little more grown up for the hallway art. I know enough about interior design to see how lots of smaller art pieces (like a gallery wall) would actually make this hall look smaller and more cluttered. That meant something bigger would be better. And it needed to be darker and bold to liven up the light walls. And I knew this art would need to be something safe from falling off when inevitably bumped, because this hallway is narrow and heavily used by people hurrying/running/waving toys in the air.

BEFORE: Needed some big, colorful art!

One answer was to use artsy wallpaper on the short wall along the bathroom, but honestly, I get sick of patterns pretty quickly and knew a whole wall of wallpaper would be too much going on. Also, I’ve done a full wall of wallpaper once in my life and hated the effort. To each their own, but it’s not worth the struggle I make it to be. 🤣

But…down in our powder room, I’d used a large wallpaper mural to create an art piece on the empty wall across from the door. This bathroom had the same issue of being narrow with walls likely to be bumped. So, I decided to do the same thing in our hallway.

Wallpaper mural inspiration.

Here’s how I did it!


For the bathroom, I’d found a wallpaper mural that I liked on Etsy that was a single sheet. It was LARGE but not too difficult to manage. If you want to avoid the difficulty of lining up more than one strip of wallpaper, a single sheet is a good option. However, for the hall, I thought I’d try a mural in the more typical wallpaper style to see how that worked. It was definitely easier to manage these smaller strips by myself, and lining up the edges wasn’t was bad as I feared – certainly easier to do a mural of 2 strips than an entire wall of several strips.

Full disclosure… I designed the wallpaper mural that I ended up using for the hallway. It’s available in my store, and I created a few while I was deciding which to pick! The quality of this wallpaper is REALLY good, and it was delivered fast once I finally chose one. The size I made was 36×48, so it comes in 2 strips that are easy to line up and look seamless. Overall, using this wallpaper style was easier then the single sheet I’d purchased for the bathroom, and it was thicker and had better material/adhesion too.

Step 1: Plan and outline where to hang the art. The big empty space on the hallway wall across from the office door was begging for attention. I’d thrown a canvas on the wall for a quick fix (see photo above), but this proved to my eye that this space needed something BIG. That’s why I went with the 36×48 size. A smoke alarm and light switch in the middle of the space complicated my plan a bit, but I decided to make the light switch look like it was purposefully a part of the art space. (Why would builders put it there? Oh, this house’s quirks…)

Once I had this idea planned in my head, I used a tape measure and a level to outline where the mural would go. The most important thing is to get a straight line along the top so you can hang the strips evenly and be sure your whole art piece will be level.

Mark a level top line.

Step 2: Hang the wallpaper. I cut the first strip of the mural from the roll, peeled back a part along the top, and used a stool to reach my top line. Starting at the corner. I gently pressed the wallpaper straight along the top line to make sure it was secure and level. Then I worked my way down and carefully peeled back more of the backing, pressed down the wallpaper to attach it, and smoothed out to the edges as I went. By the time I pulled the last of the backing off at the bottom, the whole strip was smooth and stuck.

Hanging first strip.

For the second strip, I lined up the top corner where it needed to be tight against my first strip, plus level with my top line. I figured it was most important to be tight against my first strip all the way down, so I peeled the backing along this side and attached it here first. This allowed me to be sure there was no gap/seam line between my strips. Once that was set, I peeled the backing and attached the rest of the way out to the far side.

For around the light switch hole, I simply used scissors and cut a rectangle where the opening needed to be once I’d peeled the paper down to this point. Then I finished sticking the paper down and around this gap. I put the plate back on right away to be sure, and it looked great. You could measure and cut first, but I didn’t trust myself. This worked simply enough.

Second strip with outlet cut out.

Again, this whole application process was easier with thin strips than it had been with a single sheet. I had far fewer air pockets too, because there was less I had to work with at a time.

Step 3: Cut 1x2s as a frame. I wanted to do something a little funky with my frame, plus quite frankly I was trying to figure out how to use scrap pieces without having to buy more. LOL. If you want to do a normal frame, simply cut 2 pieces that are a little longer than 36 inches and 2 pieces that are a little over 48 inches, then cut the ends at 45 degrees to make a rectangle frame that will fit over the edges of your mural. (Cutting then slightly longer gives you some wiggle room on placement and let’s you overlap the wallpaper edges for protection.) For my funky frame, however, I used several shorter pieces, cut the ends to create angles, and put it all together like a puzzle to make a cool, detailed frame.

First I laid out what I had to work with on my garage floor. I decided to make the 48-inch sides out of longer sections, and for the 36-inch sides I cut a lot more for detail. Whatever design you make, just be sure to cut at least 2 of each, equal numbers for each side.

Planning with my scrap.

I cut all my pieces to the lengths I wanted first, then I turned my miter saw to 30 degrees and cut from the tops to the edge to make angled pieces.

Cut detailed angles.

Step 4: Paint the 1x2s. I had my little helpers do the first coat…then I touched it up quickly. I did 2 coats and let dry. To make this tie into the new door color, I used the same paint! It looks really sharp all together.

3-yo’s first coat. lol

Step 5: Attach the 1x2s. Once dry, the frame was ready to assemble on the wall. I took all the pieces upstairs and laid them out in the order I wanted. To be sure nothing was off, I used a level on each piece, placing the wood evenly over the edges of my wallpaper. Then I held one piece of wood in place at a time and used my brad gun to nail in the pieces.

Nailing in the frame pieces.

Step 6: Putty and paint nail holes. The last step was to use nail hole filler/putty and paint to smooth out the frame. The filler I tend to use is ready to paint immediately, so this step took about 10 minutes. I was told, however, that I needed a fancy hat if doing this on camera, so finding the right hat took an extra few minutes.

Stylishly painting over wood filler.

That was it! Incredibly simple (made only slightly complicated by my detailed frame), big, framed art that won’t fall off the wall!

Close photo angle.
AFTER: Art that fits and won’t fall down!

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DIY Herringbone Floor in a Hallway

I’m sure I will be very sad when my husband’s cat finally dies. But, as you might’ve learned from one of my TikTok rants, I will not miss ruined carpets. We’re holding out on replacing most of our house’s flooring until after Lucky passes, but our upstairs hallway carpet had suffered so many Lucky “visits” that I couldn’t take it anymore. Eventually we will probably put all new carpet in the hallway and bedrooms because this is Michigan and it gets COLD up there in winter, but for now I found a fairly inexpensive and kinda cool new flooring solution. Is it temporary or is it permanent? We’ll see when the time comes for carpet in the bedrooms.

For the upstairs stairway, I’d already yanked the brown carpet (this house’s grossest DIY project so far) and painted the wood treads and risers white to add light to what was a very dark and brown stairway. Seriously, as the picture shows, it was THAT dark without a light on during a sunny day.

Stairway before and after.
The BEFORE of our original hallway.

When I fixed the stairway, I also painted the hallway walls, so at least our hallway was already brightened with lighter paint like the stairway. I’d also slightly updated the doors by changing to more modern, black hardware. But that carpet stayed…and stayed…and stayed.

After some arguing about the hallway’s flooring, my husband caved and let me apply the same solution from our stair landings to our hallway floor. For those landings, I’d used leftover 1/8 inch plywood to make herringbone flooring. I painted them white to match the stairs, and they’re a nice little touch. So, to extend and tie together the look of the stairway into the hallway, we agreed to make the hallway herringbone as well.


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Step 1: Yank up that carpet! This was equal parts extremely gratifying and disgusting. It’s actually not that hard to get up carpet, but it does take time. And it’s messy, especially if you have 22-year-old carpet that’s been frequented by a cat who can’t be bothered to go down to the litter box! Anyway…

I started by using a razor knife to cut the carpet at the doorway of our bedroom at the end of the hall. I used a straight board to make sure my cut wasn’t uneven across the threshold. Once that was separated, I pulled that end of carpet and peeled it back to roll up as I went. At the doorways to my daughters’ bedrooms, I cut the same way to make straight lines, sighing a little as I left the old carpet in their rooms and pulled back the hallway carpet.

I lucked out in that my dad was around to help that first day, so he carried the rolled up carpet to the trash for me. I am very grateful for this, because it was gross.

With the carpet up, I then pulled up all the padding underneath the carpet. This stuff is lighter but usually stapled down a LOT, so there are many, many staples to pull free. Plus you have to remove the carpet tack strips that run along the walls, and those are pokey! Removing all this is tedious, but I used a combination of pliers, a hammer, and a screwdriver to pop it all loose.

Removing carpet parts.

Once that was done, all that was left was to sweep up the mess, and no more gross carpet!

Step 2: Mark a center line and measure. I learned one thing quickly when doing the stair landings – it takes a lot of math to make a herringbone floor. To make sure everything would be laid out correctly in my much bigger hallway, I made a straight line down the middle of my hall by using a marker and a board that my dad assured me was straight. This way, I could make sure each board was centered to keep my pattern right.

Center line.

I’d used 6-inch wide boards for the landings, so it made sense to keep the same widths for the hall boards. For the lengths, I decided to go with 24 inches so that I could use every last bit of my 4×8 sheets and not waste any. To be sure those dimensions would work, I measured from my center line to the wall and confirmed there would be a good fit for a 24-inch long board.

Step 3: Cut the plywood. I’d figured out the square footage of my hallway earlier and knew that I needed 4 of the 4×8 plywood sheets to be safe, because cutting for herringbone can create a lot of little bits of waste that add up. Cutting the plywood sheets in half to get 24-inch lengths was my first step, and my dad’s table saw came in very handy for that. (You could use a circular saw or jigsaw, but the table saw was FAST and made cleaner cuts.)

4×8 sheets halved.

Then I needed to cut each of these long pieces into 6-inch strips. Again, it was simple with a table saw. When that was done, I had a nice pile of 6×24 inch plywood boards to start my floor. I DID leave one of these halved sheets intact for any unforeseen pieces I might need, figuring I could cut more 6-inch strips if I needed it.

6×24 inch pieces ready to go.

Step 4: Lay out the boards that will fit as whole pieces, THEN nail down. Before you get excited and start nailing down the boards right away, lay them out to be sure everything works. I started at the beginning of the hall by my stairs and put the first board down where a whole board would first fit without jutting out over the stairs. Then I put the next board in place to make a “V” across from the first board. It took a little adjusting to see where they needed to be so that there weren’t any gaps while ALSO being even over my center line drawn on the floor. (See photo above.) Once I had it right, this let me know that my center line needed to hit the 6-inch end of each board centered at 3 inches to make my angles work right and run straight down the hall.

Once I had this figured out, I continued to lay the boards following this same system.

Center line point.

After I had down all the boards that would fit as whole pieces, I quickly nailed them each down with my brad gun and 5/8 inch nails. In case I had to pull up the boards to adjust, I only put a nail in each corner for now. As it turned out, everything worked out and I could have secured them fully right then, but better safe than sorry. 🤷‍♀️

Note: Be sure not to use nails that are too long, in case you might have ductwork or wires running under your subfloor. Since this plywood was only 1/8 inch thick, it didn’t take much to nail it down into the subfloor.

After laying out this first section of herringbone down the hallway, I also needed to continue the pattern into a short section that turned the corner to our linen closet and my second daughter’s bedroom. A few more whole pieces fit here, so I lined them up to my existing pieces and nailed them down as well.

Step 5: Measure and cut thresholds. Remember how I left one of my halved sheets of 4×8 plywood alone? Glad I did! I ended up cutting that leftover plywood into pieces long enough to go across the doorways where my flooring would meet the old carpet still in our bedrooms and the tile in the girls’ bathroom. This is, after all, a hallway full of doors, and making these thresholds made nice framing for the herringbone floor. I cut these the length of the doors’ openings and as wide as the doorframe , which was a little over my usual 6 inches. I nailed these in place before finishing off my flooring so I’d know exactly how to measure for the pieces that would run up to these thresholds.

Step 6: Measure and cut any pieces needed to finish the floor. This, honestly, was the tricky part requiring a lot of math. You can see from the photo that I needed a LOT of little triangle pieces to fill in the spaces between the ends of my 6×24 pieces and the walls.

So many triangles…

Those were pretty easy to cut with my miter saw, and I used extra 6×24 inch boards to make sure these triangles were the right size on the side that would touch the 6-inch end of what was already nailed down. It also helped that, for these triangles, I had some wiggle room where they’d be covered by quarter-round trim along the baseboard – EXCEPT for the triangles that would run up to my thresholds, because those had to be really close to perfect.

For other odd pieces, I held my 6×24 boards near my weird sections and used a tape measure to measure around where my flooring was missing. Then I used those measurements to sketch on those boards where I needed to cut. This took a while, and I often did one board at a time – measuring, cutting, and laying in place – to make sure I remembered exactly what I needed to do. For one VERY tricky cut around our linen closet’s base hardware, I used my contouring tool and my jigsaw to cut out where the hardware had to go.

Love this tool.

Once I had my odd pieces cut, I put the rest of the puzzle together and nailed in these boards/pieces to finish laying the floor. With all the pieces down, I stepped on EVERY board to see if any were loose and especially nailed down where I felt any movement under my feet.

Another “odd piece” was the edging I needed for the end of the hall that went to the stairs. I used wood corner molding to create a kind of stair tread nose, and this I cut at the exact length of the space running across the top of the stairs. This piece was easy to then nail into place over the plywood. I’d done this to the stair landings earlier, so I knew it worked well without being a trip hazard. I actually like that in the dark you can feel for it and know where the stairs start. (If you’re not doing a hall that meets stairs, obviously you can skip this part.)

Flooring down and stair nose on!

Step 7: Putty the nail holes. All that nailing left MANY nail holes to fill. I also had slight gaps where some of the boards didn’t quite meet. Filling all this with putty took a long time, but the end result was worth it.

Below you can see the threshold piece to my daughter’s room and also this corner section with the linen closet. See all that putty?! It actually wasn’t as bad as it looks – my kids helped with this part and got a little putty-happy. LOL

So much putty!

Step 8: Lightly sand the floor. My putty dried fast, so I swept up all the excess (that my kids helped with) and then went over the whole floor with my sander just to smooth down any rough spots. This step was simple and concluded with a simple sweeping job to get every last bit of sanded putty and dust.

Step 9: Prime and paint. I used leftover primer from our basement stash, starting at the far point in the hall and working my way to the stairs so I didn’t trap myself. (Lol. It’s happened before.)


It took a while to dry and looked a little uneven for whatever reason, so I did another coat of primer. However…

I initially was planning to paint the floor white to match the stairs and continue that look all the way. So, I thought it best to do 2 coats of primer to be sure the wood color wouldn’t come through the white paint. However, then I remembered that I live with a 2-yo, 3-yo, a dog, a cat, and a 39-yo messy husband. Therefore, a white floor in a well-used hallway didn’t seem like the smartest idea.

And so I changed to painting the floor green. This definitely didn’t need that second coat of primer because the green was certainly dark enough to cover the wood color. Oh, well – better planning next time.

How did I arrive at GREEN? Well, I decided to use the same “Royal Pine” green that I’d used elsewhere in the house because I had a lot leftover, plus I liked that it would tie the upstairs to the downstairs’ color scheme. And the dark green definitely would hide pet hair and dirt and crayon marks, etc. better than white. On top of that, I’d used a slightly celery-colored paint on the hallway walls, so I hoped that would play nicely with the green floor.

Crossing my fingers that this was a good idea, I found that the green paint went on really nicely. It also dried quickly, so I could do 2 coats to be sure it covered all that white primer. 🤦‍♀️ Whatever paint color YOU choose, I recommend using a 6-inch roller – the same width as the boards – and follow the pattern of your wood pieces. This way, I didn’t have any streaks going from board to board in any way that looked weird against the herringbone pattern.

First coat of green going on.

Like I said, the paint dried really fast. Within a few hours, I was able to kneel on it and use a touch-up brush to finish the edges around my floor by the baseboards.

Step 10: Polyurethane. To protect the floor, I went over it with a quick coat of glossy polyurethane. Normally you’d use a brush to apply poly, but I was in a hurry plus wanted to avoid any brush strokes showing up, so I used another 6-inch roller and again followed the pattern of my boards. It went on easy and looked nice and smooth when I was done.

Step 11: Finish with quarter-round trim molding. To cover the edges where the plywood met the baseboard, I used primed quarter-round trim. It was easy enough to measure every part along the wall where I needed it, and I quickly sketched this and showed which way my angles needed to go when cutting – for the corners and/or just to add a decorative touch.

Quick notes on trim lengths to cut.

Then, I simply cut the trim pieces with my miter saw and nailed them in place with my usual brad gun. Once they were attached, I used some wood putty to fill my nail holes and then quickly touched up with spare white trim paint. I could have used caulk to also fill in any gaps between the baseboard and quarter round, but I’ll do that later if gaps appear – for now the paint did the trick.


Close up of herringbone pattern.
AFTER hallway!

To my great relief, everyone likes the green floor and thinks it is a vast improvement…except the cat. 😆 I’m glad I didn’t go with white doors, white walls, white floors after all. The green is a bit unexpected but ties in with the color scheme of our downstairs, and it looks pretty sharp and makes this small hallways interesting.

Now to figure out art/pictures that work in this space…

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