Countertop Options



When we started our restoration project, we decided to hold off on doing a full kitchen renovation.  The kitchen does not necessarily have a look or layout that we would choose, but it is functional and, for now, that’s what’s important.  So we wanted to spend as little money as possible in this space until we do a full renovation down the road.  We have done a few easy upgrades that we think have really made an impact in that space.  We painted the walls (Sherwin Williams Morning Fog) and trim (glossy white), painted the cabinets white, installed new engineered hardwoods, installed a new sink faucet and garbage disposal, installed a 5-burner gas range we found on Craigslist, and bought a new fridge.  With the exception of the fridge, which was our big splurge (although still a bargain), we’ve spent less than $700 in the kitchen.

But there’s still one glaring problem area: the countertops.  They are ugly and cheap laminate countertops with lots of stains–paint stains, burn stains, food stains, etc.  And no amount of cleaning is going to make them look better.  So I’ve been exploring some options…

1. Paint – Apparently you can paint countertops.  See examples here, here, and here.  This would be pretty inexpensive and give us a lot of creative freedom, but I worry about durability.


2. Concrete – This would be an inexpensive and durable option, but it could prove difficult to do ourselves.  Also, to my knowledge there isn’t a food-safe concrete sealer available.  We could get around this by always using cutting boards, etc. but it may become a nuisance.  Examples here and here.


3.  Buy New – We could purchase new, inexpensive countertops from somewhere like Ikea.  This would probably be the easiest option for us, but the most expensive of the three.


We have less than 25 square feet of counter space, which would make any of these options pretty economical.

Does anyone have experience with any of these methods?  Is there another option we should look into?  What are your thoughts?

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Fireplace Happenings

First of all, I want to start today’s post by wishing my sweet big brother, Jason, a happy happy birthday!!  I love you very much and I hope today is splendid!  (PS- did I mention he’s getting married this year? It’s a big one!)




A few weeks ago, we did something so simple that I think really made a big difference in the downstairs rooms.  We have fireplaces in four rooms downstairs: the foyer, the formal living room, the dining room, and the den.  Three of those got a bit of a face lift.

Along with the two tubs, we decided the fireplace inlays should get a coat of Rustoleum as well.  So each fireplace was cleaned (for the first time in probably at least a decade), each inlay was taped off, then primed and painted.  We chose to go with Flat Black instead of the glossy.  In the pictures, it probably looks like a very subtle, almost unnoticeable difference.  But if you see it every day, the fireplaces just look so much more fresh and clean.

Here is the den fireplace before:


Not too bad, just very dirty and kind of gross.  Here it is after a round of paint.


Unfortunately, it’s not that the floor tiles aren’t clean…they are stained.  That’s what 112 years does to tile, I guess!  I’m looking into some deep cleaning options.

Here’s a look at the dining room before:


We immediately got rid of that dingy old screen and went to town cleaning this fireplace.  Here it is after a coat of primer (which just happens to be the ugliest color ever):


And here it is after a coat of paint:


For this fireplace, I’m looking into tile painting options.  Nothing major, but I’d like to paint the black border tiles black again to give the whole piece a fresh look.

Here’s the foyer before:


Again, nothing terrible, but in need of a deep cleaning.  Here it is after paint:



Now all that’s left is the formal living room fireplace, which is actually accessible now that we’ve moved our furniture into the rest of the house.  Maybe that will happen this weekend?

On another note, I love that each fireplace inlay is completely different and each room has a pattern all its own.  No repetition here!


If you’d like to know exactly how to go about painting with Rustoleum, you can follow the same process that we used for the tubs here.  It’s a quick, cheap, and easy fix that can really make a difference throughout your house!

Side note: Rustoleum goes a VERY long way.  We bought a quart of primer and it covered a standard pedestal tub, a “baby” clawfoot tub, and three fireplace inlays, including two inlay doors.  And we still have about a third of the can left!  So if you are planning to prime or paint with Rustoleum, you can probably get away with less than you think.

PS- This blog was nominated for The Homies Award over on Apartment Therapy (I know, I can’t believe it either).  If you enjoy reading, hop on over there and vote…you can vote for as many blogs as you like! Thanks friends! :)

Shower Time

If you live anywhere on the east coast, you know we’ve been having a bit of a winter wonderland these last few weeks.  It’s very rare for us here in North Carolina, and as all the jokes go, we pretty much shut down.


Luckily, our plumber didn’t shut down.  He braved the storm to come finish installing our second guest bathroom fixtures.  Let me refresh your memory…


When we bought the house, the bathroom was configured in the most nonsensical way.  There was an exterior door (for no apparent reason), the tub butted right up to the tiny corner sink, and the toilet was in a separate room.


So we ripped everything out and basically started from scratch.  We tore down the wall separating the toilet, we removed all the fixtures, and we sealed up the exterior door.  And as of yesterday, the shower/tub is FINISHED!!







Sorry there aren’t better pictures.  The room is about 5′ x 8′ which makes snapping full shots rather difficult.  Anyway…

We went with a white grout on the main bathroom floor, then a dark gray on the shower floor and walls.  I love the way the difference makes the shower area look complete.

Of course it’s not finished yet.  The tile and tub still both need a lot of cleaning, and we’ll have to scrape off a bit of paint that dripped into the inside of the tub.  And we’ll need a shower curtain.  But I was just so excited that I couldn’t wait to show y’all!!  It really turned out even better than I expected.

This bathroom was the last thing that needed to be completed before we moved in.  Now….it’s on! :)


Floor tile- American Olean Sausalito mosaic tile

Wall tile- American Olean subway tile

Tub hardware- Signature Hardware

Tub paint- Rustoleum High Gloss Black

Wall paint- Sherwin Williams Lazy Gray

All About the Benjamins

We decided to go with Benjamin Moore’s Palladian Blue for the master bedroom, and I couldn’t be more in love with it! It’s actually more of a seafoam green than blue in person, but it looks perfect next to the navy office!





Now it’s time to pick the master bathroom color.  I’d like to keep it in the same family, but maybe go a shade lighter.  Here are some Benjamin Moore options I’ve put together.

Ben Moore colors (h.o.t.)

I’m leaning towards Ocean Air or Seafoam.  I think either would be really pretty next to Palladian blue.

What do you think?  What color would you choose?

Moving is Messy!

On Saturday, we moved a lot of our things over to the Park Avenue house.  No, we have not officially moved in yet, but we’re getting close.  We are waiting until the second guest bathroom is finished, which should be Tuesday or Wednesday.  Charles and I are determined to spend Valentine’s Day in our new house!  Wouldn’t that be perfect?!

The move was very very exciting, but also overwhelming.  Now the house looks like this…





I kind of had a “where do I start” deer-in-headlights look on Saturday.  How did we ever accumulate so much stuff?  There were several items, mostly wedding gifts, that I had completely forgot we had.  It’s like Christmas all over again! :)

I’ve decided to work room by room to get things unpacked.  Because they will still be working on finishing the master bathroom once we move in, we’ve decided to make one of the guest rooms our temporary home.  It’s looking like this…




Obviously it’s nothing fancy, but it will do for now.  I need to find all of my comforters and duvet covers so I can start making beds!

We also had a tasty gourmet first meal at the dining room table….Mickey D’s!!


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