Join me today as I share this Millie’s Remodel Update where I’m installing the kitchen cabinets (mostly by myself!)

Millie’s Remodel: Installing the Kitchen Cabinets

Hey all you Millie’s Remodel fans! Today we’ll be hanging out in the kitchen to install the kitchen cabinets. If you’ve never installed cabinets, it’s not too difficult, but installing them level is important before you can have the countertops installed.

(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

Welcome back to a new Millie’s Remodel update. Today we’re finally giving the kitchen function by installing the cabinets.

As a reminder this is what the kitchen looked like when I bought the house.

After removing the old cabinets I discovered more water leaks than I’ve ever seen in a house. If there was a water line, it had a leak! There was lots of mold forcing me to complete some HAZMAT demolition while taking extreme precautions. It’s been quite a process building the kitchen back.

black mold on drywall

Interior Design Help:

As I was trying to wrap my head around a kitchen design plan, I discovered a local designer on Instagram and reached out to her. Elizabeth Burns, a local interior designer helped me come up with a floor plan for the kitchen. Now I can’t wait to get started making those plans a reality.

kitchen layout of Millie's Remodel project

I ordered all the cabinets from Cabinets-to-Go. Although I previously used a shaker style cabinet from Cabinets-to-Go for Saving Etta, I decided to use a modern-looking cabinet for Millie and selected the Charleston Driftwood cabinets.

When the cabinets arrived for pick up, I loaded my truck and drove them straight to the Millie’s Remodel house. That’s where I discovered several of the boxes were super heavy and labeled with a warning label that it was a two-person lift. Being that I was working alone most of the time, I attempted to unload all the boxes by myself. You can see how that went and how the installation process when in this video:

Something Different for the Range Hood Cabinet:

When it came time to choose a range hood cabinet, I decided to use a simple white cabinet with a glass front instead of the Charleston Driftwood. I wanted the cabinet to float on the wall and not look dark. The only snafu was the sides of the cabinet are white, where I thought they would match the glass frame (stainless steel.) To solve the issue, I installed self-adhesive stainless steel vinyl on the side. It looks much better now and once the open shelves and backsplash are installed you probably won’t even notice it.

The range hood was a mid-range Broan NuTone stainless steel under cabinet hood. It wasn’t super fancy but looks sleek and modern. This is a similar range hood to the one I bought.

Once the range hood was hung, I connected the ductwork and hid it behind some extra shelving material that came with the white cabinet.

Affordable Cabinet Pulls:

I opted for modern gold pulls on the cabinet drawers and the cabinets. Luckily, I purchased them for a steal on Amazon. When they arrived, they felt lightweight, but once mounted onto the doors you can’t tell that they feel less than solid.

I ended up putting a small microwave into the pantry cabinet (shown above). Personally I don’t like seeing the microwave on display in a kitchen and this hides it away nicely until the renters want to use it.

After a busy week, the kitchen cabinets are finally installed and ready for the countertop templating process.

Next week I’ll take you with me to shop for countertops. It’s going to be fun!

Have you been enjoying the Millie’s Remodel updates? Have you missed any of them?

Millie’s Remodel: First Day Tour

Millie’s Remodel: Mini Demo Update

Millie’s Remodel: HAZMAT Demolition

Millie’s Remodel: Why I’m Canceling my Termite Contract

Millie’s Remodel: Framing, Plumbing, & Electrical Oh My!

Millie’s Remodel: HVAC Update (How to Extend Your System’s Life Span)

Millie’s Remodel: Main Bathroom Design

Millie’s Remodel: Powder Room & Laundry Room Design

Millie’s Remodel: Kitchen Design Plans

Millie’s Remodel: Help Me Decide! Mid-Century Lighting Options

Millie’s Remodel: Tips and Tricks to Self Level a Floor

Millie’s Remodel: How to Waterproof Floors in Any Room

Millie’s Remodel: Drywall Update and Critters

Millie’s Remodel: Laying the Cement Tiles in the Bathrooms

Millie’s Remodel: Help Me Choose Exterior Paint Colors

Millie’s Remodel: Exterior Paint Color Reveal

Millie’s Remodel: Front Exterior Reveal

Millie’s Remodel: Lighting and Fan Reveal

Millie’s Remodel: Moving the Shed

A special thank you to the Millie’s Remodel Sponsors:

The Millie’s Remodel project sponsors have donated materials for the Millie’s Remodel project. As you know I am very particular about the brands I work with and recommend. As a general contractor, I choose the products used on my projects wisely to make sure they last a lifetime. Therefore, I have no reservations putting my name behind each and every one of these sponsors.

millies remodel sponsors logos

The kitchen at Millie’s Remodel has been opened up by removing a wall and the moldy drywall and subfloor have been replaced. Now it’s time for me to start thinking about the kitchen design elements for this very important space.

Millie’s Remodel: Kitchen Design

Do you remember what the kitchen looked like when I first started working on Millie’s Remodel? The room was closed off and had two doorways from the house plus a back door.

The wall behind the refrigerator needed to come down in my opinion. This would allow for a much more open concept.

After tearing down that corner wall, it was amazing how much more light flooded into the kitchen area. Plus, it made the kitchen feel more spacious.

view into kitchen showing half wall for bar top

You may recall I worked with a local designer to create a fresh vision of the kitchen layout.

kitchen layout of Millie's Remodel project

Pencil sketch of Millie's Remodel Kitchen

 

I still have some issues to contend with (like a very sloped kitchen sub-floor). But first I need to create a design plan for the kitchen. A design board will allow me to order cabinets, lighting, and other fixtures. I am leaning toward a mid-century modern vibe in this house, especially since it was built in 1957. Simple fixtures and graphic lines will maintain a minimalist modern look.

Sources:

(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

Floating Shelves (DIY) | Misha Hex Tiles | Rocklyn Pendant LightsGold Kitchen Faucet | Via Lactea Granite | Schlage Black Modern Door LeverCharleston Driftwood Cabinets | Gold Cabinet Pulls

I’m excited to start putting this Humpty Dumpty of a kitchen back together soon and see the finishes installed. I think they’ll look beautiful together. What do you think?

P.s. Schlage, and Kichler are sponsors of the Millie’s Remodel project. I am so grateful for their support of this project.

A special thank you to the Millie’s Remodel Sponsors:

The Millie’s Remodel project sponsors have donated materials for the Millie’s Remodel project. As you know I am very particular about the brands I work with and recommend. As a general contractor, I choose the products used on my projects wisely to make sure they last a lifetime. Therefore, I have no reservations putting my name behind each and every one of these sponsors.

millies remodel sponsors logos

Saving Etta: Kitchen RevealSaving Etta: The Long Awaited Kitchen Reveal

Thank you all so much for your patience with me as I put together the final Saving Etta updates. I have more to come, but for now I know you’re anxious to see the Saving Etta kitchen reveal. Get settled down with a nice cup of coffee or hot chocolate because there are many photos coming your way!

Before I show you this beautiful modern farmhouse kitchen, I want to thank the Saving Etta sponsors who made it all possible!

Plygem, Broan-Nutone, Impressions Hardwood Collection, Leviton, Ask for Purple Drywall, Wood It’s Real, STIHL, Schlage, Duluth Trading Company, Magnolia Home Paint, KILZ, Jeffrey Court Tile,  The Builder Depot, Wilkinson Supply Co., Designer Drains, Liberty Hardware, and Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery

My Big Fat Crazy Push to Finish

Remember when I told you I was on a tight deadline? In early October, I had an inkling that I needed to get the house finished and listed for sale within 6 weeks. My husband thought I was crazy (and in hindsight I probably was).  Market strategists had been predicting a downturn in the fourth quarter of 2018 and I could tell things were starting to get inflated near downtown Raleigh. Surrounding homes were selling for more and more since I bought Etta in May of 2017. I felt a strong need to get the house on the market before things slowed down for the holidays. This meant a final push and a self imposed crazy work schedule for me.

My day started at 5am to shower, eat, and get my sons out the door. We’d leave the house at 6:45 to drive my eldest to school. After dropping him off I’d head downtown. By 7:30am I’d arrive at the house and get straight to work planning out the tasks for the day. My subcontractors usually showed up at 8:30 or 9 am. They took a break for lunch but then got back to work until about five o’clock. By then, it was solidly dark and my subs headed home to their families. I usually worked until about 8 or 9 pm and grabbed dinner at one of several fast food restaurants on my way home.

Once home I had just enough time to answer emails and throw some tools and materials in the truck for the next day. The good part about my crazy schedule was I usually fell asleep easily after a long day’s work. The bad part was I packed on about ten pounds eating mostly fast food (even though I rarely sat still all day).

Lest you think I was working inside a cozy climate controlled house, I wasn’t. It was early November and the cold weather had set in. I bundled up and warmed myself in front of the space heater from time to time. I even bought a little used Keurig single serve maker to be able to drink warm coffee and tea. We didn’t get the gas meter hooked up and approval to run the heat until the day before the open house (almost a month after tiling the backsplash.)

Was it all worth it? Absolutely! The house turned out amazing and I was pleased with the final results. And just a little reminder of what the kitchen looked like when I bought the house (you can see more progress shots in this kitchen update post):

Saving Etta - The Story of Saving a House Built in 1900 | Pretty Handy Girl

Saving Etta - The Story of Saving a House Built in 1900 | Pretty Handy Girl

Ready to see the kitchen? Without further adieu…

The Saving Etta Kitchen Reveal

This is just one angle of the kitchen. You can read how I installed the cabinets with some help from my husband and a good friend here.

gray shaker cabinets with subway tile backsplash and stainless steel hood from Broan

I love the sleek stainless steel range hood I chose. It’s the Broan RM533004 30″ Chimney Hood. And you can see how it was installed and why I had to act as supervisor.

Plygem mira window with facet pendant light and subway tile

This kitchen sink, faucet, pendant light, and the window brought me joy, partly because they all lined up perfectly! Anyone who does kitchen renovations knows it can be hard to center all these elements with each other during the rough in stage without the cabinets or countertops in.

As I mentioned the other day, the pendant light was a swap I made after the first light wouldn’t cooperate. I took down the first pendant light and replaced it with this modern geometric pendant and pendant light kit from Lowe’s. I really like the open cage, no glass shade to clean!

Plygem Mira black framed casement window over bronze faucet subway tile open shelving

The window is a Plygem Mira casement window. It has a folding hand crank for opening to let in fresh air, but the handle tucks neatly out of the way when not in use. All the Plygem Mira windows in the house operate smoothly and look gorgeous! Especially with the simulated divided light grilles. You can read more about the windows and how they are installed in a new construction house.

Plygem Mira black framed casement window over bronze faucet subway tile open shelving

Just outside the window is one of the reclaimed doors I saved from a series of 1890-1920 houses that were slated for demolition. Behind the door is a little shed off the side porch.  It’s nice being able to gaze on that gorgeous wood door while at the sink. Plus, the homeowners can see anyone pulling in the driveway from here.

PHG using Mirabelle kitchen sink sprayer

You may have noticed that beautiful faucet! It’s a: Mirabelle Calverton Pull Down Faucet in oil rubbed bronze. The finish on this faucet is beautiful and unlike anything I’ve seen before. Ferguson Bath, Kitchen, & Lighting Gallery stocks the Mirabelle line of kitchen and bath products (and provided the faucet and sink for the Saving Etta kitchen). If you’ve never been to a Ferguson showroom, you have to go! Especially if you are getting ready to remodel your kitchen, bathroom, or build a new house.

Mirabelle Faucet by Single Basin Sink

The sink is a Mirabelle Totten Single Bowl Granite Composite Sink (also available from Ferguson Bath, Kitchen, & Lighting Gallery). The granite composite is definitely a material I wasn’t familiar with. It has a very slight texture but looks like a cast iron farmhouse sink. Luckily it’s not as hard or as heavy as cast iron. Which makes it easier to install and more forgiving if you drop a glass or dish in the sink.

Plygem Mira black framed casement window over bronze faucet and gray cabinets

When I was finishing up the house, I was going to forgo staging and save some money. But, after seeing how pretty this kitchen was and how empty everything felt, I opted to hire a local stager. I discovered Minted Spaces on Instagram and immediately fell in love with Aryn’s design style. I knew her staging would appeal to a wide variety of buyers. In the end, they did a phenomenal job staging the Saving Etta house.

reclaimed lumber open shelving modern farmhouse style with glasses

These open shelves aren’t just your random reclaimed lumber. Nay, they were made from the original mantel shelf! When I decided to salvage and re-use the 1900 mantle from one of the front rooms, I didn’t think about trying to purchase gas logs to fit inside the old mantel. Unfortunately once the fireplace was installed, I realized I needed to widen the legs to make it work.

reclaimed lumber open shelving modern farmhouse style with glasses

Luckily I work with a local salvage company who found some longer lumber to match the old mantel shelf. After we rebuilt the new fireplace mantel surround, I wasn’t sure what to do with the old shelf until I realized I could cut it in half and use it for the open shelving. At first I was going to round the cut ends, but decided to leave it because it helps tell the story of it’s origin. (You can see the re-built mantel in the background below.)

All together, I’m so happy with this area of the kitchen. It has the perfect blend of modern and aged rustic elements.

Open modern farmhouse shelves on subway backsplash

The Pantry

For some reason, I came up with the idea to paint the interior of the pantry black. It might have stemmed from my desire to do something different in there. Originally I thought about wallpaper, but I knew patterns are a personal preference, and one pattern may be loved by one person and hated by another.

When I saw photos of Blackboard from the new Magnolia Home paint line, I envisioned how the food labels and packaging would look in front of a dark background. The colors would stand out for certain! Although Magnolia Home partnered with me as the paint sponsor for the Saving Etta house, my last minute decision on the pantry color lead me to my local Ace Hardware to purchase a gallon of blackboard.

Pantry with Reclaimed door and microwave. Black walls

That’s how I found myself painting this little pantry Blackboard by Magnolia Home Paint. One concern I had was how durable the paint would be in the pantry. After cleaning off dirty finger prints and dings on the rest of the walls, I knew this paint could withstand a fair amount of scrubbing. But, I didn’t expect it to perform like this!

You may recognize that wood door as a twin of outside shed door. It was salvaged from the same house being demolished. For some reason this door has a much more unique wood grain on the panels than the shed door. At first I thought about covering up the grain, but the more I saw it the more I fell in love with the uniqueness of the lines.

Pantry with Reclaimed door and microwave. Black walls

We can’t forget the beautiful glass door knob. Did you think it was an antique knob salvaged from an old house? What would you say if I told you it’s brand new and you can buy these knobs for your house! Schlage was also a sponsor of the Saving Etta house and they provided me with those beautiful Schlage Hobson Glass Knobs with Century Trim.

Gray shaker style kitchen cabinets and stainless steel dishwasher

The huge island in the kitchen was a must for this space. (And because I wish we had the room in our kitchen for a big island!) The side closest to the refrigerator has two cabinets with five drawers total.

Liberty Classic Square and Lombard pull on gray shaker cabinet

The cabinets have beautiful iron knobs and pulls. The Liberty Hardware Classic Square Cabinet Knob in Soft Iron are supposed to be installed as squares, but I turned them on an angle to reflect the diamond theme from Etta’s exterior. The Liberty Hardware Lombard Cabinet Pulls have the same soft iron color and a square end to match the knobs. I love how soft and sleek the pulls feel in your hand.

island cabinets on seating side

The other side of the islands has two more cabinets with shelves inside for extra storage. This side also has a one foot overhang for extra seating. I bought these cute Liberty Brand Acrylic Faceted Knob with oil-rubbed bronze and copper for a change from the rest of the cabinet hardware.

Leviton gray usb charging outlet in gray island

You might recall I installed this USB charging outlet in the side of the island. I love that Leviton has colors to match almost any wall or cabinet color you can dream of. You’ll notice the same outlet in white below.

White subway backsplash open reclaimed wood shelving

The countertops are Carrara Venatino Quartz from Cosmos. I love the look and how similar it looks to marble without the softness of real stone.

liberty lombard kitchen cabinet pulls and carrara quartz countertops

The larger scale Jeffrey Court 4 x 12 Subway Tile backsplash really makes this space in my opinion. They are classic but also modern. The white tiles provide a nice contrast against the gray cabinets.

Subway tile backsplash, gray shaker cabinets, stainless steel range hood from Broan

The light fixture over the island is from Houzz. I’m not going to link to it, because frankly I’m not very pleased with the quality and it was a pain to install (remember I had to go hunt for the parts.)

Beautiful modern farmhouse reclaimed open shelves subway tiles and carrara quartz countertops

The Impressions Hardwood Collection Elegance Series wood floors throughout the house are beautiful! They are the real deal, solid white oak floors with wire brushing to give them an aged look. You can find out more about the wood floors in my post about why I couldn’t save the original flooring.

I am proud of how the kitchen turned out. I poured a lot of thought and effort into the design and tried to envision how the kitchen would function for future homeowners.

Modern Farmhouse Kitchen in a 1900 historic house

I hope the kitchen reveal was worth the wait. What did you think? Do you like the fixtures I chose or if not what would you do differently?

Kitchen Sources:

A huge shout out to all the brands who sponsored the Saving Etta project and helped me turn this ugly duckling…

Saving Etta - One Woman's Journey to Save a House Built in 1900 | Pretty Handy Girl

…into a beautiful swan again.

saving etta beautiful restored 1900 house near downtown Raleigh

I hope you will consider using some of the sponsoring brands when you are ready to take on a new kitchen, bath, or renovation project in your home.

Which were your favorite elements in this beautiful kitchen?

Disclosure: I received materials and/or compensation from the sponsors of the Saving Etta project. These were the kitchen sponsors: Plygem, Broan-Nutone, Impressions Hardwood Collection, Leviton, Schlage, Magnolia Home Paint, KILZ, Jeffrey Court Tile, Liberty Hardware, and Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery. I was not told what to write. All opinions and words are my own. As always, I will notify you if you are reading as sponsored post or if I was compensated. Rest assured I am very particular about the brands I work with. Only brands I use in my own home or that I’ve had a positive experience with will be showcased on this blog.

Saving Etta: Kitchen Update & Installing the Range Hood

This kitchen was a big deal for me. It was one of those projects I knew would make or break this house. It was also the first time I’ve taken the reins on kitchen design and installed cabinets. As the project was in the home stretch, I spent many hours and late nights working on the kitchen. Today I’m thrilled to give you another update on the kitchen and show you the installation of the range hood (complete with all the mishaps involved). Speaking of mishaps, I have some tips to help you avoid a potentially dangerous and costly mistake when selecting a range hood.

Before we begin, I’d like to say thank you to all my wonderful sponsors on the Saving Etta project. I could not have saved Etta without their help. When you are looking for products that last and perform well, you can rest assured that I hand-selected these sponsors to represent the Saving Etta project.

Saving Etta sponsors

Where It Started:

If you’ve been along for the entire Saving Etta journey, you may remember the kitchen in the house when I bought it. Then again, you might be like me and need a little memory refresher once in a while. Here’s the kitchen before:

kitchen with cabinets

Saving Etta - The Story of Saving a House Built in 1900 | Pretty Handy Girl

There were only a few base cabinets and five upper cabinets. Lucky thing because it made demolition of the kitchen easier. The first week after purchasing the property, I hauled all the cabinets to the dumpster and started peeling away the layers in the kitchen. It was a lot of work, but so much fun seeing through the decades and discovering old bead board beneath.

The water heater was walled into a little closet in the corner of the kitchen. It was a blast taking a sledge hammer to the wall. Who needs therapy when you can release pent up frustration through demolition?

Unfortunately it wasn’t enjoyable getting the water heater out. My plumber had a tough time removing the water heater from the house!

You might remember asbestos tiles were discovered on the floor and they had to be removed. What was left was a maze of floor joists and pipes where the floor used to be.

I originally hoped to save this room from demolition because it was part of the 1900 structure, but after assessing the lack of crawlspace and a severed structural beam with my architect, we decided it had to be removed.

The picture below is shortly after demolition. The doorway on the right is where the original kitchen entrance was. But, it had been walled off a long time ago to provide space for the refrigerator.

The new kitchen was moved to the other side of the house, as shown in the plans below:

Saving Etta First Floor Blueprints - Kitchen Location

Obviously, after demo, a lot of progress happened to get us to the new kitchen installation. If you want to read the previous updates, here’s what you missed:

Now that you’re up to speed, this is where we left off (right after installing the kitchen cabinets.)

(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

To protect the wood floors, we laid Surface Shield Builder Boards on the floor. They worked perfectly to protect the floor from spills, dropped tools, and lots of tracked in mud and dirt. It’s amazing how much dirt got tracked into the house. But, when the ground is scraped clean of any landscaping, things are bound to get messy. I eventually purchased two dirt trapper rubber mats and put them by each entrance. This helped limit much of the dirt from coming inside.

Selecting the Range Hood:

Choosing a range hood for the kitchen proved to be difficult because I liked so many of the Broan options. (Broan is one of the Saving Etta sponsors and provided the range hood for this project.)

The first hood I fell for was the Broan RM519004 Stainless Steel range hood. It’s sleek and modern, with a beautiful curved shape.

BROAN RM519004 Stainless Steel range hood

The style definitely appealed to me because it was different, but the width of the hood is 36″. I was concerned it might look too big in a small kitchen. Ultimately, I think the hood would have worked, but I had already moved on. (I will keep this range hood in mind for future kitchen renovations, because I still think it looks kind of sexy.)

Next I stumbled upon the the B5630SS Broan range hood. It had some curves, but more of a box shape. And the glass hood added some elegance.

Bo

Ultimately I decided against this range hood because I worried the glass would show dust or grease between cleanings. In hindsight, I’m glad I didn’t choose this range hood, because I would have been hit with an unexpected expense. Right before installing the new range hood, my mechanical contractor asked how many CFMs the range hood pulled. “CF-what?,” I said.

What is CFM and Do You Need Make Up Air for Your Range Hood?

CFM is short for cubic feet per minute and it describes the amount of air flow an exhaust fan can pull. Believe it or not, this is one of the most important specifications (besides dimensions) you need to know when considering a range hood. One would think the higher the CFM the better, because it sucks up more cooking odors and steam, right? Not necessarily. Typically 200-300 CFM is adequate for a range hood in a residential kitchen. If you have a commercial stove, or the range hood is mounted further away from the stove top, you may need something stronger. If you need a range hood with a stronger fan (over 400 CFM), you’re required to install a make up air device with an automatic damper. This will add to your expense and requires a licensed HVAC contractor to install it.

For reference, this is the code for exhaust hoods in residential construction:

International Residential Code: M1503.4: “Exhaust hood systems capable of exhausting in excess of 400 cfm shall be provided with makeup air at a rate approximately equal to the exhaust air rate. Such makeup air systems shall be equipped with a means of closure and shall be automatically controlled to start and operate simultaneously with the exhaust system.”

What happens if I don’t add make up air for my range hood?

Stronger exhaust fans can depressurize a house. Resulting in doors slamming shut, air pulled from any cracks or openings in the building envelope, or noise. Some unsuspecting homeowners have turned on their exhaust fan to find it pulls ashes from their chimney. If you don’t have make up air it could create a dangerous back draft situation in the home. This is why it’s important to know what the CFM is for the range hood you want to install. (This article does a good job of explaining the issues with stronger range hoods.)

Luckily the range hood I chose for the Saving Etta kitchen was under the 400 CFM limit. This is the beauty I ordered, a sleek Broan modern stainless steel hood with a square chimney.

BROAN RM533004 Range Hood

No glass to clean and the width is 30″. Plus, the CFM is 370, sufficiently low enough to not need make up air, but strong enough to exhaust cooking steam and odors. This made me happy, especially after all the make up air vents we had to install in the laundry room.)

Installing the Range Hood:

As with many installs at the house, I had to pick and choose which ones to assign to my subcontractors. The range hood was already slated to be installed by my mechanical contractors, so I let them take over installation. I was busy working on another project, but when I came into the kitchen I knew I had to step in and “help.” As before, things were not going smoothly. The first indication that the install may get screwed up was when I found the instructions folded up in the bottom of the product box. I pulled them out and quickly scanned the directions. The second clue was when I found a bracket in the box as well. The guys were trying to figure out how to attach the chimney to the wall (had I not arrived when I did, I’m sure they would have finagled some unattractive solution.) Without an invitation, I took over the role of supervisor and pointed out how the chimney needed to attach to the wall via the bracket in the box. I’m not sure if the guys were relieved or annoyed, but they put up with my directions (thank goodness!)

About Working with Contractors:

Before we go on, I want to point out the fact that these were the so called “professionals”. But, obviously they didn’t know how to install this particular range hood. I chalk this up to lack of experience with this model, not necessarily lack of experience as a mechanical contractor. BUT, they should have been reading the instructions. I want to leave you with this important message:

When you hire a professional, make sure you read the instructions for how the project should be completed. Do your homework and research online so you understand the steps in the project. Speak up if you see something amiss. Just because someone is a professional doesn’t mean they won’t make mistakes.

At the end of the day, the contractors go home. If something is installed incorrectly you’ll be the one who has to live with it. And, unless you are working with stellar contractors, it might be difficult to get them back to your house. (Then again, stellar contractors are oftentimes extremely busy. You’ll need to wait to get back on their schedule.)

We worked together to hang the range hood chimney. The guys had already hooked up the ductwork and painted mastic over the seams (also required by code). The fan motor was plugged into the outlet above the duct.

The hanging bracket was attached to the wall, and then the upper chimney was slid into place over the bracket. Securing the chimney to the bracket was a little tricky because the hole on the chimney has to line up with holes on the bracket. Plus, it was difficult maneuvering a drill against the ceiling. Ultimately, the chimney and range hood were installed. The power was turned on to the hood and…NOTHING! We scratched our heads until I climbed back onto a step ladder and peeked into the chimney. See the problem?

Doh! Somewhere along the way we unplugged the fan and forgot to plug it back in. Luckily we all had a collective laugh about it and then slid the chimney back down to plug it in, then re-attached the chimney to the bracket. My words of wisdom: “Always make sure it’s plugged in!” LOL.

We left the protective film on the range hood, and I’m glad I did because it was easier to clean and protect while tiling. Stay tuned for more updates and the kitchen reveal soon! Next up is tiling the backsplash.

kitchen cabinets installed

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post for Broan. I was compensated for my time and efforts to promote the Broan products. However, all ideas and opinions are my own. I will always let you know when you are reading a sponsored post. You should also note that I’m very particular about the brands I work with.

How to Install Cement Tiles and Achieve Professional Results

How to Install Cement Tiles and Achieve Professional Results

If you’ve been browsing Pinterest lately or flipping through the pages of your favorite home design magazine, you’ve probably seen (and likely fallen in love with) real cement tiles. Cement tiles are trending, so much so that porcelain and ceramic lookalikes are popping up at most tile retail shops. The first thing you’ll notice about real cement tiles, is the price tag can be steep. What you probably don’t realize is cement tile can be a bit trickier to work with than standard ceramic or porcelain tiles. Don’t let this dissuade you, because today I’m going to show you how to install those beautiful authentic cement tiles and achieve professional results. Plus, because we’re friends, I’m going to share with you my affordable source for real encaustic cement tiles!

Cement Tile Look Alike on Bathroom Floor

Cement tiles purchased from most tile retailers can run upwards of $20 per square foot. But, I’m about to let you in on my secret tile source. Shhhh, lean close so I can whisper it in your ear. “TheBuilderDepot sells real cement tiles for less!”  In fact they sell more than just cement tiles and their prices can’t be beat! You might remember I used beautiful marble subway tiles from TheBuilderDepot when I was renovating my kitchen.) The Builder Depot offers popular tiles at a discount because they cut out the middle man. (Here’s a brief explanation on why their prices are lower than other retailers.)

How to Install Cement Tiles and Achieve Professional Results

Seeing those beautiful cement tiles and a great price prompted me to contact my friend at The Builder Depot and ask him about being a Saving Etta sponsor. He agreed but on one condition; he asked me to write a tutorial on How to Install Cement Tiles and discuss the pitfalls and risks associated with improper installation techniques. Apparently customers were unaware of the proper way to install cement tiles. In fact, even seasoned tile installers were making costly mistakes because they were treating cement tiles like ceramic and porcelain tiles. There is a big difference between them.

What’s the Difference Between Cement Tiles and Porcelain or Ceramic Tiles:

  • Ceramic and porcelain tiles are slick (often shiny) and aren’t absorbent on the surface.
  • Encaustic cement tiles are highly porous and absorbent from the surface to the base.
  • Porcelain and ceramic tiles can be grouted immediately after the thinset mortar has cured.
  • Cement tiles must be sealed before grouting or you risk the grout staining (or permanently sticking to) the surface.
  • Porcelain and ceramic tiles do not need to be sealed.
  • Cement tiles need careful handling to avoid staining and scratching the tiles.
  • Porcelain and ceramic tiles are forgiving and can stand up to a lot of abuse.
  • Encaustic cement tile patterns are created by pouring different colored clay baked into the tile. It’s not merely a coating.
  • Porcelain and ceramic tile patterns are applied in the glazes (painted on top of the tile).

Here’s a beautiful video showing exactly how encaustic cement tiles are made:

Now that you know more details about cement tiles, you can have a beautiful cement tile floor. But, you need to follow this tutorial closely. (Almost all these instructions will apply to installing cement tiles on a wall, so keep reading.)

Making Manzanita's tile shower niche cement tilesCheck out this beautiful bathroom makeover with a Cement Tile Niche
by Making Manzanita

How to Handle Your Cement Tiles:

When you receive your cement tiles you’re going to be tempted to rip open the box and rub your grubby hands all over the smooth tiles (or am I the only weirdo that likes to stroke tiles?) Regardless, before you open the box, wash your hands. Cement tiles are EXTREMELY porous and will absorb oils and stain easily. Until you get to the sealing step, you’re going to have to handle these tiles with care (kid gloves wouldn’t be a bad idea.) Lest you think you can seal the tiles before installation, don’t try it. The tiles have to be porous to release moisture while the mortar is curing. If you seal it ahead of time, there’s a good chance your tiles will develop a ghosting appearance.

Cement tiles can scratch easily. Keep the packing material between the tiles until you are ready to install them. Don’t mark your tiles with a pencil or pen for cutting (unless you will be cutting off the marks.) Even faint pencil lines can’t be easily removed from the tile surface.

How to Prepare Your Floor for Cement Tiles:

(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

Just like when you paint a room, you’ll get the best results if you take the time to prep your space before you begin.

Before laying tiles on your floor, you must put down a substrate to prevent future flexing that can lead to cracks in your grout or worse in your tiles. Typically tile installers will use cement backer board. But, because the cement tiles are so thick, I chose to use an uncoupling mat to reduce the finished floor thickness.

cutting uncoupling mats.

Measure and cut your mat (or cement board) with a utility knife. Dry fit the mats (or boards) before proceeding.

Whichever substrate you use, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions. For improved waterproofing, you’ll want to cover seams with the recommended seam tape. For completely waterproofed floors, add seam tape around the perimeter of the room (as shown in this video.)

Installed uncoupling mats, finding center of room. Marking perpendicular lines.

Next find the center of your room and mark perfectly perpendicular guidelines to use as a guide when laying out your tiles.

Layout cement tiles starting in the center.

Dry fit the tiles with spacers in your room before you begin. Make any adjustments to the tile layout or pattern before you begin.

Dry run. Layout cement tiles before installation

How to Install Cement Tiles:

With your substrate installed, it’s time to install your tiles. Before we begin, make sure you have these tools and materials. A quick note on cutting the tiles. You can use a score and snap manual tile cutter for straight lines, but nothing beats a wet saw for angled and more complicated cuts. If you don’t want to buy a wet saw, you can rent one. Tile setting is a one person job, but it helps to have an assistant to speed things along by making cuts and mixing more mortar and grout.

Materials:

Instructions for Installing Cement Tiles:

Here’s a video I made to help you learn how to install cement tiles properly and keep them looking beautiful!

Mix your thinset mortar according to the package directions. (I usually try to achieve the consistency of peanut butter.)

Prepping Your Cement Tiles:

One of the most important tips for working with cement tiles is to soak them in water before installation. Allow them to soak for at least 30 seconds before laying them into the mortar. If you don’t soak them, the tile will absorb too much moisture from the mortar.

Soak tiles in water tub

Starting from the center of your room, apply the thinset mortar to a small area and use your 1/2” notched trowel to comb the thinset. Lay your tiles down. Lift one tile to check and see if the mortar is completely covering the back of the tile. If not, your mortar consistency may be too dry.

Avoid the temptation to lay more than a few tiles at a time.

Lay first four tiles in thinset mortar

After your first small group of tiles are set, insert spacers. Check to make sure the tiles are level and the same height. Then immediately clean any and all thinset off your tiles using a damp sponge.

Now you can move on to installing the next small grouping. Periodically check to make sure your tiles are lined up with each other and there are no lips between tiles. (Using these self leveling spacers will eliminate any lippage on tiles.)

After all your tiles are installed, block off the room and keep off the tiles for at least 24 hours while the thinset hardens.

How to Install Cement Tiles and Achieve Professional Results

Sealing Cement Tiles:

We’ve arrived at the most important step when installing cement tiles! You must seal the tiles before grouting them. Use a penetrating sealer made for porous stone or cement tiles. Before sealing, make sure your tiles (and the thinset for that matter) are completely dry. You can test the tiles for any remaining moisture by laying down a piece of plastic on the tiles after installing them. If there is moisture the next day when you lift the plastic, they aren’t dry enough. Wait for them to dry or you could risk discoloration of your tiles.

Clean the tiles by sweeping off any debris and clean with a ph balanced cleaner (a bucket of warm water with one drop of dish soap is a good cleaner.) Let the tiles dry. Wipe or buff with a rag.

Pour the sealer into the dish pan. Dip your pad applicator into the sealer liquid. Squeeze off excess sealer against the edge of the dish pan.

Apply sealer with pad applicator

Apply the sealer in thin coats working in one direction. Remove any excess sealer from the tiles BEFORE it dries. (See the streaks below? Those streaks and any puddling needs to be buffed off to avoid uneven drying.)

Avington Black & White Cement Tiles from TheBuilderDepot.com

Let the first coat of sealer dry completely. In fact you may want to take a break for 30 minutes or so between coats.

Buff off excess sealant from tiles.

Be prepared to apply many coats before your cement tiles are fully sealed. (My tiles needed 5 coats to seal them. Then I had to wait another 24 hours for the sealant to fully cure before grouting.) It may seem like a long process, but this insures the tiles will withstand regular use and resist stains.

After each coat of sealant dries, you need to test to see if the cement tiles are completely sealed. Drip water onto the tiles. If the water beads up, they are sealed. However, if the water absorbs into the tiles, add another layer of sealant and try the water test again later.

Water beading up on cement tiles means it's ready to grout.

Once your tiles are fully sealed, wait 24 hours before grouting.

How to Grout Tiles:

Because I work alone, it takes me a little longer to grout. To prevent my grout from hardening too quickly, I like to float my mixed grout container in a bucket of ice water to slow down the setting action.

Load up your float with fresh mixed grout. Holding your grout float at a 45 degree angle against the floor, spread the grout over the gaps between the tiles in a diagonal motion. Work in small 3 – 4 square foot areas. Then scrape any excess grout off the tiles using a clean grout float.

grouting tiles with grout float

Immediately wipe off any excess grout using a clean damp sponge. Ring out and refresh your sponge with clean water frequently.

It is imperative to get all the excess grout off the tiles or you risk the grout staining or settling into the tiles. Go ahead and move on to the next section, but go back to the previous tiles and buff off any haze with a dry rag.

Avington Black & White Cement Tiles from TheBuilderDepot.com

After the grout has cured, clean your floors with a pH neutral mild cleanser. Then apply one final coat of penetrating sealer. A new coat of sealer should be reapplied every 6-12 months for floors, and every 2-3 years for wall tiles.

Avington Black & White Cement Tiles from TheBuilderDepot.com

Cement Tile Maintenance:

To protect your beautiful cement tile floors, clean up any spills immediately. Never leave anything sitting on the floor that could stain or scratch your tiles. If your tiles get scratched or stained, you can use a fine grit sandpaper to sand off the stain. Just be sure to re-seal your tiles after sanding.

Still on the fence about installing cement tiles in your home? This is a good article breaking down the pros and cons of cement tiles.

A big thank you to The Builder Depot for providing the laundry room tiles for the Saving Etta project and for giving me excellent instructions for installing the cement tiles. What do you think? Do you love the cement tile look?

Laundry Room with Avington Cement Tile Floor.

I hope you found this tutorial helpful. Happy tiling!

How to Install Cement Tiles and Achieve Professional Results

Disclosure: The Builder Depot is a proud sponsor of the Saving Etta project.  I was provided with materials for this project. I was not told what to write. All opinions and ideas are my own.

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If you liked this post, you’ll also find these tile posts helpful:

How to Install Cement Tiles and Achieve Professional Results

How to Tile a Backsplash

 

How to Install Cement Tiles and Achieve Professional Results

How to Grout Tiles

10_dreamy_window_seat_inspirationsDreamy Window Seat Inspiration Photos

I have a friend, named Claire, who is an interior design genius. She would beg to differ, but honestly she is brilliant when it comes to design decisions. This friend was the visionary who created our kitchen floor plan for us. She was also the person who envisioned a window seat in our bay window. Magnifique! Adding a window seat to the bay window was a great way to free up floor space, add storage to the kitchen, and give us a cozy spot to sit and eat. You can read how I built the window seat with storage in our bay window here.

Fall Decor in a Rustic Farmhouse Kitchen | Pretty Handy Girl

Before building our window seat, I scoured the web for window seat inspiration photos and here are my Favorite Dreamy Window Seat Inspiration Photos (of the MANY more photos I pinned):

BHG_window_seatDesigner Carrie Miller created a relaxing beadboard window seat via BHG.com

 

California_blue_white_breakfast_nookGorgeous tower breakfast nook. Photo by Karyn R. Millet via House Beautiful

 

elegant_built_in_no_windowElegant built-in seat (without a window) via: London Painting Group

 

Refrigerator cabinets used to build a window seat via Centsational Girl

 

storage_drawer_window_seatWindow seat with storage drawers via BHG.com

 

Bedroom window seat by Newport Beach Interior Designer Wendi Young Design via Houzz

 

Curved banquette by Brooklyn architect Ben Herzog via Houzz

 

White_window_seat_with_plantation_shuttersWhite and black built in storage bench via BHG.com

 

Huge bay window seating by Flemington architect Pickell Architecture via Houzz

 

Small corner window seat by Santa Cruz Media and blogs Shannon Malone via Houzz

 


Finally, this was the photo that set my wheels in the right direction for construction via Houzz

Want to build your own? I have a great tutorial for how to build a window seat in a bay window with storage.

Hope you find some window seat inspiration! Happy building!

PHGFancySign

Holiday Home Tour - Kitchen | Pretty Handy Girl

One of my favorite rooms to decorate is our kitchen. There is something about the combination of aqua with green that makes me happy. Welcome to the next room on my Holiday Home Tour, the kitchen!

Holiday Home Tour - Kitchen | Pretty Handy Girl

Updating the window seat with aqua and snowflake pillows is the first thing I do when Thanksgiving is over.

I love adding a little bling to the chandelier during the holiday season. Last year I hung a beaded garland from the chandelier, this year it’s white buds and gold painted eucalyptus leaves.

Holiday Home Tour - Kitchen | Pretty Handy Girl

The open shelves get a new vignette. It’s such an easy swap that gives us something new to look at throughout the season. Read more

The reality is...it's not real | Pretty Handy Girl

The reality is that what you see on TV and magazines isn’t real life. We all know this, but do we tend to forget after a while?

I was watching one of those popular HGTV reality shows the other day. This one happened to be filmed in our neighborhood, so I was very familiar with the home that was being renovated. I drove by the house several times while the work was being done and I only saw the show hosts there three times. Those were the few days that filming was being done. The rest of the time (many months of renovating) I never saw the hosts. But, I’m sure you probably already realized this fact. It’s understandable, the celebrity hosts have to record other shows. And there’s no reason for them to stick around and watch joint compound or paint dry.

As you can imagine, I couldn’t wait to see the episode. Before the show aired I ran into the homeowners while walking our dogs. We chatted for a while and I thought they were a super delightful couple. Both polite, kind and fun to talk to. They both shared my love for our neighborhood. When the show finally aired last month, I was dismayed to see this young couple turned into picky, hard-to-please homeowners that fit into the “script” of the show. But, what surprised me most was the final reveal of the “new” value of the improved house. The home was valued above homes almost 1,000 sq feet larger in similar condition in our neighborhood. I shouldn’t have cared much. But, I did.

I’m not sure why I was feeling anger. I’ve known for a long time that reality tv isn’t really reality. Maybe I was angry because I see too many photos and TV shows that portray “real” people living in perfect homes. I think I was angered because the more we watch, the more we read and the more we pin — we begin to forget that what we see isn’t reality. I think we all need a reminder about how unreal “reality” is. Read more

Family Organization Door | Pretty Handy Girl

It’s hard to stay organized when you are a DIY blogger, Mom, wife, cook, cleaner, taxi driver, and a student (taking evening classes for the general contractor exam.) I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve dropped a few balls in this massive juggling act. But, I strive to improve and part of that effort involved hanging a Family Organization Center Door next to the refrigerator.  Did you know there was such a thing? Ha, me either until I saw this half window door at our local Habitat ReStore.

Family Organization Door | Pretty Handy Girl

A vision of a place to plan meals, keep track of chores and keep reminders became clear in my head when I first saw it. Want to see how I took this old door and turned it into a family organization center? Hang around for a few minutes to find out.

Materials:
(contains some affiliate links)

Optional:

Instructions:

After finding a door for your organization center, you may need to trim down the sides to fit your space. I had to trim an inch off each side of my door to fit on the side of our refrigerator cabinet. Use a circular saw to trim the door. Using a Kreg Rip Cut will help keep the saw straight.

Family Organization Door | Pretty Handy Girl

For extra stability, you may want to add a caster on the bottom of the door (opposite the hinge side). This is not necessary, but will add extra support.

Family Organization Door | Pretty Handy Girl

Cut scraps of coax cable to fit into the tops of the windows. Read more

Beef Up Door and Window Casing with Back Band | Pretty Handy Girl

Want an easy way to add more architectural interest to your standard colonial door and window framing? Adding an extra piece of moulding, called back band, can add that extra boost of architectural interest.

Add Architectural Interest to Casing | Pretty Handy Girl

And the good news is that you can do this to your existing trim moulding. No need to remove or start fresh! The only thing you will need is paint on hand to paint the moulding after you BEEF it UP! In essence, We’re gonna PUMP it UP!

Materials:

  • Back band moulding
  • Finish nailer
  • 2″ finish nails
  • Caulk
  • Paint
  • Miter saw or  hand saw with miter box

Instructions:

There’s really not much to this tutorial. Line up the back band against your existing door or window frame. Measure or mark the back band where you need to cut your miter. Read more