Saving Etta: Mudroom Reveal

Is it bizarre to say that the Saving Etta mudroom might be one of the favorite spots in the Saving Etta house? I’m not sure if it’s because this room has so many salvaged items. Or maybe it’s because this space gets a glorious dose of sun in the late afternoon. Regardless, I love that this room greets the homeowners every time they come home.

(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.)

The entrance to the mudroom is off the driveway through a door on the side porch.

The smaller wood door on the porch leads to a little storage area. The door was reclaimed from an early 1900 house that was destroyed to make way for new condominiums. There is so much growth in Raleigh, NC and unfortunately many of these older homes are in the way of that growth. This is why I was thrilled to have been able to save a piece of Raleigh’s history by preserving the original 1900 portion of the Saving Etta house.

But, I digress, back to the mudroom. The little side porch is the perfect spot to drop your bags and fumble for your keys—wait, did I say keys? No keys necessary! The Schlage Sense Smart lock has codes you can program into it.

Alternatively, for more automagical unlocking, you can pair the lock with your smartphone after downloading the Schlage Sense app and lock or unlock your door with your phone! Watch this video to see the full features of the Schlage Sense app and how you can control the door locks:

You can also set codes and deactivate codes easily. I’m so thrilled with this Schlage Sense Smart lock that I will be installing one on my home in the near future.

Once inside the house, the mudroom is a natural space to drop all the things.

This room used to be one of the bedrooms. Originally the chimney was covered by plaster. Can you spot the chimney on the left side of the picture below.

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

The open closet door above is where the little key hook window cabinet is below (more on how I built this gem in a later blog post.) The closed door in the picture above is now the doorway into the main hallway in the house as seen below.

Everything from the chimney back was removed during demolition. The back of the house wasn’t original to the 1900 house. The back 2/3 of the house was a series of bad additions and weren’t built well. Consequently, the floor sagged almost 5 inches from one end of the bedroom to the other. Although you can’t see it in the picture below, the chimney is still attached to the original portion of the house.

After demolition, I rebuilt onto the back of the original house (complete with a properly dug 24 inch deep crawlspace and a concrete block foundation.)

Now the house is on solid footing and has all new wiring and plumbing. Plus, the new insulation and fiber cement siding should insure a weather-proofed home protecting it from deterioration for decades.

Before we step in the mudroom, I want to give you a little behind the scenes story about dealing with inspectors and how to solve issues when you disagree with the inspector. (Because ultimately you can’t argue with them.)

If you noticed the small paver patio above is pitched away from the house more on the left than the right hand side, you have incredible eagle eyes! The inspector warned me that he would have to fail my final inspection if I didn’t correct the slope on the left. His solution was to put in a step against the driveway that would start at a few inches high and slope to nothing once it reached the right hand side.

I talked to the buyers about this suggestion and we all agreed that adding a sloping step against the driveway would cause a tripping hazard (especially since the driveway is narrow and either the car door would hit the step or your ankle would).

Luckily, I came up with a solution that would pass code, but also avoid a tripping hazard.

By bolting a temporary railing onto the porch, it would force travel to happen over the acceptable sloped section of patio.

Then after final inspection (and before closing) I removed the railing per the buyers request. Ultimately the inspector had to pass the this configuration, but he can’t control what happens to a house after he leaves. Apparently these kind of solutions happen all the time when the code doesn’t provide for small issues arising during construction.

I would never have created intentionally created an unsafe situation just to pass an inspection. Ultimately, we all agreed, the sloped patio was a lot safer and not a big concern (unless it was covered with ice. But frankly ice presents an issue even on a level surface.)

Let’s get back to the glorious mudroom, shall we?

The floors were an intentional choice. I chose Jeffrey Court’s Porcelain Castle Rock Hex tile. My own dark grey tile mudroom floors rarely show dirt. The darker color (with lots of pattern) tends to hide any debris that gets tracked in.

On the rare occasion that we have snow in North Carolina, these floors will allow cold snowy boots to dry without damaging the floor. And I intentionally left space under the lockers to let you kick off your shoes or add some bins if the homeowners desire.

Speaking of places to store things, I knew I wanted to build a little key hook cabinet for between the studs in the mudroom. When my HVAC contractor told me he had to use space in the corner for an air chase, I figured this would be the perfect spot to put the little cabinet.

During framing, I framed out this spot for the cabinet and then built the key hook storage cabinet back in my shop (tutorial to come soon.)

I used some of the reclaimed bead board from Etta’s walls to attach hooks too.

The sheet metal provides a magnetic surface to use for notes, etc. I gave it an aged look by following this tutorial.

Now this little cabinet is the perfect spot to hang keys at the end of your day. See that little green heart? My friend Su makes these and sells them in her Etsy shop. When I saw the green one, I knew I had to purchase it to present to the new owners with their house keys. The color matches Etta’s front door color.

One of the things most people comment on in the mudroom are the lockers.

Those lockers are one of my favorite recycles! A friend offered them to me as he was removing them from an old gym to convert into a retail shop.

They sat in my garage gathering dust for almost a year. You’d think I would have noticed the little diamond pattern perfectly matches Etta’s diamond shaped attic vents.

But alas, it wasn’t until my trim carpenter and I installed them that I realized they were meant to be inside this house.

Next to the lockers is a small space where the circuit breaker is and then the chimney!

That beautiful brick chimney was created in 1900 and almost met its demise in 2018. The demo contractor thought it should come down. The framer said I was crazy to try to keep such an ugly piece of the house. My trim carpenter struggled to trim around its twists and turns.

But, here it is in 2019, proof that even something no one else sees as beautiful can be beautiful!⁣

⁣The copious amounts of Nolan hooks from Liberty Hardware Brands hold backpacks, bags, and a plethora of coats ready to grab as you run out the door (because everyone knows how fickle North Carolina weather can be in the Spring). I love their classic shape and the contrast against the white board and batten wall.

I fell for this door years ago when I saw it in many farmhouse style homes. But, tracking down one turned out to be a little tricky. Originally I wanted a 1/2 light door. But, my building supply representative told me a half window door had to be custom ordered and would take several weeks to arrive.

Instead he located a 2/3 light wooden farmhouse door that was stocked and could be delivered in a week.

This completes the tour of the mudroom. It makes me happy and I’m so proud of the outcome. A special thank you to all the Saving Etta sponsors, and especially Schlage Locks, Jeffrey Court tiles, and Liberty Hardware for partnering with me on the mudroom build.

What do you think? Did you like all the salvaged items I used? Any questions for me?

Disclosure: Schlage Locks, Jeffrey Court HD tiles, and Liberty Hardware were all material sponsors of the Saving Etta project. They provided complimentary items for the mudroom. 

How to Drill New Holes for Door KnobsHow to Drill New Holes for Door Knobs

Every once in a while, you might find yourself with a new (or old) door that needs a hole drilled into it for a door knob (or a deadbolt). Today I have the perfect tutorial to ease your mind and help you learn how to drill a new hole for door knobs in your door.

While working on restoring the original 1900 portion of the Saving Etta house, I removed the original bedroom doors and took them to a local workshop to have the lead paint stripped off the doors. It was a pricey decision, especially because I didn’t know what the doors would look like when they were stripped. But, as you can probably tell from the photos, they came back more beautiful than I could have imagined! In fact they were so pretty, I didn’t stain them. They just got a clear sealant to protect them. The restoration company had to do some “surgery” on one of the doors, basically adding a new stile. When I received the door it didn’t have a door knob hole. But, I knew I could drill a new hole (if I could stop drooling over the beauty of the wood grain).

bedroom with 1900 wood door and glass door knob in the background

Doors this gorgeous needed exceptional door hardware. For that reason, I reached out to Schlage and asked them to be a Saving Etta sponsor. Luckily, they responded that they would be thrilled to send me door knobs and hinges for the whole house.

Two Schlage Hobson Door Knobs

While perusing the Schlage door knob selection, I was halted by these classic Schlage Hobson round glass knobs. The beauty in these knobs was unique and captivating. For an old look, I decided to pair them with the oil-rubbed bronze Century backplate trim.

with intricate details in the glass knob

The coolest thing about these knobs (besides the intricate detail inside the glass), is you can purchase a variety of backplates to compliment your style:Schlage Hobson Knobs with other Backplate trims

I loved the look of the round and square backplates, but felt the rectangle was more fitting for a historic house.

Reclaimed wood door with round glass door knob

Ready to learn how to drill new door knob holes in your door? Luckily, I’ve drilled holes for knobs in many a door and each time I’m amazed at how simple it is to accomplish with a good door knob jig. Ready to learn how to drill a new door knob hole? Watch this video or read the step-by-step tutorial below!


Tools:

(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.)

Instructions:

Measure the height of the door knobs on other doors in your house. Transfer this measurement onto your slab door.

Measure and mark door knob heights

Be sure to select the backset for your door knobs on the jig before you begin.

Selecting setback on Irwin Door Knob Hole Jig

Locate the latch face plate screws with your door knob. Use these screws to secure the door knob hole jig to your door.

Removing Door Knob Hole Jig

Grab your drill and insert the 2 ⅛” hole saw into the drill. Apply firm pressure as you drill the hole into the door making sure the hole saw is flat and not angled as it goes through the door.

Once the center bit protrudes through the door, stop and switch sides. Continued drilling through the opposite side until you complete the door knob hole in the door.

Small center bit hole drilled through door, switch sides to drill door knob hole

Now find the 1” hole saw and insert it into your drill. Drill through the edge of your door to create the hole for the latch. Use the same firm pressure and make sure the drill is perfectly perpendicular to the door edge.

Drilling 1" hole for latch

Sweep out any sawdust in your door knob holes. Remove your face plate screws from the jig and set them down nearby. Remove the jig.

Attach the face plate to the door using the same screws you used on the jig.

Attach face plate onto door edge

Using your utility knife, carefully score a line around the face plate.

using utility knife to score around latch plate

Remove the face plate. Use your chisel and a hammer to remove some of the wood material inside the marks you made.

Chisel out area for latch face plate

Now you are ready to add your door knobs and latch assembly. I have another video showing you how to install door knobs in five minutes or less!

Add New Door Knob Hardware

Feel free to watch that tutorial below:

Please excuse me while I drool over these gorgeous glass knobs I installed on the doors in the Saving Etta house. They have to be the most beautiful door knobs I’ve ever seen!

 

Sun glinting off glass door knob on raw wood door

Gorgeous Schlage Hobson Glass Door Knob

Door opening with ocean painting showing. Glass door knob with sun glinting on it.

Wasn’t drilling a door knob hole easy? I know you can do this (assuming you have a wood door of course.)

Disclosure: As a sponsor of the Saving Etta project, Schlage sent me the door hardware for the doors. I was not told what to write, all opinions are my own. 

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How to Fix Cracks in Door Panels - An Easy RepairHow to Fix Cracks in Door Panels without Taking the Door Apart

Wooden doors will develop cracks over time, especially if the panels aren’t free to expand and contract. Most of the time, years of paint or caulking the seams around the panels will cause the wood to stick and not allow the panel to expand and contract with the weather. The result is a big vertical crack along the wood grain. Today I’m going to show you how to repair the crack without taking the door apart!

You may remember right before I purchased the Saving Etta house, I discovered a discarded door by the dumpster behind our local grocery store. It had a big crack in the panel and was very dirty. But, otherwise, it appeared to be structurally sound. Pretty Handsome Guy and I salvaged the door on a late night rescue mission, and had a good laugh about it afterwards.

The door sat in the garage until the addition was framed and rough openings were created at the Saving Etta house. With the windows set to arrive, I knew I had to take a day out of my busy schedule to repair the cracked door and prepare it for installation.

Dirty Front Door found in the Trash

First the door got a good cleaning with soapy water.

Cleaning Front Door with sponge and soapy water Looking better already!

Cleaned front doo

Now it was time to fix the door. Let’s learn how to repair a cracked door panel without taking the door apart.

Materials:

(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.)

Instructions:

Lay the door on a flat surface like a workbench or saw horses.

burgundy side of dumpster found door

Using the Dremel with a cut off wheel, clean up the crack and open it to the width of your wood spline.

Open door panel crack with dremel cutting wheel

Sand smooth any jagged edges along the crack and any dings on the rest of the door.

Sanding door smooth

Test fit the spline into the crack. Make any adjustments to the crack as needed or cut a narrower spline on a table saw.

Insert wood spline into door crack

The spline should fit snuggly in the crack.

Test fit wood spline in door crack

Remove the spline and apply a liberal amount of wood glue into the crack.

Add lots of wood glue to door crack

Insert the spline and clamp the door until the glue hardens.

Clamp door repair overnight.

Chisel off the excess spline (you don’t need to get it perfect, but you’ll want to remove as much of the spline that protrudes beyond the door panel.)

Chisel off excess wood spline

Sand the repaired crack until the spline is even with the rest of the door panel.

Sand fixed door crack smooth

There will probably still be some minor cracks or voids, but these can be repaired with putty. Mix up a small amount of Durham’s Rock Hard Water Putty (just add water!) Apply along the repaired crack and fill in any small holes or dings on the door. Let the putty cure.

Use Durham wood hardener to smooth imperfections

Flip the door over and repeat the process of removing the excess spline material and adding the wood putty.

Add Durham Wood Hardener on back side of door repair

After the putty has dried, sand until smooth. Start with a 120 grit sandpaper and work your way up to 220 grit.

Sand cracked door panel repair smooth

Clean the door of any sanding dust. Tape off the window edges (if applicable). Prime the door on both sides (allowing one side to dry before priming the other side.)

Prime repaired door with KILZ 2 primer

Paint your door any color you like!

Paint repaired door with Magnolia Home Magnolia Green paint

Want to Stain Your Door Instead?

If you prefer the natural wood look on your door, be sure to choose a spline that matches your door’s wood species and skip the wood putty step.

Installing the Door:

Back at the house, my framers had some fun with the house wrap at the front door.

After I added an exterior door frame kit to my repaired door, the framers hung it in the rough opening.

Because I didn’t paint the exterior of the door yet, you can barely see the repair above. But, after a fresh coat of paint, I challenge you to spot the repaired crack!

Do you like the color I painted the door? You might remember my decision making process when selecting the exterior color scheme. Ultimately I chose Magnolia Green and Locally Sown in the Magnolia Paint line.

Magnolia Green Door with Locally Sown Magnolia Home Paint on Siding

And just in case you thought I was only good at saving doors, apparently now I’m also a house saver! The Saving Etta house received her plaque denoting her name as it’s registered in the list of National Historic Properties.

Saving Etta: 1900 Home Saved from Demolition and restored into a beautiful Triple A construction modern farmhouse.

Hopefully she’ll last another one hundred plus years!

A funny story about the green door: Originally I was going to hang the door with the handle on the opposite side, but made a last minute change. The interior of the door was supposed to get painted gray to match the rest of the doors in the house (minus the salvaged 1900 doors shown above. They were left raw to show off the original wood grain and square peg construction.)

Many of you loved the green color and voted on Instagram to keep the front door green on both sides. Which is why Etta has a green front door inside and out!

Saving Etta: 1900 Home Saved from Demolition and restored into a beautiful Triple A construction modern farmhouse.

What do you think? Do you like the double-sided green door? Do you have a cracked door panel in need of repair? I know you can fix it.

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 Tile UpdateSaving Etta: Installing the Tile Backsplash & a Mistake I’ll Never Make Again

Last week you got to see how the range hood was installed (and how I averted disaster during the installation.) Today I’m sharing more kitchen updates. We’re going to dive into tiling a backsplash and one mistake I’ll never make again.

Before we get started, I want to give a big shout out to my sponsors! These brands came together to help me save Etta and I am incredibly grateful.

(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.)

After hiring tile setters to lay the bathroom and mudroom floors, I chose to save some money by tiling the backsplash myself. After all, I consider myself fairly experienced at installing backsplashes after I tiled three walls in my own kitchen and wrote a tutorial to help you learn to tile.

Fall Decor in a Rustic Farmhouse Kitchen | Pretty Handy Girl

Light Fixture Installation Woes:

Shortly before tiling, my electrician joined me late one night to finish installing the light fixtures in the kitchen. My sons and I had already installed all the recessed can lights. But, I let my electrician handle the remaining fixtures. Especially because I was on a tight deadline to get the house finished and on the market before the holidays.

electrician hanging pendant light

This guy standing on plywood at 9pm at night, is my knight in shining armor. Harvey has been my electrician for over six years and he’s helped me solve electrical problems on multiple occasions.  The thing I love most about him is he always pushes me to take on the smaller electrical projects myself. When I wanted to hire him to install a switch for an automatic door activated light in our pantry, he explained the process then left me with these parting words, “Call me if you get stuck.”

Most light fixture installations are straight forward and simple, but we had several issues with the lights I ordered for the Saving Etta house. One of them was missing parts to attach the hanging hardware to the canopy that attaches to the ceiling box. Harvey sent me to a nuts and bolts store. I kid you not, it was an obscure hardware store I never knew existed in Raleigh. Walking through the door, was like walking back in time. Picture Michael J. Fox stepping into the soda shop in Back to the Future. The gentleman working the counter looked at my light fixture parts and started searching through aisles of fasteners, nuts, bolts, screws, and who knows what else. Ultimately he found a nut that would work for our light. Hallelujah.

The gentleman took my credit card and I nearly laughed as he ran it through one of the old carbon copy credit card machines. If you’re too young to know what this is, I leave you this video for your education. For the rest of us, enjoy a trip back in time.

Back at the house, Harvey had finished installing the pendant light over the sink. But, something looked off. The pendant shade wouldn’t hang level no matter what we tried. Ultimately, I took it down and replaced it with a modern geometric pendant and pendant light kit from Lowe’s. In my opinion, the light is perfect for the modern farmhouse look I was envisioning for Etta.

Plygem mira window with facet pendant light and subway tile

Countertops:

After the cabinets and range hood were installed it was time to call the countertop fabricators. The owner arrived and took measurements, then he sent me to look at slabs in the local granite and stone warehouse. I took my youngest with me and we watched in awe as a huge robotic arm lifted giant slabs of quartz and granite for customers to view. You can join us as we are looking through the slabs in my Facebook Live video:

Can I share something with you? I’m not a big granite fan, although I saw some amazing slabs at the warehouse. Instead of granite, I chose a marble looking quartz. The quartz is called Carrara Venatino from Cosmos. I think Cosmos has it manufactured especially for them. If you like the countertops, you can see if there is a Cosmos distributor near you.

Liberty Lombard - cabinet drawer pulls

The countertops are one of my favorite finishes in the kitchen. I almost wish I had used them in our own kitchen instead of the recycled glass quartz countertops. My only complaint about the Carrara Venatino is it tends to scuff easily. Belt buckles and rivets leave gray lines that look almost like pencil marks on the edges. It’s not a huge deal as they seem to wipe off with a rag and some cleanser.

Tiling the Backsplash:

The backsplash turned out beautiful and definitely attracted a lot of attention in this open concept kitchen. I used Jeffrey Court 4″ x 12″ white subway tiles from Home Depot. The subway tiles have a timeless classic look and the larger size meant the install was a little faster than standard 3×6 subway tiles.

subway tile backsplash being installed

There were two particular evenings I stayed crazy late. I had to bust my butt to finish the tiling. Pretty Handsome Guy came one night to help, and brought Jersey Mike’s for dinner (see if you can spot my ingenious use of the trash as a faucet cover). The hubby got a crash course on using the wet saw and after about a dozen practice cuts, he finally got the hang of cutting tiles. (He still has to pick up some more skills before he can have the name Pretty Handy Guy. Have I mentioned he’s not the handy person in this marriage?) But, without his help I might still be tiling that backsplash! (Okay, that might be a bit of an exaggeration.)

Tiling can be a solo job, but it really helps to have one person cutting the tiles and the other one setting them. Especially because the thinset will eventually harden. At least the hardening process was slowed by the cold temperatures inside the house and out. (We still didn’t have the gas hooked up for the heat yet.)

The second night I worked by myself until about midnight. By the time I left, I was cold, tired, and sore. Climbing up and down on top of countertops is tough work. But, also rewarding as you can see by this progress after the first evening.

installing subway tile with spacers

Installing Open Shelf Brackets:

Having open shelving in the Saving Etta kitchen was a no brainer. In my own kitchen I have two open shelves and I love them! For my shelves, I installed corbel shelf brackets after the tile was installed.

DIY Aged Chippy Paint Technique | Pretty Handy Girl

I was planning on doing the same at the Etta house. But, shortly before tiling I stumbled across a tile setter on Instagram who had installed the shelf brackets before tiling. Thinking this guy was a professional and knew what he was doing, I decided to try doing the same thing. After all, it would be easier to locate the studs and blocking before tiling. Truth be told, I had added blocking in the wall where the shelves were going to be mounted, and took a picture before the drywall was hung. (Smart, right?!)

Continuing my claim of having smart ideas, I decided to put a paint stick behind the shelf bracket before securing it to the wall. This would insure the bracket would be at the same depth as the tiles. In theory it seemed like a good idea. Can anyone guess what my mistake was?

Subway tile next to shelf bracket

There were actually two issues. The first was I failed to allow for mortar thickness. Depending on the size notched trowel you use, the thinset can add anywhere from 1/8″ – 1/4″.  I guess I can be thankful at least I put something behind the brackets or they would have been horribly recessed.

It wasn’t until I began grouting that I realized the second issue with installing the shelf brackets first: sloppy cuts.

tile around shelf bracket

Cutting tiles is not like cutting wood. Where it’s fairly easy to cut shapes in wood, it’s not that easy with tiles. Making perfect 90˚ cuts into tile is tough. As you can see above, I had one tile that needed to be notched. The small leg on the right kept breaking. So I ended up piecing the tile around one of the brackets.

Next came the challenge of grouting around the brackets. After much mental exercise, I chose to put white caulk around the brackets to minimize the cut lines. The caulk hides some of the imperfections, but it still bugs me that they don’t look perfect. In DIY, there are plenty of opportunities to be creative and it also provides plenty of learning opportunities.

I will never make the mistake of tiling around brackets. Next time I will tile first and install the shelf brackets afterwards. (In case you are wondering, these are the brackets I used. They are sufficiently strong to hold shelves with glasses and dishes, but I wouldn’t use them to hold super heavy items like hand weights.)

The next day I finished tiling around the range hood and was able to grout the wall with the open shelves (but needed to wait for the newly set tiles to cure overnight.) By the end of day three I had completely tiled and grouted the backsplash!

counter protected while installing shelf brackets

Despite the few cut tiles around the shelf brackets, I am pleased with the backsplash. I’m keeping you in suspense with the rest of the kitchen reveal until Friday. But, here’s a close up of the tiling around the brackets. It looks okay from a distance, which is all that really matters, right?

White subway backsplash open reclaimed wood shelving

Stay tuned, the next Saving Etta update will be the full kitchen reveal and I can’t wait to share it with you!!!

Disclosure: I worked with Jeffrey Court for Home Depot on this project. I was provided with the subway tiles for the kitchen backsplash. I will always let you know if I was sponsored or compensated. You should also note that I’m very particular about the brands I work with.

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.

Laundry Room Update and a No Hands Light Switch

Saving Etta: Laundry Room Update and a No Hands Light Switch

About that Saving Etta laundry room, did you get a peek last week? If you missed it, I showed you how I installed the cement tile floor. We can all agree, the star of the laundry room is the floor. But, there’s another star in this room that’s hard to show in pictures. It’s this little guy:

Laundry Room Update and a No Hands Light Switch

That, my friends, is a Decora motion sensor in-wall switch from Leviton (one of the proud Saving Etta sponsors.) And it works automagically! When you walk in the room, the light comes on. Then it shuts off after a predetermined amount of time (choose between 30 seconds, 5 minutes, 15 minute, or 30 minutes for the time-out period.)

Before I tell you more about this fabulous no hands light switch, I need to give you the full details about the laundry room and discuss something I would definitely do differently next time.

Saving Etta: Laundry Room Update

After the cement floor tiles were installed, I had to cover them up with Builder Board from Surface Shields to protect them. The small area covered was protected, but I should have covered the entire floor because my mechanical subcontractors were the messiest bunch of guys I’ve ever met. Every time they came into the house I had to follow them around cleaning up mud and dirt. Plus, I lost track of the number of fingerprints they left on the walls. Seriously, it was like following children who had just played all afternoon in the mud.

Laundry Room Update and a No Hands Light Switch

To make matters worse, they didn’t share my eye for aesthetically pleasing mechanics.

Laundry Room Update and a No Hands Light Switch

Avert your eyes from the giant hole in the ceiling and look at the water heater vent pipe. Did you count all the sections?

Laundry Room Update and a No Hands Light Switch

One, two, three, four sections. What the fizz?! When I called my mechanical contractor, I told him this looked like a preschooler installed it. In all fairness, it would have passed the inspections, but I hated how it looked. Instead of letting them monkey around more, I took matters into my own hands and ran to Ferguson to purchase one vent pipe. It looks much better, right?

Laundry Room Update and a No Hands Light Switch

I’m sure you are wondering about the giant hole in the ceiling — it’s for make up air. This is required when you have a gas appliance in an enclosed room. The codes want to make sure that gas can’t build up in the room. I had already installed a built-in vent over the door, but the inspector wanted more. We added make up air in the floor. (You can see it in the picture below. It’s the hole in the floor on the left. And it eventually got a floor vent cover.)

Installed Avington Cement Tiles from TheBuilderDepot.com

But, the inspector still wanted more make up air. My mechanical contractor suggested cutting holes in the wall into the kitchen, but I said “No way!” Ultimately, the best (and least unattractive) solution was a ceiling vent which eventually got a round diffuser placed over it.

Laundry Room Update and a No Hands Light Switch

It felt like the issues around the gas water heater were never ending. One of the inspections noted where there wasn’t enough clearance between the vent pipe and the framing. It was easily fixed, but between this and all the makeup air required for the gas water heater, I have vowed to go tankless next time. In the next flip, I’ll listen to my plumber’s suggestion to install a tankless water heater. It will cost more, but will look a lot better and not have as many issues during installation. A tankless water heater will still need to be vented, but it can be vented out the wall instead of the roof.

Laundry Room Update and a No Hands Light Switch

Live and learn, right? Regardless, the laundry room is still a show stopper with the cement tiles and room for a side-by-side washer and dryer. (Most of the houses in the downtown area only have room for a stackable washer and dryer.)

Laundry Room Update and a No Hands Light Switch

How to Install a Hands Free Light Switch

Now, onto the one affordable upgrade I will make again and again! The Leviton motion sensor switch is a wonderful addition to a laundry room or other areas in your home where you frequently have your hands full carrying things such as laundry or groceries. Or you might be carrying something so filthy you don’t want to touch the light switch. As soon as the door is opened (or someone walks into this room) the sensor detects your presence and turns the light on. It will also automatically turn the lights off, saving you frustration and money in rooms where lights are frequently left on.

Laundry Room Update and a No Hands Light Switch

The Leviton Decora Motion Sensor is set to turn off after 15 minutes when no motion is detected, but you can set the device to turn the lights off at 30 seconds, 5 minutes, 15 minutes, or 30 minutes. The motion sensor can also be tweaked to detect motion in a certain range from the sensor.

You’ll definitely want one in your house, so here’s the video tutorial to learn how to install a Leviton Decora Motion Sensor switch:

Materials:

(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.)

Instructions:

Before installing the motion sensor, turn off the power at the circuit breaker to your switch. Using a voltage tester, make sure the power is off.

Disclaimer: Always use caution when working with electricity. Follow the instructions provided with your device. Do not attempt to make changes to your home’s electrical system without prior electrical experience and knowledge of your area’s electrical codes. Contact a licensed electrician if you have any questions. Pretty Handy Girl can not be held responsible for personal injury or harm.

  1. Remove the Leviton Decora Motion Sensor from the package and read the instructions.
  2.  Look at your wiring, you should have a ground wire (bare or copper), a neutral wire (white), a line wire (this is the live wire that’s usually black), and a load wire (sometimes it’s also black and sometimes red.) The line wire is the wire that carries the electrical current from the circuit breaker to the switch. The load wire carries the power from the switch to the light fixture.
  3. Strip ⅝” of the insulation off the wires. You don’t need to bend your wires into shepherds hooks, the wires can be inserted straight under the screws on the Leviton Motion Sensor.
  4. Always connect the ground wire first. 
  5. The neutral wires should be connected to each other not the sensor.
  6. Next connect the load wire to the black terminal.
  7. Finally connect the line wire to the red terminal.
  8. Gently fold and tuck the wires into the wall box. Make sure the word TOP is facing up on your sensor.
  9. Drive the screws into the top and bottom of the motion sensor.
  10. Turn the power back on and test your motion sensor. If it works, great!
  11. Follow the instructions to make any adjustments to the length of time the lights stay on and the motion sensing field.  
  12. Attach the cover to the motion sensor.

Laundry Room Update and a No Hands Light Switch

Enjoy hands free control of your lights with the Leviton Decora Motion Sensor

Laundry Room Update and a No Hands Light Switch

You can also install the motion sensor in a room where little kids like to play but aren’t good about turning out those lights. Or in that dark room where you always fumble for the light switch.

What about you, where would you install a motion sensor light switch?

Laundry Room Update and a No Hands Light Switch

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post for Leviton. I was compensated for my time and efforts to promote the Leviton Residential 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.

 If you haven’t done so already, be sure to *subscribe to my YouTube channel!

Subscribe to my YouTube Channel

*My followers on YouTube get sneak peeks of some of the projects I’m working on, so subscribe today!

Want more automation in your home? You’ll definitely want to check out these tutorials:

How to Install Smart Dimmer Switches

How to Install Smart Dimmer Switches

 

How to Install USB Charging Outlets

How to Install a USB Charging Outlet

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

How to Build a Window Pane Lattice Privacy Fence and Gate

How to Build a Window Pane Lattice Privacy Fence and Gate

I should probably re-name this post How to Build a Window Pane Lattice Semi-Privacy Fence. But, honestly it’s only semi-private because the lots in downtown Raleigh are so close together and the next door neighbor’s driveway is against the privacy fence. All they have to do is lean against the fence and peek through to eliminate the “privacy” function. But, if we’re going to be honest here, their six foot picket privacy fence has cracks in it where the picket wood has shrunk. And, yes, you can see through their privacy fence too. But, in a suburban neighborhood, this fence would block the view from the road or a distance.

When I was considering fencing options for the Saving Etta project, I wanted to create a beautiful fence that was attractive to look at but also gives some privacy and security.

How to Build a Window Pane Lattice Privacy Fence and Gate

Why I chose to use a window pane lattice fence:

  1. I love the look. It’s a mixture of cottage and modern. And it’s perfect for a modern farmhouse style house.
  2. The new owners can train a flowering vine to grow up the lattice and create more privacy.
  3. It’s neighborly being able to see and talk to your neighbors next door. It fosters community!

As we drew closer to the holidays, I knew I had to push the accelerator on all the remaining projects at the Saving Etta project. Therefore, I did not build this fence, I hired a fence contractor to build it. But, I did design the fence and shared my design idea with the contractor. I took some inspiration from my Pergola with Trellis Screens.

Build a Pergola with Trellis to Screen Your Trash Cans | Pretty Handy Girl

The following tutorial is a basic construction guide for How to Build a Window Pane Lattice Privacy Fence and Gate. I didn’t oversee the construction, so I’m going to make some suggested fasteners, but ultimately you should gauge the strength of your fasteners especially when building the gate. If your gate is wider, you may need an additional cross or diagonal brace.

Tools & Materials:

(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.)

Before we get started, I want to express a huge thank you to Wood It’s Real for being a Saving Etta sponsor. As you might remember, they sponsored the side porch and the front flat sawn balluster project. And now, I have the honor of sharing yet another Wood It’s Real Sponsored project. Let’s learn How to Build Window Pane Lattice Privacy Fence and Gate using beautiful Southern Yellow Pine.

Wood It's Real Website

This build will take at least two days. Digging the post holes, setting the posts, and pouring the concrete for the posts can be completed on day one. But, you’ll want to wait overnight for the concrete to set up before building the fence panels. For more information on setting fence posts, you might find this tutorial by Quikrete helpful.

Before building your fence, be sure to research your local building codes; know if you have to meet any setback limits, and find out if you have any restrictive covenants for your neighborhood.

Building a Window Pane Lattice Fence:

How to Build a Window Pane Lattice Privacy Fence and Gate

To create the tall privacy fence, we used one 4′ x 8′ lattice sheet vertically between the posts. Therefore, our posts were set four feet apart. After your 6×6 fence posts are set in the ground, you can start building your lattice fence sections between the posts.

set fence posts

Instructions:

Measure and cut two 2×6 pieces of pressure treated lumber to fit between the top and bottom of the posts. Level and secure to the 6×6 posts using exterior grade wood screws.

secure-2x4 horizontal lumber

Center your 4×8 lattice panel in the center of the 6×6 posts. Cut 2×2 lumber to create a frame to support the lattice.

add 2x2 frame to secure lattice

Secure the 2×2 frame to the inside of the 6×6 posts and the 2×6 horizontal lumber. You can use wood screws or 2″ finish nails to secure the 2×2 frame. Add another 2×2 frame to the other side of your lattice.

secured-lattice fence section

Add post caps to the top of your fence to protect the posts from rot (and to make your fence look pretty.)

add post caps

How to Build a Window Pane Lattice Privacy Fence and Gate

Repeat the steps above to create as many window pane lattice fence sections as you desire.

completed window pane lattice privacy fence

How to Build a Window Pane Lattice Privacy Fence and Gate
Depending on the angle of sight, you can see some shapes through the fence. This is the view from the bathroom window. I’ll be sharing how I added complete privacy to this window in a later blog post.

How to Build a Window Pane Lattice Privacy Fence and Gate

From the bedroom you can barely see the neighbor’s car through the fence.

How to Build a Window Pane Lattice Privacy Fence and Gate

How to Build a Window Pane Lattice Gate:

How to Build a Window Pane Lattice Privacy Fence and Gate

To match the window pane lattice fence, I challenged my fence contractor to build matching lattice gates at the end of the driveway. I wanted the opening to be wide enough to drive a car through (should they want to park in the back of the house or get a delivery of mulch or other landscaping materials.)

Instructions:

Measure and cut your 2×4 pressure treated lumber. For a 4′ x 8′ gate, cut the vertical pieces exactly 8′ in length. The top and bottom pieces should be cut 41″ long. Secure the frame with pocket hole screws in the corners of the frame. (Click here to learn how to use a pocket hole jig.)

build 2x4 frame for gate

Lay the 4×8 lattice panel on top of the 2×4 frame. Tack the lattice in place using 1 ½” finish nails.

add lattice panel to 2x4 frame

Measure and cut your 1×4 lumber using the same measurements as the 2×4’s.

cut 1x4 frame to size

Secure the 1×4 boards to the lattice and the 2×4’s using 2 ½” exterior wood screws. (The lattice will be sandwiched in the middle and the screws should extend through the 1×4’s and the lattice and into the 2×4 frame.)

sandwich lattice between 1x4 and 2x4 frames

Your gate construction is complete. Add hinges and gate hardware and secure to a 6×6 post.

add gate hinges

These gates are rock solid and shouldn’t sag over time. The lattice keeps the gate square.

How to Build a Window Pane Lattice Privacy Fence and Gate

For a decorative touch, we added two 2×6 pieces of lumber across the two gate posts to create a pergola. The new owners can put a potted vine next to each post and allow the vines to grow up and over the pergola.

How to Build a Window Pane Lattice Privacy Fence and Gate

A metal drop rod is secured to the left side gate for stability and to keep both gates from swinging in when latching.

How to Build a Window Pane Lattice Privacy Fence and Gate

The window pane lattice provides plenty of privacy from the road. But, it also allows the homeowners a view to see if anyone is coming up the driveway.

How to Build a Window Pane Lattice Privacy Fence and Gate

What do you think? Do you like the window pane lattice fence and gates? Would you leave it natural or stain it?

How to Build a Window Pane Lattice Privacy Fence and Gate

Disclosure: This post is a sponsored post for Wood It’s Real. It was written as part of their sponsorship of the Saving Etta project. I was not told what to write. All words and opinions are my own. I am very particular about the brands I work with, and only partner with companies that provide quality materials and/or services.

Saving Etta: Front Yard TransformationSaving Etta: Front Yard Transformation & Tips for Saving Money on Landscaping

I hope you enjoyed the backyard transformation I shared on Monday. Like the backyard, the front has taken on quite the transformation of its own. One of the first things I knew I wanted to do at the Saving Etta house was to preserve the cottage charm curb appeal (especially around the front porch.) Sadly her charm had dwindled like the color of her faded yellow aluminum siding. The iron railings (that didn’t appear to be original) were barely attached to the porch columns. It was an easy choice to send them to the scrap metal yard.

1900 triple A frame house

While removing the rotting porch floor boards, we realized we couldn’t save the porch framing. And in true “opening a can of worms” fashion, when exposing the porch ceiling rafters, we found the porch roof wasn’t flashed and it wasn’t tied into the house very securely. It was a sad day when I realized the entire porch had to be removed. Unfortunately, the demolition crew had finished months ago, so I had to try to get back on their schedule.

Front Yard Transformation

After the front porch was removed, new sheathing and house wrap was applied. Then my framers built the porch back to the same size. Before the siding and roofing materials were installed, the porch roof and band were flashed properly to prevent any water from seeping behind and causing rot or mold issues.

front porch before landscaping

See that scraggly bush next to the stairs? I fought my subcontractors who wanted to cut it down. The framers in particular complained about it being in the way. Little did they know, that scraggly bush had a secret. In the spring it would look like this:

Bridal Veil Spirea original to house

The white flowering bush is a Bridal Wreath Spirea with cascading white flowers once a year. Saving the spirea was part of my plan to save money on landscaping. I tried to reserve funds for landscaping, but surprises kept cropping up which cut into my landscape budget. Consequently, I put my thrifty thinking cap on and came up with a few strategies to make the most impact for the least amount of money.

7 Strategies for Low Budget Landscaping:

    1. Do as much labor yourself – As you saw in the backyard landscaping update, my family and I planned an entire yard work day. We cut back the weeds, trimmed bushes, hauled away brush, and mowed the lawn. This saved me the cost of paying someone else to do the work.
    2. Use plants you already have – As I mentioned above, I fought to save as many plants in the yard as possible. But, I’m also fortunate to have a healthy landscaped yard at home after years of hosting Free Plant Swaps in our neighborhood. Two of our bushes that have really thrived, are a pair of evergreen bushes by the front door. I’m not sure what type of bushes they are, but they might be in the juniper family. Regardless, they grew too big for the front of the house.overgrown bushes by front of my housePretty Handsome Guy and I dug them out—keeping the root ball intact—and loaded them into my truck. Then they were planted in front of the house.spruce trees loaded into back of truckThe bushes are much better suited in front of a raised porch. Best of all, they were free.blue spruce in front yard
    3. Shop the discount section – Lucky for me, it was late fall when we got started on the landscaping. My local Lowe’s Home Improvement had a large selection of half off plants to choose from. I chose these evergreen abelia shrubs that have pretty red growth on the tips in the cold weather and will have flowers in the warm season. Always look for discounted plants in your local nursery. But, steer clear of dried out and stressed looking plants. If they appear healthy go ahead and purchase them.new foundation bushes
    4. Shop end of season flowers – Flowering perennials that have faded blooms are usually discounted as soon as the blooms start to die. But, if you’re lucky you might be able to cash in on a post-holiday sale. After Thanksgiving I stumbled upon a huge clearance of mums. Each pot was marked down to $1! Even big mum planters that were $30 a week ago were $1. I bought several mums and planted them throughout the yard to add some color. After the blooms finish, they can be cut back to encourage new growth. They’ll produce beautiful blooms again next year.
      back deck and back of house view after landscaping
    5. Put money where it gets the most visibility – To get maximum visual impact in your yard, you’re going to have to spend some money. But chose to spend money on the show stoppers like a larger tree, a pergola (or make your own pergola or trellis), or spend on hardscapes like patios or walkways. On the side of the house, I chose to put a little more money toward the side entrance since this is the homeowner’s main entrance.before patio and landscapingThe landscapers installed a beautiful paver patio that will last decades and control mud and dirt from entering the house.side view with paver patio
    6. Talk to your landscaper to see if they have extra materials or plants – Ask your landscaper if they have leftover materials or plants they would be willing to give you for a reduced price. When discussing my needs and budget with my landscaper, she told me if I was willing to be flexible she might have some leftovers she could use. Ultimately she installed an array of plants and the side entrance pavers at a discount, which gave me more bang for my buck.landscaper crew adding mulch and plantingsWith four men and some big equipment, the landscapers were able to whip the front yard into shape quickly. The front yard was leveled and fresh dirt and grass seed was laid down. Finally, they planted a small tree where the old tree had been.Ugly Tree in front of Etta
    7. Be patient – Save money by purchasing younger plants, trees, and bushes. Purchasing mature greenery can cost a lot more for those who want instant gratification. If you can wait a few years, the younger plants will get bigger. Same holds true for those scraggly clearance plants. They may have some broken branches or spent flowers, but if you cut them back they will grow back beautifully with time. You can also save money by planting grass seed instead of sod. If you can wait a few weeks, you’ll be rewarded with grass sprouts and more money leftover in your pocket. Better yet, if you continue to sow seed next season (fall or spring), you’ll fill in any empty patches.
      grass growing on front hill at Saving Etta house

Saving Etta: Front Yard Transformation

Ready to see the front yard transformation? For fun, let’s take a look back on where this whole journey started!

Ugly Tree in front of Etta

June 2017 – I purchased the property.

 

Front Yard Transformation

February 2018Demolition was completed by removing the poorly built additions in the back and removing all the siding and rotten framing.

Front Yard Transformation

May 2018 – New foundation, framing, and sheathing are completed.

 

dirt yard around house under construction

July 2018 – It’s finally looking like a house again. Siding, windows, roofing, and the new front porch are added.

 

no landscaping, saving etta house under construction

September 2018 – Side porch steps are completed. Gutters and the rain chains are added.

 

rain chain

(This is where I bought the rain chains (affiliate link). They were the most affordable rain chains I could find, and I like how they look. The rain chains get plenty of compliments!

Front Yard Transformation

October 2018 – The front porch railings and ceiling are completed. My favorite addition are the flat sawn railings.

 

after landscaping side yard

November 2018 – The house is completely finished and listed for sale. The first weekend we had it on the market we received multiple offers!

 

beautiful 1900 triple a construction house near downtown raleigh

I can’t believe the house is finally complete. It took 18 months of hard work and patience while waiting for permits, subcontractors, and while I took a two week vacation with my family.

saving etta front view seeded and straw

In the end it was all worth it and I love that Etta has regained her cottage charm.

saving etta beautiful restored 1900 house near downtown Raleigh

I can officially say Etta has been saved. Maintaining the same lines as the original 1900 house was very important to me. Wherever possible, I kept the original materials. When we had to replace old with new, I made decisions based on what looked closest to the original. I also tried to reuse materials whenever possible, like the old siding which found a new life on the side porch ceiling.

Stay tuned for more Saving Etta updates! There’s been a lot of work going on inside and I can’t wait to show you.

Front Yard Transformation