Tag Archives: diy

Knocking Down Walls

Kitchen Remodel- Narrow Path

I mentioned previously that we had a very narrow walkway next to our fridge that lead down to the basement. Every time we head downstairs we have to turn sideways which this can be extra fun while trying to handle a basket full of laundry. We knew that we wanted to do everything possible to make this walkway wider.

The first option was moving to a slimmer fridge. Our current version was a double wide at. 36″. With just the two of us, this fridge was never full, so that decision was easily made. Sold! We ended up selling the big honker of a fridge to a friend, and planned to move to a slimmer style.

The next option was a little more drastic- removing a wall. We figured this wall most likely wasn’t load bearing, not only due to the placement of the stairs but also because the fridge wall used to be connected to where our bar halfwall was and the previous owners already removed a portion of it. Regardless we brought in professionals who did confirm that the wall was not load bearing. The wall was soon going to be history.

narrow walkway

We turned off all power, and used a stud finder to make sure we started off in an area of the wall where there was nothing behind it. We were still double checking at this point to make sure there was no duct work or other weird wires behind the wall. We used a hammer to make a hole, and  started to pull away the drywall.

Removing a Kitchen Wall

All we found behind the wall was the wiring to our thermostat, the kitchen light switches and an old telephone jack. We brought in an electrician to move the thermostat and light switch to just inside the dining room wall.

Removing a Kitchen Wall

We then continued with removing all of the drywall. The hammer got us started, but we were able to remove big chunks just by pulling it away. We used an exacto blade to cut through the mud and drywall tape to create a clean line where the drywall met the ceiling.

Removing a Kitchen Wall

We were then left with just the studs, which were just a tad bit warped. I guess they didn’t care about how straight the wood was back in the day?

Using our screwdriver, we were able to remove the studs from the floorboards and the ceiling. This left us with a little hole in our wall, ceiling, and a spot we needed to fill in the floor.

Removing a Kitchen Wall

Removing a Kitchen Wall

Removing a Kitchen Wall

I had orignially wanted to box in our fridge, but now I don’t know. I love how much more open this makes our kitchen. Thoughts??

Removing a Kitchen Wall


Removing Kitchen Soffits

Removing Cabinet Molding

Our kitchen is small, so anywhere we can wrangle up a little extra space is certainly welcomed.  The bulky soffits that were above our wall cabinets were definitely taking up valuable space. We knew that we wanted to remove them to help open up and make our kitchen feel larger. It was especially important to remove these on the wall behind the sink since we were planning on placing open shelving and backsplash tile from the counter to the ceiling.

After opening up the end of the long soffit above our microwave, we knew that it wasn’t hiding any duct work, electrical or plumbing. We already knew that the soffits above the sink were only decorative, since they were so small.

We used the following tools for this project- gloves, hammer, exacto knife, screw driver, pry bar and vacuum.

First, we removed the cabinets on the wall with the sink.

Removing Kitchen Soffits

We started by hammering into the center of the soffit. This created a hole so we could see into the empty soffit. Bonus points if you vacuum up the insulation and mouse droppings now instead of waiting until they fall out of the soffit!

Removing Kitchen Soffits


Removing Kitchen Soffits

Once you open up the wall, you can see exactly where the framing is. We used the hammer to break up the rest of the drywall on the soffit, then we pulled the remaining drywall off by hand or with a small pry bar. We used the exacto knife to score the edges where the soffit met the actual wall. This helped to give us a clean edge when we removed all the drywall.

Removing Kitchen Soffits

Once all the drywall was removed from the soffit, we just used a screwdriver to dismantle the framing.

Removing Kitchen Soffits Removing Kitchen Soffits

And that was that! We left ourselves with some gross looking holes in the wall, but it immediately opened up the room and really helped us get that extra space we so desperately needed.

Removing Kitchen Soffits Removing Kitchen Soffits

Too Much Kitchen Cabinet Molding?

Well that was a long time of not writing. Not that a lot wasn’t going on in our kitchen, we just writing and recapping it :). When we left off in the kitchen, the cabinets were looking like this.

Kitchen Remodel- Before Pictures

If you’ll notice, we had some molding above and below the cabinets. While it did a nice job of making our cabinets look more upscale, it definitely was leaving our counter top area feeling crunched. We removed the molding simply by unscrewing it from below.

Removing Cabinet MoldingAnd then just by giving it a little tug.

Removing Cabinet MoldingI know that not everyone is going to like this look- however we love how this left us with a much more open feeling kitchen. I know that it only saves us about 2″ in height, but it makes a big difference when you are prepping food on the counters! I think that we’ll leave these extra moldings out when we redo the cabinets!

Removing Cabinet MoldingRemoving Cabinet MoldingRemoving Cabinet Molding



Removing a Kitchen Island

We knew the next step for our kitchen remodel was going to be demoing the island. It was taking up a lot of space, and would open the area up to give us more room for the renovations.  So that’s how we went from this:

kitchen dining view


To this:

Removing Kitchen Island

We started by pulling off the laminate trim that was on one edge of the countertop. I used an exacto blade to cut the caulk line on the top and then a small pry bar to pull off the trim.

Removing a Kitchen Island

Then we unscrewed the laminate countertop from the island which was supported underneath by plywood.

Demoing Kitchen Island

This plywood was then screwed in from the top with a couple of screws. I’m so going to use this plywood for some of the cabinets we need to build on the island. Free wood for the win!

Removing a Kitchen Island

Once the laminate countertop and the plywood were removed, we were left with this sight:

Removing Kitchen Island

Next we removed the 1×6″ wood trim that was on either side of the top of the island.

Island No Side Top Trim

At this point we realized this wasn’t a true island but what used to be a wall. At some point, previous owners knocked down part of this wall to a half wall and then added a countertop to it. Pretty smart for a quick and dirty fix. I think the kitchen feels small now, I can’t image what it was like with a wall here.  Had to feel almost prison-like!

 We then removed all the molding around either side of the island. We used a utility knife and then a small pry bar to pull off the molding. At this time we also took off the paneling, which was pretty easy to do with a pry bar or hammer. Also this is the paint color that was cover 90% of the walls in our house when we first bought. I call it Peaches & Crap.

Demoing Kitchen Island

This left us with a whole bunch of drywall. We pulled up the 2×4 that was running along the top of the island, and after that it was pretty easy to pull the drywall off and just cut it down  so we could easily throw it away.

 Removing Kitchen IslandRemoving Kitchen Island

Then it was just a matter of taking apart the 2×4’s that supported the wall.

Removing Kitchen Island

The hardest part of the entire process was removing the last 2×4 that ran horizontally across the floor. It was nailed every 8 inches or so which made it pretty tough to rip up.

Demoing Kitchen Island

We were left with such a great view. A large space in the wall and a spot in the floor that would need patching.

Of course Penny didn’t know what to think. She was very confused.  It took her a good day to understand that she could walk across the spot that once housed our island.  I thought vizslas were supposed to be smart.  Good thing she’s got the looks!

Removing Kitchen Island

Layers of Linoleum


When we first bought our house, there was some pretty thick carpet in the dining room. Between the foam underlayment and the carpet, the step up to the kitchen flooring wasn’t noticeable.  When we removed the carpet, the tripping began.  Each time the kitchen was updated in the past, the new flooring was installed right on top of the old flooring.  This inevitably led to a pretty major tripping hazard.  We ended up having to use 2 different thresholds in order to build up to the height of the kitchen flooring. It left us with a little eyesore that looked something like this:

Kitchen Remodel- Double Threshold

The unsightly double-threshold was just one of the reasons we decided to update our kitchen flooring during the remodel.  The quarter round and floor were starting to look weathered and didn’t fit in with the rest of the house anymore.

distressedWhen we removed the two thresholds, this is what it looked like:

Flooring No Threshold

Upon closer inspection, this is what we found.

types of linoleum flooring


What’s missing from the above photo is the additional sub-floor that is hiding between the two linoleum layers. That means that there was 6 layers of flooring in some areas! While most people would be excited to see hardwoods running underneath all this flooring, we knew that wasn’t actually the case. Our ceiling is exposed in our basement, so we were able to see the following:

wood floor from underneath

Yes, some areas have hardwoods while some just have sub-floor running underneath it. There goes the original idea of us refinishing the floors…

Our next step was having this flooring tested for asbestos. Our home was built in 1925, so we knew that there was the possibility that one of these several layers could contain the nasty stuff.  While there are big debates on asbestos, and whether it is safe to remove when you are not creating dust, we decided to play it safe and get it tested. We cut a 1″ piece of each layer using an exacto blade and dropped it off at EMSL for testing. You can do all kinds of crazy tests, but we went with the most basic that just gives a positive or negative reading for asbestos. Testing is not cheap, but it definitely gives you peace of mind.

About a week later, I received an email from EMSL proving that I was a monkey’s uncle and there was no asbestos in any of the layers of our flooring. I was shocked, I have no idea how this happened.

We started off by removing the quarter round that was around the edges of the flooring. We used an exacto blade to cut the caulk that connected the quarter round to the cabinets first.

Removing linoleum flooring

Then we used a small crow bar to pry the quarter round off.

Removing linoleum flooring

The floating floor came up quite easily. We used the mini crow bar to pop up one tile, and then it was very easy for the entire row to lift out. Taking out this layer of flooring took a total of 30 minutes tops.

how to remove linoleum flooring

When we lifted up the floating floor, we found this beaut below.

Removing linoleum flooring

Then we used our floor scraper to wedge it between the linoleum and plywood base. It was pretty easy to lift up in large chunks.

Removing linoleum floor

We used that same floor scraper to lift up the plywood base. It was nailed in every couple of feet.


Floor scrapper 2nd layer

Finally we got to the bottom linoleum layer…aka Home on the Prairie. It was here we took a break, as we came to a standstill because of these staples. They had been used to attach the plywood I had just pulled out to the linoleum and sub-floor below it.

Normally I would just use needle nose pliers to remove staples, but that didn’t work here. These suckers were 1.5″ long, and every time we tried to use pliers, the staples broke apart. I went to Home Depot and picked up these nippers, and they are a miracle! Seriously my new favorite hand tool! They will pull out anything.

Tools for removing linoleum flooring

All you need to do is grab the staple closer to the floor and rock the nippers back and forth until the staple is removed.

Removing linoleum flooring

It did the trick, but there was still a ton of staples. This was actually from a 2′ x 2′ area-


Removing linoleum flooring

It took a good day just to remove all the staples. Then I started to use the floor scraper again to pull up the linoleum. This layer tended to chip apart instead of coming up in big chunks. In certain areas, I even had to use a chisel to get under the linoleum if I couldn’t catch a good edge with the floor scraper.

how to remove linloeum how to remove linoleum

Also next time I’ll be a little more aware of what shoes I am wearing. Linoleum is sticky stuff and the smaller chunks will get stuck to the bottoms of your shoes.


sticky shoes

While removing all the flooring we noticed that the cabinets were actually installed over 2 linoleum layers and 1 layer of the plywood. We will have to remove those layers once we have the cabinets removed.


All in all this would have taken an entire weekend if I hadn’t broken it up over a week and a half. It was a pain in the butt but I can’t tell you how great it already feels to not have to step up into our kitchen!

How To Build A Wooden Tray with Leather Handles

build a wooden tray

This was a quick and easy project, based solely on my need to help corral all the junk on my nightstand.  I actually went to Target to look for a tray to fix this issue, but I couldn’t find one that was the right dimensions. Also, none of the trays had charging stations, and I refused to pay $10-15 for something I would have to take a drill to anyways!


Supplies & Tools Needed

Total $7.15! (everything without a price is something I already owned)


How To: 

I started off with a board that I cut down to 5.5″ wide by 10″ long. I chose this size because it fit perfectly on my minuscule nightstand and also could hold my phone.

DIY Wood Tray

I then drilled some holes with the Kreg Jig, 2 on each long size and 1 on each end.

DIY Wooden Tray

Then I started to cut the sides of the tray. I mitered one of the edges of the 1×3″ at a 45 degree angle and then held it up to the bottom piece of wood and marked where the edge was.

DIY Wooden Tray

I then used that mark on my miter saw to measure where to start the 45 degree angle cut out. Basically the end pieces all had inside lengths from corner to corner of 5.5″ (not including the angles of the miter), while the long pieces of wood were 10″ (again not including the angle of the miter). I worked my way around the tray cutting all of the miters and dry fitting the pieces.

build a wooden tray

I then glued the corners together and used some masking tape to hold them together while I also nailed them.

How to build a wooden tray

Then I flipped over the wood tray and screwed the base to the sides using Kreg Jig screws. Wipe of any excess glue.

Build a wooden tray

Once the glue was dry, I stained and used polyurethane on the tray. I also used a 3/16″ drill bit to drill a hole for my phone charger.

Wooden Tray

Once the stain was dry, I hot glued burlap to the inside of the wooden tray.

Diy Wooden Tray

Then I took my $3 thrift store belt, and cut it down to 6″ long. I cut it down to longer than the edge of the tray, so I would be able to create more of a curve to the handle.

how to build a wooden tray

Then I drilled 2 holes into the belt 1/2″ in from the edge.

Wooden Tray Leather Handles

I also drilled in 2 holes into each side of the wooden tray. These were 1-1/4″ in from the edge.

DIY Wooden Tray

Next I used the machine screws to screw through the wooden hole and also into the hole in the belt with a Philips screwdriver.

DIY wooden tray

Finally I screwed the cap nuts to the ends of the screws.

Screw Caps

Done! Now hopefully this will stop me from knocking my phone off of my nightstand every time I try to hit the snooze button…

DIY Wooden Tray diy wooden tray how to build a wooden tray

How To Build A Garment Rack


We all want more storage, right? That’s why I built a garment rack that will eventually go in our basement. We have so much overflow that we ended up using all the closet space in our office for extra jackets, wedding dresses, etc. Doesn’t help that since we have an old house, we have some pretty small closets. Eventually I would love to get some canvas hanging bags for when storing out of season items on this.

Supplies & Tools Needed

Total Cost

Total Cost: $46.00


How To

1. I started off with the stained pieces of wood and the piping all sprayed with Oil Rubbed Bronze Spray.

IMG_04362. Attach the two pieces of board to each other with the brackets. Connect the wood from below. I placed the brackets about 10″ in from either side.

IMG_04373. Screw the wheels into the four corners of the base. I placed mine about 1″ in from each corner.


4. In order to put together the piping, you have to start from one side and work your way to the other. I screwed in the floor flange first into the right hand side only. Do not screw both floor flanges in at this point, as you would have to remove one side in order to assemble all the piping.

IMG_04475. Screw one of the 48″ pieces of piping down into the floor flange you just attached to the wood.

IMG_04546. Screw the elbow into the floor piping.

IMG_04577. Screw the next piece of piping into the elbow to create the rod that you will place your hangers on. Then screw the next elbow onto the left edge of the piping.

IMG_04608. Screw the final piece of piping into the elbow.

9.Twist the last floor flange onto the bottom of the piping before you screw it to the boards.

10. Screw the floor flange into the boards. Done!!!!!IMG_0462


Curtain Call! How to Make Curtains!


Last we left off in the Ladies’ Lounge, the windows were looking a little too Panda friendly. Bamboo Galore!  I wanted to add curtains to help soften the lines of the bamboo and break it up so it wasn’t one big wall of brown. The only issue is that there are 7 windows in this room, so I knew buying curtains was going to be a pretty big expense. Especially when I decided I liked the look of Pottery Barn’s Emery Linen Drape. 7 panels of those would have cost $973! If I had chosen to go down the store bought path, I would have also had an issue with the width of the panels.  The windows are only 30” wide, and I didn’t want them to be overwhelmed by 2 -54” panels framing out each window.

I went to Joann’s and took a look at all the linens they had and found something that is very similar-Sew Classics Linen. I waited until the linens went on sale, and then bought the 19 yards needed to make the 14 panels that would be used for these 7 windows!

Supplies & Tools Needed

Total Cost

  • 19 yards of Sew Classic Linen in Papyrus- normally about $250, I got 50% off- $123.50
  • 3 packs of curtain hooks- $20.91

Total Cost: $144.41

How To: 

1. My windows are approximately 30” wide by 63” tall. Since I wanted each panel to just graze the floor, I needed them to be 90″ tall. This can completely change based on your own window size, so be aware. I first cut the 19 yards down to 7 lengths based on the height that I needed.

2. Since I knew that my curtains were going to be more decorative rather than actually pulled close, I specifically bought the amount that I did so that I could get two panels out of the width of one bolt. My fabric was 54” wide which worked perfectly because I didn’t want the wall of windows to be overwhelmed with so much fabric. You might want to only use the width of the fabric for one panel instead of two. At this point, I cut my fabric down the fold line in half.


3. In order to hem the sides, I folded it over about a quarter of an inch and ironed. Then I folded it over again about ¾”. All of this was done by eye, I did not measure or mark off. After everything was ironed, I pinned it.


4. I hemmed the top as well. I folded it over a quarter of an inch and ironed. Then I folded it over again 2” and ironed and pinned.IMG_0232IMG_0234IMG_0235

5. Sew! This is the part that seriously took forever! With 14 panels that means there were 56 sides that needed to be sewn!

IMG_02476. Then I used curtain ring hooks to place the curtains on the rods to see where they needed to be hemmed to. I used these Bronze Curtain Clip Rings that I found at Lowes. Seriously these are the cheapest that I could find anywhere, and they were half the price of the competition! Awesome when you need it for 7 windows! I pinned up the bottom of the curtain so it was flush with the floor where it touched the quarter round.


7. After pinning the bottoms of the curtains, I ironed along that fold to create a crisp crease. Then unfolded it, and cut the bottom off at 5” from the folded line. Then using a tape measure, I folded 1” in. This created a hem stitch at 4” from the bottom. I then ironed this fold as well.



8. Next I sewed the bottom of the 14 curtains along with the edges and top of the curtain hem.


 9. Ironing….lots and lots of ironing. I did this in front of the tv so it wasn’t so boring.

10. Hang and enjoy! Or let your dog enjoy!

IMG_0343 copy


Designer Shoe Shelves on a Budget


When we first bought our house, one of the things that appealed to me was the walk in closet off the upstairs foyer. A walk in closet in a house from the 20’s? That’s unheard of! Our realtor thought that it was previously a nursery, which is pretty creepy considering how small and oddly shaped the room is. Might as well just get a small cage for your baby in that case.  We came to the conclusion that it was the original bathroom.

Here is a layout of what the closet looked like empty. I ended up using the alcove in the upper right hand corner for the shoes. I know I could have designed this in a way that fit more, but I switch out my shoes seasonally, and I personally wanted slanted shelves. Come on, they’re so much prettier!

Closet copy

Shopping List

  • 1 – sheet of 1/2″ plywood (4 x 8′ sheet)
  • 2- Primed 1×2’s @ 8′
  • 1 – 1/2″ Square Wood Dowel (like this)
  • 2- Chair Rail @ 8′ (like this)
  • Kilz Paint Primer
  • Behr Semi Gloss White Paint
  • Indoor Caulk
  • Wood Putty
  • 2″ Screws
  • 2″ Nails


  • Plywood- 5 pieces at 23″ wide and 12″ deep. Cut either of the 23″ end at a 45 degree angle.
  • Plywood- 1 piece at 23″ wide and 12″ deep
  • 1×2’s- 10 pieces at 12″ with ends cut at 45 degree angle. Then measure 1″ down from the top of the front piece, and cut it straight across.
  • 1×2’s- 2 pieces at 12″
  • 1×2’s- 1 piece at 21.5″
  • Wooden Square Dowel- 3pcs at 23″
  • Chair Rail- 6 pieces at 23″

How To Build

1. I first figured out how far apart I wanted my shelves to be. I don’t have particularly tall shoes, so I had the first shelf 17″ off the ground in the front, and then they were set approximately 12″ apart after that. I located the studs, and screwed in the 1×2’s on the walls directly into the studs.

Closet 1st 1x2 copy2. I then added the wooden dowels to the tops of 3 of the shelves. I didn’t even nail these down, just used wood glue and caulk. I set the wooden dowel 2.5″ from the back of the shelf.

Shelf w Hold copy
3. After that I dry fit the actual shelf on top of the 1×2’s. This was probably the hardest part because of course this house doesn’t have even walls. Why would anyone ever need even walls?  What a silly concept.  I ended up having to sand a lot of the edges to make them fit. Caulking will help fill in those gaps! I then nailed in the shelves to the 1×2’s from above.

4. I slowly worked my way up the wall. When I got to the top shelf, I knew that I wanted a flat shelf to store boxes of shoes. I also added an extra 1×2″ to the back wall just in case I really decided to stack those shoes high. I followed the same process as I did for other 1×2’s, and screwed this into the stud.

Closet 1x2 All Shelves

5. Then I used the chair rail and aligned it at the bottom of the 1×2″ and nailed it to the front of the shelf. It sticks up higher than the front of the shelf, which is great for catching shoes that tend to slip down.


6. After this I, I ended up using wood putty and caulk to fill any gaps.  They work miracles on wood.

7. Finally I just painted everything and viola!

image_29image_23image image_2


  • 1 – sheet of 1/2″ plywood (4 x 8′ sheet) – $28.97
  • 2- Primed 1×2’s @ 8′- $5.98
  • 1 – 1/2″ Square Wood Dowel – $1.75
  • Chair Rail – $16.00
  • Kilz Paint Primer- already owned
  • Behr Semi Gloss White Paint- already owned
  • Indoor Caulk- already owned
  • Wood Putty- already owned
  • Screws- already owned
  • Nails- already owned

TOTAL: $52.70

And there you have it, designer looking shoe shelves for just over 50 bones!