More Skim Coating Tips

skim coating tips2

Several years ago, I was looking for a tutorial that would help me fix my damaged walls in the upstairs master bath. After removing all of the wallpaper, there were imperfections everywhere thanks to torn drywall paper. At the time, I was hoping that there was someone out in the web world who could teach me the right way to fix this problem. I didn't know what "level 5 drywall" was. I didn't know the tools I needed. And I certainly didn't know the lingo. Unfortunately, I couldn't find … [Read more...]

How to Save Money on Large Rugs

how to save money on large area rugs

On my last dining room update, I shared a glimpse of the new rugs going into the room: You long-time readers might recall the last rug in this room. Like many budget-conscious decorators, I bought what I thought was a large enough size, but wound up looking wimpy. While budget is still an unavoidable priority for me when it comes to decorating, I've since learned that a 5x8 simply wasn't going to cut it. I needed something larger (according to most design guidelines, I needed a rug … [Read more...]

How to Extend & Fix a Wobbly Outlet

wiggly outlet

In a perfect world, I wouldn't do as much assuming as I do before I begin a project.  I almost always underestimate the time a project's going to take... that I have every possible supply I could need already on hand (ha!)... and that I really won't make that big of a mess.  I'll be careful and aware of my surroundings. In other words, I can be pretty stupid. In a perfect world, I would do all of my homework before beginning a project and not just assume that two previous tiling projects … [Read more...]

Giant Baby Steps: Hanging the Stair Handrail

hanging the stair handrail

As a DIYer who does a large number of projects solo, I'd like to think that I've improved in a number of ways.  Sure, the typical DIY stuff can be a challenge (knowing what materials to use, how long things might take, the constant measuring & re-measuring, etc.), but for me, there is an entirely different obstacle:  figuring out how to do something without extra hands involved. It's not that I don't have friends and family who will gladly help if asked.  But, as often happens in this … [Read more...]

How to Protect an Oiled Butcher Block Countertop During Projects

oiled counter

So, I have this amazing walnut butcher block countertop. It cost me well more than the Ikea butcher block alternative I was considering (about a $400 difference in total cost).  But after that first coat of oil and beeswax soaked into the wood (read about why I chose this mixture here), bringing out all of its gorgeous color variation, I was forever smitten.  I had made the right choice.  However, when it comes to finishing off various other projects in the kitchen, such as the tiled … [Read more...]

Kitchen Details: The Window Ledge

window ledge

I often find that when it comes to renovation, the big stuff - like how to tile a kitchen backsplash - is all over the web.  But what if you run into a unique problem that isn't covered by standard tutorials? Most of the time, you don't even realize that your case is unique until you're smack dab in the middle of a project... and then you're suddenly aware that you're probably doing it all wrong, and then you worry that the whole project will look like you didn't even try to make it look … [Read more...]

How to Tile a Kitchen Backsplash

backsplash tile supplies

Yesterday, I covered my timeline for getting the kitchen backsplash covered in subway tile.  Tile that is still radiating all of those wonderful "damn, I look GOOD" vibes all over it. And as promised, here are the full DIY details I learned, tools I used, and some handy tips for executing a subway tile backsplash of your own.  Fair warning:  this is a long post.  So go ahead and run to the bathroom, and then come back (and while you're at it, grab some coffee).  If you've got crossed legs … [Read more...]

Dueling DIY: How to Prep Kitchen Walls for a Tile Backsplash


Everyone who is finished tiling the kitchen, take one step forward.  Not so fast, Sarah... Today's Dueling DIY update is all about the prep for my tile backsplash.  As you may have noticed from Instagram, the good news there is that yes, I have my tile!  In my possession.  Finally.  And it's going to be awesome.  Just look at these beauties: Classic.  Will let the star (my walnut butcher block countertops) shine.  And even better, they come with built-in spacers on each side of the … [Read more...]

Tiling Over Concrete Subfloor (with Ditra Uncoupling Membrane)


I have bruises on my knees. No, that's not my way of introducing a fourth occupation in my busy schedule (I may be crazy enough to work the equivalent of several full-time jobs at once, but turning tricks is not one of them).  The bruises are from here: If it weren't so far away, I'd have kneepads on my Christmas wishlist at this point.  But no matter, the hard part (if you can even call it that, it was actually pretty easy!) is done.  Follow me on my epically long thought process to … [Read more...]

Wax On: Butcher Block Countertop Treatment

howard butcher block conditioner

As I mentioned on Facebook and in a previous post (inquisitive readers keep me on my busy toes), I'm using a slightly different method for treating my new walnut countertops.  So, after a second coat of the stuff and answering a few more questions, I thought a post dedicated exclusively to the the product would be helpful in case you're considering butcher block countertops of your own. Originally, I was planning on going with Ikea for my counters and staining them to a darker color to … [Read more...]

How to Smooth Countertop Edges with a Router


My new walnut butcher block countertop came unfinished.  That also means that the corners on every end of my new counters were not only unsanded, but very sharp. For Christmas, Dad got me a palm router... complete with a set of bits to play with.  And true to form, I waited until there was a BIG project to try her out (don't get me wrong though; I was VERY happy to see that router under our tree last year.  Enough that Mom thought it was hilarious to see her eldest daughter hugging the box … [Read more...]

Cutting the Sink Hole: Uh-oh

sink hole

"Sink Hole Day" was a big day.  And a stressful one.  I'll go ahead and reveal it now, so you don't have to catch on through the middle:  the cut did not go as planned.  Because we were going with an undermount sink with my new butcher block countertops, we had to make sure that our one and only cut would be spot on.  So in this post, instead of telling you how blissful and stress-free it was, I'll show you what went wrong, and how we overcame this frustrating turn of events.  I think that does … [Read more...]