One Room Challenge: Week 2|Bathroom Renovation Demolition

Good evening friends! Today is exactly one week since we started our bathroom renovation project in conjunction with The One Room Challenge™ and so far we are still in the demolition stage. In this post we will be sharing our progress and where we stand currently. To be honest, I thought we would be done with the demolition by now but we all got sick and needed to take it easy. I didn’t want to be a hero and push myself past my limit so I took off the last two days. Slow and steady wins the race.

ORCProgress:
If you follow along on our Instagram stories, you might have seen that we already removed the toilet and the vanity over the weekend. The last major piece we need to take out is our bright blue 1950’s tub. We managed to remove the majority of wall tile from the existing cement boards only to realize that the mortar isn’t coming off as we had imagined. Considering the age of the bathroom, I’m not all too surprised. The good news is that we are a little more settled on the tile we will be using. After a recent trip to Home Depot, we really fell in love with this Carrara Matte tile for our floors. With white subway tile for the walls, it’s going to look great!

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Issues/Concerns:
Since I will not be sticking to the original plan of leaving the cement boards, I had to purchase a new blade for the angle grinder so we can cut through the cement boards and take them out piece by piece. Removing everything all the way to the studs is both a good thing and a bad thing. The good is that we will redo the bathroom with all new construction materials, we will be able to do a clean, solid job from beginning to end. The bad is that we will have to spend more $$$ on purchasing drywall and new cement backer boards. Considering that this bathroom is a small space, the additional expenses shouldn’t exceed $250 (and this is considering that I will also have to remove and replace the subfloor with new plywood & moisture barrier). We just really wanted to challenge ourselves to do this renovation on an extreme (but realistic) budget so we could inspire others who might not otherwise consider renovating because of the cost.

All this fun stuff with the walls and floor removal, which I had hoped I wouldn’t have to deal with, will add between 1-2 weeks to the job. As is the case with any renovation project, you have to be prepared for stumbling blocks and plan accordingly. Despite our setbacks, I think we will still make it out in 6 weeks. We sometimes get discouraged thinking it will take that long, so we have to keep reminding ourselves that we have day jobs and two little ones and that’s why we can’t just finish it as quickly as we would like. Until next week 🙂

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You can also follow along on Instagram @thecozyhomechronicles for the latest behind-the-scenes and videos of our progress.

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One Room Challenge: Week 1|Bathroom Renovation Preparations

We are super excited to share that this year we will be participating in our first ever One Room Challenge! Hosted by Lisa of Calling It HomeThe One Room Challenge™, is a widely anticipated biannual event every April and October in which twenty design bloggers take the challenge of transforming a space in just six weeks. Every Wednesday, the designers document their process while sharing their sources and professional advice. On Thursdays, guest bloggers, like us, can play along and support other guest bloggers that are also tackling a room renovation. We have been wanting to participate for a while now but last year we started our kitchen renovation much later than anticipated and so we weren’t able to play along.  We really hope we can get this bathroom done in the six week period but with two kids under the age of two and graduate school on our plates that is a tall order. We are diving right in regardless.

ORCLast week, in anticipation of this event, we shared two design boards and some bathrooms for inspiration. You can check them out here. We spent the last two days completely emptying out our bathroom and relocating to the bathroom downstairs. With me gearing up to start dissertation fieldwork this summer and my husband starting his MBA soon, we decided this project could not wait any longer because life will just get busier. Besides getting it done in under six weeks, we also need to stick to a tight budget. Challenge accepted.

Alright! Here’s what our bathroom looks like now:

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Ugh.  So much YELLOW. As a photographer, the urge to edit these images was intense but I wanted to capture the space exactly as is so we can all enjoy the final transformation. The wall tiles are still in great condition but they make the space so dark. We really want a bright clean look that white subway tile will definitely give.

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We started some of the demolition today by taking out the toilet, sink, and vanity. The tub will be next to go followed by the tile and then it’s all rebuilding from there. We still haven’t fully settled on the floor tile, accent wall tile, and vanity but we will be deciding in the next day or so. The feedback we have received from readers, family, and friends has overwhelmingly been in favor of Design Board #2 which is interesting because we are leaning toward white marble floors and black fixtures. I guess you will just have to tune in next week to see where we are in the process. You can also follow along on Instagram @thecozyhomechronicles for the latest behind-the-scenes and videos of our progress. Until next week 🙂

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DIY Spring Succulent Wreath

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Can you believe it’s March already?! I mean just last year we were gearing up to begin our kitchen renovation and now here we are off on new adventures and projects. Spring is certainly in the air here in Michigan as we have had several days of 55 degree weather in the last few weeks. We are now preparing to usher spring into our home and what better way than to spruce up our entrance. I was recently at Jo-Ann Fabrics getting ideas for some upcoming projects and I came across several pretty spring wreaths covered in moss, crawling vines, foliage, and succulents. These wreaths screamed Lord of the Rings (big fans here if you hadn’t figured that out already) but the price…they ranged from $30-$60! I knew I could make one for much less and that’s exactly what I did (with a lot more succulents too). This is such an easy and fun project and it really made the door stand out with a pop of earthy green. This wreath is also the perfect project to make with children and can even be turned into a learning activity. Our son, who is almost two years old, had so much fun picking up the succulents and moving them around as I tried to settle on the final design.

In other news, we are super excited to share that were chosen to be ambassadors for National DIY Day which is coming up on April 2nd. Aside from this post, we will have some more fun DIYs coming your way in the spirit of celebrating creativity and crafting. We will also be hosting a local event in the Metro Detroit area, building raised garden beds for a community garden (stay tuned for more info). And speaking of DIYing for a good cause… As National DIY DAY ambassadors we are proud to support AdoptAClassroom.org and their mission to give teachers a hand by providing much-needed classroom materials so that their students can learn and succeed. National DIY DAY and The Cozy Home Chronicles are committed to supporting classrooms and providing tools for students and teachers to enhance the creative learning experience.

You can support AdoptAClassroom.org by Texting a Donation Today! Text the word “Give” to (678) 582-8594 and you will be prompted through a secure system to make a donation of your choice!

Alrightie, let’s make that wreath!

Supplies
18′ Grapevine Wreath ($4.99)
Succulent Mat ($4.99)
Moss rocks ($3.49)
Greenery of your choice ($4.99-$9.99)
Hot glue gun & glue sticks

Total Cost: $23.45 + tax

I purchased my supplies from Michaels over the course of a few weeks and used my coupons to put my wreath at well under $20. From the greenery I purchased, I had enough leftover to make another wreath if I just purchase more succulents and a grapevine wreath. So for the price of a store-bought wreath, you can basically make two or even three wreaths.

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Directions:

  1. Collect your succulents, moss rocks, and greenery and start placing them on your grapevine wreath until you are happy with the arrangement. You might have to move things around several times to get the desired look.
  2. Once you have settled on your design, you will need to glue each piece in place using a generous amount of hot glue, embedding the stem deep into the vine, and holding down for 20-25 seconds until firmly in place.
  3. Once all the pieces have been glued down and any excess strands of glue have been removed, you can hang your wreath on a hook or door wreath hanger.

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Kitchen Undershelf LED Lighting

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In the three wonderful years we’ve lived in our starter home, we’ve done many DIY projects, with our kitchen renovation being the biggest. So it should come as no surprise that we have a TON to write about. I’ve written about many of the more involved aspects of our DIY kitchen project in other posts but one feature I have not talked about is the LED lighting I installed under our open shelving. This was one of the more exciting parts of the whole project for me because I think LED lighting looks cool in kitchens (let’s be real…it does) and I liked the idea of having some light around when navigating the kitchen for a late night snack. Not to mention, LED lighting is such a simple and inexpensive addition that can really brighten up a space. Researching online and reading through DIY forums gave me an idea of what I needed to do and helped me to settle on the perfect product. There are many brands of LED lights out there but I purchased the Tingkam Waterproof 5m 5050 SMD RGB LED Strips which had great reviews on Amazon and some really cool features including a range of colors and lighting options. The installation was fairly straightforward and despite costing only $20, the lighting and adhesive were high quality. We are 6 months out from our renovation and have not had a single problem, thankfully.

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If you are considering installing LED lighting under open shelving, there are a few things you will need to consider. 1) Is there an accessible power outlet where you can plug-in the connected LEDs nearby? 2) Are there large spaces between the shelves where you will be installing the LEDS under? If there is a significant space between shelves, you will need to cut and splice wires using the LED connectors and extension cable. You will also need to think about aesthetics. 3) Where will you hide the extension cable(s)? Because I planned to incorporate LED lighting during the design stage of our kitchen renovation, I was able to do the electrical work and run the cable through the wall before I got to drywalling and tiling the backsplash over it. Once you’ve settled these minor issues, you’re all set to install the lights. Here’s what you’ll need:

Supplies
Lights $20.39
LED Connectors $9.49
LED Extension Cable
 $7.99
Butt Splice Connectors $6.55

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Image via Amazon

Directions

  1.  Measure your shelf and cut the LED strips according to the length of your shelf. For the specific LED lights I purchased, you can cut the strip along every 3 LEDs where there is a scissor line (figure 1).
  2. Connect your LED strips using the LED connectors (figure 2). If your shelves have a wall or other obstacle between them and you can’t just run them continuously you will need the extension cable listed under the supply section. Make sure to measure the space between the shelves before you connect the LED strips together so you know what length to cut your extension cable. To connect your lights to the extension cable you need to splice the wires (see figure 2).
  3. Splicing: 1) Peel back the LED strip to reveal the copper stripes and connect them to the waterproof clasp of the LED connectors. 2) Cut the connector wire in half and separate the black, red, blue, and green wires so that you can align them with the corresponding colored wires on the extension cable (figure 3). 3) You can either crimp the wires together using the butt splice connectors or twist and tape them with electrical wire (figure 4).
  4. Once you are done splicing the LEDs, you can secure the lights to the bottom of the shelves using the self-adhesive backing. To get the best results, make sure your surface is completely dry and clean. If you are planning on hiding the wires then disconnect the LED lighting strips before you adhere them to the shelf and run the wires through the walls as needed (see figures 5-6).
  5. Now you can plug the LED lights in and enjoy experimenting with all the colors and settings (figures 7-8).
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Have you incorporated or considered incorporating LED lighting into any of your home renovation projects? Let us know in the comments below!

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Don’t Fear the Tile

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I know we have been MIA but for good reason. We recently started remodeling our kitchen and we are doing pretty much everything ourselves from demolition to tiling to cabinet installation (which means some fun new posts coming soon). This means writing has been on hold for the most part as we juggle chasing after our kinetic 10-month old in between piles of schoolwork and construction. This is a post we have been wanting to do for a while but we just weren’t sure how we felt about encouraging you to tile on your own. Maybe our first tiling success was a fluke, we thought. Considering how many people furrowed their brows over the thought of us tiling, you can’t blame us for being cautious. But having tiled our entire basement in 2014 and now our kitchen in 2016, we are confident enough to encourage you to skip the contractor and try tiling for yourself. So if you’re getting ready to start a major renovation and are thinking about picking up your phone to dial a contractor, stop for a moment and listen to what we have to say. It’s normal to be skeptical about your handy skills and worry that an attempted DIY would end badly for you. You know? That worst case scenario that pops in your head telling you your work will be so bad you’ll have to pay twice as much because you will need to hire someone to fix it up. While that might be true for some things, it is not the case for tiling. Yeah, yeah, we know what you’re thinking. We had plenty of people tell us we were crazy for wanting to tile the basement ourselves. “It will be so uneven,” they said. Not so. We are nowhere near professionals and prior to renovating our basement we had not installed a single tile in our lives. Not only were we able to tile a 1,000 square feet on our own but we did a dang fine job too. With the both of us (plus my father-in-law and brother-in-law helping on occasion) putting in a couple hours of labor after work hours, we were able to complete the project in 5 days. With our kitchen remodel, I was able to tile and grout a 10×11 kitchen in just 2 days working after work hours. Still not convinced? Keep reading to see just how easy it is. And if budget is important, get ready for some major savings!

Supplies
Tiles
Mortar
Grout
Tile Spacers

Tools
Power Drill
Mixing Paddle
Big Trowel
Small Trowel
Rubber Grout Float
Level
Cleaning Sponges
Grout Sealer
Empty Buckets
Clean towels or rags

Below is a more detailed explanation and cost-breakdown of the supplies we picked out:

Because we were tiling our basement, we wanted tiles that were both durable and inexpensive. After a bit of research, we settled on TrafficMaster from Home Depot for $0.57 a square foot.  For the 1,000 square feet area we tiled, we ended up buying 68 cases of tile, which put us at $582. Always buy an extra case of tiles to have as backup in case some break or you need to replace some in the future.

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For the mortar, we settled on VersaBond Gray 50 lb. Fortified Thin-Set Mortar which cost us $14.47 a bag. Since each bag covers 100 square feet, we purchased 11 bags (to be on the safe side) for a total cost of $160. Below are the pictures from Home Depot’s website for this product.

The trickiest part about selecting grout (that stuff that goes between the tiles) is making sure that the color matches with the tile. After some back and forth, I settled on the Polyblend #380 Haystack 25 lb. Sanded Grout from Home Depot. Each bag ($14.49) covers around 680 square feet so I bought 2 of them for a total of $29.

Last but not least, I went with the 3/16 inch Job-Tough Tombstone Style Tile Spaces (500- Pack) from Home Depot for the cute little tile spacers. They go for $6 a pack and can be enough unless you plan on finishing the tiles in 1 day, then we recommend you buy 2 packs for a total of $12.

Labor: By putting in the elbow grease yourself, you can save anywhere from $2-3 a square foot. Just to give you an idea-for a 1,000 square foot space that amounts to $2000-$3000 in savings. For a smaller space like a kitchen, the savings can be anywhere from $200-$300. Hey, every penny counts when you’re dropping 10K on a kitchen right?

Note: If you need to cut any tiles you will need a small manual or electric tile cutter (ex. QEP Rip Ceramic Tile Cutter @ $30).

Directions

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