$11 Pantry Makeover

budget pantry makeover with basketsAll of those beautiful and organized pantries on Pinterest (like this one, this one, and this one) had me itching to get my hands on ours. When we originally painted the kitchen, I painted the outside of the pantry doors and replaced the knobs, but the inside was 100% original to the house including the peachy orange paint that used to be in the whole kitchen. A pantry makeover wasn’t exactly high on the priority list so from the get-go I knew there were two driving principals for this projects: I had to sneak it in between our higher priority porch makeover and it needed to cost basically nothing.

problems with the pantry


Besides the horrible paint color I also had these problems to contend with:

  1. Dog food storage that didn’t fit under the shelf.
  2. Brooms and mops that flopped all over the place.
  3. Potatoes and onions rolling wherever they wished.
  4. Dark wood and dated striped contact paper.
  5. No storage for paper products.
  6. No rhyme or reason to the placement of any products.

Painting the pantry



pantry makeover


To start with I removed all of the shelves and ripped off the old contact paper. It came off easy enough, but was still time consuming. I originally planned on recovering the shelves with the fun teal and white chevron contact paper (affiliate), but not only would I have needed about 5 rolls, but according to the reviews the dark wood would have shown through the paper, so I decided to save some money and paint them instead. Pantry makeoverNext, I cleaned the shelves with my tsp substitute (affiliate), then primed them once and painted them bright white.  The shelves were actually suppose to be the same mint green as the dining room, but  Cody took it upon himself to paint them while I was at work; and I just didn’t have the energy to re-paint them. While the shelves were getting painted I also painted the pantry walls white (Valspar Ultra white in semi-gloss).

painting a pantry

See how much brighter it looks already? You can also see that we bumped up the bottom shelf up about an inch so that the dog food storage could easily slide under the shelf now.  It’s hard to tell in this picture but I also painted the fronts of the shelves the mint green (B.M. Palladian) to give the space a little bit of charm.

wax shelvesBefore I started placing items back on the shelves I rubbed the shelves down with Paste Finishing Wax to make sure the paint didn’t get chipped up by cans or baskets being dragged across the shelves.

Pantry Labels

DIY pantry lablesNow that the pantry was painted, it was time for some organization, and I knew I wanted super cute labels for the baskets I had rounded up (here’s similar ones from one of my affiliates). I found these unpainted clipboards and chalkboards for $.88 a piece at A.C. Moore.

DIY pantry tagsThey were a little plain, so I painted the clip boards the same mint as the shelf fronts, and gave the chalkboard a quick swipe of my favorite stain (Minwax Mission oak- affiliate).

make your own pantry lablesNext, I hot glued the clip boards and chalkboard to the front of the baskets. I also used a white paint pen to label the chalk board.

pantry lablesThe most time consuming part of this project was creating the labels for the chalk boards. Mostly because I spent an hour deciding on fonts (something I’ll save you the hassle of). I made these in MS Word by creating a rounded rectangle slightly smaller than the clipboard. Next, I came up with a cutesy saying to describe the contents of each basket. The saying is in Lane-upper font while the contents are written in Moonflower bold. Once I got the look I was going for I printed them onto card stock and cut them out.

DIY pantry lables Here’s how the labels look all put together. Aren’t they cute? P.S. all the baskets were orphans I had laying around the house after our move.

pantry lablesFor the produce baskets, I made circle labels in the same moonflower font that I attached to the baskets using old clothespins that had been painted mint on the front.

clothespin pantry lablesOne thing I really love about the clothes pins and clipboards is that it is super easy to change out the labels as our needs change.

budget pantry makeover with basketsAnd Voila! It’s done. I spent some time moving things around to get the right feel/look, but I absolutely love it!

broom holder pantryIf you are wondering where I spent the $11 it was mostly on this new broom and mop organizer which I bought at Target for $8.98 (here’s a similar one from my affiliate) I can’t tell you how nice it is to open the pantry and not have to fear getting hit in the head by a falling broom.


As I mentioned before all the baskets were cast-offs from our last house that had yet to find a place in the new house. The paint was also all leftover from other projects.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I love that everything now has it’s own place, and that like items are now grouped together in the baskets.pantry makeoverI’d still like to create labels for the glass jars holding my tea. Maybe something like this.

before and after pantry makeoverOverall, I’d say not bad for $11! Actually I’m so in love with my work that I keep opening the pantry and staring at it, Even more surprising is that 2 weeks after taking these pictures, it’s still just as organized.

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Subway Tile Back Splash in a Herringbone Pattern

herringbone tiled back splash

Last we left off with the kitchen remodel we had installed all the new soffitts and crown molding as well as the new window, which meant it was finally time to tile the back splash! We decided to go with a subway tile (or white 3×6 field tile) in a herringbone pattern. You may remember that we did subway tile in a running bond pattern in our last master bathroom and hall bathroom. Every time Cody does subway tile he swears up and down that he will never do it again because it takes so long to install it due to the small tiles. However, we keep coming back to it because it is simply a beautiful and timeless tile (as well as budget friendly).  This time around however, we thought we’d shake things up by installing the tile in a herringbone pattern. Herringbone is a classic design in a zigzag pattern that is often used in tiling as well as fabrics. It’s reminiscent of the recent chevron trend as well.  Cody immediately loved the idea when I pitched it to him since it kept our kitchen feeling bright and classic  but was slightly less traditional because of the pattern.

Herringbone uses basically the same amount of tile as the typical running bond pattern and is only slightly more difficult to install because of the angles. Aspect Metal has a fantastic tutorial on installing a herringbone pattern that we used.  The best tip I could give you is that it is easier to install the tile vertically rather than horizontally because vertically they all go in the same direction.

how to install herringbone tile

Cody originally began installing them horizontally, but after a couple of rows he realized that the pattern was wrong (can you spot it below?) Installing it vertically makes it almost impossible to mess up the pattern.

herringbone tile backsplash

Once the tile was all installed we gave it a day to dry before grouting it. We wanted the pattern to stand out so instead of white grout we choose alabaster. Our one regret is that we didn’t pick a darker grout. In really bright light the pattern sort of fades away. Whatever color you choose remember that the grout will go on darker when wet then dry to a lighter color. You can see it looks like a sand color when wet.

herringbone subway tile

Here is a close-up of how it turned out. Don’t be deceived by the picture (it was really difficult to photograph). It is absolutely gorgeous in person. I really love how the tile reflects light around the room.

subway tile in a herringbone pattern

The herringbone pattern makes the room feel a lot more elegant than the typical running bond pattern would have done.  The tile is such a beautiful back drop for the new open shelves for our plates. The room is really starting to come together now. All we have left is to build the range hood and buy a new stove. Stay tuned for those updates!

white herringbone tile

Oh and did I mention how budget friendly this tile was? We bought the 3×6 field tile from Home Depot. For the whole kitchen it came in at just about $100! Can’t beat that!

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Creating custom butcher block countertops

The goal: High end custom butcher block countertops

The day that was nearly 1 month in the making is finally here: the countertops are done! I won’t even get started on how frustrating cooking is with no counters. I’m so excited they are finally done that I just want to bask in their beautifulness for a while. OK enough basking. We choose butcher block counters for this kitchen basically because they are budget friendly. We love the look of them too, but in a budget free world I would have gone with a quartz and butcher block combination (may still happen in a couple of years). We had installed Ikea Numerar Countertops in our last kitchen and not only did we love them but they’ve held up great for the last 5 years.  Last time we simply cut the butcher block to length and installed them on top of the counters. Easy peasy. This time around though we wanted a custom, high end look which was a little, OK a lot, more work, but totally worth the extra effort. I apologize in advance for the length of this post, but there is a lot involved in getting the counters to be this beautiful. I’ll try to break it down into manageable bites for you.

*Disclaimer: Links marked with an asterisk are affiliate links. *

Step 1: Prepping the wood

In order to get the wood to accept the stain you’ll need to prep it by sanding down all the sides. This is to remove the factory finish.

Step 2: Routing Butcher block

This is actually a surprisingly easy step and makes of world of difference to the quality your countertops look. In fact it’s the most commented on aspect of our countertops. People are always shocked that we were able to achieve these edges on our own.

How to route butcher block

All you need to accomplish this step is a router* and a routing bit. We opted for the French Baroque bit which we bought off Ebay for $23. I suggest you practice on a couple of cutoffs before starting on your actual counters but really this step is almost completely fool proof. There is actually a ball bearing on the router which will insure that you stay at the same depth the entire way.

routing butcher block

Look how much more high end the counters look after being routed! The only other thing you really need to know about this step is that routing wood makes a huge mess. Makes sure to do this outside or in a garage.

routed butcher block

Step 3: Connecting butcher block pieces

We had to use two piece of block on our long wall. Ikea didn’t have a slab long enough to fit our longest wall and in lieu of ease, we opted to join two of the pieces to save some coin.

I used 3/8 wooden dowels and heavy duty construction adhesive to hold everything together. First line everything up and drill the 3/8 holes. We did two in front of the sink and 3 behind the sink to accommodate the amount of room the sink void took up. I dried fit all of the pieces to make sure it all fit.

How to connect counter tops together

Once everything is plumb, apply adhesive in each hole and lightly tap the wooden dowels back into place.

connecting butcher block with dowels

Line it all back up and slide the two pieces together. At about 1/4 from the gap in the two pieces it became tough to move any further, Cody literally beat the crap out of the counter to close the gap by butting up at 2×4 to the end of the counter and hitting the wood with a hammer until everything was flush.

connecting buter block counters

Once everything was in place, we used a 1/4 turnbuckle to keep it from coming apart and clamped 2×2 angle iron Cody had lying around the garage to keep it from bowing while everything dried. We let it sit overnight and moved onto the sink cutout in the morning

gluing together butcher block

Step 4: Cutting out the sink

This is a picture of Cody totally screwing up the cut for the under mount sink with no safety glasses and a pen in his hand. According to Cody this photo should be deleted. Once he messed up the cut for the undermont sink there was no going back. Our options were to buy a new counter top and try again or get a top month sink. We opted for the second choice. If you have your heart set on an undermont sink I suggest you hire a professional to cut out the sink.

cutiing a sink hole in butcher block

Since the second sink is a top mount, it is pretty straight forward, use the template that comes with the sink and cut the hole where you want it. We strategically chose to put the sink smack in the middle of the seam to mask the seam as much as possible

white sink with butcher block

We then used wood filler to fill what was left of the seam, let dry, and sanded it smooth.

wood filler on butcher block

Step 5: Staining Butcher block

AS soon as we had decided on butcher block we knew we wanted to stain it. Honestly, Cody has wanted dark wood counter tops since he saw Emily’s on Revenge, but we were also inspired by this one and this one. I let Cody choose the stain color and he choose Minwax’s Dark Walnut* after seeing some other blogger’s success with it.

staining ikea butcher block

To apply the stain I used two old socks. You can either apply stain with a rag or with a brush but I find that a rag gives me more control with no drips and it doesn’t ruin a brush. Because stain will, well stain, you want to wear latex gloves* to protect your hands. I used one sock to apply the stain and after about 3-5 minutes I used the other sock to wipe off and buff the surface. You want to make sure to always apply the stain in he direction of the grain and never allow any stain to accumulate and dry on the surface.

staining butcher block

I did run into one little snag while staining. See we were so happy about having counters for a while that we sort of used them before we stained them. I made sure to clean them up before staining but while staining some water stains started magically appearing where glasses had once been. I started to freak out, but luckily a light sanding with the electric sander took them right out. Lesson: don’t be tempted to use your countertops until after they are sealed.

how to remove water rings from wood

I applied two coats of stain total. I did one in the morning and one in the evening. You can see the wonderful difference below. Look how much richer and warmer the stain wood is. I was actually a little worried that the stain was too dark, but we had already been forewarned that the sealer would lighten it a shade, so I wasn’t too worried.

                                                                                                      how to stain butcher blockstaining butcher block

Step 6: Sealing Butcher block

Sealing the countertops is by far the longest part of this process. If you stained your butcher block you need to wait 3 days before applying the sealer. After reading all the blogs about sealing countertops the overwhelming recommendation was to use Waterlox. As in no one actually recommended anything else. You can order it online but we were able to find it at a local woodworking store. It comes in original (semi-gloss), satin, or high gloss. No matter what finish you choose you have to do the first 4 coats with the original. Cody was really leaning towards the high gloss, but in the end we opted for 5 coats of the Original with the option to add a high gloss top coat down the road if we want to. The Original goes on in a pretty glossy finish that will fade down to semi-gloss in the first 3 month as it continues to cure. We needed 2 quarts to cover 5 coats on our counters.

how to seal butcher block

Besides the sealer you will also need: A High Quality Natural Bristle brush* mineral spirits*: I highly recommend this odorless Eco-friendly brand sanding block* tack cloth* latex gloves* Make sure to sand the counters with the sanding block than remove any debris with a tack cloth before applying the sealer. I applied the waterlox using a high quality natural bristle brush in thick coats. We found that thick coats actually created a smoother finish. In between coats rinse the brush with mineral spirits to keep it from gooping up. We applied 5 coats total, 24 hours apart than waited 72 hours before placing anything on the counters. The hardest part of this entire process was not using the counter tops for over a week! sealing butcher blockWaterlox claims that you do not need to sand after the last coat but we found that the counters were a little rough, so we gave it a light sanding with a fine grit sanding block which really brought out the finish even more.


This was a really long process but look how beautiful the counters turned out in the end! It’s hard to believe that these gorgeous counter tops were the cheapest option we had!

waterlox counters

By far the best decision we made was routing the edges of the counters. I feel like that is what really gives them a custom high end look.

stained butcher block

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DIY Soffits with crown molding and board and batten cover panels

Building Custom Soffits with Crown Molding

The original kitchen in the house had soffits with lovely crown molding, and we had intended on keeping them. That is until we started ripping the cabinets out and the “soffits” came down with them. It winds up they were fake soffits simply attached to the cabinets. Cody, for some reason, was attached to the idea of still having soffits, so after installing the new cabinets he built new custom soffits for the room.  The are actually slightly smaller than the originals to accommodate for the larger cabinets and luckily for our budget we were able to salvage all the original crown. We decided to build the soffits out of 2x4s and cabinet grade plywood.

First up, Cody screwed the 2×4’s into the ceiling and the tops of the cabinets to create a frame to attached the plywood too (sorry no picture). Next, using a table saw he cut the plywood into 12 in strips to create the front of the soffits. We only needed 1 sheet of plywood to do all the soffits, so at $30 the plywood was a steal.

How to build soffits

Cody used a nail gun to attach the plywood to the 2x4s, then we began attaching the salvaged 2 piece crown molding. Since the crown molding originally came off this wall we didn’t even have to cut it again.  Once all the molding was up we caulked all the lines and filled all the holes.

soffits with crown moldingWe did have to add a piece of plywood over the doorway to create a completely boxed-in soffit. We also added a 1 in piece of molding across the front bottom of the soffit to give it a clean finished look since the edge of the plywood was rather rough looking. Finally, I gave the whole thing 2 coats of primer and 2 coats of paint matched to the cabinets to give the soffits and cabinets a seamless look.

How to build soffits with crown moldingAnd just like that the cabinets are finished! Unfortunately the island was not……

Creating a Board & Battan Cover Panel for an Island

The back of the island was just a brown particle board after we installed the new cabinets, so we decided to finish it off with a custom cover panel done in the same board & batten shaker style as the cabinets. First, Cody nailed up the same cabinet grade plywood that he used on the soffits.

Back of islandNext, he cut the plywood into equal width strips and attached them to the back of the island in a shaker style that created three boxes. The bottom strip is wider to accommodate a piece of baseboard that was later attached.  All the lines were then caulked and allowed to dry over night.

shaker style island


Finally, I gave it all 1 coat of primer and 2 coats of paint matched to the cabinets. Voila! The island is finally completed! The back side of the island went from looking like a dark hole into being one of my favorite elements. I love how the white really bounces the light from the windows around too.





DIY cover panel

Here’s a look from the other angle. You can see our built-in microwave peeking out from the left. This was a really easy project that could even be added to an existing island to spruce it up a bit.

How to make a cover panel

The kitchen is almost done! All that is left is to tile the back splash and build the custom range hood!

Built in Beverage Center

The idea for the built-in beverage center came from the same place as the under counter microwave: our friends/neighbors who enlisted Cody to help build theirs.  Both of our kitchens originally had built in home offices. Remember when those were all the rage in the 80’s and 90’s? Well since we use the formal living room as a home office it left this space’s purpose obsolete, so we decided to follow our friends lead and put in a beverage center complete with built-in wine and beer fridges.

wine fridge, wine bar in kitchen

This project almost didn’t happen because of budget restraints. See these fridges are $400 a piece at Home Depot, and with the budget noose tightening around our necks with the unexpected expense from replacing the sub-floors I just couldn’t justify spending $800 on coolers for our alcohol. Luckily for this project, our friends who have their own beverage center put us in contact with a local appliance retailer who buys appliances off Home Depot trucks (returns, scratch and dents, extras ect). The retailer usually sells these fridges for $175 a piece, but our friends had already talked him down to $150. When Cody got there; however, the wine fridge had a small scratch on it and he was able to talk the guy down to $125 for both fridges if we took the scratched one! That’s a $550 savings over the retail price and just like that this project was back in the game.

We wanted the fridges to be built-in, not just sitting in a corner all by their lonely selves. Before we installed them we added a new electrical outlet underneath the existing one on the back splash (you can see it in the middle of the orange square below). We started by screwing 2 x 4s into the walls to create a frame to screw the cabinetry paneling into.

how to build in a wine fridge

Next, we moved the fridges into place and screwed on a cover panel to the 2 x 4s on the right side.  The cover panel came with our Ikea cabinets and hence already matches them, but you could also use MDF and paint it to match.

wine and beer fridge

Then we added primed 1×2 pine pieces to the front of the 2x4s to create that built-in finished look we were going for. The pine got two coats of paint that was colored matched to the cabinets then we installed the new butcher block counter top.

wine bar in kitchen

Finally, we installed glass front Ikea Adel cabinets above to hold all our alcoholic glassware. I find it incredible that we have literally 4 times more glassware for alcohol than we have for non-alcoholic beverages. As you can see from the picture below we still need to replace the existing electrical outlets and plates and install the new back splash (hopefully next weekend!)

custom beverage center

Here’s what they look like inside. Apparently the wine fridge holds something like 50 bottles, not that it will ever probably see even half that many. Although I’m taking donations…..

wine bar

And one more view:

build-in beer fridge

I feel so swanky now. Like I should put on a dress, make a martini, and host a cocktail party. It’s hard to believe that just over a month ago we started with this:

kitchen before

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