Saturday, March 9, 2013


We’ve recently taken on the task of turning our kitchen upside down and updating it, while sticking to a budget. Although we are SO close to having it complete, there are still a few items I have to check off my list.

Since we bought the house, I have been dying to add subway tile as a back splash in our kitchen, but knew I had to wait until we first replaced our counter tops. If you are looking to add a back splash to your kitchen, subway tile is inexpensive and classic. It isn’t going out of style anytime soon! I read a few blogs and watched a few YouTube videos before tackling this project. Here’s a how-to on installing subway tile back splash by yourself!

Once you have your counter top of choice installed (important to do this first if you are thinking of replacing yours) it’s time to head to Home Depot and pick up your materials.

You will need:
• Grout – think outside the box, gray or white you can’t go wrong!
• Mortar or Adhesive – we used Simplemat’s Tile Setting Mats (3 boxes)
• 3x6 Subway tile – make sure to measure your area, we have a smaller kitchen so we grabbed 3 boxes of tile
• Subway tile end pieces – one side has a bull nose, it’s one option for finishing the tile to the end of the wall (optional)
• Scissors – if using a mat
• Screwdrivers – to remove your outlet plates
• Sponge
• Wet Saw
• Tile Spacers
• Grout Float

The first thing I did was measure the exact area I was tiling and lay the pattern out on the floor. This is helpful to do – if I hadn’t done it, I wouldn’t have known to send my hubby to the store to pick up more tile before beginning the process on the wall.

Next, I took my adhesive mats and lined them up against the walls, marking where my outlets were. Let me tell you, these mats made the application super easy! They are double sided so you are able to stick them to the wall ahead of time and when you are ready, you peel off the top plastic and you are ready to go!

After cutting where I marked our outlets were, I lined the entire space with the mats. I knew I wanted to tile the entire  way up the wall between the two cabinets to add height. I'll eventually convince Chris to help me build shelving for that area.

The tile setting mat instructed you to remove all air bubbles. You can easily do this with your grout float.

Next, I started laying the tile and my mom made cuts when needed (around the outlets, around cabinets, on ends). My mom is the best - she is always there when I am doing a project solo to offer me a hand. Sometimes it's nice having someone with you while you are working!

You can see I used the tile spacers to make sure everything was aligned - the good thing about this mat is you have some flexibility to move the tile before grouting (see our end pieces, I fixed them before we grouted).

Another thing to keep in mind is to turn off your electricity (duh!) - I got shocked a few times messing with moving the outlets because I was too lazy to shut it off. And nowhere online did anyone mention securing your outlet boxes on top of your tile. So that was another thing I learned along the way.

Next, mix your grout in a plastic container (with a spatula if you wish) until it is the consistency of brownie batter (we don't measure in this house - we do what feels right).

Plop some on your grout float and start making crescent strokes until all of your spaces are filled with grout. I read the grout box instructions - so I definitely recommend following their mixing and application instructions.

Note: if using mortar you will need to wait several hours before applying the grout. The tile setting mats we purchased allowed us to set the tiles and grout right away. So if you are impatient like me, this is the way to go!

Once our grout was on and 20 minutes passed, I took my damp sponge and wiped off the excess grout. I also removed the grout I spread onto the ceiling, cabinets and counters ;-)

Since we are strange around here, we made sure all of the grout looked pretty by moving our sponge along the direction of the grout so there were no bumps or lines. This took serious arm muscle!


And here we are all complete! I still need to run my towel over all of the tile to remove any excess haze that may be causing a slight hue and put grout sealer on, but I am obsessed with how well this turned out!

And because I am super proud of everything we have done so far - here is a reminder of our "before".

And our "progress"

Price breakdown: (rough estimates from my memory)
3 boxes of 3x6 snow white subway tile - $60
3 boxes of SimpleMat Tile Setting Mat - $60
1 box of white unsanded grout - $30
1 bag of 250 tile spacers - $15
1 spray bottle of grout sealer - $10
Tile end pieces - $9

Less than $200 for a big impact back splash that won't go out of style!

Monday, March 4, 2013


This past weekend, my BFF Nikki and I took my sister-in-laws to Tyson's corner for a major shopping outing. We were on the hunt for some sheer curtains and wanted to hit up Pottery Barn, Z Gallerie and West Elm to check out their items in person.

Though we didn't come home with curtains, the trip made me want to move right in to the West Elm store. Here are some of my favs from our trip:

 1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6 // 7 // 8 // 9

Friday, March 1, 2013


Make two cabinets glass-front
Remove molding from above sink
Paint kitchen cabinets
Pick new cabinet hardware
Buy an under mount sink for new counter
Build wine cubby/style open cabinets above refrigerator
Buy new oven/microwave and refrigerator
Choose granite and find someone to cut/polish/install
Cover kitchen chair seats 
Install subway tile back splash - tile is bought and will go in next week most likely
Touch up paint in kitchen (possibly change paint to match adjoining family room)
Add shelving above sink (in between glass-front cabinets)
Buy and install new ORB faucet - bought a super awesome chrome faucet and installing this weekend
Add pendant above sink
Refinish fan/buy new lighting for above kitchen table
Replace flooring
Add butcher-block top island that joins family room and kitchen
Add floating shelving above island

The fabric I ordered for the kitchen chair seats came in yesterday... I'm obsessed with it! I think I have a thing for waves, because this pattern compliments our family room panels without me even thinking about that ahead of time.

I'm still loving the open shelves I created by taking off our cabinet doors over the refrigerator.

I styled them with glass containers filled with prettiness.

I need to find a stool for the kitchen since these are not easy to grab and go. 

I also placed our cupcake liners and cocktail napkins in a bread basket on the top of the fridge for easy access. 

Our spice containers moved to the side of the new fridge and I love how easy it is to grab the spices without searching through a cabinet.

I put the most used spices here... you can tell we love OLD BAY since it's almost gone!

I also grabbed this "All Out Of" pad to check off items we need from the grocery store at a small shop in Mt. Airy called The Hive. Urban Outfitters and Anthro also carry these!

I love love love our new chair seats!! I stapled the fabric to the existing seats - it took me all of 20 minutes to do 4 chairs.

I just need to spray them with scotch guard to keep them from staining and secure them to the chairs!
We are securing the new granite to the cabinets this weekend, inserting the new sink and new faucet and then touching up paint.

Next weekend we will be ready to install the subway tile back splash!
And just for fun, here is a close up of the new granite. It's so pretty! The grey coordinates with the walls and the black specs play off of the cabinet hardware.

A BIG thank you to our friend's parents who not only got us the hook up with the granite, but took time out of their own schedules to take it to get cut/polished and brought it to our house. We are super appreciative!