Straight herringbone tile backsplash tutorial


I learned SO much installing this tile!

I've done tiling several times before but never like this! With my mom's help and two weekends of work, I installed about 60 SF of backsplash/wall in our kitchen with affordable white 3"x6" subway tiles, installed in a "straight herringbone" pattern. You can learn from our struggles in this tutorial!

Brass-free fireplace and two bathrooms in two weekends: part 1! #stanley90sreno


We are feeling proud and excited, but seriously tired! We got so dang much done over the past two and a half days and the bathrooms are looking great!!

Oh, also, we had our fireplace and chimney cleaned last week and the cleaners removed the doors for me--WOW, does it look better. (Here's the before tour.) Still not sure what we'll do with the brick, maybe add a mantel, need to add some art... but for now it's a much nicer room! We even had a fire in the fireplace Sunday night.

IKEA hack modern bathroom inspiration--guest bathroom


I've mentioned lately that we're planning two bathroom renos in April. (!!!) We recently put together a construction schedule and of course I have a budget spreadsheet, but I've only recently totally decided on the look for our guest bath upstairs and our downstairs powder room.

I shared some bathroom inspirations for our guest bath in this post, but due to budget and time considerations we decided not to go with a natural wood antique or vintage dresser look in the bathroom.

Around the time of that decision I saw this bathroom--two IKEA Hemnes bathroom vanities with non-IKEA faucets and the handles replaced with classy soft metal ones. What a difference! I've looked at the white Hemnes vanity before but I don't love how commonly it's used and it always has the same stocky black round handles, so far apart. This handle treatment is genius! (And I found that cool hexagon towel ring here for only $14!)

Our statement sofa! ComfortWorks green velvet IKEA sofa cover


Our living room is the first room you see when you walk in the door, and I've been a little at a loss for how to decorate it. We brought in pieces from our last home's living room, and bought a huge jute rug, which helped... but with no art on the walls and a bunch of neutral furniture, there was nothing to anchor the space.

We didn't have the budget for a new sofa, but I discovered ComfortWorks when looking around online at IKEA hacks with new covers, feet, and other updates. They make custom and popular IKEA and Pottery Barn sofa covers out of all kinds of fabric choices, and sell replacement feet and even tufting kits! It's incredible to see the transformation of a basic IKEA sofa or sectional with a fabric cover in a fun color or texture (or neutral--I love neutrals, too). I love scrolling the ComfortWorks Instagram to see their customers' living rooms rocking unique, perfect couches designed just for the space! I reach out to ComfortWorks and they sent me a cover for our IKEA Karlstad 3-seater to try and share with you!!

I seriously debated when choosing the color and fabric for this sofa but kept being drawn to bright, deep colors like blue and emerald velvet. We love the jute rug and weren't totally sure how it would work with the velvet, but I saw some inspiration images of jute or natural elements plus velvet and actually really loved the contrast.

You can easily spend $2,500+ on a green velvet sofa. Here's a very budget-friendly DIY version that you can do with a new or Craigslisted IKEA sofa and ComfortWorks cover and legs!!

This was a HARD project. Installing the vent hood!


I've shared a lot about our kitchen this past week as we finished tiling, shelves, countertops, etc., but also had to share about our very cool stainless steel vent hood. It did not go quite as planned...

I was so excited we could do a dramatic stainless steel vent hood like in my inspiration kitchens by removing the upper cabinets over the stove. Here are some "before" photos of this loooovely date, dirty hallway kitchen. Grease stain above stove, dingy corners of cabinets since there were no handles, broken tiles on counter, dripping faucet, pantry door off the track, filth everywhere else... (see the full before tour of the house here).

The vent above the stove, while on an exterior wall, didn't actually vent anywhere so it just blew greasy, steamy air around, not adding to the cleanliness issue of the former residents. We wanted to do open shelves on the wall to the left of the window and a cool vent hood above the stove!

I shopped around and found this vent hood for about $150 at the time. What a deal!! I bought it even before we moved, I think, and it sat in our garage for months until we were ready to tile the kitchen walls.

Installing the vent hood

This is not a tutorial for how to install a vent hood... more of a "do as I say, not as I do"... but you definitely can learn from it!

We had never done anything like this before, but my dad had, and because it was an exterior wall he understood what we needed to do to make the hood vent outside.

The first challenge was measuring the center/vent location. Most ranges are 30" wide, but our opening is more like 32-33". The stove pushes up against the countertop, so we centered the hood over the stove and not the opening, but it's a little weird to have 2-3" to the right of the hood. We marked the center and drilled through the house!

To create the 6" opening for the vent pipe, we used a hole saw.

NOTE: Be aware of where wires are but still turn the power off before doing this!!!!

Once done from the outside, we matched the hole and drilled the drywall.

You'll notice that's a different drill from the first one... yes, we killed the first one by drilling through the siding and the project was put on pause while my dad and Jason went out and bought a new corded power drill. Here is the old one literally smoking in our mud pit of a backyard. It was super stinky.

Once done, we installed the exterior vent and caulked around it.

On the inside, we attached a rotating 6" vent pipe and drew a template of the hood so we could mark the installation holes and avoid those areas with tile.

I tiled around those areas (or, at least, I thought I did). Somehow we ended up needing to pull up a tile and add another one before mounting the chimney anyway.

To actually install the hood, we did the wiring (which also presented some challenges), and angled the piping down.

That was also tricky, and that's when we had to move the screws slightly to shift the vent hood over from the template. Must have been a problem with our template.

We taped it with HVAC foil tape.

Then the chimney. Poor Jason, struggling with this chimney! (While I cooked dinner/lunches for the week, as you can see. It was a stressful Sunday evening.)

Our vent hood came with two chimney pieces, so it's adjustable depending on ceiling height. But our ceiling was too low even for the shortest possible, so we had to cut the bottom metal piece that inserts into the hood, cutting off the pieces that anchor it. So it just sits in the tray and can get bumped around when we clean it. Maybe we'll find a better solution for that sometime, but no good ideas yet.

We also a hard time installing the bracket that the top piece screws into, getting it allllll the way up to the right angle of the ceiling so that the top of the chimney was flush, no gap. We did it, but it took a few tries because of the grout and ceiling texture.

All said and done... it's in, it looks great, and I am still happy with our purchase. I would still recommend this vent hood but definitely plan to spend some real time working on installing it, or have it done for you!

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