Sort of Stainless Steel Kitchen Backsplash

After posting pictures of the kitchen on the message boards of my local mom’s group, I had a few questions about the kitchen backsplash.

Sigh, I still get that first-date feeling every time I walk in the room.

Anyway– I can’t tell the backsplash story without starting with the countertops. Countertops aren’t cheap, but I got lucky one afternoon, getting a bunch of black granite tile for about $1.25 a square foot.

I had leapt at the granite, without considering the backsplash. Imagine (and laugh– go ahead, it’s funny–now) my surprise and JB’s annoyance when I vetoed every single tile sample for the backsplash. Most them gave the kitchen that Tuscany look. I’m not a fan, being neither Italian, nor a patron of the Olive Garden. Now, give me a piece of subway or glass tile– that’s my look. Even the subway tile didn’t look right, unless it was custom glass subway tile (cha-ching!). So, we both kept coming back to stainless steel. Okay, but at $120 for a 30×30 sheet? I just…couldn’t.

For a year, I walked the aisles of home improvement and salvage/re-use stores, just looking and thinking. I spent an hour in the roofing section, trying to convert large rolls of flashing into a backsplash.

Then came the day I found the solution. And that is the DIY high, what keeps me going back for more each time: $9.34 per 24×36 inch sheet compared to $120 per 30×30 inch sheet? Um, yes please.

A few small words of caution. This is professional grade stuff; the edges are sharp– get some heavy duty gloves. And good tin snips. Cutting out the holes for the electric sockets looked like it sucked– JB’s job, what with all that superior upper body strength.

Beyond that? Easy. We glued it to the wall with paneling caulk stuff rated for wood and metal. Maybe even cement and moon rock, I can’t remember.

The cardboard and painters tape accent pieces? Those were the templates for the tile that would someday hide the sharp cut edges. I’m guessing you could sand the sharpness away, assuming you cut a straight line. With tin snips. I’m almost certain that it’s not possible. Those cardboard pieces stayed just like that for 6 months. Then, around the time we tiled the master bath, I grabbed a few sheets of the 12×12 mosaic tiles and silicone caulked myself a new border. No need for thinset since they were sitting on top of the metal. I hadn’t intended to grout, but tile without grout looks strange, so we fixed that another night.

Total backsplash cost? It took 6 sheets of the metal, so $56 plus tax + 3 of the tile sheets, which cost $4 each, $12 plus tax. Which means that we did the whole project for less than what one sheet of the other stuff would have cost.

Tomorrow the boys (all 3 of ’em) and I are going to finish the crib-to-lego-table project. Then perhaps I’ll get the cabinet handles installed. Again. Don’t ask– when it’s done, I’ll tell you all about it.

Painting Kitchen Cabinets with your Kids Home?

Painting kitchen cabinets with your kids home? Totally easy– if you’re insane.

Phase 1: Collect Underpants.
Phase 2: ?
Phase 3: Profit.

I have had this nonsense from the Gnomes episode of Southpark going through my head for days. You’re welcome.

Oh, and the actual point of the post, which is to tell everyone (in my best Australian sham-wow voice) that lives in the internet how YES, you CAN have a BRAND NEW KITCHEN for a the low, low price of $63.00 and many a few hours of sweat equity.

The first step is, of course, to do some internet research (I mostly used pinterest and BHG and gather your supplies based on your decisions. I did most of my shopping in the basement, thus this assortment of preparatory items cost me $0. But if you aren’t a hoarder, you’d need to get a degreaser, sand-paper, oil-based primer, rags, and foam rollers. I did have to buy a few packages of foam rollers ($13).

Next you will remove and label all of your cabinet doors, handles, and hinges. My kitchen has a large foot print, without as many cabinets (by choice). I labeled the top row of doors with letters, the bottoms with numbers. I’m not sure why– but it made sense at the time. Phase 1: Collect Underpants, right?

Lay something down on the ground and wash the cabinets with a degreaser. I used a TSP product because it was–say it with me, “already in the basement”. Otherwise I probably would have used warm vinegar and water. Note, all the internet advice for cleaning cabinets recommends a TSP product. I also sanded out here, rather than in the basement like normal. We have 3 different electric hand sanders (…why?), so I picked the one on top, and sanded.

Sit down and stare at the jumbled mess inside your cabinets. Berate yourself for allowing that which is behind closed doors to be in such disorder. Start calculating the number of hours that have been wasted from retrieving–and returning–pans to their part of the stack. Wonder why you aren’t storing all baking, spices, oil and vinegar in the lazy susan. You know, where you can reach them. Plan to make a different plan while you are priming the doors.

Appropriate all flat kitchen surfaces for priming. You could use the basement, but then you’d have to clean all the dog hair and dust first. *shudder*

Gaze in joy at the primed surfaces, right before leaving for a children’s museum that will be hosting no less than 10 elementary school classes on field trips.

I did several coats of the primer to make sure nothing would bleed through. Once everything dried, it was time to start on the finish coats.

Lightly coat with paint (I used Benjamin Moore’s Low VOC Natura paint–$50– in Super White). Let dry. Sand (280 grit). Wipe (fancy folks use tack cloth– I used a damp cloth diaper).

Rinse and repeat until you are satisfied with the finish.

Re-attach the hinges and the doors.



Now, part of any home improvement project is how much time it will actually take. Well, I always think it will take an hour, and JB always thinks it will take 4 months. Somewhere in between is the real answer, but I needed data.

I could add all that up for y’all, but I promised the Small People a hot wheels track. Like an hour ago– whoops. Y’all are smart though– you can do the math, right?

Kitchen Remodel: Phase II

Remember the Phase I post from a few days ago?

You wonder– is she actually done?!
Done is often such a subjective word, don’t you think? It’s like perfect– can the pure meaning of those words exist in the world of paint or furniture placement? No, really– JB wants to know if done exists in someone else’s house.

Ahem. So the answer is no, I’m not done. But I’ve met the first major milestone– a working kitchen, with many, many coats of beautiful brilliant white paint.

There are handles to rehang and another coat of paint (hmmm…sharpie?) around the counter-tops. Speaking of molding– we need some around the top of the cabinets. And to add the furniture feet at the kick plates. And to paint the door (quick, no one look up– so don’t wanna paint that popcorn ceiling!)

But not tonight.

I’m also going to move two of our bookshelves to surround the big dining room window, adding cabinet doors at the bottom to mimic a built-in look. Which means more sanding/priming/painting.

But not tonight.

I want to add beadboard inserts to replace the current panels in the cabinet doors (paint the beadboard after cutting, then it’s just a simple glue-caulk-quicky top coat type of install). Yes, I did stare at a package of wood shims for 10 minutes, trying to decide if they could be turned into some facsimile of beadboard. Then I stared at the dremel kit and considered.

JB googled the instructions for involuntary commitment of spouse.

Thankfully, none of that is happening tonight.

The computer-armoire-turned-food-pantry needs more shelves. All the cabinets either need shelves or vertical stacking systems. Maybe some pull out drawers. Both the kitchen and dining room windows need new curtains.

But not tonight.

I want a new dining room table– round this time. Which would then free up the current table to be scavenged for parts. That I plan to turn into a mini-kitchen island. With a pot rack. On wheels.

But not tonight.

Why? Because last night, what you saw up there looked like:

Me? I set up a hard deadline by hosting my mother-in-law’s birthday dinner here today. For 11 people. Why? Because I’m not stupid organized enough to fall for those soft, internal deadlines. I need the adrenaline-fueled energy that can only come from a looming event requiring the use of whatever space is currently deconstructed.

I’m supposed to run–5.5 miles. Anyone want to take the over/under on whether THAT happens tonight?

But I did at least find the inspiration for the design– what great paper! Yes, it did occur to me to use it as wall paper accents in some of the panels. Yes, JB did threaten to lock me in the bathroom if I came within 10 feet of the kitchen with wallpaper paste. Now all I have to do is narrow down the accent color. Bright turquoise blue? Shhh… orange?

Kitchen Remodel: Phase I

Yes, it’s Phase I– of Version 4. This isn’t the first transformation for our kitchen and all the big ticket items (new floors, cabinets, appliances that aren’t brown) have long been paid for. But thus far, the total investment in Version 4 of Redesign That Kitchen is $56. $50 for low VOC Benjamin Moore paint + $6 for sponge rollers. Everything else (to include the materials for the building projects) existed down there in the region some folks call a basement. I currently call it 1200 square feet of wasted space since it’s housing a whole bunch of junk and projects to-be-determined. Part of my current obsessed motivation is getting that square footage back. Small People–and their things– take up a ridiculous amount of room.

So, version history of this kitchen?

Version I
The kitchen had blue flower vinyl flooring, complimented by the light blue dining room carpet and brown wood paneling in the dining room. And the dry-clean only curtains with giant brass thingy. Yes, we did buy this house with a dining room that looked like that picture. We replaced that carpet and the vinyl with pretending-to-be-granite-tile floors.

Version 2
Look closely– beyond the christmas tree–

We tried to salvage the original cabinets with a few coats of paint–they were, after all, real wood. However, even good paint couldn’t cover the old-lady-with-bad-kitty cabinet smell. Sniffle– look how little Z is in this picture. Totally unaware I was gestating his arch nemesis– aka, little brother.

And for 24-odd months, I lived with that kitchen.

Version 3
But at about 7 months pregnant with E– and nesting like a damn pigeon in an electric store sign– we used tax refund money to sorta upgrade the cabinets. Tax refund money and the expertise of a friend’s impulsive offer to help (meh-heh-heh). At that point, basic stock cabinets was an upgrade. A smart upgrade, since we live in a transitional neighborhood (aka, homes values probably won’t decrease, but it’s anyone’s guess if they will increase). When upgrading a house in a transitional neighborhood, one must be very careful to temper personal taste with common sense.

Was the kitchen okay, as is? Yeah, I guess so. It wastes a ton of space and it’s not very user friendly for the Small People. The Small People who really, really want to help do things– like unload the dishwasher and set the table. They are already hanging up their own laundry thanks to my installation of wire shelves and a closet rod within their reach. I feel wrong by not giving them what they want with the helping thing!

So, between pinterest, a lives-in-my-computer friend/DIY person, and the desire to use my children for manual labor, I began to get motivated. If y’all didn’t know, an ADHD person with their meds and motivation can do amazing things. Include in that a husband who leaves the country for a week, kids that go to bed at 7pm, and same ADHD lady who can’t burn off any of that gee-gee-gee-gee energy by running, and you end up with this.

By the way– don’t think I’m ignoring the children– most of this good-times-fun happened during naptime or after bed. The other little bits? Well, never underestimate what can be accomplished in 20-30 minute spurts. Of course, there was also a casualty– RIP dish drainer that was in the oven during the preheat cycle. You had a good run.

As of tonight, most everything has had its second pass of the top coat, so the painting should be done tomorrow. That’s the real bitch with painting cabinets– it takes time (most of it of the drying/preparation variety) to do a good job. But after the last bit dries, the really fun stuff is next– building!