One Room Challenge // Kitchen Renovation Week 5

The home stretch, you guys. Week 5 of the One Room Challenge is here. If you are just popping in, I am participating in the One Room Challenge, an awesome blogger challenge where several hundred bloggers, including 20 headliners document the makeover of a space in 6 weeks. I am updating my mom’s kitchen. Catch is, my mom lives 2 and a half hours a way, so I am basically doing the entire job in four long weekends. Things are going pretty well, though there are a bunch of little finishing items left to tackle and only one day I can make it over there to finish, style and shoot. Here’s to a speedy finish!

Last week I shared the dining half of the room, which is so so close to being done. This week I am getting a little more real, sharing all about the big parts of the job, the counter tops and the backsplash and the lessons I learned while installing for the first time.

One Room Challenge - Kitchen Update

First I’ll tell you about the countertops we chose. Butcher Block was really the only material I considered. Because of budget and ease of install, it was really the only choice. There are several wood choices when looking at butcher block. I knew I wanted maple, which is a light wood with yellow undertones, because it is cost effective and would look really pretty with the cabinet colors I choose.

I researched butcher block countertops from several major home improvement and flooring retailers. Home Depot (my go-to) was sold out of many options. Menards only had lengths up to 8’ and I needed at least 10’. My friend Bri just ordered hers from Floor and Decor, because she only had good things to say, I was planning to order from there, but it was going to take several weeks for them to come in, so I passed. Finally I found what I needed at Lumber Liquidators. It was a little tricky to order online, so I went into the store and placed the order with a real person. The were able to help me and found the two lengths I needed in stock at a location not far from my mom’s. Then I planned to have them delivered to my mom’s house because the 12’ length was way too long to fit into any of our cars. But ultimately we decided to save a little cash, rented a truck from Home Depot and picked them up ourselves.

Next let me tell you about the tile backsplash. I am in love with the handmade Cle tiles that are so perfectly imperfect. This terracotta beauty is the tile I really wanted to use for my mom’s kitchen. Even though my mom didn’t give me a specific budget, I knew almost $15 a sq/ft was out. I found nice alternative grey subway tile with some color variance and texture. And once I added the white grout, the look is just what I was going for.

In case you are curious, here is the sink I bought.

I installed Butcher Block Countertops!
One Room Challenge Work In Progress
One Room Challenge Work In Progress

10 Things I Learned from Installing My First Counter Tops and Backsplash

  1. Factory edges of butcher block counter tops may not be 100% straight or square. Check before making your cuts.

  2. Start prepping early, you need to put multiple coats of sealer on your counter tops and they need 6 hours to dry between coats. I put on 5 coats of Watco Butcher Block Oil & Finish.

  3. When using your circular saw to cut your counter tops, go for it, don’t pause, keep moving the saw forward and make the cut.

  4. Put a line of painters tape where you plan on making your countertop cut, this will help prevent splits in the wood.

  5. Measure all aspects of the sink - the spacing of the drawers next to the sink, how deep it is, the dimensions of the apron if there is one. All of it! I found a sink that was “pretty much” the same width of the sink we were replacing, and it was so so close to not fitting.

  6. Tile spaces are harder to use than it looks, or maybe I am just a novice.

  7. Don’t grout all the way down to the countertops. This was an oops for me and my mom has to remove before caulking.

  8. There are several options when finishing a tile edge. We actually used two different edge finished. I was really nervous that it would look funny, but after seeing it, I’m sure I’m the only person who gave it a second thought.

    • Bullnose tile - a tile that coordinates with the main tile, but is rounded for a nice finish

    • caulking - cost effective and easy, but not always the cleanest.

    • metal edging - clean and minimal.

    • moulding

  9. Do some research on the size of grout lines you like, aka the spacer size you need to buy. I first bought 1/4” spacers because I wanted slightly larger grout lines. Then once I started laying out, 1/4” was just too wide, I made an emergency trip to get 3/16” spacers. Yes, 1/16” makes a big difference.

  10. Grouting hides a lot. As I mentioned, spacers are not as easy to use as they look, so things weren’t perfect, but once I grouted it all looks as good as perfect.

Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4

Check out all my inspiration and products I’m using on my Pinterest board. And, click here to see the other participant's progress.


One Room Challenge // Kitchen Renovation Week 4

One Room Challenge Week 4 is here. Good news and bad news for me and my ambitious plan to tackle my mom’s dated kitchen. Good news is that I made A LOT of head way this past weekend, installing the new counter tops and sink. The bad news is, my next two weeks are jammed packed, so my plan is to drive the two and a half hours there, finish all the details, style, photograph and then drive home. Sounds fun doesn’t it?

This week I am excited to share the half of the room that is almost there and one of my favorite projects of the room. My mom has and eat-in kitchen. She has a round dining table that seats four. It is classic, well made and in great condition, plus I think it fits with the new design, however it is very bulky. When someone is sitting in a chair and you need to get by, they have to smash themselves against the table to allow you to pass. In the same corner of the room, my mom kept her large dog crate, which was unsightly, cumbersome and a collector of junk. I decided to tackle both of these problems at once and designed a custom banquette seat that doubles as a dog crate!

DIY Built in dog cage

Here are my initial designs, inspired by the tutorial on the left in the below photo. I enlisted the help of my talented father in law to bring it to life.

Built in Dog Crate

and bring it to life he did! I whipped up the cushions and now we have a beautiful piece of furniture that makes great use of the space.

DIY Built in dog cage
DIY Built in dog cage

Although the side of the bench with the dog crate is pretty tall for adults, it is the perfect height for grand kids!

DIY Built in dog cage banquette
DIY Built in dog cage banquette

And to keep it real, the other side of the room looked like this when I shot it.

One Room Challenge Week 4
DIY Built in dog cage banquette

What’s still left to do?

  • update the light fixture above the sink

  • replace floor boards where I removed a built in shelf

  • paint and update trim

  • window treatments

  • styling

Check out all my inspiration and products I’m using on my Pinterest board. And, click here to see the other participant's progress.

One Room Challenge

One Room Challenge // Kitchen Renovation Week 3

Week three, of the One Room Challenge. If you haven’t been following along, check out week 1 and week 2, or I’ll catch you up to speed real quick. I am DIY renovating my mom’s kitchen. The trick is she lives across the state, so beyond the super tight 6 week timeline, I am limiting myself to about 4, 5, if absolutely necessary long weekends.

I don’t have too much new to report since week 2, because I did not go to my mom’s last weekend. I stayed here and finished up the AMAZING banquette bench I designed and my father-in-law made. I am soooo excited to share that with you next week. But this week, I am sharing my lighting and hardware choices.

Lighting - There are three fixtures in my mom’s kitchen (see the before pictures). One above the kitchen table, one in the middle of the kitchen and one above the sink. I started with the chandelier above the table, my major source of lighting inspiration is the first photo below of Chris and Julia of Chris Loves Julia’s kitchen. I love this chandelier. I love that the straight arms feel modern, but the shades feel traditional. The only problem is that it’s not available and I couldn’t find anything similar in budget, so I want with a more traditional “modern farmhouse” fixture. You can see it below.

Second, I tackled the fixture above the kitchen. My mom had a small bronze chandelier, and I swapped it for a schoolhouse fixture with a clear bowl, which takes up much less space visually.

One of the items still left on my todo list is to convert the fixture above the sink from an inset to a pendant. I choose a simple pendant from Target, but I love how it ties the black and bronze of the other two fixtures.

One Room Challenge Light Fixture Inspiration
One Room Challenge Light Fixture Inspiration

photo: 1 / 2

One Room Challenge Lighting and hardware

Lighting: school house fixture / chandelier / pendant

Hardware: pulls / knobs

In my original design plan, I had decided on black hardware, then as I went through all my inspiration photos, I realized everything I was pinning had brass hardware, which added just the perfect amount of bling to the room. So I returned all the knobs and pulls I already purchased and went with the choices above. I definitely made the right choice. I am so thrilled with how the look.

This weekend is going to be a major week. I am hitting Ikea on the way to my mom’s to pick up accessories. Then we will install the remainder of the countertops and sink and tile the backsplash, plus about 100 other miscellaneous items. Wish me luck!


Utility Jumpsuit

Not long ago I went shopping in SOHO, and I kid you not, at least four girls working in shops around the neighborhood were wearing utility jumpsuits. So, it’s cool girl thing to wear. Even after seeing a slew of cute and fashionable shop girls sporting this look, I wasn’t quite ready to get behind it. I still felt it was a little too mechanic for me. Flash forward a few months and I think I’m warming up to the idea. And it’s good timing, because there are so many fantastic options at every price point. Would you rock this look?

Utility Jump Suit
Utility Jumpsuit
Utility Jumpsuit

photos: 1 / 2 / 3


One Room Challenge // Kitchen Renovation Week 2

Week 2 of the One Room Challenge. I’ve had 10 break downs thinking it will be impossible to finish, followed by several todos checked off. In case you missed last week, I am working on my mom’s kitchen, which needed a MAJOR update.

It’s been a week. If you’ve been following along on Instagram, you know that my grandma passed away last Friday. It’s strange because my dad passed away during my first One Room Challenge, I almost feel like I am cursed and I’m afraid to do another. Since I am working on my mom’s kitchen, which is over two hours away from where I live, Grandma’s passing actually allowed more time for the project. In between family time, I was a working machine and had some extra helping hands, plus it took my our minds off the sadness. The kitchen is coming along really well, and currently, I actually feel like we could pull it off.

Today I’m going to share my paint palette choices. I LOVE me a white kitchen. I have painted two kitchens white, including a rental and my last home. when I asked my mom if I could help tackle her kitchen, she was totally game, basically gave my free reign. I know her style, modern country, and I wanted to push her just a little out of her comfort zone. I automatically knew I wanted to do a palette of white and grey, but oh so many choices.

One Room Challenge Paint Color Choices

I bought a few paint samples on my first trip to Home Depot. I brought back my favorite white, Polar Bear by Behr, a beautiful warm grey I used in my bathroom, Cotton Grey by Behr, as well as an off white I’ve used, Swiss Coffee by Behr.

One Room Challenge Paint Color Choices
One Room Challenge Paint Color Choices
One Room Challenge Color Inspo

After inspiration shopping on Pinterest, I knew I wanted to do the uppers and lowers different. My initial thought was Swiss Coffee for the uppers, Cotton Grey for the lowers, and Polar Bear for the walls, but after painting a swatch on the cabinets, the Cotton Grey looked very light, and much cooler than it had when I used it before. I ended up going back to get more swatches and choosing a darker grey for the lowers. I went with a darker grey lowers, True Taupewood, which contrasts nicely against the off white uppers. My mom wasn’t loving the bright white walls, so in another twist, I put the light Cotton Grey on the walls and ceiling. The blue is for the door, I went with a color called Opera Glasses.

One Room Challenge Color Palette
One Room Challenge Progress

For hardware, I was torn, I planned on doing black or rubbed bronze, I bought all the knobs, then after more Pinterest browsing, I back tracked and went with gold tones. Mom had gold hardware before, but bad, shiny gold, I found some knobs with nice tones that add warmth and shine, without being blingy.

Here is a progress shot of how I added trim to the cabinet faces. I did a whole post on this a few years back. You can read all about the process here.

One Room Challenge Progress

You can see the painted Cotton Grey swatch on the right drawer below. It’s the same color of the panelling and walls, but looks much lighter.

One Room Challenge Progress

You can see a sliver of the section of butcher block we installed in the photo above. Here is what we’ve done so far:

  • added trim to cabinets

  • painted and reinstalled uppers

  • painted lowers

  • added trim to paneling

  • painted walls and ceiling

  • swapped out one light fixture

  • painted door

  • painted most of the trim

We still have to:

  • cut and install butcher block counter tops

  • tile backsplash

  • install sink

  • install two light fixtures

  • make and install banquet seating

  • accessorize

See all the before photos on week 1. Don’t forget to follow along on instagram and see our inspiration on Pinterest.


Color of the Fall // Rust

Everywhere I look I see this color! Rust is a non-neutral, neutral and so perfect for fall. It pairs perfectly with saffron or tan and unexpectedly well with bush and blue. What’s your favorite color of the season?

Color of the Fall: Rust
Color of the Fall: Rust
Color of the Fall: Rust

photos: 1 / 2 / 3

rust round up

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


One Room Challenge // Kitchen Renovation Week 1

I am so excited to be participating in my second One Room Challenge. If you are not familiar, the One Room Challenge is a huge blogger challenge, currently in it’s 15th season, where 20 “headline” bloggers and hundreds of guest bloggers renovate a room in 6 weeks and document their progress on their blog and social channels. You can follow along with all the guests and bloggers here.

The first One Room Challenge I did was in spring of 2017, I turned my garage into my studio. This time, I went even bigger. I am tackling my mom’s very dated kitchen. During the last One Room Challenge I did, my dad passed away. That was a big catalyst for my family to move back across the country to Michigan to be closer to family. Since we are still in between homes, I thought helping my mom tackle her kitchen would be a great way to spend quality time with my mom. My mom is the most generous person I know, I am honored to be able to give something back to her.

My mom is planning to move out of her house, my childhood home, in the next few years. My goal is to update her current space to give her a modern traditional kitchen that will be a lovely space to spend her last months in a home she’s lived in for almost 40 years, and will also help with resale value, all for a tight budget. This mood board is my inspiration for this project. Colors will mostly be grey and white with warm wood tones and blues brought in through accessories.

Studio McGee One Room Challenge Inspiration
Modern Traditional Kitchen

The space needs A LOT of love. It was last updated around 1995, and that was also on a budget. Currently it’s a farmhouse Christmas wonderland, the cabinets are bright green and the paneling is dark red, with plaid wallpaper and a farmhouse border with actual farm animals. The counter tops and backsplash are laminate and there is a lot that doesn’t seem to function well for my mom and brother. I plan to address it all.

One Room Challenge Kitchen Before

Here’s what we are tackling:

  • adding trim, painting cabinets, changing hardware

  • updating trim (goodbye scallops)

  • butcher block counter tops

  • built in banquet seating that will also function as a dog cage

  • removing wallpaper

  • adding trim to paneling and painting walls

  • update lighting

One Room Challenge Kitchen Before
One Room Challenge Kitchen Before
One Room Challenge Kitchen Before

Click here over to my Pinterest board to see all my inspiration and sources I’m planning on using.