Thursday, September 30, 2010

concrete counter top tutorial

This was my last day working in Megan's kitchen.  The photo shoot is tomorrow  If you have not been following my progress I am doing a kitchen transformation for under $1000.  I am happy to report that I did stay in my budget.  Anyway as promised here is tutorial for the concrete counter top that was used on top of the kitchen island.  The cost for this was under $100 for materials.  The book CONCRETE COUNTER TOPS MADE SIMPLE was our reference guide for this project and I highly recommend it.


using melamine for the mold, cut a rectangle out the size of your counter or island top

rip 4-  2 3/4 '' wide pieces of  melamine for the sides of the mold

screw the 2 3/4" sides to the base of the mold (be sure to countersink and pilot the holes before you drive the screws so the melamine doesn't split)
mask each joint with blue painters tape about 1/8" away from the seam
lay an even 1/4'"  bead of silicone caulk between the tape and smooth
remove the tape while the caulk is still wet
suspend 6x6 wire mesh about 1" up from the bottom of the mold (wire ties or bailing wire works well screwed to the outside of the mold)   
place the mold on a flat level surface

we chose sakrete 5000 plus (Home Depot $4.95) 

figure about 1 -  80lb bag will do 3 sq ft of 2" thick counter top 

for a small counter like ours you can do the mix in a large wheel barrow or mortar box 

the dryer the mix is the stronger it will be so I suggest you add a water reducer (Home Depot- comes in packets-2 or 3 gets added to your water for each bag) 

add a small amount of water at a time, mix, then add more water as needed 

when fully mixed it should have the consistency of runny oatmeal

this is a messy job so tape plastic sheeting around the mold.
scoop up the mix with a 5 gallon bucket or a shovel and fill the mold to about 1/2 full ,working the mix into the corners as you go.
 periodically shake the mold  and/or hold a vibrating sander without the sand paper up against the sides of the mold to to get out most of the air ( trapped air will leave voids in your counter which you will have to fill later)
 continue this until the mold is full
 using a straight 2x4, use a sawing motion to smooth and even the surface.
once the excess concrete is removed trowel off the surface with a steel trowel (this will be the bottom and it needs to sit flat)
 finally cut off the ties you used to hold up the wire and bury the ends in the concrete

once you finish the pour you need to cover the concrete counter with a plastic sheet to keep in the moisture ( curing strengthens the concrete) 
let it cure for 4 to 6 days (do not cure in a sunny place) if the temperature is below 65 degrees allow it to cure for a few more days


remove the screws and gently pry off the sides (try not to pry on the concrete,  it is still uncured and therefore soft)
 gently round over the edges of the concrete with a metal file
turning the mold over to remove the base  - place a piece of foam cushion under the long side that you will be tipping it over on (you will need at least 2 or 3 strong friends to help flip it over)


it is much like sanding wood  - only you will need to use a wet grinder with diamond disks using water to wet sand and polish the concrete

work from 50 grit up to 1500 grit to get a high polished surface
*be extremely careful when you are using water and electricity! Make certain your equipment is GFCI protected


apply 1 or 2 coats of a penetrating sealer for stone counter tops as per product directions

apply 2 coats of a stone counter top wax

 this is the book that we used as a reference guide for the island counter top.  It has step by step directions with lots more photos then what I showed.  There is some amazing stuff in here.  I did not show what Megans counter top looks like finished, you will have to wait a tiny bit longer.  Good night for now, Lori

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Stir

Sheri Reed from The Stir - a Cafe Mom Blog was nice enough to feature a little interview & mini tour of my home.  You can see it here at:

Beach House Envy...

Lush landscaping...
It never fails. Whenever I travel, near or far, I love seeing how other people live and decorate. Most of the time I'm relegated to snapping photos of exteriors and and imagining what the interior must be like - it's a subtle form of stalking :).
Love the porch, the wicker, the crab flag!
I just returned from visiting family in Delaware and Virginia and there was no shortage of beautiful homes to check out - especially along the Eastern Shore of Delaware. I'm a Virginia girl who spent a part of most summers growing up along the beaches of the East coast. In spite of living in Texas for years, every summer I'm overcome with the need to put my toes in sand - sand of the Atlantic, not the Gulf of Mexico!

Classic shingle style...
The subjects of my home envy on this trip weren't the conventional beach houses directly on the ocean, but were instead the homes nestled in wooded areas with easy beach access - the best of both worlds.
Rockers AND a swing - heaven on a porch.
I love the variety of styles and finishes. Almost all of the front yards had an orientation to the outdoors - porches, great seating, welcoming details.
The classic, beachy Adirondack chair....
Rockers, Adirondack chairs, wicker furniture and swings (all of my favs!) were a part of every front porch or patio.
Another welcoming entry...

A touch of Mediterranean style near the Atlantic....
I'm heading to Colorado soon with my camera prepared for house envy to rear its head once again!

Friday, September 24, 2010

big grocery sign

I was told by a certain someone - "to check out the fabulous grocery sign" on the Flea Market Style blog header.  This person said how much they would love a similar sign in their kitchen...hint hint.  Only on barn wood and with cream letters

Could you make one for me please?     I guess so, I said. 

Can it be really big she asked?     How big do you want it to be I answered? 

Like five or six feet long she told me.     OK - but only for you Megan

photo from country living

How the heck am I going to make a giant sign, I don't have any lettering that big.  I had a large old barn wood plank, and I was cleaning it outside in the driveway.   I was trying to figure out what I was going to do when my very smart 14 year old daughter said "don't worry Mom I can make you the letters on Photoshop and you can cut them out. " It will take me two minutes".

Here are the the 7" letters that my daughter made for me, and yes it took about two minutes

I cut them out and placed them on the barn wood to trace.  Painted them with creamy white paint and distressed the surface with my orbital sander.

here is the almost six foot long

Have a great weekend, Lori

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

wide plank plywood flooring how to

the new flooring has been installed in Megan's farmhouse kitchen

remember what it used to look like

this is what it looks like now - minus the base molding 


the farmhouse is over 100 years old and the floors are sort of wavy in some areas
because the plywood is only 1/4" thick and very flexible it worked well on the uneven surface


the kitchen measures 17' by 13'

ten sheets of 4' x 8' plywood were needed to make the floor

they were purchased at The Home Depot for $19.37 each for a total of $193.70

we also purchased six (we ended up using five)  28oz tubes of  PL400 Heavy Duty Sub-floor & Construction Adhesive $4.98 each  totaling $29.88

 one box of flooring nails $17.00

1 gallon of Benjamin Moore flat latex ceiling paint tinted rockport gray $13.00

 gallon of Varathan floor finish $59.00

total materials cost $299.58 

the plywood was cut on the four foot side into six 8" width sections so that there would be no waste

we painted them using a wash technique using 50% water 50% paint then put the boards in the sun to dry

here they are lined up outside to dry

the top layer of original vinyl  was easily pulled up from Megan's kitchen floor, we attached the new wide plank floors directly to the sub floor that was underneath

the boards were then cut into shorter lengths - we used 4, 5 and 6 foot pieces with shorter ones as needed to avoid waste.  They were placed down in a random pattern.  Once we figured where the plank was going to go we covered the back with the flooring adhesive and nailed it into place. 

we used a penny as the perfect spacer.  A few hours later we pulled out all the pennies and applied the first coat of varathane water based floor finish using a lambswool pad

the next day a final coat of varathane was applied, it was dry in a few hours.  The dogs have been testing it out for durability - so far so good

here are some more things we have been working on

these linen curtains were made from an old bed skirt

these are the industrial brackets that I picked up for $10 with some barn wood shelving

we have nine more days to go till the dead line.  See you soon, Lori

Monday, September 20, 2010

Fall Blog Break!

 I'm taking a break from the blog for a few days and heading home to my native Virginia.

While it would be great to see a little fall color, this Texas transplant will be happy to experience a temperature below 95!

Enjoy these first days of fall wherever you are and have a great week!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Small Kitchen, Big Style - Details.....

The elements that make up the style in the kitchen from the earlier post make all the difference in creating a kitchen with loads of style. Some of the details up close....

Back splash tile in a glass mosaic....
Cosmos slab granite counter tops...
Excuse the glare! A Flemish-type decorative glass in the open cabinetry...
Farmhouse sink with oil rubbed bronze Grohe faucet, cup pulls and knobs on the drawers and cabinet doors.

Friday, September 17, 2010

a little weekend kitchen update

Here is a weekend update on Megan's kitchen I am re-doing for under $1000

the plywood floor is done and coated with three coats of high traffic Varathane

the concrete counter is still curing

the light fixtures are expected to arrive any day from Barn Light Electric

the farm table is in the work shop and is waiting for legs

the shelving is done

microwave cart done as well

the curtains are being sewn from pure white linen fabric found at a thrift shop for $8

I found incredible industrial shelf brackets for $10 at a restaurant liquidation sale

I have been picking up a few things at yard sales and thrift stores to place on the open shelves

the look I am going for will include

galvanized metal, white china, clear glass and natural bleached pine

hotel silver for $1.00

so far I have spent just under $20 on kitchen accessories.  I really don't need to get much more.  Megan has great stuff in her kitchen storage closet and through out her home that I will be using as well.

 these photos below are my inspiration for the kitchen floors.  I am sorry that I do not know the source - if anyone does I will be happy to give credit


 I got the look using the plywood planks


 you will have to wait a little bit longer for the reveal

have a great weekend - Lori

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