Removing a Reverse Osmosis Filter

Hi everyone! I saved my least favorite kitchen project of the kitchen renovation for last–removing our reverse osmosis water filter and replacing our kitchen faucet. I’m going to break this project down into two posts. This post will focus on removing the reverse osmosis filter.

old faucet and reverse osmosis filter faucet
Our old boring faucet and the filter faucet.

I know people love their reverse osmosis filters, but we rarely used ours (we used the chilled water in the fridge) and it took up a ton of space under our sink cabinet. And, since storage is at premium in our tiny kitchen, it needed to go.

reverse osmosis storage tank
This is only have of the reverse osmosis filter

I’ve installed bathroom faucets before, and they’re very straight forward. So, I was most worried about the reverse osmosis filter. If you haven’t seen one before, you can see from the pictures below that there are a lot of large pieces and a lot of tubes that go in to water and drainage pipes. I was worried about removing the wrong one or breaking something. So, it took me a month of scouring YouTube videos on how to remove a reverse osmosis filter before I felt comfortable tackling the project.

reverse osmosis filter
And, here’s the second part on the other side of the cabinet.

Not to spoil the ending, but because of the awkward corner cabinet and our giant garbage disposal, I got about 75% of the way through the project and had to call in our fantastic handyman on a Saturday afternoon for his help to finish the project. So, I’m going to talk about how to do both projects, but I’ll let you know when I stopped and our handyman took over.

Removing the Reverse Osmosis Filter

The steps to remove the reverse osmosis filter aren’t that hard–the hardest part is accessing the connections to remove it.

When working with any plumbing, a few words of wisdom: make sure you truly feel comfortable doing what you’re doing. If you have an inkling of doubt, please call a licensed plumber. The last thing you want is a flood in your newly renovated kitchen, or to be without water until a professional can come out and fix the problem. I am a DIYer, so what I am describing is how I completed this project. Please don’t take it as professional advice.

Step 1: Turn Off the Water

water shutoff
The water input valve for my filter

Before you do any plumbing project, make sure you turn off the water. To turn off the water, find the water shut off under your cabinets, and turn the handle until it’s all the way off. To test it, turn your faucet on and run the water until it stops. If your set up is anything like mine, I had three water shut offs under the sink–one for the filter, one for the cold faucet, and one for the hot faucet. I turned them all off before starting.

I’m a nervous nelly, so not only do I turn off the local shut off valves, but a lot of times, I also turn off the whole house water because I’m still new to plumbing projects and like having that as a security blanket to give me a little more confidence for the projects.

Not going to lie, for me this was easier said than done. Because my sink is installed in a corner cabinet, I had to angle myself in the cabinet and around the garbage disposal to even reach the water shut offs or any part of the faucet. This is ultimately why I stopped mid-way and called my handyman. I was too uncomfortable laying in the cabinet, and I couldn’t get the correct angles to use the tools I needed to.

Step 2: Drain the Reverse Osmosis Storage Tank

Before removing anything, make sure you drain the reserve tank. This is super easy–just turn your filter faucet on and drain the water until it stops running. That will drain the water in the tank. Once it stops flowing, you can turn the faucet off again.

reverse osmosis filter faucet
You can see the handle is up, so the filter is open to drain. I let it drip for a few minutes to make sure I got out as much as I could.

This step is important so you’re not trying to drag a tank of water out from under your faucet. It’s super heavy when it’s empty, so it would be ten times worse if you don’t do this first.

Step 3: Disconnect all the Tubing

This can be a little messy (and by messy, I mean wet), so make sure you have some old towels or rags under the cabinet with you to dry things up as the water drips. Because even though you drained your tank, there will be some water left in the tubing that will drain out when you disconnect it.

drainage pipes
See that tubing going in to the central drainage pipe at the top of the screen. That piece had to come out (it’s called a T piece, since it’s shaped like a T). After I did that, I took that 3-way piece and took it to Home Depot and bought a replacement for $2 that was straight and easily replaced it.

To disconnect them, I just had to twist with my hands, but I did have some pliers and a wrench just in case something was stuck.

The pieces I disconnected were:

  • The drainage tubing connected to the T piece
  • The tubing connecting the storage tank and the filter
  • The tubing connecting the filter to the water line
  • The tubing connecting the storage tank and the faucet

I took all that tubing out from under the sink, so I could more easily remove pieces and see what I was working with.

Step 4: Remove the Reverse Osmosis Water Tank

After everything was disconnected, I lifted the water tank out from under the sink. (This was actually as easy it sounds).

reverse osmosis storage tank
Here it is hanging out with Sadie’s toy in our living room.

Step 5: Remove the Reverse Osmosis Water Filter

Lift the water filter out from under the sink and put it aside. (Also, as easy as it sounds).

reverse osmosis filter
Look how gross it was–yuck!

Step 6: Remove the Filter Faucet

under the sink
The hole on the left with the white tubing coming out of it is the filter faucet. I couldn’t reach that, no matter how hard I tried.

This is where I had to call my handyman. No matter how I wedged myself, I couldn’t get a grip on the nut that holds the faucet underneath the sink. My handyman, of course, slid right in there and had it out in less than 5 minutes.

hole in the sink
Success!

Step 7: Plug the Hole in your Countertop (or Replace it With a Soap Dispenser)

We wanted to install a soap dispenser in this extra hole, but as is our luck in this house, the hole was too small to hold any current day soap dispensers we can find. So, for now, we installed a brushed nickel cover while we search the internet for a soap dispenser that may fit.

To install the cover, it works best if you have two people. You simply place the little foam piece over the hole.

Then place the cover into the hole, and while one person holds the cover in place, the second person goes underneath the sink and screws a large plastic nut on to the cover until it’s tight. That’s it!

The soap dispensers work the same way, if you want to place one of those instead.

Success!

Step 8: Fix any Issues with the Plumbing Before you Turn the Water Back On

If by removing the filter, you had to remove pieces of plumbing (like I had to remove the T piece), or if you now have an open hole draining from your water line, you’ll need to fix these before turning the water back on.

In terms of the water line, I was lucky in that we had a separate water shutoff for the filter. So, I have kept the water shutoff off, and we put a little plug in it that you can buy at Home Depot or any plumbing supply store.

For the drainage pipe that we removed the T pipe from, I went and bought a straight PVC pipe the same width from Home Depot. That way when I loosened all the drainage pipe connections and removed the T piece, I just slid the new piece right in and it worked perfectly with the rest of the existing pipes.

Then tighten all the nuts again, and make sure your drain pipe after the
p-trap (the loop at the bottom that looks like a sideways p), is slowly draining downward.

Now’s the moment of truth–turning your water back on and looking for leaks. My dad taught me to wipe every pipe connection down with a paper towel before turning the water on, so you can easily touch each connection and see if there’s a slow water leak. If there is, turn the water back off, reposition or tighten the nuts again, and repeat the process. Sometimes, you’ll get lucky the first try, and sometimes (like when I replaced the bathroom vanity), it’ll take you 2 hours.

Make sure you run the water on full blast for 5-10 minutes (really, you should run it that long) to make sure there’s no leaking.

Once you feel confident it’s not leaking anywhere, I’d still come back the next few days and check to make sure there wasn’t a super slow leak that you just missed the day before. I normally leave a bowl underneath the connections for the first week, or a towel, just to be safe.

Voila! We did it! We removed this massive reverse osmosis filter and have added a whole cabinet full of storage space for us to use–mostly for cleaning supplies and grocery bags.

Not the cleanest yet, but still so great!

Everything we currently have under the sink cabinet where the filter was, used to be in a 12″ lower cabinet in our kitchen. Now that’s completely empty! I’m sure we’ll fill it in two seconds, but it’s so great to be able to gain some of our cabinet space back, especially by removing something we weren’t using.

Let me know if you have any questions! On Friday, I’ll talk about the last medium-sized kitchen project: replacing the faucet! Then we’re basically completely done!

~Lauren

Family Command Center

kitchen command center

Good morning friends! I’ve been eyeing all these gorgeous family command centers on Pinterest for the past year. So, when I decided to tackle the kitchen in January, a command center was definitely on my wish list. Now, it’s just me, and my husband, and our pup right now, so do we really need a command center? Probably not, especially since we have very detailed Google Calendars already. But, I wanted to have a visual schedule for big events to glance at every day, without having to log in to a device.

Once I found my calendar, I was able to install the whole command center in under an hour, and the whole cost was $40.

Disclosure: The links in this post are affiliate links, meaning, at no cost to you, I earn a small commission if you click the link and purchase the item. I’ve only linked items I’ve used in the past and would use again (unless otherwise noted). 

Choosing your Command Center Spot

For me, this was a no-brainer. I had a small, empty wall between where my cabinets ended and the basement door. I could never put anything like shelves on it because the basement door wouldn’t open all the way then. Before I started the renovation, I had my family Shutterfly calendar and a picture of some wisteria on it, just to add a little love to the kitchen. So, this was an easy decision for me.

If you don’t have an easy choice, pick a spot that is at least 4 feet wide and you have at least half an empty wall to work with. I’d also recommend choosing a place that’s in a busy spot in your house. What’s the point of hanging a calendar in place you only go a few times a week? You’ll never use it, no matter how much you say you will. And, how can you admire all your handywork then?!

Choosing your Command Center Items

This is what took the longest amount of time for me. I really wanted the right calendar to anchor the command center. So, I scoured Pinterest and Etsy and Wayfair and Target, and Pottery Barn, for options. I loved the acrylic calendars I saw on Pinterst and Etsy, but I wasn’t ready to shell out the $200 they cost.

Note: If you’re in your forever home, and this command center is going to be hanging for many, many years, go for the $200 calendar. A lot of these amazing creators will personalize it with your family name, with the colors you like, and have tons of calendar options. If we hadn’t just spent all this money on our kitchen, I probably would have snapped one up. But, I decided to be fiscally responsible (how boring).

How I Found my Command Center Items

One early Sunday morning I went to Home Goods looking for a coffee canister to match our new kitchen, and on a whim, walked down the aisle that had office supplies. There, I found a calendar I loved! And, the best part–only $25. I quickly put it in my cart before anyone else could come and steal my find, and then frantically called Steve to wake him up and have him measure the space to make sure it would fit (you know he loved that).

When choosing the size of my calendar, I wanted to make sure it took up most of the width of my small wall, but still left a few inches on either side so it didn’t seem too crowded. So, for our 30 inch wall, this 25.5″ x 19.5″ calendar was perfect.

Once I had my calendar, the next step was figuring out what else to hang up. I definitely wanted a small basket to keep markers for the calendar, and then as a catch-all for all those little things that wind up in the kitchen but don’t have a home. Luckily, right across the aisle they had this great black wire basket. It was only a few inches deep, which would work perfectly, so our basement door could still open without hitting the basket every time. I spent a half hour in the aisle looking at other baskets and rails to hang up, but since the space was small, I decided to stick with one basket and an extra Ikea rail I had from my pot rack project.

Tips for Choosing your Command Center Items

When choosing your items, here’s how I would approach it:

  • What is the overall goal for your command center? Is it the calendar and keeping your family schedules organized? Then you might want a bigger calendar and less accessories. Is it the calendar but also adding some storage? Then, like me, you might want a smaller calendar with some baskets or rails to hang things on. Answering these questions will help you figure out what you need to buy.
  • How much space do you want to use? I was ok with using the whole wall, so I had a lot of flexibility in what I chose. If you have a smaller space to use, you may need to buy smaller items, stick with baskets to provide storage that sticks out from the wall instead of takes up room on the wall, and stay away from rails, where things will hang below them.
  • And, the question for every project, how much money do you want to spend? As always, this was my driving force for my final decision. I didn’t want to spend more than $50-$75 on the command center, so it took me a little longer to find what I wanted. If you’re willing to spend closer to $150-$200, you’ll have a ton of options.

Other Supplies Needed

Once you’ve picked your calendar and other accessories, you’ll just need a few other items to help hang your items. I had all of these already at home, so there was no additional cost for me.

  • Drywall anchors (buy plenty of extras because no matter what brand I use, I feel like I go through a ton for every project)
  • Impact Driver (I love my Ryobi Impact Driver)
  • Drill (I love my Ryobi drill too!)
  • Hammer and measuring tape (mine are from this great tool set from Craftsman Evolv. My dad gave it to me when I bought my condo when I was 24 and didn’t know what half the tools were, and I still use all of them 10 years later. And, it’s only $35).
  • Laser Level
  • S Hooks for the Rail

Step 1: Decide Where You Want to Hang Everything on the Wall

This is the fun part where you hold things up and try to lean back while holding it up to see if you like it or not, and try to gauge it from the length of your arms 🙂 Or, if you have a nice husband, make him hold things, while you stand back and decide.

Once you decide where you want things, you’re going to focus on the biggest piece first–the calendar.

Step 2: Install the Calendar

measuring for command center

Since calendar is the center of the project, hang this first. I know you’re excited to see it up, but it’s really important to take time to make sure it’s exactly where you want it to be. For me, that meant making sure the calendar was centered on the wall (i.e. measuring the distance between the edge of the calendar and the wall on both sides to make sure they were equal or really close to it). I drew lines with a pencil on the edges of the calendar so I knew where the top corners should be on the wall.

Next, measure where the screws need to be. You can do this by measuring the distance between the hooks and the corners of your calendar, and then repeat those measurements on the wall to mark where the screws should go. To double check your work, measure the distance between the screw holes on the back of the calendar and compare it to the pencil marks for the screw holes on the wall to make sure they’re the same.

Then, make sure your marks are level on the wall–this is where your laser level is super handy!

Once your happy with your marks, break out your drill! Using a drill bit that’s slightly smaller than your drywall anchors, drill a hole on each of the marks for your screws.

drilling hole
Yes, my sweatshirt is inside out–thats my go-to attire for messy home projects, and I installed this during a break in tiling the backsplash.

Then hammer your drywall anchors in until they are flush with the wall.

installing drywall anchor

Next, using your impact driver, or screwdriver if you don’t have one, screw the screws into the drywall anchors, leaving 1/8″ to 1/4″ of the screw head out of the anchor (enough space to get the hooks to catch).

Then, hang your calendar! You can see I was so proud of mine until Steve pointed out it was crooked. Since I’m not the tallest person and I can be difficult and refuse to use a step stool unless I absolutely need to, I tend to tilt the drill when I’m making a hole. That doesn’t help with hanging things level.

command center crooked with level

So, I had to take one screw and drywall anchor out, spackle the wall, and put another one in–this time perfectly level.

hanging calendar for command center

And, voila! It looks so great! First step of my command center done.

calendar for command center
Perfectly level this time!

Step 3: Install the Basket

I installed the basket next because I wanted the basket right under my calendar, but you should follow these steps for whatever you want to hang next.

using drill

Now, basically follow the exact same steps to hang your basket. Measure where you want it to be and mark with a pencil where the screw holes need to go. Using your level, make sure your marks are level. Then use your drill to make the holes for your drywall anchors. Screw your screws into the drywall anchors using your impact driver or screw driver, leaving 1/8″-1/4″ out of the wall, to hang the basket from. Then hang your basket! (And, double check that it’s level).

hanging basket for command center

Boom! Second part done!

basket and calendar for command center

Step 4: Install the Rail

I finished my command center off with a rail to add a little more vertical storage to our kitchen. We needed a space for our grill tools, my aprons, and a few strainers. And, it was just a little sweeter that I had this great Ikea rail leftover from my pot rack project (I bought 2 extra), so it was a free addition 🙂

command center completed

You’re going to follow the same steps as above to install the rail. Measure and mark where the screw holes go, install your drywall anchors, screw your screws in, and hang the rail. (If you want detailed instructions on how to install these particular Ikea rails, follow the instructions in my pot rack post.)

Then using your S hooks, spend an hour agonizing what to hang and in what order on the rail (or, is that just me and my craziness?).

kitchen command center

And, that’s it! Command center complete in less than an hour! What do you think??? Since it’s just me and Steve, we each have our own color and then we have one color for mutual things. And, for now, I’m just putting major events (or things I tend to forget) because we have a google calendar for all the little details. But, I absolutely love it! The extra storage is a huge help, the basket is great for the markers, plus I’ve added our chip clips and reusable sandwich bags there, which is a great place to keep those things. And, the whole command center really finishes off the space.

What do you have hanging in your command center? Anything you think I should add?

~Lauren

Installing Cabinet Lights

under cabinet lights on

Hi friends! I’m still putting the finishing touches on the kitchen, and installing cabinet lights was definitely something I wanted to tackle. I feel like under-the-cabinet lights make a kitchen look so polished and really add a “complete” feel to the kitchen. But, my biggest worry is I didn’t have the electrical skills to do this project. I’m not comfortable enough with electrical work to wire them into a switch, so I had to get a little creative in this install. Keep on reading to see how I made this work without having to rewire anything in the kitchen.

Disclosure: The links in this post are affiliate links, meaning, at no cost to you, I earn a small commission if you click the link and purchase the item. I’ve only linked items I’ve used in the past and would use again (unless otherwise noted). 

Choosing Cabinets Lights

Because I didn’t want to do any wiring, and I also didn’t want to use my countertop plus for this project, I had to get a little creative.

I was originally considering battery-operated lights that were operated by a remote control. If you don’t want to drill a hole in your cabinets (if you’re not a lucky duck like me and already have the holes pre-dilled in your cabinets), these are a great option. You can mount them on the underside of your cabinet without any drilling or wires, and then you can use the remote to turn them on and off. The reviews I read said if you only leave them on a few hours a day, the batteries should last about 6 months, which isn’t terrible. And, to replace the batteries, you just need to twist the top of the light off and then twist it back on once they’re replaced.

I was 100% on board with these until I realized we had predilled holes in our cabinets for kitchen cabinet lights. AKA the previous owners had cabinet lights and took them with them when they left–jerks. So, that opened up my options for wired lights, but I still had the conundrum of using the countertop outlets.

And, then–I remembered the microwave plug in our upper cabinet. The microwave only uses one of the plugs, so the other is just sitting empty. If I could run the wires through the cabinets to that plug, we solved the problem of hiding all the wires.

Now, I was only left with one problem: if I plug the lights in over the microwave, how to I turn them on and off. I looked for a remote option, but before I got too far, I remembered we have an extra Wemo smart plug. If you haven’t used smart plugs before, these plugs are wifi-enabled and allow to control the plug from your phone or Alexa. You can also set timers for daily use. This was the perfect solution for the cabinet lights. I could plug them into the Wemo and use Alexa to turn them on and off, and set a period of time for them to be on every day.

Once I got all these pieces worked out, I went to Home Depot and just bought their under the cabinet puck lights. They come 3 in a package, with an extension cord, and cost about $20. I just needed 3 lights, so it was perfect.

Supplies

Outside of the lights and Wemo Plug, here are the other supplies I used for this project:

Step 1: Prepping your Cabinets

Take everything out of your cabinets to get ready to install the new lights.

I was super lucky and already had holes predrilled in my cabinets for the lights, as well as grooves cut until the bottom cabinet shelf for the wires. If you don’t have this already, here’s a great YouTube video on how to drill the holes in your cabinet bases. You really just need a drill and the special attachment to drill the hole.

Step 2: Installing the Cabinet Lights

light disassembled

I made this step way more complicated than it needed to be. I followed the instructions on the packaging, which seemed pretty straightforward (as you should for whichever lights you decide to buy). Remove the light cover, place the rubber protectant layer on the light, install the bracket. But, I couldn’t figure out why the bracket that was supposed to hold the light to the cabinet was smaller than the light itself. I couldn’t see how the bracket could possible connect to the light.

small bracket over light

After trying a bunch of different ways to connect them (I was looking for a different hole to screw the bracket into), I realized that the bracket is smaller for a reason. As you screw the bracket to the puck, the bracket flattens out and will hold the light in place. It can be a little tricky to angle the screw in to reach the hole in the light, but after you figure out one, you’ll be fine!

light installed in cabinet

Step 3: Drilling Holes Between Cabinets

Now your lights are in, and it’s time to drill the hole between your cabinets so your lights can get power. This part was a little more complicated than I expected. I was thinking I’d just use my 1 1/8″ bit to drill a hole between the two cabinets, no problem. What I found out was I need to make a smaller hole first.

different drill bits
These are the ones I used

So, I’d recommend using a larger drill bit (wood or brad point bit) to drill a hole through the two cabinets first. Then taking a smaller spade bit (3/4″-1″) to drill through the same hole to make it bigger. And, finishing with the final 1 1/8″ spade bit. This way your spade bits have something to bite into when making the hole. You need a drill bit that’s slightly bigger than the width of your plug to be able to feed the cord through the hole (for me, that was 1 1/8″, but measure your cord before you commit).

drilling hole in cabinet
It does make a little bit of a mess, in case you couldn’t tell.

I also learned that you don’t want to press real hard into your spade bit when making a hole. You really just want to hold it against the wood and let the bit grab as much wood as it wants. It will slowly make your hole. I tried to apply pressure as spade bit was working, and it caused the bit to get stuck over and over again. Just let the drill do the work!

Once you have the hole between the cabinets, you can feed your wires through.

wires through cabinet hole

Step 4: Securing the Wiring

Using your cord clips, you can tame your wires in your cabinet. I ran all of mine up the back of the cabinet, so you couldn’t really see them once the cabinets were filled with stuff.

Using a hammer and your cord clips, just fit the wire in the clip and hammer the nail into the wall so the clip is secured to the wall.

cabinet with cord clips

Feed your wires through your new holes to get to your plug. And then, you can use cord clips and zip ties to organize any extra cords near your outlet.

Step 5: Setting up Your Smart Plug

Plug your lights into your smart plug and set your smart plug up according to the manufacturer’s instructions. I set mine up to function with Alexa instructions, and to turn on at 5pm every day and turn off at 8pm every day, so they didn’t get too hot or burn out too quickly.

wemo switch
Our Wemo switch hidden above our microwave.

Step 6: Enjoy!

under cabinet lights on

Doesn’t it just add an extra level of polish? And, it only took an hour and cost about $30 to complete (for the lights and cable clips). You’ll need to plan for a little extra time and money if you have more lights, or if you have to drill holes for your lights under the cabinets, but it’s still a great Saturday morning project to class up your kitchen!

If you liked this post, check out my previous kitchen projects, like painting your kitchen cabinets, installing a backsplash, hanging pot racks, and installing a knife rack and spice racks.

~Lauren

Installing Kitchen Shelves

painted white shelves with ceramic ware

Hi friends! After a little backyard break, time to get back to finishing the kitchen! All our big kitchen projects are now done (this is me giving myself a round of applause!). There are just a few small projects left that I wanted to do to personalize our kitchen, and installing kitchen shelves to display all our pretty colored ceramic was one of them.

If you’re new to A Girl’s Guide to Home DIY–Welcome! Check out our previous kitchen projects, like painting your kitchen cabinets, hanging pot racks, installing knife rack and spice racks, and installing a backsplash.

Before this project, the previous owner had installed two brown shelves above the sink that we used for cookbooks and other general storage. This was great, except I couldn’t reach anything on the shelves comfortably because of our corner sink. So, when I started the kitchen renovation, I took the shelves down and searched and searched for a better option.

Of course, I couldn’t find something I loved, so I decided to repurpose the existing shelves. The project was spread out over a few days (only to allow the paint time to dry), but in total time, it took about an hour. And, best part: it cost me a grand total of $0!

pinterst pin

Disclosure: The links in this post are affiliate links, meaning, at no cost to you, I earn a small commission if you click the link and purchase the item. I’ve only linked items I’ve used in the past and would use again (unless otherwise noted). 

Supplies

I didn’t need to buy any supplies for this project. If you need kitchen shelves, I have these Ikea shelves in dark brown. I used some leftover cabinet paint for my kitchen shelves, so they blended well in the kitchen.

If you’re looking for some kitchen shelves (or really just shelves for any room), I love these Ikea Ekby Jarpen shelves that the previous owner installed. The brackets provide support and a little bit of character. They come in 2 sizes and 3 color options. We had the black/brown ones that I painted white (obviously if I was buying them myself, I’d just buy the white ones). They can be cut to whatever size you need, and the brackets hide any cut marks. And, best part–they’re cheap: $18 for the 31″ ones and $28 for the 47″ ones. (Not a sponsored post, but a product I really love!)

Otherwise, these are the painting supplies I used:

Step 1: Take Your Old Kitchen Shelves Down (or Buy Your Shelves)

First things first, if you’re reusing old shelves, take down your old shelves and remove any old hardware in the walls if you’re installing your shelves in new spots. If you’re keeping the same spot, then save the screws and leave the drywall anchors in the wall to reuse.

using to drill to remove brackets

Step 2: Clean Your Old Kitchen Shelves

Just like painting your cabinets, cleaning your shelves before painting them is crucial! It keeps you from putting paint directly onto dirt–which means your fresh paint will just slough off when the shelf is scraped.

I used the same amazing degreaser as I did when painting our kitchen cabinets–Spray Nine cleaner and degreaser. You can see how dirty those shelves were before, and then after cleaning them. I feel like I never know exactly how greasy things in the kitchen can get just by being in the kitchen, but let me assure you, it gets gross real fast. So, make sure you clean every part of the shelves and brackets.

Step 3: Sand and Paint the Kitchen Shelves

Sanding

Once your shelves are clean, take the time to sand them to help the paint stick. I know, I know. Sanding is messy and sucks. But, it really doesn’t–especially, something this small. And, just like cleaning, it makes a huge difference in how well the paint sticks.

Sanding is especially important with these Ikea shelves because they’re made of particleboard, so they’re not going to soak up the paint as well as pure wood would. Scuffing the previous finish with a little sanding will get you a more lasting finish.

dirty shelf

Once you’re done sanding, make sure you clean every nook and cranny of the shelves, so you don’t have any sawdust stuck in your new paint.

wiping dirty shelf

Painting

Then, time to paint! Remember the paper cup tip from painting your cabinet doors?? We’re going to reuse that for these shelves.Place your shelves on 4 paper cups, so they’re elevated from your painting surface. This will let you get all the edges without painting your table, while also letting air circulate around the shelf to help it dry evenly.

shelf elevated on cups

Using your roller, make sure you go over one side and the edges with smooth even strokes. It’ll take maybe 5 minutes to put a coat on. Now, let the paint dry to the touch (I waited 2 hours) before flipping it over and painting the other side. I then let my shelves dry for 24 hours before placing the second coat, but feel free to put the second coat on in 4 hours (I was painting after work a couple afternoons, so I did a coat an afternoon).

I put a total of three coats on the shelves to get them as clean looking as possible.

painted shelves

Then, I would recommend putting a sealant on the shelves if you plan on placing and removing things from the shelves repeatedly. Ours are mainly decorative, and I was impatient, so I skipped this step, but I would definitely recommend it.

Step 4: Reinstall Brackets

Using your drill, reinstall your brackets with the provided screws. (You can use a screwdriver too, but if you have a drill, why not save the time and muscle power).

using drill to install bracket

Step 5: Reinstall the Kitchen Shelves

If you’re using the same holes from where the shelves previously were, then this step is super easy. Simply screw your shelves back in where they were previously and make sure they’re level.

laser level on shelf

If you’re installing new shelves, or installing your revamped shelves in a new place, there’s a few more (easy) steps to follow.

First, decide where you want to hang your shelves. Using a level or your laser level and a pencil, mark where the holes for your brackets need to be.

using laser level
That line’s not level, I know, but I was taking a picture with one hand, so I get a pass 🙂

Then, if you’re lucky like me and get to install the shelves directly into studs, you get to skip all that drywall anchor nonsense and just screw the brackets directly into the studs. Easy peasy.

Installing Drywall Anchors

If you need to use drywall anchors (if you’re installing your shelves into drywall and not studs, you need drywall anchors), not to worry! It’s just an extra step. Install your anchors first.

If you’ve never installed dry wall anchors, they’re easy!

First, using your drill, drill a hole that is just smaller than the size of your anchor (the plastic piece).

Then, gently hammer the anchor all the way into the wall. (If the anchors start to bend, throw them away and start with a fresh one. If they keep bending, your drywall hole may need to be a little larger, so use your drill to make the hole a little larger and try again.)

Install all your anchors before you try to hang the shelf. Once you have all your anchors in, holding the shelf up, screw the screws through each of the brackets, into the drywall anchor. That’s it!

Step 6: Decorate!

ceramic ware on shelf

Your pretty shelf is up and ready for decorations and storage! I love color (despite my very white kitchen), so I wanted to display a lot of our pretty pots and pans. So, I’m technically using my shelves for storage, but really, it’s just an excuse to look at all my pretty things 🙂

ceramic ware on shelf

This was such a quick update for our kitchen, and the best part–it cost me absolutely nothing. Even if you have to buy the shelves, you’re looking at less than $50 for a beautiful new nook or extra storage space for your kitchen. Not too shabby, if you ask me.

ceramic cookware on shelf

Let me know what you think, and if you have any questions in the comments section below!

~Lauren

How to Seed your Yard (Overseeding)

backyard in 2018
Spring 2018 (before aerating and overseeding)

Happy Friday everyone! (And, Happy St Patrick’s Day!) I hope your weather is as nice as it it is here in Northern Virginia! I had breakfast outside on our porch this morning and Sadie chased her ball until she could chase no more. Unfortunately, it’s supposed to rain and then drop back to the 40s and 50s by tomorrow, but I’ll take this glimpse of Spring while I have it! To continue on with Tuesday’s post on the importance of overseeding your yard, today I’m going to talk about exactly how to seed your yard. This is something we’ve done twice a year for the last two years that we’ve lived at our house, and it’s made such a huge difference in our yard. We still have a ways to go to be able to use the word “lush” to describe our grass, but we’re getting there!

backyard in 2019
Spring 2019 before overseeding–so much better, right?!

If you’re using an aerator, I’d plan on saving about 4-5 hours of a Saturday for this project (that includes an hour on each end of the project to rent and return the aerator). Otherwise, all you need is about 2 hours (more or less, depending on the size of your yard) to give your yard a jumpstart this spring!

Disclosure: The links in this post are affiliate links, meaning, at no cost to you, I earn a small commission if you click the link and purchase the item. I’ve only linked items I’ve used in the past and would use again (unless otherwise noted). 

Supplies

You don’t need a whole lot for this project. Below are the things I used last week when I overseeded our backyard:

  • Grass seed (duh)
  • Fertilizer
  • Rake (not a leaf rake, but a garden rake like this one. This is not the rake I have but looks almost identical.)
  • Optional: Aerator (see the benefits of using the aerator in my last post)
  • Spreader (either a handheld one like the Scotts Wizz, or a push one)
  • Sprinkler & Hose
  • Gardening Gloves
  • Lawn Mower (hopefully, if you have a yard, you already have this)

That’s it! Not too bad, right? If you have a yard, I’m betting you already have a lot of these things in your shed. We had to buy the rake, spreader, fertilizer, seed, and sprinkler when we started, and I think that cost us about $100 total. If you decide to rent an aerator, we spent around $80 on a full day rental. They have a 4 hour rental window as an option that’s cheaper, but the Home Depot that had it in stock was 30 minutes away, so we didn’t want to feel rushed when we had the aerator at home.

Ok, let’s dive on in!

Step 1: Aerate/Rake up Dead/Bare Spots

As with any project, you need to start your project by prepping your space–in this case, your yard.

Pick up any sticks, dog poop, rocks, sandboxes, or anything else sitting on your grass.

Then, set your mower to the lowest setting, and cut your grass. Make sure you have your lawn mower bag attached, or you pick up the clippings afterwards. Cutting your grass allows the sun to get closer to the soil and the roots, so your soon-to-be baby grass seedlings can get the sun it needs to grow into a beautiful yard.

Next, if you’ve decided to aerate it, great! Run the aerator over your yard once clockwise and once counter-clockwise.

man pushing aerator
Steve took aerating very seriously last year

Otherwise, any spots that are bare or have dead grass, you should rake up so the dead stuff is pulled up and the fresh dirt is exposed. This is the most labor intensive part of the whole process, so don’t get discouraged when you’re exhausted after this step, like I was.

raked lawn
This spot was mostly bare, but a little grass had grown. I raked up all around it to give the new seed the best chance this year.

After you’ve taken care of the dead spots, make sure you lightly rake up the rest of the yard. The goal is to break up the ground so your fertilizer and seed can penetrate the ground to grow (otherwise, when it gets wet, the seed and fertilizer will just run right off). You are going to pull up a little of your healthy grass, and that’s ok. Just try not to pull a ton of it up.

Step 2: Fertilize

Once you’re done raking or aerating, the rest of the steps are pretty easy. The first thing you want to do is apply your fertilizer with your spreader.

I love my Scotts Wizz handheld spreader. As I’m sure you can tell from the pictures, our yard is pretty small. So, I was planning on hand spreading the fertilizer and seed. When we were picking up our fertilizer, we walked by the Wizz, and gadget-loving Steve had to bring it home. After using it the first time, it’s worth every bit of the $15 it cost us. You fill your fertilizer or seed into the top part.

handheld spreader

Then, look on your bag to see what setting it should be at (every bag of Scotts fertilizer and seed has the setting for the Wizz right on the bag).

back of fertilizer bag

Then you just turn the dial to the correct setting, and go!

handheld spreader

It disperses the fertilizer or seed in an even layer, just by holding the trigger. It requires 2 double batteries, so don’t forget those when you buy it. (This isn’t a sponsored post–just a product a really and truly love and highly recommend!).

Ok, back to fertilizing. You should go around your yard once clockwise and once counterclockwise to make sure you’ve covered the whole area, and then you’re done!

Step 3: Water

If it’s not going to rain in the next few hours, you should water the yard to help the fertilizer work into the soil. Use your sprinkler to soak the yard for a good 20 minutes. After that, you’re set.

A Note on Timing: A lot of experts recommend waiting 1-2 weeks before putting seed down after fertilizing, so I normally but my fertilizer down on the first nice day in February or March, and then put my seed down on the next nice day (usually for us, they’re a few weeks apart at that time of year, so it works well).

Step 4: Apply Seed

Ok–your 1-2 week wait is up, so now it’s time to put down your seed. If your grass grew a whole bunch in the last two weeks, cut it again on the lowest setting and rake up the clippings. (If you’re doing this in the early spring, it shouldn’t have grown much because it’s not warm enough. But, if you’re doing this a little later and the weather’s a bit warmer, you may need to cut your yard one more time).

Then, lightly rake up your yard again so the dirt is ready to take your seed. If you have any uneven spots in the ground (some spots higher than the others), use your rake to help you even those spots out.

Once you’ve raked, you’re ready to apply your seed. Using your spreader, spread seed, once clockwise and once counterclockwise.

Step 5: Water

Once your seed is down, you need to water with your sprinkler immediately. Again, I turn the sprinkler on for 20-30 minutes to allow a good soaking and help those seeds start germinating ASAP.

Step 6: Protect your space

For me, this is the hardest part. You want to give your yard a break for a few weeks-1 month to allow the seeds to start growing and establish a good root system.

Some people swear by applying straw (as our previous owner did), but then you have to remember to pick it up when the seed starts sprouting. That’s one too many steps for me 🙂

backyard with straw
This was our backyard when we moved in–straw everywhere! And do you think we picked that up? Not til we raked up the leaves in the fall.

Our biggest challenge is our dog, so during these few weeks we take our dog for more walks and play with her ball in the dog park, instead of the back yard. There’s no way I’m going to keep her from going outside, but at least I try to limit her racing and back and forth over the new grass.

If you have anything that stays on your yard, like kids toys or chairs, keep them off until the grass seems to be pretty hearty.

Step 7: Water Daily Until Sprouting

This is a super important step–so don’t skip it. You need to keep the ground damp to allow the seeds to germinate. So, you need to water daily (unless it rains that day). I normally run the sprinkler for 20-30 minutes while cooking dinner, which seems to be enough time to soak the yard, but not have puddles of water anywhere.

Once you have consistent grass throughout the yard, I back my watering off to a few times a week. And, when all the grass looks like normal grass, I water weekly.

Step 8: Enjoy!

That’s it! Now you can put your chairs etc back on the grass, and enjoy your new yard! This really is an easy project, but it makes such a big difference in your yard.

As I talked about on Tuesday, if you can do this twice a year, you’ll notice a huge difference in your yard in the longterm. Here’s our house when we moved in and our house this spring (after two rounds of seeding and a long winter)–not perfect, but oh so much better!

P.S. Don’t Forget Normal Maintenance!

After you’ve put all this love and care into your yard, don’t forget the normal maintenance you have to do while it’s growing–watering, moving, picking up dog poop, rotating stationary items, and raking up leaves. Anything that sits on the yard will kill the grass if left for too long, so make sure you’re picking up things that don’t belong (poop, leaves, stones) and rotating the spots of your chairs and toys.

That’s it for today. I hope this post helps get you motivated to show your yard a little love this Spring! Let me know if you have any questions. I won’t be posting on Sunday (we’re having our big St Patrick’s Day party tomorrow, but I’ll see you all back here on Tuesday)!

~Lauren