I’m a “DIY” Kind of Girl!

On January 1, 2013, I sighed a breath of relief that 2012 was over. I’m grateful to be alive and don’t ever want to wish away my days or be so consumed that I don’t live each day to the fullest, but last year was hard. I don’t know how else to say it. Three people dear to me died. My vision went double which (praise the Lord) corrected after a few months. We had to move twice while waiting for our new home to be finished, and I had some disappointing encounters with a pre-school I took my son out of. I witnessed a few marriages fall a part, and a pro-abortion and violator of religious freedom president was voted back into office despite his failures in his past four years. Then, to end the year, 20 children died at the hands of a killer in Newtown, Connecticut. The underlying theme of my 2012 was mourning and disappointment.

Lately, I have run into a few different people who have told me how they regularly read my blog and have noticed I haven’t been posting as much. Having these conversations has encouraged me to share why I haven’t been heard from regularly. I actually wrote more blogs than I posted last year, but chose not to publish some of my writing. I really didn’t want my readers to have to hear continually about the sad circumstances of my year, and it all sort of stumped my motivation to write. That is not to say that great things didn’t happen last year, because they did, too! But, when one mourns three people in a year, there is no getting around it, the heart hurts.

What I can say and will write about soon is that 2013 is looking up! A few great things have happened that have lead our family on some new and exciting journeys. More to come about that in a later blog!

So although this past year has been hard, my creative projects have helped me cope. Next to spending time with my husband and children, my creativity is what makes me come alive, which is why I love to write! What many of you may not know about me is that another way I express myself creatively is through DIY (do-it-yourself) projects. I love to design and decorate. It is rare that I buy an item at full price because I love taking old furniture and accessories and making them into my style. When we had cable, all the reality TV we watched was HGTV home design shows. Instead of writing regular blogs this past five months, I have been remodeling!

I thought you would all enjoy seeing some of the projects I have been working on this past year. About five months ago, we moved into a smaller home in a neighborhood we LOVE! We sacrificed space for being in an area we really enjoy. At first, I didn’t know how I would handle downsizing 600 sq ft, but now that we are accustomed to living in our new home, I really don’t miss the space. The great news about our new house is there is area to build on which is one of the reasons we bought it, but we are realizing that all four of us fit well into the space we have.

Another reason why we chose this new house is because we planned on gutting it to make it our style. My style, like me, is eclectic. I like things to look clean and blend, but in original and creative ways that are affordable. I’m excited to share some of my projects with you in a couple of blogs! This first DIY blog will share with you my kitchen and dining area remodel.

I appreciate all of you who choose to read my blogs and hope they help, encourage, and inspire you in your life and faith. Not to worry! I will still be writing those type of blogs but wanted to share with you another demention to my personality…my decorating side!

Here are some basics about the changes we made to the whole house. I wanted my new house to be brighter than the previous two that we have owned, so I chose to paint most of the area a lighter neutral color from Home Depot by BEHR called Baked Scone. I painted my son’s room, my room, and the living room in Valspar’s Secret Passage color that I found at Lowes which is a light blue/gray color that really accents the baked scone.

The previous owner’s floors were a white-pinkish tile that wasn’t our style, so we tore them out and Doug replaced them himself with a cherry laminate that matched the “farm style” look I wanted to achieve. My dad flips houses, so my husband has helped with my dad’s projects.  Doug has learned a lot from my dad and has become quite the handyman!

Below is a picture of the past owner’s kitchen.

Before picture.

Before picture.

I was tempted to tear out the whole kitchen and start over because it didn’t really match my style, but realized that the cabinets were strong and sturdy, so Doug, a few friends, and I painted them instead. It was a bit of a process, but it was cheaper than new cabinets and I found a product that I liked. The trick to painting cabinets is making them look as though they weren’t painted. Luckily, I painted cabinets in one of my other houses and we can call that my “practice.” Those cabinets looked painted which always bothered me. I researched a lot of cabinet products and settled on Rustoleum Cabinet Transformation Kit. The product really delivered and many friends who saw the before kitchen thought we bought new cabinets because they didn’t look painted and streaky. Goal achieved!

I Googled “white kitchens” and saw many design ideas that I liked. My favorite was white cabinets with white marble countertops. The problem was our budget did not allow for marble! I did some research and found that laminate has come a long way from my kitchen growing up! So much so, that I actually replaced the granite-tile countertops that were on the cabinets previously with a special order Formica Calcatta Marble laminate. What’s great about this product is it comes with granite-looking ogee edges, and the grain of the counter even has texture. The best part is that it was two times less than real marble but still gave me the look I desired. Eventually, I will add antique black handles to the cabinet doors and white subway tile as the backsplash. See my remodel below.

After look.

After look.

As you can see, I reconfigured the kitchen a little bit. I had Doug, our handyman Roger, and my dad tear out the end cabinets to make the kitchen into a even “U” shape. Then I had them put in a half wall and a small end cabinet next to the new stove. I did this so I could add an island. The island is one of my most exciting achievements in my home. I didn’t want the ordinary look of an island, so I went to an antique shop and picked up the below black antique buffet. Then I put the same Calcatta Marble countertop on the buffet and turned it into a unique island! I think it is the signature piece of the house…and if I ever want to move it or get rid of it, it’s not nailed to the ground (although it is really heavy)!

My Island Creation!

My Island Creation!

The kitchen with the island!

The kitchen with the island!

When I found the buffet furniture at the antique store, I also found a matching antique table with three leafs that I loved! The problem is the table didn’t come with chairs. I bought it anyways and searched for weeks on Craigslist to find four chairs that I could paint black to match the table. I found these (there are actually five) chairs for $30 dollars total! I bought with the idea that I could either paint them black or use them in the meantime until I find the exact type I really like. They actually match the table quite well, so I haven’t searched very hard to replace them yet.

My table and chair finds!

My table and chair finds!

And there you have it! My kitchen and dining remodel! There are still some details that need to be finished, but overall I am happy with the way it is turning out! In my next blog, I will show you how I display my faith creatively throughout my home in a deliberate and decorative way! I think that is often challenging for people to do (it has been for me) but I do have some good tips I have learned.

Feel free to let me know your thoughts on my projects! And again, don’t worry…I will return to my normal blog writing topics soon!



  1. I LOVE your style and taste, Melanie! I look forward to meeting you at the March 16th Catholic Women’s Conference. Maybe you’ll incorporate this side of you in your sharing with us! God is so good! You are sharing His good gifts through your many talents. Thank-you!

  2. Lyn McMillan · · Reply

    Thank you for your blog Melanie. I enjoy reading them as they inspire me so much. I did wonder why I had not received one for a while. You had such a sad year last year & I know how hard it can be when your heart is hurting to write. But I wondered if I could ask you if you could write even when you are feeling such heartache. Not only would it give all of “us” a chance to keep you in our prayers but I’m sure your writings would also be so instructive. We all endure pain & heartache in our lives & I know that often I don’t always handle these times in a way which leads me closer to God rather than more separate.

    Thanks also for your DIY kitchen pictures. Well done! You are amazing!!

    God Bless You.

  3. Thanks for the pics on the rustoleum finish! My husband and I had been wondering if those kits really woked. (I’ve been following your blog for over a year…so it’s just serendipidous you posted this today). While we were plenty happy with our kitchen when we purchased our house (most of which is original) some things are starting to show their age and are needing to be redone in the kithcen…the orginal 1960’s laminate floor is starting to lift up, the counter tops have detached from the cabinets and can be lifted and shifted about, the cabinets are solid, but need to be refinished….bla. We’re not terribly handy so this feels like a big chore indeed! My question, is, do you have to uninstall the cabinets to apply the rustoleum treatment? Can it just be painted on…or will it require sanding and such?
    And I can see you did more than you wrote about. You have new flooring…what kind? and did you install it yourself? I desire something that’s kid proof, water tight, attractive, but has no grout lines. Is that a wood, laminate, engineered? Easy to install? DIYable?

    1. Susanna, I will email you the answers because I have too much I want to write!

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