Dad’s Tile Backsplash | Part 1

We’re almost complete with this little series I’ve called “Dad’s Dated Kitchen Redo".  We started by removing the wallpaper, then painting, updating the cabinet hardware, and now the pièce de résistance: a tile backsplash. 

I had told Mike and my dad that I wanted to lead this project, with Mike overseeing “quality control” of course.  So, a couple weekends ago, Mike helped me load up all the equipment, (wet saw, buckets, trowels, etc.) and we went over to get her done.  Mike ended up helping me a lot more than he expected since it was just him and I in the end, but he made sure to make me do most of the cutting, make a lot of the decisions, and generally do a majority of the work.  I was sore and tired, but also grateful because I got comfortable on the wet saw, and confident in my tiling skills. 

We really started with a blank slate since there was only wallpaper before.  My dad painted up to the backsplash area, removed all the outlet covers, and cleaned off all the knick knacks from the counters before we got there.




I didn’t take a single photo of the tile process since I was covered in mortar and glass shards, but it was pretty basic: mix mortar, spread mortar, cut tile’s, swear after glass tiles broke unevenly, place tile sheets on wall, sigh with relief, then repeat. 

Seriously, the tile we picked looks awesome but it was a bitch to work with.  It consisted of glass, very brittle stone, and stainless steel wrapped tiles.  I really got comfortable with the wet saw since you usually don’t have to deal with three different types of materials at once.  But, once you knew how each would react, I got used to the glass shards that shot at my face, (while I wore safety glasses of course), knowing the stone couldn’t be cut too small or it would break apart, and the metal needed the burrs filed down after each cut.

The kitchen looked completely different after we were done, even before the grout was completed.



We extended all the way up to the exhaust hood and it really makes a statement.  We also extended behind the refrigerator about 8 inches or so, so that no matter what angle you look at, (seriously, even if you’ve got your cheek on the counter looking back there), it looks like it extends all the way.  It’s also good practice in case someone gets a smaller fridge for some reason and all of sudden 2 inches shorter show the unfinished edge. 


For the other side of the kitchen and tile termination, we went with a stainless steel Shluter strip. 


We stopped it at the edge of the top cabinet, even though the counter extended a couple more inches.  To install the Shluter strip, you add some mortar, press the strip (which is an L shaped for anyone who’s never used it before) into the mortar and then add some more on top.  Then place the tile making sure it fits against the edge.

My dad’s house is a little old, built in 1989, so it’s still rocking an old telephone jack which we decided was too much hassle to remove so we left it.  #lazy 

Luckily, it’s stainless steel so it matches the tile and Shluter strip, yeah that’s our reasoning!



Even though it was a really crappy task, I’m glad I did it, because now I can say I did it, and know that I have the skills to do it again.  Although I never want to do it again, at least I know I can!

We were able to grout a couple days later, so in Part 2 I’ll show the grout and then we’ll only have a couple more small changes before it’s officially complete!

Our 1st Year Wedding Anniversary

I might have been a little hard on ourselves in my last post.  I fully realize that if fighting over building a paper towel holder is our biggest problem, we have it pretty damn good.  So, to bring it back to sunshine and rainbows over here I thought I’d share one of our gifts from our 1st wedding anniversary, which we celebrated at the end of August. 


I thought about it this week because this time last year we were one week out from leaving for our honeymoon on an island in Mexico, (we waited a couple months in the hope that we could trade some crappy Ohio weather for sun and beaches).

Isla Mujeres

While Mike has always been the one to like more personal photos, (photos of actual people – ourselves, family, friends), there is so much love and happiness when I remember our wedding and the fun we had on Isla Mujeres that I’ve been adding pictures from those events into our living room. 

I think there’s a balance needed when adding personal photos from one event into our décor.  I’m not a fan of giant canvases with wedding photos taking up an entire wall.  It looks relevant for maybe the first year or so, but after awhile the marriage becomes more important than the wedding.  Obviously, this is all personal taste, so you do you, but, I like to add our wedding photos in less obvious ways.  I’ve added the above photo of Isla Mujeres in our gallery wall in the living room, along with some wedding photos. 


They aren’t the main focus, but every once in a while I will look at one of them and remember what an awesome day that was!  I’ll also be able to switch them out more easily when other important things are documented.

But back to our 1st anniversary…

I usually go big for holidays with gifts, and paper seemed right up my alley.  I made hundreds of homemade paper flowers for our wedding for pete sakes!  But, we’ve been enjoying the summer so much that we really didn’t plan anything crazy.  We opened our wine box from the wedding ceremony and read our letters we wrote each other the days before the wedding.  There was drinking, crying, laughing, and some dancing.


We had a little sushi picnic in the park where we held the ceremony. 


And, we opened our gifts to each other.  We went small, but I also knew that I wanted to make a photo album of our wedding photos as a gift to each other.  I know that as each year passes, people will be less likely to care about our wedding, (let’s be honest, no one will really ever care as much as we do!), but I still wanted some sort of album to have to physically look through whenever we want.  I made larger albums for our parents, grandparents and my sister/maid of honor, but I had put off making ours for one reason or another. 

That is until I came across Artifact Uprising.  Their books were exactly the feel I wanted and at less than 6” square they were the perfect size for keeping out in the living room.

I had picked up the Nate Berkus Metal Wing Bowl from Target a couple weeks ago and it was the perfect spot for our little books.


I made two, the first for the ceremony and formal photos, and the second with all the reception details and party pics!


The books are really high quality and the photos are matte, which I like.  Another feature I liked was pictures can go edge to edge.


While they’re a little pricey at $17 a book, I think they were worth it for our 1st anniversary.  And, the fact that they fit in with the paper theme, as well as take care of something that’s been on my to-do list for over a year is a bonus!

Now, I’m going to go back to looking at photos of Mexico and turn the heat up really high and pretend we’re back there!

The DIY Project That Almost Broke Our Marriage

Okay, not really.  That’s a little dramatic, but it was one of the biggest (albeit stupidest) fights we’ve had in a long time. 

It started when I pinned this DIY paper towel holder and thought, “I could do that!”



Lately I’ve been feeling a little inadequate next to Mike’s mad skills.  Before I met him I was very self-sufficient and anything I wanted, I was determined and figured out a way to do it myself.  Fast forward 6+ years and I wait for Mike to help me hang pictures.  What’s happened to me?!  I’m scared to use half the tools out in our garage.  Something had to change.

So I started small, and set out to make a paper towel holder.  Seemed simple enough.  Some table saw, (really the scariest tool in my opinion), chop saw, and drilling action.

That was until I showed Mike and asked where I could get a solid piece of birch.    

It started simple enough.  We couldn’t find solid birch, so Mike suggested we use plywood and biscuit a simple frame around so we didn’t have the plywood edging visible.  Whoa, we were definitely getting out of the realm of “things Mallory could do on her own”. 

I mentioned this to Mike, there may have been yelling/tears, and he said something like it’s simple enough and I could learn how, which may or may not have included yelling back.  I bought the copper pieces, and weeks went by with this little project over our heads.  We tried to work on it together, but I got resentful that Mike had to show me/do it for me, and he got angry that I was taking it so personally.

Fast forward a month of two, (yeah this thing got dragged out), and it finally got complete.


I eventually came around to Mike’s idea of the edging, and Mike suggested using heart wood since it’s such a pretty wood.  Mike had to cut it down using the table saw and I did get comfortable on the chop saw cutting those little pieces for the edging.  It’s super hard though and it needed a lot of sanding to get smooth and even.  All that sanding wasn’t good for the center plywood and Mike sanded right through the veneer.  It wasn’t the end of the world because the heart wood and birch plywood would have taken the stain differently, so I was already thinking of painting the center.


I chose black and stained the heart wood, then taped off and painted the center.  I added 2 coats of shellac when everything was dry.


Mike screwed in the copper piping after spraying with a sealant to protect it from oxidizing and we added rubber feet to the bottom.


I didn’t stain or paint the bottom, so you can see what the plywood looked like after all the sanding.

While it was not the project I wanted it to be, and I didn’t do it on my own, I’m still really happy with my little paper towel holder.  I like our variation of the original, and in the end we did it together so that’s a plus, I guess!


I’m definitely still thinking I need to do more of these little projects myself so I can get comfortable again, I just think I won’t tell Mike since he’s known for adding a little more work to simple things.  Which is a good thing a lot of the time, just not when I’m the one who wants to figure out how to do the project!