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  • Writer's pictureSarah Alysse

Rental Remodel- The task that really tested our relationship.

(If you ever want to test the strength of your relationship remodel a kitchen. lol) Sky and I decided to take on the task of renovating an old rental property that Sky’s dad owned. We had this vision and plan to make it modern. We had a small budget but we were confident we could do it ourselves without a team. Just us two. Like Chip and Joanna but without the crew and contractors. It ended up taking us a whole summer and if i’m being honest we never finished everything we set out to do but it’s definitely quite an improvement.

We started with pulling up all the old carpet in the house. In what is now Carson’s room after we got the carpet up we discovered a very old laminate flooring and about 1000 staples . For the better part of a week we spent it removing staples. After that we went to Home Depot and picked out carpet, we wanted something cool toned and dark enough that it wouldn’t show stains. After lots of looking we chose a Deep Slate grey carpet with white specks called “Foggy Night”. Home depot offers installation so we went that route scheduled an install and moved on to tackling the biggest task painting and the cabinets.

The cabinets in this house were a lovely orange oak shade and covered with a lacquer. We had originally planned on buying one of those cabinet kits but after tons of research and reading countless reviews we decided that wasn’t our best option. We went to Lowes and Decided on a Cabinet Enamel by Valspar . What was really cool with this product is they can tint it to any color you want. We chose the color “Metropolis”to stay with our grey theme we had going for this house. For our walls we wanted a brighter but still soft white. Much to our surprise there are 100s of shades of white. We chose Valspar Ultra Satin Paint and had it tinted to “DuJour”. Once we got back we painted all the walls just over the paint that was already there. We had to hurry because we wanted all painting to be done before they came to install the carpet.

The next day we removed all cabinets and drawers we started washing them all down with TSP which is a great de-glosser and did a pretty decent job at removing the lacquer. Some people say that tsp works well enough and you don’t need to sand or prime. I don’t know if i believe that. We tested not sanding and just priming one and it didn’t adhear as well as we would have liked so we opted to just sand them all. After sanding we wiped them down and got a primer. After lots of research Sky chose Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Primer. We used this spray gun to apply the primer, cabinet enamel and paint the walls and it saved so much time. I highly recommend getting one and using it vs. painting it on with a brush or roller.

We put plastic down and taped everything off and got to priming everything… this house has so many cabinets and drawers in every room including the hallway so there was a lot! Primer had to dry for a day or two before we could paint the cabinets. So we headed back to the store to pick out the Formica for the counters and things for the bathroom.

For the counters we chose White Ice Granite which was totally affordable because it was just Formica but still had that granite look to it. For light fixtures we chose a simple vanity lighting bar in a brushed nickel it was under $20 and perfect for what we needed. We looked at mirrors and after weighing in prices decided to actually just get a used decorative one from facebook marketplace. We wanted Back splash the kitchen but after looking at pricing for that decided if we were going to stay under a budget we couldn’t get tile back splash. I hoped online i found these peel and stick vinyl sheets that totally look real they were less $30 a box and we only needed 3 boxes for our whole kitchen!

The next time we went back to the house was to paint all the cabinet doors and drawers. Sky sprayed them all and then went to spray the cabinets. We ended up spraying the doors in the house as well with the same color paint to try and save money we didn’t use the cabinet enamel on the bedroom and bathroom doors and if i’m being honest we definitely should have because the paint itself didn’t adhere as well as the enamel did. We also used a cheaper primer on a few of the doors and same thing you can tell which doors in the house used which primer. It’s Ok to try and save money and not use name brand products typically, but not when it comes to painting is what we discovered.

For hinges and handles we considered ordering all new but with there being so many we decided to just spray paint it all Oil rubbed bronze. We scrubbed everything down with TSP and then painted it all in sections. I think i ended up doing two coats on most and then sealed it all with this clear matte coat.

For the counters we ripped all the old laminate off then sanded the wood underneath. Our counter had this drop down bar that we didn’t like so Sky got a piece of wood and cut a new hole for the sink and we extended the counter outwards making a level bar we added decorative legs for support and screwed them on. We cut the new Formica to size and then glued all the edges on first with contact cement. Then glued the rest the following day. We cut the hole for the new sink and the stove top. We cut thin boards to go where the back-splash would attach then sprayed the boards with spray adhesive and stuck the tile sheets in a puzzle like fashion to cover the boards. Back splash was done.

When we first saw the living room of this house we noticed a lovely 1970s wood panel wall that we thought just had to go. We first had the idea to remove it completely but then i decided it would be easier to just paint it and make it an accent wall. We chose a dark grey paint and panted the whole wall. It looked perfect. After that carpet guys came and installed our carpet.

We did our kitchen and bathroom floors ourselves with a grey marble style LVT which is a click and snap in. Once that was done we got baseboards and nailed them in, painted over the nails, attached cabinets, drawers and installed sinks. We were finally finished with the kitchen, dining room and bathrooms.

What we learned- It was a fun project to take on but honestly we probably will never do it ourselves again.

It came with a lot of challenges and it took a long time because we worked on it in-between life and work.

1. Don’t get the kit- it doesn’t work good for long time use. 2. Do sand everything even if you use a de-glosser -it will take longer but it is necessary. 3. Spray gun- worth every penny 4. Primer and paint- Don’t penny pinch with either

We got frustrated a lot when things didn’t go as planned and it was important to remember to not take it out on each other and if we did then to keep in mind it wasn’t the other person’s fault and be able to come back from that and work together.

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