Hello! I’m Ana, a mother and homemaker from Alaska.
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posted by Ana White

For me, the sawdust is where it is AT.

Wood is my medium of choice.  I love how easy to cut wood is, how naturally beautiful it is.  I love how it smells when you work with it, I love how functional it becomes when you use it.  I love that wood is renewable, and while it renews, it renews our air.  I love working with wood.

But while taking on a Momplex, we've had to work with alot of other mediums.  Styrofoam blocks, poured concrete, and drywall.  Drywall was definitely my least favorite.

What always amazes me, no matter the project, no matter the materials you are using, the same principles apply: start square, cut square, take your time and be precise, don't skip steps, work with your materials, think ahead.  If you can do that and use a saw, you can do pretty much any DIY project around your house.

For the Momplex Vanilla kitchen, Mom-Who-Likes-to-Sew really wanted white on white on white.  With our dark winters, she wanted a bright, fresh kitchen.  So when it came time to tackle the backsplash, we choose white subway tile.

I also loved that the subway tile is shiny - there's no windows on this wall because it's the shared wall between the two duplex units.  So the shine gives the illusion of a window or at least depth.

After DIY-ing the countertops, for easy clean up we took a second to cover the countertops with paper.  Preparation is key to a successful project.  It's taken me years to get that.

Because we only have about 30 square feet to cover in tile, we went with a pre-mixed thin set.  It's a little more expensive, but for this quantity, we are talking a few dollars difference to have the premix over mixing it ourselves.  That, and we don't have running water at the sink yet to mix and clean up, so this stuff is the ticket for us.

Per the tile we are using (following directions on the thinset), we applied the thinset to the wall.  First we applied the thinset, then we used the grooved edge of the trowel to make the grooves.  The grooves allow the tile to adhere without air pockets building up behind the tile.

Another note - if you are using white grout (as we are) make sure you use white thinset.  I once made the mistake of not caring what color thinset I used, and I can still see it peeking out in the grout.  You live and learn!

Then the tile just gets applied to the wall over the thinset.  

 

We worked in small areas so the thinset wouldn't dry out before we got the tiles layed.

The subway tile we used is mesh backed, and you just flip it to get the tiles to stagger. 

We used alot of spacer to help us keep the grout lines consistent.

Where there are no electrical outlets, things went pretty fast.

But here's where they start to slow down.  We got to cut tile.

For $25 we rented a tile saw.

Grandpa Tim showed up and helped us out by cutting the tile.  I liked how he used a clamp to hold the tile in place while he cut.

It's hard to see, but we did get super lucky with our tile install (but it may be something you want to plan for if you tile a backsplash).  All of our electrical outlets landed exactly on the fourth and fifth row of tiles - so all we had to do was cut those tiles for the electrical outlets.  

We ended the tile with a bullnose.

Then we waited overnight for the thinset to dry (per thinset recommendations).  

Grout time!!!

We choose a premixed grout as well to save on time, waste and cleanup.

We grouted the tiles, using a grout float, pushing the grout in between the tiles,

Isn't it looking good???  I love this part of a project, where you are so close to being done, and you get newly inspired!

Thank goodness we covered the countertops in paper, because that grout made a giant mess.

Grandpa Tim showed up and helped us clean the grout off the tiles.  

After that, we sealed the grout lines right away.  Gotta keep the white grout white!

The subway tile is one of my favorite parts of Mom's new kitchen!  She loves it too.

I love how the electrical outlets are hardly even noticeable in the tile!

So what do you think?  Have you tiled a backsplash before?  With subway tile?  Did you like it?  We'd love to hear your side too!

Thanks for reading!

XO Ana + Fam

Operation Microhood

February 12, 2014 |
posted by Ana White

It took us two tries to get you all the deets on installing the Microhood ... good thing we got two moms and two Momplex units to finish up!

Microhoods to me are like toilets or power lines or my big toes....  function over form here, especially when space is at a premium.

The good news about every microhood I've been a part of installing is they come with pretty darn good instructions and hanging hardware.

The template fits right in the space above the range,

We taped it in place per instructions,

And then attached the wall cleat to studs in the wall, using the template to guide us.

The cleat supports the bottom of the microhood.

Now on to the poor cabinet over the microhood ...

Remember how we already modified it by running it through the table saw?

Yeah, it's back in surgery today.

Because our wall cabinet bottoms have a 1/2" lip underneath, we have to nail up some blocking where the microhood will be screwed to the upper cabinet.

And then since we are venting the microhood outside, we've got to cut a vent hole in the underside of the cabinet.

Sawzall to the rescue!

Not the prettiest cut you've ever seen,

But it'll do.  The cabinets are ready for the microhood, but we have a few things to do to the microhood itself before it's mounted.

For both microhoods, on both sides of the Momplex, we change the venting so it vents outside by removing the top plate,

And switching the vent around so it pushes air out, instead of through the internal filter.

The white microhood is ready to go.

But on the other Momplex unit (the one we are currently working on), we've got one more really big issue.

Can you guess what it is???

The sides of the stainless microhood are black, and will show because the cabinets are less deep than the microhood.

Can't have that, can we?

Not when the fix costs about $5.

We taped off the microwave and sanded the metal so the spray paint will have something to bond to.

Then we cleaned up the area and let it dry,

And started spraying!

Much better!

Once the paint was dry, we (as in we the Ram - hey I gotta take pictures for you!) hoisted her up there ....

Once the microhood caught on the cleat, it just pivoted in place,

The dang cord was quite a pain to thread through, 

But what good would be a microhood not plugged in?

To secure in place, special bolts (included with the microhood) are used to secure through top into the microhood.

Popcorn anyone?

We'd like to send a special shout-out to our babysitter for helping us make this post happen.

XO Ana + Fam

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