DIY Contributor: coco+kelley

Guys, I’m excited to tell you that I’m now a DIY contributor for coco+kelley.  I’ve always been inspired by Cassandra’s site and I couldn’t be more excited to be a part of it.  Hop on over to check out my first DIY, an easy cheese board!

The Grit and Polish - In the Kitchen with Bubba



p.s. have you caught these sneak peaks of the Dexter House renovation?  We are this close to moving in!!!

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A Cement Tile Backsplash in the Kitchen


Well guys the big moment finally arrived… I tiled the kitchen backsplash! What did you think I was going to say we had our baby??!  😉

If you remember, I ordered these cement tiles a few weeks ago and was out-of-my-mind excited when they arrived:

The Grit and Polish - Dexter Tile

Leaving those beauties stacked in the corner while Garrett finished drywalling was akin to torture.  Okay, that’s probably a little harsh, but I’m just not a patient person when it comes to finishing a kitchen.  It’s only a hair easier than waiting for your baby to arrive after they’ve been cooking for over 41 weeks (not going to happen this time…right baby?!).

Anyway…back to the tiles.  Garrett really wanted to inset the backsplash into the wall so the edges of the tile would be concealed by the surrounding drywall.  I wasn’t really concerned about seeing the tile edges, but I let him go after it anyway ‘cause marriage is all about compromise.  And I like to compromise on the small stuff ;).  So Garrett put up 1/4″ hardiboard behind the backsplash and 5/8″ drwyall around it.  He pushed out the drywall immediately on either side of the hardiboard with 1/8″ furring strips so I had a solid 3/4″ of depth to work with for laying the mortar and tile.

The Grit and Polish - Kitchen Drywall

Then it was my turn!  This was my first time installing cement tiles and I found it to be…well…pretty easy.  I used an acrylic, pre-mixed tile adhesive (mostly because I’m lazy and HATE mixing up mortar) and a trowel with large teeth.  Per the tile manufacturer’s instructions, I cleaned the back of each tile prior to laying them on the adhesive.  Cement tiles are heavier than any tiles I’ve worked with before, so I put extra care into making sure the backing was evenly applied with large grooves from the trowel.   I don’t want any of these suckers popping off the wall and falling into a pot of stew when I finally get the chance to cook in this kitchen!

What I loved about working with these cement tiles (besides them being fabulous!) is the size.  They’re each 8”x8”, which made the install go fast.  I did the whole kitchen backsplash in about an hour.  After spending two full days laying the marble herringbone backsplash at Ravenna, I was overjoyed by the simplicity of this project.  The only added difficulty I found with these tiles was aligning the pattern.  It’s not rocket science (I’m looking at you, Jamie), but I did spend a little extra time laying them out.  I started by marking a vertical line at the center of the backsplash and then laid the first row beginning with the middle tile and working outwards.  After laying the center three tiles all the way to the top of the backsplash and checking that each row was level, it was time to cut the edge tiles.

The Grit and Polish - Kitchen Tile Backsplash Progress Collage with numbers

Cutting cement tiles takes a bit of extra patience because they’re harder and thicker than the ceramic tiles I’m used to working with.  I found that cutting them face-up allowed for fewer chips on the face of the tile.  When cutting these beauties, you have to be aware of the pattern.  I cut the right and left edges off of 4 tiles.  Then I laid these 3″ strips into the backsplash and called my work done.

The Grit and Polish - Cement Tile Backsplash

Everything I’ve found online recommends an impregnator/penetrating sealer for cement tiles.  Cement tiles are super porous meaning they’ll stain easily, so you have to seal them prior to grouting.  I plan to use this sealer product.  And then I’ll grout them with either a bright white grout or an off-white grout that matches the field color of the tile.  We ended up with 1/4″ grout lines (which is 1/8″ thicker than the manufacturer recommends…oops), so I’ll use a sanded grout.  Stay tuned for that.

So what do I think about the backsplash?  I LOVE it!  It was easy to install and adds big impact.  It’s like a giant Spanish/European moment in this house. Of course at $18/sf, these tiles are not cheap, but I think they’re worth every penny!  What about you guys?  Are you feeling my patterned cement tile backsplash???

Seeing the backsplash done has made me even more eager to finish this kitchen up (see previous comments on patients…)!!!!



p.s. Speaking of patterned tile backsplashes…I really dig this one!  That image was what finally persuaded me to go for broke on cement tiles!

p.p.s. Another stunning kitchen by Jessica Helgerson…she can sure design them!

p.p.p.s. Wilder is into dinosaurs right now and I think it’s amazing!  26 months has got to be my favorite age yet!  Also, yes…he’s running with scissors.


An Arbor, a Kegerator, and a Wedding


This post is a long time coming.  Like loooooonnnnnng time!  It has nothing to do with the Dexter House, the Ravenna House, or any other house for that matter, but I’m pretty excited about it.  Last summer I told you about the arbor we built for my sister-in-law’s wedding.  Well here it is in action…

The Grit and Polish - Wedding Arbor

The arbor turned out beautiful, right?  It’s almost as lovely as the bride and groom!  The sun-aged cedar, which we collected from my in-law’s wood scrap pile, added a rustic feel to the ceremony.  I love how it compliments the green lawn and never-ending rural views.  Of course, any arbor would look beautiful with Dayne and Adam underneath it 🙂

Months before the wedding, we built the arbor and moved it into one of my mother-in-law’s gardens and trained a hop plant up the side.  Hops grow like weeds, so it is no surprise that it took less than 2 months to grow the lush vine you see around the arbor.  To be fair, everything grows like weeds under my mother-in-laws enviable green thumb!  On the morning of the wedding, we cut the hops at their base, hauled the arbor (with vines attached) to the venue, stuck a couple flowers in, and voila! the perfect wedding day backdrop!  Okay, so I didn’t actually have to move the massive thing – I was much too busy getting a mani/pedi with the bride – but I understand calling it heavy is an understatement.


Unfortunately, it was a little breezy on the day of the wedding and the orange ratchit straps used to transport the arbor ended up in the ceremony, securing the arbor to the ground.  I wish we had used a different color than orange for the straps (really, any other color would have been better than bright orange), but so it goes.


My super-awesome PhD-student-turned-woodworker-on-the-weekends husband also wanted to make a kegerator for the reception so we all pitched in to help.  This is central Washington after all, and no wedding would be complete without fresh local beer on tap!  It was a huge hit – the beer and the kegerator – and the best part is we get to use the kegerator again and again at parties!

To build the kegerator, we used weathered wood from the same scrap pile at my in-laws farm and tied the piece together with rusty bolts from Papa’s garage.  Garrett built a draft system to connect the tap handles to the kegs hidden behind the structure.  I won’t begin to pretend to explain the actual beer-pouring system – it was complicated arrangement of hose, metal coil, and fittings – but it poured perfectly-chilled beers and looked awesome doing it!

The Grit and Polish - DIY KegeratorIMG_8656

True to our nature, Dayne and Adam’s wedding was a DIY family affair.  We crafted a ‘Jane Austen country’ vibe, taking inspiration from hours and hours on Pinterest and the natural surroundings of our hometown.  The ceremony and reception were hosted at a reconstructed grange hall in central Washington over Labor Day weekend.  To get that slightly-romantic, country vibe we collected 200+ pieces of mismatched china for the dinner, built flower arrangements around white and pale pink, incorporated lace runners, and found the bride the perfect vintage-inspired gown (J.Crew in case you’re interested).  DIY efforts besides the arbor and kegerator included growing flowers, making the bouquets, crafting invitations, and doing the bride’s hair.  In addition, my in-laws raised three pigs to be be served at the welcome bbq for guests – a delicious hit with the out-of-town city guests.


The bride and groom hired the most amazing caterer and had them serve everything family style.  Guests passed large bowls of food around with their neighbors, and it added such a familiar/intimate touch to the dinner. Oh and how have I not talked about the wedding cakes?!  We went with a dozen small cakes instead of one large, so a cake could be placed on each long table and served family style too.  The cakes were another DIY effort, baked and frosted by us, using a Poshusta-family recipe that I have to share some day because it really can’t be beat!

The whole wedding was truly a lovely, intimate affair full of the best things in the county!


And here’s a picture of Garrett, Wilder, and I. Wilder was pretty pumped to get to wear his cowboy boots, but I was pretty smitten with his whole outfit!  Dayne let me pick out my own bridesmaid dress so as far as I’m concerned, she’s the best. bride. ever!


Those two…gotta love ’em!

All pictures by Andy Whitaker, a talented family friend who’s put up with the Poshusta family for 12+ years now.  He’s an amazing photographer, right?!

So what do you think of the wedding?  How do our wedding-decor-DIY skills stack up to our renovation skills?  I’d love to hear what you think!



p.s. One of my favorite pictures from Dayne and Adam’s big day.

p.p.s. I’m secretly obsessed with weddings, engagements, elopements – the whole deal!  This is my favorite engagement shot ever and it’s right here in Oregon.

p.p.p.s. Love this backyard cottage.


Outside Projects


We’ve been really lucky to have 4 straight sunny weekends here in Seattle.  With so much of the nation experiencing record-cold-and-snowy-and-just-plain-awful winters, it doesn’t seem right that Seattle – a city known for wet and gray winters – should be having such lovely weather.  But there you have it.  I’m certainly not complaining!

Needless to say, we’ve been doing a lot of work outside lately.  First we built a shed and then a fence and now we’re planning landscaping.  I promise you guys more updates as our outdoor space comes together.  But for now, here’s a picture from Sunday’s gate-building project.

The Grit and Polish - gate construction

Yes, Wilder’s wearing snow boots.  He’s only been in snow one time this winter, so at least we’re getting some use out of them!

Hope you’re staying warm!!!



p.s. I am literally drooling over this salvaged house!

p.p.s. How to make your kid smarter.  Sure, why not.

p.p.p.s. I always love reading about real estate in Manhattan.  It’s just so old and lovely and expensive!

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DIY: How to Build a Play Teepee (for $22)!


Hey guys!  I hope you’re not sick of teepees yet, because I’ve got a lot of teepee to show you today.  Wilder and I built one over break and I’m obsessed!

I’ve actually had a play teepee on my mama to-do list for a good few months now (as many of you do too…right?!!!), so I couldn’t be happier to share the results with you.  The good news: it was inexpensive and really easy to build with my little guy.  And if you’re waiting for the bad news to drop, you can stop.  It’s all golden light and fairy dust here in teepee land!

The Grit and Polish - How to build a teepee

If you find yourself in need of a little teepee action, here’s a rundown of the materials you’ll need:

  • six 2″x2″x8′ posts (we used inexpensive white wood, but any wood should do; you can also do taller or shorter posts depending upon your space)
  • at least 1o feet of rope
  • 3 quilts (we used 1 double-sized and 2 full-sized quilts)
  • a well-rested helper and an hour and a half of free time…still waiting on that rested helper myself, but here’s to hoping…!

The Grit and Polish - DIY Teepee materials

You’ll also need the following tools:

  • cordless drill outfitted with a drill bit that’s slightly larger than your rope (we used a 3/8″ bit)
  • tape measure and pencil (or a ruler stick and purple crayon if you happen to building it in a kid’s room)

Now for the fun part, building a teepee (!!!):

Step 1. Start by marking your 2″x2″ posts about 10″ from one side.

Step 2. Drill out a hole at the center of each post at the marks you just made.

The Grit and Polish - building a teepee collage

Step 3. Set the posts (with the hole you drilled on top) one at a time in the spot you want the teepee and thread the rope through the holes after each post is set.  Keep 6″ of rope before the first post and pull the rope tight between each post.

The Grit and Polish - DIY Teepee drill and chord

Step 4. Once you have the posts set in the shape you want and the rope threaded through all the holes, pull the rope tight and tie a knot using the 6″ at the start of the rope and the section after the last post. The tighter the rope and knot, the less wiggly the teepee will be.

Step 5. Now the fun part…hanging the quilts! Since I didn’t have a full-sized helper to assist with this part, I hung one quilts one at a time.  After placing the first quilt, I wrapped the rope around the quilt at the top (where the rope is threaded through the holes) and tied a knot.  I repeated this with each quilt, making a circle with the rope after each quilt, until all three were secured at the top of the teepee.

The Grit and Polish - building a teepee with quilts collageThe Grit and Polish - DIY Teepee finished

Step 6. Any excess rope can be cut or wrapped around the exterior of the quilts and tied.

The Grit and Polish - DIY Teepee top

Step 7. To create a door (and hopefully keep sticky fingers from handling the antique quilt too much), I pulled the corner of the last quilt back and secured it with a clip.

Then it was game on…for Wilder and Bubba!

The Grit and Polish - Teepee play with Bubba 4The Grit and Polish - Teepee play with Bubba 7

I love that last picture.  It’s like they both know they’re in trouble, but Wilder’s playing it off like, “who, me?! No, no, no it was Bubba!” But then he feels bad, so he gives Bubba a kiss…

The Grit and Polish - Teepee play with Bubba

Hopefully you can see that teepee land is amazing!  It’s somewhere between Oz and Neverland but without all the scary stuff.  Wilder, Bubba, and I spent the first evening in there cuddling and reading story after story with Otto the bear, Moo the pig and Fox the fox (Wilder is great at naming stuffies!).  And Wilder was jumping up and down with excitement to give dada a tour when he got home from work.

The Grit and Polish - DIY Teepee with Antique Quilts

Oh and did I mention how cheap this project was?  $22.  That’s right, $22!  Of course we only had to buy the posts since we had the antique quilts and rope sitting around.  But still, it seems crazy cheap compared with the $150-$250 teepees I found at Pottery Barn Kids and Land of Nod.  Plus I’m 100% sure we have already got a whole lot more than $22 of fun out of this teepee!

This was a really fun, inexpensive, and painless project to build with the little guy.  In fact it was so fun, that I’m itching to do another DIY project with Wilder…any suggestions?!

Resources: Large stuffed bear, Pottery Barn Kids | teepee quilts, antiques | quilt on floor, made by my mom | all other room resources, here and here.




An Antique-Quilt Teepee for the Little Guy


Happy 2015 everyone! We had a great holiday full of food, kiddos, and celebrating in the mountains of Oregon with my sis and her fam.  It was a great start to the new year!

But before we left town for the mountains, Wilder and I got to spend a couple of days hanging out between Christmas and New Years.  And with extra time on our hands, I wanted to do something special for the two of us during the holiday break.  So I planned out a DIY project that we could build together.  DIY is extra special, right?  Right.

So this holiday break, Wilder and I built an antique-quilt teepee in his bedroom!

The Grit and Polish - DIY Teepee with Antique Quilts

I’ve wanted to get Wilder a teepee for a long time now, but after seeing the price of some cute options at Land of Nod and Pottery Barn Kids, I decided we’d build our own.  And since I happen to have an abundance of antique quilts laying around (thanks Mom!), I decided our DIY version would be an antique-quilt teepee.  I’ll share a DIY tutorial next week, but for now, here are some pics of our new favorite play space:

The Grit and Polish - Antique Quilt Teepee with WilderThe Grit and Polish - DIY Teepee Inside

And how about those antique quilts…aren’t they beautiful?  Here’s a closer look:

The Grit and Polish - DIY Teepee antique quilt The Grit and Polish - DIY Teepee antique quilt 2

The first quilt, a hand-stiched double-wedding-pattern quilt, I bought off Craigslist for $50 a few years back.  And my mom, an avid quilter herself, scored the red-white-and-blue lovely from a quilting retreat she attends every year.  It was a real battle with my sis to see who would end up with it, but I guess mom just likes me better! Just kidding of course…;)  But I did promise my sis joint custody of the quilt…so I may need to part with it for a few weeks every year.

The Grit and Polish - DIY Teepee with Wilder 3

Building this teepee turned out to be a really fun and easy project for Wilder and I.  He is really proud of it, and I’m really happy to have a special little nook all our own.  Plus I’m already excited about the other places we can set this teepee up, especially this summer.  Like maybe outside, with an animal skin floor, hanging lights and a garland.  But that’s getting a little ahead of myself!  For the time being, you know where this little family will be hanging out!

Resources: Large stuffed bear, Pottery Barn Kids | teepee quilts, antiques | quilt on floor, made by my mom | all other room resources, here and here



p.s. Loving the sink in this classic meets utility meets old house bathroom!  Okay and their entry is pretty awesome too!

p.p.s. I bought this William Wegman kid’s book for my dog-loving niece,Winnie.  It’s awesome!  And yes, William Wegman really does kids books.

p.p.p.s. In case you missed it over the holidays, I posted about my favorite projects from 2014 and a by-the-numbers year end recap.  Writing those posts sure made me feel like 2014 was a productive year for us at the Ravenna House!  Thanks for following along!


The Bryant House Kitchen: Before and After


I want to take you guys back…wayyyyy back…to 2012.  Back before Wilder was more than a little bean in my belly and we were just embarking on the renovation of our second old house. I’ve told you about the Bryant House before – how we moved into it on a whim and how leaving it was really sentimental for me – and now I want to show you one room in more detail: the kitchen.

The Grit and Polish - White and Bright Kitchen Renovation at the Bryant house.jpg

Back when we bought the Bryant house in November of 2012, the kitchen was dark, closed off, and inefficient.  Since we had earmarked the house as a rental, I had no intention of spending the money on a remodel.  So this is what the room looked like when we moved in January of 2013:

Original Kitchen PhotoOriginal Dining Photo

Not awful, but it sure wasn’t great (as you can tell from my disappointed expression).

Once we lived in the house for a couple of months we realized the closed-off space just didn’t work for us.  So the kitchen had to go.  We had the foresight to wait until I was really pregnant to tackle this renovation, which meant I sat out of the demo and all the heavy lifting – not a bad deal for me.

We gutted all but a small bank of original cabinets, removed the wall that closed off the dining space, and sold all the appliances on Craigslist. We added two sliding doors to capture the light and the territorial views.  Then we began putting the kitchen together – cabinets, backsplash, plumbing, electrical, appliances, and so on.  Once again, we did all the work ourselves.

The Grit and Polish - Bryant House White Kitchen Renovaiton.jpgthe Grit and Polish - kitchen renovation with stainless steel cart.jpgThe Grit and Polish  Bryant House Kitchen Renovation with Subway Backsplash Floor to Ceiling.jpgthe Grit and Polish - White kitchen renovation with classic hardware.jpgThe Grit and Polish - Original 1926 Cabinets with New Clamshell Pulls.jpg.jpgthe Grit and Polish - kitchen renovation with apron front sink and industrial faucet.jpg

These subway tile backsplash was a lot easier to install than the Ravenna Houses’s marble herringbone backsplash.  Mostly because they came on 12″x12″ sheets and didn’t require any diagonal cuts.

The Bryant House’s kitchen has new, custom cabinets with the exception of the the original bank of drawers and glass uppers that were in good enough shape to keep.  We selected maple butcher block countertops because it’s classic-looking, easy to DIY, and Uncle Dougie hooked us up with a good deal.  To keep the traditional look going, I used Martha Stewart hardware (here and here).

For the dining nook, we built in a storage bench with a cushioned top to maximize seating.  There was originally a cabinet over the bench, but we removed it to make space for open shelves.  The dining nook has windows or doors on three sides, making it the brightest spot in the house.

The Grit and Polish  Kitchen Renovation with 2 Sliding New Doors.jpgthe Grit and Polish - kitchen renovation with built-in dining nook featuring West Elm lighting.jpgThe Grit and Polish  Cozy Dining Nook with Pillows and West Elm Light.jpg

That chandelier is from West Elm – I have a thing for their lighting!  All the furniture is vintage except the armless chairs from Restoration Hardware Outlet.  The stainless steel cart can be found here and the industrial faucet here.

The Bryant House’s kitchen is probably my favorite renovation we’ve ever done, especially the dining nook.  It’s the brightest, coziest spot to relax in the morning with a cup of coffee or in the evening with a roudy crew for beer.  And I have a real sentimental attachment to this space since I spent so much time here with Wilder when he was just a wee-guy.  Oh I miss that kitchen.

What do you guys think?  Love it, hate it, over it…?  I’d love to hear 🙂


p.s. I’m pretty obsessed with adaptive reuse and this army-administration-building-turned-home is a perfect example!  Bonus: it’s for sale!

p.p.s. What eating ice cream for the first time looks like.

p.p.p.s. We’ve been working on our backyard remodel at the Ravenna House.  I’m dreaming that our space turns out something like these…any one of them!


A Classic Chalkboard Freezer DIY


It feels like Fall, doesn’t it?!  We’ve got 80-degree weather here in Seattle and it still feels like Fall.  Something about Labor Day and school buses and all those sales.  Personally I love Summer, but Fall, well it’s in a different league entirely.  Changing leaves, crisp mornings, our anniversary, pumpkin beers…Fall, you’re my favorite!

And speaking of Labor Day, we spent this past weekend at a family wedding in eastern Washington. It was Wilder’s first wedding and he couldn’t get enough of the live band and readily-available appetizers.  I couldn’t get enough of the little guy running around like he owned the place in a bow-tie and cowboy boots!  Have you ever seen cowboy boots on a 14-month-old?  They are amazing! Seriously!  Anyway, it was an amazing time had by all!  But with 5 days out of town, we were not super productive on the renovation front.  So this week I thought it would be a good time to catch you guys up on a quick but fabulous DIY we did last month.

When we moved into the Ravenna House, the only appliance worth saving was an upright freezer.  Why anyone would have an upright freezer in a house without a dishwasher or heating source, is beyond me.  But I’m sure they had their reasons.  Right?!

We’ve kept this lovely freezer in the garage (RIP) ever since we started renovations back in November.  It’s always been earmarked for our basement because (vegetarians cover your eyes), every summer we buy a pig from the Future Farmers of America at the Kittitas County Fair and this freezer would be the perfect spot to put it.  So last month we pulled it out of the garage to air it out (ummm hmmmm), clean it up, and paint it with chalkboard paint.  I know this is a DIY that’s been repeated like a bazillion times on the internet (here, here, here), but it’s one I really like, especially for a secondary appliance going in a well-used part of the basement.  I mean what’s better in a family room, a hazy white freezer with suspicious stains or a giant chalkboard?


Here’s what we did.

Step 1: clean and lightly sand the freezer.  Garrett did this part (as he does all the icky and/or unpleasant tasks) so I’m not sure what grit sandpaper he used, but I know he used our palm sander.  He then taped off anything we didn’t want painted, like the coils in the back (is that what they’re called…?).

The Grit and Polish - Chalkboard Freezer Paint 3The Grit and Polish - Chalkboard Freezer Paint 2The Grit and Polish - Chalkboard Freezer Painting

Step 2: Paint the begeezes out of the thing.  We applied light coats of a chalkboard spray paint (similar to this one).  After one coat dried, we’d put on another.  Up until we had the coverage we wanted. About three coats.

The Grit and Polish - Chalkboard Freezer Paint 4The Grit and Polish - Chalkboard Freezer Paint 5

Step 3: Move the thing into the basement.  This was a task with Garrett and Papa’s name written all over it.

The Grit and Polish - Chalkboard Freezer DIY 2

Yes, that’s a kegerator in our basement.  Garrett’s life does not suck.  Not to mention, how do you think we bribe Papa to do things like carry a freezer to the basement?!

Step 4: Buy chalk and put it into action.

The Grit and Polish - Chalkboard Freezer Fun 3

That’s my niece, Winnie.  Remember her?  She doesn’t stand still much longer than Wilder, but I caught her…

The Grit and Polish - Chalkboard Freezer Fun 2

Cutie, isn’t she?!

Not to mention the freezer looks a whole lot better, right?!  This was a huge upgrade for our basement family room, and took only a couple hours to complete.  A DIY worth doing, in my book.


p.s. I am obsessed with this geometric wood flooring!  Beyond obsessed.  I will have to find a spot to try this one out!

p.p.s. What a FUN space to work in! Nice job on the reno A Beautiful Mess!

p.p.p.s.  Have you guys been following along on Liz’s house flips?!  I am loving number 8!


Open Kitchen Shelves: Upping the Ante


We’ve been plugging away in the basement for so long, that we haven’t gotten a chance to tackle that pesky upstairs punch list.  So this weekend, we carved out a little time to cross off one item: the kitchen shelves.  Baby Wilder cooperated by taking the longest nap ever.  Three blissful hours, to be precise (thanks kiddo)!

During that time, our kitchen backsplash went from this:

Kitchen Open Shelves - Before

To this:

Kitchen Open Shelves over Tile Backsplash - Finished

Oh how I love open shelves!  We installed our’s directly over the tile backsplash, which upped the ante on the DIY a bit, but I’ll get to all that in a minute.  First, lets talk styling.

Styling open shelves is one of my favorite things to do.  Yes, seriously.  We’ve put open shelving in every kitchen we have ever done, and it never gets old.  You can put anything you want on them – pictures, fruit, plates, mirrors, flowers – the styling possibilities are endless.  This time around, I stuck with a color palette of white, glass, silver, and pink.  I just can’t help but LOVE how these colors look together – maybe a little too feminine for a house with 1 lady and 3 males (counting Bubba, of course) – but what’s a girl to do.

These shelves are filled with practical items like glasses, plates, and silverware and slightly-impractical-but-seriously-lovely things like peonies and antlers.  And when those mason jars are not filled with homemade raspberry jam or dill pickles, we drink out of them.

That’s just how this family rolls.

Kitchen Open Shelves over Tile BacksplashKitchen Open Shelves Cook Books and Antlers Kitchen Open Shelves Glasses and Flowers and Vase Kitchen Open Shelves Silverware and Flowers

What’s on these shelves will evolve with time.  In fact, they already are.  You may have noticed the antlers on the cookbooks are the same ones you saw on Wilder’s wall on Tuesday.  I’ve moved them back and forth a couple of times.  I’m sure they’ll come to a final resting place soon.   But that’s what I love so much about open shelves.  They are always changing.  It’s like a little surprise every time you walk into the kitchen.  At least it is in my house.  I can’t be the only one…right?!

Okay, on to the install.  Here’s a quick materials and tool list in case any of you guys ever tackle mounting open shelves over a tile backsplash:


1″x12″ primed wood board, cut to length




Paint brush

Cordless Drill

Diamond Tip Drill Bit

We used a primed 1″x12″ board for the shelves, found at our local lumber yard.  Garrett cut them to length and then I painted them with a Sherwin Williams’ alkyd enamel paint using a brush.  I’m sure I could have gotten a teensy-bit nicer finish if I had sprayed them, but that would have meant hauling out the pneumatic sprayer (more on that process here).  And that would have been way too much effort for two shelves.  Luckily we had some paint leftover from the trim and ceiling in the kitchen, which Sherwin William’s had matched to Benjamin Moore’s Simply White.

Actually I think the paint looks pretty good. The enamel finish really helps to eliminate brush strokes.  Have a look:

Kitchen Open Shelves Painted Simply White

Installing our shelves directly over the tile backsplash was totally doable with the right tools.  Mainly a diamond-tipped drill bit.  We just happened to have a 1/4″ bit on hand from the last time we installed open shelves over tiles at the Bryant House (similar to this one).

We began by drawing a horizontal line at the height of each shelf.  Next we located two studs.  The first one we found by peering into the electrical outlet (we knew the outlet was nailed on a stud, and just had to look which side it was on) and then measured 16″ over to find the second stud.

Drilling through Tile Backsplash

We pre-drilled through the tile and into the stud using the aforementioned diamond-tipped drill bit.  The marble is quite a bit harder then wood and required a little extra muscle and patience to drill through.  Two things I do not have.  So Garrett did the deed.  He managed to make four holes (one for each bracket) without any cracks in the tiles.  Phew!

We inserted wall plugs (aka sheetrock anchors) into the holes.  They came with the brackets.  Since our drill made it into studs, we didn’t really need anchors, but our 1/4″ drill bit ended up being a little larger then the #10 screws that came with the brackets so the anchors helped fill the space.

Installing Open Shelves over Tile Backsplash

Garrett claims that our brackets are rated for 100lbs each.  It doesn’t actually say that on the package but we’ll go with it.  They recommend a shelf depth of 10″ but we went with 11 1/2″.  We like to live on the wild side, obviously.  Of course our loading is fairly light (a lot less then 100 lbs per bracket – remember, we’re going with that) so I’m not worried about the extra inch and a half.

Installing Open Shelves Over Tile Backsplash

You may have noticed that outlet just above the lower shelf.  We had the foresight to put it there in case we wanted to have a microwave on the shelf.  Well it turns out that our microwave is too deep to fit there.  But don’t worry, all is not wasted.  The outlet will come in handy if when we ever find a small and stylish radio for the kitchen.  Mama wants to listen to Steve Inskeep while she drinks her coffee.

Lastly, we set the wood shelves into the brackets, and then secured them with the set screws.  And voila, shelves!

Kitchen Open Shelves Over Tiles

We did a quick pressure test by yanking on the shelves and deemed them strong enough to be in Wilder’s house.  Seriously that kid is strong.  Someday he’s going to be a sumo wrestler.  Or maybe just a sweet, well behaved kung fu master.

The whole shelf DIY was over in less then an hour (minus painting) and that left the remaining 2 hours of Wilder’s nap to style them.  Yes, I really did spend 2 hours styling shelves.  And I loved every second of it.

Open Kitchen Shelving over Tile Backsplash Context ImageBlinds: Home Depot | Marble Tile: Home Depot | Trim Paint Color: BM’s Simply White | Cook Books: Amazon, Amazon (or stop by the Bakery if you’re in Seattle – you won’t be disappointed!), and Vintage | Best smelling candle ever: Anthropologie | Brackets: Amazon | Glass Vase: vintage milkshake glass | White vase: Crate and Barrel (no longer available) | Light: Home Depot | Chandelier: West Elm | Weck jar: gift from my sis (but you can find it here) | Cutting board, recipe box, plates, and silverware: collected/inherited/gifted

Once we get this room all buttoned up (and cross a couple more items off the punch list) I will do a big kitchen reveal and show you every nook and cranny of our little space.  Until then, you can read about the faucet, backsplash, and a kitchen party (here, here, and here).

I’d love to hear your thoughts on open shelving.  Do you have them in your kitchen?  Do you like them?  Do you find yourself constantly styling them?


p.s. A huge thank you to Dana Miller of House*Tweaking for last week’s shout out!  Glad this little house of ours could make her smile.

p.p.s. A ridiculously-funny ranking of HGTV home improvement shows.  Do you agree?

p.p.p.s.  This had me cringing.  This had me laughing.  And this had me hoping our next house is brick!


DIY // How To Make Old Wood Drawers Slide Easier

(Post Updated: 1/19/18)

Old wood drawers. We have a lot of them in our old houses. They’re beautiful. They’re solid. They’re full of character and history and I sure do love them.  But they’re not always the easiest to open. They stick and grind and often take two hands to pull.

So what’s an old home lover to do?

The Grit and Polish - Bryant How to Make a Wood Drawer Slide Easier 1

Our Bryant House renovationkitchen (drawer pull / cabinet latch)

Well it turns out that there’s an easy fix. And it costs under $1 and takes only a couple of minutes. Read on for this easy DIY.

DIY // How to Make Old Wood Drawers Slide Easier

STEP ONE // Pull out the drawers and arrange them so you can access the underside.

The Grit and Polish - Bryant DIY How to Make Wood Drawers Slide Easier 4

STEP TWO // Rub a bar of soap (we used a basic Dove bar here) along the tracks on the bottom of the drawer and in the cabinet/dresser. Make sure to get anywhere wood rubs against wood and give it plenty of soap. This is one of those rare quantity over quality situations.

The Grit and Polish - Bryant DIY How to Make Wood Drawers Slide Easier soap on drawerThe Grit and Polish - Bryant DIY How to Make Wood Drawers Slide Easier 6

STEP THREE // After everything is soaped up, slide the drawer back in. That’s it! The drawer should slide easier. Of course they still won’t open like brand-new soft-close drawers, but for $1 and a couple minutes, I’d call it a win!

The Grit and Polish - Bryant DIY How to Make Wood Drawers Slide Easier 7

The pulls and latches are from the Martha Stewart line at Home Depot and super inexpensive. I’ve linked to them below.

I’ve heard about this DIY being completed with wax, which I think would work well too. Either way, if you try this DIY, please let us know how it went in the comment section below. And if you want to know more about this kitchen, the Bryant House renovation, or the Grit and Polish, scroll down to the “Related Posts” section.

The Grit and Polish - Bryant How to Make Old Wood Drawers Slide Easier 2

Sources for the Bryant Kitchen

drawer pull / cabinet latch / bar soapmy boots

Related posts

Bryant House kitchen renovation / Bryant House Airbnb makeover / wood butcher block countertops / our favorite cabinet hardware under $7 / about the Grit and Polish / Our Story: old houses and early retirement / We’re filming a pilot for HGTV /

post originally published: February 13, 2014
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