Category: Renovations

Kitchen Tile Counter Removal

I was hoping to have some after pictures of our new counter tops, but they company installing them couldn’t travel with this crazy Wisconsin weather today. Instead, I will just have to show you what went into removing the old tile counter tops and the after photos will come later!


On Thursday night I started the process of removing some tiles to see what exactly we were in for. We had a general idea of what was under the tile, but couldn’t be sure without tearing some of it up.

Tile Counter Removal

I removed the trim from the edge of the tile and I have to say, it was even more disgusting than I thought it would be. I’ll spare you the pictures, but imagine what would accumulate under wood for 16 years of spills and dirt on your counters. Then multiply that by 10. Trust me, it was gross.

As we suspected, there was a layer of tile, cement board, plywood, and 1×4 framing behind the trim. We are not able to see underneath to tell where the plywood seams were, so we had to start working at it layer by layer. Thursday night Ryan and I emptied the contents of all of the cabinets (which are now residing in our bedroom) in preparation for the demo on Friday.

On Friday my dad was awesome enough to come down and help me demo the counters while Ryan worked. We were able to get the tile and cement board off relatively quickly with a chisel and hammer. We tried several other things, but the small chisel worked best, especially for the back splash where we had to be very careful of the wall.

Kitchen Tile Counter Removal

Under the cement board we were able to see the plywood seems and screws attaching the framing to the cabinets. The sink and cook top were removed with some help from Ryan and we were able to start on the island. The island had the same layers but was also bound around the edges with a thick metal edge. We originally thought we could reuse the plywood base, but it just wasn’t possible. We used a reciprocating saw to cut the screws between the cabinets and the counter and removed the whole thing as one piece. It was heavy, but so much easier than scraping tile and cement board off.

Kitchen Island Counter Removal

Once the island top was removed we were left with a kitchen that looked very different from the start of the day, just 4 hours before. Ryan and I designed and cut a new plywood base for the island counter tops and reattached the legs Monday night (not yet pictured here).

Kitchen After Counter Removal

While it wasn’t the most fun job, Home Depot wanted nearly $1,100 to do it and we really wanted to put our money into the new counters, rather than removal of the old ones. Hopefully the weather is better tomorrow so that we can get our new quartz counters installed. I will update soon! Thanks for reading!

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How We Decided on Quartz Countertops

Today is a big day for our kitchen, because we are getting measurements done for our new quartz counter tops. This day has been a long time coming, because we have wanted new counter tops since we looked at the house. We currently have tile counters, which I don’t recommend to anyone. They are high maintenance, especially if the grout cracks, and they are extremely hard to clean.


It’s clear that the people who built our house put a lot of time and effort into this  kitchen, but it just doesn’t work for us. The counters have trim all around the perimeter which make them impossible to clean. People laugh at me when I say I run a vacuum around the counters every so often, but it really is the only way to clean under the trim where the grout runs. So, going forward we knew we didn’t want tile and we wanted something a bit fancier than laminate.

We went to a local store that recommended solid surface counters. Solid surface counters can be designed to be seamless, even in a kitchen like ours. You can also have the sink integrated without seams. They are about 1/3 polymer and 2/3 minerals. They can be repaired easily by sanding and polishing. In theory, this would be a great option for us. It did, however have two downfalls. First, it is not heat resistant. Second, the color I liked was in the highest price range and ended up being more expensive than quartz or granite. Our kitchen is kind of dark and we are keeping the cabinets the cherry color, so we really need a light colored counter top.


We threw the idea of granite around. I like the idea of a 100% natural stone counter with good durability. The price ranges quite a bit, but we could find something we liked for a good price.  However, granite needs to be sealed so that it doesn’t stain and it shows seams more than quartz or solid surface. Since we have several seams, this was a worry of mine.

While there are other options we considered, including concrete and recycled material counter tops, we really settled on quartz. Quartz is about 10% binders and 90% stone (or stone-like materials). It is easier to hide seams, is very durable, and does not need to be sealed. As another big advantage, it came in a color I loved for a price I was willing to pay!

Quartz Countertop Snowcap

We ordered our quartz from Home Depot. The measurements are getting done today and it should be 2-3 weeks until we install them. We have a lot of work ahead of us, because we need to remove all of the tile counters ourselves. Home Depot does have the option of having it done by them, but it was over $1000. We are really looking forward to our new counters, as well as a new cooktop and sink. I will update as soon as demo starts, but in the meantime you can keep up on our Facebook page and Instagram (@scottfamilyhomestead). Thanks for reading and following along with our next adventure!

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TV Wall

2 kids have really pulled me away from blogging lately, but I’m going to do some catch up posts over the next few weeks and dive back into blogging. Let’s take a step back into May, shall we? Most of my recent pictures are taken with my cell phone camera which desperately needs updating, but you’ll get the idea.

Our living room has an interesting set up for the TV. Above the fireplace is a large cubbie for a TV and DVD player, etc. Outlets, light switches, and other controls are found in the space above the fireplace. Very convenient, but very cluttered.

TV Wall Before

It is really easy for the space to look messy with extra cords, DVDs, and games. After months of thinking of every possible storage solution (bins, shelves, a wall) I finally thought of an idea. I didn’t want to lose the space but wanted a nice clean look. We are also slowly trying to give the house a more “farmhouse” look. The solution ended up being a shiplap wall with hidden doors so we can still use the space. Sounds simple right!? Of course, we decided to undertake this project 2 days before Harrison’s birthday party (you will notice his decorations in some of these pictures).

We started by framing in the opening so that we had something to attach the doors and boards to. You can see what a mess the space had become around the TV.

TV Wall In Progress

Next we laid out our various boards and painted them white. We used different sized boards including 1×4, 1x6s, and 1x8s to fit the space. Once we had the layout decided we were able to start working on the hidden doors.

TV Wall Materials

In order for the doors to be hidden they needed to be cut to different lengths. If they had a straight cut it would be obvious where they are.We made both of them symmetrical and just used a board on the back to assemble. A kreg jig could also be used for this step.

TV Wall Hidden Doors

The doors pivot on a hinge outside the edges of the TV so they won’t rub or hit the TV as they open and close.The length of the doors doesn’t matter except that it will swing into the opening behind the TV and we still want to utilize that space, so it needed to be short enough. In the lower corners the doors have magnet closures, but you can see in some pictures they will also need magnets on the top corners to pull it evenly.

TV Wall Doors Installed

Once the doors were installed we were able to fill in the gaps with the remaining lumber. We made some random cuts to give it a look of being pieced together, which also makes the doors look more natural. Then we hung our TV with the proper mounting equipment.

TV After

We still need to find a storage solution for the toys and books, but at least the DVD storage is nicely hidden and organized. (Bonus Finding Nemo shot.) Some fabric bins should do the trick for the toys, but I’m looking for the perfect ones.

Fireplace Hidden Doors

The green tile around the fireplace has got to go (I’m thinking stacked stone) and the upper half of the living room still needs paint, but this room is really starting to come together and reflect our taste. Once the doors have the second magnet closure installed the doors will be even less obvious. I’m so happy with this solution because the mantle becomes more defined and will be fun to decorate now that the space looks less cluttered.

I have some more updates to post, including Harrison’s 2nd birthday so keep an eye out! Thanks for reading!

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Antique Mantel Makeover

As we finish up more projects in our first house, the fireplace is definitely my favorite. It started out so rough and has come a long way.


Since the closet under the stairs is behind the mantle we decided to put in an electric insert. The whole mantle had to be stripped, sanded, and stained.

I also decided I wanted to build a hearth so that the insert didn’t look like it was floating.

The finished project is better than I ever could have expected, especially with the baseboard and crown molding installed in the living room now.



It took a long time to finish, but it was worth every bit of work. After I finished the grout, I added some decorative trim stained to match. It frames the tiling perfectly. The white tiles have a slight glimmer to them when you look close and the mix of stone and glass is my favorite.


We are still working hard on the house and hoping to sell it soon. We hope to have more house updates soon as we finish the upstairs bathroom and stairway. Thanks for reading!

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Radiant Heat


When we bought our new house we knew we were taking a gamble with the in-floor heat. The house hadn’t been winterized properly and there was a good chance the heat didn’t work.

Once we moved in we started to open up each zone. We have 7 zones.

1. The basement heat tubes were broken right where they went into the floor. Luckily the basement stays really warm because of the boiler.

2. The garage hasn’t been opened up, but we assume it is also broken.

3. The kitchen/office heat works perfectly.

4. The master bedroom works great.

5. The upstairs bedrooms work.

6. The rooms above the garage work but we need to fix one small leak.

7. The living room/dining room losses water/antifreeze so fast that the pressure bottoms out on our system. This is bad.


Last year we lived without heat in the living room. The room is nearly 500 sq.ft. and is on a slab that gets extremely cold. This caused our heat bills for the rest of the house to skyrocket. This week we started to pull up the laminate floor to see what we are dealing with. Sadly, the laminate is the old style that is glued together so we will need all new floors in here.


Unfortunately we found that the heating system had so many leaks we couldn’t repair it, which leaves us with 2 options.
1. Jackhammer 6 inches of concrete and start over, or
2. Lay a new layer of heating tubes and raise our floors.

We have decided to go with option #2. Our plumber is going to get us the supplies and tools and let us do the labor to save some money. Luckily, we won’t have to raise our doors and the slight step down from the kitchen with be gone.

We have a bit of work ahead of us, but at least we have a plan! We will definitely update once we begin the process. Thanks for reading!

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Starting the Master Bath

We have been living a crazy, busy life lately. We have had a lot of interest in our house and have our first showing today. We have been finishing a lot of projects, but really wanted to get the master bath started so buyers could really picture it finished however they would like.

The master bath is a nice sized room but has an angled ceiling that would make putting in a shower difficult.



We have it set up to be a half bath with laundry. We put in new subfloor, new insulation and drywall, and built a large closet.



We kept one bead board wall, which has only been primed. Now you can see what the room is meant to be and we have doubled our storage space, which is important without a basement.

There is still work to be done, mostly upstairs drywall, but we hope a buyer will see it and love the potential. Otherwise, we will keep working at it and list with a realtor at a slightly higher price when it is done. Thanks for reading! I’ll update soon!

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Porch Windows

The porch has turned out to be a bigger project than I had originally hoped. I had big plans to reglaze the old windows because they open all the way up and are really neat. Unfortunately, we just don’t have the time. $300 later we have some great new vinyl windows.





We had to build the windows in a bit because they didn’t make the exact size, but I’m kind of loving the bold trim.
After looking at it, I think the upstairs windows might need some shutters because they look pretty small next to the new porch windows.

I have also been busy priming and painting. I painted the porch a blue-grey color. The ceiling and floor will be white.



The color is lighter than it appears in pictures and really pops next to the white trim. I’ve got a bit more trim to do and I have to paint the floor, but we’re in the home stretch!

Thanks for reading!

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Starting the Porch

Yesterday was a big day for our porch. This room has been almost unchanged since we bought the house in 2011. We put in new windows on the side walls but the tongue and groove paneling looked terrible.


The front wall looks good because we kept the original windows, and the ceiling is good. The front of the house/living room wall was in rough shape because is new windows too.


We decided to put siding on the main wall and new paneling on the side walls. We aren’t completely done, but here’s a peak at the in progress photos:



I also got started grouting the fireplace.


We have a long weekend ahead of us trying to finish up projects between work events I have to attend, but we are making awesome progress! Thanks for reading!

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Fast Forward

We are in crunch time to finish our first house and get it on the market. I have been terrible with updating the blog, but today I will catch you up!

We have been going to town finishing trim. Ryan and my dad have been working hard on the window jambs and door trim.




Meanwhile, I have been working on baseboards, crown molding, and drywall. The pantry drywall is mudded and that room is almost done.


We still need to prime and paint the trim, but I have done most of the caulking done. What a difference!


Before listing we still have to finish the porch, stairway, and upstairs bath. Our goal is August 1st. Wish us luck! We’re going to need it. Thanks for reading!

(Sorry if pictures are big, I wrote this on mobile and it doesn’t resize.)

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Big Changes Ahead

When we bought our house we weren’t really looking for real estate.  We were both in college and just happened to see an ad for a really cheap house.  Everything just happened to work out right and we got a great deal on an awesome investment.  Well, it has happened again.

After seeing 2 feet of snow in the past week, we have decided we need to move somewhere warm, like Wisconsin (a little Michigan humor for those who have seen Nimrod Nation).  In all seriousness, we have been on the lookout for something with a little more land for the chickens and dogs.

We have been watching the market and listings in a few areas for months now and happened to find a foreclosure listed at about half of the fair market value. It is located on 10 acres and borders National Forest on 2 sides.  We put in an offer and after some negotiating reached a deal with the bank.  We are under contract, but will not close on the house until some time in December and our inspection is scheduled for next week.  While things could change if a major issue comes up, we are currently planning on moving into this new home sometime in January.  We will be about 30 minutes south of our current house and closer to Ryan’s job.

Here is a sneak peak of the new 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath house:


Forest Ln House ExteriorForest Ln Exterior


Forest Ln Kitchen

Living Room:



Forest Ln StairwayForest Ln Living Room

Guest Bedroom:

Forest Ln Guest Room


Master Bedroom:

Forest Ln Master

So the main question, what will we do with our current house?  We will finish it before making any other decisions.  We may end up renting or selling, but not until we have finished what we have started.  We are pretty excited to have a move in ready home ahead of us, but I’m sure we will be doing plenty of design work once we are settled in.

We will keep you updated as we learn more, but we are very excited for this new adventure.  Thanks for reading!

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