As many of us find ourselves quarantined during the Coronavirus pandemic, we’re all spending way more time staring at the same four walls we call our home. Whether you’re working from home, furloughed or laid off, this situation probably has you thinking “What cheap DIY home projects can I do while I’m quarantined?”
If money isn’t tight yet, you’re probably worried about it becoming tight in the future with record numbers of unemployment in many countries. Now probably isn’t the time to splurge $30,000 on that brand new kitchen you’ve been dreaming of.
There’s also the aspect of safety. Having multiple contractors in to your home means potentially more germs exposed to you and your family. So now is a good time to start learning some DIY skills yourself.
With all these challenges, you’re probably wondering what you can do for just a few $100 and basic DIY skills to make your house feel more like ‘home’. Luckily there are plenty of projects that you can tackle yourself with just basic DIY skills and some small change.
If this sounds like you, subscribe to my blog to receive 10 weeks of easy and affordable home projects, with a different theme each week. There should be plenty of ideas to keep you busy during quarantine, and as a bonus you’ll come out of it with better DIY skills and a refreshed home!
I love the clean and simple lines of the IKEA Godmorgon sink and wall cabinets for the bathroom. However, they can sometimes look a little standard or low grade. In this IKEA bathroom hack, we upgraded the look with a live-edge white oak countertop, chrome handles, Kohler top-mount sinks and wall-mounted Grohe faucets for a more luxurious look.
Materials and tools needed:
Live edge wood (we used white oak)
Heavy duty saw
Sandpaper (heavy to fine grade)
Polyurethane (oil based)
Paint brush or roller
Small L brackets and small screws
Large L brackets and large screws or other heavy duty fixings
Top mount sinks
Wall-mounted faucets (can use top-mounted faucets, just need to cut an extra hole)
STEP 1: Buy all the necessary materials needed. Including finding a piece of live edge timber that you like and that will fit your IKEA Godmorgon cabinet. Many sawmills will cut the timber to size for you, and also kiln dry them. I’d recommend this, as we didn’t have ours kiln dried and we let it dry naturally in our garage for a number of weeks before we installed it, but it did warp and crack and we had to re-cut it to get it straight again.
Our slab being cut
Our slab being trimmed at the back
TIP: Get your live edge timber kiln dried and cut to size at the sawmill
STEP 2: We chose a double vanity, but Godmorgon also comes in single vanity options. It’s available in black brown, white stained oak effect, brown stained ash effect, high gloss grey, high gloss white (which we used) in modern flat front cabinets. They also sell traditional style fronts Kasjon Godmorgon is dark grey, light grey and white options. They also have a very interesting dimensional high gloss white front – Resjon white.
For these instructions we’ll refer to the double vanity high gloss white option that we chose. Cut out the holes for your sinks. For this you will need a heavy duty saw to go through the wood. We chose a thick piece of wood (about 3”) and it was very difficult to cut through it. We hired a heavy duty saw from The Home Depot as our jigsaw wasn’t strong enough to cut through it.
TIP: Make sure you use the templates that come with your sinks to mark the cutouts for the holes. And make sure the sink is positioned where the water will fall from wherever you are placing the faucets. If you chose a counter mounted faucet, don’t forget to leave enough space at the back of the sink for it.
STEP 3: Now you have the live edge slab cut, it’s time to sand and seal it. It’s probably easier to use an electrical sander with a rough grade to start with (around 80), then work your way up to a fine grade sandpaper (around 180). Keep sanding along the grain to remove all rough edges and make it as smooth as silk. Once you’re happy with the smoothness, make sure you remove all dust from the slab. I’d recommend vacuuming it, then finishing with a lint free cloth. Now you’re ready to seal it.
I’d recommend using an oil-based polyurethane, as it tends to sink into the grain better than a water-based polyurethane. It does however color the wood more than a water-based polyurethane would. Test a small area underneath first before you commit to the whole thing. Once you’re happy with the look, apply three coats according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
TIP: If you wanted to stain your timber, do that before applying the polyurethane, and test it underneath or on a scrap piece first.
STEP 4: Congratulations! You’re now ready to install your sink cabinet! Word of caution, the live edge timber countertop can be extremely heavy, so I would highly recommend extra support for it in addition to the cabinet. I would also recommend you find the studs to fix it to, if you have a wood-built house. Or using heavy duty fixings for other wall constructions types. (Please consult a professional contractor.)
We installed ours on the studs and used extra L-shaped brackets underneath to support it further. We also used small L-shaped brackets to attach the countertop to the cabinet.
TIP: Make sure your screws aren’t longer than the cabinet is thick, otherwise your screws will poke out of the side of the cabinet.
To install the faucets and sinks we hired a professional plumber for this, as this was beyond our skillset. So I’ll skip over this part.
STEP 5: The last part is installing the handles (if you chose to). Godmorgon cabinets don’t come with any handles, which looks very minimalist, and you could certainly stick with this. We chose to apply long chrome handles in a minimalist design to add a bit of extra detail in this IKEA bathroom hack. I think you’ll agree they make them look high-end!
For this, just mark the center on the back of the cabinet and mark the drill holes by using either the template that your handles came with, or the handle itself. Double and triple check these measurements are accurate before drilling to make sure you don’t mess up your cabinet fronts. Once you’re satisfied they’re in the right place, drill slowly from the back then screw the handles in place.
TIP: Place some painters tape over where the holes will be drilled on the front of the cabinet, this helps to stop the cabinet material splintering off. Also starting with a small drill bit, then working up to the correct size also helps keep the splintering down to a minimum.
Finished! You now have a unique and high-end look with this IKEA bathroom hack!
The subject of today’s blog is along the theme of ‘continuous improvement’. It’s a term we regularly use at work in a quality / lean process sort of a way, to signify the journey towards being world class in something. Never stopping with being satisfied with what you did today, and always striving to do better. It seemed like the perfect title for the design journey I’ve been on over the past few years.
The entrance hallway in our house is the perfect example of how skills evolve, and admitting that sometimes you don’t get it right the first time.
This is our hallway when we first moved into our 1969-built Prairie Style Minnesotan home. It was very beige, and very dated.
I set about renovating it to make it feel more like a modern cabin (as we live in the woods.) I tried to make it feel rustic with the use of the aged wood wall partition that we made, and the antler chandelier. To give it a modern twist, I added faux taxidermy in white only on the gallery wall.
To give it more of a British hunting lodge / country feel, I opted for flagstone style flooring, and added things like the antique umbrella stand and horse bit artwork. We gave the wall a gold paint effect finish to add some richness and the traditional feel.
But it felt dark…
After living in the house for 4 years now, I’ve come to realize that living in the middle of the woods, with such heavy tree coverage, that the only time the house is ever bright inside is during the winter when there are no leaves on the trees. So the decoration inside has to account for this lack of natural light.
The other thing I’ve noticed whilst living in the US, is the growing trend for light, bright and airy spaces. Practically every new-build and renovated home has white-painted trim. The spaces are made bright from large white windows and white or light grey walls. Any wood is generally kept natural, such as natural white oak.
After living here for a while now, my tastes have evolved to the more contemporary side, so we set about with renovation No.2 to our hallway…
We removed the aged-wood partition wall we made, as we felt it made the space darker, and the dark wood made it feel a little dated. We opted instead for a more open half wall, which we painted in white and grey to match the new open-plan kitchen / dining room. And changed all the floors for natural white oak.
The biggest change was to the feature wall. Now when you enter the house, you’re met with a wall of white split-face marble, which adds depth and texture to the room, whilst still being bright, and yet at the same time, rustic.
I had to keep the antler chandelier, it’s the little nod to the modern hunting lodge theme we were originally trying to achieve. I think now we’ve actually managed to achieve it. By keeping the colors light and limited, and introducing interest through texture, and pops of natural wood colors.
I’m the first to admit that my first attempt at ‘modern cabin’ was not that successful. But with a few more years of experience of both living in this house, in the US and having completed many more renovation projects, I can gladly say my skills have improved for the better.
To quote Lloyd Dobyns:
“Continual improvement is an unending journey.”
Thanks for reading, until next time.
Jo (aka Britflipper and continuous improvement seeker)