Category: Renovation

What to do if you smell gas

And not the type of gas coming from your husband after he eats Taco Bell. I’m talking about the smell of natural gas. If you smell natural gas, call Laclede Gas immediately for residents in my area (or the equivalent gas company in your area). It is extremely dangerous to have natural gas floating around. And the best thing about it is that it’s free for the gas company to come out and inspect!!!

In most cases, it’s going to be something minor – that’s what the guy that worked for the gas company told us. In our case, we had a water heater leak some natural gas only when it was turning on to warm up the water. It was a small leak at the valve so you could barely smell it. I have the nose of a hound dog, though. The guy working for the gas company has a sniffer and they will be able to detect it right away and pin point the exact cause. It only cost us a hundred or so dollars to fix. No big deal. The gas company doesn’t do the fix – you have to call your HVAC company to fix it.  The gas company will turn off the gas though and put a lock on it so you have to get this fixed pronto.

Now, after we had this small gas leak I have become the canary for natural gas detection. I have a funny story about that. My husband was installing a microwave over the range and he asked for my help (that was his first mistake). We were installing an over the range microwave in our IKEA kitchen so we had to install the special microwave adjuster kit first so that the microwave would be even with the 15 inch deep cabinets.

So, I was holding the adjuster kit and trying to make it level while he drilled some three inch screws into the drywall and studs. Well, when the screw got about halfway in I smelled the natural gas smell and immediately freaked out. I told him, “You drilled through a gas pipeline!”. “You smell that?”. His nostrils flared and his eyes got huge, “Oh my gosh!” he says.

He unscrews the screw and runs to his toolbox while I frantically search for the Laclede Gas phone number on my phone while at the same time wondering if I’m supposed to be using my phone if there’s natural gas in the air. I was physically doing the verbal equivalent of “Everybody get down! She’s gonna blow!”. Yes, I have a flare for the dramatic. I opened the window and door.

Bryon runs to his toolbox to get his big wrench to turn off the gas to the house while yelling, “Get out of my way!”. Then, he realizes that it can’t be a gas pipeline because that’s not where they are. So, he runs back and tuns off the gas valve behind the oven – not being sure where the smell is coming from and runs back to his toolbox yelling, “Get out of my way!” because I’m pacing back and forth trying to get the number for Laclede on my phone while at the same time wondering if I’m creating static by my thighs rubbing together and am about to blow up. He grabs a tool from his tool box to try to smash through the dry wall to see what’s behind the wall – all the while knowing that there is no gas line back there so it’s not making sense.

Meanwhile, I finally get a hold of Laclede on the phone while my husband is taking a hatchet to the wall reminding me of the guy on The Shining. And I’m trying to explain to them that my husband was installing a microwave and there was this smell but now it’s gone and I’m about to tell them my address when Bryon yells, “Get off the phone! I have it figured out!”. The lady is like, “Ma’am.  Ma’am, I need your address.” in a very calm trying to talk me off the ledge manner.  And I hang up on her.  He had opened the wall up and there was only a stud back there and nothing else – no gas pipeline. Which he knew that already but since I had freaked him out, he panicked and was no longer thinking straight.  We no longer smell the smell.

Then, we notice on the oven that the burner was turned to 1. So, somehow I had managed to turn the burner knob with my crotch when I was “helping” which is what caused that smell so when we turned off the gas to the oven that’s why it went away. I think my husband is going to think twice about asking me to help him from now on. :-p And that folks is how you make a simple microwave installation very exciting!

Our First Real Estate Baby

We did so much on this unit that it’s broken down into several posts.  Since it took us 9 months to complete, we are calling it our first real estate baby.  Hope no one drops it on it’s head!  :-p

We decided to DIY an IKEA kitchen:
See post on IKEA kitchen (4 part post):IKEA Kitchen Planning Design

Ceiling Fans:
We had an electrician put ceiling fans in all the rooms.  See this post on Ceiling Fans:Ceiling Fans

Patched Holes from Ceiling Fans:
See post on patching the holes: Patching Holes

Repainted all walls, ceilings, window trims, & closet doors.
For the paint colors, see this post: Lighter Shade Of Gray

Installed all new 6-panel doors throughout.

Opened up the doorway from the dining room to the kitchen:
See this link: Opening a Doorway

Duct Work:
We had to fix the duct work in the garage that was dented in pretty badly. We hired Morgner Heating & A/C to come out and put new duct work in.

We put new flooring throughout.  See this post on the flooring: Trying out Pergo XP in the Rental.  We actually used Allure Ultra in the kitchen because it is even more resistant to water.  They look so similar in color, don’t they?  You can hardly tell they are two different types of flooring.  We actually lucked out there because we didn’t even have a sample of the kitchen flooring – I ordered it online.  It’s called Sawcut Dakota.  We had Home Depot install it.

See this post on the bathroom gut: From Potty To Powder Room 03/2016

Repaired bathroom ceiling:
We had an issue while renovating where we had to repair the bathroom ceiling (after it had already been renovated.):Repairing Ceiling Water Leak

Shelf Liners:
I like to put shelf liners in the drawers and cabinets to protect them.  For some of the shelves (like the ones that are already damaged), I do permanent liners.  But for the new shelves, I do temporary, removable liners with no adhesive.

Here’s the before and after pictures of the unit:

Kitchen – Before
Kitchen – After
Kitchen – Before
Kitchen – After
Kitchen – Befoe
Kitchen – After
Kitchen Entry
Living Room – Before
Dining Room – Before
Dining Room/Living Room – After
Master Bedroom – Before
Master Bedroom – After
Second Bedroom – Before
Second Bedroom – After

No Before Picture for the Third Bedroom

Third Bedroom – After
Hall Bathroom – After
Master Bathroom – After

Ceiling Fans

In many older buildings, there aren’t any light fixtures in the center of the ceiling so people have to use lamps.  We have several units like this.  Slowly, we are starting to put in ceiling fans.  I’m a big “fan” of ceiling fans.  Personally, I think for rentals they are great.  People like to save on electricity and they like to air out their house or apartment so why not?

I love ceiling fans! I know they aren’t designer, etc. But they are functional. And I love functional! So, maybe it’s a good thing I’m in the rental market.  I feel like many pretty design elements aren’t functional and that’s disappointing to me. I also like to feel the breeze inside – it makes me feel like I’m in a tropical location.

Also, ceiling fans can provide plenty of light if you pick the right one. I like to get the ones with multiple light bulbs and no cover on them to filter the light. At least for rentals – I feel like the brighter the better. If they don’t like the bright light then they can have lamps in the room and use those instead. Or they can put softer light bulbs.  It’s their option. They had them on sale at Home Depot for $70 – what a deal!  About the same as a light fixture – depending on the light fixture.

Unfortunately, you sometimes have to butcher the ceilings a bit to get any kind of light fixture in but some patchwork and you should be good..  See this post on patching the holes: Patching Holes

Repairing Ceiling From Water Leak

So, while we were in the middle of our renovation of the first floor unit, the upstairs neighbor managed to leave their water on or something and it leaked down into our newly renovated bathroom.  EEEEKKKK!  I had a minor freak out, but luckily it wasn’t a plumbing issue, just a mistake.  We already had our plumber there doing work in the downstairs unit when this happened.  He went to take a potty break and called me when he saw the water on the floor in the bathroom.  So, he checked it out and found that there wasn’t a plumbing issue – someone must have left the sink on or something.  :-/

We ended up cutting out the drywall that got damaged and replacing it, then taped and mudded the area.  We had to put several layers of mud because this bathroom ceiling was skim coated heavily when we got it renovated.  The people who renovated it did such a great job on the ceiling that it was that much more disappointing that it got ruined because we are not expert mudders and tapers.

I have so much more newfound respect for people that do drywall, mudding, and taping for a living.  That is a serious skill that not everyone can master.  And it’s tedious.  If you’ve ever seen me spread jelly or butter on my toast in the morning, you would understand why I’m not so good at it.  I am very OCD about evenly spreading butter and jelly on my toast – every part of the bread has to be covered with about the same amount of butter and about the same amount of jelly.  And spreading mud on to drywall is just like that for me.  So it is extra painful for me to spread the mud on drywall.

And the worst thing about it is that the more OCD or perfectionist that you are, the worse things get.  Just when you think you’ll do one more swipe of the putty knife to make it more perfect and more even, you ruin it all and leave a big line in your smooth mud.  Really, I think what Hell would look like for me is taping and mudding with Mickey Mouse Club House blaring in the background (this was actually what I had going on the other night).  But I guess I shouldn’t give the devil any ideas (too late).

So, what happens when you suck at mudding is that you have to sand like crazy.  Sanding is equally as fun as mudding.  :-p  It’s all a very messy process.  It gets in your nose, eyes, hair, everywhere.  Imagine going to the beach minus all the fun and you’ve got it.

Here’s the steps we took:

1.)  Cut the dry wall to the studs.

2.) Put some fans in the room to dry out the area.

3.) Replace drywall.

4.) Thin layer of mud to fill in the cracks between the new drywall and existing drywall and all around to stick the joint tape to.

5.) Place joint tape (I recommend wetting the joint tape first – it sticks better).  I also recommend having all the joint tape cut ahead of time – before making the mud because it dries quickly.  Do one strip of joint tape at a time.

6.) Thin layer of mud over the joint tape and also applying some pressure to squeeze the mud from underneath the joint tape out. Do this all around the drywall.  We also had some damage on the wall itself so we just mudded that as well to fill in where the previous mud and paint was washed away.  We had to peel away some of the paint first (the loose stuff).

7.) Prime and paint the ceiling.  We had to paint the entire ceiling because we couldn’t find a matching ceiling paint.  Remember that ceiling paint doesn’t include primer in it so it’s important to prime first.

After the drywall was cut out:

Here’s what it looks like after the joint tape is applied and the first layer of mud.  The corner is done by folding the joint tape in half and putting it in the corner after you’ve put a thin layer of mud there.  They also sell a corner tool at home depot to help with the spreading out of the mud there though I’ve had mixed results with that – very mixed.

After a few layers of mud and sanding:

After about 5 layers of mud and sanding, then priming & painting:

It’s actually not perfect.  You can see that it slopes downward where our patch is.  But it’s the best we could do.  Not too shabby.

IKEA Kitchen Install Parto Quatro – Finishing Touches

If you are interested in reading part 3, it is here: IKEA Kitchen Install Part Tres – Cabinet Install

Now, it’s time for the finishing touches – filler pieces, cover panels, doors (can we just do without those? :-p), drawers, handles, toe kicks, crown molding, oh my.

First, the filler pieces.  Originally, we were going to do a little less than 2 inches of filler on each side of the cabinets on the long wall until we realized the vent for the microwave (vents to the outside) needed to be within the 30 inch cabinet that is above the microwave.  Uh oh – you will say that often during this process.  So, we left no gap on one side of the cabinets (pantry side).  Luckily, the wall was very level on that side – miracles do exist and the pantry fit snug against the wall with no gap.  Hallelujah!  And the clouds did part then.

We then had to leave about a 3 1/2 inch gap on the other side, however, which wasn’t ideal but it was what it worked out to be.  It did help to keep the drawers on that side from hitting the window sill but we probably only really need a 2 inch gap for that.  Oh well, it looks fine, I think.  Nothing a little caulk won’t fix.  Just kidding – that’s been my answer to everything on this project.  You can use it too if it helps you sleep at night.

That side of the wall is very not level though so we read about this thing called scribing.  It’s some nonsense you do with a compass.  But, of course, we bought the jankiest compass because it was the only one Home Depot sold.  I do not recommend using a janky compass – get a good one that locks in place.  The one we got, kept moving as I was trying to draw the line.

This is how scribing works:  You cut the filler panel down to be about an inch wider than the gap between the cabinet and wall.  Then, you clamp (if you can, otherwise hold in place) this filler panel to the cabinet and make sure that the overlap of the filler panel and cabinet is the same at the top and the bottom (this will create a gap on the side that is against the wall on one end or the other).  Finally, open the compass to the same width as the overlap.  Keeping one side of the compass against the wall, you then draw a line onto the filler panel.  Use a table saw to cut along the line.  When you have a janky compass like ours, this line is not very reliable. Though it did work out ok for us – I just had to draw and redraw that line and we picked the darkest line because that meant I drew it more than once in that spot.  :-p

This scribing thing is a blast guys – especially when the other person is breaking their back trying to hold the panel in place while you look completely incompetent with a janky compass.  Note: explaining that the compass is janky doesn’t make you look any less incompetent – more like an incompetent person making excuses.  We couldn’t clamp our panel in place because of the position of the cabinet to the wall.  So, trying to hold the panel in place such that neither side moves (like when you breathe, for example) and you have to re-measure the overlap again and again is pretty comedic in an insane laughing out loud to yourself sort of way.  The last thing the compass scriber wants to hear is, “Doh!  It moved again!”.  You both will look like a bunch of incompetent, grouchy, nut cases – save yourself.

Here’s what I would recommend doing instead of scribing if your wall is pretty straight.  Find out the distance of the gap between the wall and cabinet at the top and the distance of the gap at the bottom and mark those two distances on the filler piece then get a straight edge and draw a line between them.  Be sure to tape this area that you are about to cut – helps to keep the wood from splintering.  Use a table saw to cut along that line.  Use the precision blade if you have it (helps reduce splintering as well).  It’s better to cut it wider than you need and then use a belt sander where needed to get it perfectly to size.  This belt sander thing works wonders.  Definitely buy a belt sander – do not try to sand by hand – trust me on this.  Caulk will fill in any gaps if it’s not perfect.  This is what we did on the other side instead of scribing and it worked out fine.  Friends don’t let friends scribe.  BTW, there’s no pictures of the scribing for a reason.  :-p

Just a side note:  I’ve never seen my husband look hotter than when he’s using a table saw.  Wind blowing back his hair.  Sand (i.e. particle board dust) blowing in his eyes.  It’s almost like we are at the beach, but not quite.  Something about a guy and his tools, right?

Next, we bought some 2×2’s to install the filler to.  First, we screwed the 2×2’s to side of the cabinet, then we screwed the filler piece to the 2×2 (from behind so you can’t see the screws from the front). We used 2 inch screws for this.  Drill pilot holes first, of course.

What it looks like from the top once the cabinet is installed (counter top will go on top of this):

This is what the final product looks like.  It’s not caulked yet so it’s not perfect yet.  :-p  Pretty uneven wall, right?  :-/

Here’s the filler on the upper cabinet (which we had to do TWICE because we got them mixed up and tried to use this one for the base cabinet – big woops!). It still needs to be caulked though:

On the short wall, we left only about an inch of space between the cabinet and the wall. We tried to put the cabinets directly against the wall so we could get out of making filler pieces, but the wall was not level so we scooted them over an inch.  The filler pieces were so skinny that we had to cut down the 2×2 into .75x.75 and then, we actually screwed the filler panel to the .75x.75 first, then screwed the .75x.75 to the cabinet (because otherwise, there wouldn’t have been space to drill if we did the other way around).  We used 1 inch screws.

The one problem we did have was that the .75 x.75 and the 2×2 weren’t completely straight so we did have to use shims in some spaces where we screwed, otherwise the filler piece would’ve been misshapen trying to conform to the misshapen 2×2.

Here’s a picture of the 1 inch filler with a shim in between the wood and the filler:

Cover Panels

First, cut the cover panel to size.  Make sure to use tape when you are cutting any of the IKEA products to reduce splintering.  Then, use clamps to clamp the cover panel in place.  Drill pilot holes and screw it to the side of the cabinet as per the instruction manual.

This picture is to demonstrate clamping – it’s obviously not the same cover panel cut above.


For the doors, first put the handles on.  We purchased IKEA’s handle measuring tool (orange rectangle in picture).  This is a must have.  Decide about where you want your handles and mark the holes accordingly.  Then, just put a level at the bottom and make sure the tool butts up to the level to insure it’s a the same spot for every door.  Then, drill pilot holes and screws and pop the doors in place as per the instructions.

Toe Kicks

These are easy and self-explanatory.  Just cut them down with a hack saw and clip them into place – this was the easiest thing we had to do.  However, once we get the flooring in place, we might have to trim them again length-wise.


These took for-ever.  Give yourself enough time to do these.  It’s simple but placement can be tricky (bottom drawer gets placed differently than top so the manual can throw you off if you look at the wrong pages at the wrong times) and just time-consuming to put together and install.  Again, recommend getting the handles on those before installing.

Microwave Duct Work

To install the microwave was a bit of extra work because the IKEA cabinets are 15 inches deep and we bought a standard over the range microwave from Home Depot since they were having a sale around July 4th (weren’t we optimistic? we thought we were going to need it soon!).  We had to buy a special attachment from IKEA for the microwave which we forgot to get in the original order.  I don’t mind making extra trips to IKEA though – love that place.  😉  And my husband had to build around it with some wood which we cut to size in order to make a frame to attach the frame of the microwave to.  You can see it in the picture below.  The white horizontal piece on the bottom is the piece that IKEA gives you, but we added the wood on the sides on top in order attach the microwave frame.

Here’s the duct work my husband created because the microwave vents to the outside.  I suppose we could’ve also just had it vent out the front of the microwave, but this venting to outside was already there for the oven hood that was here and we didn’t want to waste that functionality.

Crown Molding (TBD)

We still have to put our little extra skinny strip of crown molding at the top of the cabinets. I’m sure that’ll be another adventure.  Will update when we get that done.  UPDATE: we decided not to do the crown molding on top.  We did add a strip above the sink because the under cabinet light was blinding.  Above the cabinets, there’s just a little gap between the cabinets and the ceiling.  We determined it actually looks fine..  You can judge for yourself in the final pictures below.

Counter Top

We went with Quartz in a light gray color. Luckily, we didn’t pick granite because the Home Depot countertop installers said they won’t do granite on IKEA cabinets since granite is heavier.

Interim pictures of cabinets:

Final pictures of the finished kitchen (woohoo – finally!):

For some before and after pictures, see this post:

Our First Real Estate Baby

Read on for the rest of the install:

IKEA Kitchen Install Part Uno – Planning Design

IKEA Kitchen Install Part Dos – Cabinet Assembly

IKEA Kitchen Install Part Tres – Cabinet Install

IKEA Kitchen Install Parto Quatro – Finishing Touches

IKEA Kitchen Install Part Tres – Cabinet Install

If you are interested in reading Part 2, it is here: IKEA Kitchen Install Part Dos – Cabinet Assembly

And here is the part we’ve all been waiting for – the Install!  Because what good are kitchen cabinets if they are not installed, right?  We’ve been holding on to these suckers for quite some time now – it’s time to get them in place.

Measure twice install once (or whatever the saying is)

The first thing we did was measure everything again and draw all the cabinets and filler spaces on the wall.  This is important to do before you hang the rails.  You want to make double sure of the measurements.

Preparing to hang the metal suspension rails from IKEA

If you’re like us, then you’ll spend alot of time thinking about this before you do it.  The first thing you’ll need to do is locate and mark up where the studs are in your wall.  The rails are only about 84 inches long and one of our walls was 161.5 inches so we had to use 2 rails.  One rail we had to cut down a bit (using a hack saw).  Actually, we ended trimming a bit off of both of them so that the holes in the rail would line up with the studs in the wall, for the most part.

We did on occasion drill through the metal rail for a couple of the studs because we figured it’s better to get the rail attached to the stud than not and we couldn’t get all the holes to line up with the studs perfectly.  And we didn’t really care if the rail could move up or down (which is I guess what you can do when you drill through the holes – you have more room to adjust if it’s not level, etc.  We did have about a 2 inch gap between the two rails but it’s in the middle of the very center cabinet which is not going to be a big deal.  You just have to make sure that the two rails are level with each other.

It was actually hard to find the studs on one of the walls because there was soundproofing between the units so we ended up using magnets which would locate where the dry wall screws are (they usually screw the drywall in at the studs).  This worked.  We noticed that the studs were placed pretty far apart in some cases though (24 inches) – it was very non-standard. If you are having trouble finding studs, you can also just drill some test holes because you can tell if you hit a stud or not when you drill the pilot hole though this is not ideal because you could hit a pipe or water line (eeek!!).

So, on one wall, the base cabinet railing ended at dry wall and there was about 16 inches to the next stud which was bothersome so Bryon put some dry wall anchors at the end and since it is a base cabinet – most of the weight will be supported by the legs so it shouldn’t be a big deal, but we were concerned about the wall cabinets on that side.  Turns out when we went to hang the wall cabinets, there was a supporting structure going horizontal across the top so we didn’t have to worry – everywhere we drilled, we hit a stud/supporting structure.  Nice and secure.

These are the screws we used.  It actually took us a while to decide on screws.  We wanted the screws to go about an inch and a half into the studs and we had several layers of drywall and soundproofing to get through.  So, we picked these 3 inchers:

Now, on one side, we have a little 12 inch cabinet between the cabinet and oven which doesn’t bode well with the metal hanging rail because the metal hanging rail was only barely going to reach one stud at the end of it and that would not be much support. The metal hanging rail also won’t fit behind the bottom of the pantry in order to reach another stud. The pantry is actually hung on the top rail but it doesn’t have that big of a gap all the way down. So, Bryon got an upper body workout with his hack saw and hacked off the lip of the metal rail so that we could get it into at least 2 studs to support that 12 inch cabinet. Here’s an example of this:

Honestly, I don’t know how he did that. I couldn’t even be in the same room while he was using the hacksaw on the metal – the sound of it was like nails on a chalkboard times a thousand. Even upstairs, I could hear it and my hair was standing on end and my teeth were clenched together. It just made all my fillings hurt for some reason. Much respect to him for doing that.

Hanging the metal suspension rail

So, next, you want to get the metal suspension rail actually hung. The top of the rail should be at least 6/8 inches from the ceiling. We wanted our cabinets to go all the way to the ceiling so we contemplated ignoring that rule and hanging the metal suspension rail all the way at the ceiling but then we thought that the cabinet doors might not open. We seriously debated this and tested this for hours – this is part of our problem – indecision.

Ultimately, you need that 6/8 inches in order to have room to hang the cabinets on the rail itself, but there’s a way you could forgo that if you want to do the extra work of first hanging the metal cabinet clips onto the rail and then someone holds the cabinet up while you screw the cabinet clip into the cabinet. This would probably work if your ceilings were level but our ceilings weren’t even level so we didn’t bother trying – the doors probably wouldn’t open and that’s important for cabinets.

We also figured one of us would break our back trying to do this so let’s just do it the easy way and if we need to add some crown molding to the top later, we can.  We hung them exactly 6/8 inches down which isn’t going to leave much space for crown molding, but we got something really skinny and we’ll have to sand it down in places.  Maybe leave a little more space if you can.  We left about 17 inches of space between the wall cabinets and the counter top which is on the lower end of space so we didn’t want to eat into that space anymore than we had to.  Ideally, you want at least 18 inches of space there, but I think more than 15 is considered acceptable.

UPDATE: Looking back, we should’ve used the IKEA crown molding and left space for that.  The crown molding that comes with the GRIMSLOV cabinets is only about .5 inch thick, but they gave us the wrong molding – the one we got was 1.5 inch thick on the skinny side and we thought that would be too thick since we already had limited space above the countertop.  If we had gotten the right molding, we totally would’ve used that.  🙁  But we did find something that would work at Home Depot that is equally skinny if not skinnier and if at some later date we choose to, we can always add that.  I can have the paint matched at Home Depot by bringing in a cabinet door and paint it.  It’s just extra work that we wouldn’t have had to do if we had gotten the right molding in the first place.

You’ll want to draw marks along the wall using a square 6/8 inches down (or whatever distance you choose) and hang the railing at the lowest mark – get it level. Then, draw a line on the wall along the bottom of the metal suspension rail. Drill pilot holes into the studs in the center of the hole on the metal suspension rail. Put your screws in most of the way but not all the way. Make sure your rail is perfectly in place and level. Place the IKEA “washers” on the screws and then drill the screws all the way in to tighten. Boom! You’re done! With the rail, that is.. So, we put screws in each of the studs and then put some dry wall anchors in between those because IKEA recommends having a screw every 12 inches.

For the bottom rail, we followed the standard IKEA gave in the manual as far as the height.  I can’t remember what that height is right now but I’ll try to add it here later.  We debated going lower to have more space between the wall cabinet and base cabinet but ultimately decided to just use the standard because we wanted to make sure to have space for the legs (though we did saw the legs down to fit them underneath the pantry, it would be extra work to do that to every leg) and also to make sure the counter wasn’t too low.

Here’s some pictures of our rails (please ignore the mess):

On the short wall (base cabinets):

On the short wall (wall cabinets):

On the long wall (on this rail hangs the base sink cabinet and the 36 incher next to it):

On the long wall (this is the rail for the 12 inch cabinet – the only thing that hangs on it):

On the long wall – here’s the 2 wall cabinet rails side by side with a tiny gap in between (couldn’t get the whole rail on the other side in the same pic):

Hanging the cabinets

Boom! We thought we were done.  We went home on Cloud 9 thinking we accomplished ALOT.  But once we went back and started hanging the cabinets on the rail on the long wall, there was a gap between 2 of the cabinets that we couldn’t get rid of. And this is where we seriously contemplated quitting, y’all. It’s really hard to go from thinking you are done with the rails to having to start over. This was our lowest point where we had to muster all our emotional strength and spirit. If you are installing an IKEA kitchen yourself, you are guaranteed to have one of these moments at some point. Don’t give up!!! Maybe take a break and have a glass of wine or a cookie, but don’t give up! I kept thinking of all the people I could call and even dreamed of selling the building altogether.  The thought of taking the pantry down was enough to defeat us. That sucker is heavy and there is very little wiggle room to get it off in that space.  And we had already leveled it and put some extra supporting structure underneath it – 2×4’s (which we ended up not doing later – it doesn’t really need it).

Turns out, the wall was uneven and the metal rail wasn’t exactly flush on the long wall. We needed to add shims to the left side of the wall and pretty significant ones at that to get it to be flush with the right side of the wall. We basically shimmed the entire left side of the wall up to the halfway point. Starting from the mid point, we put smaller shims and they got progressively thicker as we reached the end of the wall. We also had to take the pantry out which we were trying to avoid and we ended up putting that in last after we got everything else to line up without gaps.

The pantry is hanging on the rail but we also have it supported by 4 legs. It’s just so hard to get it off and on the rail that we were really trying to avoid that so putting it in last after we made sure there were no gaps was the smartest option.   The pantry would not fit in the space we had with the legs on it so my husband sawed down the legs so that we would be able to get them underneath the pantry.  Instead of being 4 inches, the legs are about 2 1/2 inches underneath the pantry.

Here’s our pantry – be sure to install the cover panel on there (as shown here) before hanging the other cabinets since it’s full length.  You’ll have to cut a notch out of the cover panel so that the metal rail can run behind it, but make sure you make this notch deep enough (length-wise) or you will have a hard time getting the pantry off of the metal rail like we did.  :-p  This notch will be hidden by the cabinet next to it so it really doesn’t matter too much how it looks.

Panel between dishwasher and oven

We had to add a panel between the dishwasher and oven because they are right next to each other – deciding where this went was tricky because after we measured our oven, we found out that it was actually 30 1/8 inch wide which is more than the standard 30 inches. It was 29 7/8 at the top, but 30 1/8 inch at the bottom in the back. This is something to beware of when you are doing your measurements. So, we left a gap of 30 1/4 inches for the oven and exactly 24 inches for the dishwasher since these are usually a bit smaller than 24. I read up on this before we actually made this permanent because I wanted to make double sure and found that many contractors have been burned (not literally) by the oven spacing –  so leave 30 1/4 inches just in case.  We did and we are very happy with it.

IKEA sells a special panel that is used specifically to support the counter between the dishwasher and the oven. We thought it was 1/2 inch but turns out it’s 5/8 inch and then we needed 1/4 more inches for the oven so this left an extra 3/8 inches that we weren’t accounting for on the wall cabinets (trying to keep everything symmetrical).

This is how we secured the panel to the wall:

This is how we secured the panel to the floor on the dishwasher side:

Adjusting the cabinets to make sure symmetric

We decided to buy another cover panel to put on the other side of the 30 inch cabinet that goes above the oven which would make that space 31 inches wide and then the space below for the oven and panel would be 30 7/8 (30 1/4 for the oven + 5/8 for the panel) – very close – no one will notice 1/8 inch off. And we figured it looks better anyway for the cabinet above the oven to have cover panels on both sides (as opposed to just one side) – not that it mattered though.

Well, this shifting around and adding more space for the oven caused us to have to remove the bottom rail and move it over a bit – about a half an inch. I had the countertop people coming so we needed to have this panel done between the dishwasher and oven. We didn’t end up getting the bottom cabinets scooted over half an inch but I signed off on a paper, in blood, that said we were responsible for moving the cabinets over half an inch. Normally, they don’t do this but I offered to sign in blood.  :-p

Holes for plumbing and electrical

My husband had to cut out the holes for the plumbing a little wider to accomodate the half-inch which he was super bummed about because the holes were miraculously perfect the first time (when things are miraculously perfect is usually a sign that something else is wrong – immediately start looking for the something else :-p). Now, the holes for the plumbing look more like tiny butts – perfect butts though so can’t complain.  This is why you want to dry fit everything before cutting the holes out.  We bought outlet boxes that have a lead screw on them so that they adjust in and out – since the cabinets have a gap between the wall and cabinet (due to the metal hanging rails).

We had to cut a hole out of the cabinet that’s above the microwave to allow for the vent which vents to the outside.  Here’s a picture of that (we just narrowly avoided that cam – this is one of the reasons we left no filler on that side of the pantry):

Leveling the cabinets and putting on the legs

You’ll want to put a level on the base cabinets and adjust the legs to make sure they are level.  We discovered that with the drywall around the pipes, the wall stuck out too much at the bottom and made it impossible to level the base cabinets around the sink area.  So, we had to cut the dry wall out and use aluminum (won’t rust) sheet metal around the pipes because it’s thinner and more flexible and wouldn’t cause our cabinets to stick out and not be level. We had to also cut out some of the drywall further down (behind the 36 inch cabinet) and use the sheet metal because the pipes were causing it to stick out too far there also and causing our cabinets to not be level.

You’ll want to have all the cut outs for plumbing and electrical done before securing the cabinets to each other, as well.

Undercabinet lighting

Another tip, if you are using IKEA undercabinet lighting – be sure to put the cables in place behind the cabinets before you start securing them together, etc. You will have to pull them out a bit to get cables in there and sometimes they have to go on either side of the pads on the back of the cabinet – you’ll want to make sure you have that figured out and get them in place. You don’t need to have the lighting in place necessarily but the cables, for sure.

NOTE: we decided not to go with IKEA undercabinet lighting because of reviews and backsplash unknowns with the wires coming down from behind the cabinets (there’d have to be gaps in the backsplash or the backsplash would have to be tiled up to the light, etc – too non standard to find any information about it and the electrician wasn’t familiar with IKEA products).  So, we are just going to hard wire some undercabinet LED lights we got from Home Depot.

Screw cabinets together

Now, it’s time to screw the cabinets to each other. First, you want to clamp the 2 cabinets together. Then, you drill the pilot holes and use the screws given to attach the cabinets together. Then, you want to use the gray clippy things to lock the cabinet in place on the rail – this prevents it from moving around.

I just ordered a quartz countertop and backsplash from Home Depot so we are getting so close I can taste the first dish we will make in this kitchen! We will have to test out our work, eh? Heck, I’m thinking about moving in! Too bad it’s a rental and not our house! :-p  Flooring company isn’t coming until Jan. 19th so have a while to wait yet.

More pics:

Read on for the rest of the install:

IKEA Kitchen Install Part Uno – Planning Design

IKEA Kitchen Install Part Dos – Cabinet Assembly

IKEA Kitchen Install Part Tres- Cabinet Install

IKEA Kitchen Install Parto Quatro – Finishing Touches

Trying out Pergo XP in the Rental

On our latest rental project, we decided to go with Pergo XP flooring from Home Depot for the bedrooms, living/dining areas and hallway. It’s a wood laminate floating floor.  We were just tired of replacing carpet every time someone moves out and hoping this will last a little longer.

Floor color…
We chose the Warm Chestnut color in Pergo XP from Home Depot. We are going to go with Allure Ultra for the kitchen since it’s waterproof. We chose Sawcut Dakota and bought it online – it matches almost exactly the Warm Chestnut color in the Pergo XP so that worked out well. Deciding on the colors wasn’t easy (it never is).  The walls are a light greige color and the flooring seems to go well with it.

Floor leveling…
Our dilemma: there was carpeting in the living room and parkay flooring in the dining room. We planned to pull up the carpet, but leave the parkay in because it would’ve been a NIGHTMARE to pull up – that stuff is glued down solidly. So, we had a 5/8 inch difference in height between the two floors once the carpeting was pulled up. We were so indecisive about this – we went back and forth between trying to pull up the parkay, etc. Finally, we just decided to put some 5/8 inch plywood down in the living room. We already had two layers of plywood there, but oh well – what’s another layer?!?

And the current plywood is squeaky in spots which we tried to remedy but to no avail. Nothing seemed to get rid of the squeak. It’s an old building – people will just have to deal with a few squeaks – it adds character, right? 😉 People won’t be able to sneak around, eh?

Well, we researched a ton about how to add a layer of plywood to an existing layer of plywood and there are so many different ways it seemed. Some people glued the layers down then screwed them down and some people just nailed them down. It was dizzying for us because we tend to be on the indecisive side anyway.

My husband bought all the plywood and some leveler mix for the areas that were sloped a little downward and then we found out Home Depot was having a special on flooring install so we decided to go with them! Save us, please! :-p After all that work watching videos to do it ourselves and going back and forth! We had already laid half a room of flooring by ourselves, but the idea of someone else doing it and doing it much faster was too alluring.

Home Depot saves the day…

So, we scheduled with Home Depot three weeks out, but they called and told us they had an opening come up sooner on the weekend – yes! On enters a guy from Transylvania (well, from Chicago, but originally from Transylvania)! I’m not kidding! How cool is that?! I asked Bryon if he showed him his widow’s peak and said he was from Transylvania too. I’m sure that would’ve gone over well.:-p I’m always joking with Bryon that he’s a vampire because he has a severe widow’s peak and he has a machine in the bedroom where he hangs upside down to help his back.  :-p  Anyway, hope I didn’t offend anyone who’s from Transylvania – bad vampire joke!  This guy finished the entire flooring project in one day!!!!!

He says we don’t need to level the areas that are sloped (we were going to use the leveler mix for this) because the flooring is very thick and forgiving. I hope he’s right! It wasn’t sloped by much – maybe 1/2 inch and only in some spots. Then, on the side that had the carpet, he just cut up the plywood and stapled it to the existing subfloor and boom! It’s level! I’m in shock when Bryon tells me this because we have seriously been going back and forth on this for 3 months by that point! We were getting other stuff accomplished in the mean time, of course (hanging doors).

He put transition strips down at the bedrooms because those were a different level, but that was the plan from the beginning. We also thought we were going to have to have transition strips at the hallway but the guy thought it was level enough to go straight across. Woohoo! It looks so much better without transition strips.  It was pretty level and the hallway had a slope to it but you can’t even tell! The hallway was a little crooked so he had to adjust the flooring accordingly. We love it – he did great work and can’t beat getting that all done in just one day – some things are just worth the extra money..

Here’s some pictures:

Here’s the transition between the Allure Ultra (kitchen side) and the Pergo XP (dining room side).  You can hardly tell the difference right?  I think next time we may do Allure Ultra everywhere instead of Pergo XP because it seems to be slightly more durable.

Patching holes

When we had ceiling fans installed in one of our units, the electrician had to make holes all over the place in order to run the electrical to the center of the room from an outlet that was on the wall since the units didn’t already have lights in the ceiling.  It left a lot of holes!  And some pretty big ones at that.

For the smaller holes, we just patched them with some joint compound and joint tape.  We used a sticky joint tape since it was on the ceiling and we wanted the tape to stick well and not sag down.

You’ll need these things:

-Joint Compound (get the stuff that dries slow – 90 minute works well)
-Cup of water
-Mixing Trough
-Putty knife
-Joint Tape (sticky if you like)

Ignore any other stuff in the picture.

Make the mud by mixing joint compound and water to a pancake batter consistency:

There were these size holes which were about 2 inches long and an inch wide.  For these, we first filled them with mud and let that dry.  Then we put another thin layer of mud and put the joint tape on there.  You’ll want to make sure the joint tape extends past the hole about an inch on each side.  Then, we mudded again a few times – letting dry each time between layers.  Finally, sand it smooth, prime, and paint.

These were the other holes we had which have the drywall that was cut out and secured to a stud.  We just have to tape and mud around the circle.

This next hole was in the closet and there was nothing to secure the drywall circle to.  So, my husband took a piece of baseboard that was slightly larger than the hole by about 2 inches and placed that in the hole cross-wise (using a temporary screw that was drilled partly into the baseboard for grip reasons) then he screwed through the drywall on either side of the hole until the screw caught on the baseboard and pulled it tight.  Then, he drilled the cut drywall to the secured baseboard with a screw.  Now, we just had to patch the circle around the cut drywall.  I wish I had pictures of this process but the pictures didn’t turn out.  Here’s the pictures with the joint tape and then the mud.  It’s not the finished pictures.  I’ll have to post those later.


Hope that helps someone else out there that has to patch up several holes like we did.




IKEA Kitchen Install Part Dos – Cabinet Assembly

If you are interested in reading part 1, it is here: IKEA Kitchen Install Part Uno – Planning Design

Next, we assemble the cabinets.  This takes time.  I do recommend using a drill with it set to low torque.  You will need a drill, rubber mallet, Phillips head screw driver, hammer.

One place where we messed up is we never compared our final purchase receipt with the online planning tool item list.  The guy that was helping us purchase accidentally deleted our order and had to manually enter it and there were many errors, which meant we ended up returning a few cabinets after we’d already assembled them.  :-/  IKEA was great though – they took them back no questions asked and gave us new ones which was a relief.  So make sure you double check everything before you start – this set us back a bit.

You’ll need a large clear space for assembly.  And you will want to assemble everything on a drop cloth or the cardboard boxes that they came in so that you don’t scratch up the finish of the cabinets during assembly.  The instructions are mostly picture instructions with no words.  So, just follow along with the pictures and lay everything out as shown.  I highly recommend following along with the instruction manual – if you don’t and try on your own you might regret it and have to redo because things need to be done in a certain progression.  Here’s some pictures of the assembly.  It was so easy we even had our daughters helping us.  But it does take time.

Lay the stuff out as pictured in the instructions:


We used a drill to put these in or it would take for-ever.  Set it to low torque so that you don’t do any damage.blog_ikeacabs2

Little tip on this one – don’t twist these cams too hard – they break easily.  I broke one and then we got an extra one luckily in a different package.  I took this as God’s intervention because I did pray for help after that.  And the next box had an extra (exactly what we needed – there were no extras in any of the other boxes – so awesome).

Hammer in the little teeny tiny nails in the back to keep the back of the cabinet in place.  Do make sure you have the white side facing the right way (inside the cabinet) because I imagine it would be impossible to get these nails out.  blog_ikeacabskids blog_ikeacabskids2

Now, we had the cabinets assembled and we started getting stressed about actually installing them because life got busy and we’d been working on renovating this unit for longer than I care to admit.

So, I went back to IKEA to see about paying for installation and they don’t do the installation if you’ve already assembled the cabinets because they charge for assembly and installation per cabinet. It’s one price and they don’t reduce the price if you’ve already assembled the cabinets.

We thought it wouldn’t be worth it then to pay the huge price for installation when we’d already done so much of the work. We also figured it would be hard to find a contractor that is familiar with installing an IKEA kitchen since they are so new to the area so we realized we are completely on our own. Duh duh duh. No, literally we said, “Duh!” because we had no idea what we were doing (I should edit that to say I have no idea what I’m doing – Bryon is pretty handy). Time to google some stuff.

And there’s not much information on Google either. I’m not sure why – IKEA has been around for a while. Maybe we don’t even know how to Google right. :-p Saw some stuff in a different language but that wasn’t going to help.  So, our next post will be the Installation post. It’ll feel like a miracle when that is done. Praying heavily at this point.  We have to have it mostly done by December 12th because that’s when the flooring guys are coming to measure. We are making good progress.  Stay tuned. :-/

Read on for the rest of the install:

IKEA Kitchen Install Part Uno – Planning Design

IKEA Kitchen Install Part Dos – Assembly

IKEA Kitchen Install Part Tres- Cabinet Install

IKEA Kitchen Install Parto Quatro – Finishing Touches

Painter’s Tools All In One: 14 in 1 paint tool

My husband got me this 14 in 1 Paint tool which I, at first, thought was a big waste of money. I’m not a big gadget person. I just don’t like to have to make a place for them b/c I’m not the best organizer. Sometimes they are useful though and this one is.

I use it to open paint cans. It’s amazing for spreading spackle – better than the putty knife I had been using. I’ve used it for cleaning things as well – like scraping off mucked on grease. I used to use my thumb nail for everything – poor thumb nail – quite the opposite of a manicure, but I don’t get those anyway.  I’m really not patient enough to get a manicure and I kind of don’t care what my nails look like anyway – is that bad?

I read that it pulls nails out too (not the finger nails – that would be bad – I’m not THAT anti-fingernail!).  You can use it to pull out the nails in the wall.  Though, I haven’t tried that with it yet.  It also can clean off paint rollers.

The little screwdriver attachment on the end is great.  I always need a screwdriver for something or another – it comes with a flathead (or slotted) and phillips head.  I’m sure I’m going to find infinitely more uses for this as time goes on. Great purchase!  And I’m not even getting paid to advertise – what a shame!  :-p

The only thing they need to add to this is a cork screw.  :-p

It’s $5 at Home Depot.  Isn’t it funny how we will have $400 worth of stuff in our cart at Home Depot and then can’t stand to add another $5 to our cart.  I do that all the time!  I’m like – let me just save $2 and get the cheap painter’s tape that’s going to make my life a living Hell.  Never mind that I have $400 worth of stuff already in my cart.  :-p

BTW, just a funny side note.  My husband used the word, chamfered, the other day and I cracked up laughing (too many paint fumes).  I had no idea this was a word.  I told him, we should call ourselves Chamfered & Sons, LLC.  Only, we don’t have sons and I still have no idea what chamfered means.  :-p

Here’s a pic of my new gadget: