How To's Interior Projects

DIY Concrete Countertop Guide – The Easy Way

The following is a guide to create your own concrete countertop.  The nice part about this tutorial is that you don’t need to order expensive product and build your own form.  This is an additive process that is often referred to as “faux crete” since it is a cement top layer and not a counter that is complete concrete.  The process allows you to essentially build your counter with a wood frame along with some plywood and cement board. Once that portion is built, you can layer on a cement based product called “Feather Finish” from Ardex.  When I needed a bag of this product for a project that I had, my local flooring installation supply store had it in stock and it was reasonably priced at around $12/bag.  I used this product to skim coat / encapsulate a floor adhesive in the past. It is a fantastic product to use.


This tutorial comes from Sarah’s Big Idea and is described well with plenty of photos along the way. Each step of the project is very logical and the final steps give you the opportunity to bring in some customization with finishes and texture.  The terrific part is that you could experiment, decide you don’t like it, and then simply add another layer to cover the prior.  When building a “true” concrete countertop, the material is expensive and your form work results in a lot of wasted material.  Let’s not even talk about what you would be  faced with should you make a mistake when measuring/reversing your form (trust me, I mean my brother, it happens!).


If you are looking to build some custom concrete countertops on your own, take a look at this how to.  Good luck.


How To's Interior Design

DIY Butcher Block Counter Tops

Who doesn’t love a classic butcher block countertop.  I am not talking about the 1980’s Formica version, but a classic, 1″ – 2″  thick butcher block counter top.

You could probably figure out how to build this one yourself, but a plan is always helpful.  If you are going to build your own butcher block, please take a look at the plan link below.  Once reviewed, you will be in a much better place to build your own version.

This is the inexpensive (cough: cheap) way to go.  The material is common lumber and does not require a lot of gluing and sanding (a little).  The real trick to making this look like a traditional butcher block is in the finish (stain).

cheap butcher block counter top how to

One note: Please be sure to use a “food safe” finish on your own butcher block.

Free Plan: Breakfast For Dinner: Counter Tops.

Cottage Project

Cottage Before and After Projects

We have been working on our cottage project for just about 10 months now. In fact, it was father’s day weekend last year when we first looked at the listing and went under contract.  Over the course of the past year, we have completed (or started) many projects.

We may have been at work on this for 10 months, but please understand that these are ‘cottage’ months.  This is a seasonal place and the winter months were off limits (Late October through March).  In addition to that, much of our time is spent scouring the beach for glass and rocks along with canoeing, campfires, various outings, and general chat with our neighbors and visits from friends.   Given that schedule, this project should be completed (or ready for another renovation) in about 5 years time.  I think I will understand what bridge painters go through at that point.  Finished?  Go back to the other side and start over!

In the spring of this year, we went off of our well water and tied into the new public water line.   Since I knew that would be the case, I decided to force my plumbing hand and cut out the old galvanized lines rather than winterizing those lines.  A galvanized line that had well water running through it for the past 70 years probably wasn’t my wife’s idea of a line that was suitable for sanitary drinking water.

During my plumbing work, I discovered the cause of a smell coming from the bathroom.  It wasn’t a horrible smell, but certainly not pleasant, and I assumed it was the well water stench.  Turns out, it was worse than I though (methane is deadly, after all).  There was no trap in our shower drain line!  This allow the sewer gas (from our septic) to head right back into the cottage.  The bath is adjacent to the kitchen so the situation was not ideal.  I assumed this smell was due to the well water, when in fact, it was the sewer gas.  Good news. New shower + new p-trap = no more smell!

Back in the day (1940’s) things were built well.   They might not have sized some things properly (headers and such), but the structures themselves were so stitched together, that demo isn’t simple (it shouldn’t be).  I have heard people ask how you can have a window in a load bearing wall without a header. Look at the structure.  Tongue and groove sheathing (1″) that had 4 nails in each 1″ x 6″, along with true 2″ lumber, and 5/4 window jambs and you will see why things held together.

Since people love to see before and after renovation photos, I have included a few of ours below.  I would call most of these before and during rather than after since things are still a work in progress.  When the kitchen is completed, I’ll add that post to the mix.

Here are some in-progress photos of our little cottage.

cottage bath - before

cottage bath - after

cottage living room before after

The cottage kitchen is coming along quite nicely.  We built our own cabinets and then decided to use a Wagner power sprayer to give them a finish that was nicer than a “brushed” finish.  Here is a shot of the current kitchen state.  New floor, new wall covering, new cabinets, new butcher block counter (just set in place).  More to come on the cottage kitchen.

cottage kitchen


Tiny Cottage Kitchen

General Improvment

No Fuss (or grout) Tile Backsplash Project

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