DIY Sarah

Craft, Decor, Art, Garden, and Dessert

Toe Kicks

It’s been a long winter but we are back to our old tricks. Here is one little project we worked on while it was still very much winter in early March.

We have finally added Toe-Kicks to the Kitchen Cabinets. It’s a little change that makes the room feel so much more finished. For the uninitiated, toe-kicks are the piece of trim that go underneath the cabinets. In this picture from our 1 year anniversary in 2012, you can see how each cabinet has a gap in the toe-space underneath the cabinet. The toe-kick covers those gaps and is painted white to match the cabinets. It also covers any shims you used to level the cabinets.


Wow, the cabinets have been in since December 2012! These toe-kicks were way overdue.

We also built a little cover for under the dishwasher. The toe-kick piece of the dishwasher is black so it needed to be hidden. It looks so much better with this little additional touch.


Here is a detail of the dishwasher cover. We just tacked it onto the dishwasher with hot glue. It will pop off if you tug on it but was just enough hold to keep the cover from falling over.


I should be back to blogging more regularly since the snow is gone and summer is upon us. We have pulled out the Tandem bike but it still isn’t quite warm enough to ride. We’ve made progress on a couple more projects I will be sharing soon. And, it is just about time for an early spring garden post. I’m hoping the cherry trees bloom this weekend!


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Kitchen Crown Molding Part 1

Yay Crown Moldings. It makes such a difference to have this last bit of finish-work done.

Here is the before:

Here is the super-dramatic “when we bought it” before:

And here we are with some initial moldings.

Our process for moldings are:

  1. Pre-prime moldings
  2. Cut and nail into place (more complicated that it sounds…)
  3. Wood fill
  4. Sand
  5. Prime again
  6. Caulk
  7. Paint
  8. Touch-up Paint
  9. Touch Up Ceiling/Wall paint

I’ve found that the second priming after the wood-filler is key to a nice smooth, easy paint job. It really makes the final coat go on so much easier to have a well-primed underlay. I also like to have it well-primed before caulking. It helps to pull the excess caulk off if you have a nice smooth, unabsobant surface.

I mentioned the Cut and Nail as one step but it really is more complicated that that. It’s a 2 person job and this particular molding was hard to work with. It is “shelf” molding not Crown so instead of the back corner being cut off, we had to cut it off ourself.

Here is the profile pre-ripped:

and after we ripped the back corner off it looks roughly like this.

We buy nearly all our moldings from Anderson McQuaid. It’s not 2 miles away from the house and is a full on-side molding mill. It’s a neat place to visit if you’re ever in the area. It’s over by Fresh Pond if you know that area of Cambridge MA.

To rip the Molding, we used our great table saw:

And some great roller stands from Harbor Freight. These are awesome. Cheap, easy, and super useful.

After getting the molding to shape, we cut it to size using the chop-saw. To install it, we used an ingenious little tool – a custom molding holder.


Making one of these really helps to get the molding up and tight into the corners. We made it long enough that we could wedge it into place with a couple scrap blocks of wood.


(Don’t mind the mess: Rudy’s Cup for iced tea, a crooked Bulletin Board I hang receipts, lists, and watercolor paintings on, my Blue Coat on the back of the door. What can I say, we live here! I just can’t get behind cleaning up to work on a project but it would make for better blog pictures. )

After putting up all the moldings it’s time to wood-fill, sand, prime, caulk, and paint. I’m most of the way through the process but I’ll do a final moldings reveal once it’s all done! The Kitchen really is coming together so well.


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  1. 11/8/2014 | 3:00 pm Permalink

    Sarah I love your house so much!! The kitchen looks great!! And I had no idea that custom molding holders existed! That’s such a useful tool!

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Chair Cushions

Those of you who have been over to the house have probably seen the chair cushions. I made 8 pink cushions for the outdoor folding chairs and they make them much more comfy and PINK!


They are made from outdoor fabric I bought for this project from a long time ago. The cushion is just a 1″ chair pad from Joann Fabric that I cut down to the appropriate shape and size.

I also made a porch swing cushion. I used the batting from a chair cushion I got for free and ripped off the faded fabric. It turned out just a touch too short for the swing which was really a bummer but with the to-be-recovered pillows, it looks fine.


porch swings are just so inviting! Notice the twine on the pillows…we get wind and I’ve found these pillows down the block before….

I’m still planning on covering the pillows on the swing (and adding some ties of some sort to keep them on the swing!). I’ve got another pair of pillows and 2 folding arm chairs that are going to get 2″ foam cushions. Some day…always more projects!


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New Den Windows

Two weekends ago was Patriots Day weekend AKA Boston Marathon weekend. As you might imagine, it was a BIG deal this year. Even bigger than normal. Stefan and I are working for a lab affiliated with MIT so we get Patriots Day off, yay 3 day weekend!

We spent the weekend playing host to a friend of a friend who was in Boston for a job interview. Nico was a great guest and I LOVE playing Bed and Breakfast host. We sent him out into the great wilds of downtown Boston for the day and got to work on the windows. We know how to get the best deal on replacement windows. Typically, new windows are installed from the outside. Our house is REALLY tall…and our windows are REALLY big so we developed an alternate method.


The first thing we do with a window, is pull off the trim. We score the edges with a box cutter to cut the years of paint that are holding the trim onto the wall. Then we pry them off with a prybar and hammer. It’s loud, dusty, and dangerous, so wear your PPE: ear plugs, mask, and safety glasses. After the trim is off, we remove the plaster from behind the trim. Gross. Plaster is a big mess but it has to be done. We have developed a method of scoring it with a dull knife and then prying it off with a prybar and a broken screwdriver.


Then it’s time to disassemble the window. Remove the weights and the panes trying not to break any glass. Glass is a pain to clean up. Once you have the easy to remove pieces out, it’s time to remove the frame. This involved the Saw-Zall.



After much sawing, the frame is out and you are ready to put the new one in. We go ahead and take the storms off at this point. We just unscrew them and pull them in the big window opening. Once the storms are off, Vector has to be locked up.


We build the new, smaller frame on the floor around the new window. We screw in the flange to the new frame and lift the whole unit, window and frame, into the extra large window opening.


And then we shim. Shim-shim-sher-ee, Shim-Shim-sher-Roo!

And now, we are enjoying new windows… and waiting for plaster work to be done. It’s never ending!

Here’s a Before from the Outside:



And an After from the Outside:


So much better but the real benefit is in the lowered draftiness factor. Those old weighted windows are drafty and most of the windows in the house are spongy and need a LOT of work.


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