Peace Out, Gross Grout

Psst. If you’re visiting from over on Hometalk, welcome! Glad you stopped by! Feel free to poke around and get to know us a little bit… you can find the cliff note version of the “who are these Leslie and Mitch people??” here

You know those projects that hang over your head? The ones that mock you every time you look at them? These are the ones that feel the best when you finally knock them off the to-do list. I am psyched to say that we busted through one of those projects. Let me introduce you to our bathroom… how’s that for a pick up line? :)

Painting the Upstairs Bathroom

It’s been awhile since we’ve done any type of work in here and from that picture above, everything looks just peachy. Well, minty, actually.

Upstairs Bath: AFTER

Yep, awhile back we painted the walls a cool blue and added some minty details… and that’s where it stopped. Looks pretty good, huh? Here’s the thing: I never showed you what’s behind that shower curtain. Because it’s gross. I mean, like seriously you’re-not-going-to-want-to-read-this-while-you-eat-your-breakfast GROSS. So consider this your warning… I’ll give you one more pretty picture to put the cereal down and push the OJ away.

Upstairs Bath: AFTER

Ok, you were warned… here’s what it looked like behind that curtain:

Regrouting the Upstairs Bathroom

Do you see it? How about a closer look?

Regrouting the Upstairs BathroomAnd because we’ve already come this far… here’s the money shot.

Regrouting the Upstairs Bathroom

YIIIIIKKKEEEESS! Things are not good in there, folks. It has been like this since we moved in. We inherited that mess and no amount of bleach, Comet, or scrubbing was getting it any cleaner, so the clear decision was that it just HAD.TO.GO. The grout on the walls was yellowed and mildew-y…

Regrouting the Upstairs Bathroom

Regrouting the Upstairs Bathroom

And the caulking around the tub… well, you already saw it, it’s just plain AWFUL.

Regrouting the Upstairs BathroomThe same could be said for the caulking around the shower “features”- you know, the faucet, soap holder, etc.

Regrouting the Upstairs Bathroom

Bad, huh? You can judge me if you want- I tried my best, I promise… no amount of cleaning was doing a darn bit of good, so it was time to initiate Plan B. This project has taunted me since Day 1… every time I shower I’m reminded just how nasty it is. And then, amidst my song and dance routine to the latest Andy Grammar song, I resolve to get on that task ASAP. And then life happens and other things get in the way and the job gets pushed further and further down the to-do list. And then I forget all about it until my next shower, in which the cruel cycle starts all over again. UNTIL NOW.

BECAUSE IT’S DONE. Completely brand spankin’ new. And I can no longer be held responsible for wanting to take a long, hot bath every single night in there. Because it’s clean! And fresh! And sparkly! But let’s back up, because it was quite the adventure to get to this moment. And because suspenseful “after” photos are always fun, so I’m going to make you wait through my boring explanation before you get to see the finished product. :) Unless you just skip and scroll, if you know what I mean. Hey, that’s on you. Hope you can sleep tonight.

Right, anyway… let’s do this.

The job was to grind out the old grout and caulking from the tiles and tub edge and replace them with new, clean versions. We wanted to refresh the space without sinking a lot of money into the project. Ideally, someday down the road we will completely replace the tiles with brand new ones. Some of them are cracked and there are remnants of hardware that used to be attached to the walls that has since been taken down. That kind of project is just not in the budget right now and to be honest, not immediately on the priority list for us. BUT refreshing the nasty old grout and caulking definitely was.

This is definitely not going to be an official “how to re-grout” tutorial because there are plenty of far more professional ones out there on Youtube that you can watch if you’re planning to do a similar project. However, there are a few tips and tricks that we learned along the way and gleaned from people smarter than us (cough, the Home Depot employees). :)

Here are the tools that we used to get the job done:

Regrouting the Bathtub-012

In no particular order… bucket, Bright White grout, Bright White caulk (non-sanded… which means that it doesn’t have little sand particles in it when it dries), sealer, sponges (having two was helpful), grout float (I just bought the cheapest I could find and it worked fine), grout saw, box cutter and screwdriver (we didn’t use these very much). Not pictured, but probably most used are a spackle/putty knife, and an electric multi-tool.

The first thing I did was use a putty spatula to scrape out the (massive amounts of!!!) caulking around the tub.

Regrouting the Bathtub-013This was one of the most satisfying, albeit disgusting, parts of the job. After I got all of that out, things began to look like a crime scene.

Regrouting the Bathtub-015

The next step was to grind out the existing grout between the tiles. For those wondering, caulk is the silicone filler that seals the bigger cracks between the tub and tile. The grout is the cement-like material that fills in the cracks between each tile. To get the old grout out, I used a combination of power tools and a hand tool. The multi-tool with the circular blade made the project go SO much faster, but eventually my blade wore down. After that, I finished the job with the hand grinder (you can find these at Home Depot or Lowes for a few bucks), which took a lot more elbow grease. Here’s what it looked like with all of the old grout sanded out:

Regrouting the Upstairs BathroomBe forewarned… this is a dusty job. Goggles (if you are using power tools) and a mask are a reeeeaaalllyyy good idea. As I did this, some of the tiles around the faucet came loose (they had been loose to begin with, so sanding out the grout that was holding them together was the last straw), so I pried them off, scraped off the old glue, and Mitch reattached them with fresh adhesive.

Regrouting the Upstairs Bathroom

After everything had been scraped out, vacuumed, and scrubbed down (I just cleaned the tiles themselves to get them white again), it was time to re-grout! Again, I’ll leave you to your own devices to hunt down an in depth tutorial for this… a simple Youtube search should do it. The basic concept is this: load the grout onto the grout float, smear it over the cracks, hold the float at an angle to get the grout into each crack and then go over it again to remove some of the excess.

Regrouting the Upstairs BathroomTip #1: Do a small-ish patch at a time, because once that grout dries, it’s a pain in the neck to try and remove the excess.

After you get the grout on there, let it set for a minute or two and then use a damp sponge to wipe away the excess. You’re trying to get the haze of grout off the tiles (the grout should stay put in the cracks). You can tell in this shot that the left half had been grouted and the right had not:

Regrouting the Upstairs Bathroom

Tip #2: Here’s where we messed up. While wiping away the excess, do it GENTLY and with a BARELY WET sponge. Our mistake cost me having to re do the entire thing over again after we finished. Our sponges had been too wet and all of the grout started coming off, including the stuff in the cracks! Be gentle, no sopping wet sponges, many wipes… think low weight, high reps for you workout people.

So yeah, we finished the whole thing and I looked at it and felt really disappointed. It didn’t look any different! I was expecting this bright white lining around each tile, and the cracks looked just as dark and dirty as before and only partially filled. This is when we realized our mistake. During the wiping phase, we’d accidentally wiped even the grout in the cracks out!

Regrouting the Upstairs Bathroom

It looks like we didn’t even do anything! See how the grout had been washed completely out or, in other places, got all clumpy?

Regrouting the Upstairs BathroomAt that point I needed some space from the project (and luckily, we were going to visit Mitch’s parents for the weekend anyway), so I decided that I would redo the whole thing after everything dried out. Fast forward a few days… This time around, I was super careful to be gentle with the wiping and I am thrilled to report that the second time’s the charm! The tub and shower looked sparkly new!

Regrouting the Upstairs Bathroom

No more cracks and clumps!

Regrouting the Upstairs BathroomNext step was re-caulking around the tub. I wanted to make sure that the mildew that had grown on the old caulking wouldn’t come back, so I sprayed the whole crack with bleach and let it dry overnight. Before caulking the next day, I used painter’s tape to tape up my guidelines so that my caulking line to be straight.

Regrouting the Upstairs Bathroom Regrouting the Upstairs BathroomJust push the caulk into the taped line and smooth it with your finger, pull up the tape, and you’ve got a smooth, straight line!

Regrouting the Upstairs BathroomAfter the caulking was finished, I let it dry and cure and then applied a sealer to the whole shower. And then, FINALLY it was ready to use. :) Annnnd just because it’s fun and I’ve never done one before, here’s a gif of the whole process, so you can see it in all its many stages…

Ready for some “afters”? Yeah, me too… here we go, the final product!

Regrouting the Upstairs BathroomIt just feels so much fresher and cleaner in there! Here are some before and after shots- I’ll save you the scrolling. :)

Regrouting the Upstairs BathroomRegrouting the Upstairs Bathroom

Regrouting the Upstairs Bathroom

Regrouting the Upstairs BathroomNothing like a bright white line of caulk to make it feel clean and sparkly!

Regrouting the Upstairs Bathroom

Regrouting the Upstairs Bathroom

Regrouting the Upstairs Bathroom

Regrouting the Upstairs Bathroom

So that’s our victory of the month, friends. And we couldn’t be more thrilled with having a (seemingly) new shower and tub! Anyone else out there ever given the old caulk and grout a refresh? Feels so good, huh? :) Well, from one enthusiast to another… I commend you.

Regrouting the Upstairs Bathroom

Chapter 10: Whitewashed

I think I’m in love. With whitewashing. Let me show you why…

Whitewashing the Bamboo BlindsThat picture might make more sense if I show you what it looked like before:

Spare Closet CurtainAhhhh, so.much.better. All throughout our office project, I felt like the bamboo blinds were not the right color. They seemed too dark, too heavy, too brown. I didn’t want to return them and get new ones (aka. I lost the receipt), but I thought I could alter the color with a bit of watered down white paint and I am stoked with how they turned out!

Whitewashing-011This is really not a hard process… so if you feel nervous about DIYing things, this is totally something manageable to tackle! The first thing I did was take the blinds down and do a test patch on the part that no one sees.


After we confirmed we liked the look, I felt confident enough to go for it. I removed the blinds and stretched them as far out as they would go, laying them on top of a few pieces of cardboard.

Whitewashing the Bamboo BlindsTo make the whitewash, I mixed some white craft paint with water. I have no idea the measurements- just add some of each until you think you have a mixture that will go on lighter than paint, but not so light that you won’t be able to tell there’s color. After making a couple batches, I began to recognize when I had the right ratios. Mine looked a lot like whole milk, if you need a reference point. :)

Whitewashing the Bamboo Blinds

From there, I just painted it on there. Normally, I think you’re supposed to wipe the excess off, but the blinds were just soaking up the paint so well that wiping any off pretty much took it all off. So I nixed that step. Here it is getting the first coat (you can see on the right that the paint had been applied and then soaked in):

Whitewashing the Bamboo Blinds

And part way through two coats:

Whitewashing the Bamboo Blinds

I think I ended up doing 3-4 coats before it was the color I was going for. Now check out the difference between the first set of blinds that I whitewashed, compared to the original…

Whitewashing the Bamboo BlindsLike night and day, huh?! I used the same process for the second set of blinds and now we have ourselves a much lighter and stylish covering for that upper storage!

Whitewashing the Bamboo Blinds

Side Note: I’m finding that this little office corner is a challenge to photograph. Something about the angle of the light coming through the window, mixed with the dark shadows that take over the left side leave my pictures looking off color in comparison with what it actually looks like in person. Sometimes it feels yellow-y in the pictures. Here’s a good shot of what the actual whitewashed tone looks like:

Whitewashing the Bamboo BlindsSometimes I just go in there to stare at them. I’m obsessed. And the timing of this project could not have been better… I was losing steam with the office progress, but getting this completed gave me a kick in the pants to finish the last few details. In fact, the other day I stopped at Target and got some cuuuuuute desk accessories. Can’t wait to show you them! But for now, this is where I leave you, friends. Happy Friday!

Whitewashing the Bamboo Blinds

Psst! Want to see the full office transformation process? Check out Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 ,6, 7, 8, and 9.

Is That a Pineapple or a Boat?

So those frames in the kitchen… the ones that I change out seasonally… you know, the ones that haven’t changed since VALENTINE’S DAY? Those ones?

Valentine's Day Gallery Wall

Well, they’re finally sporting something a little more summery. :)

Summer Kitchen Gallery Wall

I really wanted something free form, abstract, and colorful. I had no direction for these, just a paintbrush, some white paper, and watercolors. At first I started simple… just a few strokes of similarly hued colors.

Summer Kitchen Gallery Wall

And from there, I let my freak flag fly- shapes, lines, patterns… I just did whatever I felt like. This was a very no-pressure project… perfection NOT required. :)

Summer Kitchen Gallery Wall

Doesn’t this one kind of look like a sideways pineapple?

Summer Kitchen Gallery Wall

And this one looks a little like an upside down Christmas tree…

Summer Kitchen Gallery Wall


Summer Kitchen Gallery Wall

This one reminds me of sailboats.

Summer Kitchen Gallery Wall

And heaven only knows what’s going on with this guy… he should get his own caption contest. Any takers?

Summer Kitchen Gallery Wall

Funky, fun, fresh… and just enough color to bring a bit of summer flair to the kitchen. Oh, and I’m loving that they play nicely with the teal blue chandelier!

Summer Kitchen Gallery WallAny decorations in your house change with the seasons? Or maybe you still haven’t taken down the heart garland from the mantel… please tell me I’m not the only one behind on holiday clean up. :)



File this one under E.A.S.Y.

Framing a Starfish-001

Bottom line- we wanted to bring a little bit ‘o Florida back home with us after our vacation this spring. You can read all about the trip here. While there, we stopped in a shop selling all things beachy and I snagged a starfish for a couple bucks. And thus began my hunt for the perfect shadow box. :)

Thrifted Frame

This one came from our local thrift store and I  like it because it is square, so the starfish can sit smack in the middle, and its edges are kind of roughed up… looks a bit like driftwood if you ask me!

Taking Off the Back

All I did was unscrew the back and take out the art that was inside… I’ve never seen anything like this before, but essentially, it was a piece of styrofoam with a raised and colored shell in the middle. Using a box cutter, I shaved off the raised part to make it as flat as possible.

FRaming a StarfishWrap that sucker in a little bit of burlap and you’ve got a custom-made mat to work with.

A Burlap Mat New Mat

I attached the starfish with a little bit of hot glue, reassembled everything, and it was ready to hang!

New ArtThe last thing I did was brush it up with a little bit of white paint- it was more of an ivory before and I wanted it to blend with the rest of the frame wall in the family room.

Framing a Starfish-002 And that’s it- a simple way to remember a great trip!

PS. I know I still owe you the big video montage… it’s coming, I swear. Maybe in time for next year’s vacation. :) No seriously, though, I need to get on that. Just add it to my to-do list.

A Year With Applaro

A lot of people have asked questions about our Applaro outdoor furniture. We got it last year from Ikea and the bench, table, and recliners are all from the Applaro line. So, the big questions on the table (har, har) are… how are they holding up one year later? Do we still love them? Wishing we had gone in a different direction? Would we recommend them to other people? Today is about answering all of those questions.

Ikea Applaro Furniture- A One Year ReviewLast year, we bought the bench (read about that here) and the table (and that here) to kick start our back patio makeover. A little bit later, we went ahead and bought two of the recliners (read about them here) in the stained wood finish.

Backyard: AFTER

We LOVED the pieces. Especially the table. I’ll say it right now, if you have a small space and you need flexibility to do more than one thing in that space, this is a great table option. It’s on the narrow side, so it does not take up a lot of room, and it has detachable “wings” that can make it long enough to seat ten people. Or maaaaybe twelve, if you’re tricky about it.

Applaro Drop Leaf TableThe bench has a curved back that helps make for comfier seating. Would I say it’s the comfiest thing I’ve ever sat on? No, not compared to those big outdoor sectionals that have cushions and whatnot. Obviously. :) But add a table in front to put your feet up and a few outdoor pillows, and it does the job just fine. If you’re working with a tighter budget and a smaller space, this compact bench is a good pick.

Applaro Bench-006

The recliners are great in that they have a pretty small footprint, given that they are reclining chairs. They don’t take up a lot of space. Again, are they the comfiest lounge furniture I’ve ever experienced? No way. But add a few pillows and something to put your feet up on, and they are a great choice to fit in a smaller space and within a modest budget.

Backyard Reclining Chairs

Now, about that “year later” stuff, here’s the low-down of our experience. I should first say that we bought the pieces last summer, they stayed outside all summer and fall (through TONS of rain and a few wind storms), and we winterized everything in late fall for the winter. We brought everything out of storage this April. Here’s our one year later recap…


Color: The white is still white. It does get dirty, but if you stay on top of it cleaning-wise, it keeps its color nicely. The stained pieces have also held up nicely- no refinishing necessary so far. I think this has a lot to do with storing them inside during the winter. The only issues we’ve had is that the recliners get sap on them because they are nestled cozily under our pine tree… nothing anyone can do about that, though!

Paint: No chipping that we’ve noticed. There have been a few scratches and dings, resulting in paint chips, but we attribute that PRIMARILY to the fact that we had to store pieces on top of each other during the winter. You can read about how we winterized our patio furniture here. Bottom line- we’re crediting the few paint scratches to user error, not product failure.

Applaro Ikea

Shape: Some of our pieces warped a bit, but again, we think that is only because of the way we had to store them. Our bench did not have the greatest support in the storage area and we think that a full winter season spent in a weird position made the shape a little weird. Nothing noticeable, it’s just not perfectly balanced anymore.

Sturdiness: Still the same. We haven’t found that it’s gotten weaker over time. You have to know going in- these are not pieces built from the sturdiest wood around and they are not designed to be big and bulky. You’ll notice, specifically with the table, that it is a little on the shaky side. It was like that when we bought it. And I don’t mean that it feels like it’s going to fall over, I mean that if you really push on it, it wobbles. The light, narrow, and compact nature of the pieces means that it is not built to be super burly and sturdy. I will say, though, we’ve never had a problem with it- it has held many people around it and dishes on it with no problem. Just make sure all the screws are tightened and you’ll be all set to go!

Wasps: Apparently, some people have had wasp issues with their pieces, specifically with the stained wood version. We have had no wasp problems with our white furniture or the stained pieces.

Backyard Recliners

So there you have it… everything I can think of to say about these products, one year later!

Backyard Table

Bottom line(s): How are they holding up? GREAT SO FAR! Do we still love them? YES! Wishing we had gone in a different direction? NOPE! Would we recommend them to other people? OVER AND OVER AGAIN! 

And, just for kicks… in order of pieces we’ve liked the most to the least, I’d say #1 is the table (it has been GREAT for our “multi-functional” little patio, #2 is the bench, and #3 are the chairs. If your budget is only allowing for one or two pieces, that’s our two cents on what we’ve liked most out of the bunch we have.

Hope this helps anyone out there looking to buy some outdoor furniture of their own! Any questions I didn’t answer? Leave them in the comments and I’ll respond as soon as I can!