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Bar Makeover: Phase Two

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Celebrations are in order, because I have finally wrapped up Phase Two of this bar, which brings this project to completion, and I just have to say... this might be one of my favorite projects to date. This project meant a lot to us, because we had big dreams for this room when we first bought this house, and to see those dreams come alive... well, that's what it is all about.

For this second phase of the bar, I knew that I wanted to bring some elements from the front of the bar to the back, but I also knew that I wanted to keep some of the original elements as a nod to the history of the house. In order to provide that continuity, I decided to paint the cabinets the same color as the front of the bar (Dutch Boy Warmed Silver). I used my sprayer, and though I am still getting used to working with it, the finish that you get from a paint sprayer is really worth all the taping off and prep work that it involves. The sprayer that I have, though pricey, is absolutely worth every penny. The finish is nearly flawless, and if there are any flaws, it would definitely be from user error (that's me). They turned out WAY better than I thought, and after seeing the painted boxes and doors, I could hardly wait to add the backsplash.

I decided to go with the Zellige tile from Riad Tile again, but this time I went with the 4x4 tiles, and opted for the Natural White color. It is just a touch warmer than their Snow White color that I have previously used, and I thought it would compliment all the wood tones really nicely. Good news: I was right. That backsplash... I mean, those tiles get me every time.

In between the backsplash step, I added "floating shelves" between the cabinets that consisted of screwing 1x2 select pine boards into studs on the back wall and the cabinets on the sides, forming a "U" shape. I then laid a 3/4" piece of plywood on top, and used my brad nailer to attach. To finish it off, I added a 1x2 (this time the tall way) to the front of the plywood, which is the finishing piece that creates the illusion of one solid shelf. Since the bottom of the top shelf is easily visible when sitting at the bar, I used my table saw to cut down another piece of scrap pine that fit perfectly in the rectangular space between the boards. I decided to leave these shelves unfinished, and the light tone of the pine fits in really well with the rest of the wood elements, as well as the backsplash.


Now, if you have never installed a backsplash, don't fret! It isn't nearly as hard as you might think, and it has actually become one of my favorite projects to work on! You'll want to make sure you have a trowel and grout float on hand, as well as a 5 gallon bucket and a large, soft sponge. I prefer premixed mortar and grout, simply out of convenience, and the color choice is personal preference. When you spread the mortar on the wall, you generally want the trowel ridges to go the opposite way of the tile, but since my tile was square, I kind of rotated between which way I applied. This project went easy on me, in that there weren't many cuts to make at all. I use a wet saw to cut my tile, and though scary at first, they are very easy (though messy) to use, and you can't cut your finger on that blade. Once the mortar had time to set (6 hours in my case), I was ready to grout. Grouting is really easy as well, and you basically just mush the premixed grout around, using your float as your applicator, and holding it at an angle in order to get all the gaps filled. The bucket and sponge come into play next, and you will want to wipe and wring and wipe and wring AND THEN wipe and wring one or two more times. Doing so will ensure that there is no leftover haze from the grout. As a last step, I like to wipe the tile with a baby wipe, juuuuust to make sure that the haze is gone. And that, my friends, is that- this backsplash was DONE.

I mentioned that there were a couple of items that I wanted to keep, and one of those was the existing countertop. This countertop appeared to be two long boards that had been glued and joined together, and though I wasn't crazy about the finish, I knew that there was some beautiful wood underneath, so I got to work. I tried to sand it down, but it was incredibly difficult to get the finish off. After a couple of different attempts, I landed on some non toxic stripper that worked really well. You brush or roll it on (be very generous) and then you let it sit. Covering with wax paper or saran wrap with speed the process. I was a bit impatient and only let it sit for about 6 hours before I scraped it off, but if I would have given it the full 24 hours, it would have worked even better. The paint stripper did the trick of removing the top layer(s) of varnish so that I could now easily sand the boards down. The end result was a beautiful, warm, rustic piece, and it was exactly what I had pictured.

As for the rest of the details: For hardware for the drawers and cabinets, I kept some existing hardware and also added a couple of new knobs. I love that the older elements of this house can stay alive through these projects, and it amazes me how these styles from so long ago fit so well with the styles of today. The last step is sealing, and I opted for General Finishes in Flat, because I really didn't want to add any shine to the cabinets if I didn't need to.

And there you have it, folks! A total transformation, and the best part is that none of these steps are really difficult. Do they take time and patience? Sure. But is it worth it. Well.... you tell me!

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