Fireplace surround finale

I am so excited to share the rest of my story on building a fireplace surround for our fireplace. As mentioned in an earlier post, I purchased an electric, wall-mount fireplace and installed it many months ago. I have been procrastinating for so long that I finally felt guilty enough to just get it done. Plus, the holidays were just around the corner and it would be so nice to have a beautiful, completed, fireplace wall to hang Christmas stockings on.

Sooooooooooooo…… we go!

After building the frame and attaching Hardiebacker cement board (see previous post), I sponged water onto the Hardiebacker a few times to make sure the Hardiebacker wouldn’t suck the water out of the mortar before it got a chance to cure to full strength. As this was my first time using Hardiebacker, I was really surprised how much water it soaked up, and made me realize how important that step was. Immediately after that, I began applying mortar to the wall and back-buttering each tile, applying to the wall as I went. It went pretty quickly after I got the hang of it. I had previously cut all of the pieces which made the application MUCH smoother. I cut around the outlets for the tv once I got to that row.

I finished applying the tiles and patched the gauges I made in the ceiling when installing the wall frame.

I waited for the spackle to dry, then sanded it, and painted over it with ceiling paint.

I also took extra mortar and applied it between any cracks that didn’t look natural. The tiles got a little out of alignment in a couple places and there were larger-than-my-OCD-can-handle gaps, so I simply applied mortar using a plastic sandwich bag. If you’ve ever piped frosting onto a cake, this is exactly the same but with less perfection. I just filled the little bag with mortar and cut the tip off one of the bag corners and voila! DIY Mortar gap applicator!

It patched so nicely you need a magnifying glass to figure out where I patched! 

The next day, I installed the baseboards and patched around them. I SHOULD have traced the baseboard to the edges of the ledge rock but I didn’t. I applied a very thick layer of spackle for the initial application and waited 24 hours for it to dry. It needed 2 more coats of spackle before it was ready for caulk and paint. I always sand between coats too.  When all is said and done, you won’t be able to tell that is wood and what is spackle, which is what makes spackle so amazing!

Initial application:

2nd coat:

3rd coat:


See what I mean! 

I use 3M Spackle & Primer because it is super easy to sand, dries hard, dries in less than 30 minutes, and is specialized for drywall.  It also happens to be a rockstar on painted trim!  I prefer to wait 24 hours to sand and reapply after the initial application because I want to make sure it is completely dry. 

I also installed a tv mount for our flat screen television. I drilled through the rock and into a stud for maximum support. My amazing husband helped me place the tv onto the mount.

Although I really dislike tiling, this is a damn sweet wall. Now I need to figure out how to hang Christmas stockings on it…….and what is my next project?!


The wall of…..success???

I am writing this post midway through mortaring on ledge rock for the fireplace bump out I’ve been working on. But before I lash out my frustrations regarding having to be a mason once again, let’s take a stroll down memory lane….

It was a cold, dark night in the winter of 2015. My husband and I were in the midst of building our house and we needed to decide on a fireplace. Our house is 100% electric as we wanted to be able to utilize solar panels in the future to make our home net-zero (we get just as much energy from the sun as our household consumes = no electric bill!)  In fact, we don’t have a furnace! And yes, it can get to -40 degrees Fahrenheit….and the mortgage company told me in the nicest way possible, “you’re crazy!”  Sorry for the digression, but I could hear everyone reading this saying to themselves, “oh I would just love a gas fireplace!” Well, no dice here folks. So, instead, we could choose between a wood burning fireplace or an electric one. My husband vetoed the wood burning fireplace immediately for fear of wafting smoke back into the house and having our home smell like a trapper’s shack. I totally understand where he was coming from, but… our next house (don’t tell him this), I have plans for a beautiful Hase wood stove or another similar brand/styling.  Okay so electric then!

We wanted a modern look and my husband preferred the longer fireplaces to the shorter, more compact designs. We ended up settling on the Napoleon Azure 50″ Electric Fireplace. It is wall mountable and the heat blows from the top front, which meant we would be able to hang our television above the fireplace without it melting.  It also came ready to plug into an outlet!  However, the mortgage company wanted it hard wired as to provide a heat source due to the lack of furnace. So, $300 and a hardwired fireplace later😡, we hung the fireplace on the wall and there it has sat for nearly 8 months.

It was nearing the fall season and I figured it would be nice to have a finished fireplace that I had been procrastinating to complete, so I set off with a plan. The plan was to put carrera marble tile in a subway pattern around the fireplace and tv. This tile would match the kitchen backsplash and I thought it would mesh well together. I framed up a wall to place over the fireplace and to house the tv.

< a href=””&gt; After building it in the garage, I begged and batted my eyelashes at my husband and asked him to help me carry in the 6’x9′ “wall”. We got it in the house and realized it was too big. So back outside we went so I could cut the studs to make them fit. This ensued 3 more times!!!! Seriously you guys, the wall is 109.25″ and once we got the wall to fit, I remeasured the entire wall again and it was 107″. How is that even possible?! And so the frustration began……

ter getting the wall installed, I posted to Facebook asking what material looked the best as I was having doubts about the carrera marble tile and I just needed my people!

Not to my surprise, both the white ship lap and the reclaimed wood slat fireplace surrounds got many votes. I knew going either of those routes would be the easiest for me (I am a woodworker after all), but I couldn’t help but feel like they weren’t contemporary enough to fit our current house. Sometimes you just have to buck up and do what’s right for the situation, even if it’s not what you prefer. So that left the stacked stone or the marble tile. Zero, and I mean not a single vote was cast for the tile. Thank goodness I consulted you guys before settling on the tile. You’re opinion is invaluable, seriously.

Stacked stone is the winner! Awesome… I need to take the wall down that I just spent an entire day on and rebuild it because the current wall is too deep.

I took the entire wall apart, ripped the studs down to 3″ wide, and reconfigured the tv setup. I then reinstalled the wall. It should have fit just perfectly now that I knew 109.25″ = 107″ but oh I was too hopeful. I forgot that I left 2 screws sticking out in the top of the wall. I had meant to screw them all the way in…………😖 so my ceiling has a few gauges….I’ll fix them later.

Wall installed – ✅

Now I needed to bring the outlets behind the tv forward 3″ so that they would attach the to bump out studs.

After I made a drywall dust mess, I was able to fit studs behind the tv and attach the electric boxes to those. (Sorry I don’t have photos of the finished set-up….I hate drywall dust and was busy cursing).

I installed Hardiebacker board next.

Wow it almost looks like progress!

I am using MS International Arctic White Ledge Panels.  I cut all of the veneer “tiles” over 2 days and mocked up the layout under the fireplace to make sure I had cut the tiles just perfectly.  This is when the fun started. 36 corner pieces need to be cut, twice. I also have an outlet on each side of the fireplace that I had from moving outlets from the wall to the bump out that I needed to work around. I also had 18 flat tiles to cut for the middle. Let’s just say it was monotonous and very dusty. And my neck still hurts from bending it to concentrate on the cutting.

I started laying the tile last night after having a disagreement with the mortar. It wanted to be the consistency of pancake batter; I wanted peanut butter. After I won that debate, I started placing the tile on the wall and was able to get all the “hard” aka more time consuming parts completed before cleaning up and calling it a night.  Today I WILL finish tiling and I may even be able to patch the ceiling where the screws gauged it….the possibilities!

Check out the finished fireplace wall here.

Chalkboard Easel

I’ve got to give a big shoutout to Shanty 2 Chic for coming up with this DIY chalkboard easel. 

I had this project on my to-do list for quite some time and finally took the time to do it…..a total of about an hour! I literally built this during my daughter’s nap time.

I ended up using scrap wood I had laying around instead of buying to the exact dimensions listed on the tutorial. I used 2×2’s instead and I used Minwax “Weathered Gray” to stain the pine. I was unsure of what stain to pick out from the many to choose from, but “weathered gray” on pine is an almost identical match to a mildly weathered cedar. I created cedar planters first and wanted to match the stain to those.

If you were to get new wood for these easels, you would be around $15 for 1 easel. BUT, you can actually build 3 for around $17 because you will have left over  chalkboard if you only create one. 

I have terrible handwriting and am not artistically creative AT ALL, so forgive my kindergarten-esque “art.” 

Check out the full tutorial at Shanty 2 Chic!

Outdoor Cedar Slat Planters

Hello America! Now that we all have survived Election Day and are going about our day to day lives once again, I figured it would be a great time to lighten the mood with a good hands-on DIY project! I was flipping through my Pinterest boards and saw a tutorial that I just had to try.

My front porch/stoop/slab/dance floor was seriously lacking curb appeal. I did a TON of landscaping in front of my house this past summer, but I hadn’t yet done anything about my front door area. I saw a wood planter that Remodelandocasa created and decided it would be just perfect for my front door area. 

I ended up making 2 out of pine 1×4’s for the slats and it ended up costing around $11 per planter, plus stain and sealer, plus time to let it dry. I really liked those ones and they were nice and heavy. However, they were a bit more rectangular than what I wanted. I was hoping for a square style.

So I made 2 more. But, this time I made them more square and I used cedar fence pickets instead of 1×4’s for the slats. This lowered the cost to nearly $6 per planter and I didn’t have to apply any stain or sealer!

Be sure to check out the complete tutorial at Remodelandocasa and tell me what you think of my version below!

Laundry Wall Cabinets


I just finished building these cabinets to accompany the washer and dryer pedestal surround I built previously.  The cut list for this project is included in that tutorial, so you end up only needing 1 more sheet of plywood to build these upper cabinets. I considered 2 different configurations for the cabinets and ultimately decided that our family would get more use out of having accessible baskets on the bottom than more shelving up top. Let’s get ready to build option 2!

Option 1                                          Option 2

Before I started assembling, I made all final cuts on my table saw and edgebanded the fronts of my sides, top, and shelves.  I made the cabinets to within 6 inches of my 9′ ceiling to accommodate crown molding.  If you have 8′ ceilings, cut the sides of your cabinets to 35″ instead of 47″. I made sure to sand the edges of my plywood too.  I then primed, lightly sanded, and painted (2 coats) of white paint on all my plywood.  I did this because it is easier for me to do touch-ups after all is assembled and installed than it is for me to get a flawless paint finish when everything is assembled.  Also, after you prime wood, the wood fibers swell and it creates a rough surface.  I can easily use my orbital sander over large plywood pieces which saves me a ton of time and it sure beats the alternative of trying to sand into a corner.

After everything dried (wait AT LEAST 24 hours until you assemble), I drilled pocket holes in my pieces and shelf pin holes for my shelves.

Now to finally assemble! Each cabinet took me about an hour to assemble.  If you assemble it faster, it means you’re more proficient than me!  If it takes you longer, it means you’re more of a perfectionist! Either way, #winning!

Step 1

Attach top to side using 1 ¼” pocket hole screws and glue. I recommend assembling the unit so the front is on the floor.  You will prop the entire unit up when finished assembling.

img_3439 step-1

Step 2

Attach other side to top using 1 ¼” pocket screws and glue.

img_3441 step-2

Step 3

Attach middle shelf 12 1/8″ from the bottom using 1 ¼” pocket screws and glue. This height almost guarantees that you’ll be able to find a basket to fit underneath.  I also wanted to be able to fit one of those “cubby” baskets under if I should so please, so I wanted to keep my options open. I also measured my laundry detergents, softener bottles, etc. just in case.

img_3442 step-3

Step 4

Attach back using 1 ¼” pocket screws and glue.

img_3443 step-4

Now your cabinet should look like this:


Step 5

Build another one!

Step 6

*I had to attach the top shelf in place because I have a large chandelier that hangs down and wouldn’t allow for me to raise the entire unit up for installation.

Install top shelf using 1 ¼” pocket screws and glue.


Step 7

Install bottom shelf using 1 ¼” pocket screws and glue. I made 12 1/8″ length spacers out of scrap wood I had to make the installation easier.

img_3464 step-7

Step 8

Install doors.  The door hinges you need will be called “frameless overlay” hinges.  Frameless because the cabinet we built is called a frameless or European style cabinet, and overlay because the door will cover the side of the cabinet (you won’t see the side of the cabinet because the door will ”overlay” them). For these doors, I installed Blum Blumotion frameless full overlay hinges. They have a soft-close mechanism built right into them and install in a snap.  They come in 2 parts:

Hinge (installs onto your door): buy it here.

Mounting plate (installs into your cabinet): buy it here.

To install your hinge, you will need a 35mm forstner bit.  I installed these hinges in all of my kitchen cabinets and bought a jig to make everything line up perfectly.  You do NOT have to buy the jig.  I bought it because I needed to drill upwards of 40 hinge holes and I needed something to speedup the process.

I did not build my own doors for this project.  I have figured out that the time it takes me to build a door and the quality of it vs buying online is a no brainer.  I have been using for shaker style doors and have been ordering them in maple if I am painting them.  Oak or cherry are great options if you are staining your doors.  Maple wood grain does not show through paint and it provides a smooth finished surface. It also doesn’t take stain very well, unless you are highly advanced at staining maple.  I am not.  Oak, on the other hand, shows wood grain through paint, but takes stain exceptionally well.  These are my go-to wood species for their applications because they are readily available to me and are relatively inexpensive compared to other wood species.  That being said, build with whatever you can get your hands on!

Step 9

Install interior shelves with shelf pins.

Step 10

Install by screwing the cabinets to studs in the wall. Be sure to check for level and plum before you screw into the wall.  You can use wood shims to help square everything up.

Step 11

Fill any holes with spackle or wood putty and do any touch-ups necessary as you wish!

Step 12

Install knobs or pulls on your doors and decorate!  You did it!



Washer and Dryer Pedestal Surround Tutorial


As promised, below are the step by step instructions on how to build a washer and dryer pedestal with surround.  Please ask any questions in the comments section below the post and I will be sure to answer as soon as I can!  Thank you and happy building!

Cut list

Quick tip: You can print this off and bring to your local home improvement store to have them cut the plywood for you, on their panel saw.  Be sure to call the store and ask if they have this capability though.

 **These are 3/4″ 4′ x 8′ sheets of plywood.cut-list1

Step 1

Drill pocket holes on the outsides of your sides.


Quick tip: If you do not have a pocket hole jig, don’t panic! Skip this step.

Step 2

Glue and attach the top to each side with 1 ¼” pocket hole screws.

*If you do not have a pocket hole jig, simply glue and screw from the top down into the side with 2” screws.



Step 3

Glue and attach middle shelves 18 ¼” apart with 2” screws from the top.


Congratulations!  You’ve made your pedestal!  Let’s build a surround for it next.

Step 4

Attach surround sides to pedestal with 1” wood screws.  Be sure to countersink the screw heads into the surface of the wood so they don’t stick out. You can attach the screws from the outside or from the inside of the pedestal sides.  It is completely up to you!


Step 5

Drill pocket holes on each end of the 1×3.  Glue and attach to sides with 1 ¼” pocket hole screws.


This is also the time to install the unit in its final position. If you have baseboards, you have 3 options:

  1. Take out some much needed aggression and rip it right off!  Crow bars and hammers are favorites of mine, as well as using a small scraper to gently pry the baseboard away from the wall. Also, if your baseboards have caulk in the gap between it and your wall, be sure to score it with a utility knife first.
  2. Find a piece of wood the same thickness as your baseboard and place it behind the 1×3. It will be sandwiched between the 1×3 and your wall, allowing for proper clearance.  Be sure to buy longer screws to accommodate the extra piece being added.
  3. Cut out the profile of your baseboard onto the bottoms of all your pieces, so that your surround and pedestal can be placed flushed against the wall, while still allowing your baseboard to remain intact.

If you plan to paint or stain your pedestal and surround, I recommend doing it before you install.

Once you have painted or stained, attach L brackets (or countertop brackets) to the sides flush with the top.

To install, drive 3” screws into the 1×3 into the studs in your wall. I also attached it to studs on the side too. My pedestal and surround are pushed back into a corner, so I have 2 walls to stabilize it.   A stud finder can help you locate studs, or you can knock on the wall and listen for sound differences.  The duller the sound, the more likely there is a stud.  I have drywall and this works about 60% of the time…………….and as I am writing this, I am realizing that I have so many holes in my walls because I missed the stud! You know you’ve got the building bug when a stud finder gets added to your Christmas list!

Once you’ve attached your unit to your wall, phone a friend.  You are going to be lifting the washer and dryer onto the pedestals and they are HEAVY! On second thought, phone 2 friends. I am not sugar coating how difficult it was to lift the washer (in particular) onto the pedestals, so try not to get discouraged during this part.  I may, or may not, have gotten the eye roll from my husband during this! hehe

I ended up having to use a jig saw to cut out an area for the dryer venting to run from the dryer, under the pedestal, and up into the vent duct.  You MAY need to do this too, just FYI.

Step 6

I also installed a water shut off access cover plate on the side where my washing machine was.  I can easily remove the cover and reach inside to shut off both the hot and cold water valves. It was around $10 at my local hardware store and was installed using caulk to stick it to the side.


Step 7

Screw 1” pan head screws into the L bracket and attach the top.  This will be a tight squeeze.


Step 8

Attach face frames (shown in red) with finish nails and glue.


Fill nail holes with wood putty (if you stained) or spackle (if you painted), touch up any paint (if you painted), and smile!  You did it! Stay tuned for the upper cabinet tutorial I am currently working on that matches this pedestal surround!


Washer & Dryer Pedestal and Surround

I’m so excited to be posting my first blog post! The credit goes to a few of my girlfriends for giving me the extra push to just go for it, and my husband who, despite rolling his eyes every time I tell him I’m planning my next project, is totally supportive of my crazy hobby.  Did I mention I love woodworking?

We’ve been building our house and I’ve got so many projects to show you in retrospect, but let’s just start with what I’m currently working on. LAUNDRY.

It seems to be the bane of my existence (along with dirty dishes, OMG 👎🏻) and it is only exacerbated by the fact that I had this “great” idea to combine our mudroom, laundry room, mechanical room, AND office into one, 8′ x 15′ room.  What the hell was I thinking? Obviously we had run out of Moscato and coffee….

Fast forward to today’s post.  I needed to figure out what to do with the washer and dryer.  I definitely knew I wanted the washer and dryer to be completely built in.  After searching through every photo on Pinterest, Google, and Houzz, I noticed how built-in cabinetry made the space look custom and much more expensive than not. 

This project was super easy and is a great beginner project!  I’ll be posting a “how to” on this project soon, so stay tuned!  What do you think? Does your laundry room need a pedestal?