...because home doesn't happen overnight.
12.06.12 / Random Tidbits

My heart is heavy this week. Lots of sad news involving people we know and love + cancer. No one in our household but that doesn’t make the news any lighter or less serious. Cancer can kiss my a$$.

In an effort to distract my thoughts, I’m sharing a bunch of random information. Sorry if there’s no good flow to this. Blogging, DIYing and decorating seem so trivial today. Pretty much anything that doesn’t involve hugging the people you love seems trivial today.

We used Bondera to install the subway tile in our kitchen.

It was easy to peel and stick directly onto the drywall. HH lubed our kitchen scissors with cooking spray to cut the adhesive sheets.

The subway tile went up without a hitch but when we got to grouting, there was some pesky tile shifting. We think this was due to the size and weight of our extra long subway tile. The tile displacement wasn’t noticeable when all was said and done but we think it’s worth noting that if you’re going to be working with an extra heavy or large tile then maybe Bondera isn’t the best choice. Now you know.

The tile is 2″x12″ imperial blanco in a gloss finish. The grout is Laticrete in natural grey. It’s an epoxy grout which never has to be resealed. The downside is you have to clean up any stray messes pronto or else it’s permanent. I spent the entire evening after we installed the backsplash cleaning grout off of everything in kitchen. That stuff is like concrete when it dries! I missed some on the back of the handle to our trash pull-out and it’s still there to this day. It’s not visible but I feel it every time I throw something away. It peeves me.

The open shelves are made from reclaimed fence boards from HH’s family farm + IKEA brackets. They are 11″ deep.

HH sanded the fence boards down a little but we didn’t want to completely remove the natural patina. We finished the shelves with a few coats of sanding sealer {above} then a few coats of spray poly in a satin finish. The shelves were left out in the garage for a week to off-gas.

To hang the shelves, we were able to tie into studs in a few places by pre-drilling and then screwing directly into the stud. You can see the patched holes where we originally hung the MDF shelvesHint: a strip of masking tape sticky side up catches drywall dust.

In the places where we couldn’t hit a stud, HH used toggle lock drywall anchors.

These bad boys can handle up to 100 pounds so technically I could put my kids up on the shelves for time-outs if I wanted. Not that I will.

I tried out some industrial chairs in the dining room a few weeks ago. I liked the chairs but not in our dining room/mudroom. With the tile floor and metal pendant, it was all a little too cold for me.

In fact, the seats themselves were cold on the buns. I returned them the next day. I found them at Home Emporium near Cincy for $79 each if you’re interested. Their inventory is always changing so they might not be there now.

I finally started painting the french doors in the kitchen. Before I could even start to paint, I had to take a razor blade and scrape off a ton of drywall mud that had splattered onto the doors and their windows during renovation. The doors came to us primed.

We splurged for this gel-flow trim & door paint from Home Depot. I think it was $20? Anyways, the ‘no drip, no brush marks’ claim hooked us. The stuff stinks and isn’t like a typical paint. It’s thick and you don’t stir it. It’s like painting with crude oil. As for the ‘no brush marks’ claim, either I’m a sloppy painter – which is highly possible – or the claim is too good to be true. I mean, it’s definitely better than a plain old latex at hiding brush marks but it’s not perfect. FYI – This glop is oil-based and not low VOC so be sure to work in a well-ventilated area.

Still, I’m absolutely loving the results. Very shiny almost like they’re wet and DRAMATIC. Once the doors fully cure and I get the hardware back on, I’ll share some glossy afters. I haven’t painted the french doors in the mudroom yet.

Hope you understood all that nonsense or found something useful. Hug your ‘lil and big ones today.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking



I’m so sorry to hear that someone you love is also suffering from cancer. Thank you for the blog distraction, as I also need to be distracted from a loved one’s recent diagnosis. I wish you all the best during what is sure to be an emotional time.


I never knew there was a way to hang tile on walls without going the whole cement board and mortar route- this looks so much easier. I keep wanting to do a backsplash in my kitchen, but the amount of work (and my indecisiveness) has kept me from taking the plunge.

I’m thinking of you and your loved ones and sending healing prayers y’all’s way!


I’ve never heard of Bondera before. Looks interesting and takes some of the scary steps out of tiling (at least for me).

The masking tape trick has to be the most genius thing I’ve seen on the internet in a long time. Can’t believe I’ve never thought to do that.


1. Hugs from France to you and your loved ones. Cancer sucks.
2. I agree : the chairs are awesome, but they’re not “you” – and they don’t belong to your dining room either (I feel that the pendant shall be the star). I’m sure you’ll find something you love (and that doesn’t freeze your bottom !)
3. Randomness is fine. It’s how creative people work, right ?
Take care.


I will have to try this bondera stuff, I think it might help since this will be my first attempt with a back splash. Your family is in my thoughts and prayers. I totally agree with you Cancer sucks !!!!


Lots of useful info here. Maybe the most useful is the reminder about hugs, both giving and getting.


So sorry to hear about your loved ones – days like that are awful, even if they do make us remember what’s important. Sending good thoughts your way!


Hi Dana! Yeah, cancer does suck a$$. Let me know if you need to vent. Best of luck and prayers sent to you and yours to get through this and kick cancer’s butt! When times are tough, sometimes a hug just means so much!

I’m praying for you today Dana


Dana, I’m so sorry to hear about your bad cancer news. I’ve been digesting some terrible health news as it relates to friends and other friends’ children lately, and it really does knock you back to realize how uncontrollable and truly awful it is.

I’ve been struggling with my jumbled thoughts and aching heart lately. Here’s the thing about news like this- it sucks and it makes you step back and reevaluate your priorities. And, in the midst of that, the world just keeps on turning and the normal stuff is still there. That’s the toughest part for me. I want to DO something to help the people I love and I feel so guilty going to work and leaving my kids at childcare, or posting a status update on facebook about my trip to Lowes, or living like a normal human being when there is so much *not normal* about my loved ones’ lives.

I don’t know how to reconcile that. When you say “blogging, DIYing seems trivial today” I can relate. Living normally at all seems trivial, huh?

Big, big hugs.


Dana, sorry to hear about the cancer news. It’s a nasty disease. Hopefully everything will end up okay. Serious illness will make you realize how important that someone is to you- real fast!!

On a side note- thank you for the door paint recommendation!!! Hubby and I were just talking about what paint to buy last night for our front door! I am going to check this stuff out!

Those chairs were fabulous! We just ordered similar from overstock yesterday (to match their stools that we have in our kitchen!!!) I was super excited about finding a $20 off coupon code online to make them 180 for 4- I do love your (used to be) chairs- the details were awesome- but I understand why you would’ve returned them.

I love watching your transformations with your house!!

Best wishes to you and your family :)


Gosh- that line about returning those chairs sounded bad- I meant it was too bad they didn’t work out for your space- hope that makes sense!! Lol


So sorry Dana. There’s nothing to say that makes that better for you guys. We love you!

Sorry about the bad news :(


So very sorry to hear about you bad news. My amazing stepdad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer about 5 months ago and it honestly felt as if my world was completely jumbled and upside down for a while just trying to come to terms with the news – and that’s absolutely nothing compared to what my mom and stepdad were and are going through. Cancer is an awful, awful thing to watch someone go through. We’ve learned just to focus on the positive, celebrate every success no matter how small, and take everything day-by-day, week-by-week.

And – to bring it back to home improvement – one of first things my stepdad said to my mom after receiving his diagnosis was “Now I really have to fix the kitchen!” He literally built his house with his own hands when he was still a bachelor, so the kitchen was…let’s just say not up to par…and my mom has been wanting a new kitchen for a long time. Despite going through a round of chemo every 2 weeks and being on a feeding tube, he’s managed to (with a little help from friends) almost completely renovate the kitchen on some sort of ridiculous budget (I want to say $3k?). He’s also been tweaking the guest bathroom with some new fixtures, and is now designing plans and scrounging materials from scrapyards for an attached green house since he and my mom are avid gardeners. He is such an inspiration, and a great example of how life goes on after a diagnosis.


I used this paint about a year ago to do my front door and the trim in the foyer; i wish i had been given a heads up on how STRONG the odor was, goodnight i think i killed half of my brain! I learned the hard way that in order to get the paint off of the brush (or hands) paint thinner would be needed, imagine me driving my car furious to lowes literally 10 minutes before they closed…piss poor planning! :)
Since using this i’ve noticed a few chips (well, peels really) in a few places so keep an eye out!


So sorry to hear about the cancer news. It’s awful how many people it seems to be affecting lately!

In regards to your grouted handle… have you thought about switching that handle with one on a cabinet that you use less often? The idea of feeling that every time I use the trash cab (which would be about a million times a day) would drive me insane.


I’m so sorry about your bad news. Please don’t worry about your blog and your readers if your loved ones need you more right now. We’re happy to wait for you.


That’s a great idea!


Your dad sounds like a wonderful man. So inspiring!


I think the chairs would have worked better if the room had wood floors. Just too many cold, sterile surfaces going on in one room. I loved the chairs though! That’s why I gave them a try.


so sorry to hear about the news. as someone who’s needed distraction from simliar stuff lately, I just wanted to thank you for having this blog. it sounds sappy, I know, but reading house*tweaking (and other blogs) has always been such a great way to step aside from whatever awful uncontrollable news may come, and just take a break from it. it’s such a great gift you’ve given me. and not to speak for anyone else, but I’m sure there are tons of readers who agree with me.


I totally know what your talking about with the grout, our kitchen tile was our first job and we left a couple places messy (one being under the cabinet) and the other over the stove and it drives me insane! Is there any product out there to get it off???
But I totally know how you feel, I love our tile but the little piece under the cabinet is driving me insane! Sorry to hear about your bad family/friends news, sending positive thoughts and prayers your way! I really like your blog, I have my own blog about diy, and had found yours about your old butcher block island (we just made ours this past week) and found yours inspiring! xoxo Erin


Sorry to overly worry anyone. An old friend lost her 7-year-long battle with cancer yesterday. You may remember her from when I donated our ‘love’ headboard and other items to an auction to raise money for her treatment. Another friend of the family was newly diagnosed this week. The worst part is she has two young boys the same age as Layne & Everett and they lost their father to cancer just this past June. Each of the persons that have succumbed to/been diagnosed with cancer are mine and HH’s age.

Wish there were better ways to prevent stuff like this – not just treat it.


I’m so sorry, Dana :( I lost my dad when I was 11 to cancer and he was my best friend in the world. I will join you in a hearty “kiss my ass, cancer”. *hugs*


So sorry to hear about your bad news. I got up and gave my teen son an extra hard hug.

I’d love more details on the door painting. After the holidays I’m painting all my interior doors black and have been looking at paints. I love how glossy your paint is but then wonder about the durability that one of your readers mentioned.


I hug you. I’m sorry. Cancer can suck it.


Sorry about the yucky news. Love the doors they came out awesome! Big hugs to you and yours :)


I’m sorry to hear you had “cancer news”. I’ve had some myself recently regarding family. Cancer can kiss my ass too.
This post was very useful and I appreciate it. The info about the sanding sealer and the drywall toggle locks are needed because I’m about to put up some shelving similar to yours (ok I may shamlessly copy yours) and I was wondering about studs and what not. Also the info about the gel paint is news to me (I had never heard of it) and my little mind is buzzing with possibilities.
In short, thanks for the inspiration. I needed it.

I love the glossy dark paint on the kitchen doors! They look very chic and high end :)


Cancer can suck it! I’m so sorry to hear about your health news. Hugs!



So sorry about the sad new of loved one with cancer. Just received news of my cousin, stage 4 in his kidneys and spine. I still can’t believe it. We spent our summer days as children playing together. He was my best friend then. Too many people get cancer, it’s an epidemic in this country. I’ve lost a 17 year old neice to cancer, a loving, wonderful fath-in-law to it, a sweet sister-in-law, and watched my sister battle breast cancer 2 years ago. Three friends are battling it right now, feels like I’m waiting for my turn. Everyone is touched and affected by it. Dana, keep living life to the fullest and loving on those precious children and husband of yours. Treasure every little moment with them and know that things can wait. You have a lot of support from people who don’t personally know you, but are touched by your words through your blog and the sharing of your life with us.


I’m so sorry to hear about the c-word. Our family can’t seem to escape it so I can relate with you there. Big cyber hug to you and yours.

And thank you for the info on Bondera. I was very skeptical so its nice to hear some feedback. I see that it says “wall” on it but I’m wondering if they have a floor application? That would make my life wonderful…


I LOVE the black on the French doors..it’s dramatic and amazing!

We followed a neighbors journey with cancer this summer and it’s heart-wrenching. I’m so sorry for them!


I know how your feeling. I have a relative who has been fighting cancer for a few months now. We just got the call this weekend that she isn’t going to make it to the end of the week. This news came about a month after my ex mother-in-law passed from cancer as well. I wish a happier ending to your relative’s battle. Best wishes to you and your family.


They do have a floor/horizontal surface application as well. I think that would probably go over better with gravity working for you – not against you like it does on a vertical surface.


What a great job with the subway tile! That product is very handy for the DIY tiler! What a great find!


I’m preparing to paint my french doors (to the backyard) and slab door (entry) black. I’m excited to read that your project went so well!

Great article House Tweaks! Love how you redecorated the kitchen. Thanks for using Bondera Tile MatSet for your subway tile in your kitchen. It looks great. If you have any question about our product, don’t hesitate to contact us on http://www.bonderatilematset.com/index.html or on our social media networks:
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/BonderaTileMatSet
Twitter – https://twitter.com/Bondera


I love oil paint. It comes with built in problems, smell and the need to clean the paint brushes with even smellier stuff, but the finish is so much better than a latex. As for brush strokes, isn’t that a testament to the fact that a person, not a machine, did the work. I like the brushtrokes too.


Just recently stumbled upon your blog and have been binge reading/staring at your photos for almost 24 hours (stopping for food and sleep). I apologize if you went over this in a previous post, but I wanted to ask about your stove! Did you guys buy all new appliances when you bought your (not-so) underdog home? I was wondering if the house was already set up for a gas stove or if you had to switch to gas. I am in the “almost ready for my first house” phase of life and find so many homes with electric stoves. Being a cooking fanatic, I absolutely want a gas stove. Just curious if the transition from electric to gas is a giant pain. Thanks for your amazing and refreshingly honest posts! PS – I love your kitchen.


We moved the placement of the stove / oven and had a new gas line installed for the stove / oven during renovation. The walls were open already and our plumber was running a new gas line to convert the wood-burning fireplace so it wasn’t painful to us at all besides writing the check. (Although having a house completely torn apart and living in a teeny apartment wasn’t exactly painless.)