For a long time the wall next to the medicine cabinet in our downstairs bath looked like this.

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But then I got tired of it and took it all down. The wall remained blank until recently when I got to adorn it with some things I got for Christmas!

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The print says Everyone Poops and I have been coveting it since this summer. My sister got it for me for Christmas and I was thrilled! I popped it into a $15 frame from Target. You can get your own poop-friendly print here.

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The silver-plated sconces were a gift from Nick’s mom, Alden, who received them as a gift from her mother shortly before she died several years ago. Alden always loved them but never could find the perfect spot for them in her house so she passed them onto me. I think they’re just lovely in here! They’re very special to Alden and so I plan to take good care of them.

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I love the combination of traditional and cheeky.

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Here’s an older picture of the rest of the room (no sconce in this picture). The color on the walls is the same one that I’m using in the kitchen. Three coats down in there, hopefully just one more to go! I love that it’s light and bright and creates a nice layered look next to white.

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Do y’all think it looks weird that there is a sconce on the left side of the print and nothing on the right? I wonder whether I should hang something else there to balance it out or leave it as is.

Even if you didn’t read yesterday’s post about my plans for updating our kitchen you may have already known that I recently removed our tile backsplash thanks to these two pics I posted on instagram and facebook.

how to remove a tile backsplash

I read a bunch of online tutorials about collecting various tools, protecting the countertops, etc. etc., but as I sat on the sofa researching I looked over into the kitchen and decided I had nothing to lose by just going for it. So on a sleepy Sunday afternoon right before Christmas I grabbed my hammer and a flathead screwdriver and chipped out just one tile, just to see how hard it would be. It came right off, so I knocked out another one. And another one after that. And before I knew it I had tackled a whole section. I thought briefly about whether I might damage the counters, but, ya know, whatever. I figure that if I haven’t scratched them so far with just my regular careless/clumsy daily behavior then they must be pretty tough (they’re quartz, which a quick google search tells me is, in fact, highly scratch resistant). But if you’re wanting to try this at home and are working with a more delicate surface maybe try taping down a dropcloth or even some thick paper.

This was my technique: position the screwdriver flat against the wall with the tip resting just behind the top of the tile.

how to remove a tile backsplash

Then tap, tap tap with my hammer until the screwdriver is wedged in there nice and deep. See that crack along the bottom of the backsplash where it meets the counter? Another quirk of living in a house that was sort of haphazardly renovated by previous owners. I could have fixed it with some caulk but now I never get around to it. The new beadboard backsplash will be trimmed out at the bottom and probably caulked as well.

how to demo a tile backsplash

From there I could use the screwdriver to pry the tile off. Sometimes they came up several at a time and sometimes I had to fight for each one. The drywall got messed up pretty badly in the process but, again, whatever. I’m covering it with beadboard. What I feel less cavalier about but still didn’t address properly is the issue of lead paint. I didn’t think about it until I was more than halfway done and by then I figured I may as well just go ahead and finish and do a good job of cleaning up all the dust afterwards. So that’s what I did. Hope I don’t regret it.

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I am so glad it’s done! This is definitely one of those cases where things look worse before they get better. I’ve started cutting in with the new paint on the walls and am hoping I’ll get a chance to roll on the rest sometime this week, then I can start the process of hanging beadboard (painting before I install the backsplash will save me a little bit of cutting in around those edges). I’m SO excited but trying to take it slow and not get ahead of myself. No beadboard will be purchased until those walls are painted!

Besides being as old as my grandfather, our house has a bit of an interesting history. We bought it from a house flipper. I’m told that the folks who owned it before him had taken out a second mortgage to remodel the place and foreclosed before they could finish. So this guy bought it at an auction, completed the remodel and sold it to us for a TIDY profit (after we’d completed all the paperwork for the sale I found a document showing that he’d bought it for 100k less than he’d sold it for). We are so lucky to live in an old house that has been mostly updated, but there are a few quirks owing to the fact that the renovations were completed by two different owners. And besides that, there are a few cosmetic issues that I’m sure would come up even if the house hadn’t been flipped–everyone has different tastes and there’s no way to predict what the next owner will like. All that is to say that our kitchen is cute and nice but could use a few changes. I’ve been thinking about it for years, but when I found myself feeling jealous that Jack’s new kitchen was nicer than mine I decided the time had come to finally do something.

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The photo above illustrates one of the “quirks.” The cabinets on the left are new, but the cabinets on the right are not. That doesn’t really bother me, actually, except for two small issues with the drawers. 1) The old drawers are starting to show their age. I don’t know if it’s dry rot or what, but the silverware drawer makes this awful grinding sound when you open it and we’re treated to a steady flow of sawdust in the cabinet below. 2) I want to replace the drawer pulls with something more my style but the new cabinets/drawers are laminate and so drilling new holes for the pulls is not so simple. I actually bought some black bin pulls for them ages ago but the holes don’t line up.

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So I’m not sure how to go about replacing the drawers, but I’m going to figure it out.

I used this old photo to illustrate some of my other concerns. The wall color and backsplash are just not my style (the countertop isn’t really either but that’s staying). I like the cover over the range hood but the fan itself is really, really bad. I’m trying to work up the courage to disassemble it so that I can see how/if it’s vented and assess whether it will be a simple matter to replace it with a new one. And also, for the love of storage, why are there no shelves or cabinets on this wall?

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I had to use an old photo above because I’ve already made some progress by knocking out the backsplash! More on that tomorrow.

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Here’s the other side of the kitchen before I finished demoing the backsplash. There’s not much I plan on changing here, other than the new drawers, backsplash, and fresh paint previously mentioned. Please excuse the cluttered counters and dirty dishes. These are “before” pictures. I’d love to someday open up that pass-through and convert the ledge into a breakfast bar but that would require the expertise of a structural engineer and contractor and thus will probably never happen.

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And this is not a big deal but I feel like the pantry could be improved. The door is a pain to open and close and so it stays open most of the time, leaving Jack free to rifle through whatever’s within his reach. There’s also a lot of wasted space, especially in the lower portion.

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So here’s my plan:

  • demo the tile backsplash and replace it with white beadboard
  • paint the walls the same creamy off-white that’s in our downstairs bath and master bedroom (Quail Egg by Valspar. One choice made by the previous owners that I love).
  • install open shelves flanking the stove
  • replace the range hood
  • replace the drawers and add new pulls
  • possible replace the pantry door
  • add a new shelf in the lower portion of the pantry.

I’m taking this one step at a time and giving myself the whole year to get it done. I have a bad habit of diving headfirst into a project, buying all the supplies, and then never finishing. So I’m not letting myself buy a single supply for the new beadboard backsplash until I’ve got the old one demo’d (check!) and fresh paint on the walls (halfway done!). But if you have advice or tips on any of the projects I’ve got planned please do feel free to chime in. Do you know a good source for buying individual bits of cabinetry (like five drawers?)? Or have experience replacing a range hood inside of an existing cover like that?

I went back to work part time when Jack was three months old and have since been in awe of all the women who manage to work full time with tiny humans at home. It’s a lot of freaking work to manage the life of another person. Gender roles have come a long way and Nick and I divide household responsibilities pretty evenly, but in all but financial matters I am definitely the brains of this operation. I don’t mean that I’m smarter than him, I mean that the responsibility of remembering what needs to be done and when falls on me. This is partly because I’m just more inclined to the task (just as he is more inclined to be good at managing our finances) and partly because he works way more hours than me so it just makes sense. But I’d be lying if I said that I don’t get overwhelmed with the details of running a household and I often feel like my head is just barely above water. So when I read this article about running your family more like a business I was intrigued. I wasn’t really into the idea of mission statements or lists of core values, but in many places I’ve worked the weekly staff meeting has been a fixture and I thought–eureka!–why not implement that in our family?

After floating the idea to Nick I literally skipped straight to my computer to draw up a basic agenda to use every week. After using and tweaking it for a few weeks I can say that it’s working well! We sit down for maybe 15 minutes every Sunday night after Jack is in bed and go over what each of us has going on that week, plan our meals, and divide up the tasks that would normally just fall to whoever remembered (uh, me, or Nick after I reminded him 12 times).

free printable family meeting agenda

Like any good Seinfeld fans, we open our meetings with an airing of grievances. Followed by compliments because it seemed like the right thing to do. Then we review the action items from last week’s agenda to make sure everything got done before introducing new business–divided into topics based on the most common issues in our family. Then we quickly decide what we’ll be cooking that week before making a short to-do list and deciding who will do what. Here’s our agenda from last week (of course it got wrinkled before I could take a photo, proof that this is real life):

family meeting agenda

After we’re done I put it in a page protector on the side of the refrigerator so we can reference it throughout the week.

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The key, I think, is to stay consistent. This last week we had plans on Sunday night so we actually had our “meeting” in the car on the way there. And as of this writing all but one item on the to-do list has been completed (Nick was supposed to mail a check to Jack’s college savings account and hasn’t to my knowledge). I feel so much less stressed after these little meetings–it makes total sense that Nick and I should have a formalized method of touching base on household happenings, but it’s not something I think most families think of. And here’s another idea from my friend Lauren and her husband Ryan: consider holding occasional strategy meetings with your partner. They often use long drives as an opportunity to discuss career plans and big life decisions, but they certainly don’t need a road trip as an excuse. They even used a whiteboard to map out all the tasks involved in planning their wedding. Lauren works a ton of hours at a Big Four accounting firm so this sort of planning is crucial for them. I love the idea of taking concepts from work into the home, but only if it’s a good fit. We won’t be drafting a family mission statement anytime soon because that’s just not us.

Click to download the free printable Family Meeting Agenda I created, or maybe get inspired to create your own! And have a great weekend, my friends!