If a designer thinks outside the box, unusual materials can become modern devices.
Before I share my countertop home renovation project as my first blog post in this category, here is a little history about our home.
When we bought our modern contemporary home, we knew it was going to take a few years to update and remove all the old and worn 80’s finishes, fixtures, and trims. Although the bones were in great shape and we loved the location–we can easily walk to our little Edmonds, WA downtown–it had been quite neglected. The real estate listing mentioned “deferred maintenance” and that was an understatement.
It contained 2700 interior sq. ft. and a very weathered exterior. We saw so much potential. The backyard also backed up to a beautiful 33-acre wooded park and we even inherited a greenhouse. This would become a long-term project for two people, with Sandy (me) doing a majority of the work. Of course, Kirk (my husband) would help whenever a task was too much for this 5’ 1” senior.
The Creepy Basement Bathroom
Our home budget had to consider the four bathrooms and that didn’t include adding high-end quartz countertops in the basement living area. This meant I had to get creative.
The basement bath was quite a mess. Ewww… It had a small vanity that was falling apart. The sink was cracked. The two countertops were made of some type of weird composite material that was also cracked and stained.
I wanted to do something that would give the downstairs character and tie the space together. I just didn’t know of a countertop surface that would fit our budget and would still look good.
A Cup of Coffee Inspiration
One day when I was sipping a delicious latte at our neighborhood espresso cafe, I sat down at one of their large bistro tables. I was struck by how cool the table looked, specifically the top. It was so innovative. The construction could integrate into that beachy-modern look I was seeking.
The woodworker who created the tables had constructed the countertops out of 2×2’s, which are the same thickness as most countertops. They were glued together and finished with a dark stain. They were topped with a durable composite with a pretty satin finish.
I knew I found my idea, and it was time to do more research on how to achieve a similar look.
2 x 2 x 8 By Design
My first task was to find decent 2x2s that would lend to a beachy finish. I could have purchased smooth boards, but I chose the ones that were rougher cut. Yes, more work but they achieved the weathered look I wanted.
After a bit of sanding, wood filler, and more sanding, the boards were looking pretty darn good. I got out my wood glue, brad nailer, and large wood clamps and began connecting them. Once they were the width I needed, I clamped them together overnight.
Next, I re-sanded and filled the cracks between each board with wood putty. Once smooth, it was time to determine the finish. I choose two different colors of gray and one warm earthy colored stain. I alternated colors just like when applying watercolor to a canvas and blended them until I got the desired look.
Now it was time to figure out a durable yet pretty and effective sealer that would wear well in a bathroom. It took time researching sealers and my favorite for this job ended up being Watco Tung Oil.
Here are some tips for maintaining oiled wood countertops if you are interested in learning more.
Installing the Countertop
Once my countertop was ready for installation, it was time to cut it to the measured sizes. The sink vanity was the first, then a longer countertop would sit upon two cabinets below a wall-sized mirror. Once installed, I added a complimentary tile backsplash.
It took considerable work redoing the bathroom from top to bottom: resurfacing the ceiling, finishing the storage closet, wall paper removal, skimming and finishing the walls, installing new tile floor, and building the vanity. By the time the countertops were installed, I felt really happy to see I had achieved the look I was seeking within my modest budget.
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Sharon Rossmeier says
I didn’t know you did design work. I was a kitchen and bath designer and sales for years and loved it until my surgery when I could no longer finesse the heavy samples of cabinet doors up and down customers stairs. The cases were 30 to 40 pounds a piece.
Sandy Breckenridge says
Hi Sharon! Wow, how cool another creative gal who enjoys construction and design. Are you doing other types of creative work now? As we get older I have found my interests shift to things a little easier on the body. The hard or heavy stuff I am lucky I have Kirk to help or my construction friend, Randy will jump in. Thanks for stopping by!
Diana Makes says
Where in the world did you LEARN how to do all of the things you do?
Sandy Breckenridge says
I think I am too curious for my own good sometimes. I love to learn, figure things out and make things. I also had some good friends in construction that would encourage me and then give me tips along the way. Thanks for showing an interest!