DIY Install an Apron Front Sink with a Butcher Block Countertop

DIY PROJECT

It all started with a sink! I fell in love with this Crosstown® Stainless Steel Farmhouse sink a while back, then Elkay® reached out to see if I had a spot for it in one of our renovation homes. And my response was: I’ll make a spot! Since we were already working on the kitchen renovation at The Bayview Bungalow, the timing was perfect. And I am so excited to partner with Elkay on this project to show the whole process of cutting the countertops and installing, because we get SO MANY questions about butcher block countertops. And now we have an info-packed post about it! 

Before we dive in, let’s shine some light on the Elkay Crosstown sink. For all the indecisive minds out there, this is for you because the front apron is interchangeable! The colors range from a copper color called Sunset, to a Scarlet red or Sapphire blue – tons of options! I spent a while debating between the Sunset and Champagne, but ended up going with Sunset because I wanted a mix of metals in the kitchen. Speaking of mixing metals, I also added in some antique steel using Elkay’s Explore Bridge faucet. It elevated the whole kitchen, making it so beautiful! The faucet worked in the space because of the darker finish on the lighting. Generally speaking, I like when metals have a buddy. I used copper, gold, stainless steel, and antique steel in the space, but I made sure that each metal showed up a couple of times throughout the kitchen so it does not stand alone. The utensils and art in the kitchen also help tie it all together!

Now I will throw it over to Mr. Yolo who will answer all your questions about installing the sink with a butcher block countertop!

Mr. Yolo here. I am going to explain some of the finer points of installing an apron front sink in a butcher block countertop. Before we get started, a couple things. 1) I am a big fan of butcher block countertops. They are one of the only countertops you can do yourself, and the easiest. But you don’t sacrifice aesthetics. 2) There is a popular misconception out there that says one would use a butcher block countertop more like a butcher uses a butcher block and less like a normal person uses a countertop. Or, as a friend asked me once, “Do you cut meat on the countertop?” And the answer is of course NO! It’s a countertop. Nobody prepares chicken on their granite countertop. We use cutting boards for that. Same thing for butcher block. The sealers say they are “food grade” or “food safe” because they market the same products for cutting boards. But there is no butchering on the butcher block.

Reader Questions

How do you stain the countertop? What did you seal it with? 

You apply a stain before installing the countertop. We brushed on a mix of Minwax Dark Walnut and Varathane Special Walnut, then wiped off the excess. Note: We ended up using two different kinds of butcher block woods for the countertops so had to mix the stains to get them to match, more details on BUTCHERBLOCK highlight on @ISPYDIY.

There are three ways I know of to seal.  

1) Butcher Block Oil This is what I used on my first butcher block countertops. It has the consistency of baby oil, and its entire purpose is to clog the pores of the wood so moisture and stains are kept at the surface. This method requires the oil to be reapplied monthly. But once converted to a rental, we probably went 3-4 months between reapplications. There was definitely some staining (wine and marker) and water rings. But 220 grit sandpaper got rid of 95% of issues. For one spot, I had to use 120 grit and then 220 grit, but note that they were not stained at the time, so it was easy to spot sand.

2) Polyurethane My buddy bought dark butcher block for his condo and applied one coat of polyurethane. Poly repels water and stains and makes for easy clean up. But it will scratch when the coffee maker is slid across the counter. Also, as stated in the intro, butcher block is just the name, and does not imply one should practice knife skills on the countertop. Especially with a polyurethane coat.

More after the break!

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BAYVIEW BUNGALOW | DIY Pattern Painted Wood Floors

DIY PROJECT

Painted Floor DIY Time!!! Thank you for all the love on the kitchen reveal!  The star of the show is the floor. I am just SO happy with how it turned out. Honestly, how pretty?! It really makes the entire kitchen feel so special. If you all were following along on @ispydiy Instagram (check out the FLOOR PAINT highlight) there were a bunch of questions about the Rust-Oleum® HOME Floor Coating we used. So I’ll dive into those first, then share the details of the process and some troubleshooting we did along the way (hint: don’t use a pencil to draw the pattern on the floor…oops!)

Why did you paint the floor instead of refinish?
My first choice would always be to save an original hardwood floor. When Mr. Yolo renovated this house 4 years ago, after removing all the layers of flooring (7 including the underlayments), he sanded the floor down, and unfortunately the area by the sink had a bunch of water staining.  Additionally, the area in front of the new back door that was cut in was missing flooring.  So he repurposed the bathroom wood floor in this spot.  And would you believe the woods were different???  He picked a darker blue/gray stain to hide the watermarks and the difference in wood, then sealed it with a poly top coat. Over time, the floor turned green…and the top coat got all scratched up. Instead of sanding the floor down again, we decided to lighten the room up by painting. And I, of course, had to make things extra “fun” by adding a pattern. #worthit

Do you seal the floors?
Yes! It’s a two-step process. Rust-Oleum® HOME Floor Coating Base Coat and Top Coat. The top coat comes in a matte (shown here) or semi-gloss finish. 

Do you have to sand the floors first?
Not if you prep it correctly! We were so happy that we did not have to sand. I share the prep process in the steps below. And there are detailed instructions on the can explaining the test swatch, which we did. And since none of the paint pulled up from the floor, we could skip the sanding step. (We did have to sand where we put the samples though…so I would advise doing smaller swatches or swatch after you prep!)

How do you clean the painted floors?
Once the top coat fully cures, you can clean like a normal wood floor!

Can I use the Rust-Oleum® HOME Floor Coating on Tile?
Yes! Ceramic & porcelain tile, concrete, hardwood, laminate, vinyl & more! It would work great on a tile backsplash too! FYI: You cannot use it in showers or anywhere that’s going to be submerged in water. But, they do have a Tub & Tile Refinishing Kit that can be used to paint shower tile.

Cost? And Where do I buy it? 
We definitely could have used quarts instead of gallons because our 150 sf kitchen used less than a gallon of paint (even with the two colors) and maybe half a quart of the top coat. Great news because Home Depot just started selling a kit with quart of paint and a quart of topcoat for $40!! Not bad to totally transform a floor! 

How did you measure out the pattern? 
We found the center of the room using wall to wall measurements.  From that point we used a square to get 45 degree lines intersecting the center (think a big X in the middle of the room).  We then spaced the next lines 24” in each direction.  That line marked the CENTER of the stripe in our pattern.  We placed a strip of 1.5” thick painters tape on each side of the line to make a 3” stripe.  Once the tape was down, we painted the open floor with the second color.

How well will it hold up?!
We just finished two weeks ago, so it has not really been put to the test, but a BUNCH of readers have sent me DMs about using it on wood, tile, and linoleum and said they have not seen any scratches or chips, even the people with kids and dogs!! But we will keep you updated on how ours floor wears. If you are nervous about a light floor and foot traffic, Rust-Oleum® recently released a line of dark paint colors.

Steps:
1) Floor Prep – This is probably the most critical.  Confession: I don’t enjoy prepping for paint.  There just isn’t any thrill in it.  It’s like cleaning a house. And in most cases, you can just go over existing paint on a wall and it’ll work just fine.  But a floor that gets walked on, now that’s a different story.  

Also, an optional step 1 that we did was pull all the quarter-round from the walls and cabinet bases.  They needed to be repainted anyway, and it gave us a bit of a buffer for the floor paint.  The less things you have to worry about getting paint on during this process, the better you’ll feel.

As I mentioned above, we sanded off the sample squares we painted on the floor to choose the colors: Oyster Shell for the stripes and Windsor Gray for the diamonds. Then we sprayed on Krud Kutter and used the rough side of a sponge to scrub the floor. For this step, Mr. Yolo got on his hands and knees and scrubbed the floor.  Even though this house gets cleaned on a regular basis, we were surprised at how much “crud” was on the floor (paint splatter, cooking grease, etc.) All things that you can’t see from walking around.  For these things we removed with a paint scraper.  Once all the debris was loose, we mopped the floor with water.  Once dry we mopped again, this time with a new mop head to make sure the Krud Kutter was gone.  And then we swept.

IMPORTANT NOTE: We swept and vacuumed a hundred times.  The loose hair seems to multiply.  It got to the point where Mr. Yolo would bring clean clothes and socks in a plastic bag and would change into them at the house.  Especially in the lighter colors, loose hair is very noticeable.

MORE STEPS AFTER THE BREAK! And if this post is way too long, skip to the Cliff Notes at the end!

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BayView Bungalow | Kitchen Renovation Reveal!!

DIY PROJECT

The newly named “Bayview Bungalow” kitchen is done!! And I am in LOVE!!! I asked Mr. Yolo if we could move back into this house, because this kitchen makes me SO DARN HAPPY! The DIY pot rail? The painted floors (DIY coming tomorrow)! That sink! The fridge!! Sadly we won’t be living in here anytime soon because it’s a short-term rental and guests will be on their way soon. But let me show you around this kitchen renovation that started with just installing a backsplash, and evolved into a whole kitchen refresh!

This is the WAY before of this kitchen! Mr. Yolo bought this 1898-built house when he moved back to Wisconsin from Las Vegas 5 years ago. He and his parents gutted it, opened up the house to be more open concept, and totally redid the kitchen.

Here is how it looked a couple of months ago! He did an amazing job on the kitchen. The white cabinets from HOBO (sadly no longer in business) brightened up the kitchen, and Mr. Yolo loves blue, so stayed in that color palette. He lived here for a few years before we got married and moved into the Barnhouse. And there was a couple things he still had to finish, like a backsplash…and then I started to kick around some other ideas…and one thing lead to another…

…and this is where we ended up!!! It honestly feels like you stepped into the countryside, even though the house is right in the city! Before we get too far, let me say that the first renovation that my hub did on this kitchen was wonderful, and I am so thankful that he trusted me to undo some of his work (bye bye upper cabinets!) and add the “I SPY DIY” touch to the space. We do these upgrades for a few reasons 1) It’s fun for us to create beautiful spaces! 2) We get to try out new product (like wood floor paint), show you the steps and troubleshoot so you don’t have to, and 3) We like to invest in our properties so they stand out on the short-term rental market.

I also want to say thank you to the sponsors that brought this place to life, and stuck with us through the pandemic. I will have info-packed posts coming up with ALL the details on the painted wood floors with Rust-Oleum, and details on installing the Elkay sink, plus answers to all the butcherblock countertop questions. So stay tuned!!

Ok, so lets dive in! The first thing to go was the upper cabinets, and I KNOW this is not for everyone. My initial pitch to Mr. Yolo was to just remove the one free floating upper on the left and add open shelving….and then I got the idea to DIY this Brass Pot Rail (check out my steps on IGTV) and all the uppers on this wall came down! For those that are freaking out about storage, yes, there is much less, but we use this home for short–term rentals, so we are suppling all the dishes and glassware, and have no problem fitting everything for the guests. So for us, it works great!

The Elkay sink is GORGEOUS and, wait for it, the front is INTERCHANGEABLE! I have a whole post coming with the details, so stay tuned!

The backsplash that started it all! We actually had this Annie Selke Tile, from The Tile Shop left over from the DIY Duplex. It’s so beautiful, and I knew it would look great in this kitchen too. We used London Fog grout, for a soft contrast. And played around with the height. Ultimately, this just felt right in the space, high enough to hang things on the pot rail, but not too high that you couldn’t grab a glass off the shelf.

And then my sweet painted wood floors, I could go on forever talking about how happy I am with how they turned out, but I have a VERY in-depth post coming out tomorrow with all the DIY details and answers to your questions.

I had such a fun time mixing in vintage pieces I already had, because no antiquing during quarantine 🙁 The painting on the shelf was a thrifted one hanging in our bathroom, and it caught my eye when I was getting ready one day. I knew the colors would be perfect for this kitchen. The owner of a local shop Curated Home Decor dropped off the little art piece on the counter and the copper rimmed bowls because she knew they would fit perfectly! The picnic basket on top the fridge is from another local vintage shop Millhouse Goods. And all the containers and wood boards were thrifted finds I had stashed away for a rainy day .

All the details on the changes we made, and shopping info after the break!

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  • Give your sink, and your kitchen, a whole new look and feel in minutes. Crosstown sinks featuring our exclusive Interchangeable Apron offer the stylish look of a farmhouse sink with the ability to change the color and material of the apron from day to night, or whenever the mood strikes you. Sink for Interchangeable Aprons and aprons are sold separately.
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  • BAYVIEW BUNGALOW | DIY Pattern Painted Wood Floors
  • DIY Install an Apron Front Sink with a Butcher Block Countertop
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