Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Throw Back Thursday: We put every last penny in the remodel, literally.

So anyone who has ever been to our house knows that we have unique counter tops in our kitchen.  When we were redesigning our home we wanted to have as many upgrades as we could, and save where we could.  The counter tops were going to be a challenge.  What is it that every person wants more of in their kitchen?  More counter space, right?  Well we were going to have that and then some, but with that awesome long run of counter space came a problem.  If we really wanted to rock we could do quartz (pun intended).  Let me say I really wanted quartz, but it came with a huge price tag.  The price was a deal breaker.  Our kitchen was going to have to be attained on a budget.  We could have picked to do lower grade cabinets, and have crazy awesome counters.  However, I personally think thats insanity.  So my goal was going to be to have awesome cabinets (mission accomplished), and figure out how to still have cool cabinets.  Counters can be changed fairly easily, but doing a full kitchen remodel wasn't something I was willing to endure at a later date.

So the first thought I had was that we could just put on regular formica.  That was the most cost conscious option, but then we ran into a big problem.  We had such a long run of counter that we couldn't even get formica without having a seam in a weird place.  Here is a little known fact about me.  I'm kind of prissy.  A weird random seam in my counter wasn't acceptable, and would have driven me insane...see?  Prissy.  So the best idea I had was...wait for it...PENNIES! This should be read like the showbiz pigeons on Bolt (moms will totally get this reference).   Honestly I thought of pennies, and then poured over Pinterest for any information I could on how others might have accomplished this.

My first step was calling the bank.  The teller I spoke with thought I was crazy, and was majorly skeptical of whether or not we could pull it off.  Which I thought was somewhat uncharitable since she didn't know me, or how stinking awesome I can be.  She was feisty though, and I liked her a lot.  We talked about all kinds of things.  How they don't keep $500 in pennies on location (because I was initially going to do the island as well).  How they order their money (don't know why I never thought of this but made sense).  How they could order that many, but that I may have to pay a fee for them ordering so many (I didn't have to pay a charge).  How they come in boxes of $25, and how that box would be freakishly heavy (no joke).  Her biggest quandary was if it was illegal to use pennies as a counter top.  We never could decide.  So just in case it is...don't rat me out guys.  Using pennies for new, and creative ways though is all over the internet.  So if they ever decide to prosecute...I'll have company.

So then I started sorting out the clean from the dirty.  FYI money is filthy, and most of the pennies fell into the filthy category.  So I greatly lowered my expectations.  This was tedious and gross.  Then I decided to try to clean the dirty ones that I had left over.  Just an FYI they don't clean well, and the ones that do get slightly cleaner then have a weird pinkish hue to it.  Just a random bit of knowledge, if you soak pennies in straight white vinegar for 24 straight hours when you go to rinse and try to rub off gunk (scientific technical term) most of them will disintegrate.  My advice would be to just redeposit the dirty ones, and get another box.  

Then it was time to prep the surface.  We had put down 3/4 inch ply wood as a base.  I didn't want a light background so I stained the background with Minwax Dark Walnut.  We allowed it to dry overnight.  We used a red oak piece of wood as trim that my awesome brother-in-law, Señor Senior, routed the edge of, stained again in Dark Walnut.  We then put clear caulking around all the seams, and taped around the hole cut out for the sink.  After that dried it was time to lay out the pennies.  This also was super tedious.

I actually really loved the color variance that my lowered expectations resulted in.

Then it was time for the epoxy (here).  I don't have any pictures of this step because sometimes I'm a loser, but in this case I was busy helping Señor Hotness spread the epoxy.  We had to mix it in small batches and put it on thin.  You have to be careful about bubbles.  A butane torch, or a blow dryer should generate enough heat to pop the bubbles.  Make sure not to hold the torch in any one place to long as it will burn it.  This required two coats.  You have to follow the directions precisely, and once you get it all mixed together the clock is ticking.  You have to move fast.  The epoxy takes 8 hours to set up to touch, and 3 days to cure.  It is self leveling so it just needs to be spread.  It will dry super shiny since it only comes in gloss.  The only downside is that the finish isn't very heat resistant, but that isn't any different than your standard formica.  So if putting a hot pan down, use a trivet, and if your need to cut something use a cutting board.  I'm going to try to sound modest when I say that it looks awesome.

See?  AWESOME!!!  Ignore the lack of wall paint (this picture is old), and try not to be jealous of my crazy awesome mixer.  It'll be hard since Bertha is so big, red and beautiful.

The final finished product took only $125ish worth of pennies, and two standard sized boxes of epoxy from Lowes.  So all total we have crazy cool looking counters, and we only spent roughly $300 for the whole thing.  So the moral of the story is with a little imagination, willingness to do dirty tedious work, and put in the sweat equity you can get something cool for not a lot of money (again pun intended).

Here are some pictures of it while I was painting the wall.

Its held up beautifully this last year, and is still a big conversation piece.

1 comment:

  1. WOW!!!!!! I was just thinking how much PATIENCE it would take to make a penny-covered-anything. You guys are awesome!! Way to go, Sarah. Thanks for sharing at Trash 2 Treasure Tuesday. Always love your sweet comments, too. People like you keep me going sometimes. :)