Renovation Diaries

The Best Decision This Couple Made During Their Kitchen Renovation Also Happened to Be the Worst

published Oct 23, 2021
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Laurie Jones kitchen
Credit: Petra Ford

As with any home remodel project, when designer Laurie Jones renovated her tiny condo kitchen for less than $16,000, she made a few good and bad decisions along the way. The best (and worst!) decision she made for her kitchen’s remodel was installing a brick facade over a 15’x11’ pre-existing wall — an intense DIY project that took, in her estimation, “weeks and weeks” to create and custom cut.

Because it was a massive and messy undertaking, Laurie and her husband, Drew, completed the brick facade before moving forward with the rest of the four-month renovation. But at the height of the brick-wall madness, Laurie returned to a quote Theodore Roosevelt once said to keep the couple going: “Nothing worth having comes easy.”

Laurie didn’t want the wall to appear like a DIY project, but rather genuine to the building’s 1891 heritage, so installing thin and lightweight brick shingles seemed like a perfect option. (Stacking actual bricks in front of the existing wall would take up valuable inches in an already tight area.) The work by Laurie and Drew — two suitably safety-goggled, amateur brick workers manning a Ryobi 10-inch table saw! — allowed for imperfections that gave it an aged look. Although the brick shingles came ready to be mortared into place, the couple still had a lot of measuring and cutting-down-to-size to do. It was tedious work. “It sounds cliché, but measure twice and cut once,” advises Laurie.

Credit: Petra Ford

The brick wall’s white finish also evokes a weathered patina, and comes from a time-worn method for treating brick: a simple lime wash made with hydrated lime and water that offers protection against weathering. Unevenness is not only par for the lime-wash course, but also Laurie’s desired effect. “I want the finish to wear away over time,” she says.

Credit: Petra Ford

This labor-intensive accent wall will undoubtedly outlast the family’s time in the condo (they’re serial movers!), making it an architectural heirloom that will add character to the home and provide a cozy sense of permanence for decades to come. Perhaps even centuries. “It feels like it’s always been there,” says Laurie with a smile.

See Laurie’s Full Reno Diary

Credit: Kitchn