Welcome to Kelli's Olympic Nest's tale of how we are creating a home we love through thrifty DIY projects, crafty ideas, and a willingness to get dirty. In between, there's the stories reminding us to also live the life you love. 

5 goals to focus your new year home improvement projects

5 goals to focus your new year home improvement projects

2017. The year the laundry zone, master bedroom, and kitchen cabinets were transformed. Where tiered trays, wooden pillars, and more handmade rustic signs were created. 2017 was the year I embraced my favorite color blue.

So what does 2018 have in store for us? Of course more frugal home improvement projects. Rather than make New Year Resolutions, that I have yet to keep, I decided to be more goal oriented. It's what we do in the classroom. For those of you who may be new to the Olympic Nest, during the week I'm a super in the middle teacher (wink). We set goals all of the time. We talk about how to accomplish them. We evaluate our progress. And we adjust our learning based on them. Goals have helped my students take ownership of their learning...and it's working! So I decided to take this practice and bring it home.

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Here are the top 5 Olympic Nest's projects for 2018:

I listed them from 5 (important but not number one) to 1 (really want to accomplish this project).

5. Guest bedroom/craft room flooring

Looks pretty good, this painted floor, but don't let it fool ya.

Looks pretty good, this painted floor, but don't let it fool ya.

When I painted the sub floor of this room, I wanted it to keep the look above. But that wasn't to be. Whether it was because the sub floor wasn't plywood, or because I didn't seal it, or maybe both, it didn't take long for this to look a mess.

Two years later I am ready to add flooring. Right now I have no idea what kind or even what shade of "wood" I want it to be, but there will be a new floor come the end of 2018. 

Budget: $100


Flooring is finished. We added 1x5 MDF trim for the base boards. Walls were painted the same color as the master bedroom. I’d like to say we stayed within budget but that would be a lie. With under layment, trim and 3 boxes of laminate, the cost was more around three hundred.

old green military footlocker turned farmhouse footlocker.jpg

4. Counter top refresh for main bath

cheap update to bathroom vanity is counter top paint.jpg

For this project I want to "play" with DIY cement counter-top. The main bath vanity is the perfect test subject as it's a small surface for trial and error. If I love the outcome, just may go ahead and transform the kitchen laminate counters.

Young House Love's step-by-step tutorial. Thank you John and Sherry!

Budget: $100 


Well…went above and beyond with this particular goal. Instead of learning how to cement a counter top I went ahead and redid the bathroom. We added board and batten, added planks to the ceiling, added a rustic frame to mirror and then used milk paint to update the bathroom vanity. As you can probably figure, the cost was more than $100 because I had to buy paint—go figure. The board and batten was cheap due to the cost of furring strips. Other costs included 2 tubes of chalking, box of finishing nails, and a can of polyurethane.

If you are going to paint your vanity, I highly recommend you find a poly that doesn’t yellow and is water resistant. The can I used is neither so back to square one with the counter top. I know, I know…just buy a damn new vanity already!

painted bathroom vanity.jpg
diy planked ceiling in bathroom.jpg

3. DIY Rustic End Tables

Cedar rounds will one day become end tables.

Cedar rounds will one day become end tables.

Currently our living room end tables is a crate and an old cheap table I spray painted celery green. Once these cedar rounds dry they will be sanded, stained, and possibly given some color at the base. Not sure what that looks like yet. Any ideas?

Estimated Cost: $0


This continues to be a project waiting to be revealed. Right now they continue to dry. Maybe this summer?

2. Landscape bricks for front entry-way

A brick wall will transform this eyesore dramatically.

A brick wall will transform this eyesore dramatically.

Ugh...I look at this and I feel the pain. You know this is gonna hurt. But this must get done this year. We want to create a tiered look here and then just extend the wall all the way across the current brick retainer wall. Any pointers, suggestions, lessons learned would be greatly appreciated. 

Estimated Cost: $1,000

Update: We finished! You can see how adding a brick retaining wall really amped up our curb appeal here.

1. Kitchen 

The biggest project and the one that has been simmering for quite some time...the kitchen. 


The cupboards have been painted as have the walls. Now it is time to do something about the ugly back splash (below) and counters. After a lot of research and figuring in expenses, I'm going to re-purpose  the remainder laminate flooring and go with a faux shiplap back splash which will be painted white to match the planked wall here. That will solve the chipped tile back splash we have now.

If budget allows, hope to replace the sink for a drop in apron sink.


I'm not entirely sure what I'm going to do with the tile edges. If the cement counter top works in the vanity, that may be my solution.

Another thought is to actually replace the counters with butcher block as Nesting With Grace did. Love her counters. Doing so would solve what to with these ugly ceramic tiles.

Counter will be replaced with a butcher block wood.

Counter will be replaced with a butcher block wood.

For this space I envision a wooden butcher block from Ikea with the shiplap back splash.

Estimated Cost (without cement counters and sink): $300

With cement counter and sink: $800

And that about wraps up the main home improvement projects. Who knows, there just may be surprises in store. Who am I kidding...of course there will be a spur of the moment wild hair project. 


The kitchen is still on hold—sigh. Since this post I have changed my mind regarding the back splash. The kitchen is a space that really needs to stand up to the daily wear and tear. Water, knives, dropped cans, hot pots…you get the idea. So if we’re going to do this, I want to get it right. I still want the wood counter top by the refrigerator and stove. But I would like to replace the main counter tops with something more durable. As for the back splash? I don’t know (hand slap to face). What do you think?

Sure hope you drop me some lessons you have learned for any or all of the above project challenges.

Here's to setting goals instead of resolutions!

Hop on over and check out 2019’s project goals here.

5 goals to help focus home improvement projects.jpg


Guest Bedroom $100 Room Challenge

Guest Bedroom $100 Room Challenge

Master bedroom makeover reveal (simple farm style)

Master bedroom makeover reveal (simple farm style)