The Lowe’s UpSkill Project Do Days

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When I was invited to partner with Lowe’s for The UpSkill Project I knew it would be an incredible opportunity for  However, I had no idea that my husband and I would connect with such an amazing family on this journey.  You might say it was destiny.  Welcome to our documentation of The Lowe’s UpSkill Project Do Days.  This post is packed full of not only DIY home improvement skills and tips, it’s also full of emotion, so hang on tight.

This post is sponsored by Lowe’s, however the redhead only posts her honest opinions.The Lowe's UpSkill Project Do Days

If you’re wondering what in heck I am talking about, you may recall that in May I posted about an amazing contest that Lowe’s was running (and I helped get the word out) to help homeowners not only update their home, but teach them the skills required to complete those projects.  You can read more details regarding the contest if interested here—-> The UpSkill Project Contest.  I was truly so excited for my readers to have this opportunity, and hoped that one of you would win the contest.  Now, although the winner did not read about the contest through, we did connect last weekend in ways that I had never expected.  I hope you enjoy our story…

My husband and I woke up extra early last Saturday morning in order to get on the road to meet the lucky homeowners, and the Lowe’s Red Vests who were going to be teaching the skills needed for the project. The homeowner’s project focused on her kitchen, which I thought was pretty spot-on cool for us because, well, our DIY kitchen makeover is what started my blogging career.  Now it was coming back around full circle and we were able to be there for this family while their kitchen went through a similar process.

When we arrived I was a nervous Nelly, and my husband was cool as a cucumber with ranch dressing.  I mean seriously, he just doesn’t get nervous.  Luckily, I am able to hide all of that emotion inside.  We met everyone out in front of their home in the morning sun, and this calmed my nerves immediately because everyone was incredibly friendly (and excited).

Here’s a live video of everyone arriving at the homeowner’s house!  I brought her flowers…

Now, let’s meet the family and the Lowe’s Red Vests, shall we?



The Lowe's UpSkill Project Do Days

Candice, Antirrell, Whitney, and Ashton make the cutest family, don’t they?  I fell in love with Candice and her beautiful vibrant personality, her husband Antirrell and his kind, funny, and enthusiastic charm, their gorgeous daughter, Whitney, who helped take care of the little ones on site, and of course cute Ashton who was so excited to help.

After we became acquainted and my husband and I went into the home to take a few “before”shots of the kitchen, I began to explain how this blog thing works to Candice.  I explained that I would need to take a lot of photos, and ask a few questions over the course of the weekend, so I can share everything in a blog post.  She totally understood, and had said that she followed blogs before.  Then, everything shifted.


Candice asked if I could share her sister’s photo in the post.  It was then that we began to notice all the beautiful photos, and tributes to this young woman in their foyer.  Candice explained further that they had very recently lost her sister, Destani, to a boating accident here in Michigan.  It was then that I knew, that The UpSkill Project was about to help a grieving family get through an extremely difficult time.  It was then that I knew this campaign had become so much more than just a makeover.  Candice explained that Destani would have been there with us, and that she would have been dancing around and so excited for her.  Of course this was so heartbreaking for us to learn, and I promised Candice that I would definitely share her sister’s beautiful photo in the blog post.

So that we all don’t start tearing up, I’m moving on with the makeover, but please know that our hearts went out to this wonderful family for being able to still participate after such a devastating shock to the family.  Destani’s spirit was felt throughout the entire weekend and because of her, we felt connected to Candice and her family instantly.

Okay, let’s meet the fabulous Lowe’s Red Vests and our Upskill Teacher.  Let me tell you, these guys rocked.  They really knew how to pull together as a team (some meeting for the very first time) and get this project done.  I was told this was an enormous project by Andrew (the the UpSkill Teacher) who has traveled with The UpSkill Project, and he was spot on.  However…they all went above and beyond to get as much done as possible within the 2 day period.

The Lowe's UpSkill Project Do Days

The Lowe's UpSkill Project Do Days

The Lowe's UpSkill Project Do Days

We aren’t Lowe’s experts, but I thought you might like our matching t-shirts  :mrgreen:   They are in the washer right now getting clean for The UpSkill Community Workshop at Lowe’s this weekend!  Have you heard about that yet?  If you live in the SE Michigan area I hope we can meet at the workshop where we will once again be documenting the Red Vests teaching the customers such skills like tiling, painting, and even plumbing.  The location is 31140 Van Dyke Ave., Warren, Michigan and we will be there between 10am-1pm on Saturday, August 25th.

The Lowe's UpSkill Project Do Days


I asked Candice to give me 3 words to describe her kitchen before and she said:




I also asked Candice if she would miss anything, and her immediate response was, “NO!”

The Lowe's UpSkill Project Do Days

Candice explained that she was very tired of the pink-ish counter tops and she didn’t like the wood tone of the cabinets.  She also wanted to update the color on the walls and add a backsplash.  They had the walls painted a few years ago hoping it would update the kitchen and flow with the counters, but it only kept them happy a short time.  Now, although Lowe’s was able to get to the counters, and the backsplash, she informed us that the cabinets (which they planned on keeping) and walls, would be painted soon, but not within The Do Days.

Here’s another before photo of the “buffet” area adjacent to the kitchen which would also be included in the makeover.

The Lowe's UpSkill Project Do Days




First on The UpSkill Project agenda, was replacing the counter tops.  Bye bye pink counters!

The Lowe's UpSkill Project Do Days

Surprise!  The “King of Stains” aka Antirrell, the homeowner, had already purchased these gorgeous butcher block counter tops from Lowe’s and stained them himself in his garage 😯 !  If that isn’t COOL I don’t know what cool is.  FYI-if interested in this gorgeous stain color, it is “Ebony” by Minwax which can be purchased at Lowe’s.  In addition, the in-store Red Vest employees can help you decide what sheen you want for your polyurethane and which brand to try.  We were so amazed by these counter tops because if you recall, we have a stained butcher block island that looks almost identical to these masterpieces.  Antirrell’s stained butcher block pieces just needed to be cut to fit the counters.  You should be very proud, Antirrell!





The Lowe's UpSkill Project Do Days

Power tool used: Dewalt Circular Saw found at Lowe’s.

During the entire weekend, many family members and friends stopped by to check out the projects and lend their emotional support.  It was honestly so fun to witness all of the love and kindness.  The oldest daughter, Whitney, helped by taking care of the littlest family members, and watched out for her younger brother, Ashton.  She seemed very intrigued by all of the DIYing and I bet watching her Mom and Dad tackle these home improvements inspired her to give it a whirl when she is on her own one day.

At one point, Rick and I were invited over to the neighbor’s house to take a look at all of their decorating and home improvements they have made.  I think they might even follow my blog, now!  Oh, and I can’t forget to tell you how a car drove by the house with 2 women claiming to have grown up in the house back in the 70’s.  We were all shocked!  They shared fun stories with us about the decor back then in the home and then we realized she was in fact an interior decorator.  It was quite a coincidence, and never a dull moment.


The Lowe's UpSkill Project Do Days

Tool used to cut plywood for template is a Porter-Cable Table Saw found at Lowe’s.

Getting back to the project…Andrew explained that the best way to cut the butcher block was to make a template from the old counter tops first.  Candice learned how to use the Dewalt Circular Saw while cutting the template.


The Lowe's UpSkill Project Do Days

Power tool used: Dewalt Circular Saw found at Lowe’s.


The Lowe's UpSkill Project Do Days


After the Lowe’s experts carefully attached the new counter tops to the cabinets, Candice learned how to use the caulk gun while gluing the base trim of the counters to the wall with liquid nails.  Candice continued to impress all of us with her innate DIY skills.  She was obviously a natural!

Andrew also explained that while gluing with liquid nails, it is best to make squiggly lines like you see here, almost like the number 8. Once you attach it to the wall, smear it around so it adheres in all areas.


The Lowe's UpSkill Project Do Days

Tool being used for applying liquid nails is a 10 ounce Rod Caulk Gun found at Lowes.

Tile Backsplash

I’m not sure about you, but tiling is scary to me 😯 .  I’ve never done it before (bad Julie), and as you may remember we just finished paying a professional to tile our master bathroom for our master bathroom renovation.  Well, Candice is way braver than I, and was more than happy to learn how to tile her pretty blue backsplash.  Candice learned how to:

  1. Apply the mortar to the wall.
  2. Apply the adhesive onto the back of the tile.
  3. Cut the ceramic tile.
  4. Place it on the wall.
  5. Grout the tile in place.
  6. Clean the tile to remove excess grout.

She is truly my hero, and I plan to try this all at The UpSkill Community workshop this weekend (details up above).  Of course all of the supplies needed to tile can be purchased from Lowe’s, and even the stunning blue tile that you’re about to see can be special ordered.

The Lowe's UpSkill Project Do Days

I asked Candice what skill she was most proud of during this experience and she said, “Tiling.”

You go girl…I am so proud of you, Candice!

The Lowe's UpSkill Project Do Days

The tiling didn’t stop in the main part of the kitchen, no way, uh uh.  It continued onto the other side and it was a pleasure to watch Ashton receive a lesson in math even before school starts.  Hey Ashton…you did great buddy!  Good luck in 6th grade!!

You can see here, the guys had a little drywall repair going on.

The Lowe's UpSkill Project Do Days

Here’s the big blue machine that does an amazing job of cutting tile “wet” so the dust doesn’t hurt us, or get all over.


The Lowe's UpSkill Project Do Days

Power tool used for cutting tile: Kobalt Wet Saw found at Lowe’s.


After tiling, the guys realized that the counters should always be covered when doing any of the steps of the tiling.  It took us a little elbow grease, but the counters came out pretty well after the grout got on them.  Antirrell still planned on giving the butcher block counters another light sanding, a fresh coat of stain, and polyurethane because he wanted them to be perfecto.

As I mentioned earlier, the cabinets were going to be painted white soon, so they had already numbered the cabinets so they wouldn’t forget what cabinet door went where.  Very smart tip there for when you are painting kitchen cabinets.

Another great tip is to use wood putty to help make the “cuts” disappear in the counter tops.  Lowe’s carries wood putty that can be stained, too!

The Lowe's UpSkill Project Do Days


So, now that the counters are in, and the tile is almost in (the blue tile still needed grout, but it’s hard to tell in the photos), it’s time for the after photos.

Please keep in mind that this makeover project was large.  Even with the fabulous Red Vests and the family helping, it still was a lot to take on in 1 weekend.  Especially with all of the skills being taught.  These after photos may not seem like my usual “staged” after photos because they are not.  We didn’t have time to stage, or even clean everything because what was most important to everyone was getting the projects completed before the weekend was over.

After we witnessed how pretty the present cabinets look with the new backsplash and counters, I think a few of us started to question on whether or not the cabinets even needed painting.  Hmmm…what do you think?

The Lowe's UpSkill Project Do Days

The Lowe's UpSkill Project Do Days

Before I get to all of the “extra” DIY projects that took place during this kitchen transformation,  here are 2 of the very best after shots that show off the counter tops, backsplash, and looki looki at those pretty candles my husband and I ran out to get at the very end as a gift for the family.  I think everything just looked so pretty.



The Lowe's UpSkill Project Do Days


The Lowe's UpSkill Project Do Days

The Lowe's UpSkill Project Do Days





Candice learned how to install the bamboo blinds that she had purchased earlier.  She explained how she had never figured out how to use wall anchors and Tyrone put her mind at ease and explained exactly how to use them.  He had a great tip where he explained how to start the hole with a drill bit, and then hammer the beginning edge of the wall anchor (or molly) into the wall to get it started.  Then it will screw in easier.


The Lowe's UpSkill Project Do Days

Here’s the before & after photos of the window adjacent to the kitchen.  They also installed the new ceiling fan that really made a huge difference.

The Lowe's UpSkill Project Do Days

The Lowe's UpSkill Project Do Days

Natalee, the project manager, had this fabulous idea to add shelves from the leftover stained butcher block counter tops to Candice’s cupboard since there was plenty of space there to utilize.  Candice will have a blast decorating these shelves.  I suggested DIY Mason Spice Jars like the ones I made on my blog, or an herb garden.  After I got home I was thinking maybe a photo of her sister would be nice, too.

The Lowe's UpSkill Project Do Days

We’re not finished yet!  There was still plenty of DIY ideas floating around, especially with the extra butcher block and that was when the mantle was created.  Can you believe it…they made a mantle using butcher block and glue all from Lowe’s.

The Lowe's UpSkill Project Do Days

The Lowe's UpSkill Project Do Days

The candles fit perfect.  Kind of like the team.  Everyone had their job, and we all truly wanted to not only transform the space for this family, but we wanted to teach each other the skills we have been given.  It was truly one of the best experiences of my life.  Rick and I hope to invite everyone over for an after party.

The Lowe's UpSkill Project Do Days

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The Lowe's UpSkill Project Do Days

The Lowe's UpSkill Project Do Days


Michigan family gets a kitchen makeover from Lowe's!

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9 Responses

  1. Dad says:

    Wow, You really did good this time, you should be proud of the way you did the perfect showing of a great Lowes makeover. What a nice family. love to all, Dad in NY

  2. Stephanie says:

    I totally agree with your dad.And Thankyou for the both of for sharing this beautiful make over.

  3. Bette Querin says:

    Hi Julie & Rick:

    Wow!! What a super job you both did. Your ideas are the best. That was a beautiful countertop and blue tiling.

    Cheers, Bette

    • Julie says:

      Hi Bette! I wish we could take credit for the design, but Lowe’s had a designer help Candice with her choices. I did find the candles ha ha!!!

  4. Jacks Wife Chante' says:

    This is my fam featured!! You all did a fabulous job with capturing the process, teaching how to use various tools/transforming materials and just sharing your talents. I’m in aww. Yes! I cried when I saw Destani featured too!! I agree with Can, she would of been there all the eay through. Bless you all!!

  5. Hello Julie,
    I am part of the family that drove by to see our childhood home (the Interior Designer). We lived in this home when it was built in 1968 through the mid 80s. It looks amazing! feel free to reach-out to me with any questions.

    Please give our family’s heartfelt sympathy to Candice and her family. Destani’s spirit must have been quite strong. I have a personal story to share with her family.

    • Julie says:

      Hi Cheryl! I’m so happy to hear from you! The entire day was filled with love & emotion. It was such a coincidence that you drove by while this was going on. Truly unbelievable!

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