Downstairs Bath: Before and After


Before: Tiny-feeling room with no windows and a 7-foot ceiling.


Demolition: Tearing out plaster while living in the house.



Between: Drywall is hung and mudded and repair work on the floor begins.


Between: Shower walls, shelf and bench have taken shape.



Window, electrical and plumbing are installed.


The beginning of a week-long process to water proof the shower floor and walls.


Laying the shower tile.




Cleaning grout residue off the tile.



Watson would just sit in here with us and watch us work.


Sink #1 is installed and the plumbing is working!  Watson approves.

Benjamin Moore Ice Cube Silve

Finished!  Sink # 1

Benjamin Moore Ice Cube Silve

Toilet area.

Benjamin Moore Ice Cube Silve

Sink #2.

Benjamin Moore Ice Cube Silve

Walk-in shower.


Bathroom Update

Benjamin Moore Ice Cube Silve

Benjamin Moore Ice Cube Silver

We had some downtime Sunday afternoon between family dinners, and we decided to cross another thing off our list- hanging the towel bars and blinds in the downstairs bath.  I couldn’t believe what a difference it made, and it didn’t take long!

Benjamin Moore Ice Cube Silve

Finally, I won’t be on display through this VERY large window in front of the toilet.  Yes, it’s a new window and we put it there.  This was originally going to be the laundry room, but we re-imagined the space after we installed the window and it just wasn’t worth it to move it.  Love the light it it gives for putting on makeup, but being on display….not so much!

Benjamin Moore Ice Cube Silve

Benjamin Moore Ice Cube Silve

Benjamin Moore Ice Cube Silve

We went with towel hooks instead of a large towel bar, and I can already tell that it will be easier for towels to dry.

All the towels are from Target, as well as the big aqua vase.  The branches are from Pier 1 (it’s only 3- they are really full).  The cabinets are a copy of these Pottery Barn ones I found.  I had our cabinet maker build them for us, and I feel the quality is better, and we didn’t have to pay shipping.  Wall color is Ice Cube Silver by Benjamin Moore.  It’s okay, but I don’t love it.  I intended for it to be a true gray, and it has a blue tint in real life.

Benjamin Moore Ice Cube Silve

Benjamin Moore Ice Cube Silve

Benjamin Moore Ice Cube Silve

Benjamin Moore Ice Cube Silve

We had the hardest time finding a vent cover to fit here.  We bought a couple different covers and they didn’t work.  Finally, we ended up using a hack saw to make this one more shallow, and it worked!


Just so you can see the difference these little changes made, here are the two BEFORE pictures:


Benjamin Moore Ice Cube Silve

And the two AFTER pictures.

Benjamin Moore Ice Cube Silve

Practical Storage (Bathroom Organization)

Nathan put up glass shelves something like these in our bathroom a few months ago.  Since then, I’ve “decorated” them with piles of clothes and wet towels.  When we were getting ready for our home appraisal last week, I was getting the bathroom spiffed up (painting trim, touching up walls, sealing the tile) and decided it was time to do something with the shelves.  It took about 5 minutes and cost me nothing since I only used things I already owned.


I didn’t want to spend a bunch of money to decorate the shelves.  And, although we have great storage with those in-wall cabinets, we don’t have room on the pedestal sink for things that would normally be sitting within easy access on a countertop.


So, I started pulling things out of the cabinets for the shelf, and got some practical, pretty storage for FREE!


The towel is a match to the one I posted about here.  I bought the glass jars (actually plastic) at Walmart a couple years ago for just a few dollars.  They put q-tips and cotton balls within easy reach.  On the second shelf, a bottle of lotion, 5 bars of soap stacked up and a toothbrush holder, also found at Walmart a few years ago, finish it off.  As silly as it sounds, it has been so nice to eliminate the steps of opening and closing cabinet doors to reach this stuff!


The Downstairs Bathroom – Our Progress So Far


Our bathroom started out as a graffiti-covered, wood paneled, low-ceilinged, weird, old-porch-converted-to-bedroom.  Classy.

Since we started working on this room, Nathan:

-put in the new window

-tore out the paneling

-tore out plaster and lathe

-tore out the old ceiling

-tore out the flooring

-tore out the old wall, making the bathroom bigger and the laundry room smaller

-framed in the new walls, doorway, angled hallway, shower, and vaulted ceiling

-hung drywall, taped the seams, mudded the seams, sanded the seams

-ran new wiring, added a bunch of outlets and added ceiling lights

-put in all new plumbing

-painted, which turned out to be the wrong color, so we have to repaint

-laid tile on the floor

-spent a week fitting the shower walls with a waterproofing material and laying the pan and curb for the shower floor

-laid tile in the shower

-grouted the tile in the shower and on the floors

-installed the bathroom cabinets (well, the cabinet maker did this)

-installed the faucets

-installed the toilet

-connected all the plumbing so the toilet and faucets work!


This is the shower when it was framed in and partly drywalled.  Look how much taller that ceiling is  now!


Toilet corner!

Yes, we know it is right next to the window.  It is at the back of the house, and blinds will be going over it pronto.  The original plan was for this to be the laundry room.  You were going to have to walk through the bathroom to get to the laundry, which was not ideal.  We just couldn’t figure out a way to have a hallway without wasting a bunch of space from the already fairly small rooms.  But then, Nathan came up with our angled hallway, and then the bathroom could be back here, which was great.  Downside: we had already installed the giant laundry room window, and it wasn’t going anywhere.


View of the shower, toilet corner, and raised ceiling.



In this picture, Nathan is kneeling on the shower pan and spreading a cement-like material on it.  After that, he covered it with an orange cloth-like material that waterproofs the shower.  He also did the exact same thing for the walls, I just don’t have any pictures of it.  I am SO glad I didn’t have to do this job.  It looked frustrating.  He had to thinly spread the cement stuff, attach the orange waterproof material, make sure the cement material was a uniform thickness, and squeeze all the air bubbles out from under the orange material.



Wow!  Suddenly everything started to come together!  Nathan and some friends laid the cement board and then the tile in three weekends.  When I measured to order the tile, there was actually more on the walls of the shower than the whole bathroom floor.  And, that angled seat was a real treat to tile.


I found these vanities at Pottery Barn and loved them, but wasn’t sure about the quality, i.e.- how much I was paying for the Pottery Barn label.  So, our cabinet maker recreated them.  I LOVE them, and we are so excited to have counter space after the past nine months of sharing one tiny pedestal sink in our upstairs bathroom.


I promise that underneath all that grime from the wet saw, the tile is really pretty.  I love the rectangular shaped tile that Nathan picked.



After we clean up the bathroom, we have to install the shower heads, wire up the rest of the outlets (Nathan did a few of them last night), install the ceiling lights, put in the door, and trim.  We’re getting so close!  I’ll keep you updated as we make progress over the next couple weeks.

Laundry Room Update

When we bought our house, an old porch off the kitchen had been converted to a bathroom and a bedroom.  The decorating style, as you can see was “retro-graffiti”.  The bathroom, pictured below, was so small that I’m pretty sure that if you sat on the toilet (it was disgusting, so I never did), your knees would touch the sink cabinet in front of you.


Notice the vinyl-crackle wall covering.  It goes well with the gold-fleck “marble” countertop.


I’ve looked at my to-do lists and timelines for fixing up the house from back when this picture was taken.  No wonder I look so positive and happy.  I thought we could finish the house in about 6 months.  Ha.


This ceiling really came in handy for all those times when we wanted to play upside-down chess and checkers.



Here’s the closet and window in the bedroom that’s now the laundry room.



This is part of the same bedroom.  It had a weird partial wall that divided the room in half.  Wow, the renters that lived in this house before we bought it really liked to paint the walls.  Just wait until you see the spare bedroom pictures.


Unfortunately the hard drive on our 18-month-old computer crashed in December, so I lost so many of our remodeling pictures.  The picture above is from the kitchen, not the laundry/bathroom, but it gives you an idea of what the room looked like after we tore out all the plaster.

Nathan rewired the rooms, moved a couple walls around, and put in all new plumbing.  After that, we hung drywall and finished it.  I say “we” loosely.  I sanded the drywall.  Nathan did the rest.


Here’s the drywall all hung and mudded.  We were so proud of our beautiful white, gray and clean walls.


 We patched the old plank floors where it needed and screwed down the boards all over the place before laying cement board.


That dark gray stuff is mortar that goes under the cement board to help level-out the floor.  You’ll notice that the ceiling here is much higher than the original checker-board ceiling.  Nathan vaulted the ceiling and took out the big window in the laundry room.


I was going for a lavender-tinted white color and the paint turned out to be baby-nursery lavender.  Really, this picture doesn’t do it justice.  It’s really bright.  I’m repainting this today a gray-blue color.


Two Fridays ago, we got these cabinets at Home Depot.  They started out as unfinished wood and then I painted them with a couple coats of “Cement Gray” from Martha Stewart Paints.  I love the color of the cabinets but not so in love with the cement gray/baby lavender combo.  You’ll notice in this picture that the tile is laid and grouted!


The joy of old houses: weird little places like the tiny cubby at the end of the cabinets.  I think it’s going to become our spot for stashing the broom and mop.


Nathan and his cousin Drake worked on installing the laundry room counter top on Saturday night.  It’s black with a tiny grey fleck.  Our bargain hunting got us 7′ of countertop and cabinets for right about $450!


Our joy over our bargain was short lived when we discovered that the counter top fit like this.  If you’ve ever remodeled a house, you know the nightmares you have about mis-measuring for a non-refundable item.  This was a nightmare come true.  Honestly, I measured correctly, but the walls in this old house aren’t square, so we had trouble getting the countertop to sit against that left wall.


Our options were to waste a bunch of money and get a different counter top, or sacrifice our new, beautiful drywall and shove that top in there.  Yep, we went with the second option.

100_1833Look at all that clothes folding space we’re going to have!

After I repaint, we have plumbing to finish for the sink, finish the electrical by installing the outlets, light switch and ceiling light.  Then, it’s installing the door, floor trim and door trim.  Once that’s painted, we have some storage items to hang on the walls, and then we’re done!

10 Minute Design Fix for $10 or Less

There may be patches of snow outside and it might only be the beginning of February, but I’m ready for some Spring!  I love to bring little changes into our house for the holidays and  seasons, but as much as I love decorating, it can be overwhelming to our schedule and budget.  Sometimes I feel like a crazy person with all the design choices I have to make since we have this whole-home renovation going on right now.  I ask myself things like, “Am I really going to like this countertop I’m picking out based on 2-minutes of looking at samples at Home Depot 10 years from now?”   As we wrap up our major projects on the house, I decided to start sprucing the place up with quick and inexpensive fixes that make a big impact.  I crave a few choices I don’t have to be okay with until I’m 35.  So, enter my little blog series, “10-Minute Design Fixes for $10 or Less”.

Let’s start with how to add a little “Bam!” to  your bathroom.  Actually, let’s start with a picture of how this bathroom looked when we bought our house.

Nathan's house 043

Pepto-Bismal pink was apparently a favorite with the renters who lived here before us.

Nathan's house 042

You can’t get the full effect here with just a picture.  The smell really set the room off- there were three dead mice in the toilet tank and one in the bathtub.  I should have gotten up-close pictures of the rusty tub and the gold linoleum.

It came a long way by the time we got to the picture below, taken about 11 months ago.  I’ll do a post on the bathroom once we’re completely done with it.


And here’s what it looked like the day we moved in.  Don’t be fooled by the sink and toilet sitting there- they were not hooked up and it took a couple frustrating weeks of us trying to fix our drainage problem on our own, and a few visits by some professional plumbers to get this bathroom functional.  Also notice how the tub regressed to being on its side in this picture. Someone lost I lost the original feet to the tub and the super expensive, modern feet I had to buy apparently don’t fit 100-year-old tubs.  Thanks to a full day of Grandpa Jack’s welding and tinkering, the tub eventually got feet and went upright again.

June 4 032

For the past few weeks, I’ve been trying to figure out how to “fix” the bathroom.  I really did love the light blue paint and the shower curtain, the white fixtures and the neutral marble flooring.  I just wasn’t convinced that the all blue-white-neutral was doing it for me.

I happened to be at Target on Thursday and found these towels.  I scooped up what they had left (two hand towels and two bath towels) and headed home.  It was just the trick!  I spent about $35.00 for this fix since we needed towels anyway, but really, $7.99 on one hand towel would give you the same pop of springy color in your bathroom.




Time to stop reading my blog.  Head to Target now.