Bathroom Decision Making

Looks like I am moving forward with the half-bathroom remodel! I hit my savings goal thanks to our tax refund, annual bonus, and squirreling away of money. Now I get to dive into a capital project.

For reference, this is what our bathroom looks like currently:

Bathroom

It’s tucked under the stairs, in the center of our home‚Äôs first floor.

Stairs Bathroom

Virtually everything you see will be changed, so¬†I have a lot of decisions to make. It’s equal parts fun and stressful. I’m nowhere near a congealed plan, but¬†I wanted to round up the major choices. Many¬†of you commented in my¬†reader survey¬†that you’d like to see more in-progress details, so here goes.

Floor Tile: Decided!

Marble tile doesn’t feel right to me for a bungalow bathroom, so I zeroed in quickly on porcelain mosaic tile. Here are a few options I considered:

Tile Options.JPG

Jarrod saw the penny tile and said “They don’t fit¬†together!” and now I think he’s right: it’s weird each tile is an island in a sea of grout, instead of being more like a puzzle piece.

I was on the fence on basketweave vs. hexagonal until I stopped to appreciate the tile of the wine shop in the Merchandise Mart, where I work (the Merchandise Mart, that is; I don’t work in the wine shop. I would be terrible at that job, because I am an undiscriminating lush).

Wine Shop Floor.JPG

Simple matte white hex tile with black grout. Worn and imperfect, it¬†still looked beautiful. And, this tile is very common in original bungalow floors. I’ll order it from Wayfair. Decided!

Wall Beadboard: Decided, ugh, Menards

Did you know Menards charges a 25% restocking fee for anything you order from their website? I‚Äôm not talking custom orders: just off-the-shelf online orders. I ordered something recently and was vexed ‚Äď vexed! ‚Ästto learn this. Don’t worry: I channeled my grandma, pushed back, and was issued a full refund.

Beadboard Sample.jpg

Anyway, I want a v-groove beadboard with wide planks, because it looks more modern, and I want it a few inches taller than the standard 32‚ÄĚ. The closest thing I could find to what I have in mind is at Menards, unless any of you lovely readers have a hot tip.

Faucet: Decided, with fingers crossed

I want a matte black fixture, which is a limited pool of options. I plan to reuse our existing sink (to save money and reduce waste, and because I like it), which requires a centerset three-hole faucet ‚Äď further limiting my pool of options. This MOEN Kingsley Centerset 2-Handle Faucet is The One.

Faucet.jpg

The cost was hard to swallow, but when it arrived it was clearly worth it. This thing is remarkably heavy. It’s beautiful. My only concern is that the arc of the faucet may make the water stream be too close to the front of our shallow sink. Fingers crossed.

Vanity: 78% chance of success

Our bathroom requires a very shallow sink and vanity. The 14″ x 24″ sink in there now is as big as the space can handle. Hours and hours of perusal of every online store plus lots of local shops¬†did not turn up a wide variety of options.

I got quotes from a variety of places for a simple custom vanity, all of which came in around $1k (for the cabinet only – sink excluded). I am not opposed to spending that amount of money in general, but a tiny vanity isn’t really where I want to¬†sink my budget.

Quote.png

Why not a pedestal sink? You see this sink from the side, which is the least attractive part of a pedestal sink due to the supply lines and wall drain (for example). I know there are some nice kits for exposed plumbing, but I’m just not feeling that look here. Also, a vanity¬†is the only opportunity for storage in this bathroom.

So, I am going to use the $109 IKEA SILVERAN vanity as a starting point, and customize it with brass hardware, inky-black paint, and furniture legs.

SILVERAN Cabinet.JPG

I’ll buy the pine version because all of the parts are solid wood. The¬†$89 white one¬†is foil/plastic-coated particleboard, which feels and looks a lot cheaper.

Here are some inspiration photos for the general vibe I’ll be going for, though none of these are exactly the end goal:

Dark Vanity Inspiration

Here’s the tricky party: I need to cut¬†the vanity’s depth down to size to fit our 14″ sink. The 15″ SILVERAN is too deep, and the 9″ version is too shallow.¬†So, that could end in total disaster. I’m willing to risk¬†it, because I’m excited about this idea and I like the challenge.

Wall sconce: So many good options

Schoolhouse Electric РDavis Double Sconce ($199 fixture + $44/shade)

Davis Sconce.jpg

I would get the brass finish with the faceted shades.

Davis Sconce Faceted Shades.jpg

Rejuvenation –¬†Graydon Double Wall Sconce¬†($399)

Graydon Sconce.jpg

Wade Logan – Rickford 2-Light Wall Sconce¬†($95); maybe¬†too modern, but sharing because it’s such a good deal!

Rickford Sconce.jpg

Rejuvenation РWest Slope Sconce ($399)

West Slope Sconce.jpg

This babe¬†is my favorite by far, but I’m afraid the size options won’t work. 27″ is too wide, and 15″ seems too short.

But first, I have to choose wallpaper.

Wallpaper: All over the goddamn place!

Literally and figuratively all over the place. There are over a dozen wallpaper samples currently taped to our bathroom wall, in a wide range of styles. You know the Crazy Wall trope, where the detective’s obsession with the case is his downfall? That’s me in this bathroom.

Crazy Wall of Wallpaper.JPG

If you’re also on the hunt for good wallpaper, the brands I’ve been looking at include:

My Top 3 contenders are:

York РStencil Overall (YC3414) (only $14/roll!)York YC3414.jpg

The online photos are so flat and lifeless ‚Äď ordering samples is necessary to see what they’re really like.

York Stencil Wallpaper.jpg

Don’t worry, that antique¬†bird towel hook is definitely staying. (I used it in our last bathroom.)

York РAshford House Flower Vine (AK7500) ($14/roll)York AK7500.jpg

Speaking of channeling my grandma! In real life, it looks rich and hand-stenciled.

York Wallpaper AK7500.jpg

Cole & Son –¬†Dialytra¬†($125/roll, unpasted, which will add a bit to the hanging cost)Cole Dialytra Pattern.jpg

Cole & Sons has the best product photos, which must be what $125 a roll gets you.

Cole Dialytra Paper.jpg

One point of consideration is that there are several awkward corners and angles in this room. A pattern with strict lines may make that more obvious. A botanical print would be more forgiving of the not-perfectly-square space, especially with the sloped wall (due to the overhead stairway).

Here’s a slap-dash, not-to-scale mock-up I put together back when I was thinking I’d do a white vanity, which ‚Äď now that I’m looking at this ‚Äď is maybe back on the table. Sigh.

Bathroom Options.png

I’m torn because I want something interesting, but it also needs to vibe with the rest of the first floor. You see it as soon as you come in the front door. I want the bathroom to be interesting when you‚Äôre in there, but I don‚Äôt want a bathroom to command your attention from our foyer (although I guess we could just keep the door partially shut).

Most importantly, I don’t want to go all wackadoodle just for the sake of punchy After photos.

What’s Left to Decide

Every time I feel like I’m close to having considered¬†all of the decisions I need to make, I remember a ton of other things left to decide.

  • Mirror: Preferably wood and antique, circular or with rounded corners
  • Door
  • Bathroom fan: I have not even looked at the options. Surely this is an easy one? I’ll just buy whatever is rated highest.
  • Art
  • Baseboard and trim

Okay, that’s all for now. I’ll do plenty of other posts detailing the exact budget, final design board, and contractor plans. If you feel strongly about any of these options, please weigh in¬†with a comment!

Thanks so much for all of your feedback on the reader survey ‚Äď I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your funny, thoughtful, and encouraging remarks. It’s made me really excited to keep on blogging, and it’s warmed my paint-it-black heart.

Entryway Progress: New Chandelier and Rug

We have a side-entrance bungalow with a nice central entryway, opening into our kitchen on the right and our living room on the left. I suppose you could call it a foyer if you’re feeling fancy. It was far from fancy when we bought the house, though:¬†it was super gross.

Entryway Before.JPG

I made¬†it not-gross with cleaning and painting, and I made it functional with¬†Flor carpet tiles and a¬†peg rack¬†(both leftover from our apartment). Otherwise, I didn’t spend¬†much effort to make it look nice until recently.

Entryway Before 2.JPG

Here’s where we started. I can do better than just not-gross!

New Light Fixture

First up, I added a new ceiling medallion and light fixture: I bought the Mid-Century Long-Arm Chandelier from West Elm.

mid-century-long-arm-chandelier-o.jpg

You guys, when I first start dating Jarrod (13 years ago!) this tiger blanket was his actual bedspread. Not in an ironic way, either. He’s had it since he was a kid, and now it’s an excellent moving blanket / project cushion.

Tiger Blanket Light Fixture.jpg

The chandelier¬†is¬†super heavy and was a challenge to install but, ultimately, nothing insurmountable.¬†I’m really happy with it now that it’s up there.

Hanging Light Fixture.JPG

The adjustable arms work great here because the closet throws off the center of this space. I was able to arrange the arms to balance out that corner.

West Elm Mid Century Long Arm Chandelier.JPG

New Rug

I also added a new rug: a Mazlaghan Persian rug found on eSaleRugs.com for $250.

PersionRug.jpg

It was the first time I’ve purchased from eSaleRugs. I appreciate that they post a lot of photos of each item, and their free shipping and free returns policy suits me well, too: I’m prone to buyer’s remorse, so it made it easier to pull the trigger. Thankfully, there was no need to make use of that return option Рtheir photos are remarkably accurate.

Rug 1.JPG

That’s all for now! I’ll return tomorrow with a post detailing the final change I made in this first batch of improvements: new(ly altered) closet doors.

Entryway Progress.JPG

Update: see Adding Moulding to Inside Out Bi-Fold Doors

Bedroom Makeover: Before and After

We’ve lived¬†in our house for a little over one year now, and our bedroom has come a long way. There was certainly nowhere to go but up! The only¬†good thing about this bedroom’s original¬†purple paint¬†is¬†that¬†it makes the after photos look so much better.

Let’s start in the landing, which you can also see in my¬†bathroom makeover post.

Before:Bedroom Landing Before.JPG

After:Bedroom Landing.jpg

I’m still loving those new black hinges, and¬†the rest of the bedroom is looking pretty good these days, too.

Before:Bedroom Before.jpg

That sign taped on the sloped¬†wall was for our painter: it says “Paint angled walls Irish Mist.” The ceiling¬†is¬†a flat off-the-shelf white, and the walls (including the slanted sections) are Irish Mist from Behr. The room looks much less choppy and steep without the stark contrast of purple vs. white.

After:Bedroom.jpg

This room is hard to photograph because the window is so huge ‚Äď which is one of those good problems, as far as I’m concerned (e.g.¬†“my gold bricks are too heavy”). These were our curtains for a couple of months:

Bedroom Sheet Curtains.JPG

Which was still somehow better than what was there before:

BedroomBefore.jpg

I hung¬†IKEA curtains. It’s a double-rod, and there are actually eight curtains up there: it’s such a wide window that it required two panels per side. So, four white curtains in front, and four blackout liners in back. (If anyone’s interested, I can do a more detailed post with specifics.)¬†We’re still using the same furniture and lamps from our¬†previous¬†apartment bedroom, with two changes: the rug and the bed.

Bedroom Window.jpg

The rug is a wool kilim I found on eBay for only $88 from www.ecarpetgallery.com. I think the color it adds saves the room from looking too sterile. It is very thin, so a nice rug pad was a necessity. I like dual surface rugs pads: the scratchy felted side grabs the rug, and the latex side grips the floor.

Our¬†platform bed is the¬†P-Series Basic Bed from Night & Day Furniture. It’s nothing fancy: solid wood, sturdy, and cheap. We bought it for around¬†$300 nearly 10 years ago from Right-On Futon in Chicago; I’ve also seen them online on Amazon and Wayfair. I used it previously with my¬†DIY upholstered headboard, but a wall-mounted headboard wasn’t an option here because our bed is in front of a window.

I decided to add a simple, low-profile headboard to our existing platform bed instead of buying an entirely new bed. Thankfully, this furniture company still makes this line, so I was able to buy a headboard that fits the frame perfectly. I went with white, and painted the bed to match.

Bed Painting.jpg

I lightly sanded the original finish, primed with oil-based primer, and then rolled oil-based white paint with a foam roller for a smooth finish.

White Bed.jpg

In the end, you don’t see all that much of it, which is what I wanted:

Bedroom Nightstand Window.jpg

The IKEA RAST nightstands that I stained and painted for our apartment are holding up great. Jarrod’s side of the bed features a Chicago hawk illustration by Diana Sudyka, commissioned by WBEZ for a web feature. When he’s not out birding (like he was when I took these photos), his binoculars hang on the peg rack.

Bedroom Nightstand.jpg

My side of the bed includes¬†a vintage dresser, plants, and a photograph of my mom and my aunt taken in the 1960s. I picked up the¬†perforated metal tray¬†at H&M last week. They have some really nice home items these days and, if you’re in Chicago, the newly-redesigned Michigan Avenue store is much less of a hellhole.

Bedroom Dresser and Plants.jpg

Bedroom Dresser.jpg

The closet area is pretty much the same ‚Äď the mirrored doors don’t look as bad now that the purple is gone, but I’ll probably¬†replace them at some point.

Before:upstairs6

After:Bedroom Doors.jpg

Before:upstairs14

After:Bedroom IKEA Dresser.jpg

This clearly isn‚Äôt a fully finished room! Those IKEA storage bins aren’t part of my forever plan, and someday I’ll get around to unpacking that box.

My long-term plan includes:

  • Remove the light kit from the fan. The fan is fine as-is: it’s inoffensive, and it’s quiet, but I do not need an additional three overhead lights¬†on top of the four recessed¬†lights. No one wants seven¬†overhead lights in a bedroom! Removing the lights will make the fan even more inconspicuous.
  • New/vintage¬†nightstands
  • New/vintage dresser to replace the IKEA bins, and/or reconfiguring the closets to maximize storage space
  • Upgrade to a king bed. Eventually, this white¬†queen bed will¬†move to¬†the guest room (which currently has a full size bed), and we’ll ascend to a kingdom.
  • Unpack that box

There’s no urgency for¬†any of those things, however. Especially that box. If I haven’t needed¬†anything from it in a year, maybe I should just¬†bring it to Goodwill and let them unpack it…

 

Two-Person Desk and Gallery Wall

Hey-oh: we’ve got a proper desk¬†area in our living room! I prefer having our computers in our main common area (instead of sequestered upstairs in the guest bedroom, for example), and this side of the living room seemed perfect for an office setup. I wanted a¬†functional, comfortable, dedicated workspace for two people. No more camping out at¬†the kitchen table!

Two Person Desk.JPG

To see what the living room used to look like, check out this post.

The Desk Setup

All of the components for this 8 foot desk¬†came from IKEA: I used the 98″ KARLBY walnut countertop, the ALEX drawer unit, and LERBERG trestle legs. IKEA used to carry the ALEX and LERBERG¬†in black ‚Äď which I prefer ‚Äď but they transitioned to gray this year. I was able to snag a black drawer unit before they went out stock, and I spray painted the metal trestle legs black.

IKEA Desk Components.jpg

Putting together the desk was super simple: the countertop simply rests across the legs and the drawer unit. It’s a big, solid setup. Hanging frames and wrangling cords was the time-consuming part. Oh, and I built a frame for the first time! Let’s start there.

Building a Floating Canvas Frame

I already owned most of the art I used in this project. But I knew I wanted to add a large antique oil painting to the mix, for¬†some texture and warmth. I dug through eBay until I found a painting that I really liked. Good lord, there’s a lot of crap art to wade through on eBay. Filtering¬†by time period (1900-1949) helped a little.

Oil Painting Frame Before.JPG

The original frame was overly ornate and, in my opinion, distracted from the painting. To replace it, I built a simple floating frame using cheap pine from Home Depot. It was a lot of careful measuring and cutting and making it up as I went along.

Making a Picture Frame.JPG

I stained the wood black to match the moodiness of the painting, and to help balance the black wall-mounted monitors.

Staining a Picture Frame.JPG

I totally winged this entire process, and¬†I’m really happy with the way it turned out!

Oil Painting in Floating Frame.JPG

Cat inspector on the job again.

Cat Inspecting Oil Painting.JPG

Hanging the Gallery Wall

Having wall-mounted monitors meant the gallery wall¬†needed to be planned out pretty well. It’s easy to tweak the placement of a frame by moving a nail a few inches, but I wouldn’t have any flexibility with the monitor placement¬†once heavy-duty toggle bolts were in the wall.¬†So, I over-planned, as I do.

First, I did a real crappy job of Photoshopping my two¬†options: gallery wall vs. picture ledge. For the mock-ups, I used Chris Loves Julia’s picture ledge¬†and¬†our previous dining room’s gallery wall.

Office Wall Options.jpg

Then I solicited input from a friend who has good taste in nearly everything, with the exception of appropriate footwear.

text-thread

I used a mix of white, black, and brown wood frames. The art is a mix of screen prints, paintings, and photos that I’ve collected over the years, and there’s a bit of a theme to it ‚Äď mostly plants,¬†houses, and birds (thanks for the Japanese ducks, Kei!).

I fussed around with the frame arrangement on the floor.

Planning a Gallery Wall on the Floor.JPG

I also did the thing the internet suggests you do: used paper to visualize the frames on the wall.

Planning a Gallery Wall.JPG

This step seems excessive for most purposes, but it was helpful here. I did not want to regret my placement of the monitors.

Gallery Wall in Progress.JPG

All hung!

Gallery Wall Over Desk.jpg

Gallery Wall Detail.JPG

Hiding the Cords

Did you notice what you don’t see on that office wall? ¬†All the cords. A whole lot of wire¬†wrangling went into this. If I could make a living hiding cords, I would change careers. So gratifying!

On the wall, I used a raceway for the monitor power and DVI cords. That monitor arm is a cheap guy from Amazon, by the way:¬†VideoSecu TV Wall Mount Articulating Arm Monitor Bracket. It lets us push the monitor back when not in use, and pull it forward when we’re working / wasting time on the internet.

Wall-Mounted Monitor.JPG

Under the desk, I added a¬†J channel cable raceway¬†‚Äď I bought one and cut it in half to use on either side of the cabinet.¬†The raceway routes all of the wires to a power strip¬†I mounted on the wall behind the cabinet.

Belkin Surge Protector.JPG

I bought the¬†Belkin 8-Outlet Pivot Surge Protector with 6-Foot Cord¬†(based on The Wirecutter’s recommendation); the pivoting outlets are awesome and crucial for this setup.

Wall-Mounted Surge Protector.JPG

This hidden surge protector powers everything ‚Äď my Apple charger, Jarrod’s Dell dock, the monitors, the desk lamp, the Jambox ‚Äď with only one visible cord. To make it even less conspicuous, and because crazy, I wrapped it with white ribbon.

Under Desk Cords.JPG

The Finishing Touches

The Kurdish runner rug is vintage from eBay. The rolling chairs are from Overstock:¬†Porthos Home Monroe Adjustable Office Chair. I would have preferred something vintage, but finding a pair of reasonably-priced¬†vintage adjustable chairs was not happening. These Overstock chairs are sturdy and comfortable, and they’ll do until I have a lucky find.

Office Chairs.JPG

I did have a lucky find in the floor sample pile at Room & Board: this Nell wall sconce. At 30% off, it was still a splurge, but I love it so. It provides such a nice glow.

Nelson Sconce.JPG

I also added a Threshold Two Head Task Lamp from Target. The rattan stool is from Target as well РI plan to add a plant on top.

Desk Lamp.JPG

And that¬†brings us to where we are today, and where I’m typing this blog post right now.

Office Wall.JPG

It looks something like this:

Office Action Shot.JPG

Thanks to Jarrod’s dad Rodger for the action shot, and for letting me experiment with his camera this weekend! I also borrowed my friend Carolyn’s camera (thanks, buddy!), so¬†I have a lot of photos in the hopper for more posts in the coming weeks.

Plants in the Bathroom

I wanted to do three quick follow-up posts related to our bathroom makeover: plants, shower curtain, and hardware.¬† Let’s start with the bathroom plants.

ZZ Plant in Bathroom
We have a ZZ on the tank tray – ZZ plants always appear on the lists of hardy, low-light plants. I already have cuttings started, so when this one gets too big for the space I’ll swap in a smaller/younger ZZ and move it elsewhere (though my “elsewhere” options are running low, I admit).

For the hanging shower plants, I have a pothos and a fern.¬† Pothos is the comic sans of the potted plant world – it’s overused in office settings and people love to hate it – but I don’t mind it. It’s indestructible, it grows quickly and it’s a cheap, easy way to add a lot of green to any spot in your home.

Hanging Plants in Shower
As for the fern, Home Depot’s plant vendor has started labeling some of their plants like so:

Plant Tag
So helpful! So scientific! Genus: Houseplant. Species: Foliage. While leads to me Googling things like “broad leaf fern rippled edges” to learn that this guy is a birds-nest fern.

Birds Nest Fern

I had an ivy plant in this spot previously, thinking it was a good fit for low light and high humidity. Wrong!: Spider mites loved the lack of air movement (we don’t have a bathroom fan and that window isn’t open during the summer when we have our AC on).

Spider Mites on Ivy Leaves
Spider mites! Infinitesimally small and master web weavers – they enclosed the leaves so completely it was like they had been wrapped in plastic wrap. There was actually a sheen to the web. RIP ivy plant.

Spider Mites on Ivy Leaves
One more thing: someone commented on Pinterest: “I can just see hitting your head on that plant holder every time you step in to take a shower.” Don’t worry, Internet Good Samaritan: they are hung high enough even for Jarrod to avoid hitting his head – see?

Jarrod Loves Plant(He’s giving a thumb’s up but it kind of looks like a finger gun, which may be how he really feels about posing for this photo.)

Granted, if you’re 6’4″ and you’re showering at my apartment, you may bump your head, but that’s on you. 6’4″ is too many.

Reminder: Today is your last chance to participate in the Cape Horn Illustration giveaway. I’ll randomly select a commenter this evening.¬† Your deadline to comment on Cape Horn post is 7:00pm CST. Delurk and win!