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’s 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’m not talking custom orders: just off-the-shelf online orders. I ordered something recently and was vexed – vexed! – to 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”. 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 – 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.

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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 – Davis 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 – West 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 – Stencil Overall (YC3414) (only $14/roll!)York YC3414.jpg

The online photos are so flat and lifeless – 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 – Ashford 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 – now that I’m looking at this – 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’re in there, but I don’t 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 – 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.

Front Porch Upgrades

Hello, friends! I came back. I don’t see how people* can both work on a house and blog about working on a house.

* Normal full-time-job people, that is, who don’t get paid to blog. I just spent $99 to renew my WordPress.com Premium account, which includes the No Ads upgrade. That keeps WordPress from placing any ads on this site, and obviously I myself am not profiting in anyway. No Blue Apron sponsored posts here! I like that this space is commercial-free, and it’s one of the things that makes me want to continue blogging. 

Also, I am making a ton of progress on the house, in ways big and small, and I want this blog to be a record of that.

I’m going to try to be better about quick posts: the types of things I text my friends when they humor me about being interested in Phase 7 of my elaborate 10-phase never-ending basement demo. I know I need to finish the house tour with a post about the exterior of the house, but I want to start with some small changes I made to our front stoop.

Here’s the door that greeted us the first time we toured the house:

front-door-before3

I bought new deadbolts for the three exterior doors, keyed them to match one key, and installed them the day we closed on the house. When we moved in several weeks later, that was the only change I had made:

front-door-before

Scrubbing and painting made a huge difference.

front-door-paint

The cats were super curious about why the door was cracked.

cat-door-lola

Doozy’s curiosity borders on murdery.

cat-door-doozy

Working on a house requires constant decision-making and I can get overwhelmed by options, but that wasn’t the case with our doorknobs and mailbox. I ordered these immediately and love them!

front-door-after

The mailbox is the 4600 Series Black Standard Vertical Traditional Mailbox from Salsbury Industries. I would have preferred the horizontal version (easier to fish things out of because it’s less deep) but the vertical one fits better in the space available. It’s awesomely sturdy.

schlage-doorknob

I swapped out all of the knobs and levers in our house with these Bowery knobs by Shlage, in the matte black finish. They feel great in your hand.

interior-doors-before

I have the Privacy Lock Knob (#F10 BWE 622) on our bedroom and bathroom doors, and the Passage Lock Knob (#F40 BWE 622) on our closet and interior passage doors.

interior-doors-after

Pro tip: despite the name, the “passage lock knob” does not lock.

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Eventually we’ll get a new front door and, at that time, I’ll buy a really nice lever, but door hardware is expensive and I’m very happy with this set-up for now.

door-knob

I also hung a Mr. Beams battery-operated motion sensing light in the overhang (model MB980). It detects motion from about 10 ft away and illuminates the front porch.

mr-beams-light

My only complaint is that the LED light has a sharp halo, which looks a bit harsh. (And I need to move it two feet to the right so more of the light is on the door knob.) I prefer to turn on the real front porch light when we’re expecting company, but this one is nice for us when we come home late.

light-halo

That’s it for now! I’ll have the Before and After pictures see you out.

Before:

front-door-before2

After:

front-door-after2

front-door-after3

Bathroom Makeover Day 2

Day 2!  Full disclosure: this weekend won’t end with triumphant After photos because I won’t have our new shower curtain in hand until Tuesday. This is the drawback of real-time blogging.

Antique Grate and Flap Wheel

All totalled, I spent way too much time on this damn grate.  I just wanted to get down to bare metal so that I could give it a clean, even coat of spray paint.  I should have skipped the boiling, scrubbing and sanding and gone straight to the Klean Strip.  I usually don’t go all scorched earth on antique hardware but this thing isn’t precious.  It’s the opposite of precious: it’s heavy as hell and it will survive the apocalypse.  So, I shouldn’t have hesitated to strip it.  Lesson learned.  At least it was fun to use the flap wheel sander.

Antique Grate and Stripper

I also spray painted the toilet paper holder, held aloft with kabob skewers.

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Back upstairs is chaotic.  Lola finds comfort on his L.L. Bean box, which is very special to him for reasons unbeknownst to us.

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Finished painting!

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The color is Benjamin Moore’s Soot, matched by Behr – it’s the same inky-navy-black that we have on our kitchen wainscoting. Our bathroom is off of the kitchen and I like that the two rooms will now be cohesive inverses of one another.

IMG_7004

Somewhat Real-time Bathroom Makeover

Our country’s independence gave me a glorious four-day weekend (thanks, Thomas Jefferson et al.!) and I’m celebrating with a bathroom makeover.  My friend Kimberly suggested that I live-blog it.

Paint Swatches

I won’t be doing that exactly, but I do plan to post pictures each day of the previous day’s progress. I’m usually a very slow blogger (it takes me a while to get around to posting pictures of my projects), so this seems like a good challenge.

Bathroom Hinges

Vent GrateDouble, double toil and trouble.

Wall Paint

Wall Paint

 

When in Doubt, Paint a Door

Seriously, when all other projects feel too daunting/expensive to tackle (I’m looking at you, Bedroom), just paint a door or two. Enormous and immediate gratification.

Take this exterior back door, for example.

Back Door Before

Someone had even scratched their name into the paint. I corrected it for them.

After:

Back Door After

So satisfying! I sanded it a bit and then repainted with Rust-Oleum Stops Rust Protective Enamel in Gloss Smoke Gray.

Back Door Sanding

Door Before and After

Door Knob Before After

Another example: someone got creative with brown paint on the exterior side of our apartment’s back door (the one leading to the catio).  Yech.

Catio Door Before

Furthermore, the original brass door plate had been painted over so many times that you can hardly see the decoration.

Door Plate Before

I sanded the door, cleaned off the dust with Klean-Strip Easy Liquid Sander Deglosser, applied a coat of Kilz and then three coats of white paint.

Catio Door Sanding

I didn’t intend to dive into restoring the door plate, but once it was in our backyard I thought “Well, might as well…”

Door Plate Stripping

It required two rounds of stripper to simply expose the screws that allowed me to pry off the plate.

Door Plate Stripping

Door Plate Stripping Second Coat

Brass Door Plate

Then it was time for a soak in a pot of boiling water, followed by a Bar Keepers Friend + toothbrush scrub, followed by a lot of toothpicks. Rinse and repeat, three times.

Brass Door Plate

Brass Door Plate

Brass Door Plate

In truth, I don’t even love the plate itself – it’s too ornate for my taste and I think the crystal knob looks we’re running a bed & breakfast – but I’m satisfied nevertheless to have recovered it from years of paint. I like seeing it when I come home, even if I’m also thinking “Man, that door needs a new knob.”

Catio Door After

Both of these projects can serve as examples of why I never feel bad for doing things to our rented apartment “without permission.” Are my landlords sacrificing a Saturday to paint a blazing hot exterior door or restore a vintage door plate? Nope. I am. So, please excuse me: while I’m up on this high horse I’m going to replace a ceiling light fixture.

One more thing, on a more personal note: Happy 2nd Birthday to my niece Cora! I’ve been trying to teach her about feminism (gotta start ’em young) but I think our cats have had a bigger impression on her. The other day when prompted to say “Bye, Aunt Marti” she said “Bye, Aunt Kitty!” I couldn’t ask for a better downstairs neighbor.

Cora