One Room Challenge: Master Bathroom,Week Four

If you’re new around here, a year and a half ago my husband and I purchased our first house: a 1940’s Colonial located in a very cute coastal Connecticut town. We’ve been tackling remodeling the house room by room, where we’re always looking for ways to add equal parts function and character into our house. Catch up on Week One, Week Two and Week Three.

This week was a huge one.  We accomplished a ton: laying the radiant coils for in-floor heating, pouring self-leveling concrete, tiling the floors and ordering all the remaining items on our list (flushmount lights, a sconce, vanity hardware, switches, recessed lights, toilet paper holder, and more).

Let’s dig in.

Laid the radiant coils

We love having radiant in-floor heating in our guest bathroom and knew that including the heating in this bathroom was a must (both for our own benefit and for resale value). We used the same system as last time and it went more swiftly this time since we’d learned some tips and tricks:

    • Plan a channel for the wires to enter the wall for the radiant controller. By this I mean, drill a hole into the wall right at the level of the cement board for your wires to enter the wall where your temperature controller will live to avoid any awkward bumps in the floor or wall. Once you pour your self-leveling compound this channel will completely disappear.
    • Use a staple gun to secure all the wires to the floor and then go back with a hot glue gun to make sure everything is very secured. What you absolutely do not want is any of the radiant coils to float in the self-leveling compound, because otherwise you’ll have uneven heat dispersion and cold spots on your floors.
    • Make sure your heating coils make it to all the places where you might be standing, especially in front of the vanity, the toilet, entryway and the shower.
    • Install two temperature sensors in case one of them might fail, where it’s a lot easier to open up your wall and attach the alternate sensor if things don’t work quite right than it is to remove your tiles and track down the original sensor.
    • Test your coils for electrical resistance at every step in the process so you catch issues if they happen as quickly as possible. We use this multimeter, it’s an essential for any electrical home DIY and is super inexpesnive.
    • We opted not to use a wifi enabled controller because it didn’t feel like it was worth the cost, given that radiant floors take some time to heat up, so they are best left on a daily schedule than turned on on-demand. We’ve set ours to turn on at 5:30A so the floors are semi-warm when my husband wakes up and then reach peak temperature (82 degrees) at 7A, when I’m typically hopping in the shower. Yeah, that makes me sound spoiled ha.

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Poured self-leveling compound

We used spare cardboard to create dams around the toilet flange and radiator pipes, and then ran a bead of plumbing caulk to ensure they were watertight. We also dammed the threshold area with a 2×4 to keep the compound from escaping (with a bead of caulk on the front).

And then, we mixed up the self-leveling compound and dumped it into the room in buckets, starting with the lowest spots first. The self-leveling compound solved for two problems at once: creating a flat surface over the coils and creating a level plane in the room, where we had a slight slope. You pour as much of the compound as needed to fully cover the highest spots. It looked very soupy and ominous at night but by the morning had cured to a fully-flat plane. It was magical.

We used this compound and mixed up two buckets at a time, and once we got started, I’d mix up new batches while my husband spread it over the floor.

Tiled the floors

This was our second floor tiling experience and we went into it a lot more prepared this time around. This was also our first time tiling a herringbone pattern and it took some google searches to figure out where to start, but once we did it was smooth sailing. This is the 3×9 Carrera Bianca Marble tile that we used.

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Some things we have learned:

    • When you’re using a marble or natural tile that has a great range of variance, make sure to pick one tile from each box for a section and then go back and choose another tile per box for the next section. Tiles in the same box tend to be in the same colour family and can cluster together if you aren’t careful.
    • Make all your cuts before you start tiling. We did not do this and regretted it. Because of some scheduling constraints, we wanted to get the floors started as quickly as possible and focused on the full tiles first. We ended up wasting a good deal of time scraping up thinset that had dried around the edges, where we started at the top of the room and worked through the full tiles and then came back to the edges. This seemed efficient up front, but ended up being a big time waste on the back. When we tile the shower floor, in the same herrigbone pattern, we intend to make all the cuts first and then install the full floor at once.
    • Use a leveling system. It may seem like a lot of extra work over the simple spacers, but getting the top of your tiles level is critical. Not only can your surface be a bit off, but when you’re dealing with a natural tile, the depth of your tiles can vary ever so slightly. Plus, add in a varying thickness as you lay down thinset and there are a lot of variables that should be neutralized. You don’t want lippage in your tiles, trust me. We used this leveling system and couldn’t be more happy with it.
    • Set up a laser level to keep your lines straight. You don’t want your tiles veering off center, so the laser helps to keep you aligned. We recently picked up this laser level and it’s been a huge upgrade over our super mini one.
    • When doing a herringbone pattern, you will struggle with where to start the pattern. There’s some math involved in determining the center of the pattern: you need to strike a line at dead center on the room, then measure half the tile width to the right and this is your starting line for your “V”. The “V” is where both corners intersect the line. Once you get the pattern started, you’re all set.

Finalized Lighting

I noted last week that the sconce I had intended to order and had looked to be in-stock a few weeks ago was no longer in stock, so I went back to the drawing board.

I have to give an enormous thank you to all my design friends who sent over so many helpful suggestions: ClaireSarahNatalieKate, and Ashley, you guys are the best. It’s amazing that Instagram has allowed for these connections to happen cross-country and even internationally. Truly, it’s incredible.

Getting back to the issue at hand, let me explain the complex scenario that landed me to the final solution: we’re installing a 62″ double vanity that takes up nearly the entire wall (63″), and with the stunning Metrie panel moulding trim that we’re adding directly on the wall, we’ll have an opening above the vanity of only 51″ wide. Which meant that I had four options:

1. Source a very narrow pair of mirrors, one to sit over each sink. The trouble here, is that a lot of mirrors that are narrow aren’t tall. I love a tall mirror and how it elongates the space, so this was becoming problematic. I popped into Rejuvenation and one of the sales staff helped me to find a mirror that was similar to the one I actually wanted to use in the space. The solution was an unconventional choice, but when I went back home and measured, they had given me the internal measurements, not the external, so it wouldn’t have laid flat in the panel opening.

2. Source a wide mirror to be shared between the two sinks. There are two challenges with this option: the first is that I hate the idea of standing at the sink and maybe not being able to look in the mirror because it isn’t wide enough to reach to the edge of the sink. The second issue, is where does the light fixture go?

3. Suspend mirrors. My husband nixed this one immediately, but I do think it could have been quite cool to suspend the mirrors in front of the paneling (either vertically from the ceiling or just bumped them out in front of the panel moulding, mounted on the wall). This solution could have been cool in a more modern style home (I’ve seen it done in front of windows and it looks awesome). But, the other challenge is also that given the placement of the vanity in the room, you would have frequently seen the side profile of the mirrors, which would have made for a bizarre view, in my opinion.

4. Install a custom mirror to fill the entire opening and mount a sconce directly on the mirror. This one I was the most hesitant about at first since it feels so distinctly traditional. I’ve always loved the personality a mirror can bring to the space and this solution was completely devoid of that personality. But, the more I thought about it and the more examples I pulled, the more I came to see the upside to this solution. The first upside being that you get an enormous mirror, which will really open up this space visually. It will also allow the beautiful trimwork to really shine and will feel so custom. I also love the idea of mounting a cool, modern light fixture in a way that is more traditional. This is the approach I’ve used throughout the house with our ceiling medallions + modern fixture combinations, so I’ve come to really, really love this solution.

Here are some examples:

So, we’re going for it. I got quotes for custom mirrors to fit the space and was shocked at how reasonable they were (even in our super expensive area). Most quotes came in at $350 – $450, which is in the same range of what I would have spent on two mirrors (if not a bit less).

Sometimes the magic in design comes from the creative solutions to tricky problems. While this isn’t where I thought I’d land up, it is somewhere I’m very excited to be headed.

And now for the actual lighting selection.

This is the sconce I’d originally planned on using, mounted between the two sinks.

I was limited to replacements that were in-stock only and contemplated so many different options. We very nearly purchased this one, but there was something about the aesthetic that screamed too mid-century modern for my traditional Colonial house. Finally, we landed on this one, mounted near the top of the mirror:

After some discussion, my husband and I agreed that a statement sconce that was up out of our eyesight would make the vanity the most functional. I’m excited to see this sconce in place. I also sourced a less expensive version of this sconce, but the brass detailing on this one really tied the room together (and mirrors the black with brass details on the pendants in our guest bathroom).

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Some of the alternate eye-level mounted sconces we considered were this, this, and this.

This week will be tiling the shower and installing all our beautiful Metrie trimwork. We’re racing against the clock in order to have enough time for a glass shower door and custom mirror cut and installed before Week Six reveal photos. Oh, and we need to paint the vanity, paint all the trimwork, have the plumbers install the fixtures and so much more. I anticipate a lot of late nights in the coming two weeks. We have a to-do list with a mere 30 items on it, broken down by day, so we can just scrape by into Week Six (hopefully). Please send help. But really.

Stylish Flushmount Lighting Roundup

We all dream of having a house with super high ceilings, where every light can be dramatic, but sometimes that just isn’t the reality. If you’re like me and your house has standard ceiling height, you likely are constantly on the hunt for good flushmount lighting. In the past year, we’ve sourced new flushmount lights for two bathrooms, one closet, one hallway and a sunroom. Now that we’re in full swing with our Master Suite, which requires four flushmounts, it’s about time I shared a roundup of my favourites to make your life easier (it’s time to banish boob lights forever).

When it comes to flushmounts, the things that are most important to consider are:

1. Drop from the ceiling and overall scale

Depending on where the light fixture is located, getting it as close to the ceiling as possible can keep your ceilings feeling taller. Read dimensions online carefully to ensure adequate clearance. Also, consider the scale of the fixture, where sometimes flushmounts can look a bit too petite in a larger room if they aren’t proportional.

2. Number of light bulbs

The more light bulbs in a light fixture, the more likely you are to get a ton of brightness. If this is the only light fixture in the room, this matters more than if it’s one of many lights. If you have a single exposed bulb in your fixture, I love using a metallic tipped light bulb (like this in chrome or this in gold) for both added cool factor and to keep the light from blinding you if you happen to look directly up into it.

3. Shade material

Keep in mind that depending on the opacity of the shade, that will inform where the light exits the light fixture. For instance, you’ll get great light dispersion with a fabric shade or glass enclosure, as opposed to a metal shade, which will focus the light downwards. Also consider the type of room your light fixture will be placed, where you don’t want a fabric shade in a room that has a lot of moisture (e.g. the bathroom).

4. Don’t be afraid to add a ceiling medallion

We’ve done this twice in our house so far and love the look. Sometimes it’s for utility purposes (centering a light without needing to make drywall repairs) and sometimes it just adds a little extra something to a room or to a less impactful light fixture.

And here we go, these are for the most part fairly budget-friendly.

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01: Nina Flush Mount | 02: Bell Flush Mount | 03: Foster Flushmount| 04: Capiz Flushmount05: Classic Tapered Flushmount | 06: Conifer Flushmount |07: Cubic Flushmount | 08: Domed Enamel Flushmount | 09: Scupltural Glass Flushmount | 10: Fuller Flushmount |11: Wyatt Flushmount | 12: Drum Flushmount | 13: Broche Light |14: Turner Flushmount

We used light fixture two in two separate rooms in our house so far (the closet of the guest bedroom and the guest bathroom). Four is in our main floor bathroom and fourteen will be in our master suite (we intend to spray paint it black).

One Room Challenge: Master Bathroom, Week Three

If you’re new around here, a year and a half ago my husband and I purchased our first house: a 1940’s Colonial located in a very cute coastal Connecticut town. We’ve been tackling remodeling the house room by room, where we’re always looking for ways to add equal parts function and character into our house.

Welcome to Week Three of the One Room Challenge. Again, we made lots of progress on our master bathroom this past week, and it’s my favourite kind of progress: the visual kind. Here’s the post on Week One and Week Two.

Priming the walls and painting the ceiling

We started this last week, but we gave the walls another coat of primer and got the paint on the ceiling. We’re using Benjamin Moore Aura paint, which is specially designed for bathrooms or areas that are prone to moisture, in Decorator’s White.

Installing cement board on the floors

We spent a night installing the cement board over the subfloor. I always forget how slow it is to screw these boards in super securely, but each of us had a drill, which sped up the process. Before installing the cement boards, we added a layer of insulation sill plate gasket to protect our drywall from the self leveling compound we’re going to be pouring over the cement board and radiant in-floor heating.

Installing the brackets for our floating marble shower bench

One of the features we’re adding in the shower is a floating marble shower bench. In order to get the strongest possible support for the bench, we installed four brackets directly into the studs. This required a lot of super precise measurements and constantly checking levels in all directions. Don’t worry, I tested standing on the brackets and they didn’t move at all. Nor for my 6”2 husband. We’re going to be sharing a full tutorial after we’ve finished this room, since I’ve already gotten questions from several of you on how to accomplish the same floating bench situation.

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Installing the cement board on the walls

Once we got the brackets in, we were able to install the cement board on the walls of the shower, which really made this space look so much closer to the finish line. One consideration that we’ve been belaboring for weeks is making certain that the depth of the cement board + thinset + tile is equal to the depth of the drywall + wainscoting trimwork so that the crown moulding will sit flush against both and the whole room will feel that much more custom. I think we accomplished that goal, but we won’t know for certain until the tile and trimwork are both up on the walls.

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Priming the floors for self-leveling compound

In order to make sure we get the best possible surface for pouring self-leveling compound, we brushed on this neon blue primer using our garage push broom. There were conflicting opinions on whether we needed it in the research we did, but for $7 and ten minutes of our time it seemed like it was a relatively low effort, low cost thing to not skip over.

Some other assorted things that happened this week, including picking up a brass picture light up off Craigslist, scoping vanity hardware options and learning that the sconce we were about to order for the vanity is on backorder until late May, aka after the reveal date. So I’m frantically trying to find a replacement I like just as much.

Next week, we’re tackling installing the radiant in-floor heating, pouring self leveling compound, tiling the floors and applying Redgard to the shower. I also need to finalize some details, like lighting, mirrors and vanity hardware. As well as prep a used custom vanity we picked up off Craigslist to be painted. Thank you to all 900+ of you who voted on a vanity color from my Farrow and Ball swatches… you’ve definitely given me something to think about!

Let’s just remember how far this space has come in the past two-ish weeks:

You can check out all the other participants on the official One Room Challenge™ site here.

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One Room Challenge: Master Bathroom, Week Two

If you’re new around here, a year and a half ago my husband and I purchased our first house: a 1940’s Colonial located in a very cute coastal Connecticut town. We’ve been tackling remodeling the house room by room, where we’re always looking for ways to add equal parts function and character into our house.

To catch up on last week, here’s the Week One post.

This week has been a busy and exciting one. The amazing part of this phase in construction is how different the room looks daily. We went from no walls and no insulation (aka so cold), to insulation to walls to a defined shower. The pride you feel in building a room in your house from scratch is nothing short of incredible.

Insulation and Soundproofing

First off, we installed insulation throughout the walls and ceiling. One of the biggest pain points initially in this bathroom is that it was always cold. So, one of our priorities was upgrading the insulation and getting this room as warm as possible (which will also be aided by a new radiator and in-floor heating). I went down the internet rabbit hole and finally landed on Roxul Rockwool. This isn’t sponsored, but after reading through a fraction of the thousands of 5-star reviews, I really wanted to try it out. Also, as a Canadian expat, I love supporting Canadian brands. I asked my parents if they’d ever used the product and apparently, it’s the standard for construction in Canada, so if it’s warm enough for Canadians, it’s warm enough for our Connecticut house. The R-value is higher than the standard pink insulation, so that sealed the deal for me. Oh, and did I mention it isn’t fiberglass. Because, honestly, does anyone actually like dealing with fiberglass insulation?!

Installation was easy, the insulation slotted between our studs without issue and formed to the space. Any abnormally shaped spots required use of a bread knife to cut down, which was also quite easy. We had the insulating installed throughout the walls in under 90 minutes. We then used the ceiling grade Roxul insulation for the ceiling and it also installed quickly. Finally, we installed Roxul soundproofing between the shower and the guest room, with the goal of cutting down on the noise of running water if someone’s sleeping in the guest room. I’m eager to see if it holds up to our expectations once the shower is fully installed.

In these photos you can see the Roxul in the walls, where we’d already installed the ceiling drywall.

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Drywall

Next up, we installed the drywall on the ceiling. We, of course, used mold-resistant greenboard. Once my husband had taped the seams and sanded, up went the drywall on the walls. It finally looks like a real space and I can’t help myself from standing on each end and visualizing how huge an upgrade this bathroom will be from our former, claustrophobic master bathroom. Don’t worry, we went back and sealed up all those edges with joint compound.

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Shower Pan

The shower will be the piece de resistance in the bathroom, and it’s also, no doubt, the piece of this project that is most intimidating to us. After watching dozens of Youtube videos and hours of internet research, we finally felt comfortable enough to get started. I had originally dreamed about having a curbless shower, but reality hit hard when I realized we’d be losing several inches of height throughout the entire bathroom to accommodate it, plus it would add a step-up into the room from the closet. So, I conceded to adding a curb to the shower. I also really wanted a linear drain, which feels super elevated and sleek to me, which added an extra element of complexity, since most of the online tutorials are for round drains. One of the best parts of using a linear drain is that you can use large format tile, so we’re continuing the herringbone tile from the bathroom into the shower.

After watching hours of Youtube videos (a shoutout to my man Sal the Plumber… I kid you not), we went for it. After building up the curb and laying the shower liner, we were ready to go. My job was mixing the sand – concrete mix with water and then shoveling it into the shower basin. Cory then used a trowel to create an even slope from the high side to the low side. You have to work quickly because the compound starts to set up.

Cory did an awesome job at getting the slope just about right and this tool was our saving grace when it came to evening out the surface. I did a lot of research on this and there was SO little out there on rubbing blocks. So, in case you find yourself tackling a shower pan one day, buy one of these. Seriously.

The shower slope was one of the only things we hadn’t tackled in our last bathroom remodel, so it was our most intimidating. Now that we’ve gotten it out of the way, it feels like we have a better expectation of what’s to come.

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Priming

And then I got a first coat of primer up on the ceiling and walls. Excuse the iPhone photo.

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I have to say, that was a lot of progress! Given that we were at framing not too long ago, the walls are a very nice sight.

Next up, we’ve got:

  • A second coat of primer on the ceiling and walls
  • Installing cement board on the floors
  • Hanging the brackets for our floating shower bench
  • Installing cement board on the shower walls
  • Laying radiant flooring coils
  • Pouring self leveling compound
  • Painting the ceiling

You can check out all the other participants on the official One Room Challenge™ site here.

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One Room Challenge: Spring 2018

If you’re new around here, a year and a half ago my husband and I purchased our first house: a 1940’s Colonial located in a very cute coastal Connecticut town. We’ve been tackling remodeling the house room by room, where we’re always looking for ways to add equal parts function and character into our house.

Meet our newest One Room Challenge™ project: the Master Bathroom. For those of you who have been following along, this is a project we started at the beginning of the year. Coming off of our last One Room Challenge, our Guest Bathroom, my husband asked if we could take our Master Bathroom slow, since cramming a bathroom remodel into six weeks when you’re doing all the work yourselves in your after-work hours is a lot. So, I obliged. And here we are again.

To remind you, here was our last One Room Challenge bathroom:

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We hadn’t intended to tackle the Master Bathroom for the One Room Challenge, but the timing lines up nicely and some unexpected setbacks (like my husband taking himself out of commission for a few weeks thanks to overdoing it at a hockey tournament) have made the One Room Challenge the perfect reason to rev up the speed and get this bathroom done.

The vibe we’re going for in this bathroom is a luxe bathroom in a chic European boutique hotel. The room should feel fresh and cool but timeless thanks to classic finishes like Carrera marble and detailed trimwork. Visually, the room should look like the grown up older sibling to our fun but still elevated Guest Bathroom.

As of this current moment, we’ve already stripped the bathroom down to the studs, reconfigured the space, built the new wall separating the bathroom from the closet and bedroom, run electrical, had the plumbers do the rough-ins, framed out the shower niche and laid subfloor. So, that means we’ve essentially got a framed-out room with no walls. So, trust me, we aren’t exactly short-changing ourselves or you guys on how much work we still have left to do on this room, especially when we’re doing all the work in addition to our normal life and 9-5 jobs.

Here’s the master bathroom before we began demo. I’m not going to lie, I’m embarrassed to share these photos with the internet. Yes, this was our bathroom for over a year. And no, we didn’t do anything to try to make it more attractive, since we knew it was all coming out:

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And this is where we’re at now that we’ve reconfigured the space and borrowed about 25 square feet from the closet for a shower:

This is the view towards the double vanity that will be on the right (this is where the toilet and short wall of the shower/tub was previously).

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And this is the view towards the new space (anything beyond the end of the window), where the shower will be at the end and the toilet will be in front of it on the left wall.

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In the coming weeks, we’re going to be tackling:

  • Installing insulation (halfway done) and soundproofing
  • Hanging drywall on the ceiling and walls
  • Creating the shower pan
  • Laying cement board on the floors and shower wall
  • Installing radiant flooring
  • Tiling the floor and shower walls
  • Installing wainscoting throughout
  • Priming and painting the space
  • Refinishing a vanity
  • Installing a floating marble shower bench
  • Installing fixtures
  • Installing lighting

And I’m sure a ton of other things I’m forgetting.

Whew, that’s a lot. But at least we have learned from our enthusiasm and won’t be tiling an entire bathroom, like in the last One Room Challenge™!

We still have decisions to make on all our lighting, mirrors, hardware, towel bars, paint colors, and lots more.  And here’s the mood board, though quite a few things are subject to change.

Master Bathroom Design Plan

You can check out all the other participants on the official One Room Challenge™ site here.

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Bedroom throw blanket styling hack

I’ve always loved the idea of a throw blanket at the foot of a bed for an added layer of texture. Not to mention that they are also totally functional when you get a middle of the night chill.

But, every time I added them to my own bed, they always looked flat and underwhelming, both in photos and also in real life. So, my mind was blown when I saw a story on Instagram by Brittany at @brittanymakes in which she layered a duvet underneath the blanket to give it some much needed volume. Instantly, my love of blankets was rekindled.

Here’s an example of the same blanket (in different rooms) without and with the duvet:

It’s infinitely more visually high impact. Plus, it also totally works functionallyI love sleeping in a layered bed, so at night we just tug the duvet and blanket up and we’re good to go.

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You can experiment with different sized duvetsours is a queen here, but for a smaller blanket, a twin definitely works horizontally. Brittany showcases all her gorgeous blankets with this trick and they all look magical:

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My throw blanket is John Robshaw, and is sadly no longer sold, however, this one, this one and this one would all be great styled at the foot of a bed.

A master bathroom update: the shower

It’s been a little while since I checked in on the master bathroom (past posts are here). While it looks like we haven’t made a lot of progress, we’ve actually made quite a few decisions these last few weeks.

We reworked the shower layout several times and finally landed on the final placement of every fixture. If you recall, our shower is at the end of the bathroom and has walls on three sides. Let’s get into it:

Here’s a rendering with totally different finishes, etc., but can help to envision the space (PS I used this free app)

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1. A floating marble bench

We decided on a floating marble shower bench on the left wall underneath an adjustable hand held shower head (that black bench in the rendering is a stand-in). We picked out a remnant slab at a local marble company and it’s been fabricated to our specs. This wasn’t cheap by any means, but it also wasn’t as expensive as it could have been and I genuinely believe it will bring something special to our shower. This was nearly impossible to find a how to DIY online, so expect a blog post with instructions once we’ve made it to the other side.

This is the bench inspiration:

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2. A rain shower head

The rain shower head is going dead center in the shower. It arrived last week and Cory called me down by saying “check out how pretty this is!”. Suffice to say I’ve rubbed off on him and we both are obsessed with good looking shower fixtures. The rain shower was his special request, and I’m not complaining. Don’t worry, there’s a standard shower head on the left wall so I don’t have to get my hair wet when I shower… priorities.

3. Shower niche

The niche will now be dead center on the wall directly in the middle shower. It’s going to be wide at 24”x16”, and I’m much happier with the symmetry of it being on this wall. It will be very visible in the bathroom, but that just means I get to splurge on good looking toiletries amirite? I know this might be controversial, but I don’t love the look of a contrasting niche, so this is just going to be a continuation of the same oversized marble tile.

4. Shower control

The shower control and diverter (which controls the flow to the rain shower) will be on the right wall. I wanted this to be accessible from outside the shower so you can adjust the temperature before jumping in. This control is on an outside wall, so there’s going to be a lot of insulation happening behind here.

5. Glass door

We haven’t quite decided on whether we’re going to do a glass door (that opens both ways) or just a glass panel to keep it light and airy. We’ll probably hold off on making the decision until we see the shower in action.

6. The great curb debate

We’re adding a curb to the shower. This is what I’m most disappointed about because a curbless shower feels so much more open to me, but I’ve admitted defeat. With a 5’ wide shower, we need a slope of 2” or so from right to left, which means we’d need to bump up the floors in the entire bathroom by that much, which would create an awkward transition from the closet and a lot of lost height in the room. Thus, I’ve agreed to adding a curb.

And we decided on a vanity that’s presently hanging out in our garage. We went with a ‘save’ option that got great reviews and looks surprisingly chic for the price and should look even better with new hardware. But if it isn’t quite up to my standards, I figured I could return it and source a higher end one.

Our plumbers are hopefully going to be starting later this week, so fingers crossed that our next update has some great progress photos!

In the meantime, this bathroom in the most recent issue of House Beautiful has me considering a wood vanity instead…

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Decorating with gallery ledges

One of the most commented on feature in our home is our wall of gallery ledges. I’m personally, not a huge fan of most gallery walls, where they’re so hard to get right, but ledges are a lot more approachable to me. I love swapping out art with ease without needing to make more holes in the wall and treating the ledges as an ever-changing home for my most favourite pieces of art.

These gallery ledges previously lived in our apartment, where they helped to draw attention away from our TV.

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Now they live stacked in the living room of our house. To get the spacing right between the ledges, I measured the frame of the tallest piece I wanted to showcase, added 4-5” extra and divided up the evenly, allowing for a row along the bottom to lean against the wall (and hide a wall outlet).

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And I’m constantly changing them up:

One of the best things about the ledges is that I can display art pretty much as soon as it arrives in the mail, by popping one piece out and popping the new one in within a matter of minutes. They’re practically foolproof. When it comes to arranging the frames, I just try to balance colour and medium throughout the shelves and make sure not to have frames of the same size next to one another. Adding in DIY black and white abstract stuff help to add interest without adding colour too.

I also love adding tea lights on the shallow ledges to help fill up some space visually on the more sparse ledges. Bonus: they look great at night with the candles lit.

I get asked all the time about the source of our ledges, and unfortunately they’re a style West Elm no longer carries. But, I did some digging and found some very similar ones here and here.

And because I’m so often asked about the sources of the art displayed in our gallery ledges, from top to bottom and left to right in the below image. A few are originals, so links drive to the artists’ available work.

One, Angela Chrusciaki Blehm | Two, Artfully Walls | Three, Katherine Freeman | Four, Katy Garry | Five, Danielle Kroll | Six, Artfully Walls | Seven, DIY

Since I know you’re going to ask, the metal black gallery frames that I use are these -where, I’d just note that the glass is a bit fragile. This is the oversized frame, that was a great find and looks awesome in person.

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For sourcing art, I love finding new artists on Instagram and hunting down pieces on Etsy and Minted, as well as printing off photos from our travels that remind me of  my favourite vacations.

 

The hunt for the perfect shower curtain

Back in November when we revealed our guest bathroom for the One Room Challenge, I didn’t actually believe we’d finish the room within the challenge time frame, and all my brain cells were taken up by the hard finishes in the space that I improvised and borrowed the shower curtain from our downstairs bathroom for the shoot.

Since then, I spent months trying to find the perfect shower curtain for our drop-in tub. Which, let me tell you is no easy feat. The options on the market for extra-wide shower curtains are few and far between. I actually ordered two before I finally landed on the Goldilocks of shower curtains… which ended up needing to be custom ordered (this one—it was a bit of splurge, but I couldn’t find anything else that was wide enough and long enough).

Here’s the new curtain:

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Compared to the placeholder I previously had in here, it’s so much better.

Let’s back up for a second and answer the question of why we opted for a shower curtain over a glass enclosure:

  1. This is a small bathroom, so the ability to keep the curtain open actually gives us a lot more space when we’re standing at the vanity
  2. We installed a soaking tub in here, so being able to take a long bath without feeling glassed in is more relaxing to me
  3. Glass is expensive! We wanted to give a curtain a go in here first, to see if glass is actually necessary.
  4. We kept a tub in this bathroom for resale purposes, so we could in the future appeal to families, and a non-glass enclosure seems the most family-friendly for bathing kids.

And now for the attributes of what makes a great shower curtain (in my books, at least):

Luxe feeling fabric.

The reason why several of the previous curtains didn’t work out is that they felt plasticky to me. It’s easy for a shower curtain to go wrong, and so many of the options on the market don’t feel high-end to the touch. This is actually a fabric you touch ever single time you shower, so make it feel nice and luxe. Look for fabrics with 50% or lower percentages of polyester. The one we ended up with is Matouk’s Birdseye Pique that feels amazing when you grab it, despite having  some polyester in it, which is what makes it more easy-care and durable.

The right length.

Previous photos of the tub in here drive me crazy because the curtain is so obviously way too short. We were running low on ball chain to hang the curtain from so we did as best as we could, but I always knew it wasn’t quite right. You want your shower curtain to almost graze the floor, where possible. The taller the curtain, the taller your ceiling’s going to look, so make sure to nail the height. You don’t want it pooling on the floor because that’s a tripping hazard and you could end up with the fabric sitting in water or getting quite dirty, so make sure to hem it if it’s too long.

Hang your rod nice and high. Just like window curtains, you want to elongate your space. In our bathroom, we forgoed a rod in favour of a wall-mounted track that added some unexpected detail to the room, but kept our curtain high. If you hang your rod nice and high, your standard 72″ tall shower curtain will be too short. Depending on your ceiling height, you should be looking for 84″+ curtains.

Simple look.

Think about how you can use a shower curtain to elevate your space – just as beautiful fabric elevates any other space, it can help make a bathroom feel high-end. White is always a good idea, as is a rich, grey linen. I also love the addition of an embroidered border detail to amp up the glam. I do find that patterned or kitschy curtains become tired fast, so stick to the classics.

Here’s a round-up of the extra long shower curtains I came across in my searches that weren’t extra-wide, but I desperately wished came in the right size:

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  1. Diamond Matelasse Curtain 2. Pebble Matelasse Curtain 3. Embroidered Border Curtain 4. Italian Hotel Stitch Curtain 5. Jacquard Shower Curtain 6. Vintage Washed Belgian Linen Curtain

Trending: Burl

For years, I’ve been obsessing over the organic visual texture that burlwood brings to a space. I can’t get enough of the natural pattern and love that while it’s become trendy (so, it’s more easily sourced), it still hasn’t reached Homegoods levels of full-blown trendiness.

And if you have ever wondered ‘what is burlwood‘? It’s actually made from the burls (the large lumps) that grow on the trunks of trees when they’re under a lot of stress. The burls are cut off the tree, but the tree doesn’t need to be cut down to use the burlwood. Typically burlwood is applied as a veneer to the outside planes of a piece of furniture.

I love that burlwood adds an edge to any space, but is also quiet enough that it’s easy to mix in. For instance, in this vignette, it adds a heavy dose of organic warmth, but the rounded shape of the burl stool contrasts nicely with the very graphic painting.

 

 

This console table is everything in Noe Dewitt’s NYC apartment.

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In this entryway, the burlwood console table brings depth to a high-contrast neutral space. The vintage rugs also add to the layered look.

Make an entrance ✨#burlwood #antiquerugs #frontdoor

A post shared by jenkins Interiors (@jenkinsinteriors) on

I’ve been obsessed with this dining room by Pencil and Paper Co. for months – while there’s a lot of pattern going on in this room, the lines of all the furniture are actually very simple.

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Pencil and Paper Co.

On a more traditional piece of furniture, the burlwood complements the rounded curves of this vanity without adding other ornate carvings to the wood.

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Daryl Carter in Elle Decor

In my house, I have a mix of vintage and new burlwood pieces, and I love that each one feels unique because the pattern of the burlwood is never the same. Below are some of my favourites that are available in stores right now (several of which I own, namely the trays in both sizes and the boxes).

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  1.  Trays 2. Nightstand 3. Dining Table 4. Boxes 5. Coffee Table 6. Side Table 7. Mirror