Crushing on Lacquered Walls

When I spotted the below image in Paloma Contreras’s new book, I knew I had a brand new obsession: lacquered walls. I can’t get these luxe, glossy walls out of my head. The light blue has the perfect amount of grey to keep this room feeling elevated and sophisticated. The lacquer adds this incredible luminosity to the space.

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Now, I’m imagining all the rooms I could lacquer in my house to get this chic look in my own home. Which sent me down a design rabbit hole in search of fabulously lacquered rooms.

Like this navy beauty by Thomas Loof. The tone on tone sofa is perfection, as is the large scale graphic art. Swoon.

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And is there anything more chic than black lacquered walls? I think not.

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All this drool-worthy inspiration sent me looking up how I can achieve this look at home, the diy route… and found this HGTV tutorial by Brian Patrick Flynn, that I might just have to give a try soon.

Are you crushing on lacquered walls as much as I am? Would you try this look in your own home?

 

How to refinish your hardwood floors with natural hardwax oil

After years of dreaming about having beautiful hardwood floors, we’ve finally made it happen and I’m so thrilled with how they turned out. But seriously, ever since the floors have been refinished in our Master Bedroom, I’ve made a habit of walking past the room just to ogle them every morning (and evening, if I’m being honest). Let’s dive into the details.

We opted to use Rubio Monocoat, a natural penetrating hardwax oil for a lot of reasons, which I laid out in detail here. But in a nutshell: it’s VOC-free, all-natural, and is applied in a single coat. Oh, and the finish is absolutely gorgeous.

Depending on your square footage, this is at least a two day process. I’m going to break what you need by day one (prep and sanding) and day two (stain application), but recognize that you may need more days to complete your own space.

Here’s what you’re going to need:

Day One

Day Two

Day One

1. Clear out your space and remove trimwork

First up, clear your furniture out of the space. Recognize that it will be painful for a week and your house will be in chaos, but it’s totally worth it. One of the reasons why we’re tackling the floors in three phases is because we’re trying to keep our furniture-moving between floors at a minimum. It’s not ideal, but it’s realistic given that we’re living in the house through the refinishing. Ideally, the best time to refinish your floors is right before you move into a house for the first time and haven’t yet brought in your furniture. Alas, next time!

Also, make sure to remove any baseboards that you plan on replacing. If you’re not replacing baseboards, make sure to remove any quarter round trim.

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2. Tape off doorways and electrical outlets

Surprisingly, there isn’t tons of dust created in the refinishing process but you still want to tape plastic in doorways to spaces that aren’t being refinished and tape off any other crevices where dust could go (e.g. electrical outlets).

3. Address nails and staples

Sometimes there are visible nails and staples in the floors, make sure to punch them into the floor so they aren’t on the surface. We recently upgraded to this nail punch set and love it. Also, this is a good time to address any squeaky floor boards. We used this kit to nail down boards that had some give in them, which was causing lots of squeaks throughout the room. Finish up by vacuuming between the floorboards and getting your surface totally clear for sanding.

4. Sand the floors

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In preparation, we pored over the details on this blog. And then we followed the instructions to a tee, including some steps that were a bit painstaking:

  1. Sanded at 24 grit, first with the drum sander and then with the orbital sander
  2. Sanded at 36 grit, first with the drum sander and then with the orbital sander
  3. Applied wood putty to visible nail holes (this one, it has to be hard wood putty specifically for floor refinishing)
  4. Sanded at 60 grit, first with the drum sander and then with the orbital sander
  5. Sanded at 80 grit, first with the drum sander and then with the orbital sander
  6. Sanded at 100 grit, first with the drum sander and then with the orbital sander
  7. Sanded at 120 grit with a hand sanding block

So yeah, sanding the floors is a lot of work. It’s surprisingly not terribly dusty, but it does take quite a bit of time to get right. To be honest, we’re considering hiring out the sanding process when we tackle our downstairs, because it’s a ton of labour (especially for perfectionists). That being said, we will still sand the rest of the upstairs ourselves, because the space isn’t so big that it will take more than a day of our time.

One other thing to watch out for is ‘Edge Swirl’, where you see round scratches from the orbital sander in the wood. We finished up the room by walking around with a flashlight to identify if there was any edge swirl we needed to hand sand out. Before you start sanding, it’s worth watching a few Youtube videos on how to use the edge sander to avoid swirl (this one’s pretty informative). Something to keep in mind, the darker your stain, the more visible the swirl marks will be on your finished floors.

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5. Clean with RMC Cleaner

Vaccuum your floors and then use the Rubio Monocoat RMC Cleaner on the floors with a soft white cloth. We used the terry towels for application. The cleaner will pick up any remaining dust that’s sitting on the floors, so your floors are ready for stain.

Day Two

6. Optional step: Waterpop your floors.

Waterpopping is the act of lighting wetting your raw hardwood and allowing it to fully dry. This step opens up the pores of the wood and allows for a more even and deeper stain. Be careful to evenly apply the water across the wood, since it can cause patchiness if the water is inconsistent. Allow the floors to fully dry. The floors are now very vulnerable to scratching and dents after waterpopping. You’ll notice that they feel different when you touch them after waterpopping.

7. Stain your floors

Next, we’re tackling the stain process. The best part about using Rubio Monocoat, is that this step is quick and painless. We used Rubio Monocoat Oil plus 2C with Accelerant B. Adding the accelerant, allows your floors to cure in 3x less time, so definitely opt for it.

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You’re going to start by mixing part A (the oil) with part B (the accelerant) in a plastic bucket. Then, start applying the stain to the edges of the room working the stain about 6″-8″ from the wall using the stain applicator. We would pour a small amount of the stain into a paint tray and then dip the applicators into the tray before applying to the floor. Allow the stain to sit for three minutes, then return with a clean terry cloth and rub the stain out of the floor intensely in round motion (simulating a buffer).

Next, start working your way out of the room in small sections, we did roughly 4×6 sections of the floor. Large enough that we could set the buffer on top of the whole section, but not so big that we didn’t exceed the 3 minutes in waiting time.

Then, take the buffer and buff the section using a white pad. Once the section is fully buffed out, replace the pad with a new white pad and lay one terry cloth underneath it. Buff with the terry cloth underneath the pad and it will remove the last remaining stain off the surface.

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Repeat in sections until you’re done!

Then, admire your floors and let them cure. You can walk on them after 24-36 hours and move furniture in after 7 days.

And here are the final photos of our bedroom: the colour is absolutely perfect – brown without any red undertones and the finish is incredible with such a slight satin sheen that looks incredibly custom.

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Rubio Monocoat gifted their product for this post. All content, ideas, and words are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that allow us to create unique content while featuring products we actually use and enjoy!

Refinishing Our Hardwood Floors with Natural Hardwax Oil: Part One

Like many of you, when looking to buy a house, hardwood floors were at the top of our list, knowing that refinishing them eventually would lead to a big boost in both the aesthetics and the value of the house. Well, now that we’ve been in our home for nearly two years (but really, how did that happen?!), “eventually” is finally here and I couldn’t be more excited.

Here’s the lowdown: we have pretty basic 3” wide Red Oak hardwood floors. Red Oak is among the most common domestic hardwoods, so they aren’t exactly the most special. One distinguishing feature of Red Oak is that it has very strong red undertones that will often lead to them looking very pink or orange if left a light or natural tone. One upside to Red Oak is that, unlike some softer woods like Pine, it takes a stain very uniformly, and can hold up to a good deal of abuse.

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While our house was built in 1940, there was an addition to the home in the early 1980s, which is I believe, in part, when the hardwood floors were installed. We wish the species of our floors had more character or at least were more unique, but alas, you make the most of what you’ve got, and these floors are going to be gorgeous once we’re done with them.

As you may know by now, we’re obsessed with researching projects for months in advance of starting them, so we’re as educated as possible when executing on a project. I have been researching refinishing hardwood floors for at least a year now, so I feel very confident in the direction we’ve decided upon. Let’s dig in.

1. Decide on a type of flooring finish

Spoiler alert: we’re going in a different direction than the average DIYer.

Since buying our house, I had always been stressed about some of the downsides to refinishing your floors while living in your home – 1) I’d heard that the fumes could be so bad that we may need to move out for a few days, and 2) we’d heard some horror stories about the risk of ruining the finish during the lengthy cure time when the floors are at their most delicate.

So, I set off to understand what other options were out there on the market, besides polyurethane, that might make the process easier and also friendlier to our health. This lead me to discover hardwax oil, as an alternative that addressed the downsides posed by poly finishes, more specifically we landed on Rubio Monocoat, which was recommended to me by a few in-the-know design friends. I went deep down the research rabbit hole and discovered that Rubio Monocoat addressed all the issues I’d been stressing about:

  1. Rubio Monocoat is natural and VOC free. No really, when I opened up a sample bottle it actually smelled GOOD. I was shocked that I actually enjoyed the smell of the product.
  2. It’s a penetrating oil, which creates a molecular bond on the top layer of the wood. What I love about this is that it allows your floors to feel like wood, and not that somewhat plastic feel that you get with a Poly finish. I love the idea of enhancing the natural properties of wood, instead of preserving it under a layer of sheen.
  3. If we get a scratch in the finished floors, you can buff it out and refinish the single plank of wood, instead of needing to refinish the entire space, as with Poly. We live in a constant construction zone, so knowing that if somehow something happens while we’re working down the road, it’s fixable, which gives me some peace of mind.
  4. Rubio Monocoat goes down in a single step, so it’s both faster and easier to apply than Poly. That’s a win-win.

I will note one downside to natural hardwax oil that I came across in my research: if water sits on top of the surface for too long, it can cause discoloration (which can be fixed, as in reason 3 above), but that might make it a less ideal choice if you have pets that drool a lot.

Once I had dug into researching Rubio Monocoat, it became pretty clear it was the right choice for our lifestyle and home. Plus, it helped that I had watched Michelle transform her floors for the One Room Challenge using Rubio Monocoat and her floors came out absolutely stunning.

And don’t get me started on these gorgeous floors in Laura’s house, as featured in the Washingtonian last month.

2. Determine if you’re going light, medium or dark in your space

Knowing that this is one of the only upgrades you make in your home that actually impacts the visuals of every. single. room. in your house, I’ve been thinking about the color ever since we moved in. I have gone back and forth on a light finish v. a dark finish on the floors so, so many times.

Light floors are very in vogue right now, and for good reason. They feel more casual and approachable, can elongate rooms with low ceilings and they allow your floors to be a more organic feature in your home. Light floors are also less likely to show dust, so they’re a good choice for lazy homeowners (guilty).

Darker floors feel more formal, more classic and are more forgiving to wood that was installed at different times. When you stain wood, you can neutralize more of the natural undertones in the wood to truly create a neutral base. We need to feather in new wood in our kitchen and in our sunroom, so the ability to make this new wood look seamless is very important.

At the end of the day, I adore light floors and we’ll no doubt try them out in a future home, but given our current circumstances and species of wood, I think the best thing for our current home is to go darker on the finish. Yes, I know it will mean I’ll have to clean more often (but, shouldn’t I be doing that anyways? probably.), but I know I’ll be able to decorate my home without fighting the undertones in the floors and will also feel more confident in the longevity of the more classic finish.

3. Decide on a specific color

Once you’ve narrowed down the tone of the color, the more challenging part is deciding on a specific color. Since we’d already narrowed down the product to Rubio Monocoat Oil Plus 2C, we had to choose from the 40 colors it’s available in. To start, I jumped on Pinterest and Instagram to find examples of the colors that caught my eye the most on our species of wood, Red Oak. This was super helpful in aiding us in narrowing down the colors we wanted to sample, but as always, you can’t trust a photograph to choose any colour in your home, so this is just to narrow the playing field.

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We narrowed it down to Castle Brown, Ash Grey, Black, Chocolate and Smoke 5%, then ordered the samples and moved on to the next step.

4. Create samples

Since we’re doing our floors throughout our house in phases (master suite first, then the remainder of the upstairs + the stairs, and finally the full first floor), I wanted to make sure my samples were portable, so I could see how the finished floors will look in different rooms and different lighting. So, we made some sample boards from spare hardwoods that we had ripped up in order to construct our new master bathroom. I followed the Rubio Monocoat application instructions and created cross-sections of each colour that spanned multiple boards, since our hardwoods have a lot of variation in color, tone and wood grain.

On the top board, from left to right is Rubio Monocoat Oil Plus 2C in Ash Grey, Castle Brown, Black, Chocolate and Smoke 5%.

On the bottom board, I first did a coat of Rubio Monocoat Pre-Color Easy in Vintage Brown as an undercoat beneath the Rubio Monocoat Oil Plus 2C in the same order as the first board.

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Once the colors were lined up, it was easy to see the undertones in each of the samples and the depth of color. The chocolate reads too purple for us, with the red undertones, coming through. The grey in the Ash Grey was beautiful, but not quite right for the pretty traditional bones of our house. Smoke 5% looked good on a small sample, but I was still stressed about the pink coming through.

When I polled you all on Instagram, the winner was clearly Castle Brown (2nd on the top and 7th on the bottom), and our personal front runner was Black, so once we sanded down the floors, we put both colors down in an area that would be covered by closet cabinetry, so we knew exactly how the colors would look. Seeing both colors side by side in context made for a difficult but educated decision.

Here we added one extra step, waterpopping the wood, on recommendation from Rubio Monocoat to deepen the stain. I’ll go into more detail in our next post, but lightly wetting the raw wood and then allowing it to dry opens up the wood pores that get closed up during the sanding process, which richens the finish.

Clockwise from top: Castle Brown over waterpopped wood, Castle Brown over Vintage Brown Pre-Color Easy, Black over Vintage Brown Pre-Color Easy and Black over waterpopped wood. You can see how similar the finish looks between the Pre-Color and the waterpopping. Up close, the Pre-Color makes the finish look more uniform across varying boards of wood, but for the super subtle difference, it didn’t seem necessary for us to use the Pre-Color Easy.

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For us, red isn’t a color we use much at all in our home, so the brown-red of the Castle Brown, while very beautiful and classic, we knew was going to be more challenging for us to design around than the more neutralized Black. Now that we have made the final decision to use the Rubio Monocoat Oil Plus 2C in Black, we’re ready to roll and will be tackling the floors this weekend – wish us luck!

I’d love to know, if you have refinished your floors, what finish did you go with? Have you heard of natural hardwax oils like Rubio Monocoat before?

*The product featured in this post was gifted by Rubio Monocoat®. All content, ideas, and words are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that allow us to create unique content while featuring products we use and enjoy!

20 lessons from renovating two bathrooms in six months

Over the course of six months, we managed to tackle two complete bathroom remodels from the studs up, and I wanted to share some of our biggest learnings, since these were our first two bathroom renos ever and we learned a lot. These lessons apply if you’re tackling the work yourself, or if you’re hiring it out.

You can check out our Master Bathroom and Guest Bathroom reveals.

Planning Stage

1. Take your time to rethink the layout. You may be able to unlock space and make your room more functional. It might be expensive, but it’s worth exploring the cost in case it fits in the budget.

2. Determine your must-haves for the space. Prioritize the things that matter to you: tubs, rain shower heads, steam showers, a double vanity, heated floors, etc. if you’re limited on space and/or budget (like us!) you’re going to have to identify what matters to you and what is less necessary. Everyone has an opinion on whether they think a master bathroom needs a tub, but space constraints are real and it may not be critical for you.

3. Identify your storage needs. Do you have a lot of makeup? Do you need a place to store towels? How big a vanity can your bathroom accommodate? If you think through storage in advance, you’re way less likely to end up with a cluttered bathroom because everything will have a home. Also think about how much space you need for toiletries in your shower and whether you want a niche.

4. Invest in a high-powered fan. You don’t want humidity hanging out in your brand new bathroom, because mold will follow. You also want to make sure that the fan is graded for the size of your space. We used this one in both bathrooms.

5. Install the extras now that you have the chance. During the remodeling process we heard from a lot of people who said they wished they had installed the upgrades while completely remodeling their bathrooms, because there’s no other time to add them. Some of those things are splurging on a nicer floor material or installing in-floor heating. You won’t have the chance again, so think through whether it’s something you might want down the road to avoid future regrets.

6. Get many quotes for work you’re contracting out. The range of quotes we got for the work we hired out, like plumbing and cabinetry were staggeringly different. We had consults with three different plumbing companies because we wanted to make sure we were getting a fair price and to ensure it was someone we wanted to work with. Ask friends for recommendations, check Nextdoor and Google Places for trades.

7. Old plumbing stacks can often easily be moved into the wall. We had an entire plan built around how to work around a plumbing stack that jut out into our bathroom. And then the plumbers came and replaced our very old and desperately in need of replacement plumbing stack with a new one that fit neatly inside the wall cavity, rendering our plan completely unnecessary.

8. Details matter. There are so many decisions that you need to be prepared to make: Where will the outlets be located and what’s the minimum required for code? Where will the light switches be located? Where will your towels hang when you’re showering? Where will the toilet paper holder be mounted?

9. Natural light makes a huge difference. If you can add a window, go for it. We’re fortunate to have windows in every room of our house (I’m obsessed with natural light), but any added light will make your morning showers that much more pleasant.

10. Lighting is critical.  Be intentional about your light sources, you’re going to want overhead lighting, lighting at the vanity (soft, diffused glow is ideal) and water-safe lighting in your shower. Dimmers for your lights matter, just because it’s a bathroom, doesn’t mean the lighting shouldn’t be completely controllable. You want to be able to set the mood when you’re taking a bath and don’t want to end your day in an overlit bathroom. We have dimmers on our sconces and overhead lights in both bathrooms.

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Execution Stage

11. Have all your fixtures on-hand before work starts. The plumbers will need your fixtures before they can start work. Every shower system requires its own valve to to be installed on the inside of your shower or tub walls, so you really can’t get away with not having fixtures on site. The plumbers will also need to know the height and size of your vanity (as well as any schematics) to determine where the pipes for the faucet will be located in the wall.

12. Level everything. Make sure everything is square. You want to use a leveling system for your tiles to avoid lippage. Don’t be afraid to pour self-leveling compound to level a floor, it’s well worth the effort for a super smooth, even floor. We also used a laser level to confirm everything was level as we installed.

13. Take your tile to the ceiling. Unless you are blessed with incredibly high ceilings, there’s no reason not to take your shower tile all the way up. It will add height to your room and will keep everything looking streamlined.

14. Pick the right type of paint. There is paint designed specifically for damp spaces, like bathrooms and kitchens. We use Benjamin Moore Kitchen and Bath on our walls and Benjamin Moore Regal Classic in Matte on the ceiling, on recommendation from our paint store.

15. Soundproofing. This one we only caught on to for our second bathroom, but wish we had thought about it for our Guest Bathroom too. Showers are noisy and if your bathroom abuts a bedroom, you may want to take a moment to add soundproofing (we swear by this one that’s super easy to install) when you have a chance. It’s not terribly expensive and it’s a modern upgrade, especially in an old house like our own.

16. Overbuy tile and buy in one batch. If you’re working with a natural stone, like marble, there will be a lot of natural variation from tile to tile. To minimize that variance, buy all your tile at once, so it’s more likely to come from the same source and mix your boxes of tile in advance of laying the tile so all the variance is spread out and not clustered.

17. Don’t be afraid to splurge on a few key things and leave specialties to the pros. We had planned on installing a pre-fabricated shower door but kept running into sizing issues. So we sat down and discussed how much nicer and more custom it would look if we hired out the glass, and while it was pricy, it was the best decision we made. Our shower door is gorgeous and is perfectly hung. I don’t regret the added expense at all, because it really allows the tile we belabored installing look 100% professional.

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Finishing Stage

18. Bigger is better when it comes to mirrors. Go for a big mirror, it will open up your entire bathroom and make your vanity way more functional. In both our bathrooms we went for huge mirrors and absolutely love how well they work for both my average-height self and my 6″2 husband.

19. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Just because it’s a bathroom doesn’t mean it can’t be treated like any other room in your house. You don’t need to buy a mirror or lighting from the bathroom section. Have fun with personalizing your room. Bathrooms are naturally colder, more sterile spaces because of the materials, so think about ways to add warmth and interest. Layer on accessories like vintage rugs and window treatments.

20. Understand the maintenance needs of your materials. We heard from a lot of you on the importance of grout color (white will be very hard to maintain on the floors) and the difficulty of keeping marble from staining. Know that if you’re going with marble that you will need to seal it annually (we use this one), and think about using trays on countertops to protect them. We recently had an incident where our conditioner leaked for a full day on our marble countertop and I didn’t panic because I knew how to fix it (a homemade marble poultice did the trick).

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How to Install Wainscoting

As we’ve gone through the process of remodeling our house one room at a time, we’ve become huge believers in the impact trimwork can have on elevating a space. We added panel moulding in our guest bedroom, highlighted the beadboard moulding in our main floor bathroom with a high contrast black and white palette, added crown moulding and baseboard moulding to our sunroom and even added crown moulding in our guest bathroom. It’s the finishing touch that takes a room to the next level.

For our recent remodel for the One Room Challenge, we paired with Metrie to bring trimwork to a space that is often forgotten: the bathroom. Our bathroom layout is long and narrow, with all the fixtures on one length of the room, meaning there’s a lot of exposed walls. This expanse of unused walls was begging for a special treatment to make them shine. I knew immediately that trimwork would be the way we could bring some detail to the walls.

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Recessed wainscoting was the solution for this space for a handful of reasons:

  1. It’s so elegant and classic. There’s no fear of becoming tired of it, since it’s such a historical treatment that has withstood the passage of time.
  2. Raising the trimwork on the walls to match the depth of the tile in the shower allowed for a flat surface to run crown moulding across, tying the two areas together
  3. The trimwork would mirror the pencil tile we were planning on adding in the shower.
  4. The moulding could frame out a giant mirror over the vanity, making the space feel even more custom,

So, once we had decided wainscoting was the way to go, here are the steps we took:

1. Select your style of moulding.

Metrie offers five gorgeous collections that suit different aesthetics and styles of homes. We gravitated toward the Fashion Forward collection since it mirrored the classic lines throughout the rest of our home, but is also so chic and sophisticated.

2. Determine the types of moulding your space will require.

For wainscoting you need (and links to the ones we used):

  • Baseboards – they should be flat on the top edge so the stiles slide right over them
  • Stiles – the flat boards that are raised off the wall
  • Casing for windows and doors – it needs to have a greater depth on the outside edges than your stiles so the casing stands out
  • Fingerjoint Applied Moulding – this is the trimwork on the inside of the stiles that make up the decorative boxes
  • Crown Moulding

The best aspect of the Metrie collections is that all the pieces work together and you don’t have to worry about the depths of the pieces not working perfectly in unison.

I’ve indicated below each of the pieces:

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3. Make a detailed plan.

Of all the types of trim we’ve installed to date, this wainscoting required the most planning in advance. Since the stiles create a fixed border on everything, you have to put a lot of thought into placement. There are different widths of stiles, baseboards, crown moulding, etc. so planning can help you to understand what will work within your space.

We ended up creating a to-scale mock-up in Photoshop and played around with the different sized pieces until we got to a plan that worked for us. We were also cognizant of scale, since our ceilings are standard height and the room isn’t huge, it made sense for us to go with mostly the smallest sized trimwork (though it was still very chunky and substantial – perfectly proportioned to our space).

Below, you can see how we mapped out the trim.

We used the window as the anchor for the trim layout. First, we planned the casing around the window, then we used the bottom edge to set the horizontal middle stile. From there, we ran a stile along the top, added baseboards and the stile above. We added the vertical stiles on each side of the window and framed out the right-hand opening. We then mirrored the dimensions for the boxes in the shower. Since the space above the window wasn’t large enough for an opening, we filled it in with a stile.

Master Bathroom Trim Plan - Window

This is the window wall, where we used the stiles to fill in the space above the doorway, since it wasn’t large enough for an opening. When we installed, we actually didn’t add the fingerjoint behind the vanity so it would sit flush against the wall.

Master Bathroom Trim Plan - Door wall

The short wall was the simplest, with just a frame along the outside edges and one middle stile.

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4. Install the trimwork

Once you’re armed with a plan, actually installing is fairly straightforward. The tools we used at this point were:

  • Levels in an assortment of sizes – we used a 6-foot level on the longest sections, a 4-foot level where necessary, and a 2-foot level on the shortest runs. The goal is to use the level that’s closest in size where possible to keep your trim as straight as possible. We also used this laser level to set a guide for the entire width of the wall.
  • A nail gun with finish nails, we use a compressor with ours, but I’ve heard excellent things about this electric nail gun
  • A nail punch, to use with a hammer when nails don’t go as deep as you intended.
  • A compound miter saw – we started out with this one and recently upgraded to this larger one (both are great, we just needed a larger blade for a few recent projects)
  • Caulk plus this little tool that I loved using to smooth the caulk along the long seams
  • Wood putty (though we later switched over the drywall spackle, which we discovered works better on MDF).

Since we had a lot of moving pieces happening at once, we didn’t install the trimwork in the order I’d recommend, which would be:

  1. Casings on windows and doors
  2. Baseboards around the room
  3. Horizontal stiles that run above the baseboards
  4. Horizontal stile that runs the middle length of the room
  5. Measure the distance down from the crown moulding and install the stile at the bottom edge of where the crown moulding will land
  6. Install the vertical stiles throughout
  7. Install crown moulding

This was our progression:

Drywall primed and ready to go.

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Then we installed the casing, you can see how big a difference it makes.

Then first round of stiles up, set off the bottom edge of the window.

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Then baseboards and bottom stiles.

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5. Caulk the seams, edges and nailholes. Use wood putty and spackle to even out planes.

This is where you underestimate how much caulking needs to happen.

Here you can see we caulked and filled in between adding the applied fingerjoint moulding (as seen on the bottom box).

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Then all the fingerjoint moulding  went up.

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6. Sand

Make sure everything is perfectly flat. Run your hand over all the seams and ensure you don’t feel any variance in the surface. You will see any imperfections after you paint.

7. Paint prep and paint!

Then we prepped for paint, by priming over the areas we had sanded. This was our first time painting a room with a spray gun and we learned a few things:

  • It’s all about the prep. This part takes the longest by far, but once it’s done painting with a spray gun is so quick and easy.
  • You use a LOT less paint. We bought two gallons of paint for this room and only ending up using about a half a gallon. Wow.
  • Maintain the same distance from the wall across your entire stroke, even if it means flexing your wrist at the ends.

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8. Hang your crown moulding*

Ideally you do this before you paint, but since we were hanging it over tile, we painted it in the garage and installed it painted. Then we caulked and touched up with a high density foam roller.

9. Admire your finished space

And that’s it! We’re obsessed with the final result and couldn’t be happier with our experience of working with the Metrie trimwork (and team!).

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Thank you to Metrie for sponsoring this project – while the product was provided, all opinions are my own.

One Room Challenge, Master Bathroom, The Reveal!

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, Week Three, Week Four. and Week Five.

I couldn’t be more excited to share the final reveal of our One Room Challenge™ Master Bathroom. Over the past five weeks, my husband, Cory, and I have been building our bathroom from the studs up. Just a few weeks ago, this room was without walls, a ceiling, or a subfloor, so we’ve come a very long way. We did all the work ourselves (except plumbing), so this was definitely a labour of love. Where we spent the past five weeks insulating walls, hanging drywall, installing tile and so much more. This was by far the most ambitious project we’ve ever taken on and we’re so proud of the final result, I hope you like it!

BEFORE

Previous to the One Room Challenge starting, we had gutted our former ‘master’ bathroom, it featured a cramped layout, single vanity and a complete lack of heating (we live in Connecticut, so winters were rough in this bathroom).

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And here’s where we started the One Room Challenge, where we stole square footage from our closet, pulled the walls inward by a few inches to accommodate a better future walk in closet layout, and had our plumbers reconfigure the placement of all the fixtures.

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THE REVEAL

The vision for this bathroom was a luxe, vintage European boutique hotel bathroom with some modern elements mixed in. I wanted this bathroom to feel like the older, worldly sibling to our last One Room Challenge project, the Guest Bathroom. We used similar materials like marble counters and floors, brass fixtures, hints of black and lots of white, but added some elements that were unique to this space, like that pop of blue. I couldn’t be more thrilled and proud of how this bathroom turned out. Let’s dig into the details.

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The Floors

Before we even closed on this house, a year and a half ago, I knew I wanted marble herringbone floors in my bathroom. Herringbone is one of my all-time favourite patterns – it’s classic, clean, but still fresh. Not only are these floors beautiful, but they feature radiant heating, so I’m looking forward to toasty feet this coming winter (but let’s be honest, we’ll probably use it year-round). I’m even more proud that I taught myself how to use a tile saw in order to cut all the edge pieces.

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The Trimwork

We paired with Metrie on the trimwork in this room and it really elevates the space. We installed Metrie casings on the window and door first, which helped both openings stand out, instead of recede into the room. We then installed chunky baseboards that bring a lot of presence to the room. We opted not to add quarter round to keep the aesthetic clean in this narrow space. We then installed the recessed panel moulding on the walls which truly made the room. If you’ve been following my progress of upgrading my home, you probably know that my love of wall moulding runs deep and I’ve been adding it to many of my spaces. Especially in a long room like this one that has a lot of open wall space, I wanted to bring some extra attention to the walls. One of the other reasons we opted for recessed moulding was to bring the walls flush with the shower tile so we could install crown moulding throughout the room, tying together the shower to  the rest of the bathroom.

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We painted the walls Benjamin Moore Decorator’s White with a spray gun, for a very clean finish. The sheen is satin, which brings both durability to the walls and some extra shine and dimension to the trimwork.

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The Shower

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One of the things I was most excited about in this space was continuing the wall moulding detail into the shower with marble pencil tile. To contrast the medium scale of the herringbone tile, I opted for large format 12×24 marble tile on the walls. We then inlaid the marble pencil tile within the tile. This was an insane amount of work. In retrospect, choosing a pattern that took us 40+ hours to complete when you’re working on a tight timeline probably wasn’t the smartest idea, but OMG that tile. I love it so much. It’s these custom details that make DIY worth it to us, knowing that we put our own spin on the space with details I’ve scarcely seen in the wild.

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Cory wrapped the tile around the shower curb using a beveled edge, so it gives the appearance of being a single piece of marble. We love thinking through these sorts of details.

In addition to the tile detail, another component of the shower that I was really excited about was the floating shower bench. We didn’t find a lot of information on the interwebs for installing a floating marble bench, so I’ll be doing a how-to post at a later date. We had our marble shop fabricate this bench and it’s gorgeous.

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For shower fixtures, we used the same Restoration Hardware series in Aged Brass as in our Guest Bathroom, where we opted for both a rain shower head (at my husband’s request) and an adjustable wall-mounted shower head (because 1. I don’t always want to get my hair wet and 2. The hose will help us with cleaning the shower). We installed the controls on the right wall so we can reach in to turn on the shower and let it warm up without needing to get wet.

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Finally, we splurged on the shower door and couldn’t be more thrilled. We debated going with a ready-made option (or just a single panel) but at the end of the day, we knew this was a detail than can easily bring down the luxe feel in the space if it wasn’t quite right.

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The Vanity

After a lot of vanity drama (that I detailed in last week’s post), we ended up buying a custom vanity used off Craigslist and refinishing it. I filled in the holes from the original hardware, filled in the indentations with wood putty and used a spray gun to paint the piece for a very professional looking finish. I’m actually not a huge lover of color, but my husband requested it and so, I sourced a blue for the vanity. I wanted to keep the color light, so the room could feel airy, but not too light that the vanity faded. I tested four different blues from Farrow and Ball, but Stone Blue was the clear winner. It actually reads a bit darker and warmer in person. It’s an absolutely stunning colour that we can’t get enough of.

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I upgraded to gorgeous hardware from Rejuvenation. I love the vintage charm of the knobs and the slim proportions of the pulls. The unlacquered brass looks so great against the Stone Blue. You can’t even tell that it’s the same vanity.

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The vanity came with this marble countertop, but was only drilled for a single hole faucet, so Cory created a template in a long piece of wood and we used a diamond bit to cut the holes for the widespread faucets. We were totally intimidated by this project and had planned to contract it out to our marble guy, but upon him telling us this wasn’t something he does, we resigned to do it ourselves. It was way simpler and less scary than we had expected.

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Now, onto the faucets. These were actually one of the first things we purchased for the space. Upon coming across them at the Restoration Hardware Outlet, Cory fell hard for the chunky proportions, so we went for it. I love that they have their own personality and bring some bling to the room.

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Art

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Given the layout of this space, I was so excited to include a dedicated art moment framed by the wall trim and a gallery lamp. One of my absolute favourite pieces in this room is this insane painting by Thomas Hammer. Using just the vanity color, Thomas knocked it out of the park. When he sent me the photo of the finished painting last week, my jaw dropped in awe. I’m obsessed with the texture and movement in this piece and the unexpected strokes of lemon-lime green. It’s dynamic, fresh and inspiring. If you want further inspiration, I’d recommend checking out his other work, the palettes are so unexpected and have already inspired my next room.

Lighting and Mirror

Sourcing a mirror for this vanity was a massive challenge. For weeks I looked at measurements on mirrors and couldn’t find a single one that was both tall and narrow enough to sit over each sink without hitting the moulding. I finally arrived at the perfect solution: a custom-cut mirror, and frankly, it was the best solution I could have come up with for this space. Mounting the sconce directly on the mirror allows for the best of all worlds: a massive mirror that highlights the trimwork and allows for a very cool sconce. Oh, and it was shockingly inexpensive to have made. We’re in love.

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This sconce was the result of our original sconce being backordered, and I’m not upset at all about it. This sconce is large enough to not be engulfed by the massive mirror, brings a lot of light to the space, unifies our mix of brass and black finishes. We also really love that it’s up and out of the way.

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The flushmounts on the ceiling were a happy accident. I intended to pick up the larger size but accidentally ordered these smaller ones. We debated for days whether they were too small, but once we had them up, they’re actually pretty proportional and don’t compete with the rain shower head.

The Toilet

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This toilet caused more drama than I ever would have expected. After ordering the same toilet as in our guest bathroom, we discovered that there was a joist running through the exact spot where the toilet flange needed to go. So, we returned that one and set off on finding a toilet with a less standard 14” rough-in. This also gave me the opportunity to source a skirted toilet. Since the side is so visible to the room, a skirted style helps to keep it looking elevated (or as elevated as a toilet can get). We ended up with this Kohler option and love its elegant lines.

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Rug

This rug is a vintage Persian Lilihan and is absolutely stunning. The colors are so vivid and beautiful, and I love that it picks up the blue in the vanity without being overly matching. Joanna at Upstate Rugs provided it for the room and she was awesome to work with – it was so hard to choose from her great collection.

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Accessories

We added a glass towel bar and while I tried three different towels, I inevitably landed on our trusty monogrammed ones that have made it into pretty much every one of our bathrooms. Don’t worry, I’ve already ordered some more with different embroidery because they are clearly my favourite.

On the vanity, I accessorized with a vintage silver tray from Goodwill, some gorgeous lilacs, an Anthropologie candle and some divine smelling hand soap. I love keeping it simple with accessories and varying the heights and sizes as much as possible. A tray is always the way to go for creating a contained vignette.

One the toilet, I used my favourite print from Angela Chrusciaki Blehm . The candle and ranunculus rounded out the vignette.

In the shower niche, I brought in our shampoo, conditioner and body wash which I’d decanted into these bottles and labeled with this label maker. It’s a simple and inexpensive solution for mismatched toiletry bottles.

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Sources

Wall Paint: Benjamin Moore Decorator’s White

Vanity Paint: Farrow and Ball Stone Blue

Marble Floor Tile | Marble Wall Tile | Marble Pencil Tile

Toilet | Faucets | Adjustable Shower Head | Rain Shower Head | Shower Valve| Shower Diverter

Vanity Pulls | Vanity Knobs

Sconce | Flushmounts

Baseboards | Crown Moulding | Stiles | Casing | Fingerjoint Applied Trim

Candle | Hand Towels |Towel Bar

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 Five

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, Week Three, and Week Four.

If you thought last week was a huge leap forward, this most recent week was even more massive.

Grouted the floors

We started off by grouting our herringbone marble floors. We used Platinum by Polyblend, the color is the perfect soft grey. I wanted a grout color that would be light enough to keep contrast low and keep visual busy-ness to a minimum, and this grey does the job perfectly.

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Tiling the shower

Next up was tiling the shower walls. One of the details I was most excited about in our master bathroom was mirroring the moulding on the walls in the shower with marble pencil tile. It’s a fresh take on a classic style that I already love in our home. For this pattern, I knew that precision would be key, but I way underestimated the sheer amount of time it would take to cut all the tiles to accommodate this pattern. Given that this was our second wall tiling project ever (our first was floor to ceiling subway tile in our guest bathroom for the last round of the One Room Challenge here), this was a pretty complex project. Here’s how we approached the pattern:

  1. Mocked it up in Photoshop to get the rough placement of the tiles
  2. Cut a sample piece of baseboard, stile (flat stock) and detailed trimwork (finger joint) and determined where they would land on the walls. Used that placement to locate the boxes for the pencil tile on the shower walls. We wanted to maintain the same distance from the trim to the walls as in the rest of the bathroom.
  3. Used a laser level to highlight where the trim lines landed throughout the room.

Here’s where we were at after the first day:

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And then the third day:

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One more row:

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We also realized on the night we intended to start tiling that our tile saw was way too small to be able to cut the large format tiles for the shower. We calculated the cost to rent a tile saw for a week and it was equivalent to buying a new one, so that’s exactly what we did. We ended up with this one and it’s a huge upgrade: our cuts are cleaner, we can be more precise and the process is quicker.

And speed was something we needed on our side. We way underestimated the amount of time it would take to tile each row. The first row took six hours. The second row also took six hours. And the next few rows started to go quicker with fewer cuts at 2-3 hours each. We’re at 25 hours of tiling and still have two more rows left. This pattern is not exactly ideal for a tight timeline, but we’re obsessed with the final result, so there are no regrets.

We made a run for more tiles tonight (some of the ones we’d picked up were too grey to flow with those we currently have up on the wall), and will resume tiling those last two rows over the next few days.

For reference, this is our 12×24 marble wall tiles, this is the pencil tile and this is the leveling system we used (where it’s a two part system).

Installed the trimwork

We partnered with Metrie on this project – they have the most gorgeous trimwork and their collections are so classic, but also modern. Which is exactly how I like things in my house. We opted for the Fashion Forward collection, which so perfectly complements our house. I’m going to be putting together a detailed how-to post on how to achieve this look in your own home, so stay tuned. We are installing five different types of trim in this room:

  1. Baseboards
  2. Stiles
  3. Crown Moulding
  4. Finger Joint
  5. Casing

So far, we’ve installed about half of the trimwork. The crown moulding will be last since that’s going to be going over the tile in the shower too, we have to wait to grout the shower in order to hang the moulding.

In order to set the trimwork in the bathroom, I picked an anchor point: the window. First we attached the window casing, and then we used the lower edge to set the height of the middle stile. This middle stile also hit the vanity height perfectly, so that the counter intersects the stile perfectly, allowing for the mirror to be above the vanity in the upper section.

Here’s our window before we added the casing, where we had pulled off the previous casing when we took this wall down to the studs:

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And now, it’s so much more substantial:

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It still needs to be caulked and painted, but it’s already a massive improvement.

We then tackled the doorway casing, which made an even bigger difference, making the room actually feel like a room and not just a construction site.

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Then we installed the baseboards, followed by the stiles. I mapped out all the dimensions to scale in advance in Photoshop, so installation has been simple, so far. Once we add in the decorative pieces, this space is going to feel so elevated.

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Prepared Bathroom Vanity

I was all set to have a custom vanity designed for this space, because the vanity we’d originally ordered from Home Depot arrived completely cracked and was generally not as high quality as I liked, but then decided to save some pennies and buy a used vanity off Craigslist.

We picked up a fairly standard custom built vanity that fit our required dimensions, but it had a few things I didn’t love and desperately needed a fresh coat of paint. One of my biggest pet peeves are recessed lines in the door fronts. Immediately, it reads as low-quality to me, so it was the first thing I filled in with wood filler. I also removed all the hardware and filled in the holes with wood putty, since I was swapping the cabinet front handles for knobs and the handles on the drawer fronts are being replaced with wider ones.

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Right after going to town with wood putty, the vanity looked like it had suffered from a rough bout of chicken pox (which I hear is no longer a thing, how bizarre?!), but once it dried and I hit it with an orbital sander the holes were nicely filled in. I started with a very fine grit sandpaper and then moved on to an ultra fine grit to really smooth it out.

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Next up is priming the vanity, to allow for maximum paint adhesion. We’ve picked out the most beautiful shade of blue from Farrow and Ball to really glam this vanity up.

Tiling the shower floor

This actually was a surprising setback. We went to tile the shower floor in the herringbone tile that we’ve used throughout the rest of the bathroom and we just couldn’t get the tile to slope properly towards the drain. An hour of playing with it and having no success besides a mess of thinset, we made the tough decision to remove the tiles, wash them off and prep the surface for a better installation on a later date. This has been one of our best decisions to date. Sometimes you have to make the hard call to throw your timeline out of whack in order to keep your quality from suffering. DIY is hard. But the actual work shouldn’t be so impossible that it doesn’t feel like it’s working… else something isn’t quite right.

We took a breather, added some extra mortar to the surface and came back the next day for a much easier and higher-quality installation of the tiles.

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So that was a lot. And trust me, when I say that every night this week has consisted of us burning the midnight oil. But we still have a ton to do before next week’s reveal, and before our plumbers come to install on Monday and our glass shower door and custom mirror are installed on Tuesday…

Some of those things include:

  • Completing the shower tile
  • Grouting the shower floors and wall
  • Hanging the rest of the Metrie trimwork
  • Caulking, filling and sanding the trimwork
  • Painting the walls
  • Painting the vanity
  • Installing the vanity hardware
  • Installing the light fixtures, fan, towel bar, hooks, etc.
  • Building an integrated radiator cover
  • Install the floating shower bench

Wish us luck!

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 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 two part leveling system (part one, part two) 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.

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

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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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