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 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.

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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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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