Tackling the main floor bathroom

And just like that, the first room in our house is done. Well, at least for now. Backing it up, as I wrote about previously, this bathroom is on our main floor and is the one most frequently used by guests, so I wanted it to make a strong impression that was true to our style.

We started out with a slightly sad butter yellow room with dingy board and batten, an old builder grade vanity, mirror and light fixtures. I have a whole post dedicated to the before photos over here, but I’m sharing a few here to set the tone.

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And then I set forth the design plan, which leaned heavily on high contrast black walls with white board and batten, a warm brass mirror and faucet and a high-gloss black vanity. I also incorporated some natural materials, like a bamboo wastebasket and wood tray to bring warmth and character to the space.

Looking at the design plan, I’d say that the final room definitely stayed true to the plan.

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A few small things that changed: I ended up going with a slightly different Schoolhouse Electric sconce with an articulating arm in order to amp up the drama and make the most of the vertical space visually.

And here are the after photos.

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So. Much. Better.

I’m going to do a full post on the faux Roman shades, because they were definitely an exercise in nailing the look I wanted in a creative way without spending nearly as much as I should have for a Roman shade in a stunning designer fabric.

I also wanted to speak to the black walls – they’re dramatic and totally unexpected, and I’m completely obsessed with them. But, we definitely get less light into the room now with fewer reflective surfaces. It doesn’t bother me at all, because this is a bathroom, not a space we’re constantly using, but I do think I would hesitate to go super dark in a frequently used space in the house in the future.

And the sources:

Wall Paint: Sherwin Williams Black Magic in Semi Gloss

Trim Paint: Benjamin Moore Decorator’s White in Semi Gloss

Vanity Paint: Benjamin Moore Advance in Black

Lucite Vanity Knobs: Etsy

Brass Sconce: Schoolhouse Electric

Brass Mirror: Restoration Hardware (found at the outlet)

Brass Faucet: Harrison Brassworks (sourced off Craigslist)

Towel Ring: Vintage

Monogrammed Hand Towel: Pottery Barn

Persian Rug: Vintage from my fave rug shop on ebay

Flushmount Light Fixture: Pottery Barn

Brass Toilet Flush: Amazon

Wastebasket: Homegoods

Art Print: Mai Autumn

Frame: Framebridge

Toilet Paper Holder: Anthropologie

Shower Curtain Rod: Overstock

Shower Curtain Rings: Homegoods

Shower Curtain: Pottery Barn

Roman Shade Fabric: Schumacher Zimba in Charcoal

It’s funny, in looking over the list of sources, I realize a lot of pieces came from Pottery Barn. And yet, to me, this room doesn’t look like Pottery Barn. It’s a nice reminder of how you can make individual pieces your own in a space that mixes and matches both new and vintage and different retail shops. It’s ALL about the mix to make a style feel unique to your style and like it represents your own personality.

If you’re looking for more ideas for upgrading a bathroom on a budget: great looking peel and stick tile and this medicine cabinet makeover.

Going glam on a faux bamboo dresser

Constant checks of Craigslist have allowed me to unearth some pretty epic finds. The most recent of which was a faux bamboo Henry Link Bali Hai dresser. I somehow managed to see past the awful paint job to impeccably chic bones (I mean not just one color of blue paint but two?!)

Here it was in all it’s Craigslist glory:

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And here she is now:

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It’s remarkable what some sanding, priming and high gloss spray paint can do to bring neglected vintage pieces of furniture back to life. We used this spray paint, by the way. The handles got a good scrubbing with Barkeeper’s Friend, aka the best fix for tarnished brass of all time.

We did run into a few issues in which we were getting a rough finish on one of the sides, so we had to sand it back down in places and repaint, which added some extra time. Also, make sure to leave plenty of time for the paint to cure.

We haven’t tackled the matching mirror yet, but I’m thinking the same high gloss black finish is in order too.

The magic of vintage rugs

If you feel like your room isn’t working quite right, I’d recommend trying a vintage rug. From deep saturated tones to soft hues, there is always one that fits the space perfectly. The amazing thing is, that there are few design pieces that actually look better with age and hold their value remarkably well.

When we first moved into our apartment, I was obsessed with the idea of an overdyed Turkish rug. The saturated jewel tones spoke to me. But, when I went looking in rug stores, I was amazed by the retail price (some clocking in at over $10K), so I took to the internet. I found my first rug on Etsy for a fraction of the price and haven’t looked back.

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Now, that we’ve moved into our house and have a lot of floors to fill, I’ve been on the hunt for vintage rugs of all shapes and sizes. Especially with a mostly open-concept main floor, rugs are essential tools in defining the functional spaces.

This time around, I’m relying less on Etsy and more on Craigslist and eBay for killer finds. My first find, was this runner for our entry way that adds a much-needed pop of colour to the space and creates a moment in a relatively small space. I found this hand-hooked oriental rug on Craigslist and made the trek after work to Brooklyn to retrieve it… and it was absolutely worth it. Don’t mind the off-center and atrocious light fixture (we’ve already got a new-to-us vintage light ready to go in its place) or the basic hardware on the front door (also on its way). I can’t get over the amazing pop of colour as you’re walking by any of the entrances to this little space.

Some of my go-to keywords for searching for great vintage rugs are: persian, oriental, overdyed, kilim, morrocan. Sizes are all over the place and not consistent the way retail rugs are sold, so double-check the measurements of your space before purchase.

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We bought a house

I’m going to be documenting our journey of bringing a semi-fixer upper back to life in a Connecticut beach town. Built in the early 1940s, this is definitely a vintage home, and while it certainly has great bones, it’s going to need a good deal of TLC to become what we envision it can become.

So, some of the details: it’s a three bedroom, three bath colonial with some cape-style design elements. There was an addition done in the 1980s that added a good deal of square footage, but also stripped the house of some of its charm (think: polished brass 1980s doorknobs, hollow core doors and builder-grade light fixtures). We’re planning on doing as much of the work ourselves as possible and have some big plans for updating the layout to be more functional and bringing back the architectural details from the period. On the plus side, we don’t have neighbors super close to the structure on any side so the natural light is insane and completely sold us on the house. We also have some future plans to let in even more light, but those are structural and are off on the horizon. And, this house is spoiling us with some pretty epic patio space – one stone patio and another sizable deck.

And on to the before photos, that are already looking better now that we’ve moved in.

The main floor has an open living room / dining room / seating area. We’re also planning on taking the wall down between the kitchen and the dining room to open up the floor plan even further.

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Also on the main floor is a sunroom. The carpeting gives me nightmares and as soon as we properly insulate the walls, those floors are getting the boot.um5a7542

The kitchen is certainly nice and was updated not too long ago, but it’s definitely not to our taste aesthetically. We do have some short term, budget-friendly plans upgrade some finishes, before an eventual remodel.

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The stairs have amazing millwork details and a brilliant lacquered black handrail.um5a7543

Upstairs, there are three bedrooms and two bathrooms. We’re going to be using the smallest bedroom as an office.um5a7549

The master bedroom is huge with amazing natural light. The ceiling fan needs to go asap.um5a7552um5a7554

The guest bedroom is sizable and will feel even larger once we take out the built in shelving on the same side as the door. I love built-ins, but these are pretty lackluster and are getting in the way of the ideal floorplan.um5a7567um5a7563um5a7564

The upstairs guest bathroom is in need of some serious love.um5a7571

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