When my friend Sarah at Room For Tuesday asked me to take part in a holiday themed, Blog Hop Cookie Swap with some of my all-time fave bloggers, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to try out Dorie Greenspan’s Gingersnap cookie recipe (from her book, Dorie’s Cookies) that I’ve had bookmarked for months…err… maybe years. With holiday parties around the corner (we have two on Saturday alone), cookies are the easiest dessert to bring that are so conducive to sharing and universally beloved.
If you’re new around here, two years 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. Make sure to catch up on our One Room Challenge™ progress from past weeks (week one).
The first week is down in the books and we’ve made a decent amount of progress. This past week focused on the closet and getting the base IKEA Pax system in place. Make sure to read all the way through the post for the design plans at the bottom.
Installing the IKEA Pax
After a lot of research, we opted for the IKEA Pax system since it’s relatively budget friendly and includes a lot of options for drawers and accessories. If you’ve ever lived in a smaller home before, then you know how critical thoughtful and intentional storage can be, hence my obsession with making the most of every inch. While our home isn’t super small (2,100 sq. ft.), we still need to max out our storage potential. Before purchasing any units, we spent a lot of time in the planning phase. The overall dimensions of the walk in closet are 14″6 feet wide x 6″5 feet deep. Below was our initial plan, where we intended to each take one wall of the closet and then share the dressing area by the window. I mocked all the dimensions up on the IKEA site using the Pax planning tool and then again in renderings. Looking at the plan, it looks a tiny bit tight but workable, and we were assured by the staff at IKEA that the 32″ walkway was doable.
However, once we got the first two Pax units in place, we immediately felt claustrophobic and knew it was going to feel like a tunnel and not like the grown-up closet we imagined.
So, we went back to the drawing board and to IKEA for two shallower depth units (13″ instead of 23″), resulting in the below plan.
Once we got the new, shallower units in we couldn’t believe how much more spacious the closet felt. There was no longer a concern over our ability to open drawers and even whether we could see into the back of the closet, since light floods into the space from the window. Even though we gave up some hanging space, I can already tell that the revised layout is going to function so much better for the space.
We live in an old house so our floor are… quirky and not super level, so getting the units totally level to one another required a lot of shimming. We’re still waiting on a few missing pieces that are due back in-stock at our IKEA this week, as well as needing to finish up some electrical work.
Once we have the missing pieces, we’ll be moving forward on installing trimwork all over the closet system, followed by paint and hardware, so hopefully you’ll never even know there’s an IKEA system underneath. Given that our home is from the 1940’s, we’re always conscientious about ensuring any features we build in blend in seamlessly and the lines on the Pax read very modern without any modifications. Stay tuned from a massive IKEA hack!
In addition to installing the wardrobe units, we also mostly finalized the design plan. There are a few pieces that I haven’t quite nailed down, but I’m hoping to do so within the week.
The Bedroom Design
As with the other rooms we’ve completely remodeled in our house, were leaning hard into the New Traditionalist aesthetic for a sophisticated but modern and fun retreat. Starting with the walls, we’re adding lots of Metrie trim: baseboards, crown moulding, casing around the windows and doors, a chair rail and panel moulding on the lowers of the wall. All that trim is going to be painted a medium blue. Yes, blue.
Then, I’m going even further outside my comfort zone with a patterned blue and white wallpaper from Fabricut’s Trend collection, a brand new design from the Vern Vip collection (aka one of my fave TV designers of all time and possibly one of the reasons I’m obsessed with design in the first place).
The Ace light fixture from Troy Lighting is bringing all the modern edge to the room, where it’s mix of brass, black and white globes is everything I look for in a light fixture. Plus, with our standard height (read: not tall) ceilings I wanted a dramatic light fixture that was adjustable in height.
For the bed, we want an upholstered bed that slides right under the window, meaning we’re likely going to DIY another bed frame, since the dimensions are pretty atypical and low. I picked up vintage Ming nightstands for free off Facebook Marketplaces that I’m planning on refinishing, where I haven’t quite decided on the color. At the foot of the bed will be this great leather Article bench that has a super slender, modern base that I absolutely adore.
For a rug, we’re adding a jute herringbone rug, with a zebra printed cowhide from Hayneedle. I love adding a graphic cowhide layered over a natural rug for that extra visual interest.
Since we no longer need a dresser in the bedroom, we’re going to be adding a seating area in the corner, with the aspiration of curling up in the corner with a good book (a girl can dream). The Article Matrix chair is going to be the perfect chair for the job and the luxe velvet adds some more texture to the space.
Bedding is still TBD, but I knew this room needed some more edge, so I’m working with SWD Studios on a long lumbar for the bed in one of my favourite fabrics, Kelly Wearstler’s Graffito.
I also worked with Emtek to source door hardware that matches the aesthetic of the vintage knobs we have throughout the house. We’ve slowly been replacing the builder grade brass knobs with character-rich door hardware, and I’m excited for the same look, but with the modern features like a privacy button… it’s the little things, my friends!
I’m still finalizing the art selection with Minted and haven’t yet decided on window shades, but I love the natural bamboo shades (with blackout lining!) that Select Blinds offers, I just need to narrow it down.
Since this was already such a novel of a post, I’m going to leave you in suspense for one more week until I share the design plan for the closet.
Come back next week for the closet design plan, and (hopefully) lots of progress. To follow along in real time, there will be lots of stories on my Instagram Stories. The plan for this week is to start tackling building out the window bench.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Recessed wainscoting was the solution for this space for a handful of reasons:
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.
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
The trimwork would mirror the pencil tile we were planning on adding in the shower.
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
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:
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.
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.
The short wall was the simplest, with just a frame along the outside edges and one middle stile.
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.
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.
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:
Mocked it up in Photoshop to get the rough placement of the tiles
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.
Used a laser level to highlight where the trim lines landed throughout the room.
Here’s where we were at after the first day:
And then the third day:
One more row:
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.
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:
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:
And now, it’s so much more substantial:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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: Claire, Sarah, Natalie, Kate, 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.
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).
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.
Thank you all so much for your feedback on our master suite layout. Over the past week, we made some tweaks to the plan, but feel really good about the direction:
We reduced the width of the bathroom from 5”6 to 5”, which is a standard width for a long and narrow bathroom like this one. Since the space is laid out with all the fixtures on one wall, the 3 feet of egress will definitely still work and not feel too cramped. That large window also helps to keep the room feeling bright and spacious.
We moved the door from the closet to allow for a double vanity. This part of the plan is very dependent on how the joists run in the bathroom once we’ve pulled up the subfloor and is liable to change.
We stole the 6” in width from the bathroom for the closet to allow for hanging on both sides. Since we’re using our original hardwoods, we’re going to have to feather some of the boards we’re pulling up in the original closet to make up the 6” of floor currently tiled in the bathroom.
The dressing area became a bit largerand we have updated the closed storage for everyday essentials and hampers to be deeper for greater storage capacity.
In the bedroom, I reoriented the bed to be on the right wall so we can center it under the window. In order to do so, we’re going to have to cap the radiator there and move it over to the top wall so that we don’t end up trapping all the heat under the bed.
I’m also strongly considering adding a mantle to the bedroom on the wall you enter on to bring some more character to the space. Crossing my fingers I can find a vintage marble one on Craigslist in the coming months.
We feel really good about this plan and are super excited to start demo next week.
And, some inspiration for the direction of the master suite: traditional architectural details meets fun, modern elements with punches of colour.
We’re loving this wallpaper on the ceiling and the blue walls, which we’re going to be doing both in the walk in closet.
One of the huge selling points for us on this house was that it had a master suite (not one other house we viewed had a proper ensuite and walk in closet), but we knew from the get-go that there’s huge potential to make the master suite fabulous. In the existing layout, there’s a ton of dead space, which makes for an unnecessarily enormous bedroom space and a cramped bathroom and walk-in-closet. As part of our plans for the remodel of this space is a complete redistribution of the space to allow for a sizable bathroom, much larger walk-in-closet and more efficient bedroom area. If you want to see photos of our current bedroom, it’s over here.
Below is the current layout:
As you can see, the master suite is large (by northeast standards). The footprint is actually the combined space of the living room and dining room directly beneath it, for some perspective.
Some of the challenges we ran into in rethinking the layout are:
Fixed window placement on the front of the house. That large window in the bathroom can’t be changed, since it matches the others on the facade. All of our plans to split the bathroom and closet on this side of the room ran into the challenging width of the window.
Radiator placement. We didn’t want to lose the heat sources in the bedroom. We do still need to investigate having the plumbers run another radiator into the bathroom, since there isn’t a heat source in there and it gets cold in the winter! Our planned in-floor heating may be sufficient here though. It’s not in the rendering, but the radiators are beneath the window in that right side of the bedroom and under the left window on the top of the rendering.
Current duct work that routes AC to the sunroom and living room presently goes through two corners in the existing closet.
Key dimensions for the closet: while our walk in closet is large right now, it’s awkward, tight and it feels silly that we only have hanging space on one side and no space for anything else. But to gain hanging space on both sides, we’d need at least 6’ in width, which we can’t find in the room.
The existing plumbing lines. Yes, moving the bathroom and closet to the opposite side of the master suite would absolutely allow us to have side by side closet and bathroom BUT the plumbing stack cannot be relocated 18’ across the space without a very high price tag, ripping up the floors and whole host of headaches. So that’s a no-go.
As of last week, this is the plan we had in place:
Some things we liked about this plan:
The bathroom feels a lot less cramped with the addition of space stolen from the old closet.
The bedroom layout feels clean and simple
The closet has a huge amount of hanging space (the left wall) and drawer and shelf space (on the right side.
In the closet, we’d create a window seat that would hide the radiator and create a moment in the closet.
Some things we dislike about this plan:
We don’t love splitting the bathroom from the closet, since Cory wakes up much earlier than me and would need to walk across the room twice to get out of the house in the morning without waking me up.
The walkway in the closet is tight at 2′ wide. It would feel very narrow in here.
We want to create a little dressing space in the closet with a hook for clothes, a large mirror and a spot to put on shoes.
We lose the double exposures in the bedroom by losing the right window to the closet.
And then, on a whim, I remeasured the current distance from the bathroom to the end of the closet and realized we could get more width out of the closet if we moved it to the other side of the room.
What we like about this plan:
The bathroom and closet are right next to one another, so getting dressed is much simpler.
We gain an extra few inches of walkway space in the closet that will help it feel less claustrophobic.
We still get double exposures in the bedroom with light coming in from the East and South sides.
We get a nicely sized dressing area in the top of the closet in the above floorplan, where we’d add a built in window bench under the window to enclose the radiator. Plus a full length mirror and built in storage for hampers and daily essentials.
What we don’t love about this plan:
We’re a bit up in the air on our feelings about splitting up the double sinks (I have some good inspiration shots below).
Is it strange to walk through the closet? If so, do we need to turn this into a hallway and put doors on both sides of the walk in closet?
We’re losing some hanging space, but we still think we can make it more efficient than what we have now.
The bedroom is laying out a bit strange with the window offset on the wall. I can solve this with a wall of curtains behind the bed or we can move the bed to the right wall, but need to figure out a plan for putting a bed in front of the radiator – any ideas here?
So that’s where we landed! Let me know if you have any thoughts on alternate floorplan ideas – it’s very much appreciated. We’re still not 100% committed.
And some great bathrooms with double vanities:
And walk through closets:
Looking at these, I’m thinking maybe we add a pocket door to the bigger hanging section and leave the right side open to showcase some very pretty built-ins, the mirror and the window seat.
One other note, we debated long and hard how to fit a freestanding tub in the bathroom in addition to the shower and just couldn’t make it work without sacrificing the vanity size (SO important) or shower (also important). What are your thoughts on forgoing the tub?
Week Six of the One Room Challenge™ has been all about tiling the walls. (You can check out past week updates here: week one, week two, week three, week four, week five). Because I’m an overachiever, or maybe just really confident in our skills to figure out how to accomplish the look I’m going for, I ambitiously opted to tile our entire bathroom. That includes the tub surround and all four walls. And did I mention we’d never tiled before?
Excuse the mess in all these photos – this isn’t glamorous work.
The all-over tile really helps to elevate the subway tile. And, I’m very particular about my tile transitions and wasn’t entirely certain of a way to end the tile around our tub, given it’s location in the room in a way that felt elegant.
We have been tiling non-stop since Friday night and since taking these photos knocked out most of the final wall.Serious props to my husband, Cory, who kept us going on tiling, despite me nearly throwing in the towel more than a few times.
In the original room, the window trim butted right up against the wall, which would make tiling around it really awkward. We ended up sourcing new trim that was 2 1/4” wide instead of 2 1/2” wide that allows for just enough space to slide the tiles behind the window trim for a much cleaner and more intentional look. They don’t, however, make rosettes that are 2 1/4” square, so we ended up using the table saw to slice 1/8” off each side of the rosettes to line everything up nicely. This whole issue gave me some anxiety, but I’m so happy with how we managed to make it work.
For the tile, these are some of the things we’ve learned:
Subway tile comes with built in spacers (called lugged tiles), but I really wanted the grout lines to be more visible, so we used 1/16th inch spacers on the built in spacers, achieving essentially a 1/8th inch grout line.
Start with a super level first row, otherwise you’re going to be fighting to keep your lines straight up the wall. We nailed straight ledges into the wall using whatever we had around (leftover drywall edges, old door trim, etc.) to support our first row. We also started with our second row and are going back to add the real first row after all the tile work is done.
We have an old house and our walls aren’t perfectly straight and that’s a bit visible in the corners. Given that, to start each new row of tile, we marked the center of a new tile with a China pencil and placed that dead even between two tiles below it and then worked out from the middle of the wall to the edges. This means our edge tiles aren’t all consistently sized from row to row, but our grout lines are running straight.
Don’t assume that if you use your spacers that all your corner tiles are going to match up. We did and were surprised when we got to the shower head wall and started tiling from the bottom up, staying in line with the tiles on the front of the tub when the row above the apron of the tub just didn’t line up with the tiles running across the tub. Hard to explain, but constantly be measuring that all your corners and edges are indeed lining up.
If you don’t want to chip your tiles on the tile saw, make an initial 1” cut on one side of the tile, then flip it over and make the full cut through the tile. We learned this fast when we were chipping tiles left and right.
We used both thinset and tile adhesive in this room. Make sure you’re using the right adhesive for the right surface. Thinset is messy and since we were mixing it ourselves (instead of buying premixed) you had some wait time to let it set, etc. On the drywall we used tile adhesive, which comes premixed and goes a long way. We found the tile adhesive to be a lot easier and tidier to work with. Just make sure you wipe down the tiles fast, because it’s hard to remove the adhesive off the tile edges and face.
All in all, while this was an insanely huge task, I’m so happy we stayed on the path to tile all the walls. Given how inexpensive subway tile is, the cost to do all the walls is still very low (I think we spent ~$350 on subway tile) but the impact is huge. I know it’s a tile that’s everywhere, but given it’s historical roots, I do believe it will stand the test of time. Especially applied in a way that is so immersive and detail oriented, it really takes the room to the next level.
What’s really going to finish off these walls is the grout (we’re going with a medium grey) and crown moulding. I know crown moulding is an unusual choice in the bathroom, but I believe it’s going to pull together all the rooms we’ve completed in the house as a cohesive story. Plus it really blends the traditional with the modern in this room.
In addition to tiling, we also painted the door, replaced the door trim, replaced the window trim and painted the crown moulding.
Lest we forget that we have to reveal this room NEXT WEEK. Which means we have a ton to accomplish before then:
Build the niches (which requires a last minute trip to Floor & Decor in NJ, ugh.)
Run the final row of tile along the bottom edge (we’re about halfway done)
Grout all the walls
Caulk all the edges
Install the crown moulding
Seal the grout
Install the light fixtures and fan
Hang the mirror
Install the shower curtain track
Install the vanity and hardware
Plumbers are coming Monday to install all the fixtures
Style the space
Well, this is going to be a sprint to the finish line!
Don’t forget to check out all the other participants here.