One Room Challenge: Guest Bathroom, Week One

For those of you who are new here, a year ago my husband and I purchased our first house: a 1940s Colonial in a cute coastal town in Connecticut. We’ve been upgrading our house room by room and sharing the process on this blog and on Instagram.

If you follow me on Instagram, this may be a complete 180. Up until yesterday I had planned on tackling my office for the One Room Challenge (including the first blog post already scheduled). But, after receiving a call from our plumber saying he could start on our guest bathroom next week, it’s full steam ahead on the bathroom. I’ve posted on this space before, but since we demo-ed the room a month ago it has sat empty. During this time, we were figuring out what we could do with the layout of the space, given the plumbing set up, and getting bids from plumbers. Now, we’re ready to go on building it back up.

Let me introduce you to the space:

 

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The room is just boring… and kind of sad. It was remodeled in the 80s, but as we’ve since discovered, none of the plumbing had been updated. The bathroom is lacking in charm and the layout is just inefficient. For a bathroom with this square footage, we shouldn’t have to settle for a 30” vanity (in a very dark claustrophobic nook). This bathroom also contains one of my biggest pet peeves: a toilet in full view from the doorway.

So, this is our first full bathroom ever. The first time we’ve tiled anything, reconfigured a space, hooked up a toilet, etc. Given this, six weeks definitely feels like a challenge, but we’re all in. I’m going to be sharing each step along the way for any other rookies who are planning on remodeling their first bathroom too. I’m sure we’ll have a lot of learnings along the way.

The vibe in here is going to be a modern meets traditional mash-up, with some glam thrown in for good measure. I want this room to mesh well with our guest room and the rest of the vibe in our 1940s Colonial home, and be classic in materials.

This is the guest room that accompanies this bathroom, so aesthetically they need to work together (more photos here):

 

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What we need to accomplish over the next five-ish weeks:

  • Removing the remaining drywall
  • Re-do the subfloor
  • Re-do the plumbing
  • Re-run the electrical
  • Install additional can lighting
  • Lay a radiant floor
  • Install drywall
  • Build out a base for a drop-in tub
  • Install tile on the floors
  • Install tile on the walls
  • Add trimwork
  • Install fixtures
  • Paint ceiling, trim and door
  • Build a radiator cover
  • Install lighting
  • Install mirrors
  • Install built-in shelves
  • Style out the space (the fun part!)

And I’m sure about a dozen things I’m forgetting.

In terms of selections for the space, we have already got the toilet, faucet and shower head on-hand, the tub and drain en-route and have decided on the tiles for the walls and floor. I will get into the details in upcoming weeks on how we nailed those down. We still need to pull the trigger on:

  • A vanity
  • A mirror
  • Overhead lighting
  • Sconces
  • Vanity pulls
  • Window covering
  • Towel hooks and other bath accessories
  • A vintage rug

And, since my photos so far haven’t been so pretty on the eyes. This bathroom by Christine Dovey is a space from which I’m drawing a lot of inspiration.

 

Before and now: the Master Bedroom

Next up on our one year anniversary in our house tour is the Master Bedroom. This room has been a “make it work for now” space, so we’ve used existing furniture from our old room and used it in here. We have grand plans to take this inefficiently laid out space and create a truly master master suite. We do have a pretty basic master bath in here plus a fairly inefficient walk in closet, but there is A LOT of dead space. We have a plan we really, really like, but probably won’t start construction until next year.

The before:

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And the now:

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We can’t wait to get our hands on that fan and to completely reinvent this space, making it as luxe as our guest room. It’s going to be good.

And a sneak peek of the layout we’re toying with right now…

Current layout:

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And the new layout that allows for both a large master bath and HUGE closet.
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Dining Room Before and Now

Exactly one year ago, we moved into our house and it’s amazing to see how far we’ve come (and how far we still have to go… keeping it real). I’m going to begin the status check-in with the dining room, one of the first rooms we tackled in our home.

Here’s how the room was at move-in:

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Since moving in, we installed that bomb art deco waterfall chandelier, brought in character with a ceiling medallion, painted the walls (Paper White by Benjamin Moore), brought in the Milo Baughman dining table, cantilever chairs and the dining chairs from our apartment. We also added the IKEA Stockholm rug and the piece de resistance: commissioned a painting by Zoe Pawlak.

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This space is now happy bright and light.

And some things we haven’t quite gotten around to:

  • Taking the wall down between the kitchen and dining room to REALLY open up the space
  • Painting the window frames black
  • Reupholstering the Milo Baughman cantilever chairs (that fabric is pretty beaten up IRL). Though I don’t know what fabric yet, since none have jumped out at me as being The One.

That list actually isn’t so bad.  But is also one other thing I’m toying around with: swapping out the dining table for a marble-topped oval Saarinen tulip table. We scarcely sit at the dining table when we don’t have guests. The biggest reason we don’t use the table is that it feels very formal, and I’d love for it to be more casual. We had a tulip table in our apartment and used it for every meal, because it felt so inviting and the curves are less intimidating when you’re only two people than the sharp defined edges of the glass rectangular top. We’re still mulling this over, but would love to hear your thoughts.

 

How to make a tufted French Mattress

As soon as I realized we’d have the space for a window bench in our sunroom, I immediately envisioned a tufted French mattress as a cushion. But, upon doing some research, I realized that having them made professionally can be very, very expensive (think $1K+ for a long one), since it’s such a labour intensive process. I’m not one to be deterred by a high price tag and realized that while there aren’t too many tutorials out there for how to sew one yourself, it’s actually a fairly manageable project.

It took us around two weeks from start to finish, working a few hours some weeknights and then a solid weekend morning to knock out the tufting.

To get you motivated, let’s share some after photos and then check out the tutorial on Domino here!

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And how this cushion looked pre-tufting

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I think the charm the tufting brings to the space is undeniable. Check it out!

Introducing: The Guest Bath

One of our bigger projects on the docket for this year is our upstairs guest bathroom. A major selling point for us when buying this house were the three full bathrooms, which most houses in our budget in our area were in the 1 bedroom to 1.5 bedroom range. We love having both a master ensuite and an extra bathroom upstairs, especially when we have guests in town. This bathroom will primarily be used for guests, but we know that when we eventually resell the house, it will likely become a primary bath for a family with kids. So we’re trying to be smart about how we create everyday storage solutions, while also creating an oasis for guests.

My biggest challenge with the bathroom currently is the layout, where it’s bigger than the main floor bathroom, but the layout actually forces us into a smaller vanity and a less efficient use of space. Let’s start with some before photos:

I can’t stand that your first view into the room is the toilet, and when the door is open, this is the first view you see coming up the stairs to the second floor. The toilet also isn’t centered between the duct and the wall, which drives me bonkers.

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While I can appreciate the value in a cast iron tub, this one is just so low and doesn’t make sense for using the tub as both a shower and bath.

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These institutional 1970’s radiators are all over the house and remind me of my middle school, and not in a good way. We’d love to replace the radiator with a charming vintage-looking one, but realistically, will likely create a new cover to go over this one to hide that ugliness.

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Beautiful, amirite? Fortunately, there isn’t anything in here that wasn’t added during the early 1980’s renovation of this house, so I have zero guilt over taking it down to the studs.

And for reference, here’s a floorplan of the current space, where the entire bathroom is about 60 square feet.

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We don’t know exactly how the plumbing is set up behind the walls, so in the event that we demo the room, see that a new floorplan is workable, this is the dream plan. But, given that this is a guest bathroom, where we don’t want to over-invest, it’s going to come down to the numbers as to whether we stay with the current floorplan (above) or shift to the much more efficient plan below (including my notes for things to keep in mind).

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We’re going to be taking down the drywall around the duct right in the middle of that back wall, since it isn’t level on either side, so hopefully we’ll be able to squeeze some more space out of it.

Assuming we stay with the current floorplan, the plan would be:

  • Replace the tub with a drop-in tub with a tile surround
  • Remove the wall between the vanity and the tub and install a glass wall to create lightness and open up the space
  • Replace the vanity with a lighter, freestanding option with a smaller sink but larger countertop space
  • Build shelves over the nook above the toilet for towel and toilet paper storage
  • Replace the toilet with a much prettier, newer model
  • Tile all the walls in subway tile
  • Install in-floor radiant heating
  • Replace or mask the eyesore of a radiator

Not too much, right?

And to leave you with some idea of some of the elements we’ll be introducing into the space (for more of the inspiration, check out this post):

We’re doing a similar drop in tub + glass + tile combination to this:

Black trim + a venetian mirror as in this one:

A pretty freestanding vanity, maybe in a fun, rich color:

Working on the upstairs bathroom project post this morning…. all materials, fixtures, etc are from @allmodern!

A post shared by Kate Arends (@witanddelight_) on

Deep thoughts on sofa layouts

When we moved into our house, we transferred the furniture from our apartment living room to the living room in our house, added a Milo Baughman parsons chair for extra seating and called it a day, knowing we’d come back to it later to refurbish.

We’re not quite ready to pull the trigger and need to make some bigger picture decisions around whether and how we’re going to open up our living room further, but for now we both agree it’s about time for a new sofa (or two!).

My biggest challenge is that I absolutely hate that from the front hallway, all you see of the living room is the back of the sectional. It’s so cut off, not inviting and just isn’t pretty. So, I’ve come up with two potential solutions.

To illustrate the situation (no, I’d never share this angle on Instagram, because I mean…)

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And for the potential solutions:

Solution One: Go bold with the sofa

We keep the existing sofa placement and swap the sectional for a sofa with a stellar back, maybe even a patterned fabric. This layout is ideal for TV watching, but it still feels like it cutting up the space visually.

Some inspiration:

This toile sofa from Pencil and Paper Co. is just so fab.

Or look at the back on this sofa on the left (swoon), Jenny Keenan

Beyond the Southern etiquette, it's in the family room that the true personality of this fun-loving family shines. Joe needed a place for his music, and collection of rock 'n' roll...

Solution Two: Two facing sofas

We add two sofas facing each other, a narrow coffee table and a chair or two facing toward the TV. I’d go with a light solid color on the sofas and bring in color with the rug and pillows. I love the look of two sofas face to face, but I’m worried it’s going to feel like a lot of furniture in one not huge space. I did the math and the coffee table would need to be pretty narrow. Also two sofas equals $$. We’re definitely not opposed to spending it, if it’s going to make the room work, just an important consideration. I also don’t know if this is going to make the view from the dining room (and in the future, the kitchen, more closed off)

Some inspiration:

Ali Cayne’s Townhouse

Living room with two yellow sofas | photo brittany ambridge for domino

Though I’d probably go with a neutral – likely white.

Or mismatched, as in Jenny Kennan’s house

No TVs were allowed in the formal living room, where a more conventional floorplan set the tone for conversation and reading. While the furniture was kept timeless, punchy accents were brought in...

And I love these matching sofas in Paloma Contrera’s living room.

 

And because it’s worth mentioning, we’re opting out of a sectional because this is our only living room / lounge space and while a sectional feels like it adds a bit of space when it’s the two of us, it really doesn’t add much extra seating when you have company over (nobody REALLY likes to sit on that chaise… keeping it real).

Do you have a preference?

The Guest Room Reveal

Many, many months ago (nine to be precise) when we first moved into our house, I had the naive ambition to finish our guest room first. I was so excited to finally have a space for friends and families to stay that I didn’t think through the practicalities: there’s a ton of stuff to do when you first move in, and a guest room is not exactly a priority when you don’t have any upcoming visitors…

So alas, we demolished the built-in bookshelf that was killing the layout and then the room sat for months. Now, the room is finally complete.

You can read up on the process here.

And because no reveal is complete without before photos, here goes:

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And now, for the after photos. By far, the highest impact improvement was the panel moulding on the walls and the epic grey paint (Worsted by Farrow and Ball).

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We were stumped when we went to find a pair of nightstands that were narrow enough for this small space but also airy enough not to weigh down this wall. I love the contrast of the lightness of these vintage plant stands against the solid masculine bedframe.

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The sconces were a great Craigslist find for a fraction of their retail price. And thank you to my husband for figuring out how to wire up all the electrical (ceiling light included!).

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The federal mirror used to hang in our bedroom (and before that over a bench in our apartment) and it helps to create a light focal point on this wall.

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Because it’s infinitely easier to match paint to fabric than the reverse, the initial starting point for this room were these luxe crushed velvet curtains, and about 7 paint samples later we found a near perfect match in Worsted by Farrow and Ball.

We had originally planned on building a radiator box for this 1970’s radiator, but once we got a coat of paint on it, you barely even notice it.

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I searched for months for a dresser for this room and all my inspiration photos were of burl dressers or the Witco tiki ocean dresser. I finally found this one on Facebook marketplaces and it was easily worth the drive to Jersey to retrieve it. Then, two weeks later I stumbled upon another burl wood dresser, also for a steal, at a church tag sale. So now I’m the proud owner of two vintage burl dressers (no complaints over here).

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I was worried that this Serge Mouille reproduction light fixture was going to drop too low into the room, but my husband had a friend at work shorten the vertical poles, so it’s a perfect fit. I love that we now can get light into the corners of the room.

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While I know we removed built-ins from this room because it was a layout killer, I didn’t feel so guilty because we have this little nook on the other side of the room. Painted grey and with upgraded door hardware that actually allows the door to close fully AND that cute little mirrored knob from Anthropologie and this corner shines.

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I love using round mirrors over dressers to contrast the shapes, even more when there’s a rectangle of panel moulding surrounding the mirror. I didn’t want a wood mirror or to replicate the huge brass mirror downstairs, so this Anthropologie mirror lends the right amount of worldly eclectisism to the space.

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Sources

Paint: Farrow & Ball Worsted

Ceiling Light: Stilnovo Hostebro

Headboard: West Elm (we diy-ed the bedframe after finding the headboard at the West Elm outlet)

Sheets: Target

Coverlet: John Robshaw

Nightstands: Vintage

Sconces: House of Troy

Curtains: West Elm

Curtain Rod: West Elm

Art: Vintage

Dresser: Vintage Henredon Scene Two in Olive Wood

Mirror: Anthropologie

Cabinet knob: Anthropologie

Rug: eBay

 

An update on the sunroom

Well, this is turning into a very drawn out makeover, but when the weather turned warm, we shifted our focus to our outdoor spaces. Since I last checked in on this room, we’ve made a lot of progress with building out the window bench, installing electrical and replacing the flushmount lights.

Starting with the bench, Cory built out a base and covered the front with drywall, which we then cut out holes for radiator screens. We painted the radiator screens Decorator’s White to match the rest of the room and used basecap trim to create picture boxes that match our hallways and guest room. Cory brought electrical up from the garage below and installed outlets on top of the window bench to power library sconces. Once we have the cushion in place, you’ll barely know they’re there.

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Inside the bench will be plenty of off-season storage, though since this covers a functioning radiator, it will only be storage space for the spring through fall months. We made the bench nice and deep, so it’s a super cozy place to hang out. Next up is sewing the bench cushion and LOTS of pillows. I ran into a small snag with the fabric, where I wanted a soft grey linen from Loom Decor, but it’s 6 weeks back ordered. So, I’m working to source an alternative. We debated a pattern vs. a solid and at the end of the day, a solid felt nicer in the context of the bold flooring and will be a great base for lots of patterned pillows.

And because there isn’t a whole lot of pretty in this post, I pulled together a little inspiration board for this side of the room. The hanging chair is still a heavily debated topic, please take my side on this one!

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On this board, I worked hard to focus on texture, with a mix of linen, velvet, needlepoint, sheepskin, rattan and brass. Combined with a mix of neutrals, pattern and a bold splash of color, I’m pretty thrilled with the direction this room is headed in.

Inspiration for the guest bath

We have planned since day one to gut both of the bathrooms upstairs and we have finally reached the kick-off for the first one: our guest bath. This bathroom boasts a slightly awkward layout, lackluster 80’s tile and a very institutional radiator, lovely.

We are planning on demolition in July, so this project is sneaking up on us fast. While we’ve been busy working on a design plan, creating a budget and sourcing, I wanted to share some of the design inspiration for the space.

Since this isn’t the master bathroom, we’re trying to be contentious about using materials that will be consistent with the master, but being cost conscious at the same time about where we’re splurging and where we’re saving.

Another thing of note, I know not everyone agrees with me on this, but I’m pretty adamant about using materials that would have been available and common when our house was constructed in 1940 – so that’s ceramic, marble and wood, for the most part. Cement tiles are beautiful, but don’t make sense given that we live in the Northeast in a house that’s 80 years old. I don’t want to fight the bones of the house either, so this should feel traditional with a modern, coastal twist.

We’re going to be tiling all the walls from floor to ceiling in subway tile, because while it’s totally ubiquitous, it’s also 100% authentic to the era in which our house was built. And it’s cheap. Not only are we putting it on the walls, we’re also planning on tiling around a drop-in tub, to really take it to the next level.

bathroom-black-and-white-tiles-industrial-20151207165622-q75,dx1920y-u1r1g0,c--.jpgKali Cavanagh in Domaine

And a version with a subtler grout (the direction we’re heading in).

JHID_Neely0127_F2.jpgJessica Helgerson in Architectural Digest

I can’t shake the idea of hanging a Venetian Mirror over the subway tile. I know it’s impractical to not have a medicine cabinet, but I’m hoping we can figure out some sort of storage solution.

main.original.640x0c.jpgChristine Dovey

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Perhaps to compensate for the medicine cabinet, we might add some glass shelving above the faucet.

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One Kings Lane

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Domaine

Another frequent debate is over the flooring. We originally wanted to do a marble tile, then were lured by the ceramic herringbone that was 1/6th the price, but at the end of the day, I think we’re likely to land up in the carrera marble family in a small hex or basketweave tile pattern.

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Lexi Westergard

Since we’re doing a fully built in tub, I want the vanity to be free-standing (but with lots of storage space) to break up all that subway tile. Though, let’s be real, it will probably not be green, and ours has to be pretty narrow.

Casework

And lastly, I can’t shake the idea of a honed black marble countertop. I haven’t had much luck in sourcing it, so I don’t yet know if it’s within the budget, but seriously, is there anything more chic that honed black marble? No, the answer is no.

Enjoy company

Wish us luck! I’ll dive into the moodboard and a more concrete plan in upcoming posts.

Building an outdoor dining table

One of the appeals when buying our house was the ample outdoor space. But when it came time to furnishing both spaces, our little folding teak two seater table and chairs that fit great on our small patio weren’t going to cut it.

Given that we have a lot of space on our stone patio, we wanted a big table for entertaining and to visually fill up the space. I did a lot of searching and quickly came to the conclusion that:

  1. Outdoor furniture is very expensive
  2. Most outdoor furniture at the mid- and low-end looks super generic and boring

And since we were furnishing the patio on a ‘new-homeowners-with-a-lot-of-projects-to-tackle’ budget, I didn’t want to pay a lot for something that I wasn’t obsessed with. Our starting point was a set of modern, clean-lined washed wood chairs that we found at Homegoods. They weren’t super cheap once you added up the six, so we quickly narrowed the scope of our budget for the table.

After a lot of searching, I remembered that the ultimate diy-ers Yellow Brick Home had built a beautiful table from scratch last summer. So, I presented the plan to my husband who said it was doable and before I knew it, he had already picked up all the wood from Home Depot and had gotten started on making the cuts. We spent a few weekday evenings assembling the base, an afternoon putting the rest of it together and then knocked out painting the table on a Saturday. And because it surprised us, I will warn you that the lug nuts required a ton of manual effort to get in place (thanks Cory!).

All in all, this 10 foot table cost us about $200, including paint and offers us more than enough space to seat eight and even ten, in a pinch.

We followed this plan from Design Confidential to pretty much a T, with the exception of raising the height of the base by about an inch to ensure enough clearance for the arms of our chairs. The table is a replica of a Restoration Hardware table and is simple enough in design to go with a lot of different vibes.

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(Don’t worry we shimmed up those two middle planks so they were even before painting)

For paint, we debated at length what color to paint the table, knowing that we already had wood chairs that would be very hard to compliment. We also used pressure treated lumber, which isn’t great for staining, so paint was a must. Though, I do think this table would look awesome in a natural wood finish.

White won out for a few reasons: there’s a white sort of wash on the chairs so white seemed the most complimentary and it would stay the coolest in the hot sun. Grey and black were close contenders but they would have become much hotter to the touch. We also know that we’re going to have to repaint the table every few seasons, so we can always mix it up in the future. And let’s be real, while I wanted to do gray, I knew it would take me ages to decide on the right shade and summer is practically already here, so we were in a hurry to enjoy it.

For paint, we used Superpaint (an exterior grade primer + paint) from Sherwin Williams in Extra White. We’ve had a small amount of bleedthrough on the spots we filled in with wood filler, but otherwise it went on great.

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We still have a lot that planned for this space, including adding vines to the fence behind to table to break up the expanse of white, and lots of twinkle lights. Regardless, we’ve been taking advantage of this table for every meal at home, or at least we were until it started raining for a week straight.

We can’t wait for all our summer bbqs and to host friends and family around the biggest piece of furniture we’ve ever built.

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