One Room Challenge: Master Bathroom, Week Four

If you’re new around here, a year and a half ago my husband and I purchased our first house: a 1940’s Colonial located in a very cute coastal Connecticut town. We’ve been tackling remodeling the house room by room, where we’re always looking for ways to add equal parts function and character into our house. Catch up on Week One, Week Two and Week Three.

This week was a huge one.  We accomplished a ton: laying the radiant coils for in-floor heating, pouring self-leveling concrete, tiling the floors and ordering all the remaining items on our list (flushmount lights, a sconce, vanity hardware, switches, recessed lights, toilet paper holder, and more).

Let’s dig in.

Laid the radiant coils

We love having radiant in-floor heating in our guest bathroom and knew that including the heating in this bathroom was a must (both for our own benefit and for resale value). We used the same system as last time and it went more swiftly this time since we’d learned some tips and tricks:

    • Plan a channel for the wires to enter the wall for the radiant controller. By this I mean, drill a hole into the wall right at the level of the cement board for your wires to enter the wall where your temperature controller will live to avoid any awkward bumps in the floor or wall. Once you pour your self-leveling compound this channel will completely disappear.
    • Use a staple gun to secure all the wires to the floor and then go back with a hot glue gun to make sure everything is very secured. What you absolutely do not want is any of the radiant coils to float in the self-leveling compound, because otherwise you’ll have uneven heat dispersion and cold spots on your floors.
    • Make sure your heating coils make it to all the places where you might be standing, especially in front of the vanity, the toilet, entryway and the shower.
    • Install two temperature sensors in case one of them might fail, where it’s a lot easier to open up your wall and attach the alternate sensor if things don’t work quite right than it is to remove your tiles and track down the original sensor.
    • Test your coils for electrical resistance at every step in the process so you catch issues if they happen as quickly as possible. We use this multimeter, it’s an essential for any electrical home DIY and is super inexpesnive.
    • We opted not to use a wifi enabled controller because it didn’t feel like it was worth the cost, given that radiant floors take some time to heat up, so they are best left on a daily schedule than turned on on-demand. We’ve set ours to turn on at 5:30A so the floors are semi-warm when my husband wakes up and then reach peak temperature (82 degrees) at 7A, when I’m typically hopping in the shower. Yeah, that makes me sound spoiled ha.

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Poured self-leveling compound

We used spare cardboard to create dams around the toilet flange and radiator pipes, and then ran a bead of plumbing caulk to ensure they were watertight. We also dammed the threshold area with a 2×4 to keep the compound from escaping (with a bead of caulk on the front).

And then, we mixed up the self-leveling compound and dumped it into the room in buckets, starting with the lowest spots first. The self-leveling compound solved for two problems at once: creating a flat surface over the coils and creating a level plane in the room, where we had a slight slope. You pour as much of the compound as needed to fully cover the highest spots. It looked very soupy and ominous at night but by the morning had cured to a fully-flat plane. It was magical.

We used this compound and mixed up two buckets at a time, and once we got started, I’d mix up new batches while my husband spread it over the floor.

Tiled the floors

This was our second floor tiling experience and we went into it a lot more prepared this time around. This was also our first time tiling a herringbone pattern and it took some google searches to figure out where to start, but once we did it was smooth sailing. This is the 3×9 Carrera Bianca Marble tile that we used.

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Some things we have learned:

    • When you’re using a marble or natural tile that has a great range of variance, make sure to pick one tile from each box for a section and then go back and choose another tile per box for the next section. Tiles in the same box tend to be in the same colour family and can cluster together if you aren’t careful.
    • Make all your cuts before you start tiling. We did not do this and regretted it. Because of some scheduling constraints, we wanted to get the floors started as quickly as possible and focused on the full tiles first. We ended up wasting a good deal of time scraping up thinset that had dried around the edges, where we started at the top of the room and worked through the full tiles and then came back to the edges. This seemed efficient up front, but ended up being a big time waste on the back. When we tile the shower floor, in the same herrigbone pattern, we intend to make all the cuts first and then install the full floor at once.
    • Use a leveling system. It may seem like a lot of extra work over the simple spacers, but getting the top of your tiles level is critical. Not only can your surface be a bit off, but when you’re dealing with a natural tile, the depth of your tiles can vary ever so slightly. Plus, add in a varying thickness as you lay down thinset and there are a lot of variables that should be neutralized. You don’t want lippage in your tiles, trust me. We used this two part leveling system (part one, part two) and couldn’t be more happy with it.
    • Set up a laser level to keep your lines straight. You don’t want your tiles veering off center, so the laser helps to keep you aligned. We recently picked up this laser level and it’s been a huge upgrade over our super mini one.
    • When doing a herringbone pattern, you will struggle with where to start the pattern. There’s some math involved in determining the center of the pattern: you need to strike a line at dead center on the room, then measure half the tile width to the right and this is your starting line for your “V”. The “V” is where both corners intersect the line. Once you get the pattern started, you’re all set.

Finalized Lighting

I noted last week that the sconce I had intended to order and had looked to be in-stock a few weeks ago was no longer in stock, so I went back to the drawing board.

I have to give an enormous thank you to all my design friends who sent over so many helpful suggestions: ClaireSarahNatalieKate, and Ashley, you guys are the best. It’s amazing that Instagram has allowed for these connections to happen cross-country and even internationally. Truly, it’s incredible.

Getting back to the issue at hand, let me explain the complex scenario that landed me to the final solution: we’re installing a 62″ double vanity that takes up nearly the entire wall (63″), and with the stunning Metrie panel moulding trim that we’re adding directly on the wall, we’ll have an opening above the vanity of only 51″ wide. Which meant that I had four options:

1. Source a very narrow pair of mirrors, one to sit over each sink. The trouble here, is that a lot of mirrors that are narrow aren’t tall. I love a tall mirror and how it elongates the space, so this was becoming problematic. I popped into Rejuvenation and one of the sales staff helped me to find a mirror that was similar to the one I actually wanted to use in the space. The solution was an unconventional choice, but when I went back home and measured, they had given me the internal measurements, not the external, so it wouldn’t have laid flat in the panel opening.

2. Source a wide mirror to be shared between the two sinks. There are two challenges with this option: the first is that I hate the idea of standing at the sink and maybe not being able to look in the mirror because it isn’t wide enough to reach to the edge of the sink. The second issue, is where does the light fixture go?

3. Suspend mirrors. My husband nixed this one immediately, but I do think it could have been quite cool to suspend the mirrors in front of the paneling (either vertically from the ceiling or just bumped them out in front of the panel moulding, mounted on the wall). This solution could have been cool in a more modern style home (I’ve seen it done in front of windows and it looks awesome). But, the other challenge is also that given the placement of the vanity in the room, you would have frequently seen the side profile of the mirrors, which would have made for a bizarre view, in my opinion.

4. Install a custom mirror to fill the entire opening and mount a sconce directly on the mirror. This one I was the most hesitant about at first since it feels so distinctly traditional. I’ve always loved the personality a mirror can bring to the space and this solution was completely devoid of that personality. But, the more I thought about it and the more examples I pulled, the more I came to see the upside to this solution. The first upside being that you get an enormous mirror, which will really open up this space visually. It will also allow the beautiful trimwork to really shine and will feel so custom. I also love the idea of mounting a cool, modern light fixture in a way that is more traditional. This is the approach I’ve used throughout the house with our ceiling medallions + modern fixture combinations, so I’ve come to really, really love this solution.

Here are some examples:

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Feasby and Blecks
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My Paradissi
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How to Decorate

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:

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Emily Henderson

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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Master Suite: Updated Plans

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:

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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. The dressing area became a bit larger  and we have updated the closed storage for everyday essentials and hampers to be deeper for greater storage capacity.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

Another pop of blue with a built in bench, also inspiration for the closet.

I desperately want to add a (non-functioning) fireplace mantel to the bedroom and replicate that herringbone marble in both the mantel and shower.

Introducing: The Master Suite

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:

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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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Current duct work that routes AC to the sunroom and living room presently goes through two corners in the existing closet.
  4. 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.
  5. 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:

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Some things we liked about this plan:

  1. The bathroom feels a lot less cramped with the addition of space stolen from the old closet.
  2. The bedroom layout feels clean and simple
  3. The closet has a huge amount of hanging space (the left wall) and drawer and shelf space (on the right side.
  4. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. The walkway in the closet is tight at 2′ wide. It would feel very narrow in here.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

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What we like about this plan:

  1. The bathroom and closet are right next to one another, so getting dressed is much simpler.
  2. We gain an extra few inches of walkway space in the closet that will help it feel less claustrophobic.
  3. We still get double exposures in the bedroom with light coming in from the East and South sides.
  4. 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:

  1. We’re a bit up in the air on our feelings about splitting up the double sinks (I have some good inspiration shots below).
  2. 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?
  3. We’re losing some hanging space, but we still think we can make it more efficient than what we have now.
  4. 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:

Jean Stoffer Design

And walk through closets:

Susan Greeleaf in Lonny

Astleford Interiors

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?

 

One Room Challenge: Guest Bathroom, Week Six

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.

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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.

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One Room Challenge: Guest Bathroom, Week Five

Welcome back to our One Room Challenge™ status update (check out past weeks here), where we have taken our guest bathroom down to the studs (we’re overachievers, I know) and are working on building it back up. My husband, Cory, and I have done nearly all the work on our own, excluding the plumbing.

Week Five was without a doubt our most challenging week. It started out easy enough: we primed and painted the ceiling, primed the fresh drywall (apparently it helps with tile adhesion) and painted a waterproof membrane over the tub walls and any floor that might become wet.

Saturday, we dedicated to tiling the floor. We spent 5 hours dry-fitting the marble hex tile for the floor, making all the cuts in advance of laying the tile and making sure there weren’t any clusters of marble tones that would make the room feel imbalanced. We numbered every sheet that needed to be laid and relocated them to our bedroom floor for later. While Cory was prepping some of the final tiles, I went on an expedition to track down a marble threshold to replace the one we cracked while demo-ing the tile. Three stores later, and I found a lucky threshold that exactly fit my dimensions and had been cut custom for someone else who never picked it up from this local marble shop in Fairfield County. A 20% discount later since it was pre-cut for someone else and I took that baby home with me. We also had the vanity delivered and now have all the big pieces ready for install, waiting in the garage.

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A not-so-glamourous iPhone photo of us dry-fitting the marble hex tile.

We then spent the afternoon laying the radiant coils for the in-floor heating and got started on laying the tile. Ok guys, I had been so excited to tile and the actual tiling process was the closest to divorce we’ve experienced yet ha. It was really difficult for a perfectionist like myself. The combination of the in-floor heating plus the small mosaic tiles made it so difficult to get the tiles to lay flat and level. We ripped up the tiles multiple times before getting into a groove. 15 hours later on Saturday and we finally had our tiles laid.

We had planned to grout on Sunday but that morning we noticed a handful of tiles that just weren’t sitting quite right and we chiseled them out and replaced them. Again, we did the same thing on Monday night while cleaning out any remaining thinset from between the tiles.

Tuesday night we finally grouted the floors and it was a turning point – the tiles looked great and we got into a really good system for grouting and wiping down the tiles. We finished up by 10P, our earliest night yet working on the One Room Challenge bathroom and relished in having a little bit of time to relax.

Wednesday night we allowed the grout to dry. We chose Polyblend’s Custom Delorean Grey grout and it’s such a nice complement to tones in the carrera marble tiles. We’re planning on using the same grout on the subway tiled walls to tie both surfaces together. I’m going to dive into our decisions for how we’re laying the subway tile in the room next week, once we’ve got it all up on the walls.

This coming week is going to be a big push so we can get the room ready for the plumbers to return to install the vanity and tub. Where we’re planning on:

  • Sealing the marble floors
  • Laying subway tile on all four walls
  • Grouting the walls
  • Installing the recessed shower light
  • Painting and installing the ceiling medallion

And apologies, but pretty photos are pretty lacking this week, these are some shots of our new floors:

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And a tile decision that we’ve been debating for the walls is how to finish the tiles at the floor, since our cove finish moulding isn’t lining up with the outside corners of our tub.

Either finish the walls off in the standard, but totally modern way:

Or soldiering the tiles at the floor:

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To be completely honest, looking at these photos again, I’m pretty certain we’re going to be going with the former option. But totally let me know what you think! There’s still time to sway the vote before the tiles start to go up on Friday.

Check out the other participants here.
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One Room Challenge: Guest Bathroom, Week Four

Here we are at the week four recap of our One Room Challenge™ featuring our guest bathroom (check out Week OneWeek Two, and Week Three). I’m calling Week Four, the week we got sh*t done. After a few slow weeks of waiting on plumbing and other progress-halting stuff, we made a lot of visible progress. Here’s how the week went down:

On Thursday morning the plumbers showed up to make a few adjustments and add some nail plates… all before I finished my breakfast and morning coffee. Thursday night, we laid the plywood subfloor in anticipation of the plumbers coming Friday to set the drains.

On Friday, the plumbers pushed back their start time, until ultimately saying they’ll be postponing to 8A on Saturday morning. We spent Friday night hanging the drywall on the ceiling… wow, that’s an arm and shoulders workout.

Saturday morning we get up at 8A to let the plumbers in. After asking half a dozen times about whether we needed to frame out our tub before setting the drains and being told no… they check out our tub and tell us we need to frame it in first. Cue to me having a panic attack over the timing implications to them not setting the tub that day. We end up agreeing to build the frame within the subsequent hour and a half, so they could return that afternoon. Then we ran around like crazy people building a frame for the drop-in tub that was 100% level and took into consideration the number of tiles we wanted running up the tub enclosure + grout lines + floor tile height, etc in order to get the frame just the right size. It was pretty much like the SATs meets an overdramatized speed decorating HGTV series. We were nailing the last side of the frame in place as the plumbers showed up. They worked at the house all afternoon and I took a break from the chaos to source accessories at Anthropologie. That evening we laid the cement board on the floors with thinset and screws in preparation for tile.

Sunday morning we awoke early again, to tackle the walls. We clad two of the walls and the tub frame in cement backerboard and hung drywall on the other walls. The entire installation process was a giant game of Tetris. Again, lots of math.

Monday evening was dedicated to hanging the last of the drywall. Tuesday night we set about mudding and taping the seams. Wednesday we mudded the drywall and hooked up the radiant flooring electrical.

Whew, I’m exhausted just reading that recap.

Here are the not so sexy photos of the current state of our bathroom.

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I know it doesn’t look like much, but it’s a huge leap forward from where we were just a week ago.

And one pretty photo of our vanity hardware that arrived from Rejuvenation this week, swoon!

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This week, we’re priming the ceiling and walls in preparation for tile, as well as applying a waterproof membrane on the tub walls. And then it’s on to finally laying the radiant floors and marble hex tiles. We have the vanity arriving this weekend and we’re planning on spending the full weekend laying tile.

As a heads up, the One Room Challenge has been extended by a week, so I expect it might just be possible that we can pull this transformation off. Maybe.

Here’s to hoping next week’s photos include our pretty tiles…

Check out the other participants here.
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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.

You can check out the other participants in this season’s One Room Challenge here.

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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!