One Room Challenge: Spring 2018

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

Meet our newest One Room Challenge™ project: the Master Bathroom. For those of you who have been following along, this is a project we started at the beginning of the year. Coming off of our last One Room Challenge, our Guest Bathroom, my husband asked if we could take our Master Bathroom slow, since cramming a bathroom remodel into six weeks when you’re doing all the work yourselves in your after-work hours is a lot. So, I obliged. And here we are again.

To remind you, here was our last One Room Challenge bathroom:


We hadn’t intended to tackle the Master Bathroom for the One Room Challenge, but the timing lines up nicely and some unexpected setbacks (like my husband taking himself out of commission for a few weeks thanks to overdoing it at a hockey tournament) have made the One Room Challenge the perfect reason to rev up the speed and get this bathroom done.

The vibe we’re going for in this bathroom is a luxe bathroom in a chic European boutique hotel. The room should feel fresh and cool but timeless thanks to classic finishes like Carrera marble and detailed trimwork. Visually, the room should look like the grown up older sibling to our fun but still elevated Guest Bathroom.

As of this current moment, we’ve already stripped the bathroom down to the studs, reconfigured the space, built the new wall separating the bathroom from the closet and bedroom, run electrical, had the plumbers do the rough-ins, framed out the shower niche and laid subfloor. So, that means we’ve essentially got a framed-out room with no walls. So, trust me, we aren’t exactly short-changing ourselves or you guys on how much work we still have left to do on this room, especially when we’re doing all the work in addition to our normal life and 9-5 jobs.

Here’s the master bathroom before we began demo. I’m not going to lie, I’m embarrassed to share these photos with the internet. Yes, this was our bathroom for over a year. And no, we didn’t do anything to try to make it more attractive, since we knew it was all coming out:





And this is where we’re at now that we’ve reconfigured the space and borrowed about 25 square feet from the closet for a shower:

This is the view towards the double vanity that will be on the right (this is where the toilet and short wall of the shower/tub was previously).


And this is the view towards the new space (anything beyond the end of the window), where the shower will be at the end and the toilet will be in front of it on the left wall.


In the coming weeks, we’re going to be tackling:

  • Installing insulation (halfway done) and soundproofing
  • Hanging drywall on the ceiling and walls
  • Creating the shower pan
  • Laying cement board on the floors and shower wall
  • Installing radiant flooring
  • Tiling the floor and shower walls
  • Installing wainscoting throughout
  • Priming and painting the space
  • Refinishing a vanity
  • Installing a floating marble shower bench
  • Installing fixtures
  • Installing lighting

And I’m sure a ton of other things I’m forgetting.

Whew, that’s a lot. But at least we have learned from our enthusiasm and won’t be tiling an entire bathroom, like in the last One Room Challenge™!

We still have decisions to make on all our lighting, mirrors, hardware, towel bars, paint colors, and lots more.  And here’s the mood board, though quite a few things are subject to change.

Master Bathroom Design Plan

You can check out all the other participants on the official One Room Challenge™ site here.


Bedroom throw blanket styling hack

I’ve always loved the idea of a throw blanket at the foot of a bed for an added layer of texture. Not to mention that they are also totally functional when you get a middle of the night chill.

But, every time I added them to my own bed, they always looked flat and underwhelming, both in photos and also in real life. So, my mind was blown when I saw a story on Instagram by Brittany at @brittanymakes in which she layered a duvet underneath the blanket to give it some much needed volume. Instantly, my love of blankets was rekindled.

Here’s an example of the same blanket (in different rooms) without and with the duvet:

It’s infinitely more visually high impact. Plus, it also totally works functionallyI love sleeping in a layered bed, so at night we just tug the duvet and blanket up and we’re good to go.


You can experiment with different sized duvetsours is a queen here, but for a smaller blanket, a twin definitely works horizontally. Brittany showcases all her gorgeous blankets with this trick and they all look magical:



My throw blanket is John Robshaw, and is sadly no longer sold, however, this one, this one and this one would all be great styled at the foot of a bed.

A master bathroom update: the shower

It’s been a little while since I checked in on the master bathroom (past posts are here). While it looks like we haven’t made a lot of progress, we’ve actually made quite a few decisions these last few weeks.

We reworked the shower layout several times and finally landed on the final placement of every fixture. If you recall, our shower is at the end of the bathroom and has walls on three sides. Let’s get into it:

Here’s a rendering with totally different finishes, etc., but can help to envision the space (PS I used this free app)

snapshot-Tue, 27 Feb 2018 02_40_19 GMT.png

1. A floating marble bench

We decided on a floating marble shower bench on the left wall underneath an adjustable hand held shower head (that black bench in the rendering is a stand-in). We picked out a remnant slab at a local marble company and it’s been fabricated to our specs. This wasn’t cheap by any means, but it also wasn’t as expensive as it could have been and I genuinely believe it will bring something special to our shower. This was nearly impossible to find a how to DIY online, so expect a blog post with instructions once we’ve made it to the other side.

This is the bench inspiration:


2. A rain shower head

The rain shower head is going dead center in the shower. It arrived last week and Cory called me down by saying “check out how pretty this is!”. Suffice to say I’ve rubbed off on him and we both are obsessed with good looking shower fixtures. The rain shower was his special request, and I’m not complaining. Don’t worry, there’s a standard shower head on the left wall so I don’t have to get my hair wet when I shower… priorities.

3. Shower niche

The niche will now be dead center on the wall directly in the middle shower. It’s going to be wide at 24”x16”, and I’m much happier with the symmetry of it being on this wall. It will be very visible in the bathroom, but that just means I get to splurge on good looking toiletries amirite? I know this might be controversial, but I don’t love the look of a contrasting niche, so this is just going to be a continuation of the same oversized marble tile.

4. Shower control

The shower control and diverter (which controls the flow to the rain shower) will be on the right wall. I wanted this to be accessible from outside the shower so you can adjust the temperature before jumping in. This control is on an outside wall, so there’s going to be a lot of insulation happening behind here.

5. Glass door

We haven’t quite decided on whether we’re going to do a glass door (that opens both ways) or just a glass panel to keep it light and airy. We’ll probably hold off on making the decision until we see the shower in action.

6. The great curb debate

We’re adding a curb to the shower. This is what I’m most disappointed about because a curbless shower feels so much more open to me, but I’ve admitted defeat. With a 5’ wide shower, we need a slope of 2” or so from right to left, which means we’d need to bump up the floors in the entire bathroom by that much, which would create an awkward transition from the closet and a lot of lost height in the room. Thus, I’ve agreed to adding a curb.

And we decided on a vanity that’s presently hanging out in our garage. We went with a ‘save’ option that got great reviews and looks surprisingly chic for the price and should look even better with new hardware. But if it isn’t quite up to my standards, I figured I could return it and source a higher end one.

Our plumbers are hopefully going to be starting later this week, so fingers crossed that our next update has some great progress photos!

In the meantime, this bathroom in the most recent issue of House Beautiful has me considering a wood vanity instead…


Decorating with gallery ledges

One of the most commented on feature in our home is our wall of gallery ledges. I’m personally, not a huge fan of most gallery walls, where they’re so hard to get right, but ledges are a lot more approachable to me. I love swapping out art with ease without needing to make more holes in the wall and treating the ledges as an ever-changing home for my most favourite pieces of art.

These gallery ledges previously lived in our apartment, where they helped to draw attention away from our TV.


Now they live stacked in the living room of our house. To get the spacing right between the ledges, I measured the frame of the tallest piece I wanted to showcase, added 4-5” extra and divided up the evenly, allowing for a row along the bottom to lean against the wall (and hide a wall outlet).


And I’m constantly changing them up:

One of the best things about the ledges is that I can display art pretty much as soon as it arrives in the mail, by popping one piece out and popping the new one in within a matter of minutes. They’re practically foolproof. When it comes to arranging the frames, I just try to balance colour and medium throughout the shelves and make sure not to have frames of the same size next to one another. Adding in DIY black and white abstract stuff help to add interest without adding colour too.

I also love adding tea lights on the shallow ledges to help fill up some space visually on the more sparse ledges. Bonus: they look great at night with the candles lit.

I get asked all the time about the source of our ledges, and unfortunately they’re a style West Elm no longer carries. But, I did some digging and found some very similar ones here and here.

And because I’m so often asked about the sources of the art displayed in our gallery ledges, from top to bottom and left to right in the below image. A few are originals, so links drive to the artists’ available work.

One, Angela Chrusciaki Blehm | Two, Artfully Walls | Three, Katherine Freeman | Four, Katy Garry | Five, Danielle Kroll | Six, Artfully Walls | Seven, DIY

Since I know you’re going to ask, the metal black gallery frames that I use are these -where, I’d just note that the glass is a bit fragile. This is the oversized frame, that was a great find and looks awesome in person.


For sourcing art, I love finding new artists on Instagram and hunting down pieces on Etsy and Minted, as well as printing off photos from our travels that remind me of  my favourite vacations.


The hunt for the perfect shower curtain

Back in November when we revealed our guest bathroom for the One Room Challenge, I didn’t actually believe we’d finish the room within the challenge time frame, and all my brain cells were taken up by the hard finishes in the space that I improvised and borrowed the shower curtain from our downstairs bathroom for the shoot.

Since then, I spent months trying to find the perfect shower curtain for our drop-in tub. Which, let me tell you is no easy feat. The options on the market for extra-wide shower curtains are few and far between. I actually ordered two before I finally landed on the Goldilocks of shower curtains… which ended up needing to be custom ordered (this one—it was a bit of splurge, but I couldn’t find anything else that was wide enough and long enough).

Here’s the new curtain:


Compared to the placeholder I previously had in here, it’s so much better.

Let’s back up for a second and answer the question of why we opted for a shower curtain over a glass enclosure:

  1. This is a small bathroom, so the ability to keep the curtain open actually gives us a lot more space when we’re standing at the vanity
  2. We installed a soaking tub in here, so being able to take a long bath without feeling glassed in is more relaxing to me
  3. Glass is expensive! We wanted to give a curtain a go in here first, to see if glass is actually necessary.
  4. We kept a tub in this bathroom for resale purposes, so we could in the future appeal to families, and a non-glass enclosure seems the most family-friendly for bathing kids.

And now for the attributes of what makes a great shower curtain (in my books, at least):

Luxe feeling fabric.

The reason why several of the previous curtains didn’t work out is that they felt plasticky to me. It’s easy for a shower curtain to go wrong, and so many of the options on the market don’t feel high-end to the touch. This is actually a fabric you touch ever single time you shower, so make it feel nice and luxe. Look for fabrics with 50% or lower percentages of polyester. The one we ended up with is Matouk’s Birdseye Pique that feels amazing when you grab it, despite having  some polyester in it, which is what makes it more easy-care and durable.

The right length.

Previous photos of the tub in here drive me crazy because the curtain is so obviously way too short. We were running low on ball chain to hang the curtain from so we did as best as we could, but I always knew it wasn’t quite right. You want your shower curtain to almost graze the floor, where possible. The taller the curtain, the taller your ceiling’s going to look, so make sure to nail the height. You don’t want it pooling on the floor because that’s a tripping hazard and you could end up with the fabric sitting in water or getting quite dirty, so make sure to hem it if it’s too long.

Hang your rod nice and high. Just like window curtains, you want to elongate your space. In our bathroom, we forgoed a rod in favour of a wall-mounted track that added some unexpected detail to the room, but kept our curtain high. If you hang your rod nice and high, your standard 72″ tall shower curtain will be too short. Depending on your ceiling height, you should be looking for 84″+ curtains.

Simple look.

Think about how you can use a shower curtain to elevate your space – just as beautiful fabric elevates any other space, it can help make a bathroom feel high-end. White is always a good idea, as is a rich, grey linen. I also love the addition of an embroidered border detail to amp up the glam. I do find that patterned or kitschy curtains become tired fast, so stick to the classics.

Here’s a round-up of the extra long shower curtains I came across in my searches that weren’t extra-wide, but I desperately wished came in the right size:


  1. Diamond Matelasse Curtain 2. Pebble Matelasse Curtain 3. Embroidered Border Curtain 4. Italian Hotel Stitch Curtain 5. Jacquard Shower Curtain 6. Vintage Washed Belgian Linen Curtain

Trending: Burl

For years, I’ve been obsessing over the organic visual texture that burlwood brings to a space. I can’t get enough of the natural pattern and love that while it’s become trendy (so, it’s more easily sourced), it still hasn’t reached Homegoods levels of full-blown trendiness.

And if you have ever wondered ‘what is burlwood‘? It’s actually made from the burls (the large lumps) that grow on the trunks of trees when they’re under a lot of stress. The burls are cut off the tree, but the tree doesn’t need to be cut down to use the burlwood. Typically burlwood is applied as a veneer to the outside planes of a piece of furniture.

I love that burlwood adds an edge to any space, but is also quiet enough that it’s easy to mix in. For instance, in this vignette, it adds a heavy dose of organic warmth, but the rounded shape of the burl stool contrasts nicely with the very graphic painting.



This console table is everything in Noe Dewitt’s NYC apartment.


In this entryway, the burlwood console table brings depth to a high-contrast neutral space. The vintage rugs also add to the layered look.

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Make an entrance ✨#burlwood #antiquerugs #frontdoor

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I’ve been obsessed with this dining room by Pencil and Paper Co. for months – while there’s a lot of pattern going on in this room, the lines of all the furniture are actually very simple.


Pencil and Paper Co.

On a more traditional piece of furniture, the burlwood complements the rounded curves of this vanity without adding other ornate carvings to the wood.


Daryl Carter in Elle Decor

In my house, I have a mix of vintage and new burlwood pieces, and I love that each one feels unique because the pattern of the burlwood is never the same. Below are some of my favourites that are available in stores right now (several of which I own, namely the trays in both sizes and the boxes).


  1.  Trays 2. Nightstand 3. Dining Table 4. Boxes 5. Coffee Table 6. Side Table 7. Mirror

Tips and tricks for shopping Craigslist like a pro

Recently, I was asked about my favourite source for furniture and the only response that came to mind was “does Craigslist count?”. Over the past few years of my Craigslist obsession, we’ve amassed a lot of great finds and now, the majority of our furniture, lighting, rugs and more have been discovered through trusty Craig.
Before I get into how to find great pieces on Craigslist, I first want to touch on why it’s my go-to:

1. Unique finds

The key to a layered and collected home is vintage pieces that create depth. Even more, there’s nothing more special than knowing you have a piece that can’t be purchased by everyone. I don’t tire of vintage pieces at the same speed as new items purchased in a retail shop, because the only place I see them is in my own home.

2. Budget friendly

You could go to Ikea and buy a dresser, or for the same amount (or often less!) you can buy a vintage dresser with character that is probably better made and more likely to stand the test of time. We moved from a 700 square foot apartment to a 2,100 square foot house and spent a few hundred dollars on Craigslist initially furnishing the extra space. We could have easily spent tens of thousands buying the same amount of furniture from retail stores. Also, factor in that you aren’t paying tax or shipping and Craigslist almost always comes out as a very good deal.

3. Instant gratification

Guys, I like things fast. And nothing fills my love of immediacy like Craigslist, within a day you can have a new (to you) piece in your home.

4. Freedom to try something new

The often low cost means you can try something out and take a risk on something that you otherwise might not try out if the cost was higher. Plus, if you’re smart about how much you pay initially for the piece, you can often resell it for the same amount (or more!) making Craigslist finds essentially free… or so I tell myself.

5. Durability

If it’s a vintage piece that’s been around for 40 or more years, chances are it will stand up to my abuse. The worst feeling is when you get that first scratch or ding on something brand new. But with vintage pieces, those marks just add to the character and patina of the piece.

6. Story

Every vintage piece in our home has a story (my husband is reallllly good at becoming besties with Craigslist sellers) of how it came into your home and that’s great a conversation topic, especially when you have guests over.

7. Environmentally friendly

As a Canadian, I’ve been raised to think a lot about consumption and my impact on the environment. Reusing furniture is a great way to minimize your carbon footprint and keep pieces from ending up in a landfill.

Hopefully I’ve now convinced you to join my love of all things Craigslist, so now it’s time to talk strategy:

1. The most important tip I can give you is to check daily. I can’t even tell you how many times people have told me they searched once and didn’t find anything good. It doesn’t work like that. Most of the stuff up for sale is garbage, honestly. If you want to find great pieces, you have to commit to searching at least once a day. As one of my friends says “Craigslist is a lifestyle”.

2. Use an app to save searches. I use this one (CPlus for Craigslist) and it’s SO much easier to use than the actual Craigslist site. Save searches and set alerts on things you’re actively looking for so you never miss out. You can save items that you might still be thinking about and watch if they don’t sell.

3. When you find something you want, contact the seller immediately and be prepared to be flexible about when you can go see the item. If something is good and priced right, it will sell fast. You need to be the first one to see it, which can sometimes mean moving around your schedule to be the first in line.

4. If something is priced higher than you want to spend (and higher than you know it will sell for), lowball them and if the seller says no, tell them to contact you if it doesn’t sell for what they’re asking. I’ve gotten several pieces this way, because at some point the seller just wants to get the piece off their hands.

5. Don’t forget to browse everything that’s available. A lot of people do a poor job at describing the product they’re selling, so it may not appear in your searches. Think about alternate ways to describe an item and use those keywords in your searches.

6. Don’t limit yourself to only vintage finds. Often, I’ll search for products I’m about to purchase online to see if they’re up for sale, including lighting or bathroom fixtures. People sometimes miss return windows and resort to selling on Craigslist even when things are new in box.

7. Don’t be put off by poor quality photos, some of my best finds have been ones that were so poorly shot but with some searching on google I could find shots of how the item really looks. Bad quality photos are often to your advantage as a buyer since most people won’t stop to look at them.

8. The wider you cast a net geographically, the more you’re going to find. But, of course, you also have to travel that distance to pick it up. Most of our finds are fairly local (within 40 minutes of our house or my husband’s office), but sometimes if there’s something reallllly special, we’ll make a daytrip out of picking it up.

8. Having lived in New York, I know that the bedbug fear is real. Be smart when buying upholstered pieces and inspect carefully. Check the seams for dark marks, which often gives away the presence of bugs. Also think about where the seller lives and their attitude when you’re looking at the piece (e.g. if you’re headed out into the suburbs for the pickup, bedbugs are scarcely a problem).

9. Sometimes what you actually want on Craigslist comes as a set with some other furniture, so consider if you can resell the rest of the pieces to reduce the cost of the piece you really want. For instance, twice we’ve purchased dressers with matching mirrors and have cleaned up the mirrors (either literally by cleaning them or by painting them) and resold the mirror for a significant portion of the original price of both pieces together. In one case we sold the mirror for the same as what we paid for the set. Occasionally you have to accept that one piece may need to be given away for free, which we did with the desk that came with a chair we wanted.

Some of my favourite items to search for on Craigslist include:

  • Dressers
  • Rugs
  • Light fixtures
  • Desks
  • Chairs
  • Bathroom fixtures: faucets, vanities
  • Dining tables
  • Art

And some of my favourite Craigslist finds:

Those sconces and the Serge Mouille reproduction ceiling light are both Craigslist finds.


Both sets of dining chairs, the IKEA rug and the Milo Baughman glass dining table are all c/o Craigslist.


That painting (that everyone obsesses over, as do we!) and the campaign dresser, which we refinished in white are both Craigslist.


That vintage rug is a Craigslist score.


This Henredon olive burl dresser is from Facebook Marketplaces (same principles apply), the ceiling light is Craigslist (or you can buy your own here).


This Louis chair was a Craigslist find that we reupholstered in Deconstructed Stripe by Miles Redd for Schumacher.


That vintage rug is Craigslist.


Both the brass trunk and pink club chairs are Craigslist – the chairs we had reupholstered.


The brass faucet was a Craigslist score.


The faux bamboo dresser was also a Craigslist find.


And that Milo Baughman brass etagere was also a Craigslist score.


Happy hunting!

Design Process, Part Two: Master Bathroom

See the first half of this post over here.

Step Six: Pick your finishes and furniture.

Finally, we’ve arrived at the part you typically think of in designing a space. Here, you want to think about texture and how all the materials are going to interact, in addition to colour.

Knowing the color scheme I thought through a handful of different ways I could execute on marble, white, black and brass. Plus, incorporating the themes that spoke to me in my inspiration photos.

Just to insert a quick anecdote: I actually mapped out the design plan for this bathroom on a Chinese takeout menu that I found in my purse when my phone died a few minutes in on an hour-long train ride. Sometimes you just need to force yourself to sit down and think without the distraction of electronics!

Design Option One: Carrera marble herringbone floors with white subway tile walls and the addition of some more traditional elements like cove tile to finish at the floor. Maybe add in a black inlay tile detail.

Design Option Two: Black Nero marble floor with carrara marble subway tile in the shower.

Design Option Three: Carrara marble herringbone floors with same herringbone marble continuing up the walls of the shower

Design Option Four: Carrara marble herringbone floors with carrara subway tile in the shower

Design Option Five: Carrara marble herringbone floors with large format marble tile in the shower and a trim detail

And that last option, finally nailed it. It hit on all the high notes: not too expensive, interesting detail, classic aesthetic. I also wanted to avoid using subway tile in the master bathroom, to allow this space to feel more elevated than the guest bathroom. Plus, we added in some panel moulding on the walls to create interest throughout the space and landed with the below design board.


I’m still playing around with the vanity area by thinking through some different coloured vanities and types of sconces, but really happy with the direction. I love the idea of continuing the moulding theme throughout the room and creating an art moment on one end of the bathroom (opposite the shower). Here’s a few alternate vanity / sconce combinations I’ve been playing around with:



What do you think?


Design Process, Part One: The Master Bathroom

Over the past few weeks, we’ve completely demolished our master bathroom and walk in closet. I know most people find this part of the process terrifying (and it IS scary to see something that was livable become completely uninhabitable), but this is the most exciting part for me: starting with a clean slate, where the possibilities are endless.

Since designing any space can be daunting, but a bathroom especially, I’m going to take you through my process. Hopefully this is helpful for any future projects you have upcoming. I find it easiest to break everything down into digestible steps.

Step One: Identify the current friction points for the space and compile a wishlist for the new space.

Some questions I ask in this phase are below.

Q1. How is the room currently functioning for us? Where is there friction in the space?

The room is not functioning well for us: the single sink makes getting ready together on the weekends difficult, we never use the tub in here, the layout feels really tight and claustrophobic, the lighting is very aggressive, and we don’t have enough storage so our products are always on the counter. We often find ourselves trying to navigate around each other when one person is standing at the sink. Oh, and we don’t have a heat source in this room so it’s very cold.

Q2. Given what isn’t working in the space, what’s our list of essentials?

  • A double vanity to allow us to each have our own space to make getting ready together more efficient
  • A walk in shower that feels luxurious and grown-up
  • A more open layout that allows the space to breathe and facilitates flow throughout the room
  • Thoughtful lighting throughout the space that’s zoned (e.g. flattering sconces at the vanity, recessed lighting in the shower and dimmable lighting throughout)
  • Storage designed to hide away all our toiletries, hair tools, and towels
  • The addition of a radiator to keep the room comfortable in the winter

Q3. What are the upgrades that would make this room feel really special, but that aren’t necessities?

  • Radiant flooring to add some extra warmth to the space
  • A freestanding soaking tub for the occasional bath
  • A rain shower head in addition to a standard shower head
  • A towel warmer for toasty towels when you step out of the shower
  • Wall-mounted faucets that add a touch of glamour

Step Two: Figure out the floorplan.

You really can’t make any of the fun decisions before determining how the space is going to lay out. Once you’ve got the floorplan and detailed measurements, you can make informed and realistic decisions. Here, you need to think through how you’re going to use the space and how it’s going to flow with the other rooms surrounding.

In order to determine the floorplan, prioritize your list of essentials (Q2 above) and then start thinking through if any of the nice to have items (Q3 above) are viable without compromising your essential needs for the space.

I have a detailed post over here on how we thought through the floorplan for the space. And below is where we finally landed. The area where the shower is located, we stole from the original walk-in-closet, which allowed us to gain a double vanity where the original shower/tub combination lived. Note that in the floorplan below, we haven’t decided yet how the doors are going to open up and will likely invert them so they open towards the master bedroom and not towards the bathroom.


One more note, some floorplan changes are admittedly more costly than others. But, from my perspective, if you’re taking the time and money to remodel a space, the layout is the single thing that can revolutionize the space and make a room work that much better. Plus, once you’ve spent the money to lay pretty new tile, you’re not able to go back and reconfigure a space. This may be a byproduct of lots of small-space living, but if you nail the floorplan, everything else will work so much better.

For instance, our guest bedroom is a space that gets a lot of internet and IRL love, and we also adore the space. But, we made some big changes to the layout in this room (e.g. narrowing a closet door, removing built-ins to free up floor space) that makes us also LOVE living in this space. Without a doubt, we could have skipped over that construction phase, but the room never would have worked properly and the design wouldn’t have flowed so well from my ideas into reality if we were constantly fighting an awkward floorplan.

When you’re thinking through the floorplan, also think about the smaller details that tie back to the functionality of the space. Sometimes the answers will mean small tweaks to the layout and may have a domino effect of changes. But, these details are critical to how you’re going to use the space. The questions I asked for the bathroom include:

  • Where are the towels going to be hanging when I exit the shower? In my case, I need to shorten the depth of the shower slightly to create enough space to mount a towel hook on the wall between the shower and the window.
  • Where’s the toilet paper going to be mounted? If we’re doing edge to edge glass on the shower, I’m going to have to get a freestanding toilet paper holder. Or potentially it can be mounted on the wall beside/behind the toilet. If we aren’t doing edge to edge glass, then I can mount it on the wall that contains the shower.
  • Where am I going to flip the switches for the room? They should be the first thing you access when entering the room, so they will need to go above the toilet, to the left of the doorway. This means we can’t have the doorway swing to the left, and should just have it open into the closet.
  • Which way is the door going to swing? See above.
  • Where are the outlets going to be when I’m at the vanity (and are they in compliance with code)? We need one in the vanity itself for hair tools and other small electronics, and another one to the left of the vanity on the adjacent wall, and likely one near the right sink. Code requires you to have one outlet per sink, within 3 feet of the sink and either on the same wall as the sink or on an adjacent one (but not an opposite wall).
  • Where am I going to charge small devices (e.g. electronic toothbrush or razor)? We’re going to add an outlet inside a vanity drawer for charging those devices and keeping them out of sight.
  • Where are the toiletries going to live in the shower? We’ll add a niche with a shelf in the shower on the same wall as the shower head.
  • Where are you going to turn on the shower? Ideally, we’d like the control for the shower to be on the wall where you enter the shower so you can let it warm up before stepping into the water.

Step Three: Determine the vibe for the room.

What words come to mind when you describe the room? For our master bathroom it was: calming and glamorous. And combining that with the overall bones and vibe of our house, for cohesiveness I added in classic with a modern edge. So the goal is now for the finished room to be described as: A glamorous retreat that’s classic with a modern edge.

Step Four: Determine a color scheme for the space.

Make sure to consider how this room is going to interact with the adjacent spaces, and any other similar rooms in the house. For bathrooms, I like to repeat colors and materials within the same home where possible for cohesiveness. Don’t feel the need to make them twins, but they should feel related.

So, in our case, I want to repeat the marble, matte black, white and brass. But, unlike the guest bathroom that feels more playful, this should be more grown-up and adult. Also, knowing that I’m going to be painting the walk in closet blue all-over, which is how you access the master bathroom, going neutral in the finishes and then layering in more colourful textiles and accessories that relate to the walk in closet will be crucial. Additionally, I’m going to repeat the same hardware in the closet as in the bathroom to further link the two rooms together.

Step Five: Gather inspiration

To be fair, you should start gathering inspiration from the start, but make sure that before you’re finalizing finishes that you’ve edited that inspiration down to your absolute favourites and that they tell a cohesive and tight story.

This is my inspiration and some of the things that really speak to me about the images and how it relates to my own space, in addition to the trends I’m seeing across the photos:

The location of this shower is identical to our bathroom and I love how open it feels with the glass running edge to edge. I love that the floor is seamless and how the curbless shower makes the bathroom feel so much more expansive. I also love the black floors, but I worry about how masculine they read in the bathroom and how that might impact resale and potentially make the bathroom feel smaller.

I love how the herringbone pattern continues up the wall in this bathroom, but I worry that it might not look quite as classic and true to our house’s 1940s bones. There’s that cubrless shower floor again and I still love it.

Clearly I’m loving oversized herringbone floors. How bright this bathroom feels and the trimwork on the left wall feel really true to the rest of our house. I’m loving how timeless this design feels.

I love how luxe this shower looks in Danielle Moss’s bathroom – the niche is gorgeous, the lack of a door is also similar to what we were thinking, as is the control on the opposite side of the shower head. The marble elongated subway tile is really speaking to me. I also love that rectangular drain and that she sunk the shower instead of adding the curb to keep water out of the bathroom. These floors are also a showstopper.


And here’s the second half of this monster post, including the design board.

The 2018 Project List

To kick-start the new year, I love sitting down and creating a (mostly realistic) list of projects I’d like to accomplish in the coming year. You can check out last year’s list here, and an end of year recap here. I expect priorities may shift, but it’s always nice to have a roadmap to guide the year. Here goes…

1. Master bathroom

As I’ve shared previously, we’ve already started tackling the Master suite. I’m breaking up these spaces since each one is going to be a heavy lift and we’ll be tackling them one at a time, for the most part.

2. Refinishing the upstairs floors

We’re breaking up refinishing the floors into two stages (upstairs and downstairs), so we can shuffle furniture around and minimize the time we need to move out of the house (I hear the fumes can be awful). Before starting on the walk in closet, we’re going to need to feather some additional hardwood in since we’re stealing some width from the master bathroom, so it feels like the right time to complete all the floors upstairs at once.

3. Master walk in closet

This is going to be our first feat in woodworking and I’m pretty excited. It’s no secret that I’m obsessed with organization and despise clutter, so planning out a closet that’s incredibly functional but also beautiful is a very rewarding project.

4. Master bedroom

Now that we’ve moved into our fully decorated guest room, I realize how amazing it feels to wake up in a space that makes you feel happy. I’m so excited to recreate that feeling in our master bedroom, and to design a space that starts every day off right.

5. Office

Since this is the final space to tackle upstairs, it’s about time I gave it an overhaul. All the changes in here will be cosmetic: new lighting, paint, crown moulding and new furniture. We also need to figure out some creative storage solutions for this little space, since it’s pretty dire. Right now, it’s become my husband’s interim closet, so it’s feeling even more cluttered and claustrophobic than ever. Here are some sad photos of the space for reference. Just imagine a large hanging rack and lots of clothing bins in here now. And about 5 lamps on the floor. Yeah, no bueno.


6. Main beam and upgrading joists

One project that we meant to tackle last year, but just didn’t get around to was replacing the main beam with a steel beam. Currently, it’s wood and supported by many semi-permanent lolly columns, but installing  a permanent solution will give us peace of mind.

7. Removing the wall between the kitchen and dining room

The first time we toured our house, we recognized that while there’s a lot of open space downstairs, the real game changer would be opening the kitchen up to the dining and living room. Bundling installing the steel header beam in the kitchen with the main beam will save us some engineering costs, so we’re planning on doing them all at once.

8. Widening the doorway to the sunroom

After a lot of debate, we’ve decided that the most economical but also high impact way to integrate the sunroom into the main floor is by opening up the doorway into the sunroom by about 2 feet and running the same hardwoods into the space as the rest of the main floor. We went back and forth on this one a lot (widening the doorway v. completely opening up the sunroom into the living and dining spaces with a beam that stretches the width of the house), but sometimes you have to do what’s right for your real estate market and bank account. There’s a lot of value in having a bonus space that can serve as an office space or playroom, so we’re sticking with that.

For reference, you can see how narrow the doorway to the sunroom is currently in the below shot. Please excuse the not great quality shot, it’s the only one I have on hand of this angle. The dining room is to the right of that door frame, and the width of that wall is 25 feet for reference.


9. Kitchen

This is a controversial one. The previous owners redid our kitchen just under a decade ago and it’s nice. But… it isn’t exactly the most functionally laid out and it feels different from the rest of the house. A lot of the finishes that were used (read cheap MDF cabinets) haven’t held up terribly well, aren’t our style, and detract from the house aesthetically. We love cooking and the kitchen is a super important place in our home, so creating a space that brings us joy and unifies the house visually is a priority. We don’t expect to finish the kitchen by the end of next year, but definitely have the plans ready to go and be in the initial phases.

For reference, here’s our current kitchen (looking about as good as it’s ever looked). I don’t yet know if we’ll be painting the cabinets, refacing them or going down another route. The cabinets are definitely not high quality and they haven’t weathered daily use super well, so TBD on what’s going to happen in here. What I do know, is that I’ve mapped out a new layout that’s pretty different from what we have now, so we’ll be figuring out how to achieve that plan. Also, did I mention the revious owners laid engineered wood over what I assume is tile so there’s a step up into this space from the dining room? Our plans may change once the wall is down, so we’re going to keep our plans in here fluid. Regardless, it’s going to be all about making this space cohesive, functional and beautiful, no matter how the plans shape up.


Here you can see the wall that will be coming down.


There may be some other projects that sneak onto this list (e.g. the laundry room) or that aren’t big enough to warrant being a major project (e.g. finally getting around to painting our window frames black), but I’m excited to see how much we can accomplish in the coming 365 days. And on another note, I’m also going to hold myself more accountable to posting here more regularly, so stay tuned for more content.

Let’s do this, 2018!