January 17, 2016

Inspiration – The Family Bath Remodel

Tile Inspiration

I captured the tile pattern above at the Spadina House in Toronto. This bathroom dated from around 1912, and I think the tile border pattern is especially charming. Our house was built in 1928 and for the original bathroom a more classic look seemed right, as compared to the more modern design in the kitchen. The plan for the bathroom is to do a white tile floor with the above rug pattern in black.

For the bathtub we chose not to keep the old cast iron tub. I wanted a bathtub that would be great for taking showers and would also accommodate my tall husband, so the bathroom is getting a new, six foot tub. For the tub surround I had this idea for a jewel box look, where the tile would be a gem color and would become the major accent in the room. After buying lots of sample tiles and browsing tile catalogs, I just couldn’t find the right compromise between cost and color. Instead, the tub surround is going to be similar to the photo below, from a Paris hotel, with floor to ceiling white tiles with a small black pattern. It is modern yet classic, and while not a jewel box, it at least won’t be too strange.

The overall layout of the room is staying the same. The biggest change is switching the location of the tub faucet and drain to the left side and putting in a partition wall to house the new plumbing. With the old cast iron tub, all the plumbing came up through the floor inside the room, but with a modern tub the pipes couldn’t run through an exterior wall, so a new wall was required regardless of drain location. Moving to a left-hand drain gave us the maximum remaining room for towel racks and a little linen cabinet.

Since one of my favorite features of the old bathroom was the trim shelf, I am planning to do white, flat panel, wainscoting to fifty percent up the walls, topped with a shelf. One of my next projects is to plan out the wainscoting pattern, using the golden rectangle ratio to help find a pleasing design, and then come up with a lumber order, putting my woodworking classes to good use.

I’m still not sure on paint color for the upper walls, but am thinking a deep, classic red could be fun. I created the below renderings using Lowes free room builder tool. It’s not a big room, but it can still accommodate a big tub.

January 12, 2016

Beginnings – The Family Bath Remodel

Emerald House BEFORE

Soon after completing the kitchen I started plotting a full remodel of our upstairs bathroom. The photo above is from the realty listing for our house, when college kids lived here. Looking at that photo I’m surprised we bought this house and then we lived with the above bathroom for the past five years.

Things I loved to hate about the bathroom:
– The eye popping retro wall paper, peeling in the corners, with a little mold for effect.
– The fake, printed, wood paneling that even covered the real wood door.
– The tiny, leaking cast-iron bathtub, not fit for showering or bathing.
– The hardwood floors, with water stains.
– The leaky, rotting window, centered in the wall.
– The rusty, dirty medicine cabinet with a rusty light fixture above.
– The ridiculously long time it took to get hot water in the sink.

Things I loved to love about the bathroom:
– Having a bathroom upstairs.
– The little shelf above the paneling that ran around the room.
– The basic layout of the space.
– The retro sink, though not the tiny space it left for resting a toothbrush.

I dreamed of paying a talented team of experts to come in and give us a wonderful bathroom, but when the general contractor quotes came rolling-in, that dream stopped at my tightly held purse strings.

Instead, SB and I have been slowly progressing through the remodel on our own, with some help from a few tradesmen. It has taken longer and been more stressful than shopping it out, but I think the end result will be exactly what we want. Now we just have to see it through.

Original Bathroom South West Corner
January 10, 2016

A Great Kitchen – The Great Kitchen Remodel

Finished layout

After many months of using and loving the new kitchen, I’ve stopped thinking of my kitchen as a small kitchen and simply think of it as a perfect kitchen. There always seems to be the right amount of counter space, even when SB and I are cooking together, something that could never happen in the old kitchen. The drawers and cabinets are never over full, making it feel rich with storage space.

I love all the white with navy blue and the warm wood floors. I love the heat vent that blows across my toes as I stand at the sink. I love the classic tile pattern with soldiers and molding. I still get joy from the splash of warm maple on the inside of the cabinets and the theater lighting inside the oven.

Finished prep wall and sink

All the stress and decisions and self-doubt have faded away. I’m proud of our kitchen, of our design decisions, and of the fact that we paid for it all with cash and our own hard work.

The only regrets and lessons learned concern the floor finish and the grout color. If we had it all to do over again I would have hired a different company to refinish the hardwood floors so that the floors matched the dining room in color and gloss. For the grout, we had narrowed the grout colors down to two grays, one warm and one cool. We went with the warm gray and now we both agree that the cool gray would have been better. But these are small concerns, hardly to be noticed by anyone, even me.

Finished tile wall

A Return to Writing

Iron Work

I’ve missed writing these past eighteen months. The distractions of social networks, work, and volunteering have filled my time but not fulfilled the need to write in my own voice and in my own time. I’ve dusted off the blog (aka, updated the CMS) and reminded myself where I left off. Here I am beginning again.

As I sit in my living room the sound of electric saws fills the air. SB is upstairs cutting notches in floor joists to run the plumbing for our new bathtub. The great bathroom remodel is well underway. Next to me, Miss Lola, the dog reminds me that dinner time is fast approaching.

Since I last wrote here the great kitchen remodel was completed, Zoe the cat passed away at age 17, and we took an amazing sailing trip in Hawaii for my five year work sabbatical. Maybe I will tell you more about these things in the coming months or maybe I’ll just write about the present and future. That’s the beauty of my very own blog, it is only up to me.

  • Eating salted avocados with a spoon in Madison.
  • Blogging since 2003.