Sunday, February 7, 2010

Master Bath - The Finale

So, it has been ages since I've posted on my Blog. Honestly, by November we felt drained and overwhelmed with our master bath project, Christmas and a blizzard hit, and our winter here in Virginia continues to be crazy in case you don't watch weather news. We are currently shoveling out of blizzard #2. I was also uninspired due to our camera woes from 09 when two cameras died and the remaining ones were OK at best.

So here we are in February 2010, time to get my butt moving and get back, I hope, to posting with some regularity. Santa was nice enough to bring me a wonderful Cannon Rebel XSi for Christmas which has wiped away my photography depression. I've been playing a ton and have a lovely little macro lens on my birthday wish list this month.

So on to the Master Bath final reveal. This project seemed never ending and as almost all the work was done by my personal at-home contractor, well we can only move so fast or come up with so much funding all at once. We do have one more thing to complete and that is a backsplash, but we'll have more on that in a future post.

This bathroom remodel probably mixes my personal style the best of any room I've ever designed. If you've ever seen my home you'd know that I have a lot of vintage and traditional but I also love to pop in modern elements whenever I find something I like. This bathroom brings traditional (shower, floors), vintage (lights, shower, floor, accessories) and modern (vanity, storage, mirrors, rug) all together in I think a fairly cohesive design. It does not necessarily all go together when you look at the pieces individually, in fact before the vanity was in I was having serious misgivings that I picked correctly and perhaps it just would not work with the shower, but it flows so nicely with the modern and traditional and vintage elements that I really love it all together.

Master Bath Revisited:
Here are some pictures of what the master bath looked like when we first looked at our house - note all the interiors belong to the prior owners.
Looking into the bathroom from the bedroom, note a lack of door, wallpaper galore and carpet!! in the bathroom.
The double vanity with 80"s cabinet and hardware. The mirror is nice and large but no medicine cabinet. You can see the shower/toilet room from here.
Here is the smaller shower, toilet & linen closet room. We tore all of this out including the wall and closet.
The old double shower with a plastic base and ceramic tiles, the ones with disintegrating wallboard and mold hidden behind them.

As you can see the original bathroom had outdated 80's/90's wallpaper, vanity, etc. The sink and closet area was in one space and open to the bedroom while the shower, toilet and linen closet were in a small room in the back. We pretty much hated it and almost did not buy our house because of this space and the fact the basement was not finished.

The bathroom area is not large at all and is compounded by the fact that the closets share the space. We went through several sheets of graph paper modeling out different floor plans by moving the closets, sinks, shower & toilet in different configurations. We ideally wanted a walk-in closet separate from the bathroom, an overall bigger bathroom, and to make it separate from the bedroom space with a door. of all our scenarios several required permits due to moving all the plumbing and electrical, some required eating into our bedroom space which I wasn't crazy about and some would have used the existing washer/dryer space behind our bathroom requiring those to move inside the closet or down to the basement, again neither of which I was crazy about. Additionally the more full demo and moving of walls we would have to do required more $ and more time and potentially contractors and permits. So in the end after a ton of deliberation and input from others we decided to work with the existing footprint and to open up the space visually as much as possible.

The Reveal:
Here is our new bathroom! Even though we used the same footprint the space seems twice as big. We kept everything to their original placement but by removing the wall dividing the shower area , a large bulkhead over the sinks and the linen closet we were able to really open things up. Here is a play by play in pictures of what we did:
Long view in from the bedroom similar to the first picture in the post above. We added a door to the bedroom which makes the bathroom it's own enclosed space.
Looking back the other way towards the bedroom behind the new door. We added new pull out closet doors with iron hinges and handles - love those! The runner from is a pretty gray blue with bursts of texture, it coordinates with our shower mosaic. I believe this rug is sold out now. The lighting is reproduction vintage schoolhouse lights from They are perfect in the space, clean lines using vintage shapes.
Here was the last wall standing in the shower demo.
My tile guy took the new bathroom approved cement-board to the ceiling and poured a concrete shower pan from scratch - he is pretty awesome. The tiles are all travertine from The Tile Shop, set in a subway pattern on the walls with a mosaic detail 3/4 way up and a contrasting floor. We salvaged the original shower doors by spray painting them to match the shower hardware.
After a lot of debate I took a cue from the 2009 HGTV Dream home and chose engineered hardwood flooring. If you research this there are differing opinions on putting any type of wood flooring in a bathroom but we really wanted a warm look for the floor and we felt continuing the travertine might look too cold and be too expensive. We chose an expensive sound proofing vapor barrier to go under the floor, you can see the blue edge of it peaking from under the floor. We are thrilled with how it looks and don't regret it at all. We chose Bruce Lock n' Fold in Brazilian Cherry.
Here is the floor all done, I was able to find a matching wood cover for our floor vent, you can just see it by the toilet. The long runner and a rubber backed rug in front of the shower protect the floor from getting much contact with water.
The area around the sinks had to be torn down and a bulk head with dropped lights removed so the ceiling would be flat throughout the space. My handy plumber/electrician moved the drains and electrical and added a second outlet so we both have one. New electrical for vanity lights was also added. The drywall presented a number of challenges when we found warped studs were used originally so it went up a bit wonky. At that point we hired some guys who did work on our house when we first moved in to do all the mudding, sanding and painting in the bathroom. That was a huge load off of us.
Here is the new vanity, it is quite modern. It is a floating vanity affixed to the wall and has no legs. It is longer than our old one by 12 inches with raised porcelain sinks. My live-in contractor is 6'4' and I am 5'8" and we always find normal sinks to be too low and troublesome for our backs. We chose this design so we could get the height where we wanted it and we love it - way less stress on the back. The vanity is all hardwood (we tested that by drilling holes through the insides for the pipes - serious hardwood!) and was purchased from as a set with the faucets, medicine cabinet mirrors and shelves all together. If we were purchasing these items separately we would have bought the hardware in an iron finish to be cohesive with the rest of the space but for now we are living with the polished chrome, secretly I kind of like them. The pretty blue jar is made of recycled glass from Spain.
2 of 3 closets. The first is my hubby's, mine looks pretty much the same except with an extra pullout basket, all 3 have a high shelf that is not visible in the pictures for extra storage. The second picture is the 3rd closet which is 60% clothes (long hanging and shelf items) with 40% for a linen closet. Having the 3 spaces in the end works much nicer than a walk-in closet. We each have our own space and the closets aren't even full yet so the organizer system worked wonders. I reviewed custom companies and came close to choosing as their materials and designs were very nice. In the end we chose to save money and replicate our design done on the Easy Closet website by using the Lowe's line by Sauder. We did all 3 closets for less than the price of one closet through Easy Closets (California Closets would have been even more expensive). We are very happy with the look and organization and savings we got by doing it ourself via Lowe's. One last step will be changing over to all wood hangers this year, my plan is to get them from ikea. We did this for our daughter's closet and they look great and are very durable.

So this is the end of the review, lots of work done and now we have been decompressing and enjoying getting our bedroom back. Wonder what our poor bedroom looked like though all this mayhem? Here is an average day over a weekend when we were working on the remodel. Just keeping it real.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

What To Do With Halloween Leftovers

If you have a bunch of chocolate candy left over from Halloween and are starting to think about tossing it out or bringing it to the office then try this fun recipe instead. When I first saw this post on Noble Pig I laughed and sent it to my resident candy expert and it was declared a must-try.

Please visit Noble Pig for the recipe I used. It is my favorite cooking blog, just yummy home cooking and I have yet to try anything I didn't love off of her site. Click for recipe here.

I used slightly less than 2 cups of chopped candy which included Reeses Peanut Butter Cups, M&M's, Peanut M&M's, Baby Ruth, Nestle Crunch, Whoppers, 1000 Grand, and Butterfingers. You can see the M&M's gave a little color to the cake. The only variation to the recipe is that I coated the bundt pan in cooking spray and sugar instead of flour.

Here is the batter with all the candy going in:
From Food

Here is a slice of the finished bundt cake. This was a real winner and it is fun trying to pick out what melty gooey candy you're eating.
From Food

Sunday, November 1, 2009

No Spending Challenge: The End!

The ghouls and goblins arrived which heralded the end of October. Thank goodness.

I was not able to do the daily posts like I hoped to track everything, so here is the final tally of our attempt at significantly decreasing our spending:

Last Tally for Days 19-31:
Baseline Avg Spending Combined: $1,823.14
Actual Spending Combined: $605.98
Savings: $1,217.16

As you can see we were getting a bit tired in the second half of the month. I give major kudos to those bloggers who have done this hardcore and not spent a dime, it was tough for us. The majority of the $605 was spent on groceries, the liquor store (weekend company!) plus some miscellaneous stuff.

So how did we do overall? It wasn't a total bust though I am a little disappointed in how dedicated we were. Here is the final breakdown for October:

October Tally:
Total Baseline Avg Spending: $4,266
Total Actual Spending: $1,468
Total Savings: $2,797
Original Savings Goal: $3,000 ($203 short)

We spent only 34% of our average spending previously, which is certainly good. We came close to the $3000 target but fell a little short. We paid off 2 bills we wanted gone and that felt great.

Lessons Learned:
1. This is a lot harder than it looks, if you are trying to be strict.
2. Set a firm food budget. For me this was the hardest area to control. I have a very hard time keeping the grocery bill to a minimum mostly because I buy a lot of organics or sustainably raised food which costs more, but I think is worth it. Hubby & kids seemed to be a sense of panic whenever the pantry got too low (like i was trying to starve the family or something). I also just really enjoy food and cooking so I always want to try new things, hard for me to say no!
3. You need to have a plan for the unexpected. We had a few house issues that cost money, not a lot but still things we had to stop and decide what was worth spending money on and where do you draw the line?
4. Everyone needs to be vested in the process. I think we were both pretty good at this, but we probably could have been better at deciding to go really hardcore, i.e. spend less than we did.
5. Plan for kids and their expenditures. We told our kids what we are doing and why and they were sort of OK about it, only whining occasionally. But we had a few times where they had activities costs we were unsure of how to approach. So this is what I did:
Did NOT Buy: school pictures, clothes or shoes, toys. DID Buy: Friend's birthday present for a party, some small special food requests not on the menu, school lunches, 1 school party: tickets & & food. I'm not sure we really tackled this area the best though it could have been worse, I fended off a request for something that costs money almost daily.
6. Be concrete over what is discretionary and what is not. Medical costs hit us a couple times and it wasn't something we planned for but I optioned to add it as a bill and not discretionary. Car maintenance is another area we struggled with (became a bit of both discretionary and non).

The Fallout:
All in all we are really happy we did this, it proved we can spend less and save money. In fact we've been talking about doing this maybe quarterly, January for sure (post-Christmas freeze).
Looking at what we spent what we saved and how tight things felt, we decided to set a goal of saving $1000 a month going forward. I think this is doable as long as we don't go back to our old ways or don't have some big expenditures we are unprepared for. That $1k would be going to an emergency fund to help pay for the things that creep up on us. Also, we are planning on traveling to either Italy or Egypt next year and both options are expensive so we have a lot of money to save up in the next 6-9 months.

Happy Saving!

Friday, October 23, 2009

If You Ever Wonder if There are Still Gypsies in the World

I stumbled across this blog called The Hermitage (a blog of a nomadic couple living in the UK) quite by accident and I was immediately transfixed. I cannot even say for sure if it is the writing style and the way she tells stories about their life, the pictures which are wonderful, or the gypsy-like home they live in, or maybe their nomadic life which is such a far cry from my own. What I can say for sure is that the artwork is wonderfully detailed, whimsical, and yet showing a great depth of emotion. Even if it isn't your taste (it is mine) you cannot deny Rima is incredibly talented.

Please take a few minutes to check it out and just try to imagine yourself living a modern day nomadic life in the UK, could you?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Closet Organizers

As we take the month of October to ponder how to finish the rest of our master bath and closets I am a bit overwhelmed at the closet organizer choices. We were initially leaning toward tearing everything out and adding an Ikea Pax system but the tear-out costs on top of the closet cost is making us think twice. So here is some closet eye candy (well maybe it just all looks sweet to me). Any loves?

California Closets

Closet Tailors

Elfa from The Container Store

Elfa from The Container Store

Easy Closets

Easy Closets as on

Easy Closets from

Space Masters

California Closets

Easy Closets Pantry

California Closets

Portland Closet

This last one is my personal eye candy, would I love to have that closet! Not to mention the shoes and purses it contains...yum.