Thursday, July 30, 2015

Budget Bathroom Remodel II

When we bought our house, I knew I'd want to change just about everything, this bathroom included. A recent plumbing leak mandated that it was the next in line for a makeover!

As with everything house project I take on, I did the best I could to keep costs low, but without sacrificing style.
Because of the plumbing problem however, this time it would have to be an actual "remodel" (as opposed to the cosmetic changes I've been able to make with the rest of the house).
Basically, I couldn't just cover up surfaces this time, everything actually had to come out!

First Things First; Wallpaper

Now, don't get me wrong, I LOVE birds... just not so much on old peeling wallpaper. It had to go.

The best method for removing wallpaper (that I found worked) was to:

-First, pull off anything I could using just my hands. Luckily I was able to get most of the top layer off this way.
-Second, I made a mixture of 2 parts hot water, 1 part liquid fabric softener and 2 parts white vinegar.
-Third, I used a rag to liberally apply this mixture to the wall.
-Last, (after letting the mixture sit for a few minutes) I used a paint scraper to scrape off any remaining glue and paper.

Removing wallpaper is never an easy job, but it's worth the pay off! If you have kids, put them to work too. Mine LOVED taking the paper off the walls!


This is pretty self explanatory. 
Chip away old tile, cut away wood rot and remove any moldy sheetrock. This is a fun way to put your trusty sledgehammer to use!

We had to take it down to the studs and floor joists in some places due to water damage. However, if the "bones" of your bathroom are still in good condition, you can probably get away with leaving the sheetrock and subfloor. 

Add In The New

Before to long it was time for to start adding new elements back into the room. We started with the tub.
The old tub was shot, so we opted for a new cast iron tub that is wider and taller than the old one. 

It was super heavy, and getting it into the space wasn't easy, but they did it! Next up, tile...

Tile Tub Surround

Since I wasn't too keen on the "before" tile, we went with something different. 

Tile Before

Close up "before"

To keep costs low we selected large subway tile. It creates a classic style, and is relatively inexpensive. Also, because of its larger size, it uses less labor time (helping to keep costs lower and/ or saving you time). We ran the tile tub-surround around the window, and all the way up to the ceiling.


We just went with "ice white" from Home Depot. It was cheap and easy! Then we finished off the clean look with a self sealing white grout.

Soon it was time for the floor. 


The original bathroom floor was tile. But the subfloor underneath was rotten, so it had to go.  If you would like to salvage your tile floor, but don't like the color, try painting it! (See link below for product info). It works miracles! I had used it on this floor the year before, to disguise the old tile.

(Painted) Floor Before

Again to keep costs low we went with an inexpensive and easy to install floor. The very cheapest flooring option in a single slab of laminate, but I don't care for that look. So instead we went a step up and used a self adhesive "snap together" flooring. 


*Also note that, even small changes like the color of the metal strip between the carpet and bathroom floor can help update a house.

This type of floor comes in many different patterns and colors, including some pretty convincing synthetic wood grains. However, because I knew that someday we'd be putting wood in the hallway, I didn't want something that would clash with wood, or be "too close" to wood. So we chose a grey cement/ slate look. 

This floor went in quickly and easily. After installation we were careful to calk every single corner or seam that was near a water source. This is very important, especially if you have kids like mine who enjoy splashing in the tub!

A New Vanity

Because we needed to select everything in just one shopping trip (the day we had a babysitter!) to keep things easy, we also ordered the vanity from Home Depot. I did see it for a little less elsewhere though (including on

Old Vanity

I wanted to be choosy about the countertop, we chose a model that didn't come with a top. But, many do come with a top and sink all ready to go, and they are quite nice. To save on labor costs measure carefully and do your best not to have to move the plumbing. 


I chose a single facet (instead of one with handles) with sleek lines, mainly because I knew it would be easier to clean!



I went with a brushed nickel finish. Oil Rubbed Bronze hardware is lovely. But it's very trendy right now, and I think it is more likely to look dated sooner than chrome or nickel will. 
For continuity, be sure that all of the hardware in your bathroom is made from the same metal (from drawer pulls and light fixtures, to shower faucets).

Adding in More Elements

Both the light fixture and the mirror were original. They were circa 1972, so not quite old enough to be back in fashion again! They had to go!


We chose a nice new light fixture that matched the rest of the hardware and installed it in the same location.


Then, I found an inexpensive beveled edged mirror at a discount store (Ross) for about $40. The frame was hideous, but I painted it with matt finish chalk paint (get the cheap stuff here, or the real stuff here).


We also replaced the old shutter style medicine cabinet with a new mirrored one. Mirrors are always your friends! They make a space feel larger and brighter, use them whenever possible! 



Just one thing to keep in mind... open the package and check your mirror before leaving the store. We had to exchange this one because the first one came with a chip. This is the second time that's happened to me with a Home Depot mirror. 

Keep it Simple

I like to change up my decor often. So, as you can see from these photos all of the big (read: costly) changes we made in the bathroom were subtle. We used a lot of white. This way I can easily switch out things like towels, shower curtains and rugs to change the look of the room, with only a minimal amount of work. 
The remodel is also less likely to look dated 10 years from now, because we avoided using anything overly trendy.

One of my favorite ways to create a versatile space is with my go-to paint color.

Benjamin Moore's "Ivory White" (number 925) works EVERYWHERE. I've used it on kitchen cabinets, walls, and even furniture. It's the perfect warm white, and goes with everything. So, naturally, this was the color I painted the walls.
Paint stores don't always have samples of this color out, but they can mix it for you, just ask.

Then, with a neutral base of whites (remember, you can always mix different shades of white in the same room) and grey tones, I was free to make bold color choices with my accessories. 

Adding Finishing Touches

Now came my favorite part, accessorizing!

Gone went the ugly plastic toilet brush and dirty waste basket, and in came new brushed nickel models to match the rest of the metal in the room. I chose this: 

and this:

Then it was time to add some color! I held back on adding any color to the more "permanent" aspects of the room, so it was time to let loose and bring in some bold hues!

I already had the monogramed green towels (a generously homemade gift from a friend). So I used those as a springboard for creating a pallet. 
To "help" kids remember to hang up their towels, we used hooks in the place of traditional towel racks.

Because it had the green I was looking for, and a variety of other colors too, I went with this shower curtain. It was a little bit of a gamble, buying it online (site unseen). But, overall I am happy with how it looks. This one was my second choice! I still love it too :)

Then I added a pop of color to the floor with this inexpensive orange rug:

I already had the turquoise photo frames (from Target) and I took another gamble on the luxurious yellow towels by buying them online. Online shopping is a mother's best friend! I was a little disappointed that they weren't as vibrant as I thought they'd be. But still, it was better than dragging three small children through countless stores, looking for bright yellow towels!

Overall, we are quite happy with the end result, and hope to enjoy it for many years to come. Stay tuned for future updates and changes to the decor. Happy house fixing!

Thanks for stopping by!

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Thursday, July 9, 2015

Monochromatic Gardening

When designing a garden it can be tough to know where to begin. There are so many options! One way to narrow down the choices and create an aesthetically pleasing space, is to create a monochromatic garden.

For this garden I chose violet, but you can pick any color. Maybe it was the purple car I drove for 16 years, or maybe it's just because it's pretty, but for some reason I've always appreciated the color purple.


Here are some ideas is you too decide to create a purple garden...

The first and easiest thing to look for will likely be plants with violet hues flowers. Morning Glories are easy to grow and offer vibrant purple blooms. They reseed easily, but will take over small spaces, so give them plenty of room to climb.

Another great climber with purple accents is a Passion Flower (pictured below). These cartoonish flowers are a delight!

Salvias are hearty, don't need much water and come in a variety of purple shades.

Sweet Peas

Look for unexpected sources of color, like these Artichokes.

When left unharvested Artichokes will put on a brilliant show of vibrant purple color.

I also like to chose my flowers based on the season they bloom. By staggering them to bloom in different seasons you can create year-round interest.

Now that it's summer, my Hollyhocks and Dahlias are both in full bloom.

But as soon as fall comes, Mums and Asters steel the show.

Another thing to look for is colored foliage.

The leaves of this Japanese Maple provide two seasons of deep plum color.

Clovers and Decorative Kale are also excellent for providing purple leaves.

Lastly, look for even the subtlest of purples. The silvery violets of Lavender and Lamb's Ears work well in a monochromatic garden.

My favorite on-line nursery is Annie's Annuals. I have has good luck with their plants, and their catalog always includes a little bit of quirky humor, which I appreciate!

Thanks for stopping by, and happy gardening!

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