Sunday, February 23, 2014

Master Bath Before

The day has finally come to reveal my master bathroom before we install the new quartz counter top.  This bathroom has always looked a little worn, so it's definitely not a room I show many people. Like, family only.

 Once again, same cabinets, Formica top, and fixtures as the other two powder rooms. Not ugly, just blah boring. The trim needs a new coat of paint and the tile grout is dull. Anyone else hate grout, raise your hand.


There's that light fixture and humongous mirror again. I've got some ideas, but I'll have to run it by my contractor ;-) before it can be finalized.



YES! That's carpet on the face of the tub!!! That has to be the weirdest, grossest, and ugliest thing in the whole house. Who thought this was a good idea? Yuck. Don't look too closely, please. We obviously need to make a little painted wood panel.

This bathroom has me the most perplexed about choosing the faucets. Everything is chrome so it gets kinda expensive to start changing all the faucets. We hate the shower surround and tile, but we're not ready to deal with it. And while the chrome faucets on the roman tub and shower aren't fancy, they are well made Delta fixtures. If I swap out the existing sink faucets for prettier chrome ones, the room will look complete, even if we never get a chance to do a major reno on the bath and shower. Like I mentioned yesterday, we can update the handles from the acrylic on the tub and shower by choosing handles from the Delta line. That would be the easiest and safest way to go. I'm sure it would look good too.

I guess this is the downside to not doing a whole remodel, like most people would do.

Floor tile is also on the to-do list.

This room could also use some zhushing with accessories and perhaps even a little chandelier over the tub. I love taking baths this time of year.

Looks like we have our work cut out for us in this room. This could take a while. The designing and finished product are fun, but it has been a while since my house has been in one piece. Can't wait for it to feel like home again.

Up to my eyeballs in projects,
-Amber

A Mini Facelift - How to Upgrade Your Faucets without Replacing Them!

So you know how I was going on and on about how annoying it is trying to figure out if I want to change out all my bath hardware in lieu of the new vanity tops we're getting? I think I've come up with an affordable solution, one that might just save you some cash in the future too.

The good news is that the tub and shower valves we currently have are compatible with other Delta trim kits! In case you didn't know, the pretty outside faucet components (trim kits) on tubs and showers don't come with the guts (valves). The valves are like an extra $50, you definitely need a plumber, and he's gonna hack your well up.  So as long as I stick with Delta trim kits, we don't have to gut the showers if I want to change out the finish. OR... I could keep the chrome and just buy a couple new handles for the tub and showers to save some change and get more of a "lifestyle lift". Ooh, I just got Debbie Boone's "You Light up my Life" song stuck in my head.

Here's our current Roman Tub faucet and the showers match:



"Classic" Roman Tub faucet by Delta

Here's the Victorian style sink faucets that are similar to the ones I'm going with. My version has a more elegant handle, but this is close.  I can't show a picture of the real thing because we're  getting them our contractor supplier (I pick them out from a good old paper catalogue). You can switch out your sink faucet handles too, but we're changing ours from a single hole to widespread faucets.



"Victorian" wide spread lavatory faucet by Delta
I can purchase the Delta Victorian handles for the shower and roman tub. Obviously, they'll be a little different than the Barnett ones that I'm getting.  I haven't decided if it's necessary to change out the tub spigot to the Victorian style as well. The one we have is still in good shape and I wouldn't say it clashes with the new style.

 I also thought about using this cross handle on the tub?

"Cassidy" roman tub handle by Delta
I really like the cross dial for the showers
"Cassidy" shower handle by Delta
We're talking hundreds of dollars in savings here! If you think this might be an optional upgrade for you too, just check out your tub/shower manufacturer's website and find your existing faucet. They usually note the valve it requires so you can look up trim kits with the same requirements within that brand. Hope you find this as helpful as I did!

 You. Light up my life...

~Amber

Friday, February 21, 2014

Guest Bath Before

This is also a first time appearance of the guest bathroom on the blog. This is the last time it's going to look like this before we install our granite countertops in the weeks to come.  Same Formica counters, fixtures, and flooring as the laundry room and master bath. Notice the built-in toilet paper roll? I haven't done anything in this room except add beige paint Justin had leftover from a job. Even though this room gets used the very least, the toe kick is getting kinda worn (maybe I was too liberal with the Murphy's Soap?), so I'd like to paint this cabinet white. 


I'd really like to add some storage over the toilet, like a towel rack or shelves. I've been told that the shower is very dark because there's no recessed light in there, so that would be nice to add.


And then there's the light fixture, mirror, and floor. Luckily not much tiling to do in this small space. Maybe I'll finally try my hand at it?

 The light fixtures can't just be swapped out, unfortunately. The brilliant electrician that worked on these homes didn't center any of the electrical boxes with the vanities. This little fact is hidden behind the ugly chrome plate.  Sure, Justin can move it and patch the wall, but it's quite a process: move electrical, patch drywall, mud seams, sand, mud texture to blend in with the rest of the wall, prime, and paint. Times this by three. I may have to come up with a nifty solution. Hmmmm... This might take some time.

Laundry Room Before

The laundry room / half bath is finally making an appearance on the blog today. It's the most used room in the whole house.  I thought I would show the before photos so you guys can see what I've been talking about. So far, we have picked out the countertops and sinks. I have selected the faucet style, but still haven't settled on the finish. I'm leaning towards chrome.

 I wish I had some "before" before pictures, but it never occurred to me that I would have a blog one day so these pics are mid reno. We painted the walls a green gray and installed cabinets over the washer/dryer. Justin installed, what I like to call, a big boy potty in here too. It's great for us taller folks. The floor is still linoleum.


We grabbed these cupboards off the shelf at Lowe's. Couldn't believe how well the finish matched the originals. That doesn't rule out the possibility that I won't paint them white some day, but in the meantime they match the existing cabinets. The knobs are just a plain brushed nickel.



And this light fixture? Oh boy. I've got them in all three bathrooms. Not my favorite. They would be perfect In a Hollywood dressing room though. "They love me! They really love me!" Hee Hee. Just kidding.  Justin has been ripping these babies out of many homes here in Denver. The only upside being that we've utilized those light bulbs from said jobs and have NEVER had to buy light bulbs for these fixtures in 7 years! Could you imagine those pig tail fluorescent bulbs in here?! Gross.



 Yes, that's a big bottle of GoJo on the counter. Orange pumice and granite are not friends. Let's hope Justin gets that garage sink installed ASAP!


Vanity BEFORE with scratched up sink (courtesy of Justin), dirty acrylic/chrome faucet, and laminate counters. Excited for under mount sinks so I won't  have this dirty rim around the sink anymore.  As you can see, the Formica counters were still in pretty good condition and a  nice neutral beige. Not ugly or outdated, just plain. 


Once we change the top of the vanity, mirror, and light fixture, the only thing left in this room is the floor. I would like to add some white beadboard, below the imaginary chair rail, to brighten it up in here, but we'll have to see. In case you're wondering why I'm keeping the ho-hum vanity cabinet.  I'm not changing out a perfectly good vanity for something more unique. I am far too cheap practical for that and need a large sink in here to do my hand washed laundry. This room is straight off the garage, after all.

Stay tuned to see the project unfold. Tomorrow, I'll post pics of the guest bathroom. The fabricator says the counters should be done by next week!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Chrome or Brushed Nickel?

So we're installing new countertops in all the bathroom next week and I still haven't figured out what finish I want on the new faucets! I already have ORB on the doors and brushed nickel light fixtures in the rest of the house. The bathrooms came with chrome - faucets, towel bars (which I replaced with new chrome six years ago), toilet paper holders (the built in kind that fit inside the wall/cabinet), shower stall, Roman tub faucet, and hideous light fixtures. I also bought chrome/glass apothecary jars and soap dispensers, which are still nice and in good shape.

If I built this house, I totally would have chosen brushed/polished nickel in the bathrooms, but I didn't get that option. If I go with a brushed nickel faucet, then I have to change out everything else. We would like to redo the tile around the tub and shower some day, but today is not that day, and therefore we can't change the chrome shower stall or fixtures right away. I also put brushed nickel knobs on all the vanity doors about five years ago, figuring that I would eventually change out everything to brushed nickel.

After looking online for brushed nickel fixtures, I'm worried brushed nickel is on its way out and I won't be able to find that finish when we are ready to remodel the shower. At the very least, I would have to buy the shower fixtures for the master and guest bath, to be installed at a later date. Grrr....

On the other hand, keeping the chrome introduces yet another metallic. It would save us money to not change out ALL the fixtures and accessories. Obviously some things will be updated, but little things add up. A brushed nickel lavatory handle is $15! Chrome also seems to have the longest shelf life (i.e. classic). Stores like PB and Restoration Hardware don't carry brushed nickel right now, but they always have chrome. Big box stores always have chrome.

The only thing I don't fancy about chrome is cleaning it. It gets spotty and smeary.

Just to recap, the counters are leathered black granite in the two guest baths. The vanities are both maple right now, but I'd like to paint the second floor guest vanity white at some point. The master bath is going to have a white quartz top with black painted vanity. Here's my inspiration:
cabinet design Jack And Jill Traditional Bathroom Design, Pictures, Remodel, Decor and Ideas - page 76
Source

Source

Susan Gilmore Photography-   creamy ivory bathroom cabinets, black mirrors, calcutta gold marble counter tops, white carrara marble hexagon floor tiles, iron scroll details, off-white walls and oil rubbed bronze faucets, hardware and sconces.
Source

The faucets I like are a Victorian style (similar to the ones pictured) and available in chrome, brushed nickel, and ORB. I like how the chrome faucets are mixed with ORB lights and
accessories.

Any thoughts, friends? What would you do?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Stone Countertops - Yes, Please!

I'm almost embarrassed to even write about this, because we're currently in the middle of some pretty big projects. It's way more than I bargained for. That's for sure! This was NOT a planned expense, but it was one I couldn't refuse. I.E.: when your husband encourages you to pick out some solid surface counter tops, you don't argue ;-)

Yup. We're getting solid surface counter tops for all three of our powder rooms!

I still think I might be dreaming. Nope. It's true!

Here's what happened...

In case you didn't know, my husband is a professional contractor. That means we almost always have zero labor costs on our own home improvements and we get first dibs on sale products from our suppliers.

 It just so happened that we became privy to some granite and quartz remnants, which are perfect for vanity tops. Vanities are also small enough that Justin and I can pick them up from the fabricator and do the install ourselves. Sweet! We'll still have to save up for those full slabs for the kitchen though! Rats.

Now, there was no knowing what colors they would have, so I had to go in with an open mind. To save time, I let the owner know that I was looking for anything with white or black. Trying to keep it classic. I thought these remnants might be some hideous colors, but most of them were actually really pretty.

I totally hit the jackpot! Or, at least I think so. I ended up finding a remnant big enough for the two smaller vanities in a "Leather" finished Black Galaxy granite. Basically, that just means the stone isn't shiny and creates more of a soapstone look. It's not as textured as an "Antique" finish and shows less finger smudges and water spots than a "Honed" finish. This photo isn't Black Galaxy (which has sparkly flecks in it), but the finish is similar.


For the master bath, I was drawn to a pretty white quartz that had flecks of silver in it that sparkled like glitter. Glitter! I didn't see the name on it, however. I think it's Sparkle White or something. Maybe too blingy for some, but I kept on going back to it, so I just went with my gut reaction. Trust me, it's so pretty! Here's an example of a plain white quartz countertop. I can't find a photo of the  quartz we bought.



I think I made some really great choices, not just aesthetically, but also in terms of functionality and durability.

Here are some things to consider when picking out granite and quartz:

I'd like to think of myself as person who balances Form and Function in the way I decorate my home. I want pretty, of course, but it also needs to make sense for the way we live.

The leathered finish on the black granite is supposed to reduce fingerprints and smears. The dark color will minimize the appearance of any possible stains. No, we don't live like pigs or anything, but I do color my own (dark brown) hair at home and even with towels spread out all over the bathroom, accidents can and do happen (like on my vanity cabinet! Meh. I had plans to paint it anyway). I'm definitely going to be extra extra EXTRA careful from now on though!

That being said, I still liked the idea of having a white vanity top in the master bath. I love the look of marble, I really do, it's so timeless, but marble is extremely porous and the pretty gray (iron) veins can, over time, oxidize, and turn rusty, especially if exposed to a lot of moisture. Slowing this process down takes a lot of maintenance (like bi-annual sealing and making sure the marble is kept as dry as a bone). Granted, a vanity top doesn't see too much moisture, but I'd rather stay on the safe side. I like a clean home, so cleaning is a regular activity around here, but I don't enjoy cleaning, least of all babying all the surfaces in my home. The dust that accumulates on my black coffee tables right after I've dusted them is already enough to drive me completely bonkers!

So when I saw that white quartz, I knew it was the perfect solution to this problem. Quartz is made of natural crystals, held together by a super strong binding agent. It is actually more durable and sanitary than solid stone, and it won't turn yellow or brown. If we're going to put money into something like this (a 73" long vanity top), then I certainly want it to last for a long time. Marble, my dear, I love you, but you are just too high maintenance for me.

If you're having the same internal conversation with yourself, think about quartz. It's more expensive, but doesn't need to be pampered as much. Bonus: it comes in variations that mimic marble.  I know, I know! I used to hate quartz because it wasn't "natural" like granite and marble. When it comes to picking out a white surface, however, I think it's much more practical.

I better start taking the "BEFORE" photos, because these beauties will be here in no time. I also have to get my faucets ordered. Eek! One project always leads into another.


Monday, February 10, 2014

New Knobs & Installation Tips



I live in a builder grade, cookie cutter, generic sort of home. In fact, there's probably ten houses in my neighborhood that are identical to mine. This is suburban living in Denver. Now, there are a lot of great things about living in a newer home, but "character" is generally not one of them. Can anyone else relate?

We've slowly been working on adding personality to it, inside and out, over the past six years. The first thing we purchased, after paint, were new brushed nickel light fixtures (except in the powder rooms, but I'll save that post for another day). The lights were so ugly, paint wasn't gonna cover it.  Door hardware should have been next on my list, but I just didn't think it was that big of a deal at the time. Everyone in my neighborhood probably has polished brass doorknobs and my house was only a few years old when I moved in with my husband.

  Some gals, bless their hearts, have spray painted all their door hardware. While that definitely saves some cash, it takes such a looooooong time to do and doesn't hold up as well as I'd like. I'm really impressed with those who want to take on that challenge, but it's just not for me and I lack the space to do it.

  I finally did some research (a.k.a. Barnett catalogue) and realized that it wouldn't really be that expensive to get new hardware (my house isn't that big!). I have 12 interior doors and three exterior doors. Builder grade was fine; I just wanted a different finish, and I didn't want to spend a lot of money. Like I said, I have brushed nickel light fixtures, but I decided to mix metallics by going with an oil-rubbed bronze finish for the doors. I thought it would tie the kitchen in more with the rest of the house, plus I didn't want to be too matchy matchy. I used to think all my hardware needed to match, and you certainly can't go wrong that route, but mixing finishes creates a layered look I have come to really like. I can always paint the light fixtures If I don't like it one day.

  Fortunate girl that I am, I ordered the hardware from Justin's contractor supplier.  Can you believe it? They only had one style of oil-rubbed bronze door handles! Talk about taking the guess work out of it. I would have preferred a traditional round knob, but this egg shape was a close runner up and it was easier to install. How does that saying go? "Beggars can't be choosers." Yup.

TIPS FOR SMOOTH INSTALLATION SUCCESS:

 (for when your husband is too busy to do it for you, you want to help him, or you're so anxious to get the task done that you don't feel like waiting another moment)

DO lay down a thick towel or blanket beneath your door if you have hard floors below. Protects your floors from stray screws and hinges, and it protects your new hardware from getting dinged up if it falls. Unless, of course, you have cat like reflexes and you've never dropped anything in your whole life. In that case, never mind.

DO use an impact drill to remove and install screws. It's faster and helps the screws go in straight and snug. A philips screwdriver will also work.



DO use an extra long screwdriver tip. This will ensure you can get around your fancy new unblemished knob without scratching up the sides. If you want to be extra careful, cover the doorknob with a sock.



DO score along the edges of the old hinges with a utility knife if they're covered with paint. Let's not add paint touch up to our DIY hardware install. Mmm...K? Good.

DO knock down the holes left by the screws, if the edges aren't flat, with a small putty knife or flat edge screw driver. This will help your new latch and hinges lay flush.



DO make sure your new hinges are the same size and edge as your old ones. All hinges are not created equal. Modern interior doors are generally 3 1/2" tall and exterior ones are usually 4" tall. The corners can be square,  1/4" round, or 5/8" round.



DONT remove the doors from the door frame. That's like creating unnecessary work for yourself. Nobody wants that. This is a one woman job. Remove the middle hinge first and then replace with new hardware, fastening one screw into the door and one into the doorframe, before fastening the remaining screws on each side of the hinge. Repeat this process, one at a time, on the top and bottom hinges.

DONT put the latch on backwards (yes. I did that. Not sure how, but I boofed it...twice). The rounded side should catch the strike first as you close the door.



DO replace your door stoppers so they match. Most just twist off (lefty-loosey, righty- tighty), revealing a screw, which you'll remove. If the plate is stuck to your trim, and you don't want to ding up your moulding,  just twist the old stopper back on (minus the screw of course) and use it as leverage to pry that sucker off.

That's all there is to it,  Folks.




I like how the black pops against the white doors. It actually does make a difference and my only regret is that I didn't do it six years ago.  Justin thought it was silly to get so much pleasure out of this simple change. It really IS the little things though, isn't it?

P.S. In my haste, I completely forgot to take pictures of the doors with the old brass knobs! I'm sure you can use your imagination.