Fortunately I don’t suffer from decision paralysis because this renovation is one decision after another, and it’s everything from location of light switches and outlets to the size of the shower nook to the color of grout — and even to the accessories like soap dispensers. The soap dispensers I’ve had from Target haven’t really held up over the years, with exception of No. 6 above which is in our kitchen, so I’m on the hunt for new ones to outfit both bathrooms. Since I already have dozens of tabs open, I thought I’d share some of my favorites. Right now, I’m leaning toward No. 2 or No. 10 for our powder room. For the main bathroom, a glass version like No. 9 looks like it might be the perfect vintage-inspired choice.
It’s been awhile since I’ve checked in! Our computer malfunctioned so I was MIA for a little while until we could get that back in working order and it couldn’t have come back at a better time when I have some updates to share with you from my last progress report on our powder room.
First things first, a peek of that easy-to-clean, flat-sided toilet was my most commented-on Instagram story ever. I love that we’re at the age where stuff like this excites us! If you’re the market for a toilet, you can find it here and here. I bought the recommended toilet seat for it.
Shortly after we left off, the drywall went up and it finally felt like a room again! We had a few days of mudding and sanding. In a perfect world, we would have primed and painted before the tile went in, but we had some scheduling delays that moved the tile up on the priority list. And trust me, I was not mad at it. Seeing the tile installed made my heart soar and I could finally see my vision board come together. It’s one thing to make a collage in Photoshop, but it’s another to see your selections actually take shape and work together.
It was around this point where I snuck downstairs and smugly smiled to myself thinking “I have good taste.” Haha. But it felt so good to see the pieces fall into place so well — and quite literally at that. You’ll see that we lucked out and were able to place a full tile at each corner and along the sides of the room. We did have a delay with the grout, so after the tile set in mortar, the floor was covered and attention moved to the walls and woodwork.
One of the things I really wanted to do in this space was make the millwork mimic that of the original trim in the house. They removed the frame and sill of the existing window in the half bath and rebuilt trim to match our window casings elsewhere. The window itself is pretty crappy and we’ll probably replace it down the road, but the new trim makes it seem so much larger and adds much-needed architectural detail in this space. The team still has some work to do with it to add a sill and a finishing piece over the seam, but I’m just so happy with it. They did a similar trim around the doorframe, and they put in baseboards that match the profile of our original trim on the first floor. (You can see these in the opening photo.) Our contractor’s team is so talented and they have such acute attention to detail that makes my perfectionist-heart sing!
The grout arrived on Friday of last week, which allowed the team to get that taken care of fairly quickly. This week was all about dehazing the grout, placing the finishing pieces like the trim, and starting to install fixtures. We still have to seal the floor and finalize locations of things like the mirrors and towel bars, but we’re getting there! The team also moved to the main bathroom on Monday and have already completed demo and leveled the floor. I’ll share more about that space in the coming weeks!
Until then, here’s a tiny peek at how far along this room has come. I’ll do a reveal post once we’re complete with a full source list.
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Interior blogs often focus on the pretty stuff — the “good stuff.” The stuff that comes after new drywall is placed and construction debris has long been cleared away. After beginning our own home renovations last week, I’ve come to realize that the pretty stuff isn’t the “good stuff.” The good stuff is the opportunity to improve your home’s mechanics, electrical, and plumbing to make a century home last another hundred years.
Before I tested positive for a COVID breakthrough infection and before our contractor’s crew began work, we estimated that our powder room would take two weeks from start to finish. That’s not quite how things actually went and I wanted to take a moment to document the progress we have made over the past couple of weeks. The crew did take a few days off from work over the past two weeks. There was an ice storm and a couple of the crew members that are on-deck weren’t comfortable with my COVID-positive status until I cleared the 10 days (can’t blame ’em). We’ll be at it full time starting Monday until both bathrooms are complete, barring any additional illnesses.
First up, here are some of the before images:
The powder room is off of the kitchen on the first floor. The kitchen and this powder room are both part of an addition to the house. Judging by the product selections, I’d guess this happened in the ’90s or early aughts. The room is approximately 25 square feet, which is a pretty decent size for a half bath, but the space wasn’t utilized effectively. When we started this project, we figured we’d keep the plumbing in the same locations — and for the most part that ended up being the case. It would be too pricey to move the toilet, even if it’s not in the ideal location for this space. That’s just a reality of renovations and budgets. The sink, as we came to learn was not correctly plumbed and would need to be moved. We’re going to center it with the door frame, so when you look into the room, you’ll see a pedestal sink, the mirror, and a sconce. You’ll still see that peek of the toilet seat, but eh, whatcha gonna do?
Here’s what we had when we opened up the walls. The pipe that ran to the sink was drilled through the floor, which apparently isn’t legal, and it wasn’t vented at all. The previous owner had also sealed an unused pipe with a wad of plastic. There was some minor water damage by the sink and toilet, which is to be expected. There was shockingly insufficient insulation on the exterior wall. And, of course, we had galvanized pipes. Replacing the pipes wasn’t part of the original scope of the project, but galvanized pipes can rust and crack over time. Having the walls already open is by far the best opportunity we’d have to proactively take care of a future problem. Our contractor said that it would cost another $500 to replace it all with modern PVC plumbing. The plumber was here longer than the half day that they anticipated, so I expect the final dollar amount to be higher. Still worth it because look at the grossness that’s inside of those pipes:
Ew. Haha. So, the thing with galvanized pipes is that they’ll rust on the inside of the pipe, too. The inside then becomes rough, making it more likely that hair and other gunk will get stuck leading to frequent clogs. And let me tell you, we are very familiar with this issue. Our upstairs shower connects to this plumbing and for the past four years we’ve lived here, we’ve been standing in ankle-deep water after a shower every single time. Snaking the pipes and Draino didn’t do much — it was a bigger problem that we are so grateful to have taken care of. You wouldn’t believe my excitement the first time I showered upstairs after the new pipes were in and the water drained like it should! I told our contractor later that it I didn’t know what kind of witchcraft the plumber did, but I’m a fan — to which he said “it’s the magic of PVC pipes.” Money well spent.
Here’s where we decided to move the sink. It’s a pedestal sink that will now be centered across from the doorway rather than being centered on the wall. This opens up space to the right where we can put a basket of towels or toilet paper. We’re also considering installing some floating corner shelves for plants.
You can see all of our beautiful new pipes and supply lines here — the real “good stuff.” Those remaining galvanized supply lines will be pulled when we’re working on the upstairs main bathroom. They’ve since insulated all of the hot water lines. (You can learn about the benefits of pipe insulation here.) There’s also new insulation in the exterior wall and the tile-ready subfloor has been laid. (And look at that bold red ceiling that used to be in the original galley kitchen! I had no idea!)
As you may recall from my product overview for the space, I had hoped we’d be able to add an inset medicine cabinet. Sadly, my dreams of having guests low-key snoop through my meds has been dashed. There isn’t any room in the walls to make an inset cabinet work and I’m not keen on the wall-mounted versions. I found this mirror on Overstock while I grumpily looked for an alternative. I had low expectations for it, despite the glowing reviews, but I forgot all about the medicine cabinet once the new mirror arrived. It’s hefty and well made and I just love it so much — plus it’s cheaper than the original one I wanted at just $130. It has the vintage-inspired look I was going for when paired with the sconce.
Even if the “good stuff” is the practical improvements, I’m still excited about the pretty stuff.
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I wouldn’t say I have a green thumb, but I am capable of keeping most houseplants alive. However, I appreciate the ease of a faux plant when it adds a much-needed dose of greenery to a dim corner of a house or when it takes the place of an otherwise finicky variety. Plus, going faux means you can display these anywhere in your home without worrying about accidentally pet poisonings. (We have to keep our ZZ and snake plants out of Oliver’s reach.) There are a lot of beautiful faux options available this year and you’ll find some of my favorites above!
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Our renovations are coming up with work scheduled to begin on Feb. 15! We’re starting with our powder room, which is on the main floor right off the kitchen. This project is scheduled to take roughly two weeks before our contractor moves to our main bathroom on the second floor.
We decided to do our half bath first to give us a functional bathroom on the first floor while our main bathroom is gutted. We do have a shower in our unfinished basement that we can use during the renovation, but I really didn’t want to use the basement bathroom longer than necessary. It’s kind of gross down there and not exactly the ideal location to get ready for the day!
Knowing that we’re in crunch time for making final decisions, we placed a lot of product orders over the past couple of weeks. One of the items I asked for feedback for on Instagram was the faucet. I didn’t realize that sinks have two different standard widths for widespread faucets: four inches and eight inches. Had I realized this before buying the pedestal sink, I would have gone with the eight-inch widespread version because I fell in love with this faucet. We already had the sink delivered and I didn’t want to pay for return shipping, so I had some stress-induced tears and searched for an alternative, coming up with these:
The faucets are both by Kingston Brass and essentially the same design, aside from the knobs. I was originally leaning toward black, but 75% of those who voted on Instagram preferred all brass. I figured I’d give it a go since the faucet I originally loved was also all brass. It’s scheduled to be delivered on Monday. Assuming the color of the brass is similar to the fixture on the right, then I’ll be delighted. I’m hoping it doesn’t read too 1980s-faux-brass-yellow. I suspect it’ll be fine, though, considering all of the fixtures on the brand’s Instagram page look beautiful. (The towel bar and toilet paper holder are by the same company. Hopefully all of the brass hues match.)
We also had to pivot from the floor options I talked about here. I really wanted to go with color for the flooring. I liked the blue a lot, but couldn’t get past the jagged edges of the tile. I stopped by a local tile shop (Malony Tile for those in Madison) and found this tile:
The color is very similar to the tile in the opening photo here (which is the tile I originally wanted to go with), but I prefer that it’s not concrete so it’ll be easier to clean. It also brings in some of the deep blue-green of our stairwell paint. I also love that it makes the room feel more fun. The main bathroom is getting those marble hexagon tiles that you can see here and it’s going to be much more traditional and refined. The house needs a bit of fun that still leans classic.
We are waiting to purchase the medicine cabinet. I really want hidden storage in that space for things like Tylenol, but we need to wait until the wall is open to see where the plumbing stack is. Assuming it’s not right where the mirror is going, we’ll go ahead and order this one. I don’t have an alternative wall-hung mirror picked out, so keep your fingers crossed!
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