Renovating Your Bathroom? I've Got 5 Designer Tips That No One Else Talks About!

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I promise that I’ve never heard anyone talk about most of these tips that I want to share with you for your bathroom renovation. They make SUCH a difference to the final result! 

Our small master bathroom got a big update last year, but I haven't had a chance to show it to you until today.

Actually, we had two of the bathrooms in our sweet house completely renovated over the summer, one right after the other.  A little brave, but we wanted to bite the bullet and then be done

We learned a couple of things that form the basis of my tips.  The above picture shows the coffin, I mean, the shower.   Dark and narrow with a lowered ceiling. Who does this? Actually lots of builders in the 80’s did this. Here's another view of the room:

 

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The vanity had two sinks--a really important feature in a tiny bathroom.  There's also a toilet, but you don't need that picture.  You know what a toilet looks like.

And now - the "After:"

 

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Same space--can you believe it?  We knocked that coffin down--and discovered that the shower pan had been leaking underneath for YEARS!  Talk about good timing. Now there's light, glass, white subway tile on the walls, chrome accents and beautiful recycled glass tile on the floor.  The renovation was a journey (as all renovations are, right?).  

 

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Good lord, look how pretty this is.  I don't mean to brag, but we really do love how this looks and functions now.  White Marble, acrylic pulls, pretty mirrors and that gorgeous Sea Salt interior paint color that Sherwin Williams has blessed the world with.

Home renovations aren't easy for anyone.  Here's my short list of what I learned on this one:

 

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Bathroom Renovation Tip #1 - Pay attention; no detail is too small.  Did you notice this in the photo? The contractor put white quarter round molding between the floor and the cabinet toe kick. I understand why he did it--he was "matching" the base molding in the rest of the room.  I didn't even think about it until everything was done.  That piece of molding should have been painted to match the cabinet.  I'll get around to it. Someday.  In the meantime, it bugs me.  First world problem.

 

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Bathroom renovation tip #2 - look at the Big Box store's online selection of pulls and knobs.  These came from Home Depot.  They look very similar to ones carried by Restoration Hardware, at half the price,  I love them.

 

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Renovation tip #3 - pay attention to lighting.  Look at the "Before" above of the light fixtures.  The famous clown lights that every builder seems to adore. 

Since it's a small space and we were using LED bulbs in the new fixtures, we were able to remove the light inside the shower.  There's glossy white subway tile in there and a recessed can outside of the shower (you can see it reflected in the mirror) along with 2 lights on each side of the sink.  With all the glass, we could also taking better advantage of natural light coming through the window.  Any more lighting and it would have felt like showering during an interrogation (now that's a weird thought)!  Too much!

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Reno tip #4 (the day is long, I'm obviously conserving my characters). Choose your wall color carefully in a tiny room with light and mirrors.  I LOVE Sherwin Williams Sea Salt on walls and I swear it often feels like  everyone in the U.S. has Sea Salt in some room in their home.  It's a well loved color and rightfully so. So soothing.  But when it first went up, everything suddenly had a greenish blue cast to it.  The floor, the walls, the tile.  I gave it a couple of days and all was well.  Some of the change was because of the LED bulbs.  Incandescent bulbs give off a very warm color, so switching to the LED meant we shifted to a soft white color.  In the end, soft white is a true-er color.  True-er?  Is that a word?

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Tip #5 - don't tile anything all the way to the floor.  When a vacuum cleaner hits that tile, it will crack.  Sigh.  We'll fix that someday.

 

Soon I'll show you the results in the other renovated bathroom, which Grandboy uses.  If you have updated your bathroom in an older home lately, I'd love to hear what you learned!

Ciao,

Anne

The best hostess gift idea!

My friend, Lisa, always has the best gift ideas.  Recently we came home from a week at the beach to find the best hostess gift idea EVER on our kitchen table.  

 

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There were 4 insulated tumblers, each with a sign attached to the top.  Wouldn't these catch your attention and make you smile?

 

Here are the tumblers:

 

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Oh yes, I WILL be filling my tall tumbler with water during the workday and the short one with Proseco  on some lucky Fridays!  And Mike will be following the directions on his tumblers too!  Lisa knows us well!

 

She also included a wire whisk for me and a colorful dishtowel because we recently visited a store together and I mentioned needing a new whisk and my love of pretty dishtowels.  Lisa is one of those friends who listens to what you say and tucks the info away for occasions like this.  She always has the best gift ideas and I think listening is probably the key to her skill, don't you?

 

 

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We got the "hostess" label because we had taken her uber-adorable son to the beach with us as he's our Grandboy's buddy.  At 13 years old, Grandboy needs to have more than our sparkling company to make a trip fun.  Lisa's son is a fun guy (as you can tell by the green hair) and we love having him along. Please don't tell the boys that their photo is on the blog. 13 is a tough age--I'm not allowed to show them off anymore! 

Do you have any creative hostess gift ideas to share?  I'd love to hear about them!

Ciao,

Anne

 

Five Tips To Create A Great Finished Basement

I've got 5 tips if you're looking to create a great finished basement that your family will use and enjoy often.  We recently finished just such a project, so I thought I'd give you a quick list while it's fresh in my mind.  In a previous post, I showed you a room we worked on on the first floor of this home and mentioned that we created a place that really made the man of the house happy.  This is it!

 

Here's a Before shot of most of the room we worked on:

 

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The above photo shows you that the room already had a lot going for it: the homeowners had installed nice hardwood floors, there's a beautiful stone fireplace and this is a daylight basement.  Just look at all those windows!  Ok, your basement might not have such great bones to begin with, but the following tips can make any finished basement a great one.

 

Here's the After shot:

 

 A finished basement adds tremendous value to your home.

 

The homeowner's wanted to have a pub-like atmosphere with a family friendly vibe.  We ran with that request.

 

Tip #1 - a great finished basement pays attention to the windows. 

The windows on the fireplace wall let in a LOT of light, making it difficult to enjoy watching the game during daylight hours.  We added woven blinds, covering the transoms (don't gasp, there's still plenty of light), so now TV viewing is more comfortable.  The lower panes on the side windows exposed a not-so-great view of gardening supplies.  We added antique stained glass windows--actually hanging those windows in the windows!  This adds a colorful, pub-like design detail and completely takes the attention away from the immediate view outside. 

 

 

 Custom window treatments and painted moldings add warmth and polish to this finished basement.

 

There's another wall of windows in this room that didn't need blinds, so we added custom drapery panels to frame the lake view.  The way we treated all the windows in this basement definitely set the tone that this is an important room in this house. Which leads me to Tip #2:

 

 We installed antique stained glass windows from England to this room. They add color to a neutral space and lots of personality.

 

Tip #2 - a great finished basement has a realistic budget.

 

This post talks about creating a GREAT finished basement, not a basic basement that your teenagers will head to only because it's far away from your eyes and ears.  That doesn't mean you need a huge budget, but this is an investment project, and worth spending some money on.  A GREAT finished basement is enjoyed by all ages and for all occasions.  It's not where you throw your old furniture.  You can incorporate these tips as your budget allows--they're all worth the wait.  Just don't wait too long!

 

 Can you tell that this is a basement? It's a spectacular room!

 

Tip #3 - a great finished basement needs a pretty ceiling.

 

Many basement ceilings are pretty ugly with acoustic tiles and/or dated light fixtures.  Every decision you make when finishing a basement should remember that you want this room to look great.  That means it's an important room and needs nice finishes.  In this basement, we already had a smooth sheet rock ceiling and recessed can lighting.  Adding wood beams made a big difference to the overall feeling of the space.  I really do believe that line about the ceiling being the 5th wall.  Faux beams are easy to install (by an installer/handyman)  and add architectural detail.  A note - because the span of each beam was very long, we added straps to cover the seams.

 

 Straps cover the seams and add to the authentic look of these awesome faux beams.

Straps cover the seams and add to the authentic look of these awesome faux beams.

 

And we painted the ceiling a light beige, just to warm it up next to the beams.  Btw, did you notice that we painted all the moldings in the room a gorgeous, rich brown? There's a lot of dark brown, black and gray in the room.   Putting those colors in a room is a way of bringing the outdoors in, creates depth and adds warmth. 

 

Tip #4 - a great finished basement has the right lighting for a variety of activities.

 

Although the room already had recessed can lighting, the cans weren't in the right places to be useful for specific tasks.  We had them moved so the room is now lighter, brighter and there are no dark corners.  Yes, the ceilings had to be repaired after that.  Look back at Tip #2 which talks about having a realistic budget for greatness. 

 

My photos don't show a section of the room where the kitchen lies.  All we did there was to add a antiqued mirrored backsplash.  This added sparkle and great reflection of light from the windows across the room.  I love light, don't you?  We want to see what we're doing! 

 

 

 A game table makes great use of a corner!

 

Tip #5 -  a great finished basement has zones for activities.

 

It's not going to be a great space if the only thing you can do in the room is watch games on TV.  That might be okay to some, but it's limiting.  Creating zones in the room means that all kinds of fun stuff can be happening at the very same time!  This basement has a shuffle board table, a U-shaped sectional from my friends at Bassett Furniture, a bar at the Kitchen counter for setting up snacks or sitting with friends and this cozy corner,  shown above, for playing games.  There's also a drop zone for storage, let me find a picture of that for you:

 

 Who couldn't use a drop zone like this one? A place for everything and everything in its place!

 

This awesome custom cabinetry means there's a place for everything--storage is always an important element to consider in a room used by lots of people.  We want to know where to look for the monopoly game, boat gear and puzzles!

 

Where I live in North Carolina, there aren't a ton of basements.  People who have them are super lucky.   In the Northeast there are LOTS of them.  I grew up in a house that had one and, for it's time, it was a great one.  Much smaller than this one, but we had a fireplace, a pool table, a bar with a fridge and a place for the record player.  This project may be on a grander scale, but the purpose and use are exactly the same.  Make your basement comfortable and inviting for all ages.  Don't skimp on those finishes and details.  Make it a great finished basement and reap the rewards of good times with family and friends.

 

Ciao

Anne