Planning: Master Bathroom

Since I’ve changed so much on the planning of this bathroom, decided to re-post this and move it up as we’ll be working on this project for the next 6 weeks or so.

The trend with master bathrooms is the “spa feel.” I translate that to mean: calming, tranquil and soothing with the almost bland, rich neutrals you see at resort hotels. From viewing a lot of bathrooms on Pinterest (see my board for inspiration) and talking to local suppliers of cabinets and countertops, these are some common themes:

Look for medium to light wall tones. Venetian plaster seemed to be too heavy so I removed it from the plan;

Lots of cream/white especially in mouldings, tubs and sinks;

Granite or marble countertops (in lighter colors esp. marble), many with rectangular sinks (especially in white), either vessels (especially in glass or white), or undermounts (in white or cream). BTW vessel sinks can be hard to clean the outside of the bowl (try removing toothpaste) so I reserved ours for the powder room.

Granite or marble countertops. Lighter colored, neutral tone instead of strong patterns;

High end looking faucets (usually in dark colors such as oil rubbed bronze) with shower heads that offer more then just a handheld such as rain showers, jets etc…;

Dimmer and accent lighting with chandeliers and sconces;

Tubs are moving to stand alones; Showers are becoming bigger;

More open storage options are being added with built ins around the tub and vanity.

What you won’t see – wallpaper or dark colors and patterns (i.e. burgandy, browns, wallpaper on walls). Busy rooms with lots of color contrasts.

Current layout of the master bathroom won’t change:

The vanity has been upgraded with a new cream paint finished glazed with brown, and added wood detailing. Look here for the popular How-To post using Annie Sloan Chalk paint and Dark Walnut stain.

Walls – Lowes’ Waverly Tawny Green WV36007 a mid-tone green that errs on the khaki-tan side of the green family as opposed to the yellow or blue. It should go well with the cabinet and countertop colors.

Ceiling – Lowes’ Brushed Metal EE2069 Pale Glow – a metallic and reflective pale yellow.

Mouldingcornice moulding will be put over the four doors (two closets, toilet door, and entrance door). I had considered replacing the closet doors with vintage, but they were too expensive. Will reserve that idea for the kitchen’s pantry door.

The entire bathroom will have a crown and base moulding combination:

Lighting –  a chandelier over the vanity and new sconces.

$175 on closeout sale

Vanity – I decided to go with a much lighter counter color… from my original darker, busier pattern:

With a moulding curve over the vanity like this:

which will match the curve over the tub:

Shower – needs an updated showerhead combo in oil rubbed brass. The tile needs cleaning and re-caulking.

Toilet – will install the same one we did in the Powder Room. Really love the easy clean features on this toilet. I’ll replace the toilet roll hanger and put one double towel hanger in the tub alcove. Perhaps a shelf under the cabinet in the toilet room?

Linens – Spa white!

The master bathroom should wrap by the end of February.

Replacing a ceiling vent (and dealing with holes)

In the kids bathroom the original ceiling fan had a light plastic cover that had yellowed and the fan was noisy to boot. We replaced it with a new, quieter vent-only unit.  However, changing this vent unit left us with a big problem – a hole in fact. The old unit was twice as big and wider then the new unit.

You might remember that the only light in the toilet area was from this fan ceiling unit which made the toilet area look like this when it was on:

Scary dark tunnel!

We took the light wire from the fan and used it for a wall sconce, painted the walls yellow, put in white board and batten moulding on the wall, and installed a white porcelian floor so it now looks like this:

Sunshine makes things better!

This bathroom has no windows and is in the center of the upstairs. It has a heat vent shaft that runs under the length of the floor and in winter is usually very cozy with this unintential, radiant heat. For this reason, we decided to forgo putting in a heater in the ceiling unit (and it would have complicated the wiring).

The new fan unit was installed. Originally, hubby was going with drywall to fill in the void between old and new but I nixed that idea. I didn’t think we could get it looking good without calling in a drywall expert and I’m doing this on a budget.

hole difference

Instead we used a piece of the wall board – a scrap from doing the board and batten. It was cut to fit with a hole in the center for the fan cover and installed with screws which will be concealed by the vent cover.

It was then trimmed out with 1×2, nail holes filled with wood putty and sanded smooth, and painted to match the board and batten wall color.

BTW the ceiling vent fan cannot be seen when walking into the bathroom unless you are a child or an adult who is bending over. I had to squat to take these photos. It will be more noticeable once you enter the toilet/bath area.

Another non-glamourous, but necessary project crossed off the Honey-Do list!

Monogram your terra cotta pots

Through the holidays, I worked on this project inspired from this website about using terra cotta pots for tabletop candle holders and this one about transferring graphic images onto terra cotta pots.

click photo for a larger pic view

The terra cotta pots ready to be painted:

Paint is applied with a dry brush method. This simply means the brush is very dry and has little paint on it. For variation, you might try a slightly damp sponge with a little paint.

Painted with the first coat of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint (Provence). Of course color choice is up to you though I like blues, blue-greens, grays, and whites with some of the terra cotta showing:

Left pot has second coat with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint (Old White over Provence with Terra Cotta):

The colors are further smeared with a slightly wet paper towel. The ASCP smears nicely; I don’t think regular latex would work because when distressed it would peel off the terra cotta however, you could try Poster paints if you don’t want to go the expense of ASCP.

These candle holders will go down the middle of the table and can be seen from two sides. Here’s how the letters will lay out to spell correctly:

Modge Podge is applied. If going outdoors, use Modge Podge for outdoor use. Put on a nice layer, don’t skimp, where the image will be applied:

Each letter must be put on as a mirror image so check the alignment. I also measured from the bottom of the pot to keep them the same from pot to pot:

Let sit from 6 hours to overnight to dry. Once fully dry, use a wet washcloth to wet the paper. Experiment with how wet, but I found getting it thoroughly wet all over the paper so the paper seemed transparent worked well:

To start removing a layer of paper, use the pads of your fingers to roll off the excess paper. Work from the outside corners inward:

Here are some tips:

Start from the outside corners and work inward. This gives you a feel for how much pressure you want to use.

If you find yourself rubbing too much off, set aside and let dry before trying again with no or less water.

Realize that removal doesn’t mean removing all the paper. You will have some left where the image remains on the pot.

If the black starts to smear, set aside and let it dry before trying again.

If too much image is being removed, I let it dry some and then go back and roll off more.

This does randomly distress the lettering. It’s not supposed to look perfect and that is okay!

After it was completely dry, I used a metal brush to file off any excessive paper – or you could use very fine sandpaper or a sanding block. I also put one last coat of diluted Old White over it all which I immediately wiped off just to bring down the brightness of the lettering. I put a layer of AS clear wax on it (or you could have sprayed with with a protective coat) and let it sit overnight

Floral foam goes inside each pot. After the candle is set, the top is decorated with greenery such as moss, spare Christmas tree branchlets, Rosemary, berries, mini pinecones, and/or acorns. For Valentines Day, I’ll be making a LOVE set with red glass stone/beads with the candles. Use your imagination!

Download a 4 circle blank, HomeLove or Noel graphic (the circle border is from the Graphics Fairy, and the font is Book Antiqua) in a jpeg. These images are reversed for application and ready for printing. 2 rows will fit on a 8 1/2 x 11 piece of paper.

master bathroom lighting

I’m realizing more and more how important lighting is to my re-designs of these rooms. Pondering the master bathroom yesterday, and then sleeping on it, I decided to take some time and search Google Images for bathrooms with sconces and chandeliers.

I’ve always liked sconces on the sides of mirrors over the vanity instead of overhead lighting that is either canned lights (what we have now) or your typical flush mounted bar, centered above. The chandelier idea can be a bit foo-foo for my taste; it probably depends on the chandelier if I can make it work for me.

This design (2nd image down) is my favorite. I love the linen shade on the sconces. I also like the cabinet color and glaze with the mirrors and wallpaper.
Love the chandelier (with a bit of green) with the sconces on this design. My only thing I really don’t like is the stool vanity combination. Impractical. Women sitting down to do makeup seems to 1950’s to me. Having counters of different heights increases clean up time.
Lovely design in white and green. Major sparkley chandelier. The vanity lights seem a bit weak but the room has canned lighting too.
This design is a bit on the cold side for me because of the very high walls in stone. I think it needs a little warmth, but I do love the sconce and chandelier combination.The lighting overall is fantastic. It does scream SPA!!! which is extremely hot in design right now (and I think will remain in people’s mind for some time due to our need for comfort during these troubled times).

Lighting is something your builder will skimp on. For example our entire lighting budget for this home (2-story, 2 living, 2 dining, four bedrooms) was $600! That was to include all the hall lights, ceiling fans, switches and outlets! The upshot is adding more light fixtures will cost money, but it will also send a message to the home buyer, consciously or unconsciously that the home is ‘luxe looking.

Since we were talking about remodeling the walls (Venetian Plaster) anyway, I think we will do a bit of hole busting in plaster and put in more lighting and move lighting about. I doubt there is any type of attic access but we’ll check that this weekend.

~ Put a sconce in the toilet area, removing the light/vent combo and just have it be a vent. Wire this into the current sconces? OR put in a mini-chandelier?

~ Sconces on either side of mirrors over vanity OR mini-chandeliers over each vanity sink? The mini-chandeliers would probably fit better because there isn’t much room to put 3 across (1 mirror 1 mirror 1).

~ If no chandelier over the vanity, a central chandelier in the room, replacing the vent/light with just a vent.

~ putting in a new outlet on the wall between the toilet door and closet #2 door. This would allow plug in for something like a towel warmer!

~ solatube over the bathtub area.

An interesting note – when we wanted to put sconces over the bathtub area we were told by the builder that was NOT TO CODE… yet here I see many chandeliers over tubs. I wonder if these people really got code approval before putting that in? Whatever… check with your city government before installing lighting near wet areas such as sinks, tubs and showers.

Planning: kitchen updates

Generally, I try to work on one room, one project at a time. However, with the reality of husband moving out of state for work, and the house to go up for sale next summer, there is a lot I need to be juggling. I also want to spend a lot of time planning and replanning the kitchen. For example, from my original plan of a gray, white, chrome kitchen I’ve decided to go with a cream, warm brown kitchen.

Research First and Make a Plan

I did a LOT of kitchen cabinet research before starting. I visited a lot of showrooms and talked to sales people and designers about what was desired in my area, as well as visiting many open houses of homes on the market in my price range.

While national kitchen magazines state that distressed cabinets are out and dark wood cabinets are in, my area of the U.S. is still selling a lot of white or distressed cabinetry. “White Kitchens” are still the no. 1 search in kitchen cabinetry colors on the internet.

The point is that trends can be regional and be determined by the price range your house would sell at also. I can’t stress enough that if you are redoing your home with the thought of re-sale you need to thoroughly do your homework beforehand.

Another thing is that kitchen remodels are generally the most expensive room to remodel (the next is the bathroom) so if you plan on staying a long time in your home, feel free to personalize. However, if you plan on re-selling in the next five years, compromises may need to be made.

This is some of the information I came away with:

For Sale homes in my area, that have not updated their kitchens, stay on the market much longer.

Any sort of wallpaper needs to be removed, especially if it is plaid, floral, “country” etc…

Personally, I see breakfast bars on the way out. Seating at the prep island is in.

Counter surfaces and backsplash tile choices really date a kitchen.  Corian is out, Granite or Quartz  is still very much in. Marble is also making a comeback. Glass, stainless steel or wood countertops are on the edge of acceptable and appeal to less buyers then Granite does.

Pantry storage remains hot.  Open storage is in. Islands large enough for seating with a sink for prepping are hot.

Stainless steel appliances are still hot.

Drop lighting is in, especially over task areas and is generally combined with recessed can lights.

High end kitchens have taller cabinets that go straight to the ceiling with no gap. They have varying profiles of projecting cabinets vs. a flat profile of cabinets with all the same depth. They have crown molding and decorative trim accents. They also have several types of cabinets in one kitchen such as glass front cabinets, open cabinetry, solid wood cabinetry, etc…

Thoughts on the kitchen

changes to the kitchen cabinet doors, counter, backsplash and lighting
areas getting changed

Changes have quickly been made from the first photo to the next with the removal of doors over the fridge, and opening the doors upper left and preparing them for glass inserts. The area above the fridge will become open, a shorter version of this longer display area, with decorative, wood  appliques, curved opening, bead moulding backing and lighting:

display area will be built in over the fridge where closes cabinets are located now

The two series of upper cabinets left of the fridge will become lighted cabinets with glass doors. Here the 4 cabinet doors (left) have been cut to allow glass.

Above the stove, the cabinet will be given additional height and reach the ceiling. This cabinet will become open, something like this, reaching to the ceiling with crown moulding and with a beadboard backing with lighting:

cabinets over stove will be replaced with an open display cabinet

Lower cabinets on either side of the stove will be pull drawers. They are designed behind the cabinet doors this way but we will remove the cabinet doors and have the drawers themselves face out.

Cabinet door paint: with Anni Sloan Chalk Paint Old White (whitest portion of test board) with Sherwin Williams Van Dyke Brown glaze.

Granite Countertop throughout the kitchen with a stone Backsplash, either brick or piano style. Something modern looking that isn’t too busy. 

Door and Cabinet Hardware (oil rubbed bronze): Cup Pulls (15) ; Knobs (9) 5 for top mounted cabinets along stove wall and four for glass doors. I currently have; Door Pulls (4 pantry fridge wall)

The dishwasher (14 years old) and the fridge (18 years old) definitely need replacing (fridge with a side by side) and most likely I’ll be looking on Craigslist – people are remodeling and moving so these items come up for sale more often then you think. I’m not all that keen on

A beautiful faucet with dark brown sink …

The biggest issue is the island. I’ve hated it for years. It is not decorative or even useful. But it is not tiled underneath so I can’t simply remove it. Working with what I have on hand, we’d decided to keep the three drawers (far too useful) and open the two ends, leaving a center cabinet which I’ll turn into a baking tray storage area, retaining the cabinet door.


We’ve already installed four drop pendants (Lowes), two over the island and two over the sink working counter.


The point is to update the kitchen make it more on par with houses $20,000 above our range, and do it without spending a bundle. Kitchens sell homes and this one could really carry the house to a closing.

Want to see more about cabinets? There’s more on the blog right here….

Tip: planning for drop pendants

Our original kitchen plan for lighting included 7 can lights – two rows of 3 and one over the sink. Because the builder aligned the kitchen sink light with the general lighting, it was never centered over the sink but along the row of general lights. Another misalignment was the chandelier over the breakfast table. It needed a chain to swag it over to the right spot – UGH!

A light hung over the island was never used and it’s color was selected only at the last minute when we were building – so it never matched well with our style or the existing pieces.

In updating the kitchen we are changing some of the lighting situation. We wanted to change the island light to drop pendants, as well as put a matching pendant over the sink as well as one that lines up next to the sink light. Using some string and plastic bags we worked on what it would look like, how it would line up and the drop distance of the pendant.

planning the visual placement of pendant lights over the kitchen island

We’ve installed these pendant lights from Lowes:


Tip: update your brass lighting fixtures

Nothing says outdated right now then brass lighting fixtures. They are just so 80’s and 90’s and it is these little things that will quickly date your house. Since we are looking to sell in a year or two, and don’t want to sink money into new light fixtures, I did a quick fix with spraypaint.

While there was only a brass rim to paint some Krylon Brushed Nickel spraypaint from Ace Hardware still makes that brass go away. All for about $5!

Brass light fixture before
Brushed Nickel by Krylon