Room: Ta-da the new, powder room (bathroom)!

What surprised me about this remodel is I came into it with a plan – and much of that plan was thrown out! It became important to be flexible and it’s one reason the room took longer then expected. Although the room wasn’t quite what I had originally imagined… it’s far better!

As we progressed, it became clear that some things weren’t going to work out. The cream color for the cabinets just didn’t look good with the bright blue of the walls; the bird paintings were too yellow and square for the vertical height of the wall (and were moved to the hallway outside the bathroom), the first, selected light fixture was going to be too dark for the light feeling of the room, and the dark mirror frame got changed to silver.

See the gallery of the new bathroom!


Thoughts on this room ~

For some time, I’ve felt that the height of the room (9 feet) needed to be featured. We did that with a speciality, pearl paint (Winter Blue Fox from Lowes) in a metallic silver for the ceiling, two patterns of crown moulding and a cabinet that reached all the way to the ceiling. Vertical artwork also draws your eye upwards.

Originally we had picked a stock vanity but I kept looking for a unique table that we could use instead. This became a big headache because the space was so small that most dressers (at 34-36″ were too wide) and end tables were too low. Persistence paid off when we found this table at an antiques mall in another city. Stripped, sanded, and redone in the grey to match the cabinet it is topped with Italian marble and a vessel sink.

For such a small room, it was expensive, time consuming and a pain in the neck. While I think it turned out lovely, I’ll be glad to work on some larger bathroom projects that don’t need as many changes.

Total remodel cost ($1400):

Wall finish– Lowes’ Venetian Plaster Aquamarina #67. Because we started with flat walls, one gallon did the job ($40).

Ceiling – Lowes Pearl paint (Blue Winter Fox) with crown moulding ($80).

Vanity ($120) – with marble top ($250), vessel sink ($125), and a new faucet ($150)

Overjohn cabinetextended height size with molding and wood, repainted, and new door pulls ($150).

Base Moulding – removed and replaced with larger molding ($20). Painted Chef White (from available paint)

Fixtures and extras – lighting fixture ($25), mirror ($60), towels and towel bar, toilet paper hanger, toilet bowl brush, trash can ($60).

ArtArtwork from Bed, Bath and Beyond (bought with $5 off coupons for $20 each small, $40 for the large) $120.

Toilet – The one chosen for the downstairs powder room is a space saver, quiet flush from Jacuzzi ($200).

This bathroom is now finished except for a few extra touches such as a towel bar and a soap dispenser — whew!!

Project: converting table to a bathroom vanity 1

On a recent trip out of the city, we found an antique table ($120) that will be converted for the vanity in the powder room remodel. When we got it home, it looked even better then we thought!


In the past I’ve used Handi-Strip and personally have had little luck with it. Lately, I’ve started using NEXT paint stripper as it is biodegradable and actually works! However, it does go on thin and it also needs time. Use a paint thinner to remove the residue the stripper leaves. 

Since we will be using a glaze, it’s important for every groove to be well defined. A variety of tools were used: a metal bristle brush, hand held sanding blocks with a slanted edge, metal scraper, bendable steel brush pads, and the Mouse Sander.

Before sanding we fixed one of the pieces on the decorative trim by recyling off a piece we had taken off the drawer front (we won’t be using the drawer so it was removed). It was attached with glue and finishing nails; put through pre-drilled holes and then gently tapped down.

4th from left to right is damaged
new piece in front ready to be glued

Luckily, all four spindle pieces (one in each corner) were in good condition. If not, we would have moved the two that would be against the wall to the front (the best ones) and not replaced the back spindles.

Next, a coat of latex enamel priming paint, tinted gray, was applied with a bristled brush. A foam brush would have worked but I find they start to split when using it to push into recessed spaces. Spraypaint primer would have also worked, but I just prefer paint. Of course a professional, spray paint application would have been optimum.

All the lovely detail emerges
primed table ready for sanding

Paint brush marks are slightly visible but are not after being hand-sanded with Fine grade sandpaper. Special attention is paid to the grooves, spindles and decorative trim as these areas will highlight the glaze endcoat. The tabletop is unimportant as it will be covered with granite when converted to the bathroom vanity.

Primer is left to dry for 24 hours before the first THIN layer of semi-gloss latex paint (Valspar Waverly Classics – Gull W38006A) is applied with a foam roller. When loading the roller, do not saturate it with paint. Bring it down and get it slightly wet, then roll it in the upper portion of the tray (where the paint does not sit) to get it evenly covered.

The first coat is lightly sanded (Fine) and left to dry for 24 hours. Second coat is also lightly worked with with steel wool. It’s important that all drips, if any were made, are removed.

TIP: When painting a table, I like to put it upside down on sawhorses for the first coat; then I flip the table right side up and work on any missed areas. Working upside down seems to minimize the chance of missing drips vs. if you had started working with the table right side up.

Next, a layer of Valspar’s Antiquing Glaze (ready made black glaze from Lowes) is applied. It has a 15 minute working time so if you need more time, dilute it with the transculent mixing glaze it adds more working time. This paint color and glaze was the same as used on the cabinets in the bathroom.

Finally, two top protective coats are applied in a water-based, varnish. If applying a varnish over latex paint, it must be water-based or you’ll end up with some nasty bubbling and/or yellowing. Varnish also needs to be applied with a nice brush, not a roller. First coat is sanded (Very Fine) before the last coat.

The top of the table isn’t worked with glaze because in the end it will be covered with a marble top once it is fitted into the bathroom as the vanity. Not quite done… still have to select the marble countertop, the vessel sink and the faucet for it to become the downstairs, powder room vanity.

Project: glazing the bathroom cabinet (black over gray)

The original cabinet in the powder room was standard builder work. Though made of nice oak, it was just a box that hung on the wall. With the high ceiling, I always felt it should be a taller to draw the eye upwards.

Hubby made a box out of Aspen to mount on top of the existing cabinet. The carved work was recycled from an old vanity harp with very decorative moulding which I had bought years ago ($20), thinking I would make a shelf out of it. The edge of one piece of the molding was damaged so we used molding epoxy to shape the end piece.

The new box was attached to the wall, and molding trimwork used at the top and bottom of the old cabinet to make the unit appear as one.

Since the original cabinet had been stained and coated with a protective finish, it had to be sanded down to a point where all the old stain and varnish was completely broken and ready to receive paint. We goofed by not working hard enough at it and the first coat ended up peeling! DON’T SKIP SANDING AND PREPPING!

Danielle Hirsch (formerly of Color Splash) has a video here about cabinet doors. She recommends cleaning, sanding, (and on the show – not this video) priming with an oil-based as the first coat, covered with latex paint.

If you want a protective cover coat, and used latex paint, use a water-based poly (good) or water based varnish (better) – preferably applied with a paint sprayer. If you use an oil based over latex it will yellow the overall look. Oil based varnishes and poly’s also will yellow as they have a natural amber tint.

I apply latex paint with a foam roller designed for cabinet applications along with a 2″ inch bristle paint brush (to push into the crevices). I like the foam because it leaves no marks when you make the last pass.

In this case the undercoat color was Valspar Waverly Classics – Gull W38006A. The gray was lighter then I wanted the end product which was deliberate as I knew the glaze would darken it somewhat.

Thickly apply the Valspar’s Antiquing Glaze, a black glaze over an area you can work in about 15 minutes (dilute with their clear glaze for longer working time if you need more then 15 minutes) .

With a clean rag (cut up t-shirt), work the glaze into the crevices with a circular motion. The crevices is where you will want the glaze to remain so you remove the glaze from flat surfaces.

If you have removed too much glaze, just reapply with your paintbrush, working it back into the crevices.

The end wipe should be in the direction of the wood. For example the long sides were an even stroke all the way across; the short sides an even stroke. Match the wood grain with your strokes and lift off at the end so there is no end mark with your rag or brush (similar to dragging).

click photo for closeup comparison

Once the second door is finished, the two doors are compared to make sure the glaze looks the same on both doors. That’s why it’s best to have one person to do the project, the amount of pressure, amount removed, will be more consistent.

Glazed detail on moulding
Three coats of wipe-on, water based poly with the 2nd coat steel wooled. If this bathroom had a tub/shower, I would have used a different topcoat as the wipe-on poly isn’t extremely durable but will be fine for the light use of this room. 

Want to see more about base moulding and moulding projects? There’s more on the blog right here

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

Base Molding

When our current house was built we were given the cheapest molding possible. This is one of the many ways a builder cuts costs and the small base molding has bugged me since Day One. In our plans to redo the first floor, replacing this molding with something larger figures high on the list.

In the Parade of Homes we visited, we noticed that homes in the price range that we would be currently building our home today (due to skyrocketing building costs) and those priced above all came with larger molding!

Here are some photos of how the molding looked (remember to click on the photo to see a close up with the details):

In this molding the ends are aligned with door molding (left) and a block (right). The white molding shows high contrast against the darker wood floors (all the rage) and the medium toned neutral paint. This would become a theme in all the Builder homes we saw on the tour.

base molding 01

Rounded, plastered corners was seen in all the new homes, and with it, came these corner base molding pieces that wrapped them:

base molding 03

rounded corner base molding

This photo caught some of the doorway molding that we also saw — at the right, you can see the open walk-through has molding on the inside of the pass. We saw this in about half of the homes we viewed and I am of two minds about it. I liked the look in squared off throughway’s and did not like it in arched throughway’s.

base molding 02

Inside passthrough molding

I imagine in the long run this saves some damage to plaster as doorways get pretty banged up with moving furniture, kids and people resting hands on the walls. Of course, it did continue the theme of putting molding everywhere! (over windows, doors, under windows, doors, extensive crown molding etc…)

In all of these examples you can see that the base molding was quite substantial in size. Widths were probably about 6″ as compared to our current base molding which is about 3″.  Profiles were kept simple and because of the spare furniture put in builder’s homes, was quite noticeable.

From this next photo, and all the others, you can see that no quarter round was added – something that was placed in our home and which I have hated for years as being just another something to collect dirt and dust when trying to clean floors.

base molding 04

Like all molding, the wider it is, the more expensive. The more ornate the profile, the more expensive. Molding that is meant to be stained has few if any join marks which makes it more expensive as compared to pine or MDF with more joints and is meant to be painted.

We did notice in one home that a very simple 3″ base was added to on the top with a more ornate profile base and since they were next to each other and painted over with the same color, appeared to be one larger piece. I am not sure this would actually save you money. However if you had a base molding you did not want to replace but wanted the bigger look you could add another piece of base and double the size appearance.

Want to see more about base moulding and moulding projects? There’s more on the blog right here

Doorway and Window molding

During our trip through many of the homes featured on the Parade of Homes, we saw a new way of dealing with doors and windows that really seduced us. This was additional trim and molding at the top of the door and windows, as well as the bottom of the door and windows.

Doorway cornice mouldings were on many doors – this is a hallway bathroom door:

bathroom door lintel molding

Here the inside of the front door sports an even more impressive Cornice moulding design:

inside front doorway lintel

Windows and archways also came away with molding treatments to make them more impressive. These French Doors with Transom Window is topped with molding that reaches into the crown molding. A bit overkill it seems to me…

French doors with transom and molding

A lovely window with a bit of Cornice moulding on top:

window top molding

as well as bottom…

bottom window molding 2

window bottom molding

Even triple windows received treatments of molding

Bay window with top molding

as did windows with curves

Arched window with molding

None of this molding is out of reach of the simple carpenter or even the most basic budget. The reality is that additions of these types ups the rich Old World feeling of home. Because it is projects that typically increase the cost of building due to time and materials, it also sends a vibe to the visitor that this home is older and richer then perhaps it’s neighbor without the moldings.

Window moldings were being seen throughout the home – the fancier and larger treatments with the common rooms of breakfast, dining, great room, living room and master, but also even in the spare bedrooms and game rooms. Perhaps moldings have grown in popularity as fewer people are using full window curtains to dress a window and more are opting for blinds with perhaps a frisson of drape?

See the DIY, step by step tutorial on this type of over door, moulding project!

Want to see more about moulding? Check out the blog right here

Crown Molding

We’ve been spending the week doing some of our local Parade of Homes. These are open homes by builders you can visit for free and our purpose was to go and take note of some of the trends and buyer-desired features so we could later duplicate them in our house!

A very noticeable feature was the use of molding, both base and crown, on walls, ceilings and over doors and windows.

Let’s examine crown molding first as I love it.  The most common rooms with crown molding is the formal dining, great room and master. Often we also saw it in the kitchen and entry way. We saw none in the upstairs areas or the extra bedrooms.

The reality is that it is time consuming and expensive to install. Crown molding is sold by the linear foot. It can be bought in oak, pine and even MDF and if it wood is designed to be stained will be more expensive, then the type that has more joints and is made to painted.

Most of the crown molding and other molding we saw was painted white on medium tone neutral walls. In a few of the homes it was stained a deep, rich brown.

Crown molding corner jointWe even saw one example that was painted cream and then was glazed over so the lines of the molding were even more evident (just personal taste but we both didn’t like it – too trendy and it already looked dated).

It can be a bear to put in as you have to cut the ends in a reverse, upside down cut then what you would normally think so it’s not for a “beginner.”

Some of the homes cheated by using this decorative joining piece  (photo left) so they wouldn’t have to cut it all fancy. Having installed crown molding ourselves, this probably saved tons of time!

Here are some clever ways the builders cheated to gain the look without the price. To see the full effects of the crown and for better details, click the photos. That will show it enlarged and details can be better viewed.

In this example, the builder has put in crown molding, then left a section of plaster painted white below it. A small bead of molding defines the bottom of the white area, giving the illusion that all the white area is molding (it is not). This was a very old trick used as long ago as the Victorian age.

crown molding with plaster illusion

In this yet to be painted crown molding design, above and below the crown molding is placed a simple piece of baseboard. This gives the optical appearance that the entire unit is one massive piece of crown molding (it’s not). If you have very high ceilings and want to make a massive statement, this fits the bill!

crown molding with base above and below

Here is the same technique of above and below base molding with crown but it is stained. Here you can see how the optical illusion of one massive (and supposedly high-dollar piece of crown molding graces the ceiling.

crown molding with base molding stained brown

In this version (below), which we liked best, the crown is offset with only one piece of baseboard that is located below (as opposed to the previous version which did above and below).

crown molding base below only

And here is the same effect with a tray ceiling, done at different ceiling heights:

crown molding at two ceiling heights tray ceiling

From a visitors’ viewpoint, it was immediately noticeable if a home had crown molding or not because of the darker shade of neutral that is now popular with builders. The crisp white of the crown molding made the ceiling and wall paint really pop and gave the entire home a fresh, new feel.

Crown molding is often noted in real estate seller’s notes on a home up for sale so it is an attractive feature that buyers desire. With a little ingenuity you can also have that ka-ching look with just a bit of sweat equity!

Want to see more about crown moulding and moulding projects? There’s more on the blog right here

Tip: Installing cabinet hardware with a jig

I got a great deal on some cabinet knobs via Craigslist;  they were really nice knobs and I got 18 for $25. The seller told she bought them through ebay and didn’t use them all, so I will have to check ebay out! Thanks Christine for the tip!

back of jigWe installed the knobs on the kitchen cabinets by making a jig. Our jig was made from some scrap lumber and it serves as a guide for cutting the holes which makes the job go faster and easier.

Since we knew the edge of the cabinet w0uld hold the jig in place, the jig was designed so the L would butt into the cabinet. Hubby first cut two pieces of scrap lumber and attached them in an L shape, using his square to check alignment.

Next he attached a flat scrap to the L-shape. He measured the distance from each side of the door corner and transposed that onto the flat side of the jig.

front of jig with drill

Then he drilled a hole that would become the guide for future drilling into the cabinet doors. You can see from the back of the jig (above) that the first hole wasn’t right (always check before using), so he re-measured and made another.

The jig is then placed against the corner of the cabinet door where the drill is used to start the hole. Hubby used a drill bit that would fit the screws snugly; you need to be careful with that because if it isn’t a snug fit, over time, the screw will loosen in the hole, making your pull or handle wobbly.

drilling for hole in cabinet

Also, don’t put the drill on full force; start with slow to medium speed.

Once you get the hole started, enough to mark to the hole (about an eighth of an inch), remove the jig and drill the rest of the hole.

cabinet screw

The screw for the cabinet knob is screwed in from the back.

screwing on cabinet knob
Once it’s screwed flush,
then the knob is applied from the front of the cabinet.

installed cabinet pulls

The installed cabinet pulls.

Tip: Using Bondo for furniture repairs

Over the years, one of the small drawers of the Secretary Desk had gotten a corner damaged. Repairing it with carpentry would have been a pain, but a furniture restorer gave us the tip that if we were going to paint the piece (not stain) we could use Bondo to make a new corner. I also used it to repair a crack in another drawer front.

Bondo is a body filler used in the car industry. When it’s two components are mixed, a chemical reaction is produced and it will generate some slight heat. At this point it can be molded like putty. You can find it at auto supply shops and now at Lowes in the paint area.

When using Bondo:

1.) The work area should be clean, devoid of dirt and polishes.

2.) Lightly sand where you want it to attach. It needs an area to grip and if the surface is smooth it will have problems.

3.) Work in a very well ventilated area and use latex gloves. This stuff can be toxic.

4.) Once dry and hard, it can be sanded and painted, but not stained.

5.) Use where small imperfections or defects need to be corrected. It is very liquid.

There are also other repair products out there and if you have a moulded piece to repair check out this post.