Tip: downstairs wall paint

When we went on the Parade of Homes tour two years ago, we noticed that the builders had painted all the walls of the entire downstairs the same color. This gave the illusion of making the house appear larger.

We also noticed that they were using a darker neutral in tan/khaki or grays. This made the white of the mouldings, both crown and base really pop out. Overall, it was a fresh, clean look that fooled the buyer into thinking the home was bigger as all the rooms flowed easily into the other.

We plan on putting this house on the market in 12-18 months so all my design decisions have to take this into account: how will our 15 year old house compare to what people can buy new? or buy within the price range that this house is being sold for?

With that in mind the entire downstairs, except bathroom and laundry rooms are being painted with Valspar’s allen + roth Rock ar720. It’s a gray putty with a hint of brown.

We tried a lot of samples on the wall and this one really impressed us. We painted the walls of the hall down to the laundry room and bathroom, which is the darkest hall in the house, and the color wasn’t so dark that it made you feel you were walking into a cave. OTOH, it’s not so light that it looks like a dirty cream.

TIP! When trying a paint color put a sample on the wall – several walls – so you can see how light can strike it during different times of daylight. For example, we put a sample in the hallway with no windows, the front entry with some windows, and the dining which gets a lot of light.

Planning: kids bathroom

from Lamps Plus

Love the marble/granite counter in this next photo.

from Nantucket Beadboard
from Nantucket Beadboard

Flooring – (38″ x 80″ = 21 approx sq. ft; 48″ x 74″ = 25 approxsq ft.; 21 + 25 = 46 sq. ft). Calculate your inches to square feet using this online calculator. Porcelain, mesh mounted 12″ x 12″ tile sheet (Lowes) @ $2.57 per sheet= $139 (5 boxes) with bag of Thinset/Grout ($39).

Laminate Countertop22″ x 71″ with backsplashes. Keeping original whitesinks and faucets.

LightingBrushed Nickel lighting – after measuring, a 3 light fixture (24″ long), one over each sink, would work best.

The biggest issue I have is the tub/toilet area has one light – overhead – with a fan unit that has yellowed (icky!). It’s always dim in their and makes the room like a cave. This area needs another light too.

MouldingBoard and Batten style similar to this but with solid thin panels because the wall is textured. Moulding surrond to frame out the entire builders’ mirror.

Cabinetry – I’m going to replace the arched cabinet style with a square faced style. Found this great place to order cabinet doors! 2 doors are 11 and 15/16″ wide x 17″ high ($13 each), 2 doors are 11 and 7/8″ wide x 17″ high; and 2 are 12 and 7/8″ wide x 27″ tall.

The vanity painted gloss white and new hardware in silver, like these for the drawers:

There is also a narrow, storage closet with a door opening of 15″ wide x 81″ which I want to change a bit with making it open shelving.

ToiletAquaSource White High Efficiency Elongated Toilet Model AT1203-00. $100

Shower curtain and shower head replaced. Another huge problem with this bathroom is the tub drains really slowly and the gauge for the water temp seems to be off as it goes cold to hot too quickly. This may need to be checked on by a plumber.

Bathroom fixtures –  showerhead, tub storage, toilet roll hanger, cabinet hardware etc… in brushed nickel, chrome, silver/pewter color family.

Linens – this bathroom has lots of brightly colored towels in “sherbet” colors – rosy pink, lime green, bright blue etc… that will be worked into the plan.


Planning: powder room

Our downstairs bathroom has a pedestal sink and toilet and has bugged me from day one of our move into this house 13 years ago. The wallpaper has only gotten more dingy, the molding more grimy and the whole thing a burr under the saddle!

These are the before photos of our downstairs, powder room which contains a sink and a toilet. This is the same hall that leads to the laundry room (done in our previous remodel). Due to the cramped nature of a small bathroom the photos are a bit cramped too 😉

Pedestal Sink, mirror and current lighting

Thoughts on this room:

  • Uninspiring and nothing special. This room doesn’t offer anything unique or tempting me to see the rest of the house.
  • Very tired. The wallpaper is dirty and so are the baseboards. This is a hard used room as everyone uses it when downstairs where the living rooms, kitchen and dining rooms are located.
  • Needs ART! The walls are borrrrrrinnnnggggg!
  • Pedestal sink just looks cheap as does the frameless mirror.
  • Hate the brass coverplates and towel ring.
  • Baseboards seem to suck onto dirt.

The plumbing arrangement won’t be changed, so toilet and sink remain where they are. Room size is almost a square: 56 1/2″ (wall with sink, toilet) x 55 1/2″ (door wall).

Planning for the NEW bathroom look:

1.) Remove the pedestal sink and replace with a vanity and sink combo. Instead of going with the Lowes’ stock vanity we found an antique table we will be using instead. $120

2.) Replace the faucet and sink ~ DeNova brushed nickel vessel faucet from Overstock. $170

from Overstock.com

Vessel sink bowl – China White sink whose shape mimics the medallion on the light. $113

3.) Replace the toilet. Jacuzzi  Prestige White High Efficiency WaterSense Elongated 2-Piece Toilet $200. This toilet is not an easy install- you need to know what you are doing as you must drill new anchors into the floor. Great flush, very quiet, love the smooth sides and trim at bottom, very small tank, plastic seat is rather cheap feeling.

4.) Walls and Ceiling ~ Remove Wallpaper and replace with Venetian Plaster from Lowes: wall color will be a soft blue (Aquamarina #67); the ceiling a dark silver grey, both of these colors will really pop with the crown molding.

5.) After viewing cabinets at Lowes, have remodeled the current over-john cabinet (31″ x 30″) to a taller height (30″ x 42″) by adding molding trim over the top.

6.) New lighting over mirror. Found on Craigslist $25

7.) New mirror. Current mirror is 20″ wide and 36″ tall. Loved this Jacqueline mirror  (42″H x 27″W x 1″D) but for $200 (plus shipping) my budget went with a  local find (28″ x 36″) at $69, at an antique shop.

9.) Replace base molding with 6″ tall base used in Laundry room.

10.) Install new crown molding.

11.) Art, decor, towels. Artwork x-ray plants in soft lavender, greens and blue with face towels and wash clothes that match.

Planning: laundry room

There’s a blog entry here about laundry design, and the text has some useful points so I thought I would link to it. However, though the photos are very pretty, – how many people have room like this in their laundry room? Not many. I found this blog entry more useful in terms of photos as they had some realistically, sized rooms. Another great photo article is this one by Southern Living magazine.

My laundry room does not have a window and is long and narrow (think galley style kitchen) at 5′ 6″ wide and 9′ long. It’s a difficult place for two people to work or even to put in/take out the laundry because with a basket you can barely turn around. There is no option to expand it so I need to work with what I have.

Needs: easier access to move in Washer and Dryer on pedestals; ironing board; hanging space for clothes; storage for detergents and cleaning; kitty door; wall decor so you can feel better when stuck in there doing laundry; redoing paint and baseboard to match the new plan for the downstairs.



UPDATE! ~ See the finished laundry room here

finished laundry room


~ Remove door and store

~ Rip out existing shelves, utility cabinet, bead board and base molding.

~ Replaster walls.

~ Bakers Rack – purchased off CL and ready to go.

~ Washer and Dryer Front Load on pedestal/platform

~ Fix floor by putting in missing tiles.

replace base molding painted Valspar’s Chefs White

replace lighting fixture. With the low ceiling, it needs to hug the ceiling. Also when the box was installed, the electrician put it close to the vent, so a square or circular fixture won’t work in this area so I’ve opted for a track lighting system. This would allow light to be more even through the narrow space.

I like this one because the curve makes me think of waves. From the reviews it sounds like the first choice doesn’t provide as much overall illumination and is more task oriented:

~ Art. White Starfish 24×36. Beach view Gordmans. Or colorful flower paintings from Garden Ridge?? Ended up going with the photo pop picture I found at Gordmans, $23 cheaper then the same at Garden Ridge, and in better condition!

~ Frame bulletin board.

Below you can see how much room the W/D set takes up (drawings are to scale). The item to the left labeled BR is the Bakers’ Rack. I opted for this piece of furniture because it would be easy to remove and gain access to the W/D or to move them in and out.

It also provides a decorative view as you walk down the hallway – as this hallway, prior to entering the laundry room, has a door off the right into the downstairs powder room.

In this front profile view, it’s clear there is no room for cabinets. I’ve measured out the height room on the baker rack shelves so I can decide what storage bins to buy or if I can fit a lamp on the desk/draw platform. The upper right shows where the pole for hanging clothes will remain across the short end of that wall.

Tip: Designing a Room with Kids

As a mom, I idealized what it would be like to design my daughter’s room with her help. I thought it would be really cool to provide her a space that was uniquely designed by her, especially as my own mother was very controlling about my bedroom when I was a child.

However, it quickly got a bit of a hand with some big plans that would not be doable.

For example, she wanted a bunk bed with a desk underneath. Not only were they pricey but I was skeptical that she would want to sleep it all the way through high school. Her room does not have a high ceiling and would she really want to climb up that ladder everyday?

Her idea on painting the walls was also over the top with originally a dark navy blue on all four walls, which later got switched to walls with a pattern and four different colors!

I realized that I would need to take a step back and reduce her involvement. Yet how to do so while respecting her wishes?

1.) Take the child WINDOW SHOPPING… look at beds, dressers, nightstands and bed comforters. Whenever they say “I like that!” try to ask questions that give you a clearer understanding of exactly what they like.

For example, daughter liked extremely different looking (on the surface) dressers but they all had certain things in common:  bowed dresser drawers, drawers that were flush to the unit, little to no molding or carving, and a modern/contemporary style. She also clearly wanted it painted – not stained.

2.) Discover the colors the child likes by looking through her/her clothes and together shopping for bedding. You can even go and look at paint chips. Find 1-3 colors, that go well together.

If the color is strong or trendy, aim at using it in accessories that can later be changed and not wall or furniture paint. Shopping for accessories is also a fun outlet for the child to personalize their room.

3.) Does the child like patterns (i.e. stripes, flowers, circles, checks, plaids) or prefer solids?

4.) And always go back to what the child wants the room to do. Older teens need space for homework and computers; preschool children need plenty of floor space. Let the child brainstorm a list of what they will be doing in their room: sleep, playing with Lego, drawing cartoons, playing their game station, story time with a parent, sleepovers with friends etc…

5.) Storage is essential. Go with clear containers for younger children and a combination of solid and clear containers for teens. Clear allows easier sorting; solids are for decorative purposes and serve as accent pieces.

6.) Wall decor – for tweens and teens, plan for posters, cork and magnet boards, and other things that speak to them of their hobbies and interests.

Start with an inspiration piece. This is even more important with kids, as you can then use it to keep them on track in terms of color and style. If it doesn’t fit the inspiration piece then you know you need to move on.

An inspiration piece should have some of the colors you plan on using as well as inspire the theme of the room – is it a shell for a beach theme? a horseshoe for a girl who loves horses? a group of soccer trophies? a poster…?

For a basic bedroom, look for furniture before accessories:

Bed – twin, full or bunk bed?

Dresser – if the room is small go with a chest of drawers. For clotheshorse teens, you may want to go with a larger horizontal dresser. However, be sure to measure the door width and if a two-story house, how heavy something is before buying, as moving it up the stairs and fitting it through narrow doors and sharp bends can be a nightmare!

Nightstand – definitely needed for pre-teens and teens who require a bedside lamp, clock, music player, place for glasses etc…

Desk with chair – more needed for children who are old enough for writing, doing homework or drawing. Some child-sized desks will be outgrown – if the area for legroom is small or low, your teenager may need to upgrade in size.

Shelves/Bookshelves – for young children make sure they won’t fall over on the child if the child tries to climb the shelves. More necessary for the tween and teen; for a young child I would go with a unit that has drawers below, shelves above to prevent tipping of the unit.

Lamps – task lighting for reading and working at a desk; and night lights. Avoid floor lamps for young children who might tip them over upon themselves. At least two lamps are needed for an even light coverage in a typical secondary bedroom.

The main thing I’ve learned with daughter is to keep focused and on task. She has a lot of creative ideas but we also need to stick to a budget and what mom thinks will last for a few years.