Bathroom Renovation-Before & Plans

It’s closing day for us on our new house. I am both excited and completely, ridiculously terrified. But I barely have time to even think about it this week as we’ve been frantically planning the first phase of our renovation, which is to redo the only full bath in the house, add a pass through hallway on the main level and do a facelift on the powder room (and thousands of dollars in updates that you won’t see at all, which kills me).  We’ve chosen to work with the Wellbuilt Company on the project and will start demo on Wednesday! It’s alllllllll happening.

But let’s start with the full bath. I am SO lucky to have my dad’s amazing design firm helping me out on this one, as it’s pretty damn complicated. I have already learned that if you can ever avoid moving a toilet, DO.  It’s ridiculously expensive. I can’t even deal with how much furniture I could buy for this place for the cost of moving that one damn toilet, but it has to be done. See this bath has to serve as our master (and a guest bath when we have visitors) until we can save up more for the master suite we plan to add in a year (please, please, please) or two (no, no, no).  And right now it’s TINY.  So we have to expand it into some closet space and move the toilet to accommodate a wide enough vanity that Andrew and I can both use it without a) murdering each other b) me branding him with my curling iron daily and c) store the INSANE amount of crap we both have (the boy likes products almost as much as me).

Here are the quickly snapped before pictures- as you can see it’s actually kind of cute in a vintage way! And since our budget is TIGHT due to said toilet move we have to keep the tile in the shower and the bath tub and have them re-glazed.  Hey, could be worse. At least they are black and white and basic.  I debated cutting out that arch and having it go straight to the ceiling, but now I am going to keep it and perhaps use a flexible ceiling track to have a shower curtain that splits in the middle kind of like drapes.

I actually would have kept the floor too had we not been expanding but since we are making the room bigger we do have to replace it. So down will come the wall tile, wallpaper and up will come the floor.

Here’s a bit of what we plan to do spatially… you see where the toilet was and where it will go and how we are adding about two feet of space for the vanity and swapping the swing of the door.

I went to the fantastic Waterspot showroom to pick out all the things we need for the space and went with almost all American Standard products from the Town Square Collection. My parents were so sweet and gifted me a custom built vanity designed by my dad for the room. I want to use every single inch of space for storage so this is HUGE, and we’ll top it with a Cararra marble top with a large undermount American Standard Studio sink set in it. I am pretty psyched about keeping this space both classic and sleek with a black and white scheme- here is the plan and some notes on what I have chosen:

1. Town Square faucet in chrome  2.Studio sink 3.Countertops in Cararra marble  4. Waterspot carries Visual Comfort and we are using the Bryant Sconces with silver trimmed shades  5. Pondering a mirror like this one from Horchow, or something vintage  6. I’d love a sketch with a little color like this from Kate Long Stephenson 7. White beadboard replacing the tile on the walls  8. Walls painted black (exact color TBD)  9. Glass and chrome knobs from Rejuvenation for the vanity  10. Town Square toilet (who knew I could think a toilet is “pretty”?)  11. The floor is a Cararra basketweave with black dots  12. Town Square bath/shower kit 13. Shower curtain possibility.

Have not thought about a window treatment yet, but I think I’ll do a great print fabric pelmet with a woven roller shade underneath. Or perhaps a sheer roman. One thing at a time….

Here’s an elevation of the vanity area…

Some inspiration:

While i am really psyched to be getting a bathroom designed by me (my very first ever) I am scared. You open walls and who knows what you’ll find.  So everyone cross your fingers and keep checking back to see the progress!

Renovation Sponsors:

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I Bought A House, Y’all.

(our house)

OK, so we don’t close for three more weeks, but I think by now I can finally share properly that Andrew and I bought our first house. We’ve owned two condos before, so first time home buyers we are not, but this is the first time we will own all four walls and a roof (that needs replacing, of course). And it’s in the burbs. Ok, it’s not like the BURBS burbs, it’s in Newton Center, a mere 10-12 minutes from downtown Boston, but it’s still not the South End, where I have lived and LOVED living for the past few years.  While I did not want to leave the city yet, the rents are INSANE and there isn’t anything on the market we can afford that we can stay in long term. Cue housing conundrum. The real estate recession is no where to be found in these parts.  It’s a total clusterfuck, to be honest. Rents are super high and inventory low and decent homes of sale under $1 million are being bought for over asking prices in desirable areas within days of being on the market. What is one to do?

Leave the city apparently, for some space, an actual driveway and garage and absence of noisy neighbors.

Well, we have been scouring open houses in close the the city towns for months and months. Open houses where 50 people would be waiting in the driveway 10 minutes before it was scheduled to start. Nothing to pressure you like a crowd of young moms staring you down like “Bitch please, I have a KID and another on the way, this house is MINE! I will cut you!”  So a few months ago we saw our dream house. Like, Father of the Bride dream house. I nearly punched Andrew in a fit of joy in our car when we drove up to it. It felt right. And it was really expensive, but we put in a low ball offer…and after negotiations we actually GOT IT. It was amazing and terrifying, but I had already begun renovating in my head.

And then we had our inspection.

It. Went. Horribly.

Like, one of the worst our agent has ever seen. Mold. Water. Bad electric. Old water pipes. Poor construction. Foundation damage. Termites. Roof problems. Need I go on?

We backed out. It was 300 grand in damage to repair and I am not Beyonce.  I can’t afford that.  I felt pretty gutted and really hopeless that we’d find something I loved as much.  Our wonderful agent told me about a place she wanted me to see, and after looking at the pics online I wasn’t sold at all. Charming, not so much. Not like the other house. But the location was amazing- a place that offers me a yard but the ability walk to Starbucks and shopping in 5 minutes. Since I was a bit freaked about leaving the city pre-children, I loved that feature. So I agreed to put in an offer. And we were outbid. OF COURSE. But something in the universe shifted and the deal fell through and we got it. For under asking, which is rare in Newton.

When it comes to real estate I always look to my dad for advice. He’s saved us from investment disasters and has had unbelievable luck (and skill) with investing in property his whole career. So when he gave it his blessing, and enthusiastically so, I was psyched. So we are working on it together- designing the renovation inside and out (in phases, of course) and I am uncharacteristically calm about it. Which I hope is a good sign. But just wait until we open walls and I figure out how much my new kitchen is actually going to cost… that calm will go right out the new front door.

The place has not been touched since 1941, I swear. Except for the systems, which is HUGE. Wallpaper from the 50’s EVERYWHERE. Original kitchen cabinets. ONE FULL BATHROOM (and one half, but STILL, this will be interesting!). But it does have pretty hardwood floors, dentil moulding all over, a sunroom and POTENTIAL. And a location to kill for. So join me in the coming months on a new blog series chronicling the in, outs, ups and downs of my home renovation from the closing day until the day we finish. I really am excited to have your opinion and support through this process and hope you find it interesting and funny and can keep me from walking in front of a soccer mom’s minivan.

Wow. Onto the next phase of life. In the burbs. And as the previous owner said with tears in her eyes, having spent her entire life in this house, ” I hope you make as many wonderful memories here as we did”.

We plan to.

Wish me luck,


Sofa Dilemma of 2011.

We are about thisclose to finally owning our condo and while I ponder what I want to do to the space I’ve been living in for a year (without decorating) my biggest decision are sofas.  While I want my space to be super clean and serene (I am assaulted by so much color and pattern and styles every day at work I kind of want my own home to be simple) I struggle with sofa color. As I’ve said a zillion times before, making decisions for other people’s homes is easy for me, for my own home it’s IMPOSSIBLE.

I’ve always wanted white sofas. I am obsessed with them. But I have two dogs. With eight dirty paws. And I myself cannot eat a single meal without some kind of sauce or wine staining my clothes, so this is not an option (sadly). I also am super lazy and won’t actually wash a slipcover so I will shoot down that suggestion immediately. So I had settled on grey.  Grey Chesterfields, to be exact.

And then I went and sat in the Chesterfields I wanted and guess what? So not comfy. And we all know a sofa in front of the TV HAS to be comfy.GAH!

So, as I rethink the style (probably the Liam by MGBW or the Park ave by Duralee) I also became obsessed with a new idea. NAVY VELVET SOFAS!!!! So rich, so British library-esque. So chic! Paired with a great vintage Heriz Persian rug and a simple sleek lucite table and brass accents it would be so lovely, no?

And guess who rocked a navy sofa in her new apartment?

YUP. That makes it legit.

Yet, I cannot decide. I also am pretty sold on the place being white, grey and black. Hmmm, your thoughts?

(illustrated by Jonathan Adler pieces- not what I’m thinking of style wise, but they illustrate the concept well!)


Homeless Designer Seeks Shelter.

Did that get your attention? Good because yours truly has 8 weeks to find a new home. That’s right, last week we found out our landlord is being foreclosed on and we are out May 1. Sweeeeeeeeeeeeet. The picture above is how I feel about it. So, here I am using this blog as a platform to help myself find a new home. If you are in Boston or know someone in Boston’s South End or Back Bay who has a fabulous 2 bedroom for rent or sale please tell them about little ol’ moi. The listings right now are grim, so I’m hoping to find something by word of mouth. I have to say, I am the world’s best renter because it is my blood to make improvements on a space even if it’s not mine. :) And if you are thinking of selling, well, have your people call my people (my people being Baxter and Ollie).

Thanks guys! A new home means fun new blog posts…I’m trying to l0ok on the bright side (but really spend most of the day cursing my current situation).

New Place Update

I am so excited to make my first purchase this week from American Express Membership Rewards! I am using 25,000 points to get a Pottery Barn gift card for $250 so I can get  gorgeous long white cotton drapes for my master bedroom. I’ll be installing them on ceiling tracks to give the room serious drama and a spa-like ethereal feel.  This weekend I made an attempt at painting the wall behind the bed black- bought the paint, Martha Stewart’s Florence from Home Depot, a pretty deep, deep charcoal- but never got to painting it. I will by the end of the week!  I did however, get to IKEA and bought this GINORMOUS print of the Eiffel Tower to hang on a large blank wall next to the bed! It’s like waking up in Paris every morning (and last night I got in bed early and watched “Paris” and “Amelie” and relished in all things Parisian!)


Where the drapes will go:


The drapes I selected- affordable thick cotton from Pottery Barn:


I also hung my gallery wall this weekend and think it loks pretty good for having eyeballed it and having no plan beforehand!


Fresh peonies from the market on the table make me deliriously happy…


My bar completed:


Oliver wanted to say hello as well…


Another vignette from the house: