Master Bathroom Reno: Before

This week we started our first big renovation at our house. The closest we’ve gotten to a big renovation before was our kitchen in our old house – I painted the cabinets, did a DIY subway tile backsplash, and we had new countertops installed. This time? Our Master Bathroom. This project is a huge one, and we’re not doing it ourselves. We know our limits – a backsplash? Yes. A small bathroom shower? Haven’t tried it, but I think I can and I will happily re-tile the kids’ bathroom shower (and am planning on doing it, their square bisque tile shower is starting to bug me more and more, but that will be awhile since our money and energy is currently focused on the Master. We can only lose one shower in our two shower house at a time!).


We actually knew immediately after we moved in that we wouldn’t do this job ourselves. Originally we thought we’d just replace the carpet with radiant heat tile floors and that I thought we could probably do ourselves but from a time is money standpoint we could just as easily hire out, but as we lived with the bathroom for a bit, we realized there were a lot of issues that needed to be addressed. Like, apparently our shower door has been broken since before we moved in. It stopped fully closing earlier this year, so when B and I sat down to prioritize our savings for 2015, we agreed to fast track saving to gut and remodel our bathroom. We had the funds that we’d been quoted back when we got a “Let’s just see what it will cost” quote back in 2013 when we moved in by April, and then we just kind of waited. When our shower door really stopped closing this summer (like, we couldn’t even force it anymore), we decided it was time to find a contractor and get started. I knew exactly what I wanted and had the plan, I just honestly had no idea where to start. We toyed with being our own general contractor on this project, but as I had no experience with this scale of project, that didn’t seem prudent. So we interviewed lots of contractors. And very few returned calls when they promised to. And many were so slammed with work that they just weren’t taking on new projects this year. The real estate market in Denver was crazy this summer, and it appears so was the home remodeling market. After many flaky contractors paraded through our home, we ended up calling a company that B knows one of the owners of through some community work he does. I assumed they’d be way out of our price range because they build and remodel luxury homes in far fancier neighborhoods and towns than we live in. They came out and are working nicely with our budget, and actually came in at a similar number to what the contractors who had all flaked quoted us, too – and they did all the ordering and coordinating. We’re getting far nicer faucets and tile than I would have picked at Home Depot and for not much than we would have spent buying all of that on our own for the other contractors we interviewed. Lesson learned? Sometimes it pays to hire it all out.

So, our bathroom. The first thing that needed to go was the carpet. That was a given. Once we realized the shower wasn’t functional, we decided that we’d probably rather have wall tile that was “us” instead of beige builder squares circa late 90s/early 00s. So, knowing we’d replace the wall tile, we figured we’d redo the counter tops since the tile was also our counter top surface. Which just left the big corner bathtub and vanity in the space. The gargantuan tub is luxurious, but an eyesore. It’s also so big it’s hard to clean. And impossible to open the windows behind the tub. So, while we didn’t have to replace the tub like we did the shower and flooring, once we realized we were going to be doing a full scale renovation anyway, we figured it was worth it to spend a bit more and get an awesome tub that looks nice, too. I was going to reuse the vanity and just repaint it, raise it up a few inches to counter height, and build some shelves in the cutout. But when I mentioned this to the contractor we ended up going with they said, “So, how about for close to the same amount of money that it would cost to do that project, we just replace the cabinet with something you actually love?” Oh. Okay. Yes, let’s do that.

So, that’s a lot of talk to basically say, we’re starting our big bathroom renovation. Since I’ve never shown much of this room on the blog before, here are some (iphone – big camera is still broken) before pictures in all it’s carpeted, orangey-oak glory.


Here’s a panorama to try to give an idea of the whole space. It’s a weird room. We can’t change the actual footprint of the room much, but we can drastically improve upon the materials and appearance. You walk into the bathroom and there’s a nice linen closet on your right, double vanity past that, corner tub, and small shower, with a toilet room next to the shower. The closet is accessed through the diaganol wall to the left of the photo below, next to the toilet room. The long wall opposite the vanity has towel bars and that’s it.





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So, that’s the dated before. I’ll share photos again when the whole project is done, but I’m doing the occasional update over on Instagram (my account’s private after I got some weird comments a few months ago, but just request me and if your name is recognizable and you don’t post pictures of women’s feet, I’ll likely confirm you ;) ).

Master Bedroom and Bathroom: Freshly Painted

When B was gone at the beginning of November, my mom and his mom came over to help me tackle a few projects. The first project was to get rid of the cobalt blue in the baby’s room, and project two was to put up beadboard wallpaper in Nell’s room (reveal soon, I promise!). While my mom was here, she talked me into having the master bedroom and bathroom painted professionally. These two rooms are big and vaulted. When we moved, we hired out the painting of the two story living room (mostly due to lack of equipment to handle the height of the ceilings), but I swore I’d paint everything else myself. I intended to paint our room this coming summer (post baby when I feel like I can safely climb a ladder again). But Caroline said to me, “We put all this time into making the kids’ rooms great, and getting the room ready for the baby. But I think your room should be ready for you when you are a mom of three little kids.” She’s absolutely right – when we moved into our our first house, our room was our top priority. After moving I was so fixated on getting the main level and the kids rooms to my standards that I deemed the paint in our room “Not so bad” and called it a day.

Here was the master on move-in day. I ripped the curtain holdbacks off the wall about 30 seconds after moving in, but we didn’t take down the plastic curtain hardware brackets until we were prepping it before painting.


Here’s our room as it stood just a week before Thanksgiving. The color truly wasn’t bad, but it didn’t do much for our burlap headboard and it just wasn’t us.


And here’s our master bathroom. This is our biggest looming project indoors (I will paint our kitchen cabinets myself next summer, but this is the big, hire-it-out when we’ve saved the cash project). We want to give our bathroom a complete overhaul, so I considered holding off on painting it altogether, but as you’ll see in a minute, I’m so glad I threw it in the mix. Can you tell I tidied up for these before pictures for you all? You’re welcome.



So, with Caroline’s prodding, I called up our painter who was able to come the next week. Which led to a mad scramble to pick a paint color. Downstairs, we have Benjamin Moore Gray Owl Lightened 50% everywhere. Upstairs in the kids rooms, we have full strength Gray Owl. I wanted our room to be moodier, so I went to Benjamin Moore for a sample of Sea Haze, the next swatch down from Gray Owl on the card. And I really liked the color, but I knew it was too dark for our room. So I thought I’d try some Gray Owl darkened 50%. And that was the ticket – such a subtle difference from the full strength Gray Owl, so the whole house will still flow seamlessly. It’s still neutral, but just dark enough to satisfy my desire for a different shade of my go-to paint in this house.

gray owl paint picking

And here are our bedroom and bathroom now. Gray Owl Darkened

I called my mom the day the painters left and said, “I didn’t realize how bad the brown was with our stuff until it was gone!”. The gray just gives everything a lighter, more neutral canvas to work with. And in the bathroom, the new paint makes the tile that read so brown before just kind of disappear. It’s amazing what a little paint can do. Carpet and ugly lighting aside, I feel less like we have to renovate the bathroom RIGHT THIS SECOND. Which is good because the outside of our house needs painting (and a new garage door…and new lighting…and  new doors…and we have two or three tress that need to come down) and all the money we’ve saved for house projects is looking targeted at the outside for 2014. Prioritizing – would be fun to just do it all right away, wouldn’t it?

Gray Owl Bathroom

Gray Owl Bathroom 1

I still have lots of plans for our bedroom (and major plans for the bathroom, but we’ll get to that later). Definitely new window treatments and hardware and we need to hang artwork above the dresser, but the paint – with our tall ceilings – was the big hang-up. And I’m loving how my house is looking as it goes gray. What do you think?

Hook ‘Em

I despise towel bars. Partly because things never really get dry hanging on them, and moist towels give me the creeps. Also, because I’m lazy and never want to take the time to fold the towel over the bar. That’s probably the main reason. The towel bar in the kids’ bathroom was also too small to hold more than one towel and have a prayer of it drying by the next day’s bath night. Anyway, point is, I missed the towel hooks I installed in the kids’ bathroom at our old house. So, adding bathroom hooks was on the immediate to-do list at the new house.

I shared one quick picture of the kids’ bathroom in the original house tour. It’s a pretty good space for a kid and guest bath, fairly similar in size to our last guest bath but just laid out a bit differently. It’s in between the landing that separates Nell’s room from Tom’s room and the guest room. Here it is in all of it’s before glory.


This is the only room in our house  that wasn’t painted, and since it’s neutral – which the rest of the house wasn’t, it’s probably the last priority for a makeover. But eventually we’ll paint, add window trim and trim out the mirror, maybe some board and batten, switch out the lights, and paint the oak vanity. And there’s that offending towel bar. Too high to actually be practical for kids. Too towel bar-y.

With the towel bar being too high and too small to hold real towels, this is what the vanity usually looked like. Not functional.


I bought a piece of barn board with hooks attached at HomeGoods for $11.99 the week after we moved in, and yesterday I finally asked B to hang it in the kids’ bathroom. Nell helped oversee the project:


It took about 10 minutes for B (with Nell’s supervision) to remove the old, well anchored towel bar, patch the wall and hang the new one slightly lower on the wall. We still need to paint the patches, but already it’s a huge improvement.



Funny how something so small can take a bathroom from a mess to functional in 10 minutes. That’s the bathroom’s big improvement…probably for the next few years.

Who’s the Fairest of them all?

Let’s talk bathroom mirrors for a minute, shall we? I know, we really know how to excite the audience here at imperfect.

When it comes to looking at your mug every morning, do you prefer:

A builder basic, barely there full wall mirror?

Mirror pictures (including an after with a frame) found here.

A gussied up basic builder’s mirror?

Or do you like a separate mirror for each sink?

Pottery Barn’s Classic Wall-Mounted Medicine Cabinet

I plan to frame up all of our basic builder mirrors for a more custom look at the cost of some cheapo molding, but I do love the look of two mirrors over a two sink vanity. What about you, what’s your looking glass preference? Sound off!

What Did I Do This Weekend?

I’m still trying to piece together the memories…but from the pictures in my camera, these are the highlights:

I drank wine with my future sister-in-law Sarah and watched the Olympics (swimming is my sport). Then it turns out that we decided to channel our college days and break out the Solo cups for the ping pong table in the basement. Beer pong ensued. And evidently so did eating ping pong balls. We’re going to get along just fine. Then, Casco and Harley (the bro’s dog) got their first taste of beer. We were good parents for the first year. The night wasn’t pretty. We’ll just say I had some laundry to do on Sunday. And I had some painting to do and Mr. B had some beadboarding to do in the downstairs bath. I’ll post more pictures when we touch up the caulk lines and get some decor happening in there, but for now, this is your teaser.

And Sunday night, I decided that Michael Phelps would swim faster if I painted our “side tables” for the living room. We’ve been using TV trays as our side tables since we moved in – because, well, everything we own was given to us. I always planned to paint them, but never got around to it. Until Michael Phelps had to swim a Semi right before the 4 x 100 relay, and my nerves got the best of me. So I cracked out the black paint as I worried about my boyfriend’s (yes, Ryan Lotche is cuter, but I just can’t betray Mike) upcoming race, and was very happy with the results of both.

Want to see?

And just for a little eye candy, here’s the man himself (in profile, so you don’t have to worry about his large jaw):

Welcome to the Big Top

Before I begin I’d like to apologize to my future children, who will never sleep in cute, striped nurseries. Sorry kids. If we still live in this house when you’re around, I’ll let you sleep in the bathroom occasionally.

I started painting our guest bathroom in preparation for family members that would be staying at our house during our wedding. I decided on stripes because I love them, wanted to challenge myself, and because D over at All Things G&D made it look easy. Because vertical stripes are more slimming than horizontal, and I can use all the slim I can get in my life, I went for vertical. I painted the stripes with G&D’s fantastic instructions, but, because I’m me and I was the one wielding the brush, it’s not perfect. I panicked at first because as I pulled the tape off I thought the walls looked like a subdued circus tent. But luckily I’m over that now.

I did the three main walls in the first day, but lost my steam with just the small wall above the door to paint. When I learned that the guests staying at our house would be Mr. B’s fraternity brothers, I figured they didn’t need a completed guest bathroom. So I just stopped. Just like that. Try it sometime, it’s rather invigorating.

But tonight I decided I’d bite the bullet and finish the bathroom.
Now let’s talk about the towels – they’re a little bland in the now khaki and white bathroom. The shower curtain is staying – it was a thoughtful gift, and I love flip flops – owned 54 pairs at one time in my life. So it’s the element of fun in this bathroom. But I’m off track again, imgaine that. What should I do about the towels? Color? White? I don’t like these – they’re too yellow-khaki whereas the stripes are green-khaki. Not a good combo. Please advise :) .

I was in the stalled part of my stripe project (commonly known around our house as I was too lazy to paint the last wall in stripes) when I came across Nestie EastCoastGirl*’s guest bathroom. “OMG – this is what I’m going for, only mine will look worse.” So, I yanked her artwork idea – me and Mr. B as babies in bathtubs. The top is Mr. B as a toddler in the bathtub, and the one below it is me in the tub. If you look closely, you’ll notice I’m wearing my clothes in the tub. I was a rule breaker even then.