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D-I-Why? 70's Mini to Major Bathroom Makeover

I am reposting this since it was originally posted when I was pretty much "talking to myself", learning the blogland ropes.  Still learning, but I hope you all enjoy this 70's bathroom redo as much as I did (when it was completed!).

I'm a sucker for a great Before and After room remodel, which is probably why I'm addicted to so many HGTV shows that give me my Before/After fix in a mere 30 minutes.  I can enjoy the whole process from the comfort of my own home, without any of the stress.  But, the ultimate reward that we reap from this time and effort, is what keeps us coming back, begging for more. It's kind of like childbirth. After the project is over, the memories of the blood, sweat and tears fade, and you're left with this beautiful baby that YOU created. Bliss.

The project I'm featuring here was actually a "surprise bathroom makeover" for one of my best friends.  I managed to conspire with her husband to get access to their house while they were away on vacation. I must say up front, that this transformation effort began with a modest plan - finish the wallpaper stripping that my friend had started, paint, new towels, perhaps replace the countertop, etc… However, this project soon turned from "D-I-Y" to "D-I-Why?”. It was one of those projects where one thing led to another, and the project just took on a life of its own. "If I redo the countertop, I'm going to have to redo the floor. If I redo the floor, I can't leave the lighting the way it is..." You get the picture. That's where I started asking myself, "WHAT have I gotten myself into?" Past experience tells me that this feeling usually rears its ugly head when the project looks the absolute worst.  During this project, I reached that phase right about here...

My friend's surprise bathroom makeover (my hubby helping me) -
In the before/during/"what the heck was I thinking?" phase

But, quitting is not (usually) an option, since these D-I-Why revelations usually hit us when our projects are at their worst. We press on, literally, through blood, sweat and tears until we achieve our vision. 

But that's where you just keep on, keeping on, right? Fortunately, my husband pitched in with some of the demo, electrical and plumbing work and was a real trooper in helping me achieve my vision. So, what began as a modest goal of stripping wallpaper, painting and MAYBE redoing the countertop and painting the vanity turned into much, much, more. When it was all said and done, we accomplished the following:

-Stripped the wallpaper
-Repainted the walls
-Installed a new vanity, vanity top and faucet
-Installed new flooring
-Installed new pendant lighting
-Added a new tile backsplash
-Hung a new mirror
-Painted the trim and door
-Added decorative accessories - towels, towel rack, throw rugs, new shower curtain, wall art, etc...

Yes, we bit off more than we intended to chew, but the surprise was well worth it!! Getting a tearful phone call from my girlfriend made every last bit of stress and work completely worthwhile.

A complete before/during/after photo montage can be seen below.

Before: (I had started working and realized I should probably take some photos)

During:  Again, kudos to my hubby for helping me with this undertaking!
AFTER: Cue the Hallelujah Chorus
Another Before & After View:
Thanks for looking!

Linking up to:


Painted Wood

For a long time, it seemed as though painting wood was a travesty of the highest magnitude, borderline criminal.  You would hear things like, "It's wood, why would you paint it?"  But, as style has evolved, so has painted wood, whether in the form of trim or furniture.  In some homes, you even see a mix of painted and stained wood trim, which, if done well, can work.  It gives you the best of both worlds, really.  The richness of the wood with the bright and sharp contrast of the white.

Just look how well it works here.

And then there is the instant update that painted trim brings to a home.  Check what a difference painting the trim makes in this example from

Before - 90's-esque wood trim

After - Modern, Light and Bright

My husband bought in to the old school philosophy that painted wood = blasphemy for a long time.  I did finally convince him that painted wood doesn't have to be the end of the world.  We have nice built-in bookcases that surround our fireplace that were stained wood.  While I loved the functionality of the bookcases, they were just too dark for the room.  The dark paint certainly didn't work to its advantage either.  This was during my "red" phase.  Excuse the terrible picture here - I think this was just a scan of the photo vs. a digital, and given the sparse bookcase furnishings, I think I must have just painted the back portion of the shelves and rushed to take a picture before the kids messed up the room again.

Old, old photo of my family room

Here is a better picture of my family room now.  As you can see, we painted the bookcases, added crown moulding and painted the back of the shelves and surrounding walls a lighter and brighter color.  I love how it changed the whole look and feel of the space.  We also removed the little half/pony wall that you can see in the "Before" picture.  Even though it was just a half wall, and it wasn't very long, I was amazed at how much it opened up the room, making the kitchen, breakfast room and family room flow together beautifully.

After - painted built-ins and pony wall removed

Another angle of the family room

As you can see, we mixed painted trim and stained trim in this space.  I love the painted trim, but had to stop with the bookcases vs. moving on to the baseboard trim, because it was one of those projects that once you started, you would have a hard time knowing where to stop!  But, it seems to work, and I'm happy with the end result.

So, what are your thoughts on painted vs. stained wood?  Have you tackled a similar project yourself?


Lovely Lady Revealed

A few weeks ago, I decided to finally start working on this craigslist dresser I bought awhile back.  I had liked the dark stain when I got it, but it had taken a bit of abuse since my initial purchase.  The veneer on one side had been torn off (thank you Mr. Carpet Cleaner Guy for dragging your equipment through the house and damaging my craigslist find!).  Plus, the bottom drawer did not work very well at all, veneer was chipping off, etc..., which you can see by looking at the before picture:

My Lovely Lady, in need of a lift

Of course, once I finally decide to tackle a project with enthusiasm, something usually comes up to derail me.  In this case, it was an offer on our house. :-)  So, while it's all good, this project ended up taking much longer than I had originally anticipated.  Honestly, part of the reason it's finally done is because I need to clear out the garage to make way for boxes, garage sale items and miscellaneous crap that I refuse to pack up and move!

So, here is the much-delayed reveal of this pretty piece...

Lighter and Brighter

I decided to do away with the bottom drawer altogether since it was in such bad shape and the drawer track was broken, and instead opted to create a little shelf along the bottom with a pretty basket.  I also changed out the drawer pulls for these pretty vintage ones from Hobby Lobby.

Love the vintage pulls

So, there you have it!  Dresser is complete and back in my foyer, just in time for us to move it!  It's all good though - I'm sure I'll be able to find a place for her no matter where we end up.

Emily A. Clark - Work with What you Have


Under Contract

It has been a long time since two words have been able to send such thrill and panic through me. Thrilling, because we finally got an offer on our house and were able to come to an agreement on a reasonable price and agreeable terms. Panic, because of all that needs to be done to pack up and move. “Where are you moving?” is a question that we are being asked on a regular basis now that we’re under contract.

That is a good question, and it makes this process even more stressful, given the answer. We have offered on a house that is a short sale. Yes, a short sale. If you have horror stories about short sales, I’m covering my ears and singing to myself, because I don’t think I can deal with an additional layer of stress right now. Will the process take more time? Yes. Do we have a place to live in the interim? Yes. We’re moving in with my parents. The whole family. All five of us. We’re willing to endure some short-term inconvenience for what will hopefully be an exceptionally good deal.

So, rather than dwell on the negative of living with my parents, having our whole house essentially in storage, our lives in a state of limbo – let’s focus on the positive. The new house. I’m trying not to get too excited, because these situations can be precarious. But, I will say the house is a Craftsman style, which I love. Wonderfully chunky moulding and woodwork, architectural columns, warm and inviting front door. Some inspirational photos…

Have a great day!


Ballard Designs OUTLET Meets Craigslist Potting Bench

Don't hate me because I live oh, 30-40 minutes from the Ballard Designs Outlet (which happens to be right next to the Frontgate Outlet, and IKEA is just down the road...).  Since I have a day job, I don't get to hustle down there every other day as I would like.  But, when I take a day off, and the kids are still in school/preschool, and I have the opportunity to shop, by myself, I can't pass it up.  It doesn't hurt that one of my best friends went down there last week and cleaned up on wonderful goodies for her house while I had to sit at work and hear about it. 

I have a sweet potting bench that I got on craigslist for $50, and I have big plans for this big boy.  (Please excuse the crappy picture and the chalk doodling on the brick, it was about 90 degrees outside with 110% humidity, and my lens was fogging up fast). 

(In case you're wondering, yes, that appears to be scribbling with chalk on my porch wall.  I have an artistic 4 year-old girl, what can I say?)

When I say big boy, I'm not kidding - this thing weighs a ton.  I consider myself a pretty strong woman, so I kind of balked when the craigslist seller said that it was heavy.  She wasn't kidding.  Anyway, we got it home and it's sitting on my screened in porch, which is also where I will be redoing it since I don't think I can bribe my husband, sons and their friend to help haul it outside for my painting convenience  I digress.  While the potting bench is fab, the doors on it are not - they stick and don't stay on the track.  So, I thought that using fabric on a curtain rod would make for a good look and also add interest to the room.  Something along these lines:

Which brings me back to Ballard.  They have all sorts of goodies at their outlet for fab prices, and my trip was no exception.  I recently purchased a new rug for the porch, and found this fabric that would totally tie with the look I have going in there.  Three yards for about $21.  But it gets better. I got another 20% off, and then another 20% off my entire order. As I was checking out, the angel of a checkout lady said that she had some other fabric that I might be interested in. I had seen it, sitting behind the counter, thinking it was on hold for someone else. It was three yards of this beautiful document fabric.  Oh. My. Goodness. I have been coveting this fabric since I first saw it in the Ballard catalog. So many possibilities! Scored three yards for less than the price of one.  Did I mention that one of my best friends just got a job at Ballard Designs Outlet?  Does life get any sweeter than that?

My glorious fabric from Ballard

In getting our house ready for an open house earlier this summer, I decided to tackle this project, to give the potting bench a little more personality, and to tie together with our screened porch.  I still want to paint it, but I did give it a bit of a facelift that will work for now.  I had to use no-sew Stitch Witchery to put my curtains together since my sewing machine was inadvertently put into storage, but let's face it, I probably wouldn't have sewn it anyway.  The old gate on top I actually found in the trash at a house we toured (don't worry, the house was empty - I wouldn't want people to think we were "weird" or something.)

I scored a couple of curtain rods on clearance, and gave them a nice coat of black paint.

End result - a much cuter and put together potting bench.

Thanks for stopping by.  I have more plans for this piece, and I think it could be really functional for us.  The trough on top could be filled with ice, and used to chill drinks for a party.  I'm thinking painting it black and spray painting the trough in a cool hammered copper finish has possibilities.  Add some moulding...

Stay tuned...