We made four little updates around here, so I thought I’d smash them all into a quick recap post for ya. First, we have been meaning to convert our master bathroom toilet to a dual flush version for a while (we already did it to the one in the hallway and the one in our first house) but when we gave it the ol’ college try, it turns out our new toilet isn’t compatible (apparently the angle/shape of the bottom of the tank kept it from attaching correctly).
So we padded down the hall to the guest room and installed it there instead. Oddly enough, that tiny toilet that is most likely original to our 60′s house worked just fine with it.
Now at least we can save water when our guests come to stay (and a dual flush button helps that small outdated bathroom feel a smidge more modern – haha).
Another little easy upgrade that we did was that we finally (only 20 months after moving in, har-har) found a place for our shredder, which had been cluttering up our closet forever. The solution? Our built-in desk cabinets. Except we had to figure out how to make it fit in there (we really wanted to keep that storage drawer on the bottom).
So our first order of business was to remove the pull out shelf, which just came down to removing the tracks and the drawer itself with a screwdriver (they were held in with simple screws along the track).
Then we drilled a hole right into the back of the cabinet, so the cord for the shredder could be fed through the back of the cabinet without having to come out the side or the front or anything wonky.
Bada bing, bada plug.
Then we shoved her in there on her side.
Oh and at first we worried that it wouldn’t work well on it’s side, but before we went through all this drawer-removal and plug-drilling trouble, we laid it on it’s side and used it like that for about three weeks before committing to “building it in” to the desk that way, and it worked like a charm. One tip would be to empty it pretty frequently just so the shredded stuff doesn’t build up around the front since there’s not as much gravity to pull things down as there is when it’s standing up. But other than that it seems to work great so far. And the best part is that with the door closed it all looks nice and organized. Hooray for hidden contraptions and fewer messy-looking wires.
Another little update that we finally got around to was rehanging our kitchen mirror on two super strong hooks (they each have 100lb capabilities) since a few kind folks with professional framing backgrounds commented on this post about hanging it on a wire (they said that over time a wire – even a heavy duty one like we used – can slip or lose strength, so two hooks used individually with something strong (like a heavy duty screw & anchor ensemble) would be best. Pardon the weird duct tape (more on that here).
So we just added a heavy duty anchor system on each side of the wall to line up with the new hooks that we added to the back of the mirror…
… and hung things back up. Now it should be nice and strong for the long haul. Oh and you might notice that I got some bird friends from HomeGoods for the mantel. Yes, more animals. Our house is a veritable ark these days.
And our last little thing was that John brought home some pretty yellow tulips when he went grocery shopping. Isn’t he sweet?
I put them at the table in the living room since I see them every time I walk through that room (and also get to enjoy them whenever I’m sitting on the couch and Real Housewives of NY makes me roll my eyes, which is surprisingly often).
Close up. Bam.
There you have it. Four things. What little updates are you guys up to around the house? Any toilet-pimping, shredder-hiding, mirror-re-hanging, or flower-enjoying going on in your neck of the woods?
Psst- We’ve gotten a bunch of questions from people about how Clara’s liking preschool, so there’s a post over on Young House Life all about it – complete with the way we’ll be documenting her first day of school each year. Aw shucks, they grow up so fast.
As we mentioned in Monday’s post, there are almost always three main steps to room makeovers (some of which take forever and a day, and some that are done fast and furiously, like this bathroom blitz):
- prep/planning (brainstorming, picking a color palette, going shopping, priming, sanding, spackling)
- bigger upgrades (painting walls, refinishing or painting cabinets, laying new flooring, etc)
- finishing touches (curtains, new hardware, art, accessories – all the things that add “you” to the space)
So Day Three (see Day One and Day two here and here) was all about those finishing touches. Here’s how it all went down (and yes, I was writing on the back of a paper plate with a calligraphy marker – gotta use whatcha got, haha).
Ta-daaa! It took about an hour to make some custom curtains for Granny’s window thanks to some designer fabric (made by Braemore, if that helps) that we scored at a deep discount (at U-Fab in Richmond on our way out of town) and some no-sew hem tape.
I just measured the window to see how long I wanted them (a few inches below the bottom of the window trim felt best) so I cut two rectangles of fabric that were 29″ long (the length that I just measured plus two inches to allow for hemming) and 31″ wide (to give them enough fabric to feel drapey and full when they were hanging up there). Here’s a better shot of the fabric to jog your memory (it’s hard to photograph it in front of the window).
Once they were hemmed on all sides (using this method), they were 27″ x 29″ (my target size after accounting for those extra 2″ in each direction that would be used by the hem). Then it was as simple as hanging a curtain rod from Target and using some ring-clips (also from Target) to hold up my little fabric rectangles.
Here’s a close up of the pretty fabric. Something about it just screamed “Granny” to us. It’s so happy and sweet.
Oh and just when we thought we were done with the caulk on Day 1, we decided that one seam (where the front of the vent met the new flooring) could look a lot more polished with a smidge of caulk) so I made a video for you guys that might help you get a nice clean caulk line:
Then came the fun part: accessorizing tiiiime, baby. In came a lot of items that Granny already had (in colors that we pulled from the curtains like emerald, navy, and violet).
We even grabbed some fresh flowers from the nearby grocery store and plopped them into a vase that Granny already had. And see that wooden tulip on the toilet? Papa actually made that for Granny years ago, so we loved working it into our little room reveal. It’s the simple things, right? Speaking of those, how is it that a once-white-now-navy toilet paper holder can be so cute? It’s just one of those little upgrades that makes something feel a lot more fun than just going with a basic store-bought version. Note: For some reason the floor looks Snooki-tan orange in some of these shots, so the one below is the most accurate.
Here’s a straight shot of the cabinets with their navy hardware on them (we wish we had enough time to make a false-drawer on the top right – maybe next time we’re in town…).
We mentioned that we wanted to bring in some meaningful art, so this is actually a picture of Granny and Papa when they were younger that we shared back in this post. We loved it so much that we got it printed as a 5 x 7 for our new purple frame from HomeGoods. Next to it, I also framed a scrap of extra fabric. Printed or patterned fabric behind glass = free art (and Granny can always switch it out for a picture if the mood strikes).
This pretty silver tray was already Granny’s, just like the sweet green vase. She has so many awesome things around the house that it was fun getting to showcase some of them in the room reveal – especially since she really seemed to love seeing them in there among some new things like a basket of extra hand towels, the flowers, and the frames.
In such a tiny room, we really wanted it to feel cheerful, so while some folks might think it’s crazy to stack bold green and blue hardcover books on the back of the toilet, we really wanted to add color and use things Granny already had around.
The funny thing is that the colorful books were probably her favorite part along with that meaningful little wooden flower that was made for her by her husband so many years ago. Aww.
She even noticed the little things, like the small blue knob that we added to her medicine cabinet.
And we can’t forget how rough things were looking when we arrived, so here’s a flash back to the sink area before I cut out that caulk, re-caulked, and painted as compared to how that same seam looked when we left. Is caulk not the MVP of DIY, or what?
And here’s that shot of a few of the other more challenging issues in the room next to a final shot of the space. It’s amazing what a few days of work can do, huh?
It was pretty darn satisfying to see our to-do list all crossed off:
Brainstorm colors & go shopping for accessories (Day 1) Spackle/sand/caulk everything to prep the room for paint (Day 1) Rebuild the cabinets a bit so they look more balanced (Day 1) Prime and paint the cabinets for a more updated and open look (Day 1 & 2) Paint the entire room, including the ceiling (Day 2) Fix a few issues, like a rusted duct and an old dingy corner below the sink (Day 2) Redo the floors, which were that old sheet laminate stuff (Day 2) Revive some hardware/accessories with a fresh finish (Day 2) Make & hang curtains to add some charm (Day 3) Bring in some meaningful art (Day 3) Add some functional/meaningful accessories to finish things off (Day 3)
- Reveal the whole shebang for Granny (Day 3)
So that’s the story of jumping at the chance to redo Granny’s bathroom in three days and on a nice modest budget. Is it weird that we’re in love with this tiny room now? As in, we joked about bringing an air mattress in the next time we came to visit and sleeping in there. Yup, weird.
Oh and we did happen to capture the big reveal on tape, but before we get to that, here’s a little budget breakdown for ya:
- 2 quarts of paint, “Hint of Violet” in Benjmain Moore’s Aura in Satin (a gallon would have been too much/pricier, so we went for two quarts): $40
- Zinsser’s Smart Prime & Benjamin Moore’s Advance Paint in Decorators White for the cabinet: $0 (already owned from this project)
- 30 vinyl stick tiles from Home Depot: $30
- 1 yard of fabric for curtains from U-fab: $15
- Curtain rod and ring hooks from Target: $18
- Wood for cabinet, new outlets, and outlet covers from Home Depot: $10
- Valspar Indigo Stream spray paint from Lowe’s: $4
- Trash can, towel bar, soap pump, frames, basket, and hand towels from HomeGoods: $45
- Blue knob for medicine cabinet: $1.50
- Flowers from Kroger: $6
- Books, wood flower, green vase, toilet paper holder, tray, glass jar for cotton swabs: $0 (these were already Granny’s)
- Spackle, caulk, paint supplies, hem tape: $0 (already owned, and carted with us so we had them on hand)
- TOTAL: $169.50
Not bad for a new floor, upgraded cabinets, freshly painted walls, new curtains, fresh-looking hardware, and getting to say good riddance to rust and peeling caulk, right? But enough money chit-chat, let’s move on to something priceless. Here’s Granny’s awesome reaction:
The funniest part is that we didn’t coerce her to wear that sweater to match the room, she just happened to have it on! We loved that. And we loved that she loved the room even more.
We were so happy to get to do something so fun for one of the sweetest women on the planet.
Then we hopped back in the car, and drove home with smiles on our faces.
What about you guys? Have you ever gotten an opportunity to help someone else with their space? Did they promise not to peek or were they in on the action with you? We actually loved that Granny gave us free reign and avoided that hallway so she wouldn’t see what was going on. And we’re so glad that she liked the result.
Yesterday you saw Day Numero Uno of what I lovingly call “Operation Granny Chic.” Mission: update my Granny’s bathroom over three whirlwind days. So with all of the prep work done, our day-by-day play-by-play continues with painting and new floors. Except for one minor step that stood in our way…
Notice that giant rust spot on the air duct near the floor? Since there’s no way paint would fix that on its own (it would bleed right through), we slapped some Rustoleum on that puppy before breaking out the paint cans. It was amazing how one fast coat worked like a charm.
The paint color we chose for the room is “Hint of Violet” by Benjamin Moore, which is a soft violet with some subtle gray undertones. Granny is such a colorful person (and often wears purple) so we knew had to do something cheery for her, but since the room is so small we didn’t want anything that would knock you over the head or make the space feel more cramped than it already is, so the plan was to bring in more pops of bolder color with the accessories, window fabric, etc.
The new wall color went on in two quick coats, including the slanted ceiling (in small spaces like bathrooms we love doing the ceiling the same color as the walls since it feels less chopped up and more open), so by lunch we were ready to tackle the floor.
Oh the floor. The existing floor was one of those old sheets of laminate. It was actually in decent shape considering it’s age and it was neutral enough to not offend. But Granny (who doesn’t ask for much specifically) wanted a new, more updated floor in the form of those individual vinyl tiles with a lot more texture, so that was a must for our to-do list.
We would’ve loved to give Granny some kick-butt hex tile or something else with a vintage vibe, but given the time and money constraints of the project we had one obvious option: those vinyl stick tiles that Granny had requested. Plus my parents suggested that we not risk any major plumbing issues – which would grind our makeover to an immediate halt – by attempting a sink or toilet removal considering the age of the pipes in this older home, so we were happy to oblige.
Sherry and I actually installed vinyl tiles about 6 years ago in our old kitchen, so we were a little rusty but we were quick to find our groove. The nice thing about this type of flooring is that it goes down super easy, doesn’t necessitate a wet saw or any sort of thinset/grout, and is über affordable (we got these from Home Depot for 99-cents per tile). The key is to make sure each tile is set very (very very) snugly against the others so you don’t get any seams, so we really pressed each tile firmly into the edge of the previous tile before sticking it down.
The other thing I love about these guys is that they’re crazy easy to cut. All it takes is a quick score with a utility knife and then it (I can’t believe I’m about to make a Legally Blonde reference) bends and snaps. Though unlike Elle Woods, it then breaks apart.
Granny’s itty bitty bathroom would’ve been a cinch to complete except that there were so. many. dang. edges. to cut. It’s not the hardest task – just time consuming. Again, since I was advised not to remove the sink or toilet – I had to cut around them (but we left Granny a bunch of spare tiles to bridge any potential gaps in case the toilet is eventually replaced). I started each cut by making a paper template. Typically I’d use a stiffer paper like cardstock, but Granny just had a spiral notebook handy – so I taped it into place and used my knife to cut right along the edge of (in this case) the toilet.
Then I taped my template on the to-be-cut tile and slowly sliced along the edge of the template.
Once I bent-and-snapped out the section that would interfere with the toilet – and did a test placement with the protective backing still on – it was ready to be stuck down. Voila:
By the end of about 23 tiles and 4 hours it was completely done. And it was definitely a huge upgrade from the old sheet o’ vinyl that was there before. Again, if we had the luxury of time I would’ve loved to remove the sink and toilet to go under them (so for those of you at home who do, I’d recommend it), but leaving Granny seven spare tiles was the next best thing – so if she ever has a plumber replace the toilet or sink, she can fix any gaps if either fixture happens to have a smaller footprint.
It was amazing how much the new flooring updated the room… especially in person since it has some great texture. And it looks pretty darn good with those soft violet walls.
With the paint and flooring done, most of our major projects were checked off for the day, so it was just on to prepping a few more finishing touches – like breathing some new life into some of Granny’s old cabinet hardware (which we think was added sometime in the 80s or 90s, but had since peeled a bit). Enter Valspar’s Indigo Streamer in Satin to the rescue (it looks kind of bright here, but it’s a true deep navy in person).
First we sanded them smooth and then it was spray-time. We had originally hoped to replace Granny’s cabinet hardware with some new shiny chrome versions, but the existing holes weren’t a standard size. That ended up being a blessing in disguise because not only did we get to reuse what she had, but we also got to make them a fun and less expected color. Navy definitely beats worn-and-peeling brass and adds tons of interest to an old white toilet paper holder.
So with our spray painted items drying outside for the evening, the room was looking like this by the end of Day 2 (pardon the terrible picture, it was late at night, so the floor looks Frito-orange and you can hardly see the voilet color on the walls).
Oh but we were able to tackle a few other minor items in preparation for Day 3′s big reveal – like giving Granny a playful blue glass knob on her medicine cabinet, and hanging a towel ring into some existing holes on the duct (we worried hanging something on the duct might be a bad call, but Granny said it used to hang there for years and since my dad also said it shouldn’t be an issue, we used the old holes that were there and plugged them up with a shiny new towel ring).
Oh yeah, and we replaced a couple of her outlets – including the burned one on the floor – so they were all new and white and up to today’s safety standards (an electrician had looked a them prior to our little makeover to ensure they were nice & safe before we messed with them).
Isn’t this little problem area by her sink already looking worlds better? That was definitely one of the more satisfying views of Day 2. Although for some reason the soft violet walls are really hard to see in these late night shots.
Happily after a day of painting, changing up the flooring, and doing a few little updates to get a jump on things, our to-do list was looking like this:
Brainstorm colors & go shopping for accessories (Day 1) Spackle/sand/caulk everything to prep the room for paint (Day 1) Rebuild the cabinets a bit so they look more balanced (Day 1) Prime and paint the cabinets for a more updated and open look (Day 1 & 2) Paint the entire room, including the ceiling (Day 2) Fix a few issues, like a rusted duct and an old dingy corner below the sink (Day 2) Redo the floors, which were that old sheet laminate stuff (Day 2) Revive some hardware/accessories with a fresh finish (Day 2)
- Make & hang curtains to add some charm (Day 3)
- Bring in some meaningful art (Day 3)
- Add some functional/personal accessories to finish things off (Day 3)
- Reveal the whole shebang for Granny (Day 3)
We’ll have all of the official before & afters in tomorrow’s post about our final day of upgrading the room and – the best part – video and photos of us revealing it to Granny. We’ll also have a full budget breakdown for you (we just have some receipt-math and photo-uploading to do). In the meantime, is anyone else out there using peel & stick tiles for a super affordable upgrade? Did you make paper templates too? Or did you use some other method to size them?