Guest Bath Redux: Ceiling

I know, we win the award for the Slowest Bathroom Reno Ever.

The day after Thanksgiving Robert and I ripped down the guest bath ceiling. It was a really stress-relieving process involving $1 hard hats from ReStore, respirators, safety glasses, and a pry bar. When we finished we headed to Lowe’s to pick up two sheets of mold-rated drywall and a couple of recessed lights.

The next day we had both our dads over to help put the ceiling back up.


the first half going up


fitting pieces around the new vent fan


finished and ready for lights

The whole process took about 4-5 hours, including a break for lunch. As the room is only about 6.5 feet by 7.75 feet, my job was mainly to sit outside the bathroom window and grab bags of trash as they threw them out, or to fetch tools. It worked out because we only have three respirators anyhow (and I have asthma/allergies). Now notice how none of them are wearing respirators for the installation phase. Oh well. #renofail

I also forgot to run and grab the Nikon on any one of my many tool runs, so these are all iPhone photos. #bloggerfail

Robert and I are hoping to work on plumbing and wiring as soon as possible, but we’re also juggling the hall bath closet, laundry room tweaks, and possibly putting up a fence in the backyard. Oh and that pesky work thing. Fortunately this is Robert’s last week of school for the semester!

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A Visit to The Tile Shop

Over the weekend Robert and I visited The Tile Shop showroom nearby. I didn’t think to bring the Nikon (anyone noticing a theme? #bloggerfail), but I snapped a few pictures with my iPhone of some of the inspiring designs.

This bathroom set up reminded us of our plan for the currently-gutted guest bath, although we’ll be using a drop in tub. Loving the white subway tile, the chair rail edge tile, the step/bench in the back and the train rack! The black hex floor tile would look lovely in our yellow and black hall bathroom, especially since our existing 50s floor tile is in rough shape.

The shower floor in this display reminded me of Emily at Merrypad’s entryway floor (which I’ve been crushing on for months). We don’t have access to boatloads of shale like Emily (lucky duck!), but something along the lines of these sheets of Gray Pebbles would make a gorgeous laundry room floor! They also had a flatter style at the store that I can’t seem to find online. Both the saleswoman, Carol, and my dad in talking to him later, pointed out that the pebbles may not be as comfortable to walk on when Robert and I age. Though I have to say that they felt pretty smooth and level when I laid the palm of my hand over the sample.

Though not typically my style, this travertine shower had my reaching for my camera app because it sounds pretty close to what my mom wants when she and my dad redo their master shower. Pretty much everything screamed “Mom”, right down to the enclave for shampoo/soap and the seat in the back of the shower. I’m unsure if she’d like the mosaic tile details seen here, but maybe if it was a light blue glass tile?

We didn’t leave with any time this time, but Robert and I are both leaning heavily towards the 2 x 2 in black hex tile for the hall bathroom. We left with several pamphlets and Carol’s card (one for me, one for my mom) because she was so helpful and attentive, and plan to attend one of their Saturday morning classes (every week at 9:30 AM) before we tackle the guest bathroom. We’re pretty certain we’ll be using their grout, mortar, and recessed wall shelves, too.

Note: This post is in no way sponsored by The Tile Shop. Though Robert and I would be honored to pair up with them in the future, this post is just me geeking out over all their lovely tile options!

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Hall Bath Progress

Recently it has felt like Robert and I have been bouncing around the house tying up lose ends left and right, but when I sit down to blog it feels too insignificant for a post. Does anyone else have this problem?

When we last left off in the hall bath things looked like this. Fortunately with my dad’s suggestion (and installation, since Robert had to work late that night) of  a dressor fitting on the unthreaded galvanized pipe we were back on track.

Robert installed the rest of the valve that night and tested everything to make sure there would be no leaks when we turned the water back on. The next day he attached the tub spout and worked on bracing the shower pipe outlet (which we moved about 8-10 inches up the wall) and behind the valves. A few days after that Robert cut the valve stems to length and attached the valve handles, escutcheons, and tub overflow plate while I stress ate chocolate in the other room.

Truthfully we still need to add some set screws to the handles, but they’ve been working pretty well so far.

On Thanksgiving we started working on an access panel inside the bathroom closet, which will allow us to work on the pipes inside the closet without ripping into the drywall again. It’s held in place with two magnetic cabinet latches and we attached a window sash lift to make it easier to remove. After we finish painting the closet we’ll either caulk or weatherstrip around the edges so that it’s airtight. If we caulk the seams we can always use a razor knife to slice the seams before removing the panel.

So that’s where we are in the hall bathroom. Over Thanksgiving we also ripped out and replaced the ceiling in the guest bathroom, so I owe you a post on that.

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I hate rats. And PEX.

Alternative title: My house’s plumbing hates me.

Let me start by saying: I know a lot of people swear by PEX. Emily at Merrypad (and DIY Network) used it in her bathroom (which looks fantastic, if you haven’t seen it, so stop by and say Happy Blogiversary!) and Martina at Adventures in Building Beauty loves their PEX. As Martina points out, it’s great in that it allows water lines to freeze without bursting. While that’s not really an issue here in North Florida, it’s a valid concern in other areas.

I’ve had some qualms about the PEX in our own house ever since the issue with the guest bath. And then I got this text regarding the laundry room leak from Robert on his lunch break.

The last part is referencing the fact that unfortunately whoever installed the PEX in our guest bath didn’t use inserts (we suspect a rat may have had something to do with things bursting there, as well).

All of this to say… We are starting on (simultaneous) Room Redo #3. For those keeping score at home, that’s guest bath, hall bath, and laundry room. Fortunately this phase of the laundry room is mainly pipe/drywall repair, removing the unused mini fridge and freezer, painting, and replacing a light fixture. One day we’ll build also a base so the washer, dryer, and laundry tower can sit side by side on the other wall. And eventually we want to replace the water heater, install a sink, and maybe adding a window.

I came up with a design board for the space almost two years ago, and my plans for the space are pretty much the same.

Thankfully we already have the washer, dryer, and laundry tower in the room. We bought the paint on a wild hair a while back, and we have the shelving unit, sink & faucet as well. The fabric is the same fabric we used for master bedroom curtains, although we may decide to just add a skylight.

I suppose my incessant dreaming, planning & buying things (like the sink) way too far in advance sometimes makes it easier to land on our feet when something like this happens. When the pipe burst in the guest bath I was ready the next day with a plan & a design board. I usually plan first, and ask questions about feasibility later. Another bonus of planning so far in advance is that we have more time to problem solve when we run into design issues.

So that’s where we are with the laundry room plans. This weekend entails some drywall patching in the laundry room, as well as spackling, sanding, texturizing and painting in the hall bath closet.

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State of the Hall Bath

Remember how I said we were going to refresh the hall bath? Well, after someone boned-headed (me) ripped out an old, unused AC intake box from the bottom of the bathroom closet, we decided that replacing the tub/shower valves before repairing the drywall in the closet was the best plan. Despite having our guest bath down to studs.

Do you see where this is going? Yeah.


sorry for the grainy iPhone pic

Suffice to say, we couldn’t get the galvanized pipe on the left (the cold water side) to rethread. It seems we either bought the wrong tool from Harbor Freight, or it didn’t work as intended. Of course the hot water side was copper, and that went fine. We ended up having to leave the water to the house off, shower at my parents’ house, and we’re tackling things again today/tonight.

Luckily they make a compression fitting that should fix this sort of issue. Cross your fingers for us!

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Getting Back on Track

A very, very heart-felt thank you to everyone for their sweet, supportive comments on yesterday’s post!! Robert and I are both feeling very loved!

I am so thankful that I can tweet angsty things like (most recently “I wish I knew what to blog about. I am so sick of talking about our plans and never having time to follow through.”) and have our friends answer back echoing the same sentiments. Thanks Jeanette & Staci!

I feel like I’ve reached a rough area of blogging. I have nothing Earth-shattering to share. Our house is a hodge-podge of styles – Mid-Century Modern meets Traditional? With Spanish influence? Also, we have literally been planning the same 2-3 projects (guest bath, hall bath, kitchen) for over a year! I’m worried that Robert and I may continue to make deathly slow progress and never have a true “reveal”. After yesterday’s first post though, I feel confident that y’all will stick with us, and read whatever we have to say, even if it isn’t “Earth-shattering”.

I also feel confident in saying: It makes us happy! Our house makes us happy; not in spite of whatever “style” it is, or whatever state of renovation, but because of it.

* * * *

We had one of those weekends where Robert and I got zero time together (he worked Saturday, I worked Sunday), and yet things around the house somehow got worked on a little. Not that I have any pictures to show you. Yet. (Did I mention we’re getting back on track slowly?)


I still need to post about this globe light! from April! ack!

A while back on Twitter I mentioned that we may be swapping this table & chair set out for a nearly-identical table, and these chairs. I know it sounds pretty crazy, but my aunt recently bought a house in the mountains, and the table above belonged to her mother (my maternal grandmother). Though I loved that table & those chairs, it seemed fitting to move them to the mountain house, especially since they always seemed a tad out of place with the rest of our house.

The table we swapped into this spot belonged to my paternal grandmother, and has a slightly more modern base. (I will try to get a picture soon! The other set of Eames knock-offs will be here in a few days.) It seems to fit better with our house’s current style, and the chairs we paired it with. The white chairs are a bit low for the table, but it’s not a bad height. Kind of like the ratio between a bar-height table and bar stools, if that makes any sense.

The table swapping also led to one small change in the dining room. I took the gallery wall down last night, to make room for… who knows. Possibly the art propped along the wall above. (Also? Apparently that wall was one of those rarely/never seen angles of our house. I have exactly zero straight-on pictures of it. oops!) I’m pretty sure we set a world record for “least time between adding to a gallery wall and then dismantling the entire thing” Sunday night. Robert hung a new addition, I started trying to move things around to fit the space better, and then half an hour later I had moved most of the photos into the hallway and spackled all the nail holes in the dining room.

Also? Yes, that is a mirror across from a mirror in the dining room. I love the entry way mirror, and I also still love that green mirror (and have no idea where else to hang it). Please don’t revoke my blogging license.

Overall, Robert and I like the changes. We feel the style of the entryway and dining room flows better into the living room now. And the living room is much more open, having moved the Eames knock-offs around a table. See, Earth-shattering.

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Kitchen Updates

I’m back! As I mentioned earlier, I wanted to talk a bit about our kitchen plans.

When I recently blogged about some ReStore purchases I realized how little I’ve blogged about our kitchen. Before we bought a new fridge (in April) we had spent maybe $1200 on the kitchen, and that included the price of our stainless dishwasher. In fact, here’s an old post from 2010 about our “budget kitchen redo“. For those who don’t feel like following the link, we painted, added the light over the sink, built the shelf for the microwave, hung a curtain, and replaced the cabinet hardware, sink, faucet, stove and dishwasher.

We really haven’t done much since then – we added $80 worth of peel-and-stick vinyl floor, and bought a fridge. These things were done to tide us over until we either saved up the money for new counters/cabinet doors, or couldn’t stand it anymore and felt the need to find a creative solution. We’ve been very happy with the flooring (save for one area in front of the dishwasher where there is a gap between a couple of planks), and we love our fridge. Saving money for things like counters, cabinet doors, and a backsplash has mostly taken a backseat to things like going to Seattle for a week, but we may have reached the point of “I just can’t stand it anymore!”.

I’m incredibly tired of our chipping, sagging, and swelling MDF cabinet doors, and while I loved our current hardware when we moved in three years ago, I am looking forward to a change. A while back, I ordered these handles (D) from Lee Valley for $1.55/each, and these drawer pulls from Amazon for around $5.30/each. I loved the look of the Aubrey Pulls and Gilmore Pulls, couldn’t bring myself to pay Restoration Hardware prices. All of our hardware was about $79 (including the F size of the Lee Valley handles for the pantry).

I’ve also been plotting a new Shaker-style look for our cabinet doors, especially since seeing this post by Emily @ Merrypad. I had been considering this route for a while, and seeing Emily’s project pretty much solidified my plan. Although Robert and I will need to cut entirely new doors (probably from cabinet-grade plywood), because again I am SO sick of the ^%$*ing MDF doors with swelling, chipping corners and sagging hinges. Thank you, Florida humidity.

As for the counters, Robert and I have wanted concrete countertops for quite a while. The main concern with this idea has always been the added weight and whether our off-grade house and probably-original base cabinets could handle it. Then I saw this post from my girl Kara at Kara Paslay Designs. After showing it to Robert and asking whether he thought it would be possible to do in our kitchen, I think we’re both sold on this approach. We’re planning to either brace any weak areas of our existing counter (near the sink, for example) and coat it, or replace the current counters with a few layers of plywood and coat that.

And finally, the backsplash. Currently our counters and backsplash are both Formica that has been coated with one of the countertop coatings sold at Home Depot/Lowe’s. I have not enjoyed the look of having the same color/texture on both for the past three years. I would love a tile backsplash, and was thinking subway tile was the way to go. Then earlier today I saw a Pinterest picture of concrete counters with subway tile and my gut reaction was “no!” (I’m sure this is one of those to-each-their-own things.) I think we’ll go with something a little more colorful/unusual for tile. I like the look of this “lantern” shaped tile from Merola, available at Home Depot (it also comes in white, gray, black, and terra cotta).

So that’s the current plan with the kitchen.

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Why I Haven’t Been Blogging Lately

snapped this in the airport

Aunt J’s view

Robert and I snuck away to spent our fourth anniversary in Seattle. I may do a post later chock-full of Seattle pictures, for now our trip is only part of the reason we haven’t been posting.

In July I posted this. (If you don’t want to click, the gist of it is this: July 15th, 2011 Robert and I were the victims of a crime. One minute we were leaving his grandmother’s birthday party saying “Want to drop these cookies off at Ryan’s house?” and the next there were bullets flying through my car. With us in it.)

When we planned the trip, we were expecting the trial to be the week before we left. It was unfortunate timing, but meant our week in Seattle was the perfect excuse to unwind and move forward. Instead, the trial got pushed back, and we left town thinking things were on hold “until further notice”. On the morning of our anniversary, while drinking coffee and looking out at the view above, Robert answered a phone call from the Assistant State Attorney and learned the trial would be held the week after we got back.

I still don’t want to get into a lot of detail, so I’ll just say this: he wasn’t convicted. Robert knocked on our (former) best friend’s door and man (our friend’s neighbor) shot at Robert and into my car. The neighbor confessed to the police, and he wasn’t convicted.

* * * *

The whole thing happened right around the time last year that my paternal grandmother passed away, and I was getting over strep throat & an ear infection. If you look back at out posts from last summer, you might notice that we were making headway on things like the front porch & curb appeal, and we were guest posting about planning the entryway & our backyard. We were shifting away from trying to do step-by-step tutorials, and starting to do more posts about our guest bath budget, the patio (at the time we were still planning on reclaimed brick), and design boards. We were getting comfortable with who we are as a blog, what we wanted from our house, and what we post about.

And then suddenly, radio silence. Vague posts, lists, quotes, a lot of planning and not much follow through.

I think y’all will understand when I say it’s an understatement to say this whole experience shook our confidence. It’s definitely the reason behind some of my vague posts (like this one, or just about anything tagged “life”).

The whole thing was a giant curve ball, and over the last 15 months we’ve been enjoying our house more than working on it. It has been our refuge. Robert and I are working on moving forward, and putting this all behind us. We’re starting to get back on track, but please bear with us (me) if I rehash some things we’ve been planning and not doing for over a year.

If I get a chance, I’ll also be taking pictures for a general-house-update of sorts, and posting a bit about our kitchen later tonight.

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Hall Bath Refresh

Long time readers might remember the guest bath.

this board is missing the pedestal for the sink, see here

Well, this is not a post about that, but it is a post about the hall bath.

Bathroom Painted

Our hall bath toilet was leaking water from the tank into the bowl continuously, even after we replaced the flapper. So, we picked up this kit from Home Depot, and installed the toilet we had previously purchased for the guest bath. Not too shabby. Altogether it was $169 and one evening* of work.

Combined with the new shower arm & head ($50) we installed a few weeks ago, this begins our hall bathroom’s facelift.

You’ll probably notice, the majority of the fixtures are the same as the guest bath, although we’re going with chrome instead of satin nickel for most things. We’ve already purchased everything except the sink (which we’ve priced, we plan to get the St Thomas Creations Richmond), and our total will be right around $1000. Now it’s just a matter installing things.

Also, Pro Tip: The Metropolitan Chrome Widespread Bathroom Faucet from Overstock is a dead ringer for the Pottery Barn Cole Faucet, but it’s about 60% less. Actually, they’re probably the exact same faucet. The one from Overstock is made by Kingston Brass, and the list price is $289.95. We have the satin nickel version for the guest bath, and it’s pretty amazing. When it arrived Robert was really impressed with the quality (and the price I paid).

* The toilet installation would have gone a lot faster, but the ridiculously old bolts were stuck, so Robert had to cut them off, but the Ryobi batteries for his sawzall were dead, so we watched Futurama while one charged.

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ReStore Scores

File this under “Jami will hate me and my apparent good luck at our local ReStore”.

A few weeks ago Robert and I took advantage of a free Saturday afternoon to stop by ReStore. We weren’t really looking for anything in particular, but when we saw this 24″ glass pantry door (with no price sticker), we snatched it up. If we were buying new we may have gone with something a bit more sleek and modern, but when they girl at the register said $45 we were sold.


$199 pantry door for $45? yes, please.

We’ll need to switch the hinges around, but that’s small potatoes compared to the fact that we also have to rip the old pantry out. And move the fridge over. And use some of our left over peel-and-stick vinyl flooring under the new fridge location. (And maybe fix the gap to the left of the sink that I didn’t care about last year when I laid it because I was hungry and FSU was winning.) Oh, and build the new pantry. No big deal. (I’m such a liar.)

I ordered a handle (F above) from Lee Valley to match our new cabinet hardware (D). You know, the ones that we haven’t installed, since I want to buy/build new Shaker style cabinet doors, and drawer fronts. Oh, we have new drawer pulls to install, too.

All in all, I think the kitchen will come together nicely, especially with the bridge faucet.

While we were paying for the pantry door I noticed a stainless steel sink like restaurants use, and I couldn’t get the idea of using it on the back porch out of my head. Probably because I had already priced them at around $1100, and given up on it. Somehow I convinced Robert on the sink, so the next week we went back for it. It was $325, but that is still a steal considering what they go for new.


yes, those are PVC legs. we’re planning to upgrade them

The last time I posted about the porch it looked like this.

I desperately need to take updated pictures, because we have since switched out the fans for a ReStore fan and a light, painted the back door green, and most recently we painted the two interior walls tan (the same tan as the front porch, which I never finished posting about last year, because I am terrible.)

We hope to make this space a sunroom/game room over the next few years. One day we’d like barn doors on the long exterior wall, and a smaller door for the dogs (into a new area just for them) on the shorter exterior wall. But that plan also includes extending the patio, redoing our fences, and enclosing the porch with glass (or plexi, since someone had bad luck with glass) windows instead of screen.

The new sink will be going on that strange step where the grill is in the bottom photo. We also plan to add curtains, and hang a tv on the wall beside the back door. Luckily there is already an outlet in the ceiling as though someone else had a tv there before. The table and chairs that we bought three years ago when we bought the house*  will be either donated to ReStore or given to a friend.

* We missed our Housiversary! Well, we didn’t miss it, I just didn’t post about it. We celebrated (two days late) with bourbon, because I’m allergic to beer/wine/champange. Maybe we’ll finish up the exterior paint soon as a present to ourselves.

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