Category Archives: Floors

Renovation Diary, Part 4: The Bathroom Reveal

Fifty-two days after the fateful peeling up of ‘just one’ vinyl tile on our bathroom floor, the bathroom renovation is complete.  Instead of feeling dated, grungy and pieced together, our bathroom now feels happy, spacious and clean.  Natural daylight floods the space and the bright colors are refreshing and uplifting.

Bright and Peaceful Bathroom Remodel, Black and White, Merona Tile, Ikea vanity, cb2 mirror

Details, details!  Who knew it would take over a month and a half to get a window in the bathroom and to finish caulking everything?  The most important parts of the bathroom–aka the toilet, sink and bathtub, were useable by the first week or two of September, but the missing window prevented the use of the shower for several more weeks.

Installing glass block in a shower

 Thankfully, the warm fall weather in Pocatello held out and my crazy plan to combine a regular window with glass blocks worked fantastically.  

Glass blocks and an awning window

Exposed cinder block, round mirror, Ikea vanity

Many aspects of our Do-It-Yourself bathroom renovation have been incredible learning experiences.  One of the more stressful lessons is that when you order tile shipped to your house, half of it may arrive smashed to pieces.  Luckily, I could take it right down to Home Depot for a refund and I quickly reordered the amount I needed.  It’s a good thing it was a pretty painless process, because next the glass block window I ordered arrived with about 12 chips in it.  I ended up just ordering loose glass blocks on the second go-round and Jer and I put them together ourselves.  We are much happier with the finished appearance and we were able to fill the window space perfectly with an awning window above the glass blocks.  I was pretty stubborn about wanting glass blocks in the bathroom, but with a large window on top that would open and vent.  Our awning window ended up being 32in x 16in, and the glass blocks were 32in x 24in below it.  I am really glad I stayed true to my vision, even when it seemed like such a hassle.


Another eye-opener for us is that tub and shower fixtures are not all made the same.  Of course, we didn’t find this out until the end, when all of the tile was completely done.  We ended up coming in from the back side and cutting a large hole in our kitchen/dining room wall to replace the pressure balance valve.  What would have taken less than an hour while everything was out in the open ended up taking all day.  And now there is that little issue of the hole in the kitchen wall…

One of our favorite things about the bathroom is the statement tile on the floor.

Merola Tile Twenties Diamond

It completely fits our family’s style, but it will also work very well with other styles.  Simply changing the art and the color of the towels gives the bathroom a different vibe.

Bathroom Remodel: Black and White with a bit of color

 We also love the modern look of the vertically stacked white subway tile with the charcoal grout.  The tile fits well with the style and era of our home, but also has a fresh twist.  At the last minute, I decided to add black tile around the window, and I am so glad I did.

Target clock, DIY shelf

We no longer have to fear that the tub or toilet may fall through the floor unexpectedly.  Gone is the plexiglass nailed to the old shower window to prevent leaks into the wall.

Back of door hooks

 We know the amount of hard work and attention to detail that was put into every inch of the room.  There are a few details remaining, such as knobs for hanging towels and maybe a small cabinet for storage, but that’s all part of the fun.  

Wash cloths in a basket

Towel basket by tub

Can I just tell you how awesome it was to take that first shower in the new bathroom?!?

Renovation Diary, Part 2: Inspiration and Research

When you are thinking about remodeling a bathroom or any other room in your home, one of the first things you should do is start gathering ideas.  My favorite way to gather ideas is to look in magazines or online for images that I love.  I tear magazine pages out and keep them in a binder, sometimes writing or circling what interested me about the image.  For online images, I use Pinterest to organize by topic or by room.  As an interior designer, I am constantly looking at and saving images, so when it was time to redo our bathroom I had a ton of ideas all ready to go.

After you gather a fair amount of images, it is important to look at them all together and see if any common theme becomes apparent.  With my images, it was obvious that high-contrast black and white was what I was drawn to.  One thing about bathrooms is that you can have a great neutral base and add a lot of personality with colorful accent pieces, towels and shower curtains.  My husband and I both enjoy a modern aesthetic with some color, texture and natural wood added to warm up the room.  Another bit of information we learned from the inspiration images was that I was going to have to learn how to tile!  I have always loved the look of subway tiles in a shower, and we decided to use them part way up the rest of the walls as well.

Once you have decided on your design direction, it is a good idea to put together an idea board (or have a designer help you with this step).  This is where you gather all of the different elements in the room and arrange them together to make sure they will compliment each other and support your vision.  I use Photoshop for this purpose, but there are several other programs that will allow you to arrange and resize images.  A large bulletin board or piece of posterboard will allow you to easily arrange magazine images. To help visualize what the finished outcome will be, consider hiring a designer to draw up the space with your selected furnishings, finishes and materials.

Bathroom Inspiration

1. Shower curtain,  This one is no longer made, so I will likely be making my own.  I also want it to be extra long, so that limits the options of remade shower curtains.

2. Vanity light, home

3. Lockable cabinet,  We will likely get one for each family member, leaving the kid’s unlocked.  We have a little girl who loves to get into things.

4. Round mirror,  We are mixing in some warm wood tones to warm up all the black and white a bit.

5. Colorful towels.  I am contemplating different colors for each family member.   Does anyone else get bothered by sharing towels?  I really don’t like reaching for my towel to find it all wet already!

6. White subway tile with charcoal grout.  I am also placing the tiles vertically in a stacked pattern.  I figure since it is my first tiling job, I might as well make it as difficult as possible. ha.

7. Vanity,  We are actually using the Godmorgon vanity with the Rattviken sink.  We are using the Dalskar faucet.

8. Floor tile, home  I LOVE LOVE LOVE this tile.  Home Depot has really got it going on in the tile department.  This particular tile has 3 or 4 different patterns you can make.

9. Hand painted knobs,  I will be painting my own.  We are choosing these rather than towel bars.  Our bathroom is pretty small and hooks just make more sense for us.  I might sew a loop on each of our towels to make them easier to put on hooks.

10. Asparagus fern.  They like damp environments with a fair amount of light.  I already have one, and think it might like living in the bathroom next.

11. Wood and metal shelf,  I will DIY a version of this also. I want a mix  of wood and black metal to tie in the vanity light and mirror.

When you are satisfied with your material choices, it is time to get them ordered.  Keep in mind that some things may not be in stock in the stores, and you will have to special order them.  This process can take awhile, especially if they happen to be broken when they arrive, like my floor tiles and glass block window were.  To speed up the whole process considerably just choose items that are already in stock.  Of course I didn’t do that, so we have spent a bit of time playing the waiting game.  Since my husband and I have been doing all of the work ourselves and aren’t trying to schedule contractors, it has all worked out (except for that crazy window!).

Here are some things we have learned in the ‘Inspiration and Research’ process:

1. Researching tools and materials can help you save a lot of money.  Instead of expensive artisan cement tiles, I was able to find a beautiful ceramic replica for a fraction of the price.

2. YouTube videos and tutorials can help a lot.  They can either show you how to do something, or help you decide when to hire a professional.

3. Think about using basic materials in new ways.  Even simple and timeless subway tiles can take on a unique look with a different arrangement or contrasting grout.

Next Up, Renovation Diary: Putting it All Back Together.


Get This Party Started!

You Guys. Let’s start by taking a moment of silence in support of my amazingly patient and supportive husband.

You see, I am one of those people who has like 1,000 ideas in my head all at once, and I am constantly switching from one thing to another.  I call it Design ADD.  Jer is great about listening to my ramblings and occasionally adding his own crazy ideas to the mix.  He is also a fantastic accomplice when I am trying to actually materialize some of these ideas into projects.

This week for the Idaho State Journal, I wrote about Getting Started with Projects.  Oftentimes that is the hardest part of the job.  Just getting started.  I evidently took my advice to heart this week, so that is why I have a deconstructed headboard on the floor in the center of my living room, an upturned piano bench waiting for a leg repair, and I have been prying old base moldings off in the hallway.

My little helpers make each project even more interesting to complete!

I have about 50 more projects started (I wish I was joking), but those are the ones I am focusing on today. ha.

Speaking of base moldings, the reason I am excited about removing them is because we took the carpet out of our hall and living room two weekends ago!

The wood floors underneath are completely passable by our standards, and we are loving the cleaner feel.  Unfortunately, there is about an inch gap between the base moldings and the floor now.

Removing and replacing them all wasn’t really on my priority list, but we were donated a few pieces of molding from our friends after their basement remodel, and I decided to see if I liked the look and fit of the taller molding in our house.  I do.

Anyway, I hope to finish our headboard after the kids are in bed tonight, and we will likely be working on baseboard or sticky tile removal this weekend.  We also went to IKEA last weekend, so I have some shelves to install in the kitchen.  And I would like to start my countertop refinishing project.  And…and…and.   But at least I’ve got a few things started.


Details: Amazing Tile Refresh

Could your tile floors use some attention? Maybe the grout is too light, too dark, or an outdated color.  If your tile is still in good shape, you have a few options that can make a big difference in the look of your tile floors.

One of my clients had tile installed in their kitchen and dining area about 15 years ago, and chose a terra cotta grout.  Over the years, their tastes have changed and they were wanting a lighter color without so much contrast between the tile and the grout.

One option is to remove the existing grout entirely and replace it with new grout.  If your grout is in good condition though, a much easier option is to clean and paint it.  Since their grout was not cracking or chipping, my clients decided to try out the relatively new grout paint and sealer.

To prep the grout for painting, it was first scrubbed with a mixture of lemon juice, vinegar and baking soda.  They used 7 cups water, 1/3 cup lemon juice, 1/4 cup vinegar, and 1/2 cup of baking soda. Apply it liberally to the tile and grout and let it  sit for 15 minutes, then scrub with a brush.  If you just want to clean your floors, you can stop at this step, because it is amazing!

The directions on the grout paint say to use an acid cleaner before applying the paint, so you might decide you want to do that.  My clients decided the acid from the vinegar and lemon juice was good enough for them, and less toxic.

To apply the paint we used flat craft brushes.  We found the size 6 brushes to work the best for us, but it would depend on the width of your grout.  We just poured a bit of paint onto a plastic lid and applied it to the grout lines with the brush and let it dry.


The whole process was a bit time consuming, but not as much as chipping the grout from between the tile would have been.  And the results were amazing.  We chose a medium gray color, and it brightened up the look of the entire kitchen and dining area.  Instead of pulling out the orange colors from the tile, like the terra cotta colored grout did, the gray grout picks up on the subtle gray colors in the tile.


Now that my client’s floors are now more neutral, they are working on reupholstering their dining room chairs in a cheery bright red.  One small change in the flooring has allowed them to make some much-desired updates in the rest of the kitchen and dining area.



If you have some tile with grout that could use a fresh look, give some grout paint a try!  It is an inexpensive update that brings a significant change to your flooring.

Laundry Room Idea Board

Laundry Room Idea Board

This room may be a work in progress for awhile, since I am still working on painting the exterior of our house.  But, it always helps to get the ideas going, and then when it is too hot outside, I have more motivation to go to work on the basement laundry room!  Here are some ideas so far:

1. Possible colors for floor and walls.  I am pretty positive the walls will be white, but the floor may change.  I am currently thinking a soft yellow-green, sort of based off the ‘grass’ colors in the screen (#7).

2. Black and White leaf drapes.  I have these already and am using them in our living room.  But, we really could use another set to really cover the picture window, so I am thinking of moving them to the laundry room.  I will put them on rings so they open and close easily.

3. I love the idea of painting the utility sink.  I am not sure our colors will be the same, but I do like the pop of red (or a red-orange) with the light gray legs.

4.  I really like the look of soaps dispensed into smaller containers (since we get ours at Costco, size large). Our soap is liquid, but the baking soda, etc would look nice in jars like this.  I am looking for a fun pump for the liquid detergent.  Smaller sizes will also fit better on the shelves I would like to add above the washer and dryer.

5. We want to add narrow shelves above the washer and dryer to store the cleaning supplies and possibly my extensive spray paint collection.  We will likely repurpose a shelf that Jeremiah just removed from the garage.

6.  I need to organize my paint and supplies.  Nothing is more frustrating for me than knowing I have a product or color and not being able to find it.  Jeremiah built a workbench that currently houses the paint, but it really needs some organization.

7. Our furnace and water heater are highly visible from the entrance to the laundry room.  I would love to buy or make a privacy screen like this to hide them while still being easily accessible.  A curtain system would also work.

8.  An inexpensive and colorful rug adds a feeling of softness while being easily cleaned and dried in case of any water overflows.

9. The humor and retro feeling of this sign fits our family’s aesthetic.

10. This image I found online reminded me of hanging clothes out on the line with my mom as a kid.


That’s it so far.  Things will likely change, but making Idea Boards gets me thinking of a direction anyway.  I am excited about this project because there is just so much potential in that room!

Laundry Room: ‘Before’ pics

Yes my friends, this is where I do my average of 400 loads of laundry per year…

Our laundry room is extremely neglected and uninspiring.  But, it has great potential and I am extremely grateful to have well-functioning machines to keep our clothes clean.  There are two decent-sized windows and it is a generously sized space (more than the size of our kitchen and dining area combined).  With a minimal budget for laundry room renovation, I have been thinking of ways that will increase the appeal and function of the room while also cleaning up and organizing the entire space.

1. Declutter the entire room.  The generous size of the laundry room is nice for storage, but it also means the laundry room is a convenient dumping ground for items we don’t know what else to do with.  I predict a thrift store donation run or three in my near future.

2. Give it a good scrub.  The place where we clean our clothes is by far the dirtiest room in our home.  It is time for some serious cleaning, from the ceiling to the floor.  Our dryer has lint and spilled stain remover on its top, and the washer could use a good scrub in the little nooks and crannies.

3. Paint.  Painting the concrete floor a bright color and giving the walls a fresh coat of paint will rejuvenate the entire room.  I considered painting the ceiling’s exposed floor joists, but I don’t really mind the look of the wood enough to go through the multiple coats of primer and paint it would take to get good coverage.  There is a dividing wall along the stairs with a row of border paper that is definitely getting a face-lift though! I thought it was ducks, but it is floral/cottage.  Either way, not our style!

4. Add function and organization with shelving and storage.  Jer already built a large folding station/workbench along one wall, which is currently housing all of my paint and painting supplies, along with a tool chest and miscellaneous items waiting to be donated.  We will be adding shelves or cabinets above the washer and dryer for storing detergents and other cleaning supplies.  A utility sink, drying rack, folding space and some hanging rods are other conveniences that help a laundry room work more efficiently.  Our current hanging device works really well, but needs some aesthetic work.

5. Don’t forget the details!  Adding art, rugs, window coverings and good (and pretty) lighting will make this room more comfortable to be in.

With some elbow grease and imagination, you can turn an often-neglected space into a fun and organized room you won’t mind spending a little time in.  Have you transformed a basement laundry room?  I would love to hear all about it!  Stop by in a few days for a look at my Laundry Room Idea Board.

Bathroom Remodel: From Blah to Blissful

My clients were living with a basement guest bathroom in need of serious help.  Besides some repairs to the leaking shower basin, it had remained relatively untouched since the home was built in the early 1990s.  Like many of us, they hesitated to put too much money into renovations in case they decided to move.  But, armed with the knowledge that bathroom remodels only increase the value of a home, they decided to take the leap, since they could enjoy the space either way.

To save money, my clients opted to use the existing footprint of the bathroom and let fixtures remain in their current locations.  Instead, we worked with the space to make it more efficient and fit their lifestyle and needs.  The small corner shower was turned into a large tiled walk-in shower that runs the full width of the bathroom.

 A tiled bench was added, and is a nice amenity if space allows.  To avoid the tedious task of scrubbing glass shower doors, the client chose a heavy waffle-weave white shower curtain. Fabric also adds a sense of warmth in the windowless space.

A longer vanity with furniture-type legs was added to the bathroom, taking advantage of about 12 inches of previously wasted space between the vanity and shower.  Since it is mainly used as a guest bath, the medicine cabinet was replaced with an oval mirror that complimented the dark wood of the vanity.  Sconces were added on each side of the mirror, making the lighting much more flattering than harsh overhead fixtures.

To camouflage the existing plumbing ‘shelf’ behind the toilet, we added floating shelves and created an accent wall.  The extra shelves also make a perfect place to display extra towels and fun accessories.  A bright aqua accent wall adds a touch of the client’s personality to the room, but is also easily changed when tastes dictate.

The old linoleum flooring was also replaced with the same gray vinyl that extends throughout the rest of the basement.  The walls were given a fresh coat of light gray paint, and oil rubbed bronze hardware and switch plates completed the transformation.

My clients love the changes and tell me that now it actually feels like a special place for their guests to use.  Rumor has it that they even prefer using it over the master bath!

January Cure: Assignment 2

After an eye-opening experience coming up with my project/problem list for Apartment Therapy’s January Cure, the next assignment involved a lot more elbow grease.  Assignment 2 was entitled Flowers and Floors, and consisted of buying flowers for your home and deep cleaning all of your floors.  No problem, I thought to myself.  I have all weekend to do this…

I got a great start on Friday.  My littlest one took an unprecedented 3 hour(!!) nap and I scrubbed my kitchen floors until they gleamed as much as cracking vinyl floor tiles can gleam.  Then I got a little sidetracked and started painting the cabinet toe kicks and some of the trim.  But it looks awesome, and was on my list, so I am okay, right?

My awesome hubby had finished tearing out the carpet in our bedroom to reveal hardwood floors in passable shape.  On Saturday, I convinced him to help me move everything out of our room so I could clean and shine up the floors and paint the walls.  I ended up painting the walls and scraping paint off the floor Saturday night after the kids were in bed.

Closet Before. Maybe those light areas were stripped previously?  I should have tried to stain them first.

View from closet.  Lots of scratches and dull spots.

Sunday night after the kids were in bed, I scrubbed the floor and used a floor restorer called Rejuvinate on it.  I used the high gloss formula to bring some shine back.  I was very happy with how it looked, for the most part.  There were parts of the floor that had possibly been stripped at one point, so they are lighter in color.  Most of that is in the closet and covered with shoes anyway, so I think we are just feeling fortunate that there weren’t pieces ripped out and replaced with plywood.

Closet After.  We might put in some FLOR tiles or a rug during the closet overhaul.

Before the kids woke up Monday morning, I put on a second coat of the floor restorer and let it dry for the day.  After the kids were in bed for the night, I put a second coat of paint on the walls.  I was bummed that I had to do a second coat, but there was a lot of white showing through.  I was painting over white walls with Valspar’s Signature Paint + Primer from Lowe’s, but it just wasn’t quite cutting it for this project.  I am super happy with the finished results though, and am glad I decided to do the second coat.

View from closet.  Scratches are much less noticeable and it is shiny, shiny!

Tuesday was a day for drying and off-gassing fumes with the window open (and it is COLD here, people!).  The kids loved running into the open space, so it was hard to keep them out.  I brought some of the light furniture back in, and tried out an awesome rug from Jer’s grandpa in the space.  I loved the rug, but unfortunately it was just too big for the room.  I don’t want to cover up all the cool hardwood that we just uncovered!  The rug will be reappearing soon in another room, another post.

Phone photo of the rug.  It went end to end and almost edge to edge!

On Wednesday, I convinced Jer that I could not stand another day with our bed and dresser taking up the e.n.t.i.r.e living room, so we moved back in!  I am so excited to put the room back together, without the piles of crap, of course.  The piles are still in the living room, waiting for me to deal with them.  And unfortunately they are patient little buggers and don’t go away when I ignore them.  A lot like my kids.

As for the assignment, I bought a $3 poinsettia at Home Depot when I was there getting my floor restorer.  The floor in my kitchen is now needing another scrubbing as it is covered in food remnants and Play-doh.  The other floors were neglected.  But, WOW does our bedroom floor look good!