Child Labor

It’s raining outside this morning and my office is looking very grey.

Benjamin Moore’s Revere Pewter to be exact.

It makes me feel calm.

Except, looking at that disorganized desk, I feel less calm.

I fully believe in child labor.

The man of the house traced our first born’s shadow on the wall:

His one foot is not really that big.

Clearly, it’s not an exact science.


The little things

Our entire first floor is a wreck right now. We are tearing down walls, repairing the poor taping job on other walls, painting (still other) walls and the fireplace, and rebuilding the staircase landing. On top of all that, we’ve pulled up all our carpet and – once all the construction is complete – we intend to lay some wood flooring (see massive pile o’ boxes in the pic below).  So, this is my living room right now:


The stud in the left of that pic is also under construction. We tore down a little half wall between the living room and dining room and we are now trying to figure out how to make the two remaining studs look … intentional.


The man of the house wants to:

1) Jack up the second floor

2) Install a trendy i-beam

3) Pretend we live in a loft.

But. We don’t have the money to pull that off.  Also – those studs hold up our entire second floor – why mess with something that could go so horribly, horribly wrong when we can just make what is left look pretty?

We are thinking of covering them with white washed planks, similar to what they’ve done with a kitchen wall over at Sweet Pickins.


In the meantime. I have all this bedlam to look at.

And with everything in transition, it’s hard to find peace.  So this morning, when my son picked some flowers for me, I put them in water in a little apple juice jar and now I have them on my desk to enjoy all day.

It’s the little things, amid the chaos, that really make a difference.


Powder Room Sourcing

Ahhhh, the powder room remodel is over. And it’s perty. And it’s time to reflect over what we did and how much we spent and where we got all the stuff.


The industrial-looking light is from Lowe’s. It’s a galvanized outdoor fixture and it was only $30. I fell in love with this idea after seeing the kids bathroom over at My Old Country House.

The toilet is from Lowe’s as well.  This was the most expensive thing we bought for the room – and it was an impulse buy while sourcing wood for the vanity. Had I taken the time to research, I would have read the bad reviews and swayed from it. But I’m glad I didn’t. It’s beautiful (is it weird to call a toilet beautiful?), it’s functional, it fits perfectly in the space and it’s easy to clean. The one downside is the plastic toilet lid, which I do plan on replacing someday. But right now, with the way my boys slam those toilet seats down (I swear, it’s like percussion practice in here with all the peeing and slamming), I’m happy to have one that doesn’t make me jump every time.

The vanity is homemade – we bought the lumber and table legs at Lowe’s. I made the vintage stain myself out of vinegar and coffee, based on the recipe from Home Heart Craft. Then I covered it with two layers of poly, to make it water resistant. Overall, it was less than $100. See the post about it here.

The sink was also less than $100 – a special order piece from Lowe’s (we had only soooo much room on the homemade vanity, and we needed a slightly smaller sink than what was available in the stores. The brand name is Dekor. The man of the house connected the p-trap underneath – his first plumbing job – he was terrified.  We bought new pipes that were pretty and sparkly to replace the old yellowing PVC. $20

The mirror was a $30 Craigslist find, which I spray painted white. You can see the post about that here.

The glass jar holding the soaps and the framed cork board above the toilet are from Home Goods. $10 each.

The shell on the back of the toilet (holding the scrabble pieces) is from Goodwill. $2.

The scrabble pieces are from our game closet. We lurve scrabble. Except, my husband kicks my butt at it all the time, which never ceases to piss me off.

The metal basket on the floor (holding extra hand towels) is from the gardening department at Target. It was $30, which I thought was too much. But I drooled over this thing for two seasons before I finally decided I’d better buy it.  It doesn’t look available anymore (sorry!) but it was from the Smith & Hawken line, and I pretty much lurve everything Smith & Hawken.

The faucet is from Home Depot. $80.

The towel holder and toilet paper holder are a matching chrome set from Home Depot.  They were $10 each. This is nerdy, but I’m excited about the slip on/slip off toilet roll holder.  I feel joy every time I have to change the TP and I DON’T have to pop the spring-loaded thingie out and then finagle it back in. I’m quite sure I’ve recovered 4 wasted days of my life because I don’t have to do that anymore.

The light switches (speaking of wasted life, I ADORE the automatic light switch with the built-in night light – you can explore my adoration further in this post) and switch covers are from Home Depot. I couldn’t find pretty white switch/outlet covers that I liked (with a big enough opening for the auto-light). So I bought these bare wood ones and spray painted them white (I also spray painted the tops of the brassy screws and the inside of the brass door handle).

Spray paint cures all, my friends.

The hand towels and soap bottle are from Target. $5 each.

The floor tiles were on sale at a local discount tile center. Even though this room was small, I wanted extra large rectangle tiles in here. Standard square tiles just don’t appeal to me in general.  And the larger tiles expand the space, making it look bigger.  We spent $1.99 a square foot and this room is almost 5×5 (like Faith – Buffy reference, anyone?), so that’s about 50 smackaroos.


The paint was $30 – it’s Valspar’s Polar Star. Even though I initially thought it was grey, it turned out to be paaaaale blue. But it’s great, either way.

Let’s say $50 for the underlayment (big arse tiles + shifting Hill country clay soil = cracking up without that orange plastic-y layer underneath) and another $50 for the baseboards (being generous there).

So overall, we are looking at about $800 for the whole remodel.  The labor was free, but I had to take a lot of bubble baths to compensate for all that hard work. So add in a $5 bottle of bubbles and that brings us to $805.

Shazam! – Powder room reveal

Our renovation of the wee powder room under the stairs is finally finished:

In the first pic (above) you can see the shiny brass doorknob on the outside of the door. As you can see in the pic below, I spray-painted the inside doorknob chrome to match the room (I intend to rid my whole house of the brass doorknobs at some point in the near future – but that’s a lot of dang doorknobs, so for now we’re just wingin’ it – stay tuned):

My favorite things in this space:

1) The automatic light switch (see pic above). We have an electrician friend who inspired this (his kids’ bath has this handy dandy thing) and  installed it for us (we tried ourselves but the directions on those things are less DIY and more KYS (Know Your Shite) because he’s awesome. It’s great. Now, the kids go in to wash their hands, and no one needs to use their grubby sticky hands to turn on the light because it senses them and automatically lights up! Then, after they leave, it waits a minute and turns off on its own. It also has a night light for convenient nighttime guidance.

It’s brill.

2) The scrabble tiles. Inspired by a spa where I once spent the day. (Ahhhhh, memories.)

Here, I’ve left a little note for the abundance of males who live in my house:

Not only does my seven-year-old love writing messages with the tiles (mostly words like poop or pee, which he finds unimaginably hilarious), but this is the bathroom all our guests use (which is why this was our first to renovate) and it’s so much fun to see what our friends and family do with those tiles.  Thus far, my favorite message has been, “What does the mom say? No no no no no no no.”

I love creative peeps.

I considered gluing a thumb tack on the back of each individual tile so everyone could use the cork board to create messages. But then I imagined the number of kids who will be using this bathroom, and how many ouchies those little tacks had the potential to cause (little hand shoved into big bowl of tacked tiles = ouchie; tacked tile pointy-side up on hard floors + fresh from the sprinkler bare little feets = ouchie).

Instead, I glued thumb tacks to the back of the scrabble tile holders and now people can arrange whatever tiles they choose. It adds a little fun to the room, and I love that.

I kept the rest of the room pretty spare. This bathroom is small (4.6′ x 4.6′), so I don’t want to crowd it. Right now, it feels like juuuuust enough. Though, my intention is to fill up that apothecary jar with organic soaps as I collect them:

That mirror is from Craigslist. And I feel like it was my destiny to have it. It could not fit more perfectly in the room. You can see the before and after on it here.

You can see the story of the vanity the man of the house built here.

And here’s a final before and after, displaying the transformation of this room:



Sourcing to come soon.






The powder room mirror

After we finished our powder room vanity, which covers the entirety of one wall, I began the search for a mirror to top it off.

We only have one light fixture in the bathroom, so I wanted something large to bounce the light around the room. I also wanted something circular, to round out the hard edges of the vanity and to fit in the weird angular space the low ceiling creates on one side (this room is under the staircase and one wall is normal and the other wall is not). It was a lot to ask for.


I found this beauty on Craigslist:

It was only $30 and the dimensions were PERFECT.

How lucky is that?

So I painted that sucker with some white spray paint and here we are:

That strange angle doesn’t look so strange anymore, now does it?

Full reveal coming soon!

That weird corner is now my biotch.

Remember this weird corner in the wee powder room under the stairs?

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My dilemma was this: What the smack do I put there?

My go to in resolving any weird corner is a plant.  But this room has no windows and even the artificial light is scant. (We installed an automatic light with a timer in case the kids leave it on. Which they do. Every. Dang. Time.)

And I’m not into synthetic plants. Don’t get me wrong, some fake plants are lovely. But. I don’t like them. It’s just a thing with me. I want a plant to be  a growing, living thing. I want it to produce oxygen and not collect dust.

Anything I can do to avoid dusting is a good thing.

Sorry, I digress.

Back to this weird corner:


What about storage? A bathroom always needs storage, right?

But this room is TINY.

And three pieces (a toilet, a sink, and some kind of storage thing in the corner) didn’t seem … right …. to me. The idea felt too crowded in my head.

So I decided we needed to ditch the pedestal sink idea (which was hard, I love a good pedestal) and try to go with a l-o-n-g-e-r vanity, one that would ground the room, and fill up that weird empty corner with something more substantial.

But, the problems:

1) you can’t get too substantial here.  This room is not even 5 x 5.  Like Faith.

2) the sink pipes are in the left corner … where the old pedestal sink was … so … unless we wanted to call in a plumber (who EVER wants to do that?), we couldn’t center the vanity on the wall.

First, we tried a piece of furniture from Marshall’s. The dimensions worked. And it was pretty. So I brought that sucker home.

Hello beautiful.

But. It took up too much space. At 4.6′ x 4.6′, visual space in this room is at a premium. Also, I couldn’t  bring myself to cover up that beautiful floor we just laid (lay? lie?). So the man of the house disassembled it a little so we could see what it would look like if we chopped it up to make more visual floor space.

As you can see, it’s still lovely. But it throws off the balance of the room. The positioning (because of the sink pipes) left about two feet between the right side if the cabinet and the wall. So, the weird corner was still weird. It was just smaller.

What we really needed was something centered on the wall, and something that would provide enough visual space underneath so this tiny room didn’t feel so claustrophobic.

In case Four ever comes to visit. I want him to be able to use the powder room without regressing back into one of his fear landscapes.


So I consulted Pinterest and fell in love with the idea of cutting an old farm table in half and putting it on the wall. Like-a-dis:

Furniture as Bathroom Vanity.

The man of the house, an historian and antique furniture purist (me saying, “I’m painting this white!” is part of his fear landscape), couldn’t wrap his head around chopping up an old farm table. So he offered to build me one.


Isn’t she hawt? And she was less than $100 to build.

Love that man.

I was actually content with the raw look. But the man of the house – bless him – wanted to recreate the old farm table look. So – as I was very happy with him at that moment – I conceded.

And I couldn’t be happier with the results:

I made the vintage stain myself, based on the recipe from Home Heart Craft. Then I covered it with two layers of poly, to make it water resistant.

And I just can’t stop looking at it!!

Again, let’s see the old vs. the new:


Problem solved. Weird corner defeated.

Do NOT get in the Jacuzzi – trust me on that.

Trim and the new toilet have been installed in the wee powder room under the stairs:

The toilet is a Jacuzzi, a brand that conjures up visions of mimosas and bubbly relaxation.

But. It’s a toilet. So. That’s weird.

I do, however oddly, have the desire to have my morning coffee in here now.  It’s just so … calming.

Here’s another before and after: