Category Archives: Before/After

I’m Not Wearing Pants at the Moment

True, I’m not wearing pants. It’s my way of letting the world know that our window blinds were installed yesterday! Finally, I can lounge around the house in my skivvies without putting on a peep show for my neighbors. The sidewalk in front of our house sees a fair amount of traffic- parents with strollers, dog walkers, bikers, and joggers–including the boys’ cross country team from a nearby high school.

We installed vertical blinds in the upstairs bedrooms and a different types of cellular shades on the main floor. We chose the top-down/bottom-up style to allow the greatest amount of natural light into the rooms while still providing enough privacy to prance around naked inside the house.

Pics and video soon!

To clarify, we do not actually prance around or even sit at our desks naked and if we did, I would not put it on YouTube. I will post pics or videos of our blinds, though.

You’re welcome.

Since some of you are bound to ask, we bought the blinds from a Big Box store and paid them to do the measuring and the install. In all, we covered 16 windows, so the flat fee the store charged for measuring and installing turned out to be a pretty good deal. And now we don’t have to devote any of our weekend time to covering the windows, which is good because we’re on something like week 7 of bathroom demo. *DIY sigh*

Bathroom Updates

I’d like to say these bathrooms are the last big projects on our radar, but that would be wishful thinking. We’ve got a ramshackle attached porch (the Chicago fridge) and an even ramshackle-ier garage, not to mention a front stoop with crumbling steps and a whole mess of critters who like to make their home underneath it. (See today’s Facebook update for the latest in Kim vs. Skunk.)

The two bathrooms are almost fully gutted. Hubs has been talking to a host of subcontractors with the goal of acting as the GC for this project. It’s going to save us money, but will take a lot more time and effort. Who knows? There could be some massive screw-up resulting in lots of fingerpointing amongst the crew and that could cost us extra money as well as time.

Uh, yeah, I’m not exactly enthusiastic about this effort. I mean, we started gutting the bathrooms on April 8–more than a month ago. It’s quite likely the renovation of these two small rooms will take as much or more time than our entire Plan A renovation.

On the bright side, our Mother’s Day gathering, indeed the day itself, was wonderful. The gutted bathrooms only posed a problem for one of my nieces.

And, skunk damage aside, we have a front lawn and our window treatments should arrive in the next week or so.

Slow and steady wins the race, right?

Oh, The Huge Vanity!

kohler loure faucetI know, I know. I haven’t even finished showing you our luxurious master bathroom before I started talking about demolishing another one. I don’t yet have a vision for the new bathrooms, but I’ll find plenty of inspiration at the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show next week. Our master bath is pretty inspiring, too, but I suspect we’ll go a bit lower key with the two other bathrooms.

Our master is very cool and modern without being over the top. The room incorporates many of 2012’s top bathroom trends- heated floor, deluxe shower experience, bench in the shower, layered lighting, a bathroom fan with a timer, and sleek fixtures.

Our modern faucet is part of Kohler’s Loure line, which you also saw in our shower.

It’s paired with a custom vanity top from (wait for it) Crafty Beaver. We got a great price and thoughtful service and I wish we’d thought to get a quote from them on our kitchen cabinets. The top features a wave bowl from Bertch and the cabinet itself is an off-the-shelf piece from the Big Box. It looks nice, but it’s a poor quality piece, something we didn’t realize until it was too late to return.

As you can (kinda) see in the photo below, rather than a typical round spray of water from the tap, the Loure faucet releases a unique flow in which you can see two streams cross in V-shape at the top and then twist and turn as they hit the sink. The fact that the Teen and I are fascinated by this might indicate undiagnosed Asperger’s or something, but it really is interesting and calming to watch.

kohler loure faucet in action

That said, I do try to save water by not running the faucet while I brush my teeth. Gotta focus on those pearly whites! And the Teen is stuck brushing his teeth in here, anyway.


kohler Loure faucet handle

Perhaps because DH and I don’t share a morning rush, we didn’t see the need for two sinks. Instead, we opted for one and a make-up area for the lady of the house.


master bath vanity makeup desk

Our bathroom paint provided by Benjamin Moore. The color, Smoked Oyster (2109-40), alternates between beige, mauve and purple, depending upon the light.

Speaking of tricks of light, I mentioned that I couldn’t get a good shot of the entire vanity given the natural light, the light fixtures and copious amounts of mirror and glass in the room. Here’s my proof. (Also, I apparently didn’t straighten up the vanity before I shot. I swear it looks nicer in person. BTW, the toilet is behind me.)

master bath vanity


We received a discount from Kohler on our fixtures. All opinions, blog posts, videos and cleaning services are my own.

All Washed Up in the Laundry Room

We split a useless old mother-in law kitchen on the second floor of our house and into our master bathroom and an upstairs laundry room. It’s great not having to lug basket after basket of laundry down two long flights of stairs to the basement and then back up.

I show off the highlights of the new space in the video.


I’m glad we were able to re-use the old kitchen cabinets. DH brought them upstairs and I had kinda shoved them into the space with the original white laminated top, which fit the cabinets, but was too small for the nook in the laundry room. This was too sloppy looking for my GC, so at his urging, I bought a new budget friendly top and he framed it all out, calling it his Chanukah gift to me. I still need to paint or stain the cabinets, to complete the look, but believe me, it’s so much nicer than my makeshift attempt to fill the space.

As noted in the video, I think our Whirlpool Cabrio is too large. It does a fine job of cleaning the clothes, I just wish wish we’d one with a slightly smaller model. If there’s interest, I’ll provide a more in depth review of the machine.

Speaking of laundry, I heard the siren song of beeps (rather annoying tones, actually) calling me upstairs to finish off a load. Until there’s a machine that sorts, folds and puts away the clothes, I think laundry will always be a drag. DO you have any tips to make it fun?

The Blind Guy

The blind guy was here and, though I’m not proud to admit it, I did place stumbling blocks before him. Of course if he had called to let me know he was on his way, I could have done a little cleaning first.

Nearly four months of living here and we’re ready to get rid of those temporary blinds. You know those cheap paper things? We’ve got them everywhere. Well, not everywhere, in our bedroom, we draped a dropcloth one of our workmen left behind.

Yes, I washed it before hanging it. (And it was brand new, FWIW.)

I realize we’ve taken shabby chic to a new low, but that’s how I roll.

We’re ordering most of our window treatments from a Big Box store. For less than $120 they will provide the measuring and installation for all of the window treatments. Given that we’re covering nearly 20 windows, it’s a worthwhile expense.

Now that the measurements are done, we’ll be able to place our order next week. Or the week after. We’re not great at making decorating choices, so I tend to drag my feet on them. Eventually DH gets fed up with my procrastination and I wind up making some random choice just be be done with the process. Wow, seeing that on the screen makes me realize just how dysfunctional the process is.

Is there a home decorating version of Garanimals? I need that.

I Got Carried Away in the Shower

Our Passover Seder was wonderful and now it’s time to get back to business–the business of renovation that is. We’ve got two bathrooms, the classic pink 1950s one and the kids’ one, that need more than facelifts. We’ve got to rip out walls, enhance wiring, add insulation, replace pipes and maybe relocate a few. Oh, and there’s a bit of HVAC work to be done, too.

On the bright side, the windows and tubs will stay.

We’ll be hiring out for the work, but Hubs thought we should take on some of the demo. It could save us a few bucks. More importantly, he feels that potential contractors will provide more accurate estimates if they can see what’s going on behind the walls.

Makes sense.

I started peeling off the plastic pink tiles on Sunday. They came off easily enough, but the adhesive behind them did not and apparently the stuff has a half-life on more than 50 years because it was off-gassing some nasty fumes. I’m sure whatever volatile chemicals were used in the old glue were banned in the 1980s because they cause brain cancer or something.

So on Monday I decided I had to move beyond tile peeling to full-out knocking down walls.

I gave myself about 90 minutes to do some work, but once I started taking down chunks of wall, I couldn’t stop.

By the time I stopped, I was so filthy that I didn’t dare rinse down in my precious shower. Instead, I cleaned up in the boys’ bathroom. It’s the first shower I’ve taken in there and now I understand why they are eager for a renovation. The shower spray is pitiful and deeply unsatisfying.

As far as what’s going on behind the walls, thankfully, there was nothing (not even a secret stash of cash) behind the soffit in the shower. However, there are two ducts running up the shower wall and another three (!) running up the wall next to it. Glad I didn’t bang full force into any of them.

Yesterday I chaperoned a school band and field trip and now I’m grabbing my safety glasses, work gloves, hat and dust mask and jumping back in.