Category Archives: design and decor

Flush with Excitement about our Master Bathroom

dual-flush toilet by KohlerYou’ve seen the shower in photos and soon enough you’ll see it in action. With me inside. Remember when I said of the translucent light shining through the bathroom door, “that is one light that you’d want to go into?” Well here’s a peek behind it.

I mentioned that the lighting in the master bathroom is tricky, so I’m starting with the easiest spot, the commode enclave, resting spot of our Kohler Persuade Dual-Flush Compact Elongated Bowl Toilet with its Brevia seat.

The Persuade is a sleek toilet that fits with our bathroom’s modern vibe. Not only does it look nice, it cleans up well. The smooth surface means fewer nooks and crannies to clean out (moms of boys, you know what I’m talking about).

It’s cool inside and out. Take a peek:

Dual-flush means it’s got a low water flush and a super low water flush (1.6 and 0.8 gallons respectively). Unlike other dual-flush toilets I’ve experienced where you have to flush twice or always use the big flush, the Persuade does a good job with the 0.8 gallon flush, even if you think the situation might require the 1.6 gallon flush, if you know what I mean.

Depress the small button for the smaller flush and so on.

Kohler persuade toilet flus buttons

The Kohler Persuade has earned the EPA’s certification as a “WaterSense” product. The EPA has a cool tool to calculate how much money and water you can save by going green in your bathroom.

Speaking of green, which rhymes with clean, perhaps it’s because of the low amount of water that sits in the bowl, but the Persuade is very easy to get clean and keep clean. This is super handy because apparently I’m the only person in the whole damn house who knows A) what a toilet brush is and B) how to use it.

The one down side of the toilet is that if it gets clogged, it might require a plumber as opposed to an old skool plunger to clear the pipes. I’ll share how I learned that little lesson in a future post.
Disclosure: Kohler provided a product discount. All toilet cleaning services are provided by my husband and me. Per our color coordinator’s recommendation, Benjamin Moore provided Smoked Oyster¬† Aura Bath and Spa paint for our bathroom; more about that later.

You Want a Sneak Peek at My Kitchen?

Of course you want to see my new kitchen! Check it out in my monthly post on Angie’s List: Planning a new kitchen, Chicago style. It’s full of resources, tips, a bit of my anxiety and it’s even got a fancy before/after slideshow.

What are you waiting for? Click, already!


Even the Kitchen Sink

Silgranit by BlancoEven the kitchen sink was something of an ordeal when it came to bringing our reno plans to life. Thanks to your feedback, we knew to avoid a corner sink, but we were still puzzled about what material our sink should be made of.

We ruled out stainless steel as too industrial.

Solid surface was out because it doesn’t wear well over time

Cast iron enamel looks lovely at first, but tends to chip and scratch. With my fondness for cast iron pans and metal baking sheets, I knew this wouldn’t be a good long-term fit.

What was left? Silgranit.

Silgranit is a lightweight, durable granite composite that promises to stand up to what my family and I could dish out. Not that we routinely let crusty dinner dishes pile up in the sink, but, well, sometimes it happens.

Silgranit was suggested to us by our appliance saleswoman; that was the first I’d heard of it. As I was searching online for more information on this wonder-sink, I crossed paths with a PR peep who works with the brand and she arranged for me to receive a Blanco SilgranitII sink and a Blanco faucet.

Not only is Silgranit tough, it’s pretty, too. It comes in a wide choice of styles and colors. We (yes, DH had an opinion about this) selected a Blanco Diamond 1 3/4 bowl undermount sink in biscotti, which goes perfectly with our counter tops and our wall paint.

We got off to a rocky start with our sink because, durable as they are, they can get cracked during the shipping process. We did not notice any cracks in our sink upon arrival or before it was installed, but one appeared after the counter top guys installed it. Maybe they screwed it in a bit too tight or something? After a near-heart attack, near tears, foot stomping and a finger pointing drama our guy provided a replacement sink of the exact color and style we ordered and installed it that very same day. (If a Silgranit II sink is damaged during shipping, Blanco will replace it.)

Since then the sink has been in for good. And it’s been great. Nearly two months into living here, it still looks like new.

(When it’s not full of dishes.)

So far, Silgranit is living up to its scratch-resistant and easy-to-clean promises. Hooray!

We also received a Blanco faucet. One of the challenges here is that we selected our model from online photos, which made me nervous. I like to see and touch products before bringing them into my home, but even the high-end kitchen shops in my area had limited displays of Blanco faucets. We went with our gut and selected the Rados with pull down spray because it had the functionality we wanted, namely a pull down vs. pull out spray.

We’re happy with our selection. The faucet’s brass body (with satin nickle finish) gives the unit a substantial feel. It feels more solid than the plastic chrome-plated faucet from the Big Box store that we had in our previous house.

See those rubbery bumps on the back of the pull down unit?


Blanco faucet

The small one unleashes a steady stream of water that can be adjusted for temperature and water pressure.


Blanco faucet


And the larger one releases the spray. The spray makes it easy to wash dishes and the sink. It also leaves me fantasizing about playing “beauty shop” in my kitchen.


Blanco faucet

Washing dishes by hand* is never fun, but I’m so glad to be in my own fabulous kitchen, that it’s almost a pleasure to do them.


*We do have a dishwasher, but it always seems like there are a handful of items that demand a hand job.

Revealing More in the Master Bedroom

Here’s the rest of the “master suite.” For the first video I had to move all my piles off to one side so they did not detract from the room’s natural beauty. Once that was over, I had to shift them to the other side of the room, so I could make this video.


(Sort of.)

Anyway, here’s yet another sneak peek into my bedroom.


Closet systems are wonderful! We had several in our previous house. They make the closet space so much more efficient; I highly recommend then. Our closet system was designed and installed by Roger from Fix My Closets. (No relationship to disclose; just a nice small biz worthy of a shout-out.)


The Reluctant Renovator is now on Angie’s List!

shower ceiliing with Kohler water tilesNo, I’m not providing any home services, I’m writing! In the months since we purchased our house I’ve learned quite a few things about making home improvements and repairs, and now I get to share my best gems with Angie’s List members each month. Check out my first post: Tips for hiring a Chicagoland contractor.

So far, we’ve been more about HIY (hire it yourself) than DIY and, frankly, I’m liking it this way. I do hope to make better use of my tool belt and start digging in the dirt in the coming months, but I have to admit that things wouldn’t be looking quite so nice if we had completed major renovation tasks on our own.

Speaking of which, the guy in the photo on Angie’s List is David from Tigele Tile. Though Tigele owner Johann Janoschka, did note that our job was less grand than some of his projects, he and David did a great job. Our master bathroom looks fabulous. So good, in fact, that other tradesmen commented on the expert installation. Typically, tradesmen look at another guy’s work and tell you five ways they could have done it better.

Tigele also tiled our laundry room and kitchen floors. Johann scheduled his work around our other renovations and completed his portions on time.

We did encounter two issues: one was that we did not like the coiled heating element he first installed in the bathroom floor. Luckily, we noticed this in time and talked to Johann about installing a higher end heat mat. It cost us a little bit more money to get the mat, but we were happy to pay as the overall job price was reasonable.

The other issue was that when our plumber came to install the fixtures, we realized the fixture slots were tiled in too closely. Despite the fact that he was in Europe when this happened, I was able to contact Johann and one of his workers made it to our house in time for the plumber to complete his work that same day. (It would have been nice if the plumber mentioned at the time that he wouldn’t drill the tile to install the mounting for the hand spray, but frustratingly, he waited another week to share the news. Ugh. Don’t get me started on our plumber.)

Hmmm. I need to get that on Angie’s List, too, only in the review section.

By the way, you can also catch a bit of home improvement with a side of snark in my monthly post on Aiming Low’s Teach Channel.

Yes, yes, yes, more pics of the fab-o master bath to come. Between the lighting and the mirrors it’s hard to get good shots.

The Master Bedroom

bedroom wall before renovationSo Hubs walks into the bedroom on Valentine’s Day to find our tripod, camera perched atop aimed directly at our bed. He was curious. Very curious.

“I’m making a video,” I said batting my eyelashes.

He smiled.

“For my blog.”

Such is the lot for the husband of a social media mom.

Let’s hope this sneak peek into my bedroom does not disappoint you as much as it did my dear husband. But before we get to the video, I want to remind you how it looked before our renovation. Take a look at the photo on the right.

And here’s a sense of how it how it looked once we raised the roof and bumped the room out a few feet.

bedroom during renovation

Now you’re ready to appreciate the new look and our fab new bedroom and our cool new mattress, er, sleep system. It can take a week or two to adjust to a new mattress. Had I not known this, I might have freaked out about our fancypants hi-tech bed, wondering if it was a mistake. But by night 7 or so, I adapted to my new bed (and my new bedroom) and now I sleep well.

Check it out!


And just for fun, this is what the wall behind my bed looked like just a few months ago. It’s a pretty amazing transformation, isn’t it? I’m grateful for it every day.


roof line before renovation


What’s that? You want to know more about my oh-so-pink vintage nightie? That will be a post of its own one day. Let’s just say I might not be where I am today without it.


Disclosure: The Serta iComfort System was provided by Serta.