Category Archives: Design Spaz

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.

Master Bath: The Spamazing Shower

tile bench in showerBlame it on Kohler. The course of my husband’s life was altered after our stay at the Inn on Woodlake during our Kohler housemoon getaway. He was so taken by what he terms the Inn’s “car wash” shower with jets here, nozzles there and water tiles all over, that when it came time to design the shower in our master bath, he insisted we replicate the set-up.

And so we did. William Collins, the senior designer at The Kohler Store, Chicago, helped us create a shower so fantastic, so spine-tingly wonderful that I refer to my routine showering experience spa-mazing.

After discussing our preferred master bathroom look and feel, William pointed us toward fixtures that would create the desired mood as well as provide a fabulous showering experience. And, voila!

I smile and a wave of relaxation washes over me each time I walk into my bathroom.


Starting in the rear (no, that is not supposed to be some weird shower pun), we have a bench, perfect for elegantly resting one’s leg during shaving. A built-in cubby holds soap, shampoo and the like. The hand shower, like all of the other fixtures is part of  Kohler’s sleek, modern Loure line.

With all the fancy water tiles, I didn’t think we’d need a handshower, but William recommended we include one. From a practical standpoint, a handshower makes it soooo much easier to clean the shower stall, something our maid surely appreciates.

(I am the maid and I do appreciate it.)

A handshower along with a bench will also make it easier to maintain personal hygiene next time my back goes out or my arthritis flares or one of my boys breaks an arm. No, scratch that last item. This shower is too nice for my boys.

The handshower is like the cherry on top (or side) of the delicious sundae that is our shower. The slide bar allows us to aim the spray just where we need it. Considering that Hubs is nearly a foot taller than I am, we need it in different places.

Back to that car wash shower. Here’s what I’m talkin’ about. This is the shower ceiling. We have two Kohler WaterTiles up top. The 22-nozzle tile pivots enabling the water to be directed with the touch of a finger so that the water hits just the right spot(s). The light was a last minute addition, which I’m glad we decided to include.


Kohler watertiles on shower ceiling


And then, the pièce de résistance, our own little water wall of fame.


Admittedly, for the unwashed masses (i.e. not Hubs or me), it might be hard to understand what’s going on, so let me break it down.

Have I mentioned that my husband is a technical writer? And I’m just a mess, so I’m not sure that second picture clears things up.

Let me break it down a bit more. The thing that says, “regulates water temperature” is the thermostatic valve, it sets the water temperature for all the fixtures. Although we can change it as needed, we generally leave it in one place.

The handle on the bottom right operates the two body tiles. The two tiles operate as an all or nothing deal. The intensity of the spray depends upon the position of the handle, pictured here in the “off” state. Like the ceiling tiles, these have 22 nozzles and each tile pivots to direct the spray.

The next handle up on the right operates the shower head. William suggested that our shower would be both luxurious and practical without the shower head. I nervously agreed until our plumber told me at the last possible minute that we’d regret not having one. I caved to the plumber, fearing we’d be disappointed with our big, fancy and not inexpensive shower. (I received a discount from Kohler, but the more shower heads, the more/pricier the plumbing work, hey….)

At any rate, I love the shower and hate the plumber. William was right, at least from my perspective. I typically use the two lower wall tiles for my shower, adding in other fixtures as time and stress level dictate.

The control for the ceiling tiles is at the top right.

The shower is finished off with a custom glass enclosure provided by Tim’s, our GC’s subcontractors. Tim’s also provided the glass shelves in the shower and our large vanity mirror. I haven’t figured out how to snap a decent photo of the glass + mirror + chrome + light, but I will post when I do.

The Loure faucet is really sharp. Photography skills withstanding, I can’t wait to show it off.

I’ll be back soon with more snippets of our new home soon.


Disclosure: Kohler provided a discount, great design advice and excellent customer service to us.

So This is What the House Looks Like

boxes everywhere

This is the tween's room. To be fair, the dresser for the empty drawers up front is still at my parent's and the large boxes in the background are part of a fort system, but much of what I classify as crap really does belong to him.

The house is amazing. Setting up and settling into the house? Not so much fun, but a joy nonetheless. Our move-in is a process rather than an event because we are doing most of it ourselves, bringing box after box after box from my parents’ house into ours.

I’ve been referring to much of the stuff we are moving as crap, but I’m trying to put the kabosh on that. If it’s crap, why bother bringing it over?

So I’m trying to appreciate our many possessions. At the same time, because we’ve been living with my parents for so long (over 3 years!), we’ve accumulated quite a bit since we pared down our stuff for that transition in 2008.

We must have 30 board games, 5-6 of which actually get played more than twice a year. So it’s either time to eliminate or start holding more family and friend game nights.

And our wedding crystal and fine china? As much of a virgin as I was on our wedding night. Wait, no, that’s not the right analogy. Let’s just say we’re both gently used, okay?

We have several small kitchen appliances: rice cooker, ice cream maker, bread maker, crock pot, coffee maker, but in the week or so we’ve been in the house, all have been used multiple times, so it’s just a matter of figuring out how to store these away for easy use.

That’s the issue right now, simply finding right place to keep things at least on a temporary basis. I can assure you the right place is not in boxes scattered throughout the house.

Which is why I’ve yet to share the big reveal- boxes are scattered throughout the house.

I’m not putting too many photos of our messy house online, but if you’re up for it, I am entertaining visitors and offering tours. I promise I’m working on getting the place clean and organized. I can’t wait to show it off.


Here's a similar view from back in June. We squared off the roof and bumped out the wall with the window. Larger room= larger mess. *sigh*


HGTV Magazine

image from

I received a review copy of HGTV’s new magazine a few weeks ago. It was a fun read, with coverage by and of many familiar names from TV. That said, I’d like to see a little more in-depth coverage as the magazine grows. I realize it’s supposed to provide a lot of eye candy, and it did, but I’d like a few more practical tips and detailed tutorials.

Of course, I’m so overwhelmed with plumbing and wiring and HVAC (oh, my!) that I don’t have time to ponder throw pillows right now. As much as I like our general contractor, I’d love for the Property Brothers* to burst through my door and sit me down for a screening of a 3-D rendering of my fully decorated open concept kitchen/dining room/living room. So far, the only decor decision we’ve made for the area is the color and style of pendants that will hang over the breakfast bar. And possibly the paint.

And then there’s the whole upstairs of the house….

*I’d open my doors to the Kitchen Cousins, too.


Design Spaz World Premiere!

My foray into vlogging, video blogging, began with my not-ready for HGTV house-hunting series, Property Sluts (you know, like the show Property Virgins, but we’re experienced, yo) and now I’m pleased to announce my latest oevre, Design Spaz. For me, every design decision is a challenge. And one of the great things about our meeting with Evelyn, the design coordinator provided by Benjamin Moore Paints- the official paint sponsor of Casa de Renovation*, was the affirmation that our situation would be challenging for most people because we are starting from scratch.

For example, we could choose paint to match the kitchen counter, but we haven’t chosen a counter top yet.

Our paint could really highlight the subtle colors in our bedspread–if we had one.

It’s all so “chicken and egg” to me. We can’t make one decision until we’ve made another decision, but which design decision do we make first?

In the video, Evelyn talks to us about using color to highlight accessories in the room. Typically, this Design Spaz goes for the neutral palette, leaving the accessories to stand out and speak for themselves. Evelyn is challenging us to Go Bold with our walls.

She used examples from catalogs to come up with a bolder set of colors and explained that the reason the backgrounds in say, furniture catalogs, are so bland is because they want the furniture to stand out. They are selling furniture, not wall paint. D’uh, so obvious, right? But I’d never really thought about that.

And speaking of selling, the walls in our old home were boring, because we never felt certain it was our “forever” home. We kept things bland and neutral. This, people, is our coffin house (as in, that’s how we plan to leave it), so we’re determined to have fun and make it our own–except that we’re going to let you vote on our colors.

Evelyn left us with a bit of homework:

1) Choose our counter tops (which we’ve sort of done; we know they will be Corian or a Corian-like solid surface, likely a fairly neutral sandy color).

2) Find a comforter, so we can talk about the bedroom. (It might be worth mentioning that several of our bedrooms walls haven’t even been built yet, but that’s another story.) We hit up high-end stores like Kohls, Bed, Bath and Beyond**, and Target. As DH and I pondered our options, Evelyn’s design advice was running through my mind. I guess it was obvious because at one point, DH looked at one of my selections and said, “That doesn’t seem like our style. Are you trying to impress the designer?” Busted! In the end, I purchased three comforters that we like (or DH finds acceptable) and we’ll run them by Evelyn, taking her advice before making our final choice.

I’m looking forward to our next meeting. It was so informative to meet with a person who sees our space in a way that we do not. Can not. She got us thinking about the ways the rooms blend together, views from one room to another and so much more. It was great.

BTW, at my upcoming real-life event with Benjamin Moore Paints, one lucky guest will win a free color consultation from the brand. If you’re one of my local peeps, but haven’t received the invite, drop me a note. You’re all welcome to join in!

* Benjamin Moore Paints will be providing paint and painting advice to us on our journey to painted walls. All opinions are my own.

** Did you know this blog was almost called “Bed, Bath and Way Beyond”? I own the url, but was afraid of getting a cease and desist notice from BBB’s legal team, so I stuck with Reluctant Renovator.