Posts Tagged ‘Ideas’

We brought home samples of some of the front runners for the half bathroom’s new tile.  So, what do you think?

These are the four tiles that we’re most strongly considering.  (They’re all available in both 6×6 and 13×13.)

Apparently the sniff test yielded a winner, but we’ll have to see whether the humans agree.

In terms of how they’ll hold up, they’re all equal.  They’re all rated 5 for wear, they’re all porcelain, and they’re all from Italy.  The big questions are color, pattern, and tile size.

Palladium vs. Tracce del Tempo

The biggest difference that I see between the two is that the Palladium tiles (avorio left, verde right) have little glossy ridges that catch the light and kind of sparkle under bright lights.  (You can see it better if you click on the photo to see it larger.)

whereas the surface of the Tracce del Tempo tiles (verde foreground, marrone background) are more matte throughout.

I’m torn on my feeling on that.  I kind of like the brightness of the Palladium for a tiny bathroom with no natural light.  But the kitchen is only a few feet around the corner from the bathroom.  Someday we’re going to redo the kitchen and put in tile there too.  I don’t like the idea of the Palladium sparkles in a much larger room with natural light.  I definitely would prefer the matte finish in there.  And I’m not sure I want the two different finishes so close to each other — even if the bathroom door is often shut.  I’d notice, especially if the tile patterns are anything alike.  So I guess that’s a vote in favor of the matte Tracce del Tempo?


It’s a pretty easy decision for me that I prefer, in each tile, the lighter color.  I like the marrone Tracce del Tempo.  In the Palladium, I like the avorio ok, but I think I’d most like one called tortora, which is in between the two samples we brought home.  Unfortunately they didn’t have it in-store.


This is a tough one.  I laid the tiles into the actual bathroom just to see how they’d look:

And the 13×13’s, which I thought I wanted, looked enormous.  Two barely fit between the toilet and the wall.  The whole bathroom would be covered in 20 tiles, 4 tiles by 5.  Even then, we’d end up cutting some down with the wet saw:

The 6×6’s might be a better option.  They’d cover the room in about 80 tiles, 8×10.  They probably wouldn’t look that different, in terms of size, from the pattern on the existing laminate.

That crack keeps reminding me why we’re doing all this!

A pro to the 6×6’s is that I expect we’ll do 13×13’s in the kitchen eventually.  If the same tile isn’t available then, it might be nice to have a slightly different pattern/size in the bathroom so it doesn’t look quite so “tried to match but not quite” with the future kitchen.  A con is that it might end up looking kind of “tried to match” with the existing kitchen floor.  The color and shape will be awfully close.  One way we might be able to move away from it a little bit would be to arrange 6×6’s in a staggered pattern instead of a checkerboard.

The idea of looking different from the someday-kitchen (and from the existing kitchen) brings me to another idea, one kind of different from what I’ve been considering.  The Palladium tile is available in a basket weave:
If we went with basketweave tile we could either do it with a border, either of 6×6’s or two staggered 3×6’s, or just do the entire floor in it.  I really admire this beautiful bathroom over at HOUSEography, which has a marble basketweave tile floor (and the same oyster bay paint we have in our dining room–at least I’m consistent!).  I didn’t expect to go in this kind of direction, but I think I like the idea.

If I had to make a decision today, I think it’d be between the basket weave, and 6×6 squares of the marrone Tracce del Tempo Guinness favors:

As between the two, honestly, I’m not sure.


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Not long after we moved in, we did a preliminary redo in the downstairs half bath.  We

– stripped the wallpaper,
– repaired the damage to the walls (from water over the years as well as the wallpaper removal process),
– replaced the mirror and vanity light fixture,
– replaced the hardware on the vanity, and
– bought temporary paper and towel holders.

Since then, as long as you don’t look too closely, the bathroom doesn’t look half bad.  But it has a few problems.

1.  When we first saw the house, the bathroom floor was mostly covered with a mat.  Seemed odd placement, but whatever.  Alas:

Well played, sellers.  That gap in the laminate now screams at me every time I walk in the room.  The rest of the pieces aren’t particularly well fitted together either.

2.  The half bath, family room, and garage are all on a slab instead of the basement that’s under the whole rest of the house.  The bathroom is badly insulated, and it’s COLD in the winter.

3.  The only forced air heat register in the entire bathroom is under the vanity.  Fantastic, in association with #2.

4.  As hard as we tried to get the wallpaper off neatly, there was a lot of shredding involved.  The wall’s not as smooth as it should be near the baseboard molding.

5.  The molding finish work leaves something to be desired.I know it’s behind the toilet, but it’s not that hard to do right, without buckling.

6.  Molding finish work, part deux.

Let’s go in for a close up on that thing of beauty:
Well played, my friends.  If the sink top doesn’t fit on its own, MAKE IT FIT!

7.  This super fly towel hook (?) on the door is just a bonus:
(Don’t be jealous that we used to have a matching toilet paper holder.)

So long story short, we’re doing the “real” redo sometime this spring.  Fortunately I don’t feel like our efforts the first time around will be wasted, it’s just time to add to it.

The deeper we got into it, the more we realized how much needs to be brand new.

It started with redoing the floor, to cure the gap.  We’re still picking out the exact tile, but this is the current front runner, probably in either marrone or verde.  I think we’re currently thinking 13×13 squares, although I could be persuaded otherwise.  It’s an Italian made porcelain tile with a Class 5 wear rating (durable enough for residential or commercial uses) and moderate variation from tile to tile.

We’re also considering putting a heating mat under the tile to help keep it a little warmer during the winter.  With only a 20 square foot room, it’s not outrageously expensive.  It will have a little wall thermostat to adjust seasonally.  How cute – the smallest room in the house will have its own thermostat.


We didn’t want to stick the ill-fitting sink top and too-big-for-the-room honey oak vanity back in on top of new floors, so onward to a new sink.  A pedestal sink would uncover the heat register, which will also help warm up the room.  We’ve decided on the Mansfield Barrett sink, in white.  It will be about the same width as the existing sink top, but 2-3 inches shallower at the deepest point (middle).   It will clear the door molding by a good 2+ inches, maybe more – no more shady looking cut outs.

A new white sink means a new matching white toilet.  (The current toilet is bisque, and hasn’t been earning rave reviews anyway.  These things happen in 25+ year old houses.)  The toilet is also from the Mansfield Barrett collection, so the arc on the front of the sink matches the arc on the tank of the toilet.  (I’m saying this mostly to bolster my own enthusiasm.  I found toilet shopping even less exciting than microwave shopping.  I just want it to work!)  But really, we saw the pair in the show room, and I do think they look nice.

The faucet that we chose is the Moen Eva two-handle in brushed nickel:

The hope is for it to coordinate well with the existing vanity light fixture, which will be staying along with the mirror.

Once we get all THAT done, we plan to put in new, white painted baseboard molding, a chair rail, and white beadboard below the chair rail.  In addition to just liking the look, I love the fact that the beadboard will cover any imperfections left on the wall from the wallpaper, both those that we know about and those that might still be hidden by the vanity.

A towel ring to match the faucet, new white painted molding around the door (with no cheesy cut out!), and finally, a new 6 panel door and brushed nickel doorknob will finish off the job.  Whew!  That’s a lot for one 5’x4′ room, almost a total redo.

I think we’ll keep the existing standalone paper holder for a while, at least until we figure out storage for extra TP.  We’ve considered building a cabinet inset into the wall (it’d back into the garage) for storage, but I want to wait to see if we really need it first.  We can always add it later.

As far as wall color, that’s a bridge we haven’t crossed yet.  It could stay blue, it could go greenish gray… it will depend a lot on the tile we choose.  We’re not wedded to any one particular idea.  The actual execution will be a lot of work in a small space, but we’re excited to get started.

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One of the projects on my eventual to-do list is to install a chair rail in the foyer and running up the stairs, and crown molding in the foyer.

Our foyer has a serious case of the blah’s.  The flooring is blah, the walls are blah, and the carpet on the stairs (and the flimsy newel posts and banister) aspire to blah, but fall short.  We’ve already upgraded the light fixture, but the space still needs a little more attention.

So, I’d like to install crown molding in the foyer to match the adjacent living room, and a chair rail in the foyer space and running up the stairs.

A lot of people have told me that, since the (necessary to keep) banister runs up the wall, that a chair rail alongside it is a bad idea.  And I get it, really I do.  It may not visually add much up the stairs, and runs the risk of looking a little odd.  But I think I want to do it anyway for a couple of reasons.

1.  It’s really difficult to paint the staircase wall, floor to 2nd story ceiling.  Adding a chair rail will give us an artificial line on the wall that will allow us to put a new coat of paint on the most abused portion of the wall (by the dog, by luggage, by kids’ hands) as needed without having to break out the ladders and paint boards.

2.  I think the foyer would look much better with a chair rail… and if you don’t go up the stairs, where/how do you stop the chair rail on the wall that you see through the living room without it looking choppy and unfinished?  I don’t have a good answer.

So I think we’re going to go ahead with it.

We’ve already bought and cut the crown molding pieces (which were less controversial), and I’m pretty sure I want to do the chair rail too.  I think a little white paint on the molding, and a little contrasting color below the chair rail will give that space a little help.

Plus, I hunted out a few inspiration photos on the web, and really don’t think it’ll be bad to have both a banister and a chair rail on the wall.  We are, at a minimum, not the first to have done it:


Examples by Treehouse Woodworking

Initially I was thinking of using the leftover paint from our bedroom for below the chair rail, because we have half a gallon or so, and I really like the color:

But I think I might like something just a little more gray, and with just a little more contrast:

The banister itself might find itself painted… black?  I’m afraid a white banister would be a handprint disaster.

In any event, it may be a while until we get around to the project, so I have time to decide.

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I’m pretty sure this is a new and daring use of the word “progress”?

what with 3 fabric swatches and countless paint chips strewn about our dining room table…

All kidding aside, we’ve narrowed a few things down.  We’ve settled on a window treatment fabric:

and are starting to narrow down paint colors.  I’m obviously favoring a gray/aqua – but can’t decide if I want to do the dining room in lighter/darker shades of the same color (above/below the chair rail) or if I’d rather do dark brown below.  (Feedback welcome.)

Narrowing down the shade of aqua is almost even harder.  Several would work with the curtains, so it really comes down to which shade will look best with some of the wall hangings in the room.  This is potentially our toughest customer:

I think with the yellow and brown matting, it’ll be fine, since there’s yellow/gold and brown in the curtains.  The colors are generally brighter than the rest of the things we’re picking out, though, so we need to pick the wall color carefully.  We got a postcard in the mail that paints & stains are 30% off at Sherwin Williams this week with the ad (seriously, do they ever sell paint at full price!?  Not to me!), so maybe we’ll pick up a couple sample pots to try.

Now that we’ve picked out curtain fabric, that also means that at my next free opportunity, I can pick out fabric to recover the dining room chair seats.  I’m working on refinishing a pair of end tables for the living room (helloooo Craig’s List!) and three spare chairs which will be painted black, and get the same fabric as the regular dining chairs.  Handy to have when we host dinner for bigger groups.

I’m thinking I’ll buy extra fabric to cover throw pillows for both the living and family room couches too.  That will help tie the whole floor together.  Whee!  Now if only I had more hours in the day to execute.

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Realistic inspiration photo hunting can be hard.  There are so many gorgeous dining rooms out there, but most just aren’t imitable in my house!  Despite having more projects up in the air than I can keep up with, I’ve been having fun doing some looking for new living- and dining room decor.

Window Treatments

I ordered swatches this week of several curtains that I liked, all from Country Curtains which, fortunately, carries more than just country curtains:

Left to Right:  Westport stripe in seafoam, Moire stripe in mist, and Eastover stripe in platinum

If nothing else, I’m at least being consistent with my thing for stripes!  All of these are available separately in panels and valences of varying shapes, so the threshold decision is which material, then the shape.  I confess that the middle panels, the Moire Stripe, are my favorite by far.  I love the blue-green.

One thing I haven’t resolved yet is what I want to do over the living room bay window for privacy.  Plantation shutters?  Roller or roman shades?  Ack.  Nothing seems quite right.


If I am not careful, I am going to find myself in the midst of a paint embargo here at Guin’s Yard.  This weekend at the SW sale, I bought four gallons – one tinted Sandbar for the master bedroom, 1 backup (untinted), and 2 (untinted) for the eventual living & dining room project (hey, it was 40% off!).  I also bought a quart each of paint & primer for a pair of bookcases that I acquired recently.  The problem is that I still have a quart of black paint and primer from the LAST sale for some chairs and end tables that I’m going to paint, but haven’t gotten to yet.  Good thing winter (read:  indoor home improvement season) is coming up soon.  The best way to dig myself out of this is to start using the paint!

I bet you’ll never guess what color, roughly, I’m dying to do a room in.

Painting the trim white

Especially if we break down and replace the carpet, this is a great opportunity to start painting the trim white, something I’ve been thinking about for the last 2 years.  Actually (add this to the reasons for a paint embargo), we already have a gallon of SW Alabaster for just that purpose, bought 2 years ago.  While I love original stained hardwood trim, and prefer it above other trim options, white painted trim is better than cheap laminate or pine trim with some stain slapped on it.  Since the latter is what we have, I think we’re best served painting (most of) the trim in the house white, save for a few pieces (like the bay window itself).

Upgrading the crown molding

The current crown molding is thin quarter round stained molding that, if we painted it white, would just disappear.  Rather than putting the effort into sanding, priming, and painting it, it might be time to invest in a mitre saw.

Then we’d be able to put up something more substantial, like this:

in both the living and dining rooms, so they’d match better.

Other ideas – Faux Paneling?

Once the wallpaper’s gone and the paint is up, faux paneling could be fun to do in the dining room.  Bower Power did an awesome step by step tutorial, showing how they went from here:

Before: from Paneling Play by Play | Bower Power

to here:

After: from Paneling Play by Play | Bower Power

Instead of all white, I have also seen it done with a darker accent color inside the panel boxes, like this awesome job by bensbade823:

I am getting way ahead of myself with half of this, but it’s fun to think about.

On that note, it’s time to go do something less fun but more concrete – a first coat of spackle on the bedroom wall, over the dog scratch marks so I can break out that Sandbar paint soon.  In terms of excitement, all projects are definitely not created equal!

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When I picked our bedding out, we were engaged (and armed with a wedding registry scanner), and had just signed a lease on a small house with white walls and hardwood floors:

Unfortunately, a couple years after that, we bought a house with carpet that just does not go:

We talked a good game about replacing the flooring throughout the house, but as our two year home ownership anniversary rapidly approaches, we’re no closer to new carpet, and I’m finally starting to think seriously about how to work with it rather than decorate in spite of it.

For whatever reason, our duvet cover wound up tossed in this room recently:

and dude! – it looked great!  So the wheels in my head started turning.  What if we move the guest bedroom furniture into this room, put our green & yellow striped bedding on the guest bed, and buy new green and blue bedding for our room?

It would be reasonably inexpensive, would keep most of what we have in use, and would work with, rather than fighting, the carpet that we’ve got.

It was a great idea, until I realized how hard the execution would be.  Just the right green and blue bedding is hard to come by.  Dark enough to go with the carpet, light enough to feel bright and airy… eep.

My first stab was this duvet cover from Target.  It’s not available in-store, but the website photo looked promising, and the price was great.

Above:  Liberty of London for Target – Paisley Duvet Set

Pretty, no?

But then, I did a little more searching online, and came across an ebay listing for the set.  The listing photos, which I suspect may be more accurate, show a different color that I didn’t like anywhere near as well.  So back to the drawing board.

I’ve been drooling over LL Bean’s Pincushion quilt, pictured in the ad below, for the last several home catalog mailings:


But alas… not only do they only seem to have the twin available on the website, but it’s a little more than I was hoping to spend, only to likely need to buy another, warmer blanket to go under it for the winter months.

Since LL Bean has so many coordinating items in the palette I’m aiming for, I perused a little more.  This comforter cover is pretty, but I’m not sure there’s enough blue or green to accomplish what I’m looking for.  The dark blue floor might sooner swallow the pattern up.

And so I continued my search…

Pottery Barn – Sydney Palampore (and it’s on sale!)

(but it might not pass the “no flowers” test…)

Pottery Barn – Sienna Paisley

(Very pretty, but would it coordinate with the dark blue floor?  I’m thinking not.)

I checked every other purveyor of bedding I could think of, or Google could point me to:  Bed Bath & Beyond, Linens N Things, Macy’s, Target, Walmart, Pottery Barn, West Elm, Ikea, Crate & Barrel, Eddie Bauer, overstock.com, amazon.com, and ebay, to name a few.  I found a bunch of stuff that I felt pretty uninspired by.  All of which led me to wonder if I should consider a Plan B.

The master bedroom was the first room in the house that we chose paint for, and I have never been especially thrilled with my selection.  It isn’t bad, but it was never quite what I was going for.  The shade in the green guest room (my second stab) is much better.

Every time I’ve suggested repainting the master bedroom, I’ve been met with a stinkeye of massive proportion.  We eventually reached an agreement wherein I would be allowed to repaint when we eventually buy a bedroom furniture set, and the room gets emptied out anyway.  It seemed like a victory at the time, but given that, like the carpet, bedroom furniture hasn’t cracked the top 10 list of priorities (nor have I found a set I must have anyway), I’m pretty sure I accepted an offer that my contracts professor would’ve shamed me for.

Leaving the Stinkeye Factor alone for the time being, what if… I moved all the green into the green guest room, repainted the room something in the gray/greige/taupe/blue family, and just embraced the concept of a blue bedroom?  That would broaden the option field considerably.

Crate & Barrel – Lindsey Paisley

I will inevitably keep brainstorming for a while, and keep adding ideas here, which serves as my best shot at getting all my ideas together in one place.  As always, the other option is to just leave it all as it is, and wait until we finally replace the carpet.  But what fun is that?

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Ok, so it’s not actually IN the dining room yet — it’s hanging out in some free space in the living room, since the dining room table is currently buried in everything that would normally inhabit my kitchen counters — but we have a new dining set!:

4 chairs, table, and leaf (not currently in)

The set was originally in my great grandmother’s house; we sat around it for birthdays, etc. when I was a kid.  When she could no longer live alone, it went to my grandfather’s attic.  It’s been there for the better part of a decade, but he recently offered it to us if we wanted it.

Aside from a water spot on one end of the table that we’ll need to fix the finish on (or cover with a tablecloth…),

it’s in good shape, and is very solid and sturdy.

While I might not have chosen the style, it’s a neat old set to have, and since it’s rectangular instead of oval (like our current table), it will work a lot better on holidays with a banquet table extension on the end.

I’m thinking of removing the velour striped fabric from the seats of the chairs, and re-covering them.  The finish on the wood is in pretty good shape, so I may leave well enough alone with that.  The wood is in too good of shape to want to paint.

I’m not sure what color or pattern fabric I’d like to use to re-cover.  Whatever it is, needs to work with (or at least not against) the green carpet, which also runs through the dining room, and matches the wallpaper below the chair rail in the dining room.  I don’t want to match the green too well, though, because I’m so looking forward to replacing it.  (I think the carpet is original to the house.)

Re-covering the chairs will give me an excuse to not only do these four, but also three other chairs that I adopted during law school and have been hanging onto, waiting to figure out what room they’d go in before making over:

These chairs aren’t in nearly the good shape that my great grandmother’s are in.  (They’re in it for the “most improved” award, not the MVP.)   I’m considering sanding and painting these; maybe black, and recovering the seats with the same fabric as the other four chairs.  They won’t match, but they will coordinate well enough to give me a “set” of seven chairs around the table, which seats 8 with the leaf in, before resorting to any of my benches, stools, or metal folding chairs.

Now what fabric… this is the fun part!

I learned here that as a novice at recovering chairs, I probably want to avoid stripes and plaid.  (I avoid striped and plaid gift wrap for similar reason.)  I’d love to do a fun print.  Greens, blues, earth tones, black and white, paisley, damask… So many options!

*skips off to brainstorm*

This is way more fun than picking out paint colors!

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