DIY : The Guest Bath Reveal

April 13, 2012 07:51 by ehouston

Finally!  I am ready to show off my handy work in our guest bathroom.  This one definitely felt like it took longer than it really did.  Unfortunately any time you work with stain you have to add in a lot of extra days just for drying time.  Anywhoo, the walls are no longer wrapped in striped paper, the cream door, trim and cabinet color have been obliterated and the hardware is donning a new coat of “chrome”.  Oh yeah, I removed the shower door, added a rod and curtain, and painted the lights too!  Whew! 

The space has gone from this:


And this:


And now to this:



So we now have a pretty generic box, but it does feel a lot better in this bath to us now.  It will take some time to add more personality, as in some cool art for several walls, but I like to take my time with that sort of thing.  The water damaged cabinetry has a new lease on life and the faux marble vanity top looks less reddish brown than it did with the previous color combination.  This bath ties in better now too with the guest bedroom it is attached to.  I left a sliver of the light blue wall color showing in the first before and after shots above so you could see the odd original transition from the bedroom to the bath.  Now, with modern colors the rooms don’t look like they are from such vastly different time periods.  I think (and hope!) our guests will feel more comfortable using this lighter and brighter bath.

Below is a recap of my initial concerns, wants, needs, dreams of what needed to happen in that space.  It was so fulfilling to check so many things off the list.  I added pictures of the updates along the way.  Enjoy!

From original post on February 28th

Here are some of my Concerns:

-No Natural Light

-Sconces and ceiling fan light give off nothing more than a candle flame

When removing the lights for painting I discovered that what I thought was frosted glass turned out to be dust encrusted clear fluted glass!  Insert communal eeeeewwwww!  A thorough cleaning and we now have a good bit more light coming through.  Although it’s not the best fix for the long run, it works for now.

-Extra large, overpowering mirror

-Gold mixed with chrome and white porcelain

In an attempt to make a positive change on a small budget I spray painted all the gold knobs and even traded out the porcelain cabinet hardware for some of the old brass from the kitchen.  A coat of chrome spray paint later and they look like a million bucks!  I’m still on the fence about the actual door and closet knobs, though.  I’m not in love with the finish and I’m also unsure it will hold up to regular use.


(The gold hinges will be replaced soon.  I decided not to attempt to spray paint anything else in this space.)

-Cream and white fixtures (vanity top, toilet, tub and tile surround are all different)

-No budget for new tile

-No budget for new vanitycabinet

Doesn’t matter now.  Gel stain made it look completely different.  Thank you, Minwax, Red Elm!



Here are some of my Ideas:

-Paint the vanity cabinet a fun bright color (light, beachy green maybe?)

We nixed this idea in favor of something more neutral.  Not only is this a space for guests with varying tastes, but it’s one less space to have to worry about come sales time.


-Gel stain the vanity to make it look like dark wood

As Dave on Storage Wars would say, “YUUUUUPPPP!”  The dark color helps hide the years of water damage and chipping areas, making the cabinet look completely new.  Yeah!


See all the chipping paint and swollen wood above?  Not the best presentation for our guests, wouldn’t ya’ say?


-Remove the wallpaper and paint the walls a light color (pale taupe to help neutralize the vanity top?)

If we had just removed the wallpaper and done nothing else in this space it would have been a much happier place than it was prior to the changes.  Although my Home Depot, “Oops” color ended up being a bit darker than I envisioned for this room, it was actually exactly what was needed.  Between the new wall color and the darker cabinet, the vanity looks much more beige with brown streaks than cream with red streaks, as it did before.

-Frame the large mirror (it does help to reflect what little light is in there)

Framing the mirror is still on the list for the future.

-Replace or paint the sconces and switch out the shades for something more stylish

In the future we may opt to replace them completely, especially since what we have gives off so little light.  For now, a couple of coats of chrome spray paint and the really good shade scrubbing has given them an almost free new life.



Maybe I’m just too cheap, but the simple changes we made makes these sort of charming to me now.  Where before they seemed brash and old fashioned.???

-Paint all woodwork, and doors bright white


-Remove glass shelf behind toilet and replace with artwork or a more substantial shelf unit

I removed the shelf, but decided to paint it, put it back and add some different artwork to the wall above.


I have yet to find any art for any part of the bath, so I just put back some of my ceramic pieces on the shelf for now.

-Add art work or large mirror to the end wall of the room

Still on the search for something I like.

-Change cabinet hardware, door knobs and hinges

I removed the old porcelain knobs and replaced them with leftover brass knobs from the kitchen.   Since the style was identical and I did not have the heart to paint the porcelain knobs, I opted to spray the gold ones chrome, along with the hinges, so everything looks new now.

If I had a bigger budget, or one day…..

-Would love to chip out the row of pink tiles in the tub surround and replace with something more modern in a neutral color combo

-Would love to switch out the cream colored powder room toilet with the white one in here

-Would love to remove the sliding tub door and replace with an extra high bar and long custom curtain

Done!  This ended up being so much easier than I thought.  Although, adding a extra high bar did not look as nice as I thought it would.  I decided to keep a regular height rod instead, which in the end meant I could avoid the higher cost of making (or buying) a custom sized curtain and liner.



I found the shower curtain at World Market and at $29.99 I believe it was the most expensive purchase for the whole mini-remodel.  I also added the towel bar after removing the shower doors, which included nice long handles for draping wet towels.  Now we have this new chrome version, plus an additional towel bar set in the tile at the back of the shower surround.  The new bar is part of a set that I scored during one of my thrifting adventures last year.  I thought I would use it in the hall bath upstairs, but found a more immediate need in this room.  The set includes a more modern style toilet paper holder, which was relocated to the end of the vanity cabinet and out of view when looking into the space, a hand towel ring and a door hook.  All this chrome for about $3.50 at 50% off Wednesday at the Salvation Army.  Yeah budget!

-Would love to remove the large mirror and replace with smaller, individual oval mirrors

-Would love to get all new lighting

-Would love to remove vanity completely and replace with a higher cabinet (this one hits below my mid-thigh) and a Carrera marble top.  Oooooohhhh….

So, this is where we have arrived over the last month with this room mini-remodel.  I say mini because nothing structural changed aside from removing the shower doors, which was shockingly easy to accomplish.  Even though we have simply neutralized the space and did not do anything extraordinary in here, we are quite thrilled with how this room looks now compared to the circus tent of early ‘90’s Waverly wallpaper that it was before.  I think our guests will be much happier bathing in this space as well.

Here is a breakdown of our costs for the mini-remodel:

-Wall paint – Home Depot “Oops” color                             $7.00

-Cabinet Color – Minwax Gel Stain- Red Elm   Already owned $0.00

-Trim Paint – Valspar Semi-Gloss –White  Already owned       $0.00

-Ceiling Paint – Glidden Purple Tint          Already owned       $0.00

-Dry Wall Compound for repairs              Already owned        $0.00

-Primer for walls                                    Already owned        $0.00

-Chrome Spray Paint – Rustoleum                                        $5.49

-Rustoleum Auto Body Primer                                              $5.49

-Rustoleum Clear Protective Coat                                         $5.49

-Chrome Accessories- Sal. Army 50% off purchase                $3.50

-Tension Shower Rod- World Market                                     $10.99

-Shower Curtain Hooks-Chrome Ball – World Market              $10.99

-Shower Curtain- World Market                                            $29.99

-Towels and mats – on sale at Target                                   $30.00

That’s a grand total of:                                                       $97.95 

Considering I have two kid’s rooms to complete on no budget in the next month, I am pretty psyched about how low priced this mini-makeover ended up.  It’s amazing what you can accomplish by hitting up sales, keeping a lookout for those oddball, but useful things at the Salvation Army and, of course lots of elbow grease.

Did you guys make any big or little changes to your bathrooms over the last month?  I love to see what other people come up with in their own spaces!

Kitsch Krafts

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DIY : The Guest Bathroom–In Progress

March 2, 2012 09:23 by ehouston

It’s amazing what taking down a little wallpaper will do for your hopes in a space.  We went from this…


…to this…



…in a matter of about 20 minutes the other day. 

Initially I went in to test the strength of the border.  Due to the painful process I went through when removing the wallpaper in the dining room, I had almost convinced myself that I could pull the border down and then paint right over the rest of the wall.  Yes, I know this is not the right way to attack this kind of problem.  But, hey, when you have seen the other, very ugly side of what can happen when wallpaper won’t come down easily you start to consider all kinds of crazy things.  My first test strip pulled an entire sheet of the vertical paper from the wall.  It looked like I was in it for the long haul.  Lucky for us the rest came down with ease.  The Little Guy even helped pull down the low pieces and had such a good time being destructive that at one point he stopped to tell me he was having fun.  It was at that moment I realized I could no longer discuss any other wallpaper removal plans with him.  I could already see him scratching at the seams in the other bathrooms of our house.  I really need to take these projects in stride, ya’ know?  My stride, not his.

So, we are down to the dingy white walls and I have already started scraping the paste away.  For those of you wondering about the process I am following and especially for any other pregnant DIYer’s, here it is. 


I am using a handheld spray bottle that I fill periodically with the hottest water I can get from the tap.  I mix that about 3 to 1 with white vinegar, spray it on and let it sit for about a minute.  Then using a large blade drywall scraper/trowel thing (yes, that is technical terminology there) I slide it right off the walls and into my drywall spackle tray.  Yep, those things come in handy for all kinds of things.  My first go at it started only minutes before the end of naptime, so I had to work fast.  I was able to clean a pretty good sized area very quickly.  I only have the high spots above the tile around the shower, and the area above the mirror left.  I figured the area above the mirror will be a juggling act of not electrocuting myself while spraying around the lights.  I’m currently trying to develop a plastic bag and tape arrangement to help keep the vinegar and water from getting to the wires.  Hopefully I will get through that area this weekend and on to painting.  Yeah!

But, that is where the fun stops.  I grabbed a gallon of cheap-o mismatched paint from Home Depot a while back in a light beige color and after taking another look at the beige trim in the room, along with the lovely cultured marble vanity top, I’m worried it might be all wrong.  IMG_1553


Although the trim will be painted white I’m a little scared of the similarity between my new paint and the old trim color.  I was thinking of going neutral with the walls since nearly every surface is a different shade of white or cream.  I know that’s pretty boring, but until that vanity top goes I cannot mask the ugly orangey-cream elephant in the middle of the room.  That’s also why I was thinking I might do something fun with color on the vanity cabinets, but I think The Mister might veto that in favor of more neutral.  Wuh-wah….

We will be conferencing again over the weekend on this topic.  We plan to have a memo out early next week on the next steps to this ongoing process.

Thank you for your patience,

Kitsch Krafts


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Let There Be Blinds!

January 20, 2012 09:25 by ehouston

Yep, we finally have cover for our formal living room windows.  Although, we will most likely keep them open all the time since that room only gets a small amount of light during the day due to its more northern exposure.  Here are a couple of shots of the nekkid’ windows:



Now here they are sporting their new 2 inch faux wooden blinds from Home Depot:




Pretty subtle and nothing major at this point, but I’m sure my mom and the hubs will be happy to see we are no longer total exhibitionists around here!  Now I just need to find a fabric I like to make some stationary panels a la’ the dining room.  I think that will finally bring this room to a more finished look and then down the line I can work on some new side tables with less leg.

Any home projects going on around your places lately?

Kitsch Krafts

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Gardening–Our Veggie Patch

June 22, 2011 05:45 by ehouston

As you may recall, last year I mentioned that we planted a few veggies in an old planting bed behind our house and next to our back deck.  It wasn’t a pretty sight at all, with rotting railroad ties and dirt spilling out the unfinished end toward the deck.  You can jog your memory here and check out a super cute, rolly-polly fat baby helping me with the harvest while you are at it. 



Here are some shots from the deck pre-planting in 2010.  The bed stretched all the way to the pavers at the garage door stoop.  Just beyond the pavers you can see our Rubbermaid tool shed.  (Lovely, I know!)

This year I decided to get off my duff and make a slightly nicer raised bed to house our mini crops.  Of course, as soon as I started discussing my plans with The Mister, he suggested I add another planting bed on the other side of our garage door.  Initially I had been convinced that I could just plant other things in the sunny spots around the yard and harvest when ready.  He reminded me of the deer that live in the woods to one side of our property, coupled with the plethora of chubby squirrels would result in nada if I didn’t keep my edible plantings near the house.  He was right (don’t tell him I said that) because I have been losing strawberries to something that I’m guessing is a squirrel or rabbit just before they are ripe enough to pick.  What’s funny about this dilemma is that the Little Guy and I will spot the ripening fruit and decide to give it one more day to sweeten up and the next day it’s gone!  I am sure whichever animal is taking our goods is watching and listening to our every move when we are out back tending to our little veggie patch.

Ok, back to the details.  With calculating help from The Mister, I decided to build two boxes 4’ X 8’ with corner posts extending down about 6” into the ground.  Basically we went to Home Depot and bought 6 - 12” X 8’ boards and cut two of them in half to create the short sides of the planters.  Then we bought 2-  10 foot  4” X 4” posts to cut down for the corner pieces of the planters.  Don’t double check the math too closely on this one.  We messed up and ended up with more post wood than we needed.  It didn’t help that I changed my original length to 18” posts instead of 24” as recommended by a DIY site I glanced before going to the store.  All was well in the end because I used the leftover wood to help construct a new landing pad from our back garage door. 

I used our compound miter saw to cut the 4” X 4” posts down to 18” in length and to give them an angle on one end to help ease them into the ground.  Then I simply laid my pieces out in the yard, forming a large rectangle, and used 1.75” deck nails to screw the whole thing together.  Piece of cake.  The hardest part for me was just moving the longer sides of the lumber around because they were super heavy.  Then, once the frames were built I had to do a crazy shimmy, shimmy with them up on one end to get them in place.  I know the neighbors had a good time watching me almost kill myself while trying to do all of this on my own.  Once they were in place over the beds I had pre-dug, I just backfilled them and then added more soil to bring the level up to about two inches from the top of the side rails.

I finished the raised beds two weeks before Easter and placed the last few plants the week following Easter weekend.  Here are some shots of the progress at the beginning of June.


A similar view to the before shots from the deck above.  This new raised bed sits next to the deck and to the left of the garage door.  You can see our leggy spinach and some pretty nice lettuce already coming in.  I put sunflowers along half of the back and the other half of the back side is planted with green beans.


Above you can see the carrots coming up, along with some sage.  I put a “stepping” stone with my son’s handprint over the plumbing drain that could not be covered up.  Now there is a nice, useable opening to the coiled hose between the deck steps and the planting area.


Old bed plantings circa 2010.


New bed plantings for 2011.  As you can see the new beds are smaller.  I wanted to keep the dirt pulled away from the brick foundation and make a little more space on the ends for walking around the bed.  It’s still just big enough to be hard to reach the center, but with my height and long arms it’s still possible.


Just on the other side of the garage door is the totally new bed.  I moved the storage shed down the wall toward the driveway, creating a nice little pocket between the neighbor’s view and our garden, where we can hide our safety orange wheelbarrow (a $7.00 yard sale score, so the color mattered little.)  The concrete pavers from our old garage door stoop were recycled as a stable, raised base for the new storage shed location, and so far the inside has remained pretty dirt free.  Yeah!  I planted some yellow squash along the left side of the back, just in front of a line of sunflowers that spans the entire length of this bed.  On the very end of the bed I planted some cucumbers, with the idea that they would end up trailing out and around the edge of the bed, rather than across all the other plantings.  The small plants in front of the squash and to the right of the cukes are basil and cilantro.  I intended to transplant the seedlings to the other bed once the spinach and lettuce had their fun.


On the opposite end of this bed I have the tomatoes, green peppers and jalapenos.  Sprinkled around the bottom are marigolds and some thyme runs along the front edge.  The rickety looking metal fencing you see along portions of both beds are in place to keep the dog out.  For some reason she thinks she needs to lay in the cool dirt of my freshly tilled garden, so I have to do ugly things to keep her out.  I also learned that toddlers like to join their big sister dog in rolling in the dirt, so the fencing has served two purposes.


This shot shows the new back stoop, with a trellised pot of sugar snap peas and marigolds, plus two pots of strawberries (the ones that keep getting eaten!).  The overturned pot tray that doesn’t make any sense was left alone because our resident toad has been using it as a house.  Plus, he scares the be-jezzus out of me every time I go to move it.  It’s yours Mr. Toad, all yours!  (Yes, that is Miss Roxy poking her head out of the dog door.  She always hams it up when she sees a camera!)

One last share and I will wrap up this novel of a post.  As you could see in the before shots way up at the top, the garage door stoop consisted of concrete pavers set in a rotting wooden box of sand.  The pavers looked really bad and had been inching their way out of the wooden frame since we arrived at this home.  Plus, the wonderful workers at Verizon were kind enough to run (through a flower bed, mind you) the wires for our cable and FIOS all of about 5 inches into the dirt and across our backyard.  I was blow away in 2010 when I discovered them laying so close to the surface.  I knew to be careful when digging, but I was sure they would be further down.  Lucky for us, I did not slice through anything, but to save a headache in the future for us or other owners we decided to extend the back stoop into a spacious landing, and cover up those wires with something no one would likely be digging in to.  I used 4” X 4”’s again to create a simple frame at 4’ X 7’ and rather than screwing them to each other, I drilled holes and pounded 12” long bolts through and into the ground at the board ends.  This might not last for eternity, but it seems pretty stable for now.  Then I added a couple more bags of sand and about 5 bags of gravel to level this area off and create a mud free zone.  To make a little bit nicer path to the door I added large flagstone pieces, which also match the pathway from our driveway to the front steps.  See!  Some thought did go in to this!  Anywho, eventually I would like to create some kind of panel to hinge across the utilities.  You know, a door type thing that can be opened and closed in order to hide their ugliness.  In the mean time I decided to position a trellised pot with snap peas in front of this messy part of the wall.  Plus, the pots add visual interest by the back door.

It’s still a work in progress and I will share more photos the beginning of next month.  But, I just wanted to let you all see how things are coming along so far back there this year.  Pretty big change since we took over this little patch of Earth, eh?

Kitsch Krafts

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In Case You Are Wondering Why I Have Been MIA….

June 7, 2010 02:44 by ehouston

This is what has been occupying my time almost nonstop since the beginning of May:


Yep, the wallpaper steamer didn’t work to my benefit.  Actually, I take that back.  It worked so well that it took down the wallpaper, the paint behind it and the top layer of the drywall within about 15 seconds.  I stopped after destroying one section of wall (you can see part of it in the far left of the second photo above.  Despite the really bad damage taking down the wallpaper caused I have been able to patch these spots with drywall compound, sand them down and cover everything with a couple of coats of oil-based, odorless Kilz primer.  It’s already looking like a new place and I am chomping at the bit to get the final colors up on the walls.  I think one more coat of primer is warranted to be sure that lovely border stays hidden forever and then I will be on to round two of painting.  Seems like this one week wallpaper removal and painting project has taken on a life of its own and wants to grow into a month long endeavor.  I have been slightly depressed about the length of time this has taken, but I have learned some lessons for future redecorating projects for other wallpapered rooms in my home.  I think I will skip the removal and go straight for the heavy duty primer.  I have always been told painting over wallpaper can be disastrous, but in this case I think I would have saved about two weeks time and I still would have had a nice looking paint job.  Oh well, you live, you learn, right?

Now, for my next big decisions…paint color and curtains.  I had been planning some light shades of blue gray to play off the darker shades of blue gray I was going to paint in the adjoining formal living room.  However, the dining room is almost twice as big as the living room and it gets a LOT more light.  Plus, the furniture in that room is all blue (I don’t know what I was thinking!).  So, I have decided to flip my plans and use the darker colors in the larger space.  I want the rooms throughout our home to glide seamlessly into each other with pops of color here and there, but I don’t want just a neutral white or beige background.  Although I like that look, I really want to have some color on the walls.  Over the years I have found that I lean toward shades of blue, green and gray with all different shades of stained wood thrown in the mix.  So, I am sticking with this color pallet throughout the house.  I also love a hit of bright red once in a while and that will definitely show up here and there as well.  Right now, though I need to get two colors picked out for the dining room because I hope to have them on the walls before the end of the week.  Here are the shades I am considering right now…(at least until the next trip to Lowe’s or Home Depot!):

Set #1- Woodlawn Silver Brook & La Fonda Villa Fountain (The middle colors)


These are from Lowe’s Valspar line and they are also both National Historic Trust colors.  They are definitely more blue/turquoise than gray.

Set #2 – Antique Silver & French Grey


These are from Home Depot’s Glidden line and have a little less turquoise in them.  They also both have more of a gray look to them when holding them up in the room.  Go figure!?!

What do you guys think?  Of course the lighter color would be above the chair rail and the darker color below.  Oh yeah, and I am planning to paint the chair rail along with the bottom color so it sort of fades away.  I love the moldings in our home, but I’m not wild about this chair rail.  The rest of the trim and moldings in the room will be high gloss white.

I would love to hear your opinion, and I know some of you definitely have one!  So, let it rip…

Kitsch Krafts

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DIY Shout Out!

May 18, 2010 03:32 by ehouston

I would like to send a SHOUT OUT to the well trained, detail oriented people that put up the wallpaper in my new old house!!  Using sizing or primer on the drywall before adding thick pasted vinyl paper to the wall was apparently just one step to many.  I understand your need for immediate gratification and am so excited to see that you went right over the wallpaper border! 


(Yes, what you think you see is correct.  The drywall below the chair rail is missing the top layer of paper.  Insert scream here.)

I am also anxiously awaiting the opportunity to spend the next week repairing the dramatically damaged wall before I get to add my final coat of paint.  YEAH!! 

Off to Home Depot....I believe one of these is in my near future. 

Wagner Xtra 705 Power Wallpaper Steamer


Kitsch Krafts

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