Before & After Bliss: Our Monster Master Bathroom Renovation

**Warning** This post contains a LOT of pictures!  Please be patient while it loads!

It’s done!!!!  If you’re new here, then take a look at this post, which did a pretty good job of rounding up all of the dirty details that we’ve been doing over the past 6 months!  There’s also a chapter run down at the END of this post if you need more information.  I am SOOO excited to show you this makeover and thank you generously for your patience during this renovation!  This is by far the most amazing makeover we’ve done to this house – and we’ve done a LOT.  I’ll keep the commentary to a minimum and let the photos speak for themselves…

The Vanity


As you walked in the door, the first thing you saw was the vanity to the left.  Before it was a pretty builder’s basic set up with stock cabinetry, off-centered plumbing and lighting, a wall-to-wall mirror and damaged marble countertops.  The finishes were also mismatched (Oil-Rubbed Bronze lighting and door hardware + brushed nickel faucets = ick!).  I could go on, but you get the point.


We replaced EVERYTHING!  Nothing here is original.  New cabinets, lighting, counters – slam-damn EVERYTHING!  There’s so much going on here that I’ll just let you look at the pictures to take it all in.

The Tub


To the right of the door and facing the vanity, we find the tub.  The tub was fine – good size, good placement, good condition.  But that tile surround simply had to go.  It was cracked, damaged and just plain ugly.


We kept the tub but replaced everything else, including the backsplash and tub deck tile.  We opted for a board and batten treatment on the face of the tub deck rather than more tile (it’s an easier and cheaper installation that honestly looks more “custom”).  We kept things feeling serene and restful by limiting the color palettes to whites, pale blues and grays.  Though you can’t see it in the pictures, we also added a can light above the tub for more lighting.  Here is the tub area after our renovation:

The Loo


I don’t have a ton of pictures of this area – it’s just not one of those things people really want to take pictures of.  Regardless, this toilet was never going to stay – it wasn’t a comfortable toilet to sit on and could barely handle the job it was designed to do if you know what I’m sayin’ (*wink*wink*).  Also, in the process of foreclosure, they had installed that air freshener above the toilet, which left a sticky residue behind that we had to *cut*out*of*the*wall* in order to remove, so some patching work was definitely in order:


We replaced the loo with an elongated bowl, which is much more comfortable for my hubby and dudes in general.  Then we added some modern open storage shelves from West Elm and topped the whole area off with beautiful crown molding.  There wasn’t much to look at before and I’m not one to really get all giddy about a toilet, but, boy, is it pretty now!

The Shower


Ahh….the space that pretty much started it all.  I did a pretty extensive post on this area back in June when we finished it (which you can read about by clicking here).  But it’s worth it to see what it was like before.  Cramped, dark and growing black mold – ick!  We had a light-blocking arch that didn’t do much except make that area feel smaller – as if that was possible!  We had no storage in the shower – not even a decent place to put our soap!  We pined for something larger, grander and more functional…and I apologize on the quality of these pictures – it really was a difficult place to photograph before…


I saved the best for last.  Wow, what a difference 6 months make!  NOTHING here is original.  And this shower is absolutely bee-you-tee-ful.  You can read more about this process by clicking here.  Essentially, we demoed this area down to the studs, added more plumbing so we could have a dual shower head system, built a custom shower pan (it’s easier than it sounds – more on that in another post), tiled floor to ceiling with crisp white Subway tile, added some soap dishes and storage shelves and installed a gorgeous Carrera Marble tumbled stone floor that has a nice flat and smooth finish – super easy on the feet!  Check out this after – it literally takes my breath away every time I see it!

Other Views

…anything that wasn’t covered above will be here.  Enjoy!

That’s it!  Thank you to everyone for your patience and encouragement during this journey.  It’s been a process and I’m sooooo glad we’ve done it.  I’ll work on a source list and our overall budget breakdown in the coming weeks.  But in the short term, I’m exhausted.  I’m so glad it’s done.  I’m so glad we did it.  Would we do it again?  Not in this house, no.  But in a future house??  If it needed it, then yes, definitely!  We learned so much doing this bathroom and I was continually surprised at what my husband and I were able to accomplish with our own four hands.  It certainly has given us a good deal of confidence that if you put your mind to it (and your back INTO it), you really CAN accomplish anything…

But now I’m off to take a long soak in my tub.  I think I’ve earned it, don’t you??

We remodeled our master bathroom and it was a doozy that took 6 months!  We did absolutely EVERthing ourselves except for installing the countertops and shower doors.  Here are some links to read more about the process and maybe it’ll give you the confidence to tackle your own renovation! 

The Bathroom begins…Demolition Day 1 and Day 2 and how we got rid of all that trash!  Our budget and a tile preview and a little look-see into what MY view is when my hubby is installing electrical and video view of what all of the demolition looked like before we started installing things. Check out our desperate attempt to keep the house clean while we renovate and another video update with a sneak peek at our gorgeous marble floors!  Then you can also see moments of despair as we struggle to maintain sanity after over a month of bathroom renovating!  And then there was paint…  And then the cabinets and toilet were installed…  And then we began tiling…….and then it started to look like a bathroom again!  And then I teased you in a major way….Then we finished the shower and took a summer vacation away from all of the finish work…but managed to throw in this one last teaser photo just for the helluva it!  And if you’re not into reading ALL of that stuff above, just click here to get a good overview of the mayhem that occurred during 6 months of renovation our master bathroom!


Bathroom? What bathroom?!

We’ve been busting @$$ on our bathroom now for 3 months and I’ve been so busy with bathroom-ing, working and hosting out-of-towners (7 out of the previous 10 weeks – and people wonder why we have a dedicated guest room??) that I honestly have completely forgotten to update you on some of the other things we’ve been working on.  See, when I got frustrated or overwhelmed with the bathroom (which still isn’t completely finished – yet), I’d focus on other things like, say, the dining room, the Room of Requirement or our Living Room.  In most cases, they weren’t massive changes, but I thought now would be a good time to update the Nickel Tour page with more up-to-date pics.  Since I actually don’t have paint, caulk, grout or thinset stuck in my hair now is a good time to actually clean up the house a bit and take some pics!

Living Room

One of our big changes in this room actually happened last fall and was F-R-E-E.  But we’ve made one other major change in here which really brought it all together.  Basically we a) changed around the furniture layout (FREE) and b) bought a rug from Pottery Barn for a super duper clearance!  I bought the rug back in March sometime and told you all about it here, but then that pesky bathroom kept getting in the way of my reporting and blogging!  It has a nice big pattern and is loop pile (almost feels like berber), which means stains, footprints, etc all kind of vanish – meaning, when you spill red wine….which never happens around here….it’s not such a big deal to clean it up!  Not that I’m inviting your lush-ass to my house to spill red wine.  Don’t get your hopes up.  We don’t live in THAT kind of house.  Actually, I don’t let red wine drinkers in the family room.  White wine?  Hit it up!  Beer!  Belly up!  Red wine and spaghetti sauce?  Get your ass in the dining room where you belong.

Our new rug!

We’re still playing around with furniture layout in this room.  But this is what we’ve settled on for now.

The room is such an odd shape and then I have this ridiculously long wall here that just confuses me with what to do with it.  I’ve never been happy with this wall of mirrors – it was just a cheap solution until we could afford something grander/larger:

Oh, how I can't stand super long walls!! The possibilities are endless!

I’ve thought about doing something similar to our upstairs landing like so…

Check out the photo collage on the right

….but I can’t really decide.  Oh, and then there’s that pesky bathroom that keeps getting in the way (link to pesky bathroom).  Sooner or later I’ll get around to switching it up.  Or I might not….that’s how we roll around here people.  But back to the family room – do you notice how light and pretty the family room is?  And then the kitchen in the background just kind of sucks the life out of the rest of the room?

Urg….how I would love to have a white kitchen.  No, really….a white kitchen!  Cream…don’t care…anything but what we have…

The Front Door

Ok, don’t get me started on our front door.  Before we moved in, the previous owners kicked in the door, so the outside (and inside) is just in crap shape.  Add to it the fact that we still haven’t changed out the brassy sherriff’s locks and our whole door is really ready for a makeover, which we’d love to tackle sometime this summer if we have time.  But in order for us to do that, we need to take the door down, sand it down, do some repair work and then put it back up.  But as lovely as it sounds to have no front door for a few days while we’re working on the door, we thought a better alternative would be to get a storm door and call it a day:

I took this picture forEVER ago - look at how cloudy it is...

…of course it also serves a functional purpose once the door is refinished and pretty, which is to say that it will protect the door from water damage and warping down the line.  Oh, and it gives Maggie something fun to look out of :-).  It’s like her personal TV set.

Room of Requirement

You’ve seen the pics from awhile ago, but we still didn’t have an end table, we hadn’t hung artwork and we still had our old ginormous TV.  So here are the FINAL pics to our makeover.

…and I must say, I LOVE this room!  It’s so much fun to hang out in.  We play the husband plays a lot of video games up here (especially lately since Portal 2 came out – yum!).  And even though we don’t have Cable up here, we do have access to our XBox live account, which is attached to our TV downstairs, so if we want to watch recorded cable shows, we can easily do that up here.  We’ve even had a few four person sessions of Rock Band and I’m so glad we got the two green ottoman stools because we can just move those around the room for the drummer and the singer.  It’s awesome!  And although we haven’t yet needed to use it as a sleeper, we likely will at some point in time, so it’s so great that we have an extra sleeping space when we need it, a reading room AND a fun media room.

So there ya have it!  A couple of updates on some rooms (and not rooms).  These are the projects we’ve been tackling behind-the-scenes since the bathroom has essentially taken over our lives!  But it finally feels like the end is near when it comes to the bathroom (oh, it’s still not completely done, m’friends!), but now that it’s completely functional, we feel like the “urgency” aspect has kind of been removed thank goodness!

It’s a bed! It’s a couch! No, it’s SUPERcouch!

Guess what?  We finally replaced that full sized mattress =  couch in the Room of Requirement.  Remember this set up?

…a full sized mattress turned sideways does not a daybed make, we decided.  It was too uncomfortable to sit on “as a couch” and whenever we did use it as such, the act of leaning against the wall and putting your feet up would invariably scoot the bed away from the wall.  Really damned inconvenient.  So we decided it had to go in favor of a smaller-sized daybed with a twin mattress.  A couch and bed in one = perfection!  In fact, we were really digging the following beauties from West Elm and P-Barn:

The West Elm Day Bed


The Stratton Daybed from Pottery Barn

…and since we’re *that* kind of crazy, the idea of building the bed really appealed to us.  Don’t worry, there are patterns available from Ana White’s blog that we were *all* about bogarting for good use.  All we really needed to do was decide on bedding, purchase sheets, mattress, mattress pad…etc….and, WOW!  All of the sudden this whole build-your-own-daybed idea is starting to become *really* expensive.  And getting rid of a full sized sleeping space (in addition to our Queen sized bed in the Guest Room) would be kind of a bummer, especially since we ended up using the above setup as a sleeper more often than we ever thought we would (three times in 2010 – our family travels in packs).  So back to the drawing board…

Amazingly, they have these inventions called “Sleeper Sofas”….which was surprising it didn’t occur to us earlier to just spring for that and call it a day.  Besides, we use this space more as a “lounge” for the two of us to play video games, watch the occasional movie, etc, so it really made sense to cater to OUR needs and NOT the needs of our guests.  In other words, this space is for us primarily, guests secondarily.  Enter the Ektorp sleeper from Ikea…

It has a full sized pullout bed, a gray slipcover (which means the whole thing is removable/washable and since this is essentially the “Man Cave”, it’s a nice dark, masculine color that’ll go well with those paint chips we’ve got up on the wall….hrmm….stay tuned….

Is it too early for Halloween?!

The obvious answer to that question is, “HAIL NO!”  I admit it, autumn is my absolute *favorite* season of the year!  Football Marching Band Season, crisp leaves, apple cider, and all the awesomeness that comes with decorating for gourds and ghouls!!  Last year we took a pretty sedate approach to our Halloween/autumn decor and simply rehashed decorations that I purchased (*gasp*!) ten years ago when I was still in college!  You know it’s time to update your decor when…..the first thing that popped into your mind when you purchased it was, “Oh, good!  This can’t break when we have our giant kegger party – perfect!”  So this year instead of the typical pumpkin-y orange and black motif, I tried to go for a more glam-y Hollywood-ish Halloween theme this year.  And a big bonus – I really only spent about $30 on all of the vignettes below – all of the rest of the things were stuff I had lying around the house!

Welcome, little ghouls and goblins…..

Our first vignette is on our hand-me-down “bar” in the entryway/dining area.  The black and white theme begins….with some natural elements mixed in as “placeholders” – namely the corks which will be replaced with candy in that glass bowl later on.  I threw down a Pottery Barn runner that I got on sale this past summer expecting to use it for Christmas, but loved it so much I decided to use it here as well.  The only things we purchased outright for this vignette were the spider, the raven, and the spook-tastic skull (Hey you guuu-uys!!).  My personal favorite is an ode to my arachnaphobic husband in the form of the “posable” spider I got from JoAnn’s for like $3 (it was on sale!).  I like to think of it as “diet decor” – it certainly keeps Dr. J away from the bar, that’s for darn sure!

On the left side, I have a candle holder in back that’s sort of reminiscent of a spider web (noticing a theme here?).  It also kind of looks branchy in a white ceramic kind of way which sort of ties the whole natural element into this theme.  I also went with a glass bowl that will later be used for candy – the corks are less calories than my go-to favorite candy, Reese’s PB cups!  Those will come later.  The raven is perched on top as a sort of Edgar Allan Poe reference – the dogs have already tried to claim this raven as their own, so he’s quarantined here for the moment!  Then I like the hanging clock as kind of a sideways reference of, “Your time has come, my pretty!”  or….”Time’s up, my pretty!”  I dunno – kind of cheeky and fun!

On the right side, I found several black spined books with either spooky references or just plain weird authors (ya can’t ever go wrong with some Stephen King!).  I love how it raises up my skull and brings some dimension and height to the table without costing a dime (we just raided the library upstairs).  And I have it on good authority from my husband that the middle book truly is a creepy book, so if you’re looking for some Halloween-esque lit, then have at it (Just After Sunset by Stephen King)!  I threw down the aforementioned skull and those two old votives that I’ve had since college – hard to believe, eh?

Is it Halloween….or New Year’s….?

This vignette is almost strangely un-Halloween-esque, but it is going to get more Halloween-y once it hits October (we’re still a little early here!).  I’ll show you how to creep it up probably sometime next week.  I present to you, our dining table:

So I actually bought *two* of those runners from Pottery Barn this past summer (they were a good deal!!!) and I love how this vignette could easily turn into a New Year’s or Christmas motif in a snap.  And again, I simply used items I had laying around the house – candlesticks, a tray that I used to great effect when I did my summer-y tablescape, and the napkin holder and salt and pepper shaker.

What I love about this tablescape is the fact that I just used items I had around the house and grouped them all together for a sort of black and white (yet functional) glammy vignette that is going to get oh-so-much-more creeptastic in the coming weeks.  In the meantime, I’m diggin’ the white and black fall-ish effect with the acorn-ish shaped candle holder and the webby looking napkin holder.  And, for my sister, I have your spider-y ornament hanging prominently – yup, Dr. J loves it!  Haha!

Got gourds?

In the family room, I decided to leave things decidedly more “fall-ish” rather than ghoulishly Halloween-rific.  On our hutch, we switched things up cheap-o style and used things we already had lying around save for the two creamy pumpkins that I also got on sale at JoAnn’s for about $5 total.

…and here’s a close up for the visually impaired (*raises hand impatiently!*)

Again, aside from the pumpkins, I already had everything on hand – the dark cake stand, candle, corks, and even the white cake stand and white maple leaf bowl are parts of my wedding china that I’ve had for years (Lenox, Butler’s Pantry if you’re curious – LOVE it!).  I love this little spread because it feels like it could really last all through Thanksgiving, which makes me feel slightly less guilty about putting this together in early September (*blushes*)!

….are you done yet??  NOT REMOTELY!

My last vignette is actually for the coffee table and, again, it’s a little more of an obtuse reference to Halloween and fall in general:

I really tried to stick with earthy and warm colors on this tablescape with natural textures and some of my current signature favorite color of white mixed in.

First off, I threw down an old cork tray that my brother in law made for me years ago using all of the corks leftover from our wedding (awhhh….isn’t he sweet?!).  I love that tray and I use it almost every single day, so I thought it injected just the right amount of texture into this space.  Then I had this old cheese dome (another wedding present I barely use!) and plopped a piggy froggy bank down inside – almost like he’s a specimen getting ready for his dissection – blech!  And, again, all of this was stuff I already had!

….on the flip side, I just shopped around the house for items I had, including this old stone pumpkin that my mom got for me years ago in some foreign land like Japanamanistan or something.  So this whole vignette cost me a total of $0!

So there ya have it!  A bunch of different fall themed vignettes and tablescapes.  Hopefully you see something you like and you can “shop your own house” to find some inspirational fall decor mix-ups!  Stay tuned sometime next week and I’ll show you how to “ghoul up” that dining room tablescape – it’s gonna be awesome and I’m so excited about it!

I’m going to be linking this post over to’s “Fall Decor Party” today!  You can go check out that party by clicking here!!  Go over there, show Julia some love, and be prepared to be completely sucked in by all of her “Movie Mondays” and bad MLS listings.  It’s a phenomenal site and one of my absolute favorites!!

I’ll also be linking up to The Nester’s “Fall Mantel Party”.  Yet another delicious eye candy place to plop down for a few hours!!  I love her site because she is one of the few bloggers in blog-land who doesn’t actually own her home – yup, she’s a renter!  So she shows everybody how you can switch up your decor without tearing down walls!  Love it! You can see her party by clicking here here!


HGTV, you are redeemed…

Dear HGTV,

I know it’s a week or so late, but I have to seriously tell you how much I completely heart Emily Henderson’s new “Secrets from a Stylist”

I was partial to Emily from Day 1, mostly because she was from Portland, Oregon orginially and after the genius that was Dan Vickery coming in second last year, I felt that the Pacific NW was due for its time in the spotlight.  And while I think you screwed up the formatting of the show all year (teams do NOT good designers make) such that we were only able to see the full talent of the designers when it was down to the final three, you were much vindicated when I saw this:

….and even this (same room, different take – more 60s-Mod):

…and, that is how we come up with inspiration to decorate our rooms….and I thank you for that!

Oh, Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn….wherefore art thou….?

I’m on a mission!  A hunt!  An adventure!  For months now I have been searching for the world’s perfect area rug to replace our monochromatic (*yawn*) one in the family room:

I’ve been eyeing rugs all over the place – HomeGoods, Crate and Barrel, West Elm, Pottery Barn, Macy’s, Overstock, Ikea, various online retailers, lamp stores, grocery stores, hardware stores, you get the picture.  I’m looking for something in the blue-green family that does *not* look golden, which always seems to happen with area rugs.  Why is that?!  Regardless, here is my area rug wish list for the family room:

  • We’re reading you, 8×10 – We eventually plan to replace the carpet in our family room with wood (or something along those lines), so something to cover up as much of that as possible to insulate us from the chill in the wintertime would be ideal.  Oh, and it’s gotta be relatively large so that the dogs have plenty of room to park their buns.
  • Wooly Mammoth – I love wool rugs – it’s plush, it’s warm, it’s soft underfoot and, bonus!  It’s all natural!  Plus, it’s easier to clean, easier to take care of, and it’s extremely durable!  They’re also really soft underfoot and just scream luxury.  Sign me up!
  • Nothing Traditional/Persian – We desperately need some pattern and jazz in this room, but nothing too crazy.  Sometimes you look at a rug and just think, “What is the meaning of that?!”  I’m thinking rugs along the lines of this:

The now deceased Clara rug from Pottery Barn - pretty, but too yellow for us!

….or this…

Pottery Barn Vanessa rug - currently on sale, but too French blue for our room...

….or even, daringly, something kind of like this….

The West Elm Zebra rug - daring, for sure, but a little too monochromatic and hipster for our tastes.

…but none of the above rugs are really truly singin’ to me.  The trouble is that a rug is something that’s going to be with you a loooooong time.  Hell, I’ve walked through castles in Europe (and even the Biltmore here in the US) and they had original rugs dating back centuries….yes, CENTURIES!  Now I don’t plan on spending a century’s worth of *my* hard earned dollars to put down something that essentially is just a big fancy sock for the floor (or legwarmer, whichever floats your boat), but I am willing to save up some hard earned dollars for something fun, pretty, and a little bold that might stand the style test of time for at least a good ten years or so.  Oh, and it has to be durable enough (and dark enough, but not too dark) to hide dog stains, husband stains, and if we ever go down that road, bambino stains (don’t get any ideas, Moms!).

I have to admit that I truly *love* Pottery Barn rugs.  Honestly, walk into any “rug store” anywhere in the country and I’ll bet you couldn’t find an 8×10 wool rug with a natural backer in a decent color that doesn’t look like vomit and a non-Granny pattern for anything less than $1,000.  Believe me, I know – I’ve looked!  Pottery Barn’s 8×10 rugs are seriously a smokin’ deal for anywhere between $500 – $700 a pop.  Granted, that’s a pretty hefty price tag for anything, but for a high-quality rug that’s actually not too bad, especially if it’s natural high-quality construction….but I digress….

So I got it in my head that maybe I could road trip down to a P-Barn Outlet somewhere close to Oregon, possibly California?!?  When I lived in Ohio, I was only an hour’s drive from a Pottery Barn Outlet (Jeffersonville, holla’!) and I used to stop by there every chance I got to see what bits and pieces I could get for smokin’ deals.  I’m pretty sure that the closest one will probably be a day’s drive, but I’d be willing to rack up the miles for a good deal on a rug!  And since P Barn is headquartered in San Fran, you gotta figure that their outlet is somewhere close to there, right?!?

Not so, my friend.  It’s in Lake Elsinore, CA – a cool 18 hour trip from Portland.  Seriously?!?!  Ok, Plan B means *next* closest P-Barn Outlet……San Marcos, TX….just 1 day and 12 hours from my house….

….plan C?  Plead….no, BEG, Pottery Barn to open up an outlet closer to home!  Please?!  Pretty please?!?  With a cherry on top?!?!  C’mon, you guys are BASED in San Fran – can’t you at least give it up for some Bay Area love?  I could easily make a trip down to a P Barn outlet in Sacramento!

Oh, and if you’re curious – there are only ten (that’s right, TEN!) P Barn outlets in the country.  For a company that’s based on the West Coast, you’d think that they could spread the love a little better out here – Pottery Barn Outlet, wherefore art thou????

Pillow Mania

I’m a big wimp when it comes to pillows.  There, I said it!  I am the world’s biggest wuss when it comes to patterns and paisleys.  Well….let’s just leave the paisley out of this conversation.  Paisley is still a little hugover from her mid-90s over-indulgant bender…But our family room could seriously use a dose of pattern and color (a project I’ve been meaning to tackle since before we moved into this house).  Enter Home Goods, two graphic patterned pillows, and just the right injection of blue and green which this room has been craving for quite some time!

Aren’t they just adorable?!  And they’re filled with down and not that synthetic poly fill stuff, so they just feel so cushy and amazing and expensive, even though they were only 20 bucks a pop!  Loves, loves, luuuuuuuuurves them!  Now if only we could do something about that bland Pottery Barn rug….hrmmm…..more on that later…