Before {and} After: a Basement Bathroom Reveal


When we first looked at the house and I saw the bathroom in the basement it icked me out so bad that I never stepped foot in it again for the next 6 months. This bathroom renovation was one of those massive diy projects that was always in the back of my mind, but I was just dreading it. Then the time finally had come when Matt's company shipped Halo 4, that they had been furiously working on for years, and he was gonna get some time off. I figured that would be a good time to begin this nightmare. And so began the bathroom renovation. 

My dream for this bathroom was for it to be modern, serene and spa-like. To achieve this feel I went with clean lines, and a minimal palette with natural elements. Preserving as much space as possible was also a major concern since it's such a small space.  Since we ended up having to tear the walls down near the ancient and filthy cast-iron tub we decided to replace it with a new modern one instead; we knew that it would be our only chance to do it before the walls were tiled back up for years to come. So even though it wasn't planned for, it ended up being the best decision we have made.  

This project began with modest intentions, like most projects do, and then quickly turned into a whirlwind of stumbling blocks. We ended up having to completely rip down the walls of the bathroom. For all the frightening details stay tuned for the 'bathroom-in progress' post shortly to see what it took to get us from Point Nast to Point Pleasure.


Now Matt had never built a room before, nevermind a bathroom, so with google at his fingertips he persevered through and did a great job. Then I was ready to begin tiling. This was my second go at tiling, and the subway tile in the kitchen was a breeze compared to this. I had my heart set on hex tiles on the tub walls which is very untraditional. You always see them on bathroom floors for a retro look. I love the shape but didn't want the retro vibe and having them vertical created a modern pattern. Well, as I quickly found out there is a reason they don't go on the walls, when the mesh gets wet the tiles start falling off. But I was determined and worked all night to make it happen. There were many points of the process that looked like a three stooges episode, but I eventually conquered those hexes.
Luckily the floor tiling was a cinch. We then moved on to some other projects like patching up an inset vanity, building the counter and installing the sink (all how-to's to come).

In conclusion, although this project took much longer than expected and was a major headache, I can't tell you how happy I am that we pushed through. Now it is one of my favorite places in the house. All the stress that went into that room just melts away when I light my candles, prep my bath with salts and lavender, and sink into my new tub. I wouldn't change it for the world.

Click here to catch the Behind the Scenes of this Bathroom Renovation.


Before {and} After: Empty Room Turned Walk-In Closet


We had an empty room attached to our master bedroom in the attic that needed a purpose. I had heard it had been used for an office and a sitting area in the past, but in my eyes it was begging to be the walk-in closet I had always wanted. I mean that would sure beat my prior closet situations where I was on a strict one thing in, one thing out system.


Once I had enough of getting dressed out of giant moving boxes (about one month), I was more than ready to begin tackling the impending closet project. Because it was in the attic of an old house with a steeply angled ceiling, we were not dealing with a quick throw up some rods and hang up your clothes situation but had to devise a system based on the ceiling angle. Since we were starting from scratch I had the opportunity to customize it, and I did. I decided to create separate sections based on clothing type (dresses, skirts, pants, etc). Getting the most out of the space was top priority.

It only took a couple of hours to get the closet built. Matt's clothes are on the other side of the closet and we still have to make that a bit more efficient. Besides that, I just need to add a dresser, a ceiling light, a nice curtain rod, a proper mirror, and some touch up paint; then it'll be fully finished. However, it's quite lovely in the state it's in so the final touches have moved way down on my priority list. I'll keep you posted on the final Before {and} After once it's complete.


Before {and} After: an Unused Corner Becomes a Vanity


The bathrooms in the Farmhouse are quite small and are not very user-friendly for anything other than the essentials. So, they left me nowhere to get ready in front of a mirror. To solve this dilemma instead of waiting till we redo the bathrooms (who knows when) I decided to create my own little vanity haven in an unused corner of the bedroom. (sorry that the before {and} after images are not of the same vantage point, but I think you get the idea).


Since the chosen corner is not a large amount of space, I wanted to make sure it would be functional and have enough storage for all of my things without getting cluttered.

I was lucky that I already had 90% of the components to create this area, so it cost me very little money to execute. The main thing I needed to find was a vanity type wall cabinet to hang and store my hair and facial goodies. I lucked out and found exactly what I was looking for on sale at Goodwill for a mere $4. I was sure it was too good to be true, so I scooped it up, paid, and busted out of there before they realized they made a mistake on the price or something. Once I got home I fixed it up a bit, lined the inside with paper, and added a perfect little knob pull that I found at Anthropology (also on sale) and my vanity was well on its way.

Next I bought the side table that houses my make-up. It matches the decor in the rest of the room which creates a lovely little balance in all the vignettes. Each room of the house showcases a different type or stain of wood and the bedroom is all about Walnut.

I was going for a warm, minimal, calming feel for this corner. I still have to get an outlet put in, and I may stencil the wall using a gold leaf pen that I'm itching to bust out. Until then I've been more than satisfied every morning when I get up and have a delightful little place all my own to put myself together before I head out into the world.

Before {and} After: a Basement Closet Renovation

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This winter break was filled with work, work, and more work. Just kidding. We did plan on doing a lot of work this break to pull off this long awaited transformation, but there was a lot of game playing, festive activities, goofing off around town, movie watching, and general lazing in between. Now that we have made it to the 'after' of this project we are more than ecstatic that we pushed through and put in the time; our neglected, box-filled basement is beginning to turn into the family room it is meant to be.

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The basement used to be a separate apartment that was rented out. It has its own entrance from the backyard, a bathroom, kitchen, and laundry area. And as you can gather from the 'before' image, it was pretty hideous. Prior to moving in we got the floors re-finished. We had to get rid of that horrible painted salmon concrete before we started filling it in with boxes. I've always wanted an industrial concrete floor and this was my chance, so we got a concrete overlay put in (check back for a post on that whole process later on). Here are some of the drool worthy images I used for inspriation.

The double mirrored closet just wasn't doing it for me, so I planned on tearing it down and building a wall to wall bookcase for the library Matt has always wanted for his much beloved book collection (the third row down from top, yeah that's mine, that's all I got). The books that didn't fit in this case ended up on a vintage library cart I scored a while back. 

I digress, back to the project at hand. So I had a few designs in my head and ended up mixing a few of them together to come up with this final incarnation. My office needed to be part of the equation, and I hadn't had a clear vision that made me happy and inspired yet, so I decided to merge it into the bookcase. My main goals for this area were for it to be clean and minimal, modern, asymmetrical, and built in. I wanted all of our different sized books to have their own snug little cubbies, as well as spaces for visual breaks as to not be too overwhelming and cluttered. After I figured out the exact measurements I took off my gloves, put on my directors hat, and handed the rest over to Matt. I wasn't able to help build it as much as I would have like to (I was hoping to be able to learn a lot from this), but he totally pulled it off on his own and really did a magnificent job. 

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One of the problems we ran into was how to hold up the right side of the shelving above the desk while keeping the space below untouched. I didn't want any kind of legs protruding off of the desk interrupting the workspace, and I didn't want any visual break in the negative space above. We ended up creating brackets out of plumbing pipe that we used for the desk legs (and also for our breakfast nook table). It ended up working out perfectly.

In the end we couldn't be happier with the result, and it has really helped to kick the rest of the basement renovation into high gear. I now look forward to going downstairs to work in my office amongst all of Matt's little friends.

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Tips: paint beforehand. Better yet, spray paint beforehand! Painting all the nooks and crannies after it was installed took FORever. We threw on the Nerdist Podcast and just went at it (for three 5 hour stints in a row).

If you're a Podcast addict like me check out some of my faves here.

Cost: less than $300 for all the wood, drywall, primer and paint, screws, and pipe. 
(what blew me away is that I have seen similar set ups, without a desk, going for almost $8000....whaaat? that's insane)

Time: on and off for 3 weeks

  Images: alysha findley

Before {and} After: the Breakfast Nook

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The breakfast nook was a fun labor of love. I can't tell you how many hours it took of staring and re-designing in my head it took. The 'before' picture is the styling from the open house, so that is as before as before can get. Here are some of the images I used for inspiration to design around black and white checkerboard floors.


Let's begin at the beginning. The red paint on the walls, although not horrendous, wasn't the style I was going for so it had to go. I could've gone with a retro theme but rather wanted to create a modern industrial farmhouse feel. And besides that, the red is actually lead paint over very old wallpaper which had completely warped, pretty huh? 

I had gotten the house tested for lead before the renovations began so that I could move on in a safe manner. Believe it or not out of the whole house the kitchen had the most positive lead results (great! where all of the food is). So, being as insane as I am I went and took a lead renovation course, and after eight hours and a written test I became an Certified EPA Lead Renovator. Now, I felt confident and knowledgable in how to deal with the areas in my home containing lead.

From what I learned in the case of the wallpaper it would be much safer to cover it than to take it down, so I decided to plank the walls (tutorial to come). It only took a few days and about $100 worth of wood and nails.

I went back and forth a million times deciding if I wanting to build a booth or have a three-person bistro table. I wanted it to be casual and intimate but still elegant. I ultimately ended up combining the two ideas and built the current table for the space out of a slab of quartz and plumbing pipes (tutorial to come).

Next I moved on to the seating. I built the industrial schoolhouse bench, got the blu dot knicker chair I had been coveting, and added the schoolhouse chair I discovered at a flea market. 

I then bought some modern silver and white fabric for some no sew curtains and lastly got the pendant light and switch installed. Voila the nook is DONE! Phew, re-living that was exhausting.

Stay tuned for the Before {and} After of the rest of the kitchen. It comes chock full of tutorials like painting a chalkboard fridge, planking a wall, building open floating shelves, and building a kitchen island with a butcher block top!

More Posts on the Kitchen Renovation:

Images: alysha findley