Basement Bathroom: Behind the Scenes


Last week I shared with you the Before {and} After of the Basement Bathroom. Now let’s take a look at what it really took to get there. I love how before {and} afters have such a magical quality to them. They are filled with inspiration and excitement on what can be achieved and transformed, but when you look behind the curtain the reality is revealed and you get to witness all the work and struggle it took to get from B(efore) to A(fter). So buckle your work belts and hang on, because we’re about to dive into the nasty world of bathroom renovation.

Ok, so let's begin. I woke up one morning and was in a bust things up with a hammer sort of mood. I turned on the Nerdist podcast, headed down to the basement with goggles, gloves, and a mask and began chiseling away at the shower tiles. I quickly realized that this was going to be much harder than the kitchen tiles I did earlier. There was such a ridiculous amount of mortar used to install these light little tiles that it made it not only impossible to get them off, but it was taking chunks of the wall away with it. After two hours of getting only three rows done I knew that a demo hammer was needed to finish this puppy up. Between the amount of dust that would be created and the strength you need to hold up that hammer for hours on end, I was going to have to turn the rest of the tile demo over to Matt. Two days later with shaky, sore arms and faux gray hair Matt defeated the tiles.

During this tile demo Matt created massive holes in the walls and got a peak at what was really holding this bathroom together. His discovery was not what I was expecting or wanting to hear. In disbelief I listened as he told me that the studs were crooked, just haphazardly thrown together, and even worse: rotten with water damage. The more he inspected, the more he was convinced that the whole bathroom would need to be reconstructed from the ground up. With my jaw in my hands and my mind still refusing to believe, I was realizing that my sprucing up project that I thought would take me a week or two was turning into a long-term nightmare. Visions of disaster DIY home improvement show episodes were flooding my mind, and I tried to figure out ways to get by without tearing everything down. But alas, Matt was pretty sure that due to the water damage, very little of the underlying structure could be salvaged. This is when I just took off my construction hat and gave it over to him to figure out. Even though he’d never done any of this before, he was determined to start from scratch with his trusty partner Google at his side.

In the meantime I hit the computer and started mocking up the design in Photoshop. I knew the exact look and feel I wanted to go with so that made everything flow without much struggle. Then I began the hunt for paint color, tiles, fixtures, shelving, accessories, the sink, the ceiling, the mirror, and the countertop material. Since the room is rather small I wanted to preserve as much space as possible and decided to only work with open shelving, light colors, and forgo a vanity for a minimal counter and a table top sink.

Back to the mess. As Matt tore down the walls of the old and put in all new studs, lots of fun obstacles kept arising. Number one being that nothing was square, even, or straight (a fun fact that comes with a century old house). This made everything infinitely harder. But, with a lot of patience and math skills it all got worked out. We learned pretty early on that the house was built wacky and that we would have to embrace and emphasize its flaws and character in order to not go totally insane (something this perfectionist still has a hard time with.)

While Matt was tearing down the ceiling he came across what had caused all the water damage. A steady but slow leak had been coming from the upstairs bathtub for who knows how long. The crazy part was that the last person who had torn apart the ceiling knew about the leak, but their solution for fixing it was tying a plastic grocery bag around the pipe to catch the water. Yeah, that was our reaction too. So everything was put on hold as we got the problem fixed which ended up being a good thing for we updated the original Drum Trap with a modern P-Trap.

muppy .jpg

After all that drama subsided and the new walls went up, I came in and tiled the shower and the floor and got all patchwork and painting done. We were on our way to something that resembled a bathroom again; the last step was to build the sink counter. I was looking for a beautiful, warm hardwood which we found at my favorite lumber yard, Compton Lumber. We ended up scoring a gorgeous piece of African Mahogany that just need to be sanded and varnished (look for upcoming post on How To on building your own counter in the near future.)  After the sink was installed all that was left was the finishing touches.

Now this project probably would have gone a bit quicker if I hadn't started two other major ones in the middle, but that's just the way I roll. Patience problem? I think so. Now that it's done and will one day be a fleeting memory, I would encourage other people to take a shot at it. When I think about the tens of thousands of dollars we saved doing it ourselves it makes me as happy as a little girl who just built her first giant sandcastle. 

Check out the full Before {and} After of this basement bathroom.


Fave Finds: Home {and} Decor Apps

apps tops.jpg

I have recently stumbled on to some great apps for the home that I am a wee bit obsessed with, so I thought I'd share them with you in case you are looking for more things in your day to suck up your time. Oh and by the way, all of these have full websites as well. So go check 'em out and learn new things!


BRIT + CO is a great inspiration and tutorial site that encompasses all things domestic. Brit and her team post on everything from decor to recipes to fashion to health to style and even technology. If that's not enough she sells BRIT KITS where you receive a month of DIY projects filled with materials, instructions and surprise goodies.

Screen Shot 2013-05-14 at 11.18.46 AM.png

Here are a few examples of what you will find on BRIT + CO:

Like I said before you can check out the site on your computer or as an app on your phone or tablet. Be forewarned it can lead you down the rabbit hole pretty quickly. I have no idea where some of these entrepreneurial ladies find the time to pump out all of this great info, but I'm glad they do.

gadget flow.jpg

Gadget Flow is a site run by three people who scour the interwebs and report back on the coolest gadgets they can find out there. I got seriously lost on here a few days back. It was too fun and now I have a new bookmark folder filled with future purchases waiting to happen. FYI, a good number of the items on the site are super geeky but that's why I love them. I think its a great place to find unique gifts that bring out the inner-geek in all of us.


Bright Nest is a kind of to-do list helper for your home. You know all the things your are supposed to keep maintaining in your home but you never really do. Well Bright Nest helps you keep track of those things and lots of stuff you've never thought about. They have articles about maintaing your house and give you the how-to's along the way. They break it down by how long it will take you to do it and how difficult the task might be. You can favorite the article to come back to later when you have time or you can be more diligent and put it in your Bright Nest calendar with reminders and all. 

Screen Shot 2013-05-14 at 11.04.08 AM.png

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.


May 2013 Pantone Calendar: Palettes and Patterns (free)

May Calendar 2013_Emerald_shadow copy.jpg

In celebration of Pantone's 2013 Color Of The Year, I'm designing a free monthly downloadable calendar that showcases the lively and radiant Emerald Green.

April showers bring... Well we all know the saying and it never seems to fail us. It is this month that spring starts to fully awaken and become vibrant all around. Flowers are well on their way to becoming their best selves and gardens are beginning to come to life. There's really nothing like it. It could be chilly, rainy or grey but if I pass a fully blossomed pink cherry tree on a walk or a porch filled with colorful hanging baskets it just makes everything in my head stop and puts a big smile in my mind. Flowers are my eye candy, a love I have developed from my mom and grandma, and I really can never get enough. So in honor of all the newly blossomed flowers all around I am dedicating this months Pantone Calendar to pure sugary sweet eye candy.

Each 4x6 calendar card features a different Emerald Green color palette and pattern in hopes that it'll inspire you to find ways to incorporate it into your lives. Be it through paint, decor, pillows, accessories, or clothing a little vibrant green can't do you wrong.

All you need to do to get your free calendar is download the May Card Here, print it on a thick piece of card stock, and cut it out. You can put it on your fridge, pin it to cork board, or stand it up on your desk with a memo clip or small easel.

Stay Tuned for the upcoming month's calendar on the last week of each month.   

May 2013_Palette.jpg

May Palette: Eye Candy

Illustration: alysha findley

Lighting 101: tips for a perfectly lit home

Screen Shot 2013-04-19 at 11.31.21 AM.png

Lighting is one of the most important elements in a home and can often be overlooked. It's one of the first things I notice in any space I enter, and if it's way off it can completely change the outcome of my experience. It really is an easy and dramatic thing to alter with minimal effort.

All lighting is not created equal in every situation and should be addressed on an individual basis. When your lighting is beautifully balanced it can completely transform your space and mood. 

So let's talk lights: There are a few different kinds that you should keep in mind that are used for different situations.

  • Direct or Task: this type of light is focused on the space you are working in.
  • Ambient or Indirect: this is used for ambience and overall lighting of a space.
  • Overhead, Recessed or Track Lighting: think of the feeling of a conference room where you can get 'lighting fatigue' because it is so bright and shadowless. There is nowhere to focus and no place for your eyes to rest.

    I am really not a fan of this type of light in a home. It may create a bright and evenly lit space, but that isn't really the type of scenario you need to achieve in a home. It ends up washing everything out and creating a very bland diffused environment that can be very unflattering. It personally makes me edgy and gives me a headache.
  • Mood Lighting: Changes with the room and events that take place in it. Having individual lamps that light up specific areas and create different moods for different occasions can create a number of rooms in one.

Color Temperature: Understanding the basics of color temperature is a really important step for balancing the right ambience in your home. Color temperature is measured in Kelvin Degree's. To make it simple just try to remember two numbers, and everything else falls in between.

  1. 5500K: This is bright white light. It is the measurement of sunny daylight at noon and also the flash in photography. This light falls on the cold side (bluish) and isn't really flattering in the home. Think of the light of a CFL when they first came out or even florescent office overheads.
  2. 3200K: This is a warmer (orange) more pleasing light. It is the color of sunrise and sunset. This is more of what you would see with older more traditional light bulbs.


  1. Use a range of lighting in varied heights and locations.
  2. Use different brightness levels in different parts of the room.
  3. Dimmers: If you have overhead lighting as your main lighting source, consider putting in dimmers. They will dramatically affect your ambience in a variety of ways.

Questions to ask yourself:

What is your goal for lighting this room? Is it for a specific task, for reading in a corner, to relax, to work?  Your lighting should set the right mood as well as serve the correct function.